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...


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.


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.


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


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.


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