Actually, it's not about ethics in games journalism. NBC's Law & Order: SVU will air an episode titled "Intimidation Game" on February 11th, and unless you've been living under a rock the circumstances will be pretty familiar. In a plotline following "GamerGate" and the women many of its participants targeted for harassment, the show will feature a video game developer (played by Mouzam Makkar) preparing for a launch "amid a stream of online insults, intimidation and death threats." Inevitably Detective Olivia Benson and Ice-T are called in and... you've seen Law & Order, right?
Hopefully, unlike in real life the cops know how to deal with online intimidation and threats, but we also hope that the dramatization doesn't downplay the all-too-real events that are still occurring. As far as the real lives of some of the women the episode appears to be basing its main character on, Zoe Quinn has an online support network for those dealing with internet abuse called Crash Override, while Brianna Wu is working on "Women in Tech: The Book!". Similarly, Anita Sarkeesian laid out 2015 plans for her organization, Feminist Frequency, and is working with "major social media and gaming platforms" to work on ending harassment.
As Cyanogen moves along a new path (apparently with help from Microsoft) phone maker OnePlus is working on its own flavor of Android, and now it has a name: OxygenOS. Unfortunately, it doesn't have much else beyond promises of going back to the drawing board with software that is "open, customizable, and free of bloat and unnecessary features." That's good to hear though, and matches up with the alpha build seen earlier this month. In classic OnePlus style, the tease just sets up another tease, and we're told more information is coming on February 12th, so mark your calendars.
If someone asks you to name a Google X Labs moonshot, you'd probably say Glass, self-driving car or maybe even Project Loon. But as you might remember from the WSJD Live conference last year, it also has a flourishing Life Sciences division that employs 100 doctors and scientists, and one of their main projects is a Fitbit-like bracelet that can detect cancer cells. Now, The Atlantic has taken a peek into the division's headquarters in Mountain View. The publication's video (below the fold) also explains why the team has to create synthetic human skin mixed with the real thing to cover disembodied arms.
Have you ever felt the need to dive into the history of music, movies and other pop culture? Well, you'll soon be able to do so with the help of Rolling Stone and Google Play Newsstand. The magazine is set to add its archive of decade-spanning content to the digital repository tomorrow, and some of it will be available free of charge. Three to four articles from each of the back issues can be read inside the app or on the Rolling Stone site at no cost. Later on, the plan is to bolster relevant content with the addition of sound and video. The magazine claims its archived issues do quite well, especially during certain events, and this gives readers another way to access it. For Google, the partnership shows off its reading platform with material from a popular weekly publication, which sounds like a win-win to me.
Amazon may have surprised Wall Street by how much sales went up in the fourth quarter of last year ($29.3 billion, with a profit of $214 million), but for customers its Prime service is the big deal. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said Prime membership in the US grew by 50 percent last year, despite a price hike. That growth probably explains (and helps justify) the expanding number of services it's tacked on to what was originally just an offer of free / cheap shipping. According to Bezos, Amazon plowed $1.3 billion into Prime Instant Video alone in 2014, snapping up exclusives, content from HBO and creating award winning programming like Transparent.
[Image credit: Shutterstock]
If you didn't think that Tesla's Model S P85D was bonkers enough, you're in for a treat. Elon Musk has revealed that the already speedy electric sedan is getting a software update that will improve its 0-60MPH acceleration time by a tenth of a second, to 3.1 seconds. That may not sound like much, but that makes the Model S as quick off the mark as McLaren's MP4-12C supercar. The 'regular' P85 will also get a boost, Musk says, although it won't be "quite as much." No, this won't be news to aftermarket tuners used to wringing out more performance through code, but it's fun to think that a factory firmware upgrade could be the key to winning a drag race.
[Image credit: Free Photos, Flickr]
Reddit may not be subject to as much legal scrutiny as tech giants like Google or Microsoft, but there's enough of it that the internet community has published its first transparency report. The site says that it received 55 demands for user info through subpoenas, search warrants and emergency requests in 2014. That's a tiny amount compared to the 174 million total redditors, but that makes it a bigger target than Dropbox and other services that you'd think would be more conducive to secret activity. The site had a bigger problem on its hands with 218 copyright and trademark takedown requests, although it's not clear if that includes any calls to pull celebrity photos stolen in last year's iCloud breach.
We still don't know everything about the information Google handed over to the government about three WikiLeaks employees, but a lawyer for the search giant has answered one question about the incident. While a gag order prevented Google from the three staff members, attorney Albert Gidari told the Washington Post it fought the government for four years to overturn it. Apparently, the government allowed Twitter to notify supporters -- including Icelandic politician Birgitta Jónsdóttir -- of surveillance in 2010 and was shocked at their disagreement. Afterwards, it was determined to avoid that, and fought hard to keep gag orders in place. The lawyer claims it's policy to challenge any gag order with an indefinite time period, but as a law professor told the Post -- the targets of the surveillance have the strongest potential case to reduce the scope of a warrant, if only they knew that it was happening.
[Image credit: Associated Press]
We're in the thick of earnings seasons, friends, and Google just pushed out its latest spate of financials for our eager delectation. Here's the skinny: Google reported a total of $18.01 billion in revenue (closer to $14.5 billion if you don't count those pesky traffic acquisition costs), less than what most of those Wall Street analyst types expected it to. Let's take a closer look at what's going on over there.
We've seen Google dump more of its money into research (as befits a company with such wild-eyed ambitions), and that trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere fast. By sinking 16 percent of its total revenue into research, Google's R&D spending habits stayed roughly equal with its actions last quarter... which is still a pretty huge improvement over the year-ago quarter. Yeah, we're not shocked by Google's predilection for research either. When you've got a guy like Larry Page sitting behind closed doors with a bunch of big brains trying to suss out what problems really need fixing, it's only natural to see Google pour money into its more ambitious divisions.
In an effort to help prevent foodborne illnesses and contamination, IBM Research is teaming up with Mars for a safety study that'll examine how supply chains affect what we eat. Specifically, the du...
It's only been a few weeks since Microsoft released the preview versions of Office for Android, but the software giant is finally ready to bring the final version of those apps to Google Play. Start...