Denki News

March 27, 2007

Xbox 360 “Elite” — The Black Xbox 360 is a reality (for $479)

Filed under: Uncategorized — icruise @ 11:35 pm

The rumored black Xbox is now official. It’s basically the same as the Xbox 360 Premium, but with a 120GB hard drive and HDMI. And it’s in black. It doesn’t use a smaller, cooler CPU, and doesn’t have integrated wi-fi or HD-DVD.

The thing is, it actually makes the 20GB PS3 look like a bargain. For an extra $20, you get a Blu-ray player, after all. I personally think this is the wrong direction for MS to go with the system. Adding a “deluxe” model like this isn’t going to strike fear into Sony’s heart. Not when their low-end model already beats it (with a few exceptions, like storage space, of course). They need to be making their system even cheaper.  I figured MS was going to try and be aggressive about their pricing, maybe introducing this model at the same price point as the current premium model and getting rid of the core system.

BTW, the price for the 120GB HD by itself is $179…

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March 24, 2007

Folding@Home: PS3s beating all other platforms combined

Filed under: Technology, Video Games — icruise @ 1:59 am

A couple of days ago, Sony released version 1.6 of the PS3 software, which included the ability to run the Folding@Home client. Folding@Home is a project run by Stanford university that uses the combined power of thousands of computers to perform calculations that would otherwise take expensive supercomputers months or even years to complete. The data is part of research on curing diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s (more information can be found in this CNN article). The amazing thing is that since the PS3 has been added to the mix, it has quickly pulled ahead of all other platforms. As of this writing, it had almost twice as many TFLOPS as all of the other platforms combined. That’s about 19,000 PS3s beating out about 200,000 other computers! I’m currently letting my PS3 fold when it’s not in use and I suggest anyone who has one do the same.

EDIT: Just to be fair, it has been pointed out to me that the PS3 and PC clients aren’t doing precisely the same thing. The PS3 is a lot faster than the PC at the work that it is being given, but the PC is doing some calculations that the PS3 can’t do.

March 12, 2007

Buying songs from the Japanese iTunes Store

Filed under: iPod & iTunes, Japan — icruise @ 3:06 pm

I’m not a big fan of what is commonly called “J-Pop” but when I lived in Japan I made a conscious effort to find some Japanese artists that I did like. I rented a lot of CDs (yes you can rent CDs in Japan — a good thing, since they are close to $30 apiece) and eventually found quite a number of artists that a liked a lot. But when I moved back to the US, I was pretty much cut off. It is possible to import Japanese CDs to the US, but it’s expensive and you certainly can’t do much experimenting with new bands that you’ve never heard of before.

When the iTunes Music Store opened in Japan, I had hoped that it would allow me to buy Japanese songs, much as the US version of the iTS had helped me keep in touch with American music while I was in Japan. But unfortunately, they required you to have a credit card with a Japanese billing address just to open an account. You can listen to the 30-second previews, but not download anything — even the weekly free songs.

However, I recently found out that if you buy an iTS prepaid card from Japan, you can use it to create a Japanese iTS account without any credit card at all, allowing you to download Japanese songs. There are even places on the net (such as J-List) that sell Japanese cards for this express purpose. There are instructions on the J-List page telling how to go about creating an account with a prepaid card. You need to have the card first, though, since if you try and create an account without it, it will insist that you have a credit card. The only tricky part is that you have to have a Japanese address of some kind (even though it will likely never be used). I don’t know how strict the system is about putting in a real address, but J-List has said that you can even use their address as a dummy. However, I couldn’t find their Japanaese address on the site, though, so you might need to contact them if you want to try that.

Anyway, I can finally download Japanese music now, so I’m happy. Here are some of my favorite Japanese artists. Clicking the links will take you to their iTS page. Unfortunately, the iTS doesn’t have the greatest selection for some of them — I have 13 albums by my favorite band Spitz, and only one of them is on the iTS. They do have a couple of greatist hits albums that have some of their best stuff, though. There are also some major artists that aren’t on the iTS at all, such as Mr. Children and the Southern All Stars.
Spitz
Utada Hikaru
Ulfuls
Yamazaki Masayoshi
Inoue Yousui
Makihara Noriyuki
UA (prononuced Ooh-Ah)
Aska
Chage and Aska
Yaida Hitomi

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