December 2006 Archives

Elmo TMX on Fire


It was bound to happen sooner or later:

links for 2006-12-31


Wario Ware: Smooth Moves


One of the games that I am really looking forward to is Wario Ware: Smooth Moves. For those who don't know the Wario Ware line of games, these games are absolutely brilliant, and make use of the innovative and unique features of the game platform. Smooth Moves is a collection of minigames that parody or lampoon other video games. Built for those with ultra-short attention spans, it's also completely crack-smoking.

links for 2006-12-30


Subarashiki - It's a Wonderful World


Coming in 2007 for the Nintendo DS:

Let's hope they bring it to the US -- I love the idea of stylus-directed attacks.

Pogue plays with the Wii


New York Times Technology writerDavid Pogue about his experiences with the Wii.

    Online, there are already gripes and legal threats regarding Wii-induced muscle aches, which is pretty much what you-d expect from nerds who haven-t moved their bodies in years and live in a litigious society. I have equally little sympathy for people who wind up with nicks and bruises because they ignore the huge, on-screen warning that, before every game, advises you to move furniture out of the way.

Seriously, the included game, Wii Sports has abundant warning messages about this kind of stuff, as well as tips and advice on how to take a break from playing. Pogue then continues on by pre-defending himself from the haters:

    Now, I already know what kind of hate mail I-m going to get. "You-re a terrible parent," it-ll say. "Your kids should be outside getting fresh air and sunshine, playing stickball and walking a mile to school, uphill both ways!"

    Yes, O.K., sure. That would be great.

    That would also be 1950.

Decoding the BMW lock


A few months ago, David Beckham made news with his problems with his BMW X5 -- it seemed that everytime he left it parked somewhere, someone would manage to steal his armor plated SUV. Police suspected the work of high-tech car thieves using a laptop and a transmitter to crack BMW's keyless entry system, but it seems that there is a much easier way to break into a BMW, and it involves a 900 Euro toolkit. The Google video below shows just how easy it is to open a BMW's lock.

(The first part of the video is in German, just keep watching, it's subtitled for those parts, and then switches over to English):

Wii on Amazon 12/29


Still haven't gotten that Wii yet? It looks like you might have yet another chance to pick one up online, as this Friday morning (12/29), between the hours of 7am and 11am PST, they'll be putting up the Nintendo Wii for sale on Amazon. From the sales page:

    Wii Available for Purchase 12/29: The Nintendo Wii will again be available for purchase on on 12/29, Friday morning, at some point between 7am and 11am PST. We will be limiting purchases to one per household. We anticipate that we will sell through our inventory very quickly as demand for this product continues to be very high. At this time, we do not have any information on future Nintendo Wii offers, but we will post updates on future availability on this page.

Of course, now that Christmas is over, I don't see why they need to be doing it this way anymore -- they should be just taking pre-orders (as they do on books) and ship them out as they get stock.

Good luck!

links for 2006-12-29


Games? Yeah, in the Aisle next to the Garage Door Opener


Everyone knows that if you're looking for a game console, you're going to hit the big 5 retailers: Best Buy, Fry's, GameStop/EB, Circuit City and Target. While Target isn't a specialty electronics retailer, they are everywhere, and while you're there shopping for games, you can also pick up other items you might need around the house. Well, it appears that America's least liked Home Improvement Store, the Home Depot (or the Home Despot as we tend to call it) that they weren't happy just supplying tools -- they've also added video games to their inventory. So now you can get that lighting fixture and your game console without ever leaving Home Depot.

Wii: 3.19 Million and counting


New numbers on the console sales figures:

  • XBox360. 7.74 million units worldwide. 300,000 Japan, 4.95 million US, 2.49 million other countries.
  • Wii. 3.19 million units worldwide. 1.01 million Japan, 1.32 million Americas, 0.86m other countries.
  • PS3. 1.18 million units worldwide. 480,000 Japan, 700,000 Americas.

The XBox 360 has been out about 13 months now, while the PS3 and the Nintendo Wii have been out a little over a month. The Wii, the last to release, is pummeling the PS3 in sales (to be fair, the PS3 started out in the race with an injury to their manufacturing facilities not building blue lasers fast enough), and catching up quickly to the XBox 360. With 3.16 million sold in a month and a half, it really won't be long before the Wii eclipses the XBox360 in sales. No doubt the lower price point of the Wii ($250, with a game!) as well as the new innovative game controls are helping to drive the sales of the system past their competitors.

Alternative Fuel Sources


For the last year or so scientists have been talking a great deal about alternative energy sources. We all know the basics of energy production -- natural gas, coal, and oil, but it seems the trend now is to take a local crop and resource and use that as the core component of their new alternative fuel.

Farmers in the midwest, with their vast fields of corn want corn-based ethanol, while the people of Michigan want to use peat as the ethanol derivative of choice. Guess who has one of the largest supplies of peat? Yep. Michigan. There are many different ways to derive ethanol, amongst them sugar beets, which in terms of inputs, actually requires less resources than corn. (Minnesota and North Dakota are where 50% of the U.S. sugar beets come from)

This week, the spotlight has been on compressing coal to a liquid -- with production costs at $45 a barrel, it's considerably cheaper than the $60 a barrel for gasoline, but liquid coal and peat are far from being carbon neutral sources of power -- we'd just be replacing our dependency of foreign oil to a dependency on some local resource, and polluting up the world with different carbon emissions.

What's the solution? Obviously renewable fuels are better than expendable fuels and the less pollutants they leave behind the better. While my own preference is that biomass derived ethanol is best, but it has to be done in a way that doesn't strip us of our own natural resources -- corn takes a vast amount of land and water, not to mention that corn is a edible food source for humans. I've always liked the idea of Biodiesel from Algaculture, as it requires neither farmland or freshwater, and has a very high energy yield compared to corn or soybeans.

Bill Amend reduces strips


Bill Amend, cartoonist of FoxTrot, has announced that he'll be cutting back on the number of strips that he does from a daily strip to a weekly one (appearing only on Sundays). A press release has all the details, including Amend's desire to get out of the house and try some new things. In his most current storyline on the daily strip, he gives a clue as to how he'll be spending his days.

Burning Crusade does release in January after all...

links for 2006-12-28


Gender Cross Dressing in MMOGs

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When I played MMOGs, most of the time I had a female avatar. This isn't much of a secret as my game friends know my true identity, but the game is a bit more bearable as a female than a male character. Even in the virtual world, traditional gender roles apply -- men are supposed to be self-reliant, independent and never ask for help or show weakness, while women are supposed to be more social, and ask for help. In MMOGs, being social and able to ask for help are paramount to succeeding in the game, while being independent will often get one's character killed.

