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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Alberta to spend heavily on Carbon Capture to reduce greenhouse gases

Cnet's Green Tech Blog is reporting that the Alberta government is investing up to $500 million on initiatives aimed at cutting greenhouse gases. "In all, the government hopes to prevent 200 million tons of gases from getting into the atmosphere. If it hits its goals, emissions will be lower in 2050 than in 2005." Seventy percent of the reduction is planned to be achieved by carbon capture and sequestration, rather than allowing gases into the air the technology being considered would involve "seeding underground aquifers or porous rock formations with carbon dioxide captured in smoke stacks." Alberta of course is Canada's largest oil producer and has a booming economy which is the envy of the country.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Large Asteroid to pass within viewing distance of Earth

The CBC is reporting that NASA scientists are saying "Asteroid 2007 TU24 will pass within about 540,000 kilometres, or 1.4 lunar distances, of Earth early Tuesday for Canadians, reaching its closest approach at 3:23 a.m. ET." The asteroid is approximated as 150 to 600 metres in diameter and is said to have no chance of hitting or affecting Earth. While NASA says asteroids of this size pass this close to Earth about every five years, they only hit the Earth on average once every 37,000 years. Uhhh.... when was the last one?

Standalone Instruments Coming For Rock Band

G4's The Feed is reporting that Harmonix and MTV have announced the upcoming release of Rock Band standalone instruments. "The Rock Band drum set will ship on Feb. 12, for $79.99. The wireless Stratocaster guitar will ship April 1 and will cost $59.99." It's a natural move and one that will make my kids happy as they were only able to find the software version on the release date back in December. It also will make replacing instruments a whole lot easier.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Digital Music Sales up 40% Over Last Year

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has said that digital music sales rose 40 per cent to $2.9-billion (U.S.) over last year but that the increase does not cover the losses suffered by declining CD sales. According to the IFPI illegal downloads outnumber the number of tracks legally purchased by a factor of 20-to-1. This Globe and Mail article points out that revenues from legal downloads was a mere $380-million in 2004. That sounds like a healthy increase to me, and I'm sure that the cost of selling those tracks are much less than the cost of selling CDs! If the music industry had not gouged us all for so long perhaps they'd find a little more sympathy from consumers!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MPAA Says Sorry, My Bad!

In a 2005 study commissioned by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) college and university students were blamed for 44 percent of all illegal downloading of movies. The MPAA has now admitted to "human error" in calculating those figures saying that students only account for about 15 percent of revenue loss to association members but claims the number is still significant. Mark Luker, vice president of campus IT group Educause, says "The 44 percent figure was used to show that if college campuses could somehow solve this problem on this campus, then it would make a tremendous difference in the business of the motion picture industry," and that "any solution on campus will have only a small impact on the industry itself." Perhaps the authors of the study should have spent more time studying and less time downloading when they were in school!

AP article here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Guitar Hero Franchise surpasses $1 billion in sales in North America in 26 months!

Activision has announced that the Guitar Hero franchise of games has sold a cool $1 billion in a mere 26 months! On top of this Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was the #1 title in units and dollars for calendar year 2007, making it the #1 best-selling video game of all time in a single calendar year. Seems as though the newest title is also good for resurecting sales of 70's, 80's, and 90's tunes too, "In 10 weeks since the game's launch, consumers have already downloaded more than five million songs."... at $2 a piece. It certainly is an addictive game fun for the whole family... it's even tolerable at elevated volumes for those of us who grew up listening to the originals!

EA Exploring Ad-based Games and Micro Payments

The BBC is reporting that Electronic Arts (EA) will release a free online version of it's Battlefield title later this year. In a statement, EA's Gerhard Florin said ""People want to play games in new ways, with easier access that is quick to the fun. With Battlefield Heroes, EA brings its first major franchise to North America and Europe with a new distribution model and pricing structure adapted to the evolving way that people play." Battlefield Heroes is geared for the masses with a more cartoon like feel and requires less horse power to play. Ben Cousins a senior producer with Dice the games developer told the BBC that ""We're removing all barriers to entry and we hope there is broader audience for the title. You will be able to play this game on grandma's laptop." For the gamers the Ads will not be intrusive, appearing not in game but on the website and on the front-end of the game. Players will be able to purchase items to customize their characters but will not be able to gain any advantage over other players through these purchases. It's a model that EA has been exploring in Asia and hopes to find success with in the North American and European markets. Seems to me that it's sort of the Wii philosophy of appealing to more players by making the games easier to play, according to the article "EA expected 95% of people who played the game never to spend any money."

