Posts Tagged ‘Hero’

Saudi Arabia Calls For Global Internet Censorship Body

October 12th, 2012 10:45 admin View Comments


Onymous Hero writes “Following the recent YouTube video ‘The Innocence of Muslims’ and the subsequent Muslim violence, Saudi Arabia has stated that there is a ‘crying need for international collaboration to address “freedom of expression” which clearly disregards public order.’ The World Telecommunications Policy Forum (a UN body) is the vehicle by which Saudi Arabia (and possibly other states) will try to use to implement a global set of internet content standards.”

Source: Saudi Arabia Calls For Global Internet Censorship Body

Welcome to the University of Michigan’s Computer and Video Game Archive (Video)

August 28th, 2012 08:38 admin View Comments

Emulation (Games)

After watching this video, a lot of you are going to wish you were Dave Carter, who works at the University of Michigan’s Computer and Video Game Archive. He deals with video games, from the oldest hand-helds and consoles to the newest Xbox and PC games and controllers. A lot of his time is no doubt spent fixing things that break, finding obscure games, being generally helpful, and making sure nobody breaks the games, consoles, computers, controllers, and even board games and memorabilia in the collection. But still, this has got to be the ultimate job for a game junkie. And it looks like a great place to visit, because this museum is part of a library, and just as a library encourages you to pick up books and read them, this is a place where you can actually play the games, not just stare at a ColecoVision console in a display case. You can play in a cubicle or, for games that take some space, there are a couple of big gaming rooms with soft-looking sofas and big flat-screen TVs, where you can jump up and down like crazy while you’re doing Guitar Hero or using a Wii or Kinect. And if you can’t make it to Ann Arbor, MI, there’s an informative blog that’s all about video games past and present that’s must reading for almost any serious gamer.

Source: Welcome to the University of Michigan’s Computer and Video Game Archive (Video)

Sci-fi Author Harry Harrison Dies at 87

August 15th, 2012 08:17 admin View Comments


tmjva writes “Per BBC’s Entertainment page, author Harry Harrison died today at the age of 87. His body of work included Make Room! Make Room!, (the inspiration for Soylent Green), The Stainless Steel Rat, and Bill the Galactic Hero. From the article: ‘Harrison’s first novel, Deathworld, was published in 1960, while the first book in the Stainless Steel Rat series was published a year later. The last of the series was published just two years ago in 2010 and the books are widely regarded as producing one of science fiction’s great anti-heroes, Slippery Jim diGriz, aka The Stainless Steel Rat. The author also parodied the sci-fi genre in his seven Bill the Galactic Hero books, which were first seen in 1965. He saw his work as anti-war and anti-militaristic.’”

Source: Sci-fi Author Harry Harrison Dies at 87

Unbreakable Crypto: Store a 30-character Password In Your Subconscious Mind

July 20th, 2012 07:34 admin View Comments


MrSeb writes “A cross-disciplinary team of US neuroscientists and cryptographers have developed a password/passkey system that removes the weakest link in any security system: the human user. It’s ingenious: The system still requires that you enter a password, but at no point do you actually remember the password, meaning it can’t be written down and it can’t be obtained via coercion or torture — i.e. rubber-hose cryptanalysis. The system, devised by Hristo Bojinov of Stanford University and friends from Northwestern and SRI, relies on implicit learning, a process by which you absorb new information — but you’re completely unaware that you’ve actually learned anything; a bit like learning to ride a bike. The process of learning the password (or cryptographic key) involves the use of a specially crafted computer game that, funnily enough, resembles Guitar Hero. Their experimental results suggest that, after a 45 minute learning session, the 30-letter password is firmly implanted in your subconscious brain. Authentication requires that you play a round of the game — but this time, your 30-letter sequence is interspersed with other random 30-letter sequences. To pass authentication, you must reliably perform better on your sequence. Even after two weeks, it seems you are still able to recall this sequence.”

