Apple has been throwing a lot of love at their iPod Touch MP3 player recently. A few weeks back at Macworld, Steve Jobs announced that the iPod Touch would now include the iPhone's e-mail, stocks, weather, notepad, improved maps, and Safari Web clip features, as well as support for Apple's new iTunes movie rentals. As of yesterday, there's even a new 32GB model to lust over. With all these new developments, Apple's iPod Touch seems less and less like the iPhone's feature-deprived sibling, and more like the touch screen, high-capacity convergence player we all wanted … Read more
Today we talk about Amazon trying to patent custom 404 pages, how weird Digg is now that their algorithm has changed, and books that make you dumb. Also, Jeff gets his hands on Suda 51's latest M-rated Wii game, No More Heroes, and we'll take a stroll down arcade memory lane.
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There's a contradiction in our approach to kids and electronic media: we want parents to supervise their kids and guide their appropriate use of games and media, and at the same time we talk about kids being "digital natives" who understand the gaming world much better than many parents do.
Let's face it, kids can spend hours talking to each other about the latest gadget or video game, and it is a challenge for parents to catch up. Most video game reviews discuss a game from the player's point of view without giving parents the details they need to judge whether a particular game is appropriate for their child. (I frequently encounter the same problem with movie reviews for kids' films. I am usually not that concerned about how "good" a kids' movie is, but I want to know the details behind a movie's PG-13 rating. Yet that information is rarely provided.)
A new Web site called WhatTheyPlay.com fills in this information gap. The site launched in November and already features a well-populated catalog of game reviews. Now parents can get the details beyond ESRB ratings, with objective reviews and user comments, to decide for themselves whether they want to bring a game home for their family.… Read more
Christmas is getting close, and if you have any kids in your family they've probably spent the last month (or lifetime) asking you for video games. Not all games are created equal, though, and some simply shouldn't be given to your 10-year-old son, daughter, niece, or nephew. Many of the top-rated and most popular games this year are rated "M" for Mature by the ESRB. That means those games are bloody, violent, and can contain Objectivist overtones. On the other hand, there are still plenty of games rated E for Everyone that your kid will really … Read more
Earlier this week, Zune product manager Cesar Menendez confirmed on his Zune Insider blog that Microsoft will introduce a new rating system for songs. Instead of the five star system that's been in place on iTunes, Zune, the Windows Media Player, and just about every other music software from the beginning of time, Zune is moving to a simple binary system. If you like a song, it gets a heart. If you don't, it gets a broken heart.
I understand that the Zune team has done some market research that purports to show that some users don't … Read more
Speaking of Zeroes and Ones...
Among audiophiles, the analog vs. digital debate rages without end. I, like a lot of other musicians and music fans, have my own preferences--I own many more LPs than CDs, and have paid dearly to record some of my bands' music onto 2-inch tape instead of direct to hard drive. But included in those preferences are some preconceptions. You've heard it before: digital music sounds "colder" or "cleaner" or "more sterile" because it's delivering a stream of 0s and 1s, instead of a pure sound wave. Or something like that.
Audio professionals don't use terms like these, largely because they're subjective and imprecise, and sometimes inaccurate. Recently, one of these professionals presented the best explanation of analog vs. digital sound that I've ever heard. Here's a super-condensed version of an already simplified explanation.… Read more
BadBuster gives a quick glimpse of "green" ratings of businesses you run across while reading searching, or shopping online.
BadBuster took a few quick minutes for me to download and set up, although it stalled on one of two Windows XP machines. Once installed, BadBuster underlines on Web pages the names of brands and goods it has ranked, with colors indicating the level or lack of "greenness." For example, green underscores the BP oil company, known for its "Beyond Petroleum" campaign, while glaring red marks notorious polluter Exxon. Yellow is the middle rating.
Roll … Read more
Those of you who haven't yet installed a link scanning or Web site rating program for your Firefox or IE-based browser should hop to it--and consider using LinkScanner Lite when you do.
I've been using LinkScanner Lite and McAfee Site Adviser on both Firefox and IE browsers. Overkill? No way. Each program serves the greater goal of alerting you to dangerous links but differ in their approaches.… Read more
Each month, I get a fun little e-mail from Nielsen/NetRatings, the online division of the big-name metrics firm, with some tracking numbers for unique visitors at social media sites--namely, social networks, blogs, and video-sharing sites. They're pretty anecdotal as far as traffic metrics go, but it's still fun to see who's losing and who's gaining--you know, like sports. And each month, I eagerly open the e-mail (no, really) to see if there are any juicy surprises in store. This month's version, which includes numbers for August (percentage growth from August 2006 to August 2007, … Read more
Originally branded with an AO (adults only) rating--the film equivalent of NC-17--Rockstar Games' creepy sequel to 2003's original Manhunt has just been graced with the more socially acceptable M-for-mature rating. In addition, Rockstar has announced that Manhunt 2 will be released on the appropriate date of October 31 for the PS2, PSP, and the Wii.
The AO rating was widely publicized in June after reports out of the UK claimed the game would never make it to store shelves. Following the ruling, Rockstar immediately announced that the title's release would be suspended until further notice. Censorship in videogames … Read more