In Confessions of an MMOG Cross-dresser, Bruce Sterling Woodcock (SirBruce of MMOGChart, not Bruce Sterling of Islands in the Net) recollects his experiences with in-game crossdressing.

In most games, players don't have a choice of their character's gender -- if you're playing Tomb Raider, you are Lara Croft and you are female. If you're playing Super Mario Bros. you are Mario or Luigi and you are male. However, as games have gotten more advanced, the choice of gender for a character is now an option in many games (and almost all MMOGs) and three to five times as many males than females are likely to gender bend in MMOGs.

When I was working on Diablo II, I'd often read the message board and see posts by players expressing their anger over our decision to make our only pure magic class Sorceress character female (as opposed to the male Sorceror character we had in Diablo), saying that they refused to play a female character. These posts used to amuse me a great deal, because in most games, it is the women who had to play men in games, and now with a gender switch, male players were suddenly complaining (quite loudly, I might add) of what women had endured for the past two decades in games: being forced to play a role in a gender that was not their own.

Alice of Wonderland had this to say about Boys, Gender and Games:

    Christmastime really hammers home awareness of gender-ised play, I think, seeing all the pink stuff on the shelves for girls, and the camo-and-guns stuff for boys. But while I'm often disheartened by the candyfloss inanity of the girls' toys, I've been really struck at how oftentimes the boys' fate can be worse.
. Alice then goes on to cite a recent experience of hers at a Disney themepark, during a promotion in which kids dressed up as pirates or princesses received a free foam wand or foam sword, but remarked that while girls could be pirates or princesses, the boys could only be pirates, and lamented there was "No little boy in a princess outfit, of course, because that would be somehow unacceptable (although I personally think it'd be superb). How is it that we're accepting of girls playing with boy toys, but not the other way round; is it healthy for boys to grow up without ever being able to play around with girls' stuff? "

While the games market is dominated by boy games, there are a fair number of gender neutral games, and a really small amount of girl games. If you go to a toystore, there's the girl section and the boy section, and they're about equal, with the gender neutral stuff (legos, block toys, stuffed animals, exercise gear) in the middle. That's the way games should be too, but they're not -- boy games take up a disproportionate amount of the videogame section when it really should be equal to the girl's section, and we have the male-dominated games industry to blame for that. While Hollywood seems content to produce movies like Titanic and Pride and Prejudice, there's no equivalent game studio willing to produce a blockbuster game for a largely female audience, and I feel a big part of this is simply because game developers don't know what attracts female gamers. Of all game genres so far, the MMOG has one of the highest female population rates (at 20%, most of them introduced to the game by their signifigant others). The Sims is a higher percentage, but the Sims is not really a game, so much as a simulation software toy.

More in the extended about my own journey to the female side, and further observations of gender roles in MMOGs.

Trouble in PS3 City and my own PS3 Conspiracy Theory


According to the Hamilton Spectator, scalpers hoping to make a nice profit on their PS3s have begun returning their PS3s to the stores that they bought them from. Unable to make the profits expected from a short supplied item (whose supply turned out to be not so short before Christmas), scalpers are choosing to instead return their unopened systems.

Go Capitalism.

While it's never too early to declare the PS3 a failure, the $600 dollar price tag on the system reminds me of the ill-fated launch of the NEO-GEO console system. Vastly superior hardware -- truly arcade quality technology for 1990, but with such a hefty price tag against systems that cost half as much (TG16, Genesis and Super NES were its competitors back in the day) it was never able to gain much of a foothold in the market. I suspect that unless the PS3 price drops substantially ($150-$200) within the next 12 months, the PS3 will have priced itself out of the casual gamer market.

Here's my wacky conspiracy theory -- Sony deliberately has a shortage on their game system at launch -- the system costs too much to make, and with not much supply, and a ton of demand, the shortage of systems and their instant sellout becomes news -- free advertising (which is important, considering their PS3 commercial is really awful). Of course, when Sony realizes that instead of gamers getting their hands on this system and being evangelists for their next-gen console, but rather entrepeneurs making a quick buck reselling the system, and notices just how effective Thanksgiving was for Wii evangelists (by the time Thanksgiving came around, most of my friends had seen it, and my family had seen how fun it was), they realized that the shortage was hurting them get a foothold on this market -- they were not only losing to newcomer Nintendo (who seemed to also have a supply problem) but to the XBox 360. Realizing that the manufacturing loss of $300 per console was far better than losing the console war for the next 5 years, they release their stockpile of PS3s unto the masses (who balk at seeing the $600 price tag and turn toward the cheaper alternatives).

Joby GP3-01EN Gorillapod SLR-Zoom Flexible Tripod for Digital SLR Cameras

Ever since the Gorillapod flexible tripod came out, I've wanted one, although with the original one, it didn't really support an SLR camera very well, and the SLR version didn't support Zoom lenses very well, so Joby went ahead and made a third version of their Gorillapod which fits my needs to a tee: it supports an SLR and a Zoom Lens (up to a combined weight of 6.6 pounds), which means that I can stick on an SLR body and a heavy lens without much trouble.

The multi-segmented, rubberized legs of the Gorillapod can twist and curl around many objects to keep the camera steady. The Gorillapod's small size and low weight means that it should fit itself inside many photographers bags without much trouble.

The new SLR Zoom Gorillapod lacks the sliding lock plate of the SLR and regular Gorillapods, but allows for the mounting of your own tripod head by using an optional adapter (included). At $50, it's $10 more than the SLR Gorillapod, and almost $30 more than the standard gorillapod, but if you've got the heavier camera, the additional money is well worth it.

Major Internet Damage in Asia following Earthquake


via Joi Ito's Blog:

    news on, in which China Telecom, one the biggest ISPs in China, release an official statement:

    China Telecom has confirmed that, according to China institute of earthquake monitoring, at Dec 26, 20:26-20:34 Beijing Time, 7.2 and 6.7 magnitude earth quake have occurred in the South China Sea. Affected by the earthquake, Sina-US cable, Asia-Pacific Cable 1, Asia-Pacific Cable 2, FLAG Cable, Asia-Euro Cable and FNAL cable was broken and cut up. The break-off point is located 15 km south to Taiwan, which severely affected the International and national tele-communication in neighboring regions.

    It was also reported that communication directed to China mainland, Taiwan, US and Europe were all massively interrupted. Internet connection to countries and region outside of China mainland became very difficult. Voice communication and telephone services were also affected.

    China Telecom has claimed that due to the aftershock of the earthquake, the repairing works would be very tough. In addition undersea operation is also not easy to handle with. So this phenomenon is going to exist for certain period.

