Archive for the ‘tech’ Category

Seattle’s Spoon creates new IGC and IGF Sandboxes

If you live in Seattle, there’s at least a decent chance that you don’t need me to tell you what the IGC and IGF are; after all, we’re home to plenty of game development and platform companies. For those of you who don’t know, the Indie Game Challenge and Independent Games Festival are annual events that allow new and indie games developers a chance to get together with other aspirants as well as established members of the industry, show off their skills and wares, and network for their mutual benefit. (One of the cool things about the games industry is that, sure, there’s competition, but much of it is collaborative and supportive competition. A rising tide and all boats, as it were.)

Both of these events are a big deal in the games industry and they’re a great thing for game players, too, as all kinds of great new games come out of them.

Seattle’s own Spoon, who technology lets games (and other applications) run instantly from the web, want to make sure that you have a chance to check out these new games so they’ve created a couple of Sandboxes for use: the IGC and IGF are available now and totally free.

Happy Anniversary, Big Ol’ Jet Airliners

A 747-400 flies over the ocean in a photo by Aaron Escobar, used via Creative Commons.

This week Boeing’s jets reach a trifecta of anniversaries: The maiden flight of the Boeing 247 was on February 8, 1933, and today marks the anniversaries of the maiden flights of the 727 Trijet (February 9, 1963) and the 747 Jumbo Jet on February 9, 1969.

One of the most distinct memories of my childhood was making the long-trek across the Atlantic Ocean coming home from Europe to the USA in a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet that carried us all the way from London to New York City in what felt like days instead of hours. Fun days/hours, though; as young children there were few things my brothers and I loved more than going somewhere on a plane. Back when the 747 Jumbo was still a new model, taking a flight was still a pretty big deal for most people. I remember that people used to dress for their flights the way they used to dress to go to the theater or church or a business meeting. While I am perfectly happy to live in a much more informal society, I do wish that taking a plane ride was still the thrill it was then.

Oh well, it’s not Boeing’s fault: they continue to build bigger and/or better planes all the time, including the new Boeing 747-8 Freighter which yesterday had its first flight up in Everett in front of more than 5,000 employees, customers, suppliers and community leaders. According to their press release here which has some nifty photos of the plane both on the ground and in the air (the 747-8 is rather an attractive plane, I think), Boeing’s Freighter 747s carry over half the world’s air freight. Pretty impressive.

The PAX Pox

video games ruined my life by poopoorama [flickr] via our group pool [#].

In case you missed it, Seattle’s premier gaming expo was ground zero for an outbreak of swine flu (or what Wired is calling H1Nerd1).

Penny Arcade, the organization that hosts the event, has a list of outgoing flights that had passengers with confirmed cases of the flu.

In addition, the University of Washington just issued an e-mail that two probable cases of H1N1 have been reported to the campus health center, originating from a particular sorority house. The University will be monitoring the flu outbreaks on campus, but officials are encouraging students and staff to take necessary precautions.

And since this flu is hitting everyone from gamers to sorority girls, be sure to wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, and keep up to date with new info on the swine flu from King County.

Microsoft + Yahoo = Brand new BFFs

Microsoft has been trying for quite a long time to get its hands on a deal with web search and content giant Yahoo! and now at long last they’ve achieved their goal.

Yahoo! and Microsoft jointly announced today that they have signed an agreement to work together. Microsoft will power Yahoo! searching and Yahoo! will become the exclusive international advertising sales force for both companies. Yahoo! will continue doing what it does best, enhanced now by having Microsoft’s resources behind it. Per Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz, advertisers will appreciate the benefits of working with a single platform and sales group. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says that the deal benefits Microsoft by helping to attract more users and advertisers, leading to more relevant ads and search results.

Both companies hope that joining forces will allow them to knock out a larger portion of the market; currently Microsoft and Yahoo! combined handle less than 30 percent of web searches in the US and 11 percent globally. The 500 pound gorilla of the industry, Google, handles 65 percent of US searches and 67 percent everywhere else.

Seattle Department of Transportation gets a makeover

The Seattle Department of Transportation unveiled a brand-spanking new website this morning.

Perhaps taking a cue from the Washington State Department of Transportation, the Seattle DOT has a Twitter account and a Facebook page. Where the two seem to differ (at least on the surface) is that the WSDOT follows all of their followers back in order to provide real time traffic updates and incident reports via direct message.

The Seattle Department of Transportation’s website doesn’t work well in Google Chrome, but it plays well with IE and Firefox.

What do you think about your city and state departments going all social these days?

Casual Connect comes to Seattle

Casual games, according to the Casual Games Association, a trade group for casual game developers and distributors, are “video games that are fun and easy to learn and play….platform agnostic…nonviolent, arcade-style games that involve puzzles, words, board and card games, game show and trivia.” Some well-known games include puzzle games like Mahjong, Tetris, Bejeweled, Luxor, Zen Gems, “time management” games like Cake Mania or Diner Dash or “hidden object” games like Mystery Case Files, all of which are fun and insanely addicting.

Casual Connect is the industry’s educational component, offering a variety of newsletters related to casual gaming as well as hosting a yearly conference series in Kiyv (Kiev), Europe and here in Seattle. The next Seattle conference takes place this month, July 21 – 23. Industry professionals will come from all over the world to Benaroya Hall to network and learn from each other, as well as introduce new games, new technology and new opportunities.

Seattle makes a great meeting point for the casual games industry since we have so many local game producers, companies like Big Fish, PopCap, Real Games and more, not to mention all the companies that make the software and hardware that make it possible to create games in the first place.

Condrences at Casual Connect Seattle this year include “Working in audio for the games industry: Freelance vs In-House/Staff”, “Designing, Balancing, and Managing Virtual Economies”, and “What Women Really Want”.

If you’re a game designer or developer, it’s really worth your while to check out this conference, see the Casual Connect site for details on attending.

WSDOT: Embracing technology

Remember a few months ago when we wrote about the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Twitter feed?

If you follow them on Twitter, they’ll follow you right back. But why? Do they really care that I’m about to down my 4th cup of coffee, or wonder what you’re making for dinner tonight? Well, probably not. However there is one key reason why they always follow back. Once they follow you, they can send you direct messages.

Now I hear the groans now. “I don’t need any more spam!” But these messages are absolutely not spam. In fact, they’re only sent when you request them and they are sent for great reasons. You can send the WSDOT a direct message via Twitter and they’ll send back pass information or border wait times.

How does it work?

Just send them a direct message via your favorite twitter client or SMS. Include the pass code, and they’ll send you a direct message right back with status information. The same format applies for border crossings. A direct message of border 5 will give you the wait time at the Canadian border at I-5.

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