Monday, June 28, 2010

Canadians Deserve a Price Break on Game Consoles

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One of the newest capabilities of new game consoles that has been talked about since the recent E3 convention isn't the new motion capture technologies from both Sony and Microsoft designed to compete to Nintendo's Wiimote and Nunchuk control system on the Wii.  The attention of many in the video gaming speculators and analysts ability to watch Hulu on the Playstation 3.and Xbox 360.  Hulu complementing the service for the consoles unveiled by online streaming video store Netflix last year.

This leaves Canadian Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 buyers paying the same price as American consoles but getting less functionality since both Netflix and Hulu have never been available in Canada.  Could Sony and Microsoft recognize that and offer some kind of price break for Canadians, of course they can.  Even a small price break even if it is five or ten dollars off the price of the systems would offer an olive branch to console buyers north of the 49th parallel.

Sony and/or Microsoft could work with content creators to secure the rights for streaming video content to create online stores to sell and rent online video and keep the profits for themselves instead of handing it over to Netflix and Hulu.  That would mean treating Canadian consumers like intelligent people who understand watching online video through legitimate means is better pirating.  Could Microsoft and Sony understand that? All signs are doubtful.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Three Good Reasons To Avoid Modems With Integrated Routers

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With the popularity of multiple and networked devices both wired and wireless Internet service providers are cashing in from those who want to hook up just about every device that they own to the Internet but who may not be technically adept to hook up, configure and secure a home network router.  Devices known as a 'home gateway' combines a cable or DSL modem with a router that on the surface may look simple but maybe an option that is best avoided once some facts are known.

1. Upgradeability- Now that every 802.11N is a ratified standard, just about every WiFi device is 802.11N compatible except just about every integrated modem/router which still uses the older 802.11G standard.  With a separate router upgrading from G to N only take disconnecting the old router and connecting a new router.  Not so easy with these home gateways which requires waiting for 802.11G home gateways to get into the market and the ISP to start distributing the new gateways, and even then some ISP's probably won't upgrade existing customers with the new version of the home gateway.

2. Security- Wireless security with a standalone router lets the user choose the level of security required to access the wireless network which should always be set to WPA2 with AES authentication.  With integrated home gateways, the wireless security is set by the manufacturer or the ISP.  2Wire, a brand integrated DSL modem and router used by Telco's as giant as AT&T to as tiny as Sasktel uses the weakest most easily wireless security, WEP.  Home gateways can be remotely configured by the ISP or an outside hacker.  This could allow a Telco to shut off access to Skype if they feel that their long distance revenue are being threatened.  This isn't just a threat to security but net neutrality.

3.  Cost- While 40.00 dollars or more is an up front cost that could be avoided by using a home gateway from an ISP, the home gateway might come with a rental fee which could cost a lot more over the long run.  Even if an ISP charges five dollars a month that rental charge would pay for a basic router in under a year. 

Despite the simpler process of just letting a technician from the cable or telephone company hook up a home gateway, it requires paying more for old technology that puts private data at risk.  When signing up for Internet service just tell the ISP, to provide just a modem please.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Stop Annoying Telemarkers With A Fax Machine

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From the beginning of telephone service in the early 20th century there have been telemarketers to sell just about every product and service over the phone.  In the past couple of years due mostly to the advent of VOIP services computer dialed telemarketing has been on the rise.  A telephone call during a meal, while taking a shower or some other inopportune moment a recorded message trying to sell extended vehicle warranties, low interest rate credit cards, or some kind vacation that the recipient of the message supposedly won comes from the other end of the line.

Legislated measures have proven to be ineffective, tightening the laws on telemarketing and do not call registries have only chased the telemarketers off shore making healthy profits using inexpensive VOIP plans.  Technological solutions such as the Telezapper helped for a while but the telemarketers got wise and ignored the tones generated by devices like the Telezapper designed to make them think that the numbers they are dialing are nonexistent or disconnected.

One device that can be attached to a phone line that can get the telemarketers to scatter like cockroaches when a light is turned on has been around for the last twenty five years but has fallen is less use in the age of e-mail, the fax machine.  Using a fax machine to answer the line when no phone calls that are actually want, a telemarketer will call and get the screeching tones of a fax machine trying to make a connection to another fax machine.  That will tell the telemarketers that your phone line may be active but there won't be a person to answer the call.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Why Nintendo Needs 'Grand Theft Auto' To Get Onto The Wii

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Prior to launching the Wii in 2006, Nintendo survived because of core of devotees to their systems.  After gamers moved to the Playstation, the devotees bought Nintendo 64's and later Gamecubes.  This brand loyalty to Nintendo systems has gone out of the window four years after the launch the Wii.  A lot of kids in this generation of gaming have gotten their start on the Wii but as they have gotten older they are trading their Wii-motes for couch bound button mashing with a Playstation or Xbox controller.

Grand Theft Auto may be one of video gaming's most raunchy and controversial franchises but is also one of the most popular too.  Grand Theft Auto is the polar opposite to the squeaky clean family friendly image that Nintendo has created for itself.  GTA made it's debut on a Nintendo platform last year when GTA Chinatown Wars launched on the DS. 

In order to stay in the leadership position the big N will need to keep the fourteen year olds on their systems.  To do that Nintendo will need to attract the big franchise games to the Wii, including Grand Theft Auto.  Nintendo may shun anything that carries the 'M' rating but was it not Resident Evil the most popular franchise back in the days of the Gamecube?

For Nintendo keeping the teenagers in the Nintendo camp will be a challenge but not one they can't overcome it will require loosing up on content restrictions.  At one time the Mortal Kombat for the Super Nintendo had to be toned down and didn't have the blood and gore that Mortal Kombat for the Sega Genesis had, it wasn't the developer and publishers of Mortal Kombat that were hurt by it, it was Nintendo.  There will be one thing that Nintendo can do to stop young adult gamers from fleeing to Playstations or Xboxes, drop the restrictions and let Grand Theft Auto on the Wii.

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