danaris writes "On Friday, Rule of Cool gaming released Legend, a d20-derived tabletop roleplaying game system designed to be easy to learn, easy to play, and just really fun. As the names suggest, they recognize that people in an RPG frequently want to be playing epic characters with cool abilities, so they provide that — while making sure all such characters are reasonably well balanced against characters and monsters of the same level. For a nice overview of the system, there's a review up on RPG.net by one of the playtesters, and another review by a moderator from Reddit's RPG section. The game is initially being distributed as a pay-what-you-want benefit to the Child's Play charity, with all proceeds (not just all profits) going to the charity."
itwbennett writes "A BBC article outlines a push to make software programming a basic course of study for British schoolchildren in hopes that Britain could become a major programming center for video games and special effects. Can earlier exposure to better technology courses reverse the declining enrollment in university computer science courses and make coding cool?"
Pierre Bezukhov writes with this excerpt from an article at Doctor Tipster: "A Dutch researcher has created a virus with the potential to kill half of the planet's population. Now, researchers and experts in bioterrorism debate whether it is a good idea to publish the virus creation 'recipe'. However, several voices argue that such research should have not happened in the first place. The virus is a strain of avian influenza H5N1 genetically modified to be extremely contagious ... created by researcher Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, Netherlands. The work was first presented at a conference dedicated to influenza that took place in September in Malta."
MrSeb writes with an article in Extreme Tech about progress toward getting an AOSP build working on the Nexus S. From the article: "Over the past week, ROM Manager extraordinaire Koush has been frantically working on making a working build of CyanogenMod 9 (Ice Cream Sandwich) for the Samsung Nexus S. The custom ROM, which is built purely from the Android Open Source Project, has now reached 'alpha 11.' All major features are present and no significant bugs remain. It's too early to say that the build is ready for prime time or mission-critical work — the final release of CM9 is due in the new year — but it's certainly stable enough for daily use. The most significant feature, if you can call it that, is that Koush's build of ICS is really very smooth — it's as nimble as Gingerbread, if not more so. Unlike the previous, non-CM build that was released last week, this alpha build of CM9 has every feature enabled, including Google Wallet, and setting a mobile data limit. As usual, the custom ROM is pre-rooted, has ROM Manager installed, and absolutely no bloatware. "
angry tapir writes with an excerpt from a Techworld article: "Germany's Merck KGaA has threatened legal action after it said it lost its Facebook page apparently to rival Merck & Co. in the U.S., though it has yet to identify defendants in the case. In a filing before the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Merck said it intends to initiate an action based on the apparent takeover of its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/merck by its similarly-named but unrelated competitor, Merck & Co."
dotarray writes "Iranian gamers hoping to get their hands on Battlefield 3 will be sorely disappointed, as the country has officially banned EA's latest shooter. Why? The game features an American war force launching an assault on Iranian capital city Tehran."
alphadogg writes "Free software activists have released a peer-to-peer search engine to take on Google, Yahoo, Bing and others. The free, distributed search engine, YaCy, takes a new approach to search. Rather than using a central server, its search results come from a network of independent 'peers,' users who have downloaded the YaCy software. The aim is that no single entity gets to decide what gets listed, or in which order results appear. 'Most of what we do on the Internet involves search. It's the vital link between us and the information we're looking for. For such an essential function, we cannot rely on a few large companies and compromise our privacy in the process,' said Michael Christen, YaCy's project leader."
Michael J. Ross writes "With more people accessing the Internet using mobile devices than computers, web designers and developers are challenged to make sites that work well on both categories of hardware — or resign themselves to the greater costs and other disadvantages of maintaining two versions of each web site (a mobile-ready version as well as one for much larger screens). Fortunately, recent advances in web technologies are making it easier to build web pages whose contents and their positioning are automatically modified to match the available screen space of the individual user. These techniques are explored in detail in a recent book, Responsive Web Design, written by Ethan Marcotte, a veteran web designer and developer." Keep reading for the rest of Michael's review.
jfruhlinger writes "John Spencer, a British blogger and tech educator, is convinced that free and open source software, which he's promoted for years, is costing IT jobs, as UK schools cut support staff no longer needed. But does the argument really hold up? It turns out that the services he's focused on are actually cloud services that are reducing the need for schools to provide their own tech infrastructure. Of couse, it's also true that many of those cloud services are themselves based on open source tech."
Sparrowvsrevolution writes "Twitter has confirmed that it's acquiring Whisper Systems, the mobile encryption startup founded by hacker and security researcher Moxie Marlinspike. Marlinspike has built some of the most noteworthy tools in applied cryptography over the last few years, including the encrypted calling app Redphone, the hardened Android OS WhisperCore, and Convergence, a system for fixing the broken SSL certificate authority system. Twitter won't yet say how it plans to integrate Marlinspike or his products."
bdking writes "If a recent internal survey and reviews left on glassdoor.com are to be believed, working at social games company Zynga isn't much fun. Zynga's competitive, metrics-driven culture may be scaring away potential acquisitions and forcing out employees seeking better work-life balance and less stress."
redletterdave writes "The European Commission plans to put a stop to the way Facebook gathers information about its users, including their political opinions, religious beliefs, whereabouts and sexual preferences, and how the social network sells that information for commercial purposes. A new EC Directive aims to ban targeted advertising unless users specifically allow it, and to amend the current European data protection laws to ensure consistency in how offending sites are dealt with across the EU. If the European Commission has its way, Facebook would suffer big losses in advertising dollars that fund its site, which would further damage the company's plans to go public next year. Facebook has defended itself, claiming its advertisers target wide demographics like age and location, rather than specific individuals. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company denies outright that it misuses or mishandles user information."
wiredmikey writes "Here's an interesting take on the IT security industry and tools being sold and used by to monitor internet users. It's no secret that many states and nations are censoring and monitoring the Internet. Many of these governments are considered authoritarian regimes, often times with trade restrictions and other sanctions against them. Most of these censorship systems are based on proprietary, enterprise hardware and solutions. Unfortunately, those who decide where these tools end up are often torn between conflicting interests. How many services and devices are actually being used by people whom we prefer would not have access to them? How long until they are used against us, even if indirectly? At which point do we have to stop looking at Information Security as a market, and begin viewing it as a matter of defense and (inter)national security?"
phaedrus5001 writes "Ars has an article about two New Jersey DMV employees who have been accused of selling personal information they routinely had access to. The NJ prosecutor's office claims (PDF) their investigation 'uncovered that two employees of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission were providing the names, addresses, dates of birth and social security numbers of unsuspecting residents that they obtained through their employment. They were charging as little as $200 per identity.'"
An anonymous reader writes "'Houston, we've had a problem,' said astronaut Jack Swigert on April 13, 1970. But the problem wasn't as simple as three astronauts potentially trapped in the void of space, 200,000 miles from Earth. The catastrophic risk came from the SNAP-27 radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG), a small nuclear reactor that was going to be placed on the moon to power experiments, carrying Plutonium 238 in Apollo 13's lunar module. As luck would have it, NASA had experience losing RTGs – a navigation satellite failed to reach orbit in 1964 and scattered small amounts of plutonium over the Indian Ocean. The SNAP-27 had been engineered to make it back to Earth intact in such an incident. The plutonium, like the astronauts, apparently survived reentry and came to rest with what remained of the lunar module in the Tonga Trench south of Fiji, approximately 6-9 kilometers underwater (its exact location is unknown). Extensive monitoring of the atmosphere in the area showed that no radiation escaped."