Thursday, March 31, 2011

Google bestows 1Gbps fiber network on Kansas City, Kansas

Kansas City, Kansas will have a new Internet provider next year, one that operates a 1Gbps fiber-to-the-home network, provides "open access" to any ISP wanting to use the pipes, and charges fees in line with current rates for much slower connections. That new Internet provider? Google.

When Google announced in February 2010 that it would build and operate its own fiber test network, the company said it would "offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people." More than 1,000 US towns applied for the program, and Google chose one with around 150,000 people.

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How Halo: Reach should have ended

After witnessing the adventures of the invincible Master Chief in previous Halo games, were you disappointed in the decidedly more mortal slant of Reach? If so, you might want to check out a new ending as imagined by How It Should Have Ended and In short: It ends before it starts.

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JoystiqHow Halo: Reach should have ended originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 31 Mar 2011 07:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Updated Windows Phone schedule: good news for most, AT&T still awful

First posted a week ago, Microsoft has updated its Windows Phone 7 update pages for the US and the rest of the world. The good news is that most networks are now rolling out the copy-and-paste update codenamed "NoDo," giving users of the platform the much talked-about feature, as well as some healthy performance boosts and other minor improvements.

The company does warn, however, that due to its "gradual" updates, it could still take two weeks to receive the update, even if other users on the same network have it already.

The bad news? AT&T is still "testing" the update. A footnote says that the company hopes this "testing" will be complete by "early April." It's worth pointing out that the first Windows Phone 7 update started rolling out more than six weeks ago, and still isn't available to AT&T users—and yet over that same timeframe, Apple has developed iOS 4.3.1, tested it internally, given the software to network operators for whatever testing they may need to do, and then rolled it out to every user of the iPhone 3GS, GSM iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2, iPod touch 3rd generation, and iPod touch 4th generation. Including AT&T customers. We've asked AT&T if it is willing to shed any light on this—explain what the testing is, why it takes so long, and why the iPhone has none of these problems—but the company hasn't got back to us.

German operator Deutsche Telekom and Spanish operator Telefonica are similarly holding back both updates.

Microsoft is starting to acknowledge the disappointment—or outright anger—that the cack-handed update has caused. In an update to an earlier blog post, Eric Hautala (general manager for Windows Phone "Customer Experience Engineering") wrote:

I know many of you are disappointed, even angry. You certainly have a right to be. We've fallen far short of your expectations, and our own, and for that I'm truly sorry. We didn't set out to let you down. But it's clear we did. Whether you're someone who has followed our progress from the start, or are new to Windows Phone, you deserve the updates we've promised. My job is to get us on the right path and deliver them.

What he didn't do, and what I suspect many users of the platform would rather see, is actually fix anything, or give any indication of how Microsoft would make things better in the future. Though some of the problems are certainly Microsoft's to fix—the slow, staggered rollouts, the poor communication, and the infrequent updates (one feature update in six months simply isn't enough if the company wants to achieve parity with its competitors)—the ability for carriers to hold the platform, and their users, hostage looks set to remain a fundamental problem. Without clear, positive steps taken to address this problem, Windows Phone 7 updates are always going to leave users with an experience that is more Android than it is iOS.

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Monster Tale Review

One of the best parts of owning a successful console is that erratic trickle of easily overlooked gems you see at the very tail end of its life. Games like Drill Dozer, Arc the Lad Collection, and Persona 4, for example: latecomers whose task was to turn over the chairs, switch off the lights, and send home the lonely stragglers determined to see those systems through to the end. Now the DS can lay claim to its own swan song, too, thanks to DreamRift's Monster Tale.

Monster Tale may or may not be the last interesting DS game we'll ever see in the U.S. -- maybe E3 2011 will surprise us! -- but there's no question that it's worth playing. A follow-up of sorts to 2009's platform/puzzler Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure, Monster Tale is one part portable Castlevania, one part Pok�mon. It's a somewhat non-linear adventure where you collect different powers to unlock previously inaccessible areas, very much in the vein of the recent Shantae: Risky's Revenge. What sets it apart from its peers is that your little heroine, Ellie, is only one half of the power-up equation. The other half -- the lion's share, really -- is invested in her companion, Chomp, the game's eponymous monster.

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Fox gearing up for fight with Time Warner over iPad TV streaming

Time Warner Cable has been facing a backlash from the TV industry ever since it rolled out its live-video-streaming iPad app earlier this month. Now, the cable giant faces one of its first real legal challenges over the app in the form of a cease-and-desist letter from Fox, and it likely won't be the last unless Time Warner can figure out a way to placate the channels that are left.

Time Warner's free iPad app made its debut in mid-March with the ability to stream live TV from more than 30 channels to existing Time Warner cable subscribers. The video was available in high definition and the app only allowed streams of what was currently airing—the company said at the time that video-on-demand capabilities and control over DVR recordings (a la Comcast's iPad app) would come at a later date. Even without these extra features, Time Warner's app was the first from a cable company to go straight to live TV, with Time Warner CEO Rob Marcus declaring that it would "convert any room in a house into a TV room."

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Rare, amazing gaming collectibles auctioned to support Japan

In what's becoming a pleasantly regular occurrence, gamers are banding together to help support those in need. In this case, the Play For Japan charity is looking to raise money to aid those who were affected by the recent disasters that have rocked Japan. Game developers, publishers, and journalists have all donated some amazing collector's items, with all proceeds going to the relief effort.

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The GoPano: A Panoramic Lens System For The iPhone

There are quite a few panoramic apps for the iPhone but they all require a steady hand, lots of patience and, most important, you can only take still photos. The GoPano aims to solve that by adding a panoramic mirror to the iPhone's video camera, thereby allowing you to take panoramic video in real time. The GoPano simply snaps onto your iPhone and the included app does the rest. As you record, you can turn the panorama by swiping the screen to shoot what you want as it happens.

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Firefox 4 vs. IE9: Launch Day Breakdown

Firefox claims 10.1 million downloads and crushes IE9, but if you look behind the numbers it paints a different story.

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Sina replaces Google engine with their own

Sina replaces Google engine with their ownSina, the second largest online portal in China, has announced today that they have replaced their Google-backed search engine with their new search technology.

Says Sina:

Our contract (with Google) ended this month and the whole website is now using our own search technology.

Google would not comment directly on the move, but did say:

We have had a number of syndication deals with partners in China, and have honored our contractual obligations to them. While we can't comment on specific partnerships, we announced last year that over time we would not be syndicating censored search to partners in China after fulfilling our contractual commitments.

China has 389 million Internet users, but Google has seen its market share fall to under 20 percent, while Baidu takes around 79 percent.

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