Some Neflix subscribers are finding that their pricey Blu-ray player has been sitting around with nothing to do. That's because Netflix doesn't have enough Blu-ray titles to go around, particularly when it comes to hot new releases. It's not uncommon for a movie to sit in a subscriber's queue for a month or more with an expected availability listed as "Long Wait." Bummer.
Cnet talked to Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesperson, about the problem, who said part of it has to do with studios not providing enough Blu-ray copies of new releases that the company would like get. But it isn't always the fault of the studios.
"There is an expense to that," Swasey said. "These things cost money. We deploy money where we think it's going to be most efficient to keep subscribers and investors happy. It's always check and balances."
Not all subscribers can be happy hearing Swasey lay the blame on the cost, considering that Netflix started adding a $1 surcharge for Blu-ray renters back in October. Jessie Teitz, Neflix's VP of marketing, said the surcharge was to cover the "significant cost difference" between Blu-ray and standard DVDs, which brings up another tidbit that active subscribers can't be happy about. When there aren't enough copies to go around, users who rent less frequently jump to the front of the line.
"What we're doing is giving new releases to the person who hasn't rented as much," he said. "We've been doing this for a couple of years and fully disclose this in our terms of agreement. If we have a shortage of titles we do what we think is equitable and give the title to the person who hasn't rented as much or who hasn't gotten as much enjoyment from the service."
In short, the $1 surcharge that all Blu-ray renters pay is going towards not enough Blu-ray copies, which are then doled out to infrequent renters.
Hit the jump and tell us whether you agree or disagree with how Netflix is handling Blu-ray movies.
Earlier this year, researchers for Finjan, a web security firm, said that stolen bank data had become "commoditized," with items like PIN codes and credit card information fetching only a fraction of what they used to pull in. Now Finjan warns of an impending "sharp rise [in cybercrime] in 2009 due to the current economic downturn, which makes financial gain from stealing data and selling online even more attractive."
Finjan's report (PDF) notes that cybercrime has evolved into a "booming global business" in 2008, and pointed out an early trend of unemployed IT personnel boosting their income by using crimeware toolkits sold by professional hackers. Finjan says the trend is only the beginning and as layoffs go on the rise in 2009, so too will cybercrime, both in the amount of attacks and the severity.
But not everyone is convinced of Finjan's gloom and doom future. ArsTechinca points out that Finjan's sources are up for interpretation, including a November 19 Forbes article cited in the PDF report. According to ArsTechnica, the Forbes article "doesn't really provide a solid foundation for Finjan's statement. While the piece does take note of various trends, occurrences, and vibrations in the malware market, the author notes that the data 'remains largely anecdotal.'"
Are we on the verge of a major cybercrime spike? Hit the jump and post your predictions.
Thanks to a new online Q&A service, giving your two cents on the web might actually be worth two cents. Or a few bucks. The new service, called Mahalo Answers, allows its community members to ask and answer questions similar to what you'd find with Yahoo Answers. But unlike Yahoo, users who give well thought out answers have a chance to cash in on their expertise with Mahalo Answers.
Whenever someone submits a question, they can choose to offer a tip, which is essentially reward money for whoever best answers the query. Tips are initially paid to Mahalo through Paypal and converted into Mahalo dollars. Each Mahalo dollar is currently worth $0.75 when paid out via Paypal, and participants can cash out when they've accumulated 40 Mahalo dollars.
The concept is an interesting one and Mahalo has implemented some safeguards against abusing the system. If a question only manages to attract a handful of clowns with less than helpful answers, you can opt to have your tip refunded within 3 days. But to prevent users from taking advantage of asking questions and always applying for a refund, baiting and switching will count against their reputation. Make it a habit and members will simply stop answering your questions.
On the flip side, users who build a reputation for giving good answers can make money with Mahalo Direct Questions and answer questions in private for a set fee.
Check it out, then hit the jump and tell us what you think about this new service.
AMD could really use a compelling CPU launch to win back favor among enthusiasts and turn its financial struggles around, and the company hopes its upcoming Phenom II processor line will do just that. Last month the chip maker demoed a Phenom II being overclocked on a variety of cooling solutions culminating with a 5GHz run using LN2, and now end-users putting the Phenom II's overclocking prowess to the test are seeing similar results.
During Tom's Hardware's Overdrive overclocking finals in Paris, teams from all over the world competed for the highest scores using Intel's Core i7 platform, but AMD's Phenom II also made an appearance. With the help of one of the competitors, the news and review site took the 940 Phenom X4 BE II from its stock 3GHz frequency up to 4.957GHz using a Gigabyte motherboard and liquid nitrogen cooling. Ironically, the extreme cooling may have prevented the quad-core chip's overclocking ceiling, as Tom's Hardware claims "it has an issue of locking at temperatures below -70°C."
Not many system builders are going to interested in keeping a supply of LN2 handy, but what's interesting to note is the frequency headroom AMD's next generation Phenom chips appear to offer. During AMD's demo, the 45nm quad-core chip still broke the 4GHz barrier on air and water cooling, which bodes well for Phenom II and perhaps AMD's immediate future.
AMD is expected to launch Phenom II in January 2009.
