nullstream weblog - March 2006

Sony, king of proprietary closed formats


March 31, 2006 12:30 PM PST

Sony just never stops trying to snare consumers into its overpriced closed solutions. UMD was just another example of that. Now it is being reported everywhere that (predicably) the format looks like it is going to fail. Duh. Have you seen how much they are trying to charge you for a low res, PSP only version of a movie you probably already own on DVD? Here is a random article on the topic: The bell tolls for UMD. It also doesn't hurt that there are readily available methods for ripping and converting DVDs to play on PSP. Well at least they'll sell some more (gag, retch) memory sticks.

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If I Were Steve...


March 26, 2006 11:27 PM PST

Given the recent delay of Vista, Apple could make some serious progress in increasing its market share. If I were Steve Jobs, I'd go straight to Dell and HP and license Mac OS X to them, but ONLY to sell to corporate customers. Apple could charge 10% of the cost of Windows, and still come out way ahead due to the market share gains. It's not like Apple would lose in hardware sales, since that business segment wouldn't buy Macs anyway, and Dell and HP wouldn't be licensed to sell OS X to the consumer market. Support for hardware would fall on the licensee.

An interesting take on the recent delay from a former 'Softie (now at El Goog).

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GDC Trip Report


March 26, 2006 11:21 PM PST


I am stoked to burning-hot waiting for my plane to San Jose for the Game Developers Conference. The waiting area at Seatac airport for my flight is packed with game developers and their myriad gadgets. There is a perceptible hum of anticipation. Alaska Airlines stabs this atmosphere in the heart when they announce our flight is cancelled for no apparent reason, apart from the desire to piss on our parade. Then they tell us with a smirk, Heres six bucks. Go buy yourself a freaking Twinkie. Losers. (I may be paraphrasing a bit there, but Im sure that was the intended gist.) We are able to reschedule for the next flight, thanks to the quick thinking of my soon-to-be ex-coworker, Patrick, and we get to play Mario Kart DS most of the way there.

I arrive exhausted at the Hyatt Hotel at 10:00 pm and order room service.

Continue reading " GDC Trip Report"...

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U.S. To Build Moon Base


March 26, 2006 10:51 PM PST

And then we're totally going to Mars!

When I grow up, in addition to spaceships, I also want to make robots.

Seriously, how cool would it be to write code that runs on other planets? You think cross-platform is tough, try writing for VxWorks as it orbits Mars...

And, uh, I've just added Space 1999 to my Netflix queue.

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Waiter Rant


March 26, 2006 10:22 PM PST

Waiter Rant is a blog run by a New York City waiter. Reading the stories there is like eating crack-laced potato chips: once you start, you can't stop!

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Call of Duty 2


March 23, 2006 04:42 PM PST

I just finished the single player Call of Duty 2 on the 360. I'm pretty impressed. Just when I thought I was burned out on WWII games, this comes along. It looks amazing and plays very well. So far it is the best 360 game I've played. I don't want to spoil the ending, but we win.

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Movement Of The People


March 20, 2006 01:19 AM PST


Damian Marley, Bob's youngest son, continues the family tradition. I first saw his band when they opened for U2 in Oakland... really cool. John and I got a lot of code written to some of Bob's music, and Welcome To Jamrock is a really cool addition to my coding playlist.

Also, buy "Funeral", a super intense album from the Montreal band "The Arcade Fire". It took me a few listens to get it, but holy crap, this record is amazing.

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pi day


March 14, 2006 07:59 PM PST


Happy PI day!

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March 13, 2006 10:40 PM PST


BioWare is coming out with a MMORG, rumored to be for the Xbox 360.

Every now and then I'm tempted to get into one of these games, with World Of WarCraft being the top contender. I like the idea of persistant worlds that grow over time. The problem is that, from what I've heard, the gameplay tends to quickly devolve down to harvesting gold. The MMORG type people also seem a little weird in a not good way: spending all their time reading the game's forums and stats, or leaving a social LAN party to go off to their office to play EverQuest by themselves. On a Friday night.

