The Great Snow Leopard Unboxing

By Mike on 4:36 pm

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I would have done this yesterday but unfortunately I missed the Purolator guy given that I'm out of the house from 7am to 6:30pm usually. I've been living at home while attending school given how expensive housing is. You'd think one of my retired parents would have heard the doorbell but apparently they're both completely deaf. Anyways, enough about that rant. In my hands right now is Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard. I asked someone pick it up from the courier office for me (at a stationary store that's thankfully open Saturdays) while I was at work today. So let's get ahead with the pictorial unboxing.

When I got home from work today, I was greeted by this box.

Did Apple make a mistake and ship my a Mighty Mouse or maybe a USB super drive by accident? Look at the size of this beast!

This standard sized Blu-ray case compared to the box speaks (excessive) volumes.

So I cut open the box and I was unfortunately not greeted with some expensive swag but rather the Snow Leopard DVD in a typical paper sleeve and packing slip.

Not even any peanuts or bubble wrap? Darn. Those are fun to play with. The disc and packing slip were shrink wrapped to a piece of cardboard.

Snow Leopard in all it's glory complete with all the other junk that came with it. For a company that markets itself as being "green", Apple sure went to excess sending me this when a simple padded envelope would have sufficed. It would have cost them less to ship to boot. I don't even think Leopard came with this much packaging, or even my Macbook for that matter. This isn't as bad as shipping a single mouse on a pallet but it's still pretty bad. I'd say this is why Apple products are so expensive but then again HP is even more guilty of the crime of excess packing.

I'm backing up my Macbook right now but I'll have a full review of Snow Leopard down the road once I get it installed.

Ifixit's PS3 Slim Teardown

By Mike on 9:59 pm

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The folks at Ifixit love taking new tech apart as soon as they can get their hands on it. The PS3 Slim is no exception. You can see that a lot of changes have been made internally over the generations.

The heat sink in the new version is considerably smaller thanks to the 45nm cell processor, which also draws considerably less power.

And here's a look at the motherboard from a launch 60gb.

Notice the Emotion Engine and GS chips missing. Also the mystery chip on the top right has also disappeared. The motherboard is considerably smaller in the slim as well.

Update: The Mystery chip on the launch is the South Bridge, aka the I/O Controller. I'm not sure where it's been moved to on the Slim.

Game Cars: Sully's Grumman Goose

By Mike on 9:00 pm

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Nathan Drake's treasure hunting has taken him to the far corners of the world. Nathan Drake is searching for the remains of Francis Drake off the coast of Panama. Legend has it that Drake's lead coffin was buried at sea empty, containing only the infamous explorer's diary that leads the way to the treasure of El Dorado. Elana Fischer is sent by her employers, who are also financing Nathan Drake's mission, to film a documentary about it. Shortly after discovering the coffin and diary, the two are attacked by pirates looking to score the treasure for themselves. Nate and Elana manage to fend them off for a while until their boat is set on fire. Just in the nick of time, Nate's old friend Victor "Sully" Sullivan swoops down in his red and white Grumman Goose flying boat to rescue the pair while their boat sinks into the abyss. After Sully is killed for not paying off his gambling debts, Nate and Elana are forced on the fun and take his Goose to an uncharted pacific island to search for El Dorado, the golden man. As soon as they arrive, the plane is shot down by pirate anti-aircraft guns leaving the two stranded on the mysterious island.

The Grumman Goose was an amphibious flying boat designed in 1936 as an eight-seat commuter plane for business passengers. It was originally envisioned to act as a corporate aircraft or "flying yacht" for Manhattan millionaires. During the period, flying boats were seen as the future since their ability to land almost anywhere made their range effectively unlimited. Long before the jet age, they dominated the airways, taking passengers to far flung corners of the globe. As an amphibious aircraft, the Goose had a boat-like hull and wing mounted floats for water landings. Two retractable wheels and a non-retracting tail wheel were mounted on it allowing it to take off and land on conventional ground based runways. The plane had a wingspan of 49ft and an approximate length of 38ft. It was powered by two Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior SB2 radial engines rated at 450hp each. The Goose has a top speed of 184mph, a range of 1050 miles, and a service ceiling of 21,000ft. Like many civilian planes of the era, it was adapted for military use during the second world war as a trainer and for combat roles. Namely submarine hunting during the Battle of the Atlantic along with other flying boats such as the PBY Catalina. It could be equipped with two .50 cal machine guns and two 250lb depth charges. Following World War II, it took the role of a light civilian transport workhorse. 345 aircraft were built in total with 60 still flying today.

