March 31, 2004

Online File Sharing War

It's Harvard Business School vs. University of Chicago. Read two long academic papers on whether online file sharing hurts music sales. Bottom line for me, if there is good music out there, I will buy it. Stop blaming Napster, Kazaa, etc. People are sick of excuses. Those online programs are filled with viruses and annoying sound gaps in MP3 files anyway. Read - Read

Microsoft Videophones

Gigaom has a short piece and actual pictures of Microsoft based videophones that one can hook up to any ethernet network. Apparently Broadcom is a provider of chips and Windows CE is the operating system for these prototype phones. A world where everything is on the network, no more analog phones! Read

PS3 Blue Ray

A Japanese magazine in a conversation with Playstation manager, Kiyoshi Nishitnai, revealed that Sony is considering Blue Ray DVD technology for PS3. Can you imagine 25-30 gigabytes of storage on one DVD? That is 5-6 times larger than current DVD capacities. Read

New Batmobile

What are they thinking??? See

Online Poker Marketing to Colleges

CNN writes about how Texas Holdem is taking campuses by storm. Some online poker sites are marketing poker tournaments directly to college students, which may draw the ire of authorities worried about gambling addiction. Have you ever tried Texas Holdem? If not you're missing out, catch it on the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel. Read

Viacom Thinking Gay Network

Sumner Redstone, head of Viacom, says the company is in preliminary discussions with cable operators to start a gay and lesbian network. With BET, kids, family, gamer, comdey, and golf channels out there, I guess this is one of the last topics not covered. Read

Vonage Suing AT&T

According to the Fool, Vonage is suing AT&T for trademark dilution and harming their business by purposely confusing its customers. It seems AT&T registered the domain names www.callvontage.com, which is obviously a typo for Vonage's site. Voice over IP is white hot these days, look for more fodder like this in the future. Read

March 30, 2004

History of Zelda

The director of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker has a detailed interview on IGN about the history of one of the greatest videogame series of our time. A good read for Nintendo fans everywhere as it sure brings the memories back. Remember when you first beat a dungeon in the original NES game? Remember that awesome feeling you get when you get a piece of the tri-force? Pure magic. Read

HardOCP vs. Infinium Labs

Tech-Report has posted the actual court lawsuit that Infinium Labs filed against HardOCP.com. It's pretty scary that a company can sue a news website for its investigative reporting and perceived insinuations from an article. Free speech seems to get pecked away each day. Let's root for HardOCP to win this one. Read

Harvard Law on iTunes

A bunch of Harvard law students wrote a case study on Apple's iTunes online music store. The paper examines the legal copyright issues and how the iTunes business model works under international law. For you legal geek heads, this is for you! Read

Carmack Speech at GDC

Anandtech covers John Carmack's speech at the Game Developer's Conference. Sir John goes into the history and future of first person 3D gaming engines and technology. Let's hope he finished Doom3 soon, so we all can experience another taste of iD software goodness. Read

She Got Hops

You hear about the girl who won the slam dunk contest? No, it's not a joke. Candace Parker showed the world that girls can have hops by winning the McDonald's High School All-American slam dunk contest. Someone have a video of this? Please send it in. Read

March 29, 2004

VOOM Doomed?

Cablevision's new HDTV focused satellite system seems to be having little success with only 1627 subscribers five months after launch. TV Predictions is predicting VOOM's doom in fairly short order, even though the company is ramping up an advertising campaign and a new price plan offering. Read

Unreal Engine 3.0 First Look

Epic showed off their Unreal Engine 3.0 which is currently under development at the Game Developer's conference. I can't wait to see dragons rendered with 6 million polygons and per-pixel HDR lighting in a future release of Unreal Tournament. The engine reportedly brought a 2ghz AMD cpu and next-generation Nvidia graphics card to its knees. So it's going to be a few years before we get machines capable enought to run it in its full glory. Read

X-box Price Cut

I'm sure you've seen this rumored for weeks, but Microsoft finally officially announced a $30 price cut for X-box effective tomorrow. We'll see if this drives any incremental buyers. It sure isn't as good as the previous $100 price cut though. Read

March 28, 2004

Video Interview with Kevin Mitnick

TheBroken.org, a hacker video magazine, has a video interview with Kevin Mitnick in their 3rd episode. Kevin is famous for evading the U.S. government for several years for his hacker exploits. The most interesting part of the interview is how he goes into prison sub-culture and what one does to survive. Watch

Sequel-itis on Videogames

Reuters cites that the videogame industry may decline due to lack of original content and a focus on sequels. I don't think this has really hurt the movie industry and Madden seems to do better every year for decades. Read

Hatch Going After P2P Users

Senator Hatch is helping his campaign contributors, the recording industry, with a bill that has harsh penalties to those that share music on P2P networks. The penalties include 10 years of jail time and major fines. Read - Read

Canon PowerShot Pro1 Preview

The basic background information is out for the 8 megapixel, 7X optical zoom Canon PowerShot Pro1. This camera is for the high end photographer will still wants an LCD preview window and wants to graduate from this G3/G4/G5 camera. Read - Read

Game Emulators for Palm PDAs

Gadgeteer has a good overview of the popular console emulators for Palm PDAs. The consoles covered include Atari St, Gameboy, Gamegear, NES, C64, and PC-Engine. At least Tapwave owners can use these programs to have more games to play with. Read

VOOM HDTV Satellite Reviews

The first user reviews of the VOOM HDTV focused satellite service are out. It will be interesting to see if it can compete with DISH and DIRECT TV by focusing soley on HDTV users. The biggest downside thus far is the no PVR capability.

