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Archive for August, 2011

Check out the Jetpack Joyride launch trailer

August 31st, 2011 No comments

Check out the Jetpack Joyride launch trailer screenshot

Halfbrick's latest iOS release, Jetpack Joyride, is now available in the App store and they have furnished this charming trailer which outlines the game's story. It's a complicated tale about a man and his love of a machine which will make you cry and weep.

Nick and I both spent a little bit of time playing Jetpack Joyride at PAX. For my part, it was a delightful and challenging one-button game with a lot of meat on its bones, but you should go and check out Nick's preview for a much more thorough examination.

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Exclusive: Tech mastermind Kai-Fu Lee on the “parallel universe” of startups in China

August 31st, 2011 No comments

What are the distinguishing characteristics of Chinese tech company founders?

“They are just as passionate and independent as the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and they work even harder!”

So said the the legendary computer scientist Kai-Fu Lee, Apple employee turned Microsoft engineer turned Google.cn chief, in an interview with VentureBeat this evening.

Two years ago, Lee left Google to start his own startup incubator, Innovation Works.

Tonight, we learned Lee had raised a $180 million fund for Innovation Works. The funding had come primarily from large, multinational corporations with a strong Western presence and from a handful of elite Silicon Valley investors and VC firms.

“We are the leading incubator and very early-stage fund,” said Lee. “We are unique in that we have a large team of seasonsed professionals to assist; we take a strong view on what areas will have the greatest growth and bet on companies with billion-dollar valuation potential; and we have a sizable fund and are able to double down on winning companies.”

Lee is one of the best known “sea turtles,” those who are born in China, study abroad and then return to China to live and work. In his travels, he had observed American models of startup incubation, such as Y Combinator, but he insisted those models would not work in China.

Education, he said, is technical to the exclusion of holistic business training. Conservative parents lead to risk aversion in young would-be entrepreneurs. Harsh judgments follow any failure. And the culture and HR needs are completely different.

Ultimately, Lee said he learned that with his crop of independent, hard-working Chinese companies, “Our imperative is to provide them the best possible support system and advice, but let them run the show.”

We asked Lee also about his experiences working with Western investors who sought to have a hand in the Chinese market — a realm many see as fascinating, mysterious and potentially profitable, if certain pitfalls can be circumnavigated. “I think there is a strange bipolar view,” said Lee, “euphoria versus disbelief… The US bipolar view is largely due to lack of understanding. I am disappointed at most of the Wall Street analysts on Chinese Internet stocks.”

In trading, Chinese tech stock has been on a sharp decline throughout the month, with such recognizable names as Renren and Baidu showing heavy losses for the month and the year to date. During August, some well-known Chinese web stocks fell as much as 20, 30 or even 40 percent.

Lee continued, “But in reality, it’s not that different from the United States. Companies that have a good product and business model and a good culture that cares about users will succeed. Some companies are overvalued and maybe even bubble, but just as many are very good and show great promise. The trick is picking the winners — just like in the U.S.”

Given the climate in which Lee founded his incubator, we asked whether he thought the Chinese Internet market would always be somewhat segregated. After all, in 2009, when Lee started Innovation Works, the government censorship and surveillance program Golden Shield was getting a lot of attention from Western media outlets, which created a sense that there were two Internets: China’s and everyone else’s. And in 2010, Google (Lee’s former employer) saw its Chinese relationships break down with accusations of hacking and a newfound unwillingness to comply with censorship policies.

Without the web properties (and the APIs) so familiar to Western eyes, will China’s Internet ever be one and the same with the larger web-based ecosystem?

“For the short-term, [the Chinese Internet market] will be somewhat segregated, due to a variety of reasons,” said Lee. “But in the long-term, there will be more convergence. We are helping a few global companies come into China.

“In the meantime, it is interesting to watch, as China is almost a parallel universe where the Internet is largely the same but starting to take a different path in a few interesting places.”


Filed under: VentureBeat


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Gears of War 3′s ‘Dust to Dust’ trailer is a twangy recap of games past

August 31st, 2011 No comments

What better way to introduce people to your third game than by catching them up on the first two? That's what this latest trailer for Gears of War 3 aims to do, through the powerful narrative device that is twangy slow jams and CGI. Epic, you know our weakness all too well!

