Turkey Closes, and then Re-Opens YouTube
Turkey lifted its ban on YouTube Friday, an official for the country’s largest telecommunications firm said, two days after a court ordered the Web site blocked because of videos that allegedly insulted the founder of modern Turkey.
Ahter Kutadgu, head of corporate communications for Turk Telekom, told the Anatolia news agency his company had been notified of a court decision to lift the ban. Kutadgu did not elaborate on the court’s reasoning. “As soon as the court decision lifting the ban reached us, we immediately opened YouTube,” he said.
The Istanbul court that ordered the site blocked on Wednesday had said it would lift the ban as soon as it ascertained that videos insulting Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, were removed. The ban had been condemned by the press freedom group Reporters without Borders and drew attention to Turkey’s shaky record on permitting free expression.
It is illegal in Turkey to insult Ataturk, a revered figure whose image graces every denomination of currency and whose portrait hangs in nearly all government offices.
Several prominent Turkish journalists and writers have been tried for allegedly insulting Ataturk or for the crime of insulting “Turkishness.”
Nintendo Game Guru Shigeru Miyamoto Decries violent Video Games
Video game developers should resist the temptation to produce only sequels of established hits and games based on horror and revenge, Nintendo Co.’s top designer said Thursday.
Video game guru Shigeru Miyamoto said his industry’s reputation has suffered in the past decade. Designers have failed to deliver titles that bring joy to the widest possible spectrum of players, focusing too often on hard-core gamers and their lust for gore and realism, he said.
“I always want that first reaction to be emotion, to be positive â€” to give a sense of satisfaction, glee,” Miyamoto told thousands of developers attending the annual Game Developer Conference here. “Certain obstacles may temporarily raise feelings of suspense, competition, even frustration. But we always want that final result, that final emotion, to be a positive one.”
Miyamoto’s emphasis on plucky, fantastic, upbeat games contrasts with the slew of violent but popular games today â€” titles such as “Grand Theft Auto,” “Mortal Kombat” and “Resident Evil.” A growing number of politicians, educators and psychiatric experts cite studies linking violent games and aggressive behavior.
Designers take Miyamoto’s lectures seriously. Time Magazine called him “the Stephen Spielberg of video games.”
Miyamoto created titles such as “Mario Brothers,” “Donkey Kong” and “The Legend of Zelda.” Together, those titles have sold about 288 million copies.
Miyamoto â€” an ambidextrous doodler who plays guitar and banjo â€” joined Nintendo in 1980 to work on coin-operated arcade games. He’s worked on every game console Nintendo has released over nearly three decades, including the popular Wii, which debuted last year.
He also helped developed “Super Mario Galaxy,” an obstacle course-style game he previewed Thursday. It will come out later this year.
Apple May Incorporate Flash Memory Into Future Hard Drives
Apple Inc. may sell zippy notebook computers later this year that use the same type of fast memory as music players and digital cameras, driving down prices of hard-disk drives, an analyst said on Thursday.
The maker of the popular iPod music player and Macintosh computers hopes to introduce so-called flash memory in small computers known as subnotebooks in the second half of 2007, Shaw Wu, an analyst at American Technology Research who has a “buy” rating on Apple shares and does not own any stock, said in investor notes on Wednesday and Thursday.
A shift to flash memory in place of much slower hard-disk drives would eliminate one headache for consumers: lengthy start-up times when turning on computers.
Apple of Cupertino, California, already uses flash memory in its iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle music players. Flash memory is lighter, uses less power and takes up less space than hard-disk drives.
Wu, who was among the first analysts to forecast the unveiling of Apple’s iPhone music player/phone earlier this year, cited unnamed industry sources as the basis for his report.
“The time is right for the flash makers to make a move” as flash memory prices decline, Wu said by telephone. “Apple, from what we understand, is pretty much ready. The ball is in the flash vendors’ court.”
Apple spokeswoman Lynn Fox said the company does not comment “on rumor and speculation”. Apple shares were up 60 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $88.32 in early afternoon trading on Nasdaq.
A transition to flash memory for computers could put pressure on makers of traditional hard-disk drives including Seagate Technology, the largest U.S. hard-disk drive maker, Wu said.
Apple, known as a technology innovator, would be among the first personal computer makers to use flash memory for storing data in computers, a step that some chip memory makers, including Micron Technology Inc., have said is inevitable as prices for flash decline and storage capacity increases.
Flash memory chips have solid state circuitry that uses no moving parts, making them less vulnerable to damage than hard-disk drives. Prices of flash memory have been declining rapidly but are still higher than those for hard-disk drives, Wu said, meaning early flash-based computers would be more expensive.
Apple would use a miniature version of its Mac OS X operating system in the flash-based subnotebook computers, Wu said, again citing unnamed sources. The computers could be introduced in the second half of this year, he said.
Scientists have created a salamander-like robot that married biology and robotics and enabled them to explore ideas about the first vertebrates that emerged from water to land hundreds of millions of years ago.
The robot, described on Thursday in the journal Science, looks and moves like a salamander and is controlled by a system that imitates the amphibian’s spinal cord, enabling it to alternate between swimming and walking.
The Swiss and French scientists made the robot, named Salamandra Robotica, swim in Lake Geneva and crawl on the lake shore. They also said the robot demonstrated that biology offers good ideas for robot design.
“Nature found a nice way of making a sophisticated circuit in the spinal cord and then controlling the muscles from there,” Auke Ijspeert of Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne said in a statement.
“It’s a fantastic solution for coordinating multiple degrees of freedom in a simple, distributed way.”
Powered by 10 motors and measuring nearly three feet (85 cm) long, the yellow robot has four rotating legs and six movable joints along its body. Simple electrical signals make it change its speed and gait.
Salamanders resemble the first vertebrates that took to land. The scientists think their robot might help shed light on how these animals first acquired walking abilities.
A salamander’s gait changes dramatically based on whether it is swimming or walking, and the robot’s gait changes similarly.
The designers used a numerical model of a salamander’s spinal cord to examine issues related to its movement, including which changes were needed to allow a transition from aquatic to terrestrial locomotion.
Electrical signals similar to the signals sent from the upper brain to the spinal cord were transmitted from a laptop to the robot. They made the robot change its speed and direction, and change from walking to swimming.
Robots capable of changing their speed, direction and gait like living creatures could be extremely useful, for example, in search-and-rescue operations, the scientists said.