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  Bizarre UK Copyright Case Looms Large  
Posted 2006-02-27 by Tony Walsh
The Guardian Unlimited reports that the publisher of The Da Vinci Code is being sued for breach of copyright, although what was allegedly copied was an idea, not a specific selection of text. I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding of copyright is that it doesn't protect mere ideas, only the literal, specific manifestation of ideas. In other words, the Guardian's report is protected by copyright, but the idea of covering this story isn't. Imagine if anyone who had comitted a great idea to paper could sue someone else who was influenced by that idea. If successful, I suppose the lawsuit will pave the way for an intellectual property apocalypse, at least in the UK.
  Blood From a Stone  
Posted 2006-02-23 by Tony Walsh
Game Politics has just posted a curious entry:

"School Shooting in Oregon- There is a report of a shooting at Roseburg High School in Oregon. The Kansas City Star is reporting that a 16-year-old student shot one person and fled. He was arrested by police after holding his gun to his head. No information on who was shot or what their condition is. No word on whether the shooter was a gamer."

So why are we reading about this on Game Politics at all, given there is no relationship to games or politics? Idiots.
  Kottke’s Pro-Blogging Experiment Fails  
Posted 2006-02-23 by Tony Walsh
Last February, web designer and blogger Jason Kottke announced he had quit his job in order to blog full time, and asked his readers for donations. Roughly 1,450 "micropatrons" coughed up nearly $40,000 during Kottke's 3-week funding drive--enough for him to live on for a year, apparently.

So, what happened during 2005? Kottke wrote yesterday that he wasn't able to develop enough traffic or sufficient star power, that the workload interfered with his personal life, and that his personal life interfered with blogging. It seems this experiment didn't fail because of lack of reader support--it failed because Kottke wasn't able to keep up his end of the deal. And that's a shame not only for him and his "micropatrons," but for any blogger asking for reader support in the near future.
  Gamer War:  South Koreans Persecute Chinese Over ‘Ninja Looting’  
Posted 2006-02-21 by Tony Walsh
The Financial Times (of all places) reports that groups of South Korean players of the game Lineage are collectively killing off the characters of other players perceived to be Chinese. The reasons for the online war appear to be cultural--but more in an in-game cultural sense. Chinese players are beginning to get a bad reputation in massively-multiplayer games because of "gold farming" operations in that country. Add to this the reported tendency to "ninja loot" (stealthily claim the booty from fallen enemies another player has kills) in Lineage, and some South Korean players of the game, which reportedly has about 3 million suscribers, have taken matters into their own hands. The Financial Times says "areas such as the Island of Dreams - popular with Chinese gamers because it is relatively easy to earn money - are becoming the site of online massacres."

The maker of Lineage, NCSoft, is reportedly aware of the situation, but say it's not possible to be sure if those "slain" were Chinese.
  Podfading:  Out With a Whimper  
Posted 2006-02-08 by Tony Walsh
 runs a Steve Friess story on "Podfading," a term intended to describe the process of giving up on one's podcasting hobby. Friess talks to several former podcasters. One in particular echoes my initial predictions about podcasting's challenges:

"'Podcasting is one of those things that's cheap and easy to begin to do but takes a tremendous amount of time to keep going with no payoff,' said freelance writer and blogger Brian Reid of Alexandria, Virginia, former host of the gender-issues program Sex Talk, who quit in August. 'There was no money in it and it did nothing to push my career forward. I've got a lot of other things in my life, paying work being one and my family is another. It's not like blogging, where you can do it for 15 minutes at a time and get away with it.'"
  McKinstry, R.I.P.  
Posted 2006-01-27 by Tony Walsh
Earlier this week, I checked in on some of my less-frequented blog-haunts to discover a pair of disturbing posts on Chris McKinstry's Mindpixel blog. He'd added what appeared to be two genuine suicide notes, dated last Friday [1,2]... and now, sadly, I know he was serious. He was reported dead on January 24.

