Nintendo Wii’s Third-party Troubles

Nintendo Wii’s Third-party Troubles

Why third-party publishers still aren't thrilled with Wii U | Ars Technica

The Wii has been one of the best-selling home consoles in the history of gaming. It’s no surprise that Nintendo has hit the jackpot with their little Wii and all its little Miis. Nintendo introduced the world to the Wii with a shockingly sparse line-up of hard-hitting games — yet it featured an innovative motion-controller that had casual and hardcore gamers scrambling to get their hands on the semi-cheap game console. The Wii hasn’t lost steam since its November 19th, 2006 induction into the competitive market of interactive entertainment, but the third-party games haven’t picked up in their quality either.

According to recent NPD figures, the console has effectively sold well over 10 million units in the United States (surpassing Microsoft’s Xbox 360 installed base) and has sold over 12 million units in Japan. What’s amazing about these numbers is that the Wii’s software lineup has been on complete opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum when compared to the likes of the PS3 and Xbox 360. So while big-budget games like Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV and Metal Gear Solid 4 have all helped to move SKUs of the Xbox 360 and PS3, the Wii has solemnly stood by with a less audacious software backbone. The only big-name games the system has recently received were all first-party titles by Nintendo (i.e., Super Mario Galaxy, Mario Kart, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl). And despite lacking the provocative flavor of ‘M’ rated content in popular 360 and PS3 titles, the Wii has continued to power ahead of all its home console competitors in hardware sales.

While some might applaud Nintendo for the brave risk that has paid off for the company with a larger market share value, great sales and near-flawless publicity, the flip-side is that the Wii’s software isn’t quite as blockbuster-worthy as the hardware. With the exception of the popular miscellaneous fitness game, Wii-Fit, the remainder of the Wii’s recent software titles seem to verge on lazy, bargain-bin quality games and the occasional licensed-property conversion. Furthermore, this was an argument put forth last year regarding the Wii’s software performance and quality, which was still staggering outside of Nintendo’s own first-party titles and a few PS2/Gamecube remakes. Now fast forward one year later and the Wii is still in the third-party crisis state that it was a year ago.

Take for example, if you look at any NPD software sales chart for the Wii and minus out any first-party titles from Nintendo, the Wii really wouldn’t be in the top 10 for monthly software sales. Also take note that if you compare the top 20 software sales charts for third-party games for both the Wii and PS3, the Wii won’t have anything on there if it’s not Guitar Hero. Again, this criticism is only in comparison to the ratio of consoles sold versus the amount of software being moved for the console, in the third-party sector. So while Nintendo has continued to dominate the gaming hardware market with casual care, they don’t seem to want to expand beyond that casual dominance. I think what’s sad is that Nintendo has set a trend for many third-party publishers to follow in the footsteps of being casually trendy with their projects, when in fact the trend itself is not for the software but for the hardware.

Often times the games that sell well from a third-party publisher for the Wii usually comes from the likes of Electronic Arts (e.g., Tiger Woods, NASCAR, Madden, etc.,) Activision (e.g., Guitar Hero, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, etc.,) or Ubisoft (e.g., Brothers in Arms, Raymond Raving Rabbids, etc.) But in all honesty, most of the fore-mentioned publishers have the same software titles on the PS3 and Xbox 360. But when you talk about third-party exclusives for the Wii it’s often times a completely different story when looking at the sales charts. For example, MiniCopter: Adventure Flight by Aksys Games, how well do you think it did in sales? What about Wild Earth: African Safari by Majesco? Or possibly Wacky Races: Crash & Dash by Eidos Interactive? A quick google search of any of these titles will return poor review scores and unpropitious user feedback.

