Sony BMG has agreed to pay $1 million to the Federal Trade Commission to settle charges claiming Sony violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). While $1 million might seem a drop in the bucket to a company like Sony, the FTC points out the $1 million penalty matches the largest ever paid in a COPPA case.
The suit, which was filed just yesterday, alleged that Sony managed to collect personal information on roughly 30,000 users under the age of 13, including full names, gender, birth date, email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and in some cases, full mailing addresses. According to the FTC, the information was obtained through various Sony-owned websites designed to promote and advertise the company's music offerings, but didn't restrict visitors under the age of 13 from registering.
"Sites with social networking features, like any Web sites, need to get parental consent before collecting kids' personal information," FTC Chairman William Kovacic said in a statement. "Sony Music is paying the penalty for falling down on its COPPA obligations."
In addition to the $1 million penalty, Sony must also delete all personal information it had collected from those under 13 years old, and must also distribute the FTC's "How to Comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule" to all of its employees. In addition, Sony's also required to link to the children's privacy section of the FTC's website for five years.
The promise of in-game physics has yet to be fully realized, but the technology doesn't appear to be going anywhere. Leading the charge is Nvidia, who has a vested interest with its acquired PhysX technology. But in an interview with Bit-Tech, Godfrey Cheng, Director of Technical Marketing in AMD's Graphics Product Group, downplayed the proprietary standard.
"There is no plan for closed and proprietary standards like PhysX," said Cheng. "As we have emphasized with our support for OpenCL and DX11, closed and proprietary standards will die."
The comment came in response to questions about EA's and 2K's decision to license Nvidia's PhysX technology across all of their worldwide studios. And while Cheng said he can't comment on competitor's business models, he did say that AMD views "Havok technologies and products to be the leaders in physics simulation," pointing out that game developers share that same view. If true, it would be reasonable to assume EA and 2K have gone against their development studios' wishes by adopting PhysX.
"People need to scrutinize various announcements on what is beling 'licensed,'" Cheng pointed out. "Is it to replace the whole physics simulation / tool stack within a game or within the whole studio? Is it for a specific physics simulation product or just a couple of titles? Remember PhysX also has game physics libraries in addition to its new GPU based products."
Cheng went on to say that Havok physics on Radeon videocards is still forthcoming, possibly by early 2009, but noted that this is just the beginning of in-game physics.
Research in transparent electronic devices isn't anything new, but for the first time (that we're aware of), a group of scientists have created what they say is an "almost completely clear" computer chip. Credit goes to the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) team responsible for creating the see-through transparent resistive random access memory (TRRAM) based on maturing RRAM technology. RRAM technology is currently being developed by companies like Fujitsu, Samsung, Micron, and Spansion as a non-volatile memory technology that will attempt to replace flash, TGDaily says.
The KAIST team said its TRRAM device is based on an ITO (indium tim oxide)/ZnO/ITO capacitor structure with a transmittance of 81 percent in the visible region of the chip. Creating the chip consisted of essentially sandwiching the RRAM's metal oxide materials between equally transparent electrodes and substrates, which gives the chip its transparency. According to the researchers, the chip is capable of retaining data for 10 years.
There hasn't been a ton of interest in clear electronics up to this point, but the KAIST team is hopeful their discovery might change that. Eventually, the technology could enable the development of clear computer monitors and TVs that are embedded inside glass.
The number of available OLED keyboards has just doubled with the release of the United Keys OLED Display Keyboard. Unlike the Optimus Maximus, United Keys' plank doesn't sport a fancy name or boast 16-bit color support, nor does it cost a small fortune. What you do get are nine monochrome OLED display keys slapped onto an otherwise standard keyboard.
The USB-powered keyboard measures about 20.5 inches long by 7.25 inches wide and emits a blue glow on each side. Each of the 64 x 64 resolution OLED keys can be mapped to a command and customized with an image (.png) or text, and the included software, which is pre-loaded in flash memory, works on both Windows XP and Vista.
For those unwilling to give up their favorite plank, United Keys also offers a separate nine-key OLED keypad with the same feature-set for $60 less. Both the keyboard and keypad and manufactured by Foxconn and carry and 1-year warranty through United Keys.
The United Keys OLED keyboard and keypad are available now for $260 and $200 respectively.
Call of Duty: World at War, Spore, and Fallout 3 definitely got in a few chomps before getting turned to paste under the weight of WoW's millions, though. Left 4 Dead also made the "November Top Ten" page of 2008's gaming yearbook, though in a somewhat unspectacular fashion -- probably because NPD figures only cover retail sales.
Check out the full list below:
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $36 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Ed. / Blizzard / $50 (Average)
Call Of Duty: World At War / Treyarch / $50 (Average)
Spore / EA Maxis / $48 (Average)
Fallout 3 / Bethesda / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $34 (Average)
The Sims 2 Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Left 4 Dead / Valve / $48 (Average)
The Sims 2 Apartment Life Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $21(Average)
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 / EA LA / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $18 (Average)
The Sims 2 Mansion & Garden Stuff Exp. / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy / Her Interactive / $20 (Avearge)
EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey / Sony Online Ent. / $40 (Average)(Average)
Far Cry 2 / Ubisoft Montreal / $50 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack / Blizzard / $29 (Average)
BioShock / 2K Boston, Australia / $14 (Average)
Spore Creepty & Cute Parts Pack / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
IGT Slots: Little Green Men / Masque / $20 (Average)
Assassin's Creed / Ubisoft Montreal / $11 (Average)
So, did you pre-pay your respects to a game retailer's barely breathing form last month? And if so, what'd you buy?
