September 30, 2005

Google Submits Bid to Offer Free Wi-Fi to San Francisco

Google submitted a 100 page bid to the city of San Francisco today to offer free Wi-Fi access for its residents. Over a dozen other ISPs and companies including Earthlink have also put in bids. Although the mayor's office hasn't outlined a specific time-frame, in the past he has said he would like the service to go live sometime in 2006.

The guidelines for proposals include accessibility from 95% of outdoor locations and 90% inside buildings. Google may pay for the service through local advertising, although this hasn't been decided. There are no plans however to share revenue with the city. Chris Sacca, a Google business development principal, has said the offering's goal was to "be good citizens and along the way learn a lot."

The bid plans to offer amazing EV-DO type speeds of 300 kilobits/sec, which is obviously much faster than dial-up. Google is going to build out using 820.11b and 802.11g wireless standards with an eventual upgrade to 802.11n. It would be a boon for people that can't afford broadband access and a great backup connection if your internet connection goes down. The company has said there are no current plans to offer the free service outside of San Francisco. One can speculate the company would like to try it out in one city to see what works and then develop new innovative location-sensitive applications for a larger roll-out in the future.

I don't think the telecom and cable companies are going to be happy with this new development. Look forward to Verizon, SBC, and Comcast to use their legal and political lobbying muscle to impede this free Wi-Fi trend. When a firm goes after your crown jewels, these companies will fight back hard. It's bad enough that startups like Vonage are killing their wireline revenues.

Google, you are commended for using the $4 billion you recently raised for the good of the common people. Go get those stodgy, greedy telecom companies. Take them down. We have speculated on this action in the past, now it's definitely becoming reality. [Discuss]

Blackberry 8700 Specs



The Blackberry 8700 will be announced in the next few weeks and will probably launch either by year end or in Q1 2006.

-quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE
-320x240 color screen
-312mhz processor
-speaker phone
-bluetooth
-16MB RAM / 64MB Flash
-polyphonic ringtones, support MP3 ringtones

September 25, 2005

Tivo Becoming Like the Wireless Phone Companies



Starting September 6, 2005, any new Tivo subscriptions will have a 1 year contract with any early termination fee of $150. Tivo is becoming like the wireless phone companies. This is not a good thing.

WITH RESPECT TO ANY NEW TIVO SERVICE SUBSCRIPTION ACTIVATED ON OR AFTER SEPTEMBER 6, 2005, YOU AGREE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE TIVO SERVICE FOR NO LESS THAN 12 MONTHS (THE "SERVICE COMMITMENT"). IF YOU FAIL TO MEET THE SERVICE COMMITMENT BY CANCELLING YOUR SUBSCRIPTION TO THE TIVO SERVICE (OR IF TIVO TERMINATES YOUR SUBSCRIPTION TO THE TIVO SERVICE DUE TO A BREACH OF THIS AGREEMENT), YOU AGREE THAT TIVO MAY CHARGE YOU A $150 EARLY TERMINATION FEE, AND YOU AGREE TO PAY ANY SUCH EARLY TERMINATION FEE.

NEC L1 Specs



It seems like everyone and their half-brother is coming out with RAZR phone copy cat. NEC's version sure looks nice though. The specs are:

-47.9mm (width) X 101.5mm (height) X 11.9mm (depth)
-96g in weight
-GSM/GPRS network
-1.9 inch (176x220 dot) 65,000 color display
-digital camera (1.3 mega pixels)
-PictBridge, MP3, Java and Bluetooth. Up to 64-polyphonic ring tones
-Two minutes of movie recording

Samsung i300 Porn



Samsung i300 is a next generation smartphone looking to be your next PDA/MP3 player/cellphone replacement.

Sony Ericsson W850 Porn



A lot of sexy phones are coming out these days and this is Sony's attempt at the brass ring of hotness. It will be a called the W850 Walkman phone and will come with a 320x240 pixel screen, 3G network speed, and a video conference call capable camera.

Pink Motorola RAZRV3



Maria Sharapova is promoting a pink version of the new Motorola RAZR V3 for the holiday season. I guess if you're a girl, you would like this design.

Bill Gates House



Learn about how the richest man in the world lives in his house.

Motorola RAZR V3x Specs

The Motorola RAZR V3x is coming in Q4 2005. Bluetooth, MP4 video, two-way video conference calling, and 2 cameras. Can't wait. This could be the first mass production cellphone that will have enough critical mass to make video calls mainstream over high-speed wireless networks.

If Motorola can figure out how to have connectivity to regular PCs with webcams using iChat, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, and/or AOL IM, this could be a new communication revolution. Moreover it's only a matter of time before hackers find a way to add ROKR iTunes functionality to the RAZR V3x.

Be seen and heard with the Motorola RAZR V3x - the supremely svelte, sophisticated mobile accessory for discerning fashion and tech enthusiasts. The handset's intuitive multimedia offerings include: real-time 2-way video calling, still and moving image capture and editing, and large color display. Additionally, the Motorola RAZR V3x features SCREEN3, an innovative technology solution from Motorola that gives you zero-click access to news, sports, entertainment, and other premium content directly from your mobile device home screen - no buttons to push, no browsers to launch. Motorola's SCREEN3 puts fresh content at your fingertips. A 2 mega-pixel camera, Bluetooth wireless technology and removable memory add to this lengthy feature set. Strutting a sleek, slim design and premium functionality, the Motorola RAZR V3x exudes multimedia perfection.

Creative Liberty
Two cameras are better than one. Open up a world of mobile visual imagery with a 2 mega-pixel camera to capture still and moving images combined with a VGA camera for 2-way video calling. Extend your mobile artistry further with editing capabilities, allowing you to manipulate images and then share via Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) .

Patience Not Required
Choose to rely on the Motorola RAZR V3x to streamline your information and make life easier. Enjoy non-stop access to current events, news and celebrity gossip via Motorola's dynamic idle solution. And, Bluetooth connectivity furthers convenience by allowing the ability to talk hands-free using compatible Bluetooth* enabled accessories.

Get Blown Away
With progressive downloading, you can download media files and view them almost instantaneously, or store them and view at your convenience. Still not impressed? 3D graphics energize your gaming entertainment, making each twist, turn and supersonic blast seem real. And with up to 512 megabytes (MB) of optional removable memory, you can download* and store music, games and videos from dusk till dawn.

SUMMARY OF FEATURES:
-Sleek streamlined housing with large, vivid color external and internal displays
-2 megapixel camera with 8x zoom, macro mode setting and , LED
-VGA camera for 2-way video calling
-Bluetooth wireless technology supports wireless stereo sound through Motorola Bluetooth Stereo Headset and other compatible Bluetooth enabled accessories for hands-free communication
-Up to 512 MB of removable optional TransFlash memory
-Motorola's SCREEN3 technology solution featuring zero-click access to news, sports, entertainment, and other premium content.
-Progressive downloading to view media files on demand
-Support of AAC+, MPEG4, WMV, WMA, MP3 and Real Video/Audio files
-Advanced speaker-independent voice recognition: state a number/name and be connected without pre-recording
-Over the air synchronization with the PC via SyncML
-WAP 2.0 browser

The Motorola RAZR V3x is expected to be available in Q4 2005. For more information regarding pricing and product availability in your region, please contact your local Motorola representative.

September 24, 2005

Treo 700 Pictures

Howard has a slew of pictures of the new Windows Mobile 5.0 based Treo 700w.

Battlestar Galactica Hits #2 on Best 50 Sci-Fi Shows of All Time



Boston.com put Battlestar Galactica #2 on their list of Best 50 Sci-Fi shows of all time. In my opinion, it should be number 1.

Gameboy Micro Pictures



Joystiq has fun opening the Gameboy Micro box.

Million Dollar Homepage

There's a new great internet idea being born every week. This debt-ridden student has found a way to make a million dollars, probably within 2-3 months. This is not a hoax, I wish I thought of this idea.

Superman Returns - Costliest Movie Ever?

Reports are coming out that Superman Returns may be the most expensive movie of all-time. $326 million is a lot of dough for a rehash of an old franchise about a boy in tights.

