Six Strikes Copyright Alert System Goes Live in U.S.

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“This week marks the rollout of the long delayed "Copyright Alert System" aka the six strike anti-piracy program. It's a bit confusing at a glance, but it's not nearly as powerful as you'd think. Here's how the system works, how it'll affect you, and everything else you need to know.”

Read more at Lifehacker

HP’s New Slate 7 Tablet May Be the Pavilion of the Tablet World

HP Slate 7Lo and behold, here comes one of the earliest competitors in the tablet wars back to the ring to take another swing. Rising from the ashes of the HP Touchpad, a 10”, Palm OS based tablet known more for its $99 fire sale liquidation than any quality of the device itself, is the all new Slate 7.

Not taking any chances, the Slate 7 is a 7” 16:9 tablet that runs a stock version of Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean”. The announced model is equipped with 16GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, and powered by a ARM Cortex-A9 1.6Ghz dual-core CPU. HP’s Beats Audio sound processing is an intriguing inclusion as the audio quality on most tablets can be best described as “Horrifically awful”. Unlike most 7” tablets, the Slate 7 will come with dual cameras, a VGA quality up front and 3MP in the back. Slate 7 will be available at it’s April U.S. launch in two colors: Silver and red. The price? A very wallet friendly $169.

Priced $30 cheaper than both the Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 and a $70 less than Apple’s iPad Mini, the Slate 7 appears poised to be the perfect tablet for casual users. Moreover, HP’s long standing relationship with retailers will ensure this tablet finds a place in every retailer’s electronics department. The device may lack raw performance compared to the Nexus 7’s Tegra quad-core CPU, but many users will probably see the boon of some extra cash in their pockets compared to the extra processing power only unleashed by power hungry apps or games. The stock install of Android should ensure that system updates are delivered in a timely manner, still a sticking point for some Android devices.

HP has come back to the tablet market with a class of machine that made them one of the leading manufactures in the PC world. The Slate 7 looks like a ‘good enough’ machine with some sharp aesthetics at a reasonable price. Power users are sure to turn up their noses at the system specs (especially with Nvidia preparing to launch the next generation of their high performance Tegra chipset), but for a casual user just looking to surf the web, check email, and watch a video, the Slate 7 may very well make HP as much of a mass market juggernaut in the tablet world as it is in the PC one.

Remember to Play While You Play–Shaking Off the Obligation to Grind (PlanetSide 2)

PlanetSide2 2013-02-24 17-12-28-61

We won. Esamir was ours. Our enemies had slunk away a short while ago and taking this last bio lab had been more of a formality than anything else. Still, the conquest of this frozen landscape has ensured Vanu soldiers across Auraxis discounted armored vehicles for a while.

Flush with victory, I checked the map, wondering where best to deploy next. That’s when a curious message flashed across the chat:

Everyone back to the Esamir VS Warpgate! Lightning race in 10 minutes!

Well, my outfit was pulling out to make a move on Amerish… and I did need to farm certs for that new scope… but… a tank race? A spontaneous, player organized event that would bleed my resources without giving anything back? How could I… How could I refuse! What a wonderful idea! And a great use of this conquered continent now devoid of all foes! How could I miss that! I dumped a hundred of my precious certification points into a shiny, new high-speed chassis for my Lightning tank and made for the Warpgate.

The Masses Meet Microsoft Surface Pro | Weekend Watchlist

0753.Surface_031_typecover_thumb_790F0556Read along with me in a dramatic voice:

In a world of overgrown cell phones… A world where thin and light masks gimpy guts… One tablet… Aspired to be different… One tablet… Dreamed of being… A laptop!

Big dramatic music cue and-

Microsoft Surface Pro: The Ultrabook you want. The tablet you crave.

Or is it?

It was inevitable: PC power in a tablet form factor. The big surprise was that Microsoft, perhaps not the first name that comes to mind as either a PC or tablet manufacturer, was first to market with this dream hybrid. Rocking an Intel dual-core Core i5 Processor, 4 GB of RAM, 1080p display, and running the full, 64-bit version of Windows 8 Pro, Surface Pro is undoubtedly the first of a new generation in portable computing.

