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Web Monitor

16:56 UK time, Monday, 25 January 2010

A celebration of the riches of the web.

Today in Web Monitor: the tortoise teaser, what chess brings to poker and standing up for the gamers.

Mackenzie Crook• Actor Mackenzie Crook revealed on the Andrew Marr show that he keeps tortoises. Three of the beasts, moreover, star in his current play. But Mr Crook seemed a bit unsure about the collective noun for his charges. He settled on "herd". Users on Reptile Forums prefer, it turns out, "rockery" or "creep"; Wikipedia goes for the latter. Web Monitor is sorry to learn that it's not a "ninja".

• The chess grandmaster who lost the man-vs-computers battle, Garry Kasparov, argues in the New York Review of Books that computer programmers should move on from the game of kings. That's because they aren't getting nearer to their goal of simulating human thought by making computers good players. Instead, Mr Kasparov suggests that they should be trying to make machines play a game with an altogether less refined reputation:

"Perhaps chess is the wrong game for the times. Poker is now everywhere, as amateurs dream of winning millions and being on television for playing a card game whose complexities can be detailed on a single piece of paper. But while chess is a 100 percent information game - both players are aware of all the data all the time - and therefore directly susceptible to computing power, poker has hidden cards and variable stakes, creating critical roles for chance, bluffing, and risk management."

• Headlines last week declaring that video games cause rickets riled gaming-enthusiast-cum-businessman Nicholas Lovell, writing in Games Brief. Fighting his corner against bad press for games, Mr Lovell contacted the authors of the cited study. They confirmed that there was in fact no connection - with children too young to play the games at most risk of the disease. He also found that comparatively higher risks of rickets lay elsewhere:

"But there is an even more important issue here. The study highlights the difficulties of people with dark skin synthesising enough Vitamin D from the British weather. It also highlights the dangers of overzealous parents slapping sunscreen on their children at the first hint of sunshine."

Links in full

BBCMackenzie Crook | BBC | The Andrew Marr Show
New York Review of BooksGarry Kasparov | New York Review of Books | The chess master and the computer
Games BriefNicholas Lovell | Games Brief | Scientists behind 'games cause rickets' deny link

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