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Monthly Archives: November 2007

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The Windowization of the Mac Brings New Threats

From Boot Camp to the Hackintosh to its Intel Core, the Mac is becoming more of a PC, it’s the amusing flip side of the I’m a Mac and I’m a PC commercials, the differences are eroding and with that erosion comes a wave of new threats. While Ars Technica reports on the discovery of fossil code that suggests that Apple may have been flirting with the idea of making Leopard Windows App compatible, there’s another QuickTime exploit out aimed at seizing control of Macs. Isolation, being an island OS, kept the Mac safe from the stormy seas of viruses and hackers, but to mix metaphors, the drawbridge is down now and the Mac is increasingly just a fancier PC,

Lori Drew and Abuse of Control

While the cyber lynching of Lori Drew continues and new laws are getting passed to combat cyberbullying, there’s a pretty simple reality behind the whole thing. If Lori Drew had been a man and created a fake Myspace account and flirted with Megan Meier, even if Megan had never killed herself, the odds are great that Lori Drew would have gone to jail or at least become a registered sex offender. Lori Drew has remained out of reach of the law only because of her gender which gives her the presumption of innocence regarding any sexual motives, but the reality is that child abuse and pedophilia is not really about sex, it’s about power and control. Lori Drew was certainly using power and control over a child with a sexual edge added to it by the flirting. Had Lori Drew been a man, any of those would have been enough to nail her. But abuse isn’t only sexual as the Megan Meier case reminds us,.

The PS3 Hype Machine Gets in Gear

Like the slow kid trying to finish the race, there seems to be a welter of stories touting the PS3 as ‘almost succeeding’ , ‘almost beating the Wii’ or ‘headed on an upward trend’ and such. Now finally there is actually a story on the PS3 beating the Wii in Japan. Of course it’s unclear how much significance it has. Japanese are mostly not Christian and have no Black Friday or holiday shopping season. Sony’s price drop would promote the PS3 but it’s not clear that this period is an intensive shopping season in Japan so there’s no reason why a PS3 could not beat the Wii during a fall off period when in any case anyone who really wanted a Wii already had one.

Gamespot’s Gerstamnn Firing

On the evil level, Eidos is right up there with EA which means that it’s no real stretch to imagine that the head of Gamespot’s review team, Jeff Gerstamnn was fired for denying Eidos the glowing review they thought they were getting in exchange for pumping in the ad dollars into Gamespot. Gamespot itself is pretty much the home of game journalism mediocrity and it’s no secret that the ad dollars of some of the big boys like EA and Eidos have been compromising game magazine and game website coverage of games for some time now. Consider how many magazines went on reporting the blatantly false Majestic hype because EA had them over a barrel. Websites need ads to survive and with the centralization of the game market around a handful of publishers, the publishers like Eidos get a lot more power over them. So if Gerstamnn was indeed fired over his Lynch and Kane review, it would be a new low for both Eidos and Gamespot, but not a real surprise,

Google See, Verizon Do

If there is one thing that the corporate world is really good at, it’s the paranoid imitation of any trend in the hopes of staying relevant. Thus Google is pioneering or perhaps stumbling into opening up cell phones and Verizon responds by opening up its network to CMDA devices. It’s an impressive performance made only more impressive by the mutual cluelessness on both sides.

Google leaves behind a list of failures from its attempts to stumble into areas it didn’t understand, from Google Video to Froogle to Google Checkout and now Google has responded to its failures by thinking bigger, rummaging through alternative energy and DNA research. Google is no great threat to the cell phone industry but the hype that surrounds it and the success of the iPhone has panicked Verizon enough to do the right thing.

XP SP3 Beats Vista SP1 Hands Down

Well the pain just keeps coming for Microsoft’s red headed stepchild OS Windows Vista as Devil Mountain Software ran benchmark tests discovering that the gap between an XP OS with the third Service Service pack installed and Vista with the first service pack in place.

Vista, both with and without SP1, performed notably slower than XP with SP3 in the test, taking over 80 seconds to complete the test, compared to the beta SP3-enhanced XP’s 35 seconds.

In a word ouch. From the very beginning I was writing that a Windows Vista upgrade would be a mistake, but despite Windows’ reputation for being a resource hog, even I didn’t expect that Vista would actually be a step back. Yet all Vista really offers is a snazzier interface that I’m not a fan of and phony security features that mean nothing in the larger picture.

Request for Firefox 3: FIX the Memory Hole!

And the apostrophe bug too while you’re at it. Look I’m a Firefox booster. I love Firefox. I’ve tried the other browsers, I dumped IE7 after 5 minutes, Safari I rarely use. I enjoy Firefox’s spell check features which prevent me from misspelling every other word in a sentence like the ignorant Neanderthal I am, the plug ins and Greasemonkey and all that. I love it. Now please fix the memory hole.

Yes I know people have told you about it before and I know these things are hard to track down. Meanwhile the apostrophe bug is still unfixed, despite all the remedies out there online, and way too often I find myself being unable to type ‘ without the Find button (the only truly annoying thing about Firefox) popping up, not to mention my cut and paste function not working anymore. And you still haven’t fixed that even though you claimed that there was a fix in Firefox 2.02.

Well now you are finally beta testing Firefox 3. It’s got some sort of wacky new bookmark / RSS reader features but what I really want to hear is that you fixed the memory leak. 2 minutes ago my system was crawling and this is a top of the line computer. When I checked memory, I found that my memory usage was over a gigabyte and almost all of it was going to Firefox. So fix it. Please. Pretty please. I don’t want to have to switch to Safari even though it renders pages about 0.05 seconds faster. So don’t make me.

