Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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Worms Reloaded Coming to PC, in 2D

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Should the next Worms game be in 2D again? Many people say yes. And now, finally, the real sequel to Worms Armageddon is arriving. It will be in the classic 2D, and it will be available for PC, unlike the previous few games, which were console and handheld only. Pre-order it now on Steam and get bonus in-game items such as hats and forts, as well as 10% off the price of the game. This is truly epic news and we salute Team 17 for bringing the Worms series back in its original direction. This game will be better than the 3D versions without a doubt.

Posted in Gaming, News | No Comments »

Pirate Bay Being Blocked by AVG, Might Be Infected

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The Pirate Bay is currently being blocked by AVG Antivirus for “containing active threats.” While some say this is nothing to worry about and that AVG is blocking the website because of its torrents, maybe you shouldn’t unblock it just yet.

AVG has never blocked The Pirate Bay before, so why would they do it now all of a sudden? Because it is actually infected. Two days ago my computer was almost infected with a virus or trojan from the search results page of the site. A popup window opened, and redirected all of my open tabs in Firefox to a “CLICK HERE TO GET RID OF YOUR SPYWARE!!!!” website, at which point I immediately Ctrl-Shift-Escaped and terminated all instances of Firefox.

It has to be an infected advertisement that did this, because The Pirate Bay would never do such a thing intentionally. I suggest not using the website for at least a week, or until AVG unblocks it again.

Posted in Internet, News | 4 Comments »

Apple Releases the iPad, and it’s Just an Oversized iPod Touch

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Where can I even begin? Apple just announced their very own tablet PC. Called the iPad. Let’s start with the name – it’s absolutely terrible. And I’m not even complaining about the stupid “i” scheme. Even iTablet would have been better.

Moving on. This thing is just an oversized iPod Touch. Even the software is almost the same, just on a bigger screen. The screen is 9.7 inches, which is way too big to fit in your pocket, and way too small to type on with both hands. Of course there are no physical keys. And when you type, the giant on-screen keyboard blocks a huge amount of screen.

And then, how do you even type on it? It’s too heavy to hold with one hand and type with the other. You can’t put it on your lap because you won’t see the screen. You can’t put it on a table because you’ll have to look down over the iPad, which will hurt your neck, shoulders, back, etc. The only way you will comfortably be able to type on the iPad is through an external keyboard and a stand for the iPad to prop it up like a normal computer screen. And all of that costs a lot of money if you buy it from Apple.

The screen will get scratched. Where are you going to put the iPad? In your backpack or briefcase. It will get scratched unless you get a cover for it, or protect it very very well. And a cover costs a lot of money coming from Apple.

Speaking of money, the iPad starts at $499. With only 16GB of flash storage. And no real operating system, unless you consider a slightly adjusted cell phone OS an operating system suited for a netbook or laptop. And that also means there’s no flash support. Oh but there’s over 100,000 apps! Well, with a real netbook, there are literally millions of apps.

So what do you get for almost $500? 16GB of storage, a glossy (meaning unreadable with other light sources present) 9.7″ screen that’s only 1024×768 resolution, and a 1GHz Apple processor. There are no USB ports, and Apple doesn’t even state how much memory (RAM) the iPad has.

What did I get with my Acer Aspire One for $314? A 1366×768 screen that’s 11.6 inches, a full sized keyboard, a 1.33GHz Intel Atom processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 160GB hard drive. It also has USB ports, a camera, and it doesn’t need a case. Where does the iPad beat my Acer? It has a touch screen, an accelerometer, and a compass. Apple claims the iPad has 10 hours of battery life. My Acer claims 8, but can actually do 10. Oh, and I almost forgot, the iPad can’t multitask. You can only do one thing at a time. Amazing.

Now time to wait and watch the Apple fanboys camp out in front of Apple stores to buy this useless giant iPod.

Posted in Desktops & Laptops, Gadgets, News | 5 Comments »

EA Wants to Sell DLC to Pirates

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Electronic Arts has been known to try everything possible for the sake of combating pirates. They have included all kinds of much-hated DRM in their games. But now the CEO of EA has said that pirates are a new market that EA needs to make money from.

