Over 18,000 (classical) recordings in high-quality (320Kbps) DRM-FREE MP3 files. Seems to work out about $15 for an album, so not sure it’s a huge saving
Brian Eno’s inspiration pack
Kleptomania lets you select text anywhere on the screen, including areas that you cannot highlight with your mouse, such as columns of data from a word processor or error messages from any Windows program.
nice tourist maps in SimCity-like 3D
Photo: The Offside
In Soccer 1.0 the manager is king. But an Israeli football team is experimenting with a sort of crowd-sourcing, wisdom-of-the-Kop type approach, where fans monitor the game online and suggest starting line-up, tactics and substitutions.
Reuters reports from Tel Aviv that “diehard football fan Moshe Hogeg was so upset when star striker Lionel Messi was left off Argentina’s side for a World Cup match against Germany last year that he teamed up with an online gaming company to buy a club where fans decide over the Internet who will play and in what position.” Hogeg’s company, an Israeli social network for sports fans called Web2sport, teamed up with online backgammon website Play65 to buy Hapoel Kiryat Shalom, a team in Israel’s third amateur division.
Fans log on to the team’s website and make suggestions and vote in poll which are monitored by an assistant to the coach. Ahead of the season’s opening match some 6,000 people tried to log on to make suggestions. The team lost 3-2 to Maccabi Ironi Or Yehuda in injury time.
Needless to say, I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t think crowd-sourcing is going to replace the genius of Wenger, Mourinho or Ferguson. On the other hand, as a Spurs fan, I certainly think manager Martin Jol could do with some help.
Press Release: The First Web 2.0 Football Club in the World
From my PR intray, some surprisingly interesting little odds and ends:
LocalCooling is a 100% Free power management tool from Uniblue Labs that allows users to optimize their energy savings in minutes and as a result reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions. The software “automatically optimizes your PC’s power consumption by using a more effective power save mode. You will be able to see your savings in real-time translated to more evironmental terms such as how many trees and gallons of oil you have saved.”
Electronic Arts Inc. today announced SimCity for mobile, which “lets mobile phone users create and manage the growth of a living city in the palm of their hands. Originally created by Will Wright, SimCity is now available on major U.S. carriers.” Not sure how this works, as there’s nothing yet on EA’s site. It does sound a bit like milking a cash cow or is it flogging a dead horse?
CyberDefenderFREE is “a full internet security suite that can operate standalone, or complement existing security software to add an existing layer of early-alert security to the desktop.” As far as I can work out, this is a competitor to Windows Defender although it seems to include a collaborative element, where users report either manually or automatically dodgy software and sites they’ve come across. I think.
It’s interesting to see how jarring old-world business behaviour is in the new world of blogs, remixing, mashing and market conversations. But I guess it’s also a reminder that the durability of the new world is not to be taken for granted. The latest episode, from Slashdot is this: RISK on Google Maps Shut Down:
Hasbro owns the copyrights for the game of Risk, as the guy who wrote the google maps based Risk found out. This was featured on slashdot earlier. However, he does not seem too discouraged and asks people to submit ideas for other games using google maps that will not have such legal wrangles.” One thing this reminded me of is how cool Risk is. My office is now in its 3rd round… Africa will be mine!
The funny thing about all this, as One Tusk.com points out, creating the mash-up (using Google Maps for an online Risk-style game) was great publicity for the game itself:
As a result, he reminded everybody that there was a game called Risk and everyone had a great moment of nostalgia for board games as they paused from salivating over the next console game. But of course, we can’t have everyday people out getting people interested in our games–Hasbro’s probably gotten more play out of this than any advertising they cooked up themselves.
Hasbro, therefore, would have been much better advised to have considered the situation before leaping for their lawyers. Hasbro has made several variations on the classic board game: one Lord of the Rings version, one set in 2210 AD and one Star Wars version. There are two software versions, I and II. The latter was issued in 2000, a generation ago in gaming terms. Why didn’t they talk with the guy involved, thank him for reviving a near-dead brand, and either hire him or quietly tell him that by calling it something else, or a ‘Risk-like game’, he could keep going?
After all, there are several games out there that describe themselves as “Risk-like”, and, as far as I know they’ve not received any legal letters. There’s Attack! (which carefully only hints at its Risk-like nature), Mare Nostrum, Quest for the Dragon Lords and Empire XP (which decsribes itself as ‘a Windows version of the classic Risk board game’.) (More on Risk, and all the Risk clones, at Wikipedia.) All this makes the heavy-handedness even harder to understand.
It’s a logical move: marry the SIMcard with flash memory. Investor’s Business Daily reports that M-Systems is doing just that:
The company’s strike on the mobile phone market has a second front. It’s a new product, due to launch during the first half of 2006, that marries flash memory and a Simcard, which is used in 80% of cell phones. M-Systems calls it a Mega Simcard. <…>
“We’re looking at the Mega Simcard as one of our biggest growth generators in ’07 and ’08,” Maor said.
This does seem to have been around at least a year as an idea (although the correct name seems to MegaSIM card) and it was supposed to have been launched by now. The card would hold up to 256 megabytes (this is according to a story a year ago; I think it’s grown by now).