JoystiqGears of War 3's 'Dust to Dust' trailer is a twangy recap of games past originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 01 Sep 2011 00:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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HOTD: Overkill Extended Cut’s second bonus chapter looks really gross

August 31st, 2011 No comments
We kinda get why the game's been banned in Australia now - the near-nude, skinless zombies are tough to look at. Good thing we'll get to shoot them right off the screen!

Sega's revealed the second location for the Extended Cut bonus chapters in House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut (the first was revealed to be "Naked Terror"), dubbed "Creeping Flesh." Side story protags Candy and Varla must shoot their way through a slaughterhouse that has been taken over by "a meaty disease of sorts," Sega's David Bruno revealed in a post on the PlayStation Blog. There's also a boss with a giant meat cleaver named Meat Katie, who's half Katie, half cow. We must admit, we're having a hard time seeing the cow in the image above.

JoystiqHOTD: Overkill Extended Cut's second bonus chapter looks really gross originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 01 Sep 2011 00:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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HOTD: Overkill Extended Cut’s second bonus chapter looks really gross

August 31st, 2011 No comments
We kinda get why the game's been banned in Australia now - the near-nude, skinless zombies are tough to look at. Good thing we'll get to shoot them right off the screen!

Sega's revealed the second location for the Extended Cut bonus chapters in House of the Dead: Overkill Extended Cut (the first was revealed to be "Naked Terror"), dubbed "Creeping Flesh." Side story protags Candy and Varla must shoot their way through a slaughterhouse that has been taken over by "a meaty disease of sorts," Sega's David Bruno revealed in a post on the PlayStation Blog. There's also a boss with a giant meat cleaver named Meat Katie, who's half Katie, half cow. We must admit, we're having a hard time seeing the cow in the image above.

JoystiqHOTD: Overkill Extended Cut's second bonus chapter looks really gross originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 01 Sep 2011 00:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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On 30th anniversary, HP launches limited-edition financial calculator

August 31st, 2011 No comments

For math geeks, it doesn’t get better than this.

Hewlett-Packard is marking the 30th anniversary of its HP 12c Financial Calculator today by launching a limited-edition version aimed at nostalgic fans.

While the company hasn’t won praise for its business strategy lately, the HP 12c calculator has been one of its best-selling products ever, and it has been in continuous production for the last three decades. It shows that high-quality products can keep selling for a very long time, even if it seems like time has passed them by. Yes, geeks can be very loyal.

“It lasted this long because of the quality of it,” said Dennis Harms, the original project manager on the 12c, now working in HP’s printer division, in an interview. “We had no idea it would last this long. We thought it would have a two-year life.”

As a result of the longevity, multiple generations of people have grown up with fond memories of the 12c. In some ways, the 12c had great timing. It came out at a time when it could address most of the functions that financial experts needed, like calculating interest rates for real estate agents. And it could calculate those functions instantly. You didn’t have to wait for it to boot up. So it came with a complete feature set and it didn’t need to be replaced every year with models that were on the “faster, better, cheaper” track. That’s pretty rare for tech gadgets, which normally always benefit when they move from last year’s model to next year’s model.

HP calls this machine the “gold standard of business calculation,” and the Museum of HP Calculators calls it the “calculator that wouldn’t die.” Though it has been followed by many other models since its introduction in 1981 for $150, the device is HP’s best-selling and longest-selling calculator. It came out the same year of the launch of the space shuttle Columbia and the same year as the IBM personal computer.

The HP 12c has a landscape layout, computations that are more accurate than federal standards publications, and a keypad that lets users enter complex formulas. It has replaceable batteries and fits in a shirt pocket. The calculator is one of only two calculators permitted for use during financial professional certification exams.

“It’s too bad we can’t calculate how many deals were decided, trades transacted and loans granted with the assistance of the 12c,” said Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer at the personal systems group at HP.

Harms (pictured) said that the previous calculator model suffered from quality problems. The keypads stuck and HP never shipped it. So Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the founders of HP, told the engineers to ship it only when it was perfect because the company’s reputation was riding on the 12c. At that time, calculators were a big part of HP’s business, which consisted mostly of selling test and measurement equipment.