Now every system, of course, will have its fair share of third-party shovel-ware (e.g., Vampire Rain for the Xbox 360, The Shield for the PS2, etc.) But in the same manner there are a few third-party titles, both exclusive and multiplatform, which manage to make the console look legitimate as a gaming machine…and aimed at matching the quality of the software experience with the sales of the console hardware (e.g., Call of Duty 4, John Woo’s Stranglehold, Bioshock, etc.) Now there are a couple of upcoming titles for the Wii that stand out in the third-party fray, but the noteworthy games are still multiplatform games: Ferrari Challenge, Sonic Unleashed and Star Wars: Force Unleashed. Probably the most noteworthy third-party exclusive for the Wii this year is Skate IT by Electronic Arts. Despite Nintendo assuring gamers that their third-party sales are better than the competition, it’s troubling to know that the quality of many of the third-party games still aren’t getting any better. Seriously, the one thing we currently don’t need in the gaming industry is a continuous flood of below-average games that don’t sell very well for a very popular home console. Hopefully, in the near future Nintendo will bring back an Official Seal of Quality — not an Official Nintendo Seal — which may encourage some publishers to push past their bargain-bin aspirations and finally aim to make some quality third-party exclusives.…

Nintendo DS: Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Your Handheld

Nintendo DS: Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Your Handheld

10 Facts You Didn't Know About The Nintendo 2DS - YouTubeThe Nintendo DS handheld gaming system is currently the most popular handheld console, and for good reason. With a plethora of amazing and creative game titles, WiFi capability, and a slick design (seen in the newest Lite model), the DS has plenty going for it. Gamers have responded well to the dual screens, one with a touchpad and the other just for viewing. However, many Nintendo DS fans may not know about some of the other useful operations that this powerful handheld may perform. Most of these are available for free online (often created by individuals, and called ‘homebrew’) although they often require a ‘flash cartridge.’ Often used by game developers, these cartridges have room for a micro-SD card onto which the user loads programs from their computer. The cartridge then fits into the DS the same way normal DS games are loaded. The R4 is one of the most popular DS flash cartridges, available online.

Mp3 player: Most Flash cartridges come with a built-in MP3 player functionality. This is thanks to a program that comes loaded on them, called ‘Moonshell.’ Simply copying and pasting MP3 file into a directory on an SD card, then booting that up on ones DS and running Moonshell allows the user play the music files. Sound quality, in my opinion, is fine, and one can listen to music either through headphones or the built-in speakers.

Sketchbook: While Nintendo has released a few games with drawing and sketching functionality, the real jewel in this area is in the form of a program called Colours. Available for free online (see links at the bottom of the page), Colours combines an incredibly powerful drawing program with the ability to email pictures (via wi-fi), save them as .PNGs for export to PC and a wonderful online gallery. The stunning array of features available for just drawing with Colours makes it a must have for any artist with a DS.

Animation Tool: Probably didn’t know that the DS could be used to create flip-book style animations, right? Using the free program, Flipbook, DS handheld users can edit a series of slides, and then make them into an animation. It is basically a paint program, with the ability to save each edited slide.

Internet Chat: The DS has a built in mic, that is used extensively in some games. It can also be used to supposedly chat with other users online. The DS wi-fi compatibility can be a shaky sometimes, making chat somewhat difficult. Hopefully, these kinks will be worked out, and someone will create a VoiP-style homebrew program for the DS.

Palm Pilot: Using the amazing free DS program DS Organize, users can turn their handheld into a palm pilot/PDA-style device. DS Organize has a calendar, wif-fi browser, IRC chat, notepad, address book, and many other useful features. It also has a homebrew database browser, so if you are connected you can access and download different useful applications, game and even demos.

Chat Program: The built-in DS program Pictochat was much-talked about before the popular handheld’s launch. It was even the feature of a FOX News report concerning dangerous individuals harassing minors with it. However, it really is rarely ever used by most DS people, partly thanks to the general lack of people in the vicinity with a DS! If you don’t have a cell phone, its a very easy way to chat with a friend, text message style (but with even greater functionality), in a classroom, dorm, or other closed areas.

Linux: One impressive homebrew (free!) application for the DS is a version of Linux just for this handheld. It’s been released online, and boasts several interesting features. Don’t expect a replacement for your Windows XP or Vista PC, but its probably a useful tool nonetheless.

Ebook Reader: Moonshell (previously mentioned for playing MP3s) also supports eBooks. Not only that, but there is a strong community of DS eBook fans, with several great resource sites, and a program created just for eBook reading other than Moonshell

Comic Book/Manga Reader: Along the same vein as the eBook reader is the Comic Book DS program. Another freebie, it was developed for reading Manga with the DS, and it is quite useful. It can be a little hard to find, but several websites host it. You will need to get a converter tool (also available online) to convert .JPG and other scans of comics to the Comic Book DS format.

