Friday, 21 January 2005

Slashdot | Games Better Than Books? There is a precedent here: HSBC, in the UK, (then Midland Bank) used to use Theme Park (a theme park management simulator) as a management training tool. Now, I was pondering this the other day... I wouldn't go so far as to say that games could be better than books, provocative though that may be, but I would argue that more should be done to leverage modern gaming technology in teaching. The two key things that most games already offer are the need to solve puzzles and the need to make decisions.. The latter, in my view, is a critical weakness in most modern education systems. Kids are encouraged to make choices, but not decisions (ie. choices that may effect others).

Computer game evolution has leapt in recent years, with the advent of multiplayer online gaming. This has not only brought a much-needed social aspect to computer gaming, but it has made games less predictable, more open-ended... more like life. If the US army can use these things for training, even offering cut-down versions for free on the Internet, then why can't we leverage this stuff better for kids?

Games will never substitute books - that's absurd, like saying TV or radio would. But what they can offer is a degree of immersion and interaction far beyond previous media; a chance to ignite those young imaginations while retaining the informational input, and even testing their skills and knowledge.

Wednesday, 19 January 2005

CIO Jury: Apple 'irrelevant' to businesses - Now, notwithstanding my evident Apple bias (typing this on a powerbook), the only comment from this jury that shows real insight (or foresight, even) is the last one. For one thing, Apple are not targeting the mainstream corporate market. It's a bit like advocating high-end mercedes benz cars as fleet sales rep cars. Furthermore, the opinions that Apple products are over-priced are, in my experience, based on ignorance of the products in question, rather than knowledge. I suspect that none of these CIOs would claim their Merc was "overpriced and irrelevant". It's the classic overly-defensive CIO syndrome: in the absence of knowledge, be indifferent and/or dismissive. As the CIO of DrKW says, it has potential, but it's not there yet, and it may never be unless corporate IT systems move away from a desktop and OS-centric approach. Without the mac, it could be argued that Microsoft would still be touting command prompt-based OSes, rather than Windows. Apple are many things: niche, design- more than feature-oriented, haughty, litigious... but they are not irrelevant.
3G: forget video, what about unified messaging? This is what I meant about the impending importance of voice messaging, Simon. Sure, voice-controlled machinery is still ropey, but voice is still the number 1 communication tool of choice for techno-phobes and -philes alike. Yet the tools we use to manage these recorded voices are crude at best. Why can't I manage my voice messages as easily as I can manage email? With the increase in VoIP and 3G comms, I think that unified messaging may just finally have its day.

Tuesday, 18 January 2005 | Crunch time for Apple . A good, concise summary (as ever) from the Economist about Apple's recent launch of the Mac mini and Shuffle.

Friday, 14 January 2005

BBC NEWS | Technology | World tour for top video gamers... Cyberathlete Professional League? I'll only choose to recognise computer gaming as a sport when they have their first e-steroid scandal.
How do we make XML faster? - Builder UK... I seem to remember debating this on the tube about 2 years ago with Tim Velvick (The Velvick Underground), and my argument was then, and is now, that it's not a software issue, it's a network protocol issue. XML itself is not slow, the transportation of it is. Therefore methods should be found to transport XML messages faster, probably at the network protocol level - like SSL, only for speeding up certain types of traffic, rather than encrypting them.
Linux company chalks up success with teachers - ZDNet UK News... finally, a successful, altruistic use for Linux, rather than techies and companies penny-pinched into using it. I'm utterly amazed nobody thought of this before. Cheap, portable and hackable... what better use for this OS is there?

Wednesday, 12 January 2005

Hacker breaches T-Mobile systems, reads US Secret Service email | The Register... while this is an intriguing, cat and mouse story of trendy, hi-tech derring-do, I can't help thinking the motives are a little sad. No romantic, ethical defections or high stakes heists. Just a poor kid who wanted a job in computer security, so he breaches a significant site, and instead of reporting it to get kudos, gathers and tries to sell info from it - presumably for financial gain and kudos. He got to the crossroads and chose the dark side.

Makes you wonder what the USSS are missing... I mean, imagine if some Sith lord type got hold of this talent and mentored them...

Tuesday, 11 January 2005

Open-source database gets backing | CNET Now this is long overdue, in my opinion. One of Linus Torvald's reasons for releasing Linux, and a key tenet of open source, is that some pieces of software become so universally used that they transcend ownership. An OS is defined as the piece of software that enables applications to talk to hardware. Nothing more, regardless of what the Microsoft marketing leviathan may say. And that's how Linux started. If Linux can take on Microsoft, then why can't PostgreSQL take on Oracle?

Software is, and always will be, a service. That's why it's soft. The sooner companies wise up to that, the sooner the industry will deliver what its customers demand, and should expect.

Monday, 10 January 2005

How the music biz can live forever, get even richer, and be loved | The Register... an interesting transcript I had overlooked, from a convention back in September, that discusses not only the current and future state of the music industry's approach to DRM, but also, unlike so many critics, proposes a solution. Not bad, considering he's addressing a room full of music industry barons. Memorable quote:-

...because of digital technology, you think your rights are worthless. They aren't. You need to monetize them in two ways: by ensuring that there's a revenue stream for things you can't count, and finding new bottles that you can count.

Nicely put. Now, if he could just do the same for my other bugbear: battery life (, then I'd be willing to hail him as a guru. Notable stat from this article: ...the amount of energy that a battery can store (its energy density) is growing by 8% a year. Mobile-device power consumption, meanwhile, is growing at more than three times this rate. That, and the hilarious prospect of America's "Future Force Warriors" lugging 15kg of batteries around with them. Wonder if they've factored in the multi-adaptors and docking cradles into that figure??

Wednesday, 5 January 2005

MS out of the bundling business? | The Register. Here's an interesting analysis of the EC's bitch-slap of Microsoft, with some enlightening comparisons to the IBM anti-trust cases in the 80's.

On a more emotive note, Will Eisner, the reknowned god of comics and creator of the first comic dubbed a 'graphic novel' died yesterday aged 87. His main legacy, other than his amazingly timeless works, is in the form of the annual Eisner Awards - the comic book equivalent of the Oscars. If you're a comics skeptic, who tends to view the medium as little more than Garfield or Peanuts, I suggest you investigate the inspiration for at least a quarter of all the major studio movies in the last couple of years. For the rest of you, there's an excellent set of tributes on Neil Gaiman's blog here

Finally, and on a lighter note, here's an interesting quirk... go to href=""> and see where you end up. Weird, eh?

Tuesday, 4 January 2005 | Software takeovers. Who says the software industry is boring? I've been wondering what all this M and A action in the industry has been about. I originally thought it was just medium and big companies beachcombing after the dotcom tsunami, but it has gone on for a while now. Perhaps a reflection of the instability caused by entrenched incumbents on the one hand and the free-wheeling, revolutionary open-source movement on the other hand?