We've all been there: you're softly striding through a craggy cavern, imperceptibly thin rays of light squeezing their way through cracks in the ceiling. Your eyes pierce through the black just in time for you to notice a vaguely cylindrical enemy galloping your way. Steel clangs against claws and fangs, and your foe slumps to the ground. A thick liquid oozes from the beast's mangled form, but the scent of blood is curiously absent. You decide to take a closer look, and dab your fingers in the liquid. One tentative lick later, you realize what the cave-dweller was dispensing -- the smooth taste of Coca-Cola! Visibly excited, you bottle up a sample. And with that, it's quest complete. Time to head back to Doct R. Peppyre's place for your brand new, Sunkist-orange tabard. Awesome!
But then, while emerging from the cave, you spot a poster on a nearby tree. Turns out, it's a blatant ad for McDonald's. "What the hell?" You wonder aloud. Then, sense of immersion annihilated, you rage-quit the game.
Obviously, the above situation is completely ludicrous. In-game advertising is never so out-of-place or in-your-face. And, in a fairly roundabout way, that's the point I'm trying to make: in-game advertising isn't as bad as gamers seem to think. Given a decent context, true-to-life ads can even make a game more immersive, while also putting extra cash into publishers' pockets.
But what's your take? Are in-game ads a detriment to your experience, or is Human Billboard your favorite race/class combination?
Well, today's Roundup is loyal only to you, fair reader, but could use some extra money and aims its commentary straight at the pleasure center of your brain. Inside, you'll find the latest news on a public E3, the oft-delayed Firefly MMO, EA's secret plans, and more.
With social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook featuring in the list of top online display ad publishers, Yahoo must be unhappy for having missed out. Not only has Yahoo seen both its social networking ventures – Mixd being the other one – fail miserably, but it also failed in its bid to acquire Facebook. Don’t forget to pay homage to Mash.
Microsoft might have failed in its hammy attempt to acquire Yahoo, but it hasn’t relinquished its goal of improving its standing amongst search engines. To this end, it has acquired Greenfield Online for $486 million. Greenfield Online owns popular European price-comparison portal ciao.com.
The company hopes to improve the usefulness of its search results – especially for shoppers - by integrating results from ciao.com. MS is going to do away with Greenfield’s online survey business, and is known to have reached an agreement with an anonymous financial buyer over the sale of the survey business.
Perhaps a bad economy is to blame, or maybe consumers are more concerned with getting outside this summer than going online. But whatever the reason, broadband operators are struggling to sign up new customers. Twenty of the largest cable operators and phone companies in the U.S. managed to snag just 887,000 new subscribers in Q2 '08, and according to Leichtman Research Group, the comparatively anemic numbers mark the lowest level of growth seen in the past seven years.
That's good news for consumers, as the lower than expected growth might have sparked a broadband price war. Verizon has said it offer six months of free DSL service to new customers who agree to a one year commitment and also grab a landline package. By taking advantage of the promotion, consumers can pay as little as $45 per month for high-speed DSL and phone service, compared to $65 per month.
But Verizon isn't the only one looking to entice new customers, and AT&T has kicked off a new promotion that guarantees customers its current pricing for two years. Prices range from $20 to $55.
As the broadband market continues to saturate, cable companies could feel the pinch too. Comcast added 278,000 high-speed internet subscribers in Q2, which represents 18 percent fewer customers than the company signed one year ago.
Despite what the console crowd may like to claim, PC gaming isn't going anywhere. But just because the death knell isn't ringing doesn't mean gamers should be complacent with the current state of the industry. That's the stance Stardock purports to claim with the announcement of The Gamer's Bill of Rights, what the company calls "a statement of principles that it hopes will encourage the PC game industry to adopt standards that are more supportive of PC gamers."
First on the list of the rights states "Gamers shall have the right to return games that don't work with their computers for a full refund." Taking a practice what you preach policy, Stardock has put in place a policy where consumers can return their copy of The Political Machine at retail for a full refund if their PC wasn't sufficient to run the game.
Hit the jump to see all ten of the Gamer's Bill of Rights.
Thin is in, and if Sony's new 28mm Bravia ZX1 LCD television weren't enough to convince you, maybe Logitech's super skinny keyboard will. With an ultra-thin 9.3mm frame, Logitech's Illuminated Keyboard is the thinnest plank ever. But despite the bright, laser-etched backlighted keys, the new keyboard isn't being marketed towards gamers.
