Archive for September, 2007

Weekend Web

Locate and Share Bad Neighbors Before and After You Move

Maybe I should do this every weekend. Every weekend I’ll blog about a website that I found interesting on the internet. Not necessarily tech related. So let’s begin.

RottenNeighbor.com is an interesting site for people thinking of wanting to move to certain neighborhood or area. With the help of Google Maps, it helps users tag places and tell them if it’s a good area or not. Most of the locations are for North America but it is slowly growing. Almost every major city is commented on. Apparently it’s not nice to live in SoCal.

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Amazon dives into the online music industry

Ten Sentences on AmazonMP3, the Music Download Store | iLounge

After slipping to be the number 4 reseller of music, digital or otherwise the expected Amazon Music store is now online. It is currently restricted to U.S. customers but it boasts 2 million songs. With the recent closure of Virgin Music and Sony’s Connect store, the legal online music downloads is about to begin.

iTunes has dominated online music retail business while it’s competitors have closed shop. DRM or digital rights management drives the digital music industry and long struggled with P2P networks and the move to a digital format. Apple did it’s AAC format and Microsoft with WMA and here comes Amazon with their ZERO DRM MP3 at 256k.

Yes you heard it right. ZERO DRM MP3. Well MP3 doesn’t actually have DRM so there. EMI and Vivendi-Universal Music had announced earlier that they would be selling DRM-free music and it seems that they’ve kept their word.

There are gaping holes in the 2 million catalogue of songs they have but it Amazon redirects you to purchase the actual CD if you really want it. Songs are priced competitively at $0.89 and $0.99 as well as the albums which should really give iTunes for a run for it’s money for the next few months.

Amazon has done it right but for how long? The same could be said of the iTunes store when it started and now after all the money that has been spent on the store we can now see the greedy arm of the music industry coming into play. How long can Amazon keep their DRM-free music as well as the rest of the industry to jump in.

It’s very hard to discuss the future of online music when it’s only been less than week. But we cannot deny that it is welcomed.

What I would want Amazon to would be to tear down the walls of restriction between countries. I’d gladly purchase music from Japan or France but due to the music industry’s restrictions we’ll have to wait on how they will tackle this.

The music industry is sadly lagging so far behind on the digital curve and if they don’t adapt the music industry will be doomed. They attribute their losses to music piracy, but what would lead honest people to pirate their music. Unavailability. By denying or even delaying music releases in other countries and people want to hear it now, would lead people to get their music elsewhere if they cannot get it legally. Those advocating subscriptions for music are out of their minds.

So until I’ve actually bought music off the store, I’ll post again on this topic.

Halo Day

Bungie.net

By now, Halo 3 is in the hands of many Xbox owners in North America. It is currently set to be the largest gaming event since the console launches of Nintendo and SONY last year.

I know I stopped blogging about games here. But I got tired of moving from one blog to another and it seems that my gaming views are not that far off from my tech views. So to kick off my return to blogging about games, I shall begin with Halo 3.

I never owned the original Xbox, although I’ve played through the original game on my mac (ironically was originally created for the mac before Bungie was acquired by Microsoft) I skipped the second installment (it came out the same time as Metal Gear Solid 3) and now we have Halo 3.

It cannot be denied that this is the one game that somehow kept the original Xbox in the gaming map but now it enters into very different territory. It’s life begins as the console is the number 1 selling next generation console (although debatable with Wii sales still surging a year after launch). Most people buying the game originally had the first two games on the original Xbox and now it has a much bigger audience with the success of Gears of War and Bioshock. No doubt they will buy the game (I would too). But it’s on the heels of their recent admission of hardware failures.

This is the one thing that brings this game (and so many others) to a level even below of the PS3. Consumer confidence is quite low on the hardware itself. Everyone I’ve known who owns a 360 has had it repaired or replaced within 12 months of owning the thing. I also brought mine for replacement. This is sad. I am afraid of playing Forza even if they say that it wasn’t the game’s fault for breaking a console, but over 50 pages of user reports of hardware failure related to the game can’t all be wrong.

I’m sure the guys at Bungie did their job. And once I get my hands on the game I’ll post something here, but if the console that it plays on wont last long enough for me to finish the game (or any other for that matter) it’s a sad waste of gaming greatness.

Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles

I know it’s been out for quite a while now and it was only recently that I had the opportunity to watch it. And I must say that it was worth the wait. Based on one of the most beloved anime of all time, Macross , Mospeada and Southern Cross was merged together by Harmony Gold in the United States to bring about Robotech.

I remember Robotech in the 80s. It was shown every afternoon and I must admit I didn’t start watching it until 1988. Now with digitally remastered versions on DVD they finally make a worthy sequel in the form of The Shadow Chronicles.

The animation is impressive for an American production. The 3D animations of the mecha blends well with the 2D animation of the characters. Even if the cast is not as big as we would’ve expected (after all this waiting you’d think they’d cram everyone in there), it stands on it’s own. It borrows some plot lines from Jack Mckinney’s Robotech book “The End of the Circle”. The sad thing about the series is that this is no direct to DVD movie. This is a TV series pilot at best.

I don’t want to spoil the movie for people reading this. But if you have the entire Robotech collection DVD and is a big fan of the series, go ahead and buy it. But if not and you’re just looking for something to pass the time just rent it and hopefully the next movie will come out soon.

Slimmer Macbooks Comiing

Slim Aluminum MacBooks Coming Soon from Apple | 9 to 5 Mac

In an entry in 9to5mac.com says that thinner and smaller mac book pros are on the way. These could land as early as this Christmas season.

My take on this is that it’s about time. One thing that prevented me from cashing in the intel portables was that I found a lot of it to be too cumbersome. I mean, you would have to be in business class in order for the mac book pro (15″) to fit on your tray table on airplanes. It weighs a ton when you’re lugging your things all over Europe and the battery life is not something to write home about.

So yes, I am going to buy this when this comes out just as long as it’s not a gimped mac book. For my needs, the mac book just cant cut it for me anymore. With that kind of chipset I might as well hang on to my trusty 12″ powerbook that I’ve had like forever.

And also I don’t want all my 12″ accessories to go to waste like my crumpler bag.

It still wont play on my iPod fool!

NBC to offer free “NBC Direct” download service, iTunes competitor – Engadget

NBC counters iTunes in this round by offering their shows for free via their website which should eventually lead to a paid service in the future.

What part does NBC doesn’t understand? TV is inherently free. The said “free” shows are only viewable on your PC and only have a license for 5 days. These cannot be transferred to your portable device and is only compatible with PCs.

NBC joins other networks such as CBS and ABC who also put their shows online. But unlike ABC, it is not mac compatible. All have ads on their website in order for them to show it for free. NBC promises that a paid service will be available (other than their deal with Amazon Unbox).

Sure NBC can charge and bundle whatever they want on their website but one thing remains. It still wont play on my iPod. That is what matters to me. The consumer. My needs. If it doesn’t satisfy my need. Why should I even pay for it? Are they deliberately ignoring the millions of iPod users and mac users with this move? Why don’t they get it that I’ll just TiVO the show, or join others that live on torrents.

We’ll see where this goes.

Would I really want one?

Apple – iPod touch

It had to happen sooner or later. Apple ships to stores the iPod touch. To put it simply, it’s an iPhone without a phone and an additional 8GB of drive space. But would I want one?

Reviews published on the internet are mixed at best. There’s no bluetooth, no email application, no camera, no external speaker. Why should I fork out my money for this one? For places such as Asia where the iPhone has not yet been announced it is an attractive option. But with the unlocking hacks popping all over the internet, will it really matter?

The limited battery life and storage capacity on the iPod Touch doesn’t make it a must have device. Especially when you can get one with phone capabilities for the same price. With the largest capacity at 16GB, it’s not exactly impressive by today’s standards. Now the question begs, should Apple have released the iPod Touch earlier than the iPhone?

Judging by how the the iPod touch was constructed it would seem that it was easier to make than the iPhone. I would have bought a “wide screen” iPod than a new phone. The last phone I bought was two years ago. The phone could’ve come later. But with Apple entering the crowded mobile phone market with the iPhone, is it all driven by revenues? Even if Apple only captures 1% of the market. It’s worth a lot more than the portable music market which they currently dominate.

Just today Apple and O2 announced their partnership in an event in London which slowly brings the iPhone out of North America and into Europe. When asked of the lack of 3G into the phone, Steve Jobs replied that current 3G chips are “power hogs” That would significantly affect the performance of the iPhone as a phone.

It seems that Apple is waiting for HSDPA to come into it’s own as it is faster than both EDGE and 3G and most networks are currently upgrading their services to support this system. I guess we’ll have to wait until Macworld in January for any new announcement.

So with all of this happening, should one still buy an iPod touch? In my opinion. Yes. If you want the touch screen and widescreen fancy iPod, then by all means run to the Apple store and cash in. Yes if you already have a phone that you’re happy with. Yes if you can’t wait. Yes because it seems that Apple is willing to wait for newer technology that would make their phones more efficient. And video output is possible on the iPod Touch but not the iPhone.

Now why shouldn’t you buy an iPod Touch.
1. The iPhone is better.
2. It’s like saying, “I can’t afford an iPhone so I got an iPod Touch”
3. The iPhone is now unlocked, no reason to deny yourself the phone.
4. It could be better. (Battery life, storage, among other things)

So until I get my hands on either one. I may hold out for this one. But I still want one. And now I can’t decide.