While this is great news for the anti-DRM activists, it might not be good news for gamers who actually buy their games. John Riccitiello, the CEO of Electronic Arts, wants to sell DLC – download content – to everyone who has the game, not just those who bought it. But this might turn into a very bad thing: DLC will contain most of the game, while the game itself will be more like a platform to add features onto. This would degrade the quality of games severely. And a lot of today’s games are already terrible enough.

It’s good that EA has recognized pirates as something they cannot defeat. It is impossible, just as it is impossible to stop all robbery and theft in the real world. Why waste money and resources fighting a war you cannot win? However, DLC is not the answer, at least for PC games. DLC can be illegally downloaded just like the game itself. And the biggest issue here is developers degrading the initial game on purpose so they can sell lots of DLC later on.

Download content for games is growing already, and I think developers are starting to see the profit in it. Personally I don’t like the whole DLC model because paying $50 for a game is too much in the first place. A lot more games would sell if they cost less, and in the end, the money made from the game would be the same, if not more. But pushing DLC on pirates will most likely produce no real results. Only inexperienced pirates might buy the DLC – people who know what they’re doing will just pirate the DLC.

Whether piracy affects the sale of media is still being debated, but one thing that’s been proven is that DRM only hurts legitimate gamers. DRM can only delay a game from being cracked, and that delay is typically only an hour or so. All games can be and will be cracked, shared, pirated. How game developers, movie producers, the music industry, and software companies will react to piracy depends on their success. I think it’s time for them to drop DRM, and find a way to profit off the games even if they’re pirated. DLC might not be the answer, but how about something like in-game advertising (only if done realistically and tastefully, like in Battlefield 2 or TrackMania Nations)?

Source: Kotaku, image via flickr

Posted in Consoles, Gaming, Internet, News | No Comments »

ISP’s Are Banning People from Playing Modern Warfare 2

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

It looks like internet service providers don’t like it when people play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 on their connections. Gamers are reporting that some are receiving notices from the internet providers informing them that they are not allowed to use P2P so frequently, or that they are not allowed to host servers on their home connections.

And why is this happening? Because the smart people at Infinity Ward gave PC gamers a big middle finger, and removed dedicated servers from the game. But how can you play online then you might ask? Why, will just use your computer as a server. And that’s not allowed on any consumer ISP.

So what can you do now? Nothing really. Infinity Ward can try to pay every ISP there is to not recognize Modern Warfare 2 traffic as running a server or downloading through P2P. But there’s nothing you can really do, because the game is in fact using your computer as a server, and it is in fact using P2P protocols to let you play online.

Putting aside the issues of security – you are opening ports on your firewall and router to play the game after all – this issue with ISP’s could have been predicted. Everyone knows you can’t run a server from home if you’re using a normal internet service provider. So you can’t really do anything but stop playing CoD MW2 online. Sad, huh?

I will never buy Modern Warfare 2 because of the way Infinity Ward has treated PC gamers. The answers they gave in interviews regarding lack of dedicated servers made it seem like they were doing this just to dumb down the PC version, so it could be as simple as the console version. This is exactly the opposite of what everyone wanted. And the reviews show (take a look at the user score).

Sources: Infinity Ward forums (although most posts are probably now deleted), GossipGamers, ModernWarFail2

Posted in Gaming, Internet, News | 4 Comments »

Comcast Buys NBC: Why Net Neutrality is Needed Now

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

It has just been announced that Comcast has made a deal to buy 51% of NBC. It hasn’t officially happened yet, and the paperwork hasn’t been done, but according to sources it is a done deal. What exactly does this have to do with the internet? NBC owns 30% of Hulu. Where does net neutrality come in? Comcast will be able to effectively shut down Hulu, and only allow NBC shows to be played online through Comcast.

Of course Comcast has claimed that they will not shut down Hulu. But without Net Neutrality laws to protect the internet from this sort of thing, Comcast will be able to affect what you can watch online. If you have Comcast internet, they can give NBC video streaming higher priority than competitors’ videos. That means if you want to stream a non NBC video online, it will be very slow, or even impossible.

The chance that Comcast will do this is not very high, but they have the ability now that they own NBC. This would make it unfair for competitors. Having Net Neutrality protection would prevent this from happening. While I am against government regulation for most situations, here it seems like it’s the only way to make sure the United States will keep having a fair and open internet. This is because of the way internet provider companies work in the US. A lot of places and regions in the US only have one broadband internet provider. This is kind of like having a monopoly, but it isn’t. If someone has only one choice of broadband internet, that broadband company can fully control the delivery of the internet to the customer. They can only allow access to certain sites, or slow down other sites. This would destroy the purpose of the internet, where currently every website is equal.

