Valve and Xi3 unveil ‘Piston’ game console

From Polygon:

Xi3 brought an early version of Piston to CES, but was tight lipped on details about the hardware currently in development with Valve. Xi3 chief marketing officer David Politis told Polygon that Piston will offer up to 1 TB of interal storage and offer modular component updates, including the option to upgrade the PC’s CPU and RAM.

Xi3 wouldn’t discuss price for Piston, but commented that the Steam Box is based on its “performance level” X7A offering, which is priced at $999. Xi3 declined to comment on what would differentiate Piston hardware-wise from a standard X7A.

Xi3 also offers the entry level X5A, which is priced at $499 with a Linux operating system.

Unfortunately it appears that the announcement brought down the Xi3 homepage for now. A quick Google search found this PR release from a few months back detailing the specs of the X7A, which the Piston will be based on:

A quad-core 64-bit, x86-based 32nm processor running at up to 3.2GHz (with 4MB of Level2 Cache),
* An integrated graphics processor (GPU) containing up to 384 programmable graphics cores (or shaders),
* 4GB-8GB of DDR3 RAM,
* 64GB-1TB of internal solid-state SSD storage (with up to 12Gbps throughput speeds),
Three display ports providing maximum resolution of 4096×2160 (including 1 DisplayPort v1.2 and * 2 Mini-DisplayPorts v1.2),
* Four eSATAp 3.0 ports,
* Four USB 3.0 ports,
* Four USB 2.0 ports,
* 1Gb Ethernet port, and
* Three audio ports (1 input and 2 outputs: 1 copper and 1 optical).

By the time this comes out, better-looking Mac Minis equipped with Haswell quad-cores will be out and selling for $800 and have greater compatibility with games on Steam. I don’t see how this thing does well.

Usually Strawberry Productions

I’m friends with some very talented people. Artists, coders, writers, mad scientists – they run the gamut at Berkeley. Today I’d like to point you towards a particularly gifted bunch, my friends at Usually Strawberry Productions. They’re a new, independent theater group that’s looking to get their name out there, and they’re looking for your help.

Like and share this post to your friends on Facebook, and have your friends message them with your name for more chances to win a copy of the script from their brilliant first production, “Death, and Other Hobbies,” a look at their work-in-progress, “NoVa,” and an easy $20. No, you aren’t competing with me for the money.

Speaking of the Chinese iPhone 5 launch

So we know that on a “per 3G user basis,” the iPhone 5 did better in China than in the US. So why did everybody spin the story so negatively?

Brad Reed at BGR starts off with a jab at Apple fans’s self-esteems in a post titled “CHINA GIVES THE IPHONE 5 A CHILLY RECEPTION“:

Chinese consumers must not need self-esteem boosts, because they don’t seem interested in lining up overnight outside Apple (AAPL) stores for the launch of the iPhone 5. The Wall Street Journal reports that the iPhone 5′s launch in China has received a surprisingly muted response so far, as only two Apple fans had lined up outside Beijing’s flagship Apple store on Friday morning to buy the device.

Charles Arthur, “iPhone 5 launch fails to excite China“:

Apple shares fell 3.9% in early trading on Friday after the launch of its iPhone 5 received a frosty reception in China, and two analysts cut shipment forecasts.

Paul Mozur’s post for the Wall Street Journal is titled “A Frigid Launch for iPhone 5 in Beijing,” yet contains this interesting tidbit:

Tian Jisheng, one of the two waiting in the cold when the store opened, said the lottery was competitive. He said he used four identities to apply for phones, but was only given an appointment for one. “I thought I didn’t get it, but then after 8 pm I received a notice I had gotten one,” he said.

Two of these sources only had the Wall Street Journal’s information to go by, so they a) made up some smarmy shit about Apple fans waiting in line and b) totally ripped off the WSJ’s cold adjective thing. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal didn’t have much information to go by, so they came up with a sensationalist headline to get page views. This is tech “journalism” at its finest.

The Magazine, from the creator of Instapaper

The Magazine is for people who love technology, especially the internet, mobile, truly great personal computers, and related fields influenced by technology such as photography, publishing, music, and even coffee.

Rather than telling readers everything that happens in technology, we deliver meaningful editorial and big-picture articles.

I’ve only had the time to read the foreword and Guy English’s article, but I really like the idea of this. ​The interface is even simpler than Instapaper’s, the business model should be profitable from the beginning, and it even looks like it’s going to be a good deal for the writers:

If a good portion of today’s free-trial subscribers let their subscriptions continue into the paid period next week, it will be profitable then, just one week after launch. And I’m hoping they will, because not only will The Magazine be able to continue indefinitely, but I’ll be able to raise the author payment rates sooner than I expected

At only $2 per month, The Magazine is cheaper than even my subscriptions to individual bloggers’s sites. With two issues containing four articles each per month, that puts the cost of each article at a quarter (you like how I do that basic math for you? Yeah, you’re welcome.). If three out of four articles in each issue are at as great as Guy English’s piece in the first, I am totally fine paying for this in the foreseeable future.

With that said, I have to wonder where Marco is going to take this as it becomes a success, as I’m sure it will. It seems that his first priority is paying the writers well – something I appreciate as a blogger who would like to make some kind of living from this one day, but have mixed feelings about as a reader. My hope is that the magazine is a profitable as Marco says and that he can quickly raise the pay rates to levels competitive with major publications.

This would enable him to draw in some very talented people on a regular basis – this might be wrong, but I have a feeling that the first issues are all going to feature work by Marco’s friends in the blogosphere. Not that that would necessarily be a bad thing, as he’s friends with some very talented people – it’s just that people that read Marco’s blog also tend to read Gruber, Dalrymple, and the rest of the top Apple bloggers. It’d be nice to be exposed to some other voices.

Once he’s able to pay the writers more competitively, I’d also like to see more content per issue. With Marco’s reputation for the quality of his work and the publicity The Magazine is getting around the blogosphere, there is going to be a fucking ton of submissions by people who want their work so prominently featured. I’d love to have four articles a week by the established writers we know and trust and another two to four by writers who have yet to really be “discovered.” The Magazine could be the publication that puts the next generation of geek writers on the map.

On that note, time to think of something to submit.