Overweight? Depressed? Stop Gaming You Fool!

By Mike on 5:24 pm

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Feeling a little bloated and sad lately? Your PS3 or Xbox 360 might be your "X Factor" according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to a study by the CDC in conjunction with Andrews University and Emory University, it was found that gamers on average are 35 years of age, overweight, and prone to depression. 552 people between the ages of 19 and 90 in the Seattle-Tacoma region of Washington State were surveyed. 249 respondents reported themselves to be gamers with 56% of them being male. Men who played games were found to be heavier than their non-gamer counterparts and also reported higher levels of Internet usage than society at large. Female gamers showed higher occurrences of clinical depression and were found to be generally less healthy than non-gaming women.

"Health risk factors differentiated adult video game players from non-players," National Center for Health Marketing researcher James Weaver said in a statement. "Video game players also reported lower extroversion, consistent with research on adolescents that linked video game playing to a sedentary lifestyle and overweight status, and to mental-health concerns." The CDC equated gaming to "digital self-medication" citing that people play games to "literally take their mind of their worries."

Critics have attacked this study due to the relatively small sample size and its limits to a single geographical area. In a country as vast as the United States, life styles and attitudes vary widely from coast to coast. Health concerns over video games are nothing new. They have been blamed for rising obesity rates among children over the past decade. Similar parallels can be drawn to studies on children and television in the 1950s, when TV was believed to cause similar mental health problems. Rather than being the problem, video game addictions are a symptom of much larger issues that the health care systems in a wide variety of countries have failed to address, forcing people to find methods to self-medicate mental health problems. Rather than blame the medium, the medical community needs to look inward as to how it can offer better mental health support.

Source: DailyTech

Game Cars: 1960 DeSoto Adventurer

By Mike on 9:14 pm

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I'd though I'd start another feature for the month profiling the cars of gaming. Every hero needs a set of wheels to get around and the car is often the unsung sidekick in the gaming world, outside of racing games. Take Sam & Max for example. A crime fighting duo consisting of six foot tall dog Sam, and Max, a hyper-kinetic rabbity thing, though he refers to himself as a lagomorph. The two "freelance police" need a car to catch perps of course, and what better car than their heavily modified 1960 DeSoto Adventurer.

DeSoto, named after a Spanish conquistador, was a line of cars produced by the Chrysler Corporation from 1928 to 1961. The Adventurer was produced from 1956 to 1961 as a lower cost alternative to the top model DeSoto Fireflite. In total, 11,597 cars were produced. The 1960 model featured a Chrysler 383 V8 engine with two barrel carb producing up to 350bhp allowing it to accelerate it's bulky mass from 0-60mph in under 10 seconds. The car had traditional 1950s styling with a long, sleek body complete with tail fins.

Sam & Max's black and white 1960 DeSoto Adventurer is a heavily modified version of the production car. For starters, it is a hard top convertible despite no convertible versions being made during the 1960 model year. The car is capable of both space and time travel, and it can also drive under water. It presumably has a pressurized cockpit when the top is up to allow it to accomplish these feats. The car has also driven clear across America in search of a missing Bigfoot. Sam is the one who does most of the driving as Max cannot see over the dashboard or reach the pedals. Sam is terrified of Max's driving ability, most likely due to the lagomorph's crazed homicidal tendencies. However, max will occasionally drive to allow Sam to do drive-by shootings while trolling for wealthy perps with "broken" tail lights down White Collar Crime Dr. Since going to Hell in Telltale's Season 2, the DeSoto has become possessed and developed a mind of its own.

