Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Last night I contemplated waking up earlier than usual, getting in the car and going down to the local Wal Mart (well, as local as can be when you live in the sticks) to get in line to buy a XBOX 360 console. After doing some rough calculations in my head last night, I realized that between travel and work, I'll hardly be home between now and the end of the year, so maybe right now isn't the best time for me to buy one anyhow. Oh, but I will be buying one, no worries there.

Still, Wal Mart is on my drive to work, and so I decided to grab my standard morning coffee from the little store at the bottom of the hill, drive into town, and do some people watching. After all, I realized, it's more the excitement and the weirdness of the hype around the event than the console itself. An XBOX 360 today is the same box and hardware as you can buy later. But the launch fans? That only happens once.

So I headed out for the big ol' St. Helens, Oregon Wal Mart. I listened to the radio on the way there, and heard stories of gamers in places like Manhattan, NY, where apparently people had been lined up forever (like lots of places around the country) and Bellevue, Washington, where Bill Gates went to the local Best Buy and picked up his own console. Somehow I don't think he needed to do that, but hey - it was cool. 

Honestly, I was more interested in watching the people when they opened the store than I was in buying a console on Day One. I'm more interested, too, in how much they'll be selling for on eBay later today, and about when the day will be that they start dropping them off the backs of trucks at stores in huge numbers. One friend says he thinks it will be on Thursday night. Another person I know tells me the store he pre-ordered from called and let him know his delivery would be delayed, and that they were not sure if he would get his before Christmas. People are lining up everywhere. Clearly, the demand is high and the supply (either artificially or in actuality) is short.

Anyhow, back to the local Wal Mart. I wasn't sure what to expect in the Big Town of St Helens. I pulled into the parking lot and saw a small crowd of about 15-20 shivering people huddled right next to the front door of the store. A couple of people were (smartly) waiting in their vehicles with the heat on. I pulled up and deduced that the Wal Mart store has probably handed out numbers to the first people to show up, but that's where things got more interesting. Every employee that came anywhere near the front door was the target of sly, mean-sounding questioning. "Are they coming to open the door? Hurry up, it's f***n' cold out here! What?!? No?!?!? G*d d*mnit!"

When it came time to open the door and head for the counter - and keep in mind, everyone had a number - the race walk through the door turned into a jog, and then quickly into a sprint for the back of the store, where ten boxes sat stacked neatly behind a counter. I followed (at a walking pace, of course) to observe. A couple of people commented on the foot race and we all laughed a little. Mostly the people (at least those who didn't have a number) noticed how strange the whole thing was. All this for a video game console? Hey, for some it's what life is all about, I guess.

So, I started to think about the gamer personality. Some of the people were needlessly quiet and cagey, not really letting on as to who had what number, and some were not even providing information about whether numbers were even given out. It was amusing, really. There was this competitive hype attitude. The need to be first, to sneak around that metaphoric corner on the battle map and shoot your opponent in the back of the head.

It's really kinda interesting.

Fist fights, secrecy, celebration, celebrity, short supply, bright green boxes, launch hype, auction hype and even more random hype. Some will be upset they can't get one, others will be upset they pre-ordered and the kid down the street was first, and others will be holed up in their rooms for the next five days with lots of Mountain Dew, Red Bull, Doritos and Little Betty Snack Cakes turning a whole new shade of pasty white with a day-glow green tint brought on by the magical glow of the XBOX 360, only to emerge into a world where the colors are not quite as bright, the definition is not quite as high, and the people with guns in their hands are the ones you want to avoid. Ahhh, the life...

Merry Christmas and all that. Earlier and more bizarre every year. 

But hey, dude, it's a sweet console.



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Random Stuff
Tuesday, 22 November 2005 09:44:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 21 November 2005

Holiday_lightsYou think your house decorations are awesome? Are you one of those people who tries each year to out-do your neighbors? Or are one of the out-done that suffers the effects of Mr. Uber-Decorator?

Well, no matter who you are and no matter what your motivation, I bet you've never seen a house decoration display quite like this one. Seriously, the picture at right is not even close to what the video shows. Wow, cool...

UPDATE: As it turns out, the man who built it is named Carson Williams and he lives in Mason Ohio. Apparently, the show attracted so many people that when a couple cars had an accident, the police could not get to the accident because the streets were jammed up with other cars, so Carson had to stop the display each night, at least for a while.

Here are some other links for ya:

http://www.christmaslightfinder.com/
http://www.twasthenightbefore.com/webcam-2005.htm
http://www.pensacolalights.com/
http://www.christmasutah.com/
http://www.kindlachristmas.com/Videos.asp
http://www.welovechristmaslights.com/



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Monday, 21 November 2005 21:27:51 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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The Microsoft anti-malware team has posted information about their products' ability to remove the rootkit associated with the Sony DRM mess that everyone and their brother has written about over the past couple weeks. If you don't know whether your Sony CD was one that may have installed this junk on your computer, there's a list of CD titles available here. If your CD is not on the list, it's ok. If it is on the list, Sony BMG will send you a replacement.

Safety_live_one

If you think you might have a problem (or if you just want to make sure you're cleaned up in general), go to the Windows Live Safety Center, where you can scan your computer for this and other malicious or bad software and clean it right up. Select the "Full Service Scan" followed by the "Quick scan" option. You'll need to install the ActiveX control for the scanner.

And the other two removal tools the team works on are also able to resolve the problem:

"The Windows AntiSpyware Beta will be able to detect and remove this as well with the 11/17/05 signature release. Detection and removal will also be added to the December release of the Malicious Software Removal Tool which will be released the second Tuesday of December."

If you've not yet used the Windows Live Safety Center, it's a great place to run a scan on any computer for a variety of potential problems, without having to download and install special software programs. The complete scan checks for open ports that might cause problems, viruses, malicious software and more. It can also clean up temp files and defragment your hard drive to improve performance and reliability. This whole services thing is looking pretty promising.

 



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IT Security | Tech
Monday, 21 November 2005 20:06:28 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Hard core console gamers are already camping out tonight in front of Best Buy stores and other retailers hoping to get their clammy paws on a new XBOX 360 console, which are in predictably short supply at stores as the launch happens Tuesday.

And be sure to check out the XBOX360 Fanboy blog for all the latest news. Heh. Bill Gates is even going to show up at the Bellevue Best Buy store to hand out the first one and play some games with the crowd.

I'm not, like, old or anything (ugh), but I'm not as young as I once was. Still, I might wake up early (I tend to do so anyhow) and truck it on down to the local WalMart, where they have exactly ten consoles that will be on sale at 7am tomorrow. Word is the Fred Meyer store (for those not in the northwest, take WalMart and fancy it up significantly) in the next town over got seven units and will be doing a lottery for whoever is in line at 5am, then selling them when the store opens at 7am. In the city, people are lined up at Best Buy stores to get one of the 50 units that each store supposedly has.

When I stopped by the WalMart on the way home, the phone at the electronics counter was ringing off the hook. The guy at the counter just shook his head, and told me that phone's rung more than a couple hundred times today with people asking about the XBOX 360 console.

So here are the real questions we're all wondering about:

  • How many units shipped for launch?
  • When will the truckloads of consoles hit the stores? Should we start a pool?
  • Is this possibly a planned shortage thing, or is the supply really that low?
  • What will they be selling for on eBay tomorrow afternoon?

I dunno... I know I'll be buying one of these, but I'm not quite sure if I'll be getting up bright and early to scrape the windshield and stand in the sub-freezing temperatures to gamble on something I might not walk away with. Heheh... Maybe I am getting old.



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Monday, 21 November 2005 18:15:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Engadget Holiday Gift GuideThat infamous and terrific gadget-lover's blog, Engadget, has launched it's Engadget Holiday Gift Guide for this holiday season at http://holidaygiftguide.engadget.com/.

We know sorting through the thousands of gadgets on the market right now can be a bit of a pain for anyone doing some shopping, so we’ve gotten together our annual Engadget Holiday Gift Guide in order to help make sense of what’s worth dropping some coin on this year.

Even though online shopping means no one really has an excuse anymore not to buy early, we’re going to be running up our gift suggestions once a day until December 24th, so high-tail over to
holidaygiftguide.engadget.com for the latest! And be sure to check back often, as we’ll be posting a variety of gift suggestions sure to please the full range of recipients everyone’s got, from nerds-extraordinarie to Mr. and Mrs. Enduser.

NOTE: These products are selected by the Engadget editors, not Best Buy, and we didn’t check to see whether they’re for sale at Best Buy or not.

That Sony VAIO XL1 Media Center PC is lookin' pretty nice...



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Monday, 21 November 2005 17:57:32 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 20 November 2005

Microsoft's CTO, Ray Ozzie, posted earlier today about his views on SSE, of the Simple Sharing Extensions to RSS and OPML that Microsoft recently published as an open draft specification (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike model). Ozzie knows a lot about sharing information - He created Lotus Notes and was the founder of Groove, a terrific and innovative collaboration platform that Microsoft acquired not that long ago.

He describes the problem with sharing and combining loosely-coupled information.

"As an industry, we have simply not designed our calendaring and directory software and services for this 'mesh' model. The websites, services and servers we build seem to all want to be the 'owner' and 'publisher'; it's really inconsistent with the model that made email so successful, and the loosely-coupled nature of the web."

So he's talking about how to extend RSS and OPML to allow synchronization.

"There are many great item synchronization mechanisms out there (and at Microsoft), but we decided we’d never get short term network effects among products if we selected something complicated – even if it were powerful. What we really longed for was 'the RSS of synchronization' ... something simple that would catch on very quickly."

Note that this is not the same stuff that's gluing RSS into the core of Vista and whatnot - rather it's a simple way to mesh, communicate and synchronize information from multiple sources in XML. It's nifty, simple and smart. I think I've got my mind wrapped around it now. Very cool. Geeks, read on:



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RSS Stuff | Tech
Sunday, 20 November 2005 21:05:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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