News Roundup

A lot of new stories of interest to me have popped up lately and I thought I should bang out a quick post to save, describe, and share them. Most are related to video games so if you aren’t a gamer be warned.

NBA Jam comes to the Wii
I am not into sports and I don’t own a Wii but this headline is of great importance to me. NBA Jam was a game that shaped my childhood. Countless hours were spent playing it at my friend John’s house, doing tournaments, exploring all the cheat codes. It was truly an amazing game to me because I was a kid who loved to move and in NBA Jam you can dunk from the 3 point line!
I’ll digress for now but this should be an interesting game.

Video game based middle school
http://www.popsci.com/entertainment-amp-gaming/article/2009-12/new-school-teaches-students-through-videogames
This is basically perfect. Some people will complain that it has no merit. Others might wonder if the curriculum is up to snuff. More still may argue that video games can’t express the variety of materials that need to be explored for a well rounded education and still gamers will say that educational games are not fun. To all of that I say step back and look again, you can’t see the forest through the trees.

Video games are not a distraction or a toy or a business they are a medium. To say a video game can’t teach is equatable to dismissing your philosophy teacher because he isn’t actually Plato. I will go further to say that a “video game” has the capacity to teach more meaningfully than any other medium to date short of real experience. Video, literary, and for the most part lecture methods lack interactivity and thus they also lack consequence. A game can go farther than the critical thinking word problems do to place you in a simulated experience where learning can happen in the most natural way but without the constraint of time location or budget. Engagement is the biggest argument given by this school and it is tremendously valid. Would you be more inclined to learn about how the US government works if you were handed a book about it or if you were asked to try and get a law changed so that the people from your town can grow food more easily?

Lego Universe!
Lego is getting ready to release a MMO style game! You will play as a lego man alla Lego Batman or Lego Indiana Jones games but in an MMO lego world where building is an important task. Lego bricks are currency. WOOOOOOHOOOOO!!!

Google HTC Nexus One phone
Google didn’t actually make a phone but a while back they developed an operating system for phones that was named in a non-forward-thinking way (what are they going to call their humanoid robot platform? Cell Phone Operating System?). That operating system has been picked up by several companies and adopted because of its good quality and its free nature.
Now Google has decided to directly promote a single phone in order to boost confidence in their brand and hopefully smooth out the problems so far encountered with an overly diverse phone market (It is extremely difficult to develop for android phones due to the need to test across a wide range of platforms). This phone, the HTC Nexus One, is a very impressive technical marvel. With a 1 Ghz processor, an 800×420 screen and 512 mb of ram you are basically talking about a portable first generation X-box that can make phone calls and browse the internet. I haven’t gotten to play with one yet so I can’t give any kind of real review but I think it’s pretty cool.

My Impressions of Assassins Creed 2
Assassins Creed 2 has now beaten Shenmue in my mind as the greatest video game ever made. I have beaten the story and revealed “the truth” in the game. It isn’t perfect but it’s dam close, as close as I can imagine a project of this scope getting to be honest. Somehow the climbing controls worsened a bit from the first game and that is a change I’m having a hard time understanding but other than that it leaves nothing to be desired in story, depth and graphics. I will eventually write a fuller review but I highly recommend at some point in this calendar year buying and playing the game to anyone with a 360 or PS3.

Things from CES this year
An assload of 3d televisions and a few other things.
So 3d is big right now. Don’t know why and don’t know how but all of a sudden that’s the thing. In addition to several 3d televisions there are also new blue ray players now that are compatible with the 3d format. I don’t care to discuss the different products because they all do the same thing and work the same way meaning most importantly that the 3d experience still relies on special glasses. There are some research projects that allow for 3d images to be seen without glasses but it is not manufacturable yet apparently. One more notable technology is a tv with 8 processors in it that claims to up-convert 2d video into 3d.

Tablet pcs are also somewhat of the rage atm and so HP along with five or six others released them and they do the things you expect one to. That means it’s a touchscreen computer that goes online, lets you read a book, and may or may not work with a stylus or digital pen. I hope to speak for the international computer user community when I say YAWN. Additionally, though not related to CES, the rumors that Apple is working on a tablet pc are gaining some credibility as an asian manufacturer verified that Apple has ordered and stockpiled a large lot of 10 inch touchscreens to be used soon. I don’t expect that to be any more exciting than the other tablets (see MacBook Air).

Ford took some interesting steps with technology to make cars a wifi hotspot (awesome) and to have a robot voice read out twitter updates to you while driving (kind of ridiculous but still awesome).

Skype has become integrated into some TV’s allowing you to videoconference in a more natural environment. I don’t know that me lazily sitting on the couch staring at TV is an image I want to broadcast to the world but props for the proliferation of technology. One quick side note, What keeps these sets from getting hacked? If my TV is online and has a microphone and video camera then that potentially allows for one of the most grievous invasions of privacy ever.
And finally the iPhone helicopter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aDE5GcriHc

Microsoft Kodu
Game world creator with no programming.
I am interested in trying this out. I expected at first that is would be an oversimplification of programming but after watching some demonstrations I think it is an impressively powerful platform even though it is still just a “game maker” and limited by the nature of its provided tools.

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Well thats it for now. Let me know if I said something that is incorrect or if you disagree with any of my thoughts or if you feel like saying something for no reason at all.

One thought on “News Roundup

  1. Eustace: The inside wheel cotpmnenos were originally the heads of the Bohrok from earlier Bionicle sets. They are usually translucent with a fading opaque pattern on them. I have no idea where solid blue ones came from. GIS bohrok to see what I mean.Specifically it is this part:Those links are for the part in solid colors. It never appeared in any retail set it blue (dark blue, not the color shown here however), but LEGO sometimes makes test runs of molds in colors that are never meant for production. Likely this was something like that and the designer simply used the test pieces for this one of a kind set, or they did a small run of this piece in blue for internal use.While it’s very cool that LEGO made this set for Mr. Mead (and as Brotherclone pointed out, someone at LEGO is obviusoly a big PKD fan), I’ve never been partial to the Technic sets. I much prefer the fan made that you can find at and .

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