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Lego goes Golden – celebrates 50 years

by James - on January 28, 2008

Legos

1958. It was the same year that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was officially born. Alaska becomes the 50th State. The nuclear powered submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571) became the first vessel to cross the North Pole under water. Elvis was inducted into the U.S. Army. And the LEGO was born.

Although the company’s birth was actually 1932 when Ole Christansen founded a factory for wooden toys, the design for the LEGO came to Christiansen in 1949. Looking for an affordable material to build his toys, Christiansen realized that plastic was the future of toy making. He purchased his first injection mold machine in Denmark and began making Legos. The LEGO was officially given a patent on this date in 1958.

The LEGO brick of today is based on the very same design that came to Chrsitiansen in 1949. In fact, bricks made in 1958 can still fit snugly to bricks made fifty years later. And that’s the beauty of the Lego system. Coming in over 2,400 different shapes, Lego bricks are made from from a plastic compound known as ABS, which starts as tiny plastic granules that are heated to 232° C until they melt. Injection moulding machines then press the hot and “gooey” plastic mass into LEGO brick shapes. The shapes dry and harden into the infamous LEGO brick.

The name was an amalgam of Danish words “LEg” and “GOdt” meaning “play well.” And that’s an accurate statement for what kids do with a tiny plastic brick which can create anything from sculpture to theme park architecture to even machines for home based manufacturing. But when all is said and done, the LEGO is a toy. Plain and simple. And a fun one at that.

SONY MAY THIN OUT PS3 PRODUCT LINE

by James - on January 26, 2008

PS3 Closeout

According to sources following the development of the Playstation 3, Best Buy is discontinuing the sale of both the 80GB and 60GB models of the Playstation 3. Only the 40GB model, which sells for $399 and is not backwards compatible with earlier Playstation games will remain.

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The rumor stems from a post by PS3Fanboy on his blog citing an anonymous Best Buy employee who apparently fed him this internal memo:

“The 80GB version of the PS3 is going closeout and won’t be replaced at this time,”… “It will come off the planogram on Jan. 28. The 60GB version should already be gone from stores. Only the 40GB version of PS3 will be sold in Best Buy stores at this time.”

The internal communiqué also goes on to confirm that the 40GB model is not backwards compatible and that Sony has no plans to add to the existing product line. If true, this would mark the return of initial criticisms of the PS3 that it wasn’t compatible with previous Playstation games and cited this as one reason, along with it’s ridiculously high price, not to invest in the latest game console in the first place. Lagging sales prompted Sony to lose nearly a billion dollars on the PS3 until they recently reduced the price of all Playstation 3 models, a move that has enjoyed brisk sales through the holiday season. But if this memo reflects a shift in Sony policy, the PS3’s return to glory may be short lived.

Source: UberGizmo

The Force Unleashed … will the tech behind it make it the greatest game ever?

by James - on January 26, 2008

The Force Unleashed … will the tech behind it make it the greatest game ever?

Now that the power of gaming graphics has risen to the point that games are blurring the lines of reality entertainment, one has to ask … could LucasArts “The Force Unleashed” be the greatest game ever? Designed with three different simulation technologies, The Force Unleashed is being designed to push the envelope in Xbox, Wii, and Playstation 3 consoles. And judging by the video below that talks about the tech behind the game, it just may be.

The game’s premise is a simple one. The gamer is Darth Vader’s secret apprentice and after much training, the Force has unleashed incredible powers in this padawan learner. Designed around three major simulation technologies, TFU is more than a game, it may actually be a Force simulation. Utilizing the Havok physics engine, designers are able to move an amazing amount of detail within the scenario. The result is the ability to move a great number of objects on screen at once. Great if you’re using the force to push back a hoard of destroyer droids. Euphoria, is the technology that gives animated characters their individuality. They reaction to what’s happening around them and insures that no two reactions are the same. Finally, Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) simulates the substance of an object in the scene and make it behave like it would in the real world. Glass shatters like glass, metal bends like metal, wood splinters as it should. Coupling this with Euphoria and the game environment reacts as it would if it were real life.

Add to this the hopeful promise of a Lightsaber Wii controller, and the result is that the Force Unleashed could be more simulation than game. And that begs the question … will The Force Unleashed be the greatest game ever? Well, at least until they make a better one.

Source, with cool behind the scenes video – Kotaku

Disney testing HiTech guide for the Magic Kingdom

by James - on January 24, 2008

Disney Magic Connection
If you’ve ever been to Disney World and have kids, you no doubt know about Pal Mickey. A cuddly, interactive plushie of the Mouse, which has an RSS chip in its nose, Pal Mickey lets its owner in on insider park tips, gives parade and showtime reminders, tell when favorite characters are nearby, and about short waits at favorite attractions. And Pal Mickey works at every park at the Walt Disney World resort. It’s like having Mickey Mouse as your personal tour guide and an ingenious souvenir that’s well worth the sixty dollar price tag. Building on that comes a new, more higher tech, application which Disney is testing at Walt Disney World, and it’s based on the Nintendo DS Platform.

ToDo Characters map

Utilizing the wireless capabilities of the DS, the Disney Magic Connection is completely interactive and easy to update. It promises to keep track of where you are in the park on an interactive map, gives guests a to-do list of what not to miss, informs of parade and attraction show times, where the nearest characters are, what rides have the shortest wait, what fast pass times are being accepted at any given ride, games to play while waiting in line, and even help to make dinner reservations of any Disney restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.

So, while the kiddies are enjoying listening to Mickey update them on what’s going on in the Magic Kingdom, Mom and Dad can get their geek on in the park as well.

No word on if the Disney Magic Connection will be available on other platforms, but with Apple’s influence, you can bet it’ll probably end up on the iTouch/iPhone sooner or later.

More info on the WDWMagic forums.

Source: Engadget

Etch A Sketch on your TV

by Al - on January 24, 2008

Etch a Sketch has been brought right up to date with the new “TV Etch a Sketch”, so instead of simply watching TV you can now draw on it without being told off, you can even rub out mistakes (which seems like cheating to me).

Relive the childhood fun of Etch-A-Sketch® by drawing on your television! Simply plug the controller into your TV and explore 4 activity modes: Cool Drawing Tools, Trace A Pic, Super Sketch and Connecting The Dots.

The image you draw with the controller magically appears on the screen and you just shake the controller to make the image magically disappear from the screen! All ages will enjoy the fun!

You can buy TV Etach A Sketch from The Lighter Side for $12.98, thanks Random Good Stuff.

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