Monday 25 February 2008

Phil Harrison resigns from Sony


SCE Group CEO Kazuo Hirai Assumes Responsibilities

Tokyo, February 25, 2008 – Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (SCEI) today announced that Phil Harrison, President of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios (SCE WWS), will resign from Sony Computer Entertainment Group as of February 29, 2008. Kazuo Hirai, President and Group CEO of SCEI, will immediately assume responsibilities as president of SCE WWS, in addition to his current duties.

Prior to the launch of the original PlayStation, Phil Harrison joined Sony Electronics Publishing, Ltd. in 1992, which later evolved into Sony computer Entertainment Europe, and since then, he has made a tremendous contribution to the company playing a strategic role in the launch of four PlayStation platforms, as well as building strong relationships with game developers and publishers throughout the world. Since his appointment to the position of president, SCE WWS, Harrison applied his considerable skill, knowledge and expertise to lead SCE Group’s first party game development as well as aggressively pursuing the development of new online entertainment experiences.

“As one of the founding members of SCE, Phil played a key role in the development and growth of the PlayStation business and our industry,” said Kazuo Hirai. “It is sad to see him departing from SCE, but I wish to express my gratitude for his many invaluable contributions and also wish Phil the very best of luck in his future endeavors.”

“The past 15 years at Sony Computer Entertainment has been the defining journey of my life so far,” said Phil Harrison. “I am grateful to all the PlayStation family for their incredible support, guidance and friendship. It has been a privilege to serve as part of the team and be inspired by them on a daily basis. I am so proud of everything PlayStation has achieved and will continue to support its future in every way I can.”

Sunday 24 February 2008

Sky Non Plus

For the last month I've had a persistent problem with sky+, which appears to be well documented on Digital Spy!

Input 2 kept cutting out (irrespective of weather conditions and the south facing satellite dish has a clear line of sight), which resulted in innumerable failed recordings! I swapped over the cables and input 1 stopped working! So, clearly this was not a fault with the excellent Pace PVR3 box!

After playing telephone ping pong with sky customer services, and threatening to cancel my subscription (for the umpteenth time), sky arranged for a contractor to visit gratis! He replaced my working Pace PVR3 with a brand new Thomson PVR3!

I can now record two channels, but switching from standby the internal HDD boots up 'twice' and the 'technical fault' banner disappears following the second disc spin up! The Thomson also runs quite warm and noisily! All said, it beats paying out a £100 call out charge doesn't it?

Wednesday 20 February 2008

The Future is Blu

It's "game over" for Toshiba's HD DVD format, thereby leaving 100,000 standalone HD DVD player owners (in the UK) with obsolete hardware. Conversely for those of us who've invested in Blu-ray, the future is most bright indeed! Put your Ray-Bans on...

Sony's triumph illustrates that lessons were learnt, by the company, during the infamous Betamax Vs VHS war, which witnessed VHS' victory despite the superiority of Betamax! Admittedly the technological playing field was much more even, this time around, and Sony's marketing made all the difference. Lets face it, Blu-ray sounds so much cooler doesn't it?

If you haven't made a decision on what Blu-ray hardware to purchase, it maybe worth noting the following, Sony's PlayStation 3 is the most future-proof Blu-ray player on the market! You might also consider a Samsung BD-P1400. Both of these machines come highly recommended.

Monday 18 February 2008

Knight Rider

Knight Rider was a pop culture phenomenon in the early eighties. Can Glen A. Larson reboot his original series in the way Ronald D. Moore rebooted Battlestar Galactica for a new generation?

Nick Smith, our US-based stellar scribe, takes new KITT for a drive.

Guest post by Nick Smith

I was looking forward to seeing the revamp of Knight Rider on NBC last night. I love driving my Ford Mustang, so I was quite happy with the make and model being used for the Knight Industries Three Thousand car (“KITT”). I was even willing to give Val Kilmer a go as the voice of KITT, and I thought a cameo by David Hasselhoff (from the original series) would be fun. The director had worked on Rome and Deadwood – he had to be a smart cookie.

