Friday, September 25, 2009

Multi-Media Messaging arrives for iPhone

AT&T activated multi-media messaging on iPhone 3G and 3GS devices today. It's a long awaited update that will allow users to include multimedia options with text messages.

Click here for a how-to from Apple.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

DirecTV's DoublePlay: live DVR features for 2 programs at once

DirecTV has brought back a popular feature not seen since it was partnered with TiVo years ago: the ability to control two programs at the same time with full DVR functionality.

DirecTV is calling it "DoublePlay."

When the company used to feature TiVo-branded DVRs, customers could set the device to two shows on two different channels, flip back and forth between them, while also being able to rewind or fast forward (up to the live feed) either show. When the companies split and DirecTV introduced its own DVRs, that functionality was not included, and longtime customers complained mightily.

Now the company has brought it back. So NFL Sunday Ticket customers can, for instance, flip back and forth between Panthers-Falcons and Jets-Patriots, rewind to see plays they missed and then catch up to the live feed before returning to the other game.

It's a smart feature to bring back.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Janet Jackson releases new track, Make Me, via website

One night after a tribute performance to her brother Michael, Janet Jackson has released a new single called "Make Me." You can get the song, which borrows from Michael's iconic "Don't' Stop Til You Get Enough," by signing up on her website

On Sunday night, Jackson performed a duet she had recorded with Michael, "Scream," at the MTV Music Video Awards.

After the video for the song showed Michael singing a verse on screen, Janet burst through a mirror and sang her verse before performing the dance sequence from the song. The crowd stood throughout the performance, giving Jackson a rousing ovation.

Now comes the new track, an up-tempo number that has one of those beats that is hard to sit down and listen to, plus a memorable hook. It should be a club hit. Jackson has made solid music with her previous three albums, but the efforts weren't well-received at radio and her sales suffered after strong starts.

"Make Me" is another strong effort, and with radio support it could be a No. 1 single. The industry Web site All Access lists a new album from Jackson, called "#1s" due Nov. 17. That sounds like a greatest hits album of her No. 1 singles.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Beatles game one of the best of season

The band games are coming! The band games are coming!

Today, “Guitar Hero 5” – the latest title in a billion-dollar franchise that has sold more than 35 million games – launches tie-ins with instrument, equipment and footwear brands. What this means: Your rock avatar can now play with Ibanez guitars and EMG guitar pickups while wearing Converse sneakers. The game's set list includes everything from the Rolling Stones to Stevie Wonder.

But there's only one place to get the Beatles.

One of the most highly anticipated games of the year debuts Wednesday. “The Beatles: Rock Band” will come in two versions. There's the standalone software, compatible with previous “Rock Band” instrument controllers and most “Guitar Hero” hardware ($59.99 for Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360). There's also a “Limited Edition Premium Bundle” with equipment ($249.99). A line of Beatles-specific instruments will go for $99.99 each.

The game will allow fans to play 45 of the Fab Four's greatest hits (more songs coming soon). It is done in the mold of previous “Rock Band” games: Three players can use instruments (guitar, bass and drums), while another can sing – although this time, up to three friends can hit the mic to try harmonies.

There's a story mode that involves taking the Beatles from their early days to an infamous performance on a rooftop in London (originally performed in 1969). Another mode, called “Dreamscapes,” has the band in psychedelic fashions and features wild colors and flowers blooming while the music plays. Players can unlock special content, including previously unreleased audio from recording sessions. And of course, there's online play and a no-fail mode that keeps you from getting booed off the stage.

It's interesting to note that this is the first time that Beatles tracks have been legally available digitally (though gamers can only stream or download on the game console). The band has previously rejected attempts to make its 24-album catalog accessible online via retailers such as the iTunes Music Store.

Original band members Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Pete Best helped develop the game along with the wives of deceased members John Lennon and George Harrison (Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison).

According to article, this involvement resulted in great attention to detail. Ono was concerned with how the digitally recreated Lennon's eyes were moving on-screen. McCartney himself made sure that even the most minute visual details were correct.

Anyway, I got an early look at the game recently. My verdict? Graphically, the game is spot-on. That attention to detail is evident. And the actual gameplay experience is terrific.

Without question, “The Beatles: Rock Band” is one of the best games of the year.