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July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Microsoft Student Insider Feature: Bill Buxton Talks Up the Importance of NUI

Microsoft Principal Researcher, MIX 10 keynote speaker and all around design guru Bill Buxton took time out of his insanely busy day to enlighten us Student Insiders about the importance of always present Natural User Interfaces (NUIs). If you have a solid 24 minutes (seeing as you’re on this site right now, it’s safe to assume you might), take a look as Tom Ziegmann and I get schooled in design theory, team integration and… hockey? Check out the video here and come on back to tell us what you think.

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Coffee Talk: When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong

Everyone needs to let out a bit of that pent up aggravation every once in a while. I get that. However, after finally getting around to watching the most recent Medal of Honor trailer, I couldn’t help but feel uneasy on a few levels. Now, before we get assaulted with hate mail and rabid comments: these words and opinions are 100 percent mine and not representative of Geekadelphia as a whole.

In recent years I’ve been turned off to just about every first-person shooter (FPS) out there aside from Team Fortress 2, the Left 4 Dead series and the recent free-to-play offerings Quake Live and Battlefield Heroes for essentially one reason: the attempts at extreme realism. More on why exactly this is bothersome behind the cut. Read more…

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Student Insider Feature Series: Todd Brix and the Impact of Windows Phone 7

Associated Press’ Windows Phone 7 news application

Thanks for clicking your way into the Microsoft Student Insider Feature Series, where I get the incredible opportunity to speak with some of the movers and shakers of Microsoft’s various product offerings. While at MIX 10 last week, Jeremy Bray (Microsoft’s Windows Student Insider) and I sat down with Senior Director of Product Management on the Mobile Communications Team, Todd Brix. As you may have already guessed, his dreams are pretty much filled with dancing Windows Phone 7 devices, touch screens aglitter. Let’s get right into what’s in store for us this coming holiday season.

Normally, these types of products have a specific target audience be it enterprise or casual. Brix claims that Microsoft is trying to create something that brings those two walks of life together.

“We’re trying to build an experience that spans their personal life, their work life and the fun and playful things they do around that all the time,” says Brix referring to the Windows Phone 7 target audience.”That’s really the genesis of what we’re doing.”

The Windows Phone 7 team has accomplished this through apps and services that blend the consumer with the professional with fun services like Xbox Live integration or Zune functionality and useful ones like the Microsoft Office hub, according to Brix. It would be interesting to see a business professional use a Windows Phone 7 device to pull up documents during a meeting using the Office service only to check his Gamerscore compared to his work buddies’ during lunch. More on what Windows Phone 7 means for you and I after the break. Read more…

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Coffee Talk: Where is This Valley (and Why is it Uncanny)?

Supposedly the brief specs on Nvidia’s yet-to-be released GeForce GTX 470 and 480 video cards have been leaked and boast video RAM levels of up to 1536 MB. Another year, another release of a ludicrously powerful graphics processor. One can’t help but think, “Doesn’t this stuff have to plateau at some point?”

To answer the question I asked for you, why yes. Yes it does. A theory has been floating around for a long time dubbed The Uncanny Valley that seeks to explain why no matter how hard we try, The Matrix will never happen (sorry folks). Read more…

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

DiNG iPhone Skins [Review] + a Chance to Win a Skin of Your Choice!

Since my iPhone 3G case snapped a few months ago, my poor little sidekick has been subjected to various surface scratches and bruises from resting it atop bar counters and restaurant tables aplenty. When DiNG contacted us recently to test drive their vinyl skins, I responded to said email with furious fingers at the chance at a new case with some style. Take a look after the cut for my impressions and a chance to win your very own DiNG! Read more…

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Tales From the Con: MIX 10 Day Three Recap

Day three of MIX 10 was thankfully a bit more laid back than the previous days in that it was sans devastatingly loud music and neon flashes, however the same cannot be said for last night. MIX 10’s annual attendee party was held this time around in LAX, the underground night club within the lavishly laid-out Luxor Hotel.

