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Posted by Delete Delete on Tue 11th Mar 2014

Microsoft's chosen game-streaming partner Twitch has officially sent its updated Xbox One app live, adding the much-delayed live streaming functionality originally promised for the console's launch - and just in time for the release of Titanfall, not-coincidentally.

When Microsoft was reeling off a list of features its next-generation console would include, the ability to instantly stream live game footage over the internet was a biggie - albeit one shared by rival Sony's PS4. Come the November release of both consoles, however, and the Xbox One's game streaming functionality was missing in action, with Microsoft being forced to admit that it wouldn't be ready until some time early this year.

Last month, Microsoft finally tied itself down to a firm release date with the promise that it would have game streaming up and running by the time players picked up their copies of Xbox and Windows exclusive mech shooter Titanfall. With the game releasing today, fans will be ecstatic to hear that Microsoft has hit its self-imposed deadline with the release of an updated Twitch app for the Xbox One.

When installed, the free Twitch app becomes accessible from within any game using the Kinect voice command 'Xbox, broadcast' - or from a menu for those who have chosen not to get the all-seeing spy-eye out of its box. Games are then broadcast automatically over the internet, with viewers on other consoles or on any device supported from the Twitch website able to view and comment on the stream.

Sadly, while the app itself is free there is a cost associated: as with the majority of both consoles' online functionality, the Twitch software is only accessible to those who have a paid Xbox Live Gold membership. 

Source: www.bit-tech.net/news/gaming/2014/03/11/xbox-one-twitch/1

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Posted by Delete Delete on Tue 11th Mar 2014

Suddenly Thunderbolt looks like it’s stuck in the slow lane. That’s because Intel and a few of its partners have announced a cable that’s much much faster, but is geared towards data centers and not consumers. Intel’s new “MXC” cable, co-developed with Corning, US Conec, TE Connectivity and Molex, has 64-fiber strands that can transmit 25Gbps across each fiber for an aggregate of 1.6 Tbit/sec.

For Intel, MXC is something of a rebirth of its fiber optic efforts. Originally Thunderbolt was supposed to use fiber optics — hence the original codename “Light Peak” — but Apple, who was a partner in the project from the get-go, pushed hard to use standard copper instead.

For server makers, having this much internal bandwidth available will change the way that server racks are designed. According to a blog post by Mario Paniccia, a general manager of general manager Intel’s Silicon Photonics Operations Organization, this will allow for a “disaggregation of memory, storage and processing subsystems into separate boxes.” No longer will a server have to contain every component, which is an inefficient use of space, but rather each component will be stored in its own rack in the server farm of the future.

“The ability to take my memory and stash it a rack away, optical can enable that,” Paniccia is quoted as saying.

The cables are scheduled to go into mass-production later this year, but Microsoft, Huawei, Facebook via the Open Compute Project, Arista and Fujitsu are said to be already sampling them. No word yet on the costs.

Source: http://vr-zone.com/articles/intel-announces-super-fast-1-6-tbitsec-optical-cable-data-centers/73781.html?  

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Posted by Delete Delete on Tue 11th Mar 2014

Word on the superinformation strasse is that Google may be discontinuing the Nexus 7 tablet line this year, in favour of a new 8-inch Nexus 8 tablet.
It looks like the world is fed up with seven-inch tablets and wants something a little larger.

The Nexus 8 will be launched alongside Android 4.5 at some point this summer, sources suggest.
The Nexus 8 and its launch are far from being confirmed by Google, but an outfit called AndroidPit thinks that that the summer launch may have something to do with Intel's release plans for a new mobile processor.
In other words, Google and Intel may collaborate on this Nexus device.
In which case you are talking about the 64-bit quad-core Atom "Moorefield" processor which was "expected to be available in the second half of the year".
The Moorfield processors may go up to 2.3GHz, and would feature "an enhanced GPU and support for faster memory," as well as support for Intel's own 2014 LTE platform that would be able to deliver LTE-Advanced data speeds. The word on the strasse is should.

The Nexus 8 may ship with a PowerVR G6430 GPU if indeed the Moorefield chip will be chosen for the tablet. The PowerVR Series 6 card is apparently 20 times faster than Series 5 models and five times more efficient.
However it is odd that when Chipzilla made announcements about who was going to be using the new chip it failed to mention Google. Instead it talked about "multiyear agreements with Lenovo, Asus, Dell and Foxconn," to "to expand the availability of tablets and smartphones with Intel Atom processors and communication platforms."
However, Asus made the first two Nexus 7 tablets and HTC has been named as a potential maker of a high-end Nexus tablet this year, so maybe the deal was in the fine print.

