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Play MLB 2K5 Against Jason Giambi On Xbox Live

This morning, some lucky gamers got to play the Xbox version of MLB 2K5 against the New York Yankees’ own Jason Giambi. This was part of Xbox Live’s Game With Fame promotion, where players to go head to head with the real deal.

Giambi is likely better known for taking now-banned human growth hormone than for winning the league MVP in 2000 (.333/43/137), although he is given some credit as the only major baseball star to admit taking performance enhancing drugs.

No word on whether Giambi enhanced his play this morning with caffeine sodas or strategy guides, or whether he even won most of his games. I’ll bet he plays better defense with a controller than with a glove, though.

Future scheduled Game With Fame sessions:
Marlin Jackson (Indianapolis Colts) – NBA 2K6
Mark Texeira (Texas Rangers) – MLB 2K5

Some past sessions:
P.O.D. – Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland
Sevendust – Halo 2
INXS – Halo 2
Simple Plan – Need For Speed Most Wanted
Antwaan Randle El – Madden NFL 06
Green Day – Halo 2
Ahman Green – Halo 2
(via Joystiq)

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March 21st, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox Live | no comments

European Commission’s Star Expert Is Ex-Hacker

Today’s free Wall Street Journal feature is about Neil Barrett, a star hacker-turned-computer consultant, who is also to main expert witness in the European Commission’s antitrust trial.

Now, forget the fact that this man was once a criminal. Forget the fact that the average uber-geek hates Microsoft. Okay, actually, keep all that in mind when you note this: Microsoft recommended the guy! Jeez.

The EC asked for a list of people Microsoft would consider reasonable, unbiased experts who could decipher their Windows source code. MS handed over some names they considered acceptable, and the judges picked the hacker. Now they wind up with this:

Last year, Mr. Barrett studied the manual Microsoft produced for four days, tried to use it to write programs and, in December, pronounced it “totally unusable.” “There is apparently no structure and no logic in the whole documentation,” he wrote in his report. Four U.S. competitors who examined the Microsoft manual — Oracle Corp., International Business Machines Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Novell Inc. — reached similar conclusions.

In February, Microsoft responded that Mr. Barrett was operating with a “set of basic misunderstandings” about Microsoft programming terms. In another filing to the EU this month, Microsoft accused Mr. Barrett and the regulators of “actively and secretly working with Microsoft’s adversaries.”

Emails the commission gave Microsoft show Mr. Barrett in frequent contact with regulators and Microsoft competitors, which led the company to call Mr. Barrett the “commission’s co-prosecutor.” The growing brouhaha led the normally secretive commission to release the terms of Mr. Barrett’s mandate, which says he should “play a proactive role” in monitoring Microsoft — a clause the commission says gives him freedom to confer with Microsoft rivals. Even Sun Microsystems, which usually declines to comment on the case, made an exception, calling Microsoft’s criticism of him “misplaced.”

Mr. Barrett, 44 years old, is forbidden to speak to the news media by the commission, which has signed him to a five-year contract at an undisclosed salary that it requires Microsoft to pay. A close friend described the computer expert as angry and hurt by Microsoft’s allegations.

This guy is getting paid by Microsoft, on orders of the court, and gets to crap all over them and screw them over at trial. All he has to do is read a manual and call it nonsensical, and the EC rejects Microsoft’s attempts at compliance. Maybe Microsoft shouldn’t have put him on the list.

God, can anything go right for MS in this trial?
(via Slashdot)

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March 21st, 2006 Posted by | General, Law | no comments

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Halo Graphic Novel And Soundtrack

Joystiq reports on the next two Halo projects, coming out before Halo 3/Forerunner. First up is the Halo graphic novel, with four main stories:

  • The Last Voyage of the Infinite Succor
    Art by Simon Bisley
    Story by Lee Hammock
  • Armor Testing
    Pencils by Andrew Robinson
    Colors by Ed Lee
    Story by Jay Faerber
  • Breaking Quarantine
    Art and story by Tsutomu Nihei
  • Second Sunrise Over New Mombasa
    Art by Jean “Moebius” Giraud
    Story by Brett Lewis

No big comic names (I only even recognized one), but the artwork looks solid (and not over the top, like many adaptations). Besides the four stories, it will contain about two-dozen original pinups by comic and Bungie artists. A collaboration between Bungie and Marvel, it is expected to ship as a 128-page hardcover in July, and, knowing Marvel, probably as a trade paperback next winter.

Bungie has more info, including the full artist list (again, no big names, and only two I recognize). Considering regular Marvel prices, I’d expect a 128-page hardcover to sell anywhere from $20-40, depending on quality.

Also coming down the pipe is the Halo 2 Original Soundtrack, Volume Two, coming on April 25. It has the music that wasn’t in Volume One. I don’t know how many people would be Halo obsessed enough to buy this (although I’m related to one), but yeah, I’m including an Amazon Associates box. Not that those ever work for me.

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March 21st, 2006 Posted by | General, Halo, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Microsoft Ramping Up Xbox 360 Production Big Time

Taking advantage of Sony’s half year delay on the Playstation 3, Microsoft has announced it will set in motion a doubling or tripling of Xbox 360 production this very week. The company was on target to hit 4.5-5.5 million consoles sold by June, and at these levels they could conceivably ship 12-18 million units before the PS3 hits in November.

If Microsoft can match or exceed Sony’s sales of one million units through March of next year, they will present Sony with around a 15 million user deficit that may prove insurmountable, or at least buzz killing. Looks like Microsoft may have won the launch contest before it ended, although the long-term war will still be a different story. After all, with such a big lead, Xbox will have a lot of sales expectations to live up to.
(via Digg, Thomas Hawk)

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March 21st, 2006 Posted by | General, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

Catching Up: Closing Up

I’m nowhere near caught up in Bloglines, but, thankfully, this will be my final tab-dump…

Microsoft last week launched 10, a technology enthusiast site. Basically, what Channel 9 is for those who create technology, 10 is for those who want to use it. It certainly is friendlier (especially for consumers) than 9 is. It even uses MP4 in some places more than regular Windows formats, which is kind of a pissoff since Quicktime formats are far more proprietary and less useful, and require the install of extra, crippled software that tries to load on startup.
(via Steve Rubel)

There’s a very strong rumor making the rounds that Microsoft has retasked the excellent team behind designing and marketing the Xbox 360 to making a handheld device. It would be a PSP-like device, designed for gaming, music and video, competing with the PSP, DS and iPod.

J Allard, Greg Gibson and Bryan Lee are said to be heading different aspects of the project, and all were instrumental in the 360s (arguable to a level, but undeniable) success. Their roles on Xbox were heading the hardware and software teams, system designer, and finance chief, respectively. Microsoft has considered making a handheld in the past, but shelved the project on more than one occassion.

The article also mentions Alexandria, which would be Microsoft’s new music service to compete with iTunes. We’ve seen some idea of Alexandria running on the UMPC in recent weeks.

While the system would reportedly be targeted to take ports from the original Xbox, I think a huge part of the strategy is the XNA framework announced yesterday. The Xbox 360 has made a lot of money from smaller, but addictive, games like Geometry Wars, arguably the only true hits on the console, while the PC has thousands of smaller games made by smaller developers. If Microsoft lets developers use XNA to port .NET games to the XPlayer (or XBoy, or whatever), then it could have thousands of downloadable games, some free, some $5-10. And that option looks a lot better than the lack of useful PSP content.

There’s a video of OneNote 2007 in action by Darren Strange. They’ve added multiple notebooks, but I worry the interface is starting to bloat. You’ve got notebooks on the left side, tabbed sections on the top, and page tabs on the right side. A good feature, though, is you can drop a notebook on a server and share it with a whole bunch of people, a great way to collaborate.

For integration, in Outlook you can click a button to take notes in OneNote linked to that specific calendar item. You also get that option in emails and contacts, which links the information in the email or contact to OneNote, lets you take notes in OneNote while showing data from Outlook, and Outlook knows about and can get to that information.

In IE, you can click a button to send to OneNote. In a shared notebook, you could drop webpages in, write notes on it, and your collaborators would be able to see it. There’s a new system printer called Microsoft OneNote Import, that means that anything you can print, you can send to OneNote (very smart).

You can very easily create hyperlinks to other notebooks, or just hit the tab key to instantly create a table. There’s a built-in calculator that you can activate simply by hitting enter, so if you type in an equation anywhere, OneNote will print the answer in your notes. OneNote also has OCR, so if you drop in a screenshot, it can find words in the image.

You may not be aware, but Microsoft has a lot of Express editions of its developer software, perfect for small coders to do some serious work. You can get lighter versions of Visual Studio, SQL Server 2005, Visual Web Developer 2005, Visual Basic 2005, Visual C# 2005, Visual C++ 2005 and Visual J# 2005.
(via Digg)

Microsoft outlined at Mix its developer strategy for Windows Live, unveiling an MSDN site for Live and positioning it as a serious platform that can be built upon. From Mary Jo Foley:

Microsoft is still thinking through the business models and licensing models that will be permitted in the Windows Live world, Arbogast said. But the company has decided that a few key principles will prevail.

Users must be in control of their own data at all times, Arbogast said. Windows Live services should be designed to support any platform, browser, language or device, and Windows Live services should make use of simple, standards-adherent HTTP-based application programming interfaces, he added.

Dean Hachamovitch has the IE7 t-shirt with a cool logo you’ll likely never see… unless someone gets it on CafePress soon enough.

The Windows RSS platform, in its final stage, will ship without secure feed support. Are you freakin’ kidding me? Bonehead move! Undo, undo!
(via Findory)

Finally, Miel sent me a link to a funny video of Steve Jobs keynote bloopers over the years. Hilarious. Where’s the Microsoft equivelant video?

