Morning Coffee 168 – E3 Edition

Yesterday, was Microsoft’s big reveal for Xbox 360 this coming holiday season. If you’re not a gamer, please move along, nothing to see here. Also note, I work @ Microsoft, but not in the games division so this is only my thoughts on yesterday’s announcements.

  • While several “hard-core” games were showcased – Fallout 3, Resident Evil 5, Fable 2, Gears of War 2 and the surprise announcement that Final Fantasy XIII – the rest of yesterday’s briefing screamed “we’re not just for hard core gamers!”  Call it the Wii effect. Even the title of the main E3 Press Release was Gameplay for Every Passion.
  • Honestly, my favorite announcement from yesterday wasn’t game related at all – it was the announcement of Netflix on Xbox 360. I’ve been hoping for a flat rate subscription plan since Video Marketplace first launched. Soon, I’ll have it.
  • I’m not sure what I think of the New Xbox Experience yet. On the one hand, the whole cartoon avatar thing isn’t really my bag. Plus, isn’t it quite the Mii clone? However, the ability to share photo and video viewing experiences – even with cartoony avatars – and the flashy + engaging navigation mechanism looks like a real improvement. Here’s hoping they improve the performance of navigating hard drive content (games library, gamer pictures, etc).
  • Congrats to my friend Matt who’s been very involved in the development of the new Primetime game show channel. I’m not that interested in “1 vs 100″, but I think the potential of that game model is pretty huge. If they created a Jeopardy game for Primetime, I think my parents would by a 360 right away.
  • Music / party games seem to have been the primary focus of the press briefing. I’m definitely getting Rock Band 2 (AC/DC woot!) and I think my wife would like Lips (she usually sings when we play Rock Band). I want to see how the “wireless interactive microphones: Featuring stylish interactive motion sensors and lights” will work. Guitar Hero World Tour looks cool too, but I’m not re-buying all new music hardware.
  • You’re in the Movies looks like a hoot, plus it doesn’t really look like a game, so much as a “party activity”. For example, while there are minigame winners or losers, “winning” takes a back seat to the final movie result. I’m guessing this will be big with the kids.
  • Speaking of kids, Patrick is really looking forward to Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts. He loves anything related to building, and building fantastic vehicles is a core part of the gameplay. As for Riley, I think she’s getting old enough to enjoy Viva Pinata – she enjoys watching Patrick and I play – though I’m not sure we need the new Viva Pinata.
  • Geometry Wars 2 and Portal: Still Alive, both coming to Xbox Live Arcade. ’nuff said.
  • Not really “new” news, but XNA Community Games launches this fall. I’ve got a creators club membership, so I’m able to experiment with this now – it rocks, though the available games are pretty shall I say “unpolished” at this point.
  • Halo Wars not coming until 2009. 😦
  • No new Bungie news, but their website is counting down to something tomorrow. I guess we’ll find out then.

You Call This Archaeology?

I know how I’m celebrating my birthday this year. Well, technically the day after my birthday.

I’ve always been a movie buff and, other than Star Wars, I can’t think of a movie series that shaped the way I think about movies and movie making as much as Indiana Jones. I remember well going to see the first three Indiana Jones movies with my father. Of course, now I’m a father, but Patrick and Riley aren’t really ready for Indy yet. So they’ll have to be content with Lego Indy for a few more years.

Otherwise, here’s hoping Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull doesn’t suffer from Star Wars prequel-itis.

Morning Coffee 135

  • Congrats to Barack Obama for walking away with the Iowa Democratic Caucus, which set turnout records. Frankly, I’m pretty cool with any of the democratic front runners but I think Obama has the best chance of winning in November. I’m not sure Edwards second time around will be any more successful than the last and I believe Clinton would drive the GOP GOTV campaign better than any of the actual GOP candidates would.
  • Obviously, I like to play M-rated games like Bioshock and Mass Effect. But I also like games I can play with my kids like Lego Star Wars. There are two new Lego games coming out this year: Lego Indiana Jones and Lego Batman. I can’t wait.
  • Speaking of gaming, Xbox LIVE had some issues over the holiday break, due to record setting sign-ups and concurrent users. Record setting numbers is a nice problem to have if you’re on the business side, but a not-so-nice if you’re a customer or work in operations. The XBL GM announced they’re offering a “token of appreciation” for everyone’s patience – a free XBLA game. Assuming it’s not a crappy game, it’s a classy move.
  • I watched Transformers on HD-DVD last night. Fun movie with lots of action, but man is it dumb. John Turturro is the only real stand-out.
  • Dustin Campbell implements cons, cdr and car from Scheme in C# and VB. While of limited production value (Dustin specifically warns readers not to use any of his code), it really demonstrates how different the functional world is from the object/imperative one, right down to the concept of type. Cons doesn’t return a tuple, it returns function with two bound variables. (via DNK)

Morning Coffee 102

Seems like a slow week.

