Saturday, May 19, 2007

WTF: "War Doesn't Determine Who Is Right, War Determines Who Is Left"

-Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), philosopher, author, and 1950 Nobel Prize-winner for Literature

While perusing Shoutwire earlier this evening I came across this Pulitzer Prize winning photo taken during the famine in Sudan in 1994. The child shown is crawling towards a U.N food camp with a vulture lurking in the background. The camp was more than a kilometer away and no one knows whether the child made it. The photographer, Kevin Carter, left the area immediately after this photo was taken. He committed suicide three months later due to depression.

Photographer Haunted by Horror of His Work

Obituary: Kevin Carter 1960 - 1994

Johannesburg - Kevin Carter, the South African photographer whose image of a starving Sudanese toddler stalked by a vulture won him a Pulitzer Prize this year, was found dead on Wednesday night, apparently a suicide, police said yesterday. He was 33. The police said Mr Carter's body and several letters to friends and family were discovered in his pick-up truck, parked in a Johannesburg suburb. An inquest showed that he had died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mr Carter started as a sports photographer in 1983 but soon moved to the front lines of South African political strife, recording images of repression, anti-apartheid protest and fratricidal violence. A few davs after winning his Pulitzer Prize in April, Mr Carter was nearby when one of his closest friends and professional companions, Ken Oosterbroek, was shot dead photographing a gun battle in Tokoza township.

Friends said Mr Carter was a man of tumultuous emotions which brought passion to his work but also drove him to extremes of elation and depression. Last year, saying he needed a break from South Africa's turmoil, he paid his own way to the southern Sudan to photograph a civil war and famine that he felt the world was overlooking.

His picture of an emaciated girl collapsing on the way to a feeding centre, as a plump vulture lurked in the background, was published first in The New York Times and The Mail & Guardian, a Johannesburg weekly. The reaction to the picture was so strong that The New York Times published an unusual editor's note on the fate of the girl. Mr Carter said she resumed her trek to the feeding centre. He chased away the vulture.

Afterwards, he told an interviewer, he sat under a tree for a long time, "smoking cigarettes and crying". His father, Mr Jimmy Carter laid last night: "Kevin always carried around the horror of the work he did." - The New York Times

Source: Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 30 July 1994

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WTF: Virginia Tech Video Game Writer Asks For US$2000 To Remove It

A Sydney youth has sparked uproar over the release of an online game based on the Virginia Tech massacre. The game, called V-Tech Rampage, offers "three levels of stealth and murder" and is it set on a facsimile of the Virginia Tech campus. He has said he will remove the game if he receives 'donations' of US$2000, and will apologize if he is given another US$1000.

The game, called V-Tech Rampage, offers "three levels of stealth and murder" and is set on a facsimile of the Virginia Tech campus.

It is modelled on the exploits of South Korean-born Cho Seung-hui who last month shot dead 32 fellow students at the Virginia Tech campus in the worst such massacre in US history.

The game features a gun-toting character based on Cho, the dormitory where the killing spree started, the post office where he sent his manifesto to a TV network and Norris Hall, the building where most of the murders took place.

The game first came to light after it was uploaded to a site called which hosts a large number of basic, mainly home made , computer games. Game makers upload their creations on to the site much in the same way as people upload videos to YouTube.

V-Tech Rampage is the work of 21-year-old Ryan Lambourn from western Sydney who goes by the screen name, Master PiGPEN.

"I've done offensive things before but they're not usually this popular," Lamourn said, adding that he made the game "because it's funny".

Lambourn, who grew up in the US, said his friends suggested putting up the ransom demand which he thought was "a hilarious idea".

He posted the demand on his website saying: "Attention angry people: I will take this game down from newgrounds [the games website] if the donation amount reaches $1000 US. I'll take it down from here [his website] if it reaches $2000 US, and i will apologise if it reaches $3000 US."

He described the exercise as "a joke". "They were so adamant about me taking my game down ... I gave them a way," he said.

"The donation thing was just to pull a few more strings and make more people angry. It's worked."

Lambourn said that while he felt remorse for those who had lost friends and relatives in the massacre, he also had sympathy for the gunman.

"No one listens to you unless you've got something sensational to do." he said. "And that's why I feel sympathy for Cho Seung-hui. He had to go that far."

The game requires players to move the pixellated South Park-like Cho character around the campus, shooting other characters.

Once shots are fired, the other characters start running around with their hands in the air screaming. A song, Shine by the band Collective Soul, is played on a loop in the background.

