Saturday, December 31, 2011

Kovalchuk Scores On Penalty Shot As Devils Beat Pens, 3-1

(Photo Credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)Before his team took the ice to face the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday, New Jersey Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk spoke to head coach Peter DeBoer about the possibility of taking a penalty shot.

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Dealing With Newborns and Constipation

Newborns and constipation are often inseparable. Most babies suffer from this condition at one point or other during their first year of birth; however it's better to avoid it by being clued in with your baby's schedule. Constipation is the hardening of the stool which makes it difficult for the baby to pass the stool.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

How Walking Helps Fussy Babies

Life with a new baby is a new, wonderful experience, but it can also be very challenging. It's not always easy to figure out how to soothe your baby and keep yourself feeling relaxed, calm, and confident. There is one technique, however, that costs nothing and can keep both you and your baby relaxed. Here's why and how walking works.

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Aquaponics How To: The Advantages Of Aquaponic Farming

This article introduces the concept of aquaponic gardening. It also outlines the benefits of aquaponic gardening for farmers, gardeners, fish owners, and organic food lovers.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Saudi women to be allowed vote without male guardian's approval

Women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have won another progressive step forward. The Shura Council has announced they will not be obliged to obtain the permission of a male guardian to vote.

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DON?T MISS IT! Best of Make: Live Season 1

We're broadcasting shortly! Make: Live's Best of 2011 show looks back at our favorite episodes from the very first season. Go behind the scenes with us for some of our most memorable moments-- from goofs and gaffes to last minute surprises and change ups. And don?t miss the best of robots, blinky LEDs, fires & explosions, electronics and giant mobile contraptions. It's a whole year of making condensed to 30 minutes of nonstop unbridled joy-- don't miss it!

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Steps to Prevent Model Train Derailment

Let's face it, model trains derail from time to time and it gets frustrating to most of us. There are common factors that make derailments happen and there are also some steps to take to prevent derailments. One sure thing though his that everyone loves a steady running model railroad. So, to ensure a smooth running model railway, here are some easy steps to take.

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How STARZ is using social TV with ?Boss? and ?Spartacus?

How STARZ is using social TV with ?Boss? and ?Spartacus? Posted by on December 22, 2011

As the year comes to an end, it?s a good time to reflect on some of the best television shows from this fall. There?s been a handful of new successes from the premium cable channels, which is no surprise since they?re able to be riskier and raunchier not having to answer to advertisers and broadcast standards. The premium cable space is also much smaller, so it?s often even more competitive than broadcast and cable. Since 2009?s cult-favorite Party Down (which is now being made into a movie) STARZ has been smartly investing in more original programming as the network competes in the premium cable world that has constantly benefited TV fans with superb content.

This fall has been a significant one for STARZ as they launched Boss and prepare to launch season two of�Spartacus. Boss, a drama staring Kelsey Grammar as Chicago Mayor Tom Cane, is a superb show. It got so good as the season progressed that it felt like the parts of The Wire with Mayor Carcetti were coming alive again. Read EW?s review which perfectly describes how even with Grammar?s, ?decades of pretentious buffoonery on�Cheers and�Frasier,? that somehow ?it just feels natural,? and that he?s found where he needs to be. Spartacus, in it?s first season, was a breakout hit and earned millions of fans on social. Andy Whitfield, the show?s star horribly passed away in September from cancer, but this devastating news has not ended the show. A new season staring Liam McIntyre will premier on January 27th.

In a very unique interview with STARZ, SVP of Consumer Marketing Kelly Bumann share details and insights on how the Denver-based network leveraged Facebook (they premiered the pilot episode on Facebook), Twitter, GetGlue, message boards and dedicated fan-sites and communities to help share their original programming with new users and reward passionate fans. She also shares her perspective on social TV and second screen apps. If you?re looking for a new show to marathon over the holidays and follow, make sure to catch up on both these STARZ originals.

Lost Remote: What social media elements went into launching Boss? Spartacus?

