Saturday, March 22, 2008
When I gave my keynote at Penny Arcade Expo, I wanted to give context to the whole reason we all gathered in Seattle. To do that, I tried to take the audience on a trip through gaming history, as seen through the eyes of someone who witnessed the evolution from Atari 2600 to Xbox360 first hand.
I understand that there will be an official PAX'07 DVD released sometime before our Sun goes supernova, or Duke Nukem Forever goes gold, but until then, here's some video of me talking about the first time I played a Nintendo Entertainment System.
Here's what I put into my notes, for those of you who are YouTube impaired, or want to find those places where I broke away from my prepared remarks to heed Fiona Apple's timeless advice to just "go with yourself."
After briefly browsing the action figures and board games, we turned a corner and saw it: the Nintendo Entertainment System, sitting at the end of an aisle, waiting for some lucky kid to pick up its controller and take it for a spin.
We looked at each other, marveling at our good luck, before bolting down the aisle and grabbing the controllers so that no one could get between us and unlimited video game bliss.
There were sixteen different games to choose from. It was incredible. My eyes raced across the colored titles spread out before me:
Golf? No. Golf is lame.
Clu Clu Land? That sounds like math. Next.
Kung-Fu? Bori -- wait! Kung-Fu? Like in the arcade?!
"Let's play Kung-Fu," I said.
"Is it cool?" he said.
"I'm pretty sure it is, Jer," I said. "I think I've played this at Pinball Plus."
(Pinball Plus was our local arcade, owned by a guy who would give us free tokens for good grades. He sold the place in the late eighties, and it was renamed – I am not making this up – The Enterprise. I felt right at home there, for all the reasons you’d think.)
I hit start and was so impressed and excited by what I saw, I think I peed a little.
It was unlike anything I'd ever seen on a console. It made our Atari 2600 feel as technologically advanced as a set of alphabet blocks that was missing three of the five vowels.
"Oh my god, Jeremy! This is just like the arcade!"
"Yeah!" He said, spurred on by my excitement as much as his own.
We alternated between Kung-Fu, Excitebike, and Pinball until our parents dragged us away, what felt like hours later.
Once we were in the car. My brother said, "Mom! Dad! That Intendo is so great!"
"It's Nintendo, Jeremy," I said, in my very best Serious and Mature voice, "and it's probably the most advanced computer system that will ever be made."
That was my favorite line in the entire keynote, because I can still hear myself saying it, and recall how passionately I believed that.
I'm pretty heavily in love with my Nintendo DS, and I have a massive crush on my Xbox360, but the Nintendo Entertainment System will always hold a special place in my heart that's like . . . well, you know how there's the person you lose your virginity to, but then there's the person who shows you how to actually, you know, do it right? I lost my virginity to the Atari 2600, but it was the NES that made me a man.
Wow. Uncomfortable metaphors FTW.
Wil Wheaton made this half-pony half-monkey monster to please you, but he gets the feeling that you don’t like it. What’s with all the screaming?
Posted by Europe Hotels at 2:52 PM
Microsoft has a difficult challenge ahead of them in convincing people that they need Windows Home Server. After all, having another computer in the house—especially one that doesn't have a screen, a keyboard, or a mouse—isn't something people are shoving each other in the face for. But when families take a good long look at what WHS can do, like automated, centralized daily backups, simplified remote access, storage expansion and network file sharing, they may just change their minds. We got our hands on a Norco DS-520 Home Server, one of the first pre-made boxes available, and definitely loved what we saw.
Before the software, here's the hardware we used to explore WinHoServer. Norco's DS 520 has a 1GHz Celeron M processor, up to 1GB RAM, eight SATA II channels, 3 eSATA ports, four USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports and a total capacity of 8TB when using 1TB drives. It's got an MSRP of $649, which may seem high for a headless machine, but it's not quite like a standard Windows machine you've used. True, you can make a Windows XP or Vista machine into a NAS that backs up and has RAID and allows remote access, you need deep networking and computer experience to do so. WinHoSo is designed for the average family with more than one computer. And you pay for both the convenience and the upgradeability.
Here are the main features Microsoft will be using to sell this to you.
Backup: Much like Vista itself, Windows Home Server allows you to back up your computer drive by drive to one centralized location. You can even do this with every computer in your house, provided you've got enough space installed on your Home Server. Like Time Machine in Leopard, this is a fire and forget method of backing up that's painless and easy enough for your mom to do (and if she can't, you can always remote access in and do it for her). We set our Vista machine to back up once a day and it's done by the time we wake up in the morning.
Network Storage: Another one of the main features allows you dump all your files off your computer and onto your network. Homes that have more than one machine can consolidate music, photos, and movies so the files can be accessed anywhere. For example, you can stream music to your Xbox 360 directly from the server. It depends on each OEM's implementation of the software, but most have hard drive slots in front that are hot-swappable, plus eSATA ports and USB 2.0 ports in the back for easy external expansion as well. All the drives—including external ones—are consolidated into one big pool that services your network. When you plug in a new drive (as shown above), it will format (assimilate) the drive and add it to the hive mind (Borg Collective).
