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Oblivio > Archives > Opportunities:
"Related: I once had a boss who refused to say the word problem. This was a technique he learned in a book on management. Whenever he wanted to say problem, he would say opportunity. At staff meetings he would talk at great length about all the opportunities the organization faced. However, since he still used the word opportunity to mean opportunity, you to had to figure out from context what he was talking about, a problem or an opportunity. Later he stopped using the word opportunity to mean problem, and would instead say challenge. Fortunately he wasn't the sort of person to ever talk about challenges, so this was much easier to decipher."


Microsoft Support Lifecycle

Microsoft Support Lifecycle: "Microsoft�s Support Lifecycle policy provides consistent and predictable guidelines for product support availability at the time of product release. The Support Lifecycle policy took effect October 15, 2002 and applies to most products currently available through retail purchase or volume licensing and most future release products. New enhancements for the Support Lifecycle took effect June 1, 2004. "

Wade Cook Settles Charges

Mormon News for WE 06Oct00: Financial Guru Wade Cook Settles C:
"Cook's companies have been under investigation since 1995. Investigators say that he misled investors, leading them to believe he had used the advice he gives in his seminars to get rich when in fact he gained most of his wealth through the seminars themselves. They also say that the companies manipulated the investment results given to subscribers to their on-line service, making the company's investment results appear better than they actually were.

Investigators estimate that as many as 50,000 people paid $3,000 to $5,000 for Cook's 'Wall Street Workshop' seminars. They estimate that refunds could total as much as $250 million.

Cook is a former cab driver who has recently tried to broaden his activities. An LDS Church member, he recently purchased the LDS book publisher Aspen Books and associated companies. Aspen's distribution company, Origin Books, now distributes Cook's investment books. Since Cook's personal fortune is on the line for the refunds, it is theoretically possible that the refunds could have an effect on the health of his LDS publishing operations. "


"The popularity of Cook's seminars has certainly boosted its company coffers this year. In 1996, the company offered 120 of its seminars in 42 cities across the U.S. In the first half of 1997 there were 103 seminars in 43 cities. Revenues at Profit Financial have climbed from $14 million in the first six months of 1996 to $46.6 million for the same time period in 1997. Net income has jumped from $2 million to $6.2 million. Cook, who owns 60% of the outstanding shares, has seen his stake jump 1,250% this year, to some $130 million.

Not bad for a former taxi driver who declared personal bankruptcy in 1987 in Arizona. Nor for someone who in 1989 was charged with securities violations by the Arizona Corporation Commission. In 1990, that was followed with a number of criminal counts by the Arizona Attorney General's office for, among other things, selling unregistered shares of a company he controlled. Most criminal charges were eventually dismissed on double-jeopardy grounds. But this past summer, Cook did settle on two criminal counts that required him to make restitution of $70,500 to investors. ''I have never done anything illegal,'' says Cook of the charges."


KING5 - Heat Related Deaths

KING5.com | News for Seattle, Washington | KING5 Top Stories:
"In Seattle, near 90-degree temperatures only happen three days out of the year, on average. That's why the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for the very first time.

In the summer of 1992 up to 60 people died from heat-related deaths in the Seattle area. On average, Seattle will see four heat-related deaths a year.

When you're trying to cool yourself off, experts say when it's 86 degrees or higher, using a fan may actually hurt more than help. It's better to use the fan in conjunction with a spray bottle or a cold wet towel to help draw the heat away from your body. They also advise drinking plenty of fluids and avoiding excessive physical activity."

They didn't bother to say if any one died a heat-related death yesterday.


Real-time blog of American Idol

Test Pattern: MSNBC.com:
"9:45: Bo Bice with who else but ... Lynyrd Skynyrd, and what else, but 'Sweet Home Alabama.' The audience goes nuts for the 'in Birmingham we love the governor' line, which has always creeped me out a little bit, then goes dead silent for 'Watergate does not bother me,' since Watergate was probably 15 years before most people in the room were born. Wow, how many members are in Skynyrd these days, anyway? Oh wait, they just brought everyone back out on stage. There are now 12 minutes left in the show, so it's time to ... go to commercial! I have to admire how they can take the reading of one name, which is really all they have to do tonight, and stuff two hours of show around it. Parodies! William Hung! Bad auditioners! Babyface! Hasselhoff! Randy babbling! The Osmonds! Matt Rogers! Mikalah! Random Southern mayors! Crunk teeth! Don't let anyone tell you this show doesn't have it all."

