Nintendo announces the 2DS

2DS

Gamer’s looking to experience Nintendo’s new handheld library (like the upcoming Pokemon X and Y), but unable (or unwilling) to shell out the cash for a 3DS will be happy to hear that Nintendo is releasing a cheaper alternative.  Dubbed the 2DS, this new hardware will allow gamers to play classic DS and 3DS games at the lower entry fee of $130.  The system doesn’t have the clam shell design of DS systems past and doesn’t have a 3D display, but does offer the capability to play games made for the 3DS without the risk of eyestrain.

It’s no doubt this new entry in the DS family will confuse consumers (and more than likely disappoint eager children this holiday season), but it’s, in my opinion, a needed move by Nintendo to try to expand the 3DS user base.  Having a cheaper system out there will drive up hardware revenue and have a positive impact on attach rate as well as boost the sales of the system’s upcoming killer app – the aforementioned Pokemon games.

The 2DS goes on sale October 12.

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Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months

Microsoft’s CEO since 2000 Steve Ballmer is working on choosing his successor and will be retiring from Microsoft within twelve months.  Ballmer has been with Microsoft since 1980 and was the first business manager hired on by Bill Gates.  Ballmer will stay on as CEO as he completes the process of choosing a successor.

There’s no doubt that the man has had a huge impact on the software giant, and it’s almost weird to think of a Microsoft without the high-energied Ballmer, but maybe this isn’t a bad thing.  Some great changes have happened under his leadership, but having a new man in charge could usher in a new era for Microsoft.  The press release is below:

REDMOND, Wash. — Aug. 23, 2013 — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

The Board of Directors has appointed a special committee to direct the process. This committee is chaired by John Thompson, the board’s lead independent director, and includes Chairman of the Board Bill Gates, Chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo. The special committee is working with Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., a leading executive recruiting firm, and will consider both external and internal candidates.

“The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company,” Thompson said. “As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company’s senior leadership team to chart the company’s course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry.”

“As a member of the succession planning committee, I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO,” said Gates. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Ben Affleck revealed as rebooted Batman

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Zack Snyder’s next Superman flick will be a team up between the Man of Steel and Bruce Wayne.  Shattering dreams that this superhero team up will exist in Chris Nolan’s universe or that we’ll ever get a Batman Beyond or Nightwing film is the news that Ben Affleck will be filling the role of the Caped Crusader.  The film is set to open July 17, 2015.  You can read the press release below:

BEN AFFLECK REVEALED AS BATMAN IN WARNER BROS. PICTURES’ NEW SUPER HERO FEATURE FILM, NOW SLATED TO OPEN JULY 17, 2015

The Oscar®-winning star joins Henry Cavill in the first ever onscreen match-up of DC Comics’ most iconic characters.

BURBANK, CA, August 22, 2013 – Ending weeks of speculation, Ben Affleck has been set to star as Batman, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne.  Affleck and filmmaker Zack Snyder will create an entirely new incarnation of the character in Snyder’s as-yet-untitled project—bringing Batman and Superman together for the first time on the big screen and continuing the director’s vision of their universe, which he established in “Man of Steel.”  The announcement was made today by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, and Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing andInternational Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures.

The studio has slated the film to open worldwide on July 17, 2015.

Last month’s surprise announcement of the new movie featuring both Superman and Batman created a wave of excitement and immediately fueled discussion and debate—among fans as well as in the media—about who would put on the cape and cowl of Bruce Wayne’s alter ego.

Snyder successfully re-imagined the origin of Clark Kent/Superman in the worldwide blockbuster “Man of Steel,” which has earned more than $650 million worldwide to date, and climbing.  The director will now create an original vision of Batman and his world for the film that brings the two DC Comics icons together.

Affleck will star opposite Henry Cavill, who will reprise the role of Superman/Clark Kent.  The film will also reunite “Man of Steel” stars Amy Adams, Laurence Fishburne and Diane Lane.

In the announcement, Silverman stated, “We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some.  His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character.”

Snyder also expressed his excitement about the casting of Affleck, noting, “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman.  He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne.  I can’t wait to work with him.”