I guess it’s not just about extra storage — although that would make backing up or transferring contacts a lot easier, since they tend to be split between memory and SIM — but about loading up extra programs. The provider, for example, could issue the SIM with extra software already preloaded. For companies it may also make it easier to keep data secure and swap handsets between employees. And if this product sheet (PDF) is anything to go by, it would also contain Digital Rights Management components.
Here’s another addition to the directory of mind mapping software I’ve been building: Mind Pad, launched today by AKS Labs. I haven’t played very much with it, but while it starts out as a straightforward mind-mapping program, it offers more:
Creating and linking text blocks is easy with Mind Pad. But it can do more. Mind Pad allows you to organize in mind map objects with any properties set. With Mind Pad scripting you can create your own rules for data management and representation.
Mind Pad suggests a new approach to mind mapping. Now, mind map is not just a lot of linked text blocks. Mind Pad allows to create your own frame objects with unique properties that are most suitable for your business. You can organize those objects into some hierarchy or map.
For instance, with Mind Pad Model Editor you can easily create an object called “Contact Person” and assign to it some really useful properties, such as Person name, Company name, Next time to contact date. Then you can create a mind map using “Contact Person” frame object and link new objects with each other showing the relation between your contacts.
Check it out. There’s a trial version, a full copy costs $60.
I couldn’t help wondering about the privacy implications of airlines calling out people’s names over the airport PA system.
In Sydney and Melbourne airports recently I lost count of announcements along the lines of ‘Would Mr and Mrs X of flight X to X please go to gate X where their plane, and hundreds of their fellow passengers, are waiting patiently for them to board’, usually along with some humorous and belittling remark or two, which I have to say I found hugely amusing initially.
But then I got to thinking: What if it was me? What if it was someone who was having serious medical problems in the washroom? What if it was someone travelling incognito with someone who wasn’t their wife, or on some sensitive errand? What if someone already on the plane decided they’d be inconvenienced enough and jotted down the tardy passengers’ name to wreak revenge later?
Maybe it’s paranoia and an overworked privacy gland, but I’m not sure that, in this present version of the world, airlines and airports should be quite so fast and loose with announcements that identify individuals, their flight numbers and their embarrassment.
Interesting piece in yesterday’s Gold Coast Bulletin (no URL available without subscription) about the role of the Russian Mafia, or more specifically, criminal gangs from the former Soviet Union, in Australia.
It cites several cases of Denial of Service attacks in retaliation for refusal to pay blackmail or protection money:
When Multibet.com CEO Mike Miller early this year received a threatening demand for money from a group calling itself the Russian Mafia, he angrily told them to `stick their $US10,000 up their backside and and go bother someone else”. The response was immediate. He said his company was electronically attacked, disabling its website for 20 days. Unable to respond in any way, Multibet.com agreed to pay and sent the money via Western Union to a Latvian bank account.
A similar thing happened to Alice Springs-based sports betting organisation Centrebet: Refusal to pay brought the site down in five minutes, the report says. The newspaper also quotes police as saying that there have been four recent phishing cases on the Gold Coast , “an indication use of the scam was on the rise”. They said the arrested men which I mentioned earlier, a former Muscovite and a 22-year-old formerly from Belarus, were mates and had contacts with Russian Mafia members in Sydney and overseas.
There’s more on the DDoS attacks in The Australian: the attack on Multibet took place four times, and disabled the site for 20 days. The newspaper later reported the attack brought down the Telstra network in Alice Springs, where the two betting sites are located. Another betting site in Wollongong, Sportsbetting.com, was also brought down for refusing to pay. Interestingly another newspaper quoted the owner of Multibet as saying that two months after paying $20,000 to the gang he was attacked again. The original gang denied they were responsible, so he has since been “paying an American company $US3500 per month to install a protective screen to thwart the extortionists…” No further details on this ‘protective screen’ are available.
The Sims, Maxis’ game in which you guide a virtual version of yourself through life on your PC, holds something of a mirror up to our own existence. Not that it’s particularly pretty.
The second version of The Sims, due in stores by September 17th, has some new features, including genetics and the ability to see and film your virtual life. It’s the ultimate reality show: A virtual person in a virtual world, being filmed by virtual cameras to be shown to an audience of real people.
Like all good sitcoms, you have to choose one of five aspirations — Popularity, Fortune, Family, Knowledge, and Romance (no mix and match allowed) — which will in turn “cause your Sims to have wants and fears — Will you give your Sims a long successful existence or leave their life in shambles?” Good question.
But as in our own lives, the Sims are nailing down as many of the variables as they can. In The Sims 2 you can “direct your Sims through a lifetime and determine their evolution as they pass on genetic traits from one generation to the next”. Sims now “have DNA and inherit physical characteristics and personality traits. They both resemble and behave like their ancestors. Direct your Sims from infancy through childhood, teenage life, and adulthood. Take them through an infinite number of generations and evolve your Sims family tree.”
All this raises intriguing questions, such as do we play games like this to escape our lives, improve on them, or try to reflect them as closely as possible? Clearly the answer is easier for The Sims Online, where most people go to make out virtually with other people. There is an element of that in The Sims, but I’m not sure it’s the only motivation. The Sims 2 will sell for $50.