Weekly News Roundup (8 June 2008)

Still a little bit late this week, but nowhere near as bad as last week. Just having an extremely slow day today for some reason, and weren’t able to get around to do this week’s WNR until just now. No exploding transformers to blame this week.

CopyrightLet’s start with copyright news as per usual. In another case of copyright gone map, the MPAA has sued two printers. That’s right, two printers. What happened was that some researchers decided to spoof some IP addresses and see if the MPAA’s “piracy catcher” can be fooled into thinking some fake IPs (associated with the printers) are actually pirates. This proves that the MPAA’s piracy detection method is far from foolproof, and this should be interesting for future court cases. The music industry has finally gotten around to suing members of OiNK, the music sharing site that was closed some time ago. Six members have been sued, so I guess only a couple of hundred thousand more to go! OiNKAnd even the big boys aren’t safe, as I hinted at last week – Yahoo has been sued by an India music company. Search engines probably link to more illegal activity than any other site, but that’s the way search engines work – bots don’t care or know what is legal and what is illegal, so why should search engines be punished for something they did not create (and only link to, and not intentionally either)? But I’m sure the big boys can take care of themselves. It’s the little guys that we all need to worry about, because we could be next!

And Canada is going after the little guys by introducing a $500 fine for illegal downloads. Will the police enforce this? Do they have the technical ability to monitor, detect and not get fooled by IP spoofing? And just because I downloaded something illegal, how can you prove that I did it intentionally, or perhaps just followed the wrong link somewhere?

High DefinitionOnto HD news now, most of this week’s news has been computer related, which I guess will be one of the major markets that the Blu-ray people will go after. First up, LG announced a 6x Blu-ray burner drive, finally getting burn speeds that won’t make you wait an hour or more to burn an entire disc. What is also interesting, as I pointed out in the link, is that LG is heavily discounting their older Blu-ray burner drives, which also reads HD DVDs … I’ve seen them for less than $ 280, down from their original price of more than $500 here in Australia. Could be a good bargain to pick up, especially if you have some HD DVD discs (the fire sales are still going on, with most of the new ones happening in the UK). Of course, having a drive is probably not enough to play movies, if your computer is not up to scratch. Blu-ray Decoder CardBlu-ray playback is one of the more processor intensive activities you will do on your computer, not that much behind playing the latest games at the higher quality and resolutions. So if your computer is not up to it, you can buy a Blu-ray decoder card which takes most of the work away from your CPU/GPU to give you smooth Blu-ray playback. Those who are old enough will remember the Sigma RealMagic line of DVD decoder cards that were popular towards the end of the 90’s – this is basically the same thing for a new century.

For those that do have the power required, but still scratching their heads wondering how to get true high bitrate audio from the Blu-ray discs to your AV receiver, you can use Asus’ new HDMI sound card to transport the audio streams to your receiver to decode (or decode them in software/on the card and output up to 7.1 channels in PCM). It was always a matter of time before HDMI sound cards became available, although since HDMI is also used for video, there is some confusion as to who should be making these cards: the graphics card companies, or the audio card companies. I think you will see similar offerings from traditional graphics card manufacturers too (and since Asus makes both types of cards, they are the perfect candidate to be releasing something like this).

Before moving onto gaming, I must mention the PS3 again as a Blu-ray player. It still makes more sense now than building a dedicated computer based solution. Of course, as a Blu-ray player, the PS3 is hardly the most efficient power user – something like 10W for standalones compared to 160W for the PS3. But the PS3 has many uses, and you can now even turn one into a fully fleged computer running Linux (Ubuntu), Asus Eee PCand dual-boot into the normal PS3 operating system with ease (and hence, not ruining any of the PS3’s original functionalities). All you need is a bigger hard-drive, because 40/60/80 GB is not big enough. But the trend these days is on the small and efficient, not the big, powerful and versatile. Asus’ Eee PC is just the first in a line of new portable computer designed to not to do everything, but to do enough to warrant a place in your home.

GamingProperly onto gaming now, the PS3 wants to be a Wii. The Wii-envy by Microsoft and Sony is beginning to become quite obvious. PS3 games can also now using in game advertising to generate income. Perhaps this will lead to cheaper game prices. PS-WiiNielsen, the well known research agency, has come up with figures showing that the Xbox 360 dominates the console usage charts, with both young and older users preferring it over the Wii (second place) and the PS3 (third place). If a serious problem like the RRoD haven’t killed off the Xbox 360, then there’s a good reason and it is because it’s a great games console, despite all the problems. The Wii might be innovative and fun to use, but I haven’t used mine for weeks now, and I still haven’t used the PS3 for gaming yet. Bad news for 360 owners though is that the exclusive downloads for GTA IV is being delayed to early 2009, as opposed to late 2008. Not a huge problem of course as there’s just so much stuff to do in GTA IV that I don’t think people will be finished with the main game by then (well, not me anyway, but I’m the type to stretch out a game over a really really long time – I still haven’t finished Twilight Princess!).

That’s the news for this week. The website (and myself) is still recovering from the great datacenter disaster of 2008. Next week should see slowly come back to normal. Can’t say that for me personally though, since I haven’t been normal since I was a little kid (and I wasn’t that normal back then either).


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