Vid�o - Lego Thriller (Parodie Clip de Michael Jackson)

Vid�o - Lego Thriller (Parodie Clip de Michael Jackson)

I recommend skipping 2/3rds into it where the big group dancing scene takes place.

Or watch the whole thing.

The Sith Sense

The Sith Sense

Good clean fun.

I love that many of the Star Wars advertising tie-ins are funny.

The one where they are trying to get Chewie to do different emotional audio takes is hilarious. Sadly, I' don't remember what the ad is for! So much for advertising. I think it was Cingular, maybe.



Speaking of Hi-def on your computer, the above link is a pretty good FAQ about it and some of the interesting edge cases that occur with DRM.

For instance, you would expect a movie trailer to play forever, but in cases where the movie studio has licensed music for the trailer, they may only have those rights for 60 days, and so to keep to that contract, a downloadable version of the trailer has to stop working after 60 days.

There is no special message when the trailer stops working - it just stops working with an obscure error code.

The biggest problem I have with Microsoft DRM at this point is the error messages - they need to provide a lot more insight to the end user if the end user is going to have a clue what is going on with their licensed material.

Often the internal error codes are nothing more than a brief hint at the problem:

One or more backed-up licenses are missing or corrupt.

What is a person supposed to do with that information?

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved



Supposedly telecommunications companies are now the most hated in terms of service quality and general annoyance factor, having beaten used car salesmen out of the top spot.

For instance, my cell phone plan, which is advertised at $59.99, actually costs $80.00 after all kinds of imaginary fees are charged to it.

Luckily, the extra phone, which is supposed to be only $9.99 extra a month, is really only $14.50 (although, now that I think about it, my phone costs 30% more than the advertised rate, and so does the spare phone, so that's no special deal at all).

Not too many businesses get away with charging 30% over the advertised rate.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.

All PR is good PR?

GameSpy: The Annual E3 Awards: 2005:
"Justin: Gears of War is one of those poster-boy games that will no doubt be used to sell gamers on the Xbox 360. It's damn sure a better choice than Azurik or Blinx were for the original 'box. Even at its present state (running on alpha hardware and all), you don't need to squint to see that Gears has all the makings of a blockbuster. "

Sigh. I produced and directed Azurik. Years later it still gets reamed.

Azurik was a strange experience - we were heroes with great buzz right up until E3 2001 when everything went to hell. Then little side-bars started appearing in magazines saying, "Azurik isn't shaping up the way Microsoft thought." I can only imagine where that kind of information would come from. Up until E3, we as developers had been very involved with explaining the vision to the press. At E3, we were kept away from the press, and our PR was handled by a guy that used to sell sportswear. I kid you not.

Azurik had three main flaws, in terms of actual gameplay:

1) Worlds too big without enough in-level help.
2) Not enough save points. This actually is the biggest problem.
3) Did I mention not enough save points?

The fact that monsters respawned was annoying too. Well, I wanted more save points, and I wanted smaller levels, and I wanted most monsters to stay dead, but I was overruled on those points. The best I could do was to sneak in the 'save anywhere' cheat rather late in the process. Without the 'save anywhere' cheat, the game is very, very hard.

Azurik, amazingly and wonderfully, had a strong core of support from people that actually like big sprawling adventure games. We got a lot of fanmail. When Azurik came out, despite the negative press, it was one of the most talked-about games on the Microsoft chat boards - much more than Oddworld and second only to Halo.

Azurik is a big sprawling wonderful game that should be played with an on-line walkthrough nearby. It's beautiful and imaginative and in some places simply jaw-dropping in the level design and level art.

Azurik was the only game developed from scratch for Xbox launch. All other games were ports from some other platform. Azurik was the only game that used the hard drive in real-time and had nearly no load times between these huge levels. The sound design was great, the music by Jeremy Soule (performed by a live orchestra) was great, the level design was brilliant... It was just too hard to get into - it ramped up slowly as you gained elemental powers but it was a good three hours before you got to a point where you felt your powers and started to enjoy them! That gets back to the 'game too big' problem.

Oh well. I had a lot of fun making it. Jeff Petkau, Jon Mavor, William Lott, and Josh Taylor were the only programmers on the project. The tech they built from scratch was amazing! Most Xbox games had eight programmers (at least) on them. In the 20 months of the project we had to build everything and hire a team of designers and artists! So, it was an amazing experience, even if people still make fun of it. And just so you know (and this will amaze you, since nobody seems to know this), Azurik is in the top 30% of all Xbox game sales!

