Blackberry Bold: The iPhone Killer

Mobile, Technology 4 Comments »

In the battle for the next Smartphone The Shelf takes a look at how the iPhone 3G has pushed the RIM Blackberry, as each tries to become the default handset for salesmen and business people around the world.

With the launch of the 3G iPhone it became clear that the RIM Blackberry needed something new to pervail in this highly lucrative sector. Now, dubbed the ‘iPhone killer’, the Blackberry Bold aims to target more that just a business user, it has been designed for ordinary people, and is Research In Motion’s most ambitious attempt yet.

This new device has all the trademarks of Blackberry devices that have preceded it, but as well as that RIM has gone a step further making the Blackberry Bold the best entertainment device they have ever made.

As with the iPhone the handset comes with a camera and GPS, email, good look and usability, and web browsing and multimedia capabilities.

“The Bold has been designed with this almost entirely in mind: loading music for instance, has been made really easy – it will pull songs straight from your existing iTunes library; surfing the web is more satisfying than on other BlackBerrys, because the Bold uses the 3G mobile phone network as well as Wi-Fi to get online; and the interface has been given a makeover.”

The BlackBerry Bold does look a lot better than any of its predecessors, and it does more than the iPhone, but the design of it is still suited to the business user and not the consumer.

The iPhone 3G is however better for the consumer thanks to superb multimedia capabilities, but if future firmware updates give Apple’s iPhone the ability to edit documents on the go, it could become the business choice as well.

BBC iPlayer to Offer Higher Quality Content

Technology, The Interwebs, TV & Film 1 Comment »

The BBC iPlayer has been provided with a recent upgrade courtesy of an Adobe Flash upgrade. The upgrade has provided the iPlayer with a reason to encode its video content at a higher bit rate for its popular iPlayer VOD service.

At 800kbps and in H.264 format, the BBC promises better and sharper images which will be ideal for large size, HD ready screens and simultaneously, the BBC will start using AAC+ for audio.

This development also means that both the iTouch and the iPhone will be provided with better quality content via the iPlayer.

The move away from VP6 compression technology is due partly to the fact H.264 and AAC+ are fairly open platforms compared to the aforementioned one which was developed by On2.

Version of the iPlayer that are to be developed in the future will also detect which bit rate to stream automatically, enabling the new iPlayer to cater for a wide range of broadband speeds throughout the country.

“The advantage for the audience will be a noticeable improvement in audio and video quality. Furthermore, it should become easier for the media to simply work across a broader range of devices. While it’s not a magic bullet, it certainly is a significant step in the right direction.”
- BBC director of future media and technology Erik Huggers

The Shelf has previous highlighted how Internet Service Providers had suggested that they should not carry sole responsibly for paying for the extra costs that come as a result of the popularity of the iPlayer’s success. (Titled ISPs vs BBC iPlayer)

Well, after this ISPs could be even more miffed, since it means that in effect, the bandwidth consumed by the average iPlayer user could jump by nearly 60 percent overnight piling pressure on them.

Predictions for Robotics

Technology 3 Comments »

The future of robotics could see robots taking an active role in law enforcement and the provision of social order according to predictions by AI Professor Noel Sharkey from Sheffield University.

After a two month long study of the evolution of robotics it was predicted that in the future robots that have the ability to access large amounts of data instantaneously to identify people could play an active role on UK streets.

The core prediction made focus around the computing power that could be made implemented into portable units, allowing for near instant facial recognition, body scanning for foreign objects such as weapons, and even detection of explosive substances. It is thought that these units could then be dispatched to public places, providing extra levels of security that are not currently possible.

It was also thought that any such robots would be armed, and with super human strength would be able to make arrests and break up groups with anti-social behaviour.

It was predicated that robots of this type could be in place within 30 years. It is thought that is likely to be more likely to be 60 years be enough advancements are made to replace other enforcement roles such as traffic ticketing.

At the time of robotic ticketing it is predicted that advancements will have been made enabling autonomous police cars, which would be capable of immediate number plate recognition. They could then stop cars to make arrests for a variety of misdemeanours as well as bring joyriding to an end.

Te 80 year prediction says that robots will be made from inorganic materials and have human face expressions and will patrol calmer streets armed with bionic tools. They will be able to take DNA tests and use respiration, heart rate and temperature as lie detector technologies.

“Hollywood movies and TV shows such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles have been dismissed as fantastical over the years, but this report, based on existing research and current technological developments, suggests that robots will play a much bigger role in society over the next 75 years than previously anticipated.”

“These robot developments could be extremely beneficial in the protection of citizens and police in the hands of benevolent governments. But in the wrong hands, as warned in the Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, robot law enforcement could be a major blow to individual privacy and basic human rights.”

Online Gaming Piracy: How Bad Is It?

Gaming, Piracy 2 Comments »

On the back of yesterday’s article on Ubisoft’s law suit against OEM, The Shelf continued to dig to find out more about the world of online piracy in the gaming industry.

Online piracy has been a topic widely discussed in recent years, particularly in relation to the music industry. The case brought forward by gaming giant Ubisoft did however provide a rare chance to investigate further into the world of gaming piracy.

