Yahoo just can’t seem to catch a break. The search site’s prospects are looking dimmer and dimmer as Yahoo and Google negotiate with the Justice department to try and head off a potential antitrust lawsuit stemming from their proposed advertising partnership. Several compromises are being discussed which would lessen the strategic value of the partnership for Yahoo.
The currently proposed concessions, according to the Wall Street Journal, “include capping the volume of Google ads Yahoo would use, assurances that Yahoo would continue to compete in search ads, and a reporting mechanism to ensure compliance… U.S. officials hope to impose measures that will ensure the prices advertisers must pay don’t rise significantly after the deal.”
According to Silicon Valley Insider, these compromises would leave the already down-in-the-mouth Yahoo in an even weaker position, cutting out much of the benefit they had hoped to gain from the ad partnership. They also suggest that Microsoft’s lobbyists are responsible for the Justice Department’s scrutiny of the deal, writing that “even if [Microsoft] doesn’t buy Yahoo, it gets the quiet pleasure of poking another stick at the carcass of a company that spurned it’s now extraordinarily generous buyout offer.”
Having apparently run out of actual people to talk to, New Scientist has posted an interview with Elbot, the chatbot that won this year’s Loebner Prize for artificial intelligence. Structured after the Turing Test, the prize is awarded to whichever bot can fool the most of the 12 judges into thinking that it’s a real person.
Elbot successfully convinced three judges that it was not a chatbot, but rather a human being pretending to be a robot.
Confused? Check out this excerpt from the interview: New Scientist: You and your creator won $3000 of prize money. How do you plan to use the money?
Elbot: As I always say, it’s hard to keep a 600-pound robot down, unless you use gravity.
With natural, sensible dialogue like that, I don’t know how any of the judges could have not been fooled. On that note, if anyone is in need of a quick buck, we suggest entering a chatbot next year that pretends to be a man banging his head against the keyboard.
Anyone who wants to can chat with Elbot; give it a try and tell us what you think after the break.
Think Spore is too short? Think Spore is too long? Think Spore is just right? Well it doesn't matter what you think; EA is putting Spore on a McDonald's diet, and the game won't stop expanding until it is the Space phase. Today's highly expected declaration -- which slaps release dates on a "Cute and Creepy" parts pack and an add-on for the aforementioned Space phase -- is only the beginning.
The Cute and Creepy set, not mincing any words, will include roughly 100 parts of both kitten-copyingly adorable and kitten-crunchingly horrifying varieties. For a mere $19.95, you can help break the record for world's fastest expansion pack when Cute and Creepy launches on November 18. It also works with Spore Creature Creator, making it the first expansion to cost more than the title it's expanding.
On the other hand, the Space pack sounds more akin to a real expansion pack. Slated for release during spring of 2009, it will see "players' space faring creatures... beam down from their spaceships to explore new planets and earn rewards for completing challenging missions" as well as "a new Adventure Creator will allow players to build and share online their own custom missions."
We were hoping EA might expand some of Spore's less-awesome stages, but hey, at least EA's heralds aren't shouting the joys of Spore: H&M. Yet.
No one can deny that StarCraft II's recently announced reverse-Voltron has officially renewed Blizzard's license to print money, but they can deny Blizzard's good intentions. Vehemently. Don't worry, though; the StarCraft crafters went out of their way to provide a few argument-dominating quotes on the off-chance you're still feeling a tad miffed about their decision.
"One of the things that [StarCraft II lead producer] Chris Sigaty was saying in interviews this weekend is that we had always planned to do two expansion packs for StarCraft II. This structure just reshuffles how we were going to do things," StarCraft rep Bob Colayco told Edge in response to the titular moo-juice allusion.
"Just to give you some context, typically with Blizzard RTSes, we release a single-player campaign that gives players just a taste of each race. The original StarCraft had 10 missions each or so for Terrans and Protoss. When we released the Brood Wars expansion pack, there was another eight or so missions for each of the missions."
Each race-focused StarCraft II release, then, includes the same number of missions -- and therefore, roughly the same amount of content -- as their unified predecessor. However, instead of a pithy 10 missions per race, the Terrans stand front and center for 30 missions, as do the Zerg and Protoss.
"Well, if you want to say 'one game' is 90 missions long, then yeah, I guess you’re only getting a third of a game each time," Colayco added. "Show me a game where there are 90 missions. We’re giving players a full-fledged single-player campaign experience included in each of the games."
See? That's no cash-grabbing scheme. That's Blizzard's sacrifice. We'd type more, but we're too busy saluting and choking back a single, glistening tear.
Long the king of entertainment for the attention-deficit, YouTube is finally hosting full-length episodes of TV shows. Taking a cue from Hulu, Google will be offering the videos with the new theater view mode, “dimming the lights” on the rest of the page and adding a superfluous red curtain on either side of the video playback.
Also like Hulu, the full-length episodes will include ads before, after, and during the episodes. On their blog, YouTube explains: “As we test this new format, we also want to ensure that our partners have more options when it comes to advertising on their full-length TV shows. You may see in-stream video ads (including pre-, mid- and post-rolls) embedded in some of these episodes; this advertising format will only appear on premium content where you are most comfortable seeing such ads.”
So far, the site is offering a handful of episodes of Star Trek, MacGyver, Beverly Hills 90210 and The Young and the Restless, with the promise of more to come.