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved

Anti Hi-Def

CBS News | E3 Left Us Dazed And Confused | May 26, 2005�11:30:02:
"But gamers are all being told that if they really want to be 'gamers' and not just some jerk that plays games, they have to move into the High Definition clan.

That, in and of itself, should worry anyone wary of Microsoft's partnering with Samsung.

Peter Moore, Corporate Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and Publishing for Xbox at Microsoft, has been asserting that only through Samsung's HD TV's can one experience real gaming.

Yessir, just sell a limb and you can be rocking out with your Xbox 360 like a real gamer. Those HD TVs are expensive, but do you really need two kidneys?

This deal must be a dream come true for Samsung. Sales of their high-priced idiot boxes might actually pick up. "

I've been avoiding hi-def because I just don't see the benefit for the dollars. An old TV croaked and I could have bought a nice hi-def TV for $2,000.00 or a nice Sony Trinitron for $400 - guess which one I got?

I remember back in like 1993 at CES in Las Vegas there was a display of some format of hi-def TV and it was wonderful. It was a projecter in a carefully lit and controlled environment and it was like looking out a window onto this awesome view.

But at our house, there is noise, and light, and kids, and TiVo to be compatible with, and VCRs, and all of that stuff. Who wants to ditch all that for a 6x better display?

In Microsoft-land, where I live, there are plenty of early adopters with hi-def TVs and I'm happy to watch the odd movie at their house. ("Finding Nemo" seems [still] to be the number of choice for showing off your hi-def TV.)

And I have no doubt when the price is right and the infrastructure is better established I'll have several hi-def TVs.

It's just not going to happen for several years at my house. (The truth is I'm more likely to see hi-def on my computer screen before I get consumer products. Unfortunately, the cool hi-def videos you can download in WMA format from Microsoft require a more powerful computer than I have - in fact, a more powerful computer than anyone I know has.)

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved


American Idol

I was feeling like Carrie is going to win tonight ... but then I saw a poll over at http://www.tvguide.com which shows Bo way ahead (in the TV Guide poll).

So I guess it's going to be Bo.

This is my first time watching every episode of American Idol and I have to admire the generally slick presentation. I'm told Simon is much nicer than he used to be so I haven't seen the full effect of his famous wit (I guess fame has mellowed him).

In the past I have watched the show to see who gets the boot - but this time I'm just going to check the Internet so I can TiVo through as much of it as possible in as little time as possible. Two hours to announce a winner tonight is too much!

[Update after the show.]

Well, I guess I should have gone with my intuition. Carrie won. I found out at 7:10 p.m. Pacific Time. I didn't want to wait until 9:56 p.m. when the show was going to announce on the west coast. I still TiVo'd through the show a bit, looking for highlights, like the bit about Simon Cowell being in love with himself.

I guess the show producers must know that people on the west coast and in Hawaii can easily find out who will win, so if they don't make a pretty entertaining show, they are going to lose half of their audience.

Intuition is an interesting thing. Some people have it, and some people don't, and some people who have it misinterpret it, which is worse than not having it.

My own belief is that the more information you have, the better your intution will be. People who depend too much on intuition not grounded by factual experience or research frequently end up in trouble. At least, well, that's my intution about it.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Wired News: IPod Plug-In Sets Music Free

Wired News: IPod Plug-In Sets Music Free:
"IPod users are raving about a plug-in that makes the Winamp digital jukebox a better way to manage the iPod than Apple's iTunes.

The plug-in, called ml_iPod, allows iPod users to bypass iTunes and manage music collections in Winamp instead. The iPod is supposed to work with iTunes only. A new version of the software was released Monday."


PayPal - A Modern Miracle

Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.

Star Wars Box Office

"Revenge" Is Sweet at Box Office - Yahoo! News:
"Back in 1983, before prequels and ultra-wide openings, Return of the Jedi, after a Wednesday debut had a $23 million opening from just 1,002 sites. In 1980, at a mere 126 theaters, the first sequel The Empire Strikes Back had a three-day week of $4.9 million after opening on a Wednesday. Taking the industry completely by surprise in 1977, the saga began with Star Wars (now known as Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope) at just 43 theaters. After a Wednesday opening, the original earned $1.5 million Friday to Sunday, racking up a hit-making $36,151 per screen. Factoring in its subsequent rereleases and 1997 update, the original film has become the top earner of them all, with $460.9 million domestically."