 Source: http://news.techeye.net/mobile/google-set-to-kill-off-nexus-7?

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Tue 11th Mar 2014

This update contains improvements and bug fixes, including

o iOS experience designed for the car
o Simply connect your iPhone to a CarPlay-enabled vehicle
o Supports Phone, Music, Maps, Messages and third-party audio apps
o Control with Siri and the car's touchscreen, knobs and buttons

o Siri
o Manually control when Siri listens by holding down the Home button while you speak and releasing it when you're done as an alternative to letting Siri automatically notice when you stop talking
o New, more natural-sounding male and female voices for Mandarin Chinese, UK English, Australian English and Japanese
o iTunes Radio
o Search field above Featured Stations to easily create stations based on your favourite artist or song
o Buy albums with the tap of a button from Now Playing
o Subscribe to iTunes Match on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to enjoy iTunes Radio ad-free
o Calendar
o Option to display events in month view
o Country-specific holidays automatically added for many countries
o Accessibility
o Bold font option now includes the keyboard, calculator and many icon glyphs
o Reduce Motion option now includes Weather, Messages and multitasking UI animations
o New options to display button shapes, darken app colours and reduce white point
o New Camera setting to automatically enable HDR for iPhone 5s
o iCloud Keychain support in additional countries
o FaceTime call notifications are automatically cleared when you answer a call on another device
o Fixes a bug that could occasionally cause a Home screen crash
o Improves Touch ID fingerprint recognition
o Improved performance for iPhone 4
o Fixes display of Mail unread badge for numbers greater than 10,000
o Continued user interface refinements

For information on the security content of this update, please visit this website:

Damien Biddulph

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Mar 2014

 Dan Worth - 07 Mar 2014 - V3.co.uk

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) £200,000 in a stark example of the perils organisations face when collecting and storing personal data.

The incident occurred in March 2012 when hacker James Jeffery infiltrated the charity’s content management system (CMS) and defaced its website in a protest at the work BPAS does.

Jeffery then threatened to publish the names, dates of birth, addresses and telephone numbers of 9,900 people who had contacted the charity asking for guidance on a raft of serious issues such as abortion and vasectomy treatments.

However, the police were able to arrest Jeffery before any information was released. He was given a two-and-a-half year prison sentence.

The subsequent investigation by the ICO underlines the issues IT managers face when it comes to security and the need for constant checking of the processes in place for data-gathering and hosting.

BPAS gathered the data on 9,900 members of the public via a ‘call back’ form, which requested their name, date of birth, address and telephone number. This data was then stored within the CMS.

When it had contracted an IT company to build its website in 2007, it had decided against storing this data within the CMS, due to security concerns. But this was not properly communicated to the IT company, so the feature was built in anyway. BPAS had no knowledge it was collecting personal data in an unsecured manner.

The ICO said BPAS’s failure to properly secure its data and have contracts in place with IT partners about the requirements of the tools it commissioned was deeply concerning and merited a sizeable fine.

“BPAS failed to take appropriate technical and organisational measures against the unauthorised processing of personal data stored on the BPAS website,” it said in its report.

It also said the charity failed to carry out any security testing on its website, which could have brought the issues to light.

ICO deputy commissioner David Smith said the incident underlines the need for vigilance and respect towards data that is being collected and stored.

"BPAS didn’t realise their website was storing this information, didn’t realise how long it was being retained for and didn’t realise the website wasn’t being kept sufficiently secure. But ignorance is no excuse," he said.

"It is especially unforgiveable when the organisation is handling information as sensitive as that held by the BPAS. Data controllers must take active steps to ensure that the personal data they are responsible for is kept safe."

BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi said the charity was “horrified” by the scale of the fine and would be appealing to the ICO.

"This fine seems out of proportion when compared with those levelled against other organisations who were not themselves the victims of a crime," she said. "It is appalling that a hacker who acted on the basis of his opposition to abortion should see his actions rewarded in this way."

The fine will be reduced to £160,000 if BPAS pays by the end of March.

