Microsoft has announced that they will begin offering original, comedic short films made by horror producers to Xbox Live users beginning in the fall.
The pilots will be available for free and the idea was conceived by filmmaker James Gunn, known for writing “Slither” and “Dawn of the Dead.”
The software giant is joining up with the Safran Digital Group to produce the exclusive shorts.
According to WorldScreen, “those working on short films for the new offering include James Wan (Saw, Death Sentence), David Slade (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy), Lucky McKee (The Woods), Andrew Douglas (The Amityville Horror) and Marcus Nispel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th).”
A few of the known titles that will be available for download or streaming are “Doggie Heaven (Woof!)”, “Humanzee!”, “MEATDOG: What’s Fer’ Dinner,” “Blue Like You” and “The Miracle of Phil.”
“We’re excited to launch the Xbox original content with these world-class directors, who are all tremendously talented and at the cutting edge of their craft,” Safran said. “Their youthful and innovative approach is the perfect combination for this unique digital venture with Xbox 360, and we expect to see some very creative, horrifying and hilarious shorts as these masters of horror present their comedic vision.”
Rock star Neil Young made some interesting comments at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference yesterday including his suggestion that music sound quality has been “dumbed down to Fisher-Price toy levels” since the inception of the iPod.
“Apple has taken a detour down the convenience highway,” Young said. “Quality has taken a complete backseat - if it even gets in the car at all.”
Young spoke out about the poor audio quality of the most popular audio codec, MP3, and also talked about his “long-term, multimedia archiving project of his entire career” which will be available as a series of Blu-ray discs. Young hopes his project will become the basis for an alternative digital platform with higher quality sound.
The artist spent most of his time expressing his feelings at the decline in audio standards and put the blame mainly on companies such as Apple who he feels have “an increasing focus on convenience versus quality.”
“We have beautiful computers now but high-resolution music is one of the missing elements,” he said. “The ears are the windows to the soul.”
England’s six largest ISPs have all joined together with the government to “clamp down” on unauthorized downloading of music and movies.
Estimates have suggested that 6.5 million British citizens have downloaded unauthorized files over the last year and that piracy will cost the music industry £1 billion over the next five years.
The new clamp down will begin with thousands of warning letter informing alleged users that their illegal activity has been detected and that they are now being monitored.
The Governments business department will sign the industry agreement soon with BT, Virgin Media, Orange, Tiscali, BSkyB and Carphone Warehouse.
All the ISPs have committed to developing legal file-sharing services, with perhaps the option of users paying extra per month to the ISPs to download unlimited legal music.
There was no word yet on what sanctions would happen to persistent online pirates but ideas that have been thrown around are the so-called “three strikes” law or additional broadband fees for heavy users.
If sources at jkOnTheRun prove to be accurate, then Microsoft has a meeting time set in stone to design a Zune-branded mobile phone in an effort to compete with the Apple iPhone 3G.
The new device is at least months away from completion but what is “known” is that it will use multi-touch input and run on a specialized variant of Windows Mobile 7. Windows Live services will be integrated flawlessly and the phone will also share the Zune’s primary emphasis on media playback.
There is not much else known about what the device could offer, but Microsoft has divulged that multi-touch is the primary focus of Windows 7 for the PC and should be the same for its Windows 7 Mobile platform. There is also the chance for revamped interfaces as well as support for motion sensing.
Raising more eyebrows is Microsoft’s recent purchase of Danger, the designer of the extremely popular T-Mobile Sidekick device. Danger is best known for developing media and messaging-oriented mobile software. Why else would Microsoft need them?
There has been no comment from Microsoft as of yet, so for now this is a rumor but we will keep you updated.
Research In Motion (RIM) has announced the launch of its MediaSync software that will allow a few BlackBerry devices to sync up with iTunes.
The free software promises to let BlackBerry users “easily transfer music and playlists from the desktop to the BlackBerry’s media player.” The software also transfers over any available covert art.
In a slap in the face to Apple, the program will not sync songs that use any type of DRM and will only work with PCs using Windows XP SP2 or Vista. There is no 64-bit system support however, nor Linux nor Mac. Apple sells most of its music with its own FairPlay DRM.
The software works with all the 8800 series of smartphones as well as the BlackBerry Curve and upcoming BlackBerrys Bold and Thunder.
RIM dominates the smartphone market with over 45 percent share, mainly by targeting professionals with their phones. Apple still lags behind with about 19 percent market share but is growing, mainly from targeting casual users.
Sony Japan saw sales of the PlayStation Portable explode for the week ended July 20th, with the surge likely attributed to the release of the Metallic Blue edition and the release of a “1 Seg” tuner pack.