Einstein and Darwin: A tale of two theories - - MSNBC.com:
"What were the consequences in the mid-1800s of saying you didn't believe Darwin? There weren't any, really. But today, with biotech companies, there is no understanding of biology without the theory of evolution. And so if you say, "I don't believe the theory of evolution, I think we were all specially created," you must understand the consequences of it to your own employability.

Now if you don't want to become a scientist, then maybe it doesn't matter. Fine. There are plenty of professions that do not involve scientists. But as I said, the emergent economies are going to be scientifically and technologically driven, with biotech front and center. If you're coming in saying that there was Adam and Eve, you're not going to get past the front door. Because they can't use your knowledge base to invent the next vaccine, the next medicine, the next cure for cancer. That knowledge base does not track into discoveries we know are awaiting us in the halls of biotech firms."


"What to Expect in the Future of Digital Music"

I went to an MIT Enterprise Forum talk a couple of nights ago about “What to Expect in the Future of Digital Music.”

Here are the highlights:

  • Music is second only to sex in quantity of web pages served.
  • The oft-quoted “2%” online sales of music has grown to 3% which is actually a very significant amount of growth (50%).
  • The music companies are recognizing how music can drive advertising, which is why they started charging the online sites (AOL, MSN, Yahoo) for the use of their music videos. It reverses the relationship whereas in the past those online sites were seen as an avenue for music promotion – now they are an avenue for income.
  • Everyone agreed the phone will be the next huge thing in digital music – and pretty much everything else. Phones will just keep getting cooler and cooler.
  • The Universal Music Group is selling 3 million tunes a week online – up from 100’s a week just a few years ago.
  • Rhapsody serves up 400,000 unique music cuts a month; compare this to the fact that there are at most 40,000 different CD titles available in retail; that’s the equivalent of Rhapsody selling one of each tune available at retail every month (except, from a larger catalog). (I hope that makes sense and I hope I understood those numbers correctly.)
  • Rhapsody’s future will be built on (1) incredible ease of use; and (2) music playlist sharing across the entire universe. Or something like that. The vision was “I hear a tune, I press a button to remember it, and I can listen to it anywhere – home, work, car, jogging.”
  • Music producers earn 1%-3% of all retail revenue from music they produce forever!
  • On the radio (terrestrial radio), writers get compensated for music that is played, but the artist and publisher/distributor do not! So Paul McCartney gets something for every single version of Yesterday (Muzak, whatever), but only as the composer – he gets nothing extra (from radio) for being one of the Beatles. (I guess Yoko Ono is raking it in too.)
  • Video ring tones for your phone are coming – never mind that as soon as you might see it you’ll be answering the phone. Someone thinks this is a good idea. (Presumably you would show your video ring tone to your friends more often than you would actually watch it before answering the phone.)
  • Who makes all that money on iTunes? Apparently it goes 1/3 to iTunes, 1/3 to the publisher, and 1/3 to the artist. Not sure how that last 1/3 is carved up between the writer and/or performer.

    © 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Check out the latest news at JeremySoule.com.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Xbox 360 to have HD-DVD option?

Ballmer bitten by Xbox bug - News at GameSpot:
"Finally, Ballmer called Sony's decision to put its PS3 games on Blu-ray discs a 'high risk, maybe negative-return strategy,' adding, 'it's not like won't have an HD-DVD option - we'll be agile.'"

Digital Music News

Digital Music News:
"Search engines could become the portals to online music, rather than the stores themselves. No doubt Yahoo�s search engine will prioritize Yahoo services, as will MSN�s and others. But what if you could search the entire net, not just the approved stores? That may not be the best scenario for major labels, but the upcoming Yahoo digital music search engine will likely deliver a wide results set. Meanwhile, the possibility of a Google play is enticing, with the dominant search engine gradually expanding into multimedia."

Great news for independent music publishers!


Gamasutra - News

Gamasutra - News:
"Microsoft revealed that the Xbox 360 'will be backward-compatible with top-selling Xbox games.' This non-specific explanation seems to indicate that the changing processors between Xbox 360 is going to make it too difficult to ensure complete compatiblity - however, it's unclear what percentage of Xbox titles will run on Xbox 360."

Check out this guy's amazing blog entry about it:


Working at Microsoft

Working at Microsoft


Stereophile: MusicGiants "First Company to Offer High-Fidelity Downloads"

Stereophile: MusicGiants "First Company to Offer High-Fidelity Downloads":
'Apple has sold in excess of 10 million units of iPod, and they've sold approximately $29.66 of music per iPod, so that device has been used for something other than just buying iTunes music.'

