It’s been a loooong time, but the moment everyone was waiting for is finally here. Stephen Elop’s work is done, and crippled, bloodied, slightly twitching corpse of previously all-powerful cell phone giant Nokia has been sold off to the Microsoft for a measly 5.66 Billion Euro in cash.
Measly, because just a little while ago Microsoft has bought Skype for more than that ($8.5 billion, to be more precise). The Moor has done his duty. The Moor can go.
Now, will it change anything on the market, and what does it mean to Windows Phone platform? I don’t think it means much. Up until Now Nokia seemed to be in a daze, absolutely sure that they are “winning” and that magical moment when everyone is going to use Windows Mobile phone is just a few months away. Well, that short distance just kept getting longer. Yes, thanks to Nokia, WP made some progress by convincing feature phone owners to give it a try (and purging all other manufacturers from the Windows Phone market). But iPhone and Android users didn’t march into stores to demand their
MTV Windows Phone, and so far nothing on the platform seems to be convincing enough to entice them to switch.
I believe the Metro UI is just not attractive to that many users. It’s not bad, but it has a rather steep learning curve. And given absolute rigidity of the platform in UI aspects, those who don’t like the way phone looks have no choice but to turn to Android (or iPhone). Forcing users to learn by bolting Metro onto Windows also didn’t seem to go over well, so now we know that theory “users will love it if only they were forced to use it” isn’t correct either. Otherwise we’d see massive spike as soon as Windows 8 went live on new computers (instead the new computers’ sales went down, and even tablets with Windows RT, that are supposed to be replacing the computers, are not selling that well).
Hopefully WP will persevere and offer an alternative to Android/iPhone duopoly (especially given how hard Blackberry crashed) — three is always better than one. I may not like it, but I know a few people who enjoy their phones, and a new option is always good to have. It’s just sad that Nokia’s potential was wasted so dramatically. And yes, I would love Nokia’s hardware to run Android, but now that will never happen, for obvious reasons…
Now, on a more technical (and somewhat paranoid) side of things is the part where Microsoft gets to have a bunch of Nokia’s patents. And when silly users will continue to ignore wonders of WP world, they may get tempted to try to kill off the competition. Or at least squeeze as much money as possible, so I expect Android manufacturers to nervously flick through their address book looking for patent lawyer’s number.
So, I’ve watched The Elysium this weekend. And results are rather mixed.
I mean it’s a nice action movie with standard “self-sacrifice” and “for the greater good” and “think of the children” message (that’s probably why the score is so high in Rotten Tomatoes — unless you have self-sacrifice themes you’re doomed to be labeled as a mindless flick). And I guess if you like to turn off your brain while watching the movie, it’s fine. However if you think just a bit you run into a heap of troubles. Spoilers ahead.
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So, the SyFy is celebrating the most-watched scripted series premiere of the Defiance with 2.7 million viewers. Good sign? Probably. But how good?
They reached back into 2006. Seven. Years. Ago. That’s how long it’s been since a new and interesting serties got a decent rating. Practically while Stargate SG-1 was giving up it’s last
Goa’uld ghost. When SciFi channel used to show, I don’t know, science fiction and not being obsessed with “ghost hunters”. Well, technically they did get obsessed with them even before then — cheap production costs, drama, ratings!
And as series itself it’s not bad, but rather boring and not engaging. Unshakeable feelings of “seen it” and “are they really going to go there” with “ugh” and “don’t really care” didn’t let me fully enjoy the first episode. Technically everything is there, all the ingredients. Defiant alien daughter (the
rhinoplasty weird nose and forehead), soldiering father that just has to stay in this town “to keep the order” (hello, Jack Carter, your talking house misses you). Many aliens (including albinos) and some weird mutant things. Accidental techno-disaster, as a base for inter-species tensions. Mafias, fighting for the control of the city. Betrayal. Grand Conspiracy for the Sake of the Greater Good of Whole Humanity. Mediocre visual effects. Yet the combo doesn’t bring the joy
A bit more humor would be nice, a non-forced sense of self-irony, a bit less predictability. Oh, and probably less forced buzz about the fusion of game and on-screen content. Mostly because game seems to be rather rough around the edges right now (especially comparing to Guild Wars 2). Spartan content. Traditional server troubles. And bonus — rather low initial sales.
I’m judging by numbers from the SyFy’s press release that boasts about “six million hours of gameplay” since April 2nd. The game sales chart says first week had 173,399 + 65,174 + 53,551 = 292,124 copies sold. Being generous let’s presume the second week followed overall role-playing game pattern and sales dropped 72%. That’d be extra 81,794 copies. Total of about 380,000 copies and about 16 hours of gameplay per user. Not that much (compare that to a million players and 31+ million hours in one week for Halo 4).
I’m afraid that by splitting their resources between game and series, we got two rather mediocre products instead of one strong tv series. For the sake of grandiose tv sci-fi series, I hope I’m wrong. And that second week will pick up and the Defiance will improve and become more interesting.
Max Gladstone: Three Parts Dead
There is that time of the year when you get a book hiatus. All the favorite authors are busy re-charging or typing feverishly new masterpieces and you have absolutely nothing to read. No new werewolf stories. No spunky witches hunting evil interlanders. Sookie Stackhouse not getting into trouble with fey. Dresden is having a short vacation.
I get desperate, I admit. So, I tried Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. I have never seen until now an attempt to link together magic and, well, lawyers (which was surprising as I expected something akin to an urban fantasy). And it kinda works. Main character is a spunky female Tara that dared to defy power-hungry authority figure. She suffers consequences but gets invited into a very powerful
lawyer nercomacy firm that solves problems of people whose deity has died. Slightly convoluted plot, elements of a detective story with somewhat predictable ending and pleasant after-ending bit.
Liked: the setting and how everything comes together in this version of the universe. Tara’s boss is interesting. Plot twists are mildly interesting.
Not liked: narration is a bit slow. Okay, maybe not a bit — first part is rather slow, but I managed to get through it. There are many referrals to old events that could have been included in the story to spruce it up a bit.
Overall not bad. Not sure if I’d want to read a sequel, if there’s ever one.
So, local news station KVUE has confirmed that Austin will be picked for next Google Fiber deployment. Can this be? My wish back from 2010 is finally coming true?
I certainly hope so. Every additional city where Google expands to will show that it’s possible to provide reasonably priced internet access without lying about per-byte-billing and with great speeds. Even those who chose not to get it will benefit, as I am sure Time Warner Cable will conveniently bump up speeds and reduce prices “just because” (while denying any impact from potential competitor).
I hope the service will arrive in Austin soon.
p.s. it might also explain the reason Time Warner Cable has sent me a letter recently about “extending the promotion” and how they have bumped speeds for some plans (of course that could be a coincidence)