Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Smartphone makers bow to demands for more openness

For many Android enthusiasts, "openness" is almost an 11th commandment. So when manufacturers began restricting full access to Android smartphones a couple years ago, many saw it as a cardinal sin. Good news for you smartphone modders: some manufacturers are beginning to see the light.

"Today, I'm confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices," wrote HTC CEO Peter Chou in a Facebook post on Thursday evening. "There has been overwhelmingly [sic] customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones."

Read the rest of this article...

Read the comments on this post

Lori Heuring Nicole Scherzinger Jill Arrington Tami Donaldson Padma Lakshmi

Age of Empires Online Launches August 16

Age of Empires Online will be released on August 16, one year after it was officially announced. The free-to-play strategy allows players to assume the role of either the Greeks or Egyptians and promises more than 40 hours of gameplay without ever dropping a dime on microtransactions.

The game is a major departure from previous Age of Empires titles. Previously known as Project Spartan, players have a persistent city that can be built up when not playing through traditional real-time-strategy missions. It had been in development at Robot Entertainment but Microsoft suddenly revealed in February that Gas Powered Games was taking over, claiming it was "the plan for some time."

The game will be available through the official website and at retail. The latter option includes the exclusive Greek Pack containing the premium Greek civilization; Windy's Wild Widgets Store, a retail-only store; a hotkey reference guide; plus a poster and cards. Even if you buy it at retail, you'll still be downloading the game -- the front of the box labels it as a digital download which, besides being redundant, isn't a surprise given the game's online focus.

Kirsten Dunst Vanessa Minnillo Katie Holmes Victoria Beckham Missy Peregrym

Austrian Police Seize Computers From Tor Exit Node

Javier points us to the news that the police in Austria have seized a bunch of computer equipment from the home of someone running a tor exit node. The email is not entirely clear, but it sounds like someone used tor -- via that exit node -- to access a porn site. Seeing as the equipment was seized, I'm assuming that this wasn't just a standard porn site. It seems like this is a risk that many people running tor exit nodes may face -- but the big question is how difficult is it to explain to the police what tor is, what an exit node is, why such things are perfectly legal, and why this means they're looking in the wrong place? Or will law enforcement just avoid all these details and assume that running a tor exit node is proof of guilt?

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

Rose McGowan Bar Refaeli Jessica White Anna Friel Monica Bellucci

Certain Affinity's 'Crimson Alliance' is a co-op action RPG for XBLA [update]

Developer Certain Affinity cleared up some of the mystery surrounding Crimson Alliance, a game first spotted -- with the company's name attached -- on Australian and Brazilian ratings boards. For one thing, we now have the crucial information of what the logo looks like (see it in our gallery). That's the only thing on the new Crimson Alliance website.

The developer also revealed on the new Crimson Alliance Facebook page that the game is "built for XBLA," and "features a campaign that can be played solo, or with friends over Xbox Live (or on the same couch!)" It won't be an XBLA/PSN title either -- it's exclusive to Xbox. That Facebook page also features another piece of artwork, which we've included above.

Mysteries that remain include what the actual game is and what that looks like.

Update: Certain Affinity sent out a lot of details in a new press release (after the break). Crimson Alliance is a four-player co-op action RPG coming to XBLA this summer, featuring three classes of character with five special abilities each: the Wizard, the Assassin, and the Mercenary. Read more about it after the break!

[Thanks, Ethan]

Continue reading Certain Affinity's 'Crimson Alliance' is a co-op action RPG for XBLA [update]

JoystiqCertain Affinity's 'Crimson Alliance' is a co-op action RPG for XBLA [update] originally appeared on Joystiq on Tue, 31 May 2011 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Thalía Brooke Burke Thandie Newton Liz Phair Aaliyah

Apple updates iWork to add iPhone, iPod touch support

Apple announced on Tuesday that it has updated its iWork productivity suite for iOS with universal versions compatible with both the iPhone and iPod touch. Though originally released for the larger iPad, you can now use the iOS-flavored iWork to create and edit word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation files on Apple's pocket-sized mobile devices.

iWork includes Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, and Apple developed iPad versions when the device was originally launched in April 2010. When we reviewed the apps then, we noted that the iPad's 10" touchscreen worked pretty well and that Apple had done a fairly impressive job of translating the desktop apps to its tablet. However, we also warned that its formatting limitations, awkward file access, and inability to print were likely to be serious problems for most users.

Read the rest of this article...

