What happened to game demos?

Alec Meer at Rock Paper Shotgun laments the slow demise of decent game demos.

Demos still exist and probably always will, but they've become the exception rather than the rule. Even in the last couple of years, the decline has been rapid - it's a relative rarity to post about one on RPS now. Publishers seem to have settled on marketing and heavy, heavy promotion (often including bewildering ARGs) as the alternative - a surer way to drum up interest in and expectation for the game, and one that does so without the dread risk of a gamer discovering that, actually, they don't like this all that much. For some really big games, the norm even seems to be not releasing a demo until weeks or months after the full release, presumably to help drum up those few stragglers who somehow resisted the pervasive trailers and advertisements.

I still have some Amiga cover disks somewhere around here...

The Slow, Strange Death Of The Demo [Rock Paper Shotgun] Read the rest

Moment of Impact: the amazing photography of Alan Sailer

Alan Sailer was an obscure photographer, shooting stuff with a pellet gun and a home-made microsecond flash. Then the social networks found him. By Rob Beschizza

Hacker and internet troll Weev befriends DSK: "We're all like one big Breakfast Club in there"

Accused attempted rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn has met the welcome wagon, and it is Weev. The hacker and internet troll who lives in the downtown New York City building where DSK is placed under house arrest told the New York Post he's met the ex-IMF chief, and that they are pals of a sort.

"He's an OK guy," said Andrew Auernheimer, 26, (pictured) who claims that DSK lives on the fourth floor of the Empire Building at 71 Broadway, where "eight or nine other guys are all in the same situation."

"We're all like one big Breakfast Club in there," he said. "I saw the guy coming in . . . with guards. . . and roaming the hallway and I invited the guy in and introduced him to a few people. . ..

Auernheimer, aka Weev, is one of the guys who discovered a flaw at AT&T's website that compromised the privacy of thousands of iPad users.


Two dudes seeking "maximum lols" charged in AT&T iPad hack case ... AT&T iPad hack discoverer arrested Read the rest

Rainforest activists murdered in Brazil

The bodies of Amazon rainforest activist Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria do Espirito Santo are carried to burial by friends and relatives, in the municipal cemetery of Maraba, in Brazil, on May 26, 2011. The identity of those responsible for the shooting in northern Brazil on Tuesday has not yet been determined, but da Silva predicted his own death six months ago, and was the recipient of frequent death threats by illegal loggers and cattle ranchers.

"I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment -- because I denounce the loggers and charcoal producers," he said.

Watch his speech at TEDxAmazonia, below, in which he says he believes killing trees in the rainforest is murder (click the "cc" button in the player for English subtitles).

The murders of da Silva and his wife took place as Brazil's Congress debates a divisive bill that threatens to further expand deforestation. Da Silva and Espirito Santo were active in the same organization of forest workers that was founded by legendary conservationist Chico Mendes. Al Jazeera has a video report here, and a first-person account from the funeral for the slain activist here.

More news coverage: NPR, New York Times, Guardian, Reuters, Telegraph.

Photos above and below: Reuters. Read the rest

ATM repairman who worked for Diebold accused of swapping $200K in fake bills for cash

64-year-old Samuel Kioskl of San Francisco, who services ATMs for Bank of America as an employee of Diebold, has been charged with swapping $200,000 in fake bills for real cash at machines.

Last July, Kioskli went to six BofA branches in San Francisco and one in Daly City, and made off with about $200,000 by swapping out the cash in the machine trays with counterfeit or photocopied $20 bills, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

More at the San Francisco Chronicle. Read the rest

California lawsuit accuses Apple, Google, Adobe, and others of fixing worker pay

A lawsuit filed in California accuses Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar of violating antitrust laws by conspiring to fix employee pay, and agreeing on "no solicitation" deals with one another. Executives from the aforementioned companies "entered into an interconnected web of express agreements to eliminate competition among them for skilled labor," the suit charges. (CNET) Read the rest

Disney withdraws trademark application for Navy "Seal Team 6"

After the Navy basically told them to back the hell off, The Walt Disney Co. withdrew its application to trademark the phrase "SEAL Team 6." A previous Boing Boing post on the story is here. Read the rest

US Senate and House vote to extend Patriot Act provisions; Obama expected to sign

Update, 751pm ET: The House has approved a 4-year USA PATRIOT act extension, 250-153.

The US Senate voted today to extend three key provisions of the Patriot Act which were scheduled to expire tonight at midnight. The measure is now before the House for debate, and is scheduled to complete its work tonight. Civil liberties advocates charge that the provisions, in particular portions related to electronic surveillance and wiretapping, are a violation of the Constitution. If Congress approves the extension, it goes before President Obama, who is currently in Europe. Reuters reports that White House spokesman Nick Shapiro says the President will use "the autopen to sign" the bill quickly into law. The autopen is a machine that replicates his signature.

One of the three provisions, Section 206 of the Patriot Act, provides for roving wiretap surveillance of targets who try to thwart Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) surveillance. Without such roving wiretap authority, investigators would be forced to seek a new court order each time they need to change the location, phone or computer that needs to be monitored.

Another provision, Section 215 of the Patriot Act, allows the FBI to apply to the FISA court to issue orders granting the government access to any tangible items in foreign intelligence, international terrorism and clandestine intelligence cases.

