27 December 2007

Happy Holidays

Hello everyone, hope you're having a wonderful festive season.

I know I am. On Christmas day, I got one of those new Daleks, the Voice Command ones which are a foot and a half tall and whose heads (Eye and Dome) can be controlled manually from the Remote Control or who can be set little tasks by simply saying words.

Today, I finally upgraded to a new iPod. I went for the Touch. Mainly for financial reasons, but also because I decided I could do without the hassle of a contract phone. It's an 8GB - that's where finance comes into it, I had £200 in cash.

Of course, tonight at midnight I'm being paid £193, but then I would have had to have paid all my money into my bank account and that would have delayed matters...I really wanted my new iPod ASAP. And hey, the iPod Touch kicks ass.

So I'm loving my new iPod. Video, internet, touch controls. It's awesome. Loving my new Dalek, he's a badass. Looking forward to buying a Blu-Ray Drive for my computer. A LiteOn for £95 which will also finally give me some decent disc playing software.

Then I'm gonna grab The Simpsons Movie on Blu-Ray. Going to kick ass.

By the way, Parker make the best fountain pens on earth. I got one for Christmas and damn is it good. Smooth, consistent, nice weight and good feel. If you write anything and you can get a Parker fountain pen, do it.

Jens Out

16 December 2007

Last.fm

Some of you are likely to consider me late to this party, but please indulge me. I recently joined Last.fm, mostly for the purposes of tracking playing statistics, something I find myself oddly interested in.

A while ago, I used My iTunes to place an artists widget on the sidebar of this place, you might have seen it. It broke. I couldn't be bothered to fix it. And so, I went back to having no music widget. Then, as I described above, I got Last.fm.

And I placed the Album Quilt in the sidebar to replace the old Artists Widget. I was pleased with it, it's nice and graphical. It does its job well.

I'm also adding a Recently Listened Tracks widget and Top Artists Overall.

Last.fm kicks ass.

Jens

13 December 2007

Regarding iPlayer

Huzzah and so on, the BBC have moved to a streaming system for the iPlayer, in line with similar efforts by the American broadcasters. This change makes it much simpler for us to view content - we no longer have to download the ghastly Kontiki platform or use Internet Explorer.

Furthermore, now the system no longer requires registration to use it.

Good job BBC.

Jens Out.

Drag and Drop Vs. Plug and Go in the Media World

A long time ago, I described the ongoing battle between Twin-Sticks and Pointer/Directional input in First Person control - a battle already convincingly won by Pointer/Direction input (Mouse/Keyboard and later Wii remote/Nunchuk). And yet the debate raged on, despite overwhelming evidence in favour of the Mouse/Keybaord and the Wii (And some arcade systems).

There is another debate, long since decided in one sides favour, which also refuses to die. Drag and Drop or Plug and Go, which is better for managing media?

Of course, this is a slightly more complicated debate. Although the winner overall is already decided, making the debate slightly pointless, the other side does win in some ways. The problem with the debate is that it is used in a similar Geek Vs. Mainstream way as the Twin-Sticks Vs. Wii Remote & Nunchuk argument (Ironic considering the Twin Sticks were themselves on the Mainstream side in their own battle with Mouse/Keyboard).

The number one selling line of personal digital media players on the market is the iPod Line. Don't try and dispute it, it's absolute fact. Consumers love it for its convenience and simplicity. Plug it in, iTunes loads it up, and you're done.

However, some people within the geek community feel that Apple's simple, easy solution lacks the customisation features they want (They like to be able to choose which songs go on and which don't. Clearly they have never heard of Playlists.) and prevents them from performing certain actions.

These people champion Drag and Drop. Some people who champion Drag and Drop also berate those who use Plug and Go for being "stupid" and "babies" for using simpler methods. Not all Drag and Drop supporters feel this way, and those who do not are often embarrassed to be associated with these people (Usually the same or similar to people who support PS3 and say Wii is for children only).

The major feature Drag and Droppers cite is taking music to other computers. I don't know about you, but I've never done that, nor can I see any real world situation where I will ever need to. I'm not saying noone needs it, but in my experience its application is so infrequent as to be meaningless. But whatever. Proponents of Drag and Drop also often cite it being cross-platform. What, like iPod?

The fact of the matter is, most Drag and Drop players are Plays For Sure. In English, that means that no, they are not truly cross platform. They cannot be used to they're full extent on the leading multimedia computer platform, OS X. Plays For Sure is Windows Media DRM.

iPod & iTunes are Mac and Windows.

*Linux may be ignored for the purposes of this discussion as the lack of support is more related to small market share and its fractious nature.

Plug and Go proponents, such as myself, enjoy the fact that Plug and Go works thusly:

Plug in iPod/Other media player, iTunes/Competing media manager does all the work, unplug once satisfied with power.

Whereas Drag and Drop works like this:

Plug in device, navigate to media in file explorer, copy media, navigate to device in file explorer, paste media, unplug once satisfied with power levels.

Furthermore, Plug and Go adds features of its own, like play count tracking. Something I use much more than the ability to plug into another computer.

But it's beside the point. Plug and Go has won, it is by far the dominant system.

And yet, I still see people avoiding iPods so they can make use of the less successful Drag and Drop.

I got news buddy. iPods can do both.

Jens Out

09 December 2007

Kyoto, Wii have a problem

As a Wii owner and a current Nintendo man, I put up with a lot - especially living in Europe. But things like Mario Galaxy and Club Nintendo's new status (Including the Stars to Wii Points dealie) make it worthwhile.

But the delays make me want to kill. Super Smash Bros. Brawl? Europe won't get it until Q3 '08 at the earliest. It's not the most important game in the world for me, but I do want it. And that delay makes me angry.

We've had to wait an ungodly length of time for Nintendo to make good use of the internet on Wii, with the exception of VC and the Internet Channel. Finally, online games are trickling in.

And guess what? The best one (Medal of Honor Heroes 2), has been delayed for Europe. Not cool.

Another great implementation of the internets is the Everybody's Nintendo Channel. I want that channel. But the US and Europe/Australia haven't seen hide nor hair of it. Excluding it's now obvious beta The Metroid Prime 3 Preview Channel.

But what makes me most pissed at the Wii and Nintendo is bigger. And don't get me wrong, I love my Wii and I love Nintendo, they're being good at the moment and have great characters like Mario. But they make mistakes and they make me mad sometimes. I've explained where Nintendo annoys me, now here's the number one Wii annoyance:

Where are all the driving games?

Oh sure, I know it's been a bad year for driving games anyway, but the only good driving games on Wii are Need for Speed: Carbon and Excite Truck. I'm going to try and get Carbon, primarily because I want another driving game on Wii, but I'm having difficulty. Stocks are low, it's a year old.

Of course, February will bring Ferrari Challenge and Mario Kart is due in the first half of '08, but that's not now is it?

Jens Out

02 December 2007

Kane and Lynch: Dead Men

We've already discussed that this game lost Jeff Gerstmann, Mr. GameSpot, his job. However implausible it may be, that's what happened. Here's the thing though...When Kane and Lynch got a 6 and was described as an "ugly, ugly game", I wasn't in the least bit surprised. If you were, you're nuts.

GameSpot's advertising deal with this shitty game was apparent long before "readers [could] skin the entire site with Kane, Lynch or with Kane and Lynch...Together". GameSpot's Video Game game show featured the game as Round 3, Owned in its final episode of the season.

It sucked then too. Alex Navarro and his colleague Justin Calvert were clearly not having a good time with the game's controls. Everyone playing it (Which included 2 members of the development and/or PR teams - it's hard to tell if people are really "developers" these days) were making an assload of mistakes thanks to sloppy controls.

It also looked like crap. In the immortal words of that same Alex Navarro (Regarding RoboCop on Xbox), "This looks like crap. [It plays] a lot like crap too".

But it's hard to see where the hype for this game actually built up. It was at E3 and it looked and played like crap there too. In a year that has seen Halo 3, Super Mario Galaxy, Call of Duty 4, Half-Life 2: The Orange Box, Mass Effect and Bioshock amongst many more great, modern games, Kane and Lynch is an un commonly old-fashioned film wannabe.

