The ubiquitous Zip file compression format has been a staple of PC users since it first made its debut as PKZIP in the early 90s. Back then, the size limitations of floppy disk media and the painfully low-bandwidth dial-up connections made file compression a complete necessity. The Zip format today, while still popular, has largely been eclipsed by RAR compression, which has offered slightly better compression at the cost of archiving speed. That’s why we were so surprised to hear that WinZip 12, which launched yesterday, boasted an unbelievable 25% compression ratio for JPEG images – without sacrificing image quality. Ever the skeptics, we put the new software to the test, and grilled WinZip’s VP of Development about how this new algorithm works.
Any bets as to whether WinZip's claims are justified?
If you enjoyed the first commercial starring Bill Gates and new OS pitchman Jerry Seinfeld (and judging by the comments in the accompanying news post, many of you did), then you're likely to be tickled by the latest installment, all agonizing 4 minutes of it (that's right, my PC brethren, I'm still not amused). Gates doesn't shake his tush in the latest Vista ad, but he does do the robot, or at least a 52-year-old semi-retired billionaire's version of the robot (admittedly not bad, all things considered).
The newest ad still stays mainly focused on trying to connect with current culture rather than outright attempting to whip Apple at its own game, which is to fight a battle of the OSes. But here's my beef - it's just not amusing, to me anyway. There are subtle (and some not so subtle) messages to be picked up on in both commercials, but just as I didn't find myself chuckling at the whole Shoe Circus setting, I'm equally unimpressed watching a couple of rich guys trying to coexist with the common folk (props to the spunky grandma, the sole shining star so far in this ad campaign). Taken to the extreme, as Gizmodo alludes to, the commercials' failure to live up to expectations ironically mimic the same characteristic that described Vista when it first debuted.
There's a particular line that stands out in this new commercial. After Gates and Seinfeld are caught stealing a leather giraffe, the man of the home tells the unlikely duo "I'm disappointed in the both of you." Me too.
Am I just being a hater, or are you guys and gals still digging these introductory commercials? Maybe I'm just bitter that Will Ferrell didn't end up with the role.
There's online storage, and then there's Dropbox. If you haven't heard of the latter, it's only the greatest thing to come to online storage since, well, ever. And now it's available to the public.
Dropbox purports to offer an easy way to share and store your files, but what makes Dropbox so unique is its ability to integrate with all your PCs, including Linux. It will even play nice with your Mac. Make a change to a file, and Dropbox will automatically update the changed file to any computer linked to your account. Not only that, but it will only transfer the part of the file that changed. Other goodies include the ability to designate shared folders, public folders for non-Dropbox users, drag-and-drop friendly, and AES-256 encryption.
Free accounts come with 2GB of storage, with a 50GB account available for $10/month, or $100/year.
A particular artist, album or user will be graphically depicted in the center of the screen and will be surrounded by related icons of those artists, albums or users that have influenced it. The Zune 3.0 software, MixView included, will be available to all window users for free – owning a Zune or Zune Pass subscription not required. More on Zune 3.0 when it comes out on September 16th, 2008.
Infantile search engine Cuil came out a cropper during its launch when it crumbled under the weight of its lofty promises – blame it on the copywriter’s strong imagination. But any startup needs some time, sans any distraction, before it can stake a claim for a place in the big league.
However, Cuil’s management will find it difficult to stay focused on its development roadmap for the time being. The startup has lost the services of its VP Product, Louis Monier, who has quit. Monier was an employee worth his weight in gold for Cuil due to his vast experience in the field of online search. It has been confirmed that there were “philosophical differences” between Monier and the Cuil bosses. A huge blow for Cuil as retaining top talent is one of the biggest challenges for any startup.
If any internal software veers away from the normal pattern of operation, the Kernel almost freezes the system to scrutinize the cause of that anomaly. The effectiveness of this technique appears to completely rest on its ability to identify normal operational patterns. Although it is being touted as an alternative to anti-virus software, it is difficult to say at this stage whether it can actually replace anti-virus software. Anyways, an open-source application based on this method is now available for Linux.
In the last few months there have been a couple of pompous browser launches – FF3 and Chrome. But the launch of Opera 9.6 beta went largely unnoticed. In fact, Opera’s latest browser version failed to elicit any interest whatsoever. Its Opera 9.6 announcement felt like an inaudible whisper compared to Google’s bellowing Chrome marketing campaign. But Opera Software’s PR manager, Thomas Ford, offered a sanguine view of the entire situation to DailyTech. He took pride in the fact that Opera had managed to stay in business, despite the challenge offered by new entrants like Chrome. Ford pointed that Opera’s usage grew by 3% after Chrome’s launch.
SOE does what Blizzardon't. The online-focused branch of Sony's empire is trying its darndest to wed console and PC MMOs with its upcoming title, The Agency. However, the bride and groom to be aren't exactly hitting it off.
First up, PC games are much more susceptible to hacks and 'sploits than their console brethren, and "Being able to manage that is no simple task," said Executive Producer Matt Wilson.
Second, the mouse-keyboard vs. controller feud continues to rage, and neither side seems interested in saluting the ol' white flag.
"We can do things to equalize them, whether that's aim assist on the console or other things on the PC, but when we've actually done focus group testing and so forth, you're always going to have the console players versus the PC players," Wilson noted.
However, the final hurdle is definitely the tallest. Wilson explained:
"MMOs live and die by their updates, and we need to be able to update our product frequently," says Wilson. "The console requires a certification process, while the PC does not. And so it's going to be really difficult for us to maintain that synchronization across both platforms, and make that work really easily with the value of the MMO."
Assuming that SOE satisfactorily solves all of these issues, would you even want to play a PC-PS3 MMO?
GameStop CEO Dan DeMatteo recently voiced his thoughts on digital game distribution's far-flung, jumpsuit-clad future -- even in the face of screaming success stories like Steam. Fortunately, David Perry, Shiny Entertainment founder and current CCO at Acclaim Games, speaking for everyone else currently residing in, on, or around earth, decided to cram some food for thought down DeMatteo's throat.
"I hate to think someone this powerful can put out this kind of nonsense in an interview, and confuse professional investors, that might have been interested in the digitally distributed future of the games business," he wrote. "Some developer (or publisher) pitching a digitally distributed strategy might have just been 'thrown under the bus' today by Mr. DeMatteo."
"This wave will be just like the disruption the camera industry experienced – you can hope 'digital' won't show up and keep selling film cameras, or you can embrace the future. Every major camera company alive today embraced the digital future. It's not like he or GameStop has any part in deciding where or when; the consumers will decide. Let's face it, he's running the shop that sells the film."
"If they want their company to still exist in 12-17 years, I'd go and buy STEAM from Gabe Newell, which technically can't exist yet as Gabe is clearly 12-17 years ahead of the curve," Perry concluded, also noting that 100% of Acclaim's digitally distributed games are profitable.
It is well known that T-Mobile will be launching the maiden Android-based phone, which in all likelihood would be the HTC Dream. Now, Reuters is reporting that the launch of the first Android device could be just a few weeks away. September 23rd might witness an official announcement from T-Mobile and Google – members of the Open Handset Alliance, according to the report, which is based on intel gained from two anonymous persons. After the launch of Android, Cell phone users will be spoilt for choice as far as mobile platforms are concerned.