According to data from Media Create, Sony sold 74,000 of the handheld in the region, up almost 20,000 units week-on-week.
For those unfamiliar, the “1 Seg” tuner is a “special type of terrestrial digital broadcasts that are specifically aimed at mobile devices such as the PSP.”
For the week, the Nintendo DS Lite came in second with over 54,000 unit sale and the Wii came in third with 41,000 sales.
PlayStation 3 sales dipped a bit and Xbox 360 sales surged a bit, but nothing to serious.
Nintendo has confirmed that it is “urgently seeking a solution” for the limited storage space available on the Wii console.
The company has faced growing criticism for the lack of space available for downloadable content including WiiWare titles and Virtual Console games and hopes to have a solution soon.
“We have said publicly that we’re looking hard at the storage situation, that we’re working on a range of solutions. We have nothing to announce now. But certainly it’s an issue we are aware of and we’re working to find a solution and we will,” said Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime.
“From an Americas-centric perspective, here is the reality we see. We have a consumer base who loves virtual console. We have a userbase who really is enjoying WiiWare content. So for us really our challenge really is how do we satisfy all these consumers who are loving all of the product we make available on a download basis?”
“In our view this is becoming much more of a mainstream problem, which is why we have a sense of urgency to solve it,” he added.
Nintendo has also been under fire since last month when European marketing director Laurent Fischer jokingly said only “geeks and otaku” need extra storage space on the Wii.
Nokia and Qualcomm have jointly announced they have formed a new 15-year agreement covering mobile standards including GSM, EDGE, CDMA, WCDMA, HSDPA, OFDM, WiMax, LTE and more.
As part of the agreement, the companies will settle all current litigation pertaining to any of the standards. Nokia will also drop its complaint to the European Commission about Qualcomm.
For the next 15 years, Nokia has been granted licenses for Qualcomm patents for use in Nokia mobile phones. Additionally, Nokia has agreed to not use any of Qualcomm’s patents directly against the company, thuus allowing for Qualcomm to integrate Nokia technologies into their chipsets.
Qualcomm will receive an up-front payment and yearly royalties but the numbers were not disclosed.
“We believe that this agreement is positive for the industry, enabling the market to benefit from innovation and new technologies,” said Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, CEO of Nokia Corporation. “The positive financial impact of this agreement is within Nokia’s original expectations and fully reflects our leading intellectual property and market positions.”
“I’m very pleased that we have come to this important agreement.” said Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm. “The terms of the new license agreement, including the financial and other value provided to Qualcomm, reflect our strong intellectual property position across many current and future generation technologies. This agreement paves the way for enhanced opportunities between the companies in a number of areas.”
The Kyoto District Court has sentenced the second of three defendants for anime file sharing today, but has suspended the sentence for three years.
Kazuhiro Maki was sentenced to 18 months in prison for unauthorized uploading of Gundam and other popular animes over the once popular file-sharing program Share.
According to the ruling, Maki infringed on copyrights for at least 3 months by helping “countless” users download the anime footage originally aired on TV.
On July 16th, Judge Kōji Shibata ordered the first defendant, Moriyoshi Inoha, to serve 18 months in prison but also gave a three year suspended sentence. The third defendant, Takahiro Ōtomo, is still awaiting sentencing.
Share was once a very popular file-sharing program in Japan because it promised high anonymity for its users. When researchers began finding flaws in the program in 2006, its popularity died out.
On Thursday we reported that Yahoo had decided to shut down the DRM servers for their Yahoo Music download service. The problem with the decision is that if users ever need to reformat their PCs or move the music to a portable media device they will lose the ability to the play the music, entirely.
The company plans to soften the blow however, by reimbursing customers, possibly giving back every dollar the user spent on the service.
Carrie Davis, spokeswoman for Yahoo Music, has confirmed today that the servers will indeed be shutdown but that reimbursement was coming.
“You’ll be compensated for whatever you paid for the music,” Davis said. “We haven’t said exactly what we will do, but we will take care of our customers.”
Because every customer has a different story, the reimbursement plan will be on a case-by-case basis. The company has now posted an FAQ page that includes a “contract customer case” button for any former or current users of the Yahoo Music Store.
It seems users will have two different options of reimbursement, either get all their money back, or receive DRM-free MP3s of each song they purchased that had DRM. Considering you can burn the DRM tracks to a CD and then re-rip them as DRM-free MP3s, the better deal would appear to be doing that and then asking for your money back.
Davis also made sure to note that the reimbursement only pertains to users of the Yahoo Music Store and that any monthly subscribers would have their services transferred to Rhapsody.