Colinizer: taking up residence in your tech brain

Wednesday March 28 2007

Xbox 360 Elitist Zebra

Filed under: Consumer, Gadgets, Gaming — colinizer @ 23:41

So it’s official – if you want the upcoming Xbox 360 Elite edition for its HDMI port and included 120GB drive, not only does it only come in black (along with the included wireless black controller, hard drive and headset) as I was saying before (forcing you to pick between having a black console with white everything else or buying new black stuff), but you can’t get a black version of the Quick Charge Kit twin battery charger (very useful), Wireless Network Adapter, Wireless Headset, Universal Media Remote or Live Vision camera, which means you can’t buy an all-black set of kit even if you wanted to.

Also, while you can buy a 120GB hard drive from your existing white Xbox 360 which includes a data transfer kit for sucking stuff from your current 20GB drive, the Elite doesn’t come with a transfer kit since there appears to be a DRM issue that can prevent files stored through one 360, but usable on other after copying.

So Elitism does come with a price – the potential for epileptic seizures when walking passed your zebra coloured xbox gear and having to redownload content again IF the DRM will let you (for now anyway).

All-in-one mobile phone & wireless headset

Filed under: Communications, Gadgets — colinizer @ 23:22

Someone finally getting close on this one. I’ve been saying for a while that it would be great if a bluetooth headset could clip in/out of a mobile phone to avoid worrying about where to keep it (other than hanging like a pendant or on an ear).

This is the closest I’ve seen, though it’s not clear which phones, if any, are ready to accept this headset. This device has a whole other angle: it can be charged in a notebook PCMCIA/ExpressCard slot – great for VOIP use and storage – though it’s not clear if it sticks out when inserted.

Monday March 26 2007

Xbox 360 coloured sheep

Filed under: Consumer, Gadgets, Gaming, Marketing, Microsoft, Sheep — colinizer @ 21:22

Today I feel like a marketing sheep but I will resist the urge.

Microsoft’s new Xbox 360 Elite apparently has HDMI and a 120GB hard drive…

… and comes in Black and Silver… cool… I’d like one just for the HDMI (there’s some ghosting on the component output with my 1080p display, compared to the lovely solid digital output from my PS3 on HDMI) and use the old one as a media center extender now that my HP extender doesn’t have an upgrade to work with Vista !#$#

… oh wait: my controllers, and battery charger and camera are all white.

Bugger.

I guess they aren’t trying to appeal to the colour-co-ordinated enthusiast – way to go J Allard!

So I either have to put up with white controllers with a black & silver unit or be a total sheep and buy new controllers to match, right after I sucker up and buy a Gillette Fusion Phantom (‘cos I haven’t collected that colour yet) – yeah right.

Check back to see what happens…

Does Microsoft have the right Mix?

Filed under: Internet-based Service, Microsoft, mix07, Software As A Service — colinizer @ 21:04

Mix 07, Microsoft’s web dev conference is coming up very shortly but for some this is too little too late.

AJAX.NET was just released in January – a little bit late really.

Microsoft has delivered a ton of stuff recently – probably too much all at once – trying to get developers to get behind Vista, Office and Exchange 2007. I also think that Microsoft’s huge gap of wow and even anti-wow (WinFS what?) has left despondant loyal developers to watch all the cool web 2.0 mashup juice float by and wonder why their software-king has not been there fore them. I think they are really neglecting the grassroots or enthusiast developer.

Where’s the full push for live clipboard Ray Ozzie? Where’s the Amazon S3-like storage solution? Where’s the Live ID Relying Party Suite? Where are the Live ID CardSpace cards (and the CardSpace documentation is awful)? Where is the finished WPF/E? Where are the XPS-supporting printers? Perhaps Ray will wow everyone at Mix 07 but the silence is not building loyalty. Right now Microsoft needs to provide released SDKs, services (and no US$10,000s for Live ID integration), tools, etc.

Microsoft has the wrong Mix, because it should have been last year’s Mix for announcing all the cool things (and in contrete form) that will hopefully be released (and not in beta) this year.

Microsoft is behind on the web – OK their priorities are with Windows, Office, etc. – but if they fall behind on the offline app to as Mack is talking about, then life is not good.

Perhaps I’ll be saying “wow” after Mix 07, but I do think I’ll be amongst a decreasing number of people that still care.

Sunday March 25 2007

Movie review: The shooter

Filed under: Cinema, Review — colinizer @ 21:26

I haven’t settled on a style for post titles but I’m not into wordy/unstructured post titles for reviews – it’s one of the things that makes the Engadget feed harder to skim through; so for now I’ve made it clear that this is a movie review and what the movie is vs. something like “Wahlberg hits the mark from a mile off”.

So The Shooter starring Mark Wahlberg came out this weekend. A military marksman is quickly set up to take the blame for an assasination at a presidential appearance and of course has to work to clear his name while uncovering how high the conspiracy goes…

It also features the now raspy Danny Glover. His character really didn’t ramp up enough on the side he ended on. Mark Wahlberg carried the hero role well enough but didn’t exhibit too much emotional range. The plot resolution was a little unsatisfying but the revenge quotient worked out just fine.

The movie makes a few direct digs about global war and oil. My favourite TV show, Boston Legal, does this fantastically (and with occasional gut busting humour) through the closing arguments of lawyer Alan Shore (played spot on by James Spader). Rhona Mitra is a supporting character in the movie and an ex-cast member of Boston Legal – she was under-used in the movie.

It’s an entertaining enough action movie, though perhaps a little long at 125min.

The last newspaper you’ll ever read…

Filed under: Blogging, Communications, Consumer, Culture, Gadgets, Sheep — colinizer @ 21:02

…unless it needs to go in for repairs.

I’m going at this from a different angle than Robert Scoble.

As much as I’m a gadget and software nut, I recognise that there are still millions of people reading a news paper today, as even more tabloidish as they are on a Sunday.

My angle is about form-factor and consumer device adoption rather than recognising journalism through blogging, etc.

Electronic ink will come along and have a profound effect on the world. One day you (if you read newspapers in paper form today) will acquire a newspaper; it will feel like a newspaper (and you can have the sheet size you want) but it will be the last one you buy (more or less). Its contents will be replaced when the daily newspaper would normally be published. If you don’t have a computer, you’ll do this at the newsagent for a few pennies. It may need also have pages since one sheet or folder out may be enough if you can electronically flick through the pages.

When this happens, it will be adopted by the masses, because it will be an easy substitute and cost far less than a yearly paper subscription. Once the transition has occured then we’ll see the convergence of form-factor between newspaper and PDA like we have today between computer and phone.

I think this, more than the source of the news (which doesn’t necessarily concern the individual newspaper reader today), will affect journalism in a democratising way. This will largely be because the user will be in control of content but in a way that feels familiar.

Later models will animate (perhaps showing video and even maybe sound), have colour and possibly be interactive (at which point you can watch the text book go the same way).

Add wifi/wimax/’wifad’, along with wearable computing and you have a realistic view of the future on what you can expect to see people doing on the train/bus/car(!) within a decade.

So newspapers are not dead, but their form-factor and delivery will almost certainly change.

Saturday March 24 2007

Movie Review: Fido (Speaking of zombies…)

Filed under: Cinema, Review — colinizer @ 16:22

The movie Fido recently had a wider release.

It’s a black comedy about zombies as house slaves and is quite funny at times. It includes the very funny (with crude humour) Scottish comedian Billy Connolly – he has no dialogue in the movie but still conveys his ‘lines’ well. It also includes Dylan Baker who is very well cast in the 1950s-style era that the movie is set in, Carrie-Anne Moss in a great and far from Matrix-Trinity performance, along with new comer and Culkin-like-expression-maker K’Sun Ray.

A delightfully entertaining and original movie. Includes zombie violence, head shots (of course) and bloody feasting.

