Sony screwed up bad.
They screwed up really bad, but did they screw up enough to warrant federal legislation, and a class action lawsuit? I’m not so sure, but when something big, bad and newsworthy happens you can always count on an ambitious lawmaker to beg for attention, and for a small army of lawyers to get erections at the thought of filing a lawsuit.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, I have boycotted Sony for months because of their lawsuit against Geohotz, and their company policies that led to said suit. That being said, I still think the media, legislative, and legal frenzy surrounding this circus is a bit much. Here’s what you need to know:
What did the hackers steal?
They basically hijacked everything Sony had on the PlayStation Network. This includes:
- Birth dates
- Home addresses
- Password retrieval question answers (ex. “What’s your mother’s maiden name?”)
- And probably a slew of data about the games you play and things you’ve downloaded from the PlayStation Network
While the hackers did steal credit card information, all of that information is encrypted.
That means that the credit card data should be safe, and unusable.
I have a Playstation Network account, what should I do?
Most of the the stolen information is the kind of stuff that is uncoverable through thorough Google and Facebook stalking… except for the passwords.
If you have a PSN account, and you used the same password from your PSN account in other places, you need to start changing your passwords.
Typically web services that require a password protect that password by passing the text through something called a hashing algorithm before storing them. Hashing turns your password into a unique string of characters, and the process cannot be reversed. Sony failed to hash their users passwords, leaving them vulnerable.
What Sony did was boldly stupid. I can’t even begin to imagine how a tech company to stored millions of customer passwords unhashed, but they did it… And that may warrant a lawsuit.
A PlayStation is a computer, so you still need to practice safe computing while you’re on it. Change your passwords, and while you’re at it, don’t use the same one over and over again.
Microsoft researchers do some nifty things in their labs. Typically Microsoft researchers create cool things, and they never make it to market, but there are some signs that this trend is changing. Some great examples are the Microsoft TouchMouse, and the Xbox360 Kinect.
If Microsoft’s culture of smashing innovation through bureaucratic processes is changing, maybe we will see some of these display interfaces actually hit the market.
Over the last week, Microsoft has been very kind to Kinect modders. Hopefully that is a sign that they will both continue to support the hacker ethos, and launch new and innovative products of their own.
Let Santafest 2010 begin, try not to get maimed in a Black Friday stampede.
Here are some gift ideas for that special geek in your life:
HP Envy 14 - If I was buying a PC, it would be this guy.
11 inch MacBook Air – The compact, aesthetically pleasing notebook packs it’s fair share of power. If I have to buy a new notebook this year, it will be an Air.
Kinect – Microsoft’s motion gaming hardware turns your whole body into a controller. This is leaps and bounds more interesting that anything that Nintendo or Sony have going on. Microsoft’s motion technology represents the biggest leap in gaming technology since the Wii, and it will change a whole lot more than just gaming.
Halo Reach – The latest installment in the Halo series plays like a best-of game. It take the best elements of what came before it, and the result is a wonderful FPS.
Heavy Rain – This very adult murder mystery changed the way I think of video games. It’s not a long game, but it will stay with you long after you finish it.
3D Dot Game Hero – A modern-ish love-letter to the early Zelda games. This is a must play for old-school gamers.
God of War III - The journey of Kratos comes to a bloody conclusion. This is probably the best hack & slash/ puzzler made to date.
Xbox 360 & PS3
Mass Effect 2 – My favorite game of 2010. The science-fantasy story is so immersive that I didn’t want to stop playing. Every time they release new DLC, I go back for more.
Rock Band 3 - This is by far the best music game ever made. The pro mode actually teaches you to play a keyboard or guitar. I am waiting to buy it when the real guitar controller is released in March.
DVD / Blu-ray
Netflix – Don’t bother buying DVDs this year, a Netflix subscription will go a lot further.
Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010 – This year’s guitar festival hosted by Eric Clapton will amaze. The talent assembled is a rare sight to see, and will be truly special for any fan of the instrument.
Ex Machina – Ten volumes of brilliant dialoge and intrigue. It’s a story of politics and super-heroics. Think The West Wing meets The Matrix, but still very grounded.
Daemon & Freedom™ - These two books by Daniel Suarez take a very interesting and entertaining look at the state of the world, and the influence of technology. They are both geek and non-geek friendly.