The Free Software Foundation filed suit in U.S. District Court today, alleging that networking giant Cisco violated FSF copyrights by not giving its users the ability to share and modify the open-source software it uses as the basis for some of its hardware. That's a mouthful, so here's what happened: According FSF, the company found that Cisco was using a GNU-licensed version of Linux to power its firmware. Only, Cisco wasn't giving its customers the full access to the source code that the GNU license specifies as a condition of use!
Think Bethesda shouldn't have spilled so much Oblivion into the good ol' Fallout formula? Think you can do a better job? Well, here's your chance. After heralding its arrival a couple weeks ago, it's our pleasure to inform you that the G.E.C.K. (Garden of Eden Creation Kit) is here! Break out the irradiated champagne bottles!
On top of that, Bethesda has also blown the cover off its G.E.C.K. wiki, a "community-run site where you'll find everything you need to use the The Garden of Eden Creation Kit and make mods for Fallout 3." Or, if you only have text-reading eyes for Maximum PC, you can ride the Internet over to Bethesda's blog, where you'll find a number of handy video tutorials.
Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to craft the Fallout 3 equivalent of a child's first macaroni drawing. We sure hope our mom likes it enough to tape the computer to the refrigerator door. That'd just be tops!
If you sometimes use your computer for something other than gaming, your ultra-powerful GPU might be twiddling its thumbs, waiting for some 3D deathmatches - until now. This week, Nvidia released the final 1.0 version of its OpenCL specification, which enables programmers to use the power of the GPU for general-purpose data crunching (aka General Purpose GPU or GPGPU). OpenCL enables programmers who aren't accustomed to shoving around vertices or telling hardware T&L registers what to do to write code for GPU execution without using OpenGL or DirectX commands.
Nvidia isn't exactly new to GPGPU, as its CUDA parallel processing architecture is somewhat similar to OpenCL. CUDA is currently supported by virtually all current GeForce, GeForce Mobile, and Quadro FX GPUs when equipped with at least 256MB of dedicated video memory.
To demonstrate the "Open" in OpenCL 1.0, Nvidia has worked closely with Apple Computer, which first proposed a parallel processing standard as part of its forthcoming Snow Leopard OS X release, with arch-rival ATI's parent company AMD, and with other partners including 3DLABS, Activision Blizzard, Apple, ARM, Barco, Broadcom, Codeplay, Electronic Arts, Ericsson, Freescale, HI, IBM, Intel Corporation, Imagination Technologies, Kestrel Institute, Motorola, Movidia, Nokia, NVIDIA, QNX, RapidMind, Samsung, Seaweed, TAKUMI, Texas Instruments and Umeå University.
So, who's managing the OpenCL standard, and what about Microsoft's rival DirectX 11 Compute standard? Updated 12-11-08:And, what class of computers can benefit from OpenCL coding?To learn more, and for your chance to sound off, join us after the jump.
While it’s presently believed that 22nm will be the maximum achievable process shrink using silicon, recent discoveries might allow chip makers to cut the 2020 goal set by Moore’s Law loose.
The discoveries come in the form of a manganese-doped germanium substrate, which will allow the creation of nanowires that can be easily magnetized. The magnetizing effect is reportedly showing “the potential of using these nanowires as building blocks for electronic devices,” such as “ferromagnetism above 300 K and a superior performance with respect to the hole mobility of around 340 cm2/Vs and other industrially relevant parameters.”
So what does all this mumbo-jumbo mean? Well, in short there’s a chemical element (number 32 on the periodic table, if you’ve got one handy) that, when mixed with a magnetic field, is showing some promise for chipmakers looking to break the 22nm barrier. With any luck, in the 10 years between today and the marked date for the 22nm barricade, the research will come full circle.
This past year we've seen a major push by several manufacturers to move solid state drives (SSDs) into the mainstream market, but the lower pricing has often come at the expense of performance. Enter Intel, who did away with any notion of bang/buck and instead focused on lightning-fast read speeds with its X-25M SSD.
Now OCZ is getting into the high performance SSD game with the introduction of its new Vertex series. Unlike the company's existing Core series SSDs,which target average users, the Vertex is aimed squarely at enthusiasts.
"The new Vertex Series of SSD drives are a premium MLC based SSD solution that are designed for consumers that require fast, rugged, and reliable solid state storage,” commented Eugene Chang, Director of Product Management for the OCZ Technology Group. “The Vertex makes use of our newest architecture and controller design complete with 64MB of cache to offer faster transfers and superior overall system response times in a broad range of applications and games."
Write speeds have traditionally been a weak spot for MLC-based SSDs, but that doesn't appear to be the case with the Vertex drives, at least on paper. OCZ claims read and write speeds of up to 200MB/s and 160MB/s respectively. By comparison, Intel claims up to 250MB/s and 70MB/s read and write speeds for its X-25M, making the Vertex appear to be a more balanced higher performance solution.
No word yet on availability, but OCZ did say the Vertex series will come in 30GB, 60GB, 120GB, and 250GB capacities. MSRPs for the 30GB-250GB will be set at $130, $250, $470, and $870 respectively.