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Frog Shows Us How to Make Your Entire Room Kinectable with RoomE

posted Sunday Apr 21, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Frog Shows Us How to Make Your Entire Room Kinectable with RoomE

We've been highlighting really cool things about what you can do with Kinect, even before Microsoft released the developer's kit for the motion-tracking and voice-recognition hardware. This week is no exception, as I spotted something really cool on the Microsoft Blog.

If you ever wanted to know if you could make your entire room Kinectable and totally awesome, look no further than this. Frog designers and technologists, who work with the world's leading companies, to help them design, engineer, and bring to market meaningful products and services, came up with this idea, which they call RoomE. From their description of the video,

RoomE to explore the next pattern of computing. In RoomE, objects and surfaces serve as the interface. This environment offers the opportunity to experience the value of room-size computing and experiment with new interaction models to create an intuitive, humanistic system of control.

In the video, you can see a gentleman demonstrating the different functions of what you can do with RoomE. We see lights being turned on and off with voice, motion or a combination of both, and then he moves on to showing off the entire table in front of him, converted to a SUR40 with PixelSense via a projector. He's then able to give commands to the computer he puts on the table to lookup different information.

It's just another really cool concept and proof that the Kinect technology really is something viable that extends beyond your private workout sessions in your bedroom. The video is after the break and please feel free to share with us other incredible demonstrations of Kinect being used in the comments section below.

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Electronic Arts to Shutter Playfish Social Titles

posted Saturday Apr 20, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Electronic Arts to Shutter Playfish Social Titles

Since its introduction, SimCity Social has been a pretty big hit. Several of us here have been playing since the very beginning, and have dedicated more time than I think any of us would like to admit. This, and other Playfish titles, have all been popular enough that even Zynga was frightened enough to rip them off wholesale.

Former CEO John Riccitiello believed in PC titles enough to say,

Just five years ago people said that the PC game business was in a radical state of decline because NPD said it was down 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, year-in year-out... The fastest growing platform for video games today is the PC, but it's growing through subscriptions, through micro transactions and through downloads.

Apparently this doesn't involve Playfish's social offerings, or the company is trying to reverse his decisions. As a result, the company has announced it will shutter all of the Playfish social offerings, including SimCity Social, The Sims Social, NHL Superstars and Madden NFL Superstars. Each game got an identical message, with only the game titles and in-game currency being changed.

The community response has been exactly what any thinking person would expect: outrage. Most people commenting on the Playfish forums are demanding their money back for the diamonds, or whatever currency their game used, they purchased. Many others are saying that they will never play another EA title, or at least another EA online title, if this is going to be how they treat their players. There has also been a lot of references to the recent award that The Consumerist recently gave to EA, Worst Company In America, which they won in part because of the poor support for their products.

There is good news: EA has promised a special offer to affected players to get them into EA's other studio - PopCap. Based on the comments, however, it probably won't matter.

Are you affected by this shut down? Will you transition to PopCap or has this turned you off to EA social titles? Let us know in the comments below.

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Regions Bank Forgets to Renew Domain, Claims Intermittent Issues

posted Saturday Apr 20, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Regions Bank Forgets to Renew Domain, Claims Intermittent Issues

As everyone in the world knows, domain registrations expire annually. Now, you also have the ability to purchase multiple years at a time, making the process easier for the owner. With most registrars you can even setup automatic renewals so that you don't even have to interact with it manually. Somehow, with everything in place to make it easy to avoid, Regions Bank, an FDIC insured bank in 16 states, failed to renew their domain this week.

On Monday, customers began complaining about being unable to access their accounts online and, instead, were being shown a landing page. A spokesperson for Regions Bank said,

We are experiencing an intermittent network issue that is impacting some customers' ability to access our web site…We are working to resolve this issue quickly and apologize to our customers.

Actually, what happened is your domain expired. It isn't an intermittent network issue - it is a billing failure. When it happened, Network Solutions put up a temporary landing page, reminding the company to renew its domain. In the late morning, the company finally renewed with Network Solutions, hours after the initial issues were reported.

If you are a small business or an individual, the possibility of a domain expiring are a little more expected. This, however, was a bank - the people with the money who control ONLINE BILL PAY that forgot to PAY their ONLINE BILL. All of this is pretty impressive. At least we have another 10 years before this is a problem again, and there is almost no chance they will still be called Regions in a decade.

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LulzSec Hacker Who Breached Sony Pictures Website Gets One Year in Prison

posted Wednesday Apr 17, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

LulzSec Hacker Who Breached Sony Pictures Website Gets One Year in Prison

LulzSec, the group responsible for part of the Sony server breach in June of 2011, is in the news again this week. The hacker Recursion, or legally known as Cody Kretsinger, pleaded guilty in April of last year for conspiracy and illegal impairment of a protected computer. He told the court that he was the one responsible for accessing the Sony Pictures website and then passing the information over to the heads of LulzSec, who then posted the data on Twitter and LulzSec's website. One year later, and it's time for sentencing.

Thom Mrozek, the spokesman for the US Attorney's Office in Los Angeles, said that the 25-year-old has been sentenced to a year in prison and then home detention immediately after his time served. Kretsinger was additionally sentenced to serve 1,000 hours of community service upon his release from jail. Mrozek also said that Recursion, along with LulzSec as a whole, has cost Sony over $600,000, and with his guilty plea, he will have to pay $605,663 in restitution. No word on if Kretsinger's punishment has been reduced from him agreeing to work with authorities to give up others who are part of the organization as well.

