The News and Observer from Raleigh, North Carolina on January 14, 2004 · F5
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The News and Observer from Raleigh, North Carolina · F5

Raleigh, North Carolina
Issue Date:
Wednesday, January 14, 2004
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of the war ranges from the fan- ciful to the grimly realistic, game designers have reimagined World War II in clever and sur- prising ways. Surely “Return to Castle Wolfenstein,” from Ac- tivision and Id Software, is among the oddest results. Like the film “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Wolfenstein” is inspired by the Nazi leadership’s fasci- nation with the occult. In the game, a US Army commando must battle not only the usual storm troopers but also zombies called back from the dead to fight for the Third Reich. It might sound goofy, but somebody’s buying it. “Return to Castle Wolfenstein” has sold more than 2 million copies since its release two years ago. Cre- ated for the PC, Activision last year introduced versions for the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox consoles. Last year, Activision aban- doned a plan to introduce a more realistic Wolfenstein shooter game, focused on plain old com- bat action. “The single-player component just didn’t come to- gether the way we’d like,” said Id Software co-owner Kevin Cloud. But the part of the game that let players compete over the Internet worked splendidly. So Id and Activision decided to give it away as a free download. Titled “Wolfenstein: Enemy Ter- ritory,” it became one of the most popular online games of 2003. At EA, executive producer Scott Evans took a different ap- proach to the war. He wasn’t in- terested in zombies, but he wasn’t all that keen on realism ei- ther. Evans wanted an easy-to- play war game that would let players operate many of the weapons systems they had seen in World War II movies. “The in- tent was to create a fun arcade- style gameplay experience that has its foundation in realism,” Evans said. The result was another hit game, “Battlefield 1942.” The game has a limited single-player mode. It’s mostly intended for play over a broadband Internet connection. But it’s the more grittily real- istic “Medal of Honor” games that have become EA’s strongest World War II franchise. Born as a project of film director Steven Spielberg, EA purchased the rights to the game and in 2002 introduced a new version for PCs called “Allied Assault.” The player finds himself in the shoes of a common infantry grunt fighting his way across Europe in the final year of the war. There are no zombies; you can’t trans- form yourself into a fighter pilot at will. Instead, you’ve got to use standard infantry weapons to achieve a series of ever-more- difficult objectives. The result was so popular that EA has been rolling out sequels and expansion packs ever since. There are now “Medal of Honor” games for every major gaming device on the market, even the pocket-size Nintendo Game Boy Advance. The “Pacific Assault” edition for the PC will finally let desktop players take on the Japanese; Xbox, PlayStation 2, and Nintendo GameCube play- ers can already fight Japan in “Medal of Honor: Rising Sun.” Yet some of the developers of the “Medal of Honor” series weren’t satisfied. They felt the game was too individualistic, where real-world warfare re- quires teamwork. These dis- gruntled programmers jumped ship and formed a new company called Infinity Ward. Their first game, the new World War II shooter “Call of Duty,” was pub- lished by Activision last year, premiering to rave reviews and strong sales. “They got one of the most el- emental parts of war right, which is it’s a team environment,” said John Hillen, a former U.S. Army special operations soldier who acted as a technical adviser for Call of Duty. Hillen, a Persian Gulf War vet with a master’s de- gree in military history from the University of London, was awed by the developers’ attention to detail, saying that some of them knew more about German mili- tary equipment than he did. Not everybody wants to shoot Nazis all night. One group of avid “Battlefield 1942” players created their own custom mod- ification of the game set in mod- ern-day Iraq, then published it as a free Internet download. And the Battlefield team is gearing up for the release later this year of “Battlefield Viet- nam,” which will feature jungle warfare and background music from the Kinks, Jefferson Air- plane, and other ’60s-era rock bands. The game’s producer, Reid Schneider, said the idea came from “Battlefield 1942” players clamoring for a Viet- nam-based game. Connect 5FTHE NEWS & OBSERVERWEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2004 C M Y K C M Y K 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 5F, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 2004 WEB WRITING Writing for the Web isn’t quite like writing a book. You have to deal with on- screen barriers and different margins. In fact, most Web authors like to