Kelly Bumann: For Boss, we leveraged Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and GetGlue check-in service to interact, engage and communicate with our Boss fans. To introduce a new intense drama show like Boss, we provided updates, character introductions, videos, exclusive photography, live episode questions as well as an invitation to special events and to watch the first full episode on Facebook a week prior to the network premiere. To further engage with our Boss fans, we built a fully interactive destination ?ScandalousDirt? that complemented the show with real-time political news, polls, current events and live tweets. It blurred the lines between reality and fiction. We also partnered with a social media agency to create buzz around the premiere of Boss and to promote early sampling of the first episode where bloggers and site editors could embed the first episode directly to their blog/site. To further engage and drive conversation, we leveraged social media advertising and integrated with Reddit.

For Spartacus, we have leveraged Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, a Starz-branded message board and check-in services to communicate and interact with the Spartacus Fans. We?ve had great success with our Spartacus Facebook which encompasses a global fan base of 2+ million fans. In addition to providing updates, insider information, photos/videos, polls and encouraging discussions, we?re also making one of the biggest social media marketing pushes to date: a unique application mix for Facebook that combines gaming, sharing, and mashups. We wanted to give our hungry Spartacus fans a way to have fun and engage with us. This multi-phase Facebook application ?Take Up Arms? has a mix of different levels, which will phase over the course of the next several weeks. Fans will be rewarded with chances to win prizes, including DVD sets. By participating, fans can also enter for a chance to win a grand prize trip to New Zealand to visit the Spartacus set. Finally, we are leveraging engaging online and social media advertising to further extend awareness about the show.

LR: How is Starz using social to attract new subscribers?

KB: We?re leveraging our (STARZ network) branded Facebook and Twitter properties to build awareness of our network and share the quality of programming (movies and originals) we have to offer and then using our cash back rebate offer to engage new subscribers interest. We?re also testing some new initiatives around referral programs that will use our national offer more aggressively.

LR: Does Boss, Spartacus have presence on Twitter, Facebook?

KB: STARZ, Boss, and Spartacus are established on both Facebook and Twitter. Boss (Facebook and Twitter), Spartacus (Facebook and Twitter) along with STARZ (Facebook and Twitter).

LR: Have you ever thought about launching a co-viewing application?

KB: Yes, but given the premium nature of our entertainment and being so different from reality TV we are hesitant to do it on the TV screen. It would also need to be a tied to the specific content and target audience of the show. We are doing live tweets and Facebook posts and do see good engagement on those environments. We are also doing live interactive video chats where that makes sense ? like for Spartacus.

LR: Did you work with any of the social TV startups (GetGlue, others?)

KB: Yes, we have partnered with both GetGlue and Miso in the past. For Boss and Spartacus, we are working exclusively with GetGlue. We know part of our audience is checking-in and driving conversations on GetGlue so we wanted to offer those fans exclusive show and character stickers that builds on the story as the season progresses. We also offered time-exclusive stickers to our Spartacus fans during Comic-Con this past summer.

LR: How closely does the social media team work with talent?

KB: We work closely with the Show Runners, Executive Producers, talent and crew. During Comic-Con 2010, we directly connected our Spartacus fans with Steven DeKnight (Exec. Producer), Lucy Lawless (Lucretia), John Hannah (Batiatus) and the late Andy Whitfield (Spartacus) with an exclusive, unique and exciting live stream web chat event.

For Spartacus: Vengeance we are planning a few nice surprises over the next few months that provides an opportunity for our fans to connect with talent and crew. Make sure you like the Spartacus Facebook page to get the news when it happens!

LR: What has social buzz about Boss told you about the show? How does this compare to ratings?

KB: Online buzz for Boss has been overwhelming positive, and even to a greater degree for episodes later in the season as people became more familiar with the characters and the plotlines. Those who are watching and talking about the show online are mostly raving about Boss. We also know there is a core audience that is extremely passionate and loyal to Boss and they?re excited to see where the story goes and excited to be ?along for the ride.?

LR: What do you think the future of social TV is?

KB: This is an excellent question. Social TV is constantly evolving with networks and content providers. We?re continually evaluating the best strategy that makes sense to our shows and for our fans that doesn?t fragment our audience from enjoying the content and giving them a place to engage and interact with us and other fans. Whenever we can help drive a more premium experience with our entertainment we will be inclined to test it out. We also believe when we develop really engaging shows, consumers will want to share with their friends and family and dive into the story.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011: The Year of the Dupe?