The longer article is about a company that is selling lossless encodings of music over the Internet, with bit rates of 450K to 1100K, using Microsoft's mathematically lossless encoder.

They are targeting the hi-fi nuts who listen on fancy systems in a quiet location.

Maybe when my kids are grown up I'll get to listen to music in that kind of environment.

XM Radio Surpasses 4 Million Subscribers

XM Radio Surpasses 4 Million Subscribers:
"WASHINGTON -- XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. said Monday it had surpassed the 4 million subscriber mark and was on track to hit its goal of 5.5 million subscribers by the end of the year."

That is an astonishing achievement - getting people to pay for radio service when they've been getting it for free. But then, I guess that's what HBO pioneered for Cable TV. But wow, that's still an incredible achievement. Good job XM Satellite Radio.

Distruptive Technologies

Today in Investor's Business Daily stock analysis and business news:
"IBD: So are today's media companies doomed?

Miron: At the start of a disruptive technology coming into an industry, everybody recoils in horror about how their profits are going to get cratered. About 10 years later the industry is 10 times bigger.

IBD: Examples?

Miron: I was in the wireless (telecom) business in the mid-1990s when the PCS companies (rivals who used newly licensed radio frequencies) launched. I was at AirTouch Communications in 1996. The average revenue per minute across our North American markets was 41.5 cents.

January 1997, Sprint PCS launches in San Diego offering 10-cent minutes. That's a 75% reduction. Prevailing opinion on Wall Street was something called profitless prosperity: Everybody will have a wireless phone, but it'll descend into a price war.

What they missed was all the applications it unleashed: people using wireless phones as their only phone, multiple wireless connections, rich media, text messaging or wireless e-mail.

Now the wireless business is 10 to 20 times bigger than anything anyone would have bought. (The industry was) using a rearview mirror."


Wireless controllers

GamesIndustry.biz - Xbox 360 unveiled:
"The system will support up to four wireless controllers, and also has three standard USB 2.0 ports. "

Do they use regular batteries or rechargable? If rechargable, how do you recharge them?? How smart will they be about warning you to change the battery before going online to play a deathmatch game?


Gaming-Age Forums - Wall Guy Fan Club! Join today!

This is a really funny thread.

It's reminiscient of those fake photos of the "tourist guy" on top of the world trade center, which then got turned into a big pile of funny parodies.

Wall Guy is taken from a frame of video during the MTV 'unveiling' of the Xbox 360. Wall Guy has then been 'photoshopped' into a number of funny places.

Phone makers plan to take over iPod business

Today in Investor's Business Daily stock analysis and business news: "The cell phone industry has taken over the digital camera field, with camera phones outselling stand-alone digital cameras.
Now phone makers hope to do the same thing with digital music.
Some 60 million music players are expected to sell this year. That's less than a tenth of the number of cell phones sold. But it's a big enough market to attract the interest of the phone industry."

Computer increasingly important music listening device

Mi2N - Music Industry News Network: "According to the latest MusicLab report from The NPD Group, even though radio, audio devices and music videos on television dominate overall music listening behavior, the computer is an increasingly significant medium for music listening. Computer listening behaviors are all on the rise compared to last year, with listening to music on a portable music player, streaming music online and listening to music on a computer showing the most notable increases."

iPod Vending Machine

Digital Music News: "iPods Hit Vending Machines, Mainstreaming Continues
May 9, 2005
The iPod sales story is certainly a big one, with the devices continuing to seep into mainstream life. Most recently, blogger Simon Bisson spotted an iPod vending machine in Concourse A of Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, an unexpected impulse opportunity. That points to a rapidly growing retail imprint, with stranded travelers now able to pick up an iPod while waiting for a flight. Meanwhile, sub-$150 shuffle players have been the latest rage, with Apple grabbing a 58% flash-based market share according to statistics recently published by NPD Group. According to one industry executive, end-cap shuffle placements are simply screaming 'buy me' at mega-stores like Best Buy."


Wired News: Music Mis-Match?

Other people are wondering about Yahoo's purchase of MusicMatch:

Wired News: Music Mis-Match?:
"When Yahoo acquired Musicmatch last September, it was clear the company wanted a larger piece of the digital music market.
But with Wednesday's launch of Yahoo Music Unlimited, the company's digital music subscription service, some wondered where Musicmatch -- which Yahoo acquired for $160 million -- fit into Yahoo's music plans. The two services offer similar ways to find and buy songs.

