Halo 2 and Bungie.net

Filed under:Gaming — posted by Maverick on 2/28/2005 @ 9:37 pm

Anyone who has played Halo 2 online knows how awesome the experience is and how innovative the party system is. The guys at Bungie really knew what was important when it came to the multiplayer experience.

The most impressive part of the entire thing, however, is the online integration on bungie.net. Not only does Bungie track the stats of every player online, but they also track the stats of every game. From kills to plaver vs. player to medals, everything you would want to know is on there. What is even more impressive is that with a Microsoft “.net passport” a player can even look at a map of the game and see every kill that any player made, who they killed, with what weapon, and where on the map. It is hard to imagine the complete scale of the integration until you actually see it for yourself.

If you have XBOX Live and are a fan of Halo 2, you have to get a “.net passport” and get going with this. It is amazing!

Democracy – Rolling Thunder

Filed under:War on Terror — posted by 3wire on @ 4:31 pm

From Guardian Unlimited

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – With shouts of “Syria out!,” more than 25,000 flag-waving protesters massed outside Parliament on Monday in a dramatic display of defiance that swept out Lebanon’s pro-Syrian government two weeks after the assassination of a former prime minister.

Cheering broke out among the demonstrators in Martyrs’ Square when they heard Prime Minister Omar Karami’s announcement on loudspeakers that the government was stepping down. Throughout the day, protesters handed out red roses to soldiers and police.

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FCC “crossed the line” on broadcast flag.

Filed under:Technology — posted by 3wire on 2/23/2005 @ 2:53 pm

From USA Today

“U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards told the Federal Communications Commission it “crossed the line” requiring the new anti-piracy technology in next-generation television devices. But another appeals judge on the panel questioned whether consumers can challenge the FCC’s rules in the courtroom.”

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Splinter Cell: The Game We Wanted the First Time Around

Filed under:Gaming — posted by Maverick on 2/16/2005 @ 1:08 am

“Chaos Theory” is a good subtitle for Sam Fisher’s next assignment to protect America from those who would harm us, but I think a more well-suited subtitle would be “The Game We Wanted the First Time Around.”

The original Splinter Cell was developed by Ubisoft Montreal and the primary focus of that game was to incorporate light and sound into an espionage game like no one had ever done before. Long story short, they succeeded. What they failed to do, however, was to create compelling and interesting gameplay and level design. The levels became tedious and mundane near the conclusion of the amazing story, and the EXTREMELY linear gameplay turned off many who enjoyed the idea of being a spy.

The sequal, Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomarrow, developed by Ubisoft Shanghai, almost went backwards in terms of single-player gameplay. One or two of the levels had interesting and unique segments, and occaisionally there were even multiple paths, but for the most part the levels were even more repetative than the first’s. To add insult to injury, the developer did a poor job of informing the player of exactly what was happening in the plot, leaving the player with little or no idea why Sam was doing what he was doing. Apart from the added multiplayer, the game was a failure. The future was not looking bright for the series untill….

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory! Ubisoft Montreal reportedly handed over control of SC:PT because the team wanted a jump start on their own next attempt at the game. What has been told and shown of the next installment is, for lack of a better phrase, “The Game We Wanted the First Time Around.” Ubisoft has widely expanded the gameplay with greater player control over what is taken into the field, multiple paths through every scenario, and new equipment such as a 3-D map to help the player find the multiple paths and a knife for deadly close combat. Mix in the revolutionary adversarial and brand new cooperative modes and the game is shaping up to be something special.

Iraqis Vote En Masse

Filed under:General,War on Terror — posted by Q Ball on 2/10/2005 @ 2:53 pm

There were reports that Baghdad saw the lowest of voter turnout for the election, but this picture tells a different story.

VW Ad Features Suicide Bomber

Filed under:General,War on Terror — posted by 3wire on @ 1:56 pm

Reportedly a “spoof” ad for the Volkswagen Polo, has Arabs outraged.

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Watch the ad.

Austrians sold 800 sniper rifles to Iran; U.S. protests

Filed under:War on Terror — posted by 3wire on @ 10:24 am

From: Newsday.com

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

February 9, 2005, 5:05 PM EST

VIENNA, Austria — Iran has contracted to buy hundreds of high-powered rifles from an Austrian firm, the company’s owner said Wednesday. The sale drew an indirect rebuke from the United States, but Austrian government ministries said no laws were broken.

