Monday, June 20, 2011

Why Game of Thrones is the best thing on television

We live in a world where the Lord of the Rings has been filmed well, there was a Watchmen movie that came from a major studio, and even the Walking Dead has been made into an episodic television series. Lengthy, intense dramas from science fiction and fantasy are now being made for both the big and small screen, and it's a wonderful thing.

The problem is that these properties are hard to translate. The pilot for the Walking Dead was amazing, but the rest of the season fizzled spectacularly. Many fans of George R.R. Martin's books were afraid the same was going to happen to the Game of Thrones series, and the books seemed unfilmable. In a surprise twist, the first season of the show hasn't been just good for a fantasy series, it's been an amazing piece of storytelling, full stop. We're going to talk about why it has succeeded, and why you need to be watching.

A few notes: I have not read the books, and it would be great if those that have read the entirety of the series stick to discussing the show, without posting spoilers from the later books. Also, I am assuming you have seen all ten episodes, so there will be heavy spoilers from this season, and I won't be re-introducing every character that's being discussed.

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Businesses not into cloud phone services in Office 365

Businesses may not be ready to run their phone systems in the cloud, according to a private survey commissioned by Azaleos, a Microsoft partner that provides communication software services in Seattle.

The results may mean that businesses are not ready to embrace the unified communications software called Lync in Office 365, which is expected to come out at the end of June. Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer will launch the Office 365 cloud service, which also includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and cloud email services,at an event in New York.

Lync can replace a traditional phone system with phone services that run on the Internet, also known as voice over IP. Lync also includes services such as conference calling, video calls and instant messaging. It used to be called Office Communicator, and a variety of other names. Skype and Google Voice are other examples of phone services that runs on the Internet.

Osterman Research, based in Black Diamond, did the survey of 100 chief information officers and other IT decision makers. Ninety percent had not installed cloud-based unified communications software. Of those, 42 percent had no plans to do so. The reasons cited were concerns about security, doubts about reliability and a lack of control. These are similar to concerns businesses have raised about using cloud computing for anything, not just phone services.

Those surveyed who do plan to pursue phone services in the cloud made up 19 percent of respondents, and 33 percent said they would choose Microsoft's Office 365.

Microsoft has feet in both the cloud and non-cloud camps because it also offers Lync as software that businesses can buy.

Out of the IT managers surveyed who said they would not move toward the cloud for phone services, 48 percent said they would be interested in switching to an Internet-based phone service that does not run in the cloud.

Azaleos provides software services for email, collaboration and unified communications.

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New HP mouse connects via Wi-Fi

New HP mouse connects via Wi-FiHP has now begun selling a wireless mouse than connects to the computer via Wi-Fi, eliminating the need for Bluetooth or RF.

The HP Wi-Fi mobile mouse connects to Windows 7 computers through adhoc, meaning the mouse should not ruin the connecting PC's ability to connect to access points.

Currently, most wireless mice connect via built-in Bluetooth hardware or via dongles.

HP says the new mouse has 9 months battery life per two AA batteries.

The mouse is on sale for $50, available now.

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Tonight On Security Theater: After Hours Airport Antics Expose Security Tunnel Vision

We've written quite a bit, recently, about the more controversial actions of the TSA and their airport screening practices. And now there's a somewhat amusing story that demonstrates why many people think that doing things like groping little children -- and claiming that it's not only proper, but necessary -- is really just security theater. Two travelers, stranded at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, made the local news after filming themselves goofing around in the terminal, after hours. A DFW airport board member was not amused and vows that this kind of thing is "not going to happen again." However, this isn't the first time something like this has happened (though it might be a first at DFW), so it kind of makes you wonder why the security folks hadn't already taken steps to prevent this. Of course, it looks like these guys were just having fun, but doesn't it seem like a couple of guys wandering unchecked in a nearly empty terminal might be a bit more of a security risk than a toddler's underwear? Apparently, the experts don't think so:
Aviation security experts who have seen the video say it doesn’t show any major security concerns because the two guys were ticketed passengers who had already been screened by the TSA.
Hmm, so, the fact that they were "ticketed" and "already screened" means that there's nothing that they could have gotten their hands on, as they made their way through the terminal (at one point, entering the kitchen of a restaurant), that might pose a threat to other travelers? While I don't think anyone should be freaking out about these incidents, they do seem to lend credence to the idea that many of the actions taken by the TSA are just for show, while obvious security holes are left wide open. They'll go out of their way to make sure a baby isn't the next underwear bomber, but can't even send someone to remind some marauding men to stick to the designated passenger areas and quit messing with airport property? Good show.

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Weekly Webcomic Wrapup is taking a post-E3 relaxation journey

Guys, we made it. E3 is done, and we don't have to worry about it again until the Earth completes its next revolution around the Sun. Won't you rejoice with us? We're thinking about just renting out a massive beach condo, posting up in some comfy hammocks, and just 'laxing. Oh, the condo better have some nice Wi-Fi, though. How else are we supposed to, you know, work?

Before heading to our tropical island getaway, check out our seven favorite gaming-related webcomics below! Make sure you vote for your favorite in the poll posted after the jump!

Cycle of Life (Nerf Now)
E3 2011 Wrap-Up (VG Cats)
Super Mario Land is Weird (Brawl in the Family)
This Week's Villain (Penny Arcade)
Skyscraping (Awkward Zombie)
From the Outworld Traffic Safety Act (Of Noobs and Men)
Made this Way (Virtual Shackles)

Continue reading Weekly Webcomic Wrapup is taking a post-E3 relaxation journey

JoystiqWeekly Webcomic Wrapup is taking a post-E3 relaxation journey originally appeared on Joystiq on Sat, 18 Jun 2011 23:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Feature: When WiFi doesn't work: a guide to home networking alternatives

If you live an old home or building, you already know the limits of WiFi. Despite the improved range of 802.11n coupled with improved throughput at greater distances? WiFi doesn't work magic. Buildings with brick or stucco-over-chicken-wire walls resist the charms of wireless networks, as do houses with thick wooden beams, cement elements, or with rooms spread out over many levels or floors.

Don't get me wrong. I've been extolling the virtues of WiFi as a way to avoid tedious wiring and pointless tethering since 2001. But in most cases WiFi works best in environments in which it's an obvious solution. When you start to layer floors, walls, and obstructions between a user (in a home or office) and the closest access point, you bypass the utility of easy and fast connections.

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Rock Band's country DLC on sale through June 21

Having Skeeter and the fellers over this weekend and sick of doing the same old, same old? Well, Harmonix is slashing prices on all of its country-themed Rock Band DLC through June 21 -- tracks including artists such as Kenny Chesney, Johnny Cash, Brooks & Dunn and even Kenny Rogers' "The Gambler."

Hit the jump for the full list.

Continue reading Rock Band's country DLC on sale through June 21

JoystiqRock Band's country DLC on sale through June 21 originally appeared on Joystiq on Sat, 18 Jun 2011 00:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ubuntu Linux, Day 14: I'm a Unity Convert

After taking a closer look at Ubuntu Unity, I found there is a lot to love about the interface--especially for someone like me who loves Windows 7.

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Ubuntu Linux, Day 15: Cloud Syncing and Streaming with Ubuntu One

It doesn't have all the magic and polish of Apple's iCloud, but Ubuntu One is already delivering cross-platform wireless syncing and music streaming today--and it works with Android.

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The Joystiq Show - 001: Duke Nukem Forever

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Are you ready? No really -- are you ready for The Joystiq Show? You better be, because it's finally here.

In this inaugural episode, Chris speaks with a host of guests who all bring unique perspectives to the long, and storied history of Duke Nukem Forever.
  • Part 1 - Chris Kohler from Wired on the Vaporware Awards
  • Part 2 - Eli Hodapp and the Duke List
  • Part 3 - Jon St. John: The voice of Duke
  • Part 4 - Duke Nukem Forever: A review roundtable
We hope you enjoy the first episode of The Joystiq Show. Let us know what you think in the comments.

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the Joystiq Podcast in iTunes
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[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Hosts: Chris Grant (@chrisgrant)
Guests: Chris Kohler (Wired - @kobunheat), Eli Hodapp (TouchArcade - @hodapp), Jon St. John (Facebook), Randy Nelson (@dangerpenguin), Ben Kuchera (ArsTechnica - @BenKuchera), Dan Stapleton (PC Gamer - @DanStapleton)
Producer: Jonathan Downin (@jonathandownin - Game Thing Daily)
Music: Trash80 & Computer Truck

Listen after the break.

Continue reading The Joystiq Show - 001: Duke Nukem Forever

JoystiqThe Joystiq Show - 001: Duke Nukem Forever originally appeared on Joystiq on Fri, 17 Jun 2011 18:05:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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