The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has been running quite a few stories on the release of Halo 3, all of which seem to be extremely positive with titles like “Microsoft’s ‘Halo 3′ Game Meets Approval of Critics” and “Casual Gamer Takes a Turn At Halo 3 to Judge the Hype.” One of the articles cites Halo 3′s high score on Metacritic (an aggregator of reviews) and then speculates that the critics’ acclaim caused the boost to Microsoft’s shares yesterday (which rose 43 cents or 1.5%) and explained the nearly doubled volume of stock trading.
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So everyone and their dog is talking about Amazon’s announcement today to offer MP3 downloads. In brief, Amazon MP3 songs are DRM-free and start at $0.89/track with the top 100 best-selling albums priced no higher than $8.99. The store opened with 2 million songs from 80,000 artists. EMI and Universal are the two big labels on board. Song quality is even very high – 256 kbps. All of this, of course, is available via iTunes for $1.29/track or $9.99/album.
I have a standard rule of thumb: any product that sells with a warranty usually becomes a product I have specific questions about before I’m willing to make the purchase (especially technology/electronics). But what are my options for getting these questions answered? If I want answers now, I have to check out an FAQ. (Has anyone else noticed that FAQs answer your questions less often than not?)
The big computer companies seem to have one thing in common right now: bring computer gaming to the masses. Last week HP launched the Blackbird 002 desktop PC, the company’s first HP-branded gaming PC. The starting price is $2,500, roughly half the cost of much of the high-end gaming competition.
Then there’s Gateway (soon to be purchased by Acer), which plans to introduce a gaming PC in November called FX540 with a gaming-oriented notebook line planned for release in January. And let’s not forget that both Toshiba and Dell released new, more affordable gaming computers this summer. Toshiba, with its Satellite x205 series of gaming notebooks which start at around $2,000, and Dell with its XPS 720 gaming desktop, which starts at roughly $1,700.
The Economist (subscription required) dives into what it thinks is the next generation of the Internet: the Geoweb. Interestingly enough, it formalizes the thoughts of TechConsumer author Marion Jensen who received attention when he wrote on this subject two months ago. While Marion stopped short of calling the location-based Internet Web 3.0, it’s good to know he is not alone in his concept of the “next big thing.”
Apparently, the geoweb already has an emerging architecture: traffic jams, seismic tremors, crime rates, and melanoma stats are just a few areas where data is being collected and tied to location. A new discipline of “geographic information systems” (GIS) is on the rise, which includes fancy software used mostly by governments and companies to analyze spatial data. And the data “tend to be of impeccable quality.”
Purdue University plans to test a text messaging system in late September. So far, about 6,000 students, faculty, and staff have signed up, according to Scott Ksander, executive director of information technology networks and security. In order for the test to be valid, however, the university claims it needs three times that number.
Registration is a simple process. Users go to http://www.purdue.edu/securepurdue and click on “Change My Password.” They then enter their account name and password, and then select the “Emergency Contact Information” link.
Results from the test will be used to determine what works, what can be improved, and how best to evaluate a system for the campus. The university explained that it will use the system only for this test and emergencies involving public safety. Here are some more details (which you can only get to after logging into the system as a student or staff member):
The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has an article out quoting the usual mix of analysts, speculators, and “people privy to Sony’s plans.” I must say that the article’s title of “Sony to Challenge Apple In TV, Movie Downloads” makes the news sound more exciting than it really is.
Perhaps I should give Sony a chance rather than point out the obvious that the company has a very long way to go. Meaning, it’s a bit of a late comer in an already crowded space (Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Netflix all compete here just to name the big boys). I suppose it’s true that first movers don’t always win, and there isn’t a clear leader yet. But good luck to Sony on this one…