"You've just gotten home," Logitech writes. "It's dark but you still have emails to write, people to chat with, blogging to do. While everyone else is in the dark, you're getting ready to shine. Don't you deserve a keyboard that shines with you?"
On the ergonomics side, the Illuminated Keyboard comes with a soft-touch palm rest and full size key layout. Logitech also touts its PerfectStroke technology, which when translated from market-speak to layman means micro-scissors distribute force evenly across key surfaces so key presses feel the same whether you hit the middle of the key or strike the edge. It also encompasses a longer key travel - 3.2mm compared to 2.2mm.
Also coming to Logitech's keyboard lineup is the diNovo for notebooks and Cordless Desktop S520. The glossy black diNovo will meausre just 22.10mm from base to key caps and sport a brushed aluminin palm rest, along with a 2.4GHz wireless connection. The Cordless Desktop S520 will come in a matte-black and gray finish and be accompanied by a cordless mouse.
Look for availability this October with an MSRP of $80 for the Illuminated Keyboard and $100 for the diNovo. The Logitech Cordless Desktop S520 is expected to ship this month with an MSRP of $60.
For the AMD faithful not quite ready to step up to quad-core processing, AMD this week will start adding to its triple-core lineup. The new processors are based on AMD's Toliman core.
Phenom X3 8750 (2.5GHz, 95W)
Phenom X3 8550 (2.2GHz, 95W)
Phenom X3 8450e (2.1GHz, 65W)
Note the 'e' designation in the last processor, which will represent AMD's new lower wattage CPUs. The X3 8450e will be the first 65W tri-core out of the gates, followed by the Phenom X3 8250e (1.9GHz, 65W).
Astute readers might also notice that the Phenom X3 8750 is incorrectly clocked at 2.5GHz instead of 2.4GHz. That's not a typo, and according to TomsHardware, AMD plans to bump up the clockspeed by 100MHz. Not only that, but THW says the flagship tri-core CPU will sport an unlocked multiplier. Oddly enough, the site also reports AMD will release a Phenom X3 8850 clocked at 2.5GHz this October, with an unlocked version to follow in December. Go figure.
The search engine startup Cuil (pronouced "Cool") we first told you about in July isn't very "cool" in the way its indexing robot works with websites. TechCrunchreports that Cuil's Twiceler website crawler is bringing many websites to their knees.
What is Twiceler doing? Last year, posters on The Admin Zone forum on Twiceler pointed out that the crawler was creating many connections in a short amount of time, resulting in an de facto denial of service "attack" on sites being crawled. While Twiceler doesn't work the same way now, it's still behaving badly.
For example, the JazzyChad blog reported recently that Twiceler was indexing invalid addresses that would become 404 (file not found) errors when Cuil users tried to follow them. Joe Kirp's Popular Science and Technology blog reports that:
The Twiceler bot is probably the most stupid crawler I've ever seen, it just downloads everything it can find and it seems that it just won't ever stop. If there's a page using dynamic input in a URL (a calendar for example) it will download the same page 100,000 and more times, simply by following all kinds of dynamic links it can find without using any kind of intelligent limitation.
By downloading thousands of pages per hour on each website it can cause an incredible traffic on a server, and dynamic scripts (written in Perl, Python or PHP for example) start causing an immense CPU load that may even take your entire server down (as reported by several webmasters). Twiceler is really harmful and can cost both money and downtime. A well written crawler such as Googlebot or Slurp (Yahoo) would never affect a website in such a malicious way.
How can you stop Twiceler from bringing your website to a crashing halt? To find out how, and to sound off on your Twiceler problems, follow the jump.
A computer worm primarily targeted at online gamers has found a very odd prey in form of the International Space Station. NASA confirmed last week that a computer worm had boarded the International Space Station and infected at least one laptop. Fortunately, though, none of the mission-critical systems were affected by the password-grabbing worm. NASA hasn’t revealed the name of the worm, but a website says that it is W32.Gammima.AG. Most of you might find the entire episode quite surprising and amusing, but the folks at NASA seem to be inured to computer worms aboard the ISS because this is not the first such instance.
Google has launched a video sharing service for business users as part of its Google Apps bouquet. You might think that this would certainly have an edge over Youtube. But the only major difference between this video sharing service and Youtube is exclusivity: only those with necessary permission will be able to view the videos unlike Youtube. There is a cap on the size of videos with paid users only allowed up to 300MB per video and 3GB in all.
Do not mistake this for a video conferencing service, for this is certainly not intended to be one. The video sharing service is now part of the Google Apps package for which users have to pay $50 a year. A free version of Google Apps sans APIs and customer supports is also available.