March 27, 2004

Gaming While Drunk: The PSP by Robert Kennan

Sony is one of those companies that seems to make vast amounts of money while never really LEARNING anything. Iíve given them a lot of crap in the past about their lack of innovation and backward thinking hardware (the lack of controller ports and RAM in the PS2 is damn near criminal) but theyíve been working to improve that and I have to respect it. The Eye Toy is great, and Lifeline was an interesting concept if not a little flawed in execution. At least theyíre trying new things.

And one of these new things is getting into the handheld business, an area of hardware that Nintendo has had a stranglehold on for as long as I can remember. I remember buying the first huge ďtoasterĒ game boy unit and playing hour after hour of Tetris and Mario Land and marveling about how good gaming on the go had gotten. Nintendo even mirrored Sonyís paradox with the iterations of the the GameBoy, being on top despite comparatively weak hardware. No one can doubt the supremacy of the SP, but remember the GameGear? The NeoGeo Pocket? The Game.Com? Alright, Iím joking on that last one, but you have to admit the GameBoy has had some really stiff competition and destroys them every time. So what is Sony hoping to do here?

It makes sense for them to branch out, and Sony certainly has mind share. I just have to question some of their decisions. Optical media? Iím going to wait until Sony can make a Playstation that lasts more than a few months before I sign onto a portable that uses an optical drive. Sony also is hinting at PDA functions, video, wireless data transfer, etc etc etc. The one thing that seems absent is just how good itíll be for games.

I (very unexpectedly!) ran into a man who works for Sony R&D at a friendís wedding, and when he found out I worked in the industry as well we had an interesting drunken conversation about a number of things, including the PSP. While that conversation was strictly off the record (damn him) what I heard didnít inspire much confidence, especially on the issue of price point. The easiest way to kill a system is to price it too high, and Sony seems dangerously close to doing so. They canít deliver the hardware theyíve discussed with the rumored features at a price point competitive with Nintendoís utterly sexy $100 price for the SP. If you read between the lines of articles written about the SP youíll see evidence of Sony fighting the price point, taking away and adding features and being noncommittal about what the final hardware will be capable of. Then they unexpectedly push the release date back. The open faced design sure is slick, but you have to wonder about that screen getting scratched up.

While I may seem like a sourpuss on this subject on a brighter note Iím sure that the PSP is going to sell well, as long as they can keep the price under or at $150. Sony again has incredible mindshare, and Iím a huge believer that competition is great for the marketplace. This will make Nintendo work a lot harder for your gaming dollar, and after so long on top Sony eating a little of their lunch will do good to get their asses in gear.

Besides, Iím a giant gaming whore. Iím sure the first day Iíll be in line with the rest of you, my money in hand, wondering what Sony has in store for us. If nothing else, its bound to be interesting.

-Written by Robert Keenan

Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts? Comment on the discussion forum.

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March 26, 2004

First PSP Demo by Sony

Sony showed off their first software demostration of their upcoming handheld, the PSP. A developer raved on how the PSP's graphics are even better than PS2. The video that was shown was neat, but far from "better than" PS2 quality. One good note was wireless 802.11b is confirmed as a feature in the final product, which will be good for "no hassle" multi-player gaming. Read

Future Videogames Will Rock

At the annual Game Developer's Conference, Sony was playing up the prospects from Playstation 9. No joke, no information on Playstation 3, but Playstation 9 is going to rule the world. Some new technologies include real-life graphics pumped into your retina, speech recognition, better display technology, and new interfaces. Sounds a lot like the virtual reality episode on Mad About You where Paul has his "encounter" with Christie Brinkley. Read

Cruise and Cruz Split

Now this is a shocker, Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz have decided to part ways. According to their publicist, they are on good terms as friends and both are not seeing anyone else. Tom's fascination with Scientology was not involved they say. Read

March 25, 2004

Al Sharpton Likes Fancy Hotels

Oh the wonders of technology. This site shows how Al Sharpton is using his political campaign money to stay at the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, and The Phoenician. These are some of the richest, most luxurious, and expensive lodgings in the country. Meanwhile other candidates and their staff stay at the Holiday Inn, even good old Bush stays at the Sheraton. Would Sharpton campaign contributors appreciate that big old Al is using THEIR money to live it up? I don't think so. Mr. Sharpton, you should be ashamed of yourself as I'm sure many people struggling out there dug deep to give you $20 donations. Read - Read - Discuss - Permalink

Neighborly Political Contributions

I don't know if this is fair to your neighbor's privacy, but this site let's you find out how much money the people on your street and local zip code donated to which specific presidential candidate along with their home address. I can see how which candidate one donates can be valid for public consumption, but your home address and job title? Not kosher indeed. Link

Comcast Acquires TechTV

Comcast, the largest cable system, announced that it will acquire the TechTV channel and merge it with its videogame network, G4. Kind of sad as this will decrease the amount of nerd techie TV on the airwaves. My favorite show on TechTV is Extended Play. I hope they don't cut that one. Read

Microsoft Search Mistake

The CEO of Microsoft admitted not investing in search was the company's biggest mistake in the last few years. Not to worry though because they are investing full force now hiring the best search developers that are out there, or so they say. Read

