simrook writes to tell us that World of Warcraft's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, has entered closed alpha testing, as reported by WoWInsider. Wrath of the Lich King, which we've discussed previously, will raise the level cap to 80 and introduce a new class: Death Knights. World of Warcraft remains the most popular MMORPG on the market with over 10 million subscribers. WoWInsider notes, "Various players are being invited to check it out, under a strict NDA."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
ahess247 brings us a lengthy BusinessWeek story on the increasing amount of attacks against the US government's online presence as well as its contacts in the private sector. Hackers are gaining a greater awareness of where valuable data might reside, and that awareness is leading to more precise, more sophisticated attacks. Quoting: "The U.S. government, and its sprawl of defense contractors, have been the victims of an unprecedented rash of similar cyber attacks over the last two years, say current and former U.S. government officials. 'It's espionage on a massive scale,' says Paul B. Kurtz, a former high-ranking national security official. Government agencies reported 12,986 cyber securit..
An anonymous reader writes "According to the Hollywood Reporter and news.com, Blockbuster will soon be announcing yet another reason not to go to a rental store. A media-delivering set-top box is in the works for the company, leveraging the store's existing competence in the industry to provide a viable alternative to iTunes, Xbox Live, and Amazon. 'There was no mention of price or how such a service would work in the report. But let's think about this: to compete with Apple TV or Vudu, the device would have to cost around $200, and rentals of movies and TV shows should be around $3 to $4 each, which would be slightly cheaper than rentals of new releases from Blockbuster currently. The big a..
stupefaction writes "The New York Times reports that an economist has exposed a mathematical fallacy at the heart of the experimental backing for the psychological theory of cognitive dissonance. The mistake is the same one that mathematicians both amateur and professional have made over the Monty Hall problem. From the article: "Like Monty Hall's choice of which door to open to reveal a goat, the monkey's choice of red over blue discloses information that changes the odds." The reporter John Tierney invites readers to comment on the goats-and-car paradox as well as on three other probabilistic brain-teasers."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
mikkl666 writes "Following the recent story about the discovery of the youngest planet outside our solar system, Spanish researchers now report that they found the smallest exoplanet observed so far. The planet, known as GJ 436c, was found by analyzing distortions in the orbit of another, larger planet, and its radius is only about 50 percent greater than the Earth's. The scientists are confident that their new method will lead to a series of further discoveries: 'I think we are very close, just a few years away, from detecting a planet like Earth.' You can also reference the the original paper online for further details."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Puskas writes "Joe Stewart is the director of malware research at SecureWorks, and presented a dire view of the current botnet landscape at the RSA conference this week. He conducted a survey of the top spamming 'nets, extrapolating their size from the volume of emails that flow across the internet. By his calculations, the top 11 networks control just over a million machines, hitting inboxes with some 100 billion messages a day. 'The botnet at the top of the chart is Srizbi. According to Stewart, this botnet — which also goes by the names "Cbeplay" and "Exchanger" — has an estimated 315,000 bots and can blast out 60 billion messages a day. While it may not have gotten the public..
mikkl666 writes "Even just since this morning, there's much to report in the ongoing fight between Microsoft and Yahoo!. After Yahoo! announced yesterday that they are testing Google AdSense, Microsoft reacted with a comment pointing out that 'any definitive agreement between Yahoo! and Google would consolidate over 90% of the search advertising market in Google's hands.' Ironically, they complain that 'this would make the market far less competitive.' Both companies try to team up with strong partners, as well. Yahoo! and AOL are are now closing in on a deal to combine their Internet operations.Microsoft. And of course, this morning's new was that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is apparently i..
Barence writes "PC Pro has up a look at Asus' concept triple-GPU graphics card. It's a tech demo, so it's not going to see release at any point in the future, but it's an interesting look at how far manufacturers can push technology, as well as just how inefficient multi-GPU graphics cards currently are. 'Asus has spaced [the GPUs] out, placing one on the top of the card and two on the underside. This creates its own problem, though: attaching heatsinks and fans to both sides of the card would prevent it from fitting into some case arrangements, and defeat access to neighbouring expansion slots. So instead, Asus has used a low-profile heat-pipe system that channels the heat to a heatsink at ..