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Posted by Delete Delete on Mon 10th Mar 2014

Some businesses out there need to store lots of data, and would like to do so by packing it into as small a space as possible. Enter the next generation in optical storage from Sony and Panasonic, which will result in the introduction of 300GB optical discs starting next year.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

300GB discs will be the smallest of the new entries in optical storage. These discs will be followed up with ones that will hold 500GB of data, as well as a whopping 1TB. For comparison, current-gen Blu-ray discs commonly hold 25GB per disc, and the highest-capacity Blu-ray we’ve found for sale on Froogle tops out at 100GB.

Dubbed Archival Discs, these plastic wonders will reportedly be readable for a minimum of 50 years. On top of that, a Panasonic rep claims that the new discs don’t require that you store them in any special environments or specific temperatures in order to keep them in tip top shape.

Though you may already be dreaming of the entertainment applications that 300GB, 500GB, and 1TB discs potentially hold, reports state that Panasonic and Sony are aiming for these discs to be used in big data storage applications, like cloud services. They’re allegedly not being developed for consumer use at this time.

“As a type of archival media, optical discs have numerous advantages over current mainstream HDD and tape media, such as their ability to be stored for a long time while still maintaining readability,” said a Panasonic rep. “We hope to develop demand for archives that use optical discs.”

If the 50 year readability claim has any merit to it, that would put these discs much higher on the durability totem pole compared to other storage formats, like traditional hard drives. For instance, a study conducted by BackBlaze, an online backup services firm, concluded that of the 13,000 Seagate drives it tested, the 1.5TB drives had an annual failure rate of 14 percent, while the 3TB and 4TB drives suffered annual failure rates of 9 percent, and 3 percent, respectively.

It’s currently unclear how much any of these discs will cost once they begin to hit the market starting next year, but we’re pretty sure that they won’t come cheap.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Mar 2014

Nicholas Carlson - businessinsider.com - 8th March 2014

Steve Jobs used to tell a story about how he first became inspired by the idea of what computers could do.

He'd say that once, when he was a kid, he was reading a science magazine and he found an article ranking animals by the efficiency of their movements.

At the top of the list, there were cheetahs and hawks. Way down at the bottom, there were humans — relatively slow on their two legs.

But then Jobs noticed a second list in the magazine.

This one compared humans on bicycles versus all the other animals. Humans were suddenly the most efficient animals on the planet.

Young Steve Jobs realized that was the power of machines, of tools.

Later, Jobs would say that the computer is a "bicycle for the mind" – a tool that speeds us along much faster than we could ever go without it.

If that's that true, then the best parts of Apple's "bicycles for the mind" have always been the handle bars and the pedals.

The handle bars and the pedals are the parts where the human touches the machine, and the machine responds in a joy-inspiring way.

Apple became a $470 billion company over 40 years by examining all the known technologies for how humans can interact with computers, selecting the best technologies, and then perfecting them through a blissful marriage of hardware and software design.

In the 1980s, it was the mouse — invented at PARC and made mainstream by Apple. Paired with graphics-based user-interface, it made home computers plausible.

In the early 2000s, it was the clickwheel. Paired with the iPod's simple software it made carrying a hard drive in your pocket worth doing.

Then, in 2006, came the iPhone with its miraculous touchscreen. It was far better than any consumers had ever experienced at ATMs or kiosks till then. Paired with iOS, it made smartphones accessible to everyone.

Sometime over the next five years, Apple began to go through the same process. It examined the world for technologies humans were using to interact with computers, looking for one it could perfect the way it had the mouse and the touchscreen.

It found one, and on October 4, 2011, it came out.

That was Siri.

Like the mouse, clickwheel, and touchscreen, Siri was supposed to be a new way for a human to move their "bicycle for the mind."

The plan was for the human voice to go through a computer's microphone, and for the computer to react as simply as a bicycle moves when you pedal.

But unlike the mouse, clickwheel, and touchscreen — or bicycle pedals — Siri doesn't work 100% of the time.

In fact, according to a report from Pipar Jaffray's Apple analyst, Gene Munster, it only works about 79% of the time.

That's too rare — by about 21%.

Steven Sinofsky, who led development of the very successful Windows 7, says on his blog that "a general UX principle…is anytime you push some feature on your customer you really want it to be right (correct, useful, helpful) for him/her 100% of the time."

"If not, chances are your customer will recall the negatives of the feature far more than the positives."

Can you imagine how frustrating it would be if the touchscreen only worked 79% of the time? Very few people would have ever bought an iPhone.

The reason it feels like Apple has stopped innovating to so many people is that the last time it tried to do what it does best — perfect a technology that allows humans to interact with computers — it failed. And that was two and a half years ago. The last time it succeeded was 2006 — eight years ago.

