Wired has an excellent writeup of the new Xbox One. It was just revealed to the public yesterday, but Peter Rubin got to spend some quality time with one over the last few weeks — the lucky bastard. It’s an impressive piece of hardware, like any new console should be. But here’s what I think makes it a winner:
When the 360 launched, smartphones hadn’t yet trickled out of the corporate world; Netflix was strictly a DVD delivery service; the “cloud” was something that got in the way of a suntan. (Hell, in 2005, people suntanned.) And a big part of the 360’s longevity was Microsoft’s ability not only to develop games but also to forge partnerships that took advantage of these new staples of online life. So as those deals proliferated, so did the things the Xbox 360 could do. People played Halo 3 on their Xbox, but they also watched Netflix. They bought Kinect sensors for controller-free experiences, but they also burned through seasons of Deadwood on HBO Go and caught sports highlights on an ESPN app. But all of this new functionality was built on patches and firmware updates. The 360 simply wasn’t constructed that way, so when the Xbox One was greenlit in the fall of 2011, “the decision wasn’t, ‘We need a gamebox,’” Whitten says. “It was, ‘We need a living-room experience.’” Built that way from the ground up.
This is Microsoft playing at the absolute top of its game (no pun intended). They’ve leveraged everything they’ve learned about gaming, consoles, services, and streaming, and worked them together into a single system. To call the Xbox One a mere “console” is to undersell what it is and what it does. This is an entertainment system-in-a-box, all for a few hundred dollars.
How was Microsoft able to do this, when they’ve pretty much flubbed every single other consumer device they’ve tried to build in the last few years? How did the company that build the ill-fated Zune with its infamous “Squirt” feature manage to get something so spectacularly right?
Haunting Melissa — the first-ever app movie — produced by Neal Edelstein and with a script by me — got a nice launch last week. The ghost story that pushes itself to your mobile i-device got coverage from ABC, Fox, Bloomberg and CNN, among dozens of other places. It was named Best App of the Day by the Best App of the Day namers. And has been climbing rapidly up the bestseller lists.
It’s a free download. Make sure to turn on the push notifications and to use a headset. And let me know what you think.
Crossposted from Klavan on the Culture
Government loans, grants from the Department of Energy, and private parties, pooling money in hopes of creating the next “Apple” of autos have flooded the “green vehicle” market with a motley crew of “earth-saving” cars. There was Fisker. There is Tesla — as well as an array of “EV” models added to mass-market brand portfolios… everyone and their cousin is jumping on the wagon to create an electric car. In the midst of this scramble, a historical EV maker has been revived.
It’s almost been two months since the new and improved Detroit Electric was relaunched to the world. Albert Lam, former Group CEO of Lotus Engineering Group and Executive Director of Lotus Cars in England, is the mastermind behind this historic company’s revival. The original “Detroit Electric” (also Anderson Carriage Company) produced electric cars from 1907-1939 but eventually went bankrupt due to the stock market crash of 1929 and its inability to keep up with the battery’s main competitor: the combustion engine.
While the American dream supports Detroit Electric’s pursuit of happiness (and success), I am not 100% sold on what D.E.’s niche will be… what will make them stand out compared to its competition? The start-up EVs tend to be super-cars on a veggie diet… or electric sports cars. Tesla has its sporty Model S and now we have, essentially, an electric Lotus Elise in the Detroit Electric SP.01. Keep in mind, buyers also have another luxury option in the electric BMW ActiveE.
The hybrid super-car competitor for Tesla and Detroit Electric, Fisker, is currently exploring bankruptcy and Tesla just made a profit (after 10 years). Do we really need another electric sports car? It sounds like something isn’t working… and it think it’s the price-tag.
I’m pretty sure they’re already on the endangered species list, but this news won’t help replenish their numbers:
After mentioning on Twitter that the newly announced Star Wars games from DICE and Visceral will be running on DICE’s powerful Frostbite 3 engine, Andersson responded to a reader concern that this will mean the games will not be available for the Wii U.
“[Frostbite 3] has never been running on WiiU,” Andersson tweeted. “We did some tests with not too promising results with [Frostbite 2] & chose not to go down that path.”
This statement follows a Eurogamer interview from March’s Game Developers Conference in which DICE’s Patrick Bach admitted DICE “could probably make a Wii U game in theory” but said the company is not currently interested in devoting “development time” to the system. “To make the most out of the Wii U, that’s a different game because of the different peripherals. We want to utilize all the power of each console… It’s about ‘where do you put your focus?’ And the Wii U is not a part of our focus right now.”
So it’s not just a question of focus but a question of performance.
“Underpowered” was cute for the original Wii, which Nintendo was able to sell at a profit from the very first unit. But the company’s ambitions were much bigger for the Wii U — which doesn’t appear to be up to the task.
We have a new rivalry: the Google self-driving car vs. the General Motors “Super Cruise.” The tech world is all revved up about autonomous cars; it’s like Minority Report meets Back to the Future! But before we start singing “A Whole New World” from Aladdin, we need to take a step back and evaluate the feasibility of the implementation of the technology.
Cars are already available with semi-autonomous features: cruise control, automatic breaking (for objects that enter the car’s sensor fields), parallel park assist, and new features that guide cars back into their lane if they veer too much. The new Cadillac “Super Cruise” is attempting to one-up these features: it can steer the car within the lane, and will make the driver’s seat vibrate if the car veers out of bounds. It can also brake and accelerate to maintain a “selectable distance” between the car and those in front of it. Proponents of semi-autonomous, and future (fully) autonomous, cars argue that this technology will lead to safer roads, less accidents, better gas mileage, and less need for mistake-prone humans to be driving. I disagree. What about the imperfect nature of our new chauffeurs: computers?
I’ve been using Apple computers since the 1980s, and I’ve lost track of how many I’ve owned.
(Right now I have two — an iMac desktop and a MacBook Air for travel/emergencies.)
I’m not an expert, just a (very) longtime user. And a smug one.
One thing we brag about is that viruses don’t tend to affect us.
That’s why installing anti-virus programs is not only unnecessary (most of the time), but can actually mess up your machine.
The last time I brought my (previous) iMac to the Genius Bar, complaining of slow performance, the Apple Store guys just trashed the anti-virus software and my machine was back to normal.
As far as viruses are concerned, Macs:
a) represent such small market share that malicious pranksters usually don’t bother targeting them, and
b) Apple continues to “harden” its hardware, operating system, and apps to keep invasions to a minimum.
That’s why it’s especially important for Mac users to download the very latest version of the OS X and other Apple software and apps.
(Here’s a great and very recent article about Macs and viruses that covers the special circumstances when you might want to install anti-virus software.)
We are the land of the free, home of the brave, and a country proud of the red, white, and blue. However, the color green also seems to be working its way into the fabric of America in the form of eco-conscious automobiles. Although an increasing number of Americans are buying electric vehicles, I am skeptical that Americans will completely make the switch. It isn’t America’s own cautious nature delaying the transition into electric cars; we have real reasons to be dubious that electric cars can fully accommodate our needs. In short, electric cars are not ready to meet the needs of American drivers.
1. “Reliability” is not its middle name.
As consumers have sought relief from climbing gas prices, interest in electric vehicles (EVs) has increased. In turn, rising sales have put more pressure on EV-manufacturers and dealers to expand service and offer more reliable cars… creating headaches and growing pains for the fledgling industry. Electric cars are still a new idea; thus, not all the bugs have been worked out. Case in point: Tesla.
Many car companies are adding EVs to their lineups, but only one company can call itself “all electric.” Tesla, the flagship of high-end electric vehicles, is a rising star in the EV world. Its cars are cool and offer some of the longest-range batteries available. Also, uch to the joy of taxpayers, it is set to repay its Department of Energy loans ($465 million) back five years early. Cha-ching! Despite its success, this rising “Michael Jordan” of the automotive world has stumbled. Tesla’s VERY profitable Model S was the unfortunate subject of a negative article that appeared in the New York Times a few weeks ago — the writer’s Model S was plagued by low battery, was described as having to limp from charging station to charging station, and supposedly broke down due to cold-weather effects on the battery. A group of electric car owners, literal Tesla “roadies,” got together and decided to clear the name of the Tesla Model S. Their successful trip mirroring that in the Times article, and a foray into the computer of the journalist’s Model S, cast some major doubt on the authenticity of the article; however, it also cast some serious doubt on the capabilities of the Model S and other electric cars.
If batteries start on fire due to salt-water exposure or are possibly compromised due to more extreme air temperatures, electric cars are going to be fighting an uphill battle to prove their usefulness. In fact, in some areas of the country, they might not be possible to operate. To those who live in hurricane-prone areas, the “mini- arctic” in the north of Wisconsin and Minnesota, and the oven-like states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas — you live in EV nightmare-land. State-by-state analysis of EV viability isn’t going to fly; these cars need to work everywhere — otherwise, why buy them?
I’ve asked movie and music industry insiders to explain their respective businesses to me, and never end up any smarter than I start out.
How can Lyle Lovett’s album sales amount to $0.00?
How can Return of the Jedi still be in the red?
Or take Ed Driscoll’s post last week called “Hollywood’s Special Effects Industry is in Crisis”:
As Life of Pi won the Oscar for Best Visual Effects, the venerable facility that created those effects – Rhythm & Hues – declared bankruptcy, and they’re hardly the first to close their doors due to financial problems. Debra Kaufman pulls from her 25 years of experience covering the industry to take a close look at how the creators of some of cinema’s indelible images are falling prey to dysfunctional business models.
As you’ve likely guessed, the bloated, ever-evolving technology required to bring those Jurassic Park raptors to virtual life is so costly, it burdens production companies with insurmountable debt.
We often read about how many weeks or months — or even years — it takes to create glossy special effects that last only seconds on screen.
Is that really a sound business model or a smart, efficient way to make anything?
I hear Buddhism is big in Hollywood, but surely they’re not basing their creative process on the making of sand mandalas – are they?
It wasn’t always like this…
After reading about a newly published scientific book titled The Mystery of the Shroud, which attempts to prove that the Shroud of Turin actually dates back to the time of Jesus, I planned on writing what you are about to read.
Then, an hour before my scheduled writing time, I “just happened” to notice a Facebook post that read:
Christmas was the promise — Easter is the proof.
That phrase truly resonated with me because of the word “proof.”
But do believers really have proof that Jesus was resurrected from the dead?
After twenty years of reading about and studying the Shroud of Turin (and even viewing it in 2010), I have all the “proof” I need. Although let me state emphatically that my faith — and the faith of most people who are celebrating “Resurrection Sunday” today — does not depend on any physical proof whatsoever.
For we know that Jesus is alive and His Spirit lives in us; that is all the proof we need.
Still, physical proof of Christ’s resurrection would be useful, especially when one tries to convince loved ones to believe in what more than a billion people around the world believe today.
So what if this new Shroud of Turin scientific study really does prove conclusively that the Shroud cloth dates back to the time of Jesus? Does that mean mankind finally has the proof it needs to believe that Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead after dying on the cross?
We are certainly getting close to “proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” and here are some reasons why this is happening now.
Through the years Neverhood fans have asked for another game, and I’m partnering with my EWJ and Neverhood buddies Mike Dietz and Ed Schofield to make a full sized, PC and Mac point and click adventure game in clay and puppet animation. New characters, but in my usual style.
TenNapel’s “usual style” is mind blowing. The Neverhood debuted on the Dreamworks Interactive label in 1996. It was a point-and-click adventure built entirely in clay and animated via stopmotion. Here’s a taste, and keep in mind that he did this in 1996 on PCs that can’t even compete with today’s smart phones for processing power.
SXSW Monday: I’m here today to check more sessions and events out. Most that I’m interested in are in the afternoon. In the morning, a man needs his coffee, and as I’m walking from my parked car — wherever that is, somewhere blocks away from the action — to the convention center, a man asks me out of the clear blue sky:= “Hey, would you like some free coffee?”
Um, yeah. I would. Very much. He ushers me over to this trailer, which it turns out belongs to GE.