“Management told us, ‘Don’t screw this up,’” Harms said.

HP built  chip factory to manufacture the two major chips for the 12c. The factory used the complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) manufacturing process, which now dominates the industry. One chip was nicknamed R2D2, after the Star Wars droid, as an abbreviation for RAM ROM Display Drive. And it had a microprocessor built with 6-micron circuitry. Now, chips can be fabricated with 32-nanometer circuits, many times smaller. (If I had a calculator handy, I would figure out how many times smaller that is). HP also used just-in-time inventory for the calculator.

That meant that it gathered its suppliers close to the factory and fed parts into the manufacturing as they were needed. The result was that HP could build 750,000 to 1 million units for the launch of the device. Retailers such as student book stores typically ordered much more than they needed because they were never sure HP would ship them enough supplies. So they ordered a lot of the new calculators — and the devices sold out. HP hasn’t quite figured out how many it has sold to date.

The new model will sell for $79.99. The calculator features Reverse Polish Notation, which improves efficiency and thereby speeds the calculation of loan payments and interest rates, time value of money, standard deviation, percent, cash flows, and other equations.

The limited edition calculator has a unique production number laser-etched on the back and is sold in an elegant gift box. HP is also reintroducing its HP 15c Scientific Calculator, first launched in 1982. That calculator was discontinued in 1989 and it lived on as a mobile app. The 15c has the same design, but the new one has 100 times faster processing speed. The 15c will sell for $99.99.

More info is available here on the history of the 12c and 15c. The 12c does have one flaw, Harms said. It has to do with date-related calculations, where it tells you what day of the month and year it will be when you ask it to calculate the date 200 days from now. You can only calculate until Nov. 16 in the year 4096. After that, you get an “out of range” error message.


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On 30th anniversary, HP launches limited-edition financial calculator

August 31st, 2011 No comments

For math geeks, it doesn’t get better than this.

Hewlett-Packard is marking the 30th anniversary of its HP 12c Financial Calculator today by launching a limited-edition version aimed at nostalgic fans.

While the company hasn’t won praise for its business strategy lately, the HP 12c calculator has been one of its best-selling products ever, and it has been in continuous production for the last three decades. It shows that high-quality products can keep selling for a very long time, even if it seems like time has passed them by. Yes, geeks can be very loyal.

“It lasted this long because of the quality of it,” said Dennis Harms, the original project manager on the 12c, now working in HP’s printer division, in an interview. “We had no idea it would last this long. We thought it would have a two-year life.”

As a result of the longevity, multiple generations of people have grown up with fond memories of the 12c. In some ways, the 12c had great timing. It came out at a time when it could address most of the functions that financial experts needed, like calculating interest rates for real estate agents. And it could calculate those functions instantly. You didn’t have to wait for it to boot up. So it came with a complete feature set and it didn’t need to be replaced every year with models that were on the “faster, better, cheaper” track. That’s pretty rare for tech gadgets, which normally always benefit when they move from last year’s model to next year’s model.

HP calls this machine the “gold standard of business calculation,” and the Museum of HP Calculators calls it the “calculator that wouldn’t die.” Though it has been followed by many other models since its introduction in 1981 for $150, the device is HP’s best-selling and longest-selling calculator. It came out the same year of the launch of the space shuttle Columbia and the same year as the IBM personal computer.

The HP 12c has a landscape layout, computations that are more accurate than federal standards publications, and a keypad that lets users enter complex formulas. It has replaceable batteries and fits in a shirt pocket. The calculator is one of only two calculators permitted for use during financial professional certification exams.

“It’s too bad we can’t calculate how many deals were decided, trades transacted and loans granted with the assistance of the 12c,” said Phil McKinney, vice president and chief technology officer at the personal systems group at HP.

Harms (pictured) said that the previous calculator model suffered from quality problems. The keypads stuck and HP never shipped it. So Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the founders of HP, told the engineers to ship it only when it was perfect because the company’s reputation was riding on the 12c. At that time, calculators were a big part of HP’s business, which consisted mostly of selling test and measurement equipment.

“Management told us, ‘Don’t screw this up,’” Harms said.

