Matthews: Ports and expansions contributed to loss of FEAR fans

via Xbox 360 Fanboy by Xav de Matos on 12/27/08

Monolith’s Dave Matthews, lead art designer for F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin, says multiple expansions and console ports have likely cost the shooter franchise some fans. In an interview with CVG a comment was made to Matthews that the TimeGate developed expansions and Day 1 Studios developed console-ports of the critically acclaimed shooter could be responsible for bringing new eyes to the horror-fueled FPS. “And killed off a few,” Matthews noted.

Matthews primary reason for the comment based on story decisions taken once the series was out of Monolith’s hands. “[TimeGate] took the story in a direction that we didn’t intend … We look at Extraction Point and Perseus Mandate as an alternate universe,” Matthews told CVG. F.E.A.R. was about Alma, F.E.A.R. 2 is about Alma, and we wanted to continue the story the way we originally intended.”

This time around Monolith, who gained Xbox 360 experience from the Condemned series, has committed to develop all three version of the upcoming sequel. “While there will be some slight variations between the different versions … our main goal is to make sure the experience is synonymous across all three platforms.”

Researchers use PS3 cluster to reveal internet security flaw

via PS3 Fanboy by Andrew Yoon on 12/30/08

Stopping cancer, simulating black hole collisions, and now … breaking internet security? Is there anything the PS3 can’t do? Researchers have been using the PS3 in interng ways. Most recently, a team of researchers from the U.S., Switzerland and the Netherlands have found a way of bypassing the security of digital certificates provided by companies like Verisign. These digital certificates help transmit your credit card information on the internet in a secure manner.

By using 200 PS3 systems linked together, researchers were able to do the math that helped them decrypt the MD5 hash that’s used by Verisign. The researchers would be able to mimic online retail sites, potentially stealing tons of valuable information from consumers. It appears researchers want the hash to be replaced by a more potent one.

It’s unrealistic to expect hackers will be able to replicate the results of these researchers any time soon. Getting 200 PS3s linked to each other can be quite a pricey feat! Of course, when you’re stealing all of the internet’s credit card info, you might be able to afford buying a few hundred PS3s.

[Thanks, BPerry!]

Overclocking guide shows what Intel’s Core i7 is / isn’t capable of

via Engadget by Darren Murph on 12/29/08

Oh sure, we’ve seen just how far Intel’s most potent Core i7 chip can be pushed under the most extreme conditions, but honestly, how’s that helping you? In short, it’s not. To that end, HotHardware has whipped up a useful, easy-to-digest guide on overclocking the Core i7 920, complete with benchmarks, recommendations and tips for dealing with excess heat without hooking up a liquid nitrogen tank. Interested to see how to crank a stock 920 to a level that outpaces the pricey 3.2GHz Core i7 Extreme Edition? The read link, friends — hit it.

Firefox will eventually let users turn web apps into desktop apps

via Download Squad by Brad Linder on 12/30/08
Prism for Firefox

Web based apps are the new desktop apps. There are web apps for playing games, watching videos, listening to music, creating and editing office documents, and the list goes on. While I still prefer editing audio, video, and images using dedicated desktop tools, there are even web apps for that.

But sometimes if all you want to do is access your email account or an online image editor like Picnik, you don’t really need to fire up a full fledged web browser. A while back Mozilla created a project called Prism that lets you create a desktop shortcut that will open just a single page at a time in a stripped down version of Firefox. Now it looks like Mozilla is planning on integrating that feature with a future version of Firefox.

Here’s how it would work. When you visit a web-based application, you’d be able to click a button to turn it into a desktop app. This would create a desktop shortcut to the application and users would be able to open a window showing just that app. For certain applications, like the Flickr Uploader or Zoho Docs, Firefox might allow you to drag and drop files to upload or create file associations in your operating system so that every time you click on a Word document, for example, Zoho Docs would be opened instead of Microsoft Word.

Right now these features are still in the planning stages. But we could see them in future versions of Firefox. Of course, Google Chrome already has a similar feature which lets you create an application shortcut out of any web page with a click of a button using Google Gears.

Windows 7 beta tested, photo’d, deemed ‘massive improvement’ over Vista

via Engadget by Ross Miller on 12/30/08

Yes, Virginia, there’s a leaked copy of Windows 7 beta floating around, and if you aren’t the type to “break the law” and check it out yourself, the folks at Tech Cast News have made for you a picture-laden walkthrough of the installation process and some of the OS’s new features, including Alt+Tab doppelganger Aero Peek, the icon-only Taskbar interface, and the Smart Folder-esque Libraries. Overall, they found the beta a major improvement over Vista and predict the final release will put Microsoft in consumers’ good graces again. Here’s hoping that apparent January beta release comes to fruition so we can sweep that other OS under the rug a little bit faster.