For the equivalent of a cold shower in January, have a look at Anthony Cartalucci's well-researched and documented alternative history of the year.

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Hacker builds allegedly pointless data network out of Lego train set

How can we appreciate bullet-quick SSDs and fiber networks without pausing -- at the year's end -- to appreciate where it all came from? We should think back to before the birth of modern computing, even before the telegraph, to a time when bits of data were forced to travel everywhere by train. A hacker named Maximilien has now recreated that locomotive golden era using Lego, Arduino and Linux, and what his system lacks in bandwidth it more than makes up for in historical relevance. A USB flash key is borne by miniature railway carriage from station to station, stopping at each one to unload or pickup information and thus creating its own barebones networking protocol. Click the source link to appreciate the full museum piece.

Hacker builds allegedly pointless data network out of Lego train set originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 27 Dec 2011 09:19:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

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Friday, December 23, 2011

News Analysis: For Obama, Payroll Tax Victory Was Aided by Republicans

News Analysis

A Victory Considerably Aided by the Other Side

Published: December 22, 2011

WASHINGTON ? President Obama did not win much substantively with his victory Thursday over House Republicans in their showdown over extending payroll tax cuts and unemployment aid for two months. But he got a lot politically: a big start toward retiring the perception ? fair or not, and even among Democrats ? that in a pinch with the other party he will inevitably surrender.

Stephen Crowley/The New York Times

President Obama urging Congress on Thursday to extend payroll tax cuts and jobless aid.

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That perception had dogged Mr. Obama for much of the year since gains by Republicans in the 2010 midterm elections gave them control of the House and a share of power in Washington. But it became threatening, both to Mr. Obama?s leverage with Congress and to his prospects for re-election, after the epic summer fight over raising the nation?s debt limit.

In September, the White House set out to change the image of Mr. Obama from compromiser in chief to determined voice of economic populism, beginning a push for a job-creation plan that it viewed as a win-win. Either Mr. Obama would pass his plan ? which was not likely given Republican opposition both to additional stimulus measures and to the higher taxes on the wealthy that he proposed to offset the package?s cost ? or he would get political credit for trying, given the popularity of the plan?s individual provisions.

And he would make it clear that Republicans would obstruct anything he proposed, especially if it meant higher taxes on the rich.

What surprised the administration, and not least Mr. Obama, was how much House Republicans would contribute toward the White House?s goal through their miscalculations in waging this holiday-season showdown over tax cuts for 160 million workers and assistance for several million jobless Americans.

The stand by House Republicans, which openly divided the party and put them in conflict with Senate Republicans, helped Mr. Obama perhaps as much as anything the White House and Congressional Democrats did.

Vin Weber, a Republican Party strategist and former congressman, acknowledged that Mr. Obama had won at least ?a nice tactical victory to end the year? as well as higher approval ratings in recent polls. Mr. Weber said he learned long ago from a pollster to President Ronald Reagan that ?one of the central ingredients of a president?s approval rating is the public?s sense of his ability to dominate Congress.?

?The substantive issues,? he said, ?are secondary.?

?What Republicans in the House didn?t understand ? and I love these guys by and large ? but what they didn?t understand is that you don?t fight every issue,? Mr. Weber added. ?And if you?re going to fight an issue like this, you?re going to give him a victory and hurt yourself in the process.?

As glum and divided as Republicans were at the outcome, Democrats were celebrating that Mr. Obama had stuck by the united front he forged with them this fall.

?The White House must feel pretty good about muscling home a victory for the middle class,? said John Podesta, chairman of the liberal Center for American Progress and a former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. ?And importantly for the fights of 2012, they learned those muscles work.?

Congressional Democrats have long been suspicious that Mr. Obama was too eager to cut deals with Republicans that would benefit him politically but not his party ? by reducing Medicare and Social Security spending, for example, to get a so-called grand budget bargain. But this week they freely credited him with the victory, for his persistence and his refusal in the endgame to negotiate with House Republicans.

