Saturday, 12 November 2005

If you already have a bunch of XBOX games, you've likely been wondering what's the dealio with the new console? Will you be able to play your old original XBOX games on the new XBOX 360? If so, will they play better? Will they be displayed in HD?

Well, Microsoft has posted the official backward-compatibility list of games you'll be able to play on the new console when it launches on November 22nd. There's also a Q&A page that answers a lot of questions about backward compatibility and how the legacy games will work. It looks like the list will likely grow over time, so you can check back to see if more games get added.

As of the time I am posting this, there are 207 titles on the list. Not too shabby, and definitely more than I expected.

And - even bigger news - every game title on the list will be up-scaled to HD resolutions of 720p and 1080i and will use the 360's anti-aliasing engine. Wow, that's great news! Yes, it's up-scaling, but the end result is better game experience on the old titles when using the new hardware. Nice. To do backward compatibility, you'll need a hard drive accessory (which is an option for the less-expensive "Core" XBOX 360 package, and is included in the premium package. 

Microsoft notes that: "A software emulator is required for each original Xbox game you play on your Xbox 360™ console. Please check back for more details as we approach the launch date."

From the Q&A page come these useful nuggets of information: How is your backward compatibility solution going to work?

Todd: As you’ve heard from us before, backward compatibility on Xbox 360 is done through software. Now that we’ve solved the technical challenge and the emulator is working, we’re certifying each original Xbox title by hand to run on Xbox 360.

What I’m really proud to tell you and your readers is that it’s easy to get the emulation software, and it’s free. We’ll give gamers a choice—you can get the latest software updates from Xbox Live, burn a CD from or sign up on for a CD that can be delivered to your home at a nominal shipping and handling fee. Once you get the CD, put it in your Xbox 360 and you’re ready to go. Will there be any benefits to playing original Xbox games on my Xbox 360 console?

Todd: Absolutely. One of the great things about gaming on Xbox 360 is the satisfaction of knowing that every game will be playable in high definition. We are now proud to reveal that this extends to the original Xbox games as well. Every original Xbox game will be upscaled to 720p and 1080i, and will take advantage of Xbox 360’s anti-aliasing capabilities, delivering a picture that is clearer and crisper than anything available on Xbox.

UPDATE: Rory comments on the slashdot comments on the XBOX 360 backward compatibility announcement. Slashdot readers were typically (and predictably) assinine, and Rory is his typical genius self.

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Saturday, 12 November 2005 11:24:38 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Bit-shit-shiftThe other day my co-worker Matt (a truly-all-around-good-guy who will almost certainly laugh (I sure hope) and turn bright red (like I certainly would) when he reads this) wrote on his blog that he was...

"...curious where I would rank if you searched for "bit-shift". So I loaded up my favorite web browser, pointed it towards google and off I went. Was I on the first page...Nope. Page two you say? Notta. When I loaded up page three I was beginning to get depressed. But Wait! There at the bottom of the page, second to the last link was Bit-Shit.Net. Woohoo! At least I beat out a link to an Intel article on 64 bit-shifting, HA! Take that Intel."

Heh. The emphasis in the above quote is mine. You see, the funny thing is that Matt made a similar slip (typo? psychological? Hmmm...) a couple weeks ago in a blog post, which I dutifully pointed out (in person), and which he promptly changed before I could do a screen-grab and post it here for all to see. I'm not sure why he has a recurring problem typing "shift," but I am sure it's pretty darn funny from a reader's perspective. No spell checker maybe? Or is that word allowed in the spelling dictionary? Heh... All in good fun here, Matt. I don't think he'd ever purposely type that word. Must be a deep subconscious thing.

Anyhow, hopefully some post linkage here will help drive a little search-engine-bot attention to Matt's site, where (by the way) he's writing about interesting thoughts of his and whatnot. I've subscribed to his feed and added him to the blogroll over there on the side of this page somewhere. Google indexing and ranking is driven by many things, especially inbound links. So, check out his blog. I like his writing style - some of my favorite weblogs are the ones that follow whatever happens to be on the author's mind at the time. Now all we have to do is get Matt to stop thinking about sh... Oh, never mind. Hah! (Just kiddin' ya there Matthew ).

So - What can we learn from this? Simple, really: Accidentally type about poop, someone notices, and hopefully it generates a little more traffic to your site. And it just goes to show, at it's core the universe really is awfully entropic.

Or maybe the lesson is something more like "type sh*t once, shame on you. type sh*t twice, shame on... well... you."

Thanks for the fun fodder there, bud.

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Saturday, 12 November 2005 10:07:46 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 11 November 2005

Holiday_cardWant to create some of your own holiday cards and stationery? Hey, might as well get started now. Head over to Office Online and download templates for:

  • Greeting cards
  • Recipe cards
  • Mailing labels
  • Meal menus
  • Gift labels
  • Banners
  • That dreaded Family Holiday Newsletter

There are content categories for holiday cards in general, Christmas, Hanukkah, and lots of others, too.

Lots of stuff there to use and customize. Enjoy.

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Office 2003 | Tech
Friday, 11 November 2005 16:22:10 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I've spent way too much time in the past 24 hours driving my cat absolutely crazy with a little laser pointer. It's hilarious to watch her chase that bright red dot all over the room, across the floor and up walls and around/over furniture. But hey, it's great exercise. Heh.

I got the little laser pointer with my new holography book that recently arrived in the mail. I decided recently to give the one form of photography I've not yet done a try. The rest of the needed materials are on order, will be here before too long.

I've wanted to make holograms since I was a kid. My dad's a physicist and he has mostly always worked with lasers in some shape or form (and he still does today). I remember when I was a kid and he brought a laser home one night and showed me how it worked. I think he explained the inner workings, too, but that night I was amazed by what I saw. I was completely hooked and since then have been fascinated with them. I still enjoy learning about them. Add to that several years of professional photography experience, and - well - this is just a natural when-I-get-around-to-it hobby for me.

The book I just received is called Shoebox Holography, and I ordered a good, inexpensive laser pointer with the book. The book is very good, and any teachers or students looking to use holography for school projects would find it excellent and easy to understand, as well as quite complete in its explanations. Recommended.

But the cat's getting locked out of the room when I make holograms. Something about that combination seems unworkable.

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Friday, 11 November 2005 15:39:47 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Web services - are you ready for it? Take the quiz at CIO magazine online. Find out where you rank. I scored 80. Of course, we're already grokking them. How about you?

Platform, vendor and language independence - sounds pretty good to those people who are responsible for tying all these systems and companies and technologies together. When Microsoft launched their .NET initiatives a while back, the industry thought it was a lock-in situation - that Microsoft was making a move to own a market and that the effort was doomed to fail. But as it turns out, what the .NET story and other efforts have driven (at least in part - it's not just a Microsoft thing at all) is the continued growth of interoperability - through web services. Walls have been torn down in the process, not built up.

And now we're starting to see the popular landscape (this is not anything new, it's been around for years now) shift more toward a services-oriented model of application development. Some say it's Google taking on Microsoft. Whatever. What really matters (or should matter) to businesses today is participation. Time to get on-board if you're not on this rocket ship already.

(via Adam Gaffin)

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Friday, 11 November 2005 07:55:35 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you didn't notice, Research in Motion - the wildly successful and smart company that created and sells BlackBerry devices and the services they run on - has been the subject of great debate recently, due to a patent conflict that's working it's way through the U.S. courts. In a nutshell, there's this other company that claims they own the rights to the concepts that the BlackBerry devices run on. RIM says not so.

People have been all but freaking out every time a news article comes out that suggests the patent dispute could cause BlackBerry services in the U.S. to be shut down. Anyone who reads the court decisions and can follow the parallel court cases can tell that the likelihood of this is very low. But hey, "news" is just acting like it's old typical self (meaning hyperbole and emotional button pushing). The patents claimed by RIM's opponent (a company called NTP) have been challenged and practically invalidated. But since that's happening in another court, I guess the news services just selectively choose what to report on.

Anyhow - What I think is the most interesting event to come out of the recent news, though, is the fact that the U.S. Government's Department of Justice has made an argument in the courts that the RIM/Blackberry services are necessary as a matter of national security. As it turns out, their highly-secure infrastructure and right-now capabilities of the network and servers has become a critical piece of how many government employees and agencies communicate.

The government department wants 90 days notice before a U.S. trial court enforces the potentially crippling injunction on BlackBerry devices in the United States to ensure public workers can keep using the devices, which many users call "CrackBerrys" for their addictive nature.

Lance Johnson, an intellectual property lawyer in Washington, D.C., said the filing is good news for RIM.

"This really throws a wrench into things [for NTP]," Mr. Johnson said. "It brings to this [legal] forum a national-security and government-functioning imperative that was not there before."

The U.S. government also said the extra time is necessary so the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can reconsider the validity of wireless e-mail patents held by NTP. The Patent Office has already overturned the five disputed patents filed by since-deceased inventor Thomas Campana Jr., although NTP has asked the patent office to reconsider its decision.

If the patents are overturned, the four-year-old court case would be rendered moot, legal experts say.

The real test of technology success today is acceptance and dependence, let's face it. And RIM has put together a quality service and set of infrastructure and devices over the past several years. You want to know how hard RIM is to knock over? Pretty hard, I'd say. A little more coverage is available here.

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Friday, 11 November 2005 07:19:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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