Variety reported its director Bryan Singer acknowledged its budget is approaching $326 million - that would top Titanic's $250 million and Waterworld's $225 million. But the director of upcoming Harry Potter film Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, Mike Newell, is now claiming the title. "I think of myself as being really lucky," he said. "I'm going to make the most expensive film ever. These things are not like ordinary films they are world events." And the cost of the film, due here on December 1? Reportedly $305 million. Special effects, not actors' salaries, are driving the ballooning budgets, although Superman Returns has years of development costs to sink as well.

Opera is Now Free

Thanks to a business deal with Google, the fastest browser on the web is now free. I'm using it right now as my browser of choice and you should too.

Interview with the Creator of Dead or Alive

Game Informer serves it up with the creator of Dead or Alive.

What you see is what you get. I never felt that I had enough machine power. The more power I get the more I want to do. Even with Xbox 360 there’s never enough. I must tell you an interesting story since you came all the way to Tokyo for me. Of course, as a developer we welcome more power. From a consumer stand point, they must feel that there’s already enough power. Back in 1997 – 8 years ago – I made games. I look back and I surprise myself. I’m impressed with what I see and what I did 8 years ago. Eight years from today I don’t think I’m going to look back at today and feel as impressed as I feel about product from 8 years ago. So of course, for the last 8 years, our focus was to improve the graphics quality, and of course without having enough power, that became a challenge. From this point forward, obviously that won’t be the focus, and we’ll be working more on interactivity – things like this lobby – more about the actual game concept and gameplay. That’s where I think my focus will be on.

Interview with the Designer of God of War

David Jaffe has proven to be one of the best designers in the business. Read the interview

What annoys or disappoints you about the industry? That the audience for games is not big enough to decent selling games anymore. It used to be that a game could sell 300,000 and it was a nice, tidy hit. But these days, development costs keep rising but the audience is not growing as fast so every game has to be a million plus seller.

Motorola Q Coming out for Christmas



The CEO of Motorola has gone on record the Motorola Q will be out ahead of schedule for Christmas.

Speaking to reporters at the Churchill Club at the Computer History Museum here, Zander said sales of the Motorola Q and a pink version of the Razr cell phone are now expected to begin in December instead of in January or later in the first quarter, as originally projected. Depending on supplies of the phones, delivery to customers in some cases may not happen until after Christmas, however.

Treo 700w to be Announced on Monday

Palm is going to announce the Treo 700w this Monday with Microsoft and Verizon Wireless. It will run Windows Mobile 5.0, have EV-DO high speed internet access, Bluetooth, SD slot, and 64 megs of memory.

Battlestar Galactica Third Season Confirmed

The best show on television is now coming back for a third season. Thank the gods.

Sources at SciFi Channel are reporting that SciFi has unofficially decided to award both "Battlestar Galactica" and "Stargate: Atlantis" third-season pickups... During the show, Hinman -- who appeared by telephone in the show's final hour -- said he had received unconfirmed reports that the third-season pickups have been decided. SciFi normally does not announce fate of shows during the first half of the seasons, which end this month. "Battlestar Galactica" aired for the first time on SciFi in January for an extended half-season run, quickly earning a second season after strong ratings that beat out even new episodes of "Star Trek: Enterprise" on UPN. The show is in the middle of its second season, still enjoying strong ratings despite some audience erosion seen across the board. It stars Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell, and has been critically-acclaimed in the mainstream media... series will end their first-half season run this month, and will return for new episodes in January.

September 23, 2005

Nintendo Revolution Specs

The same guy who nailed the specs for the Xbox 360 has put up numbers for the Nintendo Revolution:

System 1 Modified CPU:
1 IBM Custom PowerPC 2.5 GHz with 256 KB L1 cache and 1 MB of L2 cache (an L3 cache is rumored). It is Dual Threaded
13 billion dot product operations per second

Revolution GPU
ATI Custom based RN520 core. The "N" stands for Nintendo, and is because the ArtX team is with them, that is why it’s an "N".
GPU core at 600 MHz. Will support up to 2048x1268 resolution, HD support is still being decided. Will have 256 MB’s of 1T-SRAM (the RAM is much better due to some tweaking, compared to GC’s RAM. The latency and Cells are much more efficient and faster. Around 1.2 ns is the latency, on average).
32 parallel floating-point dynamically scheduled shader pipelines.
Polygon Performance: 500 million triangles per second theoretical, average in game would be around 100 Million/sec
Shader Performance: ~50 billion shader operations per second

Revolution memory
512 MB of 700 MHz 1T-SRAM
Other bits and pieces

Revolution will support a PPU chip (Physical Processing Chip). There will be 32 MB's of its own RAM, which will link to the CPU and GPU and the Controller.

There will also be a separate sound card that will support only DD 5.1 - DTS 7.1, rumors has it will have 16 MB’s, like the Cube DSP

So there is the modified version. I think this would be on par with Xbox360, though PS3 could have an edge in the CPU area. In the GPU area the Revolution beats PS3, and technically would match Xbox 360. Source: G4 Forums

Motorola RAZR 2 Photos

Howard scores the exclusive on Motorola RAZR 2 screenshots.

September 21, 2005

Google Net - It's Coming

It looks like Google is building its own private internet. The Google guys sure think big. Go big or go home.

It is accumulating hundreds of thousands of square feet of carrier hotel space that could host giant server farms, buying up fiber, and issuing large RFPs for DWDM and Ethernet-based telecom equipment that could total in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to multiple sources at carriers and equipment vendors. By building a core of transport techologies and peering directly to the world's leading incumbent telcos and PTTs, Google could end up securing and controlling distribution of much of the world's Internet traffic, say the sources. Its massive server farms would have a direct link to the backbone.

September 20, 2005

Google Free Wi-Fi Coming to a City Near You

When the rumors about Google offering free Wi-Fi initially came out, I laughed out loud. Well time for me to admit I'm wrong. If you go to the Feeva.com website, on the homepage the company points to an article in Business 2.0 that basically says the startup is working with Google to offer free Wi-Fi access in San Francisco.

If the premise of the article wasn't true, why would Feeva.com point to it on THEIR HOMEPAGE. How cool is that? Google recently raised $4 billion from Wall Street, now we know what its for. Can you imagine how the telecom companies will come crawling to the politicians to outlaw this once Google comes out with Free Secure Wi-Fi internet access, Free Email through Gmail, and Free Phonecalls through GoogleTalk.

You talk about a revolution?

Further confirmation comes from today's release of Google Secure Access VPN program. It's only a matter of time now.

Dell DJ Ditty Launched



Sometimes I wonder if Dell and Sony are totally clueless. Give the new Dell DJ Ditty's design to any 12 year old, they will tell you it's pretty ugly and they would never buy it over an iPod. I mean for $199 you can get a beautiful museum piece style iPod Nano with 2 gigabytes of storage and a color screen or you can get a 512MB Dell DJ Ditty for $99? It's not even a contest. Back to the drawing board guys.

September 19, 2005

Flash Memory White Hot

One type, called NAND flash, is expected to post revenue growth of 18% a year for the next five years - stunning results in the cutthroat components market, says chip analyst Mark DeVoss at researcher iSuppli. "It's the fastest-growing memory market that has ever existed," says chip analyst Jim Handy at Semico Research.

Peerflix Gets Coverage

With DVD sales expected to reach $21 billion next year, it may be comforting for consumers to know used discs now have a second life as tradable currency on a year-old Web site called Peerflix. And at 99 cents a pop, the new commodities may threaten to erode demand for DVD rental services down the road. Launched by two friends in Menlo Park, California, Peerflix went live a year ago last summer and has grown to 40,000 users in the six months or so that it has been widely available.

Peerflix is a trading platform that asks users to make lists of DVDs they want and DVDs they want to get rid of, then matches "wants" with "haves" for 99 cents a trade. The company provides a mailing label with a tracking number and shipping envelopes. Users must pay postage. Each movie title is assigned between one and three "Peerbux," based on their desirability. Users rack up Peerbux each time they ship a movie, and can then use their loot to purchase movies from other users. Or they can buy Peerbux for cash to get the cycle started.