Games the Freelance Police DeSoto Adventurer is Featured in:
-Sam & Max Hit the Road (1993)
-Sam & Max Season 1: Culture Shock (2006)
-Situation Comedy (2007)
-The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball (2007)
-Abe Lincoln Must Die! (2007)
-Reality 2.0 (2007)
-The Bright Side of the Moon (2007)
-Sam & Max Season 2: Ice Station Santa (2007)
-Moai Better Blues (2008)
-Night of the Raving Dead (2008)
-Chariots of the Dogs (2008)
-What's New Beelzebub? (2008)

Sources: Sam & Max Wiki, Wikipedia, How Stuff Works
For more DeSoto Adventurer images, check out

Got a request for another game car, plane, boat or any other vehicle to be profiled? Post it in the comments section. A couple of ground rules first though. It has to be a real vehicle, no fictional ones. Secondly, it has to come from something other than a racing or simulation title unless that game specifically focuses on that vehicle only. So nothing from Gran Turismo. Please provide the name of the vehicle and the game it is from, and if possible the model year and a link to some information on it.

GameCon: Sony Finally Intros PS3 Slim, Price Cut, FW 3.00

By Mike on 4:44 pm

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Sony finally laid to rest the long standing rumours of a PS3 slim by finally introducing the console. The PS3 Slim looks about half the size of the current generation. claims it is 33% smaller and 36% lighter than the current model. It has been given a more curvy design but lacks the high polished finish and chrome trim of its bigger brother. In my opinion, this design more makes the console look significantly cheaper too. Speaking of price, Sony has announced the Slim will retail for $299 US and will include a 120gb hard drive as standard. Other than that, specs are the same as the current 120gb model. The current fat model will also receive a price cut to $299. Sony is claiming it is available for retail immediately. has the console listed for pre-order while other sites are claiming it will be released September 1st. The price cut for current SKUs is effective as of today.

Sony also introduced Firmware 3.00. It doesn't really add anything new and exciting other than some cosmetic changes to the XMB and a partial overhaul of PSN. A strait copy/paste from the official PS Blog details the following features.

  • “What’s New” – The “Information Board” will be replaced with a “What’s New” section, which allows you to enjoy interactive PlayStation news every time you start the PS3 system. Located under the PlayStation Network icon, “What’s New” displays the latest and greatest game, video, PlayStation Network and PlayStation news and releases, as well as your recently played games, in a sleek, new animated format.
  • Status Indicator – In the top right corner we’ve added an indicator bar, which displays your user icon, friend icon, the number of friends you have online and a small message icon to let you know if you have any new messages. The indicator also includes a scrolling ticker that features the latest news from PlayStation Network. In addition, when you press the PS button, the battery life indicator will no longer cover up the clock.
  • Friends List – Now your PlayStation Network friends will appear in a slightly redesigned format on your Friends List. Also, messages will now be viewable from each of your friends’ respective profiles.
  • PlayStation Store Shortcuts – We’ve added a handy shortcut icon to the PlayStation Store under both the Game and Video categories so you can access the latest content quickly and easily.
  • Personalization – Personalize your PS3 with new dynamic custom themes and avatars. Dynamic themes as well as free and premium avatars will be available through PlayStation Store. A dynamic theme takes your screen to a whole new level as it incorporates animated objects into the background.
  • Trophies – Showcasing your hard earned trophies just got better. Update 3.00 gives game developers the ability to modify how they display trophies for add-on content. Base and add-on game trophies will continue to be combined into a single list so you can see where you stand in a game as a whole. Within that list, trophies will be broken out into subcategories—base trophies and add-on trophies—that way, you can easily view the percentage of your base game trophy collection, and separately track your trophy progress in add-on packs. Look for this enhancement to be included in upcoming games.
Sony did not way when it would be released but we can assume it will be the launch firmware for the Slim.

Source: Playstation Blog: Slim, Playstation Blog: Firmware 3.0,

Consoles Suffering High Failure Rates

By Mike on 1:15 pm

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Magazine Game Informer surveyed 5000 readers to determine failure rates and satisfaction with the repair process for the three current generation consoles. The results show that the Xbox 360 is suffering a staggering number of hardware failures. Of the respondents, 360 owners reported that 54.2% of their consoles had failed. Those sent in for repairs had a second failure rate of 41.2%. Xbox owners were also the least satisfied with the service they received with only 37.7% reporting a good experience. 3.6% of 360 owners said they would never buy a Microsoft console again due to the high failure rate. The Wii and PS3 faired significantly better, having failure rates of 10.6% and 6.8% respectively. In terms of customer satisfaction, the Wii and PS3 were almost even with 56.1% and 51.1%.