13 tabs open, 1431 Bloglines items to go…

March 21st, 2006 Posted by | Apple, Applications, Blogs, Developers, General, Internet Explorer, OneNote, Outlook, Xbox, Xbox 360 | no comments

links for 2006-03-21

March 21st, 2006 Posted by | Apple, Bookmarks, Corporate, General, Humor, Office, Tablet PC | no comments

Catching Up: Windows Stuff

Just trying to categorize this stuff as I spit it out in your soup, here’s anything with the word Windows in it:

ZDNet details the licensing policy for Virtual PC in Vista. Turns out, Windows Vista Enterprise and Windows Vista Ultimate will include Virtual PC Express, which will support one virtual machine. The license will allow you to install Windows twice, once in a regular physical environment, and once on a virtual machine.

If you want to install multiple versions of Vista, so as to create virtual environments for all your different purposes, you can’t, unless you buy a boxed copy of Vista for every single virtual install, and a copy of full Virtual PC.

I don’t get it. If Virtual PC works as I’ve heard it works, you can only run Windows one at a time, you’re just creating multiple environments. So why can’t you just do what you want, as long as you aren’t installing on multiple PCs? Unless I’m mistaken, this isn’t the same as running a farm of dummy boxes off one box, so why can’t a home user create completely seperate virtual PC installs from one Vista purchase? They’re virtual, for chrissake!

Anyway, I’ll probably get flamed for my ignorance on the subject, so I’ll move on. A few days ago, Stu linked to this guide to installing Windows on a USB drive, letting you port around your system in your pocket. Excellent stuff.

CNet has a great quote about how great Microsoft has become at releasing often with

Although it has taken Microsoft five years to develop the next version of Windows, the software maker seems to crank out a new Windows Live service every five minutes.

They also mention Live’s user-created video site, code-named Warhol.
(via Torres)

Windows Live Safety Center now has a registry cleaner and spyware detection. Nice!

Bink links to the now-available download links for Windows Live Messenger. So no more asking me for invites! English version here.

Microsoft bought remote sensor maker Vexcel, which will aid Windows Live Local.

The fingerprint reader on the Asus R2H Origami UMPC will detect live tissue under the skin, making it less susceptible to cuts and dirt, and much harder to counterfeit.

Windows XP has finally reached 80% market share. Meanwhile Mac OS has just passed Windows 98, and only because 98 lost share. That means, in theory, Mac operating systems are only as popular as eight-year old Windows ones, so OS X could overtake Windows XP by the end of the decade, sometime after Microsoft releases Vista, Longhorn Server, Vienna, and maybe at least one other operating system.

23 tabs open, 1354 Bloglines items to go…

March 21st, 2006 Posted by | Apple, Corporate, General, Live, Local, Messenger, Security, Vista, Windows, XP | 2 comments

Catching Up: Mix 06 Day One

Lots of reports from Mix 06 as my desperate (and failing) trek to catch up continues…

Luc Van Braekel, the far too kind fellow who hosts my podcasts, is live blogging Mix 06. Lets see what he’s got.

Bill Gates keynote was this morning. He mentioned, among other things:

  • Outlook 2007 can create rules for RSS items, just like it does for email. VERY useful.
  • MySpace guys were there, said they were going to use Windows Sidebar. Marc Canter screamed at them, “Give us open APIs, please!”. Go Marc!
  • Gates hunches over too much. He looks stranger than usual. I can’t imagine what a 60-year old Bill will look like. Luc issued a post about the strange Gates picture, in which he Photoshopped Bill, only to make him look worse!
  • Gates showed off the Samsung Origami UMPC. Excellent, but I’d prefer ASUS.

Dean Hachmovitch discussed IE7, A9 OpenSearch, IE7 printing, Phishing Filter, InfoCard. Arrington, Zawodny, O’Reilly, others discuss Web 2.0, innovation and money. They showed off an Xbox 360 game using a text-to-speech engine for dialogue (brilliant!). And, of course, there were parties.

Now, onto other sources I’m not as grateful towards :-) :

InformationWeek reports Gates said they will deliver new version of Internet Explorer very often, as much as every 9 months to a year.
(via Digg)

GizBuzz reports the new build of IE7 was released today, the “layout-complete” build. Download it here. Uninstall previous builds of IE7 before installing the new one. Apparently, besides the rendering changes and CSS attributes added, there were issues with Blogger that have been fixed.
(via Digg)

Microsoft also handed out the March CTP of Atlas, its AJAX/ toolkit, according to BetaNews, while updating the license to allow developers to roll out their Atlas applications into production.
(via Digg [sense a pattern?])

Newsgator has announced it will support the Windows RSS platform.

40 tabs open, 1470 Bloglines items to go…

March 21st, 2006 Posted by | General | one comment