Sunday, October 29, 2006

Dean Takeshi: Money Talks

But it don't sing and dance, and it don't walk.

You can debate who the winner of the next-gen console war will be as long as you like. But speculation is speculation is speculation. Tangible, here-and-now numbers are worth more to me than any amount of guessture on the outcome of this financial card game.

A bird in the hand, as they say.

Read this editorial from a+e Interactive's Dean Takeshi:

Console Wars: A Look At the Financial Results

Dean Takahashi, 12:38 AM

Earnings results have a way of shedding light on the reality of the video game console wars. They scrape away the rhetoric that tends to obscure the real picture on the ground. Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft all offered glimpses of the console battle with their recently reported results for the third calendar quarter.

Sony is in trouble. Its earnings plummeted 94 percent to $14.4 million because of costs related to its laptop battery recall. But it also reported a $369 million operating loss in its video game business because of start-up costs for the PlayStation 3. Sony’s game revenues decreased 20 percent to $1.4 billion from a year ago because of a decline in PlayStation Portable and PlayStation 2 sales, as well as a price cut on the PS 2. Sony sold 5 million PS 2s worldwide in the quarter and 3.89 million PSPs. Sony is sitting on a lot of inventory now related to PS 3 components. It’s nail-biting time in Tokyo. Sony has $4.7 billion in cash, and $3 billion in short-term debt and current long-term debt.

In Redmond, things are looking brighter for Microsoft. The company has $31.8 billion in cash. That’s a substantial war chest. Sales rose 70 percent in the Entertainment and Devices division, which includes games, to $1.03 billion in the quarter. The division cut its loss from $173 million a year ago to $96 million. Microsoft says it is on target to hit profitability by the fiscal year that ends June 30, 2008. That’s a long way away, but the company is making some progress.

On the bright side. Microsoft has more than 4 million Xbox Live subscribers worldwide and it plans on hitting 6 million by June 30. It will have 160 games out by the end of the year. In the U.S., Microsoft has sold 2.9 accessories per console and software sales are at 5.1 games per console. Those numbers probably don’t hold up worldwide. But I’m told that the attach rates and Xbox Live subscription numbers are ahead of plan. There is even some good news in Japan, since the limited edition run of Hironobu Sakaguchi’s Blue Dragon game – bundled with the Xbox 360 – sold out.

Microsoft has shipped more than 6 million consoles worldwide (3.6 million in North America, 1.7 million in Europe, and 700,000 in the rest of the world). This number is very revealing. It suggests that Microsoft has sold through less than 6 million and that shows it is behind on its goal of hitting 10 million consoles sold by the time Sony sells one (starting Nov. 17). Adam Holt, an analyst at JP Morgan, said in a note that sales were light and Microsoft seemed to be behind its goal.

By June 30, Microsoft is still targeting 13 million to 15 million consoles sold worldwide. But it’s going to be hard to hit the 10 million target soon. Microsoft has had a lot of luck in this round of the console wars. It executed an on-time launch. It had a big shortage of consoles through the spring, but Sony failed to execute and pushed back its launch. Why is there so much friction for Xbox 360 sales when Microsoft has the field all to itself?

Well, one explanation lies in Nintendo’s results for the six months ended Sept. 30. The folks in Kyoto sold more than 10 million Nintendo DS and DS Lite handhelds worldwide in the last six months, giving it a grand total of 26.8 million sold to date worldwide. The New Super Mario Bros. title sold more than 6.7 million copies worldwide. Nine DS titles sold more than 1 million units. The company is launching the Wii console on Nov. 19 in the U.S. and still expects to sell 4 million by the end of the year and 6 million worldwide by March 31. It expects to sell 17 million Wii titles by March 31.

Nintendo reported sales of $2.5 billion, up 69 percent from a year earlier. Net income was $458.6 million, up from a loss a year ago. Nintendo has $6.6 billion in cash. Nintendo is forecasting sales of $6.2 billion and profits of $843 million for the year ended March 31, 2007. The company boosted its prediction of annual sales of DS units from 17 million to 20 million units worldwide. Nintendo also increased its GameBoy Advance sales forecast from 2.5 million to 3.3 million units worldwide.