Were it made from a movie as a cash-in, it would be exactly what you expect. instead, Eidos wants to make a movie from it. The Angry Video Game Nerd says when you take a great movie, you get a shitty game and when you take a not-so-great game you get a slightly less shitty game. How does that work for making games into movies? I sincerely doubt you just flip the first half of the statement.

I can see some promise in the Kane and Lynch concept, which is probably the only reason sites like 1Up gave it the time of day at E3, but the execution is shameful. It's 10 minutes of good concept wrapped in 10 hours of shitty gameplay. Think of it as being like Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor (Half an hour of great action wrapped in 3 hours of tedium).

So, Eidos, tell me. Did you really expect this game to get a good review?

You did, huh?

Even though it is and has clearly been shit for months?

Why, pray tell, then did you expect a good review?

Oh, of course.

Josh Larson & Stephen Colvin promised you.

Jens Out

30 November 2007

Jeff Gerstmann and why Ziff Davis pwns CNet

Yesterday, Jeff Gerstmann, Editorial Director of CNet's GameSpot and (Since the departure of the huge asset that was Rich Gallup) host of GameSpot's Live Weekly video show On The Spot. Gerstmann ascended to the role of head honcho at GameSpot following the departure of Greg Kasavin, former Editor-In-Chief.

He took over hosting of GameSpot's On The Spot as he was formerly Rich's number two on that show. After a shaky first episode, he got it together and along with Ryan Davis managed to put together a generally good show.

Jeff has been a fixture at GameSpot for 10 years. He is GameSpot. They put him in charge and allowed him to renovate the review system in a bold, abstract way which - despite some unpopularity amongst certain quarters of the GameSpot community - was generally seen as a pretty good system. I have heard reviewers wondering what everyone's problem with it was pointing out that movie reviews carry half as many different possible scores and they are not criticised for it.

As a critic myself, I agree. As someone who has twice held positions similar to Gerstmann's role, I agree. In fact, in that position, I used scales with half the GameSpot system. Never hurt us.

Why then was Jeff Gerstmann, a key CNet and GameSpot asset, who had been appointed the leader and face of GameSpot, summarily fired on the day he was due to appear live in front of millions of gamers worldwide?

Current information points to one thing. Kane and Lynch.

Gerstmann gave Eidos's Kane and Lynch a 6.0. Eidos, who had splashed out on an over-the-top advertising campaign on GameSpot (Which mimicked that given to Halo 3, an easily more deserving title), were none too pleased.

However, apparently this only prompted a change to link the adverts instead to the game's site and not the review.

What seems to be fact is that Gerstmann's video review (Below), which does little more than summarise the points of his text review in his usual casual, likable and irreverent style, was the last straw for CNet's paymasters.



The corporate overlords that run CNet have pulled the video review from GameSpot's site and Gerstmann is now no longer a GameSpot employee.

GameSpot posted no reviews, did not broadcast On The Spot and did indeed do very little of anything yesterday. Rumours abound that the staff are "skittish" - they all seem to have been very much Jeff's men for one thing. For another, they likely approved the review since that is how GameSpot roll.

Furthermore, they can likely see their readers slipping through their fingers. Their journalistic integrity has been wiped away. CNet has sent the message that GameSpot reviews can be bought, editors fired at an advertisers request...What's next?

Furthermore, Gerstmann's exit follows an exodus of key people from the GameSpot team. First to go was Carrie Gouskos. Gouskos was de facto number 2 to Gallup in the GameSpot Live team, at least to the public (Gallup answered to Ryan MacDonald). She was one of the 3 faces of On the Spot (Along with Gallup and Gerstmann) and ran relief for Gallup during live events like E3.

She left to work on the development of Warhammer Online.

After Gouskos, the next big name to leave the GameSpot team (One who went to work at EA on Command & Conquer 3 - and presumably its sequels etc.), was Editor-In-Chief Greg Kasavin. Greg was the boss, He was very much in charge. Respected and liked by all.

Following his departure, there was no clear leader. 2 men, Gerstmann and MacDonald, appeared to have a power share. Gerstmann controlled Editorial content, whilst MacDonald was in charge of GameSpot Live. It was a departure, but the team worked.

The last big name to go, before Jeff, was of course Rich Gallup. Gallup, the face of GameSpot left without a job to go to. He literally walked, apparently to get married back on the East Coast.

If you're a suspicious guy like me, this makes no sense.

Gerstmann was a huge asset, Gallup was huge talent who they let go - seemingly without a fight. But more pressing than these curiosities is the why.

With 3 key people leaving and one of the absolute most important being fired, it begs the question.

What's really going on inside CNet? Did Kasavin and Gallup Leave because they were unhappy with their corporate overlords? It now seems conceivable. Think about it, there could be a huge amount of turmoil in there.

Gallup might have been happy to walk, unhappy with conditions. Kasavin might have been tired of the way CNet was treating him. Gerstmann stood his ground. They shot him down without a second thought.

No other explanation is logical than this: CNet and GameSpot are bitter enemies. Why else would CNet offload the popular head of GameSpot, alienating staff and fans, with the only reasonable explanation anyone can find being a video review of an advertised game. Without warning. On the day he was due to host the site's flagship show?

Until CNet provide answers, this is the view I'm sticking with.

Another key matter: Who replaces Gerstmann?

Assuming half the staff doesn't simply quit in disgust, CNet will likely continue their habit of promoting from within GameSpot. But then, who can they pick? The popular choice would be Alex Navarro. But Navarro is Jeff's man through and through. I doubt they would name him.

As is Ryan Davis, the probable second choice. Brian Eckberg would be best left to sports, to liaise with SportsGamer.Com, which GameSpot now own. So who could they put in Jeff's place?

Noone other than those 3 is an obvious choice. Brad Shoemaker is a wild card candidate, but that would seem to entail promoting over the heads of others and at any rate, he too appears to be a Jeff man. Even simply expanding MacDonald's duties is not going to work - he carpooled to work with Jeff and Alex every day, he's "one of them" from CNet's point of view.

So CNet will have to name someone new. They'll either poach someone from 1Up or IGN, or else name someone from CNet. Should the latter happen, make no mistake, GameSpot is screwed. We've already discussed the possible friction, the staff wouldn't like a corporate move like that were the friction real.

Update: CNet opted to name Ricardo Torres, a senior staffer who'd taken a slightly backroom role in recent times as Jeff's de facto successor.

You might think I'm being melodramatic. But I'm deadly serious here. This is bad news.

Jeff is great. Check out his band here

I'll be watching Tournament TV tonight. After that, I'm going to have to consider leaving GameSpot in protest unless some good explanation is given for this mess.

Jens Out

24 November 2007

I was supervising the Points for Stars Program

As of Monday, Nintendo Europe is changing their website from the current, tired design to an all-new one. Don't be surprised if it's white with blue and pale grey accents and many curves.

More important than revising the tired site design, we believe that as of the transition, we will finally be able to exchange Stars for Wii Points. I am making a point of converting as many Stars as possible into Wii points. I want me some VC games.

I'll probably also keep some back for Wii Software downloads. I really just wanna get Mario Kart 64. I might grab Sin and Punishment or Super Mario World. Dunno. Still think I'll keep some points back for Wii Software downloads. That being said, I may just buy new points for that.

Seeing is believing

18 November 2007

iPhone is like, so totally awesome

Before work yesterday, but after grabbing some breakfast, I ventured into the Carphone Warehouse. They had iPhones displayed prominently on a classy wooden table resplendent with logos. Well, Apple's, iPhone's, Carphone Warehouse's and O2's.

These displayed iPhones were working perfectly and were there for all to play with. So I decided to take it for a whirl. I played some music through the speakers, checked out CoverFlow and browsed Apple.com in Safari.

Browsing (With Working Class Hero playing in the background) took up the majority of my demo. I was keen to try it out as I'd not had time when demoing the iPod Touch. I have to say, it's great. I was whizzing around the internets - Google for instance - without any trouble.