keep their sentences short and to the point. But that’s not all. Brush up on effective writing for the Web at ■ ■ ■ CREATE A WILL If you keep one resolution this year, be sure to create your will, espe- cially if you have children. It only pays to be prepared to ensure than any bad situation isn’t made worse by a lack of planning ahead. offers some tips on creating a will on your own. Go to the main Web site and click on “Wills and Estate Planning” on the left bar. ■ ■ ■ CHAT INSTRUCTIONS What’s the big deal about chatting? You spend some time fum- bling over your keyboard and never really make any personal connections, right? Well, maybe for some people, but others find their chatting experiences enjoyable — maybe even necessary. Find out how to get in on the act. ■ ■ ■ SCIENCE SNACKS Science Snacks are minia- ture versions of some of the most popular ex- hibits at San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a hands-on science museum. Users will find dozens of fun experiments they can do at home or school. One person can do most of the experiments, but if a partner or adult is needed, it’s indicated. ■ ■ ■ KIDS’ CLASSICAL MUSIC The San Francisco Symphony is high on kids. SFS Kids: Fun With Music has lots of bells and whistles in Flash format. The site is designed to teach kids about music and the symphony in general, in a way that makes it into a game. ■ ■ ■ PETE ROSE OFFICIAL SITE Never one to miss a moneymaking opportunity, baseball great Pete Rose, who has been back in the news of late, has his own site where he’ll sell you stuff. Plus, if you want Rose to appear at your next function, this is where you can get in touch with the man. ■ ■ ■ ASK YAHOO Yahoo offers a service to visi- tors called Ask Yahoo You ask a question and Yahoo may answer it. Now, Yahoo has collected the most popular questions of 2003 as deter- mined by the number of times readers e-mailed each question-and-answer column to friends and family. ■ ■ ■ BOX RECIPES Consider the number of recipes you’ve seen on the back of food boxes, cans and packages. Back of the Box Brand Name Recipes offers hundreds of these recipes taken from some of the finest food producers. ■ ■ ■ MOUSE TIPS Maintaining correct posture, sitting on a quality chair and viewing your monitor at the proper height can help you avoid unnecessary back and shoulder strain at work, but what about that mouse? Cornell Uni- versity offers a quick guide to using a mouse correctly. http://ergo.human.cornell .edu/cu- mousetips.html ■ ■ ■ FLIGHT DELAYS There are plenty of factors to consider when trying to judge whether your flight will be delayed. The best way to gauge when planes are coming and going, though, is to visit the Federal Aviation Ad- ministration’s Air Traffic Control System Com- mand Center, which tracks airports through- out the country. ■ ■ ■ VOLUNTEER MATCH Keep the warm holiday feelings going a bit longer this year by offer- ing your time to help others. Enter your ZIP code and pulls up nu- merous opportunities in your area. ■ ■ ■ SATELLITE RADIO Before you invest in XM or Sirius, check out’s page on satellite radio, which provides a brief ex- planation of the process. dio.htm ■ ■ ■ NEEDLE NEWS Here’s a site that’s a real “stitch.” Log on for knitting pattern reviews and news, links, photos and more. ■ ■ ■ FUN WITH PUNS It’s said that laughter is the best medicine. Get a dose at this site, which includes puns, comedian profiles, links and related resources. ■ ■ ■ NOTHING BUT THE TOOTH Brush up on your dental knowledge at this site, which includes insurance tips, health facts, terms and re- lated links. TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES ADELAIDE 4561— EDITION — FILM 0 SITES -sites- thing to get into her account without jumping through all the hoops,” Mo- bius wrote. Although there are a variety of ways to retrieve a dead person’s passwords, there are legal issues to consider. Matt Yarbrough, a former federal prosecutor and current head of Fish & Richardson’s Cyber Law Group, said survivors risk violating both state and federal statutes if they’re not careful. Even if the deceased once allowed a relative to log into a computer account, for example, the person doesn’t nec- essarily have permission in perpetuity, Yarbrough said. When someone dies without a will, there are procedures for determining which relative should have access to private records. Disregarding the legal rights of the deceased and their estates could even result in criminal prosecution under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act or existing state laws. Estate ex- ecutors can take legal action if they find anyone else has entered secured ac- counts and made changes, said Keith Novick, estate-planning specialist for law firm Gardere Wynne Sewell. Lawyers handling probate can usu- ally get the right to pull together records and assets of the deceased without breaking into computer drives or online accounts, he added. Legalities aside, a simple Internet search turns up dozens of Web sites