The third provision, Section 6001 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act of 2004, closes a loophole that could allow individual terrorists not affiliated with specific organizations to slip through the cracks of FISA surveillance.

Read the rest



(Thanks, Tara McGinley!) Read the rest

Is Glencore up to something shady? Lawyers send bizarre warnings to reporters

Commodities firm Glencore just had a weak IPO in London, going underwater by the end of day one. But have you heard of them? Probably not! The news is of little interest outside of the finance pages. Journalists, however, have started receiving bizarre legal warnings telling them how to cover the "extremely private individuals" who run the company—letters from a law firm notorious for getting "super-injunctions" for clients that need the British press gagged.

So guess what! Suddenly, Glencore looks quite interesting to the press. Remember the last giant commodities trader to need one of those gagging orders? [IBTimes] Read the rest

Ratko Mladic, "God of Genocide," arrested

(PHOTOS / REUTERS. At left, in 1993: Bosnian Serb army Commander General Ratko Mladic (L) salutes.)

The self-proclaimed "God of genocide" in Srebrenica, the Serbian ethnic general Ratko Mladic was arrested today in a small village eighty kilometers from Belgrade.

Mladic sheltered there with a relative, and lived under a false name. For years on end he hid like a house-mouse, and was arrested with a similar meekness.

Old, docile, with one hand crippled, the formerly ferocious warlord lived peaceably and invisibly in a house that had been searched repeatedly by the Serbian police. This long-wanted war criminal and exceedingly successful fugitive from justice had a 10 million euro award on his head.

And yet, recent polls say that, despite the suffering and ignominy he brought them, 51 percent of Serbian citizens would not have given him up to the international war tribunal in the Hague. No, not for any money. Serbian stubbornness has gone beyond the period of Mladic's bloodstained hero-worship. Nowadays the Serbs have grown indifferent to Mladic while actively resenting the European Union, whose economic disorders have made Serbian life miserable.

And yet it appears that somebody did betray Mladic for the reward: someone among his circle of close friends. Some years ago, an entire group of people, who were all accused of actively sheltering Mladic, were released from a Serbian court through lack of evidence. Read the rest

Raw Opium: documentary trailer

[Video Link]

Raw Opium is a journey around the world and through time, where conflicting forces do battle over the narcotic sap of the opium poppy. From an opium master in southeast Asia to a UN drug enforcement officer on the border of Afghanistan hunting down the smugglers of central Asia; from a former Indian government Drug Czar and opium farmer to a crusading Vancouver doctor and Portuguese street worker who daily confront the realities of drug addiction.

Raw Opium: A feature documentary about a commodity that has tremendous power - both to ease pain and to destroy lives Read the rest

Saudi woman wants to give women the right to drive in her country

A Saudi woman named Manal al-Sherif is leading a movement to encourage women to learn to drive cars in her country, where only men are allowed to drive.

The campaigners are calling for a mass drive on 17 June. The group say women joining the campaign should not challenge authorities if they are stopped and questioned, and should abide by the country's strict dress code. "We want to live as complete citizens, without the humiliation that we are subjected to every day because we are tied to a driver. We are not here to break the law ... we are here to claim one of our simplest rights."

Saudi Women's Facebook page: "Teach me how to drive so I can protect myself"

(Via Arbroath) Read the rest

"Vaught's Practical Character Reader," weird phrenology book from 1902

BB reader Pea Hix points us to a digital copy of "Vaught's Practical Character Reader," a sort of phrenology book from 1902. "The illustrations are copious and fantastic, and could be a fun source of profile pics!"

(archive.org via BB Submitterator) Read the rest

Video of Steve Jobs introducing the Apple Store in 2001

[Video Link] Interesting to see how the store and Steve have changed over the last ten years! (Via Doobybrain) Read the rest

Read This: Powering the Dream

Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology was not what I expected. It was better, and more meaningful, than that.

Let me explain. I'd heard little bits and pieces about this book long before it was bound together inside a cover. I'm working on my own book about the future of energy right now, and I'd chatted with Alexis Madrigal, Atlantic.com Tech editor and Powering the Dream's author, about our shared thoughts on energy technologies, energy culture, and the way our respective books were shaping up.

From those conversations, I'd been looking forward to an in-depth history of things. I expected to learn about the electric motors that drove some early automobiles ... about the tinkering farmers and eccentric engineers who turned the windmill from a kludgy product of desperation into a well-designed machine ... about the first attempts to capture the power of the sun for useful work, and why would-be the solar revolution of the 1970s never happened. And Powering the Dream does cover all that stuff. And more. There's plenty here to keep Makers enthralled.

But, ultimately, the history of things is just trivia. And it's only really part of what this book is about. The stuff that actually matters—why you really ought to read Powering the Dream—is Madrigal's take on the history of ideas. Read the rest

Google unveils pay-by-mobile-phone system

Google and partners Mastercard, Citigroup, First Data and Sprint today unveiled "Google Wallet" and "Google Offers", which will allow US shoppers to pay "by waving their mobile phones at the checkout counter." The service will be made available this summer in New York and San Francisco. (Reuters) Read the rest

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