The full article here

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TECH: Why Web Pirates Can't Be Stopped

There's one very good reason why pirates have existed for so long; greed -and inequality of wealth. And while there is loot to plunder, pirates shall exist. Aside from sailing through the Straits Of Malacca on a cruise liner, the only piracy you or I will come face to face with is likely to be on one of the websites you've got bookmarked. Forbes has just posted an interesting article regarding the day of the modern-age virtual pirate -and how all about caring and sharing they are...

More after the jump below

Pirates don't just plunder. In Sweden, it seems, they also believe in sharing.

As the world's largest repository of BitTorrent files, helps millions of users around the world share copyrighted movies, music and other files--without paying for them.

That's illegal, of course--at least it is in the U.S. But when Time Warner's (nyse: TWX - news - people ) Warner Bros. studio accused them of breaking U.S. copyright law in 2005, the pirates gleefully reminded the movie company that they didn't live in America, but rather in "the land of vikings, reindeer, Aurora Borealis and cute blond girls."

Based in Stockholm, The Pirate Bay serves as a massive worldwide hub for copyright infringement but is shielded by its home country's lax copyright laws. The site lives in a comfortable legal loophole, one of many available to Web sites that offer users copyrighted content. Some exploit vagaries in U.S. law, while others depend on their international immunity.
In Pictures: A Rogue's Gallery Of Web Pirates

That rankles big media outfits like Sony (nyse: SNE - news - people ), General Electric (nyse: GE - news - people )-owned NBC, News Corp. (nyse: NWS - news - people ) and Viacom (nyse: VIA.B - news - people ) as they vie to hang on to their sales and carve out a slice of the Web's growing audience--hence Viacom's ongoing $1 billion suit against Google's (nasdaq: GOOG - news - people ) YouTube. But no matter the outcome of that trial, sites like The Pirate Bay show that the Web will always offer safe harbors for clever copyright violators.

Take the growing guerrilla army of YouTube clones. Video sites like DailyMotion, Veoh, GoFish (otcbb: GOFH.OB - news - people ), OuOu, Peekvid, LiveDigital and 1Dawg work on the same model as YouTube, allowing any user to upload content. But they don't suffer from as much legal scrutiny as better-known video sites, nor do they limit the length of clips uploaded by users.

That means practically any television show or movie can be dug up on one of these YouTube imitators, and another subindustry of Web portals has sprouted just for that purpose. Sites like,,, and all collect and organize links to movies and shows on these second-tier video sites, offering streaming, on-demand video copyright infringement.

These two classes of video sites--one that lets users upload videos and another that links them to movies and shows located elsewhere--work together in a careful symbiosis., for instance, links to Lost episodes on Veoh, Scrubs episodes on LiveDigital and kung-fu movies on DailyMotion, bringing in about 500,000 unique visitors a day. The site’s creators, three teenagers living in a suburb of Hamburg, Germany, say they're making plenty of money, though they won't say how much. They also say they're not breaking any copyright laws, since they merely link to content instead of hosting it on their own site.

Their argument is rooted, ironically, in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act that U.S. lawmakers approved in 1998. The kids, as well as the operators of most sites that let users upload content, argue that they're not violating copyright law if they're not the ones putting it up and if they take it down at the copyright holder's request. It's the same argument Google is making in its YouTube case.

But there are more practical reasons that sites like get away with what they're doing. One is that there are simply too many of them to keep track of. Media companies' lawyers rarely have time to police so many obscure sites, and even when they do, users can always upload the infringing files again. So the flow of copyrighted streaming video continues.

Not every scheme to evade intellectual property laws is so subtle. The music-selling site uses a simpler business model: Base your company in Russia, steal music from American labels and sell it cheaply. AllofMP3 allows users to download full albums for as little as $1 each--10% of what they would cost on iTunes. From June to October 2006 alone, the Recording Industry Association of America says that 11 million songs were downloaded from the site. AllofMP3 claims those sales adhered strictly to Russian law, but that doesn’t satisfy the RIAA; the record labels have launched a lawsuit, asking for $150,000 for each stolen file, totaling $1.65 trillion.

As Russia seeks to join the World Trade Organization, it may be forced to step in line with international copyright licensing and stamp out sites like AllofMP3. But there's still hope for international pirates: Despite Sweden's membership in the WTO since 1995, The Pirate Bay's copyright sabotage campaign is alive and well. Though Swedish police raided the site's headquarters and confiscated its servers in May of last year, the site was soon back online, running on donated hardware. Since then, Pirate Bay administrator Peter Sunde says, the site has started distributing its servers and bandwidth to other locations to avoid the possibility of another raid. Sunde claims even he doesn't know exactly where the servers are stashed.

Still, Sunde and his partners in piracy are waiting for the Swedish government to press charges. If they are prosecuted, Sunde suspects it will most likely be in the next month, before the servers confiscated from their headquarters last year become inadmissible as evidence. But he isn’t worried. "If the Swedish government presses charges, they’ll lose. If they don’t, the U.S. government will be mad at them," Sunde says. "They’re in quite a pickle."

