Turn Your Quadcopter Into The Best Halloween Decoration Ever (Gizmodo.com)

This is pretty great. If I walked up to some house and this thing came at me from behind, I’d be rather startled. 🙂

Turn Your Quadcopter Into the Best Halloween Decoration Ever

Once you realize how boring your neighborhood is from the air, that expensive quadcopter you bought should find a good home in the rafters of your garage. But don’t bury it too deep, you’ll need access to it around Halloween every year because Alton Porter has come up with the perfect use for your forgotten drone: turn it into a flying banshee.

There’s no explanation of how this floating ghost came to be, but watching the video it’s not hard to deconstruct. All you’ll need is a hollow plastic skull, a pair of glowing red LEDs, some lightweight fabric to complete the costume, and the quadcopter you’ve already lost interest in.

Put them all together and you’ve got the perfect Halloween decoration that you can actually take with you trick-or-treating and terrorize the whole neighborhood. Just make sure you’re extra careful at the controls, because long strands of dangling fabric and spinning rotors definitely don’t mix. [Alton Porter via Motherboard via Laughing Squid]

Blizzard Wins $7 Million In Bot Company Lawsuit (Gamespot.com)

Every regular, paying MMORPGer can’t stand bots. They destroy economies, ruin questing hub hunting grounds, get in your way, out-level and out-gather you, and generally wreak havoc on a game world. It’s nice to see at least one botting company having to pay back some of the cash they’ve earned doing most anything illegal in a game.

California Court orders World of Warcraft bot company to pay $7 million in damages to Blizzard Entertainment.

Blizzard Entertainment has won a lawsuit against a World of Warcraft bot company for $7 million.

According to a report on GamesIndustry, the suit was originally filed by Blizzard Entertainment against Ceiling Fan Software in December 2011. Ceiling Fan Software was allegedly behind a number of World of Warcraft bots, including Shadow Bot and Pocket Gnome.

California Court has ordered Ceiling Fan Software to cease operations and pay Blizzard Entertainment $7 million in damages. A statement posted on the Ceiling Fan Software website cites “two years of legal battles” by the organisation to “both pursue our right to operate and our customer’s right to play WoW as they choose”.

Ceiling Fan Software is accepting donations to assist with “outstanding legal fees”.

Parent company Activision Blizzard revealed a drop in World of Warcraft subscribers earlier this year. Despite dipping to 7.7 million active players, the publisher revealed that the game remains the most popular subscription-based MMO in the world.

Subscribers for World of Warcraft peaked at over 12 million in October 2010. The original World of Warcraft game was released in 2004, and was followed by four expansion packs:Burning CrusadeWrath of the Lich KingCataclysm, and Mists of Pandaria.

A film adaptation of the Warcraft universe is scheduled to begin filming in 2014.

How to Walk Like a Ninja: An Illustrated Guide (ArtOfManliness.com)

Just in time for Halloween. Now your walk can match your talk!

Walk Like a Ninja 3

With Halloween just around the corner, there’s no better time to learn how to walk silently through the night like a ninja. It’s an incredibly useful skill, allowing you not only to stealthily assassinate your archenemy, but also steal cookies from coworkers, check to see if toddlers are still sleeping without waking them, or sneak across your creaky wood floors to scare the bejeezus out of your roommate.

Inspired by Secrets of the Ninja by Ashida Kim. I stumbled upon this book back when I was in middle school. Definitely a fun read.

Terrafugia Launches Flying Car

By “2015”, they expect to have both of their flying car models available. Of course, given you’d probably need a pilot’s license before you could start up the plane-car, it’ll be a while before regular folk can get their hands on this vehicle. However, their prototype works and that’s all that matters at this point. (The TF-X model is the picture below. The Transition is featured in the flight video.)

The Transition® First Public Demonstrations: Driving and Flying at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2013

Terrafugia made a dream come true at this year’s EAA AirVenture Oshkosh!  The Transition® performed its first public demonstrations for the aviation community during the show. Flown and driven by Phil Meteer, our Chief Test Pilot and Flight Test Coordinator, the Transition® showed the crowd what it’s capable of on Monday afternoon and Wednesday evening.  The 20 minute demonstrations included flight maneuvers over show center, converting from airplane to car, and driving along the flight line.  Whether you missed it and want to see the flight for yourself for the first time, or you were there and want to relive the moment (we have been!), we hope you’ll enjoy the video!