And what a nerd-fest (in the best of ways)! Only at a party hosted by Microsoft would you overhear conversations about the beauty of NUI and Japanese business card culture amongst Ke$sha’s “Tik-Tok” reverberating about the place.

More on what went down this morning — and a Memento style flash back — after the jump. Read more…

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Tales From the Con: MIX 10 Day Two Recap

After another keynote filled to the gills with exciting announcements and even more questions (not unlike an episode of Lost), not to mention ear crushingly loud tunes, it’s time to recollect and share some of the more intriguing moments from the address. This morning’s intro, a demo of Project Gustav, had much more significance than yesterday’s considering that it turned out to be a technology that Bill Buxton’s researchers have been working on. More on that later.

For all intents and purposes (i.e. what my feeble mind could grasp), the theme of Day Two’s keynote was Internet Explorer 9. With IE 9 Platform Preview going live today as well the various demos that were displayed to us this morning, it’s safe to assume that Microsoft is focused on HTML 5. More on my impressions of IE 9, it’s dependency on and the power of HTML 5 as well as some reflection on Mr. Buxton’s inspiring presentation after the cut. Read more…

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Tales From the Con: MIX 10 Day One Recap

In an attempt to gather what I can from what was a blur of technology, flashy lights and tucked in polo shirts, let’s take a look at what Day One of MIX 10 was like. Since, you all might know how the live blog went – we’ll get it right tomorrow morning as long no one decides to release a 100+ MB download in the middle of the keynote – we’ll just take a look at a few of my favorite announcements.

Surely, you all know a lot of details concerning Windows Phone 7 were released including specifics on XNA and Silverlight support as well as more information concerning Expression Blend 4 and the release of the Silverlight 4 release candidate (final version due next month!), so let’s get into the nitty gritty after the break. Read more…

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Tales From the Con: MIX 10 Preview Edition

So, Microsoft is sending me off on another whirlwind adventure in a few days. This time I’m headed to Las Vegas, Nevada for Microsoft’s MIX 10 this Monday the 15th to the 17th (and it’s going to be beautiful). Being a guy who is infinitely intrigued by tech and web (not to mention the Expression Insider), why wouldn’t I be at Microsoft’s annual web design conference?

Tom Zeigman and Jeremy Bray, the IT and Windows Student Insiders respectively, will be live blogging the keynotes with myself for all to see what goes down first hand. Expect to be able to join in on our discussions (and quirkiness) as it happens, but more details on how we’ll be handling this later this weekend.

While the three of us will be recapping you each day on the happenings of the conference, tune into Microsoft’s Channel 9 for exclusive video coverage and features throughout the festivities. Remember to install Silverlight¬† to watch the events as they unfold beginning this Monday at 10:30 a.m. EST.

Join me behind the cut for a bit more info on what I’ll be up to specifically at MIX 10 and don’t worry, nothing stays in Vegas on this trip.¬† Read more…

July 13, 2010 / Joe Osborne

Coffee Talk: Will Our Second Lives Soon Become Our First?

Welcome to Geekadelphia’s weekly discussion column, Cofffee Talk, where we talk about the finer topics concerning video games, technology and all the other things you can’t talk about with your slightly-less-geeky friends. Have questions or suggestions? Send an email to or tweet with us. Follow me on Twitter if you’d like to keep this week’s discussion alive.

A strange question that inspires visions of our favorite cyberpunk novels and The Matrix, but in all honesty it might be one that we should be considering more sincerely. Our friends at Technabob recently posted the video of Carnegie Mellon University professor Jesse Schell’s presentation at DICE 2010. Let’s just say it was strange (just watch the video), but poignant in the sense that while you may not agree with his ideas, this may not be far off the mark of where we are headed in the next twenty years.

What Schell is talking about here is a future where instead of folks with marketing and advertising degrees telling us how to act, what to like and, most importantly, what to buy we’ll be directed by those with degrees in game design. His supporting evidence is largely the goal and reward based games of Facebook like Zynga’s Farmville and Mafia Wars and the achievement driven meta games that many consoles and PC games host today. Consider what motivates you Farmville addicts and achievement junkies as we take a look beyond the jump. Read more…