Thursday, May 1, 2014

Doom Creator Accused of Stealing Virtual Reality Tech, Taking It to Oculus

Doom Creator Accused of Stealing Virtual Reality Tech, Taking It to Oculus

Doom Creator Accused of Stealing Virtual Reality Tech, Taking It to Oculus

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:45 AM PDT

Well this sounds ugly, and bound to get uglier: John Carmack, the fellow gamers know best for helping birth Doom, and who left id Software last year to take a job as chief technology officer with Oculus Rift headset designer Oculus VR (who were in turn recently snatched up by Facebook for a cool $2 billion), has been accused by his former employer, ZeniMax, of purloining virtual reality secrets the games publisher claims belong to it, not Oculus VR.

ZeniMax Media, which also owns Bethesda Game Studios (The Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3) and Arkane Studios (Dishonored) claims that Carmack was involved in “extensive VR research and development” during his tenure at ZeniMax, according to the Wall Street Journal. That, says ZeniMax, gives it dibs on “key technology used by Oculus to develop and market the Oculus Rift,” and thus the right to seek compensation.

According to the Journal, ZeniMax is staking its case on allegations that Carmack was in touch with Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey before leaving ZeniMax, that Carmack received a prototype headset from Luckey, and that he made innovations to the headset, which he then demoed during a convention.

“ZeniMax’s intellectual property rights arise by reason of extensive VR research and development works done over a number of years by John Carmack while a ZeniMax employee, and others,” writes ZeniMax in a press statement (via Engadget). “ZeniMax provided necessary VR technology and other valuable assistance to Palmer Luckey and other Oculus employees in 2012 and 2013 to make the Oculus Rift a viable VR product, superior to other VR market offerings.”

The statement continues:

The proprietary technology and know-how Mr. Carmack developed when he was a ZeniMax employee, and used by Oculus, are owned by ZeniMax. Well before the Facebook transaction was announced, Mr. Luckey acknowledged in writing ZeniMax’s legal ownership of this intellectual property. It was further agreed that Mr. Luckey would not disclose this technology to third persons without approval. Oculus has used and exploited ZeniMax’s technology and intellectual property without authorization, compensation or credit to ZeniMax. ZeniMax and Oculus previously attempted to reach an agreement whereby ZeniMax would be compensated for its intellectual property through equity ownership in Oculus but were unable to reach a satisfactory resolution. ZeniMax believes it is necessary to address these matters now and will take the necessary action to protect its interests.

Oculus’s response? Balderdash: “It’s unfortunate, but when there’s this type of transaction, people come out of the woodwork with ridiculous and absurd claims,” an Oculus VR representative told the Journal. “We intend to vigorously defend Oculus and its investors to the fullest extent.”

And Carmack himself has weighed in on Twitter:

That’s all we know so far, which is to say that it’s best to stay off the playing field just now in terms rallying for one side or another, since the only folks who know who’s telling (or twisting) the truth are John Carmack, ZeniMax and Oculus VR.

Rob Ford ‘Ready To Take A Break’ And Seek Help After New Video Emerges

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:41 AM PDT

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says he'll take a break from his reelection campaign and seek substance abuse help. The decision came just minutes before The Globe And Mail released images from a video of the embattled mayor allegedly smoking crack again.

Retool Your Business With a Clean Sheet of Paper

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:39 AM PDT

Peter Drucker taught us, again and again, to focus on "tomorrow's breadwinners" and cease pouring resources into today's breadwinners, much less yesterday's.

In an age when business requires faster adaptation than ever, many now take this principle for granted. But it still can be tricky to put into practice, which is why executives continue to talk about the best way to actually get from yesterday to tomorrow.

"In any transformation I've seen, the winner is always the one who takes out a clean sheet of paper and says, 'This is how you would do it if you didn't have the drag of your traditional business,'" Perry Evans, CEO of Closely, a digital marketing firm, said in an interview published in Sunday's New York Times.

As we've noted, Drucker loved this particular approach, urging that everything any organization does be periodically put on trial for its life.

This exercise will not only help you determine what to stop doing; it will also help you figure out what to double-down on. In fact, “the starting point is to identify the activities that are productive, that should be strengthened, promoted and expanded,” Drucker counseled in Managing in a Time of Great Change.