Software designer Ryan Park has documented the story. McKinstry apparently cross-posted his suicide notes to a discussion forum on a software-development web site. Members of that forum tried to contact authorities about McKinstry's posts, but obviously he wasn't able to be saved. I didn't know him, but McKinstry's work in common-sense AI seemed important. If you're interested in learning more, I recommend a browse through his web site or blog while they're still online. McKinstry's Wikipedia bio has already been updated.
  Toronto Cops Link Game To Deadly Crash [Updated]  
Posted 2006-01-25 by Tony Walsh
Fellow gamesblogger Gatmog sends word of a Toronto Star report explaing how local cops have linked the urban street-racing game Need For Speed to a killer car crash earlier this week. A copy of the game was reportedly found in one of the suspect's cars. Toronto police Detective Paul Lobsinger told the Star "Here we have, in real life, two guys driving high-end cars at a high rate of speed in an urban area... I don't think it's a giant leap for people to say, 'Wow, how does this go together?'" [Update: It seems Lobsinger made several statements to the local press over this incident. One statement indicated he didn't believe the game was solely to blame. Game Politics claims Lobsinger told Global News that "This was not the game's fault. There are millions who play this game and don't go out and do this."]

[And so, the following is now moot:] Clearly, no other factors could possibly have been at work here. Remember that next time you play Guitar Hero, as you might end up performing random acts of musicianship on unsuspecting strangers. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a giant ball of garbage to roll up.
  Organic Backup System  
Posted 2006-01-12 by Tony Walsh
The BBC reports that the Norwegians plan to create a sealed Arctic repository containing seeds for all known crops on Earth. The vault will reportedly be dug out of a sandstone mountain about 600 miles from the North Pole, and is designed to "withstand global catastrophes like nuclear war or natural disasters that would destroy the planet's sources of food." Apparently there are around 1,400 such seed banks worldwide. This way, when man genetically-modifies its food-supply into an unrecognizable mess, we can just burn everything to the groud and dip into the bank for backup.
  Linden Lab Gets Tough on ‘Second Life’ Griefers  
Posted 2005-11-23 by Tony Walsh
Troublemakers intent on causing Second Life denial-of-service attacks have just been put on notice by developer Linden Lab. Hackers attacking the virtual world (like in three incidents reported here, here, and here) will be turned over to local law enforcement agencies, including state and federal authorities where applicable. In an official statement, Linden Lab said that the recent attacks "..result in substantial real-world economic harm, and Linden Lab intends to protect its interests using all legal means."

In Second Life, there is no true anonymity--access to the virtual world is almost exclusively gained by submitting real credit-card and address information. In other words, Linden Lab knows where you live even if nobody else does. I can't say I'd pity any griefer running afoul of real-world laws for ruining a virtual world.
  Latest ‘Second Life’ Malware Outbreak Still Dangerous?  
Posted 2005-11-11 by Tony Walsh
A user-created piece of malware that crashed the virtual world of Second Life yesterday has not been contained. After deployment, Second Life's creator Linden Lab kicked residents off the cyberspace grid while an emergency patch to fix the exploit was applied. Although the grid was restored, it appears the malware is still a serious threat. An official notice by Linden Lab instructs residents who may have received a foreign, randomly-named object yesterday to delete the object immediately. Furthermore, residents are told not to place ("rez") the object in-world. Linden Lab's statements lead me to believe that not only is the company not able to block the malware from a repeat deployment, but that the company is not able to track the whereabouts of the object. Last month, Second Life a few residents were victimized by a minor piece of malware that had though to have been contained late last year.

With Linden Lab pushing hard this year for an increase in Second Life membership, it seems their virtual world infrastructure needs a major overhaul to keep pace. Over 80k residents roam Second Life at the time of this writing, and while this is only a fraction of the population of most massively-multiuser spaces, few other environments allow their residents the ability to create malicious software capable of disrupting service. Currently, deploying such software is not allowed--but it is both possible and easy. With Linden Lab now offering free Basic accounts to new members, I wonder if this latest wave of residents has anything to lose. The threat of banning an account that didn't cost anything in the first place isn't going to stop griefers.
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Dinozoiks wrote:
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in Free iPhone Games Are Awful: Strategy?

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