Read the comments on this post

Mena Suvari Georgina Grenville Michelle Trachtenberg Amanda Bynes Ana Ivanovi

British Labels Propagandizing To Children

While the practice of the entertainment industry issuing propaganda to school children is certainly nothing new, every time I see it in practice I shiver involuntairly.  But when I came across a story from the BBC regarding a British label actually coming in to talk directly with high school kids about the many evils of piracy, a couple of questions leapt to mind.

But give the label credit for bringing along toys for the kids to play with this time.  They showed up with a bunch of their music-making equipment to let the kids have a go at producing their own tracks.  But even in this there was an ulterior motive.  They were hoping to show kids (KIDS!) how hard it is to actually make the music they listen to, which would then demonstrate all the many people that are involved in the process.  Why?

"Paul Shedden, Head of Label at Shed Records, explained the project is about raising awareness of the 'unseen' faces in the industry who rely on music sales for their livelihoods.  He said: 'A whole army of people work behind the scenes to bring you new, fresh music.  Everything from the songwriters through to production, artists, engineers, radio pluggers, PR companies all those people need to get paid.  Otherwise they can't continue doing the jobs they love and the music you love will stop coming out.'"

Okay, the first question here is the obvious one: how can the threat of disappearing music production be used when we see more music coming out than ever before?  Want to guess whether the label reps bothered to mention that to the kids?  In addition to that question, I wonder if they brought amongst their toys some of the amazing new technology that's come out which allows artists to do more of this work themselves, rather than rely on an "army" of other folks who "need" to get paid. 

But beyond that is the real question which is at the heart of why I have a problem with this kind of thing.  Why do we let corporate interests speak directly to our children about industry needs and policy?  And why aren't there representatives from opposite sides of the debate alongside them?

Would we let McDonalds come in to speak directly to our children about how they consume food?  Would we allow gun manufacturers to hold audience in the school auditorium for a quick Q&A on gun control laws without representatives from the opposite side of the debate?  Maybe we could get Larry Flynt to come in and hold court at a Saint Mary's School For Girls assembly on what types of jobs are best suited for women?

Or maybe schools should educate and leave industry out of the process entirely.  If I were a parent (which I'm not), I'd be more than a little itchy at the prospect of my kid's school bringing in corporations to teach our children. 

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

Kat Von D Ana Paula Lemes Vanessa Simmons Chyler Leigh Julie Berry

Mark Zuckerberg will only eat meat that he has killed himself

Mark Zuckerberg will only eat meat that he has killed himselfMark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of social networking giant Facebook has said this week that his new personal challenge is to "be thankful for the food I have to eat."

In doing so, Zuckerberg says he will only eat meat from animals he has killed himself.

Says the world's youngest billionaire:

I think many people forget that a living being has to die for you to eat meat, so my goal revolves around not letting myself forget that and being thankful for what I have.

Since moving to the new diet, Zuckerberg says I have "basically become a vegetarian since the only meat I'm eating is from animals I've killed myself."

One of his favorite foods, lobster, was tough to eat as he was forced to boil it alive. However, "the most interesting thing was how special it felt to eat it after having not eaten any seafood or meat in a while."

Zuckerberg has also killed chickens, goats and pigs.

Permalink | Comments

Julianne Hough Paula Garcés Genelle Frenoy Shania Twain Gwen Stefani

Chinese Prisoners Forced To Farm Gold?

There have been many, many reports over the years about just how much "gold farming" in online games comes from China, but a new report in the Guardian is getting plenty of attention for claiming that real world inmates are being used for gold farming in prisons, where the prisons or their bosses end up with the "spoils." A whole bunch of folks have been submitting the story, and it certainly could be happening, but it does seem pretty weakly sourced. It quotes one guy who was in prison half a decade ago and did the gold farming then. Is there any more contemporary evidence that this is happening?

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

Jamie Gunns Ananda Lewis Kate Bosworth Tamala Jones Yamila Diaz

Blizzard Dota still on the way, has undergone 'some massive overhauls'

Blizzard Dota, the Defense of the Ancients-style official mod that was shown off at last year's BlizzCon, is still a work in progress, according to lead producer Chris Sigaty. The other three mods shown last year were released a little while ago to the community, but the Dota mod, which pits all kinds of Blizzard franchise characters up against each other in a real-time battle, needed a little extra work, apparently.

"We basically put it back up in the shop and did some massive overhauls to some things, which I'm not going to go into specific detail about," Sigaty told Joystiq at a press event last week. "But yeah, we are working on Blizzard Dota, and we do intend to launch it at or around the time of Heart of the Swarm, but the official details will be online later."