Wolfgang Fuerlinger, head of Steyr Mannlicher GmbH, confirmed the deal between his company and Iranian authorities and said U.S. Embassy officials had expressed concerns the arms could make their way to Iraq for use against American troops.

He said he could not confirm Austrian media reports that part of the order — 800 long-range semiautomatic rifles that can penetrate thick metal, along with high-tech snipers’ scopes — was flown to Iran last month.

The United States has strict embargoes in place against Iran on sales of weapons or technology or materials that could be used to make weapons.

President Bush last year named Iran, along with prewar Iraq and North Korea, as a member of “the axis of evil,” for its alleged ties to terrorist groups and purported attempts to develop nuclear arms.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Bill Wandlund declined direct comment on the sale but said that in general, “the U.S. opposes all arms transfers to state sponsors of terrorism, including Iran.”

Police Maj. Rudolf Gollia, spokesman for the Austrian Interior Ministry, said his ministry, in consultation with the foreign ministry, approved the sales in November. He said Iran had provided written documentation that “the end destination of the weapons is Iran and that they would be used to fight drug-related criminality and to secure the borders of Iran.”

Fuehrlinger told The Associated Press that U.S. Embassy officials who recently contacted him expressed concern that at least some of the weapons could end up in Iraq for use by insurgents against American troops and their Iraqi allies.

He described the 12.7 x 99 mm “Steyr 50 HS” as a high-power weapon able to penetrate metal as thick as a man’s thumb.

The gun is about 4 feet long, weighs more than 20 pounds and counts as an anti-armor weapon among experts because of the high punch of its projectile, Fuehrlinger said.

He said that U.S. Embassy personnel asked him to stop such sales not only to Iran but to potential customers in other Middle East countries — something he said he was prepared to consider only if Washington in return lifts restrictions that prevent his company from selling certain high-tech weapons in the United States.

He said he refused requests from the three Embassy officials to discuss details of the sale with Iran. He described the conversation as “very friendly,” and said the officials said they would be in contact again soon.

Gollia said the interior and foreign ministries were currently discussing the sale of more such weapons from the same Austrian company to Iran, adding a decision was expected “within the next half year.”

He said he had no information on previous shipments from Steyr-Mannlicher, a world-renowned manufacturer of quality precision handguns and rifles.

The opposition Social Democratic party announced it would push for a parliamentary inquiry.

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Copyright © 2005, Newsday, Inc.

War Games: Play Fighting or History Lesson?

Filed under:Gaming — posted by 3wire on @ 10:15 am

Wednesday, February 09, 2005
By Jared Goldman
FOX NEWS

Suggestions like this one can be heard in playrooms across the country, as more and more video games come out re-creating the world’s deadliest conflicts.

Game-makers say digital entertainment like “Conflict: Desert Storm,” “Conflict Desert Storm II: Back to Baghdad (search),” “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” and the recently released World War II game “Call of Duty: Finest Hour (search)” can teach about the perils, triumphs and history of war.

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Gun control doesn’t reduce crime – says NAS / DOJ

Filed under:General — posted by 3wire on 2/9/2005 @ 3:31 am

From: World Net Daily

Gun control doesn’t reduce crime, violence, say studies
National Academy of Sciences, Justice Dept. reports find no benefits to restricting ownership of firearms

WASHINGTON – While it is an article of faith among gun-control proponents that government restrictions on firearms reduces violence and crime, two new U.S. studies could find no evidence to support such a conclusion.

The National Academy of Sciences issued a 328-page report based on 253 journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications, a survey of 80 different gun-control laws and some of its own independent study. In short, the panel could find no link between restrictions on gun ownership and lower rates of crime, firearms violence or even accidents with guns.

The panel was established during the Clinton administration and all but one of its members were known to favor gun control.

“Policy questions related to gun ownership and proposals for gun control touch on some of the most contentious issues in American politics: Should regulations restrict who may possess firearms? Should there be restrictions on the number or types of guns that can be purchased? Should safety locks be required? These and many related policy questions cannot be answered definitively because of large gaps in the existing science base,” said Charles F. Wellford, professor in the department of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland and chairman of the committee that wrote the report.

