Archive for December, 2006

Nintendo a Winner in Third Place?

December 6, 2006

There is a short article by James Surowiecki in this week’s New Yorker about how well Nintendo is doing, profit-wise, while Sony and Microsoft are fighting an arms race in the video game hardware business. Surowiecki’s spin is that Nintendo is disproving Jack Welch’s rule that it is better to be an industry leader.

Disney Returns to Shorts

December 3, 2006

There is an interesting article in today’s New York Times about Disney’s move (a few years ago) to resume development of short animated films. Disney has a long, illustrious history of making shorts, and the company has tried unsuccessfully to revive the old format before. Now, under John Lasseter’s leadership, there is no requirement or expectation that short films be profitable. The express purposes of the projects are to experiment with new techniques and to develop the next generation of talent.

Buried near the end of the article is the momentous news that one of the new shorts will be the first animated film in Disney’s history to be directed by a woman (Stevie Wermers).

Not Just for Napping

December 2, 2006

I have written about Pzizz before, but I am now officially a fan. There are two “modules” that can be bought separately: an “energizer” module (for naps) that wakes you up at the end and a “sleep” module that doesn’t. I used the sleep module on a redeye flight home from Seattle Thursday night. What a product! We flew through a cold front over Toronto and the turbulence woke me up. No problem, I just ran Pzizz again. On Friday night, I was overtired, but jet-lagged, and I felt I really had to go to bed early to make sure I caught up on sleep. Pzizz to the rescue again!

You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Sleep tapes have been around for ages.” This is true. However, Pzizz offers one innovation that is the “tipping point” for me: it is different every time you use it.

Repeated speech is annoying. This is an effect that video game developers have long struggled with (and one reason why we decided to do without dialogue altogether in The Act). There is a lot of repetition from one Pzizz track to the next. However, there is just enough variety that it feels a little like a real person talking through a familiar routine.

I still don’t want to be caught napping at work, so I think the killer app is the sleep module, not the energizer (nap) module. Pzizz is very focused on promoting the energizer module. Do they know how big the sleeping pill market is?