"I think that Yahoo's overwhelming strategy is about finding and acquiring members of communities and registered users so they won't get Googled again," said Eliot Van Buskirk, technology editor at MP3.com and author of Burning Down the House: Ripping, Recording, Remixing, and More. "By that I mean, people switching suddenly (from Yahoo to Google). Yahoo has an institutional memory of that and they're learning that it's important to keep people attached to your services.

"Finding members of communities and registered users is the new way to own users on the internet," Van Buskirk said. "I think eventually it will fold in the Musicmatch users."


MercuryNews.com | 05/10/2005 | Game skills pay off in real life

MercuryNews.com | 05/10/2005 | Game skills pay off in real life:
"At the Charles Schwab company's call-center headquarters in Phoenix, human resources vice president Chip Luman has learned a secret about financial services technology and the employees who operate it:

Video-game players often display exceptional business skills.

``The people who play games are into technology, can handle more information, can synthesize more complex data, solve operational design problems, lead change and bring organizations through change,'' said Luman, 38."

MusicNet to Support Newly Announced Yahoo Music Subscription Service

MusicNet to Support Newly Announced Yahoo Music Subscription Service

MusicNet is going to run the new Yahoo music service.

My question - what happened to MusicMatch, which Yahoo bought?

Ah. The Wall Street Journal says:
The move underscores Yahoo's push to step up its game in music. Yahoo last year spent $160 million to acquire Musicmatch Inc., which offers song and album downloads and a nonportable subscription service. Yahoo today lowered the price of Musicmatch's subscription service to match its new offering and says it plans to merge the two services by an unspecified date. But it hasn't entirely been smooth sailing. Yahoo had originally planned to introduce its new service by March; the company says it ran into complications making sure the service would work with a variety of MP3 players.

Yahoo Music Unlimited

A new cheap music rental service: Yahoo Music Unlimited (about $5.00 a month).

This announcement apparently caused Real Networks stock to drop over 20% and Napster stock to drop 30%.

Since credit card fees are a big problem when you're paying only $0.79 for a burn (that's the additional price you pay in Yahoo's service to burn a song when you want to keep it instead of rent it) Yahoo might have an advantage - they have a Yahoo branded credit card. Maybe they could cut a deal with their credit card service (it's FirstUSA who was bought by BankOne who was bought by Chase) where music credit card fees are aggregated over the course of a month rather than a couple of days.

Wouldn't that be something.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved


Yahoo! Buzz Index - Today's Top 20 Video Games Searches

Yahoo! Buzz Index - Today's Top 20 Video Games Searches

deseretnews.com | No copyright for smut

deseretnews.com | No copyright for smut:
"Although the liberal foul-mouthed hedonists who control the entertainment industry have the power to set the moral tone of this country, why do we reward their pandering efforts with copyright protection?
It is not enough to snip out sexually graphic scenes or to bleep profanity. The deleted film and book sections should be replaced with other material, and the profanity should be replaced with other dialogue.
I watch R-rated movies because they are usually the only ones with good story lines and good acting, but they would be more enjoyable without the salacious content and coarse language. [Emphasis added.]
If writers, publishers, actors and moviemakers insist on pandering to convey ideas of love, hate and other emotions, let them do so without copyright protection. The alternative is to regulate pandering with current anti-pollution laws."

Gee... could there be a relationship between the quality of the writing and the subject matter? Maybe boring, non-salacious people write boring, non-salacious story lines.

Xbox 360 - the almost high-def device

Technology News Article | Reuters.com:
"TOKYO/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Talks between Japan's Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. to unify next-generation DVD formats are leaning toward a disc structure supported by Sony, a source close to the matter said on Tuesday."

This is bad for Microsoft. As a friend pointed out, with the new "Xbox 360" positioned as the "HD" box for your home, there are some problems:

1) HD stands for high-def, of course, but the Xbox 360 won't have a high-def DVD drive! It's going with the same DVD drive as the current Xbox because (1) it's cheaper and (2) such a thing actually exists. But by 2006 the competitive landscape for HD-DVD drives of one kind or another will have changed radically. The Sony PS3 will have Blu-Ray when it comes out in 2006 and that will mean that people who want a high-def DVD player can buy a Playstation 3 and get a high-def DVD player too.
2) HD also stands for hard drive - there isn't one in the system by default.