However, the National Research Council decided even more thorough research on the topic is needed.

Many studies linking guns to suicide and criminal violence produce conflicting conclusions, have statistical flaws and often do not show whether gun ownership results in certain outcomes, the report said.

A serious limit in such analyses is the lack of good data on who owns firearms and on individual encounters with violence, according to the study.

The report noted that many schools have programs intended to prevent gun violence. However, it added, some studies suggest that children’s curiosity and teenagers’ attraction to risk make them resistant to the programs or that the projects actually increase the appeal of guns.

Few of these programs, the report concludes, have been adequately evaluated.

The report calls for the development of a National Violent Death Reporting System and a National Incident-Based Reporting System to begin collecting data.

The study by the Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Science, was sponsored by the National Institute of Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Joyce Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

“While more research is always helpful, the notion that we have learned nothing flies in the face of common sense,” said John Lott, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a critic of gun-control laws. “The NAS panel should have concluded as the existing research has: Gun control doesn’t help.”

Meanwhile, a study released by the Justice Department suggesting background checks at gun shows would do little to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals.

The study noted the number of criminals who obtained guns from retail outlets was dwarfed by the number of those who picked up their arms through means other than legal purchases. The report was the result of interviews with more than 18,000 state and federal inmates conducted nationwide. It found that nearly 80 percent of those interviewed got their guns from friends or family members, or on the street through illegal purchases.

Less than 9 percent were bought at retail outlets and only seven-tenths of 1 percent came from gun shows.

The Justice Department’s interviews also showed so-called “assault weapons” are not a major cause of gun violence. Only about 8 percent of the inmates used one of the models covered in the now-expired assault weapons ban, signed into law by the Clinton administration in 1994.

© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com

New Yorkers: World’s Biggest Wimps

Filed under:General — posted by 3wire on @ 2:12 am

From the Washington Times Insider
“Cuba banned smoking in public places yesterday, an uphill struggle in a country that evokes images of cigar-chomping revolutionaries and where more than half of adults smoke,” Reuters reports from Havana.

So a totalitarian dictatorship finds it an “uphill struggle” to control its citizens’ behavior, but when New York City passed an antismoking law two years ago, people fell right into line. As a New Yorker, we hang our head in shame.

Liberty and Security

Filed under:War on Terror — posted by 3wire on 2/7/2005 @ 1:59 pm

From: The Case For Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror

“The two most important things that can be done to promote democracy in the world is first, to bring moral clarity back to world affairs and second, to link international policies to the advance of democracy around the globe. When we are unwilling to draw clear moral lines between free societies and fear societies, when we are unwilling to call the former good and the latter evil, we will not be able to advance the cause of peace because peace cannot be disconnected from freedom. By not understanding why freedom is so important to peace, we run the risk of trying to find ‘our dictator’ in the hopes that he will provide security. In the end, we are likely to find ourselves supporting regimes that repress their own people and endanger us. When Ronald Reagan called the USSR an evil empire he was fiercely criticized by many in the West who saw him as a dangerous warmonger. But when we in the Gulag heard of Reagan’s statement, we were ecstatic. We knew that once there was no moral confusion between the two types of societies, once good and evil were kept separate, the Soviet Union’s days were numbered. Soon, the most fearsome totalitarian empire in human history collapsed without a shot being fired and the cause of peace and security was advanced. I have no doubt that moral clarity will have the same effect today and equally serve the cause of peace, stability and security around the world.” –Natan Sharansky

Panera Bread – Pro Al Jazeera, anti Bill of Rights?

Filed under:General,War on Terror — posted by 3wire on 2/5/2005 @ 11:21 pm

A letter I sent To Panera Bread.

To: Panera Bakery

I was very excited when a brand new Panera Bakery opened up near my home; you have fantastic baked goods and very good sandwiches too. In fact I’m still at your cafe, outside on the patio enjoying a beautiful Texas evening, my bagel and a cup of coffee.