The internet needs to be protected with net neutrality. It cannot be allowed to be filtered by the internet companies. If ISP’s start filtering customers’ internet connections, the internet as we know it will stop existing.

Image via

Posted in Internet, News | No Comments »

Global Warming a Hoax?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

What would you say if all the global warming statements issued by major organizations around the world turned out to be a hoax? Think about it for a minute before answering, and look at the big picture:

  • Companies and governments have spent billions each year trying to reduce greenhouse emissions (see the Kyoto Accord, and its replacement that was planned to be finalized at the upcoming Copenhagen Summit).
  • How much extra tax have you had to pay over the past several years because of global warming? (i.e. greenhouse taxes, environment fees, and even the clean air taxes you pay in major airports now)
  • How about the multi-million dollar projects based around alternative energy? (i.e. tidal power farms that have been created in key locations around the world that came out of your pocket).
Credit: Jonathan DuHamel, TusconCitizen.comCredit: Jonathan DuHamel,

What if it was all for nothing? Or at least, the data was fudged to make it look like a serious problem that everybody had to take care of?

Thanks to an unknown hacker, several key documents from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia (the largest, most funded, and most reputed climate research center in the world) were leaked to the public that implies that global warming might not be as bad as it was made out to be (if it even was a problem). Several emails and documents were leaked which showed several exchanges between high ranking officials in the CRU stating that a lot of the numbers used in their research were faked.

Additionally, large portions of the programming used to monitor and record temperature data from around the world was posted, and numerous programming experts have identified major flaws in the coding (such as it seems to pick a random temperature instead of the actual temperature in some certain situations).

Here’s the kicker – the United Nations (and just about every other major organization that looks at climate change) use the CRU data exclusively in making their decisions about global warming and environmental impacts.

In a nutshell, we have a massive research center that receives grants and investments from all over the world to produce “unbiased” research on climate change. They take the money, make up some numbers to make it look like the world is getting hotter, and then send the data out. This prompts for more funding and research, which results in more money being sent their way. It’s a great racket they’ve setup.

The story was originally posted by CBS, but since then has circulated the globe and has sparked a lot of discussion on blogs and forums around the world, and now a criminal investigation is being initiated. If you would like to read the original CBS story and see their evidence (as well as several of the documents posted by the unknown hacker), head over to CBS News.

Posted in News, Technology | No Comments »

Insurance Company Cancels Benefits Thanks to Facebook Pictures

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Imagine being in disability leave due to a medical condition and having your benefits taken away because of a single picture that appeared of you on Facebook. Suppose you are somebody who is indeed ill in one form or another, and you’ve been on long term disability for eighteen months thanks to that illness, and then suddenly your only source of income is ripped away from you.

FacebookThat’s what happened to Nathalie Blanchard, an IBM employee that was on long-term disability leave due to heavy depression. Nathalie was put onto disability leave when she became unable to work over a year and half ago, since then her insurance carrier had been paying her salary – until now.

Manulife Insurance, the carrier in question, recently discovered Nathalie’s profile on facebook and discovered pictures that were posted of her having fun with friends in social situations (“girls night out”), and also on a vacation she took to a tropical paradise.

“Her Facebook pictures were enough to prove that she is ready to return to work,” was the statement issued by Manulife when this hit the fan.

Going out and having fun was suggested to her by her doctor, as research has shown over the years that those diagnosed with severe depression will often seclude themselves to an extreme measure. By going out and socializing, it helps them cope with their situation while maintaining a social life.

In a statement issued to the CBC, Manulife stated “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.” However actions speak louder than words and it appears that it just takes a few pictures to make things more stressful than they already are.

Simply having pictures of you on a social network should not be enough to strip you of your insurance benefits. Not only can they be easily taken out of context (i.e. just because you see somebody happy and enjoying themselves for the 1 second that it takes to shoot a picture, it doesn’t mean they are like that for the other 3,599 seconds in the day), but it also invokes paranoia about using social networks because of cases like this.