In this edition of the Weekend Watchlist we take a look at the first reviews and hands-on impressions of early adopters to see if Surface Pro is the third coming of the PC or just another tablet turkey.

First up, an overview of the device straight from Microsoft.

Begun Anew These Console Wars Have–PlayStation 4 Announced

ps4In a move that surprised no one, Sony has unveiled the upcoming model of their home video gaming console named, equally unsurprisingly, PlayStation 4. As is par for the course in the hype up preceding any new technological gizmo, we have a lot of hyperbole about how it will change the way you live and think forever backed up with a number of ambiguous logos, target renders (what developers hope their upcoming games will look like), and tech demos with no basis in reality (“Look at how many polygons this dude’s head has since we didn’t have to code anything else!”).

Still, it’s fun to dream!

So, what do we actually know? Well, the newest member of the venerable PlayStation family is a lot closer to your PC than ever before thanks to the system now being powered by a 8-core X86 processor (details not yet announced) as the CPU and a standard PC GPU. The game console is finally going to have enough memory to get some multitasking done thanks to the addition of 8GB RAM (shared between video and system).  In other words, the PS4 is a PC; Lock, stock, and barrel. It even has a suspend mode.

ds4_1The tried-and-true DualShock controller remains mostly the same but gets some slick new features by way of touchpad and glowing LED light on the back for motion tracking made possible by a pair of cameras, similar to the PS3’s Move controller system.

The promised software features of the PS4 look a good deal more revolutionary (at least for Sony) than the little tid-bits revealed about the hardware. Sony’s acquisition of cloud gaming service Gaikai will finally be bearing fruit as the PS4 promises to stream demos on demand and offer real-time spectating and video capture similar to Onlive. A much more ambitious proposed feature allows gamers to hand off control of their game to another person remotely. Oh, and since this is a 21st century device social media sharing features will be integrated into every facet of the new system.

No release dates or pricing have been announced. Heck, they didn’t even show what the console looks like! All of these details will undoubtedly be coming in drip and drabs through the year. Now is the time for drink deep of the marketing Kool-Aid and dream of the future. It is a time to giggle like schoolchildren and imagine what ‘play’ may mean in the future.

Let’s just hope that the next announcement is streamed by someone with the bandwidth capable of handling it as opposed to Twitch/Ustream…


Fun Facts About Hollywood’s Hottest Hoopties

The folks over at AutoInsurance.us have put together the following feature showcasing the prices and performance peaks of some of Hollywood’s most famous automobiles. How much does Chitty Chitty Bang Bang go for on eBay? How long does it take Doc Brown’s time traveling DeLorean to hit 88mph? Read on for the answers to these mechanical mysteries and more!

The Greatest Cars In Hollywood

A Musical Recap of the U.S. Presidents

It’s President’s Day here in the U.S. so while we’re sitting at home on our bums (apologies to The Mrs.) why not put a little edumacation in yer learnin’ box? As will any good textbook you’ll find in the United States’ public education system, we’re using outdated information from 2005. Here then is Jonathan Coulton’s song about the U.S. presidents set to public domain pictures by YouTuber sirana.

The Sky Is Falling | Out Of This World Weekly

Everyone that I know has heard of the meteorite that hit near Chelyabinsk, Russia.  Objects from space attacking Earth are apparently some sort of super-gossip.  Like any other type of gossip, facts can get distorted and overblown.  Is the sky falling to the point that we should run for the nearest shelter or is this event commonplace on the time scale of the Earth?  Let’s start out with some things that we know.  NASA has updated the projected size of the meteor from 49ft (15m) to 55ft (17m) and from 7,000 to 10,000 tons.  It was believed to enter the atmosphere 6,500 miles away above Alaska travelling at 33,000mph and took 32 seconds for it to disintegrate in Earth’s atmosphere at an altitude of 13 to 31 miles above the surface, causing an explosion equivalent to a 500 kiloton nuclear warhead.  Approximately 1,200 people were injured, mostly from the glass and other damage to over 4,000 buildings that was caused by the shockwave of the explosion.   This type of event is considered a once in a hundred year event and the largest since the 130ft (40m) Tunguska meteorite event which occurred in Russia in 1908. 

