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797 results for 2006
10 Best Hacking and Security Software Tools for Linux in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
Linuxis a hacker’s dream computer operating system. It supports tons oftools and utilities for cracking passwords, scanning networkvulnerabilities, and detecting possible intrusions. I have here acollection of 10 of the best hacking and security software tools forLinux. Please always keep in mind that these tools are not meant toharm, but to protect.

1. John the Ripper




John the Ripperis a free password cracking software tool initially developed for theUNIX operating system. It is one of the most popular passwordtesting/breaking programs as it combines a number of password crackersinto one package, autodetects password hash types, and includes acustomizable cracker. It can be run against various encrypted passwordformats including several crypt password hash types most commonly foundon various Unix flavors (based on DES, MD5, or Blowfish), Kerberos AFS,and Windows NT/2000/XP/2003 LM hash. Additional modules have extendedits ability to include MD4-based password hashes and passwords storedin LDAP, MySQL and others.


2. Nmap

Nmapis my favorite network security scanner. It is used to discovercomputers and services on a computer network, thus creating a "map" ofthe network. Just like many simple port scanners, Nmap is capable ofdiscovering passive services on a network despite the fact that suchservices aren't advertising themselves with a service discoveryprotocol. In addition Nmap may be able to determine various detailsabout the remote computers. These include operating system, devicetype, uptime, software product used to run a service, exact versionnumber of that product, presence of some firewall techniques and, on alocal area network, even vendor of the remote network card.

Nmapruns on Linux, Microsoft Windows, Solaris, and BSD (including Mac OSX), and also on AmigaOS. Linux is the most popular nmap platform andWindows the second most popular.


3. Nessus

Nessusis a comprehensive vulnerability scanning software. Its goal is todetect potential vulnerabilities on the tested systems such as:

-Vulnerabilities that allow a remote cracker to control or access sensitive data on a system.
-Misconfiguration (e.g. open mail relay, missing patches, etc).
-Defaultpasswords, a few common passwords, and blank/absent passwords on somesystem accounts. Nessus can also call Hydra (an external tool) tolaunch a dictionary attack.
-Denials of service against the TCP/IP stack by using mangled packets

Nessusis the world's most popular vulnerability scanner, estimated to be usedby over 75,000 organizations worldwide. It took first place in the2000, 2003, and 2006 security tools survey from SecTools.Org.


4. chkrootkit

chkrootkit(Check Rootkit) is a common Unix-based program intended to help systemadministrators check their system for known rootkits. It is a shellscript using common UNIX/Linux tools like the strings and grep commandsto search core system programs for signatures and for comparing atraversal of the /proc filesystem with the output of the ps (processstatus) command to look for discrepancies.

It can be used from a"rescue disc" (typically a Live CD) or it can optionally use analternative directory from which to run all of its own commands. Thesetechniques allow chkrootkit to trust the commands upon which it dependa bit more.

There are inherent limitations to the reliability ofany program that attempts to detect compromises (such as rootkits andcomputer viruses). Newer rootkits may specifically attempt to detectand compromise copies of the chkrootkit programs or take other measuresto evade detection by them.


5. Wireshark

Wiresharkis a free packet sniffer computer application used for networktroubleshooting, analysis, software and communications protocoldevelopment, and education. In June 2006, the project was renamed fromEthereal due to trademark issues.

The functionality Wiresharkprovides is very similar to tcpdump, but it has a GUI front-end, andmany more information sorting and filtering options. It allows the userto see all traffic being passed over the network (usually an Ethernetnetwork but support is being added for others) by putting the networkinterface into promiscuous mode.

Wireshark uses thecross-platform GTK+ widget toolkit, and is cross-platform, running onvarious computer operating systems including Linux, Mac OS X, andMicrosoft Windows. Released under the terms of the GNU General PublicLicense, Wireshark is free software.


6. netcat

netcat is a computer networking utility for reading from and writing to network connections on either TCP or UDP.

Netcatwas voted the second most useful network security tool in a 2000 pollconducted by insecure.org on the nmap users mailing list. In 2003, itgained fourth place, a position it also held in the 2006 poll.

The original version of netcat is a UNIX program. Its author is known as *Hobbit*. He released version 1.1 in March of 1996.

Netcat is fully POSIX compatible and there exist several implementations, including a rewrite from scratch known as GNU netcat.


7. Kismet

Kismetis a network detector, packet sniffer, and intrusion detection systemfor 802.11 wireless LANs. Kismet will work with any wireless card whichsupports raw monitoring mode, and can sniff 802.11a, 802.11b and802.11g traffic.

Kismet is unlike most other wireless networkdetectors in that it works passively. This means that without sendingany loggable packets, it is able to detect the presence of bothwireless access points and wireless clients, and associate them witheach other.

Kismet also includes basic wireless IDS featuressuch as detecting active wireless sniffing programs includingNetStumbler, as well as a number of wireless network attacks.


8. hping

hpingis a free packet generator and analyzer for the TCP/IP protocol. Hpingis one of the de facto tools for security auditing and testing offirewalls and networks, and was used to exploit the idle scan scanningtechnique (also invented by the hping author), and now implemented inthe Nmap Security Scanner. The new version of hping, hping3, isscriptable using the Tcl language and implements an engine for stringbased, human readable description of TCP/IP packets, so that theprogrammer can write scripts related to low level TCP/IP packetmanipulation and analysis in very short time.

Like most tools used in computer security, hping is useful to both system administrators and crackers (or script kiddies).


9. Snort

Snortis a free and open source Network Intrusion prevention system (NIPS)and network intrusion detection (NIDS) capable of performing packetlogging and real-time traffic analysis on IP networks.

Snortperforms protocol analysis, content searching/matching, and is commonlyused to actively block or passively detect a variety of attacks andprobes, such as buffer overflows, stealth port scans, web applicationattacks, SMB probes, and OS fingerprinting attempts, amongst otherfeatures. The software is mostly used for intrusion preventionpurposes, by dropping attacks as they are taking place. Snort can becombined with other software such as SnortSnarf, sguil, OSSIM, and theBasic Analysis and Security Engine (BASE) to provide a visualrepresentation of intrusion data. With patches for the Snort sourcefrom Bleeding Edge Threats, support for packet stream antivirusscanning with ClamAV and network abnormality with SPADE in networklayers 3 and 4 is possible with historical observation.


10. tcpdump

tcpdumpis a common computer network debugging tool that runs under the commandline. It allows the user to intercept and display TCP/IP and otherpackets being transmitted or received over a network to which thecomputer is attached.

In some Unix-like operating systems, auser must have superuser privileges to use tcpdump because the packetcapturing mechanisms on those systems require elevated privileges.However, the -Z option may be used to drop privileges to a specificunprivileged user after capturing has been set up. In other Unix-likeoperating systems, the packet capturing mechanism can be configured toallow non-privileged users to use it; if that is done, superuserprivileges are not required.

