Microsoft giveaway over Xbox wheel
Correspondents in New York | August 24, 2007
MICROSOFT is giving customers free retrofits to a wireless racing wheel with its Xbox 360 video game
system after hearing of malfunctions in a wheel component.
The company said it was informed of about 50 incidents worldwide of a malfunction in the Xbox 360 Wireless
Racing Wheel, in which a component in the wheel chassis may overheat and release smoke when the AC/DC power supply is used.
More than 230,000 of the wheels are in the field, a spokeswoman for Microsoft said.
There have been no reported incidences of fire, injury or damage resulting from the component failure,
Microsoft said. adding that customers should stop using the AC/DC power supply for the wheel until they get their retrofits.
The company said it was notifying relevant regulatory agencies such as the US Consumer Product Safety
The spokeswoman said the retrofitting would not be material to Microsoft's earnings.
For the quarter ended June 30, Microsoft took a $US1.06 billion charge to fix problems with its Xbox 360
game console, after an "unacceptable" number of repairs, and to offer a new extended warranty to customers.
Submerged shooter a surprise success
Scott Hillis in San Francisco | August 24, 2007
CREEPY, underwater shooter game BioShock which refused to sink when publishers balked at its
high development costs has turned into a success story, getting glowing reviews and top sales.
"Honestly, we couldn't get a lot of publishers to sign up to spend millions of dollars to do a game," creative
director for BioShock Ken Levine said.
It took a well-timed public relations move to give the game a chance.
"We sold a story to the press essentially that we were having trouble selling the game to a publisher. That
story got so much traffic that the next day BioShock was the best idea in the world for everybody," Mr Levine said.
It worked. Mr Levine's Irrational Games was bought by game publisher Take-Two Interactive Software in
2006, a publisher known for not backing away from controversy.
Take-Two, which makes the hit Grand Theft Auto franchise but has fallen on hard times lately amid accounting
scandals and a delay in the latest GTA installment, has benefited from taking a gamble.
Take-Two stock jumped 10 per cent on Tuesday when BioShock was released as glowing reviews poured in
and the game topped sales charts at retailers like Amazon.com.
The game is part first-person shooter, horror flick, and morality tale. Players explore a failed underwater utopia
torn apart by clashes over a DNA-altering substance that bestows health and superpowers.
Players have to collect the substance in order to gain more abilities and advance through the game.
The catch is that the only sources are "Little Sisters," small girls who are guarded by "Big Daddies," lumbering
fellows in deep-sea diving suits whose skin-crawling bellows sound like angry whales.
HD TV tuner, PVR for PlayStation 3
Matt Moore in Frankfurt | August 24, 2007
SONY has taken another step to lure customers to its PlayStation3, saying it would sell a device to let
users record live television that can be stored on the game console or transferred to the PlayStation
Portable for later viewing.
The combined television tuner and personal video recorder, dubbed PlayTV, is aimed at helping Sony boost
sales of its high-end gaming console as well as its portable gaming unit. Sales are due to start in Spain,
Germany, France, Italy and Britain in early 2008.
Sony announced the new product at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany.
Using the Digital Video Broadcasting – terrestrial format, the PlayTV integrates into the PlayStation 3 console
and lets users record individual episodes or entire series to its hard drive.
Sony said the device's twin TV tuners were high-definition-ready and able to view, record and play back in that
format. Recorded video can be sent wirelessly from the console to a PSP.
For all its advances, Sony's PS3 has faced formidable competition from rivals like Nintendo's Wii and Microsoft's
Sony had sold 4.3 million PS3 consoles as of June, compared with 11.6 million Xbox 360s and about 8 million Wiis.
The company did not say how much PlayTV would cost or when it would be available elsewhere in Europe, Asia
or the Americas.
Jonathan Arber and Jonathan Coham, analysts at Ovum, a London-based research firm, said PlayTV was the
"next logical step" for Sony in competing with the Xbox 360, but said Sony still has to overcome the console's
price and bring out more games.
BT, Sony unveil video call PSP
Correspondents in London | August 23, 2007
BRITAIN'S BT Group and Sony have unveiled software that will allow gamers with PlayStation Portables
to make video and voice calls.
The partners said the Go!Messenger wireless software for Sony's PlayStation Portable (PSP) handheld game player
was set for commercial launch in January 2008.
Sony and BT said the software allowed PSP gamers to keep in touch by connecting to any broadband wireless
internet point at home or out and about using VoIP internet telephony.
"By offering a variety of communications options to help stay in touch with other gamers, Go!Messenger truly
brings the entertainment potential of PSP to life," head of mobility and convergence at BT Steve Andrews said.
As Sony's lead wireless partner, BT said it would initially promote the software, which was developed in its research
centre, in the UK, France, Germany, Spain and Italy before extending its reach to over 100 countries, Middle East
It also plans to allow regional wireless internet providers and manufacturers to buy the service wholesale and sell
it on under other brands.
BT and Sony, which has shipped 24 million PSPs globally since launching the device in December 2004, signed a
four-year deal in May.
BT is battling to transform itself from a hardware-based fixed-line telecoms provider into a software-based supplier
of telecoms and entertainment applications.
It has invested around £10 billion ($24.6 billion) into its so-called 21 Century Network telecoms infrastructure, which
provides quality voice and video calls at cheaper costs over the internet.
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Game market to grow 50pc in 4 years
Correspondents in Leipzig | August 23, 2007
THE MARKET for video games is expected to expand by half over the next four years as it extends
beyond hardcore gamers, the chief executive of French video game publisher Ubisoft says.
Game makers say casual gamers are growing the market
"There are so many new customers to the business; this is going to grow the market tremendously. I expect the
market to grow by 50 per cent in the next four years," Ubisoft chief executive Yves Guillemot said.
"It's a very exciting time for all the developers and publishers," Mr Guillemot said.
Electronic Arts, the world's largest video game publisher, was similarly bullish about the prospects for more people to
play games on consoles, PCs, mobile phones or on the web.
"There are 150 million gamers worldwide, but 2 billion people are ready to play," EA's managing director for
Germany, Thomas Zeitner, told a news conference.
Driven by the runaway success of Nintendo's motion-controlled Wii console, so-called casual games that are targeted
at families, older players or women have become the industry's new buzzword.
Ubisoft, known for its realistic military games, announced a new title in its Games for Everyone range. Cranium Kabookii,
based on the award-winning board game Cranium, will be made for Nintendo's Wii console and is slated for a December
Mr Guillemot said the company's casual games business was "extremely profitable" and helped to finance the initially
costly development of games for next-generation consoles – Sony's PlayStation3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360.
Developing a casual game costs anywhere between €1 million ($1.7 million) to €4 million depending on the number of
platforms with which it is compatible.
By comparison, a normal game developed for the Wii costs €5 million to €10 million, and one designed for use with the
PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 10 million to €20 million.
Video Ezy's set-top surprise
Chris Jenkins | August 22, 2007
RETAILER Video Ezy says the appointment of administrators to its set-top box supplier Mobilesoft has
come as a surprise, but won't derail its plans for electronic delivery.
Video Ezy says Steve Hogben has steered most of the development of its set top box
Video Ezy managing director Paul Uniacke said he had only received the news that administrators Jirsch Sutherland
had been appointed to developer Mobilesoft when informed by AustralianIT yesterday afternoon.
"It was news to us as well," he said.
Mobilesoft had been working with Video Ezy to develop a set-top box that would allow the playback of movies without
DVDs, and had recently been awarded a $4.5 million contract to supply 10,000 of the devices.
Mr Uniacke said Video Ezy had no issue with the technology developed by Mobilesoft or the way the partnership had
But he said that the terms of Video Ezy's contract allowed it to walk away if Mobilesoft was placed in the hands of
administrators. However, Video Ezy was not necessarily looking to exit the arrangement at this stage, although it could
use the situation to strengthen its position.
Aussie Tech Heads
Hey Glenn, you were wondering what LCD panels were in the new iMacs, well here is a head's up to say that
Gizmodo destroyed an iMac, and found that the 20" model was the LG Philips LM201WE3 model. You can find the article at:
Driverless vehicle fails first hurdle
Stuart Kennedy | August 21, 2007
THE chances of an Australian developed driverless vehicle getting to compete against the world's best
cyber-vehicles began to slip during scrutineering when the vehicle accelerated away and immediately
veered hard right, straight off the road.