Pickens writes "Inexpensive GPS devices like the Zoombak (which costs just $200 plus $10 a month) have becomes so prevalent that some people are using them routinely to keep tabs on their most precious possessions. Kathy Besa has a Zoombak attached to the collar of her 5-year-old beagle, Buddy. If Buddy wanders more than 20 feet from the house, she gets a text message on her phone that says, 'Buddy has left the premises.' The small size made possible by chip advances over the last two or three years is enabling many novel uses of GPS tracking. An art collector in New York uses one when he transports million-dollar pieces, a home builder is putting them on expensive appliances to track them i..
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "On January 2, 2008, the Massachusetts State Police ordered MediaSentry, the RIAA's investigator, to cease and desist from conducting investigations in Massachusetts without a license. Based on what appears to be irrefutable proof that MediaSentry has been violating that order, the Boston University students who tentatively won, in London-Sire v. Doe 1, an order tentatively quashing the subpoena for their identities, have brought a new motion to vacate the RIAA's court papers altogether, on the ground that the RIAA's 'evidence' was procured by criminal behavior."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Stony Stevenson writes "Google presents a big fat target for would-be hackers and attackers. At the RSA conference Google offered security professionals a look at its internal security systems. Scott Petry, director of Google's Enterprise and founder of security firm Postini, explained how the company handles constant pressure and scrutiny from attackers. In order to keep its products safe, Google has adopted a philosophy of 'security as a cultural value.' The program includes mandatory security training for developers, a set of in-house security libraries, and code reviews by both Google developers and outside security researchers."Read more of this story at Slashdot.
docinthemachine is one of several readers to send word of a new poll published in Nature showing unprecedented levels of cognitive performance-enhancing drug abuse by top academic scientists. The poll, conducted among subscribers to Nature, surveyed 1,400 scientists from 60 nations (70% from the US). 20% reported using performance-enhancing drugs. Among the drug-using population, 62% used Ritalin, 44% used Provigil, and 15% used beta-blockers like Inderal. Frequency of use was evenly divided among those who used drugs daily, weekly, monthly, and once a year. All such use without a prescription is illegal.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
David Gerard writes "From Groklaw: Heidi Rühle, a Green Party MEP, has presented a question regarding whether or not Microsoft should be considered as having failed to fulfill the conditions to participate in public procurement procedures in Europe, as laid out in Article 93(b) and (c) of Financial Regulation — '(b) they have been convicted of an offense concerning their professional conduct by a judgment which has the force of res judicata; (c) they have been guilty of grave professional misconduct proven by any means which the contracting authority can justify' — and the Commission anti-trust penalty just happens to fulfill both of those conditions." The EU Commission is r..
holy_calamity writes "Researchers at Mitsubishi say cramming buildings with movement sensors, not cameras, is a safer and less invasive alternative to CCTV. They covered their office building with 215 low-cost sensors to watch over their colleagues and show how it works. A video shows how a user can see people's movements on a map of the building in real time. Data from the sensors is much easier to handle than video footage, and it can easily be searched." The Surface-like UI is pretty neat too.Read more of this story at Slashdot.
Pioneer Woman writes "Microsoft announced plans to introduce a Web-based service for driving directions that incorporates complex software models to help users avoid traffic jams. The system is intended to reflect the complex traffic interactions that occur as traffic backs up on freeways and spills over onto city streets and will be freely available as part of the company's Live.com site for 72 cities in the US. Microsoft researchers designed algorithms that modeled traffic behavior by collecting trip data from Microsoft employees who volunteered to carry GPS units in their cars. In the end they were able to build a model for predicting traffic based on four years of data, effectively creat..