Riya - Face Recognition for Photo Search 2006/04/15

Another TechCruch tipoff - Check out Riya which launched March 21. It’s like Flickr - so you can upload, organize, and share your photos - but it has state of the art face recognition software that allows you to search your photos by who’s in them. It also scans for any readable text in the photos to add additional meta data. It will be interesting to see who ends up acquiring this startup - besides the obvious benefit for online photo albums - this could revolutionize image search for one of the players. So if you did a Google image search for oh, let’s say: “Britney Spears” - it could actually return all photos with the pop star in them - regardless of whether or not they had traditionally search engine baffling names like: “image_07.jpg”, “brit at the beach.jpg”, or “my-future-wife.gif”.

Orion + Voice = Star Trek? 2006/04/14

John Battelle at least jokes that it might be.

Google received a patent on April 12 for a voice interface for search. They even have an offline version of a demo available here.

That alone would be good enough for maps and other information over your mobile phone and pretty much make “411” obsolete.

But, they have also acquired and begun work on improving Ori Allon’s Orion technology.

Hmm… so you query Google verbally, Google scours the web for all relevant information, Orion compiles that information into a single document, a computer reads that document to you…

Call Majel Barrett - this sucker’s ready to go online!

(well, maybe almost)

What is CL2? 2006/04/11

According to TechCrunch it’s the top secret GMail companion calendar app, and he’s posted the screenshots to prove it.

Google Calendar

Supposedly the beta is still limited to about 200 Googlers, and although “a long way from release” they can only begin to expand the beta from here on out.

If I was Google, I wouldn’t “officially” launch GMail without it.

Here’s hoping.

Orion goes to Google 2006/04/11

Google out bids rivals Yahoo and MSN and steps up its search technology with Orion, a patented algorithm for displaying search results directly in the search window rather than requiring the user to “click through” to the actual page.

And as a bonus, the software’s creator, 26-year-old PhD student, Ori Allon, has put down stakes at the Googleplex to optimize his code for the big time.

This is a huge loss for Bill Gates who, after personally praising the software and it’s creator on multiple occasions, now ends up losing the bid.

Google and EarthLink Land San Francisco Wi-Fi Contract 2006/04/10

The San Francisco Times was the first to report the city’s decision last Thursday, and so far it hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as when Google first announced the bid last September.

Basically, Google will offer free 300kbs wireless internet access to anyone who lives in the city, and EarthLink will complement this with a to-be-determined faster broadband service for about $20 a month.

This all happened as a result of Mayor Galvin Newsom’s promise to address the “digital divide” by offering affordable (and now free) internet access to all citizens.

(A virtually unreported side of this are the implications of the city awarding a public contract that basically gives ISP monopoly status to Google and Earthlink… But that’s for another blog altogether, let’s get to the good stuff!)

So what’s in it for Google?

Ah, now here we are at last - there are a range of answers depending upon who you talk to - but by far the overwhelming favorite (which Google politely denies, of course) is a long term plan to blanket the nation in wi-fi coverage allowing for both context and location sensitive advertising via Google mobile-esque services. Free VOIP cell phone service is seen as a likely followup.

Okay, great, where do I sign up?

But why Google, why now? - Again, what’s in it for them?

And I don’t mean the simple answer -

“The more people who have access to the internet, the more people who use Google search, and that means clicking on Google ads!” - or even the slightly better “All along Google’s mission has been to organize the world’s information… And make it universally accessible! Brilliant!” Free email is one thing, and okay, nearly 3 gig of it is impressively generous, but free nationwide wi-fi is going to have serious operating expenses and Google must have more than adsense up it’s sleave if they think they can glean a profitable business model out of this.

Well they do. (this time it’s my quote, and granted, my speculation)

It’s called RFID, and it’s coming to a store near you. It’s going to change the way you think about shopping… and search…

Put 2 and 2 together with universal wi-fi and think about that for a moment, if you will.

XP on an Intel Mac? 2006/04/09

Personally, I’d prefer the option to run OSX on my PC - but Boot Camp does make a pretty enticing offer. Check out CNet’s article on the viability of an Intel based Mac gaming platform. I’m probably one of the few people who actually use a PC at home and a Mac for work - but there are many times that I find myself wondering why I stick with Windows at all. The answer of course is software support - going well beyond just gaming - so the potential for a dual boot G5 (is it still a G5 with Intel inside?) with an Apple cinema display for gaming sounded almost too good to be true. …then I remembered the price tag.

