— Hugo Hackenbush (@MangyLover) January 9, 2014
PlayStation Now looks very well thought out:
•Both rental and subscription plans will be available
•PS4, PS3, Vita, and 2014 Sony Bravia TVs will be supported initially, expanding to other platforms in the future
•PS3 games will be supported at launch, with nothing to announce regarding older, back catalog (that is, PS2, PS1) games yet
•Games will stream at 720p resolution
•Games can be saved in the cloud, letting you pick up your saved game on another device later
•Multiplayer is supported between players using PlayStation Now, as well as the ability to play against people who are playing using a disc
Easy to get to, available on any Sony platform, the ability to play across platforms — what’s not for a Sony devotee to love?
There’s been a lot of talk that the game console as we know it might be dying. Casual gamers are happy with iOS and Android, hardcore gamers build their own Windows (or even Steam) rigs, leaving a smaller and smaller fraction of the market to consoles like Xbox and PlayStation and Nintendo. (Nintendo might already be on the way out as a console maker. We’ll see.)
But even if the console age is waning, PlayStation Now might very well inject fresh life into it. I only see three real obstacles.
• The price. Unannounced.
• Broadband speed. 5mps “recommended,” but more is always better.
• Vita has yet to take off as a mobile gaming platform the way Android and iOS have.
Pricing is easy. If you don’t have enough buyers or renters, lower the price. There’s nothing really to be done by Sony about broadband speeds, but they can safely assume that eventually the situation will improve. And Vita… jeeze, just make it a cross-platform app already and let people rent and play games on the mobile device of their choice.
Sony’s problem is that sometimes they’re a hardware company like Samsung, making Android phones. Sometimes they’re a platform company like Apple, with PlayStation consoles. And now they’re kinda-sorta acting like a software company with PS Now.
Those are three different skill sets, and it’s difficult to master any one of them.
That aside, PS Now looks impressive on paper and I can’t wait to see it in action.
I don’t usually follow these things — I haven’t watched the Oscars I don’t think since E.T. lost to Gandhi — but apparently Sandra Bullock won everything at the People’s Choice Awards.
And I’m in total agreement.
Melissa and I watched The Heat last weekend, and it took us over four hours to watch a two-hour movie. It usually takes a while for the parents of small children to watch anything, especially anything R-rated. But it wasn’t the kiddos this time. Bullock and her costar Melissa McCarthy were so funny together, we kept having to pause the movie because we were laughing too hard to hear the next gag. And then we’d rewind to hear the last gag again, because it was so funny. It’s impossible to imagine seeing this movie in a theater without missing at least half of it. We’d have had to buy four tickets and sit through two showings.
I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard at a movie. At a guess, I’d have to go back to 1988 and A Fish Called Wanda.
So congrats to Sandra Bullock, but Melissa McCarthy deserved all that Sandra got and maybe more.
Texas man kills Bigfoot, plans to take on tour:
“It is the real deal,” [Bigfoot hunter Rick Dyer] told the station. “It’s Bigfoot and Bigfoot’s here, and I shot it and now I’m proving it to the world.”
Dyer, who did not return a request for comment, has yet to release more pictures and the results of these tests, but he has shown about 130 people the body in a video of their reactions.
Many of the people seemed convinced as they entered the vehicle and looked down at the body, which apparently has been preserved quite well considering it was killed 16 months ago.
“Oh my gosh. Why is he so tall?” asked one boy in the video.
“Because he’s Bigfoot, man!” Dyer explained.
Everything’s bigger in Texas.
Yes, I know this has been making the rounds and, no, I’m not upset that the Washington Post is totally stealing my schtick. Although I have been getting a lot of questions along “as a vodka drinker, are you offended to be lumped in with all the lefties?”
It’s true that I am a vodka drinker. It’s also true that I’m no lefty. But I also enjoy scotch — a lot. And I’ve spent the last couple years really honing my appreciation for bourbon. Summer afternoons are most often filled with proper gin martinis or gin & tonics. I sip fine tequila on the beach and I make a mean margarita here at Casa Verde on Friday nights. Weekend mornings often involve mimosas. I drink (and cook with) lots of red wines, but most often zins, cabs, and pinots. Colorado is home to many fine beers, which I also drink. Although recently I’ve been on a pilsner kick and so I’ve been buying stuff from Germany and the Czech Republic — new suggestions welcome, please!
So to paraphrase George Thorogood, I really really really really really really like booze.
When I launched VodkaPundit twelve years ago next Friday, the first name I thought of for it was “ScotchPundit” because scotch is what I used to drink more than anything else. But the name sounded too stuffy (or perhaps focused on Scotland), when what I wanted to imply was a certain insouciance.
And to my mind there is no cocktail more insouciant than a vodka martini. It lacks bourbon and scotch’s haughtiness, it doesn’t have gin’s herbal complexities, it won’t leave you naked in a dumpster like tequila. A vodka martini is light and airy, and bright with a twist of lemon. Brighter still with a twist of lime. It goes down easy and might even make you feel a little smarter, if only for a little while.
So, yes, VodkaPundit.
Just don’t try to put it on any chart.
Tis almost the night before Christmas — but there’s still plenty of time to load up the DVD player or stream from Netflix. So make lovely adult beverages for you and yours, and mugs of hot cocoa for the kids.
I should also mention that I’ve never once been able to sit through all of It’s a Wonderful Life, so there’s a good chance I’m a terrible person with retrograde taste in holiday entertainment. So with that out of the way, let’s look at what we do watch every year here at Casa Verde.
Apparently there’s some kind of bitter feud amongst the Love Actually-haters and the Love Actually-lovers, but I’m here to resolve those differences by gently reminding you that the Love Actually-haters are possibly less than human, almost certainly dead inside, and at the very least are incapable of simple human emotion.
Here we have every love story crammed into one breezy and perfectly paced gem of a movie. There’s romantic love, new love, young love, lost love, love that bridges the language barrier, brotherly love, lustful love, the love between a sister and her institutionalized brother, and perhaps the most touching of all, the love between a step-father and the son he finds himself caring for alone. The scenes between Liam Neeson and young Thomas Sangster are by themselves worth the price of admission. And every Anglophile will love Rowan Atkinson’s two pitch-perfect cameos.
There’s some language and some comical nudity, so this one might not be for the kiddos — but prove to me you aren’t dead inside and learn to love Love Actually.
My 2009 Mac Pro is still running fine and fast, and I really have no need for the absurd power of the new Mac Pro.
But my Amex feels itchy, anyway.
Replacing the massive 47-pound milled aluminum tower under the desk with a small, sleek, and nearly silent cylinder which would fit comfortably and stylishly next to the Drobo on top of the desk?
The gotta-have-it-factor is out of this world for a workstation.
I know I run my share of Bad Cop stories, so how about a good one for a change? This isn’t a new story, but it’s new to me — so here you go:
The Baltimore Humane Society honored Officer Dan for compassionate service this week for his actions in rescuing a Pit bull after responding to a call about a “vicious” dog on the loose this past May.
For those that don’t know his story, Officer Dan arrived on the scene and and saw a Pit bull being chased by kids who were throwing glass bottles at him. He called the dog over to him, and the Pit bull came over, sat next to him and began licking him affectionately. After taking the dog to the Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCS), he ended up adopting the dog a few days later and named him Bo. The Baltimore Police Department interviewed Officer Dan this week and he recounts his and Bo’s first meeting in detail (see the video below).
Officer Dan told WBALTV News, “I’ve always been a dog-lover. I’ve had dogs all my life, so coming across him was no problem,” Officer Dan said. “He didn’t need to be like euthanized or anything like that. He just needed somebody to basically love him.”
I’ll be back later. There’s something in my eye.
While one widely held view maintains playing video games is intellectually lazy, such play actually may strengthen a range of cognitive skills such as spatial navigation, reasoning, memory and perception, according to several studies reviewed in the article. This is particularly true for shooter video games that are often violent, the authors said. A 2013 meta-analysis found that playing shooter video games improved a player’s capacity to think about objects in three dimensions just as well as academic courses to enhance these same skills, according to the study. This enhanced thinking was not found with playing other types of video games, such as puzzles or role-playing games.
I haven’t played Halo in ages, but maybe it’s time to teach the seven-year-old of the awesomeness of the Master Chief.
Not even I’ve been naughty enough to deserve one of these in my stocking.
That moment… pic.twitter.com/3c4zz9nbQm
— Stephen Green (@VodkaPundit) December 10, 2013
A while back I wrote that Melissa and I had given up our expensive and ultimately unfulfilling fling with CFL lightbulbs. We must have spent a couple thousand dollars putting them all over the house, but as soon as the ones in the outdoor sconces die off, we’ll be done with them completely. I’ve been experimenting with different brands of LEDs, and Glenn Reynolds’ mention this morning of Cree’s bulbs reminded me to finally write up what I’ve learned.
The first lesson is: Brand counts. When it comes to incandescent bulbs, your better brands tend to last longer but they all produce the same high-quality light we all know and love. LEDs however vary widely. For the purposes of this column, I’m putting halogen bulbs in their own category, even though they too produce incandescent light. We’ll get to them shortly.
We’ve tried four brands of LEDs, with extremely mixed results.
My least favorite — and keep in mind, these are subjective observations but I am very picky about the quality of light in my home — are the bulbs produced by Philips. They look super-modern, which is what drew me to their reflector bulbs for the ceiling cans in my studio. The R30 size looks like the Pan Am spaceship from the orbital transit sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Everything else about them represents the worst of LED lighting. The light they produce has that sickly feeling that screams “cubical” instead of whispering “warm and comfy living room.” The light doesn’t emit evenly from lens, which might not be so annoying if the bulb didn’t stick out from below the can — but it does and so it is. There’s also a good half-second delay between flicking the light switch and when the light can be bothered to come on. It seems to have a very broad dimming range, but the light simply becomes fainter and sicklier and less pleasant the lower you dim it. (We’ll talk more about LEDs and dimming problems in a minute.) The Philips bulbs were also the most expensive. I have one in the studio and two (R20 size) in the bedroom and I can’t wait to ditch them all.
Next up is Feit, which produces a astounding range of LED bulbs. If there’s a size, wattage, or application you can even just imagine, they probably make it. That part is great. The reflector bulbs light perfectly evenly (unlike Philips), and the light is more pleasant. Of all the brands I’ve tested, theirs seem to have the longest power-up delay. But the R20 reflectors produce good-enough quality light for the kids’ rooms, which is nice because little boys don’t always remember to turn off the lights. In fact, this one time one of them might even have remembered. Anyway, Feit’s bulbs are moderately priced and their performance is acceptable — if you can live with that on-delay.
We’ve put EcoSmart bulbs in the garage and in a couple of other rooms, and I’m happy with them. Screwed into fixtures with that mock alabaster glass cover, the light they emit is almost indistinguishable from incandescent bulbs. They come on instantly, too. They dim as well as any LED is able to. At full brightness, they produce a lot of light. We have two of those alabaster-type ceiling fixtures in our laundry room, which used to hold two 60-watt incandescents each. The LEDs are so bright, that I replaced them with two 60-watt equivalent bulbs and two 40-watt equivalents — and then still had to put the whole shebang on a Lutron dimmer. And then I rarely turn the dimmer up more than halfway. So instead of running 240 watts in there, we’re now running maybe 20 watts — did I mention they produce a lot of light? That’s some serious savings, especially for moderately-priced bulbs.
Above is Gal Gadot, recently cast as Wonder Woman in the next big-budget, big-spectacle Superman movie.
Below is Lynda Carter from the cheesy ’70s TV show.
I know which one I buy as an Amazon warrior princess.
Yeah, I’m going to need you all to send me $300,000, maybe $400,000 just to be safe.
And if you’ll click the link, please notice the item description indicates that this is a “non-firing” Han Solo blaster.
This is the newest member of the family, Remy the Pirate Girl. “Remy” because Melissa noticed she has cognac eyes. “Pirate Girl” because that’s what my three-year-old wanted. We’ll get an eyepatch for her for Halloween.
Until just a few weeks ago, Remy was a stray, picked up by Golden Retriever Freedom Rescue. They do great work, and I can’t thank her wonderful foster family enough. She loves the grownups, loves the kids, tolerates the cat, and mostly stays off the sofa when we’re looking.
She’s a good girl.
Always a sucker for a cool new dinosaur find — yes, I am still a seven-year-old boy — I just stumbled across a little (big) something from Ars Technica:
A new fossil of a giant predatory dinosaur has shed light on the North American ecosystem during the Cretaceous period. The new species, Siats meekerorum, is a member of the allosaurs, a group of large predators that predate the tyrannosaurs that dominated later in the Cretaceous. By filling in a gap in the fossil record, Siats has helped paleontologists understand the changes that took pace during the transition between these groups of apex predators.
The fossil of Siats isn’t going to be the centerpiece of a museum display; the bones that are available are largely from the spinal column, accompanied by a few of the limb bones and variety of other fragments. Fortunately, the allosaurs are well known from examples on other continents, and the skeletal fragments show a clear relationship to a specific group of allosaurs called the carcharodontosaurs. This allows the paleontologists who discovered it to infer things about the physical appearance of the body parts that haven’t yet been found.
Although only a juvenile, the beast was probably already 30 feet long and was likely to weigh four tons.
That’s a big puppy.
The Cayenne was one thing, as a sporty entry into a class that already started at a luxury price point, Porsche’s SUV entry found its calling and became an instant player. But with the Macan it’s different. This segment is as mainstream as it gets, and the players in it are decidedly ordinary and for the most part, uninspired. Will it stand out? I have no doubt whatsoever that it will. But I also get the feeling that Porsche is placing itself on the precipice of The Abyss, staring at a product leap that could inexorably alter its future, whereupon it becomes too common and too part of the mindless suburban crawl, or for performance-luxury manufacturers, what’s known as The Dark Side.
That Porsche was once exclusively a maker of sports cars that had a narrowly defined appeal with a hard-core group of enthusiast drivers – both for the brand’s enduring engineering quirkiness and the fact that when driven hard, the cars – the hallowed 911 in particular – demanded a considerable level of skill from its drivers in order to maximize their performance potential – seems like a distantly quaint notion now.
(That link might have gone stale by the time you read this, since De Lorenzo doesn’t use permalinks on his columns until they go into the archives.)
I’m not a Porsche Man. I’ve already owned one five-months-a-year car here in Colorado, and it’s just a silly expense. That’s doubly true since we have two boys to put through college, and I want them to live long enough to get there. It’s one thing to steal the keys to the Mercedes truck one weekend, and quite another to “borrow” the Porsche. But I’ve always been glad to know Porsche Men are out there — guys with the money and skill to buy a challenging sports car and to drive it the way it ought to be driven.
If Porsche ever loses sight of that — their core customers and those of us who are happy just to share the road with them — it’ll be a corporate crime at the capital level.
Mac Rumors has the report:
Following a September report stating that Apple may be working with Quanta Computer to develop a larger-sized iPad, Digitimes is now reporting that the Taiwanese-based manufacturer has landed the contract to mass-produce the tablet for the second half of 2014. Just last week, a report had claimed that the larger iPad was being targeted for an early 2014 launch.
The article also mentions that Quanta is expected to face difficulties when assembling the larger iPad because of its unique industrial design and assembly, which could also lead to constrained supplies:
Quanta is expected to encounter several challenges in terms of industrial design and assembly when making the large-size iPad. And since the size is not the mainstream specification, order volumes are expected to be limited, the sources said.
Leaving aside Digitimes’ (ahem) uneven reputation, that last bit doesn’t really pass the sniff test. Apple is hardly known to expand a product category just to fill a niche with low-volume sales.
I thought Xbox One was the right product marketed correctly. Sony has enjoyed more of a lock on the hardcore gamer audience, even if the PS3 was harder on developers. PS4 looks to have corrected that slight, while keeping the marketing focus (and product specs) on the gamers. Xbox was from the first generation meant to be more of a living room device. To that end the hardware, especially comparing the 360 to the PS3, was made easier for developers to work with. Taking things further with this third generation, the “One” in “Xbox One” is supposed to mean it’s the one device you have to plug into your television. It even offers HDMI In so that the console can act as the go-between with your TV and cable box.
But it all depends on execution, and that’s where things aren’t looking so great at launch time:
After about a week of using these voice commands every chance I could, I found them to be adequate but far from perfect. As evidenced by the above video, the voice commands were accurate about 80 to 90 percent of the time, depending on the command, the clarity of the voice, and the location of the speaker. The one significant exception to this rate was the “Xbox on” voice function, which only registered about 25 to 50 percent of the time when the system was in Instant-On mode. The system didn’t do much worse than normal at picking up commands through crosstalk, occasional stutters, and mumbling, but it occasionally refused to acknowledge slow, deliberate commands.
The 10 to 20 percent of commands that the system either ignored or misinterpreted was right on the line between “annoying but usable” and “frustratingly broken” to me. Having to repeat yourself once every eight or nine times is annoying, sure, but scrolling through a cluttered menu just to find the settings screen is arguably more annoying than saying “Xbox go to settings” even if you have to do it twice.