PS2 Linux Computer

Playstation.com is selling a Linux kit for Playstation 2 that transforms your favorite game console into a fully fledged Linux computer. It comes with a 40 gigabyte hard drive, Linux OS s/w, monitor cable, keyboard, mouse, and ethernet card. Note that it can not play the new hard drive enhanced games coming to market later this year. It's mainly for programmers and Linux ethusiasts. Read

March 24, 2004

Greece Olympic Disaster

George Vecsey of the New York Times writes about how unprepared Greece is for the Olympic games this summer. From shoddy facilities to inadequate mass transportation for the fans, it sure doesn't look good. I mean would you want to compete and swim in the pool above? Read

Hard Drive Leftovers

CSO Online has a report on how data on hard drives is easily recoverable these days using some basic software tools. Only 10% of drives are sanitized correctly. So if you ever sell your hard drive, be sure to clean it with a real thorough data destruction program. Read I bought and analyzed the content of more than 150 drives with the help of Abhi Shelat, another graduate student at MIT's Laboratory for Computer Science. We found that between one-third and one-half of the drives still had significant amounts of confidential data, even though many had been through a Format or FDisk operation. On another third, someone had deleted the document files but left the applications behind. It was a simple matter to undelete the data files and retrieve their secrets as well.

Night of the Living Dead

The classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead, is now available to legally download for free as the copyright has run out. You can download it at the link below. For some reason the old Disney animations have not gone into the public domain. Ask Congress on why Disney gets a free pass and others do not. Link

March 23, 2004

Sony Ericsson S700 Preview

Mobileburn has several hot pictures of the wildly anticipated Sony Ericsson S700 from the CeBit conference. And the Inquirer has a preview of the phones features such as 1.3 megapixel camera, 2.3 inch LCD screen, 8X digital zoom, bluetooth, swivel design, and an amazing form factor. If it makes it this Christmas, this will be one of the most sought after geek phones of this year. See - Read

William Hung on iTunes

The most popular contestant this year on American Idol has launched an exclusive album on Apple's iTunes which includes his cult rendition of "She Bangs." Also read the article in Rolling Stone which covers his background and how he's getting all the babes. Read - Read "OK, so I'm not famous for the right reasons," he said. "I'm infamous, a joke. It doesn't make me feel good, because I'm a genuine person, but I don't let it get to me, because I am who I am."

JetBlue Mania

New York Times (free registration needed) writes about how JetBlue is creating a fierce following among rich, techies, and cheap people alike. After a life-time of bad service and rip-off prices, it's good to see the airline industry getting reformed from within. Read "When you're that rich,'' Ms. Popcorn said, "and you fly coach you may try to hide it, but he said it with such pride, like he was traveling in the coolest, most trendy way... It's the lack of pretentiousness combined with delightful features that drive people nuts," she said. "Those customers become enchanted, and once they become enchanted, they become brand missionaries."

March 21, 2004

Tomb Raider to Quit Acting?

The 28 year old Angelina Jolie, the subject of many little gamer's dreams, has decided to quit acting within 5 years. She wants learning how to fly in the meantime and eventually ferry aid and food to U.N. relief workers. Jolie also wants to adopt another child and remarked "acting is not enought of a life." Someone is searching for meaning, huh? Read

CNET Outsourcing Content to India

It's not just programmers anymore. According to Newsforge, CNET is doing a 2 month trial where they will cut freelance writers and get new articles from a company in India. We know that Indians have good programming skills. It will be interesting to see if they can write about technology too. What if they replace FirstAdopter? Oh no! Nah, they will never be able to copy my wit and sarcasm. Uhhh.. I hope. Read

Toshiba PDA Watch

At this year's CeBit-2004 show, Toshiba previewed a concept PDA watch design. Features include hi-resolution display, wireless bluetooth and Wi-Fi, voice recognition, and PDA functionality. Let's see if an actual product comes out, PDA watches are known for never hitting the market. Read

New MSN Search in July

Reuters reports that Microsoft will launch a new version of their MSN search in July. They plan to gain marketshare from Google with more relevant search results. Good luck Softie. One large change will be to separate paid listings to a different portion of each page. The company also moved away from Looksmart technology and is contemplating doing the same to Overture (owned by Yahoo) in the future. Read

Learning from JetBlue

JetBlue since inception has always been on the cutting edge of new customer conveniences from TV, leather seats, always low prices, and WiFi at the gates. Now they are working on high speed internet access during flights. A Inc. magazine writer tells us how the CEO gets the edge. He works at least one day a month as a flight attendant on the front lines to actually... LISTEN to customers. What an idea! Read

March 20, 2004

Toshiba iPod Killer

Toshiba announced their iPod killer in Japan called the Gigabeat G21 MP3 player. Talk about the tacky name! Thankfully the sleek, thin design makes up for it. The G21 has 20 gigabytes of hard drive space and is reportedly the thinnest mp3 player in the world. It also has 28 graphic equalizer settings and can plug into a LAN network without a PC connection. Nifty sounding device, now only if they release it in the states. Read

Intel Supporting WiMax Wireless Technology

WiMax could be another "disruptive technology" that makes 3G wireless networks obsolete. Some big gorillas have put their weight on this potential "802.16" moniker that is 30Xs faster and has 10Xs wider range than today's 3G devices. Intel said they will put WiMax chips into their platforms as early as 2006. Read

eBay Fraud Vigilantes

New York Times (free registration needed) is reporting that users are sick of internet fraud on eBay. With lack of help from the company, they are taking the law into their own hands and closing down auctions they think are obvious scams. Read Mr. Priebe, 42, is an eBay vigilante, one of a number of eBay members who are stepping in to fight online auction fraud ó a problem they say is getting worse by the week ó because they believe that the company does not do enough policing of its own.

