Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Thursday, February 09, 2006
As I said earlier, I was playing with a friend's new Xbox recently. Okay, so first of all, the XBox 360 has some really stunning graphics. Wow. Apparently, the games I was looking at were only using one of 3 cores to power these graphics, so double wow for Microsoft. I really hope Sony doesn't disappoint with the PS3.
Now, here's where I begin to hate the Xbox. Does ANYONE consider that ugly user interface usable? Small things weren't even done right: You've got a window with two buttons to choose from. Which one's hilighted? I'm not sure... there's a subtle shading difference between the two. Haven't we seen Mac OS? The selected option is bright and blue... the others are not.
Gripe 2: It can't multitask... Want to download a 1.2 GB demo game or a 500 MB movie? Go for it. Oh, but you can't do anything else while it's downloading ... nope, can't put it in the background... kiss your XBox goodbye until it's done.
Gripe 3: Okay, you've downloaded that video. Want to watch it again? No, you can't just go back to the store area and have it tell you "you've already got it, let me show it to you." It'll tell you that "it's over on that dashboard thingy", throws you to a different part of the uber-confusing UI and lets you find and play the video. Nice.
Gripe 4: Want to watch movies or pictures or audio from your home computer? Cool... oh, wait... you need to install software on there first. Great. Thanks. Wonderful user experience. Anyone notice that iTunes and iPhoto's network-content discovery just works?
Gripe 5: Menus aren't even laid out properly. To use the Network gaming features of the device, you have to have an XBox Live membership. Gold memberships cost $60 a year (ouch). Silver are free. Go to the screen where you choose which one you want, and you see three options... Where's the silver? Dunno... tonnes of screen space free... Oh wait... does that tiny little grey arrow down there mean there's another option below the three we see? It DOES! Oh look, there's the silver setting!
Gripe 6: Setting up the FREE XBox Live account requires you to enter all sorts of info, like an email address, etc. all with an on-screen keyboard being driven by your joystick. fun. THEN it asks you for an address, and phone number, etc. AND it won't let you go unless you give it valid info. WHY AM I DOING THIS FOR A FREE MEMBERSHIP!?
Gripe 7: That's not all. Once you've chosen the FREE membership level, it has the NERVE to suggest that maybe you should really pay for the Gold service and asks you if you want to go back or not. The option to Go Back is the default option... not continue. Nice. Real nice.
Gripe 8: So, as a part of that Live signup process you've created yourself a nickname. Want to change that nickname? Sure. But it'll cost 'ya. Oh yeah, that's not free either. Great. And WHY exactly is that? Thanks Guys.
Anyway, on the whole, the grpahics and gameplay of some of the games we played were astoundingly good. The usability / interface/etc. of the whole rest of the device? I can't imagine it getting much worse. Hopefully they have some sort of software upgrade that fixes all this (and would use that built-in HD I guess).
Having seen this device, I'm not as convinced it'll be the trojan horse into the living room... Let's see what Apple can come up with there..
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
So some broadband execs/reps have been talking a lot about making
internet application providers pay for access to their pipes. They
figure that Google, etc. are freeloading by not paying for the
internet access that their services require. Umm.. no. Everyone pays
for hosting and bandwidth. It's not free to get a couple of T3's or
OC-12's or whatever's into your server farm to offer a service. So,
the app service provider pays for THIS fee, and the customer pays to
be able to connect to the internet and use services from it. It's
What's this really about? The cable guys are terrified that they're
not going to be the only game in town when it comes to delivering
IPTV and other video services. The day I saw FrontRow on my Mac play
back a trailer without a hitch from the Internet, straight to a big-
screen TV, I knew it was over. Last night I saw an XBox 360 download
a movie trailer from the net through a normal broadband connection...
It worked, even though the experience was horrifically bad (Microsoft
really needs to hire some UX people to fix that thing... i haven't
ever seen so confusing and unintuitive a consumer device before...
but that's for another post).
Anyone can come in and offer a competitive video solution, and the
broadband guys don't like it one bit. That's too bad. Maybe they
should focus on making the actual services good enough to be
competitive, and not start erecting artificial barriers to keep their
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
There's been an update to the Treo 650 (Unlocked GSM) firmware. It's
been available to Windows users for several weeks now, but Mac users
continue to get told "The Treo 650 Update is not yet available for
Macintosh but should be shortly. Please check back for your update."
How many weeks counts as shortly guys?
That said, what's with the MacBook's lack of an S-Video/Composite out and Dual-Layer DVD burner? A terrifically pretty machine all around, but a few notable things missing (no, I don't particularly care it doesn't have a modem... I haven't used the one that's on my current PowerBook, or the last few laptop's I've had... they might not have even worked for all I know) compared to the last-generation of PowerBook G4's.
Methinks a Rev B or C MacBook might be the one to get ... and by then, enough apps will be Universal as well... which is always a nice thing. Oh, and a battery life estimate or two would be nice.
Monday, February 06, 2006
I attended a talk last week at Gowlings (a Toronto law firm).
Actually, it was a series of talks. It turns out banks are finally
looking to use hardware-fingerprinting technology to help
authenticate the computer you're using when you access online banking
services. What scared me was that this is the same technology that
many DRM schemes (i.e. Apple's PlayFair, Windows Media Janus, etc.)
rely on ... and it's considered cutting-edge and experimental for
banks. Now, banks have never been particularly innovative
organizations... that's fine... it meets their risk profile... but
since when does it make sense for Apple to take more steps to secure
a 99-cent song than the bank does your account?
Okay, so my marathon training is off to a good start (and already I'm
neglecting some of my pool and bike time... geez, I have to get this
stuff balanced). So, the first week of speedwork is over... and I
have to say, I'm almost going to miss it ... I hope I can get myself
back into the zone and not get ridiculously bored during some of the
longer runs... we'll see.