Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The dangers of fantasy

Database News : Thursday December 06, 2007


The dangers of fantasy

Games like Guitar Hero should not be considered alternatives to the real thing


Guitar Hero 3 has taken the world by storm - where you can get it that is - making over $110 million in the first week of sales. It was recently featured on South Park - not bad for a piece of plastic connected to a game.

Being skilled at Guitar Hero doesn't have any relationship to being able to play a real guitar, or a real instrument for that matter. It is also an example of the general dumbing down of our children. Why learn to play a guitar when you can become an expert at Guitar Hero? Many of the best musicians here in Thailand, for example, are found in the close to 40 and the over 50 age brackets. There are very few in the younger ranks.

While computers and the Internet have been positive in some aspects it has detracted from a lot of other areas. No need to read a book now when a quick search will provide the answer and even the paragraph from a real book that you need for your assignment. The whole context for that paragraph given by the book, however, is then lost.

Instead of getting out and playing soccer many children of today are sitting behind a computer screen playing virtual soccer. Playing against Rooney is way better that kicking a real ball outside and so computers have contributed to the general lack of health now found in many Western children. And the problem is starting to spread.

Parents are happier as well now that their child is inside in front of a computer instead of being outside somewhere where they cannot be seen. There is also a misunderstanding of the safety aspect associated with being "safe" indoors. Predators exist just as much in the digital world as they do in the real world outside.

Access to less than ideal materials is also easier. In the past you had to find someone to buy it for you, now all you need is the right URL to get it for free. Nanny programs and even government attempts to block access only work for a short time until the right bypass is found. The amount of access to bad influences is equal or greater than the value in access to a free flow of information.

While I am not in any way advocating control of the Internet or the blocking of materials, it is important to realise that access is easier for children. So get them outside from time to time, encourage participation in a real sport or learning a real instrument. This will help to balance any time spent in the fantasy world that a computer provides for them.

Oops, they did it again. The UK government has lost the details of 25 million people contained on two disks. The information subsequently turned up on eBay. The information was password protected and not encrypted, which meant it did not take long to crack and become public. The disks had been sent by normal mail between departments and ended up missing. No one noticed for three weeks. This does not make me feel very safe. has come up with the first realistic download model for movies. Following the Russian Organisation for Multimedia and Digital Systems (ROMS) procedures, the firm is selling non-DRM $1.99 iPod-quality movies up to $4.99 for DVD quality. It boasts a 1500 title library. The equivalent US system would be $9.95 and $19.95 and come encoded in DRM copy protection.

At $19.95 the price is greater than that of a fully featured DVD, only at less the quality, without the extras and of course with DRM encoding. At $5 a movie, the prices are reasonable for what you are getting - a lower quality result, with less features and no media. This is why download models are not working, the pricing model is all wrong.

In this case there is some doubt of the legality of the enterprise and I'm sure that it will be closed down sometime in the future, but the model and the pricing are about right. At US 50c a track the same model would be about right for music tracks. If the respective industries ever figure this out, the models will work. Right now they aren't.

Industry news

Blu-ray lost the storage war recently when the DVD Forum steering committee finally allowed the 51 GB standard for HD-DVD to become official. This storage capacity has been available for a couple of years in an unofficial capacity. On the negative side this will mean that your current two layer players will not be ale to read the third layer. Expect a flood of three layer players soon. At 50Gb, Blu-ray no longer has the storage lead - for the time being at least.

So what can you do with your inexpensive Asus Eee PC? One enterprising person removed Linux and installed the latest Leopard OS from Apple. After a bit of testing he then went back to Tiger to get better response. The installation took up half the internal drive space and only required an external DVD drive and a number of patches to reconfigure the Apple OS to operate on a processor lacking Intel's SSE 3 multimedia extensions. All in all easier than unlocking an iPhone.

Do you remember the game company ID? The one that brought us Doom, Wolfenstein and then Quake. The company has a new division set up to port all of these classics to the mobile phone. Not sure that this will be a big hit but it will bring back some memories.

Be careful with that work laptop. If you lose it you might very well be the one charged rather than the thief for not taking due care and using the right kind of protection. With theft and the subsequent data loss on the rise, countries like the US are starting to look to the notebook carrier to take more care with sensitive data.

It is not only Microsoft that has problems with software updates that require a fix a week or two later. The firmware update 2.01 for Sony's PS3 came out two weeks after the 2.0 release, with the later one looking at instability problems. Sound familiar? The Sony update focused on problems like freezing or crashing during game play and better stability when using PS2 games. Note that the new 40GB model does not support these titles.

A beta version of Firefox 3 is available. This new major release includes an updated Gecko rendering engine, better security features that will talk to your anti-virus software along with anti-phishing upgrades. Better zooming and tab control and a whole host of other issues fixed or upgraded. What I want to know is if I will finally be able to show the items in the sites visited drop down in most used to least used order, please.

Buy a Toshiba laptop or PC that has a HD-DVD drive and get five HD-DVDs for free chosen from 13 titles. Not in Thailand but in the UK for the moment. This is one way to get a format out there in a market that is still very slow to respond.


By : Bangkok Post

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