What's great about this network storage is that it's essentially a poor man's RAID. You can choose top level shared folders on your server for file duplication, which backs up the same files onto another one attached hard drive for redundancy in case one drive fails. There's also access rights for different users so you can keep your "photo" directory separate from your family vacation pics. And since it's an SMB network share, OS X and Linux machines can use it as well.
Remote Access: In addition to being able to access your files through the network, you can also grab them over the internet with remote access. Setting it up was extremely easy, which is a credit to Microsoft to boil down port forwarding and domain registration to something normals can do. To enable it, just head to the settings, switch on the feature, and the server will auto-configure your router via uPNP. After that's done, you go through the handful of steps to register a free domain name (yourname.homeserver.com is the result) and you can now grab your files from anywhere.
What's even better than accessing files from outside your home is accessing actual computers. Home Server allows remote access connections for privileged users (ones you give permission to) to control certain machines on your network. Connecting requires Internet Explorer, so non-Windows PCs are out. This reiterates the point that this is a Windows ecosystem-focused product. However, we couldn't get remote access to work correctly on 3 different machines we tried—it kept giving us a timeout which we suspect is a firewall/router issue—but we'll try again and update on how well remote access works when it actually does.
Monitoring: In addition to hot features like backup, file share and remote access, there's small features that let you keep your home network in check as well. WinHoSo can monitor the status of all computers connected to it via the Network status section. This, as shown above, lets you see the status of each computer's firewall, antivirus and whether any updates are pending from one place. For families, you can see if your kids have disabled the firewall or the antivirus because they wanted to play some trojan-laced game they downloaded.
Extendability: The Windows Home Server platform also serves as a base for plugins, which either extend the functionality software-wise or act as a gateway or driver for some piece of hardware you're using. Announcements for these will come soon, but suffice it to say things sound very promising.
Do It Yourself: For those of you who already have a spare machine you can use as a WHS node, you can already pick up an OEM copy from Newegg for $179. The installation process takes about an hour, after which you'll be set up with your own Home Server without having to buy a pre-made machine.
In more ways than one, the WHS product reminds us of Windows Media Center Edition, a design that started out as a niche product but was updated and improved every year to be so great that it eventually outsold standard editions of XP—and then incorporated full out in Vista.
Microsoft wanted this to be an easy to use product that families can take advantage of without having to think about it. It incorporates well into existing homes that have more than one computer and want to back up/store/share their data. Norco's implementation is a fine example of how this Windows Home Server will work, bringing an all-in-one kit that's both expandable on the hardware side and extensible on the software side. They may have a hard time convincing people that they need this in their homes, but we're definitely sold. [Windows Home Server]
Amazon.com Announces ''Best of 2007'' Lists
SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) today released its “Best of 2007” lists, which include the bestselling, most positively reviewed, most-wished-for and favorite gift products as determined by Amazon.com customers in 2007.
The following is a list of the bestselling products on Amazon.com in 2007 by total units sold:
The following is a list of products that were reviewed most positively by Amazon.com customers in 2007:
The following is a list of products that appeared most often on the Wish Lists of Amazon.com customers in 2007:
Most Popular Gift Products
The following is a list of products most frequently purchased as gifts by Amazon.com customers in 2007:
Amazon.com, Inc., (Nasdaq:AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as health and personal care, jewelry and watches, gourmet food, sports and outdoors, apparel and accessories, books, music, DVDs, electronics and office, toys and baby, and home and garden.
Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, and the Joyo Amazon websites at www.joyo.cn and www.amazon.cn.
As used herein, “Amazon.com,” “we,” “our” and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.
This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, significant amount of indebtedness, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com's financial results is included in Amazon.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, and all subsequent filings.
The $159 PC reviewed
Holy tightwads, Batman! A better PC than what you're running costs less than a pair of designer jeans? What's happened to the computer industry?
Were GQ magazine to design a computer, it would sport a Gucci leather jacket and stroll in slick Prada loafers. It would also cost eight, maybe nine thousand dollars. But when Fry's Electronics designed the GQ system, it wasn't thinking of luxury linens and leather. It wanted something cheap. The surprising thing is that the GQ (short for "Great Quality," by the way, not Gentleman's Quarterly) turns out to be a powerful PC. It's low-cost, in other words, not high crap.
Why should you care about a cut-rate Californian computer? After all, you've probably got a PC or two at home already. But consider: This one is probably faster than yours. It contains an AMD Sempron 2400+ chip, which runs at 1.67 GHz; unless you've bought a computer in the past year or two, that's a faster chip than yours. And if you're up to your eyeballs in speed already, a fast, cheap box like this would make an excellent office system or home server. Plus we're willing to guess Grandma doesn't have half that power at her place.