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Comment Typical usage habits don't suggest replacement (Score 2) 449

I don't believe that the majority of these shipped app device units are being used in a true computing capacity. In my day to day exposure, smart phones in particular don't tend to be used for much beyond the capabilities of earlier cell phones.

Especially among the younger crowd, who now seem to think that owning an iPhone 4 is the new minimum requirement for acceptance by their peers, the typical use seems to mostly comprise texting and music playback, with the occasional use of the camera for taking pictures of their friends while drunk. Facebook has definitely made significant inroads, but not too many people are using advanced features of Facebook or using more complex web applications from their smartphones. Some games are present, which are definitely more impressive than what previously existed as games on cell phones, but which mostly fill the same role: idle time wasters when on the go.

In my office environment, everyone has a smart phone. No one uses one as a primary email device, a primary web browsing device or a general office productivity device. The dominant use is scheduling, which requires syncronization with their computer-based scheduling, and email & web browsing while not in the office.

iPads have made some inroads as a computer replacement, with a few people using them as laptop-replacements for meeting notetaking and presentations, but still they're not being used as a primary productivity device.

I see these mobile devices, currently, as a supplement to personal computers which can be omni-present. Because they fit in a pocket and combine functionality with a required gadget (cell phones), more people are web browsing on the go or performing some tasks that previously may have required access to a computer. They still have syncing relationships to computers that are critical to many of their functions, and most functions still work better from a real computer. I doubt that any time soon you will see someone replacing their work PC with a smart phone, and the consumers that might replace a home PC with one probably didn't use that home PC very much.

Comment Re:Great platform security there... (Score 1) 71

This is the continuation of Facebook's rubber-band of privacy policy. First, they open up a grievous hole. Then, there's an inevitable tide of user outrage, usually coinciding with a Facebook group complaining about it and threatening mass exodus, creating tension on the rubber band. Eventually, the tension overcomes Facebook's inertia and motivates them to fix the hole they created, jerking things forward to be briefly in sync with sensible standards, until they make the next grievous hole and start the stretching process again.

It's a game of seeing how much they can get away with and for how long, only addressing their own problems with minimal efforts when a snapping point nears. Eventually, there will be an API-level prevention of this sort of behaviour, only to be replaced with a new massive security hole.

Most users will just continue blissfully onward posting photos of themselves and friends engaged in compromising situations while under the influence of a wide array of intoxicants, with every sordid detail shared freely with prospective employers. Even iron-tight platform security can't cure the kind of stupid that is Facebook's bread and butter.

Comment Re:This is news? (Score 2, Insightful) 182

It's interesting in that it's one of the cases where pursuit of an aesthetic has undermined functionality.

I work at a university where its Industrial Design program is a pretty big deal, but it's plagued with projects that completely fail in usability (ie, a brushed metal and fogged glass "chair" that will explode into twisted shrapnel if more than 20lbs of load is applied). Strangely, the completely nonfunctional pieces tend to be awarded higher grades because they're more "daring" or have more "vision". The mindset is often that concept of the design is most important, and it will be someone else's job to work out the crippling problems presented by the unrealistic choices made by the designer.

The odd piece is quite complete and very functional, but usually gets awarded a B for not having enough time spent obsessing over the finishing, because a critical design requirement is to spend dozens of hours sanding.

Comment Re:The real question (Score 2, Insightful) 182

White with iPhones is a way of advertising that you have the more expensive model, as it historically only exists as an option for the top-end model. All of the people who know the difference will be totally impressed when they see it and will respect you and/or want to have sex with you.

It's like wearing a fancy watch or paying for a drink with a hundred dollar bill at the bar. Visible signs of wealth trump personality and good looks.

Comment Re:No (Score 1) 175

There are a lot of different things that make people quit... for example, I didn't care much for the original herding-massive-quantities-of-cats-into-gigantic-raids-to-get-a-chance-at-one-piece-of-loot model that they used in the original and quit after becoming frustrated with the end game. Some of the changes that have been made since then might have convinced me to stick around if they'd come earlier.

There seems to be a rotating focus on some alienated portion of the player-base with each iteration, now with some bones being thrown back to the uberhardcore raid nuts, the very same group that the original version of WoW catered to and then abandoned progressively with each expansion. While attempting to juggle all of the competing interests of a diverse playerbase, they're definitely dropping some balls. Maybe the next expansion will have something that rekindles your interest, or maybe you'll remain free of the addiction like me and marvel at how much extra time you have to waste on other equally meaningless pursuits.

I took up alcohol.

