CCP Games, creators of the successful space MMORPG EVE Online, have announced they will be harvesting stories from within the game to create comic books, a TV series, and possibly even films set in the EVE universe. EVE has never set records for the size of its userbase, but it's long been known as a game that generates some of the best emergent gameplay in the industry. From battles involving thousands of players to in-game confidence schemes involving currency worth tens of thousands of real dollars, it's likely you've heard about players' exploits even if you haven't played the game. CCP is now looking to bring the EVE universe to a wider audience, and rather than having a group of writers dictate all of the lore, they're letting the players take part. They've set up a site where users can share their tales and vote on those of others. CCP has partnered with Dark Horse Comics to make a comic book out of the stories, and with a production company to make a live-action TV show.
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Avantare writes "The first sci-fi novel I read was A Wrinkle in Time; the next was Dune. Why don't more people read these extraordinarily imaginative books? Delegate Ray Canterbury, who represents Greenbrier County in southern WV, wants to help with that. Canterbury introduced House Bill 2983, which reads, 'To stimulate interest in math and science among students in the public schools of this state, the State Board of Education shall prescribe minimum standards by which samples of grade-appropriate science fiction literature are integrated into the curriculum of existing reading, literature or other required courses for middle school and high school students.' For decades, walking around with a paperback sci-fi novel in your back pocket at school was the quickest way to find yourself permanently excluded from the cool-kid clique. But what if it wasn't just the geeks who read Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke? What if science fiction was mandatory reading for all students?"
hackingbear writes "The Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People's Court ruled in favor of a group of Chinese authors, and Apple will have to pay them in excess of 730,000 yuan (US$118,000) for infringement. Apple had not gotten permission before selling their books on the Apple App Store, it noted. These cases were the second batch of lawsuits filed against Apple by the Writers' Right Protection Union, which includes prominent members like prolific blogger and novelist Han Han who have become a pop culture star through his creative and cynical writings criticizing the (Chinese) government."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen begin their new nonfiction book, The New Digital Age, with a rather bold pronouncement: 'The Internet is the largest experiment involving anarchy in history.' Subsequent chapters deal with how that experiment will alter life in decades to come, as more and more people around the world connect to the Internet via cheap mobile phones and other devices." Keep reading to see what Nerval's Lobster has to say about the book.
Bloomberg is reporting that Amazon has plans to release its own television set-top box later this year. The device will stream video over the internet from Amazon's video service catalog. From the article: "Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is pushing the company into a broadening array of hardware, including tablets, electronic readers and a planned smartphone. ... The set-top box is being developed by Amazon’s Lab126 division, based in Cupertino, California -- the city that’s also home to Apple. Lab126 has toyed with building connected television devices for several years, the people familiar with the effort said. ... Plans for pricing couldn't be determined. Amazon’s typical strategy is to sell hardware at competitive prices, sometimes at a loss, with the intent of making up for discounts through sales of content, including books and movies. Amazon could also use the set-top box to promote its online store.
new submitter heybiff writes "It is the time of year where students are scrambling for extra credit assignments to boost grades. As a middle school science teacher, I want to accommodate them, while still keeping science involved; and book reports are a popular activity in my school. Unfortunately, I have only been able to come up with a short list of science related books that a 11-14 year old would or could read in their free time: Ender's Game, Hitchhiker's Guide. What books would you recommend as a good read for an extra credit book report, that would still involve a strong science twist or inspire a student's interest in science? The book must be in print, science related, fiction or non-fiction, and not be overtly objectionable or outright banned. I look forward to the submissions." "Outright banned" actually seems a rich vein on which to draw; note that not even Ender's Game is safe.
An anonymous reader writes "The Blackstone Group has notified Dell's board that it has ended its bid for the company after performing 'due diligence' on Dell's books. The private equity firm gave two reasons for its withdrawal in a letter to the special committee of the board reviewing privatization offers: the 'unprecedented 14 percent market decline in PC volume in the first quarter of 2013' and 'the rapidly eroding financial profile of Dell.' IBM's recently announced intention of withdrawing from the x86 server market may have also spooked investors. Blackstone was one of two outside bidders that emerged after founder Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners announced a deal to take the company private for $24.4 billion. The remaining bidders did not comment on Blackstone's withdrawal; however, the Bloomberg piece notes that Dell's original deal with Silver Lake Partners contains language preventing the latter from backing out."
DavidGilbert99 writes "Kobo, the Canadian-based ebook company is number two in the market, behind the behemoth that is Amazon. So what does the CEO Michael Serbinis think is the one thing which will allow them to overtake the e-commerce giant? 'We don't sell any washing machines, we don't sell radios. We are not focused on the next server farm to offer data services. It is a question of focus.' Serbinis goes on to tell IBTimes UK: 'From an organization standpoint at Kobo, this is all we do. Everyone at Kobo, all we focus on is creating a great experience for book-lovers.'"