such as, Kus- lich’s and that sell do-it-yourself forensic soft- ware packages priced as low as $9.99 and for more than $1,500. Professional password crackers warn that some of these programs may have been developed by malicious hackers, who secretly receive copies of the pass- words cracked on an Internet-con- nected computer. Finding passwords Many legitimate solutions are specif- ically designed for certain types of computer files., for ex- ample, got its start primarily helping lawyers regain access to Word Per- fect files for which they had forgotten passwords. A spokesman for AccessData said the company has developed more so- phisticated software that can decipher passwords for all sorts of files. One program, for example, scans a hard drive for all data and creates a “dic- tionary” of every word typed by the user. By examining the most often- used words or combinations of letters and numbers, forensic experts usually can deduce favorite passwords of the deceased. Patterns can also be gleaned from the record of Web sites visited, experts say, because people often create pass- words out of quirky words used in their favorite avocations. Professional password crackers often employ high-powered computers to run decryption programs that perform “brute force” attacks on password pro- tected files. These machines can quickly generate millions of possible letter and number combinations, then test them within seconds. Hiring forensic computer experts can get pricey. Most charge between $150 and $300 an hour. Estate planners recommend that people make complete lists of their passwords and online accounts and store them with their wills. There’s even an e-mail service de- s igned to send no tes , such a s passwords or other important infor- mation, to survivors in the event of someone’s sudden demise. My Last Email ( charges users $9.99 for a three-year subscrip- tion for postmortem delivery of farewell e-mail. WW II CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1F PASSWORDS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1F BY JOHN SCHWARTZ THE NEW YORK TIMES Nina Gordon types out an instant mes- sage and hits the “send” button. The data travels about 500 miles, from the com- puter in her living room in Queens, N.Y., to America Online’s servers in Northern Virginia, and then to her son Schuyler’s computer, in the next room — about 20 feet away from where she is sitting. you hungry for dinner? After a little online banter over dining options, her son, a 17-year-old with a wicked sense of humor, sends his request: an insty pizza and a beer don’t push your luck, comes the reply. Instant messaging, long a part of teenagers’ lives, is working its way into the broader fabric of the American fam- ily. The technology “has really grown up in the last 18 months,” said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director at Jupiter Research. “It’s cer- tainly not just for kids any more.” Almost three-quarters of all teenagers with online access use instant messaging, and about half of all adults have tried the services, surveys show. Adults, who generally began using the services from AOL, Microsoft and Yahoo to stay in touch with co-workers during the day, Gartenberg said, are saying “this stuff I’m using for work is actually useful in my personal life as well.” Usage among adults has grown to in- clude friends and far-flung family. AOL, which provides the most popular ser- vice, reports that more than 1 billion in- stant messages each day flow through its networks. And now, as families own more than one computer, the machines spread be- yond the den and home networks relying on wireless connections become in- creasingly popular, instant messaging is taking root within the home itself. In the movie “Something’s Gotta Give,” Jack Nicholson’s aging playboy uses in- stant messaging to meet Diane Keaton’s playwright in her kitchen for a late-night snack — while they’re in separate bed- rooms only yards away. Although it might seem lazy or silly to send electronic messages instead of get- ting out of a chair and walking into the next room, some psychologists say that the role of the technology within families can be positive. In many cases, they say, the messages are helping to break down the interpersonal barriers that often pre- vent open communication. “Conversation between parents and teenagers could be highly emotional and not necessarily productive,” said Eli- sheva F. Gross, a psychology researcher at the Children’s Digital Media Center at the University of California at Los An- geles. When young people are online, however, “it’s their turf,” she said. “It may be a way for parents to communicate in a language and in a space that their chil- dren are more comfortable with.” Tough conversations Teenagers already use online commu- nications to take on difficult topics with one another, said Katelyn McKenna, a re- search assistant professor in psychology at New York University. Preliminary re- sults from a study she conducted last year, she