NEWS: Guitar Hero coming to XBox 360!

September 27, 2006

Damn right.  Guitar Hero, that really catchy game with the fake guitar controller that allows you to play notes to your favorite songs kinda like a combination of Dance Dance Revolution, Karaoke Revolution, and "Simon", is coming to XBox 360. 

And it looks like RedOctane, the creators of the game intend on producing new songs that you can download to the Xbox 360 hard drive using Xbox Live so you don’t have the play the same songs over and over and over again… like with other <ahem> consoles.

The picture above is a prototype controller that works with the Xbox 360.  (It’s apparently, not the final design, so relax all your uptight design freakshows.)

NEWS: Banner newsday for Xbox360 at “X06” – the Xbox festival at the Tokyo Game Show

September 27, 2006

Wow.  Check this out.  (And by the way, have you bought you Xbox Live Vision Camera yet?)

Jackson Working on New Halo Game: A landmark partnership announced between Academy Award-winning writer, director and producer Peter Jackson, Academy Award-winning screenwriter Fran Walsh, and Microsoft Game Studios will create two new interactive entertainment series exclusively for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live. The first series will be a collaborative effort with Bungie Studios to co-create the next great chapter in the "Halo" universe. The second series will be an entirely original property targeted at bringing new audiences into the captivating world of interactive entertainment. In addition, Microsoft Game Studios will partner with Jackson and Walsh to establish Wingnut Interactive, a studio dedicated to the creation of world-class interactive entertainment.

X06 Halo RTS Announced: "Halo Wars" is an all-new real-time strategy game based on the legendary "Halo" universe and designed exclusively for Xbox 360 by Ensemble Studios, creators of the "Age of Empires" franchise.
Two Exclusive GTA4 Eposides Coming to 360 Live: Rockstar and Take-Two announced they will provide Xbox 360 gamers with exclusive access to two downloadable, epic episodes of "Grand Theft Auto IV" via Xbox Live, each with hours of entirely new gameplay and available only on Xbox 360 just months after the release of the title.

Unnannounced Splinter Cell an Xbox 360 Exclusive: Ubisoft confirmed that the next "Splinter Cell" title, the next installment in the series after "Splinter Cell Double Agent," will be a console-exclusive on Xbox 360, a testament to the ability of Xbox 360 to deliver a complete experience no other console can match.

BioShock No Longer Coming to PS3 (At Launch): 2K Games confirmed that "BioShock," a revolution in the genre that will forever change the expectations for first-person shooters, will be released exclusively on Xbox 360 and Microsoft® Windows next spring.
"Project Gotham Racing® 4," the latest addition to the best-selling racing franchise from Bizarre Creations exclusively for Xbox 360, was unveiled. "Project Gotham Racing 4" promises to continue the "Project Gotham Racing" pedigree of innovation by introducing exciting new experiences to racing fans worldwide.
The beloved "Banjo-Kazooie®" franchise will breathe new, high-definition life on Xbox 360 exclusively from famed developer Rare Ltd.; astonishing next-generation visuals and presentation reunite beloved characters Banjo, Kazooie and Gruntilda — among other fan favorites — with their sharp wit and hilarious sense of humor.

PC/360 Cross-Platform Marvel MMO Coming: Microsoft Game Studios announced its highly anticipated new massively multiplayer online game, "Marvel Universe Online" for Xbox 360 and the Windows Vista operating system, developed by industry luminaries Cryptic Studios, creators of the smash hit "City of Heroes."

Doom is Live on Xbox Live Now: Two additions to Xbox Live Arcade were announced: the first-person shooter that pioneered the network-gaming era, "DOOM®," from acclaimed developer id Software and Activision, is available today for download via Xbox Live Arcade. The hey game includes the original four-episode, single-player game, four-player split screen (cooperative and deathmatch) and four-player cooperative and deathmatch over Xbox Live. Also coming to Xbox Live Arcade soon is "Sensible World of Soccer" from Codemasters. Based on the classic 1994 Amiga title, "Sensible World of Soccer" will let gamers choose between the original graphics or an updated, high-resolution look and feel — while still capturing the original’s entire world of football.

360 HD-DVD for $200 in U.S.: Arriving at retailers in North America, the U.K, France and Germany in mid-November 2006, the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player will retail for $199.99 in North America (estimated retail price)* and €199.99/£129.99 (estimated retail price)* in the U.K., France and Germany. The Xbox 360 HD DVD Player comes with the Universal Pictures’ blockbuster film Peter Jackson’s "King Kong" on HD DVD (for a limited time) and the Xbox 360 Universal Media Remote.

More details at:

NEWS: Halo Wars coming to XBox 360!

September 27, 2006

Halo WarsAwwww yeah.  Halo Wars is coming to Xbox 360.

Microsoft Game Studios announced Halo Wars, an all-new real-time strategy game based on the legendary Halo® universe and built exclusively for Xbox 360™ by Ensemble Studios, creators of the Age of Empires series.

In the same way that Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth 2 proved that real-time strategy games could be successful on a game console, Halo Wars appears to be aiming for a repeat of that goal.  And who better to do it than Ensemble Studios – the folks that brought you Age of Empires… in tandem with Bungie Studios, the creators of Halo.

Must… get… Halo Wars!

DOWNLOAD: Desktop Dreamscapes – 3D Animated Desktop & Screensaver

September 27, 2006

I’m something of a background & screensaver nut.  Consider this to be my cool Windows XP tool of the week.

NEWS: Apple lawyers issuing cease & desist for using the term “Podcast”

September 26, 2006

Actually it’s worse than that.  Apple is releasing the corporate sharks on anyone using the word "pod" in their name like iPodder, myPodder, Podcast Ready, Profit Pod, etc., claiming that it infringes on their iPod trademark.  One of the more popular terms apparently Apple is putting the stomp on, is the actual term "podcast".

Here’s a copy of the letter being sent out.

Considering the amount of public-driven marketing being done by folks independently for the term "pod" I hardly think Apple is in any position to declare the term "built by Apple".  If folks end up bowing to Apple’s corporate legal team of Dewey, Screwem, and Howe, may I suggest the term, "Blogcast" instead?

Or better yet, "Zunecast"?

I stand, humbled.

September 19, 2006

Yesterday, I woke up at the ungodly hour of 5:00AM to shower, walk Sheepa (our dog) – who by the way was just as groggy as I was, and drive into Malibu to go to Zuma Beach.  I ended up parking along Pacifc Coast Highway (illegally apparently) and travelling 3 miles on foot to the beach (@#$%#$) along with several hundred other folks.

You see, my friend Ted, who I consider to be my best friend and was my best man at my wedding, was going to compete in the Malibu Triathlon.

For the record:

  1. I really thought he was drinking the bong water for wanting to do this.
  2. It was WAY too early for any normal human to be up on a weekend.
  3. I don’t watch Triathlons on TV much less go see them.

But nonetheless, I had heard triathlons were a big deal and I didn’t want him to go do this all by himself, being this was his first try at something like this, and I… well… didn’t have a lot of confidence that he’d be able to do the whole thing.

See, a triathlon as you may or may not know, is:

  • a half mile swim in the ocean, followed by
  • an immediate 18 mile bike ride, followed by
  • a 4 mile run over hill and dale

Now, I knew Ted had been training but I didn’t think he’d really been "TRAINING" for this gig.  All I knew was that he had it in his head that he was going to do this thing.

So I showed up.  Which I felt good about I suppose since I was supporting my friend however I was NOT happy.  Walking down a highway at 6:00AM is not my idea of spending a morning.  Walking for 3 MILES is even worse.  I called Ted on his cell at 6:45AM and mumbled something to his voicemail about being late and pissed about the walk then hung up.

His start time was 7:30AM and I had NO idea where he was.  I managed to waddle out into the sand and found a sign that read "Men 35-39" which I assumed was him but I could find a messy haired Chinese guy in this sea of 100 wetsuit-wearing, goggles-bearing, athletes.


BAM.  The gun sounded.  People started scrambling across the sand to the surf.  I started taking photos but then stopped as I looked in horror:  The breaking waves were STRONG and were knocking guys over.  The water was FREEZING cold.  Competitors were scrambling and kicking beneath the waves and were struggling to get to a buoy which marked the starting point of the half mile leg.

You really can’t appreciate what a half mile swim is like until you see hundreds of little white skull caps swimming/bobbing slowly through the waves between the start & finish buoys along the Malibu coast.  The finish buoy was near the horizon… and I had no idea that a half mile could look so far away.

I hate swimming.  Demetri Martin (comedian) once said, "Swimming is an confusing sport… because sometimes you do it for fun, and other times you do it so you DON’T DIE."  My body has the tendency to just sink.  I told me friend Chandler that I’m like Jack from "Titanic".  Just look at me and imagine slipping off of a floating piece of wood: "Blub blub blub."  That’s me.