An aide to Congressional Democratic leaders said, ?The White House just went all in and closed off the House G.O.P.?s hoped-for exit ramp?? that is, Republicans? belief that Mr. Obama would ultimately would give in rather than risk blame if payroll taxes went up for millions on Jan. 1.

For the White House, which has long chafed at the criticism that Mr. Obama has been a soft touch for Congressional Republicans, the outcome was vindication.

Last December, liberal Democrats were outraged when Mr. Obama agreed to extend the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for the rich by an additional two years, after having campaigned to end them. The White House said that was the price to get Republicans, who were newly emboldened by their election victories, to support a one-year payroll tax cut and extended unemployment aid ? without which, the administration and many economists believed, the economy could tip into another recession.

Most galling to the White House, however, has been the lingering criticism from Democratic insiders and grass-roots supporters alike about the August debt-limit deal. In that compromise, Mr. Obama accepted deep spending cuts but Republicans blocked any tax increases.

Mr. Obama had no choice but to compromise then, his aides argued; the nation risked economic calamity if it could no longer borrow to pay its debts, and Mr. Obama?s Republican adversaries professed to be willing to see that happen. Even so, administration officials said, the deal was not only better than the critics suggested but it helped set the trap that House Republicans walked into this month.

The deal increased the debt ceiling through 2012, not to this month as some Republicans had wanted, and thereby removed the threat of default from Republicans? end-of-the-year bargaining arsenal. With the stakes much lower, after August Mr. Obama was liberated to press a harder bargain. Starting in September with his jobs package, he did.

?For the first time I think you see a kind of consistency and coherency in terms of an economic message,? Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, said of Mr. Obama. ?The pivot point was the jobs speech, and the jobs speech occurred after he had dealt with the extension of the tax cuts and dealt with the debt ceiling. Those two things freed him up to do what he?s been doing.?

Also a factor was the hard lesson Mr. Obama learned from his past negotiations with Speaker John A. Boehner, first in the spring talks over this year?s domestic spending and then in their summer effort for the grand bargain to reduce long-term debt: Mr. Boehner cannot deliver his defiantly antigovernment and Tea Party-inspired majority in the House.

When that proved true yet again, Mr. Obama was bolstered just as Mr. Boehner was further undermined. Whether Mr. Obama continues to play a strong hand will be tested soon ? when Congress reconvenes in January to resume the fight over a full-year extension.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Carpetbagger | Q. & A.: An Interview With Steven Spielberg

The director Steven Spielberg at the New York premiere of "The Adventures of Tintin."Carlo Allegri/ReutersSteven Spielberg at the New York premiere of ?The Adventures of Tintin.?

This year?s holiday movie season brings with it a double dose of family film fare from a director well-seasoned in the genre. Steven Spielberg, long the wearer of many hats in Hollywood, is one of the few filmmakers who could potentially find both box office and awards-season success with two films released within a week of each other. The first is his digitally animated adaptation of the Begian comic book series ?The Adventures of Tintin,? which opens Wednesday. The second is his adaptation of the children?s novel (and Tony Award-winning play) ?War Horse,? opening Christmas Day.

During a recent visit to New York, Mr. Spielberg discussed ?The Adventures of Tintin,? his first foray into digital animation using the performance-capture technology first crafted by his prot�g� Robert Zemeckis, then further developed by the New Zealand effects company WETA Digital. Relaxed and friendly, he spoke about the opportunities animation created for him as a director, the ways he wanted to honor Herg�?s artistry, how he feels about releasing two of his movies at Christmastime and what continues to excite him about filmmaking. Here is an edited, condensed version of the conversation:


What made you interested in making a film out of the ?Tintin? series?


I became enthralled with the way Herg� told his stories. Grand, epic, global adventures about a young reporter who goes all around the world looking for stories to tell and then gets himself deeply involved, and dangerously involved sometimes, in the stories he?s telling. And then eventually becomes the story itself. And I always related to that because I do the same thing. I go out and look for a good story to tell and if I like it enough and I decide to direct it, I become dangerously involved in becoming a part of that story.


Had you watched any of the other ?Tintin? material, like the French live-action films?


