Death To Remotes! Consoles Should Run Your TV

Death to remotes!

Death to remotes!

During the Xbox One reveal this week, Microsoft spent a lot of time on the console controlling the television and cable box. A significant amount of gamers fired back with "we don't care about controlling the TV, just show us the games!"

Once you try, you may not go back. I don't have an Xbox One, but Nintendo's Wii U is a good step in the direction of TV integration that I hope all future consoles take.

It's the simple things that I love about controlling the TV with my console, like changing the volume of a game when someone calls or is speaking to you.  I love coming home and turning on your entertainment system easily.  Having my favorite channels available at a push of button, without even needing to turn the console on, is a huge upgrade from the terrible interfaces that most cable companies provide.

The Wii U accomplishes the above tasks via button presses and the same infrared sensor that remotes use, meaning that you need line of sight to your cable box and TV.  If the voice control of the Xbox One works as advertised, it will be much easier to completely control your entertainment system without messing around with the ugly cable company interfaces. In addition, it will let you control your DVR and (possibly) On Demand cable functionality, something that the Wii U cant' do. 

Games will always come first, but don't discount the other media parts of the new generation of gaming consoles. Wii U took the first step, and Xbox One can really up the ante. Maybe even the cable companies will get on board and start to deign systems that aren't clunky.

Nah, that'll never happen.

This post also appears on TWIB.

42 Lounge: Nerds in Downtown Milwaukee

42 Lounge, 326 E Mason St, Milwaukee

42 Lounge, 326 E Mason St, Milwaukee

As a science blogger, I love to talk about all things science related with like-minded people. I had my spots in Philadelphia, which was my home for the last 6 years .. until now. I've moved to Milwaukee, and one of my main concerns is making sure I can find places where I can geek out about space, Iron Man 3, and the latest video game.  Luckily I've found a great place to hang out at the 42 Lounge in downtown Milwaukee. 

Watching live video game matches like Starcraft at a bar is heaven.

Watching live video game matches like Starcraft at a bar is heaven.

The great thing about places like 42 Lounge is that it has a nerd theme. Video games, tabletop games, and general science and tech talk rule the day - along with alcohol of course! Speaking of drinks, there are some great geek themed drinks from this list - my favorite so far is the Pokemon drink Lavender Town Syndrome (Hpnotiq, Vodka, Grenadine, Sprite).  

I was also able to test out the wifi connection using a Blackberry Z10, as well as take the photos for this post.  It was great to be able to talk about phones with other geeks in the area. Many of them, including me, had long given up on Blackberry after being surpassed by Google Android OS and Apple iOS phones, but the Z10 has changed many minds. Being able to hand them the phone and have them play with it, debate about it, and compare it with existing phones was a huge plus.

Check out the videos below for an interview with 42 Lounge co-owners Tony and Lynn Nilles, as well as a tour of the bar itself.


This post also appears at TWIB. 

CES 2013 Wrap Up Video & Tweets

Last week, I attended the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. Below is a video of some footage that I took on the floor. Unfortunately, my microphone adapter broke so I was not able to hold any interviews - gotta get that fixed for next year!

If you can't see the video below, click here.

Also, I've embedded a list of Tweets that I shared if you weren't following the action last week. Check it out! If you can't see the tweets below, click here.

Nintendo TVii Impressions: Could Be Better

Do you own a Nintendo Wii U system? If so, a new app named TVii is available to you. The app promises to integrate your cable with internet streaming services such as Hulu and Amazon Instant Video (Netflix is arriving in early 2013).. It's a great attempt, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. 

Ideally, the service should allow you to search and browse for shows that you like and easily watch new or old episodes regardless of where they actually reside. In practice ... it has a few kinks that need to be worked out.. The interface is SLOW when accessing content, since it actually closes TVii and launches a separate Hulu / Amazon app to watch the content. All in all, it takes a good minute of waiting, which is just too much in this era of tablets.  Many people would rather just pick up a remote and get instant gratification.

If you can't see the Hulu and Amazon video below, click here.

Nintendo does a much better job with its Sports application, which allows real time tracking of basketball and football, complete with social networking integration. 

If you can't see the Sports video below, click here

Atari: When My Parents Actually Liked Video Games


I had an Atari 2600 growing up. It was the last time that my parents were actually interested in the video games that I used to play. I remember my parents watching us play Pac Man, Asteroids, and Space Invaders.  Simple control - whether it's the Atari 2600's joystick and one button or the Wii's motion controlled remote - removes a layer of complexity and allows people that aren't gamers to focus on the action on the screen.

This week, Atari celebrates it's 40th anniversary of its incorporation in 1972.


And now, the system that I grew up loving is low tech enough that it can fit completely on a keychain.

 Atari released its 2600 system  in 1977. It was so popular that many companies, whether they were video game companies or not, began releasing games for the system. This was a major factor in the North American video game industry crashing and burning from 1983-85, until the release of Japan's Nintendo Entertainment System.  The good news about the crash? My lower-middle class family could easily afford an Atari 2600 and several $1 cartridges, since the system was a bit long in the tooth when I was of age in the 80s.

I didn't get an NES until way until it's life cycle because I loved the Atari 2600, and I always had a constant supply of games coming because they were so cheap.  In comparison, NES games were expensive and could be hard to find because the system was so popular.

Check out Time's interview with Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, including some interesting conversations with a young, arrogant Atari employee named Steve Jobs.