Sincerely,

The Great Baron of Blutania

Amazon’s Kindle ; The Next Newton is Here

From Microsoft to Google, the word is far from certain on what happens when companies that primarily deal in software begin trying to invade the realm of hardware. Apple may have scored big with the iPod which has helped encourage other companies to pile in, but Apple was always more of a hardware company than a software company anyway, even if all that’s left of the hardware on the eMac is a pretty case and general components.

Microsoft’s XBox forays have been mixed with the XBox and XBox 360 scoring some hits but overall ranking poorly compared to the established gaming players like Sony and Nintendo. The Zune by contrast started out as an iPod killer and ended up as the punchline to a joke. The Gphone meanwhile is still more fantasy than reality and has null odds of actually living up to the hype or looking good compared to the flashy black iPhone.

And now comes Amazon with Kindle. From its awkward name to its awkward design, Amazon seems to be trying to do for eBooks what the iPod did for music and since Amazon can be considered a kind of iTunes, it seemed like a no brainer business model. And no brainer is the key word to remember here. For starters there really is no huge portable book reader market. It’s just one of those devices that makes much more sense to integrate into an existing player or portable computing device. Instead Amazon unveils Kindle which looks like an IBM calculator from the 60’s, costs 400 bucks and comes with a free cellular connection. It’s the sort of thing a lunatic would create and while Newsweek and Time can run all the flattering stories they want, Kindle is likely to go down as the next Newton.

Ed Burns Predicts the Death of the Indie

Ed Burns, yes he still exists and makes movies and he’s under the impression that his failure as a filmmaker is somehow proof that the art house movie is dead. Why? Well because he’s Ed Burns and he’s never gotten it through his head that he made precisely one good movie, in an ethnic neighborhood sort of way, and that he followed it up by making movies that no one with working eyes and ears would want to endure.

“There’s got to be a better way to reach audiences who dig these movies,” filmmaker Edward Burns wondered aloud to me this morning over breakfast in Times Square. “We could barely get anybody into the theaters on my last two films,”

Well you could reach them by making movies they would want to see. Nah, that’s too much of a reach.

That won’t be a problem for his latest film, “Purple Violets,” starring Selma Blair, Patrick Wilson, and Debra Messing, alongside Burns himself. You won’t find it in any theaters. Instead the film debuted exclusively today on iTunes where you can download it for $14.99. It’s the first experiment of its kind with such a high profile project being released exclusively to the web giant.

I’m sorry, high profile project? A movie starring Selma Blair and Debra Messing and Ed Burns is a high profile project? To quote the Church Lady, Nuh uh. This is an art house direct to DVD project going Direct to iTunes now.

“This is the year that art house cinema died,” he says. Referring to the box office disappointments that have been “Rendition” and “Lions for Lambs,” Burns continued “If they’re not going to see Reese Witherspoon and Tom Cruise they’re not coming out to see me and Patrick Wilson. The audience isn’t there anymore.”

The audience never went anywhere, the audience just expects more from movies. Rendition and Lions for Lambs weren’t art house movies. They were shrill political diatribes whose greatest sin was not political but predictable. Why would anyone go to a movie to get lectured to, whether it’s Streep or Cruise doing the lecturing?

Burns says. “‘The Squid and the Whale’ made six million dollars in 2005. That movie would have made fifteen million in the mid 90s!” he exclaims.

Possibly. It still could have. Part of the issue is how a movie is released and marketed. Indies aren’t dead, but the market has had too much junk dumped on it and that includes Ed Burns’ 7 movies after The Brothers McMullen. The Squid and the Whale made a small splash. Little Miss Sunshine and Napoleon Dynamite and Brick made bigger splashes, to name a few recent hits.

I Love the new Lawsuit Happy Gaming America

It used to be that when you bought a computer game and it kept crashing, you took it back to the store for a refund. Or you just struggled on disregarding the crashes. One of my happier gaming memories involved playing Hero’s Quest, before the evil patent lawyers of Parker Brothers forced them to rename it (and got themselves a role in the QFG2 Manual), which crashed every time i tried to leave Spielburg through the main entrance. So I spent a few days trying to work around it and eventually managed to come and go by climbing over the wall in the alley. That’s not even counting the time I spent trying to get into that locked warehouse which has noises coming from inside, which you can’t get into.

Of course these days I would have just gotten myself a lawyer and sued Sierra the way Randy Nunez did when his copy of Halo 3 kept crashing. So anyone interested in a JoWood/Derek Smart class action lawsuit?

Randy Nunez of California launched the suit, which also names Halo 3 developer Bungie as a defendant, after purchasing the game in mid-October from a Gamestop location in San Diego. “Relying on defendants’ skill and judgment to furnish goods suitable” for playing on the Xbox 360 console, Nunez laid down his $59.99 plus tax and headed home with his purchase. When he attempted to play the game, however, “Mr. Nunez’s Halo 3 videogame repeatedly locked up, froze and/or crashed while being operated on Mr. Nunez’s Xbox 360 console.”

Now ever since video game retailers have stopped taking returns on non-working games and since the XBox 360 is buggier than a box of snails, the lawsuit isn’t unfair per se. It’s just surreal to think of a universe where you can actually sue companies for non-working games. It sounds almost …. fair.

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