Category Archives: Techonolgy

Comic Book Industry Hopes to Rebound Through Digital Distribution

Thousands of fans and collectors rushed into a comic book store to witness the death of an icon. They had seen it on the news, heard it on the radio, been told by their friends. Superman was dead. The cover of Superman 75 showed Superman’s torn cape blowing in the wind like a flag, while his family and friends wept in the background.

On this day in 1992, a single store in Detriot sold nearly 200 000 copies of a comic, as consumers raced to pick up that issue. The store began to see that they were running out of issues, so they marked the prices up higher and higher. By the end of the day, the issue that had started off at a $1.50 was going for twenty times its original price. This was a common sight in comic book stores across North America.

DC Comics, publisher of Superman, and comic book retailers made around $30 million in one day. This was the third time an American comic book publisher had hit the jackpot. It was also the last.

It was clear by the end of that same year that the comic market was shrinking. Sales dropped, the collectors cashed out and sent the whole system into what Grant Morrison, a writer at DC Comics, called “a death spiral.”

However, comic book creators see a way out of this tail spin through a new distribution system: the internet. Read the rest of this entry

E3 Press Conference Impressions 2011

Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo have all just finished their press conferences, and man, was it a good show this year. We got interesting developments from all sides, regarding new games and innovations coming for Xbox 360, PS3, PSVita and now the Wii U.

Admittedly, Microsoft had the least to show to people, since they don’t have a new console or handheld coming out any time soon. They also had the least to prove however since all they needed to do was validate Kinect and the sustainability of their platform, not an entirely new device.

Read the rest of this entry

Serious Analysis: Portal 2

Hello the five people who read this blog, I am going to be doing a weekly blog post called ‘Serious Analysis’ on series or parts of series that I enjoyed.  These could be video games, anime, books, comics, animation, live action, TV or movies that I think are significant in some way and will attempt to inspire readers to look at these works in a new light or look at them in general.

This week, I am analyzing a game that neither needs added compliment nor attention, but I will give it that anyway. Portal 2 was released last week to much fanfare by the game press and fans, and is by Valve’s founder’s view, the best game they’ve ever published. And I agree. Now I could discuss this game to an endless degree, in terms of game design, dialogue and atmosphere, but I want to eschew that for one particular thing. I want to talk about how it rewards you. Specifically I want to talk about the ending, because I think it is an important hallmark of video game creation. And if that hasn’t scared you off already, you should know that this post will be intensively spoiler ridden. You will ruin the ending of Portal 2 if you read any further. This is not a drill. Read the rest of this entry

What You’ve All Been Waiting For…

This is probably not my best time to be writing anything, considering my self esteem has recently been punched in the face by exams. But, since I’ll receive my marks tomorrow which will eliminate any esteem I have left, I might as well say something about this.

It Cleans Windows and Doors too!

And on the Seventh Day, Jobs rested

The blogosphere, and much of the Northern Hemisphere in general, has been compulsively shaking in anticipation of whatever Apple was supposed to announce on January 27. I have friends who were  wetting themselves as they slept because of the hype for this device regardless of whether I dipped their hands in water.

Read the rest of this entry

In Short – Pick up an Actual Damn Guitar

On September 9th North America will finally have The Beatles: Rock Band, an instrument-based game hot on the lips of today’s pop culture. The Beatles have, through their final breathing members, finally agreed to put together a video game that would appeal to the masses through an iteration of the already popular Rock Band franchise. The obvious impression is that if you like the Beatles or music games you should buy this ritualistic birth, and bring it home to display in front of the family. When all is said and done, the three microphones, a guitar, and a drum set will be laid upon the home’s entertainment alter and used to deliver the divine into our hands. As expected, a sacrifice will have to be paid, inevitably spending an awkward sum of currency and living room liberty.

As another duplication in the most resented video game genre in the tertiary sector, The Beatles: Rock Band continues the trend of instrument-based games which occupies large amounts of retail and personal room, in an effort to improve upon the current viewable failures of the compact disk industry. In this way, September 9th represents the eighth release of rhythm games (without including any of the minor band exclusive game which only exist due to stubborn marketing executives, and children whose parents refuse to buy the songs online)with this degree of plastic physicality. They all carry instruments are

made to imitate but not replicate their real life equivalents. In fact the most recent Guitar Hero game was released hardly over a week ago to a stagnant audience, who merely walked to the store with the vague impression that they had been given more of what they wanted. Perhaps as an anecdotal awareness that consumers’ entertainment stations are being overrun by these mock guitars, drums and microphones, Guitar Hero 5 (their newest release in the series) now allows multiples of the same instruments to be played simultaneously, which is a contrast to their previous mantra which only permitted two guitars (rhythm and bass), one set of drums and one microphone to participate in a “full band experience”.

