Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"I love it when a plan comes together..."

A little while ago I posted on this blog about my idea for a replacement for DVD's. One that is much more accessible, more affordable, and scale-able so it can compete even with blu-ray and digital downloads. As with many of my ideas (at least in my mind) it was forward thinking and the perfect solution for any good media company. So it shouldn't come as a shock to my loyal readers that a company did think it was a great idea and has started implementing it. How fitting also that it's none other than the company I dream of working for someday, Disney.
Sure there is a slight additional cost associated with them now, and there's not as many readers/players for it as one would like, and it's only available in Japan for now. But, those are just minor issues that can all be worked out pretty quickly, you just wait. It's coming.....




clipped from www.engadget.com

Disney to offer films on microSD cards, consumers to pass on by


We've never seen a shred of evidence adumbrating that movies loaded onto flash cards move the proverbial meter, but evidently they're moving well enough in Japan for Walt Disney to dive into the madness. Just today, the outfit responsible for classics that filled your childhood with innocence is announcing plans to offer pre-recorded microSD cards together with DVDs in the Land of the Rising Sun. The dual-format package will supposedly give DVD viewers the ability to easily watch their favorite films on the go, but that's assuming you can even find a portable media player that accepts microSD cards. The bundles are expected to ship in November for around ¥4,935 ($52), or ¥1,000 ($11) more than the DVD alone. Eager to hear what titles will get this special treatment first? The "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "National Treasure" series -- huzzah!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Golden Cartridge

So this guy bought a very rare classic Nintendo game for $17,500 which was a bargain apparently since it was listed for $25,000 originally. The game is actually something created for a contest where each contestant would play through part of 3 classic games under a time limit and it would give them their score on each. The time limit is 6 minutes and 21 seconds. Now I just want to know how long it took them to get the cartridge to work in the classic NES. The real competition should have been that.

Think $60 video games are too expensive? You won't hear any argument from us, but you might from JJ Hendricks, a collector who just paid a clinically insane $17,500 for an obscure NES game from 1990.


The game in question is an ultra-rare, gold-colored version of Nintendo World Championships, a cartridge specially produced for use in a Nintendo-sponsored gaming contest. According to Wikipedia only 26 were created, and Hendricks calls it the "Holy Grail" of video game collectors.

$17000 Game

Monday, June 29, 2009

Homer Simpson never gets lost again...

Tom Tom recently announced the release of the Homer Simpson voice skin for their GPS products. For $12.95 if you have a Tom Tom GPS device you can download the voice skin and listen to the amazing cartoon dad give you directions along with classic witty Homer-isms such as "Take the third right. We might find an ice cream truck! Mmm...ice cream." Quality. I'm wondering how I can hack my own non-Tom Tom to play this....
Mmmm....Homer voice skin...

Check out engadget's post here that has a audio to listen to.
clipped from www.engadget.com

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mario Meets the Mouse

I'm quite intrigued by this article, and although it says that this looks really uncomfortable to use I'm very tempted to take the idea and redesign my own version that would be awesome! I'd probably add the Start and Select buttons on there somehow, and maybe even make it a wireless mouse. Who wants to put their order in now?
clipped from news.cnet.com
Alright, so it's not actually a real mouse, just a foam prototype. In fact, we can't see anyone using something that looks as uncomfortable as this thing does. But what is it about the original Nintendo Entertainment System that has inspired such devotion and allegiance?
 blog it

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shape-Shifting Building??

I came across an article recently about a Transforming building. Now being a fan of Transformers and of buildings it of course caught my attention. After doing some quick searches I found another good website with more info. The building is called the Prada Transformer and is located in Seoul. It was designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who you may know from designing the Campus Center at IIT that has the "El" running over it's tapered roof.

The general idea is that this building is kind of like a 4-sided die. On each of the inside faces of it there is a different layout of a floor. You rotate it onto one side and it has one floor, rotate it to a different side and you get a different floor. You can see this illustrated in the picture with different shapes representing each floor layout. This allows the structure/building to be used for multiple purposes by rotating it. These four shapes you see are supposed to be the actual floor layouts. For instance one floor could be a Concert Hall and another an Art Gallery. The pictures of the exterior look like the whole thing is covered in some kind of fabric enclosure, which is interesting but somehow takes away from the overall effect. Now personally I think this is a pretty cool idea. The problem is we're not talking about a die, we're talking about a building. Seems crazy right? Well it kind of is. In order to rotate the building they have to use huge cranes. Another issue is that whatever floor layout you aren't using are actually your walls. So it's not exactly the best performing building on the market. Let's not forget about the set-up either. If you want seats for something you have to rotate the building to the right orientation and then bring in all the furniture. Not exactly practical. Especially since you can't keep the furniture in the building (the storage room might be on the ceiling if you did).