So, he might have added, are the world’s copyright holders.


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TECH: Apple's iPhone Nano

I know this is a few days old but I completely forgot to post this. Apple has reportedly filed a patent application for an iPhone Nano, and T3 has full coverage of that leak here. Now all they need to do is start releasing the little critters and we'll once again be marching to the beat of Steve Jobs' mantra, only this time, please don't bundle the damned things with all-white accessories -please?

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Friday, May 18, 2007

TECH: Apple's iPhone Ready For Sale

After much hype and public fanfare, Apple's iPhone has finally received the go-ahead today. Expect crowds of designer types congregating stylishly outside Apple outlets everywhere soon. By the same token a slight droop in creativity levels is to be expected while the hoo-hah continues.

Regulators approved Apple Inc.’s iPhone for sale in the United States on Thursday paving the way for the much anticipated device to be sold by the wireless unit of AT&T in late June. News of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission certification helped send Apple shares up 2.2 percent to $109.70 in late afternoon trading. “That’s the primary reason why the stock’s up today,” said Shaw Wu, an analyst with American Technology Research, adding that it was welcome news despite there being little doubt the device would win approval. “They are a brand new player in this space, so it is a big deal,” Wu said.

The iPhone, unveiled by Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs in January, is expected to make a splash in the market — despite its $500 price tag — due to its sleek design, large touch screen and ability to play music like the company’s iPod digital media players. “The iPhone has passed its required FCC certification milestone and is on schedule to ship in late June as planned,” said Apple spokeswoman Natalie Kerris. Kerris said reports earlier this week that Apple had sent an e-mail to employees saying that the iPhone and next version of the company’s computer operating system would be delayed by several months were not true.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

TECH: Sony Posts Massive Profit Losses

Sony has posted a 68% drop in operating profits for the financial year largely due to losses incurred by its games division. Also reported are the largest quarterly losses in 4 years (4 years, is that all?).

Operating profit was 71.75 billion yen ($596.8m), down from 226.42 billion yen ($1.88b) a year earlier. Oh god that sucks, they're only making half a billion this year, while the rest of us misers scavenge for food in neighbours dustbins, socialize only when free drinks are to be had at lame bar openings, and secretly sell off our girlfriend's used underwear on eBay Japan.

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PC: Far Cry vs. Crysis Screenshots

Remember Far Cry? That game that snuck out of nowhere, from relatively then-unknown developer Crytek? Way back in 2004?

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Featuring a game engine that did nothing to hint towards the power lurking behind its name -the Cry Engine. The game was indeed revolutionary for its time, featuring stunning visuals and an environment completely different from the chock-a-block alien/military shooters that are so prevalent in FPS games.

Today we take a look at how Far Cry stacks up to Crytek's upcoming Crysis -a game that has been heralded as the game to launch DX10 gaming into the mainstream and the subject of much hype -given its amazing set of trailers. Click on each individual image to see the full size one, and remember, this is modern day gaming beauty at its best. Enjoy.

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WTF: Thailand Gives Up Trying To Sue YouTube

AP / Yahoo is reporting that Thailand has dropped their plan to sue YouTube, after Google finally agreed to remove a video clip which ridiculed the Thai king. YouTube / Google initially refused to remove the offending video, but relented after the Thai military government blocked local access to the entire site on April 4th. The backtrack by Google was enough to placate the Thai government into not pressing charges.

Click the link below for the full story

The video clocks in at a mere 44-seconds, and is amateurish even by my standards. It features a picture of King Bhumipol Adulyadej being defaced by crude scribblings and worst of all, placed beneath a photo of a woman's feet -a grave and serious religious faux-pas in strictly Buddhist Thailand.

Apparently unknown to Google / YouTube, ridiculing the king in Thailand is a serious crime, punishable by long-term jail -a fact discovered by a Swiss man who is now serving a 10-year jail sentence.

The Thai government were on the verge of filing a criminal lawsuit against Google on charges of lese-majeste, or offense against the monarchy, carrying a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison but decided not to sue "because it (Google) has agreed to cooperate in removing 12 video clips from the YouTube Web site," so sayeth Vissanu Meeyoo, the Thai Ministry of Information and Communications Technology spokesman.

"We have the deepest respect for His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej," Google wrote in a letter to the ministry. "We likewise respect Thailand's law and tradition and hope that we will be able to reach a mutually acceptable resolution to the current controversy."

This is the latest successful censorship case by a country to publicly suppress content on the internet, following Turkey's suspension of YouTube access after a video was posted purporting to show founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, as a homosexual. China's infamous CNN, BBC and then Google bans, and North Korea -who have yet to start using their official .nk domain name.