IGN - A Credit Card Leaching Honey Trap of Death 2006/04/08

This is just a buyer beware -

IGN is a credit card leaching honey trap of death. Once you sign up for an account you join a vast network of “free” services - and I mean a lot of services - honestly you could have just bought into the largest network of age verification porn keys - it’s crazy.

Then they store your credit card information and send it to all of these guys - and if you want to cancel your account or even just delete your credit card information - you can’t! You have to contact customer service directly between 9 and 5 Pacific Time!

Although, in the fine print of the service agreement they do finally admit that some users may feel uncomfortable with their personal information being stored on IGN servers and may want to remove it more immediately, for whatever reason, and so “although not generally recommended”, editing all of your account information to false information, would be an alternative way to effectively cancel you account- which is totally lame, but it was what I had to do.

So for a good time on the fraudulent Amex card I made up, head over to any IGN affiliated site and log in as ignsucks@ignsucks.com, password: ignsucks.

Anyway, all this because I couldn’t find ES IV Oblivion anywhere in Hong Kong today (I live in Hong Kong), so I thought Direct2Drive might be a good way to go - it wasn’t - they wouldn’t verify my US visa card because I’m in Hong Kong - I get that a lot - so then I thought “oh well, better delete the account” or at least my credit card information - found out that was impossible - and here we are.

Bottom line: stay away from IGN - their days as a useful game service run by friendly Nintendo fanboys are far behind them (sorry Peer, but you know it’s true) , so steer clear and head on over to NextGen or 1up.com - free content that’s better than IGN or GameSpy on their best day - and no more endless premium subscriptions, bonus offers, irritating pop-ups or other annoying porn-like scams.

Windows Live - Beta 2006/04/06

Everyone who hasn’t checked this out, should. It’s “beta” in the conventional sense - not the Google sense where it’s kickass but will stay in beta for three years anyway - or the traditional microsoft sense where your mouse explodes or something. I signed up for the mail - but it looks like there’s at least a month wait - if they decide you’re eligible at all - on who knows what basis…

Nintendo Posting Profits 2006/04/06

If you were worried about Nintendo in this Sony/Microsoft dominated market, well you can relax… for awhile anyway, thanks to that gimmicky wonder that is Nintendo DS.

Slashdot | DS Design = Nintendo Profits

Personally, I don’t really care for the DS, but luckily for Nintendo, I’m in the minority it seems.

Next Generation - Analysis: The Rise and Fall of Franchises 2006/04/06

Slashdot also has a link to this, but I wanted to say a little more about Next Gen’s analysis:

They spend more time on their general theory of the evolution of games than they do on the death of any franchises. On the franchise predictions: sure movie franchises will sink once the movie’s have been on DVD for a year or so, and yes GTA and Tony Hawk are getting stale, this is obvious stuff…

On their general theory - I disagree with both of their premises - firstly that the evolution of gaming is a march towards realism - it has been since the “next generation” consoles - but wasn’t to start with (pac man and space invaders had nothing to do with realism) - and won’t be forever -

Graphics will progress to photo realism, surely, but then what? The market may snap up cinematic games with photo-realistic graphics just like they scarf blockbuster movies all summer - but surely developers can do more with this medium than choose-your-own-adventure movies.

On the progression to online - not all games are good online games. That doesn’t make them bad games. Gaming isn’t a sport (or shouldn’t only be) - it’s also an artform - and like a good novel, some forms of it will always be best enjoyed individually, or at least non-competitively.

Google Romance 2006/04/04

I’m sure everyone’s seen it by now… (I’m a little behind on my posting, and this is a Google story too!) But here’s the link if you haven’t. They really had me going with this for a second…

Ah, man… that’s funny…


And it will stay funny right up untill Google actually launches a dating search service next year.

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion 2006/04/01

As the most ambitious PC RPG in years - the fourth entry in the Elder Scrolls series, Oblivion has an uphill battle ahead of it according to 1up.com.

Their feature on the game is actually a pretty in depth analysis of Western vs. Eastern RPG styles, that also explores the limitations of both the MMO and (single player) RPG models and the potential for the former supplanting the latter.

Could MMO’s replace RPG’s?

Well, for me they already have (Eldred on Warsong…) - but that’s not to say they go unmissed.

Something about a world where you have to wait in line behind exhalted heroes with god-like powers at the bank, sort of makes being one a little less exciting than it used to be in Dragon Warrior. (The fact that I was 8 years old then might be part of the reason, but I don’t think that’s all of it.

For this reason, while they might be early frontrunners, I think ulitmately, Sword’s and Sorcercy won’t prove the best traffic for the massively multi-player stage - Spore may be a lot closer to what the genre really calls for.