According to CNN, Chunghwa Telecom is reporting that a "damaged cable interrupted communications with Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong. Communications with China were also cut off because calls to the mainland from Taiwan are routed through Hong Kong.".

BBC has even more details about the quake and the outage, saying that it could take 3 weeks to repair.

    In South Korea, broadband provider KT Corp said six submarine cables had been affected, interrupting services to customers including banks.

    Some foreign exchange trading was reportedly affected.

    "Trading of the Korean won has mostly halted due to the communication problem," a dealer at one South Korean domestic bank told Reuters news agency.

Some major internet backbones to Asia have been destroyed -- isn't the internet supposed to be more resilent than this? In the meantime, maybe they can float some Wi Fi buoys in the ocean while they repair the downed cables.

Of course, as far as gaming goes, for all you MMOG players that have to face Asian guilds killing your spawn, now's the time to take advantage of their (essentially) three-week downtime to have your way with the ubers.

links for 2006-12-27


How Popular is the Wii?


Popular enough that people are willing to trade their PS3 straight up for the Nintendo Wii.

Looking at, there are an astounding number of people willing to trade their PS3s for a Nintendo Wii. Sometimes they want the difference in cash, but occasionally there are the ones that are willing to take the loss to possess a Nintendo Wii.

There are theories behind this of course -- that the profit to be made on eBay on a Wii is much larger than the profit of a PS3, and with Sony back to making blue lasers again, the PS3 is now able to make their way to the retail stores without shortages.

Retailers, unaware of the shift in the console gray market, continue to bundle the PS3 with the games and accessories they otherwise wouldn't sell (and make a nice profit margin on) at a cost nearing $1000, putting it outside the reach of most consumers.

The Nintendo Wii, on the other hand, bundles for around $500-600, still less than an bundle-less PS3 and becomes the console market's new method of obtaining a Wii -- on eBay, a non-bundled Wii console can reach upwards of $400, making the bundle extras truly extras, as the amount to be made on those bundled items can be far less in order to make a profit.

With Christmas over, one might hope to see sanity return to eBay and craigslist, but it seems the Wii shortage has just begun, and retailers, now aware that the PS3 is an overhyped, expensive console, have shifted their bundling focus onto the Nintendo Wii -- Gamestop/EBGames now offers a Wii bundle for almost $700.

Here's a quick breakdown of the $679 bundle, with retail cost of item in parentheses.

  • Nintendo Wii system (system, remote controller, nunchuck, stand, sensor and Wii Sports) ($250)
  • Wii 1 Gigabyte Memory Card ($60, although you can get a generic one for ~$13)
  • 1 additional Wii Remote Controller ($40)
  • Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess ($50)
  • Trauma Center: Second Opinion ($50)
  • Red Steel ($50)
  • Marvel Ultimate Alliance ($50)
  • Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz ($50)
  • Madden NFL 2007 ($50)
  • 1 Year Product Replacement Plan

Total Cost: $650, with the 1 Year Product Replacement plan effectively costing the remaining $29. Of course, realize that Nintendo warranties their Hardware for 1 year, and their accessories for 3 months, so the $29 you pay for the "1 Year Product Replacement Plan" is essentially a waste of money, unless you end up with a 4 month old defective Wii Remote.

Toys 'R' Us and their bundles aren't much better (unless you're the eBaying type) . Priced at $489, $539, and $589, they come with the console and 4, 5 or 6 games and a $39 "Starter Kit" which includes a 512 MB Memory Card, a controller cover, and a system tray (one already comes with the system -- why do you need another?)

And don't even bother looking at Amazon for the Wii -- the third-party sellers have effectively turned the little $250 console system into a $1000+ bundled game system.

We're only one month past release of the console, the busiest shopping month at that, and I suspect that by March/April, supplies should be far more adequate, and that by June/July, people should be able to walk into their local store and pick one without much hassle. And then of course, there's the rumor that Nintendo will start releasing Wiis with other colors and without Wii Sports, effectively lowering the console price to sub $200. Remember, it only took four months before Nintendo released the black and pink versions of the DS Lite in the US -- expect a similar color strategy for the Nintendo Wii.

Of course, if you just can't wait to score yourself a Wii, the rumor is that retailers have begun stockpiling the consoles in anticipation of New Year's Eve sales -- December 31st is the next shipment date for those of you who wish to camp outside stores.

links for 2006-12-26


links for 2006-12-25


links for 2006-12-24


links for 2006-12-23


Gingerbread Houses


Last year, we bought some gingerbread kits from Trader Joe's, and I MacGyvered some pastry bags out of Ziploc bags for an impromptu Gingerbread House party. Everyone had a good time, and we turned out two houses. One that turned out exactly like the one on the box, and another that looked like... a Gingerbread House of Horror. Because we had so much fun last year, we wanted to host another one this year, and asked for input on two possible dates for the party. We got responses back from people saying they could make one date, but not the other, and it was split pretty much down the middle, so we decided to host the Gingerbread House party on both days.

First of all, unlike most Gingerbread Houses that you see nowadays, we actually used real gingerbread -- we prepared it the night before, and baked it a few hours before the party (to make sure we'd have enough gingerbread for all the houses). We also got some boxes of Graham crackers just in case people wanted more structural material. Our guests brought things to decorate the houses with (it's a good use of that leftover Halloween candy lying around) and we made two types of icing (cement-like icing and decorative frosting) with multiple colors. The results were fantastic.

flickr photoset: Gingerbread Houses (2006)

Here's a sample:


Woot! sells out of PS3


If you've got time to stop by woot! today, you'll find the 20GB PS3 completely sold out. But what is truly a work of art is their product pitch for the PS3:

    Woot Sells PS3? Wii, Wii!

    So, hey, check it out: there-s this awesome new gaming system that we just can-t stop playing. Too bad it-s so hard to find in stores -" we guess they just didn-t make enough of them. It-s called the Nintendo Wii, and holy mother of Zelda, is it ever a blast. If the Wii is cool with polygamy, we might ask it to marry us.

    The controller -" so easy! No more intricate push-this-twice, pull-that-three-times trickery, just easy waves of the hand. The console -" so cute! It actually makes our gaming room look better, unlike the bulky, ugly consoles we could mention. How does Nintendo keep the price so low on that thing, anyway? And the games, good Lord, the games! Not to mention those adorable avatars. We-ve already created virtual versions of the entire staff, so we can beat each other virtually-bloody instead of actually-bloody, like we usually do. The only problem is that none of the nose options are as big as Jason-s actual nose. But that-s a minor quibble.

    In fact, we love the Wii so much, we want to give a Wii to everybody on our payroll. To fund this Wii-for-the-People program, we're selling this Sony PlayStation 3. The SIXAXIS wireless controller is basically the same complicated gazillion-button-style controller you know from past PS models, but at least you won-t be fighting Grandma for gaming time. Along with the usual roster of ho-hum games, the PS3 can play CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray discs, and the 20GB hard drive can store music, videos, and music videos. It-s certainly, er, rather full-figured, for those of you who want a lot of heft for your money. And its HDMI capabilities give you polygons and frames-per-second out the wazoo, if you prefer that stuff to having fun.

    Best of all, for every PS3 you buy, we can buy Wiis for two of our employees. So when you get frustrated by those intricate combo-button moves, or bored by the underwhelming game offerings for the PS3, keep the spirit of the season in mind. Remember all those happy Woot staffers whose lives have been changed by their super-fun Nintendo Wiis, paid for by you. Heartwarming, isn-t it?

    * shipped today via FedEx Next Day with Saturday delivery. Rural and snowbound areas may cause delivery delay out of Woot or FedEx control.
    Warranty: One year


    * Plays video games and stuff

The close up of their product (if you click on the image) is equally funny:


Wii Internet Channel


This morning Nintendo made available through the Wii Shop Channel (under Wii Ware) a trial version of the Opera Browser for 0 Wii Points. This is the first program I've purchased through their Shop, so it was fun to see the little animated 8-bit Mario they've got running around while the software downloads.

This is a trial version, which implies that the full version has more features. The trial version is a very stripped down browser -- it has support for Flash, and appears to run at a resolution of approximately 800x 600. On our 20 inch non-HDTV, the letters are hard to make out when zoomed out all the way -- zooming in one level makes it much easier to read, and the browser has included a single column mode which zooms in and squeezes the content into one column to make it easier to read.

The web is eerily quiet when surfing on the Wii. This is likely caused by an expectation from the Wii and the TV to bombard us with both video and audio, and surfing the web in silence feels like an awkward pause in the dinner conversation. Surfing feels really passive on the Wii, and entering URLs are painful using the onscreen keyboard, and javascript seems to be partially enabled at best. I managed to crash the browser (and the console) a few times during my trial run. Some web forms (the ones that take an input without a "go" button) won't work on the Wii, and letters normally hidden into a password field on input on forms are not hidden.

I think the internet browser experience is better on the computer at the moment (though digital photos look pretty good on the Wii). Flash sites work great on the Wii, and while my own site doesn't quite render properly on the Wii (it's due for a redesign anyways), my random sampling found that many sites did display fine.

Flickr: Nintendo Wii: Opera Browser


Nintendo DS: Electroplankton



I was surfing the web today when I came across the Cool Tool of the day: Electroplankton. This is a Nintendo DS game that came out some time ago (first exclusively from Nintendo online, and then at select retailers), which was actually more a work of art and music than a game per se. Using the stylus, you drag and arrange the electroplankton which then interact with each other to create sounds. What shocked me was not that this was a cool tool, but rather that Amazon is selling (via third-party sellers) Electroplankton for $60. A glance at eBay shows some ridiculous Buy It Now prices (the most ridiculous being $145 starting bid, with a $185 BIN). The game has very little text in it, which made this a popular import before it became available in the United States. While production of the U.S. version of the game appears to be discontinued, the game is still available in Europe and Japan, and gamers looking for this hard to find title should be prepared to pay import-like prices for this game.

The cheapest copy of Electroplankton I could find was with Play-Asia, for $53.10 (including shipping) for the Japanese version, but it's still a good $10 less than Amazon once shipping is applied.

Electroplankton also recently won the British Academy Video Games Awards in the category of Audio, as well as a nomination from the MTV Video Music Awards for best video game store.

links for 2006-12-22


Final Harry Potter title announced


Author J.K. Rowling's website has a little puzzle which fans can solve to discover the title of the last book.

Harry Potter Walkthrough below, answer to the title in the extended.

  1. Click the eraser.
  2. In the mirror, click the farthest doorknob, and look for the Christmas tree.
  3. Click on the center of the door next to the mirror and a wreath appears.
  4. Then click on the top of the mirror and you'll see a garland.
  5. Click on a cobweb next to the door.
  6. Look at the chimes in the window, click the second chime to the right and hold down.
  7. Chimes turns into key, and opens the door.
  8. Click on the wrapped gift behind the door.
  9. Click on the gift again and figure out the title yourself by playing a game of hangman.

Who Killed the Electric Car?


Who Killed the Electric Car?

Back in 1996, GM started production on the EV1 Electric Car, and then 5 years later, at the height of the SUV craze cancelled it. In 2004, they started taking them back, dismantling them and crushing them. GM's reasoning? The EV1 wasn't profitable. After the millions in research and development spent on the vehicle, they decided there wasn't a market for this vehicle.

The first part of the movie tells the history of the EV1 through engineers, salespeople and drivers of the vehicle, and then halfway through turns the movie into a murder case, examining the suspects behind the destruction of the car. The movie is a lesson on how corporate decisions on marketing a product, government regulations and consumer decision processes interact.

At the end of the movie, we are left with a feeling of waste, and that we should all be running clean, electric vehicles instead of the gas-polluting cars that we drive today. It's also somewhat sad that GM (which is now in massive financial trouble) who was a pioneer in the field of electric vehicles essentially threw away the costs of research and development on the EV1 as well as a potential 10 year lead on the competition in the electric vehicle marketplace.

links for 2006-12-21


Which Celebrity Do You Resemble?


Someone showed me the link to, which uses some kind of face-matching algorithm to determine who you look like. Here's what it came up with for me:


Matching celebs it does a pretty good job. I used a picture from Neil Gaiman's appearance at SJSU and it matched him up with 75% accuracy to himself.

links for 2006-12-16


Clarkson: A Man and His Dream Car


A really well done montage of Jeremy Clarkson on TopGear about his dream car, the Ford GT:

It's an excellent reminder that sometimes, the dream is better than the reality.

Too Sweet! Carcassonne on Gingerbread

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Brilliant. It's playable and edible (which comes in handy if you don't like where someone has placed a certain piece).

Flickr: Carcasonne Gingerbread by zendonut
cthulhia's Livejournal

It's like launch day all over again...


Remember how I was saying that this weekend might be the one to snag a Wii or a PS3, well it turns out that it's not just gamers that have this piece of information, as USA Today announces Sunday as "Game day for PS3, Wii".

    Many stores, including Toys R Us and Circuit City, will promise in Sunday ad circulars to have the Wii in stock, making that day perhaps the last best chance for fans, says Andy Estes, whose Nearby Networks firm runs the and Wiiseeker sites. "We believe there are going to be Wiis held and released Dec. 17 and that will be the last shipment before Christmas," he says. "We think there might be a PS3 shipment about the same time."
Campers, ready your sleeping bags.

Amazon is also rumored to be getting in a stock of Nintendo Wiis and Playstation 3s to sell online during the next couple of days as well.

links for 2006-12-15


The End of an Era: Miata


According to Autoweek, the Pontiac Solstice bested the Mazda Miata in sales. This is a big deal, as the Miata has been the top selling two-seat sports car since its premiere in 1989. The Pontiac Solstice (which was featured as a project in the Apprentice), managed to outsell the Miata by almost 2,500 cars this year (18,361 Solstices vs. 15,873 Miata), with over 300 of those in the month of November. Both cars were released in 2005.

I've always found the Miata to be a really great car to drive -- the small size and the excellent handling combined with the drop top just makes you realize just how much fun driving can be.

The two cars are pretty similar to each other -- two seat roadsters priced near 20,000 (Solstice: 22,115, Miata: 21,030) rear-wheel drive, 4-cylinder engines (Miata 166hp, Solstice 177hp), with mpg that are nearly identical (Miata is 25/30, while Solstice is 20/28) to one another. Even the way their features are listed on the website are similar:



I'm not a big fan of this latest version of the Miata -- the car is uglier than the previous generation, and heavier too. The Solstice isn't easy on the eyes either -- every time I see one, I suddenly feel the need to lose my lunch. (Remember, the Solstice comes from the company that made the Aztek.

I have a suspicion that given the style changes on the Miata for this model, that people who are looking for a roadster, are looking elsewhere -- used 350z roadsters can be had for less than the cost of a new model of either of these two, and used Miatas can sometimes be found for no more than a couple thousand dollars.

The Solstice has a crazy upgraded version set to release next year -- priced at $27,000, the GXP model promises 260 hp and mpg of 25/31 -- making the Solstice GXP one of the most powerful compacts out there that still manages good gas mileage.

As for me and my roadster choice? I'm saving my pennies for an electric Tesla.

Will Wright receives Award from Producers Guild



December 14, 2006, Los Angeles--The Producers Guild of America is pleased to announce that the 2007 Vanguard Award will be presented to celebrated game designer Will Wright whose creative vision has inspired some of the most critically acclaimed and popular video games in the short history of the medium. The Vanguard Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in new media and technology, will be presented to Wright at the 2007 Producers Guild Awards on Saturday, January 20th at the Century Plaza.

Playstation 3 in Stock at Sears


I think I've made it pretty clear that I think a Playstation 3 at this moment in time is a very expensive 11 pound brick, but if despite everything I say, you've just got to have Blu-ray or if you're still looking for a 60GB Playstation 3 for Christmas for someone, you can buy a PS3 bundle from Sears for $900. The bundle includes 5 good games: Resistance: Fall Of Man, Call Of Duty 3, Madden NFL '07, Need For Speed: Carbon, and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. (There just isn't all that much out for the PS3 yet).

It's all available online -- no camping or line standing required.

Sony's also recently announced that they intend to ship 2 million PS3s by the end of the year.

links for 2006-12-14


Where is this building?

| 1 Comment

I was watching Ghost in the Shell when I saw these buildings in the background. I'm pretty sure I've seen photos of this place before.

Does it really exist? Or did I just imagine it?

Photo by Nora Vass, Stitching by Gergely Vass

EDIT: I've located it. It's Montreal's Habitat '67, designed by Moshe Safdie, who also designed more recently the Vancouver Library Square.

Flickr: Vancouver Library Square

Still looking for a Wii? Maybe this Sunday.


A lot of sites are reporting that the following retailers have units that they aren't releasing until Sunday. According to GoNintendo, Best Buy is stockpiling Wiis to be sold on December 17th, with at least 40 units in each store. I've heard similar rumblings about Gamestop/EB getting similar memos (but not as many units).

The BestBuy memo goes so far as to outline their reasons for doing so:

  • This is the last competitve weekend for holiday shopping, which encourages a large amount of traffic to our retail stores once customers realize the system is available.
  • Customers shopping for other products will have the ability and be encouraged to purchase the gaming console.
  • The system is more readily available than other competing gaming systems.

I'm not so sure about points 2 and 3 -- my guess is that by the time BestBuy opens, all the Wiis will have been accounted for by those standing around, and that unless they're holding a massive supply of Wiis for Sunday -- much, much more than 40, the Wiis will be gone within the first hour. Now they could stagger out their supply throughout the day ("Attention BestBuy customers, we've just found 10 Wiis in the back, form a line for them NOW!"), but I don't see why they would want to do something like that, given the potential for scary bad publicity.

Nintendo in Europe


According to sales figures just released, this past weekend (European Wii Launch) Nintendo sold 325,000 Wiis and 240,000 copies of Zelda: Twilight Princess. In addition, Nintendo of Europe also claims that 515,000 Nintendo DS handhelds were sold last week -- a record for the dual-screen console.

links for 2006-12-13


New Challengers in MMO Gaming


In the last couple of days, a couple of companies have been beating and thumping their chest about upcoming MMOGs. The timing of these announcements isn't the best (perhaps they're taking advantage of the downtime due to Blizzard's 2.01 patch for World of Warcraft).

The first was the ex-Blizzard producer Mark Kern's company Red 5 Studios, which announced that they had received 18.5 million in VC money for development of a MMOG (which I believe is being published by Korean company Webzen). It feels like they've been working on the game forever.

The second was Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling announcing his game studio, Green Monster Games, which will be focused on bringing a MMOG to market in the next 2-10 years.

    "If there are 100 games or 100,000 games in development, there isn't a game out there that has anything to do with us," said Schilling. "Our development, our company, our project is solely dependent on the people in our company. Seeing as they work for us, they don't work for anybody else. And none of the employees of those other companies work for us. When they told me I couldn't pitch in the World Series on three days rest because nobody else had done it well, it had nothing to do with me. That's the way I look at this. We've entered an industry that oddsmakers would tell you it's a long shot to be a profitable company and that it's an even longer shot to even publish a game. That's based on criteria set by people who aren't me and by companies made up of people who aren't here, so that has nothing to do with us. I'm just focused on building a company and making a game. And if we stay focused on that, we'll do both."

Such spirit. Such enthusiasm. Such inexperience. Now obviously, I don't know the people working for Schilling at Green Monster Games, and I don't really know much about Mr. Schilling other than he used to play for the Red Sox, and that he used to play Everquest, and he nows plays Everquest II. However, knowing the games he plays (and what he hasn't played) leads me to believe that he really doesn't know what he's getting into.

It's something that I try to make clear to everyone entering into the games industry -- there's a big difference between making the game, and playing the game, and enthusiasm for one is different from the other. He's an EverQuest player, so I know his type (as I was once an EQ player too) and when you're playing EverQuest, there are a lot of things that are broken, and there are alot of things that could be changed for the better. When you play a game for too long, you can't see the possibilities outside the game.

It's my belief that Schilling will attempt to make an Everquest clone that fixes what he sees are the problems. World of Warcraft was created on a similar principle by former Blizzard President/CEO Alan Adham, and it's done quite well, but there were many factors to its success other than being Everquest-Improved. With GMG being based in Boston, they can poach from MIT (though I've met very few MIT grads in the games industry) and other schools for those eager to get into the gaming industry, and I really have my doubts that Schilling's company will ever succeed in managing to make a game, much less get it published. Schilling is too much in the field of dreams, thinking that if he builds it, people will come -- Guilds Wars, in many ways is superior to Everquest/Everquest II, but still only has a fraction of the audience it could have because people are paying more attention to World of Warcraft. Depending on how much money he puts into the company, it's feasible we might see a game in 4 or 5 years depending on how the first 3 years go -- by then maybe people will have gotten bored enough of WoW to want something new.

World of Warcraft is the current king of MMOGs which will have its next expansion releasing next month (which means the current addicts attention will be captured for the next year or so). As long as people are playing WoW, game development in MMOG space might as well be non-existent -- if everyone in the industry is playing WoW, no one is building a better WoW, or a different WoW. The problem is there are people attempting to build a better WoW, in fact, there's hundreds, maybe even thousands of companies who are in the process of building a better MMOG, and more than likely it's going to be a game you've never played or even heard of that's better than WoW, but will fail miserably, because the attention can't be diverted.

Blizzard has won the MMOG war -- it has managed to crush the competition with superior gameplay -- all the competition can do now is wait for people to burn out from WoW and seek new forms of entertainment.

How to get a new passport (and save some money)


My passport was due to expire and with the new RFID e-passports on the way, I wanted to make sure I got an old-fashioned paper passport before they started issuing the first generation of RFID e-passports. If you're applying for the first time or if you've lost your passport, you've got to go in person. If you just want to renew, you can do all of it over the mail.

I was at the post office yesterday, and right next to the sign above the counter listing their prices for express mail and priority mail and the rest of the postage rates, I noticed their prices for Passports: $97, and an additional $60 for expedited service. Seeing as how I remember thinking it wasn't all that expensive to get it renewed, I took a closer look at their fees. The post office apparently tacks on an additional $30 for the privilege of standing in line to hand in your passport application, as that $30 is called the "acceptance fee". Inside the post office, you can get your picture taken for your passport too -- the fee for that is $15 (in addition to all other fees of course).

For as long as I can remember, it was my father who took our passport photos. He'd pull out his old Minolta, and tell us to stand in front of the blank wall next to the stairway and he'd take a couple pictures of each of us. Sometimes I got to shoot my dad, but most of the time, it was Mom taking his picture. Then he'd bring it to the store to get it developed and ask for reprints of certain exposures from the negative. He'd get out the paper cutter to size them exactly right. I always thought that was the way you were supposed to get passport photos done, and I'm positive that in those days, the cost of doing all that was far less than what it would have cost professionally.

Now, as far as those places that take professional passport photos go, a fee of $15 is not too bad, and it's definitely cheaper than buying a bunch of photography equipment, but if you've got a family or if you're shooting more than just yourself, then the savings in doing the photography yourself start racking up pretty quickly -- my Dad was saving $45 in photography fees every time us kids needed to renew our passports (under 16, you need to renew every 5 years), and $30 every ten years for himself and Mom. Add in the acceptance fee, and that's another $90 every 5 years, and an additional $60 every ten years, so if we look at the past 20 years, my Dad, by shooting the pictures himself and mailing in our renewals, saved the family around $720 (using current rates), which paid for his camera (which he used for other things too) many, many times over.

In the last ten years, digital photography has become consumer-level technology, and if you have a digital camera that takes hi-res pictures (5+ megapixels) and a good quality photo printer (300dpi), you can save that $15 (and have a picture you know you'll be happy with). If you can buy your own padded envelope and can stick stamps on it, you can save yourself another $20 to $25 (depending on how you mail in your passport application)

More instructions in the extended.

links for 2006-12-12


It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas


I went to the post office today to mail off some packages, and the line was insanely long, even at 2 in the afternoon. Normally, I try to go in the mornings before things get busy (as they tend to after lunch), but this morning was just too busy (as Mondays tend to be). But seeing the post office so crowded was a good reminder to me that Christmas is a mere two weeks away. Where does the the time go? I haven't even broken out the holiday MP3s yet...

This year, I'm taking part in the Matching Donations Project, which, as of this writing, still has a good amount of funds to match with. It's a good way of having your contribution to our favorite charities doubled.

Game Consoles Sold in November


According to NPD, the research firm and keeper of all sales data related to games, these were the sales figures for the following consoles for the month of November:

    Playstation 3: 197,000

    Nintendo Wii: 476,000

    XBox 360: 511,000

    Playstation 2: 664,000

    Nintendo DS: 918,000

    Gameboy Advance: 641,000

    PSP: 412,000

It's not suprising to me that the DS manages to outsell the PSP -- what's surprising to me is that the 4-year old Gameboy Advance still manages to outsell the PSP! The previous generation game systems are a bargain these days, the GameCube is $99, while the PS2 is $129, and these older game systems offer a huge library of games several times bigger than the newest consoles.

links for 2006-12-11


Build Your Own Death Star


Death Star Designer

It's almost like SimDeathStar. Here's my latest design: Death Star 10613, which is very powerful, but lacking in ammenities for the soldiers stationed aboard, as some of my critical weaknesses are:

  • Spa Spy -- apparently Rebels might send spies into the Spa I set up for the Imperials.
  • Garbage Waste -- I need more trash compactors for sanitary reasons
  • Deciphered Master Control -- one of my systems might get hacked to initiate a self-destruct.
  • High Energy Ports
  • Thermal Exhaust Ports
  • Unarmormored Portions

Firefly stars show up at canceled convention


The headline sounds rather dark and ominous, but the reality is anything but. Here's a short summary of the story. Booster Entertainment runs an event called "Flanvention", a convention for Firefly fans. The day before the convention, they cancel the event without warning, citing unseen circumstances.

Left in a lurch, the California Browncoats ride to the rescue -- they decide instead to host the Backup Bash for all those who would have attended the convention. At the hotel bar, Firefly stars began showing up and partying with the attendees of the Backup Bash. I think the way that everything managed to pull together is just too cool for words.