The user may optionally apply aBPF-based filter to limit the number of packets seen by tcpdump; thisrenders the output more usable on networks with a high volume oftraffic.


Do you have a favorite security software tool for Linux? Feel free to comment and tell us about it.
Posted by Editorial Team Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:06 am
Spore Creature Creator tops US charts - have you got it? in Gaming
The NPD Group has released US PC software sales datafor the week ending June 21, with EA's Spore Creature Creator comingout on top.
Maxis reported that one millionSpore creatures were created and shared during the stand-aloneprogram's first week of availability. The full Spore game will bereleased in September.
Sales of Spore Creature Creator werestrong enough to place the game at number six on the All Categorieslist - the only game to appear alongside business, education andutility software.
                   
The Top Ten best-selling PC games in the US for the week ending June 21 were:

  • 1      Spore Creature Creator (EA)
  • 2 The Sims 2 Double Deluxe (EA)
  • 3 Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (Eidos)
  • 4 World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack (Vivendi>
  • 5 World Of Warcraft (Vivendi)
  • 6 World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest (Vivendi)
  • 7 The Sims 2 FreeTime Expansion Pack (EA)
  • 8 The Sims 2 Kitchen & Bath Interior Design Stuff Expansion Pack     (EA)
  • 9      Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare     (Activision)
  • 10 Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (LucasArts)


The Spore Creature Creator was software that allowed players to create their own creatures with a standalone version of the Creature Editor from Spore; the software was one of the first aspects of the game to receive focused development, and had undergone ten rewrites since the start of development. It was rated E by the ESRB in early March 2008, indicating that the editor would be released separately well before the game's release as a utility program. Electronic Arts told MTV Asia that "EA Screen will provide visitors a chance to interact with EA's game producers hailing from the studios, and unveil the hugely anticipated SPORE Creature Creator demo version to gamers for the first time in Asia." Electronic Arts VP Mark Buechner stated on the Spore Facebook page that the editor would be released in June or July 2008, saying, "We are looking at releasing it two to three months before the launch of the full game."

The SimCity Box artwork showed a blurb stating that the creature editor would be included with it. IGN revealed that the Spore Creature Creator utility will be available in two different versions on June 18, 2008. There was a paid version (for $9.95) and a free demo that was downloadable from Spore.com and included for free, bundled with The SimCity Box. The free version of the editor only contained 25% of the available creature parts that were found within the full version.

The utility included a test environment for players to see their creatures go through animations and allow the player to import other user-created creatures through the Sporepedia at Spore.com. The utility included screen capture and video tools as well, including YouTube functionality.

The editor also gave the user the ability to create animated avatars,and output in RSS and embeddable HTML code to facilitate easy incorporation into such sites as MySpace and Facebook.

Shortly after its introduction, the Creature Creator was used to create creatures with oversized genitalia, either stand-alone or engaged in coitus (a phenomenon quickly dubbed 'sporn'). EA responded with e-mails sent to those who made pornographic machinima from its demo, and has flagged certain on-line accounts for "TOS violations". Furthermore, YouTube has pulled several such videos for violations of its own TOS.

By June 24, 2008, users had already created over one million creatures.

It has been noted by those using the Spore Creature Creator, that while the Social and Attack categories can reach a max score of 20 with enough parts on the creature, the Abilities category does not achieve a max in the Creature Creator. This has led to speculation from it being the brain levels to advanced sensory abilities to telekinesis.


Electronic Arts confirmed that Spore will be receiving post-release expansion packs. No other information is available as to what sort of content the packs will feature, but EA has hinted it will be similar to The Sims expansions.


In the news
Spore Creature Creator free in the UK Videogamer.com

A Wii spinoff of the game has been mentioned by Will Wright several times, such as in his October 26, 2007 interview with the Guardian.Buechner confirmed it, revealing that plans for a Wii version were underway, and that the game would be built from the ground up and would take advantage of the Wii Remote, stating, "We're not porting it over. You know, we're still so early in design and prototyping that I don't know where we're going to end up, so I don't want to lead you down one path. But suffice to say that it's being developed with the Wii controls and technology in mind."The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Spore are still under consideration.

Merchandising

There will be an iTunes-style "Spore Store" built into the game, allowing players to purchase external Spore licensed merchandise, such as t-shirts, posters, and future Spore expansion packs.There are also plans for the creation of a type of Spore collectible card game based on the Sporepedia cards of the creatures, buildings, vehicles, and planets that have been created by the players.There are also indications of plans for the creation of customized creature figurines; some of those who designed their own creatures at E3 2006 later received 3D printed models of the creatures they created. The Spore Store also allows people to put their creatures on such items as T-shirts, mugs and stickers.

