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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mario Kart For Wii Preview - Uninspiring!

Here is a G4TV preview of the Mario Kart for Wii game about to be released in April. I think I was expecting much more from the game and apparently so where Adam and Morgan... check it out!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Apple Sets Sights On RIM's Business

Apple announced yesterday that it was adding "push" e-mail (where e-mail is automatically directed to the phone) to the iPhone in June. This is obviously a move to make a play in the mobile corporate e-mail space where Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIM) is largely uncontested. "Apple is moving much more aggressively toward RIM's space than RIM is moving toward Apple," California-based technology consultant Rob Enderle is quoted as saying in this CBC article. "It takes away RIM's expansion opportunity, but it doesn't necessarily displace them." Enderle also says. In a direct shot at RIM, Steve Jobs is quoted as saying "Every e-mail message that's sent to a RIM device or from a RIM device goes through a [network operations centre] up in Canada,'' and "That provides a single point of failure, but also provides a very interesting security situation.'' I wonder how the market will react to this development? By the way Steve, we're not so bad up here in Canada! Just what are you implying anyway?

Google Street View Team Banned From US Military Bases

After having asked for and being granted permission to a Texas military base, the Pentagon has issued an order to all Defence Department bases and installations to ban access to their sites. At issue is the panoramic street level views that are made freely available on the Internet. "[It shows]where all the guards are, it shows how the barriers go up and down, it shows how to get in and out of buildings, and I think that poses a real security risk to our military installations," Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, chief of the U.S. Northern Command, said. Google spokesman Larry Yu said that the images of Fort Sam Houston where taken down immediately when requested and that "It is against our policy to request access to military bases for the purpose of capturing imagery in Street View," saying also that a Google crew mistakenly asked for access to a base, breaking Google policy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sync Your Outlook and Google Calendars

When I open Firefox my start page is my iGoogle page and the Google Calendar gadget sits prominently on the first tab. I like Google Calendar but I'll have to admit that keeping two calendars going and in sync with each other has caused me to nearly abandon it's use over the last few months. Alas, a solution! Google has created Google Calendar Sync, a downloadable application that allows me to enter events in either Microsoft Outlook's calendar (which I use at the office) or Google Calendar and the application will keep the two in sync with each other. There are options, you can sync either one way or two ways and with Google Calendar you can choose to make your calendar public, private, or available to a select group of users. I can see Google Calendar falling back into my favor now! This is truly a useful development, at least in my case.

Jobs Says Adobe Flash Is Not For The iPhone

Apple CEO Steve Jobs says that Flash is not up to Apple standards when it comes to playing video and where the iPhone is concerned. Jobs reportedly told shareholders that the mobile version of the media player is "is not capable of being used with the web," according to reports from Dow Jones and C-Net. This on the same day that Microsoft announced a deal with cell phone maker Nokia to make the Silverlight media player available on phones using Nokia software. The question is what will Jobs and Apple adopt as it's iPhone player? Does Jobs have something in the works? CBC article here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Nine Inch Nails In The Coffins Of The Record Labels?

On the heals of an arguably successful "pay what you want" music download campaign by Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails is leveraging BitTorrent sites and releasing songs under a Creative Commons license that permits purchasers to remix the tracks, according to a recent Wired article. The bands latest offering is Ghosts I-IV, contains 36 songs and split into four volumes. The first volume was uploaded to Pirate Bay by band leader Trent Reznor (and/or his representatives) where it can be downloaded for free. The entire 36-song version can be purchased digitally in MP3 format for $5 from Amazon MP3 or the Nine Inch Nails website, The move is possible because the band is no longer tied to a label and it has allowed them to get creative with how they sell and market their music. Besides the $5 downloads NIN are offering other packages such as a now sold out $300 "ultra-deluxe" limited-edition package (2,500 copies) that included four 180-gram records each numbered and signed by Reznor. Just wait until other contracts start to expire, it's probably not a good time to be holding shares in record labels.

Haptic Controller Brings Sense Of Touch To Computing

A new haptic controller developed by Carnegie Mellon professor, Ralph L. Hollis, allows users to manipulate three-dimensional images and explore virtual environments with a feel comes close to the sensitivity of the human hand. The device replicates the response a hand might have to textures and gravitational forces but don't expect to see it on a desk near you anytime soon as the price tag is said to be "much less" than $50,000. The device has made it's way to 6 Universities in the US and Canada thus far and new company, Butterfly Haptics, will begin marketing the device in June or July. Globe and Mail article here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Give Yourself A Break!

Here is a great computer generated animated short promoting KitKat chocolate bars in France... it's like they were peering over my shoulder and into my life! Not really, but it is quite humorous just the same , and it reminds me of the Tower of Terror ride at Disney World... with the whole elevator thing... never mind, you just have to watch it.

Alaska Airlines Deploys Virtual Travel Agent - Jenn

Here is a story that I have a special interest in, having developed a number of web and Instant Messenger agents over the last 7 or 8 years myself. Alaska Airlines, and as it turns out the US Army, have recently deployed virtual agents to their sites. While it does not appear as though the technology has taken great leaps forward, it is nice to see commercial deployments and apparently satisfied customers embracing the technology. In this case, developer Next IT spokesman Jeff Brown says “We built out the personality, aware that people would want to test the bounds,” and further “So if they ask questions such as ‘Are you married?’ or ‘Where did you go to school?’ she’s able to answer intelligently, and all of a sudden people’s trust in the overall knowledge goes up significantly. We’re in the business of making her very smart. Basically, besides knowledge, the virtual agent’s image has a past, a current and a future.” The NY Times article discussing Alaska Airlines deployment does not say whether or not Next IT uses proprietary software, the experience reminds me of Artificial Solutions (formerly Kiwi Logic) Interactive Chat Assistant technology. There are also offerings by Microsoft on the horizon after their acquisition of the buddyscript platform, and of course the open source Alice from the A.L.I.C.E. Artificial Intelligence Foundation and Dr. Richard Wallace.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Lego Batman Game Trailer

Wow, 3 of my favorite things all in one great package! A Lego Batman video game... check it out.

Spotting Terror Cells In Online Worlds

The US government has apparently begun a project to spot terrorists at work in virtual worlds. "All of the major terrorist treatises have been distributed through the internet so taking it to a virtual world with multi-player role games is really an easy step." said Andrew Cochran, founder and co-chairman of the Counterterrorism Foundation. Roderick Jones, a vice president of Concentric Solutions explains "Just to feel their way around them and work out what new intelligence collection methods might be required to deal with this threat, because you won't be able to use traditional law enforcement methods." Seems like some of those online foes are more of a threat than one might have anticipated? The BBC has more here.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Intel Dubs New Chip 'Atom'

Intel's announced today that it is naming it's newest chipset "Atom". The new family of chips has two members, a low-power mobile processor for the next generation of mobile Internet devices and a single-core processor for ultra-low-cost laptops. Cnet has more details here.