I watched the films and some of the cartoons and some of the television episodes. But none of that really inspired me. I wasn?t influenced by any of them. If anything, I learned that I needed to tell a completely different story, still based on the Herg� books, but I needed to do it in a different way. It certainly convinced me not to make ?Tintin? a live action film.


In using performance-capture animation, what was the overarching visual idea you had?


Every one of the panels in an Herg� ?Adventures of Tintin? book tells a story. Beyond the dialogue that is encapsulated in a common bubble above the characters? heads, Herg� used body language to communicate emotion, anxiety, tension, anger. I simply created a style guide from many of those illustrations and put them on the walls of the performance-capture stage. So all the actors started to study their poses. Then I was able to shoot rather lengthy, continuous shots where I was attempting to create the same visual panels with a movie frame around them that Herg� had done in exploring his stories. The Herg� books: the art direction, the kind of cars, the kind of telephones, the kind of facial expressions, that was our bible.

A scene from Mr. Spielberg's film "The Adventures of Tintin."Weta Digital/Paramount PicturesA scene from Mr. Spielberg?s film ?The Adventures of Tintin.?

Were there concerns about bringing in a domestic audience for ?Tintin,? with the series not being as well-known in the United States?


No, because nobody had ever heard of ?Toy Story? before it came out. Nobody had ever heard of ?Shrek? before that came out. Those weren?t based on books that sold 220 million copies the way ?Tintin? has overseas. So we weren?t concerned about that. ?Tintin? will soar or it will glide just based on the fact that it?s a really rollicking, funny and very human adventure movie. And like any new animated film, it?s up to the audience to decide whether or not they want to adopt it.


What did you do differently as a director on this animated project?


I stuck the camera in places that would be impossible to stick it on a live-action film. I did long, continuous shots. There?s a three-minute chase at the end of the second act that I never could have done in one continuous shot without a lot of digital tricks in a live-action movie to get it to seem like it was one shot. Here, I was just able to do a real-time chase. It took about a year and a half to get it on film. But it was worth it. Because of the medium of animation, suddenly my imagination wasn?t limited by the exigencies of physical outdoor production. All the production was from the imagination right to the computer and there?s nothing better than that.


How do you choose which films to direct and which to produce?


I?ve often wondered what gets me to direct and what gets me to produce. I?ve never been able to answer the question adequately even for myself. When something gets a stranglehold on me and compels me to direct it, I don?t question why. I don?t look a gift horse in the mouth. No pun intended vis-�-vis ?War Horse.? I just know what it feels like to be overwhelmed with a desire to make a movie.

And I also know as a businessman what it means to be overwhelmed with a desire to produce a good story. But there?s a great difference between production and direction for me. And I may often question choices I make as a producer. But I?ve never questioned the choices I make as a director. Whether in success or in failure, I?m proud of every single movie I?ve ever directed.


With two of your movies coming out within four days of each other, were there concerns about dividing audiences?


No, we studied that and I know that the marketplace always expands. And there?s often been movies that have all been hits, three or four at the same time. And sometimes with the same audience that goes to see one movie on a Saturday and another movie on a Sunday. So the marketplace expands for a good movie. If I hadn?t made ?War Horse,? somebody else was certain to make the film in the same window I made it and was certain to release the film in the same window that we?re releasing it. So I knew that whether it was me or somebody else, ?War Horse? was comin? out Christmastime 2011. I wasn?t concerned about that because I think ?War Horse? is an older family audience and I think ?Tintin? is a general family audience.


What keeps you excited about making movies?


I get that same queasy, nervous, thrilling feeling every time I go to work. That?s never worn off since I was 12 years-old with my dad?s 8-millimeter movie camera. The thrill hasn?t changed at all. In fact, as I?ve gotten older, it?s actually increased, because now I appreciate the collaboration.

When I was a kid, there was no collaboration, it?s you with a camera bossing your friends around. But as an adult, filmmaking is all about appreciating the talents of the people you surround yourself with and knowing you could never have made any of these films by yourself.