One more tip for a successful transformation: Involve a variety of junior people within the enterprise, and not just the leaders, in thinking about it. In an interview that appears in Managing in the Next Society, Drucker spoke of one company that he particularly admired.

"Every three months, a group of people from the organization—younger people, junior people, but never the same people—sits down and looks at one segment of the company's products, or services, or process or policies with a question: If we didn't do this already, would we go into it the way we are now?" Drucker explained. "Every four or five years, that company has systematically abandoned or at least modified every single one of it products and processes, and especially its services. That's the secret of its growth and its profitability."

Al Feldstein: King of the MAD Men

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:28 AM PDT

If you were a kid in the 1950s, and you got nightmares from a story in a horror comic book, you have Al Feldstein to blame. If you were a kid in the ’60s or ’70s, giggling at MAD’s prankster wit, you have Feldstein to thank. And if you’re a kid today, you are the beneficiary of the gaudy tastes — or lack of taste — that he incited as the editor of Vault of Horror, Tales from the Crypt and MAD. What Marvel’s Stan Lee has been to the superhero culture, Feldstein was to horror and humor in his years at publisher William Gaines' EC comics. Feldstein's metaphorical children range from Stephen King to Stephen Colbert, from Quentin Tarantino to the skewering clowns of Saturday Night Live.

Feldstein, who would edit MAD for 29 years, in the decades of its greatest popularity and influence, died Tuesday at his home near Livingston, Montana. He was 88.

(READ: Kurt Andersen’s tribute to MAD publisher William Gaines)

Under its founding editor Harvey Kurtzman, and then under Feldstein, MAD became for the brain what rock ‘n roll was to the groin: a pulse for irreverence, suspicion, internal insurrection. The laughs that the magazine provoked in curious boys (it was mostly a guy thing) were the intellectual equivalent to the screams Elvis Presley elicited from pubescent girls. Connecting with the MAD zeitgeist meant plugging into the wide world of culture — because, first and foremost, MAD was the medium that kidded the media.

A '50s comedy genius, Kurtzman created MAD as a comic book in 1952 and turned it into a magazine three years later. But Feldstein codified it. When Kurtzman was fired by Gaines, he took along his brilliant illustrators: Bill Elder, Jack Davis and Wally Wood. Stripped of the men who made MAD, Feldstein quickly assembled “the usual gang of idiots” who would define the magazine’s tone. He also knew what to do with an old photo of a goofy, smiling kid that Kurtzman had adopted as the magazine’s mascot, eventually calling him Alfred E. Neuman. Feldstein put the character on the cover in 1956, as a write-in candidate for President, and he has been MAD’s cover boy ever since.

(READ: Corliss on Harvey Kurtzman and MAD)

Without Feldstein, the magazine may never have survived, let alone thrived. "When Kurtzman left here and Al came back and took his place," Gaines told the young EC historian Fred von Bernewitz in 1957, "one of the things we definitely decided to do was: let's sell MAD, first. And let's try to make it a good worthy magazine second.” The ever-efficient Feldstein got the magazine back to its bimonthly schedule — for a while it published eight issues a year — and quickly assembled a reliable batch of contributors: writers Frank Jacobs, Stan Hart, Larry Siegel and Arnie Kogen and writer-artists Don Martin (“MAD’s maddest artist”), Sergio Aragones (“Spy vs Spy”), Dave Berg (“The Lighter Side of…”) and Al Jaffee (the back-cover “MAD fold-in). The magazine's circulation grew from 750,000 in Kurtzman’s day to 2.3 million in the mid-1970s. After Feldstein’s departure in 1984, the circulation shrank to about a tenth of that.

Yet MAD was only the second act in Feldstein’s career. His primal influence was from 1950 to 1954, writing and editing the EC horror comics that thrilled young readers and outraged conservative psychologists and members of the U.S. Senate.

(READ: MAD Magazine at 50)

Born in Brooklyn in 1925, Feldstein was 22 when Gaines hired him in 1948. What a smart pickup! Feldstein was every boss's favorite employee: a hard-working idea man with inexhaustible energy and a nose for the market. Within two years, he and Gaines had dumped their line of romance and Western comics for such titles as Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Weird Science, Weird Fantasy and Shock SuspenStories. Feldstein wrote and sketched virtually all the stories. For a few years he was filling seven complete magazines every two months, often illustrating stories and drawing the covers.

For precocious children of the early ’50s, the EC horror line was a passkey to the forbidden. Kids felt scaredy-brave, both by subjecting themselves to horror stories and by daring to read something that might be condemned by their parents. These nervy, rebellious frissons originated in Feldstein's storytelling savvy and gift for lovingly elaborate narration. As he recalled: "The old joke was that I got to write such heavy captions and balloons that the characters had to be drawn with a hunchback." Though Davis, Johnny Craig, "Ghastly" Graham Ingels and other EC artists had distinctive styles, Feldstein’s words and grisly plots sold the magazines. His sagas of unearthly vengeance and pummeling descriptions of extracted body parts gave the stories their lingering, gruesome, often funny chill.

"By mid-1953 business at EC was astonishing," writes Maria Reidelbach in Completely MAD: A History of the Comic Book and Magazine. "The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror and … Tales from the Crypt had a circulation of 400,000 copies each.” But the glory gory days couldn't last. In his 1954 book Seduction of the Innocence, the clinical psychologist Fredric Wertham linked the rise in teenage crime to the pernicious influence of comic books. "Hitler was a beginner compared to the comic book industry," Wertham told the Senate Subcommittee to Investigate Juvenile Delinquency headed by Estes Kefauver.

(READ: The Power and the Gory of EC Horror Comics)

Gaines also testified at that hearing, defending the influence of the EC line on children by saying, "I don't think it does them a bit of good, but I don't think it does them a bit of harm, either." The subcommittee condemned "those materials offered for children’s reading that fall below the American standard of decency by glorifying crime, horror, and sadism," and within months the comics industry adopted a censorship code that Gaines refused to accept. His horror magazines were dead. All he had left was MAD. And when he fired Kurtzman, the only one to save him was Feldstein, who shepherded the magazine through its palmiest period.

Feldstein also agitated to expand the MAD brand. He told Jenn Dhigos on the Classic-Horror website that he proposed starting a MAD TV show (this before Saturday Night Live), accepting "real (but humorous) ads to subsidize a four-color magazine, and launching "a 'live' and 'animated' VHS version of MAD (today, it would be on CD!)." Gaines nixed all these ideas. Feldstein said that, after he left MAD, Gaines "started to cut me out of the history of EC … and MAD! …I didn’t even get screen credits for all of my stories that they adapted [in the Tales from the Crypt TV series]. Bill saw to that."

He retired to Wyoming, and then Livingston, where he became a serious painter specializing in Western themes. Perhaps Feldstein had tired of giving kids belly laughs and stomach tremors. Or maybe his 36-year stint at EC was less a calling than a job, finally earning him enough money to pursue his artistic dream. In his last years he would send out funny, fulminous emails decrying America’s state of disunion. But we’ll remember him, fondly and gratefully, with the phrase he ended each message:

“MADly yours,

Al Feldstein”


Google Can Now Help You Remember Where You Parked Your Car

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

You know that terrible feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when, after stepping out of a mall or stadium, you realize you have no idea where you parked? Then you pace and pace, pressing the “panic” button and just praying things will work out for you, and you won’t have to give in and curl up in the fetal position on the pavement?

If you’re familiar with this scenario and you have an Android, then you’re in luck. Google Now, the personal assistant that comes with Android devices, now comes with a vehicle tracking function.

Google Now uses your phone’s sensors to detect when you’ve left a moving vehicle, Google explains, and then a location card will pop up on a map to let you know where you left your car. But beware: these location cards might also pop up if you’ve left a friend’s car or a bus.

So no, it’s not a perfect system, but luckily you can choose to turn off parking location cards altogether if you’re not driving that day.

Man, isn’t it crazy to think that if this technology has existed 15 years ago, one of the greatest films of our time would never have happened?

Osama bin Laden Situation Room Photo: Where Are They Now?

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Osama bin Laden was shot and killed by a team of U.S. Navy Seals in Abbottabad, Pakistan exactly three years ago. Two dozen special forces operatives entered bin Laden's hidden compound during the night, executed the most infamous terrorist in modern times and left with his body, destined for the North Arabian Sea. It was a dramatic end to the painstaking search that had begun long before the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Back in the United States, the nation's top military and civilian leaders were gathered in the White House Situation Room to watch the operation unfold live. President Barack Obama's decision to order the strike was based on what then-National Security Advisor Tom Donilon famously called "a 50-50 chance" that bin Laden was even there at all.

A White House photographer captured what has since become an iconic image when Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Brig. Gen. Marshall B. Brad Webb, Hillary Clinton and other heavy-hitters watched stone-faced as the operation unfolded. The mood in the Situation Room was tense, with all eyes glued on a live video feed provided by drones hovering high above bin Laden's compound.

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 1, 2011. Pete Souza—The White House

Where are the players in this iconic image today? President Obama, the central figure in the drama and the man responsible for giving the final order to strike, is still commander in chief, of course. And while many of the people in the room have since retired from government life, a few continue to aspire to prominent political positions—most notably, Hillary Clinton, who may well be paving her way to a second presidential bid.

Here are the 13 men and women pictured that day, from left to right:

Joe Biden, vice president of the United States, has continued to play an active foreign policy role, most recently visiting allies in eastern Europe as part of the escalating Ukraine crisis. He originally opposed the raid on bin Laden's compound, according to Mark Bowden’s book on the bin Laden strike, Finish.

Barack Obama, forty-forth president of the United States, called the operation against Osama bin Laden "the most important single day of my presidency."

Marshall B. Webb (seated at the head of the table, with a laptop) is a United States Air Force major general who served as Assistant Commanding General of the Joint Special Operations Command during the raid.

Mike Mullen (standing, wearing a tie), a career naval officer, was serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the principal military advisor to the president when the photo was taken. He has since retired.

Tom Donilon (standing, arms folded) was President Obama's National Security Advisor from October 2010 until June 2013 and is now a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Donilon didn’t want President Obama to watch the raid, fearing it would appear he was micromanaging the strike. Obama reportedly insisted, striding into the room, saying “I need to watch this.”

Bill Daley (standing, with jacket) was the White House Chief of Staff for President Obama from January 2011 to 2012. He was preparing for the 2014 Illinois gubernatorial race before dropping out of the contest early for personal reasons. He recently became head of U.S. operations for a hedge fund that was launched last year in Switzerland to avoid following the the U.S. Volcker Rule.

Denis McDonough (seated) was the Deputy National Security Advisor when bin Laden was killed. He now serves as the White House Chief of Staff.

Tony Blinken (standing, peering over Daley’s shoulder) was a national security adviser to Joe Biden during Obama's first term and had a seat at the table during daily security briefings. He's now the President's Deputy National Security Adviser.

Hillary Clinton, one of the most visible members of the team other then President Obama, has said she is considering running for president in 2016.

Audrey Tomason (standing, furthest in back),who the White House has said is a director for counterterrorism, is something of a mystery. When pressed, an official told the Daily Beast the White House does not generally discuss intelligence personnel.

John Brennan (standing, wearing gray), now director of the Central Intelligence Agency, was Homeland Security Advisor at the time of the raid.

James Clapper (standing, wearing tie) has remained the Director of National Intelligence in the intervening three years since the photo was taken. Clapper sparked controversy in March 2013 when he claimed the NSA does not "wittingly" collect data on millions or hundred of millions of Americans. Edward Snowden's leaks calling Clapper’s testimony into question were published three months later.

Robert Gates (seated) was Secretary of Defense at the time bin Laden was killed. He retired just two months later and is now the Chancellor of the College of William & Mary. He originally opposed a raid before changing his mind on the day of the strike.

Many Ivy League Kids Don’t Think Taking ADHD Drugs is Cheating

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:15 AM PDT

About one in five students at an Ivy League college said they’ve used a prescription ADHD drug while studying, and a third of the college students did not think that qualified as cheating, according to new research.