The heavily modified Toyota RAV4 was quickly brought to a halt before it could do any damage. "At least it showed
the emergency stop system worked," said NICTA project team leader Dr William Uther, who was with the crew that
travelled to the US with the car.
The problem was tracked to a glitch in the interface to the steering.
Developed by a team backed by the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at Sydney University, NICTA, the University
of California at Berkeley and the University of Technology, Sydney, the car was intended to make the start line of the
US Urban Grand Challenge, a contest for autonomous vehicles run by the US Defence Advance Research Projects Agency
with a $US2 million ($2.49 million) prize.
The aim of the DARPA challenge is to speed development of cars and trucks that safely drive themselves in real-world
traffic and the vehicles must obey traffic signs, road markings and the rules of the road on a 97km city-like course,
without human intervention.
Before the car could front up for the challenge it had to get past a DARPA site inspection, and unfortunately it didn't
make it this time.
Mass reboot triggered Skype glitch
Matt Moore in Frankfurt | August 21, 2007
A TWO-DAY outage that left millions of Skype users unable to use the internet phone service was caused
by an abnormally high number of restarts after people had downloaded a Windows security update.
The worldwide outage, which began on Thursday and ended on Saturday, left millions of Skype users unable to log
on to make phone calls or send instant messages.
Luxembourg-based Skype, part of online auction giant eBay, has more than 220 million users in total but typically
has 5 million to 6 million users online at any given time. In January, Skype reported that it had counted 9 million
users online at one time.
In an update to users on Skype's Heartbeat blog, employee Villu Arak said the disruption was not because of hackers
or any other malicious activity.
Instead, he said that the disruption "was triggered by a massive restart of our users' computers across the globe
within a very short timeframe as they re-booted after receiving a routine set of patches through Windows Update".
Microsoft released its monthly patches last Tuesday, and many computers are set to automatically download and
install them. Installation requires a computer restart.
Video Ezy box counters online threat
Mahesh Sharma | August 21, 2007
VIDEO Ezy is planning to release an electronic movie rental box in time for Christmas in an attempt to
hold off online competition.
Movie rental stores are increasingly feeling the pinch as the internet provides new ways of viewing movies, and has
given rise to competitors such as Reeltime Media and Quickflix that use new video rental models.
Video Ezy has ordered 10,000 home media centres from data communications producer Mobilesoft, at a cost of
$4.5 million. The centres will underpin its electronic rental service. Customers will use the centres to play movies
they have downloaded on portable storage devices in a store.
"At some point this is the whole future of the business," chief information officer Steve Hogben said.
"We know Video Ezy is a very large business today, but if it didn't develop a new set of products it would not disappear
overnight, but there would come a point in a number of years where you could see that it would need something like
this to stay competitive."
About 100 e-boxes have been deployed since the end of last year as part of a trial, and while an official date hasn't been
decided for a national rollout, Mr Hogben said: "We're looking at the Christmas time frame, perhaps be just before or just
Portable storage devices will be used to download files from in Video Ezy stores, and they can be watched on the media
The movies, about 1.5GB in size, take about 80 seconds to download, and customers pay for the amount of times they
watch a movie. They self-erase after 30 days.
The e-boxes range in price from about $200 for a basic system to $800 for one with features such as a DVD player,
large capacity and high-definition tuners.
Paramount to drop Blu-ray
Alex Veiga in Los Angeles | August 21, 2007
PARAMOUNT Pictures and DreamWorks Animation will offer next-generation DVDs in the HD DVD format and
drop support for Blu-ray, further complicating the race between the competing technologies.
Monday's announcement affects the upcoming DVD releases of the blockbusters Shrek the Third and Transformers,
along with movies distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies
and MTV Films.
Movies directed by Steven Spielberg, however, will continue to be released in both formats.
Paramount, which owns DreamWorks Pictures and handles home sales for the separate company DreamWorks
Animation, previously released movies in both Blu-ray and HD DVD.
"Part of our vision is to aggressively extend our movies beyond the theatre, and deliver the quality and features that
appeal to our audience," said Brad Grey, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom.
"I believe HD DVD is not only the affordable high-quality choice for consumers, but also the smart choice for Paramount,"
The competition between Blu-ray and HD DVD has kept confused consumers from rushing to buy new DVD players until
they can determine which format will dominate the market.
Until recently, many consumers were able to defer the choice because players have been so expensive. But prices have
been slashed by about half – Sony's Blu-ray player now sells for $US499 ($622), and Toshiba's cheapest HD DVD player
sells for $US299, with both likely to include as many as five free movies as an incentive.
CEO of DreamWorks Animation Jeffrey Katzenberg said consumers seeking to switch to high-definition DVDs will be enticed
by the movies available for HD-DVD players. He added the lower price for the Toshiba devices will appeal to the family market.
"It's a game-changer, what they're doing, and it's why we decided to throw in with them," Mr Katzenberg said.
|iTunes features 2007/08/02 21:45||Karma: 5|
We all use iTunes for listening to music, podcasts, audio books, streaming radio and watching video's, but there are a few other features that a lot of people don't use or don't even know about.
Visualizer is more or less eyecandy but did you know you can add third party plugin visualizers. One in particularly good one
Smart playlists: You can create playlists of certain types of music, songs with certain ratings, or songs that match other rules.
Radio: You can add more streaming radio stations to your library by going to Advanced/Open Stream then add the station url.
If you right click on a song in your library you can set up all sorts of different preferences. Check it out it's very flexible.
Optimus Maximus Keyboard
Every key of the Optimus Maximus keyboard is a stand-alone display showing the function it is currently associated with.
Optimus is equally good for any keyboard layouts—Cyrillic, Ancient Greek, Georgian, Arabic, Quenya, hiragana—and so
on to infinity: notes, numerals, special symbols, HTML codes, math functions, images etc.
PC with installed OS Windows XP or Vista, with a USB 1.0 (or better 2.0) port; Mac OS X 10.4.8 or higher.
At least 20 MB of free space on hard drive.
At least 256 MB of RAM.
Just follow the URL, not posting them here!
Superman's Identity Revealed! Again!
Number 1. Have a look: The Truth Mirror exposes Superman's true identity. Not sure about the purple suit as a fashion statement though.
Number 2. I think Chester will have to be "taken care of".
Number 3. Have a look again: A one-way mirror exposes the truth and makes a fortune for someone. But why do
they need gold kryptonite? Why not just use the green version?
Number 4. In the stationery cupboard: Superwoman reveals the truth of Superman's identity to Perry. It's enough to
make him choke on his cigar. Whodathoughtit, with Clark Kent's superior disguise, a pair of glasses?!
Number 5. Smile please: Clark's caught in the act of changing. His identity is apparently revealed to 40 million viewers.
The real Allen Funt would have loved a scoop like this on his show.
Number 6. Death bed scene: A young lad's dying wish is to know Superman's identity, but when told, he refuses
to believe it is Clark Kent. Superman would never tell a lie. How dare you disbelieve him!
Number 7. Death bed scene 2: A touching scene as a sneaky trick by Jimmy Olsen means that Superman reveals
all. You can put that hanky away now — he's not really dying. With friends like these…
Number 8. Two boys innocently inspecting each other's underwear. Those were the times.
Number 9. Thunderation — what a great word!!
Number 10. Sherlock Holmes, jnr.: A boy detective identifies Superboy as Clark Kent. Smart kid. But will he be believed
with a hat like that?
Number 11. You rang Sir? Superboy has a Butler!
Number 12. Superboy pays him to this day.
Number 13. Headline news: The family confesses everything to the waiting reporters. That would make a great scoop,
but can you believe everything you read in the newspapers?
Number 14. Purple is this year's colour: Superboy reveals his identity to an enemy. But why? Why?!
Number 15. Cut above the rest: Superboy, alias Clark Kent, is caught chopping tree trunks. He should have used that
Number 16. Dishing the truth: Under the influence of the Truth Serum, Mum blurts out the secret. This is not accurate.
Young boys never do the washing up.
Number 17. Weight and wait: Lana with the help of a 1 ton weight tricks Superboy into revealing his identity. The
audience turns black & white.
Number 18. Momma always told him don't climb into cannons.
Number 19. See-through vision part 3. Much easier than just, ugh,
walking a metre to peek around the corner.
Number 20. I'm confused. Let's hope the extra Superbaby story makes up for it.
[Original selection & comments by AnswerFinder at Uclue.com]
The truth about recycling
Jun 7th 2007
From The Economist print edition
As the importance of recycling becomes more apparent, questions about it linger. Is it
worth the effort? How does it work? Is recycling waste just going into a landfill in China? Here
are some answers…
IT IS an awful lot of rubbish. Since 1960 the amount of municipal waste being collected in America has nearly tripled, reaching
245m tonnes in 2005. According to European Union statistics, the amount of municipal waste produced in western Europe
increased by 23%
between 1995 and 2003, to reach 577kg per person. (So much for the plan to reduce waste per person to 300kg by 2000.) As
the volume of waste
has increased, so have recycling efforts. In 1980 America recycled only 9.6% of its municipal rubbish; today the rate stands at 32%.
trend can be seen in Europe, where some countries, such as Austria and the Netherlands, now recycle 60% or more of their
Britain's recycling rate, at 27%, is low, but it is improving fast, having nearly doubled in the past three years.
Even so, when a city introduces a kerbside recycling programme, the sight of all those recycling lorries trundling around can
raise doubts about whether the collection and transportation of waste materials requires more energy than it saves. “We are
asked: Is recycling worth doing on environmental grounds?” says Julian Parfitt, principal analyst at Waste & Resources Action
a non-profit British company that encourages recycling and develops markets for recycled materials.
TiVo will fail, says pay TV exec
Lara Sinclair | August 20, 2007
PAY-TV sales company Multi Channel Network has cast doubt on the future of the digital video-recording platform
TiVo, which is backed by the Seven Network, telling advertisers the venture may never get off the ground.
MCN's Rob Leach says TiVO bombed in Britain
Rob Leach, head of MCN's interactive television division and formerly of British pay-TV company BSkyB, said TiVo had
"bombed" in Britain after proving to be "a difficult product to market" partly due to high set-top box costs.
The comments come after media buyers denied a report last week that 20 advertisers had paid $1 million to participate in
interactive advertising trials on the TiVo platform.
"No advertisers have put any money down for TiVo at all; that's what we're told by Seven," said a source at the Mitchell &
Partners media buying agency, which is one of Australia's biggest. "There's no offer out there as yet."
Mr Leach sought to allay concerns about ad-skipping during a digital advertising seminar held by media agency MindShare
earlier this month. He said the May announcement that TiVo would launch in Australia early next year raised more questions
than it answered.
"I'm unconvinced TiVo will launch in Australia, despite Channel Seven's announcement," Mr Leach said.
"(BSkyB) had a real policy of acquire or embrace. When TiVo came to Britain, Sky marketed TiVo, and — whether deliberately
or accidentally — it bombed, and TiVo is not sustained in Britain at all any more," he said.
New search engine "listens" to music to help you find new tunes
help you discover new music, but a recent grant from the National Science Foundation to the College of Charleston aims
to take the concept to the next level, by creating a search engine that "listens" to music and creates critical comparisons
between works. The system, as described by Ars Technica, involves a neural network that is trained to recognized the
composer and style of music, an evaluation engine that's supposed to simulate human taste, and a set of objective metrics
like pitch, tempo, and and duration. The results are then combined and the system can then recommend matches to find
similar music. The researchers have already demoed a similar system with good results, so here's hoping the grant money
helps them refine things further — we've been looking way too long for the next Wham!
With its elegant anodised aluminium enclosure, the Apple Keyboard is looks equally at home in your living room or at
your desk. Just connect it via the USB port on your Mac and start enjoying the crisp, responsive feel of its low-profile keys.
It has an extended layout has a full complement of keys, including document navigation controls, a numeric keypad,
and special function keys for Mac features such as brightness, volume, eject, play/pause, Exposé and more.
And its two USB 2.0 ports provide high-speed connectivity for your iPod, Mighty Mouse, digital camera, and other
USB-based electronic devices. Yes, we did think of everything.
- Mac computer with available USB 1.1 or USB 2.0 port
- Mac OS X v10.4.10 or later
- Keyboard software update
Like its wired sibling, the Apple Wireless Keyboard also features a low-profile, anodised aluminium frame that
complements any Mac. It connects using Bluetooth wireless technology, giving you the freedom to work or play either
up close or across the room.
Sleek and compact, it has low-profile keys that provide crisp, responsive feel and function keys for one-touch access to
Mac features. Its built-in intelligent power management conserves battery by automatically powering it down when you’re
not using it and turning on the instant you start typing.