My job was constantly to keep a movie family going. I?m blessed with the same thing that John Ford and Howard Hawks and Alfred Hitchcock were blessed with, a mini-industry very similar to the one from the golden era of Hollywood, where it was the same people making movies with you each and every time. And it makes life so much more enjoyable when you get to go home to your family and go to work with your other family.

HBO Renews 'Enlightened' But Cancels Three Other Shows

"Enlightened," which stars Laura Dern as a woman who undergoes a personal reawakening, will get another season on HBO, but "Bored to Death," "Hung" and "How to Make It in America" will not.

Classic Stage Snaps Up Christina Ricci for 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

Ms. Ricci will play the diminutive but excitable Hermia in the production, which previously announced Ms. Neuwirth to star as the fairy queen, Titania. Think of it as the coming together of extended members of the Addams Family.

Weinstein Company Moving Ahead With 'Finding Neverland' Musical, Its First

The musical, based on the 2004 film about J.M. Barrie, represents the first show that the Weinstein Company has developed and its first outing as lead producer.

Vevo, a Music Video Web Site, Wants to Get Into Television

The company, which was set up by Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, sees a future in being what MTV was in its earlier days: a channel that will show music videos as well as other kinds of pop-culture entertainment.

Judge Rules Against Backer of 'Crash' in Suit Over Payments

A Los Angeles judge ruled that companies controlled by Bob Yari, a financier of the movie, owed its director, co-writer and one of its stars $12 million for failing to pay profits to them.

Ratings for 'Fear Factor' Fall but Still Help NBC

The bug-eating game show had a surprisingly successful premiere last week; this Monday, it dropped 30 percent but still represented a sturdy increase for the network. "Terra Nova" was little help for Fox.



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Skateboarder's exclusive interview with Nick Boserio

Photo: Jonathan Mehring

Earlier this year Nick Boserio bursted on to the scene with his online video part from Alien Workshop. Skateboarder Magazine and Christian Senrud tracked him down to down for an exclusive interview.

So first of all, congratulations on having the only part in recent memory to receive 100% positive feedback on the SLAP message boards. How seriously do you take the internets response to your footage?
I suppose seriously enough in a way, it's a..


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

BioWare: Next Dragon Age Will Draw From Skyrim

BioWare's Dragon Age II was released earlier this year to mixed reactions.
Image courtesy BioWare

NEW YORK ? The next entry in the fantasy role-playing Dragon Age series will draw inspiration from both of its predecessors as well as open-world games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, developer BioWare said.

Speaking to in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, BioWare CEO and co-founder Dr. Ray Muzyka said the company has been listening to its fans and learning from the strengths and weaknesses of both Dragon Age II, the latest entry in the popular series, and other games that are on the market today.

?[The next Dragon Age] is gonna have the best of features from the prior Dragon Age games, but it?s also gonna have a lot of things I think players are gonna find compelling from some of the games that are out now that are doing really well with more of an open world feel,? Muzyka said.

?We?re checking [Skyrim] out aggressively. We like it. We?re big admirers of [Bethesda] and the product,? he said. ?We think we can do some wonderful things.?

Dragon Age II, which BioWare released earlier this year for PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, drew polarized reactions from both critics and fans. While some lauded its character development and writing, others, including, criticized the game for feeling rushed and disjointed.

Muzyka acknowledged that polarization, saying that although he is proud of the Dragon Age II team and the innovations it brought to the table, he is listening closely to fan reactions for the next game in the series.

?How do we combine the new innovations we brought in Dragon Age II with the experience people were looking for in Dragon Age: Origins?? Muzyka said.

The story of Dragon Age II took place across a decade-long span in the city of Kirkwall, allowing players to see how the city and characters evolved over the years. Muzyka hinted that the next Dragon Age game could take that narrative structure and apply it to a variety of areas, rather than a single city.

Muzyka also addressed the common criticism that players could not equip their party members in Dragon Age II, saying BioWare took that feedback to heart.

?We realize that?s important to the players,? he said.

Though BioWare has not yet officially announced the next Dragon Age game, rumors have been swirling about a possible multiplayer mode that could feature playable dragons.

?Our goal is to surprise and delight our fans,? Muzyka said. ?I?ve seen something in the last couple of weeks that is really the future of that franchise that is so compelling, I am so looking forward to being able to announce it.?

