Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Sony PS3 Slim available early September

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

UPDATE: The Sony press conference at the 2009 Gamescom in Germany just confirmed both the PS3 Slim and the price cuts.  The new pricing of $299 for current models and the soon to be available slim goes into effect tomorrow.

There have been rumors floating around like crazy for the past few months about a new and slimmer Sony PS3 video game console.  And Sony has been denying it just like the rumors of price cuts.  Even when pictures were leaked of the packaging from a new PS3 Slim, they denied it.  Now, online retailers are putting up the pre-order pages for the new Sony PS3 Slim available on August 24th globally September 11th (per the Sony press conference going on right now).  Will Sony continue to deny this?  Yeah, I doubt it.

There’s some big industry conference going on and Sony is supposed to be presenting today.  I assume that the newly released $100 price cut and the new Slim unit are on their agenda but FYE and K-Mart have beaten them to the punch.  Seems to happen a lot these days.

Here’s the description for the PS3 Slim pre-order from K-Mart:

PS3, SLIM High-Definition Blu-ray player for the best movie experience. Free PLAYSTATION Network membership. 120GB HDD for downloading games, music, videos, and photos. Includes DUAL SHOCK 3 controller. HDMI output for 1080p resolution.

Notice something strange about that?  The newest console has a 120GB hard drive where the current high end model has a 160GB drive.  OK so my XBox 360 has a 120GB drive so no big deal right?  Well that depends.  Unlike the XBox 360, the PS3 often requires games to be “installed” to the console’s hard drive to play the game.  I’ve heard that this is neither a tiny install or a short amount of time to do this either.

Also consider that games and media are increasingly paid for online and downloaded directly to the system.  I imagine you could easily fill up a drive that size if you wanted to do so.  I understand that the PS3 hard drives are easily user upgradeable but I have no information or experience with that so I can’t say.  Who knows if the new Slim will be as easily taken apart as the old beast of a PS3 was either.

What I’m really wanting to hear about from that aforementioned conference is that there is another rumor that Sony may be reintroducing PS2 backwards compatibility to the new Slim models.  One of Sony’s big hype points when the PS3 was first coming out was their inclusion of the Emotion Engine that allowed perfect backwards compatibility of Playstation and PS2 games on the PS3.  They released one model with that function – the coveted 60GB model.  Sony then switched to software emulation on a few 80GB models which worked for many games but not all.  Then they dropped the compatibility completely.

I am always on the lookout for a used PS3 60GB console for this very reason.  I have a ton of PS2 games that I would still like to play but I only have so much space and the TV can only accept so many connections.  Combining those functions is ideal – almost necessary – for me.  So if the Slim ends up containing the Emotion Engine or even functional software emulation, I may be sold.  Especially with the new $100 discount.

The world we live in and life in general

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

So much happens on a day to day basis to me and everyone else that there is no possible way to for everyone to keep everyone posted on the goings-ons and what-nots of their lives at all times.  It’s just not possible.  So we share small samplings of our lives on bliggity blogs and our face-spaces and we move on.  Years ago we didn’t even do that much.

Kira and Michelle have both been sick for a little over a week now.  So far, I have been very lucky to not yet get sick.  The wife went through antibiotics and had no result so more than likely she has viral bronchitis just like our poor baby girl.  Kira has to breath in medicine in vapor form from a mask hooked to a loud machine.  She was basically tolerant of the experience at first but I think her patience is getting thin for that routine.  Not sure how much longer she needs that treatment but hopefully not too long.  She seems to be a bit better.

Kira continues to amaze me with her progress and ability.  Michelle continues to amaze me in taking care of Kira every day and the house and everything else.  I know she thinks I don’t appreciate her and the hard work she does every day but I do.  I really do.  I am very proud of both of them.  I really don’t think that Kira would be so well adjusted and amazingly advanced if it weren’t for Michelle being with her every day and working with her and taking care of her.

We have been getting the run-around with Graebel… again.  You may remember we had issues with them back in October of last year.  Well, to one extent or another we have had continual issues since then as well.  Now for the past few months we have been dealing with trying to get our insured items covered and repaired.  Some things have worked out and many things haven’t but nothing has gone smoothly.  You can read up on the current problems over at the wife’s site.  I have given up dealing with them and turned them over to her to deal with.  I’m betting they are now wishing that they would have just worked things out with me.  If we ever decide to move to a new city again with my current employer I will do everything I can to NOT use Graebel for that or any other move.

I’ve been busy working on a few different projects at work.  I’m working on getting some new security software rolled out to all of our computers (actually our Altiris guy is doing all the work) and I’m in the final stages of getting ready for a big office integration in New York City.  I do not look forward to being away from the wife and our little girl while working on that project and I’m sure Michelle isn’t looking forward to it either.  But I don’t have to travel too often and I’m still employed so I do what I have to do.