(It's impossible not to wonder if, before he died, Steve Jobs thought Siri would be a breakthrough technology the way the touchscreen, the mouse, and the clickwheel were. He died on October 5, the day after it came out. Maybe he thought it would be a huge success, and that's why he told his biographer that Apple had finally cracked TV. Maybe we haven't gotten the Apple TV we've been told to expect years ago because it leaned heavily on Siri, and Siri doesn't really work.)


The good news for Apple shareholders, Apple fans, and humans who like "bicycles for the mind," is that, according to several reports, Apple is about to come out with a new kind of computer built around a new kind of input technology.

That's the iWatch.

According to several reports, the iWatch will have sensors on the back of its face where the watch touches the skin. Supposedly, those sensors will be able to do things like monitor the wearer's blood flow, sugar levels, and more.

According to Thomas Lee and David R. Baker at the San Francisco Chronicle, Apple hired a "renowned audio engineer" named Tomlinson Holman to develop software and hardware that would allow a watch on your wrist to listen to your blood flow and then alert you when "turbulence" indicated that you were about to have a heart attack.

If the iWatch works 21% more often than Siri does, Apple will have done what it's always done to such great success, once again.

For years, companies like Google and Nike and Samsung have been working on wearable technology.

It seems that Apple has been observing their efforts, and is finally ready to come into the market with something more mainstream-friendly — a bicycle for the mind we all want to ride.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Mar 2014

The Telegraph - 10th March 2014 -By Rick Maybury

 We suffer from very slow broadband speeds. The line has been checked and supposedly fixed by BT. Our internal wiring has been simplified and cleared of crackles and we have a newish wireless router. We live in a rural area about 0.9 miles from the exchange but of course, there is no fibre connection. The net result is that we have gone from about zero to between 1 and 3.5 Mb/sec for downloads. We have been with our present ISP for many years but I am about to change as they have become expensive for old and loyal customers, despite protests, and customer support is terrible. Other providers offer an 8Mb/s service but of course can’t guarantee any particular speed. The average download speed in our village is about 7Mb/s. Until a few months ago we too were getting this but it has dropped off markedly. The village has not increased in size and the number of users has remained fairly static for several years. My question therefore is, do some providers give better speed than others?

Stephen Wessel, by email

Yes they do and whilst it appears that the connection between your system and the exchange is as good as it can be there are numerous external factors that influence broadband speed. These include the age and performance of the DSL equipment used by the various ISPs, the speed and capacity of their connections to exchanges and the wider Internet, and how they manage traffic on their networks. Whilst the population of your village has not changed significantly, other communities, served by your local exchange, may have expanded and increased the burden on the equipment and connections. The recent slowdown can also be due, in part, to rapid changes in the way we use the Internet, like the dramatic increases in Cloud storage and computing, media streaming and multiple devices per household. Why not take a straw poll amongst your neighbours to find out which ISP is currently giving the best service? The situation may well change, though. ISP speed and reliability inevitably varies over time. As you have discovered your loyalty carries relatively little weight with most suppliers these days so be prepared to switch again in the not too distant future. You can make changing providers a lot easier by registering a domain name and using that for your email address, so it remains the same whichever ISP you use.

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Mon 10th Mar 2014

This article was first published in Empire Magazine Issue #66 (December 1994).

In December 1994, Empire ran the following article on a new-fangled technology, one that claimed to place a vast repository of information within reach of a dial-up modem. "It's like having 30 million mates on the end of the phone!" we said. It'll never catch on.

Picture this. With just a Personal Computer (PC) and a phone line, you can tap into a huge collection of computers linked together across the world and you can, should you choose to do so, "surf the Internet". While surfing, you'll be privy to more information than you could ever use, or even conceive. There are groups of people talking about everything - everything - from movies to music to arcane discussions on Hebrew texts. Something like 30 million people are connected together via this huge computer network - and the number's doubling every year.