I didn’t know where Ted was, so I just kind wandered around, every so often peering at the horizon looking for white skull caps to start coming in.  I decided to plant myself near the the location where the swimmers were supposed to coming in.  Here I learned two things:

  1. The swimmers all had RFID tags.  Every swimmer was supposed to cross this electric field of sorts eminating from these pads that sat at the Stage 1 finish line.  As they came in a "boop boop BOOOOOOP!" sounded and the person knew they’d been "marked off" as coming in from the ocean.
  2. There’s a relay.  Apparently, you don’t actually have to do the whole triathlon.  Some folks come in teams of 3, each person doing a "leg" of the triathlon.  Which to me sort of defeated the purpose but whatever.


Ted came out of the water and started trudging to his bike.  I was so startled by his exit that I barely got a photo of him coming out of the water.  He couldn’t even hear me… and didn’t even know I was there because he had earplugs on.

As he made his way to the thousands of bikes in the waiting area, all I could think was:  HOLY SHIT.  HE MADE IT.  HE ACTUALLY MADE IT.  AND NOW HE’S GONNA DO THE BIKE PORTION.

At this point, I didn’t actually know that the bike route was 18 miles long.  I frankly didn’t know a whole lot about triathlons except that they were some how related to the fabled "Ironman" competition.  (Sidenote:  Saying that the Ironman is related to nature to a Triathlon is kinda like saying a Porsche Cayman is related to a Toyota Corolla.  The Ironman is 140.2 miles in length – 2 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, & 26.2 mile marathon run.  A Triathlon is 22.5 miles in length – .5 mile swim, 18 mile bike ride, & 4 mile mile run.  If you know anyone that’s ever done an Ironman competition, you should be in awe of that person.)  All I knew was that he was getting into his bicycling gear and was in for a serious ride.

Why?  Because the route had two uphill sections.  And uphill = uphell.  I missed him coming out of the gate and waited on the side for over an hour or so looking for him to pass by again.

I got a little antsy here.  This was taking a while and I wanted to go back to bed.  But then it dawned on me that Ted was doing a triathlon – he was the one going through hell – and here I am, bitching about having to wait around sitting on my lazy ass watching people whiz past me.  How much of an ass do you think I felt like at that point?

The Cheerleaders

In the meantime, two girls sat on the side of the route where both the bikes and the runners (some individuals had finished the bicycling portion and had moved on to the running portioin due to the staggering of the start times for some of the younger folks) and to my amazement, they cheered everyone on.  EVERYONE.  For over the hour that I was there, these two girls cheered like schoolgirls for every person that went past them.

Remember that I was a little irritable.  At first, the darker side of me was a little annoyed by them being there like a broken record.  After all, hearing, "Yay!  Go [insert company name here]!  You’re doing great!" over and over again can be a little repetitive.  But as I watched people go by and saw the utter pain and sheer anguish in everyone’s faces, I started feeling more and more like a grade A jerk.  Who was I to think poorly of anyone encouraging these folks along?  Christ – these people are doing far more exercise than I could ever hope to accomplish.  I found myself starting to actually shout along with them as I waited for Ted to come back. 

The Near-Crash
Then came the near-crash. 

A girl, who looked like she could barely stand, wobbled on her bike along the path.  Her head hung low, she hit a post and lost control.  She swerved in the opposite direction hitting yet another post and looked like she’d had it.  She just had a look of absolute fear on her face and had tears welling up in her eyes as she entered just the second leg of the triathlon and I said to myself, "I really should go help her."

But I stopped.  I remembered something someone said earlier about the bike section – the athletes had to complete the bicycle leg on the own power or they would be disqualified.  No water.  No help from anyone.  Only verbal encouragement. 

So I yelled at her to focus and that there was no one behind her so to take her time.  She regained her composure, nodded silently in acknowledgment, stared straight ahead and started moving forward.  I don’t know what happened to her but judging by the change in her expression, I’ll bet she made it.

I waited for what seemed like an eternity:  Ted hadn’t come back yet.  It was so long that I suspected something might have gone wrong.  I later found out that I was correct – he cramped up on the uphill incline and was reduced to a fraction of his training speed.  But he did eventually make it back.  In fact, on the final turn he was practically sprinting into the second stage finish.


Which left the run.  The run was a beach-side 4 mile trek that went uphill and back.  As the runners left the gate, I managed to take another picture and noticed that Ted didn’t look bad!  He was breathing well and was running at a good clip, grabbing a cup of water from a volunteer as he left the RFID gates.

I shouted out to him at this point and ran with him for a brief second:  This was the first time he knew for certain that I was there.  He actually hadn’t seen me up until this point.  I shouted that this was the final leg and to keep a steady pace as he ran toward the highway.

I knew he’d have the opportunity to stop and walk if he needed to at this point so it was only a matter of time before he came in.  Unlike the swim, where… well… you can’t exactly stop anywhere, or the bike, where… you have to keep momentum or you fall off, the run is very controlled and even when exhaustion sets in, an athlete can keep moving forward through sheer momentum.

Sure enough after a little more than a half hour, he came hurtling back down the highway.  I caught him at the final 1/4 mile and started yelling at him to kick it into gear and that this was all that was left… the final minute or two of the triathlon.  As I shot some good photos of him, then suddenly burst into a sprint.

Now when I say "sprint", I mean, FASTER THAN I WAS ABLE TO RUN.  Me – the guy that drank sparkling water from a nearby vending machine (BTW:  $2.50 for a bottle of sparkling water?  What highway robbery!) and sat on his duff for over 2 hours.  I couldn’t keep up with him.  He was seemingly unstoppable.

In fact, I didn’t even catch him at the finish line.  I looked for him but I couldn’t find him.  I figured he must have gone back to his bike so I wandered over there, and there he was – the Triathlete – gathering up his belongings at his bike.  And he didn’t look bad at all.  He still had that patented dumb-assed smile on his face, and he didn’t look any worse for the wear.  In fact, he looked like he’d broken a sweat but, well, he wasn’t about to topple over or anything. 

Unlike me.  I probably would have been swearing up a storm about some blister or some cramp that I got.  He got a cramp during the run but he was able to run through it… as if enduring the Triathlon wasn’t enough as it was.


And that led me to a reaffirmation that no matter how much I think I know, I sure as hell shouldn’t ever count people out that have the right attitude – because attitude counts for more than people know when faced with serious challenges.  While I’m more of a git’-er-done, bear-down, grit-your-teeth type of person that just trudges through any situation like a tank doing it’s duty-bound job, Ted always has this ridiculous can-do, optimistic, positive attitude that I frankly tend to mock a lot.  He thinks he can be an Olympic snowboarder.  He thinks he can write a movie script.  He thinks he can get an MBA.  He thinks he can make it big in the stock market.  He thinks he can publish a book.  I always shake my head at his constant damn-fool daydreaming.

But then again, he THOUGHT he could run an Triathlon.  And so he tried.

And well… I stand, humbled.  Good job, buddy…really:   Good job.

INFO: Zune… What’s up with the Brown color?

September 15, 2006

With the announcement around the Zune-branded media player, the most arbitrary question I get asked is, "Why brown?"  The Zune media players are being made available in Black, White and Brown… but why brown?

Well, the answer is a lot simpler than you might think.  Here’s a clip from Fashion Era online magazine talking about fashion trends for this year:

New Colours for Autumn Winter 2006/7 Fashion Trends

New Colours for Fall Winter 2006/7As autumn 2006 settles down, colour fashion trends for fall 2006/7 reveal that warm earthen tones and natural materials gain appeal as women shop for new clothes.

The strongest colours in this palette are golds, reds and violas.

In autumn 2006 the colours for apparel are firmly in accord with nature.  Traditional earthy tones with sun dried rich ochre and terracotta tones gain ground.  Women’s clothes the colour of pollen, honey, scorched gold, burnt earth and fox hues, meander amid a few livelier more shocking tones. Expect surprise with the jewel colours of purple and vibrant rich ruby red.  Urban charcoal greys are enlivened with splashes of the brighter tones and look new because many materials have glazes.  All the images below enlarge.

With both greys and gold tones found in pebbles and stones so currently fashionable, either silver grey or golden metals make a good AW (Autumn Winter) 06/07 choice for jewellery or accessory trims.  Golden sequins, paillettes and beads, shimmer and glimmer on fabrics that appear to look like molten gold and sheets of liquid glistening glass.  Gold is one of the season’s hottest looks.  I’m sure you will find gold dresses and jackets in every autumn range.

(Read the rest of the article here.) 

What a surprise.  From a fashion perspective, the color brown works great with gold, honey and the terracotta pallet. White and black are your all time "won’t miss the boat by much" colors, but brown is a color that matches with fall and winter’s fashionable colors.  If you find yourself scoffing at this attention to detail, remember that much of Apple’s reputation is based on their attention to style.

We’re just trying to get both style & substance into Zune.