Monday, April 30, 2007

Just to see if anything happens....

0X FX 11 02 XD 74 E3 YB D8 41 Y6 CY 63 Y6 88 C0

Where X=9, Y=5

Apple TV - Why I'm not buying it.

So in an effort to further dominate your wallet and your living room, Apple has brough us the Apple TV.

A sleek, simple device that even your mother would love. And perhaps use.

But it's a broken product.

Look, here's the deal. People who would buy this device have media coming out of every storage compartment, entertainment center, hard drive, usb thumb drive, CD player, DVD changer, etc. We have content everywhere. And we all want it in one place. And then we want to be able to access it from just about anywhere.

Now that is all currently doable. It's just not that easy to do it and it's not cheap to do it and it's not reliable. And it's sure not sexy like the Apple TV.

But the Apple TV is a glorified iTunes extender. And that limits everything. Some may give in and become 100% converts to the Apple way. And that's fine for those people. But the majority will continue to be frustrated.

Look MPAA and NAB, people rip their DVDs onto their laptops and their desktops to watch their movies (and surely the ones they've rented). It's already happening. Embrace it! Stop trying to get more money from us just because we want to consume the content that we've already paid for in a different way.

And when we rip it we convert it to a format that saves space like mpeg-4, DVIX, XVID. H.264. Whatever. Insert new compression here.

Hey, RIAA, we rip our CDs onto our PCs and move the songs all over the place. We make mix CDs and we put playlists on multiple players. Get over it.

Why do I mention these oft-hated organizations in the same rant as the Apple TV commentary? Because Cupertino Steve undoubtedly keeps the legal wolves and the competition to iTunes (none) at bay by crippling his products and hiding those shortcomings by relabeling them as features. The Apple faithful drink it in, mesmerized by the magic turtleneck.

No Divx/xvid support? Are you paying attention Apple? People are using that format. Big time. It's MP3 for video now. Why are you ignoring the new MP3? Oh, H.264? Yes, we know, it's better. It's Apple. Right, but you're the only one's using it right now.

Oh, by the way, a 40GB hard drive? Where the hell did they find a 40GB hard drive? Old unsold iPods? Come on, make that box a little bigger and stick a big desktop drive in there. Or give us the external USB option.

Rev 2 of this white box will still be crippled. Hopefully D-Link and Netgear and Linksys are paying attention to the design and can "borrow" some of the niceties of the Apple TV (along with wireless N please) for their own media players.

The Wii is Overrated - Big time

After a terrible gaming experience with the Gamecube I though I'd never own a Nintendo product again. They seemed to be designing for kids and for the Japanese market (and Americans enamored with Japanese culture and things like Anime, which I just cannot get into.)

But over the holidays I got my hands on one and got sucked in by the novelty of the Wiimote and the promise of a new way to game.

But after playing a few titles I must say that the perfume no longer smells sweet.

Yes, the Wiimote is innovative, and I suspect some games will come along and dazzle us with their brilliant use of the technology. But when?

Let's face it, the graphics suck. Third party game support is currently non-existent. And when it does come, won't they just be ports of games that just look much better on the PS3 and XBOX 360?

But hey what about the ability to download and play great games like Elevator action for only $5-$8. Are you serious. This is an attempt on Nintendo's part to remind you just how awful the graphics were in old games so that you feel as though Wii games are a quantum leap forward. They need to give me those games for a $1 or for free.

But hey, what about the browser? Have you seen the web on your TV? IT looks like crap. 'nuf said.

Back to the Wiimote. The only reason anyone buys this thing. (Besides the fact that parents presented with the choice of laying out $399, $499 or $249, see at least $150 that they get to keep in their pockets.)

Some have speculated that similar controller systems could be developed for the other consoles. But success there would be unlikely. The problem is the adoption rate. What developer will write games that use the technology until there is an installed base of owners? And what users will buy a new controller system with no selection of games. It's an idea doomed to fail. So for this generation of consoles, Nintendo has the only system that will use such technology.

Now if they could only do something with it that keeps my attention.

Anyone want to buy a Wii?

Review: Wario Ware Smooth Moves for the Nintendo Wii

I've been looking forward to a new Wii game to try and new Gameznflix envelope showed up on Friday with Warioware.

(On a side note, I'm a little miffed with them (GnF) as they've dropped PSP titles due to the coming increase in postal service rates. Time to switch to GameFly I guess. Will they drop the PSP?)

So I popped in the WWSM disc and waited for some Japanese flavored goodness. But sadly, there was none to be had.

Where did it all go wrong?

1st rule of Wii game development. Multiplayer is required. If you are a developer and you're working on a game for 1 player at a time for the Wii, just burn all your work right now. It's useless. That console sits and collects dust unless there are 2+ people in the room with it and a Wiimote in their hands. WWSM is a single player game. Duh!

Now, what is WWSM. Well I got angry at the stupidity of the game after just a few worlds. So, here it is in a nutshell:

Minigames. And I do mean mini. Here's a taste:

Pluck out a nose hair.
Direct people with obviously full bladers to the appropriate bathroom based on their gender.
Kill a fly with a flyswatter.
Pump up a ballon.
And the list goes on.

All of this with a decidedly Japanese wacky culture flavor behind it. Those Wacky Japanese!

Much like many Nintendo games you play mini games and when you finish a level you go back to a map where a new World appears that contains more inane minigames. Then there's a Boss minigame. Wow, a big version of a suck concept. What fun.

This game is awful. I give it an Avoid.


Has it Been a Year? Wow, I Guess I'm a Statistic.

Well, it's hard to believe it's been more than a year since I last posted. I suppose that's pretty normal. Setup a blog, post like mad, and then abandon it. That's what people do now, right?

Part of the reason is personal. But as I reflect back on the last year by looking at the last few posts from a year ago I'm struck by just how little happened over the last year. It certainly seemed like things were happening, but in hindsight, what really big thing changed in tech?

The PS3 came out and got no love.

The Wii came out and is getting mucho mucho love and continues to get mucho mucho love. (Though I question why - see my next few posts.)

Windows Vista launched and no one really wanted it, especially the people who did want it and installed it and then realized they like the consistency and reliability (gasp!) of Windows XP. (If you're reading this on a Vista machine you will be interupted any second now by a dialouge box asking if it's ok for Vista to wipe it's own ass. Then it will ask you if you're sure it's ok.) People are only going to upgrade to Vista because they're going to feel like they have to. Software makers will eventually proclaim that XP is dead and push people to upgrade. But do we really need Vista? No. OS X maybe. But not Vista.

Apple is still the envy of the tech world, but what have they given us in the last year? I say, nothing. 1 full year of nothing.

Sure, the iPhone is coming. Uh, when?

Sure, they gave us Apple TV. Yes, it's simple and elegant. Great. I'll save the rant about this product for another post to come. Suffice it to say, Apple does not understand the market for this product, and the RIAA, MPAA, and the NAB do not understand their customers.

And what about the OS update. On hold. Delayed 6 months. And the Apple faithful just take it all in stride because Apple said they were too busy bringing us the iPhone. A freakin $500 phone.

So what else happened?

Hard drives got bigger and cheaper. Wow, big news.

CPUs got a little faster and the folks who make them dangled news in front of us to tell us that they'll get even faster very soon, making those of us who hate buying a system and seeing something faster come out in a month, wait even longer to replace our aging P4/Athlons.

AMD is in a death spiral and Intel is stepping on their necks. But watch out, VIA and Cyrix may come back out of the shadows. OK, maybe not. I was always an Intel fan anyway. Who cares.

Seriously, did anything really significant happen this year?

I say no.