It's a kind of vast talking shop, really. You sit at your desk in, say, Glasgow, and type a comment, a question or an observation about, say, Keanu's acting ability. It zaps out to 30 million computers all over the world. Everybody can read your message. Those who are interested can reply to it. The answers then appear on your screen. Frankly, it's unbelievable.
The Internet was designed for military and academic use, but there are so many countries and organisations connected now that no single body owns or controls it; not a corporation, not a government, no one. There are dozens of different movie-related resources on the Internet, but the first one users turn to is the newsgroup called, in the Internet's arcane language, "rec.arts.movies". This is a global discussion forum in which anyone who's connected can take part. Whatever your movie question or opinion, you can type it in and within minutes it can be read by hundreds of thousands of fellow buffs. Recent topics have included the dubious casting of Interview With The Vampire, the cause of Jenny's death in Forrest Gump and the expected release date for Die Hard 3. And if you want to know how people - real people, not critics - rate a film, "rec.arts.movies.reviews" contains hundreds of opinions, and because many of the writers are in the US, you can learn about a film well before it arrives here.

One of the most impressive resources available is the Cardiff Movie Database. This is one of the most comprehensive archives of movie information in the world.

On the Internet, a fanzine for thousands of people costs almost nothing to create and very little to receive. As a result, films and directors with their own vociferous "real world" fans have massive followings on the Internet. Films like Aliens, Blade Runner, and Reservoir Dogs are all covered in exhaustive detail by their admirers, but Star Trek towers over all others - if you're interested in the films, the TV series or any of the assorted spin-offs, there is so much material available that you could stay connected permanently and never reach the end of it.
One of the most impressive resources available is the Cardiff Movie Database. This is one of the most comprehensive archives of movie information in the world. Though it started in - oh yes - Cardiff, it's compiled and maintained by about a dozen volunteers from around the world and is contributed to by thousands more. It contains information on more than 33,000 films, including cast lists, plot summaries and often interesting details like continuity errors. If you want a list of the films directed by Woody Allen which starred Diane Keaton, you can get one in seconds. But perhaps its most interesting feature is its rating system: films are rated from one to ten - a figure arrived at by averaging the votes of the Internet public. Anyone who wants to can add their own vote to the tally at any time. Similarly, if you spot a gap in the database and happen to know the answer, you can do your bit by telling the compilers, who can update it on the spot. The studios in Hollywood are starting to recognise its influence and are contributing casting information - often before a film even hits the cinemas in the US.

Coming to a PC screen near you: access to Hollywood via the Internet world. Seen the film? Bought the t-shirt now surf through the Hollywood database in the comfort of your own home...

The Internet, however, is not just a home for opinionated amateurs. There are several film-related magazines on the Internet including Eye Weekly (Toronto's equivalent of Time Out), Film Maker (a highbrow film quarterly) and CinemaSpace from Berkeley's Film Studies Department. Specialist discussion groups exist for film archivists, film studies students, independent filmmakers, video-makers, screenwriters, even projectionists.
And, this is only the beginning. Companies around the world are starting to wake up to the Internet's commercial potential. Nearly all of what is available so far has been free, as electronic billing systems are not yet in place. As soon as they find a way to get paid for the information they provide, magazines and newspapers will get connected, making the Internet into a huge, global news-stand where the magazines are updated hourly instead of weekly or monthly. Further into the future, you may be able to send and receive film clips, and not just talk about them.
Being "online" is starting to lose its nerdy image, even in the UK. Before long, having an electronic mail address may be as fashionable (and more useful) than owning a mobile phone. Get connected today and join the Internet pioneers - you have nothing to fear except, perhaps, an enormous phone bill...

Er, So How Does It Work, Exactly?

There are as many ways to connect to the Internet as there are reasons to do it. Your choice depends largely on how much you have to spend and how much you expect to use it.
If you are lucky, you may find that you're connected already. Universities and some large companies have been on line for years; if your computer is connected to an academic or commercial network, it is worth asking the head geek what kind of access you have.
If you are starting from scratch you need three things: a computer, a modem (to connect your machine to the network through the phone) and a "service provider" - someone already connected to the Internet who acts as your gateway.
Almost any computer can be used to provide a connection, though a Windows-compatible PC or an Apple Macintosh are preferable. You shouldn't scrimp on a modem - the magic word to ask for is "V32 bis" which start around £140. Anything cheaper is slower, frustrating and false economy.
Most importantly, you have to choose a service provider. Bulletin boards like CompuServe and CIX - the Compulink Information Exchange - are easy to connect to, offer additional services of their own on top of Internet access and offer a cheap way in with minimum charges of around £6 a month, but they may not offer access to all of the facilities on the Internet, and if you become a heavy user, their hourly charges can be expensive.
Another option is direct Internet connection - this costs a flat rate of £10 to £15 a month, not including your ordinary phone charges you pay while connected (though all charges are made at local rates). This is offered by an increasing number of small companies, and British Telecom plans to offer its own service to home users sometime in 1995. Or else you can trek down to Cyberia, the world's first Internet café at 39 Whitfield St, London W1. There, for £1.90, you can surf for half an hour...

