Friday, 24 December 2004
For next year, though, I think portable gaming devices will be the ipods of 2005. With Nintendo DS already in the States, Sony's baby playstation, the PSP, out in Japan, and Europe's own Gizmondo heading to the States soon, all with 3d graphics and wireless capabilities, there will be plenty for consumers to choose from, and for prospecting developers to work on.
Speaking to friends and colleagues of similar age to me about computer games, they really fall into three camps: those who have always been gamers of one sort or another, be it rubics cubes or Halo 2 online, those who were (re)introduced to gaming by the playstation and are enjoying the party aspects of it and possibly the online aspect. Finally there are the skeptics, who see computer games as something to have grown out of, either because they are inadequate challenges to the intellect because they are just machines, or because their lives are too busy to spend playing games with/against a machine.
Let's face it, for years computer games, even more than computing itself, had been the refuge of the self-absorbed, or the social misfits, or simply the misunderstood gaming addicts. Then came online gaming, which transformed it into a truly competitive, social, teambuilding activity. Some games, like Grand Theft Auto, even made gaming cool. But not mainstream.
What these portable devices will bring is the power and splendor of modern online gaming: the amazing graphics and sound, the absorbing gameplay, and most importantly the person to person competition - it's virtually a sport in some countries - to the skeptics. It's LAN parties for non-nerds. Adhoc, interactive, challenging, social, and, most importantly, anywhere. There: my prediction of the truly global phenomenon of 2005.
Thursday, 23 December 2004
Oh, and one interesting quote from the comments under the article: The developer prototype for the next-gen XboX is an Apple G5 running a heavily-updated Windows NT:PPC, they're already in the wild. This may be why MS bought Connectix, makers of VirtualPC. Could this really be true??
Monday, 20 December 2004
From Lord Hoffmann’s remarks in the judgement by the House of Lords that the British government is wrong to detain foreign terrorist suspects indefinitely without trial:
This is a nation which has been tested in adversity, which has survived physical destruction and catastrophic loss of life. I do not underestimate the ability of fanatical groups of terrorists to kill and destroy, but they do not threaten the life of the nation. Whether we would survive Hitler hung in the balance, but there is no doubt that we shall survive Al-Qaeda. The Spanish people have not said that what happened in Madrid, hideous crime as it was, threatened the life of their nation. Their legendary pride would not allow it. Terrorist violence, serious as it is, does not threaten our institutions of government or our existence as a civil community….
Such a power in any form is not compatible with our constitution. The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory.
Now here's an interesting dilemma for a leading edge company: to sue a leaker of secret designs, prior to their release, or to keep the profile low and downplay speculation? Well, since the company in question is Apple, we have high corporate self-protection and its usual distinct lack of shyness. So, they're sueing the unnamed person, leading to speculation that the previous speculation had some truth to it. So one of these design concepts for a flash-based iPod could be the real deal. We should know in January.
Saturday, 18 December 2004
"My topic today sounds humorous but unfortunately I am serious. I am going to argue that extraterrestrials lie behind global warming. Or to speak more precisely, I will argue that a belief in extraterrestrials has paved the way, in a progression of steps, to a belief in global warming. Charting this progression of belief will be my task today. "
Friday, 17 December 2004
Slate: Who is going to take the blame?
Inman: I think we'd better stop there.
Slate: We can't go opining about certain members of the administration?
Inman: No, no. Not gonna do that.
Slate: And the administration has sealed most of their documents for years to come.
Inman: Yeah, the historians are going to have a field day in 30 or 40 years.
On a not dissimilar subject, I was intrigued by an article in Wired about the prospect of a visual google. Finally a practical use for those bloody camera phones!
Found this interesting site on my web wanderings today. Peter Cochrane is a proponent of some serious thoughtware, and it's fascinating to read not only his thoughts, but also about his personality and life. Picked up this poem from there too:-
With Clean Hands
O great Spirit,
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to the world, hear me!
Let me walk in beauty, and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy - myself.
Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset, my spirit may come to you without shame.
The author is apparently an unknown native american indian. Nice, simple sentiment.
Wednesday, 15 December 2004
I'm still not sure whether to take Microsoft's PR as dangerously delusional about the state of the world and their position in it, or whether it's all some carefully calculated manipulation. It's all gone a bit Bush Administration...
Tuesday, 14 December 2004
Meanwhile the lumbering giant in Redmond enters the desktop fray (ZDNet UK News) with a bunch of pilfered ideas, and their usual marketing: it'll be embedded into all your apps (if they're all Microsoft) and it'll be faster (with appropriate minimum hardware spec), and the info is private because your webpages aren't cached, unlike with other products (which panders to populist privacy concerns because the other products don't share this info in any traceable way). So, once again, they are competing to further entrench their position, preying on users' FUD rather than innovating and taking a few interesting chances.
Monday, 13 December 2004
More fickle competition now: Yahoo! News - Sony takes on Nintendo in portable game console market with PSP - nice to see Nintendo getting some competition in the portable game marketplace, although I can't help wondering why Sony didn't do this years ago, or if they had good reason, why they're suddenly deciding to compete now. Will this be just another Sony niche product, or will it be a Walkman? Time will tell...
Tuesday, 7 December 2004
Next up: Security bugs take a bite out of Apple - except, unlike in PC land, only in theory. Has anyone targeted these systems? Are there any viruses or trojans out there that exploit these weaknesses? No! That's the smug delight of being a mac owner! I think I'd only ever use a PC now from behind the relatively less bothersome safely of a corporate firewall.
Monday, 6 December 2004
Isn't there a danger that such games blur the line with reality enough to entertain and beguile, but not enough to convey the horrors and the dangers? Fooling the head, but not the heart may create a worrying imbalance for tomorrow's soldiers. (See the Hugo and Nebula award-winning novel 'Ender's Game' by Orson Scott Card for a fascinating study of this).
Interesting article on Voice over IP and how it is anticipated to affect the main players. Most notable is the speculation that 3G mobile telcos could suffer the most from it, especially if WiMax takes off.
Economist.com | In praise of P2P
Also, here's a classic Economist summary of P2P technologies. Best quote: 'P2P does away with the “popularity penalty” that makes desirable content difficult to obtain. With systems such as BitTorrent, the more a file is in demand, the more available it becomes.'
Economist.com | Plugging in, at last
And finally, Internet through the powerlines is actually looking feasible - with an interesting spin-off that the power companies will be able to use the data network to improve the reliability of their network.
It looks like convergence is finally on the way - a decade late, but hey, Rome wasn't built in a day, and getting global infrastructures to change in a decade is still quite a remarkable feat.
Monday, 29 November 2004
It's strange that, even before the boom and bust, similar figures were being touted about software development projects (when I was at Uni I think it was 55% of IT projects that failed). So what did the Internet boom and subsequent bust teach us? Nothing, it seems. There was so much innovation to do, that boring basics like ensured delivery were in few software providers' interests, and the customers' expectations were kept focused on the innovations. Nice to see the industry is starting to settle down and address the age-old problem.
Or is it? I wonder whether lifecycle tools and agile methods will address the fundamental issue of software invisibility. Also, unless such tools can be seamlessly integrated to other tools, like project management tools, the usual communication issues will continue to exist.
Thursday, 25 November 2004
Too cool! This has tremendous potential in all sorts of ways
Napster nips into newsagents
Wednesday, 24 November 2004
Wow... seems even the most ardent anti-Microsoft campaigners have their price. Albeit quite a high one - I think most people woud be tempted by such a sum.
One slashdotter quoted the anecdote:-
Man walks up to beautiful lady and asks her "Would you sleep with me for a million dollars?"
The woman replies "Why, of course."
So the man says "Would you sleep with me for one dollar?"
To which the woman replies"What sort of a woman do you think I am!", and slaps the guy in the face.
The man, unfazed, says "I think we've established that. We're just haggling over price".
Monday, 22 November 2004
Panasonic braves Linux-inspired wrath of Ballmer | The Register
I bet Gates wants to shoot Ballmer. Of all the places in the world to be ignorant to others' sensitivities, he had to pick Asia. He comes up with some half-arsed mafia-style threat... to a region notorious for the Triads. He's a grade A monkey-dancing buffoon. Between Ballmer and Bush, the yanks are losing serious global kudos.
Tuesday, 16 November 2004
The world's patent systems need reform so that innovation can be properly rewarded... and there it is in a nutshell, as the Economist does so well.
Fascinating outlook from a guy who has extensive, well-known experience on both sides of the software fence (commercial/open source).
It hints that the bottom line seems to be resources. Is open source effectively just global, autonomous resource management?
Friday, 12 November 2004
I wondered what had happened to Winamp... A shame in a way, although, as one of the commenters says "it's not about the product it's about the people". The only real losers are AOL. I'm sure Frankel and the others were quite happy with their shares of the $100m purchase price, right in the middle of the boom. And the fact that their next idea was Gnutella (didn't know that) means that they clearly aren't one-trick ponies.
Score one for the little co. nerds, I'd say: for knowing that time is a significant component of software's value (after all, it has no material value), and for having the confidence to flog a massive idea, secure in the knowledge that they'll have more ideas so no need to clutch this one.
Monday, 1 November 2004
...again! Such vacuous statements tend to indicate a lack of real news because, unlike most other disciplines, when Internet strategists look further ahead, they lose credibility. Sure, we can all see the potential for mobile comms, and a better, smarter Internet. But the Internet is the new frontier, and like any frontier, it's bigger on ideas than delivery. It still delivers, but in a highly evolutionary way - lots of mistakes, with the odd spurt of growth. Also, unlike any frontier before, it is not constrained by physical geography, but by the evolution of society's thought, as a whole (yes, including those people who aren't online - precisely because they aren't online!).
Between where we are now and Gaia we have to evolve as a global, connected society.
Thursday, 21 October 2004
So the answer to software piracy is cheaper hardware..! So even software business issues are a hardware problem! Presumably the logic is that cheap, crappy hardware can't run the expensive software.
What about free software, Mr Ballmer? Wouldn't that reduce software piracy?
A good way for a mgt guru to get headlines, but does it really have any merit? I'd agree that the basic premise is sound: Linux does appear on devices, and drag apps off onto the Internet or the open-source market. Is it a threat to Microsoft? Sure, quite a refreshing one for the market, and even for Microsoft, I expect. Killing them? Hardly. Not even close, I'd argue. The key variables for predicting tech future are the standards: how mature they are, and who owns them. MS Office is still the de facto office standard, and MS are contemplating moving it onto the Internet as a rented service. So they can and do change their business models.
Open standards merely provide MS with a choice: to adhere to them completely, or to 'extend' the standards, ensuring that they can read such standards, but that compatibility is merely a non-default choice for the customer. Simple example: MS Office for Mac 2004 cannot read MS Powerpoint 2003 for Windows XP files. The message there is "unless you use our OS, you get token compatibility".
The only love I can see MS extending to Linux is a token: thanks for providing some competition and hopefully keeping the monopolies commissions off our back.
Friday, 15 October 2004
Thank god I didn't upgrade my iPod last week. Nice to see Apple are taking the sensible approach, and not even trying to make it play video on the screen (like I want to watch my favourite films on a postage stamp sized screen, with battery life shorter than the film!), but instead opting for just pictures and a video-out socket.
Wednesday, 13 October 2004
Now this is an interesting dilemma for Apple: do we sue and supress (and risk alienating our advocates), or do we applaud and promote in the hope that: "A lot of people can try out OS X and see how beautiful the environment is... It makes it easier to spend money on the hardware if they see how beautiful it is."
I couldn't agree more, but how this will go down with Microsoft is a good question, as is the question of support for the multifarious PC hardware configurations.
Tuesday, 12 October 2004
Another case of M$ shifting the goalposts... Is belligerently ensuring that anything produced by them requires their technology:-
a). anti-competitive behaviour
b). viral ?
The correct answer drawn randomly will receive a copy of Windows XP...
Sunday, 3 October 2004
Tuesday, 7 September 2004
A useful illustration of Microsoft's complete incomprehension of open source. It's free, guys, as in no catch, for the good of society, for others to do with as they see fit (except make money). It's not about who wins, it's about nobody losing, except the person who did the work originally - which is their choice.
It's Microsoft's combative spirit that has made them this enviable goliath, that has arguably brought open source into existence, as some sort of antithesis (nemesis?) of Microsoft's capitalist principles. In any other industry, these principles would be incontestable. But in software, the marginal cost of production is 0, nada, zip. Therefore, is software a product or a service?
Sunday, 5 September 2004
Dell, prisoner of the Beast of Redmond | The Register
Interesting take on the M$ kickback issue, demonstrating, once again, that the playing field is still not level. I find it hard to believe that as much as 25% of Dell's profit is from Microsoft kickbacks, though...
Saturday, 14 August 2004
Finally, somebody's figured out that the internet medium is different to traditional publishing - requiring fresh tactics. I like the principle of micro-publishing - that's what this instantaneous, democratic distribution medium is all about. Gone should be the days when the publishers or record companies rule the market. Their reign was traditionally held by their distribution networks - they were the bulk of the cost, but also the source of the protected position the big companies held. As an author/artist, if you wanted distribution, you had to sign a contract in blood with one of these big players. Now, global distribution is a facility freely available to any 6-year old, any artist, any writer. All they need is an aggregator/editor and PR. Creatives of the world unite...!
Sunday, 1 August 2004
Interesting article. Justification, if it ever were needed, that multi-platform game development is not only feasible, but beneficial. After all, they do it for PS2 and Xbox, so why not macs? What's doubly interesting, for the mac fan, is the Blizzard endorsement (source notwithstanding) of the built-in Apple Xcode dev tools. It's something that budding developers and games designers should heed, and, for that matter, Microsoft. Why should a punter have to shell out an extra £500 to write software that endorses your platform (and not other, in MS case)?
Tuesday, 27 July 2004
Good insight into the Apple USP, with an excellent comparison to HP, of all companies. It's a well-balanced article, too, not just criticising or lauding Apple's techniques, but rationalising them in the context of the market.
Friday, 9 July 2004
Naturally, it uses OSX Quartz rendering. Would be an excellent addition to iChat for Tiger - pushing it even further ahead of the field. No doubt Windows users will be extolling the virtues of it as an amazing Longhorn innovation... in about 3 years, after it's been on the mac for 2!
Friday, 2 July 2004
On Sun, Java and Open Source [printer-friendly] | The Register
The above is an interesting article, not just on the debatable stance of Sun's stewardship of Java (as opposed to open sourcing it), but it also discusses the political aspects of technologists and their approaches to standards.
Monday, 28 June 2004
90nm chips are industry-wide stumbling blocks - even for Intel - so Apple's chips won't get much faster any time soon
Apple have the best displays - rivals actually buy their discards. They've revamped the 23" and introduced a new market-leader: the 30" flatscreen monitor. 4.1 megapixels, and powermac only as it needs new dual-DVI graphics cards to drive it.
OSX - 12 million people using about 12 thousand OSX-native apps on it.
Tiger - new OSX
Features: 64-bit unix, spotlight searching (sort of natural language querying for files), h.264 codec for high-def video (inc. iChat), RSS feeds in Safari, Core image/video, dashboard for common widgets, Automater (visual scripter).
Friday, 11 June 2004
Wednesday, 12 May 2004
MoveableType 3 Demo (@ BBC Digilab, by Six Apart)
Interesting comments from the presenters about the potential future of blogging and its implications for journalism and corporate communications. 3 key examples:-
Corporate blogs: a more open company..?
Some companies (eg. Macromedia) have publicly accessible blogs for nearly all members of their corporation. You can literally go to the blogs section of their website and see what the CIO, or whoever, has to say - and post your own comments. Their view was that this wouldn't necessarily replace press releases, but would hopefully supplant them in popularity.
The beeb guys thought this was a great feature for internal comms (at ~25,000 people, it could be better), but in terms of public access, would almost certainly undermine the editorial discretion that is the hallmark of the BBC.