Monday, January 21, 2008

U2 3D Better Than The Live Concert?

Eliot Van Buskirk author of Wired's Listening Post Blog appears to have been blown away by the Imax 3D concert U2 3D! "Chalk it up to the impossible camera angles, the breathtaking close-ups and panoramas, or the convincing nature of the latest 3-D technology, but I was really there: watching guitarist-keyboardist The Edge play a Fender Rhodes from a vantage point 4 feet above his head, seeing lead singer Bono's hand reach out to the crowd, and flying through a massive stadium lit up by thousands of cellphones waving in unison like a school of glowing sea creatures."

Now that's a review that makes you want to check it out in person! Not living near an Imax theater will make it tough to take this show in, but I'll be keeping an eye out for showings in other Provinces just in case business or pleasure takes me close enough to catch it.

Canadian Firms Desperate for IT Workers

The Globe and Mail is reporting that IT firms are feeling the results of the last bubble's affect as "enrolment at Canada's computer science faculties has tumbled as students and their parents soured on an industry that lost investors billions and shed so many jobs." A Conference Board of Canada commissioned study, to be released today, shows a need for as many as 58,000 IT professionals over the next year. This demand coupled with "a 36-per-cent to 64-per-cent drop in student numbers", depending on the region of the country, makes for a difficult time for recruiters. According to the article "Phil Sorgen, president of Microsoft Canada, says there simply are not enough graduates to meet demand. About 35,000 new information and communication technology jobs are created annually in Canada, however universities produce only enough graduates to fill about one out of every five of those spots, he says." Looks like a good year to be asking for a raise!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Pleasantly Pleased With Canon Selphy CP740

On Friday I received my new Canon Selphy CP740 photo printer in the mail. I'd not done the research that usually would have gone into a gadget purchase on my part. In this case, I was cashing in points from one of my many rewards programs and was pleased to find that I had enough for this device. The order went in and I'd thought little of it until receiving notification that a parcel had arrived.

The Selphy is a tiny device dwarfed by my HP Officejet 6210 All-in-One, it is capable of printing postcard size (4 x 6) 100 year prints in 16.8 million colors. It's very easy to load both the print cartridges and paper, and prints either via Direct Print which is very handy or USB. I love the prints! I'm not one to print photos normally, just post them online or e-mail them around, but since the printer was not really costing me I thought why not? The only knock on it that I can see after very limited use is the speed of printing, about a minute per print, but it's amusing to watch as it lays down the colors in separate passes. If you are old enough to remember the Polaroid cameras it's a little like watching those pictures come to life... I'm sure there are better photo printers available, but this little guy has found a spot on my desk!

Wired Exposes MySpace Flaw

According to a blog post, MySpace has had a serious security flaw since at least October that was being exploited openly without reaction from the site until the news went mainstream. The bug allowed "voyeurs, hackers, entrepreneurs and lechers" to view private photo galleries and profiles to be viewed without permission. It was so well known in fact that websites such as emerged that took advantage of the flaw and made it easy to peer inside the private postings of thousands of MySpace users. In a Threat Level Blog post, Kevin Poulsen writes "Barely 24 hours after my story hit the front door of, MySpace has, without comment, closed the backdoor, and the websites that were exploiting it are no longer delivering private photos." The question then becomes did MySpace know about the bug all along? If this flaw was so well known that websites have been exploiting it for months why didn't MySpace fix it? Are the that oblivious to what was going on or where they quietly enjoying the extra page views? This will be interesting to follow.