Jeff Davies Loves Tivo

New York Times (free registration needed) writes about Tivo maniacs such as Jeff Davies who has bought six personal video recorders. Young kids in Tivo families have literally never seen a commercial in their household. Read That would come as no surprise to Matt Fisher, who describes himself as "a TiVo junkie." Mr. Fisher said he had persuaded "around 10" people to buy a machine. "It's more than just a paradigm shift. I cannot imagine TV without TiVo."

PC Magazine Says Tivo Will Die

Jim Lounderback of PC Magazine extols the virtues of Tivo at first, but then writes its obituary. He cites increased competition, lower barriers of entry, the paradigm shift to HDTV, and the power of Rupert Murdoch as the key reasons. Read

X-box Price Cut Next Month?

According to the Wall St. Journal's top secret sources, Microsoft will cut the price of X-box from $179 to $149 sometime in April. Furthermore expect a second SKU that will include Halo for $169. This should tide you over until X-box Next comes at the end of 2005. Read

March 19, 2004

Sports Illustrated Digital Workflow

Rob Galbraith has a fascinating article on the digital workflow of SI's photography team. It talks about the unspeakable benefits of digital over analog cameras to a magazine that sorts through 1 million photos a year. Read But Fine, who is Sports Illustrated's Director of Photography, has a monstrous job in front of him, and there's no such thing as too much computer. He's chewing through SI's take from Super Bowl XXXVIII, 16,183 digital pictures shot in Houston's Reliant Stadium by eleven of the magazine's staff photographers over the course of about six hours. It's 11:00pm, an hour-and-a-half after the game has ended, and Fine is stashed in SI's media trailer outside the stadium with six other SI employees. The photographers, their work done, left half an hour before.

Battlefield Vietnam Review

Firingsquad has a full review of the sequel to Battlefield 1942. The hype for this game is receding against Unreal Tournament 2004. Sites are saying it is almost like an expansion pack than a true sequel. Read BFV's lack of originality can't be excused - not only isn't it all that much different from the original, it isn't even clearly better than the Desert Combat mod. On the one hand, we're glad that DICE didn't fix what wasn't broken, but on the other, there's still the vague feeling that the Battlefield games are rough around the edges and could use something to spruce them up and put them over the top.

March 18, 2004

Microsoft's iPod Killer

According to Reuters, Microsoft will launch a iPod killer later this year in Europe. Creative will be one of the makers of a 20-40GB device that can hold 175 hours of video or 10,000 music tracks. It will weigh 11.5 ounces, which is about 3 times heavier than the iPod. However until there is an easy way to get video content like music from the iTunes store, the market will be limited to hard-core DiVx ripping users. Read

Sony Online Music Store Thoughts

Tim Zilla criticizes the features of Sony's online music store. The download format is proprietary ATRAC-3 not open standard MP3 or AAC, the tracks have digital music copy protection, and can only be used with Sony portable audio products. While I agree these are restrictive issues, I don't think this is much different than the Apple iTunes store. The reasons Apple succeeds are the mindshare it gets from iPod and the intuitive ease of use of the iTunes software. Read

March 17, 2004

Billionaire Blog

First it was the founder of eBay, now another billionaire is blogging away on the web. Mark Cuban, owner of the Mavericks and founder of Broadcast.com which was sold to Yahoo during the internet bubble, writes his frank and honest thoughts concerning NBA referees and his investments. Read

Local Google

Google has launched a local version of its search engine at local.google.com. It lets you limit your queries to a geographic location or zip code. This could be a boon for local businesses. Remember $22 billion is still spent on local yellow pages and Google could tap into this market in a big way with localized search text advertising. Read

Apple's Next iPod

AppleInsider is spreading rumors on the 4th generation of iPod. Their sources speculate a 50 gigabyte version with a 2 inch color screen for $499. For that price, I would rather see a Video iPod where one can watch his favorite TV shows and movies downloaded from an iVideo site. Read

Backing up DVDs

Sodhi.org covers how PC users can in fair use backup their DVD collection onto their computers or recordable blank DVD-Rs. Read

March 16, 2004

Scott Miller Warns Warner

Scott Miller of 3D Realms, maker of Duke Nukem series, is panning Warner Brothers recent re-entry into the videogame industry. He cites the lack of focus of conglomerates and aversion to risk-taking on original brands as the heels of Warner's future downfall. Read

Sony Clie TH55 Review

Palm Infocenter reviews the new Sony Clie TH55 PDA. Pros include great screen, Wi-Fi capability, memory capacity, and speed. Cons are button layout, stylus, and lack of bluetooth. If you have a 802.11b wireless access point, this may be the perfect handheld for your sofa TV surfing browsing activity.

Battlefield Vietnam Central

The first reviews, impressions, and interviews are out for the sequel to Battlefield 1942, Battlefield Vietnam. The game seems to be more of an incremental upgrade in a different era. I wonder how Desert Combat would do against it in a commercial release. With UT2004 Onslaught mode burning up the internet, competition is a lot tougher this time. Read - Read - Read

Final Fantasy XII Trailer

The trailer for Final Fantasy XII is out. It amazing how good the quality of in-game CGI movies are these days. Square certainly makes some of the best animation sequences out there. I never really got into the Final Fantasy RPG experience, but the graphics sure are pretty. Watch

Brighthand Reviews the Tapwave Zodiac

Brighthand reviews the Tapwave Zodiac gaming handheld with PDA functionality. They give it high marks overall although the limited game selection and battery life are a bit weak. With the Sony TH55 out there, it's going to be tough for Tapwave since there aren't that many killer apps for the device. Read

AMD Starts Wi-Fi Network

In a weird attempt at marketing, AMD is starting a free Wi-Fi network inside independent coffee shops. It's an innovative way to deploy one's marketing dollar, it certainly gets the brand name out there. Also it's probably cheaper than a mult-million dollar TV ad campaign with men in purple space suits. Read

March 15, 2004

Hollywood Finding Religion

The New York Times covers how movie studio executives are frothing at the mouth for religious material as Gibson's Passion grosses over $250M. Who would of thought that box office about a man getting crucified would do Hulk and Matrix type numbers? The movie I'm most looking forward to is C.S. Lewis' The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe which Disney picked up from a Christian product company. I wonder if someone is pondering The Passion of Christ 2: The Ressurection? Read [NYTimes free registration needed] - Discuss

Link Roundup

- Wired reviews the iPod Mini. Read - Apple iTunes sales hit 50 million although under forecast because of Pepsi. Read - Flashmobs in Madrid protest the bombing through SMS cellphones. Read - Digitalbloc lists their top 9 console games of the past year. Read - Infotrends predicts 150M camera phones sold in 2004. Watch out in your gym. Read - Mobileburn reviews the Siemens SX1 smart-phone. Read - Wal-mart makes room to sell more flat-panel TVs. Read - Washington Post reviews Verizon's high speed wireless internet access. Read - South Korea goes into a constitutional presidential crisis. Sound familiar? Read - Porn is not for kids says a porn director. Read

Toyota Robot at Your Musical Service

Just in time for Will Smith's I, Robot movie this summer, Toyota unveiled a humanoid robot that can play the trumpet with flexible artificial lips. Development took 2 1/2 years with no real application other than pure research learnings for engineers. The robot market is slated to grow from $4B a year to $14B in 2010. Read [NYTimes free registration needed]

Star Trek Still Impacts Gadgets

The San Francisco Chronicle writes about how Star Trek has signinficantly impacted the design of consumer electronics and gadgets we have today. From PDAs, the internet, and cell-phones, this science fiction show has made the future a reality to strive for. Read

Slave Game Developers

Naughty Dog President, Jason Rubin, threw down the gauntlet for game developers everywhere who slave way too much for none of the economic upside. upper management at most if not all publishers talk, you would think that people can be picked up off the streets and sat in front of PCs to do this work. They receive little credit for the work they do and are often forced to work ridiculous, unpaid hours for months on end to get projects completed. That kind of practice is understandable at a small developer which is struggling to scrape a living in a hostile business environment, but at studios belonging to huge publishers with turnover in the hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars, it's completely unacceptable. Read

Popcorn Worker Awarded $20M

A popcorn factory worker in Missouri was awarded $20M by a jury because he claimed his lungs were ruined by flavoring oils. He is one of 30 former workers. I don't know about the details of this case, but is it any wonder that every company is outsourcing jobs in China and India? Read

Internet Gambling and Legality

Since many internet gambling sites are off-shore, the government is cracking down on broadcast media companies for accepting advertising from an industry slated to do $7.4 billion in 2004. The cable channels have buckled under the pressure, but Yahoo and Google have not as of yet. The New York Times (free registration needed) covers the latest events in this hot issue of law, gambling, and money. The Travel Channel stopped running them this fall on the World Poker Tour, one of the channel's most popular programs. David Leavy, spokesman for the Discovery Networks, which operates the Travel, Discovery and other channels, said the policy against running ads for Internet gambling covers all its cable channels. Given the pressures on online casinos, Mr. Sinclair has recently downgraded his expectations for the growth of the industry, which derives about half its revenue from Americans. In 2002, he projected $8.3 billion in sales for 2004; last fall, he dropped that projection to $7.4 billion. Read - Discuss

Computers are Dirtier than Toilets

According to researchers at the University of Arizona, computers, keyboards, mice, and telephones on average contain 400 times more germs than toilet seats. Telephones are the worst of the bunch with 25,127 germs per square inch. Tasty. "Desks are really bacteria cafeterias," Mr Gerba said in a press release. "They are breakfast bars, lunch tables and everything else, as we spend more hours at the office. When someone is infected with a cold or flu bug, the surfaces they touch during the day become germ-transfer points because some cold and flu viruses can survive on surfaces for up to 72 hours," he added. "An office can become an incubator." Read

Blue Blue Planet

Don't know how authentic it is, but check out this photograph of our lovely planet. Beautiful. Full Size Photo

March 14, 2004

Nuclear Hide-Out for $4M

Someone on eBay is selling an old Titan Missile complex formerly of the United States Airforce in Washington State. For only $4 million you get 3 155 foot deep missile silos, 5 story underground tunnel with 2 to 14 feet wall thickness, and a private water well. The complex is built to withstand a 1 megaton nuclear blast within 3000 feet. One possible suggested use is as a boarding school / youth camp. Hmm, I don't think so. Read [via Gizmodo]

Sony Ericsson P900 Review

The Moss-man of the Wall Street Journal reviews the Sony Ericsson P900. Although he shows a slight affinity to many of aspects of the design, he still like the Treo 600 as the best current smart phone model. The pro's are good battery life, great high resolution screen, bluetooth, and removable battery. The con's are the lack of Blackberry-like keyboard and weak email program.

