The UpStream

Amazon Lights Up a New Feature for Their Kindle: College Textbook Rentals

posted Tuesday Jul 19, 2011 by Nicholas DiMeo

Amazon Lights Up a New Feature for Their Kindle: College Textbook Rentals

Are you a college student and own a Kindle? Well, you just may be in luck if you're looking to buy or rent a textbook on the cheap. This week, Amazon has started to rent out those $6,000 college textbooks on their awesome Kindle device. Some books are even 80% off retail price. Hooray! You can now afford something other than noodle cups again!

Amazon's statement this week said that you can get textbooks from John Wiley & Sons, Elsevier and Taylor & Francis. The cool part here is students can rent the books on their Kindle based on how long they need it. Amazon has set up a custom rental option that will allow you to select between 30 and 360 days, perfect for an express class or a year-long session.

For more on what's in store and what the company has to say about the new feature, click that break.

PayPal Fights Back on Cyber Attackers

posted Tuesday Jul 19, 2011 by Scott Ertz

PayPal Fights Back on Cyber Attackers

14 people were arrested Tuesday in conjunction with the cyber attack against PayPal after the company suspended access to WikiLeaks accounts. The arrests are the culmination of over 35 search warrants issued to FBI agents around the country. The attacks were organized by the guys from Anonymous, of course, who agrees with the mission of WikiLeaks: to spread information to everyone. The group was also associated with attacks against Visa and MasterCard for also cutting funding options to WikiLeaks.

Not all of the warrants and arrests, however, were associated with the PayPal attack; some were related to other WikiLeaks events. An AT&T customer support contractor was arrested for stealing confidential business information from the AT&T servers and uploading the information to WikiLeaks. A 16-year-old boy was also arrested in England. Both of these arrests are related to the other well-known hacker group, LulzSecurity and not Anonymous.

For more info on the arrests, hit the break.

Borders to Close Its Doors

posted Monday Jul 18, 2011 by Scott Ertz

Borders to Close Its Doors

Back in February, the nation's second-largest bookseller, Borders, filed chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced a plan to restructure. It closed all but 399 of its stores with plans to reorganize the company to regain profitability and hopefully reopen many of its closed stores in a smaller footprint, similar to what Best Buy plans.

Well, the closure of these stores has not accomplished the goal they were hoping for. In fact, there seems to have been no change in the profitability of the company at all. Management decided to try and sell the company instead of fixing the problems, but there were apparently enough issues that no buyer was interested enough to offer an amount the creditors would accept. Instead, Borders will close all of its doors, possibly as soon as Friday.

There is a little bit of hope for some of the stores. To find out how, hit the break.

Mortal Kombat 9 [Review]

posted Sunday May 22, 2011 by Allante Sparks

Mortal Kombat 9 [Review]

Over all Mortal Kombat 9 is definitely a buy. This particular Mortal Kombat is honestly the only game in the franchise that I consider to be a true successor to Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3. With fresh, up-to-date graphics that is sure to impress, excellent character designs along with multiple un-lockable costumes and goodies, awesome gameplay - and you are able to experience it all online.

I'd say this game is a win, and it only took over a decade for them to get it right. The fight mechanics are simple, yet complex - this game is no button masher's delight. Combos are pretty specific, but can be pretty long and very damaging. One good thing about this is that game director Ed Boon decided to take this game back to 2 dimensional fighting! 3D characters on a 2D plane: a formula that has worked for many games like: Capcom's Street Fighter IV and Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series'. I must say, it works pretty damn well!

For more of my thoughts on the game, hit the break.

Civilization Isn't Just a Human Thing Anymore

posted Sunday Jul 17, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Civilization Isn't Just a Human Thing Anymore

The truth is that almost everyone in the developed world has had experience with artificial intelligence or AI. This is especially true for gamers. In fact, according to SRK Branavan of University College London, games are a test bed for AI.

Games are used as a test bed for artificial-intelligence techniques simply because of their complexity. Every action that you take in the game doesn't have a predetermined outcome, because the game or the opponent can randomly react to what you do. So you need a technique that can handle very complex scenarios that react in potentially random ways.

It turns out that some very smart people at MIT have come up with a machine-learning system that can read the user manual for Civilization and make it's game better. That might not sound impressive but it actually is. Basically the system starts with a list of actions it can take and no knowledge of the game or languages to decode the user manual. This means that the actions taken at first were completely random but depending on the action it took a word came up on the screen and it initiated a search for that word in the game and in the manual. Big deal right? That's called indexing which deals with information retrieval. Here's the kicker: the system was able to "hypothesize" the association between the words and actions and get better results in the game!

This ability to associate information and actions concluded with astounding results. Hit the break to find out just how much.

Two Tablets One Company: More Details on the Sony S1 and S2

posted Sunday Jul 17, 2011 by Jon Wurm

Two Tablets One Company: More Details on the Sony S1 and S2

In February of this year, Engadget sources revealed some information from about Sony's code named "S1" gaming and multimedia centered tablet. While both the S1 and S2 tablets were announced April of this year in Japan, at a Sony event in New York this month, details on the S2 tablet came to light. Both tablets run Android 3.0 and therefore share similar functionality; however, Kunimasa Suzuki, president of the Vaio and mobile business group, thinks that both will be successful in the market based on differences in form factor.

The S1, as we've seen before, more resembles a regular style tablet with two unique differences. One of which is the fact that the weight of the device has been shifted to rest on the user's arm, hopefully making it more comfortable to use while holding with one arm. The other is the stand coming off the back that resembles a folded over magazine. This is supposed to put the screen at a more friendly angle when it is set down on a flat surface. The S2 more closely resembles a Nintendo DSi in terms of form factor. That means that there are two screens both of which are 5.5 inches. It also means that the device is foldable allowing it to more easily fit inside a pocket.

To get a better idea about what Sony has in store for the S1 and S2 launch this fall, hit the break.

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