PlayStation 3 firmware 3.00 details

There may not be many hardware changes inside the PS3 Slim, but each new console will ship with the PlayStation 3 3.00 firmware update. Here's what you can expect:

There are a few minor cosmetic changes to the interface and XMB (cross-media bar). Most noteworthy is a new tab under the PlayStation Network icon called "What's New." It will highlight new featured downloadable content, news, etc., and will also be the first thing you see when powering on your PS3.

Firmware 3.00 will also introduce new dynamic theme support. These are much more involved … Read more

Second Life for returning veterans

Veterans are often reluctant to seek therapy for service-related conditions, but rather than write them off, scientists are creating a virtual online community where servicemembers can find the camaraderie and resources to ease their return to civilian life.

The "Transitional Online Post-deployment Soldier Support in Virtual Worlds" created by the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) will be ensconced within a corner of the virtual landscape of Second Life, a popular online 3D grid where people interact through avatars (PDF).

Also known as Coming Home, this world will contain three main areas: one for … Read more

Hands on with the Summer 2009 Xbox 360 dashboard update

As first outlined at the E3 video game industry trade show in June, Microsoft is readying an update to the dashboard software that runs on Xbox 360 game consoles, as well as the Xbox Live online service.

While it's not as radical a change as the fall 2008 dashboard update that added avatars and Netflix streaming, there are a lot of improvements to current features, as well as a few new ones. The dashboard update will be available for 360 owners on August 11th, but we were able to download an early version for a test drive.

Included were … Read more

Police use Wii to create wanted poster

How closely does your Mii resemble the real you?

I ask only because it seems that police in Japan decided to dispense with the services of a sketch artist--who knows, perhaps he was too temperamental--and used a Wii to create their own impression of a man they wanted to question.

The Mii feature on Nintendo's Wii video game console allows you to create your own avatarish persona on games such as Wii Sports. So the wise policemen in the Kanegawa prefecture apparently decided they could swiftly create a Mii of a man who may have been involved in a … Read more

Create original animations with iClone

Do you want to be the next John Lasseter? Is Hayao Miyazaki your hero? Aimed at the amateur animator, iClone is a feature-heavy, template-based 3D animation studio that's a must-see app if you're trying to break into the camera side of movies and animation.

With iClone, you can jump right in after the installation. You can choose from a dozen character templates, including a Hessian sack, or start from scratch with a blank template. From there, you can make slider-based adjustments to alter skin tone and eye shape as well as camera angles, zoom depth, and lighting.

Using … Read more

Xbox Live avatars of the not-so-rich-and-famous

The guys at one of our favorite video game blogs, Joystiq, have put together a gallery of what they call "NXE Avatars of the Rich and Famous." The NXE stands for New Xbox Experience, also known as the big new dashboard update for the console, which we previewed this week. The gallery takes pictures of real-life people and contrasts them with virtual doppelgangers produced with the new Xbox avatar system.

We assume the gallery was put together with tongue firmly in cheek, since the people profiled would be totally unknown outside of the relatively cloistered world of the … Read more

Hands on with the new Xbox 360 dashboard

On November 19, Microsoft is rolling out its most ambitious Xbox 360 system update yet -- an entirely new dashboard that bears little resemblance to the series of panels users currently use to navigate the gaming console.

Dubbed "The New Xbox Experience," this ground-up overhaul of the system's front-end interface also introduces several new features--most notably an avatar system to represent users online and the addition of streaming video content from Netflix, similar to that offered by the Roku Netflix settop box.

Others have gone into great detail about all the design and functionality changes, so having lived with the new dashboard update for the past week, we'll instead present some initial impressions--the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The new dashboard divides content, settings, and functions into eight categories, each represented by a horizontal row of boxes. The new look is clean, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing, although it all seems designed to push the maximum in Xbox marketing materials and advertising come-ons to the user. … Read more

NZXT's new Avatar mouse: license to pwn

It's always been my pet peeve in gaming when the guy on the other side blames the equipment (i.e. "I have bad lag" or "my mouse skips") for his defeat, making my pwnage a little less glorious. Well, get a new mouse, I say.

And not just any mouse, a good gaming mouse.

NZXT, a company that makes accessories for gamers, released on Monday the newest of those mice. Called Avatar, the mouse is designed to provide gamers with significant enhancements in gaming with a few breakthrough features.

First, it sports a 2600dpi optical … Read more

Weblin can make any Web site social

If you're a social media addict but think that visiting regular Web sites is a lonely experience, you might want to take a look at Weblin.

Created by a German company, Weblin is designed to make the experience of surfing Web sites social--or make services like Facebook or MySpace.com more social. It does so by letting users create an avatar that they can then, effectively, take with them as they move around from site to site.

If they then find themselves on a site that is being visited at the same time by other Weblin users, then they … Read more

CIA technology will map your face

LAS VEGAS-- Intel CEO Paul Otellini's CES keynote was sparkling. In contrast to Bill Gates' pastel portrait of the future, Otellini presented a concrete vision of a personal, reactive Web, and the challenges to creating it (Silicon, Infrastructure, Context, and Interface). For a full rundown, see Dan Farber's writeup on ZDNet.

Intel loves where the Web is going. The more interactive and personal it gets, the more processing power is required and the more new chips Intel sells, for both servers and local workstations. The most interesting (and newest) product that Otellini brought to the stage in his … Read more