Episode 080

posted in: Show Notes | 0

GLENN'S SHOWNOTES

None this week from me (Slacker) – I'll use the formating the PC as my excuse.  All in the name of a better quality Aussie Tech Head 

 

MARK'S SHOWNOTES

 

Current – HD DVD losses top AU$700 million
HD DVD losses top AU$700 million

By Chris Nicholls

TOKYO: Toshiba has announced their estimated losses from HD DVD will top the AU$700 million mark.

Announced yesterday, Toshiba revised their 2007 Japanese financial year forecast for the failed format from 65 billion yen in sales (AU$719 million) and 50 billion yen in losses (AU$550 million) to only 26 billion yen in sales (AU$287 million) and 65 billion yen in losses (AU$719).

The news comes after a week of speculation from various news media the announcement would be closer to AU$1.1 billion in losses from the HD DVD project. 

In other negative news, Toshiba also expected their LCD panel business to turn a 12 billion yen loss (AU$132 million) for FY07, despite net sales of 285 billion yen (AU$3.1 billion).

The drop from the two AV-related divisions meant Toshiba revised their overall operating income forecast from 7.8 trillion yen to 7.7 trillion yen (AU$850 billion), a drop of 70 basis points from their original 3.7 per cent forecast.

All other divisions continued to perform, though, with the ‘social infrastructure’ division and other consumer electronics devices selling well.

Despite the announcement, Toshiba shares were up three per cent today to 691.

Current – Best Buy to offer free $50 compensation to HD DVD customers
Best Buy to offer free $50 compensation to HD DVD customers

By Chris Nicholls

MINNEAPOLIS, USA: America’s largest electrical retailer, Best Buy, has decided to offer more than US$10 million in gift cards to customers who purchased an HD DVD player or plug-in drive from their stores prior to February 28.

The majority of the US$50 gift vouchers will be mailed to each registered owner, i.e. customers who purchased an HD DVD player with a rewards program card, also purchased a Performance Service Plan or purchased online, while other customers can contact a special phone number and confirm their purchase by quoting a receipt number or their credit card number used. 

"At Best Buy, we understood and shared our customers' frustrations as they were being asked to choose one format or the other. Now that the format war is over, we hope these gift cards will reassure our customers that we will help them make a smooth transition into the right technology for their needs," said Best Buy president and chief operating officer, Brian J. Dunn.

"The beauty of this offer is that it doesn't require our customers to give up their HD-DVD player," said chief marketing officer, Barry Judge.

"We know that many people who purchased these players have HD-DVD movies that they would like to continue to watch. We're telling our customers they can keep their players to play these movies as well as their older DVDs and use the $50 to treat themselves to anything else in our stores."

Best Buy stated HD-DVD players can still be used to upscale Norman DVDs.

The program will complement Best Buy’s online trade-in program for HD DVD, also announced today, which means from tomorrow, customers who purchased an HD DVD player anywhere can receive a trade-in price on their machine at www.bestbuytradein.com

Visitors to the site will receive instant estimates of the value of their HD-DVD players and movies. Those who agree with the estimates can then ship their goods to the trade-in centre free of charge by downloading a prepaid shipping label. They will also receive an additional gift card as payment for their trade-in.

 

BBC NEWS | Technology | Microsoft releases Vista update

Microsoft releases Vista update

The update may cause problems for some PCs running Vista

Microsoft has released a service update for all versions of its Windows Vista operating system.

The computer giant claims that the update improves the stability, security and performance of the software.

The update, or service pack, includes some fixes released before now and adds many new ones as well.

Microsoft has warned that the update could clash with some security software and other programs customers may have installed on their machine.

Handy help

Those using Vista can download the update directly from Microsoft or wait for it to be automatically installed on their machine in mid-April.

On the Windows Vista blog, Nick White, Microsoft's product manager for the software, said those installing Service Pack One (SP1) may have to download and install some other "prerequisites" before the update can be applied.

The pre-requisites are generally updates to other programs or components of Vista to ease the passage of SP1.

Mr White also warned that some device drivers may also have to be refreshed before SP1 can be installed. Old drivers from RealTek AC, Intel and Symantec are known to stop SP1 being installed.

Current – Samsung and Bang & Olufsen co-operate on new music phone
Samsung and Bang & Olufsen co-operate on new music phone

Acoustic Powerhouse In The Palm of Your Hands
 
Samsung and Bang & Olufsen introduce Serenata, the new music mobile phone that combines superb sound quality with the convenience of a mobile phone, all nicely tucked in the palm of your hands.

Serenata is a music mobile phone focusing on sound quality with an added touch of sophistication. To own Serenata is to enjoy the best possible music experience while you are on the move. Bang & Olufsen's expertise in concept development, user interface experience, acoustic sound capabilities and design skills, combined with Samsung's leadership in mobile phone technology have resulted in a whole new way of presenting music on the go for consumers.   
 
"Since we started our first co-operation with Bang & Olufsen, we have held the belief that both companies share a passion for innovation and consumer-focused technology. Serenata is another example of new ways to present the mobile phone. I'm proud to say that our customers can see true innovation at work in the Serenata, in the same way we opened a new era of mobile phones with Serene two years ago,” says Geesung Choi, President of the Telecommunications Network Business in Samsung Electronics.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Game ratings under more scrutiny

Game ratings under more scrutiny

By Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website

Manhunt 2 will be released with an 18 certificate

Game ratings are under increased scrutiny following the decision to give Manhunt 2 an 18 certificate in the UK.

The game was approved for release after a nine-month battle between developers Rockstar and the the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).

Its release comes as the UK games industry awaits the Byron Review into the impact of technology on children.

A Private Members Bill proposing more government oversight of the BBFC was tabled last month but was talked out.

Julian Brazier, Conservative MP for Canterbury and Whitstable, who introduced the bill, had said he wanted to "legislate against video nasties". Writing on his blog before it was talked out, he said: "My bill aims to make the British Board of Film Classification accountable to Parliament.

"It would give a Parliamentary committee the power to review and veto key appointments and the guidelines the BBFC works to."

Mr Brazier told BBC News: "The problem is that the Video Appeals Committee needs sorting out: it always sides with the industry and only the industry itself can appeal."

Dr Tanya Byron is due to deliver her review into the internet and video games and their effect on children at the end of March.

The BBFC sets a world-wide gold standard of game certification

Margaret Robertson, games consultant

Games consultant and former Edge magazine editor Margaret Robertson said the Manhunt 2 overruling came at a bad time for the BBFC.

She said: "Whatever the merits of this specific decision, what's frustrating is that the BBFC's system remains a very robust approach to classifying games, in that it's based on an independent party viewing and playing the game, and taking into account context and tone."

She added: "I still feel the BBFC sets a world-wide gold standard of game certification."

She said that the BBFC's system was superior to the European voluntary approach of Pegi, which runs in parallel to UK-specific classification.

"Compared to the Pegi system, which is based on a questionnaire filled in by the game publisher, the BBFC system is clearly a more sophisticated and nuanced approach."

Dr Tanya Byron's report is due at the end of March

She added: "As games become more complex, and start to tackle more diverse and challenging themes, we need an intelligent, sensitive ratings system which is alert to the fact that games can and do have a subtext to what they portray, just as film and television can."

Ms Robertson said that a much wider debate was needed about how the BBFC was run and how much oversight was appropriate for government.

Only a small percentage of games, those that contain violence or sex, are referred to the BBFC.

A spokeswoman for the BBFC said the body continued to work to the rules laid down by the 1984 Video Recordings Act.

She said there had been no suggestion from government that its role as a video games classifier was about to change.

Developer David Braben, head of Frontier Games, said self-certification of games by developers was a potential solution.

"We've heard reports that the Byron Review will say that the classification system is not entirely working.

"The law is a very blunt weapon. The real problem is that games are quite complicated and are a non-linear media, and are therefore much harder to rate.

We feel that the same standards that apply to films and TV should apply to games

Richard Wilson, Tiga

"There is strong argument for self ratings. For me, the Pegi system has worked well.

"Developers intimately know the content – whether its cartoon violence, nasty violence, or has sexual elements – and can apply ratings directly.

"The issue is almost whether you need something above 18, which Americans have as 'Adults Only', which is used for porn and cannot be on public display."

He added: "We need a system that is very clear to all of us. At times I fear the BBFC feels it is powerless."

Richard Wilson, chief executive of Tiga, the national body which represents the commercial interests of developers, said members were seeking consistent standards for games, films and TV.

He said: "The whole ratings system is going to be under review because of the Byron Review.

"Whatever was going to be the outcome of this particular case with Manhunt 2, the government has initiated the Byron Review and that will supersede that decision

"We feel that the same standards that apply to films and TV should apply to games."

BBC NEWS | Technology | Making games with Steven Spielberg

Making games with Steven Spielberg

By Darren Waters
Technology editor, BBC News website, in San Francisco


Spielberg was inspired to make family games

When Steven Spielberg announced he was entering the video game business many people assumed his first project would be a cinematic, visual-effects laden epic.

But his first game made under a multi-project arrangement with Electronic Arts, called Boom Blox, is a family-friendly puzzler for the Nintendo Wii.

"The first assumption is big, epic game… yadda yadda. [It's] not the game," says Louis Castle, who has worked closely with Spielberg to develop the title.

"But it's so not that product that the moment you see it, you know what you are in for.

"Steven has a multi-project deal with us and without giving too much away, there are projects much more in line with people's expectations, but those take a long time to make."

Spielberg got involved with EA because, says Castle, he is a gamer.

"He is a very big game player – not a lot of people know that. He loves playing games.

The game is a 3D puzzle action title

"He wanted to make them with some people he could trust. It seemed like a great partnership."

Spielberg was inspired to make a title for the Wii after playing on the console with legendary Nintendo developer Shigeru Miyamoto.

"He wanted to play a game he could play with his friends and family.

"He came to us with idea for the game and has been working with us on a weekly basis, overseeing the development of the game and working with me personally on the product.

"It's been a great kick."

Despite his commitment to film-making, both directing and producing titles, Spielberg has been dedicated to the development process.

"Steven will come in and tell us: 'These are kind of ideas I'd like to get to'.

"We brainstorm about what that might be, we might do some quick drawings on a whiteboard and then he goes away and does his stuff like making movies and saving the world.

Steve's instinct on people is incredible

Louis Castle

"A week later we review the progress we have made and talk about what we do next. It's literally a very iterative process and we work very closely together."

Boom Blox uses the Wii's innovative controller to give players freedom to wreak havoc in the game.

"Steven wanted to make a game where the complexity and challenge of using your brain to look at three dimensional puzzles, and throw objects at it, and knock them over, was intriguing enough for adults to be interested.

"And at the same time this kinetic, visceral feeling would be attractive to children as well."

Castle adds: "As Steven would say: 'Kids just like to break things'."

The development team spent a long time working on the control system for the game.

Spielberg came up with the idea of the game

"We brought in the best computer scientists and we working on analysing the data you get from the Wii remote," says Castle.

"That was actually a very, very difficult problem involving lots of calculus.

"So many Wii games record just what the Wiimote is doing without much thought about or at least computation about what it was intended by the player.

"We've put a lot of thought and energy into what was intended by the consumer."

Spielberg's skill, says Castle, is to understand the player.

"More than anything he gets people. I have made a lot of games, more than a hundred and I am quite accomplished in this field, even I don't have that kind of instinct.

"Steve's instinct on people is incredible. He really understands what they are going to say about the game and what they are going to enjoy about it."

Castle is at pains to emphasise that Spielberg's attachment to the game is no marketing hook.

"This collaboration is not about attaching Steven's name to a game to make it sell. This is a creative collaboration between people in very different entertainment fields trying to make a product that will appeal to a very broad audience.

"We're making Steven's game and of course he's going to talk about it because he is excited about his game."

homepage.mac.com/ianrickard/wiimote/

DarwiinRemote with IR-based mouse movement

BBC NEWS | Technology | New Wii craze is opening up

Remote uses

Wii remote that can do the vacuuming?

The Wii remote is just a clever Bluetooth device at heart, so it has proved to be an easy target.

It can already be used to control a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, and the delightfully named 'DarwiinRemote' team lets your Wiimote act as remote control for Macintosh computers – the name is a pun on Darwin, one of the main components of Mac OS X.

Other members of the homebrew community, whose name comes from those who prefer to make beer at home instead of settle for industrially-manufactured stuff, have had a lot of success with the Wii itself, just as other groups have managed to open up the Xbox and PlayStation.

According to the technology site Slashdot there is now an MP3 player, a way to convert and play GameCube game files and even a port of GNU/Linux that runs on the Wii.

The developers involved, true hackers who want to know how things work and exploit the capabilities of the hardware to the full, are not aiming to pirate Super Mario Galaxy or Jenga.

They are driven by a desire to overcome the limits put in place by the manufacturer so that they can, for example, run games from older Nintendo consoles on the new platform or even write their own.

Why have a GameCube and a Wii in the living room when the Wii can do it all?

BBC NEWS | Technology | New Wii craze is opening up

Remote uses

Wii remote that can do the vacuuming?

The Wii remote is just a clever Bluetooth device at heart, so it has proved to be an easy target.

It can already be used to control a Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, and the delightfully named 'DarwiinRemote' team lets your Wiimote act as remote control for Macintosh computers – the name is a pun on Darwin, one of the main components of Mac OS X.

Other members of the homebrew community, whose name comes from those who prefer to make beer at home instead of settle for industrially-manufactured stuff, have had a lot of success with the Wii itself, just as other groups have managed to open up the Xbox and PlayStation.

According to the technology site Slashdot there is now an MP3 player, a way to convert and play GameCube game files and even a port of GNU/Linux that runs on the Wii.

The developers involved, true hackers who want to know how things work and exploit the capabilities of the hardware to the full, are not aiming to pirate Super Mario Galaxy or Jenga.

They are driven by a desire to overcome the limits put in place by the manufacturer so that they can, for example, run games from older Nintendo consoles on the new platform or even write their own.

Why have a GameCube and a Wii in the living room when the Wii can do it all?

Man shot by killer robot

Man shot by killer robot

Tony Wilson

19Mar08

AN 81-year-old Gold Coast man built, and yesterday used, an intricate suicide machine to remotely shoot himself, after downloading the plans from the internet.

The Burleigh Heads man, who lived alone, left notes of his plans and thoughts as he struggled to come to terms with demands by interstate relatives that he move out his home and into care.

He spent hours searching the internet for a way to kill himself, downloaded what he needed and then built a complex machine that would remotely fire a gun.

He set the device up in his driveway about 7am yesterday, placed himself in front of it and set it in motion.

His notes explained that he chose the driveway as he knew there were tradesmen working next door who would find his body. The plan worked as the workmen heard the gunshots and ran to investigate.

The Gold Coast Bulletin will not reveal how the machine worked, but it was attached to a .22 semi-automatic pistol loaded with four bullets.

It was able to fire multiple shots into the man's head after he activated it.

Suicide experts told The Gold Coast Bulletin that such machines were not unheard of, but were very rare.

In November last year, a euthanasia campaigner who once compared her plight to that of a sick dog, took her own life, ending her battle with bladder cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Warwick mother-of-four June Burns, 67, was finally at peace after taking her life, said her husband Bob.

Euthanasia campaigner Philip Nitschke said she died after using a drug she had kept since the late 1990s.

Mr Burns said his wife had been comforted during her illness by the fact she had a way to end her life.

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