I just wanted to start off the post with some great news: I received by badge for PAX! So it's now a sealed deal. I'll be twittering updates directly from the exhibit hall and I'll probably blog at the end of it about the things I saw that I'm most excited about. I've always wanted to go to E3 so to finally be able to go to what's probably now the largest gaming convention in North America is pretty cool. I really love putting up original content so this will be a fun learning experience for me, too, on that front.
In other slightly notable news, I bought Devil May Cry 4 on Friday and it's definitely like Devil May Cry 3 but much prettier. It may end up being easier, too, we'll see. I'm going to probably be more focused on Metal Gear Solid 4.
One last personal note: I finished reading 'Salem's Lot and I was really impressed by it. I feel like every Stephen King book I read is my favorite King book, but this one really is ;) If you're interested in vampires or horror, this is a must-read. It's actually less about mayhem and more about the characters and how the town copes with the anomalies that start to occur.
A Red Letter Day
If you don't know what Net Neutrality is, I urge you to watch my short film explaining it in laymen terms.
And now for my headline story: August 1, 2008 was a red letter day for the fight over net neutrality. In a shocking ruling, the Kevin Martin's FCC ordered Comcast to stop blocking content (they were blocking P2P connections quite regularly in some areas) and publicly disclose how it handles Internet traffic. It's shocking because it's the government telling the people that they're right, and Kevin Martin isn't necessarily known for standing against the industry but I think that Congress was suspicious of this so I guess he's changed his ways. Also, this ruling sets a precedent against blocking Internet traffic and support the FCC's so-called four freedoms.
As you can imagine, some people are excited and some people are really pissed. Comcast and other ISPs have already begun rattling their sabers and are considering litigation. I imagine that they'll question the FCC's authority to pass such a ruling, but they having stated publicly (yet) what legal recourse they have. Time Warner has gone so far though as to say that the ruling will have a "chilling effect" on investors and innovation (funny, they haven't had problem with either before restricting content). Anyway, I'm pretty excited about the decision and look forward to this being the start of a bright future for the Internet, if this trend continues.
One more thing on the FCC: they're proposing a nationwide wireless Internet service with the pornography filtered out. This makes sense coming from a typically conservative FCC, but it definitely steps on the fingers of the first amendment, as some advocacy groups are fighting for. It must be rough fighting for the rights of people who film sex, but any censorship on the Internet could lead to a slippery slope and such access control should be left to parents. I mean what problem would doing this solve? There's Internet not controlled by the government that's not censored, so there's always a way for determined minors to get around it. Also, why are we wasting money on a national broadband service? Why not just promote more competition in ISPs?
Apple has been having some trouble with its MobileMe service. I don't use it myself but users have been abuzz with near daily outages for some users. It's at the point that Jobs is personally overseeing the fixes, probably with a long whip. It amazes me that they would release this sort of service without stress testing it more thoroughly. My guess is that it was triggered by 1G iPhone users upgrading to 2.0, because my brother's update was taking forever. I guess it runs on the same hardware as MobileMe? By the way, if you want your own iPhone but don't want to go to AT&T, then you'll have to wait until at least 2010.
One last bit of Apple news, and this one has been everywhere: they're telling retailers to stock up on their MacBooks and iPods, theoretically in preparation for fresh merchandise. This would mean some sort of drastic change on both lines, but why would it be drastic enough for consumers to not want it? They are expecting lower profits next quarter, so maybe they're just being bear-ish about it? Also, if they expect demand to be so high for the existing lines, why not keep this a secret from the retailers (i.e. the public) and just stock up in their own warehouses? Something is fishy about this...could it be a smoke screen?
Firefox's Market Share Grows
Firefox is going strong with its market share exceeding 20% while Internet Explorer shrinks to below 70%. This is pretty impressive considering that they were under 10% just a few years ago. The Firefox team is also gearing up for version 3.1, which includes visual tab switching (kind of Aero-like) and wildcard searching in your address bar for past URLs. They're minor adjustments, but I'm really looking forward to the latter.
Microsoft has been working on a project called Midori that is supposedly an alternate OS to Windows. The speculation is that it'll be an Internet-based OS as Microsoft observes the growing trend of virtualization, and if that's true then this is probably the first time in a long time that Microsoft is really thinking ahead of the curve. If we could sell thin clients then even more households could have computers and laptops for less.
Adsense for Games
Google is looking into how to put advertising into games, something that I thought would've already been implemented by now by somebody. They've already developed a technology to insert video ads (probably in "beta", knowing Google), but I personally think that video ads will just alienate customers frustrated with it and wishing they could pay to just get rid of them. Why not do things like product placement, billboards, and other forms of more subtle advertising without having the game characters cop out and say "and now a word from our sponsors!" I could get behind something like that if it significantly reduced the price of a video game or if it made the game free with a paid, ad-free version, but I can't find any more details so hopefully we'll learn more soon.
In other Google News, their Street View (in Google Maps) has been approved for the UK, which isn't too surprising given that the government there already has cameras everywhere to monitor the people, but people have been suing Google in the U.S. without much success. I don't think Street View is all that bad, unless it's regularly updated. One more thing from Google: they've been investing in eco-friendly vehicles, including the awesome 300 MPG Aptera. I think this is kind of straying from their core business a bit much, but I guess diversification isn't a bad thing.
There's just two more things I wanted to mention. The first is Gizmodo's explanation of every cable you'll probably encounter right now. It has a lot of information you never know you wanted to know, so it's at least worth a glance. The other thing is the best primer to the Linux command line that I've ever seen. If you're scared to touch a Linux machine, then read it and don't be afraid anymore!