A $12 million payout for two terrible RIM jobs

John Paczkowski, for AllThingsD:

According to RIM’s latest 6-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Balsillie was given a payout of $7.93 million for the current fiscal year, which includes salary, bonus and a severance package valued at about $4.8 million. Lazaridis received $3.96 million in salary and awards, as well as a 10-year extension on health coverage for himself and his family, and a company car and driver.

The impressive part of all of this is that, given control of a major technology company, I don’t think I could find a better way to run it into the ground than these two did.

Apple in the enterprise: a personal anecdote

This week I began an eight-week long internship at Caruso Affiliated, the preeminent real estate development company in Southern California. While it’s certainly not a job I saw myself having the summer after my freshman year in college (what with it being completely unrelated to my major), I’m finding the experience to be educational and enlightening. Seriously, you wouldn’t believe the work that goes into making that little shopping center down the street, or the amounts of money involved, if you live near a major city.

With that said, I do have a few anecdotes that Apple fans will find interesting:

  • Every executive at the company uses an iPhone. I spent two hours in a board room where the heads of every department came and went for various meetings, and not one of them was using a BlackBerry or Android phone. The only one who didn’t have an iPhone 4 or 4S on the table in front of him was still using a 3GS.

  • The iPad is used at every level in the company. One of the executives used one to take notes and send emails while in the meetings, and “mobile concierge” workers at The Grove and at The Americana at Brand use them to  provide various services for the guests and residents at those locations. 

  • The iPad also impacts Caruso Affiliated’s online strategy. The company creates videos of 3D renderings of properties that are currently in development in order to get approval from local governments and to sell condominiums to potential future residents. After a demo of one of these videos, and executive asked: “And will these videos be posted in something other than Flash? We want customers on tablets to be able to watch them.” I had to restrain myself from pointing out that ‘iPads’ would be more accurate than simply saying tablets, but you get my point. 

While a few observations at one company are certainly not a reliable way to gauge the success of Apple products in the business world, I do think that my experience shows that one can’t count Apple out when it comes to enterprise customers. On the flip side of that, I think it also shows that RIM and Microsoft should be even less confident about their former domain.

Probably the worst article comparing video game graphics I’ve ever read

Erik Kain for Forbes, in an article titled, “‘Batman: Arkham City’ Looks Worse On Wii U Than PS3“:

P.S. I realize that Batman is wearing a different suit of armor in both screenshots, making this comparison more difficult. Armor aside, even Batman’s face looks worse in the Wii U screen. However, I do agree that we should withhold judgment until more screens are available.

Hey, asshole. Comparing screenshots taken from different angles, with different lighting, and different costumes? Yeah, that’s what most people would call pointless. 

Meanwhile, an excellent post on the Wii U’s graphics capabilities over at Eurogamer.

‘Apple doesn’t give a shit about the Mac Pro.’

Marco Arment, on today’s stealthy update of the Mac Pro:

No Xeon E5 CPUs, no USB 3, no Thunderbolt. They’re even shipping the same two-year-old graphics cards. Same motherboard, slightly different CPU options from 2010.That’s it.

The message is clear: Apple doesn’t give a shit about the Mac Pro.

It’s a shame really. Now, don’t get me wrong, the new Retina MacBook Pro is the future of traditional computing. But if you’re a person who requires more than just “prosumer” power, you’ll find that the best options are going to be found outside of the Mac ecosystem. Which is a shame, considering Apple’s history within the creative industries.

“Fallout: Nuka Break” Season 2 on Kickstarter

From the Kickstarter page:

My name is Zack Finfrock and I’m an actor/filmmaker/videogamer. Last year, I released the first season of a webseries, which was co-written by Brian Clevinger, entitled “Fallout: Nuka Break” that was completely funded by fans. If you haven’t heard of it or seen it yet, please take the time to watch it here.

This is the future of TV. The shows that people want to see will be made because the viewers will be the ones funding them. I’m glad to see that YouTube is finally realizing it’s potential by enabling shows like this.

I pledged.

‘Star Trek’ Gameplay Impressions

Jason Evangelho, for Video Game Writers:

Overall, the New Vulcan mission represented a good balance of suspense, exploration, co-op interactions, and downright intense action. Digital Extremes has certainly taken some cues from the Uncharted series in terms of scripted events and cinematic camera work, but it’s too early to tell if the gunplay has the kind of responsiveness we’d expect. The two quicktime events (a mechanic that needs to die an instant death) were brief and didn’t detract from the experience.

