Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why It's Called The Wii

If you have been following the console wars between the Nintendo Wii, the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, then you have probably heard the coined phrase "Wii60".

This might just be a cute way for 360 owners to say that they enjoy the combination of owning an Xbox 360 and a Nintendo Wii, but it might also be a subtle hint from Nintendo that they want a piece of 360 owners' game time (and money). This goes along with recent trends of many hardcore gamers who own more than 1 console. Aside from exclusives, there isn't much difference between the 360 and the PS3, but there is a great deal of difference between the Wii and the 360, so it is reasonable for Nintendo to aim at gamers who have already purchased a 360. The low cost and distinctive gaming experience makes the Wii a perfect secondary console.

Since both the 360 and the PS3 are higher in price, it's unlikely that people will buy both of these systems (although it will happen for sure). It might just be Nintendo's goal to be not only a primary console for casual gamers & Nintendo fanboys, but also a secondary console for 360 owners.

So did Nintendo do this on purpose? Did they see the opportunity to steal some attention from the extensive set of 360 owners and subsequently name their console after something that fits in nicely like "Wii60"? Well, it certainly sounds better than "Revolution60".

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Where's The Wiiboard?

With all of the talk about using Wii's Opera for browsing the internet, and using the Wii to replace your existing message board...where is the Wiiboard for this?

I'm waiting to see some sort of keyboard contraption for this, because I can't imagine I would be doing any internet browsing or message writing without one.

So what's the deal? Can I plug in my own USB keyboard into the Wii or what?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Why Don't Developers Care About Money?

This article struck a few nerves with me. It lists several things that developers want more than money, including the chance to learn new things, an environment that induces creativity, meaningful work, etc.

I think that it's great that there are software engineers out there who are passionate about what they do, and even better that there are companies out there that help fuel that passion. It's nice to see that there are people out there who enjoy their jobs, and not because their job is easy or pays tons of cash, but because they just like it.

My second reaction is a little more cynical, and you probably won't like it, but I have to wonder...do these software engineers have no bills to pay, or families to support, or mortgages, or college tuitions to save up for? I've heard of software engineers who take significant pay cuts or turn down better paying jobs just so they can work in a more fun, more enjoyable, more relaxed, more flexible, more motivating, more meaningful, more exciting work environment.

Now I'm not saying that I have a problem with people seeking jobs that they like over jobs that pay well, I just want to know how they do it and still sleep at night. I suppose every situation is different, and there are many people who are willing to sacrifice their paycheck for a more enjoyable work environment, but what happens when these sacrifices effect your family? Can you still provide your family with everything they want/need? Can you help your kids through college or are they left to pay their own way? Are you passing up an opportunity for a better home in a better neighborhood with better schools?

I think I would feel terribly guilty if I chose a better work environment for myself over being able to provide my family with everything they want and need. Of course if a pay raise meant that I was constantly miserable and put me through depression, I don't suppose that would do much good either. But I'm not talking about a job that makes you miserable, I'm just talking about leaving your job where you have nerf wars during lunch break to a job that is a little less exciting but pays more.

Some of these possible pay raises probably won't be life changing, and maybe I'm exaggerating slightly when I say that changing your job means you get a better home and a better life, but sometimes it does. I just couldn't see myself preserving my own enjoyment at the cost of others who are important to me, but some people do...does that seem right to you?

Monday, October 30, 2006

Is the price of the Wii TOO low?

The Nintendo Wii's low price of $250.00 is arguably the greatest reason to buy a Wii over a PS3, which will cost approximately $600.00. Many have said that it is a great move by Nintendo to make a less expensive system with more emphasis on innovative gameplay and less emphasis on graphics and processing power.

No matter how you slice it, the Wii is the more practical buy, but this doesn't necessarily make it the better buy, and it especially does not mean that more people will buy it. Consider this situation under different circumstances.

When people buy cars, do they always buy the ones that can go from point A to point B? No, they buy cars that get from A to B, but also have flash and a stigma of superiorority. "I drive a Mercedes, therefore I am rich and important. You drive a Honda, so you must be less rich and less important." People buy expensive cars because they're expensive. People just naturally like to show off. Of course, not all people are like this, but many are.

When people buy beer, do they buy whatever gets them drunk? Whatever tastes good? Whatever is the cheapest? Sometimes, but there are also many who buy beer that is expensive because it's expensive. I'm reminded of an advertisement by Stella Artois, "Reassuringly Expensive." Especially people that want to impress others will buy expensive beer just to be seen drinking an expensive beer. Practical? I think not.