The irony is that like most intriguing toys, this near-reality consumeristic invention is not North American, as much as one would like to hail Harmonix (the original developer for Guitar Hero and the current developer for Rock Band) as the rhythm gaming emperor. Konami, a Japanese company, was the first to publish a game that simulated being a rock star within their Guitar Freaks and Drum Freaks titles. Unfortunately, as the first to create it they were hardly the best at implementing the series, limiting the release to arcades and a small home console release outside Japan, and even then it was poorly made and too complex to use. Yet, it could never inspire the riot the genre causes today, as it didn’t have many licensed songs, which meant playing it was like hitting a random string of buttons on the side of a plastic rod; the music being of complete insignificance.

What this history and mass deliberation of human consumerism brings us to is time. No matter how enjoyable the game is, it requires practice and effort to attain true ersatz rock godhood. After the game is brought home and placed in within the family temple, it must be studied and worked upon until one can whammy through plastic buttons, karaoke, and near effectively play a diminutive set of drums to claim a score that is worthy of the money you have allocated and the landmass that is now covered by different sets of imitation musical instruments. However, what encumbers all the time and effort taken to glorify one’s rock dreams could have been better utilized achieving them in some state of reality.  What games like The Beatles: Rock Band tend to kill, and by no fault of their own (they merely seek to expand those who listen not new musicians), are potential players of music. If these games were a better simulation of what it was to play these instruments, and then there would be no issue as it would be an inspiration of creativity. Yet as it stands, Rock Band and Guitar Hero only seem to distract from creative endeavors due to the huge obsession and the unfortunate fact that real instruments do not have leader-boards.

G.A.M. uPDATE 3

Alright, I give up. These are coming out on Monday, no matter how much Arman wants me to have it out Sunday. Besides, who likes Sundays…Well it’s not like Monday’s any better. Regardless here’s numero 3.

G.A.M. uPDATE 3

Topic Include:

  • Domo-kun in Target stores
  • Beck – “The Last Day of Eddie Lee”
  • August’s top Graphic Novels
  • Ponyo Comes to North America in 09
  • Funimation garners 1/3 of Anime market
  • Dinner and Timeskips

Reviews:

  • None this week

Also: COMMENT

What’s New Facebook-Doo?

I never got all the hubbub about Facebook. It’s a Social Networking site. You put up embarrassing and/or macho pictures of yourself. Then you comment to all your friends about how awesome you may or may not look, then you gossip. Somehow I wonder how more people don’t get punched in the face because of Facebook. Then it had an update so I started caring, ever so slightly.

Regardless, recently I have been perusing around Facebook and found a grand variety of comments over the supposed ‘New Facebook’. Based on what I have seen, the vast majority of them were negative, ranging from ‘damn this thing sucks’ to ‘F*&K! CHANGE IT BACK!” and I can understand where these people are coming from. People are adverse to change, that’s for sure. So the extreme negative reception is expected. In response to the response, I took a better look around to try and figure out what people are complaining about. I actually discovered that I like most of the changes.

Personally I hardly use Facebook. Facebook is about occasionally posting images, catching up with friends, and obsessively stalking your enemies, two of which I rarely get around to doing. However, contrary to the popular opinion, I actually liked the redesign. While I admit that the Boxes tab is unorganized and hard to use (which may enviably be part of the design idea, trying to make it look like the machinations of an adolescent or collage brain, explaining quite a few things) I enjoyed most of the new changes.

First of all, the Wall was annoying. It was always at the bottom of every page and with the multiple varieties of walls it was just a pain in the ass to deal with. Now that they combined that with the posts section, I really like it. It still has all the basic information along with a brief insight into one’s photos and videos. It has all the simplicity that a profile page should have.

In general, the merger gives the Wall a more complete aesthetic, instead of the large disconnect that it had prior. Also I never thought the wall had much of a purpose, with the prominence of IM and e-mail. Now the Wall has a much greater sense of purpose on top of making it a lot easier to use.
The separations of Info, Photo and Boxes are also an improvement. Previously it cluttered up the page, and with its division profiles appear cleaner and more streamline, along with making the information easier to access.

Unfortunately the Boxes tab is a slight reverse. Again, I rarely use Facebook so I don’t have many applications or the like, but I found that the Boxes actually make life harder. They are pretty far from the main pages, creating a sort of disconnect. Also half the information in that tab is trivial bringing up the point of why would I bother to go through all that simply to view someone’s Scrabulus high score. At least before all one had to do was scroll down.

Overall I liked the change. It’s better for people like me who only really care about seeing what people having been doing recently, and pulls away from the apllication side. This, in a way, is returning Facebook to its roots: a purely social forum with the applications solely as a backdrop. The feed has been divided appropriately and is much more customizable to filter out the updates you don’t care about, or to show everything. Though there are some kinks, I think the change is for the best. It looks to appeal to the more casual users (like myself), while still remaining functional for the coffee-inspired socialites who require an update every fifteen seconds.

The 12seconds Song | 12seconds.tv

The 12seconds Song | 12seconds.tv (alpha)

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The Canadian iPhone

Alright so early Wednesday morning Rogers, that magical media conglomerate, finally gave into the demands of the people and let up on the 3G iPhone data plan.  So behold the 6GB data plan! It’s 30 dollars on whatever plan you already have and then you get what is usually considered the unlimited deal in the US. While this does nothing to alleviate the fact that you only get 150 minutes at $60, a price which AT&T offers 450 minutes plus caller ID and 2,500 sent text messages at a two year contract instead of the Rogers three year package.  At least it shows that Rogers is willing to compromise somewhat.

However somehow I believe it has less to do with compromise and more to do with the fact that there was so much bad publicity surrounding them. It almost got to the point where it would be an embarrassment to enter a Rogers facility.  Not to mention a rumour about Rogers losing Apple’s support, who planned on shooting them in the leg by leaving them with only 10-20 units per store.

Although this is in effect a small victory in comparison of the other issues in the Rogers plan, it still shows that thousands of people ranting over the Internet are able to make even a monopolistic monolith second guess their decisions. So it wasn’t the deal changer that people were hoping for, but at least you can get the unlimited data.

What it really shows is how much the cell industry has to change in Canada. It shouldn’t get to the state where we are clamouring for a change. Rogers has gotten too big and has way too much control over this stuff. Worst of all wherever they go they kill everything that they deem to be useless or unpopular and replace it with their own standards. Everyone knew that the iPhone was going to be expensive in Canada, all our cell phone plans are pretty high in comparison to the states; however that does not give you an excuse to jack up the price further.  They tried to take advantage of the people thinking that everyone would just pay whatever price for an iPhone. They thought we were stupid, that we would just bark like dogs and pay up. What they didn’t expect was the extreme negativity. I mean this has spawned things like Rogers boycotts and petitions. Or maybe they expected this, and this is all part of their sinister plan to control the Canadian economy. Somewhere along the line, I doubt that.

It’s Over 9000!

It’s been several years since I first grimaced at a fanboy screaming IT’S OVER 9000! For whatever reason the fact that it was a Dragon Ball Z reference instantly meant what he was saying was awesome and I continued to scream alongside him. Since then it’s been several haircuts and beers later and I hope I have matured out of that carnal state of sleep deprivation and energy drinks. It’s also been that long since I ever heard that term again, until today that is. A friend of mine grabbed me from behind screaming in my ear that something was ‘OVER 9000!’ He then showed me on an amazing article about what may revolutionize the world.

Those geniuses at CERN labs seem to be doing some amazing experiment that may essentially replace the Internet. They have a new system that functionally works like the Internet except it is on average 10,000 times faster than my broadband. Making it roughly 1GB/sec. Try to comprehend that for a second. That would mean you could download every episode of ‘Lost’ in HD in approximately 10 seconds. Or it would mean that you could have a game of an online game of Starcraft running solely off people’s computers, without servers, and still have hundreds of thousands of people playing in a single match.  Of course, this would also mean it would achieve the world’s largest clusterfuck.

internet

The system, called ‘The Grid’, runs on fiber optic cables, which send signals of light instead of our digital signals. Light travels a hell of a lot faster than anything we can come up with so that’s self-explanatory. Another thing that adds to its amazing speed is that unlike cable or DSL it’s not connected to anything other than the Internet. No phones, TV or anything use these wires. It’s not just the cables though you need special hardware and software in your computer as well a s a couple other nice things that we don’t have.

This is currently being used by universities and scientific researchers, but will soon be available to people of grandeur scale. Hopefully this leads to the dream of cloud computing, which means that will no longer need our computers to store information, just to be processors, while we save everything directly to the Internet. Unfortunately for now we won’t have direct access due to plans for it being a private network. Well that’s what they said about the original APRAnet. Still it offers great possibilities for the future. In retrospect I firmly believe that this is in fact over 9000.

To find out more here’s a great article from The Times. Or look it up on Wikipedia. Do that anyways, God huffs a kitten every time you don’t look something up on Wikipedia. Besides, if I lied through this post, Wikipedia will always redeem me.