Video and Movie player: Depending on the size of your SD card, you can watch videos of varying length on your DS. Once again, the popular Moonshell program comes in handy, as it is able to handle certain types of video files. A converter is often needed for this type of action, but the conversion process doesn’t seem to result in too much quality loss.The converter also compresses the file size, helping when the SD card space is limited.…

PC Gaming: Winning Video Cards

PC Gaming: Winning Video Cards

The Best Graphics Cards for 2021 | PCMag

When it comes to PC hardware, things have certainly come a long way – especially performance. Even in a short span of only a year, components can be improved by leaps and bounds. It is these advancements and changes that drive performance changes and push the envelope in software functionality. Gamers are familiar with this endless cycle, as a system’s performance can make or break a gaming experience.

Aside from the CPU and memory, the video card is an essential component of any serious gaming system. Unlike years ago, modern cards are rated with both processor and memory specifications. Similar to a computer’s CPU (Central Processing Unit) handling system instructions, a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) handles instructions specific top the video card. Also similar to a CPU, there is the capability to overclock a GPU for increased performance.

Like most other devices and components in the realm of technology, video cards also follow the pattern of various models with various features offered at various prices.

Hardware Revolution does a fine job of routinely checking out and often testing the different specs of components including cards, and categorizing them by price.

The first set of cards to consider is the budget cards. These are cards for the casual to serious gamer that don’t desire the highest level of performance on the latest titles. Often these are cards that content a subset of the more expensive cards, or they are potentially cards that are near their end of retail life and contain older technology that was replaced by something newer. The gameplay experience may be compromised on newer 3D game titles because of this; however, a typical solution for a more fluid gameplay experience is to adjust in-game settings to lower resolutions and details. Mid-range cards can be interesting. These can also include cards that are near end of life, or simply cards that may have less RAM or lack the GPU speed or overclocking that a higher end model may contain. High end cards speak for themselves. These are cards that offer the ultimate gaming experience.

Cards costing $100 or less that provide reputable performance include:

GeForce GT 240 512MB GDDR5

Radeon HD 4850 512MB

Geforce 9800GT

Cards costing $100 – $250:

Radeon HD 5770 1GB


Top cards over $250:

GeForce GTX 470 1280MB (aaproximately $300)

Radeon HD 5870 1GB (approximately $400)

Radeon HD 5970 2GB (approximately $680)

For more information including specific tech specs be sure to check out Hardware Revolution.…

PC Gaming Vs PC Market

PC Gaming Vs PC Market

PC gaming isn't dead, and will soon overtake consoles - ExtremeTech

Now, when it comes down to it, PC is really the ultimate platform for gaming, not only because the mouse and keyboard set-up allows for games that are just not feasible on consoles (e.g. Total War games, Crayon Physics, Sims, IL-2, WoW, Counter-Strike…) but also because it is a platform not under regulations of a manufacturer like Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo and thus is an incredible arena for games made by indie developers, a lot of which are free and full of innovation. In addition, the PC gaming library has a lot of history and its size simply cannot be compared to anything else. Bring in the fact that PC can run emulators for most game systems released and it begins to make sense why some PC gamers act so elitist. Finally, what makes PC gaming so ultimate is that it gets constant updates from the gaming community in the form of mods and updates. There may be a lot of frustrating issues with poorly optimized console ports or extremely buggy releases but when thinking just about the selection of games to be found on the PC, console gaming can be viewed as a sidedish or an appetizer while PC gaming is the real deal.

In recent years however, gaming has become more and more mainstream and PC gaming in particular has been put under serious fire. The most notable developers and publishers have focused much more on the console realm than on the PC. Huge gaming sites have often ignored PC aspect of gaming in many of their articles and features. Whenever a multiplatform game is discussed or debated on, the PC version doesn’t seem to receive too much attention compared to its console counterparts and what’s worse, majority of PC exclusives released this day and age are overlooked and put under the radar by many gamers as many important PC genres have now become extremely niche (e.g. point-and-click adventure, flight simulation, 4X…). Awesome new PC exclusives are released every week (especially so with how huge services like Steam has become) and so gaming wise, PC is still a thriving realm, but the gaming market has drastically changed and I get the feeling that the change has been rather detrimental for PC gamers.

I felt this the most when I visited my local Gamestop or other electronic stores like Circuit City (now gone) or Best Buy. The selection continually got smaller and cheaper each time I went to the store. A game that was sold at $50 three months ago was now selling for $30 new. My biggest surprise was when I was finding games that were selling for $5 or $7 new when these games were selling for at least $30 a year or two ago! Price depreciation in the PC gaming realm is alarmingly fast and not only that, the selection was often extremely disappointing in terms of new games released. It was very easy to find awesome deals or bundles for titles like Diablo Warchest or Adventure Collection (five point-and-click adventure games for $15) but newly released PC-centric games happened far too infrequently.

Gaming wise, PC is still extremely strong, with Blizzard’s World of Warcraft garnering more than 12 million followers. In fact, the mmo arena is becoming fierce with competition and this is the genre that gives PC gaming its legs. Many PC gamers that get into these mmos turn into power gamers where they stick with one or two mmos for months if not years. The market is also heavy on expansions, as exemplified by how franchises like Sims have been handled all this time. With Steam becoming such an integral part of PC gaming, the market has also become more in tune with small digitally distributed titles like Audio Surf and Zeno Clash and the like. It’s become the perfect sort of area for power gamers, casual gamers, those into indie games, indie gamemakers/modders, or for those into niche pc-centric genres like flight simulation or tycoon sorts of games but there is no doubt that with these sorts of changes, the pc market has definitely become limited and only profitable for certain specific types of developers.

Without a doubt, PC is still the ultimate platform for gaming, but I think the way the PC market has drastically changed is a good reason to be worried a bit about how things will be for this platform, especially as pc games become more and more niche to rest of the gaming public.…

Cliff Bleszinksi’s Criticism of PC Gaming is Valid — For Now

Cliff Bleszinksi, the head designer at Epic Games, has criticized the state of PC gaming, declaring it vastly inferior to console gaming. He is receiving heavy flak for his comments. And rightly so–he’s wrong.

The war of the console versus the computer is a war that the console, by its very nature, cannot win.

At present, the console gaming system is king. Game play runs smoother than most personal computer games, its graphics are better, and it offers the best games. Add to that the fact that consoles aren’t any more expensive than a top video card and you’ve got a console-dominated market.

But it won’t last forever.

One could make the argument that console gaming will never be beaten by the personal computer. While the personal computer must concentrate its efforts on a multitude of functions–word processing, email, chat, music, web browsing, gaming, etc.– the console exists for one primary purpose: to play high-performance video games. And if a machine focuses on a primary function, how can it not be superior?

But how much difference is there between a console and a computer? They both have video cards, and they both use the internet to play games online. Newer consoles like the PS3 and Xbox play CDs and DVDs, and even the older PS2 had USB ports to allow use of computer controllers. They both download software upgrades and anti-virus software from online servers. And newer consoles even have hard drives built-in to their system for storage.

With so much in common, what’s the difference between the two?

The major difference is that people need their computers more. Internet isn’t cheap, and paying for console internet services like Xbox Live service is the same as paying two internet expenses. Network adapters to access the internet are already included in computers, so why purchase another one? I just upgraded to a 200 gigabyte hard drive on my computer, so why pay over $100 for another hard drive in my Xbox? Computers can play DVDs and CDs, so why do I need that function on my console? I can’t chat on MSN with my console, and the only way I can chat on it in game servers is if I buy a separate keyboard for it. I have a keyboard already–why would I want to buy a second?

Why pay two internet bills, why buy two video cards, why buy two hard drives, why buy two internet adapters? Why take up a ton of space with extra cords, controllers, and keyboards when I’ve got enough space taken up with my computer?

In short, why not consolidate everything into my computer?

That will, ultimately, be the thinking of gamers. The simple fact is that the computer can do everything the console can, but not vice-versa. Consoles can’t surf the web, can’t chat, can’t use word processing to write an essay, can’t print, can’t check my email, can’t stream movies, etc. And it’s only natural that gaming would progress toward the personal computer.

At present, a good portion of Americans own a computer and have access to the internet. And as new generations of children grow up with computers as a part of their daily lives, they will only become more prevalent in the decades to come. Personal computers and internet technology will dominate this coming century and the centuries to follow. And that’s not an opinion; it’s an undeniable, irrefutable fact.