Netting the niches: reaching narrower community interests
Examples were given of the old mini-newspapers that used to circulate in cities to let people know what shows were on, where the cool restaurants were, local exhibitions or gigs, etc. These had been drowned out, by and large, by the big publications and by the dissolution of web publishing (every venue publishing their own website). Blogging appears to have re-enabled and enlivened these niches, not so much because of the blogging concept but because the technology is effectively Content Management Lite. It's the easy, cheap and powerful version. This, I believe, is probably where it has the best potential for corporate application - more a guerilla app, than a killer app.
Blogging = journalism?
Some bloggers have made a name for themselves and have readerships bigger than traditional publications. Some have subsequently been hired by these publications. Also, some 'traditional' journalists who have started blogging have enjoyed the instant feedback that they get from their posts, helping them to shape their articles not just on journalistic research, but on feedback from an earlier article. [Let's face it, how many times have you silently, but quite vehemently, cursed or praised a magazine or newspaper article, yet not picked up the phone or written a letter?]. The Six Apart guys' view was that blogging wouldn't supplant traditional journalism, but complement it. A refreshingly modest view from a traditionally over-hyped sector.
The debate rages about blogging's importance. There is a certain 'dear diary', self-obsession stigma felt by the public at large, which prevents widespread adoption of blogging in its current form, but with the advent of 'moblogging' (blogging from your mobile - with pics), I suspect it's only a matter of time before blogs become as natural and commonplace as family photo albums.
Time Magazine's blogs
VNU Publishing's blogs
Searchblog (John Batelle: ex-Wired editor)
Dan Gillmor's eJournal - Silicon Valley news
Friday, 7 May 2004
In case you didn't know (and I didn't) the difference between the various flavours of unix-based GUI systems (OSX, X11, Xfree86 etc.), here's a handy guide - esp. in explaining how the various versions interact.
Saturday, 24 April 2004
Interesting snippet from the Open vs proprietary software debate: two good opposing cases put by an HP/Samba rep and a Microsoft rep.
Wednesday, 21 April 2004
Oops. Interestingly, the response is more worrying than the threat, I think. Although the article doesn't discuss the implications of someone exploiting the flaw (easy to fix? irrevocable damage?), it would seem it has some very senior people worried about the potential implications. Could this be the first inkling of cyber-terrorism, as opposed to the vandalism, fraud and personal exploitation we've experienced thus far?
Tuesday, 20 April 2004
This is the M$ achilles heel. The future is media convergence: the current internet will become as books are now - a comprehensive, yet slow method of absorbing and dispersing information. Peer to peer video will rule the media mindshare. The fact that Microsoft are so precious about this, attempting to hook Windows Media player into Windows, in the same way they did with Internet Explorer, is testament to that. IE won the browser war, and in doing so, established itself as the 'Internet OS' of choice. IE has set its own Internet browser standard, making the onus on developers *not* to use IE-proprietary standards.
This is the next major battleground...
Sunday, 18 April 2004
Wednesday, 7 April 2004
Interesting article: some useful figures & anecdotes.
Friday, 26 March 2004
As Zhubov once said, as the industrial revolution automated, the information revolution should 'informate', which, by and large, it has. Not bad for a 1981 prediction. Time, perhaps, to leverage the intellectual assembly line…?
Tuesday, 23 March 2004
More evidence that the music biz has to change. It's inevitable that it will move from an advertising and hype-led industry back to a consumer-led industry. The only thing that can stop it is legislation: either to protect/defend the big studios directly, or to lock the music down tight everywhere - in reality probably as a consequence of some fundamental IPR legislation
Wednesday, 11 February 2004
Heh - cute article poking fun at M$ approaching open source. Useful fodder for a more insightful analysis of what on earth M$ are doing near OSS.
Monday, 9 February 2004
Go mac! Suspect this is something most macheads have known for a while, but it's nice to hear it from an experienced practitioner.
Interesting... a mini-Microsoft in the making? They've already got the 'DOS' phase sorted with what's widely acknowledged to be the best monochrome navigation interface. Symbian was touted to be the Windows of the mobile world, so maybe...