So in my opinion I think there are more creative ways to go about making a multi-functional space. That being said this is certainly a work of art in and of itself. I'm sure that the designers and developers also thought long and hard about some of these very same issues. Whatever solutions they came up with (if good or bad) they were certainly content to live with in the end. So I don't expect you'll be seeing something like this in your hometown anytime soon, but it is worth taking a look at just to see what lessons can be learned. Plus it's not exactly easy to miss walking down the street.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The new DVDs?

So I've had this idea for a little while. How long, I'm not really sure. I have a lot of ideas, and they all kinda get jumbled after a while. This one was pretty good though, and when I came up with it wasn't really that cost effective. Things have changed over the last 3-5 years though and I think now is the perfect time for it. So what is it? Well let's start with a little background info....(cue starwipe)

DVDs have been around for several years now, and even the most recent sales numbers show they're the medium that most people still use. DVDs hold approximately 4.7 GB of data. This works well for putting a full movie, along with quite a bit of bonus material. Now since the DVD was born (~1993 in case you were wondering) they've naturally been looking for its successor. Of course if you want to talk high-definition we can discuss blu-ray, etc. But as already mentioned DVD is still selling far more than all high-definition so for the moment we'll say that DVD is king and that will be our first Claymation frame (it's a metaphor...you'll get it later). Not all that long ago Sony came out with the PSP. This nice little portable gaming device had something they called a UMD slot. What is it? Basically it's a DVD on a smaller disc that they call the UMD, which they also could put the games on. They tried hard to make this work and get studios to release movies on it, but people just weren't buying. New hardware and a small market are not easy to do. The most recent rumors suggest that Sony will be releasing a nice upgrade to the PSP, which does not include a UMD slot, but will instead focus on downloadable content. This is the second Claymation frame. And it brings up another point, downloadable content videos. You can now download video at very familiar places like iTunes and Amazon.com among others. You can stream things for free on Hulu.com or most network websites. But are people really buying movies online to watch on their tvs? Well sure, some are. But not that much. We'll call this the third Claymation frame.

So here we are, the debate raging on about the next form of media and will blu-ray take hold and give us that great picture in an affordable way, or will internet providers give us the speed we need to just download media before blu-ray has a chance. Here are my thoughts: Blu-ray is too expensive, at least right now. I'm not paying $200+ for a decent player only to then have to spend between $20-$30 per disc to get a movie. I do now, however, believe that digital downloads are going to be the wave of the future just yet. Eventually, yes. The problem here is that where the music industry was able to make this work came from the portable player (most notably the ipod). At the moment people don't want to watch movies on portable players that much. Unlike music you actually need a nice screen, preferably a big one, and most people have spent enough on their tvs that they aren't going to purchase a super nice video player to watch movies on the go like an ipod. People like to experience their movies on their tvs (Claymation frame 4). Now there are digital video players for your tvs, and even tvs that can hook up to the internet, but there's a problem with that too. I can't take it over to my girlfriends' house to watch on her nice big tv (Claymation frame 5). And thus you have my thoughts.

So where's the solution? Well I have two ideas. First, building off of the 4th frame I metioned before, you could make a digital portable video player. Think ipod with a lot of memory, but mainly you need to give it a video out. Preferably something high end like HDMI so it can play high-def movies on my girlfriends tv with a simple cable plug. That's pretty easy right? There is DEFINITELY room on the market for this item right now. If you're a manufacturer and you want to do this, please please do. And remember, it doesn't need to be fancy, just make it affordable and make it work.

My second idea is I think pretty much golden. Putting together all of our Claymation frames, we start to see our own video (get it yet?) of something affordable, easy to transport, and easy to play on multiple devices. My solution is to create SD card movies. I'll call them SDM (Secure Digital Media) cards. A quick search on Amazon tells me that a 4 GB SD card can easily be found for around $10. I know from my own experience that you can find them cheaper if you look around. So if I were a company and decided to sell movies on these cards and could buy them in bulk for say $5 a piece (which I think is reasonable), then that could work. You could conceivably create these SDMs, have them secured (to prevent copying easily) and sell them for around $20. Probably you could for less, but we'll say this is reasonable. This is a good solution because as they become popular and prices go down they can quickly match the price of most DVDs and you don't have tons of development costs (as with blu-ray). On top of that, as the technology advances the capacity goes up. I bought a 2 GB card a few years ago for $25. This year I bought a 16 GB card for $25. In a couple of years you'll be able to get a 32 GB card for around $10 probably, and that is even a little bigger than a blu-ray disc (25 GB for single layer, single side). Talk about scalable. Without adding anything to the cost of production you can all the sudden have high-def movies. And finally let's talk portability. They're small and stable for sure, more so than DVDs. On top of that is the realization you should be having that you can probably play one of these SDMs in your home right now. You most likely have an SD card slot on that laptop you're reading this on, and if not $10 buys you a reader. Even some tvs have SD slots on them. Now I know that there's no software in there to play these things at the moment, but that is super simple to fix. Plus, you could come out with a player that is about the size of your ipod to hook up to the tv to play them on (which wouldn't cost much at all). And on the topic of ipods, you could even put them on microSD cards and have them playable on phones and other portable media players that already have slots for these cards. Even my own Creative Zen has an SD slot that would play these possibly right now. Both the Nintendo Wii and the new DSi also have SD card slots. Talk about portability and ease of integration.