Muzyka would not elaborate on this tease, though BioWare VP and co-founder Greg Zeschuk chimed in with a joking suggestion of his own.

?The most realistic beards ever in videogames,? Zeschuk said.

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Dates set for Supreme Court health care reform arguments

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
December 19, 2011 -- Updated 1739 GMT (0139 HKT)
  • Applicability of Anti-Injunction Act will be first question before justices, on March 26
  • Provision requiring Americans to have health insurance will be the key argument
  • Lawyers will argue whether rulings on mandate's constitutionality affect entire law
  • States challenging law are saying it coerces them to expand Medicaid

Washington (CNN) -- The Supreme Court has carved out a week in late March to hold oral arguments in perhaps its biggest case in a decade -- the sweeping healthcare reform law championed by President Obama.

The court announced Monday it will hear 5� hours of arguments spread over three days March 26-28.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or ACA) was signed into law March 23, 2010, passed by a Democratic congressional majority with the support of the president. It has about 2700 pages and contains 450 some provisions.

A ruling from the court is expected by late June and regardless of the outcome, will become a major issue in a presidential election year.

The largest and broadest legal challenge to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act comes from a joint filing by 26 states, led by Florida. It was that series of appeals the high court had accepted for review.

At issue is whether the "individual mandate" section -- requiring nearly all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties -- is an improper exercise of federal authority. The states also say that if that linchpin provision is unconstitutional, the entire law must be also go.

Joining Florida in the challenge are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Four issues will be addressed by the Supreme Court:

Anti-Injunction Act

First, the court on March 26 will consider whether those challenging the law be barred from making any legal or constitutional claims until the individual mandate actually goes into effect in 2014.

The AIA -- in place since the 19th century -- bars claimants from asking for a refund on a tax until that tax has been collected and paid. Judges in two federal appeals courts have made that argument, which would effectively stop the current legal fight in its tracks. Citing that law might give the court a way out of deciding the explosive issue in an election year.

The majority could decide the political branches can best resolve the conflicts, at least for now, or that the matter can be handled after the November elections. Some court watchers have called this the health care "sleeper issue." It could potentially delay a decision on the constitutionality of the individual mandate for at least four years.

Individual mandate

The court will hear two hours of arguments on this most key issue on March 27. This provision requires nearly all Americans to buy some form of health insurance beginning in 2014, or face financial penalties. May the federal government, under the Constitution's Commerce Clause, regulate economic "inactivity"? Three federal appeals courts have found the PPACA to be constitutional, while another has said it is not, labeling it "breathtaking in its expansive scope." That "circuit split" all but assured the Supreme Court would step in and decide the matter.

The Florida-led coalition of say individuals cannot be forced to buy insurance, a "product" they may neither want nor need. The Justice Department has countered that since every American will need medical care at some point in their lives, individuals do not "choose" to participate in the health care market. Federal officials cite 2008 figures of $43 billion in uncompensated costs from the millions of uninsured people who receive health services, costs that are shifted to insurance companies and passed on to consumers.


This is the "domino effect" issue, and the court will hear 90 minutes of argument on this aspect on March 28.

If the individual mandate section is ruled unconstitutional, must the entire law collapse as well? A federal judge in Florida had ruled as much in February: "Because the individual mandate is unconstitutional and not severable, the entire Act must be declared void."

But a federal appeals court overruled on the severability question, while upholding the individual mandate's unconstitutionality. Opponents of the law say the individual mandate is crucial to the overall law, since it is the main funding mechanism for the expansion of a range of other programs. This may be the one question on which the justices will ultimately agree in favor of the government.

Medicaid 'coercion'

Can states be forced by the federal government to expand their share of Medicaid costs and administration, with the risk of losing that funding if they refuse? The court will devote an hour to that question on March 28.

The 28 GOP-led states say the new law's significant expansion of the social safety net unconstitutionally "coerces" state governments. That program is administered by the states with a combination of federal and state money, currently requiring coverage only for poor children and their parents or caretakers, adults with disabilities, and poor individuals over age 65. The "coercion" issue was surprisingly added to the healthcare debate by the justices.

