As gamers, we love our hobby; and as people, we love company. QuakeCon, of course, made that fact ridiculously obvious. Sure, the convention's glitz and glamour were nice, but gamers trekked out into Dallas' sweltering heat for one real purpose: to hang-out with other like-minded people.
But I saw plenty of that over the frag-tacular weekend. So now I'm curious: how do you guys deal with non-gamers? I imagine you interact with them on a regular basis, but do you surround yourself with them? Would you describe yourself as a normal, average-Joe who just happens to enjoy playing games, but generally falls in with most any crowd? Or do you proudly sport an "I Pwn Noobs" T-Shirt and expect your buddies to do the same? Sound off in the comments section.
Today's Roundup takes a look at how the industry's pulse-pounding pursuit of the elusive non-gamer is changing our beloved hobby. From the fall of the current five-year console cycle to Steve Jobs' apparent failure to "get" gaming, the industry is in for a wild ride. The twist? The ride has already begun. You'd best click "Read More" to continue.
Net Applications has released the global market share statistics of all major web browsers for the month of July. Internet Explorer registered a slight increase, as its market share went up by .01% to 73.02% compared to the previous month. Although the increase is statistically trivial, its significance lies in the fact that it has come after months of steady decline. IE’s only major competitor, Firefox, witnessed a month-over-month decline of .19% and ended up with 19.03% market share. Undoubtedly, Firefox’s market share grew on the back of the pompous Firefox 3 launch in June. So the slight decline can be seen as a correction of sorts. However, Firefox 3 is still going strong at the expense of Safari and its predecessor Firefox 2. Both Safari and Opera were down in July, according to Net Applications' July survey.
The specs common to both versions are Windows XP, 10.2” LCD screen, LED backlight 1024x600 WSVGA, Intel Integrated Graphics GMA 950, Integrated 1.3M Camera, Battery up to 3 hrs. w/ 3 cell Battery & Up to 6 hrs. w/ 6 cell, Multi-touch Pad & near full size Keyboard (85% full size), Integrated Wireless 802.11 b/g,10/100 Ethernet, Bluetooth and 4in1 Multi-card Reader.
The base version will retail for $399 and will have a 80 GB HDD and 512MB memory, while the $499 version will come with a 160 GB HDD and 1GB memory. In some parts of the world there will also be 9” versions with Linux preloads.
The IdeaPad S10 will also feature Lenovo’s OneKey Rescue System for recovering precious data in the face of an out-of-the-blue corruption. Expect more netbook launches in the coming months.
An Aussie company has unveiled the world’s smallest pocket projector. The vital statistics of this miniscule projector, which can offer good company to your wallet and phone, read 125 x 55 x 23 mm. The V10 pocket projector, as it’s called, can project up to 50” from a distance of 1.8 m. The V10 is nearing its release and will become available down under in September; however, there is no word on whether it will be available elsewhere. Its Australian price tag reads $649.
MySpace and Facebook users now have bigger worries than whether Wordscraper will stay online: two new worms, known as the Koobface family, are attacking Windows users of these popular social networking (or "Notworking" sites, as our friends at The Inquirer call them). These new worms pose a threat to the peace of mind of people like Zac Koobface (a real Facebook user, by the way).
Kapersky Labs was the first to detect these worms: Net-Worm.Win32.Koobface.a (targets MySpace) and Net-Worm.Win32.Koobface.b (targets Facebook). McAfee refers to both worms as W32/Koobface.worm, while Symantec uses the terms W32.Koobface.A and W32.Koobface.B.
Both worms send comments or messages to other users of the service. The messages or comments contain alleged links to humorous YouTube files (such as "Paris Hilton Tosses Dwarf On The Street"). When the user clicks on the link, the link redirects to a website that displays an error message claiming the user needs an updated codec to enable the Adobe Flash player to play the video. The alleged Flash player update (codecsetup.exe) contain the worm.
When the Koobface.A worm runs, it configures itself to run automatically when the system starts, checks for MySpace cookies, and if it finds them, modifies the user's profile by adding links to malicious sites that contain the worm. To learn more about Koobface.A and Koobface.B, check the McAfee and Symantec links earlier in this article.
If you use Kapersky, McAfee, or Symantec antivirus, the latest virus definitions will detect and stop these worms. If you use other antivirus or anti-malware programs, check for updates daily - and don't click on funny video links from other MySpace or Facebook users. The results just aren't very funny.
Been bugged by these or other social-networking worms? Tell us your story after the jump!
We're down to the last month of summertime and retail stores have already dug out their back-to-school displays. If you've been putting off that dream vacation you had planned for 2008, you better get moving. Don't know where to go? Consider one of the top vacation spots for geeks as assembled by InformationWeek.