ADHD medications, like adderall or ritalin, are commonly misused among people without a diagnosis as a way to perform and concentrate better. A 2011 paper from the College Board reported that though available numbers are small, students do obtain and use ADHD drugs and learning disorder diagnoses to gain an academic advantage, the New York Times reports. Of course, there are people with legitimate disorders, but the new study focused on students without ADHD.

The researchers, who will present their findings at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting this weekend, interviewed 616 students at a “highly selective college” (the researchers did not say which), and found that 18% used the drugs for academic reasons, and 24% had done so eight or more times. College juniors were the most likely to abuse the medication, and students who played sports or were involved in Greek life were also the most common abusers.

When asked whether this type of behavior classified as cheating, a third of the students said it did not, 41% said it was cheating, and 25% said they were not sure. People who used ADHD meds were also more likely to think it was a common phenomenon on campus.

More and more people are being diagnosed with ADHD, including adults. The number of adults taking ADHD drugs rose by over 50% between 2008 and 2012, according to a report. One of the hard parts about screening for the disorder is that doctors need to determine who has a legitimate disorder and who is looking for a performance fix. The researchers say their study raises those serious questions for providers: “To the extent that some high school and college students have reported feigning ADHD symptoms to obtain stimulant medication, should physicians become more cautious or conservative when newly diagnosing ADHD in teens?” study author Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York, said in a statement.

The findings will be presented Saturday, May 3, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver.


George Bush Wants His Brother Jeb To Run For President

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:15 AM PDT

Former President George W. Bush gave his younger brother Jeb his endorsement Thursday should he decide to run for the White House in 2016

“I hope Jeb runs,” Bush told CNN. “I think he would be a great president. I have no clue what's on his mind and we will talk when he's ready. I noticed he's moving around the country quite a bit.”

“Hey Jeb, if you need some advice, give me a call,” Bush said.

The former governor of Florida has been speaking at events across the country advocating for education reform, as well as at Republican fundraising events. In March, Bush spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas at an event hosted by billionaire GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson. Bush would benefit from strong support from the party’s establishment and donor classes, but he will have to test whether the nation is suffering from Bush fatigue.

Earlier this year in an interview with C-SPAN, his mother, former First Lady Barbara Bush, said she hoped Jeb would decide against running. “If we can't find more than two or three families to run for high office, that's silly,” she said.

In the interview with Tapper, Bush said he’s confident his brother is not paying attention to the polls, even though they show him potentially leading the pack of GOP presidential contenders.

“He's checking his core, and as he said publicly, ‘I'm thinking about my family,’” Bush said. “And of course, he knows full well what a run for the presidency can do on family.”

Colorado Symphony Hopes ‘Classical Cannabis’ Series Will Bring A Younger Audience

Posted: 01 May 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Trying to crawl out of a $1.2 million cash deficit, the Colorado Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is rolling out a new series of concerts aimed at attracting a younger, somewhat more red-eyed audience.

Their new concerts, entitled “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series," invite local patrons to BYOC (Bring Your Own Cannabis) and toke along while listening to some classical sounds.

The concerts, sponsored by local cannabis businesses, are designed to attract younger people who might not normally pay attention to classical music. “I would suggest that the patrons of the cannabis industry are both younger and more diverse than the patrons of the symphony orchestra,” said Colorado Symphony CEO Jerry Kern.

Some Insects Drink Animals’ Tears

Posted: 01 May 2014 10:56 AM PDT

"Crocodile tears" usually refers to fake sympathy—expressing sorrow when you're actually experiencing schadenfreude. But actual crocodile tears can prove very useful for the insects that drink the liquid from the reptile's faces.

It might sound gross, not to mention dangerous (landing on a croc's face can't be easy), but both bees and butterflies are known to drink the tears of the caiman crocodile in Costa Rica. In fact, the tears are like "sports drinks" for the insects.

That's because the tears contain tons of salt and other minerals, rare nutrients in land environments. Insects take any source they can get—in Thailand, bees have even been known to drink human tears. (Yes, animals do cry.)

So next time you're tearing up over a late-night movie, remember—that liquid could be going to a better purpose.


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