Bill Loguidice's blog

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Pajintov and Loguidice - Together in Tetris

OK, maybe not, but I still had the distinct pleasure of providing some commentary for a wonderful new feature article featuring Tetris creator, Alexey Pajitnov, entitled, Alexey Pajitnov's Tetris Plays It Forward-Now an App Fave. The article was written by Joyce Li for the Vilcek Foundation's Fall 2010 newsletter. At some point soon I'll release the rest of the commentary I provided that didn't make it into the article. Enjoy!

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Howard Stern Signs New Five Year Deal with Sirius XM - Misses out on Setting New Podcasting Standards

In an interesting turn of events, with only a few shows left on his initial five year Sirius XM contract, Howard Stern announced this morning that he's just signed a new five year deal there, likely bringing him at the age of nearly 62 to what will be the end of his storied radio show as we know it at that time. While many fans such as myself were anxiously waiting to see what Stern would decide since he's just about the only reason left not to listen all but exclusively to podcasts, many of us also thought that it was all but a given he would embark on said podcasting as his new career path. After all, if someone like Adam Carolla can be the biggest name in podcasting right now, someone of Stern's caliber and gravitas would send it through the stratosphere. After all, this is the same Howard Stern and show that helped Sirius go from struggling with 600,000 subscribers and being overshadowed by XM, to now having greater than 20,000,000 subscribers and being the initiator (rather than the recipient) of a merger with XM, which is how it's now Sirius XM. Obviously, faced with the very real prospect of losing countless millions subscribers (me among them) if Stern didn't re-sign, Sirius XM worked extra hard to get a deal done at the last minute. It also sounds like Stern will also get a further reduction in work schedule at some point and finally also be available on the Sirius XM mobile app (with his absence causing many of us not to have bothered with it, particularly with the extra fee post merger).

So why do I bring this up? I was fully expecting the outdated idea of satellite radio - which was a good idea before ubiquitous mobile devices that could either download content or stream content over the Internet - to go the way of the dodo if Stern left and for podcasting to take its rightful place as the premiere form of on demand content distribution (along with live streaming when appropriate). As it is now, Stern bought satellite another five years and that gives Sirius XM five more years to shore up their content and technology when they're faced with inevitably the same issue again they were faced with right up until this morning's official announcement. So, while fans such as myself are satisfied that Stern will be back (albeit under apparently more limited scheduling on an already frustratingly reduced schedule), I believe many of us also have a sense of disappointment that the next five years of his show could have been another revolution and one where he could have truly been the owner and master of his domain. As it stands now, it's business as usual, and that's not the Stern way. At least it wasn't the Stern way. I guess we all lose our edge at some point...

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PaintShop Photo Pro X3 Limited Edition for $25 on Amazon, but creates firestorm due to DRM!

While checking out one of Amazon's amazing deals, PaintShop Pro X3 Limited Edition for just $25, I couldn't help but be distracted by a firestorm of negative comments related to some rather harsh sounding Digital Rights Management (DRM). In fact, the comments have been so harsh and there have been so many one star "reviews" because of it, Corel themselves commented (an opportunity I've not seen Amazon provide before, but it appears to be an option now), which, by most accounts, appears to be little more than corporate doublespeak and certainly didn't calm the firestorm. Let's hear your thoughts! For your convenience, I've reproduced one of the user reviews and Corel's response below:

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Chip Hageman = Newest Armchair Arcade Team Member

We're proud to announce that Chip Hageman is now the newest team member of Armchair Arcade. Many of you already know of Chip from his blog posts at Armchair Arcade and his recent contribution to Episode 5 of the Armchair Arcade Radio podcast, and of course his Websites, ArcadeOasis.net and Shmuptacular.com. Join me in welcoming Mr. Hageman to the team and be sure to check out the About Us page for more on him and the rest of the Armchair Arcade staff, which spans the United States, Canada, and Europe.

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Beeslife update for the 2011 release of Rick Dynamite on the Mattel Intellivision!

There's a nice new video update courtesy of Beeslife on the upcoming Rick Dynamite platform game for the Mattel Intellivision from homebrew impresario Arnauld Chevallier. Based on the video, there's a heck of a lot to look forward to in 2011 for fans of the classic system:

Be sure to check the Beeslife Website for more information.

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Exclusive Scan: Geopolitique 1990 (SSI, 1983) - Commodore 64 (C-64) Version

Good news, everyone! I've got a special Armchair Arcade exclusive today. Attached to this very blog post and freely available to download is a nearly complete scan in PDF format of SSI's classic computer strategy game, Geopolitique 1990, from 1983, Commodore 64 (C-64) version. The 31 page PDF clocks in at 35.63 MB and features the box front, box top, box bottom, box side, box back, special notice and registration card, disk and catalog, scratch sheet map from the full notepad (blue), double-sided reference card, and the manual itself. As you can tell, this is the typical pre-1985 SSI deluxe bookshelf (oversized) packaging. If you'd like to play the Apple II version in your browser, you can do so here. Enjoy and let me know what you think of this semi-forensic scan of the game billed as "A Political, Economic & Military Game of World Dominance".

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RetroGaming RoundUp 25 - Hit The Mute (November 2010 Podcast)

Our friends over at the RetroGaming Roundup Podcast have released their November 2010 episode. Check below for the contents of their latest production:

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Crytek: "PC 'a generation ahead' of PS3 and 360, but being held back"

Website CVG is reporting that Crytek boss Cevat Yerli has claimed that developers' focus on PS3 and 360 is holding back game quality on PC--a format he believes is already "a generation ahead" of modern day consoles. I say, "too bad, Yerli, it's good for us gamers!". I've been pining for a reasonably stable PC spec to stop the technological arms race since the days of the 486 PC, but it's never happened. Ever since more recent times when the PC has had to take a back seat in software sales to consoles, it's been the console hardware that's been dictating what kind of big budget software has appeared on PC's (outside of a few high profile exceptions from the likes of companies like Blizzard). Why do I consider such a scenario a win? Simply because we NEED periods of 5+ years or so of stability in order for software developers to catch up to the hardware and start to butt up against the limits of what is possible. If the hardware remains a moving target, then there's less chance for normal coding challenges to be minimized, which leads to more opportunities for innovation since more focus can be placed on design rather than wrestling with the technology. With budgets already in the millions of dollars and team sizes in the hundreds, access to more power is obviously not the answer to the call for better games. Despite what some would like us to believe, there is no noticeable (i.e., real world, not benchmarks) technological divide between high end PC's and the PS3 or Xbox 360 outputting 1080p. Modest platforms like the iPhone and Nintendo DS have already long since proven that it's not necessarily power that succeeds, it's clever design. With that said, no matter what side of the debate you're on, I'd think it's hard to argue with how pleasant the idea is that the hardware we have in our possession now should be able to play the latest games for at least a few more years before requiring an upgrade, right?

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Video: Star Trek LCARS Interface in the Home

Pretty nifty stuff in the video from this Dutch gentleman, though it's debatable whether LCARS is a particularly efficient real-world interface. I've often wondered what I would do if I could design a home environment from scratch with reasonable resources. Unlike how most home design shows depict, most homes are designed/filled ad-hoc, with no real ability to plan things out in any profound manner outside of a single room or two.

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Hear No Evil - The Current State of Speech Recognition

There is a great article by Robert Fortner on the once promising field of computer speech recognition, cheekily titled, "Rest in Peas: The Unrecognized Death of Speech Recognition". This is something that I think many of us with an interest in technology have thought about one time or another. While we've had many half starts on the personal computing end of the equation since the early 1980's, it's never taken off the way we all hoped, particularly now in late 2010. Even the original Star Trek series from the 1960's famously made it seem like computer generated speech would be a more difficult task than understanding speech. How wrong they were! Interestingly, I had recently experimented with Dragon Naturally Speaking, which is mentioned in the article, and it certainly let me down. You see, we had interviewed quite a few game developers for our upcoming feature film documentary and had about 15 hours of raw interview footage. Since these interviews were conducted with professional audio/video equipment, I thought I'd be clever and use the software to transcribe them for me, even if it meant some clean up on my part. Naturally, I ran into the very real problem of "training". Without being able to train the software in the interviewee's voice, Dragon Naturally Speaking was hopelessly lost in trying to figure out the majority of what was said, making any type of automated transcription useless. In any case, enough about that, check out the article and wonder along with me if the excellent speech recognition in Microsoft's Kinect implementation on the Xbox 360 - which requires no training whatsoever - will ever do more than understand single words and simple sayings. Certainly there have been interesting attempts even in the recent past, albeit some sloppy ones.

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