Thursday, June 17, 2010

Apple's Snow Leopard patches include outdated Flash Player fix

Apple on Tuesday patched 28 vulnerabilities in is Snow Leopard operating system, including two in Adobe's Flash Player.

But in another example of the tension between the two companies -- sparked by Apple CEO Steve Jobs' rejection of Flash as slow, buggy and obsolete -- Adobe immediately countered by noting that Apple's Flash fixes were already outdated.


Memeo Connect brings Google-hosted cloud storage to desktops

Memeo Connect brings Google-hosted cloud storage to desktops

Demonstrating a seemingly small yet important evolutionary step from today's predominantly desktop-bound world of apps and storage to tomorrow's work of cloud-based IT services, Google partner Memeo has unveiled an intriguing upgrade to its Meme


What VMware sees from a possible buy of EngineYard

It's just a rumor for now, but EMC's VMware unit could be seeking new cloud technology as the company looks to further raise its profile -- in the cloud computing market generally and in the platform services space specifically. The rumored target, according to the GigaOm site: EngineYard.


Google gives admins more control with Commerce Search cloud service

Google will unveil on Thursday what it calls significant improvements to Commerce Search, a cloud-hosted search service that online retailers can sign up for to power their e-stores' search functions.


APB, Maple Story and the future of games

In Los Angeles and then at home this week, I've had a vision of the future of the games industry - and it's not great news for the console-makers. Everything about the industry is moving online - and while the likes of XBoxLive and Sony's PS3 online service are growing rapidly, a host of other players will be promising gamers that they can deliver a better or at least cheaper experience.

People like Dave Jones, who I met at the Los Angeles Convention Centre in a room packed with screens where his team were preparing to show off the fruits of years of work. Dave is a games industry legend, and I think I first met him in 1996, when I visited a small firm in Dundee which was then working on a new title called Grand Theft Auto.

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After selling the business behind GTA, Dave set up a firm called Realtime Worlds which now has offices both in Dundee and in Boulder, Colorado, and has won significant amounts of venture capital backing from Silicon Valley. For the last five years, a team of 200 has been working on a project in line with a philosophy outlined on the company's website like this:

"As avid game players, we believe the future of video games lies in massively multiplayer on-line gaming. Constantly evolving worlds with real players and communities offer an unrivalled experience that many players have yet to enjoy."

The result is APB - All Points Bulletin - which appears to deliver a similar experience to Grand Theft Auto, but exclusively online.

APB is stored in data centres in Europe and the United States and Dave Jones says making that run smoothly has been the biggest issue:

"There's been a great technology challenge to make it possible to have a seamless experience. It allows thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of players to connect and play together in a dynamic world."

When the game launches in July, players will pay £34.99 to download it with 50 hours of online play, and can then choose to pay a monthly fee or buy extra time in one-off payments.

It sounds like the model successfully pioneered by World of Warcraft, which has proved hugely profitable for its owners Activision. Realtime Worlds says it has got a twist, enabling gamers to earn extra hours by playing skilfully and by creating virtual goods that other players want.

There seems no reason why the 18-rated game should not win plenty of customers amongst the GTA and Call of Duty crowd, but younger gamers with less money to spend are also finding plenty to entertain them online.

I got home to find an 11-year-old asking me for help in spending £10 of his pocket money in an online world called Maple Story. This is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game) created in South Korea seven years ago, which has attracted millions of players around the world who battle monsters and complete quests. It has now apparently become a craze amongst British 11-year-olds, who are abandoning their Wiis to play this and other simple but compelling online games.

Maple Story is free but its makers are generating revenue through a virtual shop where players use real money to buy items for their characters. Anyone who remembers how keen they were at 11 to buy cards, stickers and all sorts of other ephemeral goodies will understand how powerful this kind of craze can be. Nexon, the Korean firm behind Maple Story and other free casual online games, earned revenues of nearly £400m last year.

So two examples of online games which are finding new ways of getting users to spend their money. But gamers do not have unlimited cash, and every pound that goes to APB or Maple Story is money that won't be spent on games for the Wii, the Xbox 360, or the PS3.


Starbucks to offer Wi-Fi for free (Christopher Null)

Christopher Null - Dadgummit, I remember the old days when you had to bust out a credit card or buy a burger in order to hop on the Wi-Fi network at your local retail or dining establishment.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

20 Windows 7 quick tips and tricks for IT admins

Administrators are constantly learning these days. Server virtualization, desktop VDI, Exchange, SharePoint -- it's a never-ending barrage of new material to take in.