Weekly News Roundup (24 August 2008)

Hello there! No mid week blog as I’m working on something special. And by special, I mean sometimes that takes me a long time to write because I really don’t know what I am doing. I guess I’ll just luck my way through it, although in my experience, there’s no such thing as luck. 

CopyrightLet’s start with copyright news. The RIAA had to pay damages in a court case, a reverse of what usually happens. They falsely accused someone of downloading pirated music, and had to pay $107,951.03 the disabled single mother as a result. I wonder how many other of RIAA’s victims are falsely accused. The MPAA has been busy with Operation Takedown, going after pirates in the Asia-Pacific region. Can’t blame them this time for doing so, as they weren’t going after home users, but rather, large scale piracy rings.

Dream Pinball 3D - sold 800 copies, illegally downloaded 12,000 times

Dream Pinball 3D - sold 800 copies, illegally downloaded 12,000 times

In the PC gaming arena, where piracy is rampant, Atari and Codemasters are trying something new to tackle the problem. They have sent 25,000 people £300 fines for illegally sharing their games. Now this is going into a slightly confusing area. How did Atari/Codemasters get the details of these 25,000, let alone figure out whether these people downloaded the entire game or only part of it, whether they shared the entire game or only part of it, and whether they actually used the game that they allegedly downloaded. If, for example, I accidentally download the wrong torrent file and started downloading/sharing a pirated game, but only for 30 seconds, am I culpable for piracy? Or if I managed to download the entire game without sharing any part of it, but I did not play the game and merely deleted it straight away, then should I be fined for £300 as well? And with malware being so prevalent, how can they prove that it was the user’s intention to download the game, rather than the user’s computer being controlled by someone else. I for one hope one of the 25,000 people fined is a lawyer and will take this up further. The CEO of ID Software, Todd Hollenshead, says that PC manufacturers love piracy, as it helps sales. I think that’s true and has always been true for PCs. EA Sports boss Peter Moore thinks that’s not good and wants a piracy crackdown.

But while anti-piracy measures may be important, they must also not impede the user’s fair use rights, at least according to a California judge. Some common sense from the courts, finally. Copyright holders should also stop being so greedy, forcing music streaming sites such as Pandora to shut down due to excessive cost. This will only drive more people to piracy, so the copyright holders can’t have it both ways.

High DefinitionIn HD news, the big news of the week is Microsoft’s support for Blu-ray in Windows. XP, Vista, Server 2003/2008 will now have built-in Blu-ray burning supports via a feature pack currently in beta testing that will add native Blu-ray burning support. Good news for Blu-ray supporters, that’s for sure.

Hannah Montana Blu-ray - Comes with 3D Viewing Option

Hannah Montana Blu-ray - Comes with 3D Viewing Option

To add more features to Blu-ray, the Blu-ray Group is currently investigating stereoscopic 3D movies, which they think may the “next big thing” in Blu-ray. 3D movies does hold fascination for me personally, but even the best systems today are very clunky or poor in visual quality (not to mention, prone to inducing motion sickness). Can’t help but feel this is all a bit gimmicky, just like BD-Live and most of the “new” features found on Blu-ray. The increased audio/video resolution is the only thing that makes Blu-ray a must-have for me. Convenience of use is something that Blu-ray has to be wary of too, because HD VOD streaming services (either cable based or IP based), especially those on a fixed subscription fee, is a lot more convenient and cheaper than buying Blu-ray movies.

But the problem with at least online HD streaming is the bandwidth, and following our news last week about the BBC upgrading the iPlayer to use H.264/AAC, a new problem with bandwidth has emerged. Small ISPs are complaining that the BBC has switched network carriers, making it unaffordable to them to provide for the increasing demand. There is not nearly enough bandwidth for even today’s video applications if they are to become a success and almost everyone uses them. The fight for bandwidth will certainly heat up, unless new technology can be implemented or if governments and large private enterprises (ie. Google) step up and spend to improve infrastructure (which Google is doing already).

GamingAnd finally in gaming, a follow on from last week’s surprising “Xbox 360 outsells PS3 in Japan of all place” story, the Xbox 360 is officially sold out in all of Japan this week. This sounds like big news, but I suspect the total stock of Xbox 360’s in Japan is probably only a little bit more than what the Wii sells there in weekly numbers. Typical of Microsoft to not take advantage of a good situation, with buyers unable to buy the Xbox 360 even if they wanted to now.

Good news for Xbox 360 GTA IV fans, the downloadable content that was to be delayed until 2009 will arrrive this year, according to Microsoft at least. Nobody seems to have a clue as to what the DLCs will bring. Whole new cities? More buildings that can be entered? More single player storylines? Better weapons? Won’t have to wait too long to find out, if Microsoft is correct.

Rumor: Xbox 360 Arcade for $200 with motion controller

Rumor: Xbox 360 Arcade for $200 with motion controller

There is also the rumour that the Xbox 360 Arcade will ship with motion controllers to find the Wii not only on pricing (only $200 for the console), but on features. Aggressive move by Microsoft, if true.

On the PS3 front, Sony will bring out a 160 GB PS3 in October (not in Australia though). It costs $100 more, so you would expect perhaps it would have some other additional hardware features to justify the increase. Replacing the PS3 HDD is extremely easy and cheap, so if the new model only has a bigger hard-drive, then it’s not really worth it in my opinion.

The Wii, meanwhile, is making more money for Nintendo than all the other consoles. Because the Wii uses cheaper hardware (not as advanced in the CPU/GPU department, and no Blu-ray), a profit is made on every console sold. Sony loses a lot of money for every PS3, and Microsoft has only started to profit from their games division. It just goes to show that it’s the games and how people can play them that matters, not how many gigaflops the CPU can handle per second, that’s important.

That’s it for this week. Hopefully, I will finish that guide I’m currently writing that has me all confused this week. Didn’t spot the Obi-Wan Kenobi reference from my intro? Oh well, better luck next time. Until then, may the force be with you.


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