Imagine if this was a life-or-death type situation where your insurance benefits covered special treatment or medications that are keeping you alive, and then suddenly that is taken away from you because of a few innocent pictures. What if you were on blood thinners to prevent clots, or you were about to go in for brain surgery to remove a cancer lump that was pressing dangerously on your brain stem.

The truth of the matter is that insurance companies look for any excuse to drop beneficiaries when they start to cost a significant amount of money. And unfortunately there is not much that anybody can do about it, as burried deep within your insurance contract there is almost always a tiny little clause that says something like “The insurer reserves the right to cancel benefits at any time with due cause.” Due cause has apparently shifted from medical doctor testimony and patient records to pictures posted on the web.

Posted in Internet, News | 1 Comment »

Class Action Lawsuit Against Microsoft for Mass Xbox Bans

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Microsoft recently banned over 1 million Xbox Live accounts for using modded Xbox hardware. Some reports say the number is now over 2 million. Now there is a lawsuit against Microsoft for the bans. This might seem like a bad idea – after all, modded hardware is against the Xbox Live Terms of Service. However, many people who had their consoles banned are now reporting that not only were they banned from Xbox Live, but they were also banned from their consoles.

How can Microsoft ban you from your console? People are saying that their access to their console’s hard drive was blocked. That means they can’t access a key part of their console, which makes it almost unusable. What gives Microsoft the right to brick consoles for hardware modifications?

Some are reporting that their console was banned because of a simple fan modification. They upgraded the fan on their console to help prevent the infamous Red Ring of Death – RRoD – and now Microsoft apparently bricked their console. How is this fair at all, yet alone legal?

When you buy something, you own it. That is obvious. People who bought an Xbox are the legal owners of that property. How can Microsoft legally make that property unusable? They have the right to ban modders from Xbox Live, which is an extra service to the console. But they should have no right to damage or make unusable the actual hardware that people purchased. This is in effect the same as a Microsoft employee coming to your home and stealing the hard drive out of your Xbox.

I really hope this class action lawsuit goes to court, Microsoft doesn’t settle, and Microsoft loses. This would set a great precedent that would prevent companies from touching the hardware which you paid for and have every right to modify. Think of automobile companies for a second. Wouldn’t they rather have you buy a high-end version of their car for $10,000 more to get an extra 50 horsepower, than have you modify your car by yourself for $2,000 to get the same extra power out of it? Imagine if car companies installed chips in new cars that would disable the wheels from spinning if they detected a custom engine modification? Isn’t this essentially the same thing as Microsoft disabling your hard drive because they detected that you upgraded the fan on your Xbox?

Disabling hardware, your private property which you purchased, should be completely illegal. If these reports of Microsoft bricking consoles for hardware modifications are true, Microsoft should lose the lawsuit. And by the way, the Terms of Service and the EULA rarely hold up in court, because this type of agreement cannot overwrite laws.

Note: I cannot confirm if the reports of consoles being bricked are true, but people all over internet forums are saying the same thing.

Sources: Engadget, multiple forums

XBOX 360 logo copyright Microsoft

Posted in Consoles, Gaming, Hardware, News | No Comments »

Google Search Deal With Twitter Will Include Tweets in Google Search Results

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Google has partnered with Twitter to include Twitter updates in Google’s search results. This will have a big impact on both Google’s search results and Twitter. This deal has great potential for news applications, but it can also go really bad if not implemented correctly.

A lot of people use Twitter to post random thoughts, and probably even more use it for self promotion. Companies treat it as a free advertising medium. This means that a lot of the content on Twitter is unprofessional and not search result worthy.

However, the very positive aspect of Twitter can come from news tweets. Through Twitter, people can post news that have literally just happened a few seconds ago. Real news websites simply cannot do this due to lack of resources. With Twitter, there are millions of people who can act as news reporters.

Taking all of this into account, Google needs to find a way to include only real news tweets in their search results. They need to find a way to separate the advertising, promoting, and personal tweets from tweets that are useful and report something relevant. This sounds like a very difficult thing to accomplish, but if anyone can do it, it would be companies with huge budgets, like Google and Microsoft. Microsoft has a similar deal with Twitter.

Twitter being included in Google search results has great potential for real, unedited, live news. However, it needs to be implemented very carefully, or else Google search results will include a lot of garbage.

image copyright Twitter

Posted in Internet, News | No Comments »

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