Those two white arms are robots. The barista attaches a syringe to to what, I guess, is its hand. The syringe is full of condensed coffee. She doesn’t start you on a coffee IV, which is a pity.
They snap a photo of you, or a logo that you’re wearing or have handy.
I happened to be wearing my PJTV shirt…
So, after a few seconds, the robot gets the image and passably writes it onto the foam on top of the coffee.
Thanks to Vivian at RetailMeNot for letting me snap pics while the robot was making her coffee. Click on the next page to see the holographic tour guide.
That is the question sought to be answered by the new book Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing by Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman, who discuss the pros and cons of a 3D world where we could possibly have a machine that could make everything. The authors state “[in] the not-so-distant future, people will 3D print living tissue, nutritionally calibrated food, and ready-made, fully assembled electronic components.”
The book looks at the history of 3D printing and how it came about and from there, the chapters discuss everything from what these machines can make to the legal difficulties that will follow from the technology. From the Backcover:
Businesses will be liberated from the tyrannies of economies of scale
Factories and global supply chains will shrink, finding themselves closer to their customers
The law, already reeling from digital media, will once again need to be redefined
Our environment might breathe easier in a 3D printed economy, or it could choke on a rising tide of plastic
3D printed digital and intelligent, adaptive materials will change our relationship with the physical world
What do you think of 3D technology: Is it the next best thing or will we choke on a rising tide of plastic?
I had such a wonderful time yesterday talking to John Phillips, the Los Angeles correspondent for Next Generation TV, the newest wing of the PJ Media family. Click here or on the screen shot above to watch our 11 minute conversation at PJTV on the future of Twitter, the challenges of juggling ideological friends on Facebook, and social media’s role in the political culture today.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
AUSTIN — Some of the best transportation thinkers in Texas and across the United States are being upstaged this week by a car that drives itself.
About 1,400 people are attending the eighth annual Texas Transportation Forum through Tuesday in Austin. But while those experts meet in Hilton conference rooms and grapple with tough issues such as how to handle an increase in freight-hauling trucks on the roads, or how to pay for highways under a tightened state budget, it’s the Google “self-driving car” parked outside the downtown Austin hotel’s entrance that’s getting the most hubbub.
“It would probably do a better job driving than we do,” quipped Linda Thomas of Longview, who on Monday afternoon took turns shooting snapshots of the Google car with her husband, Charles.
The car is among a fleet of about 10 vehicles developed during the past eight years by researchers at Google and Stanford University. Google representatives said that on Tuesday they plan to take the car, a Lexus hybrid, for a spin on Austin-area roads, including infamously congested Interstate 35.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
An excerpt from the first chapter:
From my perspective, the Singularity has many faces. It represents the nearly vertical phase of exponential growth that occurs when the rate is so extreme that technology appears to be expanding at infinite speed. Of course, from a mathematical perspective, there is no discontinuity, no rupture, and the growth rates remain finite, although extraordinarily large. But from our currently limited framework, this imminent event appears to be an acute and abrupt break in the continuity of progress. I emphasize the word “currently” because one of the salient implications of the Singularity will be a change in the nature of our ability to understand. We will become vastly smarter as we merge with our technology.
Can the pace of technological progress continue to speed up indefinitely? Isn’t there a point at which humans are unable to think fast enough to keep up? For unenhanced humans, clearly so. But what would 1,000 scientists, each 1,000 times more intelligent than human scientists today, and each operating 1,000 times faster than contemporary humans (because the information processing in their primarily nonbiological brains is faster) accomplish? One chronological year would be like a millennium for them.27 What would they come up with?
Well, for one thing, they would come up with technology to become even more intelligent (because their intelligence is no longer of fixed capacity). They would change their own thought processes to enable them to think even faster.
When scientists become a million times more intelligent and operate a million times faster, an hour would result in a century of progress (in today’s terms).
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Currently reading on iPad for Tech Tuesdays: An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government and Other Goliaths
Some of the next books on deck (in no particular order yet):
1. Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom by Marc Prensky
2. iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us by Larry D. Rosen
3. The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil
4. Coming March 21: Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
image courtesy shutterstock /iurii
Related at PJ Lifestyle: