News, Reviews, Commentary and More

DJIA 13357.74 chart+119.01
NASDAQ 2596.36 chart+31.06
S&P 500 1473.99 chart+16.35


Nintendo Wii Pricing

Filed under: — 2:00 pm

Nintendo has said that the Wii will launch in the fourth quarter of 2006 and will cost less than $250. Nintendo has recently said it will cost a maximum of 25,000 yen. With taxes figured in and shipping costs, that comes out to about $223.

A very attractive price when compared to the high price of Sony’s Playstation 3 ($499 - $599). And you get an innovative remote with built in motion sensing, and possibly a port on the Wii for an audio device such as a microphone. I wonder if the recently discovered audio-in port in Wii schematics could be used to connect a device such as an iPod. That would definitely put it on-par with other gaming machines. Nintendo innovates and does it at a low price.

Source: VideoGamesBlogger (Via Slashdot), CNET News


BitTorrent Goes to Hollywood

Filed under: — 4:29 am

BitTorrent has inked a deal with Warner Brothers to distribute and sell over 200 WB movies and TV programs through the BitTorrent file-sharing program. Titles range from movies like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire to TV shows Dukes of Hazzard and Babylon 5.

According, to the article Warner Brothers is attempting to convert the BitTorrent audience over to legitimate buyers of their products. This further validates BitTorrent as a valid distribution venue, and further legitimizes the technology.

“The digital episodes of shows and movies from Warner Brothers will be loaded with special digital rights management software, keeping the files from being distributed illegally. That means that while BitTorrent will take advantage of users’ bandwidth to redistribute the bits and pieces of the movie files to other paying customers, it will be impossible for users to share files with their friends, unless those friends pay up.”

Source: BusinessWeek


Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price

Filed under: — 12:06 am

I had an opportunity to check out the new documentary. Michael Moore really raised the bar as far as documentary standards are concerned because this one was hardly engaging, barely interesting, and poorly put together.

But, there were plenty of fun facts to share:

  • Wal-Mart has driven down retail wages by $3 billion.
  • Research at Berkeley has shown $86 million has been expensed to California tax payers in the form of health-care and other benefits (ie: welfare, food-stamps that employees are forced to apply for).
  • …and over $1.6 billion nationwide.
  • There are over 26.7 million square feet of empty stores across the country.
  • Denver Public Schools could have kept 3 schools open with the subsidies given to Wal-Mart.
  • Over $1 billion has been given to Wal-Mart in the form of subsidies across the nation.
  • Workers in the Chinese factories bring home less than $3 a day.

See? Weren’t those fun? I’m not sure where the numbers come from, what they are and aren’t comprised of, etc. But I suppose that’s true of all opposition. In any case, the documentary seemed so random, so back and forth between topics. Movie clips and interviews from previous and current employees were haphazardly edited. It was almost hard to sit and endure the film.

Those facts were almost as fun as the part where workers from China, India, etc. started to speak directly to the viewer. They remind us of the pain that they go through to provide us with our inexpensive toys and cheap electronics. It’s those people that gave us the privledge of trampling over our neighbors and community members to grab the last portable DVD player on Friday…

But seriously, I’m really frustrated by the health-care comments presented. People like to constantly argue that Wal-Mart has made its health care unafforadable. I invite anyone to post a list of companies that provide reasonable benefits such as cheap healthcare. Wal-Mart employees aren’t the only ones suffering. A quick search on Google News provided not one, but a number of articles about the high cost of health care to businesses everywhere. One even cites “health benefits” as “the largest business expense after salaries”. You won’t get low prices if Wal-Mart has to provide for all its employees…

That leads me to my next point: playing “This Land is Your Land” while the movie harps on the well-publicized notion that Wal-Mart destroys the smaller stores is annoying. Even the crude animated show South Park nailed it on the head when it said that it’s the people that kill the stores. The masses choose the cheaper alternative. Put simply: competition kills.

As I wrote this I glanced a few pages into the latest Fortune. They have an article entitled “Don’t Blame Wal-Mart” which says, ultimately, the same things. It also suggests that we “blame America’s inability to devise a national health plan that takes the burden off employers”.

One final point made is that although a lot of questional behavior is presented by the documentary (racism and sexism, among other things), the real question is “whether such behavior is systemic”. Michael Moore’s documentaries certainly tried to look a bit deeper then this one did. Point-of-view alone suggests the extreme bias against any and all management in any and all situations. It’s hard to draw any conclusions from the jumble of accounts and tales…

If you already hate Wal-Mart you may enjoy this film (just so you can add more facts to your arsenal) and if you don’t, then don’t bother…

Update: Matt Johnston adds additional points. For instance, “Whenever I see, Chinese factory workers make less than $3 a day, I must ask the question, what are their salary alternatives? ”

There are plenty of great points being made in the comments, thanks for posting, everyone.


The Future of Golf

Filed under: — 5:23 pm

To the left, “a practice golf putter currently being commercialized by Infics Inc. of South Korea. A small attachment with an LCD screen is fitted to the putter. It accurately measures the trajectory and speed of the swing, as well as impact data. The golfer is then able to view this information on a color LCD screen fitted to the non-contact side of the putter”. It’s certainly a way to impress your friends but doubtfully going to do anything for your swing!

Source: Ceatec via Engadget


Stanford Students Get Free Digital Music

Filed under: — 2:13 am

Students at Stanford University will get a year of free digital music, thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor to the college…the univ has signed on Yahoo Music for the service, the first such university deal for Yahoo. After the first year the students will be able to continue the service for $1.75 per month (or $4.75 for portable players). Either way the students are being offered a discounted rate given that LAUNCHcast Plus is $2.99 per month and Yahoo! Music Unlimited is $4.99.

…speaking of Yahoo! Music.



Video iPod Confirmed

Filed under: — 1:44 pm

Looks like at least some rumors can be believed these days. Engadget has the scoop on the new gadget. The new iPod is obviously for music but also has video capabilities. The display will be wider (2.5-inch display at a resolution of 320 x 240) and will support MPEG-4 and Quicktime (or so they assume). There are two models, a 20GB 30GB ($299) and a 60GB ($399). has been updated and says the new iPod can hold 150 hours of video. Apple says users can download “2,000 music videos or your favorite ABC and Disney television shows, download them to your Mac or PC and sync them to your iPod”… with iTunes 6, of course.

Source: Engadget, Apple

Update: I accidently listed a 20GB model. It should have been 30GB. Thanks, BW.


TV Is Not Going Away

Filed under: — 2:26 am

Contrary to popular belief TV is going to stay around. Susan Whiting, President and CEO of Nielsen Media Research had the following to say to FastCompany:

For the first time ever, households are watching more than eight hours a day. And even though the average home has 100 channels, people only watch 14 or 15 of them. The tricky thing is that people aren’t watching the same 14 or 15 channels.

I guess Nielsen has done it’s job. It’s up to the marketers and advertisers to make of that what they may…

Sources: FastCompany (October 2005)


The Apprentice Martha: Episode 3

Filed under: — 12:31 pm

Can I just point out that David-Matchstick’s project manager-is only 22? Maybe if I start prepping now I can hop on the Apprentice 6…

This week the teams had to research, design, build and sell wedding cakes. Sounds easy enough I suppose…

In any case, Matchstick lost again. The “creative” team is full of smart people but lacks direction. In fact, Martha called everyone into the boardroom. I don’t really feel anyone on the team has any strong leadership skills. With that said, they’re all clever and very capable… but it seems like they all get in each other’s ways. One of their own “teammates” is an outcast! What team shoots themselves in the foot like that? They’re already down to what, 2 people already? Sheesh! This doesn’t surprise me, really. They all have their own opinions and agenda’s but Matchstick doesn’t realize there’s only one project manager. Shawn was fired. One could’ve easily assumed she was in charge.

Pretentiousary–err Primarius won again despite Howie’s temper. As the project leader this jerk needed to realize he is accountable for the team. Instead of pointing fingers try spending that time on your decision-making skills, pal. Oh well, they pulled it together and made a pretty nice looking cake!

I do occasionaly enjoy this show though. Ryan closed a sale with a couple. This was their first step in wedding planning and he was there to share it. I just wish the game’s intentions were to be that important part in people’s lives.. not just “sell cakes”. It would seem much easier to align oneself with the objective if they really understood the importance of their product. It’s not just another widget!

The winners had desert with the loser, Mr. Trump. Neato.

Well that’s it for the Apprentice this week. Chris went ahead and summarized Donald this week which is fine by me, I’ve had my fill of Donald lately.

Sources: Yahoo, TECHQUIK


Martha to Row Pumpkin

Filed under: — 11:07 pm

Again, you can’t make this stuff up:

Worried Martha Stewart fans can relax — the ex-felon lifestyle guru will be rowing a giant pumpkin across a Canadian lake this weekend after all. CNN Money

Thanks CNN Money.. you have no idea how worried I was!

…but seriously, its for charity. There were issues with her getting special permission to go to Canada. That’s what you get for having a criminal record, I guess.

Eisner Quits Board, Too

Filed under: — 10:59 pm

Michael Eisner, who stepped down as Walt Disney Co.’s chief executive officer last week, also unexpectedly quit the company’s board. Bloomberg

Eisner was planning on remaining until the end of his term (expiring next year).

This move suggests he wants to free himself up for a film or television project. He’s made it obvious he’s planning on doing something.


Video iPod Next Week?

Filed under: — 4:51 pm

Microsoft had better watch out, if they plan to do anything with MCE they need to make it cheap, easy, mobile… and it needs to be done quickly.

Engadget is assuming a video iPod will be announced next week. The BBC may have spoiled it:

Apple is set to unveil a new video iPod at the BBC Television Centre in London on October the 12th,” and that the company is “expected to reveal details of the new MP3 and video player as well as video bundles to be available from the company’s iTunes stores.”

I remember watching some interesting stuff on the future of MCE but with the PSP and Apple now in the ring… Microsoft may need to stop trying to compete in the entertainment industry*.

*They’ve already taken a clue and suspended talks with four major record companies about the licensing terms for a new online music-subscription service.


The Apprentice: Martha Stewart

Filed under: — 9:56 am

It’s hard to believe she’s a convicted criminal. I found the opening scene to be very cheesy with her walking through the office, waving to people, giving helpful suggestions here and there. It was obviously not the real ‘Martha’. In the ‘conference room’ though it was obvious she’s quite personable but this whole ‘Apprentice’ thing is new to her.

I hate how giddy the apprentae get when she’s around at first. One even says she had tears in her eyes just being there. Sigh… they all laugh three times as hard at her and her daughter’s jokes. It’s absurd but understandable I suppose.

Tee one thing these shows do for me is, honestly, give me a ‘reality’ check. I look at the contestants and some people I think to myself “damn, is this personal real? Someone like this actually exists and actually thinks these things?”

Jeff is an egomaniac who should never be in a position of leadership. I hate people who over-use the ability to make ‘executive decisions’. It’s just a fancy way to allow themselves to be bossy and selfish. I think it was Howie who said “no, you don’t control my actions, I control your actions!”.

Jackasses, the whole lot of ‘em… they belong with Donald.

Update: Chris’ take on the first episode.


XBOX 360 Coming in November

Filed under: — 1:57 am

…in case you cared. The new console from Microsoft will cost $400 (without accessories, games, etc) and will be available on November 11th.


Sony Recalls 60,000 Adapters

Filed under: — 1:15 am

Sony is recalling 60,000 AC Adapters due to fire/overheating hazards…XBOX anyone?

Personally I think it’d be a tradgedy if a fire were to break out during one of our late-night DDR sessions. I think I’ll look into a replacement adapter as soon as possible…


Disney Opens Park in Hong Kong

Filed under: — 11:50 pm

From the BBC:

Disney has opened a new $1.8bn (£1bn) theme park in Hong Kong, the firm’s biggest foray into the Chinese market.

We all know how interesting China is… in this case the park is 57% owned by the HK government. In addition, there have been some issues with local health inspectors. Disney had told the officals to dress less conspiculously but China reminded Disney that they’re not above the law.

The two officers complied when they were asked to dress less conspicuously - but the request has been widely criticised by government officials.

…certainly the last group you want to be criticized by.

Read the Disclaimer before acting on any information found here.
All content and materials Copyright ©2006, Blog News Channel - Powered by WordPress