Source: Unbreakable Crypto: Store a 30-character Password In Your Subconscious Mind

Nobel Laureate Wiped From Pakistan’s Textbooks As Heretic

July 9th, 2012 07:13 admin View Comments


Hugh Pickens writes writes “Alexander Abad-Santos writes that in any other country, the late Dr. Abdus Salam would be a national hero: he’s the Nobel laureate in physics who laid the groundwork for the biggest physics discovery in the past 30 years–the Higgs boson. But that isn’t the case in Pakistan, where Salam has been wiped from textbooks and history for not being fundamentalist enough. ‘He belonged to the Ahmadi sect, which has been persecuted by the government and targeted by Taliban militants who view its members as heretics,’ says Sebastian Abbot. ‘His grand unification theory of strong, weak and electromagnetic fields opened the gateway for the discovery of bosons and laid down the basis for this quantum electrodynamics project,’ writes Anam Khalid Alvi for Pakistan’s Express Tribune. But Pakistan can’t celebrate his achievements, since Ahmadis like Salam are and were prevented from ‘posing as Muslims,’ and can be punished with prison and even death. By contrast, fellow Pakistani physicist A.Q. Khan, who played a key role in developing the country’s nuclear bomb and later confessed to spreading nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya, is considered a national hero. Khan is a Muslim.”

Source: Nobel Laureate Wiped From Pakistan’s Textbooks As Heretic

Review: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Is Game Music Nostalgia At Its Best

July 9th, 2012 07:05 admin View Comments


Jon Brodkin writes “Few game series other than Final Fantasy have consistently provided epic adventures for 25 years—and perhaps no company outside of Nintendo capitalizes on its history like Square Enix. In its latest attempt to merge the best of past and present into one experience, Square Enix has produced the music game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy for the Nintendo 3DS. Joining Guitar Hero-style mechanics, 3D perspective, RPG-like character building and battling, and the rich music catalog of the Final Fantasy franchise, Theatrhythm is impressive, enjoyable, and one of the best examples of why it’s worth owning a 3DS and that wacky stylus.” Read below for the rest of Jon’s review.

Source: Review: Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Is Game Music Nostalgia At Its Best

[Review] Airtime vs. Chatroulette: The Tamer Social Serendipity that Nobody Really Wants

June 13th, 2012 06:02 admin View Comments

It may sound like a forgettable combo of two Apple products, but a new service from the minds behind Napster has much more in common with the chaotic social petri dish known as Chatroulette than anything out of Cupertino. But can Airtime hit a social sweet spot we didn’t even know we had – or is this just another blip in the ill-fated trajectory of social discovery apps that aren’t explicitly about sex?

Talk to Someone

Having spent the last day and a half with Airtime, it’s been an interesting splash into quasi-anonymous social waters. Airtime is built on top of Facebook’s social graph, but it pries open that formula a bit if you have the taste for virtual adventure that Sean Parker thinks the Web is devoid of. You can stick with a sidebar stocked with the people you know (dull) or spin the wheel and chat up a stranger, who will pop up in your window based on Airtime’s algorithm of mutual friends and shared interests. Talking to strangers not compelling enough on its own? Rack up “points” through an achievement system that blends a Guitar Hero solo, Foursquare-like badges and maybe a bad karaoke machine. 

So far my pairings have been more hit than miss, but mainly because my strangers and I have shared one big common denominator: We’ve heard of Airtime to begin with. The social video network is teeming with an early mix of curious software developers, tech news acolytes and other early-adopter types. From my cross-section, the network feels a lot like Google+ did at launch (and still does, for the most part). Roughly half of the folks I chatted with had a shared interest in a technology publication among our Facebook likes. I’m actually pretty surprised I’ve yet to run into a tech journo on a similar mission to take the pulse of the Napster dynasty newcomer. And like Google+ in its early days, Airtime is almost wholly devoid of women. So devoid, in fact, that upon learning I was a technology writer, one stranger actually asked me if I was Alexia Tsotsis. He claimed to have “a bone to pick with her.” So, watch out for that, Alexia.

In spite of being the only woman I’ve spotted on the service to date, the overwhelming first question on Airtime is happily not “what are you wearing?” (I guess that’s rather obvious) but “what do you do?” I chatted up a handful of software devs, a management consultant, a social media manager and a Turkish computer science student. One of my more offbeat interactions was with an editor who was cruising around promoting a hip hop music video he edited while hanging out with a backdrop of guys playing Madden on an Xbox 360. Interestingly, to date Airtime is a remarkably polite social network – even the video editor was sure thank me for giving the song a shot (it was pretty good, actually) before we talked a little about his Airtime encounters. He said his most interesting Airtime serendipity moment so far had been chatting up a man who lived in Iraq. Another guy told me that I “seem chill” with an approving head nod before we agreed to mutually unveil our true identities. One of my partners had been paired with a guy who’d chatted with Mark Zuckerberg, who’s apparently kicking the tires of Parker’s new venture. I’ve added each of my strangers to my friends list so far to prevent them from vanishing into the digital ether, à la Chatroulette.