I develop websites so I was especially happy to learn this location has WiFi web access. However, as I was checking on one of my sites I made a startling discovery. You see, Tac Pro Shooting Center is a client of mine. It is a training facility for military, police, and civilians, run by a very nice British ex-pat couple, Bill and Alice Davison. The discovery which you have no doubt figured out by now is that Panera’s proxy server is blocking my access to their website because it discusses “weapons.” Somewhat surprised by this I though I would check to see if other websites that have weapons on them are also blocked. The first one that came to mind was Aljazeera.com. I don’t know why, it just popped into my head. If you haven’t heard, this is the news service that reports merciless terrorist demands, rants, and anti-American propaganda. Anyway, I know that they have pictures of folks getting their heads cut off on that website, presumably with weapons. I suppose they could have used kitchen knives, but the images are kind of grainy and I couldn’t really tell. Besides even if it was a kitchen knife before, afterwards I think even a San Francisco federal judge would have to concede that if you can separate someone’s skull from the rest of their body with it, it’s a deadly weapon. So I typed in www.aljazeera.com and voilà there was the website. It was not blocked by Panera’s proxy server and right there on the front page was a horrific photo of a dead American, his twisted body charred black and hanging out of a military vehicle. I didn’t bother to search for the beheading images. I didn’t need to, I’d seen enough.

This is very interesting isn’t it? On the one hand you block access to a website where law abiding American citizens, police, and military personnel can learn skills that will help them defend themselves and others, sometimes against terrorists. (TPSC alums are on the ground in Iraq right now.) And on the other hand you don’t block a website where anyone can see actual murders of innocent civilians and the burned and mutilated bodies of American servicemen. I’ve heard that Panera tries to be a socially responsible company, so I hope the irony of this situation is not lost on your executives and shareholders.

Now, I happen to believe very, very strongly in the U.S. Constitution and all of its amendments, especially the first one, commonly referred to as The First Amendment. If you aren’t familiar with it you should look it up. At any rate, since your company chooses to restrict people’s First Amendment rights in order to promote what I suppose is your view of the Second Amendment (inferred by the block), I’m going to leave this place and will never return. But I’m going to go one step further. I’m going to forward this email to everyone I know (a lot of people) and then I’m going to post it on every forum I can think of (read by an astronomical number of people). I would bet by this time tomorrow, five to ten thousand people will have read it. And by next week who knows. Isn’t the Internet great?

Gary M

Political Activist and former Panera Bread Customer.

Liberty

Filed under:General,War on Terror — posted by 3wire on 2/2/2005 @ 10:57 am

“Of all the so-called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost.” —Robert Heinlein

Britains Defend Themselves

Filed under:General — posted by 3wire on 2/1/2005 @ 1:43 pm

Homeowners Can Even Kill Intruders – Guidelines

By James Kilner LONDON (Reuters) – Homeowners in Britain will not be imprisoned for using “reasonable force” to fight off intruders even if they kill, under guidelines published Tuesday by the state prosecution service.

Britain’s opposition Conservative Party has been calling for a change in the wording of the law after a series of high profile attacks so that people are only prosecuted if they use “grossly disproportionate” force

But Prime Minister Tony Blair said a change was unnecessary.

“What the Crown Prosecution Service and the police are saying is we don’t actually need to change the law, what we need is for people to understand they are perfectly entitled to defend themselves against burglars in their own home,”‘ he told GMTV television.

But the new London police chief, Sir Ian Blair, appeared to disagree.

“I’m not sure the wording does go far enough ..,” he told BBC radio before he had seen the new guidelines.

“‘Reasonableness’ is quite a difficult concept at 4 o’clock in the morning in your kitchen ..,”

The Crown Prosecution Service issued the new guidelines to try to clarify the law after increased public concern.

Farmer Tony Martin was jailed for manslaughter after he shot dead a teenage burglar in his remote farm in 1999. Two months ago, intruders killed a 49-year-old financier in his home off London’s fashionable Kings Road and a few weeks earlier rock star Ozzy Osbourne had fought with burglars at his mansion just outside the capital.

“You are not expected to make fine judgments over the level of force you use in the heat of the moment,” the guidelines said, “so long as you only do what you honestly and instinctively believe is necessary in the heat of the moment … This is still the case if you use something to hand as a weapon.”

They add that even if the intruder is killed, the homeowner can claim to have acted within the law so long as reasonable self-defense is proved.

But, the CPS warns, excessive force will be prosecuted.

02/01/05 10:38

(C) Copyright Reuters Ltd



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace