Hi! Do you remember blogs? Well, this used to be one. Now it just serves as an archive for my multiple Twitter accounts.

1 July 2006

Prince of Persia: Warrior Within (PS2)

I’m still unsure as to which grade to give it, because the game’s flaws are so annoying that I’d never have gone so far by myself (or without a walkthrough), but on the other hand I feel much more immersed in it than I ever did in Tomb Raider: the levels and puzzles are far less artificial, and character moves and control feel more real (maybe also because I’m less troubled by a prince with magical powers running up the walls than a modern-day adventurer doing flawless somersaults by the sole power of her boobs). The repetitive and ultimately claustrophobic aspect of the settings, the chase scenes (much more interesting, though much harder, than Legend’s pathetic “interactive” scenes — it’s quite a compliment to the Prince’s control scheme that you can make its equivalent chase scenes really, completely interactive… even though some poorly placed cameras occasionally make things harder than they need to be), the fake ending, it’s all very realistic and coherent… but a bit boring, too. So we didn’t finish it, but I have no regrets about playing it.

I hope to get an opportunity to play The Sands of Time someday, as it must have all the same qualities as this one, without the flaws. (I’m a casual gamer, so I really don’t mind that the game is shorter and less hard.)

@apple@

WriteRoom [via]: free, no-frills full-screen text editor for OS X. I just love writing this way; there were already a bunch of professional writing tools with such functionality, but nothing on the free side.

I’m not a fan of auto-save (“Your text is auto-saved whenever you stop typing for a few seconds”), and the fact that WriteRoom saves text in its own data store (Command-S exports to a new text file) is both the second coolest feature and a hindrance: it doesn’t matter for writing blog posts, but if I were going to write a novel (yeah, as if) I would be mindful to trust my text to hidden files (yeah, I could Command-S regularly to new backup files, but it just doesn’t feel the same — what it needs, really, is a keyboard shortcut to immediately save to a new timestamped file on the desktop, without asking for a filename).

Still, the icon is now a resident on my dock. I’m just not quite sure what I’ll be using it for, yet.

 

(Oh, by the way, the initial colors are a bit surprising — well, not so much when you know the history of computers — but they’re customizable.)

2 July

Soccer fans have been honking and yelling for four hours straight.

Fucking simpletons finding happiness in the fact that a dozen millionaires defeated another dozen who didn’t have the same passports.

3 July

God of War (PS2)

In one word: Wooooooooooooooo.

In two words: Ultimate badass.

While we’re at it, anyone anywhere having a Shadow of the Colossus copy I could borrow? (Preferably someone on Paris. And someone I already know, because I’m not gonna meet an unknown person just to borrow a game, I’m not that cheap.) Because my comrade in arms (too bad it doesn’t sound as naughty as the French camarade de jeux) is very much set on hating it, and it would be a pity spending sixty euros if he’s going to stick to that.

And when’s the last time a review scored five stars here, you ask? Well, actually, I wondered, and opened up phpMyAdmin to check, so I might as well write it here: it was for Veronica Mars, episodes 1.11 to 1.19 — just before the finale that discouraged me a bit from trying to catch season 2.

Before that, it was the end of Six Feet Under’s season 3, which makes me think that maybe I should get started with season 4 after all.

4 July

Angel-A (2005)

How can someone be forty-five and write such corny crap? I mean, how can he write it with absolute sincerity, without any cynicism or distance, not to take advantage of the audience’s stupidity but just because he believes in the script’s message?

Lying is bad. Loving is good. This guy has the emotional maturity of Michael Jackson. (Okay, not quite; he’s more like thirteen or fourteen than just six or seven.)

So, if you’re going to watch a girl jump off a bridge in black and white, better stick to the original: La fille sur le pont. (Even though that one doesn’t have Paris or photography by Thierry Arbogast — Angel-A is just gorgeous, that it is. Makes me want to try some black and white photography myself.)

Why oh why isn’t that kind of crap stuff available in France?

Speaking of which: what kind of sausage, exactly, does one put into a hot dog?

The Interpreter (2005)

Rather inconsequential. Why is it that, whenever a director obtains something rather unique, like the authorizations to shoot a movie almost entirely within the UN premises (which might as well have been rebuilt in a studio, considering what little good it makes to the movie), the final movie isn’t a masterpiece? It it only because, in order to obtain that, you have to be an old director on a downward slope?

Anyway, it’s not too bad either; just slower than necessary, less intense than should be, and the absurd coincidences the whole movie relies on are never actually justified.

5 July

Blade: Trinity (2004)

Oh wow.

Too bad: Dracula as a Sumerian demon, immortal and bored with all the fuss, that could be the premise to something cool. A bit like Judas as Dracula.

@web@

The existing netscape.com community (why, yes, there is such a thing) hates the new Digg-like homepage with a passion. That’s just hilarious — way to go, lifting off a whole site’s concept, with no regard whatsoever for what actually works for your audience. But then, what would Netscape be if it weren’t for that kind of organizational blunders?

I have been using Netscape for 10 years because it WAS the superior browser — now it is as INFERIOR as any other choice!

Gotta feel for the poor guy who’s going back to Internet Explorer so he can have msn.com as a homepage rather than netscape.com.

 

(Incidentally, there seems to be some Javascript at netscape.com slowing down Safari — yeah, I know, what Javascript doesn’t slow down Safari?)

 

@web@

I finally could connect to GéoPortail (with Firefox; it doesn’t seem to like Safari, despite claims of the contrary). Damn, that’s crappy. Well, the photos of Paris are crappy — much less detailed than the recently updated Google Earth ones, and washed out and un appealing — but IGN wins, quite expectedly, on the rest of the country, where Google’s pictures have much poorer resolution.

And, unlike Google, they also have complete maps of the country. Scanned maps. Seriously. Bitmap, scanned maps. Utterly unreadable maps. Freaking clueless morons. So, as I recall, the French administration is working on its own Google and Google Books now, right? That’ll be fun.

 

@apple@

Megazoomer [via] makes windows full-screen. Just press Command-Enter, and the front-most window grows to fill your entire monitor. Press the same keys, and it shrinks again.

Yay. It’s a SIMBL plugin that modifies existing applications, so it’s bound not to work well with everything and wreak havoc every now and then, but it’s still very cool, and seems to work just as advertised. Very smooth, perfect to zoom in on a web page, show something to someone on your computer, or focus on your work.

 

@apple@

DeskBrowse [via] has two modes: a regular browsing mode and Websposé, which places you in a password-protectable ‘kiosk-mode’ web environment ideal for allowing other users or guests to browse the web safely without any harm coming to your system.

If you don’t mind your guests having access to your Gmail account and whatnot if you haven’t logged out from within Safari. Other than that, it’s just yet another application using WebKit, only it appears and disappears with a hotkey. Must be nothing short of revolutionary.

 

@apple@

Apple Phones Home, Too. Seems like OS X 10.4.7 regularly contacts apple.com to ascertain that your widgets are up to date or legit or something. It’s amazing that in 2006 a major OS maker could still naively ignore user paranoia… a few months only after being burned on the exact same issue with the iTunes ministore. Some people never learn.

Anyway: instructions to disable the Widget Advisory (not that I’m among the paranoid crowd — I couldn’t care less — but it may be of interest to someone).

 

@apple@

Ungenius – How QA Really Works. I’m sorry, but you won’t convince me that Steve Jobs isn’t rushing new products to release before appropriate testing. You don’t release a pocket music player without noticing that pocketing it will scratch it beyond recognition. You don’t use a new plastic to manufacture your notebooks without finding out that it won’t withstand the heat, or the sweat, or something. All it would take is a dozen people trying out the products for two weeks in real-world conditions before they were released.

Oh, wait, it’s not just that Apple hardware is rushed out — it’s that they’re so afraid their upcoming products might be leaked, they’d rather release them insufficiently tested than let a couple units out out of the campus’s gates. Yeah, that is now “one of the (many) ways that Apple’s legendary secrecy hurts the company.” Big time. That’s not how business is done. And that’s definitely not how Quality Assurance is done.

 

@apple@

The Cult of Mac Blog – New Case Rumored for Mac Pro: “Think Secret, often reliable in their prognosticating…” Excuse me now?

There’s been a fair amount of… shall we say, controversial material on this blog, lately, but now it just looks like they’re begging you to unsubscribe to their feed.

6 July

The Family Stone (2005)

How can they make something so twisted and corny at the same time? (Considering the domestic poster, the twisted side thinks it’s rebellious and the corny side is accidental.) All that despite good dialogue and pretty good actors overall.

Fucking simpletons finding happiness in the fact that a dozen millionaires defeated another dozen who didn’t have the same passports.

P.S. Heh.

8 July

@apple@

What the hell do I have to do to make OS X remember my custom keyboard shortcuts when I log in or switch users? What’s the point of letting me change Exposé shortcuts if they’re going to overwrite them every time?

 

@apple@

I’m checking out podcasts and videoblogs these days, to see the state of affairs, and boy is iTunes crappy at playing video podcasts. If you double-click a subscribed podcast, instead of an individual entry, the audio will play but the video won’t, and it will disappear again if you click on anything else in iTunes while playing. And, once I get the video, it’s still slow and occasionally chopped, and the playback controls themselves are buggy, too. Going to have to switch to a specialized web-TV client (I know there are a couple, can’t remember the names right now, but I’ll probably blog about them later on).

 

@apple@

Put your Mac to sleep in two seconds: “Just press Command-Option and then hold the Eject button for about 2 seconds and Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” Too bad my Macally keyboard’s Eject button doesn’t work (unless I install the drivers, which make the computer hang/crash), but then I have Quicksilver.

 

@apple@

VoodooPad 3.0 is out and I hate the updated interface — I couldn’t even find an option to open each page in a window like I used to do with the previous version (before I switched to OmniOutliner Pro). I like using Exposé, goddamnit!

 

@web@

Free wifi in Paris, and just in time for the next mayor elections, too. Hey, I already anticipated not being able to resist the DS lite once Opera is available, so I’m all for it.

I’m also quite curious to see how much time it’ll take to actually work (or be cancelled) — this kind of thing, there’s no way it’s going to be on schedule and scalable and reliable and everything.

 

@web@

Web-based barcode reader (uses your webcam — via Flash — to read barcodes, like Delicious Library). I won’t be bothered to restart Safari so my USB webcam’s driver can be reinitialized, and I’m a bit puzzled as to what use this thing can actually have, but it’s cool tech nonetheless.

 

@web@

If Wikipedia won’t list you, just create your page on WikiBios. That’s a pretty interesting concept, but I find it rather poorly implemented: you have to register in order to create or edit a page; the registration form asks you for your friend’s e-mail addresses to they can be invited (that’s so 2004); there’s no popularity rating, no tags, no way at all to navigate the database except for searching by name. I could set up a more interesting version of this concept in 24 hours — and why don’t I, really? Mhh, I’m totally keeping the idea in mind.

 

@web@

Friendster patents social networks. Riiight.

 

@web@

LiveJournal-integrated Jabber. I’ve been thinking for a while of doing something like this for gayattitude, but I’m absolutely not the person to work on it. Still, good to know that it is actually, realistically feasible.

10 July

The Break-Up (2006)

A couple, a fight, a break-up. Seriously, who wants to see that? Didn’t you hear your parents scream at each other enough when you were younger? See the tears! Hear the insults! Behold the console-playing behemoth of a primate from Mars! Witness the Venus woman’s devilish schemes turning against herself! Improved with a few comedy bits at the expense of supporting characters — and of their latent or blatant homosexuality!

What. The. Fuck?

Origin – Spirits of the Past (Gin-iro no kami no Agito, 2006)

A sentient forest has fallen from the Moon, devastated the entire Earth, and is now rationing water and occasionally assimilating a few humans. While the wisest men have formed a neutral city, some evil, warmongering, polluting technophiles are intent on destroy the forest, and the good guy is going to have to single-handedly stop them.

Really. No matter what justifications are unveiled in the movie’s insipid second half, it’s still an ode to bending over and kissing your invader’s ass. Can you imagine there’s a culture out there that’s so different from ours, they actually see that as the right way to go, and the right values to teach their kids?

13 July

@apple@

Yahoo! Messenger for Mac 3.0 beta 1 [via]. Very sleek interface, does webcams, avatars and all. I have nobody to test it with, but they announce upcoming MSN compatibility (now if only that also worked with the webcam, that would be fantastic).

Ooh, what do you know… by the time I got to actually publish this article, it seems that the MSN gateway is now operational — but they only mention IMs, not webcam conferencing. More about that later.

 

@apple@

I use this [via]: a Digg-like OS X application tracker. That is, a website that lists (or it will, when it’s out of beta and the databases are full) all applications and their updates, and allows users to vote and review software. It’s not fundamentally different from VersionTracker, but when it’s all done the Digg inspiration might make it much more convenient.

 

@misc@

The first flash mob?

@apple@

Productivity apps are so crude. I’ve tried doing a roundup of all the Yojimbo / StickyBrain / WhatEver crowd again, like all those GTD addicts tend to do every once in a while, in order to try and solve this little problem that’s getting more and more evident: my notes and thoughts and whatnot are scattered.

I currently write my to-do items in OmniOutliner Pro, classified by project, using named styles with keyboard shortcuts to highlight the most important and urgent items (which, to GTD aficionados, would be “next actions”, but I’m not working in that structured a way yet, and doubt I’ll ever be). Trouble is, that’s a big file, with lots of items per category, and there’s no way to display, at a glance, all the stuff I need to work on first, all my highlighted items. No smart folders or anything. (I know I could use Kinkless, but it just feels… I don’t know, awkward. Slapped on. Unnatural. And why the hell wouldn’t OOP have native smart folders?)

At the same time, I’m using Yojimbo to store web clippings — information, hints and tips of all kinds, graphical inspiration, technical and administrative reference, etc. — but there’s another problem here: I file stuff into Yojimbo, never to look back at it again. Because my notes and to-do items are in OmniOutliner, I just about never open the Yojimbo main window. Links go into the drop dock, nothing ever comes out.

What I need is to store everything in the one place, and that place to have smart folders and be able to handle web archives as well as quick notes. Even if OmniOutliner ever grew smart folders, it would necessarily remain inadequate for web archives (even if it ever grew smart folders). Yojimbo, on the other hand, isn’t quite great at managing one-line to-do items, but my biggest issue is actually that smart collections are terribly limited. You can flag and label items in your library, but the only smart collection you’re allowed to have displays flagged items — that’s not enough for me; how come they never thought we might need to search for specific labels? The most puzzling thing is, SOHOsomething and DEVONwhatever have the same limitation: little or no smart folder support. In these Tiger/Spotlight times, when Apple’s native apps support them extensively, that’s insane.

The only note-management package I could find that would support my smart collection needs is Mori, but it’s lagging on the other aspects: I find it weaker than Yojimbo at one-liner management (though I couldn’t quite pinpoint why) and, more importantly, it doesn’t do web archives, but simply creates a hyperlink when you drop a web shortcut onto it. That’s no good — you can’t trust the internet to store the information you need forever (and forever in the same place).

I’m not quite sure what the ideal program would be — designing the same interface conveniently list web archives and short to-do items wouldn’t be an easy task — but I know what would be already be a good start: Yojimbo, with the extensive, customizable smart collections it should never have shipped without (and folder hierarchy, too, to unclutter the drop dock once I create one folder per project). Isn’t that simple enough?

And there’s another thing I can’t believe is nowhere to be found: tag support. Hello? Have you looked at the web lately? Or, for that matter, do you have any idea what GTD is? You know, that might help, if you’re going to make productivity software.

 

[+19h] DEVONthink does have some smart folder support — but that requires the Professional version, and you have to manually link a folder to an AppleScript file… I can believe Merlin Mann calls that “drop-dead easy to use.

14 July

@apple@

So the Yahoo/MSN IM interoperability is operational, with a twist: if you’ve downloaded 3.0 beta 1 (for OS X, don’t know or care about Windows, as you should know by now) before they activated it, you have to download it again, even though it’s still called 3.0 beta 1. Okay, sure, whatever.

Anyway, I’m a bit puzzled as to why you have to declare, using a tiny, inconvenient select thingy, whether you’re adding an MSN or Yahoo contact (MSN contacts have @’s and Yahoo contacts don’t, right?), and… well, I couldn’t get it to work. Neither Adium nor Mercury received authorization requests, and both users appear offline from Yahoo! Messenger. From what I’ve read, it’s quite possible that it wouldn’t even work with MSN Messenger for Windows, but only the latest version of Windows Live Messenger. That’s too bad, because Yahoo! Messenger for Mac really seems like a pleasant piece of software.

 

@apple@

Pimp Your Quicksilver.

15 July

IGN is streaming the first two reels of A Scanner Darkly. That’s a great promotional idea, such as you’d like to see more often, and it’s unlikely to happen again anytime soon: seems like most bloggers I’ve read had the same reaction as me, not being in a particular hurry to see what happens next — even though I was definitely intent on going to see it when it was released in France. The story, at least so far, isn’t too riveting, and the animation is ugly and annoying (which might seem unlikely considering the technique they used, but I’ve generally found rotoscoping animation to look more awkward than realistic in the end, and that’s definitely the case here).

In the nitpicking department: the visual representation of the scramble suit doesn’t match the dialogue at all. Which dialogue makes some sense and is probably lifted straight from the Philip K. Dick, whereas the visual are way out there. That’s not starting off too well.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (PS2)

Playing that one after you’ve played the more recent Warrior Within is a big mistake: while they both mostly sport the same qualities and flaws, the combat system has dramatically changed in the meantime, and Sands of Time fighting is so tedious we ended up giving up around 30% or 40% completion (whereas we had stuck to Warrior Within much longer, despite the damn Dahaka scenes).

Even dismissing the fights, though, doesn’t quite save the game — at least not for 2006. There’s a bit more of a story, but not by much; the character accompanying you is a nice touch, but her AI and combat skills are way too limited (and I can’t believe game developers don’t notice how irritating it is to hear a character cycle though the same three lines of dialogue every five minutes — even in God of War there was some of that); level design is quite monotonous (and I understand it makes sense with the story and the Prince of Persia legacy, and not every game can be as varied as Tomb Raider, but that’s still boring).

Plus, a personal pet peeve of mine: artificial puzzles. There’s a point in the game when you’re going through the menagerie, and one door is closed, and you have to move a block in an animal’s cage to reveal a crack in the wall, through which a sufficiently svelte character can get into the second, door-less cage that houses the switch to open that door you have to go through. Let me repeat: the switch to open a door is inside an animal’s cage that has no doors and that you can only get into through a crack in another cage’s wall. (And, by the way: switches? Glow-in-the-dark, 3x3-foot switches on the floors to open doors in old Persia?) It makes it really, really hard for me to feel any kind of immersion when the level design feels as natural as a sudoku grid. (Tomb Raider makes me feel a bit of the same way, too, with ledges and poles too obviously spaced from one another by the exact jump distance; while God of War twists the issue by having the puzzles explicitly designed by a deus ex machina as a test of valor — Indiana Jones-like.)

16 July

  • Nail Bangle. Somehow it looks simpler and much cheaper to just go to a DIY store and buy a big nail.

I agree. I feel obliged to say it, after what I posted on this topic.

19 July

  • God of War 2 Boss Revealed (spoilers!). But, since I read the previous article, explaining why the original game’s creator doesn’t want to have almost anything to do with the sequel, I’m less optimistic.

  • I’ve been listening to podcasts for a week (most notably the complete 4cr and CAGcast archives, but the Engadget one isn’t bad either), and wondering whether I really want to inflict yet another podcast / vidcast on the world: it’s true that crap eats up time so easily.

  • If my fridge is already at the point where it causes short power outages and makes weird noises when back online, is it too late, or can I still buy some time by pulling it a bit farther from the wall and opening the adjacent cupboard to make some air? (And what’s that stupid idea of embedding fridges? That’s against all laws of physics!) Considering how hard it normally is to reach my landlord, I’m afraid I might have to wait two months for a replacement fridge if it croaks in the middle of summer.

20 July

  • After a week spent catching up with the best podcasts I could find (in a nutshell: if you’re gonna make a podcast, you’ve got to have a nice voice, you’ve got to know how to speak rather than read your text, and you’ve got to bring something that a blog post can’t, which usually means having several people conversing, rather than you being alone in front of the microphone) I’ve moved to video podcasts, and I’m amazed by how many of them just imitate the mainstream media’s flaws rather than dissociate from them.

  • Although it might be a bit contradictory with what I just wrote (because the new host comes straight from MTV), I like Rocketboom much better without Amanda Congdon, but still not to the point of watching it. And I’m still hooked to ze’s show.

  • By the way, Molly’s voice, from the Buzz Out Loud podcast, furiously reminds me of someone, and I wonder who that could be. Her voice, the way she speaks, her laughter, it’s like she reminds me of someone I’ve known forever, yet there’s no English-speaking person I’ve known forever.

  • This is all in preparation of the great GarooTV launch, someday pretty soon or not so soon at all. And I’m actually getting more and more used to the concept of starting out with a simple podcast instead (it’s so much simpler: less hardware, less software, less work), so if you feel like participating in weekly roundtables about the web, movies, games, TV or all things technological, you may want to… uh, read the French version of this post, because this is reserved to francophones. (Not that I would mind doing a podcast in English, but that’s not where my audience is, and I’m not going to produce one podcast for each language.)

  • Wasn’t it Pet1te 4nglaise who posted, a while back (at the time when I was reading her), some creepy stuff about her boss, bordering on sexual harassment? (Her termination letter apparently refers to material she posted then removed, acknowledging it was professionally risky.)

  • Diet Sprite tastes like something’s missing. But I’m unsure whether it’s my memory playing tricks on me, or it’s just the taste of sugar I’m missing.

11 July

I was going to write an article building up a bit on the comment I left at Xarro’s, but in the meantime I found out he was a repeat offender, which changes the situation a bit; so I’ll just copy the comment for posterity:

It’s funny but, for me, the fact that he’d fuck up his last World Cup final ever (and France’s last for a while, before they find a suitable replacement for him) to headbutt a colleague who necessarily had to deserve it a bit, well, it could almost make him likable :)

And I’m not the only one who felt that way.

20 July

@web@

You’d think that free (as in beer) web-2.0-era services would refrain from using the lame marketing techniques of the previous century (Dell just announced they’d ditch their rebate system, didn’t they?), but you might be wrong.

Gizmo Project, the wannabe Skype killer, launches a great promotion, its home page announcing: “Free Calls to 60 Countries - over 2 Billion Phones!” You might take that to mean you’d get free VoIP calls from your Gizmo account to any of the 2 billion landlines in 60 countries. Because, well, that does seem to be what it says. And pretty much all tech blogs have announced it that way (because their editors are paid to release, not verify or analyze, the news).