Next thing I did was go to Quicktime>Movie Trailers. I tapped the first one I saw - Children of Men I think - and it took me to the page. Where on a desktop the video would play in-page, there was a thumbnail and a little play icon. Tapping it started the video full screen. It, was awesome.

Anyway, that was my quick play with the iPhone. What really struck me about it was that it felt so nice in my hand. The aluminum back feels great and it's a really nice size.

Speaking of size, it's quite small. Very cute.

The demo completely sold me, I'm definitely getting an iPhone now. There's no way I'm not. It's just a matter of when.

Feel Good,
Jens

15 November 2007

Breaking the Street Date

Super Mario Galaxy is officially released tomorrow here in the UK. Millions of fans nationwide are waiting impatiently. I've already played about 3 and a half hours of it.

GAME sent my copy early, so I was able to play it once I got back today. It's actually probably a bad thing, I have some homework I need to do for tomorrow. But it's not too much, I should be able to get by.

To start, the game's freaking gorgeous. The water and the normal mapping in particular shine - as do the brilliant light effects. Pun fully intended.

Next, the controls are great. Mario moves perfectly and his various actions like spinning and jumping feel great to do. Spinning initially worried me. Shaking the Remote, you know? But it actually works very well.

Now, the game is a roller coaster in difficulty. There are some extremely fiendish levels that had me pulling my hair out to get the star, and others which simply require some effort to get through. It's all very satisfying.

All in all, deserved its hype.

To move on, Call of Duty 4 is awesome. We played it in 1080p - the first time we've played any game at that resolution - and it just looks fantastic. And watching my brother play it reminded me how much I like that style of gameplay. Which put me onto the Medal of Honor Heroes 2 thing again.

So I went and found IGN's review. Normally, I avoid IGN. I prefer to stick to 1UP and GameSpot. But IGN had a review and I read it. Game looks totally awesome. I can see myself spending hours playing and tweaking the controls.

I'm really pumped for it! 32-Player CTF on Wii? Hell yeah I'll pay £30 for that!

Well, £27 to me.

I've been looking into PS3. My father intends to buy a 60GB model, but I think I will probably also need my own model. As such, I'd likely grab a 40GB. But I'm holding out for the White one.

But this is after iPhone, MacBook, 360 (May buy my brother's off of him), and PC upgrades.

Jens Out

12 November 2007

Housekeeping

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that All Your Disney has joined The Disney Fan Network. I say eagle-eyed, but that's not strictly true. Many of you will have noticed I'm actually pushing the Network hard, both at All Your Disney itself and here.

But why not? Networks are there to generate collective traffic. Anyone who likes Disney who visits the blogs on the All Your Blog Network would be well advised to keep tabs on TDFN - run by the good people at The Disney Blog - easily my personal favourite Disney site.

But, to business. Final preparations are underway for my getting a job. You know what that means. Stuff. Stuff to write about. Games, movies, accessories, phones and computers.

Well, just one each of those final two. First off, the iPhone. Funny thing is, I didn't realise how much I really wanted iPhone in my life until fairly recently. And yet, it is without a doubt the culmination of desires I've had for a long time.

The MacBook meanwhile is the core of a long-standing desire to be untethered from this desk. iPhone represents another pillar of that - providing connectivity at all times.

But the MacBook is to allow me to browse the web, chat and play music/videos away from the desk. On my bed for example, or in the living room. The iPhone can accomplish this, yes, and will do so in some instances, but when I want a computer, the MacBook enables me to use one with more freedom.

That also frees this machine up for use as a gaming platform and a server. Fun.

In bad news, I have a terrible cold or a mild flu. One or the other. Either way, existence is hell. Grr.

You know, even though I love this monitor, I am sorely tempted by this, the Disney HDTV, lovingly adorned with Mickey Mouse symbols...Then again, I suppose I will probably need a second screen at some point. Plus, watching TV with Pinnacle TVCentre Pro is a real bitch.

I'll have to think about it.

Jens Out

06 November 2007

Passing the 7th Position in the Rule of Doubling

In a brief follow-up to the previous post, I have now definitely decided on the iPhone. It was the web that won it.

Now then, to the issue of the day. Portal. Hot freaking damn. Way back when Portal was newly announced and everyone was drooling over Team Fortress 2 and Half-Life 2 Episode 2 (I'm sorry, that is such a mouthful), I myself was more interested in Portal.

And man was I right to be. This game kicks ass. It's funny, crazy, quirky and above all, original. Truly it is the class of the Orange Box, as many have conceded in the time since the Box was unleashed.

Incidentally, what a freaking dumb name. Orange Box. It's so...Meh. Mind you, the box art is far worse.

Another great game is Metroid Prime 3 Corruption. Easily the best controls ina first-person shooter to date. I can't wait for an online game with similar controls - which I am reliably informed is inbound in the form of the 32-Player online Medal of Honor Heroes 2. Finally a reason to play a Medal of Honor game.

I know I can't wait to be blasting fools with my Wii. EA, I salute you.

Speaking of the Wii itself, my Remote Jackets showed up. I have my spare Remote in one - so newbies to Wii can't kill me - but my own personal Remote, with a rechargeable battery, is Jacket free. Well, it has one. I just don't put it on it.

The Writer's Guild is on strike stateside. Wowsers bowsers. That shit is real. I hope it gets resolved properly and fast - imagine the turmoil if the actors and directors went out in sympathy.

iPhone is out this Friday at 6:02PM. Yes, that's right. 02. O2. Get it?

Clever...But really lame.

Tomorrow I'm off to an interview for a job. Assuming I get said job, it should bring in moneys to buy all the things I'm wanting - starting with such games as Super Mario Galaxy, Medal of Honor Heroes 2, Guitar Hero 3 and some maybes like Geometry Wars Galaxies, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games and a Disney game I might pick up to review for All Your Disney dependent on how much I earn.

And then later, of course, the iPhone, ahead of the MacBook a couple months later.

I should probably also upgrade my Desktop. I'll do that after the MacBook though. Things that need doing:

Replace Graphics Card with a higher memory DX10 number
Replace Pentium 4 with Core2 Duo
Replace one Optical Drive with Blu-Ray capable equivalent
Replace one optical drive with HD-DVD capable equivalent.
Maybe add another Half-Gig of RAM

That'll bring it in line with the peripherals and its peers - read, my brother's media centre monster.

Lastamly, I'm soft-announcing a delay in Six's development owing to other commitments the team has. I can however just about promise a 2008 launch. We may launch, however, with some of our niftiest features not in place yet. The content uploading and everything will be there, it's just of the flashy stuff like in-page notifications may be released in our 1.0.6, 1.1.2, 1.1.8 etc. updates.

"We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard."

Jens

PS: Anyone else think an open, multi-platform competitor to Xbox/Games for Windows LIVE would be a great idea? I sure do. And I have some ideas for it.You better believe it. Anyone who would like to see that happen, get in touch.

26 October 2007

iPhone Vs. iPod Touch

I was sitting in a car today waiting for someone and it occurred to me that the internet would be a good way to amuse my self for a little while. I had my RAZR in my pocket, so I pulled it out and looked up some news on WAP.

Once again, I was struck by how lame WAP browsing truly is. I read a couple of articles then got tired of it. At this point I thought to myself about how wonderful it would be to have the real WorldWide Web in my pocket, available to me whenever I needed it.

And then my mind drifted to the device which can give me it...

iPhone.

My future is going to be governed by either iPhone or iPod Touch. There are upsides to both. iPod Touch would give me a bit more space, but as my whole library would fit on the 4GB Nano (Including video) that's not a primary concern.

The iPhone has the advantage of the full web anywhere. Sure, it wouldn't be blisteringly quick, but it'd be alright for reading news. Plus, I kinda like the idea of some of those apps it has.

The phone part, that is to say, calling and SMS is of secondary interest to me. The data usage though is very important.

Oh who am I kidding, I already made my mind up.