That’s not to say everyone who owns a computer has the ability to run high-performance games. Computer gaming usually requires an upgraded video card that has a good deal of RAM, and those can run anywhere up to $600. But as technology in computers becomes more advanced and better technology becomes standard in new computers, more people will have access to better gaming machines and it will open the industry to a wider scope of consumer.

Just think how advanced video cards will be in a standard computer in 10 years. Just as the 56k modem blew away the 14k modem so many years ago, top of the line video cards that run for hundreds of dollars today will be put to shame by cards found in most any stock home computer at Best Buy or Wal-Mart.

And not only that, but computers are more easily upgradable than consoles. Take the card out of the slot, stick a new one in, run a setup disk and voila, you’re upgraded.

The console gaming system is king–for now. But will it remain atop the gaming world in 2010, or 2020, or 2050? In my opinion: no.

At the moment, it’s just as expensive to buy a top of the line video card as it is to buy a brand-new console. But when technology advances to the point when everyone has a good video card in their system, and can upgrade to a better one for less than half a grand, computer gaming will become king. It may take 10, 20, or 40 years, but computers are machines that can’t be replaced by anything else on the market.

The computer is quickly bringing the music industry to its knees and is just beginning to take a toll on the movie industry, so what chance does the gaming industry stand?…

Covers – a Free CD/DVD Replacement Cover Tool for Mac OSX

Covers – a Free CD/DVD Replacement Cover Tool for Mac OSX

18 Best Full Free CD & DVD Cover PSD Templates For Designers (2021 Update)  - 365 Web ResourcesHave you ever run into the situation where something got spilled, and your brand new DVD or CD insert got ruined? I have, and it’s no fun. You spend all that money on entertainment, only to have the CD booklet or the DVD cover art end up ruined.

What’s a person to do?

You should check out a free utility for Mac called Covers, is what you should do!

Covers, from Pathos Software, is a free utility that allows you to quickly search three online cover art databases for exactly what you need. Whether you need a movie insert, the back cover art for a music CD, or even video games, you’re in luck, Covers has you… covered.

Covers is really easy to use, although to be honest, it’s a bit light on features at the moment. To use Covers, simply start it up. You’ll see a screen with a search bar at the top, and then two tabs, labeled CD and DVD, below that, and below that a larger blank area.

To use Covers, simply select the tab that matches what you’re looking for, type in the name of the album or movie, and hit the Find button. Covers will immediately take you to whichever website you’ve selected as your default, with the search already performed.

From there, you’ll likely have your choice of multiple options (whether that means different people have scanned the cover, or that you can pick between different art from different regions of the world), so pick which one you like, download it, and then drag that image into the drop zone.

Now, just hit the Print button, print your cover art, and you’re all set. Brand new cover art, in just a few clicks. As I said, Covers is really easy to use.

Unfortunately, I feel that – at least at the moment – it’s a bit unwieldy. Maybe it has something to do with my recently looking at a bunch of YouTube downloaders that allow you to search YouTube right from the desktop application, but I want something like that for Covers. In my “idealized” Covers, when I hit the Find button, instead of being taken to a website, I’d be shown the search results right inside Covers. I could view my options, then download the art and print it, from within Covers, all in one step.

Additionally, I’d like the option to be able to save the cover art in a central database, hopefully one I could then browse with Covers. At the moment, Covers loses all information on previously downloaded cover art the second you quit the program. It would be nice to have some type of browser (maybe similar to iTunes or iPhoto?), so all that cover art could be collected.

Still, Covers does do exactly what it says it does. In my testing, I never failed to find just what I was looking for, and the option to choose from three different websites ( (the default),, and, is nice. I’ve used in the past and always found it useful, and seems nice as well.

So, there you are. Covers is a nice program, still a bit light in features, but for what it does, it’s stable, effective and easy to use. And it’s free, so download a copy for yourself and try it out.…

RapidoResizer – a Free Image Resizer/Rotator for Mac OSX

RapidoResizer – a Free Image Resizer/Rotator for Mac OSX

RapidoResizer for Mac - DownloadDo you ever run across a picture that’s perfect in every way, except it’s too big, or too small, or needs to be rotated or converted to a different format? Well, if you do, and opening up your copy of Photoshop or other graphic editor is just too much hassle for such a quick job, then RapidoResizer may just be for you.