Meteor Explosion Rocks Russia | Weekend Watchlist

Meteor

Friday morning people had their eyes on a large astral body designated 2012 DA14 which was heading for a near Earth trajectory. Although passing a mere 18,000 kilometers from our planet, the 150ft. meteorite was not expected to pose any significant threat. And, in fact, it didn’t.

What no one predicted was a much smaller, unrelated meteor (Bolide, or Fireball, more accurately), estimated at 45 feet in diameter with a mass of 40 tons, would enter Earth’s atmosphere and break apart in a massive explosion only 30km above the Chelyabinsk region in Russia with a force estimated at three-hundred kilotons.

The Russian Interior Ministry states there have been over one-thousand injuries, most not serious and only 50 people remain hospitalized. Not a single related fatality has been reported. 3,000 buildings have sustained damage, mostly from having their windows blown out during the shockwave. Damage is estimated at 1 billion Russian Rubles, or $33 million USD. Governor Mikhail Yurevich states, “That’s not much for such an accident.” It is estimated that 30% of the damaged windows have already been replaced.

Our first video is a compilation of footage Russia Today collected from various dashboard cameras that captured footage of the event.

FAA Reveals Which Organizations Are Allowed Drone Eyes in the Sky

SKY-02 UAVFeel like someone’s watching you? A quick peek at the EFF’s Map of Domestic Drone Authorizations may prove your paranoia justified.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released an updated list of organizations allowed usage of unmanned drones in U.S. airspace in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The list shows that 81 public groups have been granted permission to operate drones thus far. On the list you’ll find many organizations you’d expect, such as The State Department and several Sheriff’s Offices, and a few that may surprise you, like Barona Band of Mission Indians Risk Management Office and a several community colleges.

eff-drone-map

The EFF explains their concerns regarding the proliferation of drone usage across the United States in the following statement:

“As we’ve written in the past, drone use in the United States implicates serious privacy and civil liberties concerns. Although drones can be used for neutral, or even for positive purposes, drones are also capable of highly advanced and, in some cases, almost constant surveillance, and they can amass large amounts of data. Even the smallest drones can carry a host of surveillance equipment, from video cameras and thermal imaging to GPS tracking and cellphone eavesdropping tools. They can also be equipped with advanced forms of radar detection, license plate cameras, and facial recognition. And, as recent reporting from PBS andSlate shows, surveillance tools, like the military’s development of gigapixel technology capable of “tracking people and vehicles across an entire city,” are improving rapidly.”

To say that the technological advancement of unmanned airborne vehicles (UAVs) is outpacing our legal sophistication in regulating these devices is an understatement. Drones such as Beijing MicroPilot’s SKY-02 UAV (pictured above) can be purchased for as little as $1,000. While undoubtedly an invaluable tool for law enforcement, concerns over the privacy of citizens has caused Charlottesville, Virginia to ban the use of aerial surveillance drones altogether.

Hacked Emergency Broadcast Service Message Warns of Zombie Apocalypse

zombie_tv-555pxResidents of Montana were surprised today to have their mid-day television viewing interrupted by a warning from the Emergency Broadcast System that zombies were coming to eat their brains. According to KRTV Channel 3, a CW network affiliate, “Someone apparently hacked into the Emergency Alert System and announced on KRTV and the CW that ‘dead bodies are rising from their graves’ in several Montana counties.” KRTV states that the message did not originate from the station and that there is no emergency. An investigation is continuing into the event to determine if other media outlets were affected.

Or did KRTV just cover up the truth?!