I must confess, the hairs on the back of my neck prickled when the old Knight Rider theme began to play. But it was replaced within seconds by generic rock and from then on, the TV movie resembled a 2-hour car commercial: lots of shots of the tires, the windshield, the grille etc. No amount of fast cutting allowed for the fact that the director Steve Shill had forgotten to make the car chases exciting.

Worse, the storyline was dull, formulaic American TV stuff; the leads were bland, with no interesting lines to test their acting chops; and the dialogue was often drowned out by the rock music.

It’s a shame that executive producer Glen A. Larson couldn’t have taken a cue from a revamp of another of his shows, Battlestar Galactica, and added some more engaging, believable characters. The new Knight Rider was so vacuous that I didn’t stick around long enough for the Hasselhoff cameo, and Steve Shill should stay away from car porn in future...

Nick Smith is a filmmaker, writer and actor. He has written screenplays (The Terror Game, Cold Soldiers); dramas and documentaries for the BBC, Sky and all other major UK networks. He wrote a year's full content for "The Property Channel" on cable and contributed to "The Medical Channel" on satellite.

Other work includes novels (the bestselling Milk Treading, The Kitty Killer Cult and Undead on Arrival), stage plays (Crime School, Foodfellas), comedy sketches, articles (The Scotsman, Charleston Magazine), radio plays and comic books. He founded and ran a production company and The Film School Scotland before moving to Charleston, South Carolina where he’s currently directing feature film and teaching writing, acting and filmmaking.

Toy Fair 2008 - Transformers Crossovers

When Hasbro announced Marvel Transformers, I was sceptical, due, in part, to the scattergun success of Star Wars Transformers! Well, I'll be eating my own words, it seems, if these official images, from Toy Fair 2008, are anything to go by!

Iron Man and The Hulk have transitioned well into Hasbro's new Transformers Crossovers line (incorporating Marvel & Star Wars)!

G.I. Joe can't be too far behind!

Friday 15 February 2008

That "flat" feeling

Last Friday I collected, following a 6 month wait, my new Ford C-MAX Titanium Sports! The delay was well worth it! Ford of Europe had ceased C-MAX production, midyear, to introduce a redesigned/re-engineered model boasting Ford of Europe's lauded "Kinetic design" philosophy coupled with subsidiary Volvo's world-renowned safety features! The build quality and road handling are exceptional! And, with a 2.0 engine, the C-MAX is no slouch!

Fast forward one week. This morning a sheered bolt punctured the front passenger-side tyre as I drove behind Lloyds TSB Bank! Nursed the car to the dealership only to discover that they couldn't replace the tyre (due to contractual reasons)!

I was referred to a well-known tyre specialist and, because the car is so new (requiring a specialist sports tyre), they didn't have a replacement in stock! Hopefully a new tyre will be delivered on Monday by the tyre company's mobile unit...

Thursday 14 February 2008

Be My Valentine

Wishing my readers a memorable Valentine's Day! Over to you Snoopy!

Wednesday 13 February 2008

Marvel Transformers

It was inevitable! In the wake of Star Wars Transformers, two great tastes that don't taste entirely great together, Hasbro has announced Marvel Transformers!

*Iron Man/Jet

Could be interesting. What say you dear reader?

Monday 11 February 2008

Mac OS X 10.5.2 released to the wild

Tonight Apple released the most significant Mac OS X iterative update to date! Mac OS X 10.5.2.

The 10.5.2 Update is recommended for all users running Mac OS X Leopard and includes general operating system fixes that enhance the stability, compatibility and security of your Mac:

Active Directory

* Addresses issues which could hinder or prevent binding Mac OS X 10.5.x clients to Active Directory domains.


* Improves connection reliability and stability
* Includes 802.1X improvements
* Resolves certain kernel panics

Back to my Mac

* Adds support for more third-party routers, as detailed in this article


* Improves performance of certain Apple Dashboard widgets (such as Dictionary)
* Addresses an issue in which Dashboard widgets may no longer be accessible after switching to or from an account that has Parental Controls enabled


* Updates Stacks with a List view option, a Folder view option, and an updated background for Grid view


* Addresses legibility issues with the menu bar with an option to turn off transparency in Desktop & Screen Saver preferences
* Adjusts menus to be slightly-less translucent overall


* Improves iCal so that it accurately reflects responses to recurring meetings
* Addresses an issue in which a meeting may remain on the calendar after being cancelled
* Addresses stability issues related to .Mac syncing of iCal calendars
* Resolves an intermittent issue in which editing an event with attendees would cause the event to shrink and not register that the event was updated


* Addresses an issue with simultaneously-logged in accounts in which iChat sounds generated from one account might be heard in another account
* Fixes an issue in which iChat idle time is affected by Time Machine backups
* Improves connectivity when running iChat behind a router that doesn't preserve ports
* Enables logged chats from previous versions of iChat to open faster and more reliably
* Addresses an issue with text chats in which users may be unable to receive messages from the sender
* Addresses an issue that may prevent rejoining an AIM chat room without reopening iChat
* Addresses video chat compatibility issues with AIM 6 and third-party routers
* Fixes an issue with case-sensitivity of AIM handles


* Adds support for Samsung D600E and D900i phones


* Addresses an issue in which Finder could unexpectedly quit when displaying folder contents in Column view
* Addresses an issue in which Finder could unexpectedly quit when accessing Users and Groups in a Get Info pane
* Resolves an issue that prevented setting permissions on a folder alias
* Resolves an issue in which the Eject command could write to a disc in the optical drive
* Fixes an issue in which the scroll bar might disappear when deleting a file within a folder that includes files that are out of view
* Fixes an issue in the Sharing & Permissions section of Get Info windows, in which the gear icon appears to be gray/disabled after authentication
* Addresses an issue in which the Show Icon Preview preference might not be not saved when turning it off
* Fixes an issue that could occur when trying to print an image from the Finder


* Addresses an issue with Message menu's Mark > As Read choice
* Fixes an issue in which duplicate On My Mac folders may appear in the sidebar after upgrading to Leopard
* Improves the accuracy of the Data Detectors feature
* Resolves an issue with scrolling through a Note that is displayed using the split view in the message window
* Fixes an issue with deleting messages located in the Drafts folder
* Fixes an issue in which dragging the icon in the Safari URL field into a Mail message creates an attachment instead of a link
* Addresses an issue found when opening a item in the Notes folder that is not a Note
* Fixes an issue that may prevent RSS feeds from being delivered in Mail
* Resolves an issue in which a selected message could "flash" from blue to gray when in Organize by Thread mode
* Fixes an issue with scrolling between multiple To Dos in an email message
* Fixes an issue in which the body of email messages with certain MIME structures may not be displayed
* Improves performance with America Online (AOL) account-based messages in Mail
* Addresses issues with some ISPs during automatic set-up in Mail
* Addresses an issue in which Mail might not send mail on some networks to some SMTP servers
* Mail now automatically disables the (unsupported) third-party plugin GrowlMail version 1.1.2 or earlier to avoid issues
* Adds an option to view large icons in the Mailbox list


* Addresses a hanging issue that may occur when connecting to an AFP network volume

Parental Controls

* Improves stability when opening the Parental Controls System Preferences pane
* Fixes an issue that may prevent changes to the email address for permission requests
* Addresses an issue with printer administration for a guest account enabled with Parental Controls
* Addresses an issue with setting printer administration privileges from another Mac on the local network
* Fixes an issue that could prevent certain applications from being allowed
* Addresses accuracy issues with the web content filter


* Improves stability when scrolling through a PDF document
* Fixes an issue that prevents tabbing within a PDF document after clicking on the PDF
* Improves the Mail Document feature so that email attachments are more reliably created from Print Preview


