Monday, October 29, 2007

Headlines: Japan vs. England edition

(from the I luv the BBC and Mainichi deparatment)

Hi everyone,

Once again - Japan and England have two of the best headlines. One is from the BBC and one is from Mainichi News. Pick your favorite!

Old man acquitted for fatal shooting of paint thinner-addicted son

Smoking 'raises psoriasis risk'

Where do they get these wonderous stories?


Monday, October 15, 2007

(Pre) Baby photos!

(from The Future Daughter department)

Hi everyone,

My wife Dana had an ultrasound today. Our baby daughter is due November 5th - or in other words, 3 weeks!

At this point, the ultrasound images are incredible. You can really see what she looks like. Just watching the ultrasound screen is amazing, but the nurse printed out some of the best images, so I thought I'd share them with you. Without further ado, here's our daughter:

I think I like the first one the best - but they're all great.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Don't try this at home!

(from the I Luv The BBC department)

Hi everyone,

There's something amazing about the BBC news service. Where else would you get a story like this?

Doctors save man with vodka drip

Summary: Australian doctors have kept an Italian tourist alive by feeding him vodka through a drip for three days, medical staff in Queensland say.

This isn't a funny story or anything - but that headline is amazing. Almost as good as this one:

Policeman shot in butt with own gun while battling porn vending machine bandits

But - since that's from Japan, where they actually have porn vending machines, that's almost too easy.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Finally - a good PS3 diagram

(from the Aha! So *that's* what it looks like! department)

Hi everyone,

Just a quick digaram of the internals of the PS3. Original article here. (Translation)

Also, as a follow-up to my prior post, if you translate the original article, you find this tidbit of information about the original EE-less design constraints:

(Note: I've smoothed out the auto translator "english" a little. It should be pretty close to the original Japanese, although this is *not* a direct translation.)

"According to an industry insider, the GS was retained because it can't be emulated by the PS3 chipset. This is due to the GS's pipeline architecture which requires 4MB of super-wideband and low latency eDRAM. Because the RSX (Reality Synthesizer) GPU of the PS3 has a PC graphics pipeline with external memory, it can't replicate the special architecture of the GS."

"Moreover, it is difficult for the cluster of SPUs (Synergistic Processor Unit) in the PS3's Cell BE processor to emulate the GS. Even though each SPU has 256KB of on-chip memory (Local Store), that is insufficient for the requirements of the GS. In addition, a number of game industry insiders point out that there are many developers who did direct, custom access to the GS which would necessitate a hardware solution."

So, based on this, it looks like these 40 gig PS3s are going to remain incompatible with the PS2 - for the foreseeable future, anyway. I'll keep you posted if Sony changes their mind, but at this point, I think it's fairly safe to say that PS2 emulation has been eliminated from the PS3.


Friday, October 5, 2007

40 gig Euro PS3 released without PS2 compatibility - entire world says "Wha?"

(from the Wha? Guh! department)

Hi everyone,

Well - Sony continues to send a very mixed message with their marketing strategy for the PS3.

First of all - they added rumble to the SIXAXIS controller after they said that it was "last generation" technology. All well and good - but although the controller comes out next month in Japan, customers in North America and Europe have to wait until "Spring 2008".


Well... okay... it seems stupid to miss the Holiday season window in NA & Europe, but... okay...

But wait - that's not all. Today Sony announced a new, low-cost PS3 model in Europe. As predicted by various news sources, this model lowers the HDD size to 40 gig, reduces the number of USB ports from 4 to 2, and removes the multi-function memory card slots. All well and good - it's a lower cost machine - but here's the strange part.

They also removed PS2 backwards compatibility.

Wuh? Wuh? Wuh...WHA?

Didn't Ken Kutaragi himself once say, "the PS3 will feature backwards compatibility with PS and PS2 games from day one. I'm emphasizing this because, from what I hear, there are some platforms that haven't been able to completely do this. It's costly in terms of hardware, but we'd rather [invest] firmly on compatibility from the beginning, rather than to have issues later on."

Oh yeah - that's right - he's not there anymore.

Some of you might be wondering how this is possible, given what I said earlier about backwards compatibility in my blog.

Well - the answer is simple. The heart of the PlayStation 2 is two chips - the Emotion Engine (EE) and the Graphics Synthesizer (GS). The earliest PS3s had the EE + GS in silicon - thus hardware PS2 compatibility. The next revision (Europe, Korean, 80 gig US) of the motherboard removed the EE in favor of software emulation by the Cell BE processor of the PS3, but left the GS in place. Apparently, this new 40 gig model removes the GS entirely, breaking backwards compatibility. Someday, if they were so inclined, they might be able to get the PS3's nVidia RSX GPU to emulate the GS, but that would be quite the undertaking, since they are fundamentally different beasts.


If PS2 compatibility means anything to you, buy that 60 gig model now - before it's too late!


P.S. The other thing about Sony that's annoying me right now? They're not releasing the S-Video cable for the new PSP in America. Grrrrrrr....

UPDATE: Some of the European blogs have reported that the 40 gig model has lost SACD playback capabilities as well. I did confirm that on Sony's Australian PlayStation site. The blogs theorize that the SACD playback was discontinued due to either a licensing issue with the SACD division of Sony or due to the increased costs of incorporating Pit Stream Protection in the BluRay Drive. This latter reason seems most plausible to me. By removing Pit Stream Protection, you can use a "standard" BluRay drive, and could shave a little bit more from the cost of manufacturing.

UPDATE 2: I had mentioned that the 40 gig PS3 had dropped PS1 backwards compatibility. This is not true - the 40 gig PS3 will still play PS1 games. As it turns out, PS1 compatibility had been achived entirely through software emulation since the launch of the PS3. The PSP also uses a full software emulator for PS1 games; that is why you can share them between your PSP and your PS3. That is also why the PS3 dramatically improves the graphics quality of PS1 games; it isn't constrained by the original PS1 hardware. Mea culpa.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Here it is...again...Wire!

(from the It's Beginning To And Back Again department)

Hi everyone,

So - you might be wondering where the name of this blog - TheIdealCopy - comes from. It's the title of an album by the band Wire.

Wire has an odd history of being very active, then being rather quiet. Their last period of activity ended around 2004 or so. Fans of Wire - myself included - had wondered if, perhaps, this last phase was indeed the end of the band.

Well - we got some great news from their website Official press release follows.


Read & Burn 03 is on its way!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Read & Burn 03—the latest in Wire's series of 'research & development' vehicles—is finished, mastered, designed and in production for a November 12th UK release. Featuring four new tracks—23 Years Too Late/Our Time/No Warning Given/Desert Driving—and with a total running time of over 25 minutes, Read & Burn 03 is both a substantial chunk of audio and significant signposting in the third reactivation of Wire as a recording and live entity.

We will, of course, let you know as soon as we can offer pre-order through Posteverything. Meanwhile, we would be happy if you spread the word that Wire is most definitely back! Please note: unlike previous Read & Burn releases, this item is intended as a complete standalone entity. None of the tracks will be included on the next full-length Wire album, so there will be no excuses not to buy it!