So, to recap:

  • Earnings plummeted 94 percent
  • $369 million operating loss in its video game business because of start-up costs for the PlayStation 3
  • Game revenues decreased 20 percent
  • $4.7 billion in cash, and $3 billion in short-term debt and current long-term debt

  • Sales rose 70 percent in the Entertainment and Devices division
  • The division cut its loss from $173 million a year ago to $96 million
  • By June 30, Microsoft is still targeting 13 million to 15 million consoles sold worldwide
  • $31.8 billion in cash

  • Sales of $2.5 billion, up 69 percent from a year earlier
  • Net income was $458.6 million, up from a loss a year ago
  • Sold more than 10 million Nintendo DS and DS Lite handhelds worldwide in the last six months, giving it a grand total of 26.8 million sold to date worldwide
  • Expects to sell 4 million Wii units by the end of the year and 6 million worldwide by March 31. It expects to sell 17 million Wii titles by March 31
  • $6.6 billion in cash

Progress Report

Well, as you can see, I haven't provided much in the way of content over the last few days. I apologize again. But I want to let you all know what's been keeping my attention focused elsewhere:

I'm in the process of starting a new blog - something quite different from the e:c.

Because I've chosen to use an open source software suite (WordPress), there is an inescapable learning curve to contend with. Whereas Blogger was a relatively quick-to-learn, lifetime-to-master affair, WordPress is taking a little longer to acclimate to.

Moving from basic HTML with a little javascript and XML to full-fledged SQL databases with PHP-hosted domains written in CSS is like upgrading from checkers to chess. Sure, the board looks the same and the pieces are the familiar colors, but making everything work is considerably more complicated.

At least, it's more complicated until you understand the basics. And that's what I'm doing: learning the basics.

It's time-consuming, but I have faith that this is a worthwhile venture.

The new site will be much more focused than e:c. I plan to turn my interests in technology and web culture into a useful resource for anyone who could use a hand navigating the often unforgiving digital landscape.

My hope is that I can bring my perspective on the things I love - like open source software tools, technology news, scientific/ecological advancements, and even gaming culture and tech gadgets - to readers in a way that is practical, useful, and accessible.

I want to help people grow their understanding of the everyday technology around them; to better understand and utilize the tools they have to be productive or creative or to just have fun.

Will anyone want to read it? Can I build a readership of people who trust my "knowledge" and perspective?

Who knows. I hope so.

This blog will continue to be my outlet for the myriad shiny objects that catch my attention every day. I hope that you who have come here to read my thoughts will continue to do so. But please bear with me if the updates are fewer and farther between.

I'll let you know as soon as the new blog is up and running. I want to have it fairly polished before I open the flood...excuse me...trickle-gates.

Thanks for sticking around.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Not Moving.

Surely this is great news for all 3 of you who read this: I've decided to stick with Blogger a little longer. I'm still exploring other options for hosting, but I don't want to waste more time by not posting anything.

So you can start checking back regularly again.

Why does it feel like I'm talking to myself?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Although Blogger has been a great first host for this blog, I am currently considering a move to another host that better suits my tastes.

Right now I'm evaluating several options, so there won't be any new posts here for a few days.

But hang in there! I'll let you know as soon as the blog has settled in a new home.

Check back for updates, folks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tools: Pod Player


I want to listen to the music from my iPod on my computer at work, but I don't want to install iTunes and authorize another machine. All I want to do is play music directly from the iPod and bypass iTunes.

Hot-damn solution:

Pod Player from iPodsoft.

With an incredibly small, quick installation, Pod Player is ready to use in seconds. The interface is clean and extremely intuitive. Everything you need is brilliantly packaged into this free piece of software.

For your zero dollars, you'll also get some clever iPod hacks and excellent iPod management tools. Pod Player allows you to extract songs to your hard drive as well - even preserving the ID3 info.

The guys at iPodsoft have done an excellent job with such a practical niche app.

Get Pod Player and love it. Then check out their other, equally intelligent offerings.

And don't forget to donate.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Salvage: Vol. I

My failure to post lately is due in total to the fact that we've been transplanting our office from Louisville to West Knoxville for the last week. It has been one hell of a move, but definitely for the better.

Anyhow, that's why I've been remiss. I know you feel neglected, so let me salvage the week with a lovely collection of links for you.

Get down with these jonx (as Mr. Smith says):

I) Install Vista, Buy Graphics Card (Wired)
A PC needs an 800-MHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM and an integrated graphics processor that can handle Microsoft's DirectX 9 graphical interface just to run Vista, according to Microsoft. For a PC that is Windows Aero ready, the requirements are more stringent. A Windows Vista Premium Ready PC for Windows Aero needs at least a 1-GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, DirectX 9 graphics, 128 MB of graphics memory and pixel shader 2.0, which means an external graphics card or processor is almost invariably required.

During a Wired News test, an HP Compaq 8430 laptop with a 2-GHz Intel T2500 CPU, 1 GB of RAM and a stand-alone ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics processor with 256 MB of video memory could handle the RC2 version of Aero. Vista's graphically intensive features worked well and the operating system's glasslike windows and icons were nice to look at, but in this writer's opinion, a 3-year-old version of SuSE Linux's operating system is just as beautiful.

With the stand-alone ATI graphics processor disabled during the test, the images became glitchy and the resolution poor. Attempts to play a video file with Windows Media Center did not work. The laptop's integrated graphics processor was just not good enough to handle the load by itself.

II) Billionaire Steve Wynn Ruins $139 Million Picasso (ReviewJournal)
The accident occurred as a gesturing Wynn, who suffers from retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that affects peripheral vision, struck the painting with his right elbow, leaving a hole the size of a silver dollar in the left forearm of Marie-Theresa Walter, Picasso's 21-year-old mistress.

"Oh shit, look what I've done," Wynn said, according to Ephron, who gave her account in a blog published on Monday.

III) Download Every Episode of The Simpsons

IV) Great Googaly! Sam & Max is Almost Ready (Telltale Games)

V) Can't Figure Out What That Font is? Use Identifont

VI) Ikea Lamp Commercial:

VII) Wendy's Training Video. Get Some Grill Skillz!

VIII) Nintendo Wii: Wins and Losses (IGN)

Every time a 50-plus-year-old stands in line to preorder a new Wii console, a Nintendo executive gets his wings. Look up in the sky now and you might see a few of them soaring around, giggling. Don't try to feed them, by the way - it's dangerous.

Clearly, the company that Mario built has with its looming videogame platform tried something completely original and both gamers and non-gamers alike are taking notice. Three years ago, the mere concept of a new game machine that didn't speed down the bigger-and-badder horsepower avenue might have seemed unlikely at the very least and financially irresponsible at the very most, but the Big N has done it, and we're all excited anyway. Not because Wii delivers a quantum leap in graphics, because so far that hasn't been proven true. No, you're lining up and in some cases your dad is lining up because the system presents a completely fresh way to play.

Wii has a lot going for it, including the fact that - unlike GameCube, which was very similar to competing systems - it's totally unique. People will not confuse its strengths or weaknesses. But has Nintendo executed on every move correctly with its new platform or has it missed some opportunities, too?

XI) Letter to Senator: Constituent Wants to Become Illegal Immigrant, Benefit

The Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes
309 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Sarbanes:
As a native Marylander and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Immigration and Naturalization Service in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.

My reasons for wishing to change my status from U.S. citizen to illegal alien stem from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill's provisions is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, what I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for three of the last five years.

I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.
Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year, so I'm excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of the last five years taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine. Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively?
This would yield an excellent return for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005 and I estimated a gross savings approximating $72,000. After the fine this would yield me a net savings of $70,000.

In addition, I would reap the other benefits of being an illegal alien such as free health care, avoidance of paying Social Security taxes, buying automobile insurance, serving on jury panels, etc. If you would provide me with an outline of the process to become illegal (retroactively if possible) and copies of the necessary forms, I would be most appreciative.

Thank you for your assistance.
Your Loyal Constituent

X) Virtual NES Emulator. Absolutely. Awesome.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

$100 + EB Games/GameStop = PS3 (Maybe)

According to MSNBC, a $100 deposit on your PS3 pre-order will get you the solid satisfaction of knowing you could receive one of the overpriced consoles when they are eventually released.

For that kind of security, I'd gladly pay $200.

Ha ha! No, actually I wouldn't. Read here:
NEW YORK - GameStop and EB Games stores are going to start accepting pre-orders for Sony’s PlayStation 3 game console on Tuesday, according to their Web sites.

Due to “extremely limited supply,” the stores expect their allocations of what is perhaps the holiday’s season’s most eagerly anticipated gadget to run out in minutes.

A $100 deposit is required for each order, but even that won’t guarantee that a PlayStation 3 will be available when the console goes on sale on Nov. 17, according to the notices, because the stores have no control over production and shipping issues.

Throwback: Dinosaurs Attack!

Even if you're old enough to remember the eighties, you're probably not emotionally mature enough for Dinosaurs Attack!

When Topps released this series of collectible trading cards in 1988, no one was emotionally mature enough - especially not the 10-year olds buying them.

Even today, in our world of wanton television violence and Magic the Gathering satanism...these cards are horrifyingly inappropriate.

Eschewing popular standards of "decency" and "taste," Dinosaurs Attack! depicted classrooms full of dinosaur-mangled children, kids being lunched on by herbivores (?) directly from their school bus, and my personal favorite: dinosaurs squashing a puppy right in front of a little girl.

Now that's how you do insensitive.