* Addresses an issue in which remote printers may be deleted when the computer is put to sleep
* Improves printing performance when using some Microsoft Office applications
* Resolves an issue with some printing options, such as landscape orientation, number of copies, two-sided printing, and so forth that may not have functioned with some printers shared by Microsoft Windows
* Adds support for certain printers connected to the USB port of an AirPort Extreme or AirPort Express base station
* Resolves a stalling issue that could occur when installing certain Canon printing software from a disc

RAW Image

* Adds RAW image support for several cameras, as detailed in this article


* Addresses issues with Safari reliably resolving certain domains

Login and Setup Assistant

* Addresses an issue in which Setup Assistant could unexpectedly appear each time Mac OS X 10.5 starts up
* Improves stability and performance during log in


* Improves the accuracy of the grammar checker
* The computer will now shut down if an automatic disk repair does not succeed during startup

Time Machine

* Adds a menu bar option for accessing Time Machine features (the menu extra can be enabled in Time Machine preferences)
* Improves backup reliability when computer name contains slash or non-ASCII characters
* Fixes an issue in which the backup disk displayed in the Finder may be out of sync with the disk chosen for Time Machine
* Addresses issues in which some external drives are not recognized by Time Machine
* The status menu now appears by default


* Improves general stability when running third-party applications
* Addresses an issue in which the incorrect search results may be displayed for certain Automator Find/Filter actions
* Addresses an issue with the Latvian and Russian keyboard layouts
* Addresses an issue in which the backlight could turn off before Energy Saver's backlight setting

May I suggest that you download the Combo Update!

Thursday 7 February 2008

Pre-order New Apple iPod touch 32GB

The iPod touch 32GB model arrives just in time for Valentine's Day!

*Comes with the latest announced new software applications for the iPod touch
*32GB flash drive
*Wi-Fi (802.11b/g)
*3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen multi-touch display
*480-by-320-pixel resolution at 163 pixels per inch
*Holds up to 7,000 songs in 128-Kbps AAC format
*Holds up to 25,000 iPod-viewable photos
*Holds up to 40 hours of video

Movies, music and more
Listen to your favourite music. Watch video podcasts and music videos. Catch up on TV shows. Flick through photos. With iPod touch, you can bring it all along for the ride.

The Internet in your pocket
Surf the web and send email while walking down the street. Get directions, check the weather, follow stocks and more. With Wi-Fi, the Internet goes wherever you go.

The increased capacity reaffirms my view that the iPod touch is a most viable proposition in the PDA space and knocks Sony's PSP back into a cocked hat!

If you think it's too good a gift for your other half...

Saturday 2 February 2008


Since Apple decided to remove built-in third-party plug-in support from QuickTime, I've been dogged, like most Mac Users, with file format conversion trammels! Not any more!

EasyWMV, a Universal binary, can be used to convert or resize wmv, asf, avi, mp4, mpg, mpeg, mov, m4v, flv, nsv, swf and vob video files so that they can be used with QuickTime Player, iPod and iPhone. EasyWMV has a very simple user interface, supports drag and drop as well as batch processing. EasyWMV can export video to mpeg and mpeg4 formats and can optimize videos for playback on iPod.

Main Features:

*Input formats: asf, avi, flv, m4v, mp4, mpg, mpeg, mov, nsv, swf, vob, wmv
*Output formats: mp4, mpg
*Manual or automatic audio bit rate selection from source (32-320kbps)
*Video encoding up to 2.5mbit/s
*Support H.264 encoding for mpeg4 video
*Creates video for QuickTime, Apple TV, iPod, and iPhone
*Batch processing
*Optimized for multi-core and multi-processor systems
*Drag & drop of files and folders
*iTunes integration

EasyWMV is already an integral part of my video toolbox alongside QuickTime Pro and Flip4Mac! I can't recommend this fledgling application highly enough and, once you've downloaded the demo, I'm sure that you'll agree it's worth $15 (£7.50 GBP)!