I also found the Treo's five-way navigation pad to be smoother and quicker than the side-mounted jog dial on the P900. And I liked the Treo's interface for making phone calls better. But the P900 is a pretty impressive device. If Sony Ericsson would build in a keyboard, cut the price in half and find a U.S. carrier, it could be a winner with Americans.

Gamespy Inducts Goldeneye

Gamespy inducted Goldeneye into its hall of fame. Although I never played it much other than some late night mutli-player binges with friends, I recognize the significance of the title. I preferred the mouse / keyboard combination on the PC myself, but I realize for many casual gamers this was their introduction to death-match. Cheers to Goldeneye. Now if Perfect Dark 2 would come out this decade!

Goldeneye did a lot for Rare, which went on to make Perfect Dark, another N64 FPS before many of Goldeneye's members formed their own company. Called Free Radical, it was responsible for the well-received Timesplitters series. Rare, meanwhile, was bought by Microsoft and has only put out the perplexing Grabbed by the Ghoulies since. Goldeneye 007 will likely never lose its place at the top of the annals of console first-person shooters, and rightly so. Its style, detail, and flawless structure broke new ground. Its maturity showed that games weren't just for kids anymore. Goldeneye's legacy is so storied, EA is working on a new Bond game tentatively titled, Goldeneye 2. It'll take a lot to live up that moniker.
Read - Discuss

Build Your Own LCD Photo Frame

Popular Science has a how-to article on how to build your very own LCD Photo frame. This way you can save hundreds a dollars in monthly subscription fees and initial box purchase vs. the commercial althernatives. Once again, like Tivo, these consumer electronic devices use Linux.

AT&T Wireless Phones Obsolete

Engadget goes into detail about how AT&T Wireless is pushing some of their customers to replace their phones with obsolete models due to vagaries of the GSM network. An army of subscribers who could only use half the airwaves AT&T owns was making AT&Tís reputation for poor reception and coverage even worse. To rectify the situation, AT&T Wireless recently started quietly offering free replacement phones for anyone using a phone that isnít compatible with the 850 MHz network. Read [via Engadget]

In Google We Trust

The New York Times (registration needed) writes about how far Google has penetrated our culture in the last six years with the pros and cons of its success. It's amazing to think 200 million searches are done on the search engine each day on an index of 6 billion pages. Read - Discuss

Robot Cars Not Ready for Prime-time

Pentagon's $1 million contest for cars without drivers failed to produce a winner. All 15 entries couldn't finish the 150 mile course in less than 10 hours. The robotic cars suffered various problems including stuck brakes, roll overs, and electronic malfunctions. There's always next year. Read

I, Robot Trailer

Since we're big science fiction fans here, check out the trailer for I, Robot coming out this summer with Will Smith based on the fiction of Isaac Asimov. Read

March 13, 2004

Sims Online Presidential Race

Wired reports on the real presidential race in the world of Sims Online. One candidate's platform is to confront scammers and help newbies as much as possible a la governmental regulation. Another guy wants less government that confuses TSO's citizens. Art imitating life, no? Read

Intel Copying AMD's Numbering System

In the past the Ghz processor speed system served Intel well, so much so AMD had to make up performance rating numbers to compete. However now that Pentium M processors are not selling as well due to lower Ghz even they have have great performance, Intel is switching hats with a new performance rating system later this year. Read

Midway Loving Controversy

CNN extols the virtues of Midway's new game N.A.R.C., where players are encouraged to do drugs as part of the game. Given recent offerings, it won't matter if the game stinks like other Midway fodder. Let's leave the GTA comparisons behind, until the game actually come out. Read

Shrek 2 Trailer

The Shrek 2 Trailer is out on Apple's Quicktime site. This sequel seems to be set less in fantasy Disney medieval world. The plot seems a bit iffy, but we'll give them the benefit of the doubt for now. Read

Disney Properties for Sale

According to Reuters, Disney is trying to unload the Disney retail store chain and the Anaheim Might Ducks hockey team as they lose $50M and $20M a year respectively. Good luck Eisner! I wonder how many people would love to buy a store chain that loses $50m a year? Read

March 12, 2004

The Great Impending Videogame Crash of 2005

A well argued article with a bit of satire and sarcasm about the great impending videogame sales crash. A good read. Remember these kinds of things happen when mania is at its highest and everyone thinks there is no end to growth.

Interview with Unreal 2004 Designer

Gamespy interviewed one of the designers of the eagerly anticipated Unreal 2004 Tournament. Mark my words, this game is going to be one of the best gaming experiences of 2004. It's all about Onslaught mode.

VOIP WiFi Phone

WiFi phones like this all are going to be all the rage in a few years as 802.11 hot spots become more pervasive. It has the potential to destroy the business model of the entire telecom industry.

Powered by Crap

Scientists at Penn State are researching ways to make electricity with human sewage. Sounds like fun and smelly work to me. [Via Gizmodo]

Nintendo Halts Gameboy Advance Emulator

Nintendo halted the release of a Zodiac Gameboy Advance emulator citing a patent the company owns regarding software emulation of handheld devices. Although piracy is one thing, the emulator patent seems a big far-reaching.

March 11, 2004

Passion for Passion

According to CNN, Passion may make Mel Gibson over $200 million. This from a pet project that Mel and the rest of Hollywood thought would be a money losing proposition, so much so that Mel had to pony up all the production costs himself. People are on the edge of their seats for the sequel, The Passion of Christ 2: The Resurrection.

400 Gigabyte Hard Drive

Hitachi is raising the bar for desktop hard drive sizes with a 400 gigabyte capacity model. With that much space you can record 45 hours of HDTV and 6500 hours of music. That should be enough for any digita media fanatic.. well for now.

Nintendo DS Spec Sheet

Gizmodo has gotten hold of a spec sheet for Nintendo's upcoming DS handheld system. Until it is confirmed by Nintendo, I wouldn't trust this information fully. Like that Treo 610 rumor that turned out to be false, you never know with these leaked documents.

Unreal 2004 Tournament Review

Unreal 2004 Tournament reviews are trickling out and as we expected after playing the fantastic demo they are very very positive. Do yourself a favor and pick up this game when it launches on March 15th. You won't regret it.

March 10, 2004

Sony Ericsson Launches 2004 Phones

Sony Ericsson announced five new GSM phones including three new models for the United States. New features include FM radio, memory stick duo slot, bluetooth, push-to-talk, user changable covers, and builtin MP3 player.

Gaming While Drunk: Ports BAD! Gaiden GOOD! by Robert Keenan

Sorry if Iím late on this article, but Iíve been nearly consumed by the hell that is Ninja Gaiden.

Itís not even really that the game is hard. Its more like the game is really, really hard, but so good you just need to see what happens next. The demo really doesnít prepare you for this, as the first level just shows you an old Japanese complex and some ninja action. Great stuff. What youíre not prepared for though is that after that youíre thrown against ninjas, cyborgs, soldiers, tanks, zombies, bats, and Iím pretty sure at one point you fight a koala to the death. The level of detail and sheer amount of gameplay and disparate environments raise the bar for what we should expect from action games from now on.

If you havenít bought this game, buy it. If you need help start a thread in the forums and weíll try to give you a leg up.

This gets me to my point though: what a development house can achieve when you donít have to worry about porting the game over. You see this all the time in this industry, especially with the price of making games going up and the thought of a big release across all three systems being very enticing. Unfortunately concessions need to be made for a simultaneous release. You have to code graphics and sound to the lowest common denominator (most of the time it seems the game is coded for the PS2 and then ported to the Xbox and the Gamecube) and often there is no time before the game ships to optimize for the more powerful hardware.

This is way games like Bond: Everything or Nothing, Spiderman, and Madden are at a disadvantage. When you work knowing youíre going to port the game you simply donít have the time or resources to play to each consoleís strengths.

Case in point: Look at what Team Ninja was able to do with Ninja Gaiden and then look at any multiplatform release. When you begin making a game from just ONE console you can make sure you use every trick in the book to make sure the game plays and looks great. There are a ton of other examples, any Nintendo game on the Gamecube, or even Jak 2 on the PS2. These games are so far above what other games look like on their respective systems and theyíre all exclusive.

In this day of sequels, ports, and endless sports games we have to respect the development houses that have the guts to take the hit in sales in order to see their vision made perfect for only one system. It doesnít happen often, but when it does the results are hard to argue with.

-Written by Robert Keenan

Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts? Comment on the discussion forum.

[Discussion]

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March 07, 2004

Taser Guns Save Lives?

NYTimes (registration required) writes about how Taser electrocution guns are on the rise with police departments across the country. Although it is agreed that the Tasers save lives, questions remain on whether it opens the door to more police abuse. The newest Tasers are an advanced version of technology that was developed in the 1970's but was not considered by the police to be effective until recently, The electrical pulses travel from the gun through two 21-foot-long wires that look like a stretched-out Slinky tipped with barbed probes. If the probes pierce skin or a layer of clothing two inches thick or less, the jolt contracts the muscles and throws the suspect off balance.

Pepsi iTunes Bottles Delayed

The infamous Pepsi bottles with the hackable iTunes cap codes are late getting into the marketplace. Timing is everything especially when you spend millions on a Superbowl ad weeks before. Specially marked bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Sierra Mist offer free download codes in bottle caps. But they arrived in New York last week, four weeks after 90 million viewers saw the Super Bowl ad. The bottles have yet to show up in Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest media market, and won't get there until mid-March, Pepsi says.

Hobbit In the Works

Peter Jackson of the Lord of the Rings fame says the Hobbit movie is in the works as soon as the studios sort out the legal issues. He says he will be busy withn King Kong for a couple of years, but sounds interested in doing the pre-quel to the fantasy trilogy of our time.

Howard Stern Losing the War

Howard Stern is admitting defeat or at least "losing the war" against the religious right. The after-flow from the Janet Jackson episode is having far reaching consequences across the air-waves as corporations are bowing in fear against the cultural uproar. "I'm guessing that sometime next week will be my last show on this station," said Stern, adding that he expected the FCC to hit him with a whopping indecency fine. "There's a cultural war going on. The religious right is winning. We're losing."

Apex Domination

NYTimes (registration required) writes about how a small company like Apex with only 100 employees is able to have $1 billion in DVD player sales due to globalization and Chinese manufacturing. Of the 31.1 million DVD players sold last year, roughly 10 percent were Apex models, according to the NPD Group, the retail tracker. That puts the brand in second place, just behind Sony, but the two companies could not be more different. Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts? Comment on the discussion forum. [Discussion]

March 06, 2004

Far Cry Research Demo

Far Cry Research Demo it out with an extra level vs. the first release. The game is the second most widely anticipated first person shooter behind UT2004 among PC gamers. I tried the first demo and trust me it's a blast.

Nvidia Touts Doom3 Bundle

With the delayed Half-life 2 in the ATI camp, Nvidia is ecstatic to have iD software's Doom3 on its side. According to DigiTimes, Nvidia will bundle Doom3 with its graphics cards as early as this April with a "Recommended by iD Software for Doom3" sticker on its packaging.

Motorola MPx300 Buzz

Motorola's MPx300 smartphone is getting the hottest buzz among the smartphone designs of 2004. The form factor, dual hinge clam shell design is drawing raves.

..the device which was being called the MPx300 is actually called the MPx, and was formally announced by Motorola today at 3GSM in Cannes. This ends a hectic week of speculation, and confirms what everyone was hoping for - the device can be used both horizontally and vertically, making it the most innovative design for a Pocket PC Phone (or Windows Mobile device, for that matter) yet! Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth make it (to me) the perfect PDA Phone!

Ferrari Laptop

I guess the fashion sense that Nokia put into their cell-phones had to come to PCs sooner or later. PC Magazine reviews the nice and shiny red Acer Ferrari 3000. The 1 hour and 36 minute battery life sure fits the Ferrari miles per gallon theme. The textured silver-gray keyboard deck and bottom, small optical mouse (in matching red), and startup soundóa Ferrari Formula One engine roaring across the speakers from right to leftócertainly don't dampen this system's unique character. Nor does the clearcoat sealer that protects the brilliant red livery and gives it the same sense of depth you'd see in the paint job on a $200,000 Ferrari.

Cannibals for 4Gig HDs

Digital camera owners are thrilled that they can do surgery on Creative's MuVo2 Mp3 player to get a 4 gigabyte hard-drive worth twice as much. Digital photographers have found a source of cheap microdrives for their cameras: Creative Technology's MuVo2 digital music player. Like Apple Computer's iPod mini, the MuVo2 is based on a 4-GB microdrive from Hitachi. But while the Hitachi microdrive retails for about $500 when sold as a storage device for digital cameras, the MuVo2 costs about $200.

Tech-Report Does LCDs

The Tech-Report has a detailed review roundup of 7 LCD monitors. In my humble opinion, the Dell 2001FP still rocks the boat vs. all of them. If you put a gun to my head and made me choose between them, I'd probably waffle between Eizo's FlexScan L795, Philips' 190B4CS, and Samsung's 173T depending on my budget, desire for a larger display, and need for rotation and picture-in-picture.

Scientific-Atlanta Wants to Game

Scientific-Atlanta, maker of cable TV set-top boxes, wants to throw its hat in the ring vs. the big boys Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Good luck to them especially with their recent PVR February 29th bug woes. Scientific-Atlanta chief executive James McDonald, speaking at an investor conference in Dana Point, California, said developers are already building games for its Explorer series of set-top boxes. But he gave no timetable for when such a device might be available.

AIAS Awards

The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announced the winners of their computer and console game awards. Infinity Ward's Call of Duty and Ubisoft's Prince of Persia were the big winners. Overall Game of the Year - Call of Duty(TM), published by Activision, developed by Infinity Ward Console Game of the Year - Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time(TM), published by Ubisoft, developed by Ubisoft Montreal

Samsung Flatpanel Roundup

X-bit has a detailed look at five of Samsung's latest flat-panel monitors. Five LCD monitor models from Samsung we have reviewed today made a very pleasant impression. These are really very good products, selling at reasonable prices. The situation with SyncMaster 172X has become quite mysterious. Notwithstanding the manufacturerís claims about a 12msec TN matrix, it has a regular PVA matrix. This dramatically changes the range of possible applications: fast TN matrixes suit for gaming monitors, while PVA ones, on the contrary, make a good office monitor, but are quite bad at displaying action-full computer games. Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts? Comment on the discussion forum. [Discussion]

March 05, 2004

iPod Mini Selling Out

The Mini with all its colors is selling like hotcakes. Not surprising. "I've never seen a product line sell like this," says Jack Wahrman, senior merchandising manager at New York's J&R Music World. "The iPod is a phenomenon."

History of Apple Operating Systems

Kernelthread goes into in-depth detail on the history of Apple's operating systems. Apple has been around since 1976, and many accounts of its history have been told. If the story of Apple as a company is fascinating, so is the "technical" story of Apple's operating systems. This document discusses operating systems that Apple has created in the past, and many that it tried to create. Through this discussion, we will come across several technologies the confluence of which eventually led to Mac OS X. An important goal of the discussion is to better understand the reasons, and if possible, the rationale behind Mac OS X and its important components. This, in turn, will be helpful in understanding and appreciating the system as it is today. Do you agree or disagree? What are your thoughts? Comment on the discussion forum. [Discussion]