Friday, May 27, 2005

MTV 969 interview

here's a still from the MTV Canada 969 interview that aired a few weeks ago.

- playing Halo 2 with 969's Joey Case

I wrote about the interview back in April.

update: you can download a low quality version of the interview.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

E3 wrap-up

I'm currently rushing to pack so I'll have to post the wrap-up later. I'm still on the road for the next few days, but hopefully I'll have net access so that I can blog tonight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

E3 exhibit highlights

despite the lead up and anticipation about all three next generation consoles, the Xbox 360 is the only next generation console that can be played at this year's E3 conference. here is the new wireless controller...

- the Xbox 360 controller

the EA booth is spectacular. you enter a round area approx. 70 ft. across, above you there is a 360-degree large screen - you find yourself in the middle of the EA demos.

- EA's impressive E3 wraparound screen

not only is the EA booth a really cool exhibit, you can also play Need For Speed on the Xbox 360.

- Need For Speed live on the Xbox 360

the Nintendo Revolution is the most glaring omission at this year's show. the cool thing to come out of the Nintendo exhibit is the Nintendo Micro

- the Nintendo Micro

the major presentations had lines that surpassed three hours - I'll be waiting until tomorrow to check those out.

some cool looking games:

- starcraft ghost (they politely asked me not to take any pictures of their demo)
- quake 4
- battlefield 2
- in the originality category, jaws looks pretty cool.

and of course, the Halo 2 map pack. terminal and backwash are playable at E3.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

blogging from the O.C.

you've just registered for E3, what are you gonna do now?
I'm goin' to Disneyland! :)

- Disneyland is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year

but it wasn't all fun today. I actually did manage to get to the E3 expo. since I know that that you're all wondering... a tuna fish sandwich at the L.A. convention center cafeteria costs $7.50.

I won't comment about the E3 booths until I see the final setup tomorrow. one company obviously had the most high-profile advertising and another was surprisingly subtle. I'll see tomorrow if this is the final setup for the show.

not surprisingly, movie-to-games and games-to-movies are rampant. examples include the Narnia game, the path of neo, revenge of the sith, the godfather, king kong and a nightmare before Christmas game.

live from L.A. - the Sony PS3

today Sony revealed the PS3 gaming console. hopefully, I'll get to see the machine at E3 tomorrow or wednesday (when the show floor opens).

contrary to the Xbox 360 presentation, the PS3 announcement included a number of disclosures of new features. for example, the PS3 will include a Blu-ray disk drive (currently capable of six times the storage of a regular DVD) and two TV outputs (two HD displays can be connected to one console).

in short, this progress puts Sony ahead. your move Xbox. as I finished my In-N-Out burger, I had to wonder... does Xbox have another card to play? have you held back something to announce at E3?

how about you Nintendo?

Saturday, May 14, 2005

E3 then driving across Canada

I probably won't be quickly responding to messages over the next few weeks.

I'll be in L.A. for E3 and then my wife and I are driving across the country :) our current route plan is about 6700 KMs.

BTW - I highly recommend Microsoft Streets and Trips. the maps are great, but for planning a roadtrip, it's invaluable.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Xbox 360 revealed

an MTV broadcast revealed the new Xbox 360 tonight. wow! those new games look amazing - I was glad to see Quake 4 on the list.

I heard the word revolution a number of times during the broadcast, but I don't remember seeing anything revolutionary. although, after visiting the Xbox 360 fact sheet, my excitement was somewhat renewed.

why was I not blown away? PVR. where is the digital recording feature? a built-in Windows Media Center extender just doesn't do it for me - I can go to the store and get one of those for the original Xbox if I really want one. oh and while I'm there, I could also get some wireless controllers. photos and music you say? easy with the Xbox Media Center. in addition, if you have a Windows Media Center, and you're using the built-in Xbox 360 Media Center Extender, then having photos and music on your Xbox is redundant.

will Xbox 360 be a cool machine? absolutely! those next gen games look sweet - but that's evolution.
is it a revolution? hmmm, not sure about that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

next generation games

with the release of all three next-gen consoles happening at E3 this month, gamers' dreams are filled with hopes of what the new games will look like.

the Ontario-based developer Digital Extremes has released a trailer for Dark Sector. the impressive video on their teaser site immediately had me wondering what game play would look like. but remarkably, the trailer was created using the engine - it's not just rendered cut scenes. read more about it on GameSpot.

it looks like the next-gen console games are going to live up to expectations. take a look at this shot from a new game. I've been told that this is also taken from the game engine.

I'll be heading to E3 to cover the event for the O'Reilly network. it looks as though there will be no shortage of content coming out of this year's show.

my last book shared on the net

well there's nothing like being on both sides of the coin to find out how you really feel about an issue. I'm now fortunate enough to be on both sides of the P2P file sharing debate :)

the head of the Halo modding Prometheus project informed me today that The Unauthorized Halo 2 Battle Guide has been scanned and posted on the net. for example, on alt.binaries.e-book.technical.

this puts me on both sides because I occasionally download music. I can do this without issue since I live in Canada and it is legal to download music here. I'm morally comfortable downloading since I'm one of those strange folks who will actually go out and buy the record if he likes the songs that he downloaded.

so how do I feel about my income being affected by file sharing? well, I'd like to think that other people will use my algorithm. if you look at the scans and don't like the book, that's cool. I mean, anyone in a book store could do that. I'm hoping that people that like the book will go out and buy it. besides, it's so cheap :P

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Xbox 360 leaked images

my friends at recently told me about these potentially leaked images of the Xbox 360 (code named Xenon). real or fake? you decide... (update: they are real)

I am one of the many who is hoping that Microsoft will be providing Windows Media Center functionality (especially PVR) in the fancy version of the Xenon (update: only one version of Xbox 360 was announced and it doesn't have PVR functionality). I am intrigued that these leaked images look similar to my media center PC. I will be disappointed if the new Xbox simply plays music and displays photos - any modded Xbox can do this already via the Xbox Media Center application.

Dell Dimension 4600C with Windows XP Media Center Edition

Saturday, May 07, 2005

video game law blog

if you're interested in stories about current issues that relate to video games and the law, you should check out this blog: Video Game Law Blog

for example, this story is interesting:

sony folds like cheap rug under hot Bangladeshi sun
Sony has conceded to Bangladeshi demands regarding its upcoming military shooter, “SOCOM 3”. ... Apparently, the government of Bangladesh believed that the game portrayed the country as harbouring or supporting terrorist groups, and threatened to sue Sony if all references to Bangladesh were not removed from the game...

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

about Content Management Server

this is adapted from an e-mail that I wrote in 1999 to explain to people what it was that I did for a living.

picture if you will... a typical .com 'bricks and sticks' building. lots of bricks, lots of big impressive wooden beams, very few offices - thankfully, even fewer cubicles. this was the atmosphere at NCompass Labs in Vancouver's Gastown district. the office was located right next to the famous steam-powered clock that attracts throngs of tourists (btw, the clock is a bit of a misrepresentation - there's a hidden motor so that it doesn't lose time).

NCompass Labs first gained notoriety for software called OLE on the web, this software evolved into what Microsoft calls ActiveX. for years, NCompass sold a plug-in that allowed Netscape to run ActiveX. when Microsoft acquired NCompass in 2001, the flagship software, NCompass Resolution, became Microsoft Content Management Server (MCMS).

MCMS is a content management solution. of course, that means very little to most people. however, content management is already a colossal business. so what does this magical content management solution actually do? it's really quite straight forward, under the traditional (if I can use that word when writing about web technology) paradigm for web publishing there is an unnecessary burden on technically inclined people to manage the content of the site.

for example, let's say that a company has ten web developers, and the same company has 1000 authors who contribute content to the site. in the old world, those 1000 people would rely upon the ten stressed out web developers to add their content to the site. it's madness - it doesn't make any sense for those 1000 people to rely upon the ten. also, it doesn't make sense to train 1000 people to use HTML just so that they can add their own material on the site.

that's where MCMS rides in on the strapping steed. the software separates the technical aspects of web page design from the rather trivial matter of adding content (which is often just text) to the site. under the web content model, the developers put time in at the beginning of the process to design the look and feel and decide exactly what they want authors to be able to do. once the site goes live, authors simply have to cut and paste (or drag and drop) their content directly into templates that the developers built. the formatting can be locked down so that the innocent authors can't make any mistakes that would break the look and feel of the site. of course, it also offers a web browser client (marketing terminology for 'thin client') interface. all an author has to do is go to the page that they want to edit (or add to) and they can make changes directly in a browser (update: exactly the same way that I am entering this post into this Blog). it's pretty slick and there is absolutely no doubt that this is the future of the web. it's a no brainer (update: guess I was right about that one :).

so that's the marketing story; now we start getting technical. while it is true that everything that I explained above is the driving motivation for a lot of sales, MCMS offers a lot more. MCMS is a dynamic web server. most web sites are not dynamic (update: still true in 2005). most sites are hard coded and they appear as they were coded. if someone wants to add a link or a page, they must change the code and re-publish the affected pages. MCMS helps this whole process happen automatically. it can do this because MCMS pages are not flat (.htm or .html) files. everything in MCMS is stored in a SQL Server database. the presentation of the data is not decided until someone asks for it. I hadn't thought of this before but I guess you could say (jokingly) that it's like quantum mechanics. the page decides what it looks like when a browser views it. using our Application Programming Interface (API) developers can design their pages so that they change as content is added to the site. for example, a common application of our API is programming the site navigation so that new pages appear automatically. you can imagine the time that is saved coding HTML when all of the pages add themselves to the navigation links - and this is only one example.

the MCMS API is very flexible and allows developers to do all sorts of things. my photo gallery application was built using our API. when I add pictures to the galleries, they automatically appear under all the different views (even the thumbnails are produced dynamically). MCMS runs on Microsoft's Internet Information Services (IIS) so the API programming happens in ASP (VBscript and JavaScript) (update: the MCMS API now supports .Net).

there are lots of benefits of MCMS. here's a short list of my top three:

1. ease of content management.
MCMS provides a browser interface (thin client) for site authoring. on our sites, users (with rights) can login through a browser and alter web pages as easy as they would a Microsoft Word document.

2. dynamic database
unlike traditional web sites MCMS stores information in a database. as soon as someone approves a change to the site, it becomes available dynamically. since MCMS is designed primarily for large organizations, having a scalable DB solution is very powerful.

3. powerful and flexible programming interface (API).
although Resolution is entirely usable out of the box, MCMS has an amazing API. through this interface web pages become programming objects. for example, a developer can ask for a web page and find out properties like Name, Publishing Date, URL etc. the API guide is over 700 pages long.

MCMS currently runs hundreds (update: thousands?) of sites - including,, and

here's a link to the FAQ (.HTML or .CHM) that Stefan Goßner and I produced: MCMS FAQ

the MCMS book that I co-authored:
Microsoft Content Management Server 2002: A Complete Guide for Addison-Wesley by Bill English, Olga Londer, Todd Bleeker, Shawn Shell, Stephen Cawood

the MCMS book that Stefan Goßner co-authored: Building Websites With Microsoft Content Management Server by Lim Mei Ying, Joel Ward, Stefan Gosner