This all comes on the heels of one of the leaders of Anonymous, Sabu, being caught by the FBI and the agency being able to flip him to provide information of other guilty parties in exchange for a lesser sentence. Sabu pleaded guilty to several charged all related to hacking and then gave up the names and addresses of those he knew were directly related to other Anonymous operations. Hector Monsegur, his real name, faces up to 124 years in prison for all of his wrongdoings, however because of the agreement, he is said to only serve a portion of that upon sentencing. His final hearing will be in August of this year, a year after his original sentence hearing was scheduled, only to be adjourned twice.

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Microsoft Sells Mediaroom IPTV business to Ericsson for $200 Million

posted Sunday Apr 14, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Microsoft Sells Mediaroom IPTV business to Ericsson for $200 Million

Ericsson and Microsoft have come to an agreement over Microsoft's IPTV asset, Mediaroom. In a deal worth close to $200 million, Ericsson will be acquiring Mediaroom to allow Microsoft to focus on continuing with the Xbox being the center for all family entertainment. Mediaroom is a company that makes software that communication businesses use to send TV signal over the Internet, with one of their biggest projects being the AT&T U-Verse service.

Per Borgklint, Senior VP of Ericsson said,

Mediaroom is the leading platform for video distribution deployed with the world's largest IPTV operators. This strategic acquisition positions Ericsson as an industry leader thanks to the skills and experiences of the talented people of Mediaroom combined with Ericsson's end to end service capabilities.

With the acquisition, Microsoft will put to rest a twenty year mission to bring itself to the forefront of the IPTV space. Ericsson will now pick up the business and the technology, and the deal should finish up later this year. The company, who is already the world's biggest mobile networks maker, will become the IPTV leader as well, owning 25 percent of the market. A statement from Microsoft said that 400 people are employed at Mediaroom, and that it is used by more than 40 operators and powers 22 million set-top boxes across the globe.

Corporate VP of Microsoft, Tom Gibbons, was pleased with the transition of Mediaroom over to Ericsson.

We are proud of the number one IPTV market position that we have achieved with Mediaroom. Ericsson's complementary portfolio of TV and networking services will help drive the future growth and development of Mediaroom. Ericsson is positioned to be a valuable strategic partner for operators and TV service providers around the world as the IPTV market evolves.

On the Microsoft Blog, Yusuf Mehdi made it clear that this move will remove all distractions from Microsoft and will put all of the spotlight on improving Xbox's entertainment and media offerings.

With the sale of Mediaroom, Microsoft is dedicating all TV resources to Xbox in a continued mission to make it the premium entertainment service that delivers all the games and entertainment consumers want - whether on a console, phone, PC or tablet. And with 76 million Xbox 360 consoles around the world with 46 million Xbox LIVE members, it is a mission that gets us out of bed in the morning.

Some have been suspecting that the Xbox could transition into its own set-top box or TV service. Microsoft already lets Verizon, Comcast and U-Verse customers (obviously) use the Xbox as a set-top box, but has the time come for Xbox Cable TV? We've said on the show that Microsoft could offer an Xbox Platinum membership, which would include Xbox Music and Video, and this additional service could be a nice bundled feature for the higher-priced tier. What do you think? Could we see Xbox TV in the future? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Emilio Estefan, Target and Monster Team Up with the Sound Machine Headphones

posted Sunday Apr 14, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Emilio Estefan, Target and Monster Team Up with the Sound Machine Headphones

For those who have been following us for a long time, you'll know that we're huge fans of Monster Cable. Say what you will about their cables (and we'll argue most of those points in a logical and scientific way at another point in time), but their headphones are really becoming unmatched by any other product. After departing from the Beats brand, the Head Monster, Noel Lee, had to look elsewhere to find names, looks and styles that could really captivate a new audience to let them experience an astonishing audio experience. Mr. Lee calls this Pure Monster Sound. This year at the International CES, we saw a whole new lineup of headphones coming to consumers this year, but it seemed like a certain genre was missing from the pack: Latin music. Starting today, however, Monster, along with Target, have filled that void.

Monster has teamed up with Target and GRAMMY-Award winning producer Emilio Estefan to introduce the Sound Machine by Monster headphones. Target will have a 60-day exclusivity with these higher-end models, with the on-ear and over-ear models priced at $149.99 and $249.99, respectively. With Latin music in mind, which is high in percussion and hard-hitting sounds, the Sound Machines help grow the relationship Target and Estefan have already created over the course of the past year and a half. On these headphones and the expanded partnership, Target's divisional merchandise manager of entertainment, Anne Stanchfield, said,

Emilio Estefan is an icon in the music industry as well as the Latin community, and our partnership has been met with great excitement. With the introduction of Sound Machine by Monster headphones, we are expanding our relationship to include a product Emilio played a role in creating.

The Head Monster also spoke on how working with Emilio Estefan will help Monster grow in a more diverse way.

Emilio Estefan's music has been and continues to be a tremendous influence on musicians all over the world. Being able to work with him to create Sound Machine by Monster headphones has been inspiring for everyone here at Monster, and thanks to our valued partnership with Target, we are looking forward to being able to bring Target guests a new way to enjoy all the music they love, with a unique headphone that epitomizes the heart and soul of Emilio's art.

Estefan added that the Sound Machine headphones cater exactly to the music that he produces it really brought together the "blend of rhythms that are synonymous with our culture and our city (Miami)."

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