My friend reminded me of how many people bought a PS2 because it played DVDs. It was only a few years ago that DVD players were expensive and getting one 'for free' with the PS2 was quite the deal and made up for a dearth of software at launch.

So the Xbox 360 "HD" experience isn't very HD. (The current Xbox can output high-def already.)


(Update: I read an interview with J Allard in Game Informer where he said something like, "So what if Hollywood can't make up their mind? This didn't keep the cable companies from broadcasting high-def." Which suggests to me that MS is planning to sell you movies over your broadband connection. Interestingly, WMA high-def format works great with a 3.0 gigahertz processor, which just happens to be what is in the Xbox 360. And given that the hard drive is removable, perhaps you'll be able to buy a much bigger hard drive to store (cache) your movies.

It really takes 25 megabits/second to broadcast or stream HDTV, which is a connection that no one in the US has yet. But if you are willing to dribble movies in overnight and store them on the hard drive than it would be workable. Also, I heard a rumor that the system will ship with a 20 gigabyte (removable) hard drive as part of a package, at least initially.)

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


New Amaze Web Site

The new Amaze web site is finally unveiled (www.amazeent.com).

Looks pretty good! It also looks like the studio-based organization of the company is being de-emphasized, which is probably smart, because it looks a whole lot more impressive when you put all the products together in one place.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


How to make holograms at home - Tech News & Reviews - MSNBC.com

How to make holograms at home - Tech News & Reviews - MSNBC.com: "As for price, the Litholo Hologram kit sells for $139 and is available on the Liti Holographics Website. If you've ever wanted to experience a home-made hologram this is a great way of experimenting."



National Post - The Literal Bible

National Post:
"'It just shows you that when you study something as cryptic and mystic as the Book of Revelation there's an almost unlimited number of interpretations.'

The book is thought to have been written by the disciple John and according to the King James Bible, the traditional translation of the passage reads: 'Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.'

But Dr. Aitken said that translation was drawn from much later versions of the New Testament than the fragment found in Oxyrhynchus. 'When we're talking about the early biblical texts, we're always talking about copies and they are copies made, at best, 150 to 200 years after [the original] was written,' she said.

'They can have mistakes in the copying, changes for political or theological reasons ... it's like a detective story piecing it all together.'

Dr. Aitken said, however, that scholars now believe the number in question has very little to do the devil. It was actually a complicated numerical riddle in Greek, meant to represent someone's name, she said.

'It's a number puzzle -- the majority opinion seems to be that it refers to [the Roman emperor] Nero.'

Revelation was actually a thinly disguised political tract, with the names of those being criticized changed to numbers to protect the authors and early Christians from reprisals. 'It's a very political document,' Dr. Aitken said. 'It's a critique of the politics and society of the Roman empire, but it's written in coded language and riddles.'"

And people want to take the Bible literally?


Selling Music Direct to Gamers

It's All Noise: Composing Music Good Enough for Games: MP3.com: Jeremy Soule:
"I think games are much like films in that they each often have requirements for both custom music and licensed/preexisting songs. I have licensed my music into games and I have composed custom scores as well. I think licensing is just one of many great options that a game designer has in terms of business arrangements. I'm actually doing something very unique along these lines. A company has signed me to produce the world's first music expansion packs. Music expansion packs are basically a cool way for game players to beef up the amount of music in a game. Most games ship with about an hour of music. Many of my games ship with 90 minutes. With the expansion pack model, players will be able to enjoy as much as four hours of music or more in their adventures. This is accomplished through a combination of a WMA download and scripts that install with the download. It's a totally integrated system that speaks directly to the game's code. So in other words, not only is there more music, it's also intelligently implemented. I think that this game music expansion model could be the single biggest business development for game music in recent years."

Sounds like something I would enjoy working on. Oh wait, I am!

The article also has a pointer to Final Fantasy Remix by Jeremy Soule.

In the full article, Jeremy mentions Guild Wars, a game with really great visuals. I noticed it received a 9.2 over at Gamespot, so it's getting some recognition for gameplay too. Lucky me - I received a game credit for Guild Wars. What a wonderful thing to have happen a year after striking out on my own.

Here's my Guild Wars character (I'm exploring my feminine side):

Stephen's female Guild Wars character

Apparently my feminine side is pretty hot.

555 or 565

Today is 5/5/5!

Cinco de Mayo, or May 5, 2004, was my last day at Amaze. Now it's a year later and the date is Cinco de Mayo, 2005, which can be written as 5/5/5. The day after is the day 5/6/5.

