John Biggs at Crunchgear has a first-look at the brand new Motorola Q 9m, an updated version of their Windows Mobile smartphone aimed at the youth market. (You can tell because its case has colors other than black or silver.)
The 9m doesn't come with any out-of-the-box instant messaging clients, which is absolutely ridiculous in any smartphone aimed at the youths.
• Windows Mobile 6, although they have hidden the OS in a very satisfying way
• Soft touch front and back including odd feeling "barrel keys"
• Available now online, in stores August 27
A Windows Mobile 6 phone with interface updates by Motorola, one of the least competent user interface companies around, tied to the comically overpriced over-the-air V Cast music service from Verizon? I predict they will sell...some.
I am unsure of the ultimate usefulness of "Bike Dispenser," a pilot program by a Dutch company of the same name, but there's no denying that the uniform regiments of bikes inside their giant dispensary machines are attractive. The idea, of course, is that you'll be able to rent a bike from the machine without any human involvement in the transaction—besides your own, of course—and return the bike later to the same unit or one cross-town, all indexed by embedded RFID tags. I was under the impression that Amsterdam already had a healthy biking system, where one could steal any of those thick, black city bikes off the rack and pedal around until the trip was over, depositing it in any of the city's scenic but usefully murky canals.
20 PRINT "I tried to install BIOSHARK from Steam and it failed! I can't figure out the CD Key! 2K Games locked activations to just two PCs!"
30 PRINT "WORKS FINE ON MY MICROSOFT XOBXO 360 BURRRRN"
40 PRINT "Red Ring of DEATH LOL"
50 GOTO 20
Evil Mad Scientist has given the nod to the just-released Forbidden Lego by Ulrik Pilegaard and Mike Dooley (published by No Starch Press, who also print the fantastic Unofficial LEGO Builders Guide), and it sounds like a winner if you like your LEGO projects all sharp and eye-pokey.
The book starts out with an short introduction that explains the authors' motivation for writing the book, and an interesting discussion about the process of actually getting a model designed for production. You don't normally think of bureaucracy when you see a Lego model, so it's surprising in some ways. I particularly liked their comparison of the instructions included with Lego kits to dishes at Taco Bell: In both cases, you want to make several different things with the same, small set of ingredients.
The Lego product safety standards are (of course) discussed in some detail, and more or less boil down to the question "could it poke an eye out?" (And poking eyes out is frowned upon.) There are also apparently other Lego design rules and guidelines-- models might be considered unsuitable for production if they require cutting bricks, using non-Lego components, or so forth. But, creativity has its ways of oozing around rules, hence the book.
This SIGGRAPH presentation by Dr. Ariel Shamir has some lovely technology that may find its way into web browsers of the future, although if it does, we'll have to come up with some new visual indicator for images that have been dynamically resized by removing content or those that remain untouched. (Or at least untouched before they are thrown on a web server.)
Although I have only a tenuous grip on the concept of the international date line, I am doubtful that the people behind the infamous music downloading platform AllofMP3.com have gained the ability to blog from the future, despite the August 31st date of their latest announcement. Still, if anyone has built a time machine it would be these guys, having shown themselves wily enough to skirt the focused threat of the RIAA and other organizations who had levied that AllofMP3 was not a sanctioned outlet for music downloads. Oh, I buried the lede: AllofMP3 is claiming that their "service will be resumed."
Of course, it appears their blog is down at the moment, so who knows what the score is really. Of course, even if AllofMP3 doesn't make it back online, sharp users have noticed the strangely similarMP3Sparks.com has remained online ever since AllofMP3 was first shut down.
* Plaudits for exemplary commercially available products.
* Discussions about the dark art of interface.
* Vehement statements of position.
* Sheepish retractions of position.
* Exploding babies.
* Peeks into future product design, both academic and commercial.
* Military hardware, when Noah doesn't beat me to it.
* LEGO, sorts (all).
* Rumination on electronics of olde.
* Puerile takedowns of poor commercially available products.
* Other things.
Exciting news for Playstation 2 owners: Rock Band, the upcoming rhythm game from Harmonix, creators of Guitar Hero, is set to hit Sony's aging but still supremely well-distributed console. Previously, Rock Band had only been announced for current generation systems like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It's safe to presume that most of the online capability that will set Rock Band out from its predecessors will be axed—the PS2 has rudimentary and non-universal online capability—but the core gameplay of thrashing on plastic guitars and drum kits will remain.
And if you were already planning on buying Rock Band—it's a Day One purchase in this house—Gamespot News has a list of another 10 songs that will be showing up in Rock Band's library. Even better? All ten songs are original versions, meaning they use the original studio soundtracks and are not covers.