DMC: Devil May Cry Frees Gamers From Ambiguous Checkpoints

Ninja Theory's reboot of the classic spectacle fighter franchise has a lot going for it. High flying action, imaginative level design, and a color-coded affinity system that permeates both the fighting and platforming sequences of the game make DMC a must play for fans of the genre. But there is one brilliant, show-stopping feature that stands to revolutionize game design as we know it.

DMC-DevilMayCry 2013-02-09 13-08-25-12

Can you see it?

For more than a decade gamer-kind has gazed up the ominous prompt “Are you sure you want to quit? Any progress since your last checkpoint will be lost!” with fear and trepidation. No more! Behold DMC: Devil May Cry’s shining achievement in UI design:

DMC's Greatest Feature

For far too long we have suffered under the yoke of ambiguous autosaves. No more! The line must be drawn here. This far, no farther! Take notice, game designers: We The People are now aware that you have access to a miraculous timekeeping device known as a clock. Use it!

WorldWide Telescope | Out Of This World Weekly

It wasn’t long ago that the only way to truly see the wonders of the universe was to go out, buy a fairly expensive telescope, and try to point it at the sky until you found something interesting to look at.  With most people living in light polluted cities, this would usually produce limited results that took a long night of searching to achieve.  Today astronomers use vast telescopes that are able to peer billions of years into the past, yet they rarely if ever look through an actual lens.  Instead of a lens, light sensitive devices are put into the telescope and these produce pictures which the astronomers can look at on their computers just like we do at home.  Microsoft Research has been working on a way to get all the pictures from all of the telescopes to be accessible on your computer through the internet.  They call this program the WorldWide Telescope (WWT) and it is free to everyone.  That’s right, now you have access to the best and updated images of every planet, star, nebula, galaxy that the professionals do.

TPB AFK, The Pirate Bay Documentary, Debuts for Free, Sale, Digital, and Physical for Film Festival Premiere

TPB movie posterFrom local file sharing site to cultural revolution, there is little doubt that The Pirate Bay has provided ample food for thought and many amusing tales to our always-on world. Simon Klose began filming footage to chronicle this phenomenon in 2008. Today, as the three founders of The Pirate Bay are either in prison or awaiting sentencing, Simon has released his completed documentary, TPB AFK: The Pirate Bay – Away From Keyboard, to the world stating:

“I hope their story will re-spark the conversation around civil rights in the digital age – beyond the so called Content industries. Let’s work together to find fair solutions to both keep the internet open while protecting everyone’s rights in the digital age.”

“TPB AFK will be the first film in the history of the Berlinale (ed. Berlin International Film Festival) to be released simultaneously online, for free and for sale. We want to share the film with our peers all over the world the very second it is made available to the audience in Berlin.”

A YouTube version can be found embedded below. Those that prefer a downloadable copy can grab one via BitTorrent from, of course, The Pirate Bay in 480p, 720p, or 1080p posted by Simon himself. You can purchase a downloadable version or DVD at watch.tpbafk.tv

Review: Omerta: City of Gangsters (Xbox 360/PC)–A Jagged Alliance of Mobsters

Omerta 2013-02-03 23-49-06-48Psst! Hey, buddy. Fancy yerself a nip of the ol’ turn-based tactics? How’s ‘bout a bit o’ city building? Twist of RPG stats an’ perks? Sure, sure. Maybe say we mix it all up in an oak barrel and age it back to the roaring twenties? Sound good? Well, lemme tells ya, Haemimont Games, the cats behind Tropico 3 and 4, have gots an offer ya can’t refuse.

Omerta: City of Gangsters puts you in the stylish shoes of <your name here> D’Angelo as he steps off the boat from the old country and into prohibition era Atlantic City. In the beefy 20 mission campaign you’ll follow D’Angelo as he takes his first missteps on the Jersey shore to becoming boss of Atlantic City and troubles that follow. The game’s flow mirrors other strategy classics such as Jagged Alliance or XCOM. You begin at an overhead view of a neighborhood where you’ll rent buildings for setting up various business to generate cash, goods, or reputation. You’ll also have the opportunity to deal with already present business via a friendly buyout or less friendly fire bombing. Every action you take causes ripples across the neighborhood as each establishment adjusts its opinion of you. When a raid goes wrong or some canary needs to be silenced you’ll drop down to location in question and take turns trading gunfire and knife swings up close and personal. Beyond the campaign you’ll find turn-based online play, both competitive and cooperative, to pit your favorite mob of mobsters against a friend, and an objective free sandbox mode, but these feel more like freebie bonuses than full fledged game features.