Comment Re:how many WC slashvertizements will there be? (Score 1) 175

Yeah, that sounds downright unpleasant, and for your case the missing LAN functionality is a definite hindrance. Hopefully things improve, because those sorts of internet connectivity issues would be disruptive to, well, anything. Maybe I'm spoiled by having a choice of a plethora of reliable DSL providers and one very good cable provider in my local market. <unhelpful suggestion>You could always move just so you can play a game reliably!</unhelpful suggestion> Hmm, I think I'd be awfully tempted to move in such a circumstance, but I have unusual priorities.

There are some people for whom the argument of the existence or nonexistence of LAN play is a purely ideological one and not based on disruption from internet connectivity issues, which I find a little bit odd. The case of anyone who is left out by the combination of Blizzard's design choice and lack of connectivity, however, does erode away from my previous statements. For most people, their model is equivalent, but for some it admittedly is not. In some future world where crappy ISPs no longer exist, or there is always a viable alternate choice in every local market, they will become equivalent, and I don't think that's all that far off.

There's not really any stopping game developers from moving towards the fully internet-based model regardless of whether some (potential or actual) customers have prohibitive connectivity issues. They will just blame the ISPs and say that there isn't enough demand to justify dedicated LAN functionality, and that they're not in the business of providing workaround for ISPs who fail to provide their service. They can only get away with that stance because internet connectivity is now practically universal and generally very good quality for large portions of the world and the expectation of consumers is becoming that ISPs *should* provide consistently working service, rather than accepting that connection drops and packet loss are the norm.

Your case is decidedly lame and it would be nice if you had some recourse.

Comment Re:how many WC slashvertizements will there be? (Score 1) 175

Even then, the "lack" of LAN-play for SC2 and Diablo 3 is splitting technical hairs.

Your computer doesn't host the game and a connection to is required to play. What real-world difference does this make? How many people set up a LAN party without having an internet connection these days?

I play SC2 with other folks connected via a LAN all the time, moreso than I play with random people online. This supposedly missing feature hasn't affected my LAN-play experience one bit. I don't even get an uneasy feeling that my consumer rights are being eroded by corporations as I do so, it's that seamless.

Comment Re:Before the inevitable (Score 1) 175

A big component of the service is DRM. Requiring an account to play, even offline single player via check-ins, is the most effective way that they've come up with to prevent piracy.

They made a gamble that it would be something that their playerbase would be willing to swallow, and it seems like they were right: for most folks its restrictions aren't a hindrance, and there are a few benefits thrown in, like being able to download, install and play the game on any computer. It has a lot less ugly pointy barbs than some other (cough Ubisoft) DRM schemes in recent history.

I'm sure there are some people who don't want multiplayer and don't want content updates and don't want cloud-based saved games and don't want achievements and whatnot and who find authenticating to play a single-player game inherently offensive. But seriously, you obviously have an internet connection, and you're only being inconvenienced for seconds to get a month of unrestricted take-it-anywhere play on that (or any other) computer. That one login gets you enough time to play through the whole single player campaign, and then you can uninstall the game to free up its huge disk footprint and move on with your life.

I personally will gladly authenticate every time I play in order to spare the headache of having to put in an original optical disc. I think the latter is far more inconvenient.

I'm not sure what any of this has to do with WoW, though, which has always required authentication for all forms of play. It, like all MMOs, is a 100% online game.

Comment Re:Blizzard's Attitude (Score 1) 138

And the reason why they use draconian bans rather than half-measures is that it's a remarkably effective way to keep the online experience very clean.

They could form a special Cesspool League where known cheaters could freely compete with each other however they please using whatever hacks they want on the software they purchased, and give all other players the ability to never be matched up with a known cheater. Coupled with that, they could nullify all achievements for cheaters and put a big black mark on their profiles. This would superficially segregate the people who wish to use hacks to damage the multiplayer experience of other players from those who want a clean game, and perhaps everyone would be happy.

The drawback to this is that it would give the cheaters a venue to test their craft, perhaps finding ways to sneak past the cheat detectors and have their scumminess bubble forth and pollute the experience of the mainstream. It would also mean a softer deterrent which would likely not be as effective in preventing that first offense. So in the end, Blizzard opts for the scorched-earth cheating policy that most of their customers either love or have no issue with, thus maintaining a first-rate multiplayer experience rather than allowing it to degenerate and ruin the experience, as has happened repeatedly throughout internet gaming history. They would rather have a very effective weapon against cheaters and use it than continually play catch-up with patches and lose paying customers due to cheater-related frustration.

As one of the people who does not cheat in games, I don't have any real issue with their attitudes towards cheating. It may set an ugly precedent in that a software company can arbitrarily deny a paying customer the right to use purchased software, but counter-balanced with the Big Happy Bonus of not having to put up with cheaters in multiplayer... well that soothes any chafing I might have with the principle and allows them to retain my free-market-voting dollars. I actually trust their profit motive not to cross me and I don't plan to cross them.

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