5/5/5 is also the color space for Red, Green and Blue when using 16-bit graphics. It's actually 0/5/5/5 or 1/5/5/5 if there is a bit for alpha. Some systems give you 5/6/5 which is gives an extra bit for green and uses up all 16-bits (so no alpha). You can see way more green than anything else so it seemed cool to some graphics wizard to give green an extra bit of resolution. (Although if you really did the bits in proportion to how well you can see each range of colors, which is 29.9% for red, 58.7% for green, and 11.4% for blue, then you should divide it up as 5 bits red, 9 bits green, and 2 bits blue. Imagine! Only two bits for blue!)

I wrote another couple of articles about funny dates and numbers, 1999, and another on January 2, 2000, just after the Y2K disaster failed to happen.

This reminds me of a song called "25 or 6 to 4", about being hung over from drugs in the early morning. (I never take drugs, by the way. I’m naturally high! W00t!)

Here’s another fun number: 111111 – that’s how many miles I recently had on my car.

111,111 miles on my car!

111,111 miles on my car - close up of Odometer

My car was totalled last Christmas, but I liked it so much (the car, not the totalling), I had it repaired and kept it, paying the extra that insurance didn't cover. It's about 11 years old which averages out to only 10,000 miles a year, which isn't much. The front of the car, which was squished in the accident, is rebuilt, and I have some wonderful bright new shiny headlights. Luckily the frame was untouched. My view on cars is that they exist for two reasons: to get from point a to point b, and to listen to music. My car is pretty quiet inside, and so especially good for listening to music while getting from point a to point b.

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.

Frozen Water 09

Very cool waterfall at the Disneyland Hotel - click for a bigger image, of course!

This is an extremely cool waterfall at the Disneyland Hotel. Most people, even some people staying at the hotel, don't seem to know it is there. In olden times (maybe five or seven years ago) you could walk around in it more than you can now but you can see a little opening to underneath the waterfall if you look carefully.

At night it lights up very nicely. (Click on the thumbnail for a bigger image.)

© 2005 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


By accident or design, selling T-shirts is big business on Web

By accident or design, selling T-shirts is big business on Web:
"CollegeHumor.com, a site offering jokes and pictures from college campuses nationwide, sells T-shirts that say 'My other shirt has its collar up,' 'What Would Ashton Do,' and dozens of others. Its parent company, Connected Ventures LLC, says it takes in roughly $200,000 in monthly revenue from the shirts, about half of its total income. 'A year from now things could be very different, but for now, T-shirts are a great way to monetize the Internet,' says Josh Abramson, one of the site's founders.

It turns out the T-shirt is a perfect fit for online commerce. It captures the Web's renegade allure and allows surfers to show off their virtual journeys. Easy to make and deliver, T-shirts often cost $15 or less online.

More than 1,500 Web sites now sell T-shirts, says Rodney Blackwell, a Sacramento, Calif., entrepreneur who runs several Web sites. Mr. Blackwell, who began cataloguing the number of sites offering T-shirts in early 2004 for one of his Web properties, tracked just 500 such sites last year before the market exploded."


How to Put Special Characters in Web Pages

How to Put Special Characters in Web Pages

Unicode Support in Your Browser

Unicode Support in Your Browser

Samsung Yepp YH-925GS Photo/MP3 player - PCStats.com

Samsung Yepp YH-925GS Photo/MP3 player - PCStats.com:
"One interesting ability that we don't often see in hard drive players is the Yepp YH-925GS's ability to transfer files to and from other USB storage devices without the need for a computer to act as an intermediary. The package includes a USB host adaptor which can be used to connect the player directly to another USB device for file transfer."

Very clever!

Homegrown Star Wars, with big-screen magic intact | CNET News.com

Homegrown Star Wars, with big-screen magic intact | CNET News.com:
"Clocking in at more than 40 minutes, with high-quality special effects and production that falls just short of professional, 'Revelations' is surely destined to be a landmark in 'fan films,' a genre of amateur filmmaking growing in sophistication with each new generation of digital tools. And if 'Revelations' acting isn't quite on a par with Laurence Olivier, well, just remember that Jar-Jar Binks wasn't exactly an Academy Awards nominee, either."

I watched "Star Wars: Revelations". It is astounding. The production values are through the roof. The lighting is great, the sound is great, the digital match-ups between live and CG are great, the set design is great - everything is great except the acting and the story - just like a real Star Wars movie!