Why I love the video game business

My blog sub-header says that I cover gaming. I have yet to write a significant post on gaming so why is that in the sub-header?

Like every good male (and some lucky females) of my generation, I play video games. I don’t play a lot but I play instead of watching TV. I would rather improve my hand-eye coordination than dull my eyes.

My first taste of video games was at my friend’s house. We played Atari. Generally speaking, my parents were against any video games. Heman and imagination were my brother and my toys. However, around 1993 or ’94 when my parent’s anger at my brother and me during road trips boiled over, we each received a Gameboy. Tetris was awesome. In 1996, one of my Dad’s clients bought us a Sega Genesis 2 and another one bought us a Turbo Grafix 16. Sonic + Bomberman = the cooltech future.

However, oddly, I found reading about the video game business more interesting than playing the games. Sure, they were fun but my Next Generation magazine was more fascinating (I have almost every issue carefully stored, btw). What games and systems were coming next, who was launching when, why did Japan always receive the best stuff first, etc. I loved it. The business of video gaming grabbed me. Something about that razor/blade model… 🙂

I could write about the games that I am playing such as Mass Effect & CoD4 but I would rather read about and then comment on how Xbox Live can be Microsoft’s Facebook if they only tried (more niche, at least to start). I also much prefer reading Dean Takahashi’s books on the building of the Xbox and Xbox 360 (both great business books) and then ponder how Sony could have made so many mistakes with the PS3.

The business is fascinating, fun, and brutal mixed with every bit of technology available. A smart video game company needs to build a product that includes the best technology, mixed with innovation and internet capabilities. Video game systems are merging into super computers (or so they said about PS3’s Cell processor). Technology, telecommunications, and the internet are all merging in the video game field, which is why I love it.

Not only can a person read about the field and products (and marketing involved) but then they can play with and use what is created!

Installing RAM on a Macbook Pro

When I bought my computer, it came with 2GB of RAM. I like speed and hate waiting for my computer to do something. More RAM = faster computer = happier Adam.

Upgrading from 2GB to 4GB of RAM, if done through Apple, costs $400. Buying more RAM on Newegg costs approximately $75 (with free 3 day shipping!). For the math challenged, that is a difference of $325.

For some, that extra $325 is worth paying. Apple installs the memory for you without any hassle or worry on your part.

I am here to tell you that you should not worry. It took me 15 minutes to install my new RAM in my Macbook Pro. 15 minutes! I bought 2 2GB DIMMs of DDR2 667mhz memory.

Here is a brief tutorial of what to do:

1. Shut down your computer

2. Turn it over

3. Take out the battery

4. Remove the three tiny screws that you see

5. Take off the metal case that was held down by those screws

6. Remove your current RAM as shown by the picture next to the RAM

7. Put in your new RAM

8. Close everything back up, replace your battery, turn on your computer. Your MBP will automatically detect the new memory.

Total time = 15 minutes.

If my brief tutorial sounds too simplistic, check out this video by Chris Pirillo:

Apple tablet computer and/or internet tablet or cloud computer

I want an iPod Touch with a 12-14 inch screen and the width of a Macbook Air.  I want to cradle my computer in my hand or lap and read it like a book.  I don’t want to use a mouse or keyboard unless absolutely necessary.  My fingers work just fine.

The majority of my life is centered around the internet.  A powerful computer (like my Macbook Pro) is great for a few specialized tasks that really push it (which I personally enjoy doing to hardware).  However, a huge percentage (90% or more) of the time I spend sitting in front of the computer is spent online.  My email is held on some magic google server.  My news comes from websites, I can do everything with my pictures online, and I can track my friend’s lives online, and I can write documents, create spreadsheets and presentations online.  I don’t need a strong processor.

What I need is a strong internet connection.

I don’t care who makes this device (and sorry, Nokia, but your N800 does not cut it.  I have used it and it misses the mark).  I have a feeling this device will come from Apple.  The phone manufacturers couldn’t produce an iPhone and computer makers still can’t make a system that is as quiet, cool, or small as my Macbook Pro (if judged by the same techical specs).

I’m looking to the future…

iPod Touch Review – THE first generation internet tablet

I received an 8 gig iPod Touch as a present this past December.  I immediately “unlocked/cracked” it so that I could install whatever I wanted on it.

Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed my iPod Touch but not for the reasons one might imagine.

First, three confessions: a) up until this December, I had never owned an iPod.  I refused to jump on that bandwagon.  It was my little anti-crowd protest. b) I don’t listen to much music when I am on the move.  I prefer to hear what is going on around me and revel in the sound of life.  I know that sounds corny but it is true.  I like to hear the world rather than be walled within my own little world of digital music.  c) I firmly believe in device convergence and was expecting cellphone MP3 players to work well and be the next big thing (such as my LG Muziq).  Instead they were all inelegant solutions that only made me not want to use their music features.  Then of course the 500 lb gorilla called the iPhone launched.

I have Sprint so the iPhone was not an option.  But when the Touch launched, I knew I had to have one.

Do I use it to listen to much music, no.  Do I watch many videos on it?  Rarely.  I like to read when I fly although I highly recommend Ted videos to anyone interested in learning something.

Instead, I use my iPod Touch as a an internet tablet/gateway.  I am not near a computer more often than I imagined while still within free WiFi range.  I used to go online with my phone.  It’s screen is small.  Now I go online with my Touch and I absolutely love the experience (if no computer is nearby).  It works flawlessly and fast.  It is a mini-computer with the best input device — a finger (versus mouse, etc).  Post-crack, I have a ton of other fun and interesting programs installed.

I would recommend a Touch to anyone who is not in the market for an iPhone.

What am I really waiting for?  A WiMAX enabled iPod Touch.  Then, I could go online anywhere and everywhere and I would be in heaven.  I like (and hate) being connected.

Possible non-DRM future for e-textbooks?

As my previous post makes clear, I have been thwarted from printing an e-textbook for class.  Frustrations aside, there is a silver-lining in all of this — a solution for my frustration and a cash-generating possibility for the publishers.

First, the obvious — everything that can go digital is.  A few examples: music, photos, videos.   Books are stuck with mildly updated 15th century technology (thanks Johann Gutenberg).  Why?

There are numerous reasons why the easiest-to-move-to-digital format is stuck in 500+ year old technology.  1. People like reading from paper rather than a screen, 2. people prefer holding something in their hands, 3. people want to highlight text (if you are a student), 4. people like having bookcases and seeming erudite (just as I might seem by using that word!).

Unfortunately, in this digital age, those reasons no longer hold any water.  People used to like to own DVDs but now people are starting to download them.  People used to like own a CD/tape player to make mixes but a digital version is so much more malleable — mashups are great.

Most important, reading from paper is no longer the medium from which most people see words.  A large majority of the reading public spends their working days in front of a computer and their nights in front of a TV.  That is all digital (mostly).  I am writing this post on a computer and you will read it on a computer.

When was the last time you read a paper copy of a newspaper?  You probably can’t remember because you instead spend your reading free time going to http://www.drudgereport.com,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com, http://www.nytimes.com, http://www.usatoday.com, etc.  While I do receive the paper edition of the Wall Street Journal every day, I still spend the majority of my reading time online (see my google reader shared items).  I am used to digital and it does not bother my eyes.  You are, as well, even if you don’t realize it.

Textbook publishers, you need to figure this out or watch your business go down the drain (for a reference, see: music companies).

So what is the future of  e-textbooks?  Give the book away for FREE, mix with advertising and watch your revenues soar!  See this excellent article by Chris Anderson (of Long Tail fame) from Wired.  I imagine a future (for my kids since I will be graduating shortly) where they never have to pay for a book.  Instead, they will be able to download it for free from the publisher’s website.  In exchange, the student gives the publisher some personal information and the student receives a book filled with pertinent and appropriate advertisements on the sides of the pages.

The publisher can reap huge profits by this model — advertising access from the most lucrative target market in the world — students aged 14-27 (or so…).  The students win by saving money (school is not cheap).

Would these ads distract students from the learning contained in the book’s pages?  I doubt it.  Every student is already very used to seeing ads everywhere.  They are a generally a mild distraction, at best (and barely register when compared to their iPod, computer, barking dog and annoying sibling).  If a student wants to focus on their reading, they will.

Everyone wins.  I like these types of scenarios.  🙂