Monkey Island’s Insult Swordfighting Reminds Your Browser it Surfs Like a Cow

insult swordfightingHarkening back to the 1990s piratey point n’ click adventure, Monkey Island Insult Swordfighting by Karza recaps the comic misadventures of Guybrush Threepwood on his quest to become a mighty pirate. You’ll need to prove that your wit is twice as sharp as your sword as you attempt to collect and match barbed insults with to-the-point retorts against unsavory brigands to prove yourself worthy of being trained by the Sword Master of Melee Island.

This HTML5 coded browser game collects not just the insults from the original game, The Secret of Money Island, but those from the third installment, The Curse of Money Island, as well for maximum verbal violence. The title is suitable for jokester of all ages and skill levels, requiring only a sense of humor and good memory. The source code is available for download and it even runs on mobile browsers! Check it out.

Dark Flow And Other Universes | Out Of This World Weekly

Dark Energy and Dark Matter have been huge buzz words in the astronomical circles but now another dark idea is trying to gain traction.  Dark Flow is an idea that is now backed by a three and five year study of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe  (WMAP) survey of 1,000 galaxy clusters over a distance of 2.5 billion light years.  Apparently, a section of the universe is moving with a much higher velocity than the rest of the universe.  It is thought that this flow is being caused by the collision of our universe with a completely different universe that is not a product of the same Big Bang that caused ours.  This collision is thought responsible for a 600-1,000 kilometer per second velocity difference that isn’t seen in other parts of the universe and since the cause is not proven, it is referred to as “Dark”.  While this theory is not recognized because it simply hasn’t been studied enough to either confirm or deny its existence, future missions are going to look into this interesting phenomenon starting with the ESA Planck mission which should yield data in the first quarter of 2013. 

Cameras Mounted on Critters | Weekend Watchlist

buck camIn the 21st century we have teeny, tiny video cameras. We have easy to use, go anywhere, wireless networking. We have dirt cheap mass storage. This gives us a unique opportunity to see our world in a whole different way. In this edition of the Weekend Watchlist, we check out a few of the unique points of view modern technology has allowed us to share. Forget everything you know about your perception of the world around us. This weekend, we’re mounting cameras on critters!

Curious about that image at the beginning of this article? Good! Curiosity cured the cat. It’s also the first video we’re taking a look at today. That, my friends, is actually a still captured from a camera mounted on a buck while drinking from a forest stream, courtesy of The Deer Channel. And just wait until you see the whole vid!

Behind the Blog: February 1, 2013–Guns and GOTYs

Behind-Blog-button-2_thumbHi there, me again. Still not much movement in either the traffic or Top 5 department so I’m milking that as an excuse to just yaketey-yak in the same informal manner as last month. If you miss the old version of B the B or prefer the this more informal version, please let me know in the comments or via Facebook or email or smoke signal. Whichever. We’re not hard to get ahold of. In terms of new content, Weekend Watchlist continues to top the local charts with the exception of the one on non-lethal weaponry. Lou’s Out of This World feature from the end of December about NASA turning an asteroid into a Space Base also picked up an outstanding amount of hits.

It occurs to me that perhaps a quick word on how pageviews are tallied may be in order. I doubt it’s much of a stretch to think that anyone who would spend time reading through B the B is a regular site visitor and probably reads most of our content from the main page. That actually doesn’t count when we look at the numbers on a per-article basis. So if you see something you really like, clicking through on the red article headline will take you to a full page view of that story and give you a little anonymous vote when I check out the monthly totals.