Famous for his work in math, astronomy, nuclear engineering, and theoretical physics, Freeman Dyson has left his mark on almost every scientific discipline. He's won countless awards, and written numerous books on a wide range of topics both scientific and philosophical. One of his biggest contributions to science was the unification of the three versions of quantum electrodynamics invented by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. 10 years after moving to the U.S. he started working on the Orion Project, which sought to create a spacecraft with a nuclear propulsion system. STNG exposed the idea of a Dyson sphere to the masses, and his hypothetical plan for making a comet habitable with the help of genetically-engineered plants is a personal favorite. Mr. Dyson has graciously agreed give us a bit of his time in order to answer your questions. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
Pikoro writes with news that Foxconn's parent company has entered into an agreement to pay Microsoft royalties for every Android device they manufacture, joining a rather long list of companies licensing patents for Android/Linux from Microsoft. From the BBC: "Microsoft has secured a patent deal with the world's biggest consumer electronics manufacturer to receive fees for devices powered by Google's Android and Chrome operating systems. Hon Hai — the parent company of Foxconn — said the deal would help prevent its clients being caught up in an ongoing intellectual property dispute. Microsoft says that Google's code makes use of innovations it owns. Google alleges its rival's claims are based on 'bogus patents.' 'The patents at issue cover a range of functionality embodied in Android devices that are essential to the user experience, including: natural ways of interacting with devices by tabbing through various screens to find the information they need; surfing the web more quickly, and interacting with documents and e-books.'"
benrothke writes "When I first heard about the book The Death of the Internet, it had all the trappings of a second-rate book; a histrionic title and the fact that it had nearly 50 contributors. I have seen far too many books that are pasted together by myriad disparate authors, creating a jerry-rigged book with an ISBN, but little value or substance. The only negative thing about the book is the over the top title, which I think detracts from the important message that is pervasive in it. Other than that, the book is a fascinating read. Editor Markus Jakobsson (Principal Scientist for Consumer Security at PayPal) was able to take the collected wisdom from a large cross-section of expert researchers and engineers, from different countries and nationalities, academic and corporate environments, and create an invaluable and unique reference." Read below for the rest of Ben's review.
hypnosec writes "The Internet Archive has a great collection of books, music, visual items and websites but, it had one thing lacking up until now – software. This has changed recently as The Internet Archive now claims to hold the largest collection of software in the world. The expansion at the Internet Archive has come through collaboration with other independent archives like the Disk Drives collection, the FTP site boneyard, Shareware CD Archive, and the TOSEC archive. The archive doesn't hold just the software – it also holds documentation as well."
New submitter fritsd writes "Project Gutenberg Distributed Proofreaders, a volunteer site which helps provide public domain books to Project Gutenberg, announced that their 100 000+ volunteers have reached the milestone of 25 000 books scanned, OCRed, and then meticulously proofread." The 25000th title is The Art and Practice of Silver Printing by Capt. Abney and H. P. Robinson.
RougeFemme writes with this story in the New York Times about one disconcerting aspect of the ongoing move to electronic textbooks: "Teachers at 9 colleges are testing technology from a Silicon Valley start-up that lets them know if you're skipping pages, highlighting text, taking notes — or, of course, not opening the book at all. '"It's Big Brother, sort of, but with a good intent," said Tracy Hurley, the dean of the school of business at Texas A&M.' 'Major publishers in higher education have already been collecting data from millions of students who use their digital materials. But CourseSmart goes further by individually packaging for each professor information on all the students in a class — a bold effort that is already beginning to affect how teachers present material and how students respond to it, even as critics question how well it measures learning.'"
First time accepted submitter matria writes "MODx is a free, open-source Content Management System and Framework, developed and supported by MODX LLC and a global community. The latest iteration of MODx, called Revolution, is entirely object-oriented. To take advantage of the power of MODx, the developer needs to learn how MODx works and how to use its building blocks to extend it to satisfy his purpose. While there is official documentation and a number of websites with tips and tutorials, as well as an active and friendly forum, for the dedicated developer one of the publications that it is good to be aware of is W. Shawn Wilkerson's MODX Revolution — Building the Web Your Way." Read below for the rest of matria's review.
The_Other_Kelly writes "News that will shock and sadden the many fans of Iain (M.) Banks. He is suffering from gall bladder cancer, and things do not look good: 'The bottom line, now, I'm afraid, is that as a late stage gall bladder cancer patient, I'm expected to live for "several months" and it's extremely unlikely I'll live beyond a year.' His books, both normal and science fiction, are world view warping Excessions, and my heart goes out to him and his. I am shocked and saddened. Thank you, Iain."
An anonymous reader writes "The tiny island of Tristan da Cunha is officially the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world with few connections to the outside and access only by sea when the notoriously stormy south Atlantic co-operates which is not often. Entertainment options are limited and LARPing in Game of Thrones style has become massively popular, so much so that the islanders have declared Dothraki to be an official language, alongside English."
A while ago you had the chance to ask James Randi, the founder of The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), about exposing hucksters, frauds, and fakers. Below you'll find his answers to your questions. In addition to his writings below, Randi was nice enough to sit down and talk to us about his life and his foundation. Keep an eye out for those videos coming soon.
theodp writes "GeekWire reports on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' pending patent on remote displays that communicate with base stations and operate on wireless power. Reducing devices to mere screens with minimal storage that receive pre-rendered content (e.g., bitmap images), the patent application explains, eliminates the need for bulky batteries or processors, and employing techniques like electromagnetic or electrostatic induction allows one to cut the cord completely. Such remote displays, Amazon suggests, could find a home on college campuses (tablets), in your car (windshield displays or DVD players), and even on your face (eyeglasses)." There's already a (not wirelessly powered) device similar to the one described in the patent.