Graphically it still needs some polish (again, this is Alpha gameplay footage), but there is no denying that fans of the Star Trek universe and couch co-op in general should have a field day with this one when it releases in early 2013. Publisher Namco Bandai will certainly be teasing out more information as the release date gets closer, but from the two preview events we’ve attended thus far, Star Trek shows immense potential.

Considering Digital Extremes’s track record, the fact that this won’t simply follow the plot of the second movie, and that the gameplay is taking cues from the action-adventure series to beat for the last several years, I’d say that this game has a good chance of being a rather enjoyable experience.

Malcolm Gladwell thinks that history won’t remember Steve Jobs

Vlad Savov, for The Verge:

It’s for his latter work, not for how much money Gates made with Microsoft, that Gladwell expects him to be remembered some 50 years from now. As to Jobs, he suspects people would be asking, “who’s Steve Jobs again?” Though his language feels tongue-in-cheek, Gladwell’s broader point is about the fact that we’re idolizing businessmen for their money-making aptitude, whereas their long-term legacy will actually depend on the broader impact they had on the world.

Because no one is going to care about the man that revolutionized the music and telephone industries, created the market for the personal computer, and then went on to revolutionize that industry as well. Right.

‘WWDC Banner Confirms iOS 6 Announcement’

I mentioned this post on MacRumors yesterday on the podcast, but I never addressed it here. From the MacRumors piece:

With Apple having dropped numbering and other descriptors from its latest model of the iPad earlier this year, there has been speculation that the company may follow suit with other products such as the iPhone. Today’s banner indicates that the company will at least continue marketing iOS using its version number. 

The problem with this paragraph is that absolutely no one thought that the numbering scheme would be dropped for iOS. Apple doesn’t have a numbering scheme for any of the Macs it sells, yet Mac OS X is still numbered for each new major release, and that’s likely how it’s going to be for hardware running iOS in the future. 

Beyond that, I have an issue with the post and others like it on Engadget, AppleInsider, and elsewhere: everyone knew that iOS 6 would be announced at WWDC. Posting about a single banner simply makes the sites look desparate for page views (as if they didn’t look that way already).

Who wants a knockoff of a useless Android phone?

Jacqueline Seng for CNET:

The “Note” is actually Ainol’s Android phone, and, yes, it’s simply called the Android. This 3G handset comes with a mobile TV tuner and has dual-SIM capabilities.

It also has a 2,500mAh battery, although its 5-inch WVGA screen is slightly smaller than the Note’s 5.3 inches.

It’s ironic that this knockoff of the Samsung Galaxy Note is actually running a better version of Android and has a more usable form factor than the device that “inspired” it.

With that said, “Android” is a terrible name for a phone, because no one will ever find it via a Google search. Still, I guess it’s better than a random combination of numbers and letters. 

Best games of E3: The Last of Us

This is the post-apocalyptic game we’ve been waiting for.

If it wasn’t clear already, Naughty Dog can take any genre of video game and set a new standard for other companies to live up to. Platforming? Yup. Action-adventure? Done that. With The Last of Us, they’re taking the survival action-adventure formula and turning it on its head. 

The footage shown has everything we have wanted from the genre. There’s the sidekick who reacts realistically to player actions and actually helps out in a fight when needed and stays out of the way when she isn’t. There’s scavenging for materials and an item system that forces the player to make quick decisions. And then, there’s the combat.

If you haven’t seen the trailer I linked to, it’s brutal. Joel (the protagonist) smashes enemies faces into nearby surfaces, wrestles weapons out of their hands, and sets them on fire with Molotov cocktails. Hell, I cringed at the end when he shot the downed enemy in the face at point-blank range. This isn’t like your average first-person shooter, where players mow down waves of enemies with little emotional impact. These deaths are all dramatic, and carry weight to them, as they should. 

What Naughty Dog is expressing is the survival-of-the-fittest nature of the end of the world. There wouldn’t be enough guns and ammunition laying around for every conflict to go down as a major firefight. Instead, conflicts would be one-on-one as survivors compete for resources. And according to IGN, they didn’t just stop there when it comes to showing off the reality of the situation: players will have to scavenge supplies from those who couldn’t find it in them to make it through such a tragic scenario. That’s deep for an action game. 

I do have a few thoughts on the gameplay. First, according to that IGN article I linked to above, there will in fact be multiple ways to approach any given encounter. This is excellent news, as gamers who prefer stealth and distraction will feel just as at home with the game as those who like to run-and-gun. Second, I have to wonder whether the physical encounters with enemies are quick-time events or fought using contextually-aware buttons. I’m hoping it’s the latter, as the trailer doesn’t make it clear. Given the freedom suggested by the IGN article, it seems that players will be controlling the fighting, which makes the trailer all the more impressive.