I have a photos folder called iPhone and I've told Hotmail to forward messages to my Yahoo account (Whilst maintaining a copy on Hotmail) so I'll be able to use the Push service.

iPhone it is then.

Jens

HD-DVD Vs. Blu-Ray: The Technical View

In this cross-blog feature, I'm taking a look at the optical media format war currently raging across the world.

Optical media is currently dominated by the ubiquitous Digital Versatile Disc, DVD. The DVD was in the right place at the right time, smashed VHS thanks to better pricing, better quality and more features.

It also schooled the older CD standard in the data optical disc market, thanks in large part to an increase of over 300% in per-layer capacity. Most households in the West now contain at least one DVD player, many have several. Additionally, most computers ship with one or 2 DVD drives.

But with the HD era approaching and the capacity of the DVD not really sufficient to hold enough content at HD to justify the effort - never mind the increasingly bloated size of video games - a new standard is needed. 2 competitors have emerged to take this role.

HD-DVD, Toshiba and NEC's direct successor to the DVD (In name only, it is technologically different) and the one endorsed by the DVD Forum and Sony's Blu-Ray Disc.

Both have upsides. In this part of my cross-blog feature I'll be looking at the discs from a technological and data perspective.

The primary concern on this front is the overall capacity. Blu-Ray wins out at 25GB per layer, supporting up to 2 layers for a total of 50GB. HD-DVD uses 15GB layes, so a single-layer HD-DVD has 10GB less than a Blu-Ray disc with the same number of layers. This gap increases to fully 20GB - the difference between the two formats capacity-per-layer.

That would seem to close the debate. But, alas, no.

For you see, the DVD Forum has an HD-DVD spec for a triple-layer, 51GB disc. I don't know where they found the 6GB from either, but the spec exists. This means that the higher capacity format is technically HD-DVD with the caveat of being only at the high-end. And it is a piddling advantage.

So the next consideration from a technical standpoint is read/write speed. Blu-Ray is an easy victor here over HD-DVD being 10-18Mbit/s faster. HD-DVD is roughly 3 times as fast as DVD.

Of course, these numbers being both significantly faster than DVD reduces the importance of the comparison, but that is beside the point. From a purely technical standpoint, Blu-Ray is - by and large - an easy winner.

All Your Time Are Belong To Us:
The Technical view
All Your Disney: A Consumer and Entertainment Value Comparison
All Your Time Are Belong To Us: It's Not That Simple

24 October 2007

Apple Wired Aluminum Keyboard

Well, I bought the new Apple keyboard today from the Apple Centre (Not Store, Centre. It was a Premium Reseller) in Leicester.

I like me a low-travel keyboard and this is the best one I've ever seen. Further, it's a short one so the keys are low to the desk. I have very rarely used those folding legs to raise the top of the keyboard in the past and they usually break anyway.

The keys have a pleasant, soft feel to them. They're really nice to the touch. Better, they're very quiet so there's no more looking round to check if typing in the night (Which if you check the times of these posts, you'll notice I am prone to doing).

The travel has a smooth motion and the keys are of a nice, big strike-area.

The board as a whole has a very small footprint, despite the gaps between the keys. It's a really nice use of space.

For those wondering, Ctrl (Control) is Ctrl, Alt/Option is Alt and Cmd (Command) is the Windows key.

There were some concerns expressed online that this keyboard does not work properly with Windows. In fact, the Apple official system requirements do not include any mention of a PC. But I had no such problems, I just plugged it in and Vista detected and set it up itself, simple.

I can't guarantee that it works with XP, but there are ways around it should it not be as easily compatible, such as getting the driver Apple makes when one uses Bootcamp.

I'll post some updated pictures of my gear as things stand soon.

Jens Out

20 October 2007

Gran Paradiso indeed

I'm happy to report that the latest version of Gran Paradiso - AKA Firefox 3 - has improved the rendering of images, removing the errors that frustrated me about Firefox 2 compared to Safari 3.

Feature-wise, it's a solid little browser. None of my extensions work at present, but that's to be expected of Alpha software.

More later.

Jens

18 October 2007

Election '08: Maybe elect someone good this time?

In the immortal words of one Homer Simpson, a resident of Springfield, SP:

"These candidates make we want to vomit in terror."

So far, 21 people (Excluding 3rd Party candidates who will not win. Sorry, they just won't) have declared themselves in the running for the US Presidency. Admittedly, 3 have pulled out. Of these 21, only 2 are high profile enough with the wind in their party's sails to win (Obama/Clinton - now that's a ticket).

Of course, the man most likely to win this election - so likely he would barely have to campaign, has not declared yet. However, he is being actively drafted. I refer of course to Al Gore. Al Gore everyone! Al Gore is awesome. No question.

But then, someone new has declared. Stephen Colbert has announced partly on Jon's Stewart's Daily SHow and partly on his own Colbert Report that he will seek the office of the President of the United States. He says he will be bi-partisan, though Wikipedia seems to believe him Democratic.


I've gotta say, if I can't have Gore as President, I want Colbert. And I want Jon Stewart as his Running Mate, setting him up to take the job once Colbert's term is done. Which is why as of now, I will be covering the United States 2008 Presidential Election in a brand new blog.

Oh yes.

And it's name?

Only Three Choices.

Those choices? Gore, Colbert and Stewart.

Sorry, what? No Republicans on that list?

Yeah. You're right. There aren't. There's a reason for that.

Vote Colbert

Jens

11 October 2007

Major Announcements

Some of you will be aware that I have in the past written for various different publications, premium and free. For example, I founded and edited the world's only Gizmondo Magazine (An E-Zine called GizzedUp, formed from the ashes of a website and blog with similar content), served as Editor in Chief of a progressive Nintendo website and had a 4-page article printed in a national magazine.

Of course, my major writing task is currently this, the free and simple All Your Time Are Belong To Us blog. This and its sister blog All Your Disney form what I think of as the All Your Blog Network and provide me with a great outlet for my writing. I would also like to take this oppurtunity to encourage reader feedback. I accept all comments except those which are factually inacurate or unnecesarily abusive and I moderate comments Post-Hoc, so the offending comment does appear and is removed when I discover it. I check through Comments almost every day.

As part of this encouragement to provide feedback, I'd like to encourage you to suggest any topics you want me to throw my two cents into here, on All Your Disney or on some future member of the All Your Blog Network. On that note, feel free to also suggest themes for new blogs you want to see me write.


But the most exciting thing I'm looking for your input on, is books.

Starting this month, I will be embarking on writing two books. One fiction, the other non-fiction.

The former is a story about an engineer inside a fictional MMORPG who ends up joining a clan who are implicated in a scandal that errupts in the game's forums and leads the Admins to take action. The story is mainly about how fallible those with power are and why you should not blindly trust those with authority or those who claim to be experts without giving valid proof.

The other book is a history of gaming over th past decade and a half told from the perspective of the gamers. By that I mean, it will deal with social trends in gaming as well as things like system releases. I'd like to encourage input for that. Tell me your stories.

I'm hoping to deliver the former book in time for Christmas, with the other due in or before summer next year.

But that's not all. These books are just the first 2, I want you guys to suggest ideas for future books. I'm mainly looking for non-fiction ideas as I have a few fiction ideas already, but feel free to suggest a story you'd like to see told if you so wish.

I'll provide more details when the time is right.

Yours,
Jens

07 October 2007

The Heroic Prejudice

Those of you out there who've played Halo 3 almost certainly loved it. I loved it too. I played single player on Normal. I've played a bit on Heroic, but am I going to play it all the way through on Heroic solo? Hell no.

And so what? I'll go through on Legendary or Heroic on Co-Op. And what's the problem? All these people - Bungie included - acting like Normal is retarded. Well, no, sorry, I just don't particukarky like being killed a lot. I play Halo to kick aliens' asses, not to have them snipe me before I even arrive.

There used to be this big prejudce against Easy by Bungie, like they wished it wasn't even there. Now they treat Normal like that and act like Easy doesn't even exist.