Will the mod eventually require the upcoming Heart of the Swarm expansion to play? Sigaty's got nothing yet: "We're not even talking about the business level decision of it at this point." But rest assured that, somewhere on Blizzard's Irvine, CA campus, there are still developers fighting over who'd win in a fight, Thrall, Diablo, or Tychus Findlay.

JoystiqBlizzard Dota still on the way, has undergone 'some massive overhauls' originally appeared on Joystiq on Tue, 31 May 2011 03:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Natalie Portman Jessica Biel Christina Milian Kelly Brook Robin Tunney

International Lulz: Anonymous Aids Rebellions in Tunisia, Algeria and Libya

Say what you will about Anonymous*, but they've managed (with a few outlying exceptions) to become one of the most unexpected forces of good in the world. Early indications of this revolutionary sense of purpose emerged during the collective's spirited defense of Wikileaks and Julian Assange, and any ideas one might have had that they could be taken lightly were completely shattered by their remorselessly thorough dismantling of HBGary's smack-talking CEO Aaron Barr, who was forced to eat his words nearly as fast as they could be downloaded.

But Anonymous hasn't stopped. An eye-opening Al Jazeera article runs down the latest activities of the headless collective, whose efforts have reached as far as Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. In a day and age when various talking heads decry internet anonymity as a cowardly safe haven for various levels of misanthropic behavior, it's always good to see the conventional "wisdom" undermined by the activities of a group -- who value anonymity and privacy (at least their own) -- using this same safe haven to wreak incredibly disruptive good.

Anonymous hit the ground running in Tunisia, performing DDOS attacks against government websites, providing "care packets" to help cyberdissidents to conceal their identity and developing a Greasemonkey script to block government phishing attacks.  After a false start in Algeria (mainly due to a lack of internet services), Anonymous' efforts moved on to Egypt, helping restore censored websites and operating mirrors, even going so far as to send old school faxes to places without internet service. When supporters of Iran's government began posting a "hitlist" comprising photos of protesters, the "legion" was there to take the websites down.

They (whoever "they" are) may be the newest threat to authoritarian regimes, but they haven't lost touch with their roots:

"In the operations for Egypt and Tunisia, some lulzy methods were used that harked back to Anonymous' past, including placing massive orders for pizza to be delivered to the countries’ embassies."

Now that Anonymous is a do-gooding multi-national, it's tempting to view them as a brutally efficient vigilante force. But as with any vigilante force, the odds of doing the wrong thing (or doing the right thing wrongly) increase greatly. And as with any other ad hoc group, the baser tendencies of the "hivemind" are often indulged.

These inherent dangers, along with the always present "Law of Unintended Consquences," should help keep things in perspective. After all, one day they could be handing out long distance tech support to rebel forces and the next day taking down and defacing a software company's website just because they can. The anonymity cuts both ways in these instances, linking the group with actions both righteous and indefensible.

There are also indications that some members have split off from the core and are now wreaking havoc as its own end, including the possibility that some of the "legion" may have hacked Sony despite official denials. (Well, as official as things get with Anonymous -- a posting with the now-familiar "Question Mark Head" logo.)

With Anonymous, you take the good with the bad. Both run to the extremes and the actions you were applauding one week can turn incredibly malevolent the next. After all, as they cheerfully point out, they are no one's personal army.

*No, go ahead. But make it perfectly clear those are your words and not mine, especially if you're going to start poking at the hornet's nest.

Permalink | Comments | Email This Story

Izabella Scorupco Carla Campbell Penélope Cruz Kristen Bell The Pussycat Dolls

Final Fantasy V rated by ESRB for North American PSN release

After brutally taunting us by releasing the job-centric RPG in Japan and announcing it for Europe, an ESRB rating has revealed that Square Enix is bringing Final Fantasy V to the North American PSN. The game is something of an oddity for the series, having never made it to the U.S. in its native SNES format -- it only came stateside as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology, and as the expanded GBA title Final Fantasy V Advance.

Between this, Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, we've got a lot of Square Enix PSOne Classics to look forward to -- now we just have to wait for the PlayStation Store to fling open its long-shuttered doors.

JoystiqFinal Fantasy V rated by ESRB for North American PSN release originally appeared on Joystiq on Sat, 28 May 2011 14:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink | Email this | Comments

Jamie Gunns Ananda Lewis Kate Bosworth Tamala Jones Yamila Diaz