  • Jules and I went to see the latest Harry Potter movie this past weekend. It’s easily the weakest of the six HP stories so far. The first two stories were about discovering this magical world, the next two about discovering Harry’s past, and the last two about confronting said past. That leaves OotP as the odd-story-out, mostly bridging from the end of the fourth story to the start of the sixth.
  • Speaking of movies, the new movie feature of Mobile Search v2 rocks, though I have two quick suggestions. First, it would be nice to have a time-sorted view of when a given movie is playing. So if it’s playing at 4pm at one theater and 4:30pm at another, you’d see them in a list ordered that way. Second, how about an option to buy tickets directly from the phone?
  • If you’re interested in WPF and 3D, Eric Sink has a series for you.
  • Old news, but Windows Home Server RTMed on Monday. I’m really looking forward to this product.
  • I was looking for some information on how WCF pumps messages in the service host and I found this post from Maheshwar Jayaraman. Between that post and Reflector, I think I’ve got a good handle on how ChannelDispatcher works.
  • Larry O’Brein callsoutthree MS Research Projects. Microsoft Research Accelerator is a high-level data-parallel library that targets GPUs. Graph Layout Execution Engine (aka GLEE) is a library for graph layout and viewing. VirtualEarth MapCruncher converts existing maps (PDF and bitmaps) to work with Virtual Earth.
  • Ted Neward weighs in on the David Chappell’s Korean War REST vs. WS-* analogy. Skim the history lesson, but make sure you read his points about security and reliability interop. WS-* has addressed these areas, so if you need those capabilities, why wouldn’t you use WS-* to get them rather than re-invent the wheel? As for the history lesson, Ted does say he thinks software development is more analogous to making war than building a house. He expands on that idea and recommends Robert Greene’s The 33 Strategies of War. I want to read the book and mull it over a bit, but I certainly see where Ted’s coming from.

Morning Coffee 98

  • Morning Coffee was canceled on Thursday and Friday on account of a kidney stone. So not fun. Luckily, it was a little one and it was alone, but I will be listening very closely to my doctor’s advice to avoid another.
  • Took the kids to see Ratatouille last Tuesday and saw Transformers yesterday with my wife due to fluke babysitter luck. I liked Ratatouille, but I’m not sure it’s the 51st best movie of all time. On the other hand, major props for making a kid movie with a significant lack of toy tie-ins. Ratatouille is a better movie that Cars, but I don’t see my four year old boy trading in is Lightning McQueen toy car for a Remy the Rat. Transformers on the other hand obviously did not forgo the toy tie-ins! Still, it wasn’t bad. Kinda reminded me of The Rock with a bigger budget.
  • Micahville listed DevHawk on it’s list of 69 Tech Blogs That Don’t Suck. Thanks!
  • David Ing boldly writes that C# is getting fat. Or maybe it’s just big-boned. My take: no question that integrated query is a big feature that covers a lot of surface area. But given the prevalence of databases and other queriable stores, it’s critical to improving programmer productivity. Go read Todd Proebsting’s talk on Disruptive Programming Language Technologies. Two of his candidates for disruptive language technologies were Database Integration and Manipulating XML. LINQ neatly covers both.
  • According to John Shewchuck, the new BizTalk Services release is available. However, when I click on the “what’s new” page, it tells me they’re experiencing technical difficulties. (Their error page is Oops.aspx. Funny!)
  • Scott Hanselman has Programming Personas 2.0. Who are you? I thought I was and “Order n” Architect (the quote “Where’s the whiteboard” is spot on) but my CS background isn’t as strong as the persona’s.
  • Sam Gentile is starting to dig into Concurrency and he has a great list of links that have influenced his design.