Both sides of the issue agree what the high court decides on this question could have monumental implications for the regulatory ability of the federal government to set long-term national policy goals in areas like the environment, education, and the workplace.

Some states have long complained their autonomy is being eroded by creeping federal intervention on spending matters. Article 1 of the Constitution gives Congress the power "lay and collect ... taxes to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States" and to "regulate commerce... among the several states." Such authority has long been broadly interpreted, including when imposing conditions on recipients, including individuals and states. No federal court has ever ruled states have been unlawfully coerced when they accept conditions or strings attached to federal funds. The Supreme Court in 1987 affirmed that congressional discretion.

The PPACA's Medicaid changes -- beginning in 2014 -- would make millions of additional Americans eligible for benefits, by raising the income level they earn and still qualify. That would include all adults, up to 133% of the federal poverty line. The tricky question is that states are not forced to agree to the law's incremental Medicaid increases, spread out over six years. But the states say abandoning their participation as a result would be a financial, social, and political catastrophe-- one which they cannot realistically foresee. Their needy citizens rely on Medicaid, states argue, but the law's expansion of the program could cripple state budgets, currently on average about 20-percent. That would threaten other state spending priorities.

So the long-standing fight over "federalism" and the leverage the national government wields over states may soon reach epic levels with a high court decision either strengthening -- or limiting -- congressional authority on this and potentially a host of other regulatory areas.

The cases are Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Florida (11-398); NFIB v. Sebelius (11-393); and Florida v. HHS (11-400).


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

iPhones, iPod Touches still on iOS 3.1.3 can't download new apps directly from the App Store

While fragmentation is a rare(r) problem on iOS there's still quite a few users rocking older versions on their devices. Unfortunately for them, ever since a recent update on the 16th they haven't been able to download any new apps from the App Store straight to their devices. While users of older iPod Touches and iPhones stuck on 3.1.3 by choice or incompatibility with newer OSes can still update the apps they already have and transfer software from iTunes on a computer, they can't buy or install new ones directly from the device. We were able to confirm the issue on one of our own devices, while there's a pretty lengthy thread in Apple's support forum about the issue, but no official response yet. We'll keep you posted if word comes that this is just a glitch or if the company has decided to leave those old versions on the outside looking in.

[Thanks, Domo]

iPhones, iPod Touches still on iOS 3.1.3 can't download new apps directly from the App Store originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 20 Dec 2011 00:24:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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VMware View delivers virtual Windows machines on Linux, OS X and Kindle Fire

Kindle FireThere are very few places left in this world where you can't access a virtualized Windows PC. VMware has its, well, wares available on almost every platform imaginable. Its View client, for connecting to remotely-hosted enterprise servers has become a particularly integral part of the company's plan to put powerful virtualization tools at the tips of your fingers. After debuting on the iPad back in March, followed shortly afterwards by an Android edition, VMware View is now coming to Mac and Linux machines as well as the Kindle Fire. The feature set doesn't contain many surprises, but full screen support in Lion makes a welcome appearance in the list. The app should already be appearing in the Amazon App Store and the Ubuntu Software Center, though you wont find it in the Mac App Store... at least not yet. Check out the complete PR after the break.

Continue reading VMware View delivers virtual Windows machines on Linux, OS X and Kindle Fire

VMware View delivers virtual Windows machines on Linux, OS X and Kindle Fire originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 19 Dec 2011 16:27:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Nissan recalling 2010-2011 Sentra over stall fears

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2010 Nissan Sentra

In another incidence of little things meaning a lot, Nissan is recalling some 2010- and 2011-model-year Sentra models over the zinc coating on positive battery terminals. Certain Sentras with MR20 engines had too much zinc applied to the stud bolt, which can cause a drop in voltage severe enough to cut power to the engine when trying to start the car and when running.

Nissan is notifying owners of the cars in question, and dealers will swap out the positive terminal at no cost. Follow the jump for the full release from NHTSA.

Continue reading Nissan recalling 2010-2011 Sentra over stall fears

Nissan recalling 2010-2011 Sentra over stall fears originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 19 Dec 2011 08:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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