We were planning on migrating from Microsoft Exchange 2003 to the new Exchange 2007 and I’ve been working on the testing and planning of that for a few months.  However, now that Microsoft is releasing the next version (2010) earlier than expected, and faster than any other major revision cycle in history for that product, we are now on hold.  The idea is that we will now skip Exchange 2007 and go directly to 2010.  OK cool.  We can do that.

I have been working on some new comics for A Little Scary in my “spare” time but I missed my re-launch date of June 1st already.  I’m hoping to get a couple done soon.  Here’s hoping.  I don’t want to start up again without at least a small buffer or I’ll just end up getting discouraged again when a deadline comes and goes with no update.

Bonus points if you can tell me where I got the title of this post.

The Valve saga is over

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

You may have read my previous post ranting about Valve and Steam and their support staff.  Well, I’m not taking back what I said about the support staff because I was treated poorly.  However, the issue has been resolved in an acceptable manner.

After asking twice to talk to a manager, I got an e-mail signed by a different person that repeated the exact same policy without even bothering to look into my case.  No introduction, no indication that were indeed a manager or anyone other than the same person as before but signing a different name.  I got pissed.

I drafted a nice reply to them stating that I was sending the details of my case to the founder of the company and all the senior management listed on the corporate website that had e-mail available to the public.  I also told them that I was going to be contacting every gaming forum and news and review site and writing letters to the editors of every mainstream game magazine I knew of.  I let them know that they had one week to fix this before I started because I really didn’t want to go through all that work.  After sending the reply I sent the same to three execs at Valve and gave them my contact information.

My mobile phone was ringing within five minutes.

Doug Valente from Valve called me himself and we chatted for about 15 minutes.  He tried to explain the problem and why they have the policies that they do.  He pointed out some vague wording on my game box that is supposed to say that it is restricted but really only says that the game can only be sold in Hong Kong or Macau.  No restrictions.  He relented.  I read him off a few more things from the box and the discs to prove that I indeed had a legal copy of the software.

He told me that the issue would be resolved and I would have a new CD Key by the time I got home that night.  Sure enough, when I logged onto Steam, there were a bunch of new messages waiting for me.

Doug Valente was very nice to talk with and I really appreciated him taking the time to listen to me unlike his support staff.  He admitted that the Steam support guys are a bit jaded when it comes to people trying to pull the wool over their eyes and sometimes can lose sight of the big picture.  I hope that he addresses that with them.

Thanks Doug!

So I’m satisfied – although I dread ever needing to work with Valve or Steam’s support again.  At least I have Doug’s e-mail address and direct phone number if I ever need it.

Valve & Steam support is useless

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

About a week ago I posted that I was having trouble with Valve and Steam support in fixing a region coding problem with their software called The Orange Box that I purchased in Hong Kong.

According to Valve Corporation’s first line support, all packaging is clearly labeled that the software is region restricted to the region it was purchased in.  I would never buy software for the PC that was labeled like that and because of that I read the box and asked questions about EVERY piece of software I purchased while I lived there.  I still have the retail box that I purchased which says nothing, anywhere, not even in the fine print about having ANY region or territory restrictions.

Since my last post, I have made full color scans of both the retail box and the quick reference card from inside the box that has the CD Key.  I sent them these so that they could see for themselves that there is nothing on there about region or territory restrictions.  I asked them to please escalate the issue to management if they still could not help me.
Here’s the response I got:

A staff member has replied to your question:

Hello Vincent,
We cannot accept pdf files for image verification.

You must submit your photos as a jpg, or gif.

That said, in restricted territories all official packaging for our games contains wording indicating if the game has any restrictions.

We will not be able to lift the restriction, nor provide you with a replacement CD Key for this issue.

So much for attempting to be helpful.

So today I have again, politely asked them to escalate this to their management or give me the contact information of their management so I can talk to them directly.  I paid roughly $45 USD for this game and I don’t feel that I should be punished because some of their packaging is not labeled as they THINK it is.

I don’t really want to spend hours creating accounts on forums and creating posts about how horrible Valve Corporation and Steam software is but if they can’t even be bothered to replace a simple CD Key that has no monetary value (since I already bought the game) then I don’t see a whole lot of choice.  It won’t be the first time I’ve made a formal complaint to the Better Business Bureau either.

Just telling me to buy their software a second time is not a good enough response.  It’s ridiculous and callous and is the face of everything that is wrong with modern tech support and business today.

There’s no reason to think that you will have a similar problem with a company until it happens to you.  What will you do when that day comes?  Roll over and accept being screwed over or try to put up a fight?  Help me get the word out.  I can’t be the only person having this problem and if their tech support is this useless in this case I’m betting there are a lot of screwed over former Valve users out there.
Link back to this post if you want to help out.  Every bit of exposure helps.

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Software news

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Recently the following software news has been filtering through the web: MicroFocus aquires Borland.

And…?

Yeah, me too. Who cares? I didn’t even know either company was still around. I had assumed they had both withered away with the likes of Interplay and Origin Systems. So I guess the real news headline should have been: OMG Borland and MicroFocus still exist!?!

Which of course all of this is as newsworthy as this post. I’m just saying.