said, suggest that “they are able to talk with one another about issues that bother them more readily online than when they are talking face to face.” Lissa Parsonnet said that her daughter, Dorrie, is sometimes more open to talk- ing with her and her husband online about difficult subjects than in person. “She talks to us as if we’re people, not parents,” she said. Parsonnet, a psychotherapist, said that the online channel strips away some of the parts of face-to-face communication that complicate matters: “They don’t see your face turning red,” she said. “They don’t see you turning cross — all the things that will shut them up immediately.” Both instant messages and e-mail mes- sages can help smooth things over after a fight, said Nora Gross, a 17-year-old in New York City who said that electronic communications had helped strengthen her relationship with her father. “I can re- member a few times when we’ve had lit- tle blowups and sent apology letters over e-mail,” she said. Although even quicker than e-mail, in- stant messages also have the advantage of not actually being instant, Parsonnet said, because the medium at least gives the user time to compose one’s thoughts and comments before hitting the button. “You know all the times you wish you’d counted to 10 before you said some- thing?” she said with a laugh. With in- stant messages, she said, “You have a built-in counting-to-10.” For users, instant-messaging software typically displays, in a small box on the computer screen, a “buddy list” of friends online at any given moment. Most IM conversations are one-to-one, but it also is possible to include several people in a group discussion — and to carry on mul- tiple sessions with several people at once. Easy to use Parsonnet said that the instant mes- saging habit began naturally with Dor- rie. One night, she wanted to ask Dor- rie a question, but “I didn’t want to go chasing her around the house.” She did- n’t have to wander around the family’s Short Hills, N.J., home, though, because “I could hear her instant message thing bleeping.” She signed on, saw that Dorrie was in- deed online, and sent a note. “It was so easy,” she recalled. That ease of use is essential for adopt- ing any new technology, said Michael Osterman, an industry analyst who stud- ies the instant messaging market. “It’s an old idea that’s been made practical,” Osterman said. “Instead of yelling down- stairs, ‘Hey, is there any fried chicken left?’ You can IM downstairs.” Using instant messages to reach out to adolescents fits into the broad struc- ture of experimentation and adaptation that family therapists generally recom- mend, said A. Rae Simpson, program di- rector for parenting education and re- search at the MIT Center for Work, Family & Personal Life in Cambridge, Mass. “People who are having difficulty com- municating with each other write to each other,” Simpson said, similar to the way that many parents and adoles- cents find they can talk more freely in the car than at home because they are not looking directly at each other. “It takes the intensity out of the eye-to-eye contact.” The uses of instant messages in the home can be banal, playful or profound. Lily Mandlin, 15, who lives with her mother and two siblings in a four-bed- room apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, said that an instant message is sometimes the best way to get her older brother to turn down his stereo. “A little ping on the computer actually gets to him a lot quicker than scream- ing, ‘Turn the music down!’ ” she said. Gartenberg, the industry analyst, said, “There has been more than one time when I have been checking something late at night and discovered one of the kids was logged on. And I said, ‘What are you doing? Go to bed!’ ” Get offline and talk, too Although instant messages and e-mail may supplement face-to-face discussion, experts warn against relying on it as the principal means of communication. “The question is whether you can use it constructively, to bring it back to the face-to-face,” said Sherry Turkle, di- rector of the Initiative on Technology and Self at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. If the conversation is strictly virtual, she said, “it’s not so dif- ferent from saying, ‘I have a wonderful epistolary relationship with my hus- band, who I can’t stand.’ ” In the recently released ‘Something’s Gotta Give,’ the Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton characters use instant messaging to communicate in the same house. It eventually helps break down the barriers between them. Instant messaging finds a place at home ‘People who are having difficulty communicating with each other write to each other.’ A. RAE SIMPSON, PROGRAM DIRECTOR AT MIT CENTER FOR WORK, FAMILY & PERSONAL LIFE IN CAMBRIDGE, MASS. ‘Medal of Honor,’ above, has also been a big seller. In it, the player must become an ordinary soldier, fighting his way across Europe in the war’s final year.

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