· by Steve · Read in about 5 min · (872 Words)

I don’t have anything particularly interesting to say today, so I figure what the hell, let’s follow traditional blog form and comment on the day’s news 😀I have a build running in the background, and I’m up to date on the forum (shock!) so I have a little time to kill. There’s been a small glut of comment-worthy news today anyway, so what the hell.

Google Maps new Street View feature is really quite cool. Basically in supported locations there are entire city blocks with 360 degree photos every hundred feet or so, allowing you to virtually walk through the city. Pretty darn groovy. It looks like the pictures are taken from a moving car, which makes sense since doing it manually would really get dull. I suspect they had some kind of automated GPS thing going on to take evenly spaced photos as they drove around, some you can see motion blur in and others not so much. Check out the video, and brace yourself for the visual spectacle that is a geek in bright orange spandex. Don’t laugh too hard, most of you secretly know you’d look just as dorky 😉 One reason why this site is not going down the video podcast route, at least until I can afford a body double.

iTunes Plus is out, that’s the service to allow you to buy DRM-free songs (at last). Estimates are that they’ll get half their catalogue on it by the end of the year, which is great. There’s been a bit of a stir over the fact that they embed your email address in the DRM-free AAC you download - this of course in theory allows them to trace whose track it is that’s replicating across the file sharing networks with a libidinous determination that would make Caligula blush. Personally I don’t see the big deal - after all if you do in fact copy your purchased track onto filesharing networks, then you’re a bit of a tool anyway, and probably deserve to be a) identified and b) have your email descended on by a thousand spammers. Secondly, since the track is DRM free I’m sure you could fairly easily rip it into another format that doesn’t have your email embedded in it, should you feel the need to. In practice the vast majority won’t care because they’ll just use the new stunning (!) ability to use the track on all their own devices without restriction. People harping on about Data Protection don’t seem to realise that it’s only an issue if you actually give the track to someone else (who doesn’t already have your email). So who would that be exactly? Strangers - to whom you should not be giving the track to anyway. Duh! It’s like complaining to Data Protection that your credit card has your name on it. So don’t give it to anyone, dumbass.

Finally, Microsoft had a big unveiling of MIcrosoft Surface Computing today, despite it being fairly common knowledge beforehand that they were working on it. Now, this is really cool and all, but it’s really nothing new. I was playing with something pretty much identical at Siggraph last year, and it wasn’t new then either, multitouch research has been ongoing for some time. They’ve added an aspect of item recognition to that which is cool, although I also saw other systems doing that at Siggraph too, just not in combination with the multitouch screen (might have been possible, I don’t know). As much as I love this area of research, it’s a little irritating that MS are touting it as theirs now - in common perception it’s likely to be ‘that Microsoft thing’ now which I think does a disservice to all the other people who have been working on this in recent years. Unless MS has just bought all of them up, I don’t know. Edit: having watched the videos again, I noticed that compared to the device in the Jefferson Yan video, which is basically the version I played with at Siggraph, MS’s version seems to be a lot more laggy, so I’m suspecting this to be a copy rather than MS having bought the tech. This is particularly noticeable in the drawing app, which is much less responsive in MS’s version.  Anyway, it gives MS a much needed ‘cool’ brand to show off, something they can hold up against the kind of thing Apple does far more regularly. Still, we’re likely a good few years away from practical use, I mean who is really going to put something that expensive on every restaurant table?

Edit: Oh, Multiverse announced that they got a bunch more funding today too. I don’t follow MMOs particularly but I do check out Multiverse now and then since much of their client is based on OGRE-derived tech, ie Axiom (or a fork of, I’m not sure). They appear to have upgraded Axiom a few times although I believe it still lags a ways behind OGRE, by how much I’m not sure. Shame they didn’t use pure OGRE, they would have got upgrades for free (although I wouldn’t have said no if they offered me the odd brown envelope to do it ;)).

An interesting couple of days anyway.