Less than a week ago, Fudzilla claimed it managed to confirm rumors that XFX would defect from Nvidia as an exclusive partner, but until now, no official confirmation existed. That's no longer the case, as AMD announces XFX is joining the fray of AMD add-in board partners.
"In the world of PC gaming, XFX is synonymous with the extreme performance that enthusiasts crave,” said Rick Bergman, senior vice president and general manager, Graphics Products Group, AMD. “Their decision to partner with AMD and launch AMD GPU-based XFX graphics cards, including the ATI Radeon™ HD 4870 X2, widely regarded as the world’s fastest graphics card by technology enthusiasts around the world, speaks to the level of excellence achieved by the ATI Radeon HD 4000 series."
Michael Chiu, Chairman and CEO of Pine Technologies Holdings, makers of XFX graphics cards said it wasn't just AMD's ability to catch up on the gaming front that led to its decision to branch out; XFX also took a keen interest in AMD's multimedia performance.
According to AMD, XFX will kick off its new partnership starting with the Radeon HD 4000 series GPUs sometime in early 2009.
So Spore didn’t change the way we looked at games forever, but that doesn’t mean the next link in Will Wright’s evolutionary chain will pop out of the primordial ooze half-baked. Especially not if Wright’s right, and his next project spends the next three years getting dolled-up for its big day.
"I'm working on a big new project that I'm very excited about, but I don't want to talk about it yet because if it takes three years to come out I don't want people saying 'Wow, he's been talking about that for a loooong time,'" Wright told Joystiq at Spike TV’s Videogame Award show.
So then, for those soured by Spore, what will it take to earn back your goodwill? A new SimCity? Something totally un-Sim-like? A game that isn’t hyped to the point that -- even if it were quantifiably better than sex -- it’d be considered a disappointment?
Narrowly power-walking past Duke Nukem Forever in the Vaporware Race to The Starting Line, it seems Phantom is actually doing something. Oh, Phantom? No, we don’t blame you for 404-ing that one. See, originally, the Phantom was planned as a PC-console marriage of sorts – download PC games to a sci-fi pizza box connected to your television and let the good times roll.
But in the end, Phantom was quite an apt name.
Now, one four-year-long facepalm later, here we are, and Phantom Entertainment is hanging a gaudy “Grand Opening” sign on the functioning half of its original plan: an online storefront. We’re sure Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are breathing relieved sighs into megaphones at this very moment.
“Phantom Entertainment today launched its highly anticipated online game store, located at gamestore.phantom.net. The game store features an impressive catalog of over 2,600 PC games including top sellers like Fallout 3 and Far Cry 2. The store allows for outright purchasing of video games or try before you buy, and features level 4 merchant abilities,” read the press release.
Apparently, the service will also begin streaming titles in early ’09, which at least has the potential to be all kinds of cool.
So, anyone care to join us in partaking of Phantom’s steamy new service? Or do you plan to wait four years before giving Phantom’s bank account some love? After all, turnabout is fair play.
It looks like some up at Redmond have been finding the iPhone to be a sexier development platform than their very own Windows Mobile.
Seadragon, Microsoft’s backbone for Photosynth, has recently been released onto the iPhone app store. The snazzy app allows users to quickly “deep zoom” pictures while online, as well as take a grouping of images and forge them together into a mock 3D enviroment.
According to Alex Daley, the group product manager for Micorsoft Live Labs, “The iPhone is the most widely distributed phone with a (graphics processing unit). Most phones out today don't have accelerated graphics in them. The iPhone does and so it enabled us to do something that has been previously difficult to do."
Ubisoft has had a strange, and ugly history with DRM (read: Far Cry 2), but it looks like they’re aiming to change that.
The latest Prince of Persia game will have zero DRM on the PC in the name of an experiment. “You’re right when you say that when people want to pirate the game they will but DRM is there to make it as difficult as possible for pirates to make copies of our games,” stated UbiRazz, a Community Developer for Ubisoft. “A lot of people complain that DRM is what forces people to pirate games but as [Prince of Persia] PC has no DRM we’ll see how truthful people actually are. Not very, I imagine.”
It’s nice that Ubisoft is giving the PC gamer market an honest chance in the world of DRM. This blogger just hopes that it actually helps our cause, and doesn’t end up making things much, much worse.
Gaming with just a mouse and keyboard might soon be considered old school if all the new tactile feedback technologies gain traction. There already exists several virtual reality devices (see Norman Chan's Killing Box column in the Holiday 2008 issue of PC Gamer), and coming soon, VR technology will start knocking around your noggin.
TN Games, the same company responsible for the 3D Space Gaming Vest, announced it is working on a force feedback helmet. The company says the HTX helmet is designed to work in conjunction with its gaming vest and will deliver "blows to the head when are you are fired upon." Near-misses will also be registered, letting you "feel bullets whizzing by your helmet."
Rather than use haptic feedback, TN Games' approach to force feedback involves a small air compressor system capable of delivering up to five pounds of force per actuator. As TN Games puts it, five pounds of force feels similar to dropping a roll of pennies on your stomach from six inches above. The question is whether or not blows to the head can be considered safe, and TN Games says it is, claiming the helmet will pose no physical danger so long as it's used according to the instructions.
No pricing information information is yet available, though TN Games says you can expect the helmet sometime in 2009.