Unless you hate commercials.

Let me explain. RapidoResizer, which I’ll discuss in just a bit, is really about half program, half commercial. Each time you quit the program – every single time! – you get an annoying scroll-down sheet that plugs other programs published by the makers of RapidoResizer. I wouldn’t mind (as much), if RapidoResizer was a shareware program, and the advertisement was simply trying to get me to buy a license. But RapidoResizer is freeware (not to mention the fact that the programs being advertised all cost around 50-100 dollars, in other words not even in the same ballpark as what a program like RapidoResizer might cost were it shareware), and so the advertising, after the first time, got incredibly annoying.

I was hoping the commercial would stop appearing every time after I clicked the link to check out the other products, however it keeps appearing every single time. Thankfully, the other freeware products I’ve tried from this company (RapidoStart and RapidoSerial), don’t behave this way.

Anyway, enough griping, and onto what RapidoResizer actually does.

Because frankly, it’s a pretty decent program. To use it, simply drag an image onto its icon (or onto the drop zone in the main window, if it’s already running). The program will scan the image for a second, then show you a preview of it. You will also notice a floating black window; this window has all the RapidoResizer options on it.

You can:

Change the dimensions of the image: You can change the dimensions to whatever you want. By default, RapidoResizer will keep the image proportionally identical to the original, but if you want to stretch or squash it, you can.

Rotate the image: This is probably the one feature that makes it tempting to use RapidoResizer over something like ResizeIt, a program I really like, but one that doesn’t rotate images. You can rotate the image 90 degrees in either direction, or 180 degrees.

Change the format of the image: RapidoResizer supports JPG, PNG, TIFF, GIF and BMP, the most common image formats in use today. You’ll also notice, as you change from format to format, that RapidoResizer estimates the size of your image at the new format, which is a nice touch.

However, RapidoResizer isn’t perfect. In my testing, I was opening PNG files I’d taken as screen shots, and converting them to JPG, for uploading to HubPages. I was surprised, then, to see that after I’d changed the format to JPG in the main window and clicked the “Save As” button, that the image format was still set to PNG! Obviously I changed it and continued saving, but if I hadn’t been paying attention, I would have missed this and just assumed that the image was converted. It should be noted more clearly that the only thing happening in the main window is an estimate of size, not actually the format conversion.

Other than that, RapidoResizer is pretty good. As I mentioned, I typically use ResizeIt for all my image resizing and conversion needs. It’s fast, easy to use, and does everything I want. I don’t often have the need to rotate an image, but if I did, Preview (Apple’s image viewing program), can do that with a single keystroke combination. Because of this, I don’t have much need for RapidoResizer (not to mention being annoyed – obviously – with the commercials I’m forced to click through each and every time I use it!), but it’s not a bad program. I just recommend others ahead of it. Still, if you’d like to check it out, you can download your free copy at the App4Mac home page.…

Ever wanted a butler like Batman? Now you can build your own

Ever wanted a butler like Batman? Now you can build your own

Batman (Character) - Comic Vine

Batman had Alfred, Richie Rich had Cadbury and Inspector Clouseau and the Green Hornet both had Katos…and if you’ve always wanted a butler of your own to manage your household and…well, be at your beck and call, today’s post will show you can finally make that dream come true.


Check out Chives, a robotic “butler” that user Eric Forkosh, an engineer at created. Chives (wordplay on Jeeves, perhaps?) talks, drives, pours drinks and more…watch the video to see him in action. He’s not the prettiest butler in town, but he gets the job done.

According to the video, here are some of Chive’s components:

  • Wheelchair motor base
  • A laptop processor as “brains”
  • Voice-controlled functionality
  • Text-to-speech replies
  • Cool sound effects
  • A built-in mini fridge (I must admit, I like this feature!)
  • Two robotic arms that pour drinks and grip objects
  • Webcam image processing
  • Web server remote control
  • Inputs for sensors such as sonar sensors

Another awesome capability is to control Chives via your Smartphone…much less cumbersome than having to be near a laptop!

So what can you do with your new Robot Butler? Here’s a list of what Chives can do.

  • Voice Commands for weather, time, and temperature (he’s linked to
  • Pour a drink bottle into a cup
  • Manual control with a joystick
  • Cool soda cans in a mini fridge
  • Face recognition and greet people by their names
  • Follow a person wearing a certain color shirt
  • Avoid obstacles
  • Automatically dock to a charger (similar to a Roomba)
  • Sweep the floor
  • Wireless control over the internet
  • Wireless Remote Control from iPod Touch or SmartPhone

And if you want to know how to build your own butler, Eric can show you how over at Or maybe you’re way ahead of us and have already built your own? If so, I’m dying to hear about it.  Give me a shout out below.…

It’s a Treasure Chest of Technology aboard the Endless Summer

It’s a Treasure Chest of Technology aboard the Endless Summer

The Endless Summer' 50 year box set is pure surfing treasure - Men's Journal

What Yacht Rules the High Seas?

This is Part 3 of a three-part series. Is this your favorite hi-tech yacht? Cast your vote in the comments section below!


Ever wonder what modern day pirates would plunder? My guess, given the relative scarcity of dubloons, would be high-tech equipment along the lines of what’s installed on this 92-foot Paragon yacht. I wanted to take a look at one more outrageously equipped sailing vessel and this one really goes overboard (yes I actually said that) – with an incredible 800 pounds of home theater equipment craftily stowed away in custom racks installed above the pilot house. The equipment list is jaw-dropping to say the least.


Designed by ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group out of Laguna, CA (who coincidentally has one of the strangest websites I’ve ever seen) and installed by Atlantic Stereo, this system’s build began with the yacht’s construction itself. Custom bundles of cables (CAT 5 high-speed data, RG6 video, and Cresnet home control cables) were provided to the boat builders in Taiwanso the system could be completed back home in California. You can read more about the features of the Endless Summer in the article that appeared in Yachting Magazine.


“What made it complex was that the system had to be installed in a tight space,” says systems designer Xeven Zorra of ArchiTechKnowlogy Design Group, whom Atlantic Stereo called in to plan the system.

Kaleidescape technology supplies the music and movies on demand in all four staterooms, the crew quarters, galley, salon and decks. I like the idea of the waterproof Crestron remotes on the deck (it would be tragic to drop a non-waterproof model in the Jacuzzi) and the iPod dock in the salon allows guests to bring their favorite tunes along to the party. Finally, the captain can access the ship’s controls via a Crestron touchpanel in the galley.

Each of the guest staterooms and the crew quarters has a 20-inch widescreen Sharp LCD, with two Sonance Symphony Extreme in-ceiling weatherproof speakers. In the closet of each cabin and on a stainless-steel bracket is an Xbox 360 game console that can be used as a DVD player. The steel bracket also supports a Crestron Cat-5 room solution box hidden behind the closet wall; it receives the audio/video signals over Cat 5 wire from the central racks. The master stateroom features a surround-sound system with a 42-inch Fujitsu plasma.…

Weird Science – build your own voice-controlled home automation Avatar

Weird Science – build your own voice-controlled home automation Avatar

Voice Controlled Home Automation - YouTubeLast week, we looked at how far home automation technology has come over the past decade, from using simple light-control devices like the Clapper, to incorporating voice recognition to automate your home. And for all of you forward-thinking DIY home automation geeks–you can take it even further and create a face for the voice.

In this video by Brian Baker, he introduces “Stephanie”, a physical interface or avatar, if you will, that he created to receive his voice commands. She’s an ongoing project  that currently controls various lights in Brian’s room, appliances, window blinds, etc. She also can read off the weather and bus times at the nearest intersection.


He basically took a mask from a hobby shop (Hobby Lobby), the geared DC motor out of a Billy Bass singing fish for the animatronics, and added circuitry. He also utilized Microsoft’s SAPI: an API that reads an XML file of your creation and listens for particular phrases listed in it. When it hears them, it notifies your program, and also does speech synthesis. Brian named his avatar Stephanie because the computerized voice sounds like the female version of famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking.

Brian’s website gives a very detailed account of how he created Stephanie–and it didn’t hurt that his father is an electrician, FYI.

The video itself is surprisingly not high tech–but what Brian has done is fascinating.  Stephanie’s not quite Kelly LeBrock from Weird Science – but it’s just a matter of time before someone creates a more life-like version and we’ll have our own walking, talking avatars to respond on command.

What do you think of Stephanie? Useful or overkill? Leave me your thoughts below……