Peerflix co-founder Billy McNair told Reuters that the potential market for DVD trading is enormous, with the company's research showing that 60 percent of the 4 billion discs sold over the past eight years were watched only twice. "There is no meaningful secondary market for these assets," McNair said. "But (Peerflix) can, in a convenient, cost-effective way take DVDs and trade them ... for the DVDs they wanna watch. That's the foundational core for the business."

Google Looking to Buy Some Major Bandwidth

Google is reviewing bids from tech vendors to build a nationwide optical DWDM network, which means that the cash-flush web giant could soon have a communications network that few can rival. The vendors who have seen Googles fiber network RFP say that the nature of the network can really only mean that Google ultimately hopes to push massive amounts of voice, video and data close to the end user. The perennial problem is that close is not enough to reach the end user, Google has to have access to the last mile.

September 18, 2005

Nintendo Revolution Controller Commercial Trailer

Watch it and let the hype begin. I want one NOW! Just think about it, do you want to play the same games you've been playing for years with better graphics and sound *cough* Sony PS3, Xbox 360. Or do you want totally new gaming experiences filled with innovation and new surprises? I know what my choice is. Nintendo! Now you're playing with POWER. We talk about a revolution! [Discuss]

The History of Palm Computing

I still remember buying the U.S. Robotics PalmPilot Personal Edition. I tip my hat off to Jeff and Donna for changing the world with their product.

Donna realized that Palm did not have enough money to manufacture and market the device (she calculated at least $5 million would be required). VC firms shied away from PDA companies, so Palm would have to find a partner or buyer. The first company Dubinsky spoke to was Motorola, which was developing a two way pager. The head of the project was interested in using the Palm OS, by Dubinsky feared that Touchdown would be gutted for the pager. She turned to Compaq, which demanded outrageous terms for a relatively small investment. Palm would be relegated to selling a Mac-only version of Touchdown, while Compaq sold to the rest of the market. Off a tip, Dubinsky began talking with US Robotics which showed great interest in the company. US Robotics acquired Palm for $44 million, and set it up as a subsidiary.

GP2X Launched in UK



The new emulator friendly console, GP2X, is shipping in the UK. This handheld is open-source, uses Linux, has a 320x240 screen, and have amazing battery life of 8 hours for video and 14 hours for audio. The best part is the predecessor (GP32) was known for playing old retro games and the GPX2 won't disappoint. One of the big features is it can play MAME, SNES, Genesis, and PC Engine games through emulation.

Product name: GPX2-F100
CPU Dual CPU Cores
ARM920T: Host processor
ARM940T: Video Coprocessor
NAND Flash Memory: 64MB
Dimension: 143.6mm* 82.9mm*34mm
RAM: 32MB
Storage: SD Card
Connection Type: USB 2.0 high speed
O/S: Linux
Power supply: 2AA
Display: 3.5" TFT LCD
Resolution: 320*240(QVGA)
Video file: MPEG, MPEG4, Dvix 3.11,4x,5x, XVID, WMV Playback
Audio file: MP3,OGG,WMA
Battery Life Video: Approx. 8 hours
Audio: Approx. 14hours

Rockstar Still Acts Naughty and Doesn't Get It

Note to Rockstar, after the hot coffee fiasco, the "we didn't do it" defense, and the basic arrogance of the team and management, maybe you shouldn't add fuel to the fire by pissing off your critics even more?? I mean it only cost the company you work for, Take-Two, millions upon millions of dollars. Be smart.

Shortly after the website appeared online, US site GamePolitics received an angry email response from Thompson, in which he wrote: "Take-Two/Rockstar has created and paid for an actual Internet website for the purpose of furthering the notion that its most abiding and most effective critic, Jack Thompson, is himself a sexual pervert. "When you click on the fake email [on the Liberty City Stories site], you will find that JT (Jack Thompson) likes to surf the Internet for pictures depicting deviant sex acts by teenage girls." "Additionally," Thompson continues, "There is at the site an audio ad featuring a man whose name is "Jack" who is found naked by a mother in her son's room. "Bisexual paedophile Jack Thompson is the combined message."

iPod Nano Pictures and Impressions

iPod Nano mania here at FA. FirstAdopter member stupot42 has written some great impressions, tips, photos, and tricks for the iPod Nano on this thread, including how to make your very own iPod Nano pouch / case with pictures.

How did I do it, I hear you asking. Well, I recently changed my sunglasses and therefore have an old pair of oakleys that I use for gardening etc. So, I took the bag and cut away at the seams. once I had the square of bag in front of me, I put my nano in (with the headphones attached, so I could take them into account), and I pinned it up so I could figure out where to sew. I then sewed it up, and turned it inside out to hide the stitches and hey presto! I did have to cut the top bit where the drawstring goes, which was a bit awkward, and the string itself needed cutting to size, and then the end burned with a flame to prevent freying. but a fairly easy job. One thing I will say tho is that those Oakley glasses bags are tough... I had a job getting my needle through the bag! My mum always said learning to sew would come in useful one day, and she was right! [Discuss]

Blackberry 8700 Specs



The next generation Blackberry will be called the 8700, codenamed "Electron". It will be launched by Cingular in October as a GSM model. The specs are:

-320X240 resolution display with 65K colors
-312 mhz processor
-16MB RAM 64MB flash
-Bluetooth
-Quadband with EDGE (CDMA version said to include EV-DO)

September 17, 2005

iPod Nano Review and Impressions

I've had my white iPod Nano for one day now and I can say I'm very impressed. Apple knows how to make simple clean breath-taking designs and with the Nano they have hit it out of the park. Basically it takes all the functionality of a full size iPod Photo and crams it into the space to two thick sticks of chewing gum. Yes it is THAT small.

The display is razor sharp and the colors are vivid. The downside is the screen is a bit small for photos, but it still pretty neat to have hundreds of pictures to go through at a whim. The user interface is basically the same as previous iterations with a few new apps added in. The games are pretty weak (Apple just copy Nokia or Blackberry's games please), but the iPod music functionality is as good as ever.

I used to have a 10GB iPod and a iPod 1GB Shuffle, both of which lasted less than a year before they were sold on eBay. The 10GB iPod just wasn't portable enough and I didn't feel comfortable with the hard-drive's lack of durability. The durability of the iPod Shuffle was great due to it using flash storage, but the lack of screen made a big pain to find songs and fast forward on podcasts.

The iPod Nano gives me the best of both worlds with the added feature of color and the best museum piece quality design yet. I don't plan on selling the Nano for years. I'm a happy customer. [Discuss]

Nintendo Keynote Speech at Tokyo Game Show 2005

Watch the video of the Nintendo Keynote in English with over 60 slides explaining Big N's strategy for the DS and Revolution. The more I think about it, the more Nintendo's strategy just makes sense.

Let Sony and Microsoft battle it out for the 13-30 year old male demographic with a focus on sports and first-person shooter games. Meanwhile Nintendo will focus on expanding the videogame market to females, young kids, and older adults.

The new controller I think will have a lot of awesome light gun type games as you can shoot it like a remote control gun. At this point I can say I'm going to get a Revolution and not a PS3 or Xbox 360. [Discuss]

Nintendo Revolution Controller Opinion

The internet is filled with negative commentary on the Nintendo Revolution controller. Initially I was not impressed either, especially since Nintendo was hyping a HUGE paradigm change for years, but think about this.

Every hard core gamer including myself was making fun of Nintendo for the DS. For the 12 months before the DS and PSP came out, I KNEW I would get a Sony PSP and scoff at the DS. Well what happened?

I wound up not buying a PSP because there were no system seller fun games to justify the $300 price tag. And no I wasn't going to spend $300 to play Lumines and some 2nd tier PS2 ports that I've already played years before. Instead I bought *gasp* a Nintendo DS and I'm enjoying it as my number one gaming platform. Go figure.

If the big N comes out with killer new fun-to-play games for the Revolution just like they have for the DS, it will be another huge surprise success. [Discuss]

September 14, 2005

Apple iPod Nano Sales Off to Slow Start

"Our checks indicate good, but not great initial sales of iPod nano," said Shaw Wu, an analyst for American Technology Research. "This may be surprising given the consensus view from both the investment community and technology reviewers that the iPod nano would be a big success."

According to the analyst, many Apple stores who were contacted reported selling only 200-500 of their initial 1800-2500 iPod nano allocation. Additionally, Wu confirms earlier reports that the black iPod nano is greatly outselling the white models.

"[The] black-colored ones are outselling the white ones by a great deal," Wu wrote in a research note released to clients on Tuesday. "5 to 1 and in some cases as high as 8 to 1." Coincidentally, these sales ratios completely contrast Apple's initial production ratios of the nano, which reports suggest were 1 black nano for every 5 to 8 white nanos. -AppleInsider

September 13, 2005

Sony Predict Blu-Ray Victory

Sony is going around predicting victory for Blu-Ray over Toshiba's HD-DVD standard due to the Playstation 3 roll-out. Let's not get ahead of ourselves Mr. Beta vs. VHS.

a senior Sony Pictures executive to confidently predict that Sony's rival Blu-Ray standard will dominate the market within 12 months. Speaking to HomeMediaRetailing.com, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president Benjamin Feingold fingered the PlayStation 3, which will sport a Blu-Ray drive, as a major factor that will drive the adoption of the standard. "I think in 12 months it's going to be clear," he predicted. "The combination of Blu-Ray and PlayStation 3 machines is going to overwhelm any HD-DVD presence and all studios will have to support Blu-Ray."

Intel Licenses Nvidia SLI and ATI Crossfire

Intel licensed the Nvidial SLI and ATI Crossfire technology for its 975X chipset. Now only if they can appease the shortage.

The 975X will come with a built-in PCIe x16 interface, which will allow motherboard makers to design boards with dual PCIe x8 slots to support dual-graphics technology, the sources noted. Intel has reached a licensing agreement with both Nvidia and ATI that will allow Intel users access to drivers to enable SLI or CrossFire, the sources noted. The 975X will target the high-end segment with an initial price tag of US$50 (for 10k lots), or at the same level as Intels 955X chipset.

Tivo 7.2 OS is a Doozy

I'm so glad I dumped my Tivo for a PC PVR solution with Tivo pulling off crap like this, kow-towing to the networks.

I recently got a sample of Tivo DRM, accidentally I suspect. Recently a Simpson's rerun recorded with a red-flag next to it (an icon I've never seen before). When I selected the episode, I got a message to the effect that "the copyright holder prohibited saving the episode past date mm/dd".

September 11, 2005

Day of Defeat: Source Available September 26

Day of Defeat: Source, the latest version of the WWII online action game from Valve, will be made available to gamers everywhere on September 26.

"Day of Defeat has quietly been one of the most played online action games for the past three years," said Gabe Newell, president and founder of Valve. "Day of Defeat: Source represents a major leap forward in both graphics and gameplay, and pushes the Source engine harder than any other Source project. "

DoD: Source takes the classic teamplay of DoD and expands the experience with Source, the engine technology Valve created for Half-Life 2 and it's next generation of games. With this technology, DoD: Source offers state of the art graphics with optimized versions of popular maps and all new player, weapon and world models, plus support for HDR lighting.

DoD: Source leverages the power of the Source engine by introducing advanced sound technology to provide a more immersive soundscape and integrated physics simulation technology for ragdolls and physically simulated objects throughout each map.

Available via Steam for just $19.95 and in the Counter-Strike: Source retail package, DoD: Source is a rebuild from the ground up of Day of Defeat on the Source engine.

DoD: Source will be available for pre-load and pre-order next week. Those who purchased the Half-Life 2 Silver or Gold Steam offers will receive a request to pre-load the game at this time and will receive access to play the moment the game is made available.

Windows Vista to Come in 7 Different Flavors

This is so painful and retarded it makes me want to cry. When you have a monopoly, you can do stuff like this and get away with it. Can you imagine Apple released 7 different versions of OS X? Not in a million years.

...there will be 7 versions of Windows Vista: Starter Edition, Home Basic Edition, Home Premium Edition, Professional Edition, Small Business Edition, Enterprise Edition, and Ultimate Edition." From the article: "Windows Vista Ultimate Edition is a superset of both Vista Home Premium and Vista Pro Edition, so it includes all of the features of both of those product versions, plus adds Game Performance Tweaker with integrated gaming experiences, a Podcast creation utility (under consideration, may be cut from product), and online "Club" services (exclusive access to music, movies, services and preferred customer care) and other offerings (also under consideration, may be cut from product).

New Playstation 3 News and Details - PS3

These quotes come from PlayStation Magazine. I like the fact the new Grand Theft Auto is well in production and Sony is blatantly ripping off Xbox Live. You have to love competition. Other potential ground-breakers are new PS3 titles from the Ico team, new Indiana jones movie spin-off, and a Super Street Fighter??? Also executives are still hinting at a world wide console launch in the first half of 2006. However my gut still says we see a delay at least for the United States.

PSM's information came from developers. Some on the record, some off.

....particularly when it comes to ease of development for the system: how it compares to PS2, and more importantly, Xbox 360. "The *****ing this round sounds opposite of the last. Both are friendly, but the PS3 may actually be friendlier," reports one of out PS2 and Xbox 360 development sources, who wished to remain anonymous. "People are finding that the [xbox] 360 has some stupid bottlenecks."

Developers will soon learn more about the ins-and-outs of creating PS3 games, as Sony has started taking orders for final development hardware to be delivered by December. At that time, game creators will be able to tell just how much mroe extra polish they can put on their titles without worrying about them crapping out on a retail PS3.

Quote:

The latest on PS3's power

[Read More]

"Once we have final hardware for both next-gen systems, we'll have a much better idea of how they compare, but the general consensus right now is that the PS3 is considerably more powerful than the X360 across the board," said another source. "It's important to get a good idea of which is the most powerful soon, since multi-platform games will need to be either ported down from PS3 to 360 or vice-versa."

Speaking of multi-platforming games, another of our next-gen contatcts chimed in with the following when we asked them, flat out, which system will ultimatelyl have the best looking games. "Only the games that are exclusive to tiether system will be real technical showcases,"adding "There will be strong points for each, but the cross platform games will most likely look and perform almost identically."

Quote:
PS3's Promising Online Support

In addition to all of the cool Wi-Fi-based PSP to PS3 functionality we've previously reported Sony is working on (transferring media and save data between the two anywhere in the world at a hotspot), there's some actual news to report on the online gameplay front. not only that, it's pretty good. (Although the gradual diminishing of Sony's PS2 online plans over that console's life will always have us taking their goals in this department with a grain of salt.)

PS3 is slated to have an actual online community ready to back it up on day one, complete with friend tracking, message services, and a central hub for everything. If it sounds like xbox Live, it should. Sony has been folloowing M$'s moves, and, well, plans to copy most of them, according to our sources. "They [Sony CEA] have a whole division that was put in place after the Network Adaptor was released for PS2 that bascially dropped focus on PS2 and moved to planning the PS3," says one designer working on an online PS3 title. "They knew that early that they were not going to compete during the current gen."

Quote:
Ramping up for an early release?
There's been a lot of talk about Sony's E3 2005 proclamation that PS3 would ship in the spring of 2006. A lot. Would it be in Japan only, or were they talking about the U.S. too? Questioned further on the topic, Sony execs have since stuck to their guns, saying that the system would be available worldwide before next summer.

PS3 will have a limited playable presence at TGS 2005. Sony has told PSm to expect a significant presence for the system at January's CES in Las Vegas. If a March launch does occur, it owuld be accompanied by only a couple of first-party titles, another two to three from EA, and one title at most from their other thrid parties. Madden NFL football developer Tiburon has had PS3 dev hardware longer than almost any other U.S. developer. Rockstar North has had stable kits since at least August 2005.

There's a lot of talk among the PS3 developer community about the importance of being first-to-market, or at least not letting M$ get too much of an installed base before PS3 ships. The general feeling is that Sony considers xbox 360 to be a possible contender in this generation, so they're not going to just rest on their laurels. In fact, developers report that Sony Japan is taking a much more hands-on role in the U.S. luanch of PS3 than it did with PS2 or PSP. Shades of the PS2 luanch, there.

Quote:
GTA 4: Rebuilt from the Ground Up

The next GTA game is going to look really good. Actually, maybe that should be feel really good. It's a no-brainer that on the most powerful games console yet, one of our favorite series will have better graphics. But, base on developer Rockstar North's technical research, GTA4 will be more about immersion than just mere eye candy.

Rockstar North is creating a specialized game engine for PS3 that will bring GTA 4 to life to a degree that the PS2 games could only hint at. Speciafially, they're going to be using the high data transfer bandwidth of the Cell CPU, RSX GPU, and Blu-ray Disc to use several streams of game info simultaneously. The game's city- unfortunately yet to be even hinted at- will still be free roaming and seamless, but broken down into smaller, more deatailed areas at the engine level, into which the game designers are going to eb able to pour more textures, more oject variety, and tons of details (such as discareded soda cans with their own physics), just for starters. The goal is a city that's less repetitive and where everything - and everyone- looks and acts mroe like they would in the real world on every level.

MGS 4 Becomes a War Zone

One source has described the game to PSM as "a cross between Rambo and Black Hawk Down," with Solid Snake plunged into the middle of a high-intesntiy urban war zone where artillery is taking out cover all aroudn him and AI controlled "sidekicks" fight alongside him as if they were actual human-controlled characters. The new 3D camera will paly a big role in surviving the fight quarters and constantly changing cover.
Kojima has an update on teh game planned for TGS.

Now onto the new list of the gamelineup for the PS3...

Quote:
The PS3 Game Lineup So Far

Activision
Spider-Man 3

Bandai
Mobile Suit Gundam

EA
NFSU 3
Madden NFL 2007
Medal of Honor
NBA Live 2007
Fight Night Round 3
Def Jam 3
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2007
New SSX
New Burnout

Majesco
The Darkness

Buena Vista Interactive
Pirates of the caribbean: dead man's chest

Capcom
Return of a "beloved fighting franchise" ( Super Street Fighter?)
New Ghouls N' Ghosts
DMC 4
RE 5

Rockstar
GTA 4
Western-themed action game (likely Red Dead Revolver 2)

Sony
New Team ICO project ( !!! )
Genji 2
Warhawk
I-8
The Getaway 3
Killzone 3
GT 5
New Hot Shots Golf
MotorStorm
Eyedentify
Heavenly Sword
Formula One 2007
New Wipeout
Sony Online Entertainment
Marvel comics MMORPG
Untitled Fantasy MMORPG

Namco
Tekken 6
Ridge Racer 6

Eidos
Tomb raider Next-gen

Lucas Arts
Star Wars: Clone Wars
indiana Jones (launch with new movie)

Konami
MGS4
Suikoden V
Castlevania

Midway
UT 2007
Mortal Kombat
Stranglehold

Atair
Test Drive Unlimited

THQ
New WWE Project

Sega
Fifth Phantom Saga
Sonic The Hedgehog
Condemned: Criminal Origans

Tecmo
Fatal Frame 4

Ubisoft
Prince of Persia 4
Killing Day

Koei
Ni-oh

Also in developemnt...
Dark Secotr, Dirty Harry, Battle Angel, Alita, Project Avalon, Endless Saga, Lair, Possession, Death Jr., Metronome, Psychopath, FF XIII, Alan Wake

iPod Nano is a Hit and Rokr is a Dud

Initial impressions are coming out on Apple's new products. Generally the iPod Nano is a huge hit, while the Rokr is a total dud due to its 100 song limitation and the lack of a click wheel for navigation.

Chance, at one point, was one of 10 customers testing out 10 Nanos at the display table. Meanwhile, the adjacent iPod Mini display table sat lonely, with no one testing out the 10 display Minis and iPod Shuffles. The Nano is replacing the Mini, which Apple is phasing out.

But the Jiangs were disappointed at the Rokr's design, which Jin said was bulky and Don said "looks just like a regular phone." They fell for the Nano, however, even though it wasn't what they were initially looking for. "If we get it today, it will be an impulse buy."

Intel Chipsets are Sold Out

Oh oh, spaghettios. Business is so good that the Intel CFO said on their conference they are out of chipsets. That is good news for Nvidia as they make chipsets too.

The chip giant, which earlier this year said it was reprioritizing its chip-set manufacturing in an effort to keep up with demand, doesn't expect to catch a breather until early 2006, said Andy Bryant, Intel Corp.'s CFO, on Thursday. "We're sold out on chip sets," Bryant said during a conference call to discuss Intel's third-quarter financial update. "I think chip sets [will] remain tight into the fourth quarter."

Google Billion Dollar Search Hackers

John Battelle's latest book is The Search, on the gripping story of the Google co-founders.

Battelle's book shows how search is pushing technology toward the dream of artificial intelligence. He explains how thousands of small businesses thrive and die by the quirks of search-engine algorithms, and details how an unorganized consortium of nonprofits, bloggers and corporations are rebuilding the Library of Alexandria in a digital, distributed and democratic form.

China Telecom to Block Skype

Bad timing for Skype as eBay is looking at buying them for billions of dollars. Meg you might be able to knock a billion or two off your offering price now.

China Telecom has started blocking access to a popular Internet telephone service that is threatening its long-distance revenue, according to local media reports and Internet postings.

China's largest fixed-line phone carrier recently began blocking access to service from Skype Technologies SA, a European-based Internet telecoms services provider, in the affluent southern city of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, according to the reports, including one in the Shanghai Daily.

20 Things They Don't Want You to Know

PC World put together a nice list of tips in this article. I basically knew most of the list already, but I can see how this can be useful for tech geeks. From avoiding extended warranties, to using TechBargains.com to find cheap stuff, to buying OEM software. It's a good list. There are even toll free customer support numbers for eBay and Amazon? Whoa.

* Amazon: 800/201-7575
* EBay: 800/322-9266

Korean MP3 Companies Whine About Nano

Korean MP3 companies are sulking that they can't compete with Apple's new iPod Nano because Samsung gave Apple such a low price on flash memory. Well that's how the free markets works guys. Apple with their market share can bully component manufacturers in getting a low low price because they are going to be ordering A LOT more flash memory than anyone in the industry. Economics 101.

The domestic MP3 player industry is sulking, saying the iPod nano owes its exceptionally low price to Samsung Electronics. “Memory chips affect more than 50 percent of MP3 players' prices. Apple presumably bought the flash memory chips at a 50 percent discount from Samsung.” But Samsung Electronics executive Joo Woo-sik defends the company. “I can’t tell you the discount rate, but it stands to reason that we expand the range of discount rates for a big buyer like Apple,” he said. "Samsung didn’t mean to do any harm to domestic MP3 manufacturers.”

Plextor ConvertX PVR-PXTV100U

The Box Gods have a review of Plextor's latest external PVR setup. It might be a right fit with beginners, but the image quality seems to be lacking. Although the SageTV Lite bundle is a nice addition.

This PVR is definitely NOT for the hardcore HTPC user because of its average video quality. This product is aimed at users who can’t use an internal card, and also for those new to the PVR market who want simple. I would not recommend this particular product to anyone looking for superior image quality and/or the low overhead of an in-hardware encoding solution.

September 08, 2005

Hitachi Deskstar 7k500 Hard Drive Review 500MB

Tech-Report has the review on Hitachi's new 500 megabyte hard-drive monster.

7K500's higher density can be worth the premium for systems where storage capacity is limited by available internal drive bays, Serial ATA ports, or both. Those seeking quieter systems should also prefer higher density drives, since the additive properties of noise levels make packing a system with multiple drives less desirable.

And remember, the Deskstar 7K500 is more than just 500GB of storage capacity. It also has everything one should expect from a high-end drive, including support for 300MB/s Serial ATA transfer rates and Native Command Queuing, a hefty 16MB cache, and a three-year warranty.

Intel CPU Price Cuts Coming in January 2006

Intel is scheduled to cut CPU prices in January of 2006.

Intel will cut prices for its Pentium D 8xx and Celeron processors in January 2006, when its new 65nm dual-core CPU lines, the Pentium D9 and Pentium 4 6xx series, are expected to hit the market, according to sources at motherboard makers.

Unit prices of Intel’s Celeron series will be lowered 5.5-13.6%, while price cuts on its Pentium D 8xx/6xx series, excluding the D840 will be small, indicated the sources. New prices for the Pentium D 840 will be lowered to US$423, down 20.1% from US$530 at present, the sources noted.

News Corp. Buys IGN

News Corp. announced that they will be IGN Entertainment for $650 million in cash. IGN owns IGN.com, Gamespy, Gamespy Arena, Fileplanet, Askmen.com, and Rotten Tomatos. I guess I should of started this site earlier and sell myself to IGN to get a piece of that action. Oh well.

Rupert Murdoch, News Corporation's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said: "With the acquisition of IGN and its 28 million unique users, we have gone a long way toward achieving two of our key strategic objectives in our efforts to become a leading and profitable internet presence. First, we have significantly enhanced our online reach, strengthening our position as the fifth most trafficked presence on the web. We also become the fourth largest network in terms of monthly page impressions. And second, we have furthered our strategy to leverage the unique competencies the company enjoys with its news, sports, and entertainment assets to create a leading internet destination. By acquiring IGN and its compelling sites, we now have top entertainment sites to go along with FOXSports.com, as well as our myriad news sites, headlined by FOXNews.com."

Mark Jung, IGN Entertainment's Chief Executive Officer, commented: "We believe that Fox Interactive Media is an ideal fit with IGN Entertainment. With this combination, our users will enjoy access to a broad array of content and services covering video games, music, movies, sports and news, and our advertisers will benefit from enormous reach into a highly sought-after demographic. We are thrilled with this acquisition and can't wait to get started."

September 07, 2005

$50 Tivo

Tivo cut the price of their DVRs to a measly $50 if you sign up for a 1 year subscription before January 15, 2006. Doesn't that smell like desperation?

Good-bye Mini, Hello Nano

Apple dumped the iPod Mini line today and launched the iPod Nano. It comes in at 3.5"x1.6"x0.27" and weighs only 42 grams. Yes it's smaller than a business card and as thin as a pencil. Improvements include a 1.5" color screen and flash memory storage, which is much more durable than the previous hard-drive. Battery life will be 14 hours and it comes in white or black colors. Pricing is $199 for 2GB version and $249 for the 4GB version.

Take-Two News

During the earnings conference call today, Take-Two said the M-rated versions of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas will be back on store shelves next week for the PC and Xbox. The game called Bully has been pushed back from this fall to early 2006. Warriors and Civilization IV are still due for this fall 2005.

Next year we're going to see a "sequel of a Rockstar brand" (what could it be?) and an "extension of the Grand Theft Auto franchise".

Age of Empires 3 Demo Released

The demo comes in at 366 megabytes and includes two campaign missions and two skirmish maps. The launch date from Ensemble Studios is in October. The graphics sure are breathtaking indeed.

September 06, 2005

World of Warcraft - Michael Pachter is an Idiot

Michael Patcher is the most annoying videogame analyst of all time. This is the same guy who said 64 bit games take twice as long to develop for because they are double the bits of 32 bit games. Total clueless idiot. Yet he finds himself quoted 100Xs more than any other reputable videogame analyst. I just don't get it.

Now in this NYTimes article he says the U.S. and Europe gamers don't need an imaginary outlet to feel a sense of accomplishment, therefore World of Warcraft will eventually come back down to 1 million subscribers. Gee, what a genius.

"I don't think there are four million people in the world who really want to play online games every month," said Michael Pachter, a research analyst for Wedbush Morgan, a securities firm. "World of Warcraft is such an exception. I frankly think it's the buzz factor, and eventually it will come back to the mean, maybe a million subscribers." "It may continue to grow in China," Mr. Pachter added, "but not in Europe or the U.S. We don't need the imaginary outlet to feel a sense of accomplishment here. It just doesn't work in the U.S. It just doesn't make any sense." [Discussion]

ATI R520 Graphic Cards Coming in Q3

According to DigiTimes' sources, ATI will launch R520 graphics cards in Q3. Don't count your chickens however, since these cards have been already delayed a number of times. I find it highly likely they will not be able to beat Nvidia's G70 in performance due to the delays.

ATI has informed its clients in Taiwan that it will gradually begin volume shipments of its R-series GPUs, including the R520, RV530, RV515 and RV505 by the end of the third quarter. R-series GPUs are fabricated at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), using a 90nm processing technology, according to the sources.

September 04, 2005

Day of Defeat Source Coming This Month

Valve posted on their website that Day of Defeat Source will be available for download on STEAM by the end of this month. I can't wait.

Day of Defeat: Source will be released this month. While we're not quite ready to pin down the exact date of when it will be available to play, we are confident that it will happen in September. Once we do have an exact date and time for when the game will be activated, we'll let everyone know.

There will be a period of one week at minimum during which people will be able to pre-order and preload the game via Steam, giving them the ability to unlock and play at the moment it is activated.

Day of Defeat: Source will be available as an individual purchase via Steam, as well as part of the Counter-Strike: Source retail package that will be available at stores around the same time. Half-Life 2: Silver and Gold package customers will automatically be able to play.

Ten Best Mac Apps

Om Malik lists his 10 favorite Mac apps:

* QuickSilver, a launcher on steroids.
* Ecto, still the best blogging client in the world and well worth the $18 dollar price.
* NetNewsWire - a lot of pretenders out there, but when it comes to Apple like intuitiveness, this is my choice for a RSS news reader. You can get a freeware version as well.
* VideoLan/VLC - the cross platform media player that is better at handling video files better than any other player. Of course the price is right.
* BluePhoneElite, the perfect application to help you get the most of your bluetooth enabled phones. SMS, caller ID and a iTunes pause function, make it the most used application on my PowerBook.
* Cocktail, a general purpose utility for Mac OS X. The application serves up a scrumptious mix of maintenance tools and interface tweaks, all accessible via a gorgeous graphical interface and toolset. Definitely a must have for us non-UNIX geeks.
* CandyBar, the perfect way to spend your weekend, when all your friends are off doing ungodly activities like climbing mountains, biking or simply running. This is the perfect tool for pimping your Mac.
* USB Overdrive X - turbocharge your multibutton mice for optimum productivity.
* FolderShare - The simplest way to keep your folders synchronized between various Macs and even PCs. There is a free version as well.
* Camino - Even as a beta product, it is still feels better than Firefox and better than Safari!

I tried other OS X browsers, but I keep coming back to Firefox due to compatibility issues.

Microsoft Calls Xbox Modder 12 hours after Posting ROM Image

After a modder posted a Xbox ROM image on his website, Microsoft left him a voicemail 12 hours after he posted it. The guy sound so nice in asking him to take down the file. Weird and hilarious. [Listen to Voicemail]

Gabe Newell Interview Transcript

Editor: Let me start with a really hard hitting question, its one I gotta ask. Has Uwe Boll approached you about turning any of your properties into movies?

[interlude ]

has anyone actually talked to you? Because I mean your stuff is very cinematic.

Gabe: Yeah, weve met with a bunch of people. I think I sort of have two minds about it.

One is sort of as somebody whos running... whos supposed to be running a business -- which is that a lot of these film projects end up not being very additive. Its hard to see how the Mortal Kombat franchise has really been moved forward by the Mortal Kombat movies.

And then as a gamer, I think most of these movies are terrible and werent worth making, and I would hate to see any of my favorite games sort of mangled like that. [Read More]

Weve tried a couple of different times to see if some sort of movie project would be possible. So weve had people in Hollywood try to do scripts, and weve actually taken a stab at writing the script, and at the end of the day, none of the movies were worth the rights.

Maybe someday, but its not going to be made until -- I mean -- our goal would be that the movie is as good a movie as the games are games.

[ interlude: Half Life 2 xbox]

The episodic content will be better than Half Life 2 was. They may be shorter but the content itself is going to continue to move forward and hopefully move forward faster than weve been able to do with these large scale releases.

People really enjoy the closely coupled interactions. A lot of people, their favorite moment of the game was playing ball with dog, and this idea that you have this other creature in the world whos interacting with you in this fine grained way, where youre doing something and theyre reacting to it right there.

Thats something we say we need to do a lot more of -- we need to make the player feel like they can rely on, or are dependent upon, other people in the game -- and not at some high level story telling way -- but in an actual I need you to do something for me right now.

So theres a lot of stuff where you cant do anything, youre relying on Alyx to do it for you and what you can do is get her to do stuff for you, so youre feeling like the two of you are working closely together.

Editor: Thats really interesting because, at least in terms of console games, thats almost the opposite of the paradigm where you have a helpless, sort of female consort that youre guiding through things. Resident Evil 4 was one of the more recent things to add that. Price of Persia did

[an edit?]

Gabe: You dont want to have the sense that theres this box around the NPC and you see these boxes bumping into each other. You want a sense that theyre in the world interacting with things closely, like they can reach out to stuff, they can push things to the ground, they can kick things, stuff like that, and have it not be that sort of fakey box-box interaction.

[interlude: Future Tech Image Based Rendering]

Gabe: Theres this technology that was really exciting that Id like to see us get into production, which is a different approach to rendering complexity: Moving things into and out of an image domain and then seamlessly interpolating between those motions as you move around. So that everything close to you is physical and geometry, and everything really far away from you is an image, but you have no way of telling that if you do it properly and things can fly out and come back -- so as far as youre concerned it all feels like the world to you, but as far as your rendering is concerned, youre keeping your polygon budgets and your shader budgets and your fillrates under control.

Were focusing on things that have more obvious gameplay significance like NPCs and vehicles and stuff like that earlier, because its always good to do gameplay stuff, but I would like us to come back to that -- Id love to be able to put people down into cities where they can navigate the entire city and have them feel like my god theres a huge amount of stuff going on around me. That anything I can see I can walk over and in the background that stuff is going from being essentially a skybox to a sort of a low res version of geometry to a high res version of geometry as I get closer to it.

[interlude: Lost Coast]

Gabe: What do you think of Lost Coast?

Editor: Looks great, I mean you can tell the difference in two seconds and actually I was just playing on DoD Source, between a non-HDR machine and an HDR machine and it looked really good, you can tell the difference in like a second.

Gabe: Good.

Editor: And the directors mode like documentary notes, its a great idea.

Gabe: Great, great.

Editor: Incorporate that into wargames.

Gabe: Hopefully thatll be a standard feature of all of our stuff now. Thats the thing you know, we like to be able to get stuff out to people, like HDR. We can solve all the technical problems get it out and make sure it works with everybodys display adapters and then DoD takes advantage of it right away.

So rather than waiting until Half-Life 3 ships for our multiplayer games to get a feature like HDR, we can do it in Lost Coast, and then DoD Source picks it up right away. So HDR now and maybe this image based rendering stuff later. It does make it possible for us to do that.

[interlude: Changing the GameEpisodic Content via Steam]

Gabe: The thing that we dont understand -- and thats going to be really interesting -- its like the entire industry has been making feature films, and the door is starting to open for TV shows.

TV shows are totally different than movies in terms of the people who are good at it, and how you structure them. In movies its the directors that are preeminent, in TV shows, its the head writer, the show runner whos preeminent.

I think well all be learning a lot. Its like, "do we need to release 22 times a year?", you know, does it need to be a TV show. Is once a week the important frequency of releasing or is once a quarter ok?

[interlude: Day of Defeat Source]

Gabe: There were two sort of big painful periods for Steam. One was when it went from being optional to being the way that everybody needed to get the updates and that was pretty painful for people. And then the Half-Life 2 launch, where we got swamped with not having enough capacity. So those are both painful memories for us.

At least right now, were not setting anybody on fire. We seem to be getting updates out on a really regular basis and we seem to have that process really smooth right now.

Right now were sort of re-architecting Steam, so people are actually running two versions of Steam right now, they may not realize that but theyre running Steam 2 and Steam 3 along side of each other. The nice thing about having a system like this is theres no reason not to have your old system and your new system co-exist while youre migrating functionality from one to the other.

One of the problems that we had was where there were architectural problems that made Friends unreliable, and so the new version of Steam, its approach to connections and how it manages connections should make friends a lot more reliable.

So, just from a technical perspective its evolving from a not annoying the hell out of our customer perspective, I think were out of that hole. You know, it certainly turned out to be a great way to sell products, I mean we were worried that people wouldnt want to purchase products that way, and now thats not really a concern of ours.

Gabe: I think what we have to do is continue to look for ways to make Steam more valuable to people, to solve problems for people. There are huge numbers of support problems that we can just make go away by proactively solving them.

We still aren't getting display drivers out to people automatically, which makes me crazy. It's like one of the biggest problems our customers have is the fact that they don't have an automatic update facility for display drivers, and it's been obvious for a couple of years that needs to happen, and yet we still don't have that...

Editor: Isnt Microsoft trying to address that with Longhorn?

Gabe: Great!

Editor: I mean, have them been talking to you about this? I figure theyd probably be talking to game developers.

[interlude: Steam is the Future... the next-gen headache]

Id be more likely to be excited about NVIDIA or ATI saying they were going to have solutions than expecting that Longhorn is going to wave a fairy wand over anything. They keep cutting and cutting and cutting, and I think expectations for sales of Longhorn are getting less and less

But that's an example of something that would be clearly be valuable to customers, would solve problems for our customers, and would globally reduce everybody's support burden and yet we haven't done it yet.

Like I had a conversation with people at Microsoft recently, and I said "I cannot point to a single feature in Longhorn that I care about. There is nothing in Longhorn at all that solves any problems for us at all.

You know, I had the same conversation with the xbox 360 guys. Its like The xbox 360 doesnt make my life any better, and in fact it makes it a lot worse and youre telling me I cant rely on having a hard drive.

When I look at what I need to compete with, the most interesting game property right now is World of Warcraft. Huge retail sales and huge recurring revenue. Not only that, but they have a great experience wrapped around it, whether its their forums, or community art, or whatever, theyre not only getting their customers to play the game, theyre getting their customers to make the experience more valuable for other people who play the game. So Ill go up and download music and watch the movies that people have created, and see fan art and do all these other things.

So when I look at, sort of, what a platform needs to help a software developer do right now, its figure out how to beat World of Warcraft, and when I look at the strategies that are being put forward by Microsoft on the system side or the xbox side, or Sony, or Nintendo, theyre not making my life easier.

Like the Playstation 3 makes my life as a software developer much harder. All of a sudden Im supposed to figure out how to have this asymmetric multithreaded game, right? And Ive never written a single line of multithreaded code, ever, right? Its not like I was lying around saying I need to re-architect every line of code Ive ever written in order to get it to work.

So one of my junior programmers, whos writing game code (rather than system code), could slow things down by, in a real world case, by a factor of 80, because theyre doing something out in the AI, or in the game DLL, which used to be totally safe, and now all of a sudden the whole system just slows down. And the one of the really experienced programmers have to go in and say, Oh, you cant tell but youre doing this, you ran out of register space, and this other thing happened, and no theres no debugger that shows this to you.

Writing for SPEs and writing in a Playstation 3 environment, there are incredibly few programmers who can safely write code in that environment. You make tiny little changes to code running on one of the SPEs and the entire thing will grind to a halt. You have no visibility into why thats happening -- its just sort of magically running really, really slow. Its also incredibly hard to architect things at the beginning so that you can distribute all of your functionality on all of these different processing units.

This was not a problem that we were lying awake late at night saying oh we would really like to take this on right now. You know, we were worried about little things like billing, and forums, and wikis and things like that.

I totally see why Sony wants people to write code that runs on 7 SPEs and a central processing unit -- because that code is never going to run well anywhere else.

Theyre saying make your code not run on anything other than one of ours and were betting that well have market share thats so high that everybody will have to write code for our platform, and other people, you know, well just starve the air from other platforms by absorbing everyones R&D budget and making their code less portable.

[...edit?...]

Steam was essentially here is this set of tools that software developers need, focused on solving the problems we have with these next generation of games. You know billing, updates, product support, connecting our customers together, and things like that.

I would think that for a lot of developers, things like Steam are going to be more interesting than and solve more problems to them than this next generation of hardware and operating systems platforms.

You know the Saturn came out, and that was intended to take this previous generation of games, and create this super complicated chunk of hardware that would help you make the ultimate sprite oriented game. And Sony came along and said no, no, no its not a sprite problem any more, its a 3D graphics problem

I think a lot of developers are going to say thats not the problem, its another Sega Saturn". Its "how do we connect to our customers?", "get data from our customers, get updates to our customers?", "have closer relationships?", "how do we compete with the customer experience that you get out of being a WOW customer? more than how do we blast another set of pixels at what is essentially a 640x480 screen?. [Discussion] - Source: [1UP Videos]

September 03, 2005

EA Talent Exodus Continues

Two of Electronic Arts top executives jumped ship on Friday. Don Mattrick and Bruce McMillan decided to pursue other opportunities. Both have been with EA since 1991.

"It's certainly a loss to see Don depart," Larry Probst, EA's chief executive, said in an interview, "but we will step up and fill that void." Mr. McMillan, who was an EA executive vice president, is best known for helping establish FIFA Soccer as a strong performing game within EA's extensive portfolio of sports titles.

New iPod Mini Flash Details

ThinkSecret has the scoop on the details of Apple's new iPod Minis.

The music player will ditch its hard drive and move entirely to solid state, flash media, a move that sources familiar with the new design say will shave 20 to 25 percent off the size of the unit.

The new iPod mini, which will probably be introduced at Apple Expo Paris on September 20, will be available in three capacities: 4GB, 6GB, and 8GB. The iPod mini will sport dual NAND flash memory chips to achieve those higher capacities, and Apple has already locked in for the rest of the year a majority of Samsung's new 4GB flash modules.

To further the size savings, the new iPod mini will sport a color screen that's slightly smaller than the current version. Sources say the screen will measure 1.467 inches, down from 1.67 inches, but will feature a higher resolution: 176 x 132, up from 138 x 110, as Think Secret reported in February. It's likely, while uncertain, that the iPod mini's scroll wheel will also see a small reduction in size.

Pricing is not entirely clear, but the new 4GB and 6GB models may remain priced at $199 and $249, respectively, while the 8GB iPod mini could cost as much as $299. At that price the 8GB iPod mini would cost as much as a 20GB iPod, but Apple reportedly is not worried that equivalent pricing will affect sales of the iPod mini as sales of the full-size iPods have lagged far behind iPod minis in recent quarters.

Philips to Make Media Center PCs

Gateway, Dell, and HP are going to have some mainstream consumer electronics competition in the area of HTPCs.

Intel will supply a processor, chipset and software for a Philips media centre that will allow customers to store and share photos, music and video in a single system, as they promote digital products for the home.

The PC-based Philips Showline Media Center will include a card that allows users to watch two TV channels at once, as well as a 250-gigabyte hard disk drive for storing music and photo collections and a recorder for DVDs and CDs.

Microsoft CEO Says F*cking Kill Google

This is from a lawsuit between Google and Microsoft over the hiring of Kai-Fu Lee, who defected from the evil empire to run Google's China's operations.

Prior to joining Google, I set up a meeting on or about November 11, 2004 with Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer to discuss my planned departure....At some point in the conversation Mr. Ballmer said: "Just tell me it's not Google." I told him it was Google.

At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: "F*cking Eric Schmidt is a f*cking p*ssy. I'm going to f*cking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to f*cking kill Google." ....

Thereafter, Mr. Ballmer resumed trying to persuade me to stay....Among other things, Mr. Ballmer told me that "Google's not a real company. It's a house of cards."

September 02, 2005

Kanye West Says President Doesnt Care about Black People Transcript NBC Concert for Hurricane Relief

During the live 1 hour Red Cross fund raiser called A Concert for Hurricane Relief tonight shown nationally on NBC at 8PM EST, Kanye West hijacked the show by going off on a anti-Bush tirade accusing the government and media of racism and even saying the President doesnt care about black people. The transcipt I typed follows:

Mike Myers: there is now over 25 ft of water where there was once city streets and thriving neighborhoods.

Kanye West: I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family it says they are looting. You see a white family it says they are looking for food. And you know theres been five days because most of the people are black and even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I try to turn away from the teacher TV because it is too hard to watch. Ive even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now Im calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give.

And and just to imagine if I was down there, those are my people down there, so if anybody out there thats wants to do anything, we can help, with the setup, the way America is setup, the poor, the black people, the less well off, as SLOW as possible, I mean, this is, Red Cross is doing everything they can (Mike Myers nodding his head) we already realize a lot of the people that could help are at war right now fighting another way, they given them permission to go down and SHOOT US.

(Mike Myers looks over and uncomfortably wipes his nose)

Mike Myers: (says his piece)

Kanye West: George Bush doesnt care about black people.

(camera quickly cuts to Chris Tucker in front of a refrigerator, obviously back-stage with no tele-prompter)

Chris Tucker: In the past few days, America, and people has been stepping up to donate money, to do all they can to help people in New Orleans and all over. Please do what you can, send water, trucks, whatever you can, do what you can, and help one another

Uhh, save lives, and we all are one, and people in New Orleans need us, Mississippi need us, please.. please, please, please, do all you can (shaking his fist) to help, help, help, help, help, help, help, thank you (winks), love you.


This left a very bad taste in my mouth because NBC, the actors, singers, and hundreds of people sacrificed their time and efforts to man the phones and contribute to raise funds for the Red Cross, in prime-time live TV, no less. Instead of coming together in the spirit of giving and community, Kanyes comments Im sure turned off a lot of viewers from actually giving tonight.

The people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region NEEDED that money. Mr. West should be ashamed of himself. However the off-the-cuff speech which the producers forced on Chris Tucker was hilarious (send trucks! Help, help, help!) I feel bad for Chris to be put on the spot like that with no teleprompter.

Update: In a statement NBC said, "Kanye West departed from the scripted comments that were prepared for him, and his opinions in no way represent the views of the networks. It would be most unfortunate, if the efforts of the artists who participated tonight and the generosity of millions of Americans who are helping those in need are overshadowed by one person's opinion." [Permanent Link] - [Discussion]

September 01, 2005

Nintendogs on Fire

Video Game Industry Goes to the Dogs - Literally

REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- With sales of a quarter of a
million units in its first week of availability, Nintendogs(TM) is not only
America's hottest-selling video game, but the best-selling new game franchise
ever for a portable system.

Retailers already are reporting that Nintendogs, made exclusively for the
hand-held Nintendo DS(TM), has sold out in numerous locations across the
country, and Nintendo will deliver more shipments as soon as possible. The
three versions of Nintendogs and the DS unit itself consistently rank at the
top of Amazon.com's best-selling list of all video game products.

"Nearly 15 percent of all DS owners bought Nintendogs in just a week, a
virtually unprecedented adoption rate for any title on an established system,"
said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's executive vice president of sales
& marketing. "And it's also helping sell new DS hardware. Coupled with a
price drop to $129.99, retailers are reporting DS sales up between one and a
half and three times previous levels, and last week DS comfortably outsold our
portable competitors."

Nintendogs lets owners train and care for lifelike puppies using the DS
system's touch screen and microphone. It became a cultural phenomenon in
Japan and launched in the United States on Aug. 22.

People who like traditional hard-core video games have plenty to enjoy as
well. Retailers also report that the new Advance Wars(R): Dual Strike
military strategy game for Nintendo DS has become one of Nintendo's top
sellers.