Retail zombies

Filed under: Consumer, Culture, Sheep — colinizer @ 16:14

When was the last time you went for a browsing in a large furniture outlet? Did you make it passed the greeter? Did you end up with a new living room set? If like me, you dodge the greeter you’re probably familiar with that feeling of the sales people slowly homing in on you… it’s unnerving – like a game of PacMan especially in those larger stores which are like mazes. At they don’t feed on captured prey in packs.

What really grinds my gears (as Peter Griffin would say) is that in most of these situations you’ve barely taken a step inside the building when the crouching tiger pounches and you’re not ready, but when you have real questions there’s no-one to be seen (they have moved to other prey) or they can’t answer the important questions like “OK so what is the call out time on that warranty service you wont shut up about?”.

I was going to called this “retail vultures” (getting people signed up on credit or extended warranties aka “profitable insurance”) but “zombies” better reflects the pace of the encroaching movement.

I happened to walk through a used car lot this week and was greeted with “Hello, are you aware of our sales this week?”. Now of course this is a no-win baited question – the trick is to give them a completely different line that will throw them off long enough so you can run away, or to ask a question that you know will not get an answer but at least requires consultation.

Of course the point is that these tactics and scripted conversations work on the majority of people and result in real sales, but I think I may invest in a t-shirt that says “Yes I’m already being helped” :) I know these are nice people doing what they do well. In other cases they are following marketing orders and I hate to see it extending to undeserving retail checkout people turned into robots with lines like “Do you have a predisposition-spending-more-because-we-said-you-are-loyal card… No? Would you like one?”. Worse than that is the “Will you be using your more-money-for-share-holders loyalty/points/credit card today?” – a presumptuous and potentially insulting question.

How long can you cruise around your local whatever store without being incercepted?

Slow release product marketing

Filed under: Communications, Consumer, Gadgets, Marketing, Sheep — colinizer @ 15:41

Do you suppose that every year or so someone at Gillette thinks “Actually, the best a man can get now includes one more blade – we never thought of that before”? Probably not. But I wonder how long they can keep adding blades – OK, I admit to having a Power Fusion razor with the 5+1 blades.

So yesterday I heard the recently released Rogers (Canada) commercial again saying that their Home Phone service (which they say is not VOIP but I’m sure it technically is – they try to differentiate it because it’s locked down so home-brewers need not apply for the most part), now has free calls between anywhere in Canada if both ends are on the service. Wow – image that, free in-network VOIP calls – how generous… after how long now? OK, so they maybe wanted a certain critical mass of adopters for their service. I’ve been having free VOIP calls for years and I don’t have to pay any fixed rental for it. Rogers is getting my money for a cable connection, so why should I pay to just send data over it? Cue the marketing script response…

This is what I call slow release product marketing. All the potential is practically/probably already in there, but for economic and/or investment-recouping and/or profit milking purposes, you just don’t get the benefit of it, and most people are oblivious enough to think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Look me in the eye and tell me…

Filed under: Communications, Gadgets, Review — colinizer @ 15:25

I recently got a SeeEye2Eye; actually I got two after a clerical error on my part. I envisioned something like this some time ago and happily someone went to the trouble of making one. It basically allows you to look in the camera at the same time as looking at the other person in a video conferencing app; put one of these on each end of the conversation and you are looking at each other eye to eye.

In action picture from the product website

It certainly works but you really need the person on the other end to have one. On the downside: it is bulky; it darkens the image; the depth of the unit needed to incorporate the angled one-way mirror means it can’t be arranged well on one side of a large wide-screen monitor; with a bright screen, lines are added to your camera image due to the reflection of the screen on the plastic ridges in the top of the unit.

Windows Live Messenger can’t be positioned quite properly with it because of the hidden windows/menu frame that prevents the conversation window from being flush with the top of the screen, but that’s a WLM issue and not a show stopper.

So I thought of this a few years ago and someone has made it. Now I’m going to wish for a USB 2.0 device that has a screen and camera combined with eye-to-eye alignment that either can be treated as an additional display that I can position the video window on, or has an SDK that is used by apps like WLM so it can be a dedicated desktop eye-to-eye video conference solution – anyone?

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