HP built  chip factory to manufacture the two major chips for the 12c. The factory used the complimentary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) manufacturing process, which now dominates the industry. One chip was nicknamed R2D2, after the Star Wars droid, as an abbreviation for RAM ROM Display Drive. And it had a microprocessor built with 6-micron circuitry. Now, chips can be fabricated with 32-nanometer circuits, many times smaller. (If I had a calculator handy, I would figure out how many times smaller that is). HP also used just-in-time inventory for the calculator.

That meant that it gathered its suppliers close to the factory and fed parts into the manufacturing as they were needed. The result was that HP could build 750,000 to 1 million units for the launch of the device. Retailers such as student book stores typically ordered much more than they needed because they were never sure HP would ship them enough supplies. So they ordered a lot of the new calculators — and the devices sold out. HP hasn’t quite figured out how many it has sold to date.

The new model will sell for $79.99. The calculator features Reverse Polish Notation, which improves efficiency and thereby speeds the calculation of loan payments and interest rates, time value of money, standard deviation, percent, cash flows, and other equations.

The limited edition calculator has a unique production number laser-etched on the back and is sold in an elegant gift box. HP is also reintroducing its HP 15c Scientific Calculator, first launched in 1982. That calculator was discontinued in 1989 and it lived on as a mobile app. The 15c has the same design, but the new one has 100 times faster processing speed. The 15c will sell for $99.99.

More info is available here on the history of the 12c and 15c. The 12c does have one flaw, Harms said. It has to do with date-related calculations, where it tells you what day of the month and year it will be when you ask it to calculate the date 200 days from now. You can only calculate until Nov. 16 in the year 4096. After that, you get an “out of range” error message.


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Project Zomboid gets an update and a Desura release

August 31st, 2011 No comments

Project Zomboid gets an update and a Desura release screenshot

Zombies may be old news, but Indie Stone's Project Zomboid is an ambitious little game that's taking the concept in a new, fascinating direction. It's a survival sim with a super-bleak, utterly fatalistic attitude. In fact one of its taglines is the question, "How will you die?"

And now it's getting an update. People who pre-purchased the game already have access to the ongoing pre-alpha development version already, and should get this update, which includes some much-demanded modding tools. The free demo version available on their site will not be getting the update, though, so fork over a few clams if you're feeling it.

Better still for players who like to fork over their clams in a more convenient manner, Project Zomboid is now available on Desura, a community-driven digital distribution service with an emphasis on indie games and mods.

"What about Steam?" you ask? Indie Stone have spoken about that as well, and the answer is, more or less "not right now", due to the being barely out of the game development equivalent of the fetal stage. So drop your "If it's not on Steam it doesn't exist" policy for a little bit if Project Zomboid appeals to you.

Undead to Rights: Project Zomboid Update [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]

 

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Awesomenauts not afraid to show 5 minutes of gameplay

August 31st, 2011 No comments

We were impressed by Awesomenauts when we got a chance to play it at Gamescom. Now you can see this League of Legends meets Smash Bros. title in action, with the game's latest trailer, featuring over five straight minutes of gameplay.

JoystiqAwesomenauts not afraid to show 5 minutes of gameplay originally appeared on Joystiq on Wed, 31 Aug 2011 23:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition DLC adds color, commentary

August 31st, 2011 No comments
Capcom has announced a few different DLC packs for Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition, thereby eradicating any doubt that the popular fighter hadn't been properly modernized.

The first pack, due on the week of Sept 6th, is the fairly self-explanatory (and immediately repulsive) "Color Pack 1." The first of several makeovers, it'll add 7 new colors per character, though these will not be saved in replay files and will not be viewable by opponents who don't own the DLC. It's up to you to describe the many ways in which they're missing out.

You'll also be able to download music packs, which add tunes from Street Fighter III's older entries (New Generation and Second Impact), within "the next month or so." Lastly, Capcom's planning to use "Match Pack" DLC as a vector to satisfy spectators. Two packs offer an hour's worth of content each, drawn from high-level matches saved during a "semi-secret" Capcom tournament and paired with commentary by James Chen. We'll learn more about their price and educational value later in the year.

JoystiqStreet Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition DLC adds color, commentary originally appeared on Joystiq on Wed, 31 Aug 2011 22:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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