I was surprised, but didn’t originally check for myself, because I couldn’t care less about VoIP (or telephone at all), and because it’s too hot in here, until I found out on TechCrunch (who also got it wrong the first time, and was corrected by a reader) that there’s an asterisk on the details page. You have to scroll way, way down and read the very fine print to find out that it’s only free when you’re calling a landline number registered to an active Gizmo user — that is, as a Gizmo user, you say your landline number is such-and-such, and then you can get calls for free on this number. Which… uh, if that’s your regular, registered number, changes are your internet connection, computer, Gizmo and headset are right next to it and you might as well use them to answer incoming calls.

So you don’t get free calls to 2 billion landlines, but to a few thousand “active” Gizmo users — i.e., people who use Gizmo regularly enough to earn the right to get free incoming landline calls. Oh, and, while they’re at it, they reserve the right to limit call length, too.

 

Yeah. In short: bullshit. Loads of bullshit. I say, vote with your wallet (since VoIP is free anyway, it won’t matter much to you), and stick to Skype. Which I have no vested interest in since, as explained before, I couldn’t care less about Skype, Gizmo or whatever. It only pisses me off to see that kind of marketing crap — even more so when it’s validated out of sheer laziness by most blogs.

21 July

Shadow of the Colossus (PS2)

It must have been more than a week since I finished the game, and I’ve kept rewriting this post’s draft over and over again while listening to the original soundtrack (between two podcasts).

So I’ll just try to make it short and summarize it thus: if I worked at Sony, I’d offer this game’s developers a couple billions to make a PlayStation 3 edition, with improved graphics (minus the dropping framerate) and a few bonuses, such as a slightly more animated world, maybe, and the possibility to play the game as each colossus (considering one of the final sequences, I’m really surprised they didn’t think to include that). But I don’t think they’d want to do it, and that’s quite fortunate as I won’t be able to afford a PS3 anytime soon.

Still, a unique, entrancing game, whose qualities aren’t limited to artistic direction (character control, though initially unsettling, quickly becomes so natural you really feel you’re up there, clinging for your life to the hairy head of a colossus, a hundred meters above the ground) and that you want to play again once a month from beginning to end, preferably on a big screen and with big speakers.

22 July

@windows@

Engadget, about Microsoft’s iPod (wannabe) killer that was finally confirmed:

The service and device will not be PlaysForSure compliant, meaning you will not be able to use your Zune player with Napster or Vongo, for example. This will be an entirely new system. Microsoft will continue to support and develop for their PlaysForSure initiative, but all things PlaysForSure are handled by two entirely separate division that will not have any crossover.

 

@windows@

GigaOM:

The real and perhaps the only story in the news is that Microsoft’s partners – from device makers to music services – just got double crossed by the company they choose to believe in. […]

Let me break this down: Zune will compete with […] anyone dumb enough to buy into Microsoft’s visions of Urge, Media Player, PlayForSure etc.

Not that it’s much different worse than what Steve Jobs did to Motorola — although Motorola knew beforehand that the iPod existed, and should have pulled back when Apple set a limit to the number of iTunes track, whereas Microsoft’s partners… eh, where did they think they were going, trusting Microsoft?

 

@apple@

Now the real question is, when is Apple going to release their wireless iPod / iPhone / iTablet? A few months before Microsoft releases the Zune, with the risk of its announcement being later eclipsed by Microsoft’s (and of rushing to market a product that might not be completely ready — not that they would mind), or a few months after, when they might be called followers? I guess the deciding factor, here, is how much better they think their product will be: if they can expect the iTablet to wipe out everything else, they can afford to give Microsoft a few months on the stage. We all know how modest Steve Jobs can be, and we know how Microsoft understands user expectations when it comes to hardware devices (just look at the Origami… or the Xbox, even — they needed all of Microsoft’s clout and selling at loss and Windows / DirectX compatibility to get the original box any kind of adoption, and the 360’s success can mostly be attributed to Sony going bonkers), so I wouldn’t expect Apple’s retaliation to come before spring of 2007. (Well, if it’s only about adding wifi to the iPod, they can very well do it by summer’s end, though.)

I guess the DS Lite + Opera combo is getting more interesting by the minute. Although I can’t say I found the video particularly enticing.

 

@windows@

Oh, and that one puzzles me. Gizmodo:

That scenario is to provide ubiquitous access to digital media from a wide range of Windows-powered devices in what ultimately aspires to be one part MySpace, one part iTunes and one part Xbox Live.

MySpace? Are they just throwing buzzwords around, or are they serious? Is Zune going to integrate with MSN Spaces (and only MSN Spaces) and let your update your crappy excuse for a blog from any wifi access point? You know, you don’t need a $400 device for that; you might as well use SMS/MMS.

By the way, why isn’t anyone mentioning an embedded web browser?

 

@windows@

[+3h] Rough Type:

Early last year, Bill Gates commented on Apple’s success with its “closed” iTunes/iPod system and laid out Microsoft’s very different, “open” strategy for the music-player market.

Heh.

It was already funny, in itself, hearing Microsoft tout “openness,” but it gets even better in retrospect.

  • I’m not usually so optimistic watching trailers; is it because I’m watching them in reasonably high definition on my pretty screen, or because I’m itching for good movies (oh, that I am), or do they really both seem to be pretty good (en particulier The Fountain)?

  • I’m not sure whether it’s my DSL modem having trouble with the heat wave, or the ISP’s installations.

  • Looks like my PC (which I hadn’t turned on in months) is dead or dying. Does a UPS produce a magnetic field? Hmm, now that I think of it, it must be full of coils.

  • And I’m not the only one, even my supermarket has lost power. It’s got to cost a fortune, putting all the refrigerated and frozen goods in the trash. Or they just pretended to remove them from the non-functioning fridges, and they’ll just put them back later.

24 July

Done The Impossible [via], a documentary by, for, and about the fans of Firefly and Serenity (let me insist: it’s about the fans, not the shows), is in great part available as a free, legal download. It’s certainly of some sociological interest, and it might even be watchable by the less misanthropic than me, but it certainly wasn’t worth 800MB if bittorrenting nor the 80 minutes of my life I want to get back now.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

The homage to B-movies of old is nice, and the movie is overall rather enjoyable, but it’s missing the little something that would justify releasing such a movie in the twenty-first century (beyond pretty special effects). At least a bit of self-referential humor or something.

Hitman: Blood Money (PS2)

I don’t know if there’s somethig missing regarding the atmosphere, or it’s just me, so I won’t write about that (I never really enjoyed the Sopranos, for instance, and mafia flicks bore me to death, but I’m still interested in playing a hired assassin, in theory); what I can say, though, is that gameplay is not natural enough for me to get into it. When you’ve watched Alias for years, you’ve got some expectations when it comes to infiltrating and eliminating.

Why is it so hard to “aim” when trying to strangle someone with the fiber wire, and why does it become impossible as soon as the victim spots you? Why can’t you just smoothly jab a syringe intoyour target passing by a corridor, or swiftly plant a bomb under everyone’s noses? Why can’t you somehow block a door to hide a corpse? Why isn’t that fucking silencer more silent? Oh, I know why: because it would be too easy, and then it would be so much more work designing the missions.

That’s a pity, because they are interesting and varied, and the settings are beautiful — but, once again, the design is so artificial I feel as involved with the story and characters as if I were playing Tetris. The main thing I’d blame this game for, in the end, is pretending to be realistic and open-ended when it’s just a puzzle game where each puzzle has two or three scripted solutions rather than one. I think I’d rather have the unabashed linearity of a Tomb Raider game.

(The Alias universe and story, for all its flaws, could make for a terrific video game series, by the way. But that’s not how things go.)

25 July

@web@

coComment gets a clue, and now tracks all comments on blog posts you have flagged. I still find the interface for flagging posts too cumbersome and, more importantly, it doesn’t auto-detect comments and only works with a number of recognized blog engines, so it won’t ever track comments on my own blogs, for instance — unlike co.mments .

 

@web@

Opera DS Browser movie & impressions. You know what? I wasn’t impressed with the promotional videos; in those videos I just find it obnoxiously slow (nevermind the missing functionalities) and not too pratical to use. Forget it, we’ll just have to wait for Apple to discontinue the Macintosh line and release an OS X version for UMPCs.

 

@apple@

Bah, my post mentioning the wireless Mighty Mouse more-than-rumor didn’t even have time to get out of draft status before Apple released it.

 

@apple@

And while we’re at seeing rumors instantaneously come true, the latest one about a “none-touch” iPod interface are pretty cool — a touch-screen that detects your finger hovering near it to trigger the virtual scroll-wheel’s display and operate it. Nice way to solve the finger smudges problem.

This design fascinates me everytime I pass it. But I guess I’ll have to go there with a real camera…

26 July

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

@apple@

He’s only spent a couple hours on my desk, and I’ll miss him (true that those things boot fast, and seeing it instantaneously open a .dmg or launch an application is a bit frustrating), but that’s nothing compared to what I’ll have to deal with on Monday.

I can’t believe they’re reserving three function keys — the same keys that should be allocated to that dear Exposé — to control keyboard backlight. Are those really the same designers who decline to integrate a memory card reader because that would confuse users?

Thank god you can set the system up so function keys will be accessible without pressing Fn, but I can’t quite understand why that’s not the default setting.

 

[+20min.] Oh, by the way: no noticeable whine (not that I would have heard it over my room’s fan blowing full-speed).

Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner

I’ll miss him (true that those things boot fast, and seeing it instantaneously open a .dmg or launch an application is a bit frustrating), but that’s nothing compared to what I’ll have to deal with on Monday.

I can’t believe they’re reserving three function keys — the same keys that should be allocated to that dear Exposé — to control keyboard backlight. Are those really the same designers who decline to integrate a memory card reader because that would confuse users?

Thank god you can set the system up so function keys will be accessible without pressing Fn, but I can’t quite understand why that’s not the default setting.

The Grudge (2004)

Okay, maybe I’ll rather turn the lights back up. And close the window. And open the curtains wide. No, close them. And close the doors, or maybe open them, but not leave them ajar, not that. Ah, and cover the mirrors, too. And I’m definitely not going to put that eye as a thumbnail on my blog.

27 July

@apple@

I’ve often cursed the inability to select and copy some text from a text clipping; turns out you can. It works just as you’d expect it, only that… the selection is invisible. How stupid is that?

 

@apple@

Winners announced for the Fake Leopard Screenshot Contest. I agree that the winner should be immediately hired by Apple; I’m not much impressed by the others, though.

 

@music@

Daring Fireball has a nice writeup of the Zune news, with a few interesting points:

And so now that Microsoft is abandoning the licensing model (or at least deprecating it) in favor of a closed model that they completely control, will all those pundits who’ve been predicting doom for the iPod for the last four years declare that Microsoft, like Apple, is now making the same mistake with Zune that Apple made with the Macintosh in the 1980s? […]

Sure, there are all sorts of innovative new features supposedly slated for the Zune, but if people look at it and their initial reaction is “Oh, it’s an iPod rip-off,” that’s a pretty crummy first impression. Does anyone at Microsoft realize that rip-offs aren’t considered cool?

On that last matter, I think Microsoft’s perspective is skewed by how much they’ve been able to get away with Windows, and particularly Vista previews: the thing is, Windows users couldn’t care less how much Vista is “inspired” by OS X; that might not be true at all when it comes to a consumer electronics device — especially as cool and iconic as the iPod is.

28 July

Anthony Zimmer (2005)

No rating for this movie, because I’d have to see it again first: right now I’d be tempted to say the script is completely incoherent, but I’m not quite certain. In any case, even if there were no proven incoherence, it would still be the kind of movie ending that makes you reflexively go “fucking rip-off” rather than “whoa,”, and that’s not good.

A pity, because it’s well written, directed and played. (Which is why I’m holding my judgment, because the writer-director seems too intelligent to make the kind of gross mistakes he lets you think he did.)

29 July

@misc@

The DADVSI law (the French DMCA) is revised by the Conseil constitutionnel, and we’re fucked (because, beside being hostile, it was also poorly written).

Now I’m waiting for the Ministère de la culture to declare that, since their law wasn’t written right, they’ll rework it to make sure the no-jail policy is enforced. Yeah, any minute now, I’m sure.

On the other hand, maybe that last straw could motivate people to organize and sustain a complete boycott of all CDs and DVDs? One can dream.

 

@music@

Microsoft to use Xbox tactic on Zune, unapologetically selling the device (and, presumably, the music, too, if the rumors about swapping iTunes tracks for free is to be believed) at a loss for the first five years. The decision was quite expected; the coming clean about it wasn’t as much, but isn’t surprising; bear in mind, however, that this strategy has merely managed to get the Xbox to survive for five years, not kill the PlayStation — at all.

 

@photo@

Helicon Focus [via] creates a picture with infinite depth of field from several photographs of the same subject (kind of the focusing equivalent of HDR — and the ideal companion to the plenoptic camera). The examples are pretty impressive, and certainly clearer than my description.

 

@apple@

Google Earth Mac facelift.

 

@web@

Using Google Images as a visual translator.

  • The DADVSI law (the French DMCA) is revised by the Conseil constitutionnel, and we’re fucked (because, beside being hostile, it was also poorly written).
    Now I’m waiting for the Ministère de la culture to declare that, since their law wasn’t written right, they’ll rework it to make sure the no-jail policy is enforced. Yeah, any minute now, I’m sure.
    On the other hand, maybe that last straw could motivate people to organize and sustain a complete boycott of all CDs and DVDs? One can dream.

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