This was kinda long, and probably doesn't mean much to anyone, but I really like the idea of having movies on a nice small little card that I can take anywhere and watch. It just seems so simple and I can't believe I'm the first one with this idea. I even read an article where they had the idea for CDs to come out this way. Now the article said it's way to late for that with digital music now, which is true, but not for movies! So I say, bring on the SDMs!!!

Update: Two additional things that came to mind. First, the idea of digital downloads doesn't exclude my idea from having a place. Even if digital downloads take off, plenty of people will want to be able to take them on the go (i.e. burn a DVD or put them on a video player). The SDMs could be sold blank and written to with already existing readers.
Second, I talked about this being scalable and that works in another way too. If you don't need the 32, 16, or even 4 GB of space you don't have to get a card that large. On a Blu-ray or DVD when you don't fill up the disc it's wasted space. On an SDM you could just get a 2 GB card (or whatever is appropriate) and not have all the wasted space allowing you to save some money. A lot of "budget" DVDs I've seen have no extra features, just the movie. That should easily fit on a 2 GB card that costs less, allowing for companies to make budget SDMs of the movies that aren't selling like hot cakes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Build a Band

I know most of you have probably played or at least seen either Guitar Hero or Rock Band in some form or another. So it wouldn't really come as a surprise that a new game is coming out in this intensely popular series'. If you haven't been paying close attention then you may have missed that the biggest news so far was the announcement of Beatles Rock Band.

That's right, the Beatles, hits and all in a video game. Lots of rumors circulated around about how this will work and what songs will be included, etc., etc. Obviously this is huge, and I have no doubt that this edition of Rock Band (the first band specific version) will be bigger than any before it. However, what you might have missed is the other new version of Rock Band coming out later this year. That's right, another Rock Band game. What is it you ask? Who is the featured band? Well, prepare yourself.......It's LEGO Rock Band!! That's right folks, all the building blocks you love with none of the frustration of being unable to get those two stupid bricks apart. And all amidst the background of some popular music.

Now rumors of this supposed game came out a while back, but almost every site that carried the "leaked" news hoped that it was a hoax. After all, the Lego brand has made some quality useful games that everyone loves. They said there were coming out with a new one, but of course it would be from the ever popular Harry Potter Legos or maybe a sequel to the Indiana Jones game. It would not...be..Rock Band. Oh how wrong they all were. Let's talk about why this game could be awesome, and what I hope as a true Lego fan it will be.

First of all, everyone loves building stuff. Secondly, these games are notorious for how awesomely amusing they are. Nothing makes me laugh like seeing a Lego Chewbacca character put a Lego Storm Trooper helmet on top of his head. So how could it be awesome? Well by being amusing of course. You get to build your own Lego rocker. Awesome. Then you get to build a Lego band. Awesome. Then you get to build your roadies and all your other cool stuff. That's right, awesome. What do I hope for? Well, for one thing it has to have good music. I mean I can love taking the heads off of little Lego dudes for a solid half hour, but if the music isn't good I'm not sure it's worth more than a cheap rent for kicks. They haven't released the tracks yet (other than the few in the article linked to above), but The Final Countdown makes me optomistic.....I think....At least all of my friends that love Arrested Development will appreciate it.

One thing to notice is that this game is presumably for kids. Like all the Lego games it should have some great easy fun for kids and some nice humor and nostalgia for adults. Hopefully the track listing will be of the same vein. Of course slated for the holiday season makes sense even though it is close to that Beatles launch. So granted they're not going to set any records, but I really think this could be a fun game. I'm not sure what it is, but for some reason the idea of building up my band out of Legos sounds like a unique experience that you could do over and over for a least a little while. Getting to play with the legos and enjoy some music sounds like a great time. Here's hoping that they include the Star Wars theme to tie it all together (fingers crossed)..........