Powered By Nikeshoestore!

Default utility Image

Gears of War hits the 3 million-sold mark, so why aren’t more people getting the free maps? Yesterday I took a look at how Gears of War has stood up since its release, and I was pleased with what I saw. Free maps, a strong community, a good patch, and the game is still a blast to play. Microsoft has now announced in a press release that the game has sold an astounding 3 million copies; that certainly makes Gears of War one of the biggest franchises on the market right now. Let's dig a little deeper at these numbers though and see if we can find anything interesting. Expanding on its reign as the fastest-selling title of 2006 and the fastest-selling original exclusive Xbox ® game of all time, "Gears of War" has captivated gamers across the globe with its action-packed single-player campaign, thrilling online modes and recently released multiplayer maps, Raven Down and Old Bones. Since the downloadable content's release via Xbox Live ® Marketplace less than two weeks ago, the new maps have garnered an astounding 750,000 downloads. There have been more than 1.5 million total downloads of all "Gears of War" content currently available via Marketplace, including the maps, themes and video walkthrough, by gamers who can't get enough of Delta Squad and the Locust Horde. One of the reasons why Gears of War was such an important title was that it helped to sell the hardware and to get people online. But look at those numbers: only 25 percent of gamers who have Gears of War have downloaded the free maps. I'd be very curious to know why that is, although it would be hard to find out why unless you wanted to go around and ask 2,250,000 people why they didn't download the free maps. This is why we need interns. Are that many people not online with their 360s? Do they not know the maps are out there? Have they simply stopped caring about online play already? Overall these numbers are great; Microsoft and Epic must be ecstatic. But still, why would 75 percent of Gears of War owners turn down free maps?

Default utility Image

Guitar Hero 1 songs in Guitar Hero 2, and the best interview answer ever… twice! If you've ever wondered just how canned responses to interviews can be, let me draw your attention to two interviews with Dusty Welch, RedOctane's head of publishing. With news that Neversoft is now working on developing new Guitar Hero games there is suddenly a lot of interest in what's going on with the franchise. Let's take a look at the interview. First, Gamespot: GS: Why isn't Harmonix still developing the Guitar Hero franchise? How much of it is due to Harmonix being bought by MTV? DW: We have tremendous respect for, and greatly appreciate, everything that Harmonix has done for the Guitar Hero franchise. Their vision has always aligned with ours from the start. In looking toward the future, we believe it was a natural and neutral decision for us to look at other opportunities. We look forward to partnering with Neversoft's development team and can't wait to show our fans what we have in store for them. That's a great, bland, corporate answer. I feel tired just reading it. This is a common question though, and of course Gamedaily is going to ask something close to it. Let's watch! BIZ: Some believe that because Harmonix was acquired by MTV, that had something to do with this Guitar Hero move. Any truth to that? DW: We have tremendous respect for, and greatly appreciate, everything that Harmonix has done for the Guitar Hero franchise. Their vision has always aligned with ours from the start. In looking toward the future, we believe it was a natural and neutral decision for us to look at other opportunities. We look forward to partnering with Neversoft's development team, and can't wait to show our fans what we have in store for them. Oh dear sweet Miyamoto, he has that memorized? I wonder if they work out flash cards with set answers for these questions; does one have to study for stuff like this? The interviews are both filled with non-talk and feel-good answers to the questions, so don't expect much in the way of surprising revelations. Here is the one thing that gave me cause to celebrate: GS: Will Xbox 360 Guitar Hero II owners ever have access to the songs from the original Guitar Hero? DW: While the songs that will be available for download through the Xbox Live Marketplace have yet to be confirmed, we can assure our fans that they can likely expect to see these songs. Through the feedback we've received from fans and from reading the message boards and other forums, we know that this is what everyone wants because of the awesome set list from some of the most legendary rock bands and artists ever! Very cool.

Default utility Image

Gene silencing by a triple helix The dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) gene is typically viewed as what's called a housekeeping gene. It provides basic and essential functions to dividing cells (it helps produce the bases used in DNA and RNA), and would be considered uninteresting if it weren't the target for some forms of chemotherapy. Despite being a bit mundane, however, a paper that will appear in Nature suggests that the regulation of the gene is anything but dull. Two promoters, interfering RNAs, and a DNA-DNA-RNA triple helix all play a role in keeping this gene expressed only when cells need it. Like many genes, DHFR has more than one promoter (diagrammed above)—the site at which proteins bind to kick off the process of making an RNA message (mRNA) out of the gene. When cells are dividing, the gene is active and 99 percent of the mRNAs start at the second promoter, which we'll call Pn for normal. When cells stop dividing, most of the mRNA starts at the first promoter, which we'll call Pi for reasons that will become clear later. The researchers were surprised to find, however, that these messages didn't actually contain the full sequence needed to make functional DHFR protein—instead, the stopped shortly after Pn. The researchers speculated that the Pi activity might inhibit (hence the i) the function of Pn. Did this effect require the two promoters to be linked on the same strand of DNA? The researchers answered this by putting both promoters on separate pieces of DNA. Even when separated, expression of the a normal RNA from the Pi blocked mRNA expression from Pn. They also showed that the inhibitory activity of the RNA made from Pi required sequences from the Pn area. If a sequence was inserted between Pi and Pn that stopped the Pi messages before they reached Pn, the inhibitory effect vanished. All of which raises the question of what the Pi RNA is doing. The researchers got a hint that it was physically acting at the Pn. They discovered that the presence of the Pi RNA interfered with the binding of Pn by proteins needed for mRNA production. In other words, when the Pi RNA was present, the proteins weren't, and Pn was inactive. Scanning the area around Pn revealed a few stretches of sequence that can undergo an unusual form of base pairing. With DNA still base paired normally, the RNA bases can pair with the exterior of the those on the DNA, forming a triple helix. They confirmed that this actually takes place by running an assay that physically separated the double-stranded DNA from the DNA-RNA complex. The paper is significant in part because it comes at a time where we're increasingly recognizing the important role that non-coding RNAs play in regulating gene expression. Past results have shown a number of examples where RNAs have either targeted mRNAs for degradation or blocked their use in protein production. The new paper suggests yet another way that non-coding RNAs can regulate gene expression. Because researchers have some sense of the sequences that can form a triple helix, it's possible that genome-wide analysis of promoters can identify other candidates for this sort of regulation.

Default utility Image

Iowa antitrust trial opens Microsoft skeleton closet Back in September, Ars reported that Microsoft would begin fighting a class-action lawsuit alleging that the Redmond company violated Iowa's antitrust laws. The trial, which began on November 13, has received a significant amount of media attention lately. Last week, plaintiffs in the case claimed that they have evidence from the discovery process showing that Microsoft failed to disclose application programming interfaces (APIs) to its competitors. Now, e-mails from Jim Allchin, the co-president of Microsoft's platforms and services division, have surfaced as evidence in the case revealing that Microsoft was seeking a possible partnership with Apple, or for that matter, planning to create its own digital media device. Allchin's e-mails show a company discontented with its partners who were leveraging Windows Media technologies to build digital music devices. Those companies included Dell and Creative. "My goodness it's terrible," the Windows chief said of Creative's devices. "What I don't understand though is I was told the new Creative Labs device would be comparable to Apple. That is so not the case." Because Allchin feared that the combination of iTunes and the iPod would lure users away from Windows Media Player, he suggested that the company strike partnership discussions with Apple's Steve Jobs. Allchin was hoping that Jobs would allow for iPod integration with Windows Media Player. The final outcome of whatever may have happened was the creation of the Zune, Microsoft's first attempt at creating a portable music device. Allchin's words for Microsoft partners were harsh, but he was not the first executive to be singled out in the Comes v. Microsoft case. A speech by James Plamondon, former Microsoft technical evangelist, has also become public during the trial where he labels independent software developers "pawns." "If you've ever tried to play chess with only the pieces in the back row, you've experienced losing, OK, because you've got to have those pawns…They're essential. So you can't win without them, and you have to take good care of them. You can't let them feel like they're pawns in the struggle. I mean, all through this presentation previously, I talked about how you're using the pawns and you're going to screw them if they don't do what you want, and dah-dah-dah. You can't let them feel like that. If they feel like that, you've lost from the beginning…So you can't let them feel like pawns, no matter how much they really are." Plamondon apologized for his speech (given in 1996) two weeks ago. The timing for all these nasty tidbits to slip out is terrible for Microsoft. The company has several large software releases on the horizon, and the Zune is only a few months old. Will this news affect push people away from Microsoft products? No, but it's still bad for public relations. Then again, isn't any PR good PR?

Default utility Image

Month of Apple Bugs: Week 3 We're back with our third look at the past week's news coming out of the Month of Apple Bugs project. As with last week's coverage, there's a healthy mix of security disclosure and internet drama in this week's reports. But first, the bugs themselves, which once again comprise a mix of Apple and third-party software. Let's begin with the Apple ones, which include privilege escalation vulnerabilities in several setuid binary files within the /Applications hierarchy. The most insidious problem with this particular exploit is that a clever cracker can replace one of these binaries, hence being able to take advantage of Apple's own permissions repair functionality to erase his or her tracks. Other Apple-specific bugs include a buffer overflow in the slpd (Service Location Protocol) daemon and a format string vulnerability in iChat's URL handler. Both of these issues can lead to denial-of-service conditions, and the iChat bug could theoretically allow arbitrary code execution. The other bugs concern third-party Mac applications, such as Transmit's buffer overflow when dealing with sftp:// URIs and multiple issues with improper system() calls by Rumpus, Maxum's file management server system for Macs. The Rumpus vulnerabilities are especially concerning because the service runs with elevated privileges, so an exploit could theoretically gain control of an entire system. Then there's the Colloquy IRC client bug, which gets the nod for this week's controversy generator. The story is a bit confusing, but as near as we can suss out it goes something like this: last Wednesday, the MoAB crew published an exploit for Colloquy involving a format string vulnerability, which included a sample exploit against an unnamed IRC channel. As it turns out, however, this unnamed channel appears to have actually been #macdev on Freenode IRC, and the MoAB crew were allegedly using the exploit against Colloquy users prior to listing it on their site. The MoAB gang denies this, while others claim to have proof of their actions. Who's right? Who knows. At any rate, it's pretty clear that the MoAB crew and the folks from Unsanity are, if possible, even less enamoured with each other than they were last week. This makes the debate over Iraq look like a parking ticket dispute, doesn't it? (By the way, the Colloquy developers released a patch later that day, so if you use the application, make sure you tell it to check for recent updates.) At this point, about the only absolute fact is this: after three weeks of all kinds of accusations, counter-accusations, insults, veiled threats, and general internet asshattery, there are still no official fixes from Apple for any of the documented security vulnerabilities (as of this afternoon). (However, there is an unofficial fix for the issues related to permission repair, created by a Mac Achaia poster; see this link for details.) We also invite you again to keep up to date on the most recent developments through our forum thread on the topic.

Categories

Recent Posts

Default utility Image Rumor: DVD Player to be overhauled with Leopard (updated)

I'm sure we all know many a Mac-using geek who absolutely loathes the...

Default utility Image The story behind the hypothetical Ghostbusters video and game

I was saving this for Viddy Well, but now that the...

Default utility Image Apple’s record quarter: inside the numbers

Yesterday, Apple Computer, Inc. reported record profits of $1.14 per share ($1 billion) on revenues...

Default utility Image Quarks, colored gluons, and quantum chromodynamics

As most casual fans of modern physics should be well aware, there are
two brilliant,...

Default utility Image Balancing forces in the evolution of flight

Birds may make it look easy, but flight is very stressful for them....

Recent Posts

Default utility Image Default utility Image Default utility Image Default utility Image Default utility Image

Recent Posts

Default utility Image Rumor: DVD Player to be overhauled with Leopard (updated)

I'm sure we all know many a Mac-using geek who absolutely loathes the...

Default utility Image The story behind the hypothetical Ghostbusters video and game

I was saving this for Viddy Well, but now that the...

Default utility Image Apple’s record quarter: inside the numbers

Yesterday, Apple Computer, Inc. reported record profits of $1.14 per share ($1 billion) on revenues...

Default utility Image Quarks, colored gluons, and quantum chromodynamics

As most casual fans of modern physics should be well aware, there are
two brilliant,...

Default utility Image Balancing forces in the evolution of flight

Birds may make it look easy, but flight is very stressful for them....

Tag Cloud