– See more at: http://www.terrafugia.com/news/first-public-transition%C2%AE-demonstrations#sthash.5PiOZOeL.dpuf

Hungry? Try A 3-D Printed Extra Cheese Pizza For Dinner (BitRebels.com)

I can’t imagine this tastes that great, but it’s probably better than some of the bargain basement brands in the grocery store. This would also open the door to essentially most baked and pastry-type items since they’ve managed the basic “dough with toppings” delivery system.


Researchers have been talking about 3D printing food for a long time, but when NASA decided it was time to find new ways to provide food to astronauts on long trips (like to Mars), 3D printed food became more relevant than ever. As earth’s population continues to grow fast, some people believe 3D printed food is the future of food. I have to admit, it sounds tastier than eating bugs for protein. This 3D printed cheese pizza actually looks pretty good.

It’s clear that in the future, we will no longer have huge grocery stores stocked with everything we could ever want to buy. We’ll have to get more creative about food as it relates to our survival. With over 7 billion people on the planet, and with more people born every day, there really is no other option. 3D printed food sounds good to me, especially when it’s a cheese pizza. According to news station KXAN:

“Powdered ingredients that can keep for years are mixed into individual vessels. A heated plate then receives a square of dough, a layer of sauce, and some cheese topping. Twelve minutes later – voila – an appetizing little pizza.”

The top layer of the printer is what melts the cheese. If NASA is able to send 3D printers into space, they’ll save a ton of room in the spaceship since they won’t have to pack all those boxes of food for the trip. Also, the astronauts would have a much more appealing diet than just eating space food for every meal.

This reminds me of the movie Matrix, and how they talked about the goop they had to eat each day. I’m sure they would have liked to have a 3D printer to make a cheese pizza instead of that juicy oatmeal stuff they ate. If you want to see a 3D printer create even more food, click over here to 3D Printing Industry and watch a printer make some pretty creative looking pancakes. Someday we might all have a food printer in our kitchen. It’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

3D Printed Cheese Pizza Looks Delish

Coke’s “Downtown In A Box” Delivers Clean Water And Wi-Fi To Africa (Gizmodo.com)

Time will tell how truly useful this will be and at what cost. The benefits of having readily available refrigeration for vaccines alone could be priceless. DesignBoom.com mentions each unit can purify up to 800 liters of water per day (or about 211 gallons).

Coca-Cola’s global distribution channels are so well-developed that a Coke can get pretty much anywhere on the planet—even places where there’s no access to fresh water. But Coke is working on that, too. As part of its mission to bring drinking water to the communities it serves, the company has developed a solar-powered, Wi-Fi-equipped kiosk with a water purification system—and it plans to drop them in 20 countries by 2015.

Coke's "Downtown in a Box" Delivers Clean Water and Wi-Fi to Africa

The EKOCENTER, as it’s called, is a modified shipping container outfitted with satellite communications and a Slingshot water distiller designed by Dean Kamen (yes, of Segway fame; there’s a long list of other partners that include IBM and UPS). The solar panels on the roof not only power the purification system and the Wi-Fi, they also act as a shelter from the sun.

In addition, each EKOCENTER may provide “basic necessities” like food, refrigerated vaccination storage and health education. The images here are from a pilot program currently up and running in Heidelberg, South Africa, and there should be at least one more installed by the end of 2013. They estimate that they could provide access to safe water to 500,000 people by 2015.

Coke's "Downtown in a Box" Delivers Clean Water and Wi-Fi to Africa

The EKOCENTER is basically an expanded, semi-permanent version of the ColaLife project, where Coke uses the extra space in their crates to ship medicine. It should, of course, be part of Coke’s mandate to provide water, medicine, and healthy food to places where they’re also selling diabetes-inducing soda. But perhaps even more interesting is what Coke representative called the kiosk to New York Times reporter: “We’re calling it a downtown in a box.”

The big idea here is that improved access to basic needs plus Wi-Fi can spur economic development. In fact, this is part of another one of their grand plans: The 5by20 program (so many programs, Coke!) to empower five million women entrepreneurs by 2020 (so many goals, Coke!).

Okay, perhaps, yes—giving people Wi-Fi could help them to accept payments for their business or take classes or get a loan or something like that. At the very least, you’d hope these things had tons of outlets so they could serve as a charging station for mobile phones. But a “downtown”? Um, no. Maybe a library. But even then, it lacks the basic infrastructure (SEATING) and amenities of a true community center. Perhaps it’s up to the local residents to build these things, but to suggest that they don’t already have their own economic hubs and/or public plazas is insulting. Of course they do.

