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PlayStation Firmware Interview: Faster Updates, Fewer For 2008

368w ago - The interview was with Eric Lempel, director of network operations for Sony Computer Entertainment America, who I spoke with last week. Lempel is not just responsible for the PSP PC store. He's also behind any of the firmware upgrades SCEA issues for the PS3 and PSP.

Lempel and I mostly talked about the store during our interview, but late in our chat the topic of firmware came up. Why have there been so many firmware upgrades this year? What is Sony's current firmware strategy? And what kind of features are coming?

No, he did not say when customizable XMB will be implemented. But he was open nonetheless and suggests a promising, more user-friendly future is in the works. Here's an excerpt from our conversation, the rest of which follows below:

Multiplayer: There've been a lot [of PlayStation 3 firmware upgrades] and it's certainly improved the machine. I can't say that I love every time I turn my system on – well not every time I turn my system on – but when I turned my system on last night to check something needed an upgrade already. I just got 2.0.

Lempel: Right. Right. We're trying to certainly cut down on the amount of times we do it. But on occasion when we've got these good features ready to go, let's give them out to the consumers. Let's get them...

The return of the Dreamcast: Why it could work

368w ago - If you've been anywhere near the internet over the last couple of days you'll no doubt have come into contact with a screamingly excited Dreamcast fan or two.

They've been nearing ignition temperature on the forums for the last twenty-four hours due to some rumours that a follow-up to the vastly loved but prematurely killed console may be on the way. Rumors that came about due to Sega re-registering the DC trademark, only with a description containing a few key changes to the original format.

Of course, the differences may very well be a simple result of Sega wanting to protect the Dreamcast name for future use of its games on other formats such as XBLA. And after contacting Sega to enquire about the matter, we were given a resounding "Falsehood!" in response.

But still, we can't help wondering. Would a second Dreamcast prevail after the financial whupping Sega took with the first one? What reasons are there to think that it would be a good idea, and how would the console have to work? It may just be the nostalgic fanboy in us, but as we went on, we found ourselves feeling more and more positive about it, Here are our conclusions.

Ten things the Xbox 360 does wrong

368w ago - We love the Xbox 360. We really do. It has top games, a great online service, and it's reasonably priced. In fact, last week we identified the 10 things the Xbox 360 does right. Yet we are not blind to its faults. There are many things it does wrong - dead wrong. Rising from a sea of quibbles are the following ten complaints. Serious complaints.

If Microsoft is to realise its grand corporate vision of total media dominance, then it's going to have to stop doing things wrong, and start doing them right.

These ten points would be a great place to start.

1. Mass storage
This was a giant leap backwards for the Xbox 2.0 - baffling, and widely decried. The first Xbox had an internal HDD as standard, and that was great. There was just the one SKU that all developers could optimise their software for.

By making the hard drive an optional extra, Microsoft threw the development community into disarray.

The ability to cache data to the hard drive, taken for granted on the previous generation, was scuttled. Hence an avalanche of development headaches, all felt acutely by the end consumer: texture pop-in, long loading times... it's painful to watch.

Oh, but it gets worse. You're only allowed to have a single hard drive per system - you can't...

Themes subdomain arrives at PS3News; Downloads for ALL visitors!

368w ago - We have added a subdomain last night to our Web site for easier access to the latest PS3 Themes. It can be reached at:


Those seeking PS3 Themes there no longer have to register/login to download them- we have opened the downloads in that section only to ALL visitors now. Keep in mind you must be logged in to rate and comment on the Themes there still.

Finally, as mentioned HERE we are currently asking anyone who has grabbed the Official Sony Ratchet & Clank: ToD Theme -OR- the Uncharted Theme from yesterday's PSN update to kindly upload them. Thanks guys!

Microsoft gives Vista boost with birth of SP1

368w ago - SP1 might only be three characters, but it's make or break time for Microsoft. The corporation clearly remains hopeful that the Vista stragglers will want to make the transition once it has ironed out all the creases in an operating system riddled with tiny bugs.

Microsoft is making the Release Candidate (RC) of Service Pack 1 - the post-beta, pre-release version - available next week to the public via Microsoft's Download Center here.

If you're lucky enough to have an account, you can get it today via Microsoft Connect or tomorrow via TechNet and MSDN. According to Microsoft blogger Nick White, the release indicates "that the code has attained a significant level of performance and stability".

The full RTM (Release to Manufacturing) version of SP1 is still slated for early next year. Although SP1 contains some fixes that have already been released, the key is that the release guarantees a certain level of stability and reliability that will be required by some software. And then there are users such as businesses, which need an OS to be a stable property before rolling it out across their networks.

We already know that as well as the performance enhancements and bug fixes, SP1 will bring further anti-piracy measures.

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