Reviewer Kyle Orland later says, “It would be nice if the system overall was a bit more forgiving or smarter about how it interprets voice commands as well.” Considering Microsoft has been pushing “natural language” use for years and years, it’s difficult to understand why they can’t make anything nearly as good as Apple’s Siri or Google Now. Another complaint is that it took two hours to transfer one particular game from Blu-Ray disc to the hard drive — and that’s a mandatory process. Apparently you can’t play directly from the removable media with these new-generation consoles. But if you’re going to require players to do that, you must absolutely make it as quick and as painless as possible.
Sony is going to make gamers (and developers) happy with PS4. Microsoft will almost certainly have more than enough high-quality, Xbox-exclusive titles to make the One a success, too. But if they’re going to conquer the whole living room, they’ll have to do better than this.
Maybe the Germans have a word for something which amazes you without shocking you.
The end of the report also stuck out:
Meanwhile, file sharing continued emaciating on many fixed-access networks as streaming video options like Netflix, YouTube, and others proliferate.
File sharing now accounts for less than 10 percent of total daily traffic in North America, down from the more than 60 percent it netted in Sandvine’s first Global Internet Phenomena Report released more than 10 years ago.
Five years ago, it accounted for more than 31 percent.
So it turns out, if you make movies and TV shows readily and easily available at a decent price, people don’t pirate them nearly so much.
That headline is why I’ll never, even if broke and starving, eat Libby’s Potted Meat Food Product. Raiding a Safeway for munchies at 3AM one weekend, one of my hooligan friends suggested I read the label on the little can he was holding up. I did, and then immediately committed that one ingredient to memory, even though I don’t really know what it is, to remind me to never never never ever eat Libby’s Potted Meat Food Product.
See, even when semi-wasted at the tender age of 21 in the wee small hours of the morning, I can read and remember stuff and maybe even make something like a sensible decision. A few years later, I saw on TV exactly what partially-hydrogenated oils were, and right then and there swore off of most junk food, most of the time. They may be yummy, but those trans-fats — well, they’re pretty gross.
But this is what grownups do: We see things; we learn things; we make decisions.
But that’s not good enough for the FDA, which is going to war against trans-fats whether you like them or not:
Under the proposal, which is open for public comment for 60 days, the agency would declare that partially hydrogenated oils, the source of trans fats, were no longer “generally recognized as safe,” a legal category that permits the use of salt and caffeine, for example.
That means companies would have to prove scientifically that partially hydrogenated oils are safe to eat, a very high hurdle given that scientific literature overwhelmingly shows the contrary. The Institute of Medicine has concluded that there is no safe level for consumption of artificial trans fats.
“That will make it a challenge, to be honest,” said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the F.D.A.
They’ll outlaw yummy things because they know better than you. And besides, since ObamaCare and Medicare and Medicaid put all of us in this together, we can’t be allowed to take our own risks — they’ve been collectivized. When we’re all wards of the state, the only ones allowed to be grownups are the politicians and the bureaucrats.
Apropos of nothing, I’d just like to remind you that the Left loves accusing the Right of being “paternalistic.”
There’s a documentary coming, too, which I’ll watch with a big bowl full of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs.
H/T, Virginia Postrel.
When I saw the headline to this story, I briefly considered filing it under the silly “News You Can Use” category.
Not after reading the details:
The nightmare began on January 2, 2013. New Mexico resident Eckert was driving out of a WalMart parking lot when he didn’t make a complete stop at a stop sign, and was pulled over. Law enforcement thought he was “clenching his buttocks,” and obtained a search warrant from a judge to search his anus for narcotics.
But Eckert’s lawyer is raising concerns about the validity of the search warrant, saying that it was broad and lacked probable cause. In addition, the medical room where Eckert was taken was outside the jurisdiction of the search warrant, making the searches performed on him illegally.
Police from Deming, New Mexico took Eckert to an emergency room to undergo the anal cavity search, but a doctor refused to perform it because it was “unethical,” according to the lawsuit. But a few hours later, doctors agreed to perform the search.
It wasn’t only one search. An x-ray of Eckert found no narcotics. Doctors performed a search of his anus with their fingers. Again, nothing was found. On three separate occasions, doctors inserted an “enema”–a device used to induce bowel movements–into Eckert, and he was forced to defecate. They x-rayed him again. Nothing was ever found.
There really is no end to the depravities of the drug war. I hope this guy takes that department, the individual cops, and the doctors for everything they’re worth.