LiveJournal with photos

LiveJournal with more photos

CNET: 'Firefly' fans resurrect canceled convention

Michael Muhney - an actor who didn't want fans to go away without seeing at least one person from Hollywood

links for 2006-12-10


Wiimote: Battery Vampire


One thing I haven't noticed mentioned on many blogs about the Wii is the Wiimote's special ability to suck all the power out of all the alkaline AA batteries located in your house. Seriously. It devours batteries like some kind of energy vampire -- especially playing Zelda, where almost everything you do has a rumble action to it. In the past couple of weeks, we've gone through many sets of batteries. Luckily littlestar had some rechargeable AA's so we switched to those fairly early on. On Zelda, the average set of 2 AA batteries lasted anywhere from 6 to 18 hours, mostly dependent on the activation of the rumble feature -- Duracells and Energizers seem to work fairly well, but the packed in Maxxell and Panasonic batteries they give you to start off with don't last very long.

In fact, this Christmas, it may be wise to invest in some rechargeable batteries before unpacking the Wii -- else one might find all there remote controls and flashlights batteries cannibalized by the Wii.

Germany wants to crackdown on games


In Germany, Lower Saxony and Bavaria are in the process of trying to pass an anti-game bill through their parliament. Germany is already a special case for game developers because of the strict guidelines a game must adhere to before it can be sold in the country.

    The two states have drafted a bill that would subject developers, distributors and players of video games whose goal is to inflict "cruel violence on humans or human-looking characters" to a fine and a maximum of one year in jail.

Read that sentence again carefully. Developers. The people who make the game. Distributors.The people who sell the game. Players. The people who play the game. These three groups of people will be fined and/or jailed if they make, distribute or play a game that does cruel violence to humans or human looking characters. Mind you, this is in-game cruel violent behavior. I'm not exactly sure what their definition of cruel violent behavior is, but this whole thing started because a teenager who played Counter-strike went to his school with a variety of weapons and wounded 37 people, so let's assume that cruel violent behavior is shooting other people and otherwise doing physical harm to them in non-sport circumstances. Meaning Boxing as sport is okay, penalty fights in a Hockey game are probably not okay, and head butting someone during the World Cup is definitely not okay. Any game where you kill someone, definitely not okay.

The Top 10 PC Games for the week of Nov 19 - 25, 2006:

  1. Sims 2: Pets
  2. Battlefield 2142
  3. Bejeweled 2 Deluxe
  4. Desperate Housewives: The Game
  5. Neverwinter Nights 2
  6. Microsoft Flight Simulator X Deluxe
  7. World of Warcraft
  8. Company of Heroes
  9. Sims 2: Happy Holiday Stuff
  10. Medieval 2: Total War

Of these, only Bejeweled 2 and Microsoft Flight Simulator X would be allowed to be sold in Germany -- all other games involve humans and the potential for harming a human in cruel ways. (The worst candidate is likely the Sims 2: Pets, in which you can torture your sims by denying them basic human rights, as well as conduct acts of animal cruelty)

I don't think it's really fair to fault the player for doing something the developer allowed the player to do -- if you want to promote change in the industry away from the violent actions portrayed in games, the ones to go after are the developers. Distributors can only sell what developers make, and players can only play what the developers make. But at the end of this, it seems ridiculous to me that a government should hold the right to punish people based on what they choose to make, sell or play in games. Or maybe all this regulation is a sign that games have need to cross that boundary into art and self-expression.

Got a Mac? Test Drive Aperture for 30 Days for Free


Apple's decided to make Aperture, a 30-Day Free Trial, which includes all the features except tutorials and example files.

I'll be taking a look at Aperture next week when I've got more time. I've been looking for a way to manage my ever-growing photo library, but it's smart that Apple's decided to do this -- while Lightroom has been freely available in beta, Aperture has been separated from the average consumer by a $300 price tag. Now that both products are freely available, I can evaluate which is best for my needs.

Wii in the UK


The Wii just launched in the UK, and in the last 12 hours, they've managed to sell out of 50,000 units.

    Police dispersed scores of shoppers gathering at the Oxford Street branch of HMV in London, one of the few outlets to have supplies of the machine that had not been pre-reserved. It had been feared that competition for the console, which costs £179.99, could end in ugly scenes. The scene had been set for frayed tempers. Some fans had camped out over two nights - during which time a tornado hit London - for a Wii.

As you can imagine, the demand for the Wii leaves some pre-orders unfilled and some customers frustrated (BBC).

In the UK, the PS3 isn't releasing until March of next year, so unlike the US, the choice isn't split between the two consoles.

Wii sales hit 50,000 in 12 hours in UK (Times Online)

Tron and Honda, banking on geek factor


The Honda Civic has traditionally been classified as a young person's car, which I suppose is why I find it so puzzling that they're using a movie from 24 years ago to advertise this car -- most of their market audience wasn't even born when this movie came out.

Tron (1982) was one of the first movies to use computer generated graphics -- the use of them was so controversial, that the the Academy Awards refused to nominate the film for the category of Special Effects, saying the use of computers was 'cheating'. Tron was also one of the first movies to prominently feature video games as a plot device. There are three other notable video game films from this era:

  • WarGames (1983)

    Videogame as a villain. A teenager playing what he thinks is a game starts the countdown to World War III.
  • Cloak and Dagger (1984)

    Videogame as information storage media. Top-secret information is smuggled in a video game cartridge which is delivered into an 11-year old boy's hands.

  • The Last Starfighter (1984)

    Videogame as a war recruitment device. A young man is recruited via arcade machine to take part as a pilot in the Star Legion in their war against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada.

links for 2006-12-09


links for 2006-12-08


About Two Gaiman Books


"Books may well be the only true magic." - Alice Hoffman

I noticed two things that should please Gaiman fans (and blow their book budgets). The first thing is that due to the release of the Stardust movie next summer, they're re-releasing the beautifully Charles Vess illustrated version of Stardust in hardback. It has a new cover and color scheme to distinguish it from the first edition and thankfully it's not a movie bookcover. The 1st edition, which comes up on eBay once every blue moon, typically goes for $120-150, so I suspect the availability of the new hardcover edition will lower those outrageous prices.

The second thing is that Subterranean Press is releasing a special limited edition of MirrorMask: the Illustrated Film Script which is signed by both Neil Gaiman and artist Dave McKean. The super-limited "Lettered edition" will include a sketch by McKean in each book, but you can see all the drawings for free here.

links for 2006-12-07





NBC has put all the current episodes of Heroes online (except for episode 1), via Flash streaming video. The episode is split into 6 parts, each of them about 7 to 8 minutes long, with a 30 second commercial before each part plays.

links for 2006-12-06


Cute? Or Disturbing? You Decide.


Will Wright on the Colbert Report


In high school, I played a lot of SimCity -- the original one with EGA (16 colors -- woohoo!) graphics. The original SimCity was great, since for almost all my high school career, I was determined to be an architect (until I got a look at how unwieldy the interface was for CAD, and found out their salary scale). I saved almost all the cities I created on floppies (which are likely still in my room in my parents' house). When I got to college, I tried to get SimCity 2000 to load on my barely VESA-compatible 256 grayscale laptop. I always thought that Will Wright was a genius, and still have many of his games (even the bad ones like SimAnt, SimEarth and SimLife). What I loved about his games were that they weren't so much games as imaginative software toys -- they didn't have a story or a plot -- the player basically constructed something, and then constructed their own stories.

Will Wright appeared on the Colbert Report last night, and hilarity ensues. Much of it is about the Sims, with a little talk of Spore.

Playstation 3: The High Cost of Entertainment


The Sony General Manager of Australia and New Zealand made the following comment:

    "Wii is a core gaming device. It's a more fun, intuitive sort of product to pick up, where the PS3 is a broader entertainment solution; so you can have your fun, enjoyable gaming ... but then you have a whole suite of other applications ... such as Blu-ray media playback, the ability to access your music, access your photos and the interoperability with the PlayStation Portable. Gamers are extremely aware of what they're after and what they want. So gamers will already have a very good understanding of what PlayStation 3 offers versus what Wii offers and many of them will probably have both devices."

I remember having the same kind of discussion a couple of years ago when the Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP came out, with Sony essentially saying "We do more than just play games -- we're your portable entertainment solution!" As far as I can tell, it seems to me the DS outsold (and continues to outsell) the PSP, and the UMD media format that was so highly touted is now largely dead outside of Japan.

I tend to think of the Wii as a casual gaming device, and a PS3 as a hardcore gamer's device. The reason is purely on the basis of the economics involved. For most people, gaming is a pretty expensive hobby -- $50 for each game, in addition to the console cost. When you think about the cost of the Playstation 3 at $600, it's a pretty expensive entertainment option. To put it into perspective, what $600 dollars can buy in entertainment:

  1. Nintendo Wii ($250) + 7 Games (@$50 each)
  2. XBox 360 ($400) + 4 Games(@$50 each)
  3. Playstation 2 ($130) + extra controller ($20) and 9 games ($50)
  4. Nintendo DS ($130) + 11 Games (@$40 each) + 1 $30 game
  5. Nintendo Gamecube ($100) + 10 Games (@$50 each)
  6. World of Warcraft for 40 months (3 years and 4 months!) (at $15 a month)
  7. 60 movie tickets (at $10 a ticket)
  8. 20 DVDs (at $15 a DVD)
  9. Half the cost of a $1200 HDTV.

Notice that $600 is just the console price -- it doesn't include any other games or any other extra controllers. Blu-ray, unfortunately for Sony, is on it's way out -- HD-DVD at present appears to be the media successor to the DVD -- some HD-DVDs even use the reverse side of the disc to a store the DVD version for playback on DVD players. For $600, with the Playstation 3, you can own an already obsolete entertainment doorstop.

What's even worse are the future prospects of the Playstation 3's price: I don't see the price dropping for at least a year, possibly more. Sony currently is losing $300 for each console sold -- given their sales numbers (of 250,000 units) so far, that's about 75 million dollars -- it's a small price to pay provided that the software sales make up for it. Components do get cheaper as time passes, but given that Sony's already spent a fair chunk of money on this system, in order to drop the retail price even $50 dollars, the cost of the components and manufacturing, they'd need to cut out at minimum the $300 they're losing on each system sold. I suspect we'll see the PS3 hit a low of $450 in 3 years by the end of 2009, possibly less if it Sony gives up on the PS3 and Blu-ray quickly enough.
Link (Syndey Morning Herald)



When I picked up the Wii on launch day, the clerk commented to me that "The Wii boxes are such a relief -- much lighter than the PS3s we've been hauling over the counter the last couple of days." She made the comment, and I mentally made the note to find out just how much the PS3 weighed, but then I got the Wii home, unpacked Zelda, and have been a Hyrulian adventurer for the last two weeks. I had the Wii inside the shopping bag, but it still felt like a brick -- however, the console itself is fairly light weighing in at 3.78 pounds -- the PS3 is nearly 3 times as heavy, weighing in at 11 lbs for the weight of just the console. The Wii is nicely portable -- I shoved it into a large Ziploc bag, and carried it in my backpack on the flight to my parents' place over Thanksgiving.

Demand for the Sony PS3 seems to have fallen off, while demand for the Nintendo Wii continues to surge -- this past Sunday, a third round of shipments made their way onto the retail floors of Target and Circuit City, selling out in minutes.

If you see a Nintendo Wii this holiday season, (non-bundled, of course), you should make every effort to purchase it -- it's definitely this season's hottest holiday item. Sales figures indicate over 600,000 Wiis sold in North America thus far, and another 400,000 in Japan following their launch on Saturday. Over 1 million units sold in a little under 3 weeks. Zelda: Twilight Princess has sold 454,000 copies in North America, putting it into the hands of just about 75% of Wii owners.

VH1 says that the Nintendo Wii is having it's best week ever:

Colbert, the Wii and Nancy Pelosi


The Wii recently made an appearance on the Colbert Report's Threatdown, as the #1 threat this holiday season, with Colbert saying: "The threat here is that I haven't been able to tear myself away. This quite possibly is the most addicting videogame of all time."

links for 2006-12-05


The new Lexus LS460 has an Advanced Parking Guidance System, to assist drivers in back-in or parallel parking. The editors of Automobile Magazine recently attempted the Lexus LS460's auto parking feature with hilarious results. From the look of the video, it doesn't seem as if Lexus made sure that the user interface could be understood by a bunch of automotive journalists.

Zelda: Twilight Princess


I finally finished this game on Friday afternoon, and now I feel as if my life can finally return to normal. After 92 hours in Hyrule, I spent another three hours finishing up and maxing out my heart containers and considering whether or not I want to catch the remaining Poes. I'm sad to be leaving the world of Zelda (at least temporarily until a new Zelda game comes out). The last time I completely finished a Zelda game was way back in 1998, playing through Ocarina of Time. While I played a little of Wind Waker, and I loved the use of cel-shaded graphics, all the sailing around just irritated the heck out of me. It's also interesting to note that the Zelda franchise is now over 20 years old. There are kids going in college who have never known a time without Zelda!

Original NES Zelda Intro

links for 2006-12-03