The descriptions for the difficulties don't help either. Normal is, logically, the normal setup of the game. So it should be the way it was meant to be played. And yet, the difficulty descriptions claim Heroic is. Er...No...

Anyway, this is indicative of a greater problem in gaming. Namely, that every gamer has to be absolutely god-like at every game or at the very least masochistic enough to play something that keeps beating you so much you know what to do by heart.

Well fuck that. Fuck it to hell. I play Halo for fun. Not for a challenge. If I want to have a challenge, I'll play multiplayer. Single player is for goofing around. Multiplayer is for having a real, level fight.

I, in fact, would rather we did away with traditional difficulty levels. Because, even some of the better gamers find certain games' higher difficulties impossible. Why? Not because they suck at the game, but because the game has added difficulty to an area which is not their strength.

What we need is for you to say at the start if you're playing to be hardcore, to feel god-like or just normally. The game then assesses your relative skills and adjusts itself to suit your preference.

Sure, it's a pipe-dream, but I'm sick of 12-year-olds complaining about people playing Halo 3 on Normal. Some people just don't want the kind of challenge Heroic represents.

And Bungie, stop being dicks to half your customers. Not everyone is a Bungie Bitch. And incidentally, Heroic is for anyone who's ever completed an FPS before? Are you mad? Maybe for those weirdoes who played more Halo 2 than all other games released over the period between it and Halo 3 combined.

Jens Out

Here's a really dumb question

Are video games art?

What a stupid freaking question. What does that mean? Does it mean is making a videogame an artform? Well an artform is...

" 1 - the more or less established structure, pattern, or scheme followed in shaping an artistic work

2 - a medium for artistic expression

3 - a medium other than the artistic regarded as having highly developed or systematized rules, procedures, or formulations
"

Okay, so let's deal with those individually.

1) Well all games are made in pretty much the same, highly skilled manners.

2) One can express oneself artistically in games, no shit. Through design, story etc., one could quite easily express oneself.

3) Which means programming is an art-form.

So if designing and writing for a game is art, programming is an art-form and the whole process of making a game is an art-form, logically games must be freaking art.

It's not even like it's not obvous, if movies can be art, so can games god dammit. What is the matter with people?

02 October 2007

iPhone Hackers: Quit your bitchin'

Wow, it amazes me how stupid people can be when they really want to take the moral high ground. The Price cut backlash was bad enough, but at least there the anger was justified.

But these people who are crying foul at Apple nixing their unauthorised 3rd party software? No sympathy for you at all. Know why? It's your fault, not Apple's.

Apple gave you fair warning on several occasions that if you fecked around with the gadget world's collest phone and joint coolest Personal Media Player and you tried to update it (Essentially getting support from Apple) you were probably gonna end up with a $400 brick.

And yet, despite the warnings, you updated. And now you have a brick.

And you're surprised?

I think you did it on purpose to get pissed off, I really do. This sort of thing seems to happen to a surprisingly high number of allegedly tech-savvy people. Either you're actually tech-n00bs who should not be hacking anything anyway, or you just like whinging and probably own 2 or 3 iPhones, 5-8 N95s and a Terabyte of MP3s.

But I digress. Ignoring that stuff for a second, what makes you think your outrage is justified anyway?

Apple created iPhone as a closed device and told you as such on many occasions. They encouraged Web App development, probably propelling such advancements forward far faster than previously possible. And yet, you chose to go against them.

Okay, you believe open devices are better? Buy an OpenMoko or an N95. Do not hack a closed phone and then cry foul when they close it again behind you.

And screaming in outrage and threatening frivolous lawsuits is not going to endear your open idealism to Apple. You want Apple to open stuff up? Vote with your wallet. Buy something else. If you want an iPhone (Or an iPod Touch), get that knowing it is closed.

But more than that, open standards are not the be-all and end-all. There is a very real need in the world for closed devices like iPhone and iPod Touch. Some people prefer cohesive, stable platforms. Some people prefer simple platforms.

iPhone is for those of us who do. If you support open standards, why buy an iPhone? Sure, open standards have their place - the more open our file formats are the better for example - but you can not and must not demand that every device on earth be open.

It doesn't work like that.

In other news, mad props to Radiohead for allowing customers to set their own prices for your next album.

Feel Good
Jens

23 September 2007

iPod Touch

Today, as part of a trip to Southampton for the Boat Show, I got to visit the Apple Store in the West Quay shopping mall. To my delight, they had demo units of the new iPod Nanos, Classics and my personaly favourite, the iPod Touch.

Starting with the Nano...That thing is small. I mean, really small. It's miniscule. There were some people complaining that with its new form factor and dimensions it wasn't really Nano any more. Well I can assure you, it is.

Despite the width, that Nano appears tiny in the hand. Likely because of the decreased height and the optical illusion of the Stainless Steel back.

The screen looks a little on the small side when the iPod Nano was docked on the table and I was standing looking at it, but picking it up and holding, it was a fine size.

The new software is very cool, and the CoverFlow is pretty damn cool to look at it. Great new model.

I decided to give the Classic a by, since it's really a big Nano - and also because the Touch wasin the same approximate area and I only had eyes for it.

To start, it's tiny. It's much smaller than it looks in pictures. In fact, in the hand, it feels perfect. And it looks gorgeous, don't get me started on that. Prettiest gadget ever, by far.

The software is just as good as we have been led to believe and looks simply lickable. I spent most of my time trying out the iTunes WiFi Music Store. It's very cool and again, looks awesome.

And now, the screen itself. I had been hearing that it was poor. That wasn't my impression. It was gorgeous in video playback, music playback and in the other areas. And by the way, MultiTouch really does kick ass.

So, anyway, all in all, I played with an iPod Touch for the first time. It's the best thing ever.

I must have it...

Jens Out

20 September 2007

Telephone

Well, I bought the phone. There were only 3 left and 2 had fairly beat up boxes. But I got one and it's sitting on my desk right now, just waiting for me to grab the necessary box to connect it to the VoIP network.

I'll be doing a review just as soon as I have it set up. I'll be releasing it initially on All Your Disney, but I might reprint it here with a tighter focus on telephony rather than the phone.

Phones are a really interesting area right now. Between Apple's iPhone and the OpenMoko project, mobile phones are going through their long-awaited revolution. Meanwhile, VoIP is making "landline" telephony simpler and better - both through cheaper services and great ideas like GrandCentral.

And all the while, the conventional landline operators are making efforts to move outward - BT for example is launching an IPTV service - and their new competitors are moving in on their territory - BSkyB offers Broadband now..!?

Yes, it's truly a time of change for telephony.

And meanwhile, the allegedly advancing television sector continues to diapoint. Between lacklustre uptake of HD broadcast and slow changes to aging systems, TV has lost a lot of its wonder.

A lot of the problem is that companies are failing to see the bigger picture. The internet is the obvious venue for expansion, yet the companies with the power continue to limit the expansion of TV into the internet. BT Vision has internet, but it's a sandbox.

iTunes TV Shows is great, but the broadcasters are being jerks.

BBC's iPlayer is hideoulsy crippled.

4OD makes me feel sick just thinking about it.

Come on TV companies, get your heads in the game.

Jens Out

18 September 2007

Telephony

Recently, for whatever reason, I have gone from having virtually no interest in telephony to being into it in a big way. For instance, I'm planning on buying a (Admittedly novelty, but that's just who I am. For those of you wondering, yes it's Disney, no it's not Mickey. Assuming I manage to get it, I'll review it on All Your Disney) phone soon to plant on my desk.

Now, I'm not planning on using it as a standard phone. I'll be getting ahold of a VoIP system, most likely Tesco Internet Phone, and using it as a VoIP phone. But there's the kicker, I will be giving that number as the primary number for people to reach me on - previously I simply gave my mobile number.

This "home" or "desk" phone (Depending on how you look at it) is the precursor to my subscribing to Google's GrandCentral. As soon as that puppy hits the United Kingdom, I'll be signing up and merging my mobile and desk numbers into one. Perhaps +441322555367 (+44-13-CALL-JENS) or something like that.

I'm not sure what it is, but something has definitely prompted me to take more of an interest in telephony recently. For example, whilst Vonage and indeed Tesco Internet Phone (Previously) never held any interest for me, when I heard about GrandCentral, I had kittens.

I'll update you with more later along in my telephony plans.

Jens Out.
Feel Good.

Safari VS. FireFox

A quick visual demonstration of my conflict between these two great browsers.



The text is rendered very differently, as is the blue of the title. Safari's rendering is more pleasing to me, maybe you disagree. But I doubt you'll disagree with the fact that these comparisons very much place favor on Safari:



FireFox's efforts are first, with Safari's second.

Safari clearly has the superior image rendering. But there's my major problem. FireFox is more reliable and seems to like Flash better than Safari does.

Looks like I'll have to use both.

iPhone UK: Telefonica's O2 for £269

We at last have closure on iPhone's UK release. It will be out November 9th on Telefonica's O2 Network for £269.

And what about those all-important contracts? Well...


Contracts will last for 18 Months and as listed above feature free Wi-Fi Hotspot access around the UK on The Cloud - the country's biggest network of WiFi hotspots.

So, is this good? Well, It is in my opinion. Yes, the phone is a little steep compared to the N95. But then there are mitigating circumstances. For instance, the N95 is very crap.

As a phone, iPhone's pretty revolutionary. It's not a great deal at those prices, no. But it's not bad.

I myself am unsure. I'm happy to pay the money, but the iPod Touch gives me pause. As such, I've decided that I will wait until after my birthday (For which I'm hoping to receive one of the three new iPods) to decide whether or not to buy the iPhone.

If I end up having an iPod Touch, I will wait for the second iPhone. If it's a Classic or Nano, then I will probably buy the iPhone.

As for it being O2, it was both my wish and my prediction.

Jens Out

14 September 2007

Awesome Contest

My favourite Blog and one which I visit regularly, in fact daily, is Fix Your Thinking. Fix Your Thinking is best described by its tagline, Not PC about Mac News. That said, it also deals with things outside the Apple world. Like how I occasionally stray outside the tech/entertainment worlds here.

Anyway, Fix Your Thinking is currently running a contest whose grand prize is a T-Shirt, a signed book and $100 Apple Store Credit. The best part is, you can enter worldwide. It's not limited to just Americans.

So, in return for allowing me to enter such a cool contest, I'm going to link that contest for you all to enter too and I hope you'll stick around at Fix Your Thinking and read the many interesting and entertaining posts made there.

06 September 2007

Apple Music Event for September 5th: Results

Okay, first things first, let's go through my predictions and see how I did:

  • iPod Touch: Yes. Things different from predicted are the use of 8 and 16GB capacities as opposed to my Flash-based guess of 16 and 32GB. Half right on that front. WiFi was indeed included. I didn't dare hhope for that. Rest of the prediciton basically dead on.
  • iPod 6: Yes, but manifested named as iPod Nano pricing wrong and ended up with half of predicted capacities.
  • iPod Nano 3: See above
  • 2GB iPod Shuffle: No such luck. 1 GB and some redone and iffy new colours.
  • iTunes 8: Oddly no. iTunes update does have ringtones for iPhone. iTunes 8 may be released alongside Leopard.
  • Beatles on iTunes: The long-awaited launch was not this time. It will come.
  • New line of games: Sort of. Emphasis placed on free games as opposed to new ones.
And the completely unexpected? Well, there was really just one thing:

iPod Classic. Essentially an 80 and 160GB iPod With Video (iPod 5) but made of all metal. Like Nano 3, it combines anodised aluminum with the traditional stainless steel backplate.

iTunes WiFi Music Store. By songs for same prices as full iTunes over WiFi. Same prices, iPod Touch and iPhone only.

Oh, there's no 4GB iPhone and the 8GB is now cheaper than the 4GB was before it got killed.

Heh. Whoah.

Now then, I must say the following: there is no iPod 6. iPod 6 is, basically, iPod Touch and iPod Classic together. They as a unit are the new top iPod. Classic is the top-end capacity-wise, Touch is the top-end feature-wise.

I know which one I want. Multi-Touch is awesome.

All in all, this was a pretty good event. Although most of the products were either unsurprising or expected, it was good. And iPod Touch starts at £199 - a modest £10 more than iPod 5/30.

September 28th: iPod Touch ships. With over two weeks to spare for that birthday of mine ;)

That said, I could be happy with Nano 3 as well.

Not so sure about Classic. I don't think it was engineered for people like me. Touch and, to some extent, Nano defintiely were.

Jens Out
This post may see updates upon the availability of video from the event.

31 August 2007

Apple Music Event for September 5th: Full Speculation

I recently included a smaller speculative piece on this topic alogside information on updates to my rig, but I have updated news from my various sources around the internet and as such I can update and expand that speculation.

Things I expect may be announced as of August 31st:

Updated September fourth: Added new rumoured feature for iPod Touch
  • iPod Touch: A Full-Screen, Video-Capable iPod similar to iPhone with some iPod 5 design cues. OS X operating system resembling that of iPhone. 60 (Or possibly 80) and 160 GB for the same prices as iPod 5. May or may not sport WiFi, I expect not. Screen resolution identical to iPhone (320 by 480 in Portrait mode, 480 by 320 in landscape). Due to iPhone similarity, CoverFlow is a no-brainer. Said to feature some form of digital radio.
  • iPod 6: A Video-Capable iPod similar in functionality to iPod 5 but with Nano design cues. Shorter than previous models. Probably 8 and 16 GB of storage. OS X based operating system functionally similar to previous versions, but with more visual design elements such as a larger focus on artwork. Also expected to feature CoverFlow. Same screen resolution as iPod 5, but marginally smaller screen. Priced higher than top-end Nano, lower than iPod Touch 60/80.
  • iPod Nano 3: Similar to previous model. Uses new OS outlined under iPod 6. No video capability. Double capacities - 4/8/16 GB - (Maybe - capacities may be kept the same to differentiate from iPod XXX but this is unlikely), same prices.
  • 2 GB iPod Shuffle: Self-explanatory. Same prices. (Product) Red version as well.
  • iTunes 8: iTunes is on an annual release schedule as far as integers go and Apple will be keen to forget the buggy nightmare of iTunes 7. Likely to integrate devices and content more closesly. May be renamed iTunes '08 in line with iLife naming scheme. Some speculation it may be fully named iTunes Media Centre '08, making it the premierre multiplatform Media Centre application. As such, expect Back Row/Front Row 2 interface for this capability (AppleTV's interface). Also to include ring tone facility for iPhone and possibly more editing options - think of it as iMovie '08 to GarageBand's FinalCut Express.
  • Beatles on iTunes
  • New line of iPod games for iPod Touch and iPhone. May feature some Nintendo properties.
That, I think you'll agree, would constitute the single largest iPod & iTunes announcement since iPod 1 itself. iPod is long overdue an update and if iTunes Video downloads are to take off, more than one player at a greater capacity range is needed.

Further, the media experience on the computer needs to be improved to surpass competitors like Microsoft's Media Centre PC for Vista, hence, integrate Front Row into iTunes and make it a Media Centre application. This would be even more useful if Apple saw fit to support TV Tuners in the software - users could record shows to watch on their iPods, making them more useful.

Meanwhile, The Beatles announcement is a no-brainer. We all know it's coming on Wednesday, that's barely speculation. It's barely news. More interesting is the Games point - the current line of games are medicore at best and if Apple wishes for games on iTunes to matter at all, they simply must expand the line to support iPhone and iPod Touch as well as allow iPod XXX to support the legacy titles.

So anyway, there's my speculation. let's hope I'm right about some of it.

Hopefully all of it.

Jens Out

Update: Expect a comprehensive review of the event on the Fifth which will be updated as soon as a video stream is available.

30 August 2007

Upgrades Are Awesome

Seriously, upgrading your stuff is the best thing you can do. I've already told you about my upgrade to Vista, but today, I've done a little hardware upgrading.

First off, there's my new mouse. It's a Trust XpertClick TK-4300p. What's cool is, it's both your standard desktop mouse and a prsenter mouse.

It features a trackball for freehand use which doubles as a scroll ball when in Mouse Mode. Very nice. It also has a laser pointer and rechargeable batteries.

It's like a tiny god.

But, even more like a god is the HP w2207. It's a 22" Widescreen Glossy display running at 1680 by 1050. Damn it all, if it isn't the best screen I have ever seen. Everything on it looks gorgeous - especially Vista's smooth, glassy visual elements.

Other useful features are built-in speakers, reducing desktop clutter, and 2 USB ports which I have a WiFi dongle and (soon) a DTT Tuner hooked into - we're ditching my TV in favour of the HP. The TV in my room is dodgy anyway and this screen is just gorgeous.

As if these things didn't make today seem enough like Christmas, Apple finally added videos to the UK iTunes store. Currently, we have some ABC and Disney Channel hits (As well as Playhouse Disney shows for any of you who have kids) as well as some Nickelodeon, Paramount Comedy and MTV shows.


It's not a huge selection yet, but it's a start. It's £1.89 an episode.

Importantly, this is yet more reason to believe that Apple will be unveiling one or more new Video capable iPods at their event on the fifth.

Here are my picks for that event:

  • iPod Touch - A Full-Screen Video iPod with iPhone Similarities. Double current capacities of 5G if HDD or 32GB and 64GB if Flash, same prices
  • iPod Nano With Video - Refreshed, OS X-based software which works similarly to current software, but makes more use of artwork (Including CoverFlow) and uses some Leopard/iPhone style visual cues. Double current capacities, same prices.
  • Increased Capacity iPod Shuffle, and a (Product) Red version, same price - maybe slightly lower
  • iTunes 8 with some crazy new feature and including Beatles on the iTunes Store
Jens Out

25 August 2007

High School Musical 2

I just previewed the music from the sequel to Disney's smash hit High School Musical. High School Musical 2's not showing until next month over here, but it's alreadys et records Stateside.

Anyway, the music. I gotta say, I loved the music of the original, but I felt it was artificialy bolstered by a reprisal and the Album by a couple of "alternative versions". The music in this sequel is almost all the equal of the best of the original. And there's more of it.

From the upbeat "What time is it?", a catch number as good as or better than the original's "Stick to the Status Quo" and "Breaking Free" to the spectacularly fun "You Are the Music in Me", High School Musical 2 is full of hits.

But it's not just the "catchy" numbers that are fantastic, "Gotta Go My Own Way" is superb, better than "When there was Me and You" from the original in every way.

Another standout is "All For One", a number similar in content to the original's "We're all in this together". It is equally as fun and catchy as its predecessor.

To summarise, whatever you thought of High School Musical (I myself thought it was delightful), High School Musical 2 is both its musical superior and a standout musical in modern times.

At least give it a try.

In other Disney news, further to my plan to seek to become a Cast Member at a Disney Store, I am considering starting a Disney Blog, partner to this one, about working for Disney and Disney news. Let me know if you like the idea.

Jens Out

24 August 2007

Calendar Apps

Just a quick note right now.

Well I finally decided to make use of a calendar app with Vista's Windows Calendar. I have previously avoided Calendar apps, despite making use of a similar function on my PDA.

But there were a few things which, I realised, I needed to remind myself of next week. So I decided to use the App. And now, I think I'm hooked.

If I can get my PDA to sync to it, I'll be especially pleased.

Jens Out

23 August 2007

Microsoft's Windows Vista

Hot damn. I like it.

It's a marked improvement over the aging XP. It feels faster, smoother, sleeker. It looks better, has better ideas, it's more logical.

Ignore the naysayers, this is the best Windows version yet. And it's not just the eye candy. It's just got some ideas that are simply better. The way Windows Explorer works, Sidebar (Superior to Google Desktop's version, sorry) and more.

Truly a much needed improvement.

I'm not going to do a full reeview. I'm just sounding out my thoughts. To summarise, it's better in every meaningful way than XP get to it ASAP.

But still, avoid Basic like the plague.

Seriously.

Recently I've been playing Halo 2 Vista (Not on this PC, my brother's). It's a great way to pass the time and grab some easy Achievements. I think it's going to take my Gamerscore over the One Thousand mark. Awesome.

I've been thinking about Disney a lot recently - as I am wont to do - I've come up with some ideas to revitalise the TV and Parks and Resorts divisions. They're pretty radical though.

But, that's sort of who I am.

Reminds me...Party planning...Must get it done. But I am so bad at it. I can see what I want in my mind...Yet I can't articulate it.

Bah. Never mind. I'll let you go now.

Jens out.

MTV Ditches Microsoft for...REAL?

You couldn't make this shit up. CES 06, Microsoft and MTV launch this "amazing new" digital music store, to compete with Apple's dominant iTunes offering. Named, horrifically, Urge, it was the flagship store in the PlaysForSure family, and thus Microsoft's flagship store.

Then, in an uncharacteristic act, Microsoft ditch the platform system they had used for years (Think Windows PCs) and moved to the Apple, vertically integrated model, with Zune. Zune is top-down Microsoft. Store, software and the hardware player.

Basically, they'd screwed MTV over.

So now, MTV - presumably smarting over this snub - have decided that Urge is no longer in their best interests either.

They've hopped into bed with Real and its lacklustre Rhapsody store.

I mean, seriously...Real? You might as well just sell a 3 by 5 card with "MTV Music Download" written on it for all the use it will get and sales you'll make.

Media executives are idiots.

Jens Out

PS: Should any Disney executives be reading, you are excluded from the above statement. First into bed with iTunes. Good move. By the way, I have an extensive knowledge of your company and an uncommon skill at business. If you need someone to run something (Especially something in the UK) and don't mind taking a risk, look me up ;)

22 August 2007

iPhone Europe: A Credible Finale

Citing a report in the Financial Times, Apple Insider is reporting on what sounds like an entirely believable situation with carriers.

We already know that the iPhone's EU launch this year will only be into a few key markets. The report suggests that these will include (And may be limited to) the UK, France and Germany.

T-Mobile we already know is doing Germany (Despite no confirmation, it's the worst kept secret in the whole affair), France we had been hearing would be on Orange which this report confirms and the UK will be on O2 as I predicted and hoped for.

The announcement is expected to come a the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, which runs August 31st through September 5th. This is a far more likely time frame than Apple's own European event, which is later and which I expect will deal more with iPod and iTunes - specifically, I expect them to finally roll out better video content on European iTunes stores.

Jens Out

19 August 2007

Six

Recently, I have been teasing you with Six, a Top-Secret project being worked on by the team behind The New GizzedInc (And part of the original GizzedInc team) and also the founders of the WiiDS Main Site Project.

Here is the announcement:

Late last year, I began to think about how gamers often group together in sub-communities. This leads to the kinds of disagreements and unfriendliness the internet is renowned for.

Even sites pledging inclusiveness often end up fostering the opposite. And much of this is expressed in content. Further, these sites are often selfish. They refuse to allow users to attempt to get other users to look at their sites, allowing only links in signatures - and with thinly veiled contempt.

Meanwhile, the greater internet was moving towards large, inclusive communities and also community content sharing sites.

After thinking for a while, I came up with an idea which I intimated to my partner in Web Endeavours, KingCDR (Our network's Head Developer and Chief Technologist), and which I will now reveal to you.

Six is the codename for a Gamers' Community site which has inclusion as its focus. Further, it is a community content sharing site dealing with content related to gaming.

At it's centre, Six gives users their own personal page (Currently codenamed "Places") on which they have a blog, links to content they like and links to their friends. But the page will also contain links to portals for that users content.
Content hostable by users of Six will include Pictures (Intended mainly for screenshots and avatars, though photos and other images are fine), Video (Intended mainly for distributing footage of games - such as speed runs and showing off exceptional moves, but which we hope users willl find many gaming-related uses for on their own), Audio (Podcasts. We hope to allow users to subscribe on the site and be prompted with and listen to new podcasts they have subscribed to when they log in) and Games.