What do you think? Is YouTube going to be successful in the video on-demand market? Is it going to take more than low-res MacGyver to get you to tune in? Let us know after the break.
In what's becoming a trend, Washington D.C. joins the ranks of more than 500,000 businesses and organizations with its head in the clouds. District CTO Vivik Kundra inked an agreement with Google that will port the organization's 38,000 employees over to Google Apps.
According to Bloomberg, the agreement, which was signed back in June, is worth almost $500,000 a year and will include applications like Gmail, Google Docs, Google Video for business, and Google Sites to District employees. The latest win comes as another notch in Google's belt, as its Google Apps has been well received since launching a little over two years ago as Gmail for your domain.
But Google isn't the only one challenging Microsoft in the productivity world. Zoho also offers a collection of online apps and managed to snag GE as one of its customers. Meanwhile, Microsoft has largely been content to ride the success of its offline Office suite, but things could get interesting if cloud computing continues to pick up steam.
We at Maximum PC remember a time, long ago, when having a dual-monitor setup was enough to establish some pretty serious nerd cred. These days, however, everyone and their grandma are playing World of Warcraft and checking their email at the same time on their two screens. So what’s a guy got to do to stand out from the pack? Here’s one idea: run two computers in tandem.
Synergy is a free, open source program that allows you two control two or more computers with a single keyboard and mouse. The linked computers behave as though they were simply different monitors in a traditional multi-monitor, single-computer setup. That is to say, if you drag the mouse off the left side of the right monitor, it appears on the left monitor, directing all keystrokes to that box. More impressively, Synergy synchronizes the two computers’ clipboards and even their screensavers.
Linus Tovalds the proverbial godfather of Linux announced the official release of a new kernel on Friday bringing it up to version 2.6.27. The new version adds both ath9k wireless drivers from Atheros, and a new gspca driver which will drastically increase the number of webcams supported by the OS out of box. Some of the changes such as “function tracing framework” and “memory-mapped IO’s” are mostly for developers, but this isn’t all that was included. The performance improvements to the Ext4 file system are rumored to be substantial and a new file system called UBIFS was implemented for flash storage devices. Perhaps the most significant change however from 2.6.26 (only 3 months ago) was in the scalability of the OS. Support for up to 4096 processors now works out of box and I for one would like to try out the system they were testing this feature with. A full log of the changes has been released and you can read either the translated or developer editions for more information. Oh and did we mention that Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) received some pretty impressive looking new wallpapers?
Quality may not always happily skip hand-in-hand with sales (See: Psychonauts, and then go buy it, please), but when it does, we wear unnaturally large smiles, ecstatic that there's justice in this cold, depressing world. You can imagine, then, that our pearly whites are on the verge of breaking free from our unhinged jaws thanks to Mythic's announcement that Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning has lured 750,000 players into its overtly war-packed world.
"Thanks to our players, the war between the Realms continues to escalate at an incredible pace," said Mythic co-founder and general manager Mark Jacobs.
And he's not just spouting nonsense from his PR-approved book of hyperbole either; Warhammer's 750k sprint has topped those of both World of Warcraft and Age of Conan, who reached similar numbers within three months and two months, respectively.
But don't start ordering Waaaagh Kool-Aid as a refreshment for WoW's funeral just yet. It should be noted that boxed copies of Warhammer Online came with a free one month voucher, cancelling out the game's subscription fee for a limited time. With the game's money vacuum soon to be fully operational, will players stick around for another month?
We sure hope so. Warhammer seems genuinely different from other MMOs, and it'd be a shame to see it sink. Also, gaming just wouldn't be fun anymore if we couldn't constantly tell our friends "It's 'hammer time," before darting off for a play session.
StarCraft 2 will likely be so great, many players will want to buy it twice. Unfortunately, however, after today's BlizzCon announcement, they'll be doing Blizzard (and themselves) a huge disservice by only making two StarCraft treks. Simply put, they'll be missing 1/3 of the spacefaring RTS' universe-spanning plot, because Blizzard has announced that StarCraft 2's campaign will clear the launch pad on three separate occasions.
Predictably, each release will focus on one of StarCraft's trifecta of races. Terrans: Wings of Liberty will be first out the gate, presumably with the national sport that is the game's multiplayer mode. Zerg: Heart of the Swarm and Protoss: Legacy of the Void, then, will be pseudo-expansion packs.
Don't get the wrong idea, though. Blizzard executive VP of game design Rob Pardo explained that the Zerg and Protoss titles will "be like expansion packs," but that they'll bombard players with content. "We want them to feel like standalone products," he said.
In order to accomplish this, each campaign will break off from the rest of the pack with its own feature set. The Zerg's flesh-crawling installment will include RPG elements, while the Protoss are going the diplomatic route. Terrans, on the other hand, seem to be getting the short end of the stick with only a Protoss mini-campaign to their name, but we'll see.
Pardo also noted that Blizzard sliced and diced StarCraft 2's campaign not for fat stacks of cash (WoW would get jealous, after all), but in order to avoid delaying the game or cutting corners on quality.
As for how long in between installments we'll be hanging from cliffs, Blizzard wouldn't say. However, knowing Blizzard, we're guessing the games will be less of a Zerg-rush and more of a Zerg-Half-Life 2 Episode Three.