Is this catagory of game reserved for the hopelessly sad, or can BioWare bring it with their excellent backstory and quality games? If it is for the Xbox, presumably that means voice chat will be central, but how are you going to have a conversation with so many people online? Or hordes of shouty German 12 year olds?

Hopefully it will be set in a science fiction universe, since those seem to have the most breadth in terms of directions and themes. Fantasy games all seem to eventually become pale versions of Lord Of The Rings.

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Google Office - again


March 10, 2006 09:08 AM PST

The rumors of a Google Office just won't die. Now Google has apparently snatched up Writely an Axax based word processor that I've mentioned here before. Combine that with the leaked info about Gdrive and I guess we might see a web based office suite after all. -Maybe all that hoopla over Google and Sun working together was just a distraction after all.

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Mobile Tech

March 6, 2006 04:36 PM PST

Since it seems to be the buzz around the nets lately I'll jump on the bandwagon as well. Ok I don't have any insider information here. In fact I won't even try to summarize the current rumors. We'll find out what it is eventually anyway. Instead I'll just engage in thought exercise on what kind of device I might want and be willing to buy.

Continue reading "Origami"...

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Tech Dependence

March 6, 2006 09:07 AM PST

It's hard to image how much you have become dependent on technology until it is taken away. As I headed home Friday I remembered that BSG was on that night and I had not setup my DVR to record it yet. Better make that top priority. When I got home however I discovered that the cable was out. Hmm, don't panic, if it stays out all night I'll just have to download the show on Saturday, and watch it then. Bummer. Oh wait cable is out, that means the internet is also out. Ok now panic. That was Friday, today is Monday and I still don't have my cable back. I have forgotten how to function without it. I struggled to remember how I used to get things done in the old days. My first step, contact the cable company. Hmm, how to do that? I usually look them up online. I shred all my bills. Oh right, I used to use this big thing called a phone book. Do I have one of those? A quick search of the house turns up empty. My kids don't even seem to know what one is. Kinda funny actually. I finally got a hold of them and they are not going to get around to fixing it until Tuesday. Thanks, Millennium Digital. Apparently it was knocked out do to the wind storm. Hey wait, doesn't my cable run underground?

All weekend I kept bumping up into my need for the internet; First I wanted to see what was in the local theater, then I needed to lookup an address and get a map for an appointment I had. Next my Daughter needed to look stuff up for a report she has due. I needed to book a hotel.. the list goes on and on. Grrrr. For every problem I encountered there was an 'old' way of doing it, but that knowledge is slipping from my mind. It's like trying to start a fire without matches. Oh wait, this is 2006, I mean trying start a fire without butane lighter. In another generation we will be totally dependent. Why do I have images of people stranded on escalators?

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iPod HiFi (?)


March 1, 2006 09:04 AM PST

This post is mostly for your comments. I'm pretty unimpressed by the iPod HiFi from a strategy standpoint. Why is Apple spending engineering resources for something that could (and is) readily available in the iPod ecosystem? Greed? Hubris? Apparently there's no one out there who can design mp3 players like Apple, so why aren't they sticking to their core strengths? Leave the stereos and leather iPod skins to the 3rd parties. How about a sweet controller/faceplate/voice navigation system for using your iPod in the car?

New Intel based mac-mini was announced. It's pretty impressive that they got this built already. They're moving fast and executing well on the transition (although let's see how the benchmarks look). The achillies heel of the new mini seems to be the built in Intel graphics processor. I suppose it could be OK for "the market" it's in - will have to wait for benchmarks on this. I would hope it can at least do the Quartz UI and play 3d games (all 3 of them on the mac) decently at perhaps lower resolution. This is actually an issue with PC based platforms too - Intel seems to be taking control over more of the chips on the motherboard, and they really can't compete in some areas. They probably provide good pricebreaks for buying the whole solution from them, and the manufacturers have no problem using this junk for the baseline specs and charging upgrade prices to get the graphics that really should be included. I suppose it makes sense, but is frustrating - it's the core competency thing again, this time with Intel.

Also, the price raise is I hope just a premium for the new mini machines vs. an actual component cost increase. Otherwise this bodes poorly for a potential iBook line, and also the trend of Apple going after a lower price point consumer market to increase market share.

Your thoughts?

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