Update: Looks like Tech Cast News is down, standby for innovative Ballmer-based conspiracy theories.

Update 2: … and it’s back!

Game Consoles Sucking Up $1 Billion in Energy Costs Per Year

via Gizmodo by Adam Frucci on 12/30/08

According to a study by the National Resources Defense Council, Americans use up about $1 billion worth of energy per year powering video game consoles, enough to power the entire city of San Diego.

It’s a pretty staggering figure, but I’m willing to bet that figures on the power consumption of things like refrigerators and washing machines are even worse. Any serious appliance is going to suck up a lot of juice, but that doesn’t mean we should throw them all out.

However, those folks who leave their consoles on all the time aren’t doing their energy bills any favors. With the Xbox 360 consuming 119 watts in active mode and the PS3 consuming 150 watts, turning these systems off when you aren’t playing is kind of an obvious move. But apparently a lot of people just leave them on all the time, leading to one very basic question: why? Both systems have features that’ll shut down automatically after a certain amount of idle time, seems like a no brainer to turn that on if you’re too damned lazy to turn them off yourself when done playing.

[NRDC via EcoGeek]

Cool Flash Graphic: Every Craft In NASA’s Constellation System, Deconstructed

via Gizmodo by John Mahoney on 12/30/08

Accompanying a long piece on the future of NASA’s Orion/Constellation system, the NYTimes threw together a nice Flash graphic detailing the individual components of what may or may not (ahem Fianciapocalypse) replace the Space Shuttle.

While the written piece prods and pokes at the budgetary and bureaucratic challenges (shocker!) NASA is jumping through to get their plan for Constellation (which includes the Apollo-like Orion capsule, a lunar lander and two rockets, the Ares I and larger Ares V) off the ground, the graphic is a great 90-second summary of what will probably be our main space vehicle system for many years to come.


Sony reduces the production cost of the PS3 by 35%

via Boy Genius Report by Kelly Hodgkins on 12/30/08


Yesterday we relayed the news that Sony’s Playstation 3 sales for the holiday period were lower than expected, yet Sony was remaining optimistic. Apparently, some good news on the production front sheds some light on how the company can manage to keep its chin up amidst some pretty terrible sales performance. iSuppli has broken down the production cost of Sony’s latest PlayStation 3 and Sony has reportedly shaved 35% off the cost of the original PS3 unit. Through changes to various components and integration, Sony has cut the price of manufacturing the PS3 console from $690.23 to $448.73. By integrating components into the core silicon of the PS3, Sony has also reduced the number of parts used from 4,048 in the previous-generation 60GB model to a modest 2,820 in the current model. With further changes and improvements, iSuppli estimates that Sony could soon be breaking even – perhaps just in time for that much anticipated price cut we’ve all been waiting for.


D+Caf Detects If You’re Drinking Real Coffee Instead of Decaf

via Gizmodo by matt buchanan on 12/30/08

I don’t understand drinking decaf coffee. It’s like non-alcoholic beer. Both are crappy, neutered versions of the original. But if you’ve absolutely got to drink decaf, D+caf will make sure it’s the real (fake) deal.

D+caf test strips are simply little strips of paper coated with antibodies that tell if you a beverage is properly decaffeinated, turning up blue lines if it’s got more than 20mg of caffeine per 6oz serving. Even modern decaffeination procedures can’t remove every single trace of caffeine, but between 20 and 30 percent of coffee and tea drinks “contain unacceptably high levels of caffeine” according to the strip’s maker, Silver Lakes Research.

The strips are 98 percent accurate for detecting caffeine, plus you have to use them before you add anything else to your coffee tea, like milk or sugar. And at $10 for a pack of 20, you’re paying 50 cents a strip, instantly propelling even cheap decaf coffee into Starbucks pricing territory. So I’m not sure these are worth the small bit of security that some smartass doesn’t occasionally slip you real coffee instead of decaf.

Besides, how the hell do you decaf people get through the day, anyway?

[Discover Testing via MIT Technology Review via Medgadget, Photo: Joshua Scott/MIT TR]

Ripoff Alert: Best Buy scamming customers into a $300 HDTV ‘calibration’

via DVICE by Charlie White on 12/30/08


Watch out for electronics retailer Best Buy. The company is reportedly scamming customers, making them think they can purchase a magical $300 “calibration” that can make their HDTVs capable of displaying video with noticeably higher quality. The company is said to be showing its customers HDTV through an HDMI (digital) cable, and comparing that with either standard-def or lower-quality HD over analog component cables.

This is not the first time Best Buy has been accused of such tactics. With more stunts like this, Best Buy could be headed for the bankruptcy junk heap, just like Circuit City. Our advice: look at and touch the electronics at Best Buy, but then go home and compare prices for the actual best buys online.

Via The Consumerist