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary, Etc.

To test the Internet's usefulness, we zapped out some questions into space. The replies came in from all over the world within 24 hours. Here is just a small selection...

Question One: Tim Burton's Ed Wood is about a crappy director from the 50s. Can't wait to see it, but in the meantime, what movies did Ed Wood Jnr. direct?

From: Kingman Barstow, San Bernadino, California

Message: "Pick up the book used as a basis for the film, (Rudolph Grey's?) Nightmare Of Ecstasy. It's got a Wood filmography and bibliography and is available in a new movie tie-in edition..."

From: Len Freedman, Denver, Colorado

Message: "Plan 9 From Outer Space is Ed Wood's most famous film. Here is a list of all the movies available on video: Bride Of The Monster, Glen Or Glenda, Jail Bait, Night Of The Ghouls, Plan 9 From Outer Space, The Sinister Urge, The Violent Years. There is a new "director's cut" release of either Jail Bait or Glen Or Glenda, which includes a restored scene..."

From: Lopez, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Message: "If you can get your hands on a copy of Cult Movies by Danny Peary, there's lots of interesting information about Wood, all of which matches the film. By the way, Ed Wood is a film well worth seeing, but see Plan 9 From Outer Space if you can before you go!"

Question Two: Keanu Reeves can't act, can he?

From: Leah Weston, New York City, "where the women are strong andthe men are pretty..."

Message: "He is one of the most insipid actors I have ever seen. I wanted to walk out of My Own Private Idaho when he was doing his faux Shakespeare. I've never seen him be anything other than mediocre, with the exception of Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure..."

From: Unnamed surfer, Tel-Aviv University, Israel

Message: "I don't call it acting, but he was well cast in My Own Private Idaho."

From: Unnamed surfer, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Message: "If you have any questions about Keanu Reeves’ acting ability, watch River's Edge, Parenthood, and My Own Private Idaho in one sitting. His characters in these are all completely different, and he fully inhabits each one. Keep an eye on him - he’s getting better with each film."

Natural Born Killers: facts from the Internet database, reviews from fellow surfers.

Question Three: I can't imagine Woody Harrelson from Cheers as a serial murderer in Natural Born Killers. Is he any good in it?

From: Gordon Miller, Towson State University, Towson, Maryland

Message: "Harrelson's not quite in the Anthony-Hopkins-as-Hannibal-Lecter ballpark, but it's a respectable enough performance. The film, as you will probably find out in the next couple of minutes, tends to arouse great passions. Personally, I dozed through most of it. Some good alternative rock tunes on the soundtrack, though..."

From: Daniel R. Williamson, Chemical Abstracts Service, USA

Message: "It was absolutely, positively, the worst movie I have ever seen. Too much of a reach to try to get something out of it other than the obvious slam on how the media (US anyways) handles murders and killing in general. Oliver Stone really blew this one - $6.50 down the tubes..."

From: Grant Friel, Los Angeles, California

Message: "Woody was excellent in the movie. The movie was not so much entertaining as shocking, but very well made. It is a unique movie with lots of violence. Could gross you out. Go see it!"

This article was first published in Empire Magazine Issue #66 (December 1994).

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Posted by Damien Biddulph on Wed 5th Mar 2014

IT Sneak a blog from V3.co.uk

Frozen food flogger BirdsEye has launched what may well be the first tech-related food item since the chip.

Mashtags, or as the logo says "MAS#TAGS", are "#new", "#tasty" and "Pot@to Shaped". Disregarding the fact that the pronunciation of Pot@to would actually be po-tatt-o, this is a fantastic contribution to the UK's incoming computing curriculum.

Teaching kids the lingo of online interactions is surely a crucial aspect of the syllabus, which focuses heavily on staying safe online. And there's no better way of staying safe than writing in potato-based characters. And since the government's Year of Code is already in trouble, anything to whet kids' appetite for code will be welcome.

A pack of Mashtags goes for £1.75 at your local supermarket, but presuming you want your kids to write something that doesn't look like a swear word (#@*# off), you'll probably have to double up and get some alphabet-shaped food products, too.

Plus, with the addition of emoticons ( :) and <3), kids can express their emotions by holding up scolding-hot lumps of potato. Result. And cheaper than a Raspberry Pi.

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