May 31, 2005

Link Roundup

Woman Pulls Gun on Best Buy TV Fixer (almost too funny to be true)

Guide to GBA ROM Hardware (hackers attack!)

Echostar Working on Portable DVR (neat idea, but Echostar not known for execution)

Details on Battlestar Galactica Season 2 (warning spoilers)

Blank Virus Spreading (beware of blank emails)

Wintel Ripping Off Apple's Mini (what else is new?)

Preview of ATI's Crossfire SLI Solution (ATI not known for keeping release dates)

Google Earth (rad new functionality for Google's Keyhole service)

May 30, 2005

Yahoo Free Music Security Flaw?

A small security firm in Michigan has come out and stated it has uncovered a security flaw in Yahoo Music that lets users download as much unprotected music as they want without DRM. The company has contacted Yahoo, but hasn't received a response. Without showing us how to exploit the flaw, there is no way to confirm or deny Chapin's findings. I have a feeling they are using this as a way to drum up publicity and business for themselves. I admit, here at FA by linking to their site and covering this news, we're biting like a fish, hook, line, and sinker.

"For a savvy Internet user, the flaws in this music system could make it easier to download the music for free than it is to pay for the same file," said Robert Chapin, President of CIS.

34 Confirmed Games in Development for Playstation 3

IGN has the full list and all the official information available for the 34 confirmed games in development for the Playstation 3. It looks like the launch pipeline for the PS3 will be much better and more comprehensive than the PS2 and the PS1. Eat your heart out Xbox 360. Can you say Sega Dreamcast vaporware war all over again from Sony?

Frankly there is so many more killer apps for the PS3 in my humble opinion. Sure Xbox 360 has Halo 3, but besides that, what else? The games on the list that max out the drool meter are Killzone, Warhawk, MotorStorm, VisionGT, and Tekken. [Discuss]

Make Six Figures Selling Virtual Goods?

The New York Times has an article about people making money selling goods and services playing online multi-player games. One guy makes $1800 a month after taxes playing only 4 hours day renting out real estate in the game, Second Life. Another person made $100,000 in the same game speculating on real estate. Users are willing to pay those real estate rents because online jewelry stores in the game sell clothes and items that players buy using real money. One gamer said she buys $10-15 of virtual clothing each month.

An online research firm estimates that 10 million gamers play the 350 or so multi-player online world games today. Those gamers spend a ball park $880 million a year buying virtual goods and service, not counting the monthly subscription fee you need to play the game. Be careful though, if a game loses traction as Ultima Online and Everquest did to World of Warcraft, the economies of those declining games get shattered, so please don't buy in at the top. Real estate bubbles, whether in real life or online are as deadly financially as Ponzi schemes. No doubt.

Nvidia G70 Coming in 2nd Week of June

As usual Anand has the graphics card scoop. During his trip to Computex 2005 in Taiwan, he found out that the next generation Nvidia G70 boards will be shipped as early as the second week of June. Take that ATI. Sony probably going to use these chips to render more Playstation 3 demos. However all the flak Sony is getting probably not deserved, as Microsoft is doing practically the same thing using Mac G5s to run their Xbox 360 stuff.

Lavasoft 1.06 Released

The latest and greatest version of Lavasoft Ad-Aware, the spy ware killer of choice, is out. Ad-ware has been installed on over 130 million PCs world-wide in over 120 countries. When I'm forced to use a PC, I love spending hours a week using Ad-Aware. Who needs the security of Mac OS X, when you can waste time like the Intel CEO fixing his daughter's PC. You can download it on the bottom of this page.

Motorola RAZRberry Specs

Someone on Howardsforums has the scoop on the Motorola RAZRberry, a Blackberry email device with a sleek silver RAZR design. Specs include 320x240 display with 65,000 colors, GSM/EDGE network compatibility, Bluetooth, instant messaging, and hands-free speaker phone. It's slated to come out in Q3 2005.

Another Chuck E. Cheese?

The father of the game industry is at it again. Nolan Bushnell, the creator of Pong, Atari, and Chuck E. Cheese is set to start another video game restaurant experience. I think it's a pretty cool idea that might work. I mean in Korea, internet gaming cafes, have taken over the country. Why couldn't networked gaming be a socializing experience between a sip of soda and a burger?

Imagine a Chuck E. Cheese for grown-ups—with booze and Caesar salads instead of balloons and singing animatrons. Bushnell has built "party tables" where six customers can play each other in the same game, and tournaments where diners in any of the restaurants in the chain can compete against each other in a single contest such as Texas Hold 'Em. Bushnell says he will open the first restaurant this fall in Los Angeles.

Sony Testing Anti-CD Ripping Technology

Sony BMG is testing a technology that prohibits consumers from making multiple copies using CD burning drives. The "First4Internet" protection lets users make a copy in a DRM-enabled Windows Media audio format. However the new burned CD cannot be copied beyond that. Let's count the seconds before this new copy protection is hacked. One, two, three. Done. Why do these companies even bother? Do you remember that previous old CD protection that companies paid millions for and it was defeated by pressing the shift key? Lol.

Toshiba Wants HD-DVD Peace

Toshiba's President, Tadashi Okamura, said it intends to continue efforts to reach an agreement with Sony to unify the high definition DVD standards. A few weeks ago, they were in the final stages of agreement to adopt the Blu-Ray format. However negotiations fell through, probably due to the big elephant in the room. Money and royalties. Sony does have an ace in the whole in this cycle with the Playstation 3 slated to support Blu-Ray. The marketshare of tens of millions of PS3s in living rooms around the world cannot be denied.

Indiana Jones 4 Script Approved by Lucas and Spielberg

Jeff Nathanson's script for Indiana Jones 4 was approved by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. The last leg is for Harrison Ford to green light it; he hasn't read the script yet. 2006 may be a tough fit however for Steven Spielburg as he is working on a movie about the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorism disaster and a Civil War film about Abraham Lincoln with Liam Neeson. When you have many superstars in the mix, it's tough to get the schedule right. It's still exciting thought, I'm already humming the theme song. Da da da dum! Da da da!

Microsoft Xbox 360 Price Around $300

J Allard, the Microsoft Vice President in charge of Xbox, told that the Xbox 360 will launch around the price of $300. He would not give an exact release date, but it's widely perceived in the industry the launch will be right around Thanksgiving. They plan to launch in all three major world markets (Japan, Europe, and USA), which is unprecedented for a console launch. The latest reports from Japan show that the Playstation 3 will launch around $370 to $400, at least in Japan. In the last cycle, PS2 launched in Japan at the price and $299 in the USA. [Discuss]

Link Roundup

Google CEO Says More Than One Winner (Mr. Billionaire who did nothing speaks)
Sirius Talking to Apple (iPod Satellite Radio?)
eBay Founder's Investments (interesting stuff)
Midway Stiffs Xbox 360 (Microsoft probably doesn't care though)
PS3 GPU Not Done Yet (E3 demos were on PCs lol)
Home Theater Front End Software (good list for free Tivo replacements)
Palm OS for Linux (so much for Cobalt)
2 and 4 gig Shuffles? (I wonder how Appple will price them)
Nintendo Revolution Most Powerful? (I don't think so)
Nintendo DS Upcoming Games Screenshots (Ton of great DS games coming)
Yahoo! Mindset (a search that lets you slide your preference from commercial to research)

May 26, 2005

CEO of Intel Says Get a Mac

At a Wall Street Journal conference, the CEO of Intel told the audience that he spends an hour a weekend removing spyware from his daughter's PC. In a surprising and shocking dose of honesty, Paul said mainstream users should get a Mac to instantly fix their security concerns. You know things are really bad when the CEO of Intel is telling people to buy Macs for security reasons. Or maybe he knows that Mac will be using Intel chips soon? ;)

Pressed about security by Mr. Mossberg, Mr. Otellini had a startling confession: He spends an hour a weekend removing spyware from his daughter's computer. And when further pressed about whether a mainstream computer user in search of immediate safety from security woes ought to buy Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh instead of a Wintel PC, he said, "If you want to fix it tomorrow, maybe you should buy something else." [Discuss]

Playstation 3 Not a Game Machine?

Ken Kutaragi, the father of the Playstation, is going around saying the PS3 is not a game machine. Whatever. He's also trashing talking by saying Xbox 360 is more like Xbox 1.5. Bring it on Sony, bring it on. I love the comment though on how the PS3 will let you rip DVDs onto it. That's a cool feature for movies on demand, home-style.

"The PlayStation [3] is not a game machine. We've never once called it a game machine," stated Kutaragi at the beginning of his latest interview. He went on to say that Microsoft's new game console is more of an "Xbox 1.5" than a new console, in the sense that it seems like an extension of the original Xbox. By using the Cell's security feature, users will be able to rip DVDs that include copyright protection and lay it in the storage area to refine its video quality." Source: Gamespot [Discuss]

Mad as Hell, Switching to Mac

Someone at Network World writes how he went from PC bigot to Mac switcher. I'm in the same boat. My main daily PC is now a 1.2 ghz Mac Mini. I switched from a 2.66 ghz P4 because I got sick and tired of the spyware, viruses, and crashing of the Windows platform.

How many times has Windows crashed for no reason at all? When I want to open a directory on a networked computer? Crash. When I want to copy hundreds of files at once? Crash. Having to refresh your hardware because of nasty spyware every 6 months? Check. It shouldn't have to be that way. On the Mac, stuff just works. It might be a little slower, but OS X is just more elegant, stable, and solid. I'm glad I made the switch. Don't worry, my PC is primarily a game and multi-media entertainment machine. The Mac can't do that stuff... yet.

I want my computer to function every time I turn it on. I want my computer to not corrupt data when it does crash. I use a handful of applications: Microsoft Office, e-mail, browser, FTP client and some multimedia toys. Regardless of format, they should work without crashing. I live on the 'Net. I do not want my browser to eat up all of my memory. In the WinTel world I need an assortment of third-party tools to try to keep my PC alive. That's just crazy.

Nokia 770 Internet Tablet Announced

The cell-phone giant, Nokia, has announced the 770 Internet Tablet marking its first move outside the voice wireless category. Estimated launch is Q3 of 2005. The specs include:

-Weight 230 grams
-Dimensions 141 x 79 x 19mm
-800x480 65k color screen
-64MB of DDR RAM
-128MB of Flash RAM
-64MB RS-MMC Card
-Bluetooth and WiFi
-220mhz ARM9 processor
-Internet Tablet 2005 Software Edition
-3 hour browsing battery life

This is one strange device. Who wants proprietary file formats with only 3 hours of battery life browsing over Wi-FI, when you can get a smartphone or Windows Mobile device. Moreover if you want more functionality you can get a Windows Tablet PC, which lets you run all your PC work applications. Strange indeed. It will eventually support VOIP and instant messenging in 2006 through a software upgrade.

Link Roundup

Sony Ericsson z800i Review (a new WCDMA phone)
Warriors Screenies (delayed so often, it's good to finally see some graphics)
Voice Actors Protest (2000 videogame voice actors want more money!)
Ageia PhysX Physic Processing Unit Preview (the new GPU type upgrade?)
Abusing Images (manipulate book covers to your heart's delight)
Diller May Rename AskJeeves (Diller seems to just be pretty fickle)
Visible Human Project (want to see an MRI few inches into a brain?)
Cell-phone Gaming (the next big old thing)
Two Sony UMD Movies hit 100k sold (as Darth Vader would say, most impressive)

May 25, 2005

Link Roundup

More Star Wars Movies (doubtful, but maybe in 20 years after Lucas dies)
Xbox Live Blogger (Microsoft employee posting a lot on Xbox 360)
Okami Hands-On (Game of E3 show, my opinion)
Seagate 400GB (review of a monster HD)
Samsung 40 inch OLED TV (I want one, want to pay for it?)
Microsoft Nintendo Espionage (spy vs. spy)
Leaked Nvidia G70 Specs? (only if you can read Chinese)
Xbox 360 Graphics Detail (interview with ATI on 360 GPU)
Tim Sweeney on Unreal Engine 3 (thoughts about PS3 too)
BitTorrent Creator to make Search (can you say lawsuit?)
HardOCP $1000 PC upgrade (best upgrades $1000 can buy)
Samsung to Develop 16GB Flash HD (interesting for perf and battery life)

May 21, 2005

Microsoft's Allard Acting Lame

What do you do when your main competitor kicks your butt at E3? Well the Microsoft point man for the Xbox 360, Mr. Allard, starts to say graphics and sound don't matter any more like a politician who just lost a key nationally televised debate spinning lies in the media spin room. That things are getting "good enough." He makes me want to puke. And by the way, he bashes Sony for being "misleading" with its tech demos and says there is no way Sony will make a Spring launch. Someone a little defensive?

I kind of put the 'does it look better?' secondarily. Not because it's not important, not because I don't think we're not going to have a system to do it, but because we're almost good enough. You know, years ago when we were making Xbox, there was this debate. People talk about the Blu-Ray DVD thing [now, but] they would come in and they would say 'what are you doing about SACD and DVD Audio?' Higher fidelity audio, dadadada. I'm like 'I couldn't tell the difference between vinyl and CD!' It's more convenient, which is nice, and I can play it in my car and I don't have to screw up tapes, but I can't hear the difference, do I need better audio in my life? [Discuss]

Super Mario Strikers Screenshots and Video

A soccer Nintendo game in the vein of Mario Golf and Mario Tennis. Hopefully it will do better than EA's Fifa Street. Screenies. Videos.

May 20, 2005

Killzone PS3 Demo was Real! ... Well Kind of

One of the raging debates of this E3 is whether the jaw dropping trailer for Killzone on the Playstation 3 was real-time or pre-rendered. Well the designer of Killzone gave an interview with UK Playstation and said:

Is the Killzone sequence a fair example of what people can expect from realtime gameplay on PlayStation 3?

Jan-Bart: Yeah, it's basically a representation of the look and feel of the game we're trying to make.

So it sounds like it was pre-rendered, but the real game will look and feel like the trailer. Hmmm... They are however very impressed with PS3 hardware, which I think we all are.

Jan-Bart: Yes, we're really impressed with it. The Cell is amazingly powerful, and the graphics CPU [the RSX, co-developed with Nvidia] in there... it's actually hard to mimic it on our development PCs, we have to see it on the PS3 hardware itself. It's really nice to be working with such powerful hardware. [Discuss]

May 19, 2005

Xbox 360 Backwards Compatibility?

Xbox 360 backward compatibility feature is getting more and more confusing. We know it will be done through software emulation because the next gen Xbox uses a different CPU and graphics core architecture. What is confusing are these comments that the old games need to be recompiled? Does this mean current Xbox owners have to download a new recompiled version of the old game? Or do consumers have to wait a few hours for the Xbox 360 to recompile the game on the hard-drive? Inquiring minds want to know.

The solution Microsoft has reached is apparently to recompiled current-gen Xbox games so that they can be played on the 360. First on the list, it says, are the best-selling Halo titles. The news has raised more questions than it answers, however, as it suggests that game titles may need to be modified somehow before players can use them on their new consoles - but Microsoft has denied that it will ask players to pay for new versions of the software. "At launch, Xbox 360 will be backward compatible with the top Xbox games," Xbox PR manager Michael Wolf told today. "Our goal is to have every Xbox game work on Xbox 360. You will NOT need to purchase a new 'version' - your original games will work on Xbox 360."

Sony PSP Sells 1.3 Million in US

Bloomberg is reporting Sony said it sold 1.3 million Sony PSP since the US launch. The executive also is happy with the surge in sales of its proprietary high-capacity memory sticks, which I'm sure consumers are using to play back their pirated movies and games. Ironic isn't it?

Netflix Takes Over Walmart DVD Rental

Netflix announced today it will take over the customers that subscribe to Wal-mart's DVD rental service. In return, Netflix will urge its subscribers to buy DVD films from Wal-mart. Wal-mart never really was able to compete with Netflix, analyst estimate the retail gian only had about 100,000 customers vs. Netflix's 3 million. Blockbuster Online has 750,000 subscribers and isn't giving up yet. The big questions is: What will do?

My Google Homepage

Google has beta-launched a personalized homepage portal service that competes with My Yahoo! I guess it's only a matter time before we see Google instant messenger, Google Finance, and Google Classifieds. Is a Google Auction in the works too?

Microsoft CEO Says Google May Be One-Hit Wonder

Steve Ballmer, the CEO of Microsoft, is always good for some outlandish quotes. He told reporters on Google, "The hottest company right now, the one nobody thinks can do any wrong, may just be a one-hit wonder." Wait a second Steve, Microsoft is a one-hit wonder. Hmmm, actually Microsoft is a no hit wonder since none of the stuff it sells was actually created at Microsoft. MS-DOS? Nope. Windows? A pale copy of Mac.

Xbox 360 Hardware VP Interview

Extremetech has an interview with the VP in charge of Xbox 360 hardware development. He confirms that the initial SKU will come with 20 gigabyte HD and it will not support 1080p. WiFI is not a built-in feature, but an add-on. Current demos only use about 30-40% of the final hardware's horsepower. He does seem a bit defensive about Xbox 360 being under-powered vs. the PS3.

New Yahoo Messenger

Yahoo announced the next generation of Yahoo Messenger features. It looks like we're getting better VOIP technology and ability to leave voicemails. I'm sick of the 360 moniker everyone is using these days. Yahoo 360, CNN Anderson Cooper 360, and Xbox 360. Be original please!

Free Worldwide Calling and Voicemail(1): Yahoo! Messenger has enhanced its already popular voice service to allow consumers to far more easily call anywhere in the world for free through high-quality, PC-to-PC calling. Making calls over the Internet gives people more to talk about by being able to connect with friends and family while viewing photos, playing games, searching the Web and so much more.

May 18, 2005

Western Digital Launches SATA II Drives

Western Digital launched its line of SATA II drives today. Along with an amazing 300 MB/s transfer rate, the drives will run super-cool and noise levels are reportedly below the threshold of human hearing. Well we'll know when we don't hear it.

WD Caviar SE16 SATA II hard drives combine 300 MB/s transfer rate and 16 MB cache for industry leading performance. Yes, these reliable drives are lightning fast, but they still deliver technologically advanced acoustics and cool operation. Fast -- The one-two performance punch of 300 MB/s transfer rate, state-of-the-art performance for SATA drives, and 16 MB cache make the WD Caviar SE16 family the fastest desktop-class hard drives available.

Samsung to Supply Playstation 3 Memory

Samsung is play the arms supplier to both sides of the next-generation console war. Currently Microsoft uses Samsung for its DVD drives on Xbox. Now the company has confirmed it will be manufacturing the 512 megabits of XDR RAM based on Rambus technology for the PS3. This product is only 12Xs faster than today's PC memory.

Playstation 3 Price and Pricing

A Japanese newspaper is claiming that Sony said PS3 will come out for less than $465. Analysts are also speculating that Xbox 360 will launch for less than $400. That's a lot of clams.

Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbum claims the company has offered the first hint as to a price point. According to the May 17 article, Sony officials told the paper that the PS3 will go on sale in Japan with a launch price of "less than 50,000 yen" - approximately $465 or UKP 255 at current exchange rates.

Airforce Wants Space War

Airforce wants space war. We're not talking about the old classic videogame either. The military believes it must establish space superiority, which probably means if Bush says yes, we're going to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on space weapons. The billions wasted on Star Wars in the 1980s will be a drop in the bucket in comparison. The Air Force already spent $100 billion on missile defense, which can't do much of anything today.

The Air Force, saying it must secure space to protect the nation from attack, is seeking President Bush's approval of a national-security directive that could move the United States closer to fielding offensive and defensive space weapons, according to White House and Air Force officials.

Google Adsense for RSS and Atom Feeds

Google is beta-testing Adsense for RSS and Atom Feeds.

We're currently beta testing AdSense for feeds, a program that allows you to monetize your feeds through contextually targeted advertising. AdSense for feeds works the way the rest of the AdSense program works, delivering ads that are so relevant to the content that readers find them useful. And when people click on these ads, Google pays you. If you're interested in participating in AdSense for feeds, we encourage you to fill out an application.

Portable Nintendo 64

Learn how to create a portable version of a Nintendo 64 for $80. I mean with this who needs a Sony PSP. Oh wait. I do.

E3 Power Outage

You spend a year preparing to demonstrate your best new products and the electricity goes out. Bummer.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said the cause was still undetermined, but about 10 percent of the show facilities had no power at late morning. A crew was delivering a backup transformer to the Convention Center, which was expected to have full electricity back by 4 p.m. PDT (2300 GMT). "We can't do any of the lighting or music effects, we can't demonstrate any of our products," said Dirk Foster, director of marketing for video game accessory maker Pelican, who added that his company had planned to conduct demos in some of the meeting rooms off the show floor.

In 5 Years, 2/3 of Software May be Pirated

Due to the advent for more piracy on the internet, IDC and the Business Software Alliance predicted in 5 years 2/3 of all software will be pirated as opposed to 1/3 today.

It showed that while the piracy rate globally fell by one percentage point to 35 percent last year, it increased in value to $32.7 billion from $28.8 billion in 2003. The study covering 87 countries, and based on IDC's data for software and hardware shipments and thousands of interviews, showed that while global software turnover was $59 billion in 2004, the value of software installed was over $90 billion.

Google Desktop Search for Enterprise

Google launched an enterprise version of its Desktop Search product today. Added features include integration with the Google Search Appliance and Lotus Notes. Moreover to protect against information theft, all the indexes are encrypted for security reasons.

PalmOne LifeDrive Mobile Manager Review

BargainPDA has one of the first reviews of the Palmone LifeDrive launched today. Early reviews are mixed due to its high price point, slow speed, weak multi-tasking, and memory management issues.

The biggest feature of the Lifedrive, the 4 GB internal hard drive, is a mixed blessing. I love the huge storage capability, which offers a lot of different options. But the performance hit in both speed and battery life is disappointing. Still, if you want major storage, this is the only way to go on Palm OS.

May 17, 2005

More Nintendo Revolution Pictures

Judging from the top picture, it looks like our old Gamecube controllers and memory cards will retain compatibility with the Revolution. [Discuss]

Super Mario for Nintendo DS Screenshots

If 2D Mario is your thing, this game with a super super HUGE Mario power up is the game for you.

Virgin Mobile with New Pricing Model

Starting May 23rd, Virgin Mobile will launch an optional new pricing model for current and new customers. The plan charges a flat 35c daily fee to get a 10c per minute rate. The total charge is about $10.50 a month plus any per minute calls.

Sony Unveils Cheap Small HD-Camcorder HDR-HC1

Sony unveiled today a new HD camcorder that is 1/2 the price, 1/2 the size, and 1/3 the weight of its previous offering. It will come out in July for $1684 in Japan and weigh less than 680 grams. The resolution will be 1440x1080. However the downside is it only uses one CMOS sensor vs. the 3 CCDs used by the HDR-FX1. All that aside, this will be a boon for amateur film makers and internet video junkies. Expect to see a ton of HD videos coming online soon.

Nintendo Announces Gameboy Micro!

Nintendo's biggest surprise out of E3 is a micro version of the Gameboy Advance. It will be the size of an iPod Mini and fit easily in people's back pockets. Furthermore it will play all GBA games and have customizable faceplates.

-4"x2"x0.7" dimensions, tiny bit bigger than iPod Mini
-2" adjustable brightness screen
-built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery
-coming this Fall

AMD Athlon 64 3800+ Venice Review

The Tech Report reviews the AMD Athlon 64 3800+ "Venice" processor. If you don't care much about dual-core processors, this chip is the way to go, especially if you love overclocking potential. Our very own Arogan recently built his own PC gaming rig using a lower cost Venice processor, overclocking it with great stable results.

Better yet, the revision E enhancements are proliferating up and down AMD's product line, from the low-end Athlon 64 3000+ to the dual-core Athlon 64 X2 4800+. The particular chip we've looked at today, the Athlon 64 3800+ lists for $373 and is available at online vendors for slightly less than that. More often than not, the 3800+ proves faster than the Pentium 4 660, which lists at $605. The Pentium 4 650 is a more reasonable $401, but it's bound to look rather pokey next to the 3800+. So the Venice 3800+ is a solid deal.

History of Apple's Two Major Early Failures

Sometimes even Steve Jobs whiffs at the ball. Recently it was NextStep and the Mac Cube, but in the early years it was Apple III and the Lisa. You can see how the dogmatic arrogance of the early Jobs contributed to these failures. It's funny to see Steve almost succeeded in renaming the Macintosh to Bicycle. Lol.

The built in clock, not present in the Apple II+, would fail after a couple hours of use. On top of that, Jobs' insistence that the machine have no fan made for a very hot board. After being used for a day or two, the mainboard would get so hot it would warp and unseat some of the chips. Apple refused to install a fan to fix the problem and instructed users to drop the machine on their desk to bang the chips back into place.

Building a Computer Picture Frame

This a great old hack of someone who converted a $100 Apple Powerbook Duo 270c/280c on eBay to a digital picture frame that puts the $300 commercial ones to shame.

There are only three such frames on the market, and each is seriously flawed. Consider the Poloroid/Ceiva frame. This relatively attractive digital frame is selling for around $100. Sounds like a steal, but the frame provides no mechanism for moving your images onto the frame without a subcription to the proprietary Ceiva network. Ultimately, you'd end up paying a pretty penny for a frame that also suffers from a serious technical flaw, it has a passive matrix display

EA Supports Gizmondo

EA announced at E3 it will make 3 titles for Tiger's Gizmondo handheld. Man EA must be getting desperate to make games for a "soon to die a fiery death that no-one is buying like Ngage" handheld.

Only two of these have been confirmed so far, however - FIFA Football 2005 and snowboarding sim SSX 3. "We are seeing a dynamic swing towards mobile gaming," said Nancy Smith, executive VP of publishing for EA North America. "These titles are a superb opportunity for us to work with Gizmondo in delivering an exhilarating EA gaming experience on this exciting new format."

Mac Mini Fireware Hard-Drive Performance

This bloke added an external hard-drive using a Firewire enclosure to his Mac Mini and got a 75% increase in disk performance and 15% increase in overall system performance for only $50. He had a 4200rpm Mac Mini HD though, many Mac Mini owners have the 5400rpm HD, which isn't as slow.

A 75% increase in disk performance, making about a 15% overall performance (XBench benchmark) increase for the entire system. A decent desktop disk in a FireWire Enclosure is 75% faster than the Apple supplied disk, and yes it was certainly worth the $50 something I ended up spending after tax seeing how I already had a drive.

Nintendo E3 Revolution Details

The Nintendo Revolution design is out and it looks pretty nifty. Definitely the best out of the 3 next-generation consoles in terms of form factor, sleekness, and size. Unfortunately it looks like it will be the most underpowered of the bunch, but it will probably priced accordingly.

The DVD games will go in a front loading slot and it will be able to play DVD movies and Gamecube games. Revolution will finally emphasize broadband internet connectivity and like Xbox Live let you download games. The difference is Nintendo is going to offer up its whole archive of classics from Donkey Kong to Super Mario Sunshine.

Nintendo is also downplaying the power of the console. It's estimated it will only be 2-3Xs more powerful than the Gamecube. Meanwhile Microsoft is saying Xbox 360 is 10-13Xs more powerful than the original Xbox and Sony is saying the PS3 is 35Xs more powerful than the PS2. What is earth-shattering about this is Nintendo is actually being honest and under-hyping their product. Wow. Honest marketing? Who would of thunk it.

Revolution will offer broadband access to a free Internet-based player matching service, similar to Xbox Live, that also will have downloadable versions of nearly every Nintendo game — from arcade classic Donkey Kong through current titles such as Mario Sunshine. (Nintendo hasn't decided whether downloading will be free.) Says Kaplan: "We've built Revolution around the concept of 'all-access gaming,' " a term Nintendo uses to mean the system is easily adapted to by both gamers and designers. "We're about sticking to the soul of gaming." [Discuss]

May 16, 2005

Xbox 360 E3 Press Conference Details

Microsoft is trying to feebly strike back with their very own press conference. New details include:

-Square Enix support with Final Fantasy XI port
-limited backwards compatibility for handful of top selling Xbox 1 games through software emulation (Why even bother? pathetic)
-Electronic Arts full backing
-160 titles in development
-ability to buy music and movies online
-always on functionality, no long waits between watching TV, listening to music, and playing games
-expects 25-40 titles in the first 90 days after launch [Discuss]

Sony E3 2005 Playstation 3 Gameplay Clips

Good god the gameplay clips for the Playstation 3 are breath-taking. Click on the "Sony E3 2005 Playstation 3 Game Demo Showcase 1" on this page. You will be treated with clips for Tekken 6, Devil May Cry 4, a Rockstar Wild West game, Killzone (the best of the bunch, FPS that wacks Halo 2/3 smack up on the side of its head), and Vision Gran Turismo. Good-bye Xbox 360. [Discuss]

Playstation 3 Real-Life Shots

The real-life photos of the Playstation 3 don't look as hot as the CGI rendered stuff we saw before. It's look big, chunky, heavy, and fat, not the sleek look we thought it was. The design is slowly looking worse and worse in my humble opinion. It's a Blimpie with a Spiderman font for god's sake. [Discuss]

Playstation 3 Game Screenshots

[More Screenshots]

Playstation 3 Launch Thoughts vs. Xbox 360

The killer piece of information out of the PS3 launch tonight is the Spring 2006 launch date. Gates and crew were hooting and hollering that by releasing the Xbox 360 first, they could have a significant installed base beach-head to fend off the Sony goliath. I bet they were hoping for a late 2006 release, now that is not going to happen.

If you're a hard-core gamer, do you want to wait just a few months for better graphics, backwards compatibility, more horsepower, Blu-Ray HD-DVD storage with 6x more storage, 1080p (yes P!) support, and SACD capability? All that for probably the same price point? Most gamers, including myself, would say yes. Sorry Microsoft, Sony just screwed you. [Discuss]

Sony Playstation 3 Press Release

Sony has put out a detailed press release on the Playstation 3 launch. It has a lot of nice game developer quotes and marketing hype. Read it below:

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. to Launch Its Next Generation Computer Entertainment System, in Spring 2006 - Monday May 16, 7:30 pm ET

Unrivaled Performance With the Introduction of Cell Processor and Many Advanced Technologies, and Backwards Compatible With PlayStation(R) and PlayStation(R)2

LOS ANGELES, May 16 /PRNewswire/ -- At a press conference held in Los Angeles, California, today, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) revealed the outline of its PLAYSTATION®3 (PS3) computer entertainment system, incorporating the world's most advanced Cell processor with super computer like power. [Read More]

Prototypes of PS3 will also be showcased at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the world's largest interactive entertainment exhibition held in Los Angeles, from May 18th to 20th.

PS3 combines state-of-the-art technologies featuring Cell, a processor jointly developed by IBM, Sony Group and Toshiba Corporation, graphics processor (RSX) co-developed by NVIDIA Corporation and SCEI, and XDR memory developed by Rambus Inc. It also adopts BD-ROM (Blu-ray Disc ROM) with maximum storage capacity of 54 GB (dual layer), enabling delivery of entertainment content in full high-definition (HD) quality, under a secure environment made possible through the most advanced copyright protection technology. To match the accelerating convergence of digital consumer electronics and computer technology, PS3 supports high quality display in resolution of 1080p(*) as standard, which is far superior to 720p/1080i.

With an overwhelming computing power of 2 teraflops, entirely new graphical expressions that have never been seen before will become possible. In games, not only will movement of characters and objects be far more refined and realistic, but landscapes and virtual worlds can also be rendered in real- time, thereby elevating the freedom of graphics expression to levels not experienced in the past. Gamers will literally be able to dive into the realistic world seen in large screen movies and experience the excitement in real-time.

In 1994, SCEI launched the original PlayStation® (PS), followed by PlayStation®2 (PS2) in 2000 and PlayStation®Portable (PSP®) in 2004, every time introducing the latest advancement in technology and bringing innovation to interactive entertainment software creation. Over 13,000 titles have been developed by now, creating a software market that sells more than 250 million copies annually. PS3 offers backward compatibility enabling gamers to enjoy these enormous assets from PS and PS2 platforms.

PlayStation family of products are sold in more than 120 countries and regions around the world. With cumulative shipments reaching more than 102 million for PS and approximately 89 million for PS2, they are the undisputed leaders and have become the standard platform for home entertainment. After 12 years from the introduction of the original PS and 6 years from the launch of PS2, SCEI brings PS3, the newest platform with the most advanced next generation computer entertainment technology.

With the delivery of Cell based development tools that has already begun, development of game titles as well as tools and middleware are in progress. Through collaboration with world's leading tools and middleware companies, SCEI will offer full support to new content creation by providing developers with extensive tools and libraries that will bring out the power of the Cell processor and enable efficient software development.

Preparations are under way for launch of PS3 and new generation software in the spring of 2006.

(*) 1080p/720p/1080i: "p" stands for progressive scan method, "i" stands
for interlace method. 1080p is the highest resolution within the HD

"SCEI has continuously brought innovation to the world of computer entertainment, such as real-time 3D computer graphics on PlayStation and the world's first 128 bit processor Emotion Engine (EE) for PlayStation 2. Empowered by the Cell processor with super computer like performance, a new age of PLAYSTATION 3 is about to begin. Together with content creators from all over the world, SCEI will accelerate the arrival of a new era in computer entertainment."

Ken Kutaragi, President and CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc..

Supporting comments from third party developers and publishers
(In alphabetical order of company name)

"With the new generation PlayStation platform, we can create "GUNDAM WORLD" with the quality no one has ever imagined. The philosophy, connecting millions of Cell together, makes reality get closer to the world of SF films. We are delighted to share the vision of Ken, ARCHITECT, Kutaragi."

Shin Unozawa, Managing Director, Leader, Game Software Group, President, Video Game Company, BANDAI CO., LTD.

"The PLAYSTATION 3 has us really excited! So much so in fact that we are already working our hardest to get Devil May Cry 4 out for this new platform. New hardware always yields more options for developers to create exciting and fresh gameplay experiences. I believe that the PS3 is one piece of hardware that will test the mettle of our development team and help us to create some of the most amazing games, limited only by our imagination."

Keiji Inafune, Managing Executive Officer, Research & Development Division,Capcom Co., Ltd.

"Each generation of PlayStation has made a dramatic improvement in how we create and play videogames. PLAYSTATION 3 will be a breakthrough in how the world experiences entertainment. EA is fully aligned with Sony Computer Entertainment -- we share their vision and applaud their success."

Larry Probst, Chairman and CEO, Electronic Arts

"President Kutaragi has thrown down a gauntlet. That gauntlet is called the PLAYSTATION 3. We here at Koei have gladly taken up the challenge, and are striving day and night to take full advantage of all the PS3's new possibilities. Our goal is to combine cutting-edge technology with a full range of artistic expression to deliver the ultimate form of entertainment, and please people everywhere."

Keiko Erikawa, Chairman & C.E.O., KOEI Co., Ltd.

"With the arrival of the next generation computer entertainment system PLAYSTATION 3, I believe it will be possible for graphic expressions, more beautiful than before, to coexist with more deep and evolved game play which utilize the Cell architecture. I also have high expectations for the evolution by the online features that will be enhanced. We will utilize the features of the new platform and will strive to create contents that will bring new excitement for our users world wide, so please have high hopes for Konami."

Kazumi Kitaue, CEO, Konami Digital Entertainment, Inc

"Each time SCEI launches a console, the video games business moves to the next level. With PLAYSTATION 3 it looks as if it might be time for interactive entertainment to become, finally, the world's dominant artistic medium."

Sam Houser, President, Rockstar Games (Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.)

"We at Namco have used and will continue to use the advancements in audio- visual technology to deliver games that are not only appealing to the eyes and ears, but that stir emotions, speak to the heart, and remain in players' minds for years to come. We are confident that the PLAYSTATION 3 is an entertainment system that will enable us to do just that."

Shigeru Yokoyama, CT Company President, Namco Ltd.

"Next-generation hardware platforms will enable SEGA to create new game concepts that offer more immersive interactive experiences. SEGA continues to pursue the fusion of creativity and technology by publishing only the best, more innovative content to gamers around the world."

Hisao Oguchi, President and Chief Operating Officer, SEGA Corporation

"Square Enix is extremely honored to have had the chance to provide you with this technical demonstration of what the Cell processor can bring to the PLAYSTATION 3 and the world of gaming. We are committed to fully backing SCEI's new computer entertainment system and plans to bring the FINAL FANTASY series to the PS3 are just beyond the horizon."

Yoichi Wada, President, SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.

"Ubisoft was one of the first major international developers to have its teams start focusing on next generation consoles. We are looking forward to developing outstanding games on Sony Computer Entertainment Inc.'s new system. Its powerful features will help take the industry to an even higher level in the very near future."

Grand Theft Auto Next to be a Playstation 3 Launch Title

Earlier today, Bill Gates was trash talking Sony by saying Halo 3 is going to snuff the Playstation 3 launch. Uh, go back to Redmond Mr. Bill because Sony smacked you upside the head today. Sony executives have confirmed that Grand Theft Auto Next will be a Playstation 3 launch title at E3 press conference. Bring it Microsoft, bring it.

Playstation 3 Bluetooth Gamepad

The new dual shock Bluetooth gamepad looks pretty weak in my opinion. With no inputs in the front of the console, it's pretty obvious this will be a wireless solution. It's almost like they stole the old Microsoft Sidewinder PC gamepad design. Ugly. What do you guys think? [Discuss]

Playstation 3 Full Technical Specs

Cell Processor
PowerPC-base Core @3.2GHz
1 VMX vector unit per core
512KB L2 cache
7 x SPE @3.2GHz
7 x 128b 128 SIMD GPRs
7 x 256KB SRAM for SPE
* 1 of 8 SPEs reserved for redundancy
total floating point performance: 218 GFLOPS

RSX @550MHz
1.8 TFLOPS floating point performance [Read More]

Full HD (up to 1080p) x 2 channels
Multi-way programmable parallel floating point shader pipelines

Dolby 5.1ch, DTS, LPCM, etc. (Cell- base processing)

256MB XDR Main RAM @3.2GHz 256MB GDDR3 VRAM @700MHz

System Bandwidth
Main RAM 25.6GB/s
VRAM 22.4GB/s
RSX 20GB/s (write) + 15GB/s (read)
SB< 2.5GB/s (write) + 2.5GB/s (read)

System Floating Point Performance

Detachable 2.5" HDD slot x 1

USB Front x 4, Rear x 2 (USB2.0)
Memory Stick standard/Duo, PRO x 1
SD standard/mini x 1
CompactFlash (Type I, II) x 1

Ethernet (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, 1000BASE-T) x 3 (input x 1 + output x 2)
Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g
Bluetooth 2.0 (EDR)

Bluetooth (up to 7)
USB 2.0 (wired)
Wi-Fi (PSP)
Network (over IP)

AV Output
Screen size: 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, 1080p
HDMI: HDMI out x 2
Analog: AV MULTI OUT x 1
Digital audio: DIGITAL OUT (OPTICAL) x 1

Disc Media
CD PlayStation CD-ROM, PlayStation 2 CD-ROM, CD-DA, CD-DA (ROM), CD-R, CD-RW, SACD, SACD Hybrid (CD layer), SACD HD, DualDisc, DualDisc (audio side), DualDisc (DVD side)
DVD: PlayStation 2 DVD-ROM, PlayStation 3 DVD-ROM, DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW
Blu-ray Disc: PlayStation 3 BD-ROM, BD-Video, BD-ROM, BD-R, BD-RE [Discuss]

Playstation 3 Specs, Details, and Launch Date Announced at E3

At the pre-E3 Sony press conference today, Sony announced details on the Playstation 3. The company confirmed a Spring 2006 release date and these specs:

-Blu-Ray media support with 6x today's DVD storage
-Support for CD-ROM, CDR+W, DVD, DVD-ROM, DVD-R, DVD+R
-Backwards compatibility to PS2 and PS1 (touche Xbox 360)
-Memory Stick Duo, SD, and Compact Flash memory slots
-Detachable 2.5 inch hard-drive
-Support for 7 Bluetooth controllers
-6 USB slots (4 in front, 2 in the back
-3.2 Ghz Cell processor with 2.18 teraflops of performance
-255mb XDR RAM at 3.2ghz, 256mb GDDR VRAM at 700mhz

RSX "Reality Synthesizer" graphics based on Nvidia technology is the eye catcher. It will have 128 bit pixel precision, support 1080p resolution (wow!), and take 300 million transistors. The RSX is more than twice as powerful as the best PC graphics cards today. The console will also support video conferencing, internet acccess, digital photos, etc. It's a home media entertainment Battle Royale vs. Microsoft. [Discuss]

New York Times to Charge for Op-Ed

The New York Times announced that later this year it will charge $49.95 a year for access to opinion and editorial articles on its website. Print subscribers will still get access for free on top of their normal subscription.

I kind of doubt this will do that well. I mean do I really want to pay $50 a year to read Maureen Dowd bash Bush all the time? Probably not.

While most of the news, features and multi-media on will remain free and available to users, the work of Op-Ed columnists and some of the best known voices from the news side of The Times and The International Herald Tribune will be available only to TimesSelect subscribers beginning in September. Home-delivery subscribers will automatically receive TimesSelect as part of their benefits. TimesSelect will be priced at $49.95 for an annual subscription.

Verizon Launches Samsung i730

Verizon Wireless said it will sell the Samsung i730 sometime this summer. The Samsung's SCH-i730 smartphone specs include:

-Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and EV-DO
-Windows Mobile operating system
-slide-out keyboard
-1.3 megapixel camera
-64MB of RAM
-2.8 inch 65k QVGA color display
-stereo speakers
-SD memory card slot

Verizon Cuts Prices on EV-DO Data Service

Brighthand has the scoop that Verizon is lowering its prices for high-speed EV-DO internet access by $20 to $59.99 for unlimited usage. This a boon for Palm OS and Windows Mobile smartphone users who want to stay on Verizon's network without losing an arm and a leg price wise as Sprint is so much cheaper.

Unlimited use of NationalAccess is now $59.99 for monthly access, a reduction of $20 a month. In addition, starting May 23, those purchasing a handheld or smartphone from Verizon will have a choice of data plans that include 10 MB for $29.99 or unlimited data service for $49.99. Customers adding data plans to any voice service plan of $39.99 or higher will receive a $5.00 a month discount on their chosen data plan.

Verizon Wireless Churn Rates Low

Verizon is bragging about having the lowest churn rate in 2004 and Q1 2005 at 1.33% and 1.5% respectively. The company says it added 6.3 million customers last year, tops in the industry. However it fails to mention their land-line business is dying on a vine due to the advent of VOIP companies like Vonage.

The company has regularly invested more than $4 billion nationally each year since its inception -- and more than $5 billion last year alone -- to expand and upgrade its nationwide wireless network.

iPaq hw6500 Coming in September?

According to a Brighthand source, the HP iPaq hw6500 is slated to come out in September through Cingular. The hw6500 will use the older Windows Mobile 2003 SE, while the hw6700 will use the latest and greatest Windows Mobile 5.0. The 6500 series has built-in GSM/GPRS/EDGE and Bluetooth with a 312mhz Intel XScale processor. This is definitely the smartphone that we're looking foward to most as the Treo 650 killer of choice.

It will have 64 MB of RAM, of which 46 MB is user accessible. This handheld will include an 8 MB File Store. This will be capable of taking 1280-by-1024-pixel still pictures or 640-by-480-pixel MPEG4 video. It will be accompanied by an LED flash. These will be the first Pocket PCs from any company with a square (240 by 240 pixel) screen. This will be 2.2 inches on each side. Below the screen will be a backlit QWERTY keyboard. It will include a built-in GPS receiver and TomTom Navigator software. Users will be able to download one city map for free. Additional maps will cost extra. These devices will be 4.7 inches tall, 2.8 inches wide, and 0.8 inches thick (118 mm by 71 mm by 21 mm). They will weigh 5.8 ounces (165 g).

Supreme Court Allows Internet Wine Sales

Currently 23 states have laws banning direct sales from out-of-state wineries and internet sites. Thankfully the Supreme Court struck down those laws today as discrimination against interstate commerce. Expect lower prices for your favorite grape juice soon as a result of this ruling.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court ruled that the bans unconstitutionally discriminated against interstate commerce. Such laws have been adopted in 23 states while the other 27 states allow direct wine sales, industry officials said.

Take-Two Announces 5 Xbox 360 Sports Games

It looks like Take-Two's 2K Sports is supporting the Xbox 360 in a big way. Today they announced 5 upcoming Xbox 360 sports titles including NBA 2K6, NHL 2K6 (is there such a thing as pro hockey anymore?), College Hoops 2K6, Amped 3, and Top Spin 2.

XM Radio Passes 4 Million Subscribers

XM Satellite Radio announced that it passed the 4 million subscriber mark today and is on track to reach its goal of 5.5 milllion by the end of the year. The company added 1 million subs since just last December. Sirius currently is at 1.4 million subs and plans to grow to 2.7 million by the end of the year.

MSN Desktop Search 1.0 Released

Microsoft has finally released the 1.0 version of its Desktop Search tool. It has been getting positive reviews for its speed and privacy features. The company also plans to include tabbed browsing on Internet Explorer in the coming months.

To address some privacy concerns with desktop search tools, Microsoft updated the software to let people control which files the software indexes and how often. In addition, the company is allowing developers to create plug-ins for the toolbar so that it will search other file types not already included in indexing.

Bill Gates Waves Halo 3 at Playstation 3 Launch

This is videogamesmanship at its best. In the feature cover article in Time Magazine, Bill Gates said the Playstation 3 will launch right into the release of Halo 3. Halo 2 has sold over 6.5 million copies and is a killer app for hard-core gamers to say the least.

"Note to the hard-core faithful: the next version of Halo will not, repeat not, be ready in time for the launch of Xbox 360. It will be part of the all-important second wave next spring. 'It's perfect,' Gates says, radiant with bloodlust. 'The day Sony launches [the new PlayStation], and they walk right into Halo 3.'"

SNES Emulator Released for Sony PSP

A working SNES emulator has been released for Sony PSP. It only works for firmware 1.0 and has a frame-rate of 10-40 per second. However unlike previous efforts, it looks like it has full sound support and fills about half the LCD screen.

NetGear Storage Central

According to Live Digitally, Netgear will release the Storage Central in a month. It will cost only $129 and can house two IDE hard-drives and plug into any network through ethernet. Mirroring, partitioning, and striping are available features for this network drive. This might be a great backup device, media streaming storage, etc. Could be a much better value than USB 2.0 enclosures especially if you have more than one computer.

MPAA Goes After TV BitTorrent Sites

Through the kindness of their hearts, the Motion Picture Association of America has sued a bunch of BitTorrent TV downloading sites and a few individuals. I'm sure their lawsuits have nothing to do with the growing significance of movie downloading on the same sites. Nahh, they are just looking out for their TV brethen. *cough* What a brilliant strategy of suing their best customers. Meanwhile Sci-Fi channel turns a blind eye to the download of Battlestar Galactica, and it turns out the word of mouth caused bigger ratings to the televised show.

"Every television series depends on other markets (such as) syndication and international sales to earn back the enormous investment required to produce the comedies and dramas we all enjoy," MPAA Chief Executive Officer Dan Glickman said in a statement. "Those markets are substantially hurt when that content is stolen."

May 15, 2005

Xbox 360 and Bill Gates on the Cover of Time

Ok time to puke, the Xbox 360 and Bill Gates made the cover of Time Magazine this week. The hype machine has worked - MTV, the colony website, and now TIME.

Samsung Beatbox Phone SCH-310

Samsung announced the launch of the SCH-310, Beatbox phone. It is heralded as not only a music playback device, but an actual musical instrument. It can perform as a motion beatbox, electronic music box, motion recognizing speed dial, and do motion sound effects. Can you imagine people shaking their tush and vigorously waving their cellphones walking around the city?

Motion beatbox performs 435 kinds of music played by 30 types of instruments such as eight beatbox sounds, two drum sounds and one tambourine sound. Users can also pick up two kinds of different sounds and mix them. Electronic music box plays 10 kinds of music and users can enjoy birthday song, lullaby and Jingle Bell in their favorite beat by shaking their handsets. Besides, motion sound effect expresses users’ emotional state by recognizing motion and easy message eraser deletes messages when users shake their handsets up and down twice. An electronics compass, 1.3-megapixel camera, MP3, GPS and music-on-demand (MOD) are also available.

Nintendo DS E3 Free Demos

Nintendo has announced it will wirelessly give out free game demos at their E3 booth this year. So be sure to bring your Nintendo DS if you go.

Don't forget to bring your Nintendo DS™ system to the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles next week. The massive Nintendo booth will feature an area dedicated to DS Download Play. Visitors can try out sample versions of Nintendo games delivered wirelessly, video content – and a few surprises. Be sure to check it out.

Chronicles of Narnia Trailer

Disney has released the first teaser trailer of the Chronicles of Narnia based on the C.S. Lewis classic. It seems to borrow a bit from Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but the movie seems to be lacking something. Disney is probably hoping it will start a huge movie franchise based on the books just like Time Warner's Potter. I love the Narnia books, I wish them well. But Disney isn't exactly known for execution these days.

Age of Empires Coming to Nintendo DS

Majesco announced a version of Age of Empires is coming for the Nintendo DS this Christmas. However it won't be a real-time strategy game, but a turned base one. Think Advance Wars with a Middle Ages motif.

“Age of Empires has set the gold standard for real-time strategy games and its global audience continues to grow,” said Ken Gold, vice president of Marketing for Majesco. “Our portable version provides an exceptional game experience by taking advantage of the new DS features, and we are excited to have such a high-profile and well-regarded property spearhead our DS lineup for the back-half of 2005.”

May 14, 2005

Mac Mini USB 2nd Display Video Card?

Tritton has announced a USB 2.0 to SVGA adapter that lets users of laptops and even the Mac Mini display and connect a second monitor in resolutions up to 1280x1024 with 16-bit color. Pretty cool idea if it works and the price of $99 isn't too crazy.

TRITTON Technologies, a provider of advanced networking, storage and peripheral products, announced its newest, enhanced SEE2, said to be the industry's first USB 2.0 to SVGA adapter. The $99 MSRP SEE2 adapter now supports higher resolution 1280 x 1024 video with up to 16-bit color, up from its previous maximum resolution of 1024 x 768. The SEE2 also supports a mirroring capability in addition to extending the desktop.

Xbox 360 Comprehensive Game List

Eurogamer listed all the known Xbox 360 games and details. They agree with me that Perfect Dark Zero looks unimpressive to say the least. It's kind of strange to see them poo-poo American sports titles. Those Brits, you don't see us bashing soccer do we?

It's the sequel to the Nintendo 64 game Perfect Dark, which is by most people's reckoning one of the best games released on that format, but screenshots released on the day of the Xbox 360's announcement haven't exactly brought the net to its knees. Well, they have, but more with tears of confusion than anything. Hopefully there's more to it than meets the eye, because when people are running around forums complaining that faked screenshots looked better, you have to worry a little.

Apple Wins Initial Court Ruling vs. Tiger Direct

Tiger Direct was denied a preliminary injunction against sales of the Tiger operating system because of what the retailer believes was trademark infringement. The judge rightly decided Apple would be much more negatively impacted than any potential harm to TigerDirect from Apple's use of the "Tiger" name. According to court documents, Apple said it spent over $50 million in the past year in a carefully planned marketing campaign to support the launch of Mac Tiger OS X 10.4.

The ruling was part of a 56 page opinion handed down on May 11th by Judge Joan Lenard of the United States District Court for the District of Florida. After weighing arguments from both sides, the Court found that "there is greater risk of damage to Apple from granting the injunction than any potential harm to TigerDirect from Apple's use of Tiger marks."

Adam Curry on Podcasting

Isn't strange that a former video DJ of MTV keeps finding himself at the crest of every big wave on the internet? Wired has him talking about the genesis of podcasting and how he got Sirius to give him a commercial program on it.

I called it the Daily Source Code, because I was just talking about whatever version of ipodder they were building. And I started getting e-mails from other people -- "I've created a show too." Soon, went from being just a place where the program was available to a place where people were also sharing programming.

Xbox 360 Leader Interviewed

Wired has an interview article with Mr. Allard, the leader of the Xbox 360 team. He's quite an interesting character, one of the few Microsoft employees who can curse off Bill Gates and use an Apple Powerbook, but be lauded for it. Not to mention the fact he is driven by wanting the creator of the Sony Playstation to resign in defeat.

And while coming out with a new console later this year gives Microsoft a one-year head start on the next-gen PlayStation - allowing Microsoft to court game developers and convert gamers - it's not exactly a flawless strategy. Sega introduced Dreamcast in 1999, a full year before the arrival of PS2. Consumers stayed away, and Sega never recovered.

Allard is not exactly your typical Microsoft employee. Spend a bit of time with the man and you begin to see him as a wag on the loose inside the Microsoft campus, saying and doing his own thing regardless of whether it jibes with corporate strategy. He uses an Apple PowerBook, fires off rambling, profanity-laced emails to his superiors, and has a knack for, well, thinking different. He also has the respect of Gates and Ballmer.

Everyone at the meeting agreed that initially Xbox wouldn't make a dime. In the first year, the console retailed for $300 and Microsoft lost as much as $125 on each unit sold. "Yeah. We took it in the shorts," Allard says. "The first time around was just a bath. A lesson. Practice."

The mission: to inspire the group's rank and file. "Most people put down flowery, make-the-world-a-better-place, Miss America types of things," Allard says. "I wrote: What gets me out of bed and into the office every day is the thought of Ken Kutaragi's resignation letter, framed, hanging next to my desk."

Google Movie Reviews

If you type in a name of a move into the Google search engine now, it will give you movie ratings, local times, and reviews. Pretty nifty. Not so cool for Rotten Tomatoes however.

May 13, 2005

Nvidia Ends Xbox 1 Chip Shipments

Nvidia said on their earnings conference call yesterday that it was stopping Xbox 1 graphic chip shipments in the current quarter (ending August 1st) as Microsoft focuses on the Xbox 360, which uses ATI graphics technology.

This fans the flames that the Xbox 360 may NOT be backwards compatible as Microsoft would have to pay Nvidia for Xbox 1 graphics chip hardware. I guess it is possible they can emulate it using software, but that method is a lot more difficult.

It also looks like the current Xbox 1 will be put out to pasture when the Xbox 360 is released. Unlike traditional console cycles, Microsoft isn't able to bring down the cost of the first Xbox due to bad contract negotiation. Instead of paying a royalty based on the price of the console and semiconductor cost reductions, Nvidia was able to lock in a fixed price for the chips. Maybe that is why the creator of the Xbox now works for the near bankrupt Infinium Labs, creator of the Phantom console. So Phantom, that is hasn't been released yet. [Discuss]

Sony Considers 2005 PS3 Release?

With all the Xbox 360 hoopla, Sony is asking "where's the love?" In a very Dreamcastian vaporware way, Sony's CFO coyishly said:

"For the year end sales season, simultaneously building up both the PlayStation Portable system in America and Europe as well as the next generation PlayStation is one option that we have."

I'll bet you my right kidney that Playstation 3 will not make it for this Christmas, however it doesn't stop Sony of trying to confuse people out there from picking up a Xbox 360, just like they vaporwared the Sega Dreamcast. "Don't buy now, our machine will be SO MUCH better... it's COMING SOON!"

Best Selling PC Games for the Week Ending April 30th

The latest NPD PC top 10 list is out for the week of April 30th. Guild Wars is rocking the house with its arcade WOW-ish type action.

1. Guild Wars (NCsoft)
2. The Sims 2 University (Electronic Arts)
3. World of Warcraft (Blizzard)
4. Stronghold 2 (2K Games)
5. Empire Earth 2 (Vivendi)
6. The Sims 2 (Electronic Arts)
7. Guild Wars Collector's Ed. (NCsoft)
8. Delta Force: Xtreme (NovaLogic)
9. The Sims Deluxe (Electronic Arts)
10. Half-Life 2 (Vivendi)

Perfect Dark Zero Feature

1Up has a multi-page feature article on the Perfect Dark Zero and more screenshots. Frankly the screenies don't look all that good, maybe it's a result of moving the game from Gamecube to Xbox and then to Xbox 360. The weak texture and polygon count could be explained by this.

Back in 2001, the team at Rare actually had an early build of PDZ up and running on the GameCube. Though it was incredibly rough and lacked any meaningful design, the potential -- and the pedigree -- were definitely there.

Creative Announces X-Fi Extreme Fidelity Audio Processor

Creative announced their latest sound chip, the X-Fi Extreme Fidelity Audio Processor. The company says it will improve the sound of all your MP3s and CDs using the new chip that is 24Xs more powerful than its predecessor. Let's all take this with a grain a salt as Creative isn't known for living up to its marketing hype and generally their technology innovation has been severely lacking. Intel, kill Creative please with your HD audio.

The Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor has more than 51 million transistors, and is capable of 10,000+ MIPS. The Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor is 24 times more powerful than its predecessor, and is designed with multiple engines, so it can dynamically direct resources through a modular architecture to completely change the way audio is managed for any application. The Creative X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity audio processor provides key modes that are optimized for experiences with MP3 music, gaming, movies and audio creation. Each mode is configured to dynamically dedicate the processor's power to deliver only the features, quality and capabilities that the user requires.

Nvidia to Unveil Next-Gen G70 Chip

Motherboard makers have told Digitimes that Nvidia will unveil their next generation graphics chip, the G70, at Computex Taipei 2005 on May 31st to June 4th. Reportedly the new G70 will deliver twice the performance of the GeForce 6800 and be available in the Fall for $549.

Market sources indicated that the Nvidia G70 should deliver twice the performance of the current flagship series, the GeForce 6800. The chips will be built using a 0.11-micron process at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), as opposed to ATI’s R520 chip, which will be manufactured using a 90nm process, the sources suggested. The makers did say the G70 may begin volume shipments in the latter half of the third quarter at the earliest and will retail for US$549.

Xbox 360 Peripherals Info

Now that the console has been covered inside and out, Microsoft has published their marketing information and specs for the peripherals. Things like Faces (interchangeable faceplates), memory cards (64MB), Universal Remote, Live Camera (640x480 30fps video conferencing. yum!), headset, wireless network adapter, wireless controller, and wired controller.

Unlike any console before, Xbox 360 puts gamers at the center and gives you the freedom to personalize your gaming experience however you see fit. Xbox 360 Faces make it easy and fun to change the face of your console. Change your Faces whenever you like to match your personality, your mood, or your wild side. So flip it, switch it, or leave it be, and express your unique sense of style.

* Interchangeable faceplates allow you to express yourself and create a one-of-a-kind system.
* Find cool, customizable, cutting-edge designs that are fun to change.
* Faces are highly versatile, with multiple designs to choose from.
[Read More]

* Faces are designed for easy switching.
* Maintain full functionality of your system, regardless of which Face you choose.
* Pick up copies of the collectable limited-edition Faces.

Memory Unit
Further enhancing the gaming experience, Xbox 360 Memory Units allow you to save your in-game achievements and unique gamer profiles. The Memory Units are easily portable and enable quick and easy access to previously established benchmarks, putting you in control of your games and your lifestyle. You can save your games, your Xbox Live™ profile, and more with Xbox 360 Memory Units.

* Transport your Memory Unit in the portable carrying case that fits on your keychain.
* The Memory Unit (64 MB) requires no setup. Just plug it in, and you can save your favorite games.
* Xbox 360 holds up to two Memory Units, so you can easily upgrade to more storage space.

Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote
The Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote was engineered to serve as your integrated control center for the entire Xbox 360 experience. Enter a new world of digital entertainment with the touch of a single button. Play DVD movies and music, plus control your TV and your Media Center PC with one controller. The centralized, glowing Xbox Guide Button gives you quick access to your digital movies, music, and games library, and backlit buttons make the keypad easy to see in a darkened home theater. So kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

* Power your Xbox 360 system on or off without leaving the couch.
* The Xbox Guide Button allows for easy navigation of the Xbox Gamer Guide.
* The Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote includes control buttons for your music, pictures, and more.
* The Xbox 360 supports progressive-scan for DVD playback functionality, including a control for opening and closing the tray.
* The remote supports universal TV and console functionality, including volume and mute buttons and up-and-down channel changing.
* Windows® XP Media Center Edition Button and Media Center Edition functionality are featured.
* A, B, X, and Y buttons are included for basic control of your Xbox 360 system, even without a controller.
* Numbered and backlight keypad gives you full functionality, even in the dark.

Peripherals Designed Specifically for Xbox Live

Xbox Live Camera
The Xbox Live Camera for Xbox 360 opens up a new world of gaming and entertainment on Xbox Live, the world’s premier online video games service. With the Xbox Live Camera, video chat and video messaging with your friends becomes more than just a feature set; it is an integrated part of the Xbox Live experience. Connect and communicate while playing the same or different games, watching movies, listening to music, and more.

The Xbox Live Camera also takes personalization to a whole new level and allows you to customize your gaming experience by putting your face on characters in your games, all while being able to video chat with your friends as you play online. And with next-generation online motion-detection-enabled games, the Xbox Live Camera puts you entirely in the game and in control of the on-screen characters over Xbox Live.

* High-end online camera supports up to VGA 640x480 video at 30 frames per second and takes 1.3-megapixel still photos.
* The camera includes a microphone that connects to the controller, so everyone in the room can chat online with their friends.
* The camera supports built-in video chat and video messaging on Xbox Live.
* Your face can be imported into games and can also be placed next to your name on leader boards for even more recognition or fame.
* Chat with your friends while you play online in Xbox 360 games as well as in the Xbox Live Arcade.

Xbox 360 Headset
The Xbox 360 Headset heightens the experience of the unprecedented online gaming community, Xbox Live, allowing you to strategize with teammates, trash-talk opponents or just chat with friends while playing your favorite games. You can record and leave short voice messages for friends or family through the free Xbox Live Message Service or connect with buddies online using the headset in place of the phone. Turn it up or turn it down, and experience the most intense gaming experience possible.

* Boom microphone can be adjusted for optimal sound quality.
* In-line volume control and mute switch let users adjust the headset volume or switch mute on and off easily.
* Noise-canceling microphone improves game response to voice commands, and provides crisp and clear voice communication.
* Lightweight, over-the-head design enables comfortable use.
* The headset plugs directly into either the Xbox 360 Controller or Xbox Wireless Controller for easy use.

Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter
Designed for versatility and ease, the Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter enhances your Xbox 360 experience in the digital home, seamlessly synchronizing with the Xbox 360 system. You can easily transfer videos and music to your Xbox 360 system from your Media Center PC, chat with your friends, play games via Xbox Live, and more—all without the clutter of wires.

* The Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter is highly versatile and supports 802.11b, 802.11g, and 802.11a.
* The Xbox 360 Wireless Network Adapter is powered seamlessly by your Xbox 360 gaming console, so there's no external power adapter to plug in.
* You can transfer high-definition video and CD-quality music from your Media Center PC to your Xbox 360 via 802.11a wireless media support.

Xbox 360 Wireless Controller
High-performance wireless gaming is here! Using optimized technology, the Xbox 360 Wireless Controller lets you enjoy a 30-foot range and up to 40 hours of life on two AA batteries—and when they run low, you're given ample warning so you can connect a Play & Charge cable for uninterrupted play. Plug the Xbox 360 Headset into the controller for full duplex voice communication: a wireless first. With quick access to Xbox 360 features including DVDs, music, pictures, and more, along with the ability to support four wireless controllers simultaneously, gamers can experience wireless freedom, precision, high quality, and performance for endless gameplay.

* It's cordless—no cables to plug in—with a 30-foot wireless range.
* The controller features integrated 2.4GHz high-performance wireless technology.
* New and improved ergonomic design enables maximum comfort and endless gameplay.
* New left and right shoulder buttons are designed for ease of use.
* Two analog pressure-point triggers, two vibration feedback motors, and one eight-way directional pad are included.
* Experience an unprecedented level of Rumble Control. Set the Rumble Control to Full, Medium, Low, or Off to match your personal preference.
* The Xbox Guide Button at the center of the controller gives you quick access to all your favorite Xbox 360 system activities, such as watching movies, listening to music, contacting friends on Xbox Live, and customizing your gaming experiences. Easily jump to the Xbox Gamer Guide or Xbox Live Marketplace.

Xbox 360 Controller
Based on the acclaimed design of the Xbox Controller S, the Xbox 360 Controller features an extended nine-foot cable and an improved ergonomic design. The centralized, glowing Xbox Guide Button grants you quick access to your digital movie, music, and games libraries. The ultimate in gamer flexibility, precision, control, quality, and comfort are all yours.

* New and improved ergonomic design enables maximum comfort and endless gameplay.
* New left and right shoulder buttons are designed for ease of use.
* Six analog buttons have 256 levels of sensitivity.
* Two analog pressure-point triggers, two vibration feedback motors, and one eight-way directional pad are included.
* The controller includes a nine-foot (nearly three-meter) break-away controller cable.
* Experience an unprecedented level of Rumble Control. Set the Rumble Control to Full, Medium, Low, or Off to match your personal preference.
* A port for your Xbox 360 Headset is included.
* The Xbox Guide Button at the center of the controller gives you quick access to all your favorite Xbox 360 system activities, such as watching movies, listening to music, contacting friends on Xbox Live, and customizing your gaming experiences. Easily jump to the Xbox Gamer Guide or Xbox Live Marketplace.

Xbox 360 Fact Sheet

Microsoft has published a fact sheet on the Xbox 360. It looks like Wi-Fi support is not built-in and the upgradeable hard-drive will be 20 gigabytes. Otherwise the specs are almost exactly in-line to the leaks a few days ago. However if you read the fine print on the bottom, any of this can change. My question is what happened to the huge flash memory storage that M-System was going to supply? Strange.

The information contained in this fact sheet relates to a prerelease product that may be substantially modified before its first commercial release. Accordingly, the information may not accurately describe or reflect the product when first commercially released. This fact sheet is provided for informational purposes only, and Microsoft makes no warranties, express or implied, with respect to the fact sheet or the information contained in it.

Microsoft to Launch Anti-Virus Software

Microsoft has finally confirmed it will release a security service called "Windows OneCare" later this year for an annual subscription fee. It will include anti-virus, spyware, and firewall protection. Extra tools will also backup key data files and optimize your PC. I guess this means Symantec and McAfee are in deep doo-doo. Maybe this is the reason why Symantec is trying to fan the flames of Mac virus paranoia. They know the evil Empire is going to crush them on the Windows platform.

The Redmond, Washington-based software giant said it would initially distribute the service, called "Windows OneCare," among its employees this week and would offer a trial, or beta, service for PCs running Windows later this year. Users would pay a yearly subscription fee. In addition to providing anti-virus, anti-spyware and firewall protection, Windows OneCare will include tools to keep PCs maintained for optimal performance and back up key data.

Nintendo Revolution Details

Trying to steal some thunder from the Xbox 360 marketing barrage, Nintendo was quoted in a New York Times article saying the Revolution will be sleek (no taller than 3 DVD cases), include a wireless controller, have backward compatibility to the Gamecube, online play emphasis, HD graphics, and even *gasp* play DVDs. Sounds like it's going to look like a slim-line PS2 doesn't it?

Perrin Kaplan, Nintendo's vice president for corporate affairs, said GameCube's successor would be "very, very sleek." She described it as horizontal and no taller than a stack of three DVD cases. Unlike GameCube, the new system will play DVD's, Ms. Kaplin said, and will feature a wireless controller. It will play GameCube games as well as a new class of high-definition games, with new emphasis on online play.

*Update* - Nintendo pretty much reiterated what was said in the article on their website, plus full wireless internet ready out of the box, quick startup, and low power/quiet operation.

Xbox 360 Game Trailers has posted some exclusive trailers for Xbox 360 games. They force you to watch a lame Starburst or Comverse commercial before you get to see a few seconds of gameplay. EA in its infinite wisdom decided to show pre-rendered cut scenes in their trailers. Bastards. However there are some good gameplay segments from Tony Hawk's American Wasteland, Call of Duty 2, and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 3. Oh I almost forgot, Microsoft and MTV decided to one up EA and require Internet Explorer to run the videos. We're surrounded by morons. [Discuss]

May 12, 2005

Xbox 360 Marketing Video and Website

Ok a marketing video is making the rounds on the net and it isn't half bad. Definitely made for the gamer crowd, not the brain-dead MTV "that is cool! uh uh" crowd. Not anything really earth-shattering in the video, but it does have nicer quotes from the creators in the Xbox division and more shots of the console user interface. The website is also up with nice 360 views of the console and the controller. [Discuss]

MTV Xbox 360 Unveiling Show

I didn't have high expectations for the 30 minute infomercial shown tonight. However MTV and Microsoft underwelmed even that with a horrible montage of useless fodder. Xbox 360 going to be huge! Man, Xbox 360 going to revolutionize gaming! Please someone cut my wrist. All I wanted to see were some extended gameplay movies. Instead we got some no-name gamers playing Perfect Dark Zero with more time spent on them cursing each other off than showing the game, two dorks modding an Xbox 1, the Killers? playing a psychedelic song on stage, a girl walking up on a stage trying to be "all that" unveiling the box, and most of the game clips from pre-rendered cut scenes.

I know hard-core gamers are not the core demographic of the show, but even mainstream gamers would of loved to see some extended game-play scenes. In terms of the box, the biggest thing I got out of the show was the removable different color face plates for the Xbox 360. Gee whiz. [Discuss]

More Xbox 360 Photos from Magazine Scan

Gizmodo has 4 scanned pages from an European game magazine filled with pictures, specs, and photos of the Xbox 360. It pretty much confirms all the leaks we've seen in the past few days. The photos are nice magazine quality shots and the article even includes screenshots of the Xbox 360 version of Ghost Recon 3. Worth the gander.

Bill Gates Bashes iPod Again

Bill Gates said the iPod's dominant success can't continue because like the Mac OS, Microsoft will find a way to copy it, make it cheaper, and then conquer and assimilate the universe under the evil empire's Borg. No doubt. But us Apple freedom fighters must fight the good fight.

"I don't think the success of the iPod can continue in the long term, however good Apple may be.. I think you can draw parallels here with the computer - here, too, Apple was once extremely strong with its Macintosh and graphic user interface, like with the iPod today, and then lost its position."

Yahoo Employee Touts Yahoo Music Engine

An employee at Yahoo that actually worked on the new Yahoo music engine has a witty list of reasons why you should use it. Pretty funny. The Napster line is hilarious.

But down to the reason you're reading this. I'm asking you to ditch Windows Media Player (aka WiMP, sorry John, Mark), Winamp (pour out a little liquor), iTunes (sorry Chris and Steve G), MusicMatch (apologies to my new brothers and sisters), Rhapsody (you were my first for-pay love, ya tramp), and Napster (THROW ANOTHER STACK OF BENJAMINS ON THE FIRE!), and use Yahoo! Music Engine instead. (If you're using Foobar2000, keep on, brother man, I ain't going to war with y'all purists.)

Here's why you should switch to the Yahoo! Music Engine:

For the Friends/Family:

* PRICE! $5/month subscription service with subscription downloads (transfer your downloads to your subscription-capable device). Yes, this is the same set of features that Napster is charging you $15 for. This is what they call an "introductory price", kids. Buy a year now. I'm not kidding. It ain't going any lower than this, maybe ever. Buy now or regret missing out on the cheapest year of (legal) all-you-can-eat music ever in your life.
* Personalization! I dunno about you, but ALL the other music services and stores seem incapable of showing me music I actually want without me searching for it. Our pages are PERSONALIZED TO YOUR MUSIC TASTE. The front page for me at the moment contains The Fall, Muddy Waters, Stevie Wonder, Television, and Clikatat Ikatowi. If you know me, you know they're doing pretty damn good.
* CHOICE! If you don't like the idea of subscribing to your music, you can rip CDs, play downloaded music, or even spend $0.99/track if you'd like. Whatever your preference, we make it work. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY ANYTHING TO HAVE FUN WITH OUR PLAYER.
* Community! AOL has the most popular instant message program and not one of their 500 media apps takes advantage of it! LAMERS! Ours allows you to LISTEN TO MUSIC FROM YOUR FRIENDS via Yahoo! Messenger! LEGALLY! YOU HEARD ME! Also, you can find users with tastes similar to you, view their collections, instant message them, whateva. Rad.
* iPod support! Kinda! We support the iPod to the extent that Apple will let us -- which means we support transfer of non-DRM tracks (your ripped and "imported" content) to the iPod.
* Huge catalog of the highest quality files of any paid service. Our subscription service and download store spits out dual-pass 192kbps WMA files. They sound hearty, even in my living room. And, there's LOTS of them. Music everywhere I turn. From mainstream to obscure. 1M tracks and counting. Shatner! Fela! The Germs!
* Free, fast, MP3 (even high bitrates), AAC, Ogg, and FLAC encoding. We support the widest variety of CD encoding choices, for free.
* Smart Shuffle! Smuffle! We've got the best "random" in the business. "Random" is optionally based on your ratings, how recently you've heard something, and promotes more variety (we won't play you the same artist back to back if possible).

Guild Wars Reviews

The first reviews of Guild Wars are coming out and they are uniformly positive. Although I don't know how you can do a full review for an MMO like Guild Wars in such a short time after launch.

Sure, there's no player-created items, or mounts, or housing, or auction houses. But there's also no monthly fee, a rapid patching infrastructure, very fast load times, a pretty engine, frantic but fun combat, drastically reduced FedEx and kill quests, and miniscule travel tedium.

Majesco's E3 Lineup

Majesco revealed its E3 lineup today. Some interesting surprises are versions of the popular 2D fighter, Guilty Gear, for Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. A Bust-A-Move for the DS is also a nice launch.

* A Boy and His Blob (DS)
* Advent Rising (PC, Xbox)
* Advent Shadow (PSP)
* Aeon Flux (PS2, Xbox)
* ATV Quad Frenzy (DS)
* Black & White Creatures (DS, PSP)
* Bust-A-Move DS (DS)
* The Darkness (next-gen)
* Demonik (next-gen)
* Golden Nugget Casino DS (DS)
* Guilty Gear Judgment (PSP)
* Guilty Gear Dust Strikers (DS)
* Infected (PSP)
* Jaws Unleashed (PS2, Xbox)
* Nanostray (DS)
* Psychonauts (PS2)
* Taxi Driver (platforms TBA)
* Texas Hold 'Em Poker DS (DS)

Dodgeball Acquired by Google

A 2 person social networking text messaging service called dodgeball was acquired by Google on May 11th. Basically the service lets you text message your friends or a subset of them in a certain geographic location so you can get wasted at a bar together. Sounds like a perfect fit for Google Local.

Q: Why did dodgeball sell to Google? A: As a two-person team, Alex and I have taken dodgeball about a far as we can alone. Since we finished grad school, we've been trying to figure out how to grow dodgeball and make it a better service along the way. We talked to a lot of different angel investors and venture capitalists, but no one really "got" what we were doing - that is until we met Google.

The people at Google think like us. They looked at us in a "You're two guys doing some pretty cool stuff, why not let us help you out and let's see what you can do with it" type of way. We liked that. Plus, Alex and I are both Google superfans and the people we've met so far are smart, cool and excited about what they're working on.

Xbox 360 Dead or Alive 4 Screenshots

A few Xbox 360 screenshots for Temco's upcoming Dead or Alive 4 fighting game are out. They look mighty tasty, although not a huge jump from today's consoles.

Napster Strikes Back

After their stock has gotten absolutely crushed from the announcement of Yahoo's new $6.99/month subscription plan, Napster struck back by saying consumers will hate being bombarded by ads using the Yahoo service. That's kind of a weak response, when even at $15/month Napster lost over $24 million in the last 3 month quarter. How are they going to do now that Yahoo is offering the same product for over 50% cheaper? Game, set, match. You're done.

“Napster invented the portable sub model, and we believe it’s the future of the music buseiness. We expected some desperate measures to catch up with us, but we think there’s been a significant over-reaction to the arrival of a new competitor. We are excited to contine competing against any new entrants. Companies that price subs below cost will have negative gross margins and have to rely on advertising to make up the difference. From our perspective, we don’t believe consumers will be excited to pay for something and be barraged by advertising. If they reject an ad-supported environment, Napster will remain a haven…”

Arogan's Latest $1500 PC Build

If you love building mid-range overclocked PC gaming rigs, Arogan, one of the best FirstAdopter members, is the guy you need to talk to. He posted his latest PC build with great specs and guide/tips on building your own overclocked monster. Check it out.

- I love the case. I think the only time I needed a screwdriver was for the floppy drive. the side fan is directly above the cpu with the way the dfi mb is layed out. I hate how the HD activity light is INSIDE the door.
- dfi mb is pretty awesome. The latest bios has memtest built in. You have four slots to save all your bios settings. It's hot keyed to 1 - 4. Just press that key during boot and it loads those settings. I have it setup 1=stock, 2=oc no v increase, 3=oc with v increase.
- I swapped out the stock side fan with a 92mm panaflo high speed fan.
- it allows you to set temperature ranges for cpu fan and fan2(I hooked it up to my side fan) to adjust speeds. so if the cpu goes above 35c it spins the fan at full speed otherwise it under voltages it and slows it down. I did the same thing with the side fan. It's also nice that when you first boot it gives full voltage to all fans to make sure they spin up before cutting back the voltage.
- pcie is kind of nice. weird having no agp apeture settings or GART in the drivers.
- raid was pretty easy to setup. so far RAID is definitely worth it. It is significantly faster. Installing apps, loading games, etc. You can really feel the difference (which you should with almost 100mb/s throughput)

iPod Camera Connector and Kodak EasyShare Review

Mossberg has reviewed the $29 iPod camera connector and the $150 Kodak EasyShare Picture viewer. He's positive on the products, but for different reasons as they both have various pros and cons. However either one let's you ditch the heavy laptop on trips, which is all good in my book.

There's no doubt that using the iPod Photo with a Camera Connector offers greater versatility for storing and viewing photos than the Kodak EasyShare Picture Viewer. But if you can't afford an iPod Photo and you'd like a way to bring your digital memories with you on the go, the Picture Viewer is a less expensive, lightweight option.

nForce Opteron Boards with PCI Express

The Tech-Report reviews a bunch of motherboards using the nForce Pro 2200 chipset from Nvidia. These are the first AMD Opteron boards that support PCI Express.

So which board is right for your Opterons? That depends on what you need, or more specifically, whether your workstation craves SLI, PCI-X, or SCSI. If any of those are on your list, Tyan's Thunder K8WE is a fine choice. It's not cheap, mind you. But if you're thinking about SLI, PCI-X, and SCSI, chances are you can absorb the cost of the board.

Firefox 1.04 Released

Firefox 1.04 is released. It's primarily a security update with some fixes, but for some reason it seems A LOT faster on my Mac Mini in rendering websites and bookmark management. Weird.

Here's what's new in Firefox 1.0.4:

* Several security fixes
* Fix to DHTML errors encountered at some web sites

Samsung SGH-i300 Specs

The Samsung SGH-i300 is the first smartphone that has announced it will use Windows Mobile 2005. Availability and cost are unknown at this time. However the phone is a prime contender to launch the next wave of "music" phones with its 3 gigabyte microdrive. The i300 will be able to play back MP3, WMA, AAC, and OGG music files with ease. Other features include:

-Ability to stream music using Bluetooth 2.0
-320x240 QVDA screen that can display in portrait or landscape mode
-Transflash memory card
-Tri-band 900/1800/1900 network
-4.5x1.9x0.83 inches

Sony Vaio T350 Specs

Sony announced details on the new Vaio T350 ultra-portable notebook slated to come out in June for about $2200. It will have GPRS/EDGE, WiFi, and Bluetooth built-in with special software called SmartFi, which lets users switch between cellular and WiFi networks seamlessly. Other specs include a 1.2 Ghz Pentium M processor, 10.6 inch LCD screen, 60 GB hard-drive, and 512MB of RAM.

May 11, 2005

Electronic Arts E3 Line-up

Here's a list of EA's games on display at E3.

EA SPORTS branded E3 line-up

NCAA Football 06
Madden NFL 06

EA branded E3 line-up

Batman Begins
Battlefield 2
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat
Burnout Revenge
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
From Russia With Love
Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects
Medal of Honor European Assault
Need for Speed Most Wanted
The Godfather
The Sims 2
The Sims 2 Nightlife
GoldenEye: Rogue Agent for the Nintendo DS

EA E3 Mobile Phone Line-up

Fifa Soccer 06
Madden NFL 06
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06
Need for Speed Underground 2
The Sims 2
Tri-Peaks Solitaire
Turbo 21

Verizon Wireless Starts Selling the Treo 650

There are confirmed reports of Verizon customers who have bought the Treo 650. Pricing is $529.99 with no contract, $449.99 with a 1 year contract, and $399.99 with a 2 year contract.

Toshiba Develops Whopping 45 Gigabyte HD DVD

I don't know if this will impact the unifying standard talks for HD DVD, but Toshiba announced yesterday it has developed a 3 layer 45 gigabyte HD DVD disk. This technology if implemented nixes Sony's Blu-ray capacity advantage. More storage is always good.

The hybrid discs are manufactured using existing technologies and production lines, according to Shiroharu Kawasaki, president and chief executive of Memory-Tech. Each disc uses a 0.6-mm thick dual-layer disc plus a 0.6-mm thick single-layer disc to create the hybrid, with each layer storing 15 gigabytes.

AOL IM Email 2 Gigabytes

AOL announced it will offer free email accounts for users of its instant messenging service with storage space of 2 gigabytes, the most of any major free email service. Each AIM user with get a email address. I don't know if I'm too wild about this, since it's obvious we'll be bombarded with annoying AOL ads. I'll stick with Google's gmail text ads, thank you.

America Online plans to begin offering free e-mail accounts today to about 20 million users of its popular AIM instant messaging service as part of a bid to build a bigger audience and then profit by selling more advertising.

Windows Mobile 5.0 Released

Microsoft released Windows Mobile 5.0 yesterday. The new version of the smartphone and handheld OS offers better one-handed operation, network support, support for push-to-talk, video-calling, video conferencing, better security, and multi-media playback.

This new version of the Windows Mobile software platform delivers on partner requests, including more platform flexibility to customize devices and solutions; productivity enhancements that include updated Microsoft Office software and persistent memory storage for more efficient data management; and a powerful multimedia experience with Windows Media® Player 10 Mobile and support for hard drives.

May 10, 2005

Yahoo to Launch New Music Service

Bye bye Napster. Bye bye Real. Yahoo is launching a new music service that will use Microsoft Janus technology in offering monthly music subscriptions for over 50% off the competition's prices. It is set to launch sometime on Wednesday and will offer integration with the Yahoo Messenger instant messaging platform. This is perfect for teens who want to share music playlists and let their buds listen to their favorite songs together.

Online music stores are increasingly becoming a commodity business. At least Yahoo has their 300 million users and complementary services like Launch and instant messenging. Apple has the monopoly of forcing its iPod users to use iTunes. Bad news for pure plays like Napster and Real, they got nothing.

As earlier reported, the service is built in large part around a monthly subscription plan similar to those now offered by Napster and RealNetworks, which allow customers to take music onto their portable devices. However, Yahoo is deeply undercutting those rivals' prices, offering initial monthly subscriptions for just $6.99, compared with nearly $15.

Perfect Dark Joanna Dark

Take a gander at Joanna Dark's new look for Perfect Dark Xbox 360. Yummy. I hope the actual in-game graphics are just as good.

Apple Insider Posting Honest Stuff on Slashdot

What looks like an insider, employee, and/or consultant for Apple is posting candid insights about the company on Slashdot as "As Seen on TV." He has some great posts on his user profile page.

He basically shoots down the idea of a video iPod, bashes irrational geek-driven products, praises the almighty god of pure business capitalism, says video is coming to Airport Express, don't go nuts about video in iTunes 4.8, and there might be a new name for a video version of the iTunes music store. I have a feeling that this guy or girl isn't going to post a lot more when the Steve Jobs secret police come down on him.

Everybody's wrong about the video iPod thing. A video iPod would be a dumb idea for lots of reasons, some technical, some psychological. If you want to know where we're going with video playback, look not to the iPod but to its considerably less famous little brother, AirPort Express. [Read More]

(Addendum: I see now that at least a couple of commenters have figured this out already. Good for them. You all suck for stealing my surprise. One of them even nailed the big challenge, still to date unsolved, right on the head. I wonder if you guys will know it when you see it?)

Yes, of course we're going to be selling new types of content via the iTunes distribution model. It may or may not happen through the "iTunes" name. On the one hand, selling movies and TV shows through a store called "iTunes" makes no sense. On the other, iTunes has HUGE brand recognition right now. It's a marketing decision.

What exactly we offer depends on whose content you're talking about. Some content will be provided to us in 720-by-486 anamorphic, which we'll encode in H.264 at between 1 and 2 megabits. (Did you notice that QuickTime 7 has additional support for anamorphic video? I knew you would.) Other content will come in at HD, and for the time being we'll scale that down to half-HD at 2 Mbps. Doing full 1080/24p at 8 Mbps just isn't practical right now given that even the fastest cable modems in the US top out at 4 Mbps; in order to get real-time streaming of full-HD content, you'd need one of those new-fangled fiber optic Internet services that the telcos are starting to roll out. That's too forward-thinking for phase one. But we can do 2 Mbps now to the same customers we're shipping iTunes songs to.

Pricing, terms and dates will be totally up in the air until five minutes before we announce, and maybe even after that. Remember the Australian store? We had to put that roll-out on indefinite hiatus when The Label That Shall Not Be Named pulled out. All of this depends on the content-providers. Yes, somebody out there is going to say "Pixar." To that person I whisper the name "Disney" and the phrase "subsidiary rights." It's not as simple as you think.

Basically what stands between us and roll-out today is 10% technological and 90% business. It strikes me as kinda funny that some people look only at the technology part of our operations for clues as to future directions. Yes, we shipped iTunes 4.8 with video playback. Whoopty-do. iTunes is built on QuickTime. Adding video support was so incredibly trivial, you wouldn't believe it. It's a tiny thing. What's a much bigger thing is the gradual shift, over the past two years, in the way we as a company do business. We are very serious about IP. We've made a name for ourselves as being the one company in the industry that, better than anybody else, understands the need to zealously protect intellectual property. So when we go to (say) Disney and ask them to let us distribute their unimaginably valuable IP over the Internet, we're going to have a little bit more credibility than whatever copycat tries to come along behind us (cough*Napster*cough, cough*Walmart*cough).

These are the things you guys need to be paying attention to. Not the product releases. The lawsuits. That's where you'll find the clues.

Neither Apple's management nor Apple's shareholders give a shit about what the "alpha geeks" think.

I know, I know. It's harsh. But it's absolutely true. See, the "alpha geeks" are not our market. We don't sell to them. The "alpha geeks" are defined by one key characteristic: they're irrational. Now, I'm not trying to insult you. I mean it literally. Geeks are not rational. They base their purchasing decisions on things that, from a rational point of view, just don't make any sense. Things like politics, lack "openness," like "customizability." Things that just don't add up in the cost-benefit analysis.

That's fine. That's totally legitimate. But it's not our business.

We sell products to people who want them to work. We don't sell products to people who want to take them apart. There are other companies that do that. We don't seek to dominate them or to put them out of business. We don't see them as competition at all, because the kinds of people who buy our products would never buy a motherboard. They'd never buy Linux. Never in a million years.

Is there some overlap? Sure. We love the fact that some prominent hard-core geeks use Macs. But we're not going to abandon our business plan to woo them. We're not going to turn our backs on the vast and untapped market for next-generation content delivery services, a market which we basically created, in order to please some Internet message board guys.

Again, I'm sorry for sounding so harsh here. I don't mean to be rude. I'm just not going to sugar-coat it for you. You do your thing, whatever makes you happy. We'll do ours. No, pretty much everything you said here is wrong.

The Mac mini is meant to be a computer, nothing more. It was designed to be an inexpensive entry to the Mac product line for people who already own PCs and want to step up to something better. It doesn't have anything like the CPU power required for HD playback. You might be able to squeeze 4 Mbps out of it, maybe, if you hold your mouth just right and you're willing to live with some dropped frames. But anything more is not going to be an option this year, and maybe not next either.

And the iPod is not repeat not gonna say it one more time not meant to be a video-playback device. It's not even remotely designed for it. The iPod has a tiny hard drive that's designed for embedded applications, and a 32 MB (I think it is) RAM buffer cache that's optimized for dealing with song-sized chunks of data. That's about 4 MB. Even a half hour of HD content is gonna be half a gigabyte. There's basically no way for the iPod to play that without constantly keeping the hard drive running, and that will burn out the drive very quickly. Seriously, under constant use, the iPod hard drives' life spans are measured in tens of hours.

(How can we do photos, then? Easy. Photos are even smaller than songs. And unlike video, people often do want to carry photos around with them. Keep reading.)

Remember when I said the problem was part technology and part psychology? People like to listen to music while they do other things: Ride on the train, exercise, shop. People like to multi-task with their music.

Video, whether short-form like TV or long-form like movies, isn't like that. Video is an immersive experience. You sit down and you watch it, and you don't do anything else until it's over. That's a totally different interaction model than music.

So there's basically zero reason for video to be portable. You're not going to carry it around with you. You're going to watch it at home.

Exceptions? Sure. But Apple isn't a company that makes a habit of marketing to the exceptions. We shoot for a pretty clearly defined target market and let the exceptions buy their gadgets somewhere else. Chiefly because there aren't nearly enough exceptions out there to make it worth going after, financially speaking. We'd never be able to recover what we invest in R&D and design by selling a few hundred thousand units. We have to sell millions of units per quarter, otherwise the business plan just doesn't work.

iTunes Selling Music Videos

iTunes Music Store has started to include some music videos for playback in iTunes if you buy certain songs and albums. The great thing is there is so DRM in the video files, which means they are free to go on whatever device or PC you please. Rumblings on the net are Apple may focus on selling videos through iTunes that will playback on your TV through an Aiport Express like device. That would be almost as cool as a video iPod. Almost.

Sony PSP Gameboy Emulator

The Sony PSP hackfest continues with the first release of a Gameboy emulator. It currently only works with the Japanese PSP with 1.0 firmware and it doesn't have sound support, but it won't be long before the PSP will be rocking with MAME, Gameboy, and other console emulators.

Mac OS X Tiger Virus Malware Widgets

A developer has programmed evil widgets that can do nasty things. The problem with the Dashboard widget model is the "auto-install" that makes it difficult to get rid of the ones that have already run from a web-page. This opens the door to porn spammer and spyware type widgets that will always be on the Dashboard to bother you. Nasty.

Developer Stephan, who has posted the widgets to his blog, has created two mini-apps which he describes as "slightly evil." One widget, he says, will automatically install itself on users' desktops when his "Zaptastic" Web site is visited using Apple's Safari browser. Stephan has also created the zaptastic_evil widget, which redirects the user's browser to a Web site every time the widget Dashboard is launched-—and drops the user out of Dashboard, preventing the widget from being closed.

eBay Goes Down Due to Power Outage

Usually when companies raise fees and promise better reliability and service, it's bad form to go down due to a power outage. That is exactly what happened yesterday at 9pm. Note to eBay, use the millions more you're making to buy a better backup electricity system.

About an hour later, the auction giant updated the message to read, "eBay experienced a power outage at a principal hosting facility in the (San Francisco) Bay Area. Some eBay functions and listings are now available, and we are working to fully restore the rest of the site."

Verizon Advertising Fios

Verizon is advertising in full force for its new fiber to the home initiative. The new service offers extremely high speed internet access, VIOP phone, and video on demand television services. But because only 250 communities are now wired for it, the advertising is local and creative including billboards, direct mail, Fios lounges, and Hummers covered with advertising. I wish I had Fios in my town. That would rock.

The base plan offers download speeds of up to 5 megabits per second, with an upload speed of 2mbps for $39.95. For $49.95, consumers can get download speeds up to 15mbps, and for $199.95, users can download at 30mbps and upload at 5mbps. "Because the service isn't universally available, we've deliberately tried to make the marketing very local, to create excitement in areas where the services are being offered," said Sharon Cohen-Hagar, a spokeswoman for Verizon.

Via Plans $250 PC

Via plans to launch a $250 PC in September or October that will include a 1 ghz processor and 128MB of memory. Currently Walmart sells a Linux PC with 128MB and an AMD processor for $199 and a Intel/Windows combo for $320. Via is innovating by using a read only flash memory to store the application and operating system. This protects the PC from any viruses, but also limits upgrades.

The proposed price for the Terra, which includes a monitor, is achieved by picking components with cost in mind. The system, for instance, will run an older 1GHz processor from Via, Pradhan said. It will also come with 128MB of memory, about one-quarter the amount found on typical desktops these days, and a small drive.

Blockbuster to Rent Sony PSP Games

Blockbuster will rent Sony PSP games in its 4400 stores world-wide. Initial games include Twisted Metal: Head-On, Untold Legends, and Need for Speed Underground Rivals. The fee will be $6.99, which seems a bit hefty. The company will also sell and buy used PSP games.

As Sony's PSP becomes more mainstream and owners look for more gaming action, BLOCKBUSTER announces today that it will carry PSP(TM) (PlayStation® Portable) handheld games for rent in all stores. More than 4,400 company-owned stores nationwide will carry the games by May 17 and the selection will continue to increase as new titles launch throughout the year.

Nintendo E3 Details

Amid the spotlight of Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 supernovas, one can easily overlook Nintendo these days. According to, Nintendo will not show much detail on their next-generation console, Revolution, other than some video footage. That means no hardware, no specs. The company will focus on its handheld line, even offering an update to the old GBA. Unfortunately it will not be GBA2, but a minor feature update that might add wireless networking and some storage medium for downloading content.

Nintendo is really in dire straits as many developers are not going to make games for Revolution in the next cycle. I really thought they should of just made a portable Gamecube, which would of jump-started 3rd party software development. But rather they made the Nintendo DS which has some neat features, but graphically isn't much of a jump beyond the old GBA. Now it looks like GBA2 isn't going to be released anytime soon either. Poor Mario.

The new GBA, however, is categorically not the "GBA2", Nintendo's genuine next-generation handheld console. The system is expected to be an update to the existing GBA hardware, perhaps sporting built-in wireless networking and the Play-Yan adapter for playing downloadable games and videos, both of which have up until now been separate components.

Sony and Toshiba HD DVD Agreement?

The latest speculation is that Sony and Toshiba are really going to agree on a common standard for HD-DVD. This would be great news from the consumer, but we shouldn't get too excited as these companies are known to keep battling. Reuters says the new common standard could be revealed by May 16th. Let's keep our fingers crossed. A HD-DVD format war would suck for everyone.

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Japan's Sony Corp. (6758.T: Quote, Profile, Research) and Toshiba Corp. (6502.T: Quote, Profile, Research) are close to finalizing a plan to develop a common standard for next-generation DVDs to resolve a three-year-long battle over formats that threatened the industry's growth, a Japanese newspaper reported on Monday.

Xbox 360 Launch Price Leaks

The Xbox 360 info leaks keep on coming. According to online sources sent to XBLGamer, the system will launch in 2 packages. The first SKU will consist of the console, a controller, and cables for $299. The second SKU will add a remote and hard-drive for the price of $360. This conflicts with earlier reports of $399 for the extra hard-drive bundle.

May 09, 2005

AMD Athlon 64 X2 Processor Review

Tech-Report has the best review on the AMD Athlon 64 X2 processors. They basically love the Athlon 64 X2 4200+ dual core processor citing amazing value and performance vs. Intel and even the Athlon 64 FX-55. Intel is basically continues to suck wind for hard-core gaming ethusiasts. I, however am going to hold back. I'm still trying to get over my bad buggy experience from the AMD Thunderbird and Via chipset combination. Nasty logic bugs and a CPU dying does not a happy customer make.

In fact, the X2 4200+ frequently outperforms the Pentium Extreme Edition 840, which costs nearly twice as much. Thanks to its dual-core config, the X2 4200+ also embarrasses some expensive single-core processors, like the Athlon 64 FX-55 and the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz. Personally, I don't think there's any reason to pay any more for a CPU than the $531 that AMD will be asking for the Athlon 64 X2 4200+.

EA to Launch Burnout Legends on Sony PSP

Electronic Arts has announced that Burnout Legends will come out for the Sony PSP. The game will aggregate the best moments from Burnout, Burnout 2, and Burnout 3. Now this is a game perfect for the quick game fixes in the elevator or on the subway, let's hope it won't be another disappointing port from EA.

Burnout Legends sets the bar for on-the-go automotive anarchy, combining the series’ trademark speed, destruction and depth with new PSP-only features, gameplay refinements and connectivity. Gamers can look forward to eight gameplay modes, including crash, road rage and pursuit, with white-knuckle multiplayer via WiFi, and a GameShare option allowing players to wirelessly share a demo level of the game with friends.

Latest Info on and Mr. Newmark is one of the world wide wonders of the internet. It keeps growing at 100% year over year and gets an amazing 8 million unique users and 2 billion page views every month. Not to shabby for a 10 year old website with an 18 person staff. It has now expanded to 105 cities and 23 countries, but still only charges for job listings.

The site gets more than 4 milllion classified ads and 1 million posts on its forum a month. Craig Newmark who started the site has handed over the reigns to another experience businessman. He is now focused on starting a new venture like the Oh My News Korean news site that relies on readers to write news articles to compete with mainstream media outlets.

Craig is one of the most revered internet entreprenuers. Here at FirstAdopter we salute the likes of him and Pierre who started eBay. Innovators like this make the net a much more cooler place to habitate.

Newmark still spends about half his 40-hour work week at the Craigslist headquarters, a Victorian storefront in San Francisco, filtering through e-mailed complaints of fraud and investigating potential scams. The vast majority are "bait and switch" scams and other frauds perpetrated by landlords and apartment brokers in New York, the site's largest source of rental listings after San Francisco.

Got to love how famous TV pundits are jumping on the blog bandwagon. Bring it Huffington, bring it. We will take you on and take you out. Wu wu ha ha. She sure has star power though in bringing together a senator, ex-anchorman, and rich TV series creators. We'll see if they know how to blog.

Welcome to the Huffington Post, which, as our motto says, has been delivering news and opinion since, well, a few hours ago. As you look around, you’ll see that our front page features our favorite posts from our group bloggers -- including Senator Jon Corzine, Larry David, John Cusack and Walter Cronkite

Sony PSP Super Mario World

Someone has gotten a working demo of Super Mario World running on a Sony PSP. It's only a matter time before we are able to run MAME, SNES, Genesis, and GBA games on the Sony PSP through emulation using the memory stick as storage. Hackers are working day and night to make this possible for us. Not that we condone such behavior. *cough*

Xbox Live for Xbox 360 Info

GamingHorizon has another scoop on Xbox Live details for Xbox 360. I like how there is going to be a subset of features free without subscriptions, meanwhile letting users who want the premium stuff to pay for it.

2 Types Of Xbox Live:

* Xbox Live Silver (no subscription required)
* Xbox Live Gold (subscription benefits)

Features For Gold Service:

* * = Also For Silver
* # = Also for Offline

* Seamless transition to Xbox Live account from Xbox to Xbox 360
* Access to MMOs (additional fees may apply) *
* Free Xbox Live weekends *
* Multiplayer online gameplay
* Avatar for gamer profile * #
* Motto for gamer profile * #
* Personalized look for Xbox System Guide * #
* Offline achievements * #
* Online achievements *
* Access to other players' Gamer cards via Live *
* Cumulative gamer score * #
* Location/language profile * #
* Reputation *
* Enhanced matchmaking using above
* Skill level matchmaking
* Gameplay style profile (casual, competitive, etc.)
* Recent players list *
* Free and premium download game content *
* Free and premium downloadable movies, music, tv *
* Downloadable demos/trailers *
* Micro transactions *
* Custom playlist in every game * #
* Play music from portable devices * #
* View images from digital camera * #
* Stream media from Windows XP * #
* Interactive screen savers * #
* Track info for CDs * #
* Communication with voice, video or text * [Discuss]

Xbox 360 Confirmed Specs Released

According to GamingHorizon's sources, they believe these are the real deal specs for the Xbox 360. They are similar in nature to the spec leaks we seem before and seem accurate to me.


* Support for DVD-video, DVD-Rom, DVD-R/RW, CD-DA, CD-Rom, CD-R, CD-RW, WMA CD, MP3 cd, JPEG photo CD
* All games supported at 16:9, 720p and 1080i, anti-aliasing
* Customizable face plates to change appearance
* 3 USB 2.0 ports
* Support for 4 wireless controllers
* Detachable 20GB drive
* Wi-Fi ready

Custom IBM PowerPC-based CPU

* 3 symmetrical cores at 3.2 GHz each
* 2 hardware threads per core
* 1 VMX-128 vector unit per core
* 1 MB L2 cache

CPU Game Math Performance

* 9 billion dots per second

Custom ATI Graphics Processor

* 500 MNz
* 10 MB embedded DRAM
* 48-way parallel floating-point shader pipelines
* unified shader architecture


* 512 MB GDDR3 RAM
* 700 MNz DDR

Memory Bandwidth

* 22.4 GB/s memory interface bus bandwidth
* 256 GB/s memory bandwidth to EDRAM
* 21.6 GB/s front side bus


* Multi channel surround sound output
* Supports 48khz 16-bit audio
* 320 independent decompression channels
* 32 bit processing
* 256+ audio channels

The funny thing is it costs $2000+ to get a Mac dual 2.5ghz PowerPC system these days. Xbox 360 will have 3 3.2 ghz PowerPC cores for a few hundred bucks. You have to love the money losing magic of next generation console launches.

The 512MB of memory is pretty sweet for a console as is 3 USB 2.0 standard ports. Peripheral expansion possibilities galore. [Discuss]

Microsoft Perfect Dark Zero Xbox 360 Screenshot

Not the greatest of screenshots, but it does give us an idea of what the next generation games will look like. However I agree with our reader, Nick! [thanks for the link] that it is NOT a big jump up from today's console's graphics. The "wow factor" delta between PS2/Xbox and PS1 is going to be bigger than PS2/Xbox to PS3/Xbox 360, I think. [Discuss]

Vonage Growing Like a Weed

There are a lot of Vonage nay-sayers on the internet. I'm quite frankly a little confused because I've been using Vonage for over a month now and I'm happy as a clam. In fact a number of my friends have also switched over and had good experiences.

Vonage CFO, John Rego, was quoted today saying Vonage has 650,000 lines and are adding 15,000 new lines a week. They just closed another $200 million infusion of venture capital, bringing total fund raising to date to $408 million. Those kind of numbers are mind-boggling and usually are only raised during an IPO. The company is currently spending about $200 per customer in acquisition costs and expects the latest round of $200 million funding to carry them to profitability.

A popular online tech blog has recently bashed Bain Capital for participating in the $200 million round citing previous failures like Webvan. That guy has no idea what he's talking about. It's like saying Babe Ruth sucks because he struck out once. Bain Capital has been minting money for decades and has one of the best reputations in the business. Venture capital is venture capital. You do strike out, but the home runs more than make up the difference. I guess I shouldn't expect much from a online tech blog, myself included. Lol.

"As more of the launches happen, oddly enough our acquisition costs go down and our ability to increase our adds goes up," he said. "When you have a big player ... enter into the market, it just helps raise the general awareness of VOIP, and you get a nice impact off of the marketing and the branding that they do." The funding was led by Bain Capital, and included previous Vonage investors New Enterprise Associates, 3i Technology Partners and Meritech Capital Partners. [Discuss]

Xbox 360 Leaked Pictures

Thanks to an enterprising camera phone shooter at the Xbox 360 MTV event, Engadget was able to publish some shots of the main console, EyeToy like USB camera peripheral, the game pad, and headset.

From taking a look at these pictures, the peripherals sure aren't that earth shattering. In fact the gamepad looks mighty like the Xbox Controller S one. [Discuss]

Etrade Bids for Ameritrade

The online broker consolidation is well underway. According to published reports from the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, Etrade has sent an offer to acquire Ameritrade. Ameritrade is also reportedly in talks with TD Waterhouse.

I just hope if Etrade does buy Ameritrade, they don't take their eye off the innovation ball. I'm quite happy with the integration of ETrade Bank with no ATM fees, ETrade brokerage, IRA, etc. Being able to switch money back and forth within a day is a god-send in a world of the 4-5 day money transfer abyss. Spending time integrating millions of Ameritrade customers may force their tech staff away from creating newer and better services. Ironic that the best stock to trade online today is Ameritrade as its up almost 20%.

E-Trade made an unsolicited bid to buy Ameritrade on Friday for more than $5.5 billion in a letter to its board, according to executives who spoke to the Times.

May 07, 2005

Link Roundup

Katamari Damacy 2 - We Love Katamari, what a weird name
Bill Gates Interviewed - He loves Xbox 2
EB Games and Gamestop - 1+1=3?
Forza Motorsport Reviews - rocking the house
Ethusia Pro Racing Reviews - boring the house
Xbox 360 controller - first picture
Next-Gen Console War - Sony win again?
PS3 over Xbox 360 - three times as fast
ATI Multi-video Processing - watch out Nvidia SLI
Google Web Accelerator - messing up the web
PSP UMD Cracked - oh oh
How Lightsabers Work - I still want one
PalmOne Life-drive is for Real - I don't know if I want one
Sharkyextreme High-End Gaming Buyer's Guide - $2500!
Portable Gamecube Pics - if Nintendo was smart, they would do this
4 Huge Dell LCDs - nice monitor setup
Apple Shuffle 58% Flash Player Marketshare in 6 months - wow
LG Plasma with DVR - it would suck if your DVR broke though
Cablevision Says Verizon Fios is No Threat - hehe
Vonage Raise $200 Million - go big or go home
Nintendo DS Being Naughty - strange ads from a family friendly co

May 04, 2005

New iMac G5s

Apple updated the iMac G5 line, while at the same time offering the new OS X Tiger operating system. iMac G5s now include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.0, a ATI 128MB Radeon 9600 graphics chipset, and a minimum of 512MB of RAM. 2ghz processors are now also available for the 17 and 20 inch display models.

Now this lineup makes similarly priced PowerMac hardware pale in comparison, I bet another update is due in the short-term. With the update, look for some killer deals for the old iMac G5s. I've seen the old models go for $999 after rebate on, which is a steal.

EA Drops Financial Bomb Number 2

After already pre-announcing disappointing results in the March quarter, Electronic Arts dropped its second bomb by saying it will dramatically miss Wall Street expectations for the June quarter. Wall Street expected $450 million in revenue, but EA has now guided to $300-340 million. Even at that $300 million plus level, EA will now lose money in the quarter. Ouch. To make matters worse, EA took a litigation charge as result of a suit that claimed the company failed to pay overtime to certain employees.

Instead of blaming the hardware cycle and shortage, pricing pressure, and competition, EA just need to get back to its roots and make great games. Frankly in the past year, their reputation for great quality built up over decades has faltered. Paying their best creative talent well, giving them more time to develop games without ungodly hours and annual releases, and holding on to the most gifted employees will be essential to bringing EA back. Using monopolistic financial schemes such as the exclusive contract with the NFL will not.

May 03, 2005

New York Times Thinking About New Online Business Models

According to the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times is considering new business models for its internet site. The company supposedly polled its readers on whether they would want to pay $49.99 a year to gain unlimited to access to articles written in the past year or if they would rather get access to up to 100 articles/month from the entire archive going back to 1851.

Currently the site offer free access to articles written in the past week. Any older articles cost $2.95 each or $7.95 for a bundle of 4 and $25.95 for a bundle of 25. Now that the Wall Street Journal actually makes more money from its online subscriptions than the print edition, New York Times wants in on the action.

But frankly it's a different audience, financial people are more than willing to pay $79 a year for a online version filled with proprietary finance content. While the New York Times content is often easily replaceable by the Washington Post, CNN, and many others. Tough call.

Fred Searby, an analyst with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., said he did not expect the Times to follow the Journal in charging for all its content, but selling subscriptions for certain content would be prudent. The surveys of Times readers suggest "they know they have to shake the tree up and look at different ways to enhance revenues," Mr. Searby said. Because of declines in circulation of the print product, "it's that much more critical to get your Internet strategy right." J.P. Morgan has an investment banking relationship with the publisher. Source: WSJ

Internet Advertising Reaching New Heights

Thanks to the innovation of text-based paid search given to us by (now Overture turned Yahoo), internet advertising soared to new heights in 2004. Ad revenue grew an astounding 33% to $10 billion, beating the previous bubble highs of the year 2000.

Companies are realizing that online is the way to go to reach the younger demographics and early adopters that influence big consumer trends (cough.. first adopter! cough). Auto-maker Lincoln Mercury spends 25% of their entire ad budget online. I bet the move toward the net will keep growing now. We are relentless, we will rule over all! Wu wu ha ha.

Figures from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PricewaterhouseCoopers reveal that online ad income rose 33 percent last year over 2003 to reach some US$10 billion, topping and the previous revenue record in 2000 by nearly 20 percent. Fourth quarter revenues totaled a record $2.69 billion, marking the highest quarter ever reported. Search, classifieds, display and rich media all are growing at a steady rate, the report shows.

May 02, 2005

The Wired 40

Wired magazine has posted their top 40 companies that are the "masters of technology and innovation." The top 10 include:

1. Apple
2. Google
3. Samsung
5. Yahoo!
6. Electronic Arts
7. Genentech
8. Toyota
9. Infosys
10. eBay

As I look through this list, it made me think that there aren't many real innovative companies out there. I mean freaking Electronic Arts and "has-been" eBay & are in the top 10. Enough said.

Time Warner Loses Confidential Employee Data for 600,000

Man the hits keep coming for companies losing sensitive customer and employee data. Now Time Warner has admitted today it lost backup tapes in route to an undisclosed data center that held sensitive data about 600,000 former and current employees. Note to big companies, shape up or face the consequences.

The world's largest media company and owners of America Online, HBO and Warner Brothers studio said the missing tapes contained data from Time Warner, including personal information on the employees. The tapes did not include personal data on Time Warner customers, it said.

Sony PSP Proprietary Media

I have made fun of Sony before for loving proprietary media. But this guy doesn't have a clue. Using his argument that only PC based media is good, what would be a reasonable media format for the Sony PSP? 3.5" disk? 5 inch CD or DVD? Obviously those media formats would not work due to size and space constraints. One could argue the Memory Stick Duo is a perfect fit for the PSP due to its performance and tiny form factor. I'm all for criticizing the clueless big goliath companies, but yelling at them for not using CDs and DVDs for movies in a portable game machine is pretty idiotic.

To watch a movie on the PSP, you have two choices: wait until your film is available on UMD (so far there are only a few titles, and naturally just from Sony) or make pains to try to copy the video to a memory stick on your PC and then transfer it to the PSP. But wait, the memory stick on the PSP uses the new "duo" format that isn't supported natively on PCs, so you'll need to buy a special duo reader adapter to make the transfer. Is all this proprietary junk necessary?

The Great Firewall of China

A researcher laments from a recent trip to China, where he noticed that access to news sites and email were censored by Chinese authorities. Freedom of speech and from censorship should not be taken for granted in this world, even in the world of cyberspace. Can you imagine 30,000 people working day and night to make sure the 94 million Chinese internet users can't find more information about Falun Gong? Yikes.

It was once I sought to access common news sites that I found myself face to face with the “Great Firewall of China.” Google News, a popular aggregator of news stories from around the world, would not load into my browser, apparently blocked by a filtering system that employs 30,000 people to regularly monitor Internet traffic and content. Similarly, while the BBC website would load, attempts to access news stories on that site yielded only error messages.

God of War Review by Rendition

The action adventure genre has been filled with repetitive themes and the same old gameplay re-hashed over again from the Golden Axe days. The Lord of the Rings series from Electronic Arts exemplified this. Blah. So when God of War came onto the scene at last year’s E3, it really took people's breath away. After I saw movies and previews a few months ago on X-play, I knew this was the game I looked forward to most in the past year. [More]

The game is based on a Spartan warrior character named Kratos. He is sent by the Gods of Olympus against the God of War, Ares. He starts with two large knives connected to long chains. As the game goes along, Kratos acquires new magic abilities from the Gods. The combat system is simple one where you can chain multiple combinations of various button attacks.

What is breath-taking about the game is the epic cinematic feel. Sony went all out in terms creating a living breathing world. The animation is the best I’ve ever seen. Every button press, hair trigger release is instantly shown on screen in some of the best motion capture done in the history of videogames. Sony also was able to program the game so there are hardly any load times. The cut-scenes are seamlessly integrated into the action without a pause. With such amazing graphics and animation, the soundtrack may be even better. I don’t know how they did it, but the orchestral music and tempo blows most $100 million movies away.

God of War surely doesn’t disappoint if you like violence, brutality, and gore. You will see many scenes where Kratos rips creature’s heads off, blood smattering all over, and limbs coming loose as result of his handy knife chains. This is not for the meek of heart and should not be played in front of children. However if you enjoy great animation and the fantasy of battling a Hydra sea monster that takes up more than 1/2 the screen while you try to gore it with a steel hooks while it tries to tear you to pieces with its huge mouth and razor sharp teeth, this is the action you’ve been waiting for.

The boss battles are so good that it’s disappointing there aren’t that many of them. Even though the graphics are amazing, some the exture work isn’t up to par. It’s probably more a limitation of the Playstation 2’s video memory, but it’s still noteworthy. Some of the platform and block pushing puzzles do get annoying. And the camera angles for certain action scenes are confusing in which way you’re supposed jump.

But all this are quibbles compared to the whole package. This game is the most fun I’ve had in years. Yes more fun than Gran Turismo 4, Half-life 2, Call of Duty, and World of Warcraft. The game is that good. I give it s score of 9 out of 10. Highly recommended. [Discuss]

How to Make a PC DVR?

Ken Sharp gives us the low down on how to create your own DVR using an old PC you have around the house. It's not rocket science, but he put together a quality setup at a low price.

But I wanted something more versatile than a normal TiVo, ReplayTV, or Ultimate TV system. I envisioned an all-purpose media server that would function as a full DVR, but would also work as a music server and play console games. It would have an easy remote-control interface, just like a commercial DVR, and a way to program it through the internet. Finally, I wanted to avoid the monthly fees that many DVR owners pay to keep their machines' schedules up-to-date.

Sony PSP Films on AtomFilms

Sony has sponsored some short films on to spur buying interest in the Sony PSP as a portable video playback device. The first movies in the program weigh in at 31 to 58 megabytes, so you need to buy a bigger memory stick. Of course you can buy that from Sony for a hefty proprietary price.

Sony approached AtomShockwave to sponsor a series of downloadable films, hoping they "would drive people to buy the PSP,'' said AtomShockwave Chief Executive Officer Mika Salmi. "AtomFilms gets about 6 million people per month, and they are a tech-savvy audience.''

Sony Annnounces Three new Sony PSP Games

Sony announced three new games for the Sony PSP coming out this fall. They are:

MediEvil Ressurrection - Available September 2005
MediEvil Resurrection puts players in the role of Sir Daniel Fortesque to embark on a gothic journey of redemption to defeat the evil sorcerer Zarok. Inspired by the myths, characters, and environments of the popular PS one(TM) franchise, MediEvil Resurrection provides players with an enchanting storyline filled with numerous levels and gameplay locations, supported with various characters, enemies, weapons, and mini-games that take place in the realm of Gallowmere. In addition, using Wi-Fi gameplay via Ad Hoc mode, players can compete head-to-head in various arcade-style mini games.

The Con - Available October 2005
The Con is an innovative 3D fighting game based on an underworld where illegal fighting tournaments exist and high-stakes gambling takes center stage. During gameplay, players can train their fighter to fight solo or in a team of three in Story Mode where their ability to build up a team and implementing match-up strategy plays a huge role. In addition, utilizing Ad Hoc mode that enables wireless gaming, The Con allows players to compete in various head-to-head fighting matches. Throughout gameplay, players can learn re-programmable fighting combinations based on five different brawling disciplines -- Boxing, Wrestling, Kick Boxing, Tae Kwon Do and Jeet Kune Do.

Neopets: Petpet Adventures - The Wand of Wishing - Available November 2005
Neopets: Petpet Adventures - The Wand of Wishing is an action RPG game that brings the hidden world of the petpets to life in 3D for the first time. Players can choose from a variety of popular petpet characters to play and, utilizing the wireless Ad-Hoc mode, they will also be able to compete head-to-head in the Battledome and buy, sell and trade special items in the search to recover the fabled wand of wishing. Source: PSP World

ABC News Programs Avaiable for Sony PSP

Sony expects to sell over 10 million PSPs this year, so mainstream media outlets are taking notice. ABC announced it will offer downloadable video news content for the PSP through the Sony Connect video portal. Looks like Sony is really serious about making the PSP the video iPod of the future. Now if only they can get those memory stick prices to come down.

"Today, 99% of people with PSPs are using it to play the fantastic games," said Bernie Gershon, ABC News digital media group senior vp and general manager. "But our view is that wherever there is a screen, there is a potential viewer of ABC News."

Advance Wars DS Preview

One of the best games in the past few years was the original Advance Wars. I can remember plenty a sleepless night and long plane ride playing this classic turned-based game. Now Nintendo has unveiled Advance Wars DS in the latest issue of Nintendo Power.

New modes include a survival mode, new weapons, 2 commanding officers at a time, and a real-time strategy Combat mode. Can you imagine wireless multi-player real-time Advance Wars? Pure gaming bliss.

The other new mode, and perhaps the most surprising/exciting, is called Combat Mode. In Combat Mode, you'll purchase troops and even your CO and then place them on the battlefield and control them - in real time! Unit movement will be handled by using the control pad and attacking will be done by touching enemies with the stylus. This should make real time strategy fans very happy, and assuming there's a wireless multiplayer Combat Mode, will make AW DS one of, if not the first, DS multiplayer RTSes.

Electronic Arts Chief Game Player

Bing Gordon has a pretty cool job as Chief Creative Officer. He gets to play videogames everyday till 2AM and whine to developers on what they need to do to improve them. Too bad in the past 12 months, he had to play EA's stinkers too. Ahh, to be at the right time and the right place to get a job like that at the genesis of the videogame industry.

As chief creative officer of video game publisher Electronic Arts, Gordon has a unique job in the corporate world. He has to make sure the games produced by the Redwood City company's creative staff are innovative and popular enough to keep its million-unit hit machine running smoothly... Because EA has more than 3,800 game developers, there are too many people for Gordon to talk with on a regular basis. Still, the chances are good of getting ``Binged,'' which EA executive Frank Gibeau describes as being put on the spot to explain their work to Gordon.

More Nintendogs Videos

It might not be your cup of tea for hard-core videogame fanatics, but according to my wife Nintendogs is going to be the killer app for women. Check out these two gameplay videos showing a player teaching the dog how to sit, jump, and turnaround using verbal commands through the Nintendo DS microphone (Video 1).

And play with the dogs (Video 2) by using jump rope, throwing balls, dress up with different sunglasses, and playing piano. The variety of gameply sure is impressive.

Shadow of Colossus Preview

ICO was one of the most revered games of this generation. So when Gamespot has a preview of Shadow of Colossus, which is from the development team that made ICO, it's worth a gander.

Even though it's not a direct sequel, the new game shares many of the same characteristics, style, and art design of ICO. Looks like we have another must-have game to pre-order. The slated release date is fall of 2005.

Shadow's visual presentation shares the same stunning artistic flair that gave ICO such a powerful presence. This new game is by no means derivative of its predecessor, however. Shadow has its own unique look and feel that's conveyed by richly detailed environments and savvy use of color. The nameless hero sports an impressive amount of fine detail (such as patterned clothing, a cape, and lace-up sandals), and this gives him an almost Native American look.

Mac OS X Tiger Up-To-Date Program

If you bought a Mac anytime on or after April 12, 2005, you can get Mac OS X Tiger for $9.95. The program website is here. Note that this offer ends on July 22, 2005 and your order must be postmarked by July 9, 2005.

Adobe Macromedia Merger Thoughts

Daring Fireball opines on the state of Adobe and why it acquired Macromedia. He has issues with the CEO of Adobe, who he thinks cares more about salesmanship than innovation. Which means the company bought Macromedia, so it can just market and sell more products better.

I actually think the main driver behind the move was a defensive one. There is really only one competitor that Adobe fears about over its graphics and design monopoly. You guessed it. The evil empire. If Microsoft bought Macromedia, Adobe would have a serious fight for its survival. Now without Macromedia in the picture, it takes away Microsoft's entry into the arena. Pretty nifty move I think.

Like most sales guys, Chizen seems like the sort of person who believes that what matters most is not the quality of the product itself, but merely the marketing in which you package it. Marketing does matter, and so does salesmanship. But the main reason Adobe Systems has been a success is that they created and developed terrific, innovative software. Engineering talent isn’t enough; you need passion for innovative products at the top of a company.

May 01, 2005

High Definition Movie Trailers

With the release of OS X Tiger, Apple has also launched Quicktime 7. It is also available using software updates if you have Mac OS X Panther. One neat feature is the new HD codec, where you can now download HD trailers in 1080p and 720p resolution on the upper left of the Apple Quicktime Movie Trailer page. Although it's a bit choppy on my Mac Mini, the trailers sure do look sweet.

Silver Sony PSTwo

Maybe to take away some of the silver flair of the new Xbox 360, Sony Europe is going to launch a silver version of the slim-line PSTwo on May 13th. Along with the console, there will be silver versions of the vertical stand, memory card, Dualshock controller, DVD remote control, and the EyeToy camera.

David Reeves, President of SCEE said, "When we introduced the new slimline PlayStation 2 in November last year we delighted consumers with its compact size and elegant style, and hundreds of thousands of existing PlayStation 2 owners upgraded to the slimline model. The new silver model takes the elegance and beauty of PlayStation 2 to new heights. With over 30 million PlayStation 2 consoles in households across Europe, the new Satin Silver model will secure the position of PlayStation 2 as the games console of choice for the keen, and now fashionable gamer."

GTA San Andreas Xbox Features

Details on the improvements for the Xbox version of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas have come out. The new edition will be released on June 7th, 2005 and come with upgraded graphics, 480p progressive scan, 16:9 widescreen support, higher resolution textures, better draw distances, improved lighting and shading, and a cool 30 second instant replay feature.