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January 31st, 2014
03:35 AM ET

Saving Nintendo

Nintendo is in trouble.

It's hard to disagree with that after it slashed its forecast for Wii U sales from 9 million to just 2.8 million. Less dramatic but perhaps just as troubling: It also cut its forecast for its market-leading 3DS handheld. Nintendo now expects to sell 13.5 million of them, down from the 18 million they originally expected.

But what's up for debate is how Nintendo can climb out of this hole. By far the most common solution suggested: Nintendo should put games like Mario and Zelda on smartphones and tablets.

I disagree.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Games • General • Personal musings • Technology
September 12th, 2013
08:02 AM ET

Behind the shocking numbers of the U.N. rape report

When I first read the report, I was aghast.

A U.N. study published this week revealed a truly shocking prevalence of rape across the Asia-Pacific region.

Out of more than 10,000 men surveyed:

  • Nearly a quarter of men interviewed admitted to raping a woman or girl.
  • Nearly half the respondents reported using physical or sexual violence against a female partner.
  • And nearly half of those who admitted to rape, first did so as a teenager with