The Spore team is working on a partnership with a comic creation software company to offer comic book versions of your own Spore story. Comic books with stylized pictures of various creatures, some whose creation has been shown in various presentations, can be seen on the walls of the Spore team's office.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:13 am
The development of tennis games 1958 to 2006 and the Wii in Gaming
"Important? Tennis games?!" I hear some of you scoff. And sure,while few of us really look forward to the next iteration of Top Spinor even Virtua Tennis, the genre has played a major role in the birthand development of the videogame industry. Even now, it's often tennisgames that are pushing the frontiers of analogue sensitivity andcomplexity against the need for intuitive user-friendliness in consolecontrols.
So, while Wimbledon hots up, here's a quick run through of the keytitles, together with nostalgic YouTube footage. Grab a bowl ofstrawberries, some clotted cream and a cheeky glass of Pinot (I don't care if you're at work - get into the spirit of things) and join me on a brief amble down tennis memory lane.
Tennis for Two (1958, Oscilloscope)
Running on the oscilloscope at the Brookhaven National Laboratory andprogrammed by physicist William Higinbotham, Tea for Two was arguablythe first computer game ever made (though some point to the evenearlier project, OXO). Check out the YouTube footage!
Pong (arcade, 1972)
Al Alcorn's take on the Magnavox Odyssey Tennis game essentiallykickstarted the games industry, both in the arcades and later, on homeconsoles. The title symbolises the odd, apologist relationship gamershave with software - many claimed to be able to produce spin on theball, although this functionality was never part of the program (thedirection of the ball was affected by the area on which it struck thebat, but that was about it).
Match Point (1984, Spectrum)
Psion Software's early effort pitched featureless stickmen against eachother in a rough approximation of the Wimbledon finals. The visualswere sparse but the simulation was pretty advanced for the time -players could control the speed and direction of the ball with defttiming and after-touch. Looking back, the ball boys bear an unfortunateresemblance to Starvin Marvin from South Park. YouTube video here.
Super Tennis (1991, SNES)
Perhaps the first modern day tennis sim, featuring an array of courtsurfaces, lots of differently-skilled players and several two-playermodes. It is, however, mostly remembered for its fast, intuitive action- a sort of Tennis equivalent of Sensible World of Soccer. Thescrolling court visuals and crisp sound samples impressed gamers at thetime, too. YouTube it up!
Pete Sampras Tennis (1994, Mega Drive)
Codemasters' sleek Mega Drive effort matched Super Tennis for sheerplayability, adding some of its own eccentric features, including aCrazy Tennis mode where you could play against portly platform hero,Dizzy. Codies also introduced its J-Cart technology allowing up tofour-players to take part in doubles matches.
Virtua Tennis (1999, arcade and Dreamcast)
The defining tennis sim of the modern era. The Dreamcast original mixedintuitive controls with lovely animation to produce a simulation ofincredible depth. The World Tour mode was an inspired addition,providing a range of surreal mini-games to test different aspects ofyour game. Subsequent iterations have tweaked the formula and improvedthe visuals, but the essence of this Sega NAOMI/Dreamcast classicremains unmolested. Here's a trailer.
Wii Sports Tennis (2006, Wii)
A popular element of the revolutionary Wii Sports compilation, drawingimpressively accurate motion-sensing performance from the Wiimote.Okay, so your lack of control over the onscreen player could getannoying at times, but the fun of acting out physically extravagantshots - often at the risk of the odd patio door or Ming dynasty vase -is what this game was all about. Here is a silly Wii Tennis 'accident' movie.
Okay, so what vital tennis titles have I missed? The first person tosuggest Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis will be sent to thenaughty step.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:50 am
Games Industry Movers: Trion, 38 Studios, Kongregate & M in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
his past week, 38 Studios (the developer founded by Red Sox pitcherCurt Schilling) announced that Thom Ang was appointed Director of Art.He will oversee the direction and management of 38 Studios' artisticdevelopment, including the MMOG codenamed Copernicus, whileworking closely with Todd McFarlane and R. A. Salvatore. Ang willreport to Vice President of Creative Development, Scott Cuthbertson.
"38 Studios' creative teams have been meticulously crafting thesignature look and feel for our upcoming MMOG over the past 18 months,"said Brett Close, CEO and president. "Thom's extraordinary talent andexperience will be key in driving the vision and quality of our OnlineEntertainment Experience."
Ang has been working as a director for notable franchises and brandsfor over 15 years. He's worked as a senior artist at DisneyInteractive, working on titles like Toy Story II and Tarzan. Ang also created illustrations for TV shows, including The X-Files and was a storyboard artist for Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star TV Animation programs, which include Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles and Max Steel.He then moved on to be art director at EA LA, where he headed up artproduction, team management and visual concept development for the Medal of Honor franchise. In his last position, Ang was art director at THQ, managing more than 25 titles.
"38 Studios is absolutely committed to the next evolution of MMOGs, andevery team member has great pride in the value of what they do,"remarked Ang. "I am excited to contribute to this vision and become apart of an extraordinary team."
Lisa Jablonsky - Kongregate
Kongregate announced this past Friday that Lisa Jablonsky will open thecompany's New York ad sales office. She will work with Kongregate'sChief Revenue Officer Lee Uniacke to secure high-profile advertisingpartnerships based on the site's reach and appeal to young men, ages 13- 34.
"With high user engagement and a growth rate of over 25 percent monthover month, Kongregate provides the ideal medium for advertisers tryingto reach this hard-to-pin-down demographic," stated Uniacke. "As webuild our sales force to address these opportunities, Lisa's proventrack record in developing successful partnerships across a range ofyouth-driven digital consumer brands will add tremendously to theexpertise of our team."
Jablonsky has worked in the New York advertising scene for 21 years andshe was as an early proponent of the digital advertising arena. Amongher projects, she has conceptualized and implemented ground-breakingfilm contests for Intel and Kohl's, and created one of the first mobilecontests for Alltel. Jablonsky helped create games for McAfee Softwareand the National Guard, as well as construct an editorial integrationprogram for Coke's NBA March Madness Flash game. She was most recentlyan account executive with MTV Networks, where she successfully droveadvertising and integrated sponsorships for Comedy Central,AddictingGames.com, Shockwave.com, and AtomFilms.
"Kongregate is an advertiser's dream as it attracts young men betterthan virtually any other site on the Web and puts them in a cool, edgyenvironment where our audience can really interact with their brand,"commented Jablonsky. "At over 3 million unique users today, a highgrowth rate, and just being named one of Time Magazine's Top 50 sitesfor 2008, we're on track to give advertisers the big reach that theyneed to effectively target the young male demographic this fall."
Trion World Network - Glen Van Datta
Trion World Network announced recently that Glen Van Datta has beenhired as Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of TrionWorld Network Austin. He will oversee day to day operations at Trion'sAustin studio and supervise all customer service, quality assurance,operations and other support activities with relation to the Trionplatform.