The news outlet has compiled an interesting list of unique getaway destinations suitable for the prototypical modern day tech and sci-fi enthusiast. Are you a Lord of the Rings fan? If so, book a flight for New Zealand and schedule a Lord of the Rings Tour. The brochure promises "breathtaking scenery captured on film by Peter Jackson in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Explore Middle Earth and other famous LOTR film locations".
If you're more of a Star Trek fan, stay stateside and get your geek on in a 50,000 square foot interactive tribute to the series that has spanned over 40 years. Destinations are yet to be announced, but the tour will travel to 40 cities in the next 5 years, with a list of 2008 locales coming soon.
Other recommended spots include the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a three- or six-day Space Academy program, a jaunt to Puerto Rico to view the 20-acre reflector on the radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory, and more.
Know of a geeky destination not listed? Let us know about it!
Having squashed a last-minute bug found in the Mac OS X version, Mozilla has released the first preview of Firefox 3.1. Code namd "Shiretoko" after a national park on Japan's northern-most island of Hokkaido, the Alpha 1 build includes many of the features Mozilla hopes to add to the update before its final release ships in late 2008 or early 2009. These include improvements to the Smart Location Bar and better tab switching.
Pressing ctrl-tab in the Alpha 1 build switches users between current and last-viewed tabs instead of navigating through each one sequentially, similar to the alt-tab application switching in Windows (or command-tab for those of you grooving on a Mac). Users will also be able to see thumbnail previews of the pages in each tab. Surfers not wanting to get their hands dirty with an Alpha build can get this functionality now with the Ctrl-Tab extension.
Mozilla is also developing the Gecko 1.9.1 layout engine, which makes its debut in Firefox 3.1 Alpha 1. For this reason, expect sketchy compatibility when attempting to render some web pages.
If you choose to give the new build a whirl, be sure and let us know what you think below!
Laptops built around Intel's Centrino 2 platform are on the verge of marching into the market place en masse, and MSI appears ready to go with a pair of new gaming notebooks. The top-tier motherboard maker has launched the GX620 (15.4" WSXGA+) and GX720 (17" WSXGA+) Centrino 2 notebooks with each one sporting Nvidia's GeForce 9600M GT graphics with 512MB GDDR3. Other features include:
Intel PM45 Chipset
Up to 4GB DDR2
320GB SATA Hard Drive
Blu-ray DVD Player
Windows Vista Home Premium
Quick launch sensors above the keyboard will give gamers the ability to activate MSI's Turbo Drive Engine Technology, which "overclock the GX620/GX720, increasing the speed of the Intel Core 2 Duo processor by as much as 15 percent." Users can also utilize MSI's ECO Engine and alternate between 5 different operating modes -- Gaming, Movie, Presentation, Office, or Turbo Battery -- to optimize battery life.
No word yet on pricing or availability, but don't be surprised to see more paper Centrino 2 notebook launches in the coming days/weeks.
Private spaceflight firm SpaceX received another setback as its Falcon 1 rocket failed to make orbit over the weekend, marking the third time the firm has been unable to reach outer space. The first time came back in March 2006 when a fuel line leak and subsequent fire due to a corroded nut ended the operation. Then again in March 2007, the Falcon 1's second stage engine shut down because of a fuel slosh and roll control issues just before reaching orbit.
This time it was the failure of two rocket stages to separate that ended the mission about two minutes and 20 seconds into launch. The Falcon 1 was attempting to carry a small satellite called Trailblazer for the Pentagon's Operationally Responsive Space Office, as well as two small NASA satellites.
"It was obviously a big disappointment not to reach orbit on this Flight 3 of the Falcon 1," said Elon Music, SpaceX chairman and CEO. "On the plus side, the flight of our first stage, with the new Merlin 1C engine that will be used in Falcon 9, was picture perfect. Unfortunately, a problem occurred with stage separation, causing the stages to be held together."
Undeterred by the third failed attempt, Musk promised to move forward with plans for a fourth flight, while also continuing to develop Falcon 9 and Dragon thanks to a recent "major investment."
Homeland Security is once again drawing criticism, this time over a newly disclosed policy that has apparently existed for some time. According to the Washington Post, U.S. agents have (and have had) the authority to seize and retain laptops indefinitely, which as resulted in some travelers reporting not getting them back. And not just laptops, but all kinds of electronic devices, like cell phones, music players, portable hard drives, and more.
While the policy isn't new, it's only now being stated publicly and the contents of the DHS document has civil rights activists and lawmakers up in arms. Not only does it appear that government officials have the power to seize electronic devices, but according to U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, customs agents are allowed to analyze the contents of laptops without any suspicion of wrongdoing.
"The policies that have been disclosed are truly alarming," Feingold wrote in a statement.