NPR Monkey See

You won’t read about it in the headlines, but deep in the high-tech corporate campus of the Research Triangle Park, in Durham, North Carolina, desperate refugees fight for survival against mutant cannibals in a dystopian wasteland where civilization is just a dim memory.

No, it’s not a hyperbolic recession metaphor (at least not exclusively), it’s Fallen Earth, the post-apocalyptic virtual world created and maintained by RTP game company Icarus Studios. Fallen Earth, you see, is a video game — one in which thousands of players play simultaneously via the Internet and their personal computers.

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This holiday season, why not give the gift that, if properly selected, will hijack your loved one’s life for several months, devouring all discretionary time?

The trick, of course, is selecting the right game – especially for children and younger gamers. You’ll lose a lot of cool points if you get your niece Cooking Mama 3 when what she really wanted was Command & Conquer 3.

Below is a list of some of the best recent games for gift-giving, arranged by ESRB Rating. Most of these titles have something to offer children and adults, with a bonus pick for grown-up gamers who might be interested in blowing up space zombies. Read the rest of this entry »

MIT Technology Review

Sony aims to send home the first upgradable robot dog.

We have an International Space Station in orbit. We’ve cracked the genetic code. We’re cloning animals and eventually maybe even people. What’s next?

Why, robot dogs as programmable as your PC, of course.

This month Sony demonstrated its new “entertainment architecture,” OPEN-R, at the Game Developers Conference in San Diego. The goal is to let third-party developers create new hardware and software add-ons for Sony’s popular AIBO robot dog. Read the rest of this entry »

Virtual Farm Aid

April 2, 2001

MIT Technology Review

Using mathematical models and a 3-D Web browser, international food organizations collaborate on raising virtual crops.

In the ongoing effort to eradicate world hunger, international food organizations are applying the latest Internet technology to some of the world’s oldest problems.

The International Potato Center (known by its Spanish acronym CIP) is assembling a three-dimensional online research lab to help researchers, educators and decision makers collaborate on a global basis. Working with, which develops online 3-D environments, CIP is planting the seeds for one of the world’s first virtual crop fields. Read the rest of this entry »

Are you longing to dive into the online auction scene but afraid of getting soaked by unscrupulous operators? We test the waters at seven major sites so you can nab the best deals.

Glenn McDonald and Harry McCracken

From the August 1999 issue of PC World magazine

Ten minutes before my auction was due to close, everything fell apart. I was about to score a sweetheart deal on a brand-new, in-the-box 3D graphics card–and my bid of $50 was just sitting there.

Without warning, two other bidders swooped in and upped the price to $60. Panicking, I raised my bid to $65. No good. The price jumped to $70 … $75 … $80.

When the dust settled, the card went to “BD from Richmond, Virginia” for $95. I cursed him under my breath. Then I surfed off to see what other cards were up for bid, and the hunt began anew…–Diary of a Web auction bidder

Welcome to the wild world of online auctions. At its worst, the adventure can be hair-raising. But at its best, it can be an addictive way to buy high-quality products at bargain-basement prices. The range of items up for bid is nearly unlimited, from factory-fresh PC gear to toys like the ones Mom tossed out when you were a kid. Read the rest of this entry »