The marketing departments for movie studios, television manufacturers, and James Cameron are completely committed to making in-home 3D ubiquitous.
I’ve tackled this issue before in my past post, “3D TV Life Color Photography?” Today I’m going to expand on my argument (probably for the last time).
In addition to the glasses being a total pain in the ass, there are some other issues with 3D that have yet to play out.
According to The Eyecare Trust, as many as 12% of us can’t accurately see 3D:
“3-D technology relies on our eyes’ ability to work together as a co-ordinated team to achieve an accurate perception of depth.
However, more than one in ten of us (12%) has a visual impairment that means our brains are unable to correctly process the individual images that are transmitted to it via our left and right eyes.”
This means that the odds are good that someone in your family can’t enjoy 3D with you.
Eye Strain, Eye Fatigue, & Nausea
Here’s a few paragraphs from the Sony Playstation Terms of Service. It’s actually easy to read, and each paragraph contains a gem:
17. 3D DEVICE USE NOTICE
Some people may experience discomfort (such as eye strain, eye fatigue or nausea) while watching 3D video images or playing stereoscopic 3D games on 3D televisions. If you experience such discomfort, you should immediately discontinue use of your television until the discomfort subsides.
SCEA recommends that all viewers take regular breaks while watching 3D video or playing stereoscopic 3D games. The length and frequency of necessary breaks may vary from person to person. Please take breaks that are long enough to allow any feelings of discomfort to subside. If symptoms persist, consult a doctor.
The vision of young children (especially those under six years old) is still under development. SCEA recommends that you consult your doctor (such as a pediatrician or eye doctor) before allowing young children to watch 3D video images or play stereoscopic 3D games. Adults should supervise young children to ensure they follow the recommendations listed above.
Basically they are saying that you can’t binge consume 3D TV. I don’t know about the rest of the world, but that won’t fly in the good ole US of A.
Avatar sold a lot of 3D tickets. It wasn’t shocking because James Cameron movies always sells tickets, and Avatar was the first 3D movie that “did 3D right.” To expect the same level of interest in 3D to continue is crazy, and as you can see, the interest is dropping.
There are a lot of movies coming out this year that will be released in 3D, yet I will choose to see them in 2D because:
- It costs less
- My girlfriend gets sick in 3D movies
- I find watching 3D difficult (why should I work at something that is supposed to be passive?)
- I see no added benefit
All I ask for from my movies are compelling characters, an interesting plot, and female characters who aren’t hollow (except for my bi-annual trips to see mindless action flicks). Cool effects are a nice bonus, but they don’t magically make bad dialog good, or improve upon a dumb plot.
3D may get rammed down our throats, but I think people will become more resistant to 3D content than the marketers seem to think.
Steve Jobs took to another dark stage to announce the “7 tent-pole features” for the next iteration of the iPhone operating system.
Here’s my reaction these features:
It’s about damn time.
It’s not true multi-tasking in my book, but if developers use it well, I have no doubt that it will greatly increase the usability of the iPhone.
I’m not convinced that this is a better or worse method than the truly open multi-tasking of Android, but it’s certainly a good thing.
This is a big win for anyone with an iPhone in his/her pocket.
Unified & Encrypted Email
Basically this is rendering the Blackberry obsolete. Those were the two advantages that Blackberry had, and they are gone.
People in the financial services industry have to use Blackberry’s because nothing else can be properly encrypted. Now they will be able to use an iPhone.
With regards to the unified email… Personally I would hate to have my work, and personal email in one inbox. I like keeping the two completely separate.
You can now make folders on your iPhone!
This is a “tent-pole” feature!? Really?
Folders are super basic computer function… Kind of like “copy & paste” (which iPhone users had to wait a year to get).
My only thought when I saw this coming in was, “How the fuck is this a ‘tent-pole’ feature Stevo. Stop wasting my time and move on.”
And with that, I will move on.
Yeah, yeah, yeah… eReaders are the new black. This is an obvious feature, but nothing new or special.
This is cool.
Basically Apple has made their own version of XBox Live for the iPhone. This feature is a clear shot directed at Nintendo and Sony. The battle for the hand-held gaming market is afoot.
If this works as advertised (and it probably will), it will be great for the iPhone gamer.
If I cared about hand-held gaming, I would write more, but I don’t.
As soon as I saw the graphic for this, I knew what it would be.
Apple is taking the Google model of advertising, and offering an ad service for iPhone apps.
If an app’s developer wants to include advertisements in an app, they just use iAd. The feature drops targeted ads into the app based on, well, whatever Apple chooses to base it on.
In turn, the app’s developer makes money from the ad sales. However, Apple takes a rake of 40%. That number seems extremely high to me.
This is a guess, but I bet that Apple won’t approve apps that use non-iAds advertisements. I’m pretty sure they will exercise heavy-handed control to maximize their ad sale revenue.
Most of these “tent-poles” are pretty underwhelming. The multi-tasking and game center seem like they will be very strong features, but they rest are pretty blah.
There is nothing here that is really new, or game changing.
I finally caved and acquired a PS3. After years of resisting the purchase, Sony had finally answered all but one of my reasons not to buy.
- There aren’t enough exclusive games that I want to play.
Uncharted 2, Demon’s Soul, and the forthcoming Heavy Rain & God of War III are more than enough enticement for me.
- The price is bonkers.
The system was wayyyyy too expensive for my tastes, but the recent price drop to $300 put Sony’s black box on my radar.
- No one I know has one.
Gaming is a social experience for me. I like to play and talk about the games with friends. Basically no one I knew had one… until I started working at Local Wisdom. Granted Sony had nothing to do with this, but it was still an issue.
- The controller is uncomfortable.
I don’t have small hands, and PlayStation controllers always feel tiny to me. They make my hands cramp. This is still a problem, but I’ll get over it.
Quick Out of the Box Review
The system is very pretty, and runs almost silent.
It doesn’t come with any HD cables whatsoever. I knew it, but I forgot anyway. I find this pretty obnoxious because HD TVs are so prolific these days, and a major selling feature of the PS3 is the HD/ BluRay experience. You can’t have hi def if you don’t have hi def cables. Fail.
The PS3′s operating system is clunky as hell. It really underscored the greatness of the Xbox 360′s user interface (which makes you forget that it was designed by Microsoft).
While the hardware in the PS3 is excellent, the software is lacking.
Haven’t had time to post much because of personal obligations, and my trip to the Himalayas.
Well not like this guy went to the Himalayas… I’ve been playing Uncharted 2 on my shiny new PS3, and that’s where a bunch of the game takes place.
Uncharted 2 is easily the most enthralling video games I have ever experienced. The story, characters, voices, dialog, landscapes, physics, gameplay, and camera motion are mind-blowing. I started playing the game in front of my family, and they actually started watching, and stayed. Over the course of my 22 year gaming career, that has never happened. It’s like playing a really good movie.
(I recommend clicking through to YouTube and watching this in HD)
Rest assured I will be writing more about it once I have conquered it.
The infamous “Red Ring of Death” happens… a lot.
I’ve been hit with it twice. I’m fairly certain my brother had to deal with it at least twice. The reports were that somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of Xbox 360 owners had to ship their console back to Microsoft, after it perished in a not so spectacular red glow.
A new reader survey by dying gaming magazine, Game Informer claims that 54.2 percent of Xbox 360s have failed. That’s a pretty staggering difference.
However, it doesn’t seem to matter because…
“Only 3.8 percent of 360 owners surveyed said they’d never buy an Xbox 360 again.”
I’ve read a lot of posts that attribute this to brand loyalty (I had links before this nasty storm killed my power).
When my 360s failed, dealing with Microsoft was slow and painful. So, why I am one of the 96.2 percent of 360 owners who would buy another 360.
Most of the Xbox 360 owners I know really like video games. They didn’t buy their console to exercise, and they didn’t get it to watch Blu -ray.
They bought it to game.
With the exception of a few titles, the Xbox 360 has the best game library available. It might not be as family friendly or gimmicky like the Wii, and it certainly isn’t as slick as the PS3, but my noisy, ugly, prone to failure 360 “has it where it counts kid…” just like the Millenium Falcon.
It has good games.
What better reason could you think of to buy a gaming console? No my friends, it’s not brand loyalty, it’s a brand that is currently meeting the needs of it’s user-base. That’s how Microsoft continues to dodge bullets with Red Ring of Death. It sure as hell isn’t great service or PR.
When God of War III comes out, the PS3 should call me. Until then, it doesn’t have the games to make me want to play it.