Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kuwait bans DSLR cameras countrywide… for no obvious reason

In a strange and unexplained move, three of Kuwait’s ministries have banned the use of DSLR cameras in the Middle East country, specifically in streets or in malls.

The joint offense against DSLRs was launched by Kuwait’s Ministry of Information, Ministry of Social Affairs and Ministry of Finance, and what’s interesting here is that it’s not a ban on photography in total: cell phone cameras and point-and-shoot digicams are still totally fine. Even micro four thirds and other mirrorless cameras are fine. It’s only if your camera has a mirror do you have to worry about it being banned.

Identification-carrying photojournalists are not subject to the law, but everyone else is, and so far, the Kuwaiti government hasn’t been forthcoming in explaining why DSLRs, in particular, are banned.

It’s not uncommon, of course, for governments to ban camera use around embassies, banks and monuments, fearing that the photos will be used by terrorists planning attacks. Again, though, Kuwait is not banning photography in specific places, or photography even in general: only DSLRs are subject to the ban.

Here’s my best guess: the Kuwaiti Government thinks that the larger form factor of a DSLR would allow terrorists to disguise a firearm or a bomb as one. Still, without a specific threat being publicly confronted, it’s hard not to be mystified by the Kuwaiti governments’ prohibition…. and perhaps chalk it up to some politicians’ sensitivity about his lack of photogeniality than any terrorist attack.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Quick update

Adsense decided to disable my account for invalid click activity. Conveniently enough it happened just when I was supposed to get paid. Any ideas for replacements? I am trying adbrite right now

Facebook’s new email service is censoring links to the Pirate Bay

Facebook’s new messaging system is meant to make it easy to move seamlessly between instant messages, SMSes and e-mail, but it’s also ready to censor your messages if you decide to link to file sharing sites.

To be fair, Facebook’s long been censoriously anti-piracy: try to post a link to The Pirate Bay on your wall or in a private message to your friend and see.

That said, as Facebook becomes a webmail portal, it’s surprising to see the social network try to exert even more control over the actual content of what’s being said in e-mail.

If you try to send an email to someone using Facebook’s new message system, and if that message has a link to the Pirate Bay, Facebook will unceremoniously refuse to say the message with the following error:

Message Failed. This message contains blocked content that has been previously flagged as abusive or spammy. Let us know if you think this is an error.

An error it is. There are numerous legal reasons to link to The Pirate Bay: for example, to link friends to your own copyright-free torrents. Moreover, as a messaging service, Facebook is actually exempt from liability if people share links to illegal download sites using their service, according to the EFF.

Mark Zuckerberg keeps on saying Facebook is all about being open and free, but how open and free can you be when you can’t even discuss certain subjects using Facebook’s system, lest you be automatically censored? If this is Zuckerberg’s vision of a free and open Internet, count me out.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Disney Games announced LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

Given the dreadfulness of most movie-to-game film conversions, the LEGO series of games have been a breath of fresh air. The LEGO game series started with Star Wars and surprised everyone: who could have known that an all-ages, mute retelling of the Star Wars saga could be so charming? Indiana Jones and Batman followed, each delightful in its own way, and now we’ve got a new LEGO game property on the way: LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game.

Disney has just formally announced LEGO Pirates, which will be developed by TT Games and hitting store shelves next year, alongside the fourth movie in the franchise, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

The events of the game take place during the first three movies, but also encompass some moments from the new film. The player will, of course, be able to control everyone’s favorite brown-toothed scallywag, Captain Jack Sparrow, but will also be able to control up to 70 additional playable characters. Who knew the Pirates-verse had so many to draw upon?

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game will hit every major console, the PC and mobile devices in May of 2011.

Press Release

Disney Interactive Studios, TT Games and The LEGO Group Announce LEGO® Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game

Jack Sparrow and Crew to Embark on a Swashbuckling Adventure in LEGO Brick Form

BURBANK, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Disney Interactive Studios and TT Games today announced that they are joining with The LEGO Group to bring Jack Sparrow and other familiar characters to life in virtual LEGO® adventures with LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game. The video game is being developed by TT Games, the group behind a portfolio of critically acclaimed, best-selling LEGO video games, and will be published by Disney Interactive Studios for the Wii™ console, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) system, Games For Windows – LIVE and the Nintendo DS™ family of hand-held systems. The video games will be released simultaneously with the highly anticipated new film “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in May 2011.

“Combining the excitement of playing as Jack Sparrow and other recognizable characters from the franchise will make the game fun for players of all ages throughout the world.”
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game will be based in the world of the globally successful film franchise, incorporating storylines, locations and characters from the first three films (“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”) as well as the upcoming fourth film, “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game will re-create the action, adventure and memorable moments of the Pirates of the Caribbean mythology in LEGO form, incorporating the humor of LEGO minifigures and fantastic worlds built from LEGO bricks and elements for players to explore. Players can take on the roles of more than 70 characters and experience the pirate adventure, irreverent humor and amazing creatures of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, through action-adventure gameplay and hilariously quirky LEGO cut scenes. Throughout the game, players will also have the freedom to explore environments from the highly acclaimed movie series in more than 20 levels. The game features two-player cooperative mode, in which players each control a character to experience the story together, and freeplay mode, which lets players return to levels to discover new items.

“Pirates of the Caribbean is a globally successful franchise based in action, adventure and humor perfectly suited for a LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game adaptation,” said Graham Hopper, executive vice president and general manager, Disney Interactive Studios. “Combining the excitement of playing as Jack Sparrow and other recognizable characters from the franchise will make the game fun for players of all ages throughout the world.”

“The action-packed world of Pirates of the Caribbean is a perfect fit for LEGO video games,” said Tom Stone, Managing Director of TT Games Publishing. “With so many wonderful characters, in such amazing environments, our teams are having great fun – and we’re sure that players will, too.”

To date, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have generated more than $2.5 billion at the global box office while the multiple Pirates of the Caribbean video games have sold more than 6 million units globally.

In a companion release today, Disney Consumer Products and The LEGO Group announced an upcoming collection of LEGO brand Pirates of the Caribbean construction sets that will launch in conjunction with the video game and film release in Spring 2011.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Portal 2 delayed by two months until April 2011

Valve Software has gotten better at it in recent years with the Left 4 Dead series, but they still have quite the track record for delaying their games. Both Half-Life and Half-Life 2 were delayed by substantial amounts of time, and don’t get me started on the Half-Life 2 episodes: Half-Life 2: Episode 3 is at least two years overdue.

It’s disappointing, then, to hear that another of Valve’s much-anticipated sequels has ended up being delayed, but there’s good news: while it’s true that Portal 2 is being delayed, it’s not being delayed for very long… and the announcement itself is pretty funny.

Having sent out a message with the subject header “Valve Announces Shortest Delay In Valve History,” the games developer pushes the delivery of Portal 2 to April 2011, two months later than its slated February debut… which in turn was a delay from a fall of 2010 launch.

“This two month slip not only marks the shortest delay in Valve’s proud tradition of delays, it represents the approaching convergence of Valve Time and Real Time,” Valve wrote. “Though this convergence spells doom for humanity, it will not affect the new Portal 2 release date.”