Yes, games. Users may upload Flash games they have created to play on the site as well as downloads of homebrew games on platforms - hopefully for any open/homebrew capable platform, including niches.

Of course, we will also offer a forum. We are unlikely to use the system of having forums tailoring to many individual needs and instead once again put a focus on inclusiveness, using more general boards.

Further, we will have a unique User Rating system, as well as ratings and comments for all content - including Blog posts. Other potential features are game ratings and reviews from users, chatting and more.

And the future could hold more. I'll leave it up to you to speculate on that.
I'll take your questions. In the Comments below, or via E-Mail

Paul "Jensonb" Douglas

08 August 2007

At last

In another move to be filed under the "at last" category, Apple has finally updated the UK version of their website with the design previously given to their US site after the Ketnote Presentation at WWDC '07.



I've been getting very agitated waiting for them to get around to this (Because let's face it, the new design is gorgeous) and so I'm delighted they finally did it.

I've looked into buying one of the new keyboards. They're at the price I expected, but the Apple Online Store makes no mention of PC compatibility, which it does with the Mighty Mouse.

I'm slightly concerned. I want that keyboard for my desktop. A lot. But it (My desktop) is a PC.

I'm gonna have to do some more research.

Jens Out

07 August 2007

Bedeep Beep Beep

Well a few thinks got updated today. My Wii and Apple's iMac (As well as their iLife and iWork software suites). First, I'll deal with these in that order, then we have some other things to talk about.

The Wii update adds a couple of useful things, such as a clock on the Wii Menu screen - above the date. My favourite part of the updated though is to the Forecast and News Channels. The News Channel's boot screen now displays a slection of current headlines as does its icon. The Forecast Channel, not to be outdone, now similarly displays the current weather status for your location on its icon.

The new iMac is gorgeous and I appreciate the use of a glossy screen which is also glass as opposed to plastic. Think iPhone.

Of particular note is the iMac's new razor thin aluminum keyboard, which borrows the profile of the MacBook. I love this keyboard, and I'm seriously considering grabbing one. It also lends credence to the idea that the MacBook Pros - which I suspect will be updated at MacWorld in January - will be receiving a similar keyboard.

iLife '08 is an update which is, in essence, exactly as I had previously speculated (Not here) that it would be. Apple have updated all Apps in line with progression and have, as I predicted, added superior photo editing facilities.

iWork '08 is also updated as I expected. Pages and Keynote have had some features added and, as I speculated, a new Spreadsheet App has been added - which is called, as I had previously heard rumoured, Numbers.

Numbers means that iWork combined with iLife is now a perfectly reasonable replacement for Microsoft Office for most users. I'm struggling to think of an application Office gives you which is not catered for by iLife, iWork or a built-in app to OS X and which will be used by the majority of users. If you can think of one, let me know.

Now then, my next order of business is to tell you the following things:

  • Do not use the BBC iPlayer. It's barely functional and backdoors your connection for P2P facilities even when you are not aware of that.
  • Use BT Vision only with caution. We've had nothing but trouble
On a lighter note, I'm hearing that the new iPod revision is due next month or late this month. It is said to sport a 16GB Flash Drive and is (Obviously) still a video player. This 16GB news might not make many of you happy, but bear in mind that this means 32GB and 64GB models will follow. Possibly sometime next year.

This 16GB model will be great for people like me who like music, but don't have particularly much of it, but also would like to take some videos with us. Wonderfully, this new iPod's arrival in September makes it a perfect candidate for my main 16th Birthday gift.

Jens Out

02 August 2007

Backwards Compatability

As some of you may know, I plan to get a PLAYSTATION 3 in the new year, once I have an XBOX 360 (The Halo 3 Edition most likely). The reason being, there are a few games I want on it (Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Metal Gear Online and Warhawk) and one movie I simply must own in HD which is going to Blu-Ray Disc (The Simpsons Movie).

Now, you may have guessed from the above games that I like Metal Gear. And I do. A lot. So I went to check the backwards compatibility of a PLAYSTATION 3 with the PS2 entries. Metal Gear Solid 2 will play fine, good. I have both versions of that.

But by far my favourite Metal Gear game of all time is Metal Gear Solid 3. Subsistence will play with "Noticeable Issues".

I have the original, Snake Eater, only. It is not listed.

I'm extremely annoyed. I do not want to have to pull out a PlayStation 2 every time I want to play my favourite entry in one of my favourite series. It may well be that I like Metal Gear Solid 4 better, but it doesn't matter. I will still have a desire to play 3 again, and unless they remake it for another platform (Say, Wii, *hint*hint*) I will have to plug another console into my TV.

Which will be no mean feat. By the time I have a PLAYSTATION 3 (I will by then have a 26" HDTV), I will have the Wii, an XBOX 360, the PLAYSTATION 3 itself and possibly one more product to plug in. The final product is a DVD Recorder into which I can plug the Wii, freeing up one SCART socket...But I can't guarantee the ports will be there - it may be that I use the port on the DVD Recorder for recording FreeView.

I could plug the PlayStation 2 in via Composite, but can you imagine the mess? Cables trailing from all sides of the TV, 5 or 6 Mains plugs...This would all be much simpler if Sony had put a PlayStation 2 inside the PLAYSTATION 3 like they were supposed to.

This went on a fair bit longer than I expected, but it really Grinds my Gears™. Anyway, I'll shut up if Konami put Metal Gear Solid 3 on Wii.

Jens Out.

01 August 2007

iPhone Europe: O2 Basically Fails to Deny It

So the UK Hackersphere has found some source code on Carphone Warehouses site which says O2 has the iPhone - essentially. In response, O2's UK CEO (Peter Erskine) has just barely managed to not confirm it without denying it. And I for one am still delighted it's them, even if this is like the fifth time we've heard this rumour and it's getting kind of old and come on Apple and O2 just freaking announce this and put me out of my misery it's supposed to be out by Autumn and you need to start the hype machine in summer if you really want to sell this thing.

Ahem. Sorry. Anyway, the man in question was quoted saying:
"We're excited about this product and we certainly hope to be marketing it later this year when it launches."

Now, whilst he doesn't confirm that O2 has it, he has revealed that he is privy to the fact that it is launching in the UK this year. As a fact. Which is good news, if entirely expected.

And it also points to him being inside the deal.

Six: The Reveal Is Dated

After kicking the grassroots campaign for GizzedInc Network's upcoming project, codenamed "Six", on this blog with curious and slightly other-wordly post regarding the codename, I can reveal that I will finally be spilling some of the beans as to what Six is on this Blog's 1st Birthday. August 21st.

What I can tell you right now is that Six is a website and geeks will love it. It draws on some new ideas, some that have been used before, and focuses them all for maximum impact.

KingCDR, GizzedInc's Chief Technologist and Developer has completed the R&D phase of development already and is currently working towards a base-functionality internal Alpha of the site for testing at least over the rest of the Summer and Autumn. We plan a Private, Invite-Only Beta, as well as a more public Applied-For Beta, likely to be held in Early- to Mid-2008.

I can say very little else at present, without spoiling the surprise for August 21st. It's going to be great. Trust me.

Jens Out.

30 July 2007

The Simpsons Movie

That could be the best movie I've ever seen. Definitely the funniest one I've ever seen and unquestionably the best Simspsons episode ever.

It's the only film I've ever seen where everyone in the theatre was laughing at every single joke.

And those jokes are pretty much all dead-on perfect. In particular, the jabs at Fox, moviegoers and other movies are amongst the greatest jokes of their kind ever committed to 2D animation...Or indeed, live action. Sorry Epic Movie, your brand of cheap parody doesn't cut it against this film.

I'm going to be interested to see how this film does at the Box Office. I've seen some people underestimating its potential income. I think it's a dead cert blockbuster, but that depends on whether or not people stupidly decide to watch Transformers or Harry Potter 5 instead (Both of which could have been better).

And remember: stay through the whole credits sequence.