Fresh water and solar power are very nice of Coke to provide, in addition to marketing their products. But let’s just call this EKOCENTER what it is: A glorified concession stand. [Coca-Cola via New York Times]

John McAfee’s Building $100 Gadget To Block NSA (Mashable.com)

I guess it was only a matter of time before a top tier name tossed their hat into the recently energized privacy arena. At least with a big name behind it (and the fact that it’s just now being created), confidence will probably be high that the device will be as secure as they say.


John McAfee — the controversial founder of the anti-virus software company McAfee and has been under investigation for the shooting death of his neighbor in South America — wants to create a gadget called “D-Central” that would theoretically block the National Security Agency (NSA) from accessing your information.

During a speech at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center this weekend — and as reported by The Verge — McAfee detailed how he aims to build a $100 device that works with smartphones and other devices, so personal data can’t be accessed by the government. It would work on a small private network that others wouldn’t be able to infiltrate. “There will be no way [for the government] to tell who you are or where you are,” McAfee said.

The device would be localized and the network only covers a distance about three blocks long. Although there isn’t a prototype just yet, McAfee said it should be done in about six months and as of right now, it’s round in shape with no screens, the report said.

“We have the design in place, we’re looking for partners for development of the hardware,” he added.

The “D-Central” concept isn’t entirely new. Occupy.here, which was developed as a part of the Occupy movement, offers a distributed network of Wi-Fi locations for people to communicate — and in its case, especially activists and supporters.

Meanwhile, FredomBox has built a secure system for connected devices and offers free and private chatting. The device, funded via Kickstarter, is priced at $50 and plugs into the wall.

IKEA Begins Selling Residential Solar Panels In The UK (Engadget.com)

I wonder how quickly I’d recoup the $9K here in Seattle? Our energy costs are already highly reliant on efficient, cheap hydro power, and my energy bill year ’round is quite inexpensive. I think the efforts of such a well-known worldwide brand to promulgate solar energy could be exactly what’s needed for greener forms of energy to become accessible for most everyone. I think they’d find a pretty hearty market in the US as we have twice as many stores as the UK.

…Because when you think of Britain, you think of sunny skies.

Ikea has started selling solar panels for residential rooftops at its stores in the United Kingdom. The furniture outfit’s move into home solar systems (as opposed to sun-powered lighting) was apparently made attractive due the the drop in cost for solar panels, and Ikea’s initial offering will set you back £5,700 (about $9,300).

For your money, you get a 3.36 kW system, in-store consultation, installation, maintenance and energy monitoring service. Ikea’s got plans to sell solar panels in other locales, but according to Ikea Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard, such expansion will be done market by market (so don’t expect a worldwide rollout). Hey Steve, might we suggest your next store to start selling solar be someplace with more than two weeks of sunshine per year?

Guild Wars 2: Major League Gaming Invitational Tournament

Not to have their international competitions end at PAX Prime 2013, GW2 is now part of MLG and the next tournament begins today.

MLG Guild Wars 2 Invitational Tournament on September 27

Our friends at Major League Gaming are hosting an invitational tournament on September 27, 2013 at 2:00pm PDT. Eight of the top Guild Wars 2 teams will be battling for prizes and fame! For complete details, head over to the MLG tournament page today!


The Importance of MMO History And Why Developer Hand-Holding Is Killing It (Penny-Arcade.com)

Looking back at the start of my MMO career, Asheron’s Call has game elements I still have yet to see other MMOs implement well – or at all. It was as sandboxy as any game since, yet offered satisfying, intense combat, with rules meant to be bent or even broken.

Fast forward over 15 years later, every new MMO that launches excites me at first. After a month (and in some cases, just a couple weeks), my excitement has drastically diminished. Mostly that’s due to missing a strong, core social stickiness. Of course, having a brand new AAA MMORPG to play every four or six months only exacerbates that. However, I also believe it’s due to the extensive player hand-holding that’s now become an expected staple of a new launch. If every second of your time in game is guided, how can you expect to find any magic?

There’s no real discovery anymore. Everything’s in a wiki or cleanly mapped out in a YouTube video. I’m really not sure the MMOs of the past can really exist inside the society we have today and that’s truly a major loss.

The importance of MMO history, and why developer hand-holding is killing it

Every MMO player has their story. No matter what game they play, every person who has played MMOs for an appreciable amount of time has a tale of emergent gameplay, those moments when the rules of the game broke down and the personality of its players was laid bare.

These moments happen in every MMO, not just EVE Online, but they may be dying out and, ironically, it’s because MMOs are getting too “good.”

For Scott Andrews, writer of the WoW Archivist column at WoWinsider.com which catalogs the history of the game, his story begins at the Crossroads.

Damned Alliance

The Crossroads is a small city on the Horde side of World of Warcraft’s world that is easily accessible to Alliance players, as it shares a border with a neutral territory. In years past, it was a popular target for Alliance players looking for a fight; the NPC guards in the town weren’t nearly strong enough to stop a few level-capped characters.

Andrews told me about the day when, just a month after release, half a dozen max-level characters showed up to shut down the entire zone.

“At the time, this meant that people could no longer level in the Crossroads,” said Andrews. The Crossroads was the main hub of the area where players would get quests, and the Alliance players had killed all the NPCs that gave those out.

“The towns were not defended by NPCs remotely as well as they are now,” he said. “So the Alliance could literally occupy towns for hours at a time. And it was this key leveling area and the Alliance knew they could basically just shut down half of the entire server leveling.”

For a time, these Alliance characters were successful in griefing the Horde, but it wouldn’t last.

“We all banded together. Dozens and dozens of level 20 characters showed up and battled these 6-7 max-level characters and we could barely make a dent in them, but more and more people kept showing up until 50, 60, a hundred people were there all trying to get these Alliance characters out of our town so we can go back to leveling. Eventually there were enough of us that we basically drove them into the sea in this pitched battle at [the city of] Ratchet as they sprinted down the dock to catch the boat as it was pulling away,” said Andrews with a hearty laugh, still cherishing the memory nearly ten years later.

It’s moments like these that made WoW great. It established a hatred between the Alliance and the Horde which still exists today, and built the mythology and culture of the world.

Stories like this are extraordinary, if not uncommon. In the older days of MMOs, player experimentation was high, and there were lots of opportunities for excited players to experiment with the game. The Crossroads, for instance, may never have been intended to be able to be shut down by Alliance players, but the geography of the game world combined with the inevitability of the human desire to screw with each other in such a way that it was inevitable.

These are the moments that truly make the MMO experience exceptional. It’s not about the long level grinds or the weekly raids. The true magic of the MMO is when the rules break down and the players create their own game.

No more explorers

“It’s really hard for those things to happen in the game anymore, people are pretty jaded,” said Andrews. “There isn’t that same excitement about just playing and seeing what happens. The sort of organic nature of players seeing what can happen in the game is just less prevalent. And now the way MMOs are designed is to keep you flowing from one place to the next with no gaps.”

In many ways it’s boredom that coerces people into experimenting. It’s probably no coincidence that the Alliance characters who raided Andrews’ city were level-capped. They were probably bored and looking for someone to screw with to pass the time.

These days, MMOs are designed so that nobody ever gets bored and it may be siphoning the creativity and passion from the player base.

“When WoW was in its infancy, MMOs were brand new to so many people,” said Andrews. “For so many people WoW was their first MMO, and their first experience where there were a lot of people online. Now it takes something special to get people excited again.”

In a weird quirk, it may be the sloppiness and poor design of earlier MMOs like WoW which helped band people together. There are no shortage of in-jokes and great stories in WoW which extend from terrible voice acting or bugs.

The famous Blood Plague Incident, for instance all stemmed from a silly coding bug. It was one of the most famous and fondly remembered events in WoW’s history and it wouldn’t have been possible if the game was better made. Instead, it became an event which tied the community together and gave the WoW culture yet another common thread to hold together the community quilt.

“A lot of these games have a tendancy to hold your hand too much, and they lose that sense of adventure and exploration and cooperating with other people because you’re in a dangerous environment,” Andrews said. “A lot of the early MMOs had that and I’d like to see that come back.”

History in the making

The neverending attempts by developers to streamline their MMOs, to keep players on a steady progression track, may actually be killing the common bond that the community has by removing opportunities for history to be made.

“If nothing ever happens that’s remarkable then has history actually happened,” asked Andrews. “Or is it just a bunch of people going about routine things? When you look at human history, the moments that stick out in your mind are remarkable events, whether good or bad. You can always study what the average person lived like in the year 1000, but it’s not history unless something remarkable happens. And these MMO memes always spring up around something remarkable. The subculture depends very much on these individual incidents.”

MMOs are still the most fascinating genre in video gaming. They represent the first time in human history where we started living portions of our lives, forming social bonds, in virtual spaces. But without the ability to make history they’re not living spaces, just theme parks. Which has dire consequences for both the health of the genre, its communities, and the beauty of online worlds.

In 100 years, nobody will care about the games we played in these theme park worlds, but they will care about the moments when humanity expressed itself in online worlds for the first time.

The chance to play in a theme park is boring. The chance to make history, on the other hand, is exciting.

%d bloggers like this: