June 30, 2006

Transformers Teaser Trailer

The live action Transformers movie backed by Michael Bay and Spielberg has a teaser trailer up on its site. I hoping and wishing for the best, but the movie is from the same guy that made The Rock and Pearl Harbor.

June 29, 2006

Microsoft Delays Office 2007

Microsoft announced they are going to delay Office 2007 from October to early 2007. Looks like the beta-testing hasn't gone well. I took a look at the new user interface and let me tell you, it sure looks different. All those old secretaries around the world are going to shudder at the fact they are going to have to re-train themselves.

"Based on internal testing and the beta 2 feedback around product performance, we are revising our development schedule to deliver the 2007 system release by the end of year 2006, with broad general availability in early 2007," a Microsoft representative said in an e-mail. "Feedback on quality and performance will ultimately determine the exact dates."

Top Selling PC Games for the Week Ending June 17th

1. Cars - THQ
2. Half-Life 2: Episode 1 - Valve
3. World Of Warcraft - Blizzard
4. The Sims 2 - Electronic Arts
5. The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff - Electronic Arts
6. The Sims 2 Open For Business - Electronic Arts
7. Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion - Bethesda Softworks
8. Heroes Of Might & Magic V - Ubisoft
9. Guild Wars Factions - NCsoft
10. Age Of Empires III - Microsoft

The power of Pixar indeed with Cars coming in number one. Amazing that World of Warcraft and Sims add-ons are still racking up the moola.

World of Warcraft Character Transfers Across Realms

Blizzard is letting users transfer their characters to different servers. The downside is it will cost $25 per character and it is only on a few select servers. Another way for Blizzard to make a gazillion more dollars I say.

T-Mobile Sidekick 3 Review

It doesn't look like they improved the latest iteration of the Sidekick much. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg gives his review on the T-Mobile Sidekick.

"But at the end of the day, this device is still not up to par with its competitors. In social circles where it's considered cool, it might be worth buying. And if you have a separate phone, you can use the Sidekick 3 as a data-only device, though that means paying for, and juggling, two gadgets. But the Sidekick 3's poor phone, low-resolution screen and covered keyboard design left us unimpressed, even if it might be trendy. Our advice? Impress your friends with technology that works better for you, the user."

Google Checkout Launched

Google Checkout launched today to much hyped fan-fare. In reality it is not the Paypal killer many people expected. In fact it is basically a copy of the Microsoft's ill-fated Passport universal ID service that let's you buy stuff by giving Google your address and credit card number once across a merchant network. Google has a good base of advertisers the company can cross-sell to and work with that Microsoft never had.

June 26, 2006

Nintendo DS Lite

I just bought a DS Lite today at a local Best Buy. I had to check tons of stores though (5 Best Buys, Circuit City, Targets, Gamestops all were sold out). I'm charging it right now. It sure looks pretty compared to my old DS. Screen is much nicer and so is the sound. So far I don't see any dead pixels, but I only did the initial time/date setup routine.

The only bad thing I can see is the D-pad seems a tiny blit flimsier vs. the old DS. I can't believe I bought this thing just so I can play Tetris and Meteos against my wife! But hey anything to get her gaming right? Which means more gaming for me! Ha ha! [Discuss]

June 21, 2006

Latest World of Warcraft Stats

According to Business 2.0, World of Warcraft in only 18 month has 6.5 million subscribers (3 million in China) and has given Vivendi $700 million in revenue. That is simply breath-taking. The co-founder of Blizzard made Business 2.0's list of 50 people that matter, coming in at number 46.

EA Acquires Mythic Entertainment

Electronic Arts announced today it has acquired Mythic Entertainment. Mythic is known as the creator of Dark Age of Camelot MMO and is currently developing Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Warhammer looks like a World of Warcraft clone with an emphasis on combat. I doubt they will able to take much marketshare away from the Blizzard Goliath however knowing EA's previous track record in online games (Sims Online anyone?).

EA to Acquire Mythic Entertainment Studio Recognized Worldwide for Top Development Talent, Critically Acclaimed Franchises and Ground-Breaking Online Experiences. Electronic Arts today announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Virginia-based Mythic Entertainment®. Upon completion of the acquisition, Mythic Entertainment will become EA Mythic, a wholly-owned studio dedicated to developing Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). Mythic is recognized worldwide for revolutionizing the online gaming space with the award-winning Dark Age of Camelot® and is currently developing Warhammer® Online: Age of Reckoning™ under license agreement with Games Workshop.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close during EA's second quarter of fiscal 2007. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Upon completion of the acquisition, Mark Jacobs, the President, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Mythic, will become Vice President, General Manager of EA Mythic. Rob Denton, the Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Mythic will assume the role of Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of EA Mythic. Mythic's 175-person development team will remain in Fairfax, Virginia.

"Mythic has always been a leading independent developer in the online space," says Mark Jacobs, CEO and co-founder of Mythic Entertainment. "EA's commitment to the online market as well as its focus on creating games of unsurpassed quality, scope and scale gives us opportunities and resources we could only dream about in the past."

"The addition of Mythic to the EA family reflects our deep commitment to the online gaming market worldwide. Mythic will bring one of the industry's most talented MMORPG teams to EA. Together, we will create games that will introduce MMO players to a whole new level of game play and excitement," said Paul Lee, President, EA Studios.

T-Mobile Sidekick 3 Specs

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T-Mobile and Danger announced the Sidekick 3 today. It will go on sale on June 28th to launch on July 10th. It will cost $299 for 2 year contract and $349 for a 1 year contract. Features include:

-EDGE high speed internet access
-1.3 megapixel camera
-better battery life and smaller design
-mini SD card memory expansion
-MP3 player software
-Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft instant messenger support

Gamers Sign $1M Professional Contract

Major League Gaming has signed 5 gamers to a 3 year contract for a total $1.25 million. Yes you read that right. These 5 Halo 2 players will get paid $250,000 to go on tour with MLG. Isn't that wild? Getting paid that kind of money to play games all day. About time.

Tsquared signs for $250k, Final Boss signs for $1 million in deal with Major League Gaming; three-year contracts largest in pro-gaming history. Major League Gaming, a professional gaming league that currently tours across the US, today announced it has signed a new group of cyber athletes to the largest contract in pro-gaming history. Tom Taylor, also known as Tsquared, and the Final Boss team of David "Walshy" Walsh, brothers Thomas and Daniel Ryan, and Ryan "Saiyan" Danford, each signed three-year deals worth a total of $1.25 million dollars.

June 12, 2006

Blizzard Bans 30,000 World of Warcraft Accounts for Gold Farming

Can you imagine being a "gold farming" policeman for Blizzard and nailing 30,000 accounts? Sounds like a busy job.

In keeping with Blizzard's aggressive stance against cheating in World of Warcraft, we banned over 30,000 accounts in the month of May, and with that removed well over 30 million gold from the economy across all realms. The banned accounts were taking part in activities that violate the game's Terms of Use, including using third-party programs to farm gold and items, which severely impacts the economy of a realm and the overall game enjoyment for all players.

Top 20 PC Games Sold in May

1. Guild Wars Factions-NCSoft
2. World of Warcraft-Blizzard
3. Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion-Bethesda Softworks
4. The Sims 2- Electronic Arts
5. Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends-Microsoft
6. The Sims 2 Family Fun Stuff Expansion Pack-Electronic Arts
7. Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter-UbiSoft
8. The Sims 2 Open for Business-Electronic Arts
9. Age of Empires III-Microsoft
10. Battlefield 2-Electronic Arts
11. Civilization IV-Take Two Interactive
12. Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth II-Electronic Arts
13. Star Wars: Empire at War-LucasArts
14. Heroes of Might & Magic V-UbiSoft
15. Call of Duty 2-Activision
16. Guild Wars-NCSoft
17. Warcraft III Battle Chest-Blizzard
18. Guild Wars Factions: Collector's Edition-NCSoft
19. The Sims 2 Nightlife Expansion Pack-Electronic Arts
20. The Sims Complete Collection-Electronic Arts

It's amazing to see Will Wright's Sims 2 and expansion packs still dominate this list after all these years. I mean really. It's just a "doll house" game. I guess there are a lot of people that like to play "doll house"

June 11, 2006

Nintendo DS Lite Review

Nintendo always seems to come out with the better version sometime in mid-cycle of a hardware's lifespan. First you had the Gameboy Advance then the Gameboy Advance SP. Now we get the Nintendo DS Lite. Almost all hard-core Nintendo fans wind up upgrading. Here is an initial review.

Cablevision Halts Server PVR Project

Cablevision has decided to halt its Server PVR project due to a lawsuit from the movie studios. The new service allowed customers to save TV programs much like a PVR, but on Cablevision's servers. The content providers did not believe this was "fair use" and sued. Cablevision is the nation's 6th largest cable provider servicing 3 million customers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

June 08, 2006

Nintendo Wii Launch Numbers

Nintendo plans to ship 6 million Wii consoles by March 2007 with 4 million shipped by the end of 2006. The Wii will have a DS Download Station, which will let you download DS demos wirelessly. The final price and date will come out in September (kind of late no?). The company also expects the Wii to not be huge loss leaders.

Crysis Engine Comparison Pictures

Check out these pictures. Amazing.

June 07, 2006

Windows Vista Beta 2 Download

Microsoft is out with the Beta 2 for Windows Vista. Be careful because it is Beta. Use it only on your experimental machine.

What Netflix Could Teach Hollywood

A good New York Times article showing how Netflix succeeded in acquiring 5 million subscribers and changing the way people watch movies.

Today, Netflix sends and receives 700 million little packages a year, a logistical operation that has few peers outside of FedEx, U.P.S. or the post office itself. The company's new head of operations, in fact, used to be the postmaster general.

In the San Francisco area, Netflix trucks pick up returned DVD's from post offices by 4 a.m. each weekday morning and bring them to a warehouse in a leafy Sunnyvale office park. There, workers mainly Asian and Latino immigrants arrive on the brightly lighted warehouse floor at 5 a.m. to begin tearing open the red envelopes and putting the discs in mechanized sorters. By 10 a.m., the workers are stuffing new envelopes to be sent out again and the discs are back at the post office the same afternoon.

Netflix has 39 of these warehouses around the country, one in each major metropolitan area. Because first-class mail service takes only a day within a 50-mile radius, most customers get a new movie two days after dropping one in a mailbox.

Wii Virtual Console Pricing

Nintendo has released Japanese pricing for retro console games on the Wii. They will be priced at 500 and 1000 yen, which is around $4.50 and $8.99 after the currency conversion. Still a pretty penny for 10-20 year old games, but it sure beats paying $20 for the same game for the Gameboy Advance.

June 06, 2006

Fix for Macbook Overheating

Directly from the Apple support site:

MacBook may run warm because rear vent is blocked. Some MacBook computers may appear to be running too warm, with the fan running consistently and heat emanating from the top and/or the bottom of the computer. If this happens with your MacBook, check the rear vent of the MacBook to make sure it's not blocked. Some MacBooks may have left the factory with a thin piece of clear plastic covering the rear vent. This is used in the factory to prevent dust from getting into your computer. If your MacBook has the plastic still over the vent, simply remove and discard it.

Review: Nvidia Geforce 7950 GX2 Graphics Card

SLI sandwich on one card. Great idea. Here's the review.

This card takes up no more space, draws no more power, and generates no more heat or noise than a Radeon X1900 XTX, but its performance is in another class altogether. The multi-GPU mojo generally happens transparently, too, thanks to a healthy collection of SLI profiles already established in NVIDIA's drivers. Putting two GPUs on a card has allowed NVIDIA to overcome the limitations of its present GPU designs and of current fab process tech to achieve new performance heights in a single PCI Express slot.

June 05, 2006

Killer Strategy for Xbox 360

Now that Sony is on the ropes, Microsoft can do a couple things. First they need to release a SKU with the HD-DVD drive built-in, so it can go toe-to-toe in HD movie playing land with the Blu-ray equipped PS3. Second they should lower the price of the current SKU as soon as they can. Third in late 2007, they can release their super power knockout punch with Halo 3. Any questions? Microsoft could easily be the #1 console in this generation. Amazing.

Xbox 360 Dashboard Update New Features

Microsoft is going to release the new version of Xbox Live Dashboard tomorrow. Here is a list of new features:

* “Download manager” - Marketplace items now download in the background, queue up to six pieces of content
* DVD bookmark support will remember the film’s timing and location when resuming viewing
* Fast-forward and rewind now offered at 2x -16x for any videos saved to hard drive
* “Boot to Dashboard” setting will bypass the loading of any disc in the drive and open directly to Dashboard during power-on
* Begin slideshows from any photo
* Music player saves “shuffle” setting
* Much player save “repeat” setting
* Music player now displays which file is currently playing in the playlist
* Music volume level persists between game / reboots
* 8 new locales added (Chile, Brazil, India, South Africa, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia)
* Separate settings now offered for Game and User volume controls
* Themes can now be set from the “System” blade on the Dashboard
* User-selected music continues play when switching from Dashboard to game or game to Dashboard
* “All Arcade Games” added as a selection in the Xbox Live Arcade area
* Personal gamer pictures allowed as Gamertiles – displayed only to those on your Friends List
* Added support to disable sound effects when navigating Dashboard
* Instantaneous “Change Theme” option added upon downloading new Dashboard themes
* Preserve folder structure of source when viewing photos
* A / B labels now provided to identify memory units in Dashboard
* Online status set to “Away” when screensaver becomes active

HD Tivo on Comcast

According to iBloggedThis, Comcast is going to beta-test their HD Tivo software on their PVRs this month. Once launched, it will cost an extra $5 a month on top of current PVR charges. However with Tivo ease-of-use and better user interface, it probably be well worth the extra cost.

Google Spreadsheets

Google Spreadsheets will be launched on Tuesday. It will be similar to Google's Writely acquisition application, where users can collaborate on the same spreadsheet file at the same time. The files will be also hosted on the company's servers.

Free iPod Nano for New Mac Buying Students

Apple is offering a free iPod Nano for college students that buy a Mac. As long as you buy the Nano and a Mac at the same time before September 16th, you can get the Nano free after a mail-in rebate.