Facebook x Chatroulette + Pants

Thanks to its not-quite-anonymous social fabric, my time spent on Airtime has been approximately 1 million times less disturbing than Chatroulette’s grab bag of weirdness. Back in 2010, enduring a parade of fleshy horrors to get at the sometimes delightful, odd core of Chatroulette at its best was worth it – at least at first. But in such a lurid virtual world, the first 20 seconds of a Chatroulette encounter felt like an audition in which you were hurried off the stage more often than not. Happily, unless you’re Zuck himself, insta-skipping seems to be a faux pas in Airtime so far. In fact, I held up a decent conversation with everyone who made a cameo in my chat window, usually as we ferreted out the reason we were paired up to begin with. And since Airtime’s founders have sworn themselves to fending off the onslaught of genitalia through what amounts to an algorithmic penis detection system, cruising through the service does feel far safer (though perhaps less laissez-faire weird) than Chatroulette. That said, even on Airtime, random video chat is still a bit harrowing, but the exhilaration of not knowing what’s about to happen is at least half the fun. 

Its launch demo might have been a total meltdown, but Airtime was a pretty smooth experience, if a huge battery drain on an unplugged Macbook Air, which began to rev up like a rocket engine at a SpaceX launch. Still, it’s totally derivative, taking the brilliant randomness of Chatroulette, filtering it through Facebook’s social graph for accountability and adding a pinch of online dating-esque compatability matching. But even if it’s well executed, and pretty decent at producing interesting conversational pairings thanks to a well-tuned algorithm, does anyone really need it?

Social Serendipity Still Creeps Us Out

Convincing casual social media users that something like Airtime isn’t just speed dating is a hard sell. Blame Chatroulette, mid-’90s AOL chat rooms or Grindr, but meeting strangers through technology not for sex still feels inescapably creepy, even when it’s cleverly facilitated by an app such as Glancee or Highlight. We like connecting with the people we meet in person after the fact, and even that’s hard to make adequate time for. When it comes to video chat with the people we already know, there’s no compelling reason to opt for Airtime over a Google+ Hangout, a Skype chat or even a Facetime call. And if you’re interested in connecting with friends and family via video to begin with, odds are you’ve already picked your poison. Sean Parker may want to make Facebook less “boring” by inspiring serendipitous social discovery, but it’s hard to imagine that Airtime isn’t dead on arrival – there just isn’t room for such a diluted blend of existing social tools nor is there the adventurous userbase to adopt them. We have Facebook and Facetime for the people we already know, Twitter and Google+ for the people we want to know and OkCupid and for the people we want to know, er, intimately. And for the greyer, more “serendipitous” areas? Chatroulette still boasts enough unfettered weirdness for a lifetime.

Source: [Review] Airtime vs. Chatroulette: The Tamer Social Serendipity that Nobody Really Wants

A Boost For Quantum Reality

May 8th, 2012 05:17 admin View Comments


Eponymous Hero sends this excerpt from Nature: “The philosophical status of the wavefunction — the entity that determines the probability of different outcomes of measurements on quantum-mechanical particles — would seem to be an unlikely subject for emotional debate. Yet online discussion of a paper claiming to show mathematically that the wavefunction is real has ranged from ardently star-struck to downright vitriolic since the article was first released as a preprint in November 2011. … [The authors] say that the mathematics leaves no doubt that the wavefunction is not just a statistical tool, but rather, a real, objective state of a quantum system.”

Source: A Boost For Quantum Reality

Survey Finds No Hint of Dark Matter Near Solar System

April 20th, 2012 04:31 admin View Comments


Eponymous Hero writes “Does dark matter exist or doesn’t it? It seems these results don’t shed as much light as we’d hoped. ‘Moni Bidin says he’s not sure whether dark matter exists or not. But he says that his team’s survey (PDF) is the most comprehensive of its type ever done, and the puzzling results must be reckoned with. “We don’t have a good comprehension of what is going on,” he says.’ This has the smell of a Neutrinogate scandal, but at least we’ve been warned about the shoulder shrugging. ‘As an example, Newberg notes that the researchers assumed that the group of stars they examined were smoothly distributed above and below the plane of the Milky Way. But if the distribution turns out to be lumpier, as is the case for stars in the outer parts of the galaxy, then the resulting calculations of dark matter density could be incorrect. Flynn agrees that there are a number of ways that the method employed by Moni Bidin and his co-authors “could get it wrong.”‘”

Source: Survey Finds No Hint of Dark Matter Near Solar System

Top 6 Mobile Apps for the Fitness Junkie

April 17th, 2012 04:00 admin View Comments

Trees are spouting leaves, flowers are sprouting where you would not ordinarily expect flowers, and the mornings and evenings are warm enough to get outdoors. Time to put on those running shoes, grab that bike or just go for a stroll. It is springtime.

What do people do in spring? They look around their houses and apartments and say, “Where did all of this stuff come from?” They then clean the house. After that they look at themselves and say, “Where did all of these extra pounds come from?” They then decide it is time to exercise and lose the winter weight. Yet, instead of employing a personal trainer, consumers can find one right in their pockets.

Smartphones have the capabilities to monitor your heart rate, track how many calories you burned, see how far you have run and share all of that information with your friends to help you stay motivated. We take a look at some of the best mobile fitness apps below.


– (iOS, Android)

RunKeeper is one of the top fitness apps on Android and iOS. It tracks your run or bike by how far you went, how long it took and the route you travelled. It has a personal dashboard to see all of your historical activities and monitor how you are progressing in your workout routines. Also, you have the ability to share with the community (which becomes your own personal cloud of fitness stats), along with Twitter and Facebook to get your friends and family in on the interaction. Nothing pushes you more than being held accountable by your loved ones. The app also integrates with an iPhone’s music section to play tunes while you work out.

RunKeeper is one of the biggest fitness apps on the market, but it is more than that. It is a platform that developers can pull data from and push data to through the API it released last year. That means that many other types of fitness applications can interact with the RunKeeper platform, such as body building, biking, sleeping, strength training and nutrition.


– (iOS)

Nike+ GPS is a lot like RunKeeper but with all the power of one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturers behind it. The iPhone app offers GPS, pace tracking, a timer for short or long runs, a calorie counter, a pedometer and a music player. It is also social through Twitter, Path or Facebook. Nike+ also comes with the full celebrity endorsement of top athletes that have signed with Nike, allowing you to get feedback from the best of the best. Nike+ also offers the FuelBand, which is a bracelet that works as an accelerometer and tracks your movements whether you are running, walking or dancing.


– (iOS)

Fleetly is an exercise log and tracker that has built-in game mechanics to push you further and farther every time you work out. It integrates with RunKeeper, Nike+,’s own platform and the Withings Wi-Fi Body Scale. You can get rid of your personal trainer and go straight to Fleetly, which has professionally written descriptions of top exercises and instructional videos. It also has a Workout Generator, where you can see what type of equipment is around you and figure out what to do with it. It’s great for people (like me) that look at a piece of exercise equipment as if it were the Mars Rover – vaguely familiar-looking but perplexing to operate. It also allows you to track your exercise and is integrated with the RunKeeper API. And, you can challenge your friends on the leader board.

Gym Hero

– (iOS)

This app is drop-dead simple but highly effective for weight-training nuts. How many reps did you do? At what weight? How often? What part of the body? If you work out enough, sometimes you forget what part of your weekly routine you’re in. Keep it in the Gym Hero log, which takes advantage of the RunKeeper API, as well as Facebook and Twitter.


– (iOS, Android, BlackBerry)

iMapMy comes from MapMyFitness. The publisher offers a variety of apps such as iMapMyRun/Ride/Walk/Fitness/Hike. iMapMyRun records your route like Nike+, and has social networking and website integration like RunKeeper. It is not quite in the same class as RunKeeper or Nike+, but it works well enough for what you are trying to do – which is map where you are going when you work out. It also has a slightly creepy feature: the ability to live-track your friends and family while they are out on the road in real-time. This is an opt-in feature, of course. Like RunKeeper, the website has the ability to log nutritional information and other exercise details, but it does not function like a platform off of which other developers can build. It’s available for BlackBerry as well, which is not something we see all that often anymore.

Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker

– (iOS, Android)

Considered one of the top calorie counter apps for iOS and Android, Calorie Counter & Diet Tracker is published by It has a food database with over 1.1 million foods that is easily searchable and available offline. It incorporates a bar code scanner for when you are shopping, and it can remember your favorite foods and save entire meals. It can track your progress and compare it with your friends. Additionally, it has over 350 exercises for cardio and strength training.

Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Source: Top 6 Mobile Apps for the Fitness Junkie