"Glen is a tremendous hire for Trion and an excellent addition to ourworld class technical organization", said Nicholas Beliaeff, VicePresident of Product Development & Head of Trion World Network SanDiego. "Glen's vision, leadership, and deep history maturing andproductizing compelling online game technology will help Trion take ourserver based game technology to the highest levels while helping us andour partners get to market more quickly."
Notably, Van Datta has worked for over 22 years in softwaredevelopment, including the past dozen in game development. He wasco-founder and Vice President of Engineering at RTIME, where he oversawthe development, design and testing of the RTIME SDK online, in-gameand player matching platform. Van Datta most recently worked at SCEA asDirector of Online Technology, where he oversaw a team of more than 80employees that developed SCE-RT SDK to enable online games for PS2, PS3and PSP games, including Singstar, Warhawk, Resistance, Home and GT5 Prologue.
"For more than 12 years I've believed that online games, online socialnetworks and online media distribution were the future ofentertainment," said Van Datta. "Trion's innovative, dynamic platformand content are the next generation in the online entertainment space."
IGN Entertainment – Jamie Berger
IGN Entertainment announced recently that senior vice president ofconsumer products and technology Jamie Berger will start overseeingbusiness development for the company. He will continue managing IGN'ssubscriptions, digital distribution, and e-commerce portfolio includingIGN's Direct2Drive and GameSpy Technologies.
Berger has over 16 years of professional brand management and marketingexperience from within the online gaming industry. He began hisprofessional career as an Account Manager with the NCR Corporation.Berger spent six years in the consumer products division of The WaltDisney Company before joining IGN Entertainment. He currently helpsextend the IGN brand by creating and leading partnerships thatdistribute content and drive revenue.
AMD - Emilio Ghilardi
AMD, which runs the ATI graphics card business, announced this pastweek that Emilio Ghilardi has been appointed senior vice president andgeneral manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He will beresponsible for all sales and marketing operations within EMEA,starting in mid-August 2008. Ghilardi will report to AMD chief salesofficer Gustavo Arenas.
"Emilio adds tremendous global sales and marketing leadership to AMD inEMEA which we expect to help strengthen and grow relationships with ourend-user customers, OEMs and distribution partners," said Arenas.
Ghilardi comes to AMD from HP, where he started as vice president ofConsumer PC Clients in EMEA. He then moved on to be vice president andgeneral manager of Commercial Hardware within the Imaging and PrintingGroup. Ghilardi was most recently vice president and general manager ofHP's EMEA Consumer Business Unit, managing the business for consumerPCs and Imaging and Printing products.
AMD added that Alberto Macchi, corporate vice president of Sales andMarketing for EMEA, is departing the company "to pursue newopportunities."
Warner Bros. Digital Distribution - Jacqueline Jourdain Hayes
Warner Bros. Digital Distribution (WBDD) recently announced thatJacqueline Jourdain Hayes has been named Senior Vice President Businessand Legal Affairs. She will manage legal issues around new digitalbusiness models (such as distribution of Warner properties on Xbox Liveand elsewhere) globally, oversee the negotiation of Warner Bros.video-on-demand and electronic sell-through licenses across multipledigital platforms, and provide legal counsel to the Company's seniormanagement on the acquisition, distribution and protection of contentfor digital platforms and other digital initiatives.
"Jackie has been working on our digital business for quite some time,her expertise in this area is unparalleled," said Clarissa Weirick,General Counsel, WBDD. "The digital business is still one of thoseareas where you are often making the rules as you go along, whichrequires someone like Jackie who is confident and creative innegotiating this new terrain. We are extremely fortunate to have hercontinued expertise as our digital business moves ahead."
Hayes has worked as an Associate in the Corporate Departments of TroopMeisinger Steuber & Pasich in Los Angeles, of Goulston and Storrs,P.C. in Boston, and of Moses & Singer in New York City. She joinedWarner Home Video in 1998 as Counsel, and was promoted to VicePresident Business and Legal Affairs of WHV in 2000. Hayes joined theWarner Bros. Digital Distribution division in July 2006.
TC Digital Games – Andi Smithers
Recently, TC Digital Games announced that it appointed Andi Smithers tothe new position of Director of Technical Development. He will overseedevelopment of the company's digital services, including mediatechnology and format strategy as well as interoperability of digitalservices and devices.
"Andi joins our team at a pivotal moment in the evolution of Chaoticand TC Digital," said Bryan C. Gannon, President and CEO of TC DigitalGames. "He will become an integral part of our efforts to enhance theChaotic online experience and further develop our digital services.Andi's expertise in developing technology, his extensive background increating computer game software and his vision for emerging technologymake him a perfect fit to lead this innovative game play convergence."
Smithers has held several executive roles and technical positionsthroughout his 20-year career, having worked for Microsoft, Activision,Psygnosis, LucasArts, and Midway. He was most recently with Sony OnlineEntertainment where he served as Senior Engineer in the Research andDevelopment group. Smithers pushed advanced physics and graphicstechnologies forward to ensure their quality and was responsible foroverseeing the strategy and development for a cloth simulator.
Microsoft – Michael Delman
As we previously reported, Microsoft this past week appointed MichaelDelman to the position of corporate vice president of global marketingfor the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) in the Entertainmentand Devices Division. He takes over the role for Jeff Bell who left thecompany earlier this month. Read more about the move here.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:42 am
Video Game Training Recommended for NYPD in Gaming
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly has been a harsh critic of violent games like Grand Theft Auto in the past.
But a report in Newsdaysuggests that Kelly's own officers may soon be using video game tech totrain on firearm tactics. The training will include simulatedshoot/don't shoot confrontations with game-like avatars who moverealistically and have authentic facial expressions.
Therecommendation for specialized video game training comes from the RandCorporation. The think tank was hired in the wake of theNYPD's controversial shooting of an African-American man, Sean Bell, on his wedding day in 2006.
Rand's Bernard Rostker told Newsday:
[TheNYPD's] current simulators are very good, but it's pretty oldtechnology... [Video] gaming has gotten a bad reputation becausethey're all about shoot-'em-ups. But maybe a better way of looking atit is to look at something like the NBA basketball [video games]. Thequality of the figures is very real and the quality of the facialexpressions is very real. If you can give a student a lot of scenarios,it changes the nature of the learning experience.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:07 pm
Living in a game: the future of architectore in The Great Debates!
Eric Clough, who has created a living adventure game inside an $8.5mUpper East Side NYC apartment. Clough, who was profiled in the NYTlast week, was commissioned by Steven B. Klinsky and his wife MaureenSherry to create a complex that was different and inspiring. Well,inspired by Klinsky's request to bury a poem he'd written in the wallof the house somewhere, Clough devised a home littered with puzzles forthe couple's four young children to discover and solve. From the article:

The apartment is quite attractive and perfectly functional in all thetypical ways, and its added features remained largely unnoticed by itsinhabitants for quite some time after they moved in, in May of 2006.Then one night four months later, Cavan Klinsky, who is now 11, had afriend over. The boy was lying on the floor in Cavan's bedroom, staringat dozens of letters that had been cut into the radiator grille. Theyseemed random -- FDYDQ, for example. But all of a sudden the friendleapt up with a shriek, Ms. Sherry said, having realized that they wereactually a cipher (a Caesar Shift cipher, to be precise), and thatCavan's name was the first word.

The mystery in the house continues to unfold. I want to know how I can get an invite to come over and play.
More here and here. Clough's firm, 212box, is here.
Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:29 pm
Age of Conan: iVirtua Review, Analysis and Videos in Gaming
Based on the books rather than the Schwarzenegger films, Age of Conanis a violent, massively multiplayer online game (MMO). Think World ofWarcraft with sharper swords and bigger breasts. The game leads yougently into the action and even allows you to learn the ropes in asingle-player environment before braving the multiplayer wilds. Andexperienced players get to build, or conquer, opponents' castles andkeeps. But the real innovation is the combat which, unlike most MMOs,involves reflexes and timing. The game looks mightily pretty; prepareto gawp at a sunset or distant mountain. But this graphical opulencecomes at a price, with loading screens a far-too-common annoyance.Worse, these breaks in play make the world feel less like a coherentwhole, lessening the feeling of immersion that games like WoW and Lordof the Rings Online engender so effectively. But assuming you have apowerful PC - which is essential for this game - Age of Conan is worthvisiting.

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures is a fantasy-themed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed by the Norwegian computer, video game developer company Funcom for PC and the Xbox 360. The game launched at 9 p.m. (GMT) on May 17, 2008in a limited way, being available to those who had pre-ordered the gameand registered for early access. The full release of the game for NorthAmerica was May 20, 2008 and for Europe May 23, 2008 for the PC version.The Xbox 360 version is scheduled to be released a year after the PC release.

After a long build up, including an eight-week delay to apply the finalpolish, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (AoC) has been launched.



is it finally a game that takes on WoW?

iVirtua Full coverage
Also
Guild Wars hits 2 million sales worldwide

DreamWorld Engine
The DreamWorld graphics engine was developed by Funcom circa 2000. Other computer games powered by DreamWorld technology include Anarchy Online and its various expansion packs. When Funcom began developing Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures,the company reviewed its existing technology base and decided to focuson the further evolution of their proprietary DreamWorld engine asopposed to licensing a third-party engine like many online RPGcompanies do. As such, Funcom began to retool their engine with theoverall design, pipeline and implementation process was taken intoaccount. In light of these changes, the DreamWorld engine has beenrebuilt for Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures with new features, special effects and optimizations.[30]

"Real Combat"
"Real Combat" is being touted by Funcom as a revolutionary approachto combat in online RPGs where the player is in direct control of thecharacter's weapon strikes in real time. This multi-point melee andranged combat system is purportedly easy-to-learn and is one of theprime attractions of the title. Allegedly, the "Real Combat" systemwill take the ritualized combat experience previously found in onlineRPGs in a new direction. For this system, Funcom has also added aspectssuch as formation combat, mounted combat, siege combat and hive combat.[31]

Cheetah
Cheetah is a shader-oriented proprietary render engine re-written from scratch by Funcom featuring a phong per pixel lighting system. This engine allows for improved graphics and ambience. This is coupled with a trapezoidal shadow system, an in-house system developed by Funcom that allows all objects to cast shadows onto everything.[32]

Perlin noise-based cloud generating system
Perlin noise-based cloud generating system is a five-layered procedural system that enables multiple layers of dynamic clouds; thus, visually-realistic cloud behavior.[33]

SpeedTree
SpeedTree is a programming package produced by Interactive Data Visualization, Inc. (IDV) that aims to produce high-quality virtual foliage in real time, suitable especially for video gamesbut also aimed to a lesser extent at some other kinds of simulations.It has so far been licensed to a substantial number of video gamedevelopers, including developers of the Unreal engine series. SpeedTree is currently being used in several games, including (but not limited to) the MMO action game World War II Online and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.[34]

DirectX 10
"Funcom is proud to be one of the few developers who is tapping intothis technology, and we look forward to showing you even more of DirectX 10. Some of the improvements visible in the videos and the screenshots are improved parallax mapping, better lighting and more advanced shadows technology."[35]The game did not include support for DirectX 10 at the time of launch.DirectX 10 features are now slated to be premiered at the GamesConvention in Leipzig in August 2008.
Pre-Launch acclaim
During the past several years, Funcom has twice previewed Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, more commonly known as E3,and the product has received various critic awards for thesedemonstrations. The following information is a partial listing of thoseawards.
E3 2005

  1. GameSpot Editors' Choice Winner
  2. IGN.com Runner-Up Best of E3
  3. GamersInfo.Net Editors' Choice
  4. Gamezone Best of E3 Award


E3 2006

  1. GameSpot Editors' Choice Winner
  2. IGN.com Best of E3 Winner
  3. GameSpy: MMO Game of Show
  4. Yahoo! Games Best MMOG


E3 2007

  1. IGN.com Best of E3 Winner
  2. GameTrailers Best RPG Nominee
  3. WarCry MMO of the Show Nominee
  4. GC 2007: Best online game


2008

  1. MMORPG.com Most anticipated game of 2007

Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 19, 2008 5:22 pm
Sex in VIdeo Games (Continued) - [VIDEO] in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
There's not much more Ican say that MFA animation student Daniel Floyd hasn't in this greatvideo about the history of and the problems with sex in games:


I've not seen much in this space since the Sex in Games conference in 2006. I'm out of the loop. Regina - do tell. Or check out Brenda Brathwaite's Sex in Video Games.
Floyd's got some other videogame-related vids too, including one on videogaming and storytelling. Check 'em out here.
Posted by Editorial Team Thu Jun 05, 2008 5:15 pm
Acrobat 9: Flash video, audio and powerpoint in PDF's in Software
This means that you can send an irritating Power Point presentation to borethe pants off the readers of your reports without you having to be there.
Acrobat allows users to package documents so they can be read across different hardware and operating systems.
Acrobat 9 comes with Adobe's video-enabling software Flash. Userscan include Flash-based videos when they create and share documentswith the portable document format, commonly known as PDF.
With a professional version of Acrobat 9, for example, users couldpackage a Power Point presentation not just with images, but also withan audio of the presenter's voice.
It is the first time that Adobe has released a version of Acrobat sinceNovember 2006. Since then it has bought Macromedia, who made Flash software.Everyone had been expecting Flash to be included but it has taken time


Adobe also launched Acrobat.com, which will host Web-based software services to support document creation and sharing.

Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 02, 2008 7:07 am
Sunderland: highest percentage of homes with broadband in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
The data is published in Ofcom’s annual communications market report, whichshows figures for each city for the first time, as well as by region.
The results paint a picture of changes in how people use new technologies, inturn reflecting social patterns.
Sunderland has been building itself up as an IT hub, starting in the 1990swith the city’s telematics strategy, which ran until 2003. It set thefoundations for transforming Sunderland’s traditional industries ofshipbuilding and coalmining to technology-based companies, many of which arebased at the Rainton Bridge business park.
The city council’s digital challenge programme, launched last year, aims toget more people in the city online. All libraries offer internet access andthe council has opened so-called community “electronic village halls”, whichalso let people log on to the net.
The Ofcom report also reveals that for the first time, the proportion of homesin rural areas with broadband — 59 per cent — has outstripped that in urbanareas, which is 57 per cent.
Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: “The report highlights a closing ofthe geographic digital divide in the UK.”
There are now 14.25 million homes with broadband in the UK, out of a total of25 million households.
Of those who do not have broadband, only 1 per cent now say is it is becausethey cannot access it. The main reasons are now because people do not wantit or they cannot afford it.
Ofcom said one of the factors boosting broadband uptake in the countryside isonline shopping. Three quarters of rural internet users making onlinetransactions, compared with 69 per cent for the UK as a whole.
Dr Victoria Nash, policy and research officer at the Oxford InternetInstitute, said: “Income, age and level of education might well be a causefor the discrepancy. High levels of unemployment could also have an impactin towns such as Glasgow. Diminished local services in rural areas mightmean the online environment becomes more important.”
She said reasons for higher uptake in rural areas could also be due to morepeople working from home, driven by an increasingly green culture and therising price of petrol.
The English spend more time on the internet than anyone else in the UK, with77 per cent of their time online spent sending emails and instant messagesand visiting chatrooms. The Welsh watch more satellite television than therest of the UK with 79 per cent taking a satellite service compared with anaverage 65 per cent across the UK.
Ofcom found that take-up of digital television has reached 85 per cent ofhomes, up 10 per cent since 2006.
Meanwhile, Ofcom said yesterday that it would deregulate almost 70 per cent ofthe wholesale broadband market because there was sufficient competition inthese areas.
Posted by Editorial Team Sat May 24, 2008 6:17 pm
Santa Monica E3 relocation cost ESA $5m - a good idea? in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
The decision to move last year's E3 Business &Media Summit from Los Angeles to Santa Monica cost organisers more thanUSD 5 million.
According to IRS documents obtained by Kotaku,the ESA paid USD 5,377,808 in event cancellation fees in order to getout of its contract with the Los Angeles Convention Center.
Thetax documents also show that ESA membership dues more than quadrupledfor the 2006 fiscal year - from more than USD 1 million to over USD 4.5million.
                   
"In the past the membership dues here weredeflated significantly because of income that was coming from othersources including the summit," said ESA senior VP of communications andresearch Rich Taylor.
"Now we're closer to what other trade associations charge."
Taylorrefused to call last year's move to Santa Monica a mistake - despitethe fact that the show will be returning to the Los Angeles ConventionCenter this year.
Quote:
"There was a model in Santa Monica that wetried and after the event we polled participants across the board aboutwhat they thought of it and then we tried to figure out what we coulddo to make it better and returning to the Los Angeles Convention Centerwas the right decision," he told Kotaku.

While not specifically blaming higher fees, Activision, Vivendi and LucasArts have all canceled their ESA memberships recently.
Posted by Editorial Team Wed May 21, 2008 10:12 am
SCEE Plays Up BIG Social Gaming At Sony Playstation Day 08 in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
At Sony Europe's Gamers Day event, the company took care toemphasize the "social gaming" angle it's pursuing. The company focusedon "games where players of all ages socialize through gaming," pointingout EyeToy products, puzzle titles and Buzz!: Quiz TV, where groups can play trivia games on a variety of topics over PlayStation Network.
The overall message seems to highlight the PS3's diversity as anentertainment device, with the aim of appealing to an all-ages audience.
Full release:
Quote:

London, 6th May 2008- With PlayStation, games have never been morefamily-friendly. We've created up the genre of 'social gaming': gameswhere players of all ages socialise through gaming. For the kids andthe young-at-heart, there are EyeToy® games that burn physical as wellas mental energy. We've got puzzle games that everyone will want totry- whether at home or in the car - and we're also allowing you totake TV on the move. You can even team up as a family to challenge youroverseas relatives to a round of online quizzing overPLAYSTATION®Network (PSN) - and when it comes to keeping in touchfurther, we've just given PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable) video and voicechat capabilities.
PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3™): the next generation system that brings youHigh Definition gaming, Blu-ray movies, internet browsing, music, TVand entry into the online community of PLAYSTATION Network.
Buzz!™: Quiz TV (PS3)
Buzz!: Quiz TV for PS3™ is the next-gen game that takes the Buzz!experience into the future and across the world via the onlinePLAYSTATION Network. Arriving this June, it'll give you instant accessto quizzes on almost any subject you can think of, and will besupported by vast downloadable and user-generated content. The game'sBlu-ray disc comes with wireless buzzers and contains a whopping 5000questions, divided into five selectable channels to suit every quizfanatic - it's a quiz where you choose the content. Not enoughquestions on your subject of choice? Write your own. New online quizcommunity MyBuzz!™ links directly from the internet to the game andallows players to write and upload personalised quizzes plus downloadquizzes created by other online players which suit their questioningneeds. The disc is also your gateway to online gaming and content,connecting you to Sofa vs Sofa mode, in which you can team up witheveryone at home to challenge up to three other teams of gamers online,as well as to extra downloadable quiz packs and quizzes written byother Buzz! users.
echochrome (PSP and PS3)
In echochrome, it's not what you see, it's the way that you see it -and the more pairs of eyes involved, the better your chances of solvingthe dozens of fiendish puzzles ahead. The world of echochrome consistsof a series of crazy mazes inhabited by the endlessly wandering Walker,and your goal is to help him get where he wants to go - despite beingfaced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and hazards. The trick isto open your mind and let your imagination run riot: by rotating eachmaze and changing your perspective on the action, you might just beable to change reality... A brand new and brain-busting puzzleexperience, echochrome will have you asking everyone you know: "Can yousee the answer?"
PlayTV™ (PS3)
Television how, when and where you want it; Play TV lets you pause,rewind and record free-to-air digital television using your PS3 and,best of all - after a one-off payment for the peripheral, the serviceis completely free. End family squabbles as you watch one channel whilerecording another through a dual TV tuner, stream television anywhereusing a wi-fi connected PSP or pause television should household eventsdemand your attention - Play TV offers access to great TV without thepocket-punching bills this later this year.
Folding@home (PS3)
Developed by Stanford University, Folding@home uses the combinedpower of interlinked computers around the world to perform mathematicalcalculations that help with research into protein folding - researchthat could lead to breakthroughs in the fight against diseases such asAlzheimer's, CJD, Parkinson's and various forms of cancer. In 2006, itwas realised that a network of interlinked PS3 processors could boostthe project's output to unprecedented levels thanks to the power of thePS3's Cell processor. All you need to do to play a part in Folding@homeis to select the project's icon in the Network column of theCross-Media Bar (XMB), then leave your machine running.
PLAYSTATION®Network (PSN)
The online home of PS3, PLAYSTATION®Network is where you'll findsome of PlayStation's most innovative and fun games for you to downloadat wallet-friendly prices. You'll also find downloadable extras, freeonline gaming, voice chat, video chat, web surfing and more.
Elefunk™ (PSN for PS3)
A herd of elephants needing safe guidance through a series ofperilous levels requires a guide, so help steer the jungle giants tosafety this May. Across 20 levels, create safe passage across ravines,rivers, fires, pits and swamps with the materials available to you.Plus, swap construction for Deconstruction in a specially designedmultiplayer game where players must disassemble a structure ascarefully as possible without letting the structure, or imperilledelephants, fall...
Buzz! Junior™ (PSN for PS3)
This summer, we're bringing the fun of the children's Buzz! Juniorrange to PSN with bundles of mini-games for PS3 owners to download atpocket money prices. Buzz! Junior titles offer all the fun, easy playof Buzz! controllers, but with wacky mini-games of skill and speedrather than trivia-based play - they're perfect for youngsters to playwith friends and family. Buzz! Junior: Jungle Party will be the firstto arrive on PSN in a download featuring five great mini-games from theoriginal PS2 version - now in 720p High Definition; it'll be followedby similar downloads from Buzz! Junior: RoboJam and Buzz! Junior:Monster Rumble.
PixelJunk™ Eden (PSN for PS3)
After sowing seeds with its Racers and Monsters, PixelJunk puts downroots on PLAYSTATION®Network with PixelJunk Eden. Leap and swingbetween lush alien vegetation in a truly innovative platform game whichconstantly evolves over time as you move through the perfectly realisedundergrowth, hunting treasures and smashing enemies from his path.Destroyed enemies scatter pollen across the landscape, which the playermust collect and use to pollinate seed pods before using the new growthto progress further.
PlayStation®2 (PS2™): the world's best-selling entertainment systemthat offers you great gameplay and the biggest social gaming brands
EyeToy® Play: PomPom Party (PS2)
Limber-up for the first cheerleading game for PS2, which comesbundled with real pompoms to help every wannabe-cheerleader pull offsome groovy moves. As you follow the directions on-screen and shakeyour pompoms to the music, the EyeToy Camera will detect your movementsand score your routines. So keep that rhythm going, and soon the wholeblock will be bouncing to your cheers in EyeToy Play: PomPom Party -it's arriving in time for Christmas in late 2008.
EyeToy® Play: Hero (PS2)
The ultimate quest for all budding adventurers - embark on afantastic journey through a colourful, exciting fantasy world. EyeToyPlay: Hero includes its own toy sword for you to wield; the EyeToyCamera will detect your sword's movements as you perform feats ofbravery throughout the land. Watch your adventure unfold on-screen,hone your swordplay, and maybe one day you'll be considered a true heroof the kingdom! It's arriving in time for Christmas in late 2008.
PSP™ (PlayStation®Portable): the handheld entertainment system thatoffers games, music, film, TV, communications, GPS mapping and more
Buzz!™: Master Quiz (PSP)
Turning PSP into the ultimate social gaming experience, Buzz! makeshis handheld debut in Buzz!: Master Quiz. Keep friends and familyamused and entertained on the move, on holiday or on the bus as Buzz!hits the road, free from its front-room beginnings. Play solo or getinvolved with new multiplayer rounds such as Pass Around (which enablessix players to play Buzz! with just one PSP!). The ultimate PlayStationquiz experience has hit the road - are you along for the ride this July?
Go!Messenger™ (PSP)
Keep in touch using your PSP with a revolutionary new addition,which turns your handheld system into a wireless communication toolfeaturing video chat, voice chat and instant messaging. It allows PSPowners to instant message each other- then, just add a headset andvoice messaging and voice calls become possible. Add Go!Cam, the USBcamera for PSP, and video calls and video messaging become apossibility. Go!Messenger is out now - it's another reason why PSP isbecoming a travel essential.
SKYPE™ (PSP)
Skype, the online communication software that allows Internet usersto call each other free of charge*, has now arrived on the new Slim andLight PSP. Talk to any one of the hundred million Skype users worldwidewith free voice calls, managing your contacts list and checking whichof your friends are online via your PSP. You can opt into the SkypeOutand SkypeIn features, which connect Skype callers with landline andmobile users - and you can do all of this from any wireless hotspot -anywhere in the world.
Posted by Editorial Team Wed May 21, 2008 9:33 am
New DS colours: Dragon Blue, Fire red or, erm yucky green in Gaming
It appears that the Nintendo DS Litemay soon be arriving in what can politely be described as lime green,with shots appearing on the Spanish GAME retail shop.
TheDS is already available in a range of funky colours, but it appearsthat blue and red versions, and the already-mentioned lime will behitting the shops soon.
Popular
TheNintendo DS is one of the most popular gaming platforms around – withsales steadily mounting since its release back in 2004.
The DS Lite arrived in 2006 and has continued to win over critics and the public alike.
Althoughthere is no conformation, the changes appear only to be cosmetic, butif you simply have to have a bright red handheld, then this could be anexciting summer.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue May 20, 2008 4:40 pm
Watch all UK channels, live with just the internet, for free in Entertainment, Film and Music, Mobile devices and media
The channel lineup on Zattoo is excellent, and unlike many others it’s all broadcast legally as well. It also supports mac, windows and linux. Live P2P television services do provide an alternative to on demandservices such as Joost. Live P2P television lets you watch channels youmay otherwise never have access to; the valueprovided is similar to the value many, many people get by downloadingAmerican television shows from Bit Torrent instead of waiting 6-12months to watch them locally. It’s another nail in the coffin forgeospecific broadcasting; when more and more people bypass traditionalbroadcast models, the old location based television model willeventually fail and we’ll all get to watch programs at close to thesame time worldwide.




The player itself (Mac, Windows and Linux) is incredibly simple,comprising of one window for the video stream, and a second listing theavailable channels. Clicking on each channel invokes a few seconds ofbuffering before the live stream begins playing. Other than that, youhave a volume control, a full-screen option, and a play/stop button.And that’s pretty much it.
In terms of picture quality, this isn’t quite on-par with regulardigital television, but isn’t far off either. With the window set atquarter size on my laptop, it was great, and at full-screen, stillperfectly watchable. Channel line-up varies per-country, but theversion I tested had all of the BBC’s channels, along with ITV1, MTV,Bloomberg, and European stations such as Canal and Eurosport.
Thedownside is — after initially launching in Switzerland where thecompany claims one in five broadband users subscribe to Zattoo — theservice is only additionally available in Spain and Denmark, with theUK currently in a public testing phase (though the company is working hard to launch elsewhere).That’s a pity for now, as Zattoo is a nice compliment to other InternetTV services. Despite the trend towards anytime and on-demand content,there’s still a place for ‘live’ TV, in particular with regards tosports events or breaking news. Another thing lost with on-demandtelevision is the communal viewing experience that often creates those‘water cooler’ moments the following day.
Zattoo’s business model is ad-supported. When a user first selects or switches channel, they are served up a 3-105 second advertisement (the time it usually takes for the stream tobuffer). The ads are also clickable, with links to get more information.

About:
Zattoo is a proprietary peer-to-peer Internet Protocol Television system ("P2PTV") with current focus on European channels, licensed content, and Digital Rights Management. It is developed by researchers and programmers based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan, with corporate offices in San Francisco and Zurich. The player is based on H.264 (FFmpeg), and is Mac OS X, Linux, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista compatible. It needs a minimum downstream bandwidth of 500 kbit/s on the client side.
Zattoo was first tried out with Swiss free-to-air channels coinciding with the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Starting from 4 Swiss TV channels (SF 1, SF 2, TSR 1 and TSI 1), it now offers 60 free-to-air or free-to-view TV channels in Switzerland. According to the website, other channels will be added in the future.

Posted by Editorial Team Sat May 17, 2008 6:35 pm
BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, and Sky Free Internet TV compared in Entertainment, Film and Music, Mobile devices and media
BBC
The iPlayer(formerly know as the iMP, or Interactive Media Player) was announcedin 2003 and intended to be an extension to the successful Radio Player,built around RealPlayer. The final iPlayer is, thankfully, shaping upto be a much slicker affair, looking like a cross between Joost and acable/satellite Electronic Program Guide (EPG). As long as you live inthe UK, on launch you will be able to download a selection of programsup to 7 days after broadcast, and you then have 30 days in which towatch it before the DRM kicks in. I’m guessing that the range ofprograms will be similar to the offerings on Virgin Media’s “Replay”feature, i.e. most popular “home-grown” programs such as Eastenders,Doctor Who and Life on Mars.
The iPlayer has come under fire from open source advocatesbecause, at launch, it will only be available for Windows XP users.This goes against the BBC’s charter, restricting the application, andtherefore the programs, to certain systems. The BBC Trust has confirmedthat versions for Apple Mac, Windows Vista and mobile platforms willfollow [Ed. once the BBC can find a platform agnostic DRM solution, which could take some time],and more recently, the BBC’s announced that they are meeting with theOpen Source Consortium (OSC). The OSC are to work with the BBC on the possibility of developing an open source iPlayer.
The BBC also plans to expand the functionality of the iPlayer, suchas adding on-demand streaming, which would allow you to watch a programwithout downloading it first. They are also looking to add seriesstacking (allowing you to download previous episodes of a series) andintegrating the Radio Player with the iPlayer. The BBC will bepromoting the iPlayer heavily: via the BBC TV channels, links on theBBC website and also on partner websites such as YouTube, AOL andMySpace. There are indications that live streaming of BBC channels mayalso possible.
ITV
ITV are following the BBC’s lead, with the imaginatively titled “ITV Broadband“.They are offering programs that are viewable within the browser, usingWindows Media Player integrated into their web pages. At the momentthey are only offering 10 minutes catch-ups of the last 30 days’episodes of Emmerdale and Coronation Street, which are book-ended byadverts (being popular programs these are probably the two that couldattract the most advertising and therefore generate the most onlinerevenue), but that is set to expand. ITV are promising catch up optionson Drama, Lifestyle, Entertainment, Sport and News programs, plus a“Best of ITV” section too.
The biggest drawback I found was that ITV Broadband (which isPC-only) favors Internet Explorer. The only way I could view content inFirefox was to use the IETab add-on,which allows the current tab to be rendered using the Internet Explorerengine instead of the Firefox one, but fortunately ITV have had thesense to display a link to download IETab where the video normallyappears.
ITV also offers live streaming of their four channels from the website which is of reasonable quality.
It’s also worth mentioning ITV Local, the site for regional ITVbroadcasters such as Granada, Meridian and Tyne Tees. The site streamsnews updates, weather reports and other videos from the region, ondemand.
Channel 4/More4/E4
Channel 4’s “4oD”application has been available since December 2006 and is similar tothe forthcoming iPlayer. You can download a selection of programs fromChannel 4, More4 and E4 for free from the last seven days, or choosefrom the available archives. Again, DRM only lets you watch thedownloaded programs for up to 30 days. They also offer paid content,both television programs (including US imports such as Lost and UglyBetty) and films, from 99p.
Be prepared for long download times although the actual videoquality is very good. The application is sluggish on lower specmachines which may result in slow adoption; another problem may be theway in which the network actually serves the programs. It uses Kontiki,a peer-to-peer platform, to distribute video, which means that evenwhen you are not using the 4oD application, your computer may still beserving files to others, which some security- and bandwidth-conscioususers may dislike. It is also limited to running only on Windows XPsystems with Internet Explorer and Windows Media player, so once againApple Mac and open source fans will be left out in the cold.
Channel 4 too offers streaming through a browser-embedded MediaPlayer, for which you have to register (to make sure you’re a UKresident presumably) but the quality is quite good, even at full screen.
Five
Fivehas always been the black sheep of the UK TV industry. Their contenthas never really been on the same par as that of the other networks andtheir “fivedownload” service isn’t much better. It seems the onlyprograms they offer are Grey’s Anatomy and CSI (three flavours: CSI,CSI:Miami and CSI:NY) and it’s a pay service. With iTunes possiblyoffering a similar feature soon (these shows are available in the USstore so they may come to the UK too) I don’t really see that Five’sapplication will have much of a future unless they improve and increasethe available content.
Sky
Sky offers their “Sky Anytime”feature, which uses Kontiki, similar to Channel 4’s 4oD. To use SkyAnytime you need to register on Sky’s website, and then download theSky Anytime application (one again, PC-only). After installation, youlog in as expected and the first thing that hits you is how slick theapplication is. It’s responsive, looks good and has a large amount ofcontent. I’m not a Sky customer so I was limited to what programs Icould download, but TV subscriptions to entertainment, movies andsports packages unlocks similar content on Sky Anytime.
Its worth noting that Sky also let users program their Sky+ box over the net.
Conclusion
The major UK TV networks are making good ground with TV on the net.Of the dedicated applications on offer, Sky’s seem to be the bestoverall (at the moment) with its clean look, and responsive andintuitive interface. The range of content across the board is growing,with Channel 4 and the BBC ahead — and as advertising and other revenuestreams for internet TV are realized, the content from commercialnetworks will likely increase in quantity, as market forces demand it.
All of the UK networks employ techniques to prevent non-UK viewersfrom accessing their Internet TV offerings, such as geo-blocking, wherethe user’s IP address is used to establish their location. This is,in-part, a world-wide licensing issue (which in the BBC’s case is mademore complicated by its state-funding), but also protects potentialrevenue from overseas sales. However, with many popular UK programsappearing illegally online, and the fact that geo-blocking can becircumvented — moving forward, I think we’re likely to see the networkstake a more global approach to Internet TV programming, especially withregards to older content.
As a side note, it’s also worth mentioning that users can programtheir Sky+ box (the company’s own DVR offering) over the internet andvia a mobile phone. The next logical step would be to allow users tostream programs recorded on their Sky+ box (or any other DVR) over thenet, similar to a Slingbox.This would add another dimension to Internet TV; you could be workingaway in another part of the country, or on holiday abroad, and with adecent broadband connection you can access content that you’vepreviously recorded.
This is an exciting time for Internet TV, and in particular I hopethat the iPlayer lives up to my expectations. I’m fairly convinced thatthe BBC is moving in the right direction and will push the boundariesof Internet TV, not only in the UK but also worldwide.
Posted by Editorial Team Sat May 17, 2008 6:28 pm
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