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BBC Web site unblocked in China

50°
343w ago - People in China are able to access English language stories on the BBC News website in full, after years of strict control by Beijing.

The Communist authorities often block news sites such as the BBC in a policy dubbed the "great firewall of China".

But BBC staff working in China now say they are able to access news stories that would have been blocked before.

However, the firewall remains in place for Chinese language services on the website and for any links in Chinese.

'Without hindrance'

Beijing has never admitted to blocking access to BBC news stories - and there has been no official confirmation that the website has been unblocked.

But Chinese users trying to access pages on the site have almost always been redirected to an error message telling them: "The connection was reset."

It now appears that this is no longer the case, and access to the site is much easier.

Steve Herrmann, editor of the BBC News website, says this is a welcome development.

"We want BBC News to be as accessible in China as anywhere else in the world," he said.

"We will endeavour to continue working with the Chinese authorities to improve our access in other areas."

Technology experts say such a development...
 

Haze release officially dated for Europe

50°
343w ago - Ubisoft revealed today that Haze for PS3 will be at European retailers on May 22nd. There are also rumors that a 360 version may come later this year.

What about North America? Ubisoft said the game will reach US shores in May as well, but has remained reluctant to pin down a firm release date.

For what it's worth, GameStop is listing May 20 as the date.
 

Sony officially announce price cut for some PS3 games

500°
343w ago - According to French Web site Jeux-France, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has re-examined the price of some of its older PlayStation 3 titles.

Apparently the following titles will now cost 40 Euros: Resistance: Fall of Man, Lair, Folklore, One Championship Edition Formulated, MotorStorm, Ridge Racer 7, Heavenly Sword and Genji.

However, it seems the games have been available at online retailers such as 'game' at this price for some time.
 

Mobile calls on Emirates flights

50°
343w ago - Dubai-based airline Emirates has become the first commercial airline to allow passengers to make mobile phone calls during flights.

Emirates said the first permitted mobile phone call was made on a flight between Dubai and Casablanca.

The aircraft, an Airbus A340, is fitted with a system which stops mobiles from interfering with a plane's electronics.

Emirates plans to extend the system to more aircraft and later this year add BlackBerry and other data services.

According to the airline, the mobile service will only be activated when the aircraft is at cruising altitude and the cabin crew will be able to monitor and control the use of the system.

Passengers will be able to receive and send text messages, but the crew will be able to prevent voice calls at certain times, such as during night flights.

Passengers will also be requested to keep their phones on "silent" mode, said the airline.

High demand

Emirates said it decided to introduce the use of mobile phones in its fleet after experiencing high demand for the phones already installed in aircraft seats.

The airline had to obtain approval from international air safety organisations before adopting the system, which was developed by the AeroMobile company....
 

Exclusive: Inside The Making Of Call Of Duty 4

50°
345w ago - The new March 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine has an exclusive creator-written article on the making of Infinity Ward's Call Of Duty 4, and Gamasutra has extracts from the piece, discussing a second 'new IP' team once working at the developer and the relative successes of CoD4's PC and Xbox 360 demos.

The postmortem, written by Infinity Ward's Zeid Rieke and Michael Boon, is described by the Game Developer editors as follows:

"Call of Duty 4 is one of the most critically acclaimed games of 2007, and the authors make no secret of their pride in the product. There are many important lessons in here, from sticking to your ideals for a game (even if you aren't completely in charge of the series), to maintaining focus when alluring new IPs loom."

The Evolution Of CoD4

In this first extract, the Infinity Ward team discuss the start of the project, and some of the thought processes the team went through when creating the highly rated title, which Activision is claiming is the best-selling game of 2007 at 7 million copies:

"Call of Duty 4 was Infinity Ward's third Call of Duty game, and as such we approached it knowing we needed to do something fresh. We don't want to pigeonhole ourselves any more than we have to, and many members of the team came off Call...
 
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