Sure, sure. We all remember the Garbage Pail Kids, and they were kind of gross. But gross in a cute way. Gross like fake puke and plastic dog poop.

Dinosaurs Attack! is infinitely beyond the pale of those other collectible cards. They are so ultra-violent and rife with scientific and religious heracy that no responsible parent could ever - ever - in good conscience buy them for their kids.

And that's why they're awesome.

Incredibly awesome to be exact.

Bob Heffner has put together the entire set for you to marvel at. You can find it here. And I-Mockery has a pretty hilarious retrospective on the series. Check out both of these links and delight in the sheer audacity of Dinosaurs Attack!

Here are some of my favorites. Please notice what the Parasaurolophus is eating.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Vol Access: 7 Days Inside Tennessee Football

I want to let you guys see just what it is I do for a living.

I do this:

The show will air on Comcast Sports South on October 15th and 16th. Please tune in! Please tell everyone you know to watch. This is the first show of its kind developed for CSS, and we're pushing very hard to get the word out.

Many of you will be getting an official press release from me soon, but you saw it here first.

We shot well over 80 hours of footage for this show - and you'll see things you've never seen before in a behind-the-scenes college football doc. If you're a fan of Tennessee football, or of football period, you're going to love it.

Believe me - I'm a fan of both and I love it.

*I shot and did the graphics package for this show, but no editing. Dustin, Jeremy, Tyler and John made it look as amazing as it does.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

YouTube Gems: Taking Your Own Picture. A Lot.

It takes an awful lot of dedication to do what these two guys did: photograph themselves every day for years.

The guy in the first video, Noah, is the original inspiration for this sort of video on YouTube. Many, many videos of the same sort - and parodies galore - followed Noah's lead.

But the other guy, Jonathan, is much more interesting. You can actually see him age over the course of the eight years he claims to have photographed himself. It takes a while to notice the changes, but subtle as they might be, the end is dramatically different from the beginning.

Noah goes from artsy weirdo with wavy hair to Tim Burton to artsy weirdo with greasy and wavy hair.

But Jonathan goes from normal guy to normal guy with glasses to normal guy without glasses to Luke Wilson to pedophile.

See for yourself.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Video: Little Man Can Dance

What can I say about this clip? It's nearly inexplicable.

It's nearly inexplicable and it's the funniest dance video ever to come out of Bollywood. Ha ha! The ending is priceless.

Little man + badass beatbox jams + mime-style dance skills = Shazaam!


Awesome: Cheapass Games

Who loves board games and/or card games?

Everybody. That's who.

Who loves a value?

Me. That's who. And you. You do, too.

Read those sentences with the correct meter and intonation and you've got yourself the next Oscar Mayer hotdog jingle. Instant classic.

Based on the information I just gave you (not the jingle part), each and every one of you will love Cheapass Games. You can't argue with facts, and you shouldn't argue with me.

But I'll let them convince you in their own words:

We here at Cheapass Games are aware of two basic facts about games: they cost too much, and they are at some level all the same.

If you ignore the clever shapes they come in, the cheap little plastic pawns are an interchangeable part of most of the board games in your house. So are the dice, the money, the counters, the pencils, and just about every other random spare part. These generic bits and pieces can account for as much as 75% of a game's production cost, and that cost gets handed to you.

If you had your choice, you'd probably invest a little bit of money in one good set of gaming paraphernalia instead of twenty crappy ones, and then just buy the new part of every "new" game. Yet most companies insist on selling you the whole package every time; it's like bundling a can opener with a can of beans.

Cheapass Games come with the bare essentials: boards, cards, and rulebooks. If you need anything else, we'll tell you. And it's probably something you can scrounge from a game you already own, or buy at a hobby store for less than "they" are charging you for it. Heck, if you need to, you can even buy the parts from us.

And once you've assembled your collection of generic small parts, you can use them for every new Cheapass Game.
Genius! It's almost like open-source for board games. Take that Parker Brothers.

You can buy any selection from their impressive library of games for practically nothing. Although they recommend that you support your local game shop, you can also get your Cheapass games from

$3.00, $4.00, $7.50, $1.00...the prices are exorbitant. Seriously.

And although I've yet to play a single game from these guys, I most certainly will in the near future. I mean, how can you resist titles like these:

Captain Treasure Boots
Enemy Chocolatier
Secret Tijuana Deathmatch
Captain Park's Imaginary Polar Expedition

Landyland? Ha ha! I can't stop being impressed at a name like that.

So, if you enjoy board games or card games or being cool - and you do - then visit the website for Cheapass Games.

Have fun and save money. It's better than not having fun and losing your life savings on a condominium purchase that's turned out to just be a huge financial disaster.

It's true!