What does this mean for the Wii? Well it means that some people are going to overlook it because it's inexpensive and practical. It's like the Honda of cars or the Bud Light of beers. It's something that is affordable and therefore non-exclusive. It may not make a great deal of sense, in fact it might be downright stupid, but people will buy the PS3 over the Wii just because the PS3 is the more expensive unit. The PS3 will attract the crowd that likes to show off and spend lots of money on the impractical. The Wii will attract the crowd that likes games for their content and buys things that are practical. Which would you rather have as a customer?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Bloggers Repeating Themselves

If you're a reader of many blogs (and if you're reading this one, then you probably are), you have likely noticed the amount of repitition that goes on in the blogging community. This is an expected outcome when there are multitudes of people who constantly post their thoughts, ideas, and opinions. With all of these posts, it's very difficult to come up with something very original. Even if you aren't copying somebody elses ideas, there is a high risk that the idea that you are posting has been stated by at least one other person, if not many others. And yes, I am certainly aware that the very notion I am speaking of may have already been discussed.

But that's the problem! There's so much discussion going on, it is just plain impossible to be sure that it hasn't already been discussed before. A while back I wrote an article titled Would You Put WoW On Your Resume? Little did I know that almost 2 years earlier there was an article written in Wired Magazine about the same exact thing, so of course I got a whole lot of "Old news" and "Unoriginal" comments.

This is the fear that I go through every time I come up with ideas to post on. It's pretty disheartening to go through the process of writing something that I think is original, creative, and exciting, only to find that it's old news. Imagine that feeling on a larger scale. It's as if you've come up with the discovery of a lifetime. The invention that will change the world. But once you do some research you find out that it's already been tried...a very long time ago, and guess what...it didn't change the world. Talk about a total bummer.

Most articles that I write, I don't write unless I think there is something valuable to communicate. I suppose this should be the goal of bloggers (although more times than not, it isn't). If I think it's valuable information, I get excited about it, because I'm the one holding the key to this information. It's a rather empowering feeling, and can certainly boost self-esteem if I'm right and it actually is valuable to other people. So, when I come to find out that this information is already known, and I'm not the almighty holder of important knowledge, it hurts. My revolutionary idea is just plain ordinary...

All this has effected me by making me weary to post anything that might be unoriginal. Unoriginal is boring and if something I write is tagged as unoriginal and boring (by either myself or somebody else), than I might as well have done something productive with my time instead of repeating words that have already been said or stating things that are obvious to others. So, in a way, it deters me from writing my thoughts as much as I would like to. What about you? Do you often hold back your opinions & ideas (whether it's on your blog or in a conversation with friends) for fear of stating the obvious or repeating somebody else?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Microsoft: The up and coming 'Me Too!' company?

The latest release of Internet Explorer 7 is another example of Microsoft moving from the software leader to yet another 'Me Too!' company. It's obvious that IE7 has been due for years now. It took some heavy competition from other browsers to light a fire underneath them. Without Firefox or Opera, we would still be stuck with IE6 for years to come.

Not only are they lagging behind in web browsers, but it seems like everywhere you look, Microsoft is lagging behind heavily, and is starting to play copycat with other software companies, most notably Google. The most prominent example of this is Microsoft's response to Google's wide range of rich web applications. What was their response? Well, we're doing that too! Only better!

Michael Robert wrote an excellent book a while back called The Power Of Strategic Thinking. The premise behind the book is essentially that in order to overcome your competitors, you need to change the rules of the game. It seems like a simple concept, but it's actually very difficult to do (like I would know).

So the truth behind the success of Microsoft's competitors is in their ability to change the rules. It's hard to compete with Microsoft's desktop office suite by creating another desktop office suite. Why? Well, because Microsoft has been there for years, they're good at it, and they've proven that to their customers. So what does Google do? They latch on to an online office suite and a variety of other web applications. Whether or not this will overcome Microsoft's stronghold on these areas has yet to be seen, but one thing is certain. The rules are changing and not in Microsoft's favor. In many respects, Microsoft is not very different from all of the other small 'Me Too!' companies that see another company's success and copy them, hoping to grab some of the share.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Vista & PS3: Are graphics that important?

A recent article on Wired mentions that:

"A separate graphics processor, usually reserved for the gamer set, is almost always needed to take full advantage of Vista's graphics capabilities"

So, if you want to run Vista the way it is meant to be run (with pretty graphics), you're going to need a powerful PC with a powerful graphics card. This is bad news for consumers, because it will obviously drive up the costs of running a Vista system as the prerequisites for your system are even more demanding. Many XP users run on weak graphics cards, because they only use their PC for internet and word-processing/spreadsheet applications, none of which requires a strong graphics card. The powerful graphics cards were, as the quote states, reserved for gamers.

As we have been hearing for months now, the PS3 will also have a strong emphasis on graphics. Like Microsoft, Sony is willing to put the burden on consumers to spend more money for what they are trying to deliver.

This particular issue spins back to one of the most prevalent debates in the console wars: What's more important? Graphics or price? There have been valid arguments on both sides, but it seems that Microsoft and Sony have aligned on the same path, that being an emphasis on graphics.

The results of these decisions still remain to be seen, but I've always erred to the side of content & price over graphics, especially when it comes to something as fundamental as my operating system. Graphics might matter to the gamers, but I'm not convinced that your average Windows user will care to spend a load of cash for pretty buttons.

Of course I could be wrong, and graphics are that important...