E3: The Sims 3 Goes Out the Door for Mac OS X, Windows, iPhone

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Date: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 19:51
Category: News

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Electronic Arts on Tuesday announced the simultaneous release of The Sims 3 for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows and Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch handsets.
The new version allows users to control simulated people inside a virtual world, the application allowing for dozens of unique personality traits as well as extensive customization for your Sims home. According to Macworld, the game bypasses the micromanagement of basic tasks such as bathing and using the restroom (unlike the first two versions) and allows for additional items to be purchased via an in-game store.
The Mac and Windows game also lets you record movies of your Sims, edit the soundtrack, story and transitions, then share the movies you’ve made with friends on The Sims 3 Web sites, social networks, and on your own blog.
The game ships on a hybrid DVD-ROM that contains both Mac and Windows versions of the games, retails for US$50 and requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.5.7 or later, 2 GB of RAM, 6.1 GB of hard disk space and an ATI GMA X3100 or Nvidia 7300 GT graphics card or better to install and run.
Per the iPhone version, the application is available for US$9.99 through the App Store and requires iPhone OS 2.2 or later to install and run.

E3: Nintendo Briefing Notes

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Date: Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009, 19:04
Category: News

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Nintendo just wrapped its media briefing on this end and the results are strange, encouraging and mixed:
-Nintendo’s Cammie Dunaway announced that this year’s theme will be “Everyone’s Game”. There’s something for everyone and Nintendo intends to address this.
-“New Mario Brothers” Wii was announced, the title featuring beautiful graphics as well as co-op and competitive play for up to four players at once wherein players can help each other or compete for points. Other features include a neat ability to switch to another player (such as from Mario to Toad to Luigi) at any point in time. The title will launch over the holidays.
-Nintendo is moving to introduce WiiFit Pus, which will work to find a workout program appropriate for the user and add 15 new balance games such as juggling and skateboarding. The title will arrive this fall and will also be able to be purchased and downloaded as a standalone item.
-Nintendo President and Chief Operating Officer Reggie Fils-Aime spoke about Nintendo’s interface, then introduced the Wii Motion Plus, a new controller that will function as a more advanced version of Nintendo’s current Wiimote. The controller will apparently have to be purchased on its own and no price point was mentioned for the unit.
-Nintendo’s Bill Trinen detailed the Wii Motion Plus, highlighting an increased ability to detect position and angles relative to the Wiimore, which can then be applied to a game. Trinen commented that Nintendo is looking to make this a more natural experience, that the unit will launch in the Americas on July 21st and that the improved motion sensor technology will be supported in assorted EA Sports titles as well as RedSteel 2.
-Nintendo will launch Final Fantasy: The Crystal Bearers as well as an exclusive version of Kingdom Hearts (Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days) to the Nintendo DS this September.
-Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story will hit in North America and Europe later this fall. Here, Mario and Luigi have to fight within Bowser’s body a la “Inner Space”.
-Nintendo will be resurrecting the Golden Sun RPG series with Golden Sun DS in 2010.
-Beginning on October 13th, James Patterson’s books will be available as an interactive novel/game (“Women’s Murder Club: Games of Passion”).
-COP: The Recruit will play as a Ubisoft title. This seems to be a mix of Grand Theft Auto and an interactive novel.
-Nintendo will launch its Style Savvy title, wherein users design outfits, run your own boutique, supports wireless networking.
-Nintendo announced the the company has currently sold over one million DSi units. Representatives then highlighted that it will focus on user-generated content and sharing.
-Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again will allow users to create their own levels, then upload levels to friends. The title will be available as a download beginning June 8th.
-WarioWare DIY: Allows players to create their own levels and games themselves.
-Beginning this summer, the DSi will allow photos to be edited and uploaded to Facebook.
-Nintendo President Satoru Iwata announced that Nintendo’s research has divvied their game market into “active”, “maybe?” and “never”. In the survey, there are 295 million active players, 149 million “maybe” players and a given number of people who will never play games. Iwata then cited that the company is trying to open its markets and provide something for everyone.
-Perhaps the strangest thing of the briefing: Iwata then announced the Wii Vitality Sensor, a device that takes your pulse, analyzes data such as tension, etc. and returns biometric information. This can be used as a relaxation technique, per Iwata, but no release date or titles were mentioned for such a device.
-Nintendo then showed demo footage for Super Mario Galaxy 2, complete with beautiful environments, classic stuff, imaginative settings.
-Other games announced included The Conduit, an apocalyptic sci-fi title developed by Sega and exclusive for the Wii. The game will be available this June.
-Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is en route and will function as Resident Evil with a first-person shooter perspective.
-Dead Space: Extraction is exclusive for the Wii and, complete with beautiful graphics and awesome sound via the demo, will function as a prequel to Dead Space.
-Team Ninja and Nintendo are developing Metroid: Other M, which will function as a Metroid prequel of sorts and help flesh out Samus Aran’s back story and personal history.
The title is being offered with a 2010 release date.

AT&T to Deploy HSPA 7.2 Network Ahead of Third Generation iPhone Launch

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Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 09:13
Category: 3G Wireless, iPhone, News

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Wireless carrier AT&T has formally announced plans to deploy its 7.2 Mbps HSPA 7.2 network this year, the deployment supporting faster iPhone models expected for release this summer.
According to AppleInsider, AT&T has stated that the HSPA 7.2 upgrade will deliver theoretical peak speeds twice that of the company’s current 3G network. The company has stated that installation will continue through 2011 and that AT&T will begin trials of LTE (Long Term Evolution), with deployment of that technology to begin in 2011. LTE plans to eventually reach theoretical peak speeds of 20 Mbps.
Both HSPA and LTE are components of the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) family of technologies, which include GSM/EDGE and UMTS, the worldwide “3G” service supported by the iPhone 3G.
Because AT&T’s network is currently based on 3GPP standards, the company can deliver the upgrade to HSPA 7.2 service immediately to support faster smartphones prior to the buildout of LTE, which isn’t expected to become widely available until at least 2011-2012.
AT&T has stated that its current 3G service is available in 350 major US metro areas, with deployment in another 20 planned this year. The company stated that its new HSPA 7.2 technology “will be deployed widely in the network, with the benefits of the network upgrade to be announced on a local basis as the faster speeds are turned up.”
The company also said it will introduce “multiple HSPA 7.2-compatible laptop cards and smartphones beginning later this year.” Apple is expected to release a new iPhone model in June that supports HSPA 7.2 service. In addition to having access to a faster network, the new iPhone model is expected to have a significantly faster processor, enabling it to better handle the data it can receive, resulting in faster overall operation.
Along with the upgrade to HSPA 7.2, AT&T also reported plans to build out other network improvements this year as part of a capital investment plan costing $17-18 billion.
Elements include:

  • Near-Doubling Radio Frequency Capacity: In 2008 and 2009 to date, high-quality 850 MHz spectrum has been deployed in more than half of AT&T’s 3G network footprint to improve overall coverage and in-building reception, with additional markets planned for later in the year.
  • More Bandwidth to Cell Sites: AT&T is adding fiber-optic connectivity and additional capacity to thousands of cell sites across the country this year, expanding the critical connections that deliver traffic from a cell site into the global IP backbone network. These upgrades will support the higher mobile broadband speeds enabled by both HSPA 7.2 and LTE.
  • More Cell Sites: Deployment of about 2,100 new cell sites across the country.
  • Wi-Fi Integration: Many AT&T smartphones will be able to switch seamlessly between 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity. AT&T customers with qualifying smartphone and 3G LaptopConnect plans have access to the nation’s largest Wi-Fi network – more than 20,000 hotspots, including locations in all 50 states – at no additional charge. AT&T’s global Wi-Fi footprint covers more than 90,000 hotspots, and AT&T also can create permanent or temporary extended Wi-Fi zones in areas with high 3G network use, like a grouping of hotels or a festival.
  • MicroCells: Customer trials leading toward general availability of AT&T 3G MicroCell offerings, which utilize femtocells to enhance in-building wireless coverage.
  • Woz Cites Jobs as “Healthy”, “Energetic” Prior to Scheduled Return to Apple

    Posted by:
    Date: Thursday, May 28th, 2009, 08:58
    Category: News

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    Joker/dancer/Apple co-founder apparently had the opportunity to speak with Apple CEO Steve Jobs recently and has reported that Jobs sounded “healthy” and “energetic” with a little over a month prior to his scheduled return to the company.
    Woz’s comments appeared yesterday at on the Wall Stree Journal’s web site, and though Wozniak admitted to having never asked Jobs about his health directly, he told representatives for the financial paper that his one-time pal “doesn’t sound like he’s sick,” nor does he appear to be battling a dire health problem.
    The upbeat comments contrast with those made by Jobs’ real estate attorney Howard Ellman last month during a town council meeting to determine whether the chief executive should be free to demolish a historic but abandoned mansion he owns in the Woodside Hills.
    “I don’t think he would be strong enough if we were here until 1 a.m., and I think there’s a strong possibility of that,” Ellman said, referring to the time it would take for the local review board to hear all arguments on the matter.
    On January 14th of this year, Jobs stated that he would take a medical leave from his daily role at Apple through the end of June in order to attend to health issues that turned out to be “more complex” than he originally thought.
    Although he underwent successful surgery for pancreatic cancer in 2004, Jobs’ health would again emerge as a topic of public concern when he appeared increasingly gaunt during Apple media events in 2007 and 2008.
    Wall Street analysts have used recent quarterly conference calls to press members of Apple’s leadership for an update on Jobs’ health, to which they’ve responded by saying they still expect Jobs to return at the end of June.
    It remains unclear as to what capacity Jobs will return to the company in and some analysts have speculated that if he does return, it will be in the form of a reduced role such as Chairman.
    Stay tuned for further information as it becomes available.

    Apple Quietly Bumps Specs for White MacBook Notebook, Retains $999 Price

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    Date: Wednesday, May 27th, 2009, 08:09
    Category: MacBook, News

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    Early Wednesday, Apple quietly upgraded its entry-level MacBook notebook. The white plastic MacBook, which is still priced at US$999, now offers a 160 GB hard drive, 2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and a slightly faster RAM speed with the model sporting 2GB of 800 MHz DDR2 SDRAM according to The Unofficial Apple Weblog.
    The previous version, released back in January, boasted a 2.0GHz processor with a 120GB hard drive and 2GB of 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM. Other features on the revised MacBook remain the same, including the NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics card that was previously found on the model.

    Psystar Files for Bankruptcy

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    Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009, 17:48
    Category: News

    According to AppleInsider, the Mac clone maker Psystar filed Chapter 11 in Florida last week, which will likely delay its court battle with Apple. Psystar entered the news-stream when it began selling Intel-based computers with Mac OS X pre-installed, which according to Apple is an infringement of the OS X End User Agreement (EUA) which forbids the installation of the software on non-Apple hardware. Not only that, but Psystar had to “hack” the Mac OS in order to get it to run on the hardware, which further complicated the copyright infringement claims. Apple responded by taking Psystar to court last July.
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    Normally, that would be the end of the story. The twist was that Psystar counter-sued Apple claiming that the computer maker was violating anti-trust laws. This move generated a lot of attention due mainly to the fact that if Psystar somehow won the case, it would drastically affect the way computer OSes, particularly OS X, would be sold and distributed.
    Another factor in the story was the fact that Psystar, a relatively small company, was able to sustain a long and costly legal battle, generating speculation that an outside benefactor was funding Psystar’s legal actions. Psystar has also drawn out the proceedings by failing to provide Apple with paperwork and a contact within the company to work through legal details.
    It would seem with Psystar’s bankruptcy filing that its resources have finally begun to dry up, but they have not given up yet. In the court documents filed only a week ago, Psystar maintained that it “[...] plans on emerging from this Chapter 11 with a strong and effective plan to make an increasingly higher profit and still provide the consumer with the product that they have grown to enjoy and trust.”
    Good luck with that.
    Personally, even though I am in favor of Open Source development, and even have an interest in the “Hackintosh” community, I’m really not in favor of Psystar’s end run around Apple’s licensing. I also fear that were they to continue to sell their OS X based products, people attempting to save money (something I also support), might find themselves with an unsupported system that is more PC-like than the reliable Mac experience, and support, of which most of us are accustomed.

    32GB Capacity iPhone Listed in AT&T Upgrade Program

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    Date: Tuesday, May 26th, 2009, 07:56
    Category: iPhone, News

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    You might want to file this under “premonitions”.
    According to Phone Arena, an AT&T upgrade program for BlackBerries has listed a 32GB iPhone as a trade-in option. Simultaneously, Canadian cellular provider Rogers may be preparing for another summer iPhone release.
    The potential discovery occurred on Friday when a BlackBerry Bold trade-up program run on behalf of AT&T, albeit via a third party, showed an “iPhone 32GB 3G” as one of the phones that can be exchanged for cash towards the Research in Motion smartphone. The RIM handset is listed as worth US$335, though it’s unlikely this is connected to any final pricing.
    It’s currently unknown as to whether this is a genuine addition or a speculative move on behalf of the company running the ad. None of the other iPhones in the list are unreleased models. However, it does follow an accidental post of a similar sort by T-Mobile Austria, which briefly showed a 32GB iPhone in its “coming soon” section only to pull it shortly afterwards.
    The 32GB iPhone listed as a trade-in choice for moving to an AT&T BlackBerry Bold.

    Analyst Sees Strong Signs of Apple Moving Towards $500-$700 Tablet

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    Date: Thursday, May 21st, 2009, 12:13
    Category: News

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    With Apple execs having openly slammed the idea of creating a conventional netbook, Piper Jaffray analysts stated today that mounting evidence exists that Apple will introduce its own take on the netbook in 2010 via a tablet device that will sell for US$700 or less.
    “Between indications from our component contacts in Asia, recent patents relating to multi-touch sensitivity for more complex computing devices, comments from [chief operating officer] Tim Cook on the April 22nd conference call, and Apple’s acquisition of P.A. Semi along with other recent chip-related hires, it is increasingly clear that Apple is investing more in its mobile computing franchise,” analyst Gene Munster and his team wrote in lengthy research note to clients.
    According to AppleInsider, Munster has said these investments will likely culminate with the launch of a touch-screen tablet with a display somewhere between 7″ and 10″ at a special event sometime in the first half of 2010. Such a move, he added, would be consistent with management’s comments that Cupertino-based company has no interest in catering to the existing segment for “cheap” miniaturized notebooks and its spoken desire to differentiate in a market currently dominated by cramped computers with razor thin margins and a subpar user experience.
    To date, Munster’s contacts in the component supply chain have yet to see a prototype of the device but say there’s ongoing discussions between the company and its suppliers about the parts that will eventually be required to build the product.
    Munster has stated that he believes the device will end up retailing somewhere in the range of US$500 to US$700, bridging the gap between the US$399 iPod touch and the US$999 MacBook. He expects that it will be driven by a proprietary microprocessor designed in-house by engineers Apple adopted in the acquisition of P.A. Semi and others it’s known to have hired in recent months.
    Click the jump for the full story…

    VMWare Cautions Users with ATI Graphics Cards from Installing Mac OS X 10.5.7

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    Date: Monday, May 18th, 2009, 07:16
    Category: News

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    VMWare, makers of the popular Fusion virtualization software, has officially warned users away from installing Mac OS X 10.5.7 if their Mac uses an ATI graphics card or chip.
    According to VMWare’s blog, the update will break the 3D graphics acceleration feature supported by Fusion.
    “You will likely see issues ranging from slow performance, to incorrect rendering, and even crashes, when you run your 3D applications in a Windows virtual machine on Mac OS X 10.5.7,” reads the blog.
    “Both Apple and ATI are aware of this problem and are working to correct it in a future software update. In the meantime, if you have an ATI graphics card in your Mac and need VMware Fusion’s 3D features to work, we recommend that you do not upgrade to Mac OS X 10.5.7,” the entry concludes.

    Phil Schiller to Deliver Keynote Speech for WWDC Conference

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    Date: Wednesday, May 13th, 2009, 10:41
    Category: News

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    WWDC is relatively soon and, unfortunately, for those hoping for Steve Jobs to grace the stage in order to deliver the keynote, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.
    Apple has stated that while its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco will start on Monday, June 8th with the keynote address being given at 10 AM PST, Apple senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing Phil Schiller will be manning the speech and offer developers an “in-depth” look at iPhone OS 3.0 as well as the company’s upcoming Mac OS X 10.6 (“Snow Leopard”) upgrade.
    From there, Schiller is expected to hand the keynote off to assorted speakers, as usual.
    Attendees can also expect a “final Developer Preview release” of the forthcoming OS, though additional details are rare on the ground.