I think the numbers do seem quite high though I suspect they're including as "failures" anything that requires the console to be repaired including worn out fans, hard drives, and optical drives instead of just catastrophic failures such as the 360's infamous Red Ring of Death. This would explain why the Wii's rates are so low since it has the fewest moving parts. This news doesn't bode will for Microsoft though, who has been battling serious hardware issues with the 360 since day one. We can only assume that sales may have been better had these issues not existed to begin with. One has to admire the resilience, or stupidity depending on how you see it, of 360 owners. Many keep coming back to the system due to its strong library of games while Sony has failed to take advantage of consumer dissatisfaction with the problems by not aggressively building their library and marketing the PS3.

Source: IGN

Amazon's Orwellian Mess Could Set Dangerous Precedent

By Mike on 9:32 pm

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Amazon's new Kindle is all the rage right now in the United States but it seems to be having its own Orwellian moments. Kindle owners who had purchased George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm found their digital copies to have mysteriously disappeared. Amazon claims that a third party publisher had mistakenly assumed that the two works were in US public domain. This is a fair assumption since in many jurisdictions, including Canada, copyright remains in force for 50 years after the creator's death before being released. Orwell died in 1950. In the United States, copyrights last for 70 years after the death of the author, meaning 1984 won't enter public domain until 2020. The current copyright holders of both works demanded that Amazon pull the content, which the company complied.

Amazon did not simply remove it from the store but sent out a message to all Kindle 2 readers to delete the two works. This was done without the knowledge of those who had purchased the work. Rather than incurring the wrath of (ironically) Orwell's estate, Amazon is now being sued for violation of their own terms of service as well as violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act and the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act. One of the plaintiffs, Michigan high school senior Justin D. Gawronski, had been studying Nineteen Eighty-Four for school and had made notes using the Kindle's built in note taking feature. When he went to start up his Kindle, he found the book was gone but the now useless notes and bookmarks still remained. Gawronski expects he will have to read the book all over again. "A note such as 'remember this paragraph for your thesis' is useless if it does not actually a reference a specific paragraph," the suit noted. A second person, Antoine Bruguier, a Silicon Valley engineer, has also been listed on the suit. Bruguier claims that Amazon sent him an email notifying him that a refund was being processed. He asked to keep the book but Amazon refused, noting that they would not provide any "additional insight or action." Bruguier claims Amazon deceived him by making him think the books he purchased were his. Amazon's terms of service do state that books are licensed, not sold. However, it goes on to say that users have the right to keep a "permanent copy" to "view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times." The suit contends that Amazon never disclosed that it could remotely remove content from the reader without the knowledge or consent or the purchaser.

This suit pretty much sums up the reasoning for my lack of comfort with digital downloadable content. When I purchase a paper book, I own that copy and I am entitled to do what I please with it under fair use. I can read it, make personal copies, lend it to friends, and sell it if I choose. Furthermore, the license on print copies can never expire or be revoked. The inherent intangibility of digital copies has given a great deal more power to content holders than they ever had before. Probably the most disturbing part of all this is that Amazon has given itself the power to remotely control the Kindle, allowing them to add or delete content at will without the user's knowledge. This is technically illegal as the law suit contends. Under the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act, it is illegal to install or remove files from a computer without the user's knowledge and explicit consent. This was the reason Sony BMG was sued in 2005 over the CD rootkit debacle. It is also partially why Electronic Arts was sued over Spore and SecuROM DRM in 2008. Despite this, parts of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act still manage to trump these laws. It is best to avoid diving head first into the realm of digital content until solid laws are passed that guarantee some form of stronger consumer protection. Amazon has pulled the bait & switch on their customers and I really hope the two plaintiffs manage to get some laws changed out of this suit.

Source: The Register, Wikinews