Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Paying to play your game - over and over again

I recently got myself an Xbox 360 and have gotten to play it a total of 2 times so far. But I've thoroughly enjoyed it, starting with Ghost Recon 2, and a few Live Arcade demos. After playing the demo of Forza 2, it's on my list right after Gears of War.

But I just read this article that describes how Microsoft is joining with Massive to deploy ads in their games to generate extra revenue.

Massive, acquired by software maker Microsoft Corp. last year, said Wednesday it would begin serving dynamic ads to five new EA games — "Madden," plus "Nascar 08," "NHL 08" and "Skate" for Microsoft's Xbox 360, and "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08" for Xbox and PCs running Microsoft's Windows operating system.

I had heard that this idea was being kicked around but I didn't know it was actually going to grow into something so sinister. This is total crap. Why should I pay $30-$65 for a game only to be bombarded by advertising while I'm playing it? It seems to take advantage of your consumers and I'm guessing this will generate more ill will towards Massive and Microsoft than generate sales dollars. I've been on the fence about buying Madden '08 but now I'm worried that I'll have to spend time watch ads between plays.

But it also makes me wonder, what if they offered a discount for a version of a game that contained ads, or you could opt to pay the full price for an ad-free version? How much of a discount would you require for having an ad-laden game? Half price? Free? Imagine if you could download full versions of games over Live with the gotcha that you have to watch ads every so often. Would people do it?

I just saw another article about how advertisers have been dumping millions into Second Life but people are abandoning the game in droves. Maybe they don't like being force fed advertising, even if the game is "free"? I think there might be a lesson to be learned here...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Martha's Vineyard

Lisa and I took a trip to Martha's Vineyard to celebrate one year of dating. Click the picture below to see the entire album!

Capricorn house

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

This week I have read about several new ideas for energy production that seem like they could be real breakthroughs.

This first one is about an Australian inventor who has developed a wind turbine that is small and safe enough to use on your average suburban rooftop. It looks like 3 airplane wings in the shape of a cylinder. At only $700 (Aus) for each unit, one could conceivably power a home for the price of a used car.

Aussie wind turbine

(includes video)

This next one is a similar idea by a Chicago inventor, but uses a helical scoop that is both efficient and silent. It can be placed vertically or horizonatally, although the former is usually more efficient. At $15,000, one could power a small home for the equivalent of a new/slightly-used car; however, they are currently a bit too large to fit on most homes without being an eyesore.

Chicago wind turbine

(includes video)

Or, you can follow the adventures of this savvy African man, who built his own wind mill from scratch to power his home in Malawi.

Most Americans are trained by our culture to be consumers. We buy nearly everything we need, and trade our time and efforts for money to buy more things to consume. Most Americans can't even begin to comprehend the lifestyle of providing for one's own basic needs. Because we are never taught that we can even do so, the option is rarely considered, especially when it is so much easier to take the easy road and write a check or swipe a debit card. There will be some of you who might read the blog above and think, "Oh, that poor family in Africa. How dreadful." But that young man has more gumption than many of us, simply because gumption and motivation are his most powerful assets.

I think the inventions and innovations of recent years are beginning to open the eyes of Americans to the possibility that we can be self-reliant again. It's one thing to talk about freeing our nation from foreign oil, but an equally important step is to free yourself from the local power grid. Currently, about 69% of the nation's electricity is generated by coal, oil, and gas. You can see the statistics for your local region here:

In the not too-distant future, all cars may become electric, and home power generation will extend to your vehicles as well. But the sad fact of all of this is that homes and cars are not the biggest consumers of electricity (even if all cars were electric), and neither are they the biggest sources of pollution. Industry takes the lead on both power consumption and air pollution. And since most power generation also pollutes, it's a huge double-whammy! Reducing power consumption at the consumer level is a good and necessary step, but it is only a small first step towards replacing current systems with clean energy.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Danno Simpson

Springfield version of me

At the risk of sounding like a shill, you can create your own Simpson's avatar!