At a first glance gaming piracy doesn’t seem as wide spread a problem as that of music piracy. This could be due to the increased file size of game downloads that make downloading a little more difficult than that of music. It could also be due to sophisticated copyright prevention measures the industry already has in place. So is online gaming piracy a big problem after all?

If you ever wanted to know how many pirate downloads the top games are receiving then RPS (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2008/03/05/the-yarr-ts-piracy-snapshot-532008/) has compiled a chart of the most downloaded game titles.

Top of the list is Assassin’s Creed with 25734 downloads followed by Frontlines: Fuel of War (12688) and Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat (8792) making up the top three. The figures were compiled through file sharing site Miniova, and represent the amount of downloads made in a single day.

The full top twenty

1) Assassin’s Creed – 25734
2) Frontlines: Fuel of War – 12688
3) Call of Duty 4: Modern Combat – 8792
4) Dark Messiah of Might and Magic – 8402
5) Lost: Via Domus – 5883
6) Turning Point: Fall of Liberty – 5183
7) Sims 2 – 4026
8 ) The Club – 3672
9) Bioshock – 3489
10) The Witcher – 3121
11) Need for Speed ProStreet – 3061
12) Crysis – 2847
13) Conflict: Denied Ops – 2085
14) Neverwinter Nights 2 – 1893
15) Hellgate: London – 1750
16) World in Conflict – 1531
17) Stranglehold – 1459
18) The Orange Box – 1341
19) Age of Empires – 1099
20) Flat Out 2 – 1074

Top twenty UK games sales

THE SIMS 2: FREETIME
WORLD OF WARCRAFT: BATTLE CHEST
SINS OF A SOLAR EMPIRE
THE SIMS 2: BON VOYAGE
CIVILIZATION IV COMPLETE
CALL OF DUTY 4: MODERN WARFARE
ASSASSIN’S CREED
COMMAND & CONQUER 3: TIBERIUM WARS
RACE DRIVER: GRID
MASS EFFECT
WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR SOULSTORM
CRYSIS
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR X
WARHAMMER 40,000: DAWN OF WAR COMPLETE
AGE OF EMPIRES III
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIMULATOR X DELUXE
AGE OF CONAN: HYBORIAN ADVENTURES
SIM CITY SOCIETIES
CHAMPIONSHIP MANAGER 2008

*Note* Sins of A Solar Empire – is absent, despite sitting #3 in the UK retail charts

With the download figures taken from a single days download activity it is mind-blowing to see how many time the top titles are downloaded.


“Call of Duty 4 has been on sale for 113 days, assuming day zero piracy. A seven gig torrent, assuming a 100k download speed, takes just under a day to download. Assuming that the rate of downloads now is constant across those whole three and a bit months – which is incredibly conservative, of course, as it’d have been much higher upon release – that means 993496 copies will have been illegally downloaded via Mininova alone. Which is the sort of number that makes Infinity Ward sad.”

The problem with discussing piracy with game titles is that it is generally agreed that each download it not equal to a sale lost, generally because or people using multiple torrents, meaning it’s possible that trying multiples at once to see which one gives the game first. That said even if a tenth of downloads converted to a real sale it would benefit the industry massively.

On RPS the point is highlighted that even with these conservative figures, with a game like COD4 released for 113 days, assuming it was never more popular than the sample day taken, it has been downloaded 993,496 times. Again assuming it stood at zero at time of launch. Plus, that’s through one single torrent site!

There is a discussion forum about the topic at bit tech for those who want to get involved

Ubisoft Sue Over Pirate Downloads Assassin’s Creed

Gaming, Piracy, The Interwebs 2 Comments »

As big fans of Ubisoft recent PS3 offering Assassin’s Creed, news of the games manufacturer suing US duplication firm Optical Experts Manufacturing for $10 million after an early PC version leaked onto the internet, was news that certainly interested us.

Ubisoft has claimed that USD was directly responsible for the leak that happened in late February 2008, six weeks prior to the games official release.

According to a report on Gamespot, OEM ignored security protocols which would have prevented the leak. The contract that Ubisoft signed with OEM apparently stipulated that the code for the game would be held in top-level security and that no copies of the game would be allowed to leave the premises without permission. It is thought that an employee of the firm took the game home and uploaded it to internet.

The source of the leak was tracked down to the house of an employee of OEM. An OEM-manufactured copy of the game was later found at the employee’s residence, though the suit doesn’t specify when that copy was found.

Ubisoft has said that the security breach is directly responsible for 700,000 pirates downloads of game, including 25,000 downloads in one day from torrent site Yowzers.

Ubisoft described the breech as “an extraordinary breach of trust and gross negligence”

It also became clear in the report that the copy released was not the finished version of the game, and as a fail safe included a deliberate bug for security reasons causing the game to crash half way through.

As the game was released a short time after the breech it is believed that numerous reviews were written on the pirate version, causing “irreparable harm” to Ubi’s reputation.

As part of the legal action OEM now faces the full wrath of Ubisoft’s legal muscle, and is being sued for breach of contract, negligence and copyright infringement, with damages and legal fees also sought for the three claims to the tune of USD10 million.

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