Kroll added, “We are so thrilled that Ben is continuing Warner Bros.’ remarkable legacy with the character of Batman.  He is a tremendously gifted actor who will make this role his own in this already much-anticipated pairing of these two beloved heroes.”

Affleck recently starred in the Academy Award®-winning Best Picture “Argo,” which he also directed and produced, earning acclaim and a BAFTA Award nomination for his performance in the film, as well as a number of directing honors.  In 2010, he starred in and directed the hit crime thriller “The Town.”  His recent acting work also includes “The Company Men,” “State of Play,” and “Hollywoodland,” for which he received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Earlier in his career, Affleck starred in and co-wrote (with Matt Damon) “Good Will Hunting,” for which he won an Oscar® for Best Original Screenplay.

The new Super Hero film is being scripted by David S. Goyer from a story he co-created with Zack Snyder.  Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder are producing, with Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan and Wesley Coller serving as executive producers. Production is expected to begin in 2014.

The film is based on Superman characters created by Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster, and Batman characters created by Bob Kane, published by DC Entertainment.

Jobs: An examination of an icon

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I’ve always been a bit of a geek.  I grew up on computers and with the desire to know how to make them work for me.  I went to school to get a better understanding of computers and networking, and I’m currently working with computers.  My brand of computing, however, has always been under the Microsoft banner.  I’m a PC and I will probably always be a PC.  I’ve never really been fond of Macs, but that doesn’t mean I can deny how much of an impact Steve Jobs and the garage band he started had on the world.

I went out to see the film Jobs and felt it appropriate to do more than just review the film, but discuss the impact that home computing and the people who ushered it in had on the world.  When home computing was just a crazy idea, some young radical thinkers saw the future – a future where the world is connected and everybody has a personal computer.  A future we call the present.

jobs_movie_poster_2Being that the movie is the foundation of this article, it’d make sense to discuss that before going into the nerdy history of modern computing.  Jobs details the history of Apple Computer from its humble beginning out of a garage to its industry leading position as a home computing powerhouse.  Centered on the players who birthed the industry on Apple’s side, namely Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the film details, as best a two hour film can, how Apple came to be a computing powerhouse before nearly going under and its rise back up to the position it now holds.

The film is done well enough.  Characters are pretty fully fleshed out with Steve Wozniac being an easy favorite; a man who was in it just for the passion of doing the impossible and putting computers in the hands of everybody.  Josh Gad does a great job in the role by really portraying the passion he has for technology and what his vision of the future is.  There’s usually a shining moment whenever he’s on screen and it’s easy for the audience to get caught up in his excitement for ushering in a new era even though that time, in the real world, has already come and gone.

The real triumph of Jobs, though, is Ashton Kutcher.  I was skeptical when I heard Kelso from That ‘70s Show was going to be filling the role of one of the kings of the modern era, but that skepticism was entirely unfounded.  Ashton Kutcher was an unexpected choice for the role, but he so manages to capture the spirit of Steve Jobs that it’s almost uncanny.  The way he carries himself, his hand gestures, his facial twitches, and even his speech patterns are a near perfect emulation of the late Steve Jobs and it’s truly impressive.  He puts an effort into the role that displays a passion I haven’t seen in a biopic – let alone any film – in quite some time.  I was thoroughly impressed by the performance and Ashton Kutcher deserves every bit of praise for his presentation of Steve Jobs’ character.

The soundtrack is another shining point of the film with period-appropriate rock pieces perfectly complimenting plot progression.  Being a bit of a nerd, it was easy for me to get a little excited when a group of guys looking toward the future were putting together circuitry for the Apple I with some Joe Walsh playing in the background.  I can’t think of a moment in the film when a music selection felt out of place.

MacIntosh_Plus_img_1317The film plays, expectedly, in chronological order and does a good enough job getting the main details out there.  It skips or skims over some important things, but we’ll get to that in a bit.  Some of the nitty gritty details aren’t the priority of the film, instead it tries to successfully tell the tale of the man who built Apple.  Steve Jobs was a complex man – one who can be summed up with a wide variety of adjectives:  a visionary, an innovator, a genius… an asshole – a highly flawed man who unquestionably used people to build an empire.  The film doesn’t shy away from the fact that Steve Jobs wasn’t an easy person to get along with – which was, honestly, a shock to me given the marketing surrounding the film.

