Nintendo announces DSi, the next generation NDS

October 2nd, 2008

Today Nintendo announced the new DSi, the next generation of thei DS line of handheld gaming consoles. Well, not exacly the next generation, but the next version. Looking at the specs, the DSi is to the DS what the GBC is to the DMG.(The original 1989 version of Gameboy) A spiced up version, but still basically the same thing. This is good in that games can have a smooth transistion between version 1 and 2, but because it means the hardware is still as weak performance-wise as it was in the first DS.
So let’s have a look at the specs. The information comes from Joystiq.

This picture sums upp all new hardware features on the Nintendo DSi

  • CPU power - Unchanged. Period. Unless Joystiq have received too early info and it sports some kind of turbo mode à la GBC, this is a disappointment.
  • Graphics - Unchanged. Two 256*192 screens of which one is (still) a touch screen. The rumours of the DSi having dual touch screens seem to be proven wrong too. At best the screens are a little brighter and have a little more contrast than the DSLite, and the screens are a little bit bigger, even though that’s not a real killer. (The DSlite had a pretty good display)
  • Cameras - Here we go… The DSi has not one, but two cameras. One high-res on the back (Presumably) and one low-res on the hinge consequently. Seeing that they’re targetting girls, judging from their video, it’s not surprising that they’re trying to break into a market that has been dominated by cell phones in Japan for the last few years. But will they succeed? Future will tell. They promise video chat, but I suspect the CPU is a bit too slow to cope with simultaneous compression and decompression of video and audio data. Just saying.
    There’s also a camera app with a few warp effects and other meaningless things.
  • Wi-Fi - Joystiq’s comparison just says Wi-Fi, but let’s just hope they upgraded the wireless card to one with 11g instead of just 11b, and that they implemented hardware support for WPA. As of today, WPA is probably possible, but would eat up all CPU power, leaving nothing to the actual application. (Not cool!)
  • The GBA slot is gone - This was an anticipated change. Seeing that it was only really used by Guitar Hero, Opera (The browser) and backup devices, I can see why they want it gone, since removing it also allowed for a slightly slimmer form factor. We’ll have to live without Guitar Hero, we’ll get a new browser for free, and N wants us to stop pirating and using homebrew. All is as it should.
  • Storage - Here’s something that’s interesting for me, since I’m mainly interested in homebrew. 1) Nintendo is promising onboard storage. They’re not saying how much, but hopefully more than the current 256 kB firmware area. 2) A built in SD slot! I mean wow, here’s a great ptoential for a new kind of cheap passcards. The danger with that is that N will come with a firmware upgrade that breaks the compatibility with said devices, and since they wouldn’t be upgradeable. (Since in my little fantasy that’s what’s going to make them cheap in the first place) But yeah, I’m excited about the SD slot actually. Might be the killer feature for homebrewers, although my M3Real already has an SD slot that works perfectly fine.
  • App Store - To make the onboard storage useful, they’ve added an App Store, much like the Wii Shop Channnel. In fact they renamed the Wii Points to Nintendo Points just honour this new feature.
  • Music player - An MP3 player, possibly with the possibility to buy music online.
  • On a more superficial level… I’m also noticing that they re-arranged the LEDs a bit. They’re now on the left side rather than on the right side. The power LED changed from green to the evr so popular blue, and wireless activity has now got it’s own dedicated, yellow LED.
    New position for the LEDs on the Nintendo DSi

So, in essence, all new known hardware features are the cameras and the SD slot. It will sell, I am sure of it, but with its under-powered hardware, will it last?

Through: Engadget, Joystiq
Official Nintendo DSi homepage (Japanese)

For the G-Bot: New Gameboy 2008

One American Second by Norman Fairbanks

December 4th, 2007

One American Second (The Great American Radio Play) is a sort of mixtape about American culture. It consists of three episodes of about 50 minutes, of carefully arranged snippets of sound, most of it presumably all of it is from the radio. I think it represents American culture well in the sense that it touches the taboos, fears as well as the pride and values I think many Americans have about their nation. I like the playfulness of this work by Fairbanks - he has a way of playing with sounds and what they express in a way that I haven’t seen many other do. (Perhaps I’ve looked in the wrong places)
I also like how he’s able apply a different mood from what was inended in the original recordings, to each clip. This is done by changing the context by choosing the order he puts the clips in, and also by mood-creating music.
Much of the work consists of talk, and there’s also alot of music. I imagine some of it (The electro music) was produced by himself, but most of it is probably sampled radio material, and those parts, I think, is a good representation for the USA in different ways.
I imagine some proud Americans would be genuinely insulted by hearing this work. But for us other people, this is a recommended piece of art!

Coke Zero

April 21st, 2007

True to my geekiness, I try to ingest a dose of caffeine everyday. And I also have a problem with diet drinks, I usually just can’t stand the sweeteners. Sucralose is extra bad. I actually can’t taste the sweetness in it, it’s just not there. At the same time I feel the bad taste of it which is somewhere between sour and bitter. (But of course, this is my highly personal opinion, I realize many people think sucralose tastes good, or at the very least decent)

So I decided to try Coca Cola Zero for a few days and see what I though about it. Coke Zero is based on aspartam and acesulfam k, which as far as I understand is the same sweeteners as the pre-sucralose diet Coke. So in a way Coke Light could be seen as a modified version of that. My theory is that the CC company realized their mistake with sucralose, but couldn’t recall it because of pride for their trademark.

Coke Zero also has a weird effect when it comes to its carbonation. When opening a can of diet soda, there seems to be more pressure in it, and diet sodas seem to be more explosive when it’s been shaken. And diet sodas also seem to produce more foam, both when pouring it in a glass (Where the foam takes a ridiculous amount of time to settle) and when drinking from the can (Where the foam fills your mouth) The myth (?) that artificial sweeteners are in fact soap are not only related to the taste.
Alas, it seems like Coke Zero, just like any other diet drink, is either more carbonated than regular sodas, or that this effect is caused by the sweeteners.

What about the taste then? Obviously better than diet Coke. And even a pinch better than the old diet Coke. But it still has a very clear texture of sweeteners, and also leaves the regular after-taste in my mouth, but less than either other two types mentioned. In my opinion it’s a fully acceptable drink when drunk with food, which masks the sweeteners pretty well.

Coke Zero still not my preferred way of ingesting caffeine, but I’m pleased to see that Coca Cola did a diet drink somewhat ok.