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WTF: Man Vomits Drugs, Returns To Airport (and possible death by execution)

Reuters has a interesting story story about an Australian man of Vietnamese descent who became sick just after taking off on a Vietnam Airlines flight bound for Sydney, Australia -only for the flight to return to Hanoi after he'd coughed up two bags containing white powder. No guesses here for what that white powder was.

More after the jump below

HANOI (Reuters) - A passenger on an Australian-bound plane vomited a nylon bag of white powder suspected to be heroin, causing the plane to return to Vietnam in the latest drug mule case between that country and Australia, officials said.

The Vietnam Airlines plane had been flying for an hour after leaving Ho Chi Minh City on Saturday when an Australian man of Vietnamese descent took ill, airline officials told the state-run Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The aircraft turned around and made an emergency landing at Tan Son Nhat Airport, where the man coughed up two more bags of white powder. He was detained by police and taken to hospital.

Another newspaper, Lao Dong (Labor), reported doctors found 30 red nylon bags in the man's stomach. It identified him as 35-year-old Nguyen Kant.

The aircraft took off again for the flight to Sydney in the early hours of Sunday morning, officials said.

In March, a man was arrested at the Ho Chi Minh City airport while checking in for a flight to Sydney. He was accused of trafficking 1.1 kg (2.4 pounds) of heroin.

At the same airport in February, an Australian woman was arrested after being caught with 1.5 kg of heroin in her luggage.

Several Australians of Vietnamese descent have been arrested for trafficking heroin to Australia from Vietnam in recent years and at least four were sentenced to death.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

TECH: Porn Will Decide The HD War

To the delight of producers, filmmakers, AV girls and teenage boys everywhere, it looks as if porn may be a deciding factor in an affair that doesn't involve shocked mothers, disgusted wives, and cheating girlfriends. Although the Blu-ray camp are declaring (premature) victory over HD-DVD, Scientific American reckon the deciding factor won't be the Star Wars HD Box Set or The Godfather Trilogy, but rather, titles like Alice In Penisland....

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PS3 / Wii / Xbox 360: Games To Look Forward To in 2008

CB Games has posted a handy list of upcoming games set for release on all three consoles for 2008. The only one to be pencilled into my "must-buy" list was the spooky-as-hell Xbox360 / PS3 release Heavy Rain, which shocked viewers when the "casting" trailer first appeared on Youtube earlier this year.

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Click to view Heavy Rain trailer at Youtube

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TECH: AMD Finally Releases ATI Radeon HD 2900XT

After so much hype, so many promises, and so many delays, comes AMD's Radeon X2000 range of DX10-compatible video cards. Being one of the top discussion points for geeks-who-love-controversy, alongside Vista, Sony's PS3, and AMD's own 2006 takeover of ATI, the launch of AMD's X2900XT tomorrow heralds the start of a new generation of video cards for PC & Mac users. More after the jump below.

The new AMD / ATI Radeon HD 2000 family consists of the HD 2400, HD 2600 and HD 2900 graphics processing units (GPUs). Formerly known by the codenames RV610, RV630 and R600, only the R600 -or X2900XT is being released. With all lines coming in at least two variations -the Pro and XT, with higher clock speeds, RAM capacity, and an increase in stream processors being the main differences.

The three new product categories:

- Radeon HD 2400 - value segment (sub US$100)

- Radeon HD 2600 - mainstream segment (sub US$200)

-Radeon HD 2900 - enthusiast segment (US$300+)

The X2900XT is the only card with a definite launch tomorrow -the value and mainstream segments get taken care of sometime in July, according to AMD.

AMD pairs the 700 million transistor-count X2900XT with 512Mb of GDDR3 memory. The memory comes clocked at 1.65Ghz and communicates with the GPU through a 512-bit memory interface. By comparison, Intel's latest CPU has a transistor count of just 291 million.

Much like Nvidia's G80 series (8500 / 8600 / 8800), the HD 2000 series possesses the ability to process physics effects with the help of the unified shader requirement, coming in as part of the DX10 criteria. New to the HD 2000 series however, is the integrated 5.1 surround sound capability -through HDMI no less.

Still, all of this is pretty much useless until we actually get some f&*iup9cking DX10 games to play them on. Until then, Vista, the 8800Ultra, and HD 2900XT are all a complete and utter pile of wasted cat shit. Bring it on Crysis. Bring it. (And bet your ass you'll need to upgrade pretty much every single component in your PC to play it too...)

Click on the links below to see VR-Zone's full review of the X2900XT.

Click to read VR-Zone X2900XT in-depth review

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