It’s an enjoyable biopic and one that is definitely worth watching, especially for those of us who appreciate technology or have a fascination with its history.  Like the man it’s about, it is flawed, but it’s well constructed and moving.  Even though I’m not a Mac head, I appreciate what Jobs and Wozniak did for the modern world and it was fun seeing a dramatization of the events surrounding home computing’s early days.

It was, however, some of those minor details that kept me from loving this film entirely.  I’m well aware of the fact that Steve Jobs has gone on record to say that Bill Gates was not innovative lacked creativity, something that actually comes up in the film in the one scene that introduces Windows 1.0.  What the film manages to omit, however, is the Xerox Alto.  Not to take away from the accomplishments of Steve Jobs, but the operating system that redefined the world of home computing – the operating system that helped found an empire – was built from someone else’s genius.  At this point in time, it’s pretty much ancient history, but just a decade or so ago there was still chatter going on about how Microsoft stole Windows from Apple.  The Graphical User Interface (GUI) was Apple’s invention and Microsoft was the big bad who stole it – obviously since they have the largest market share of PC operating systems, they have to be evil.  Well, what about the Alto?

Apple’s first PC to be released with a GUI was the Lisa back in 1983 – the Macintosh followed a year later.  Over a decade before the release of the Macintosh to the public, Xerox introduced the Xerox Alto – a computer system with a GUI.  While not a consumer system, the Alto undoubtedly laid the foundation for modern computing with its innovative interface – and Steve Jobs saw potential in the GUI when he was introduced to it by Xerox in 1979.  Xerox obviously didn’t realize the potential of what they had as they basically gave the head of Apple the keys to the future showing him all the ins and outs of the system.  The foundation for Macintosh and its beloved OS was laid on the innovative, forward thinking ideas of the team behind the Alto.  It’s just, to me, ironic that Steve Jobs famously called out Bill Gates for his lack of originality when his groundbreaking system was undeniably built on a stolen idea.

primeiras-cenas-em-que-ashton-kutcher-caracterizado-como-steve-jobs-aparece-com-steve-wozniak-interpretado-por-josh-gad-1358449584412_300x300Again this isn’t trying to detract from the man’s accomplishments.  The film just glosses over some important events and it’s easily misleading.  The one scene with Windows in it only works because the audience, especially those who are ignorant to the history of home computing, because the film presents the creation of Lisa OS as an entirely original idea birthed by Steve Jobs.  It wants you to believe that the GUI was exclusively an Apple idea and that Bill Gates and Microsoft were thieves by building a visual shell for their already existing DOS.  The scene where Steve Jobs damns Bill Gates over the phone works because the film decides to omit the part where Microsoft saved Apple from going under in ’97 by purchasing 150,000 non-voting shares.  The film doesn’t attempt to villainize Bill Gates of Microsoft, but it tries to emphasize that they weren’t interested in innovation.

The film also fails to give a satisfactory transition from Steve Jobs being booted from Apple to his return.  It’s somewhat understandable as, especially to the non-geeky viewers, the film can feel long – and at two hours it actually kinda is.  However, it would have been great to see more than just a snip in a montage about NeXT.  It probably would have caused the film to drag if they threw in more footage than it already has, but maybe trimming some fat from the first two acts could have made room for NeXT.  It feels like a missing opportunity to see where the foundation to the modern era of Macintosh was built.

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Flaws and all, Jobs was a well-made film with some great performances, a lot of energy, and an excellent soundtrack.  Macs and PCs alike should give this film a shot.  It’s not as groundbreaking as the man it’s about, but it was well worth the price of admission.

Jobs:  3.5 out of 5

Kick Ass 2 Review

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The first Kick Ass, for me, was entirely unexpected.  I knew nothing about the comic upon which the film was based and was joyfully surprised by the film’s wit and brutally over-the-top violence.  It was a breath of fresh air in the world of comic book films that are trying to be grittier or more realistic in the wake of Chris Nolan’s Batman flicks.  It was a terrifically fun romp and I was anxious for more.

