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Review: Evoland compresses three decades of video game history into one game

Content from PCWorld - June 14, 2013 - 12:33pm

In Evoland, you play a nameless (until you eventually unlock the ability to name yourself) adventurer, who wanders a rapidly changing world, stabbing monsters and looking for chests, without purpose (until you unlock the "Storyline" feature). Evoland began as a contest entry for 24-hour videogame design, and was sufficiently well received that Shiro Games expanded it into a full commercial product.

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Getting Started with Intel Wireless Display

Content from PCWorld - June 14, 2013 - 12:04pm
Toshiba-Protege-Z935Toshiba Portege Z935

WiDi? It’s not a typo. In fact, it might just be the best thing since, well, WiFi. Short for Intel Wireless Display technology, WiDi lets you stream movies, games, slide decks, and more from your Ultrabook™ to your TV or projector. Usually this kind of connectivity would require a cable or two, but with WiDi you get to cut the cord.

And when you do, it opens up a world of possibilities. You can play the latest Tomb Raider game on your big-screen TV, show your friends a slideshow of vacation photos, gather the family around to watch favorite YouTube videos, or share a PowerPoint presentation with co-workers—all without the usual cable-connection hassles.

WiDi delivers both audio and video, and can stream full 1080p content. So if you download, say, a movie from Amazon or iTunes, or want to stream some episodes of “Downton Abbey” from Netflix, you can view everything in all its high-definition glory on your HDTV. And for those who like a second screen while watching, Intel’s WiDi Widget lets you use your Ultrabook for other things (e-mail, Web browsing, etc.) without interrupting the video.

If you’re into games, WiDi promises extra-low latency—meaning there should be almost no delay between the action on your Ultrabook and what you see on the big screen. And if your Ultrabook has accelerometers or supports motion capture, you can take advantage of WiDi for motion-controlled games. (Anyone for full-body Pong?)

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Does encryption really shield you from government's prying eyes?

Content from PCWorld - June 14, 2013 - 11:52am

If you’re thinking about encrypting email in light of revelations about U.S. government spying, you may be wasting your time.

Recent leaks about surveillance efforts by the secretive National Security Agency have sparked a wide range of questions during the last week over online privacy, or lack thereof, as well as possible violations of the Constitution. But at this stage, the exact methods employed by the nation’s top intelligence agencies to gather information in the interest of national security are still fuzzy.

At the very least, the NSA has confirmed that it is collecting Verizon phone records to examine their metadata and analyze call patterns between people. The NSA’s Prism system apparently goes even further, reportedly accessing servers at Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and other major companies, to collect data that the agency is storing for possible surveillance and investigations.

With such large amounts of personal data at stake, one question is the extent to which encryption—a process for scrambling digital information so only certain groups of people can decipher it—can succeed in shielding consumers from government surveillance.

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IBM speeds up DB2 10.5, remolds it as a Hadoop killer

Content from PCWorld - June 14, 2013 - 11:05am

In the new update of DB2, released Friday, IBM has added a set of acceleration technologies, collectively code-named BLU, that promise to make the venerable database management system (DBMS) better suited for running large in-memory data analysis jobs. "BLU has significant benefits for the analytic and reporting workloads," said Tim Vincent, IBM's vice president and chief technology officer for information management software.

Developed by the IBM Research and Development Labs, BLU (a development code name that stood for Big data, Lightening fast, Ultra easy) is a bundle of novel techniques for columnar processing, data deduplication, parallel vector processing and data compression.

The focus of BLU was to enable databases to be "memory optimized," Vincent said. "It will run in memory, but you don't have to put everything in memory." The BLU technology can also eliminate the need for a lot of hand-tuning of SQL queries to boost performance.

Faster data analysis

Because of BLU, DB2 10.5 could speed data analysis by 25 times or more, IBM claimed. This improvement could eliminate the need to purchase a separate in-memory database—such as Oracle's TimesTen—for speedy data analysis and transaction processing jobs. "We're not forcing you from a cost model perspective to size your database so everything fits in memory," Vincent said.

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Obama directs agencies to move toward sharing spectrum

Content from PCWorld - June 14, 2013 - 10:52am

U.S. President Barack Obama has directed federal agencies to take new steps toward sharing their wireless spectrum with commercial operators, in an effort to meet growing demands for mobile data services.

Obama, in a memo published Friday, created a spectrum policy team to move agencies toward sharing spectrum, and he directed the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to publish a report detailing agency usage of spectrum that could be shared with commercial users.

Obama also directed the NTIA to create a pilot program to monitor spectrum use in real time in an effort to look for ways to more efficiently use spectrum, and he told agencies they must consider spectrum efficiency when buying new radio equipment.

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While the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is looking to free up 500MHz of spectrum for commercial uses, more spectrum is needed, Obama said in the memo. With federal agencies holding a large amount of spectrum, sharing may be one way to get more spectrum in the hands of commercial users, the memo said.

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EU commissioner wants to protect citizens from Prism

Content from PCWorld - June 14, 2013 - 10:40am

Europe's justice commissioner will not sacrifice European citizens' rights for U.S. national security, she said Friday.

Commissioner Viviane Reding spoke after meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder after sending him a long list of questions regarding the U.S. data collection and surveillance scandal. She is responsible for the European Union's data protection laws.

The collection and analysis of cellphone metadata from Verizon is directed mainly at U.S. citizens, she said after the meeting, and so she is satisfied that no further action is needed from an E.U. point of view. However, Reding said that there are outstanding questions on the scope of Prism, the Internet data collection and surveillance system revealed in leaks to The Washington Post and the Guardian newspapers last week.

Despite welcoming plans to set up a committee of experts from both sides of the Atlantic, Reding said that "the concept of national security does not mean that 'anything goes': States do not enjoy an unlimited right of secret surveillance."

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French court says Twitter must reveal source of racist tweets

Content from PCWorld - June 14, 2013 - 10:20am

A French court of appeal has rejected a move by Twitter seeking to shield the identities of those responsible for posts last year contravening French laws on hate speech and carrying the hashtag #unbonjuif (a good Jew).

The appeals court upheld a ruling in a case brought last November by the French Jewish Students Union (UEJF) and four other French antiracism organizations, seeking to compel Twitter to reveal the identities of the posters and to provide a simple way for its users to flag similarly illegal messages.

On Jan. 24, the court ordered Twitter to reveal the posters' identities, giving it 15 days from receipt of the order in which to comply.

Twitter lodged an appeal against the ruling on March 21, just days after the UEJF filed a criminal complaint against it and its CEO Dick Costolo, alleging they had failed to provide the information and seeking $51 million in damages.

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The end of Symbian: Nokia ships last handset with the mobile OS

Content from PCWorld - June 14, 2013 - 10:19am

Will the last one to leave please turn out the valot?

This week, Finnish smartphone creator Nokia announced that it had shipped its final handset running the Symbian operating system. As the last company in the world building phones using the Symbian OS, Nokia's withdrawal from the platform means Symbian is now completely defunct.

Symbian's fall from dominance is a tale about which books can (and should) be written. Its origins date to the '80s, but as of 1998, Symbian's existence was formalized when an old PDA company, Psion, changed its name to Symbian and took funding from the major phone manufacturers at the time, including Ericsson and Motorola, to become the official caretaker of the rising mobile OS.

What killed Symbian? Complexity, according to Nokia.

But Nokia has always been Symbian's biggest supporter. The company produced millions of phones running the OS, and the two have always had close ties. Together they dominated the cell phone market throughout the early 2000s; in fact, Symbian remained the top-selling smartphone OS worldwide until late 2010.

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