Enter Kick Ass 2 – the bigger budget sequel to one of the most fun superhero flicks that seeks to outdo its predecessor.  While I can’t say that the film succeeds in its ambitions, it certainly puts up a good effort.

KickAssMotherFucker

Kick Ass 2 begins two years after the first movie ended.  Chris D’Amico is an emotionally unstable manchild who is pissed at Kick Ass.  Meanwhile, masked vigilantes inspired by Kick Ass are taking to the streets to help those in need; whether it’s feeding the hungry or busting up an illegal poker game run by human traffickers.  Kick Ass himself, however, isn’t present in this group of heroes – no, he gave up vigilantism in favor of living a boring teenage life.  Leading this masked band of misfits, calling themselves Justice Forever, is Colonel Stars and Stripes.

Amidst all the heroics, the film gets lost in some high school drama and heavy-handed character development.  While I’m fully aware that character development is necessary for driving the story, the primary players have already had their backgrounds and personalities laid out in the first film.  The sequel sees them straying away from the character traits you’re expecting and often abandons the high quality wit of the first in favor of a more realistic or even cliched scenario.

kick-ass-2-posterTonally, the film fails to hold up the high energy of the original.  It still has its moments where it shines, but it attempts to be darker and more serious than the first film.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it wasn’t entirely expected.  Going in knowing that Jim Carrey had a starring role – even having his image and name billed on posters – I was expecting more on the comedic side.  While he certainly fills the role well, I can’t help but feel he was under utilized.  There’s one scene in particular where Jim Carrey shined as Col. Stars and Stripes, but the character didn’t really feel like it took advantage of him and his abilities.

The film’s climax was disappointing to me and, I feel, it didn’t really live up to the buildup, but even with its flaws, the film is full of energy and has some great action.  Some of the high school drama feels over done and unnecessary, but there was always something unexpected and thrilling making up for the films lulls.  It’s a fun film that doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor, but it’s still well worth sitting through.

 

Kick Ass 2:  3 out of 5

Ryse: Son of Rome Gamescom trailer

Xbox One is not that far away now.  And, since it is not that far away, Microsoft needs to drum up a little more interest in the system.  What better way than to show off some new footage from the absolutely gorgeous launch title Ryse: Son of Rome?  There is no better way.

The trailer starts off with a pre-rendered segment before showing off gameplay in Gladiator Mode.  It’s violent, it’s bloody, and it’s beautiful.  I noticed some neat new things with the finishers.  It appears now that button prompts are gone (which is great) and are replaced with colored outlines.  I could be wrong in this assumption, but I’m fairly certain that the colored outlines indicate what button to press.  Instead of an obtrusive button prompt on your screen, a slick colorful outline will help keep you immersed.  You’ll see in the trailer yellow and blue outlines which seem to indicate Y and X button presses.

Anyway, the game’s looking better now than it did at E3 with more depth than a simple quick time button masher.  Take a look for yourself.

Stranger: A teaser for a J.J. Abrams production

What is it?  I’m not entirely sure.  Chances are it has nothing to do with Episode VII, but there’s no denying that the tease offered here is nothing short of intriguing.  I’m interested, J.J…. now, tell me, what is it?

Amnesia: : A Machine for Pigs available for preorder

Upcoming horror game Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs is now available for preorder.  The game is a sequel to 2010’s horrifying adventure game Amnesia: The Dark Descent.  Preorders for A Machine for Pigs are now available on Steam and GOG for $15.99 (20% off the game’s release price of $19.99).  Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs will be released on Windows PC, Mac OSX, and Linux on September 10, 2013.

 

Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs on GOG and Steam

The Wolf Among Us trailer

Telltale’s upcoming adventure series The Wolf Among Us, based on DC Comic’s Fables series, has its debut trailer.  The developer is most recently known for its fantastic interpretation of The Walking Dead and before that reviving the Sam & Max and Monkey Island properties.  The Wolf Among Us will be available on PC, Mac, Xbox 360, and PS3 in quarter three of this year.

Sherlock: Series 3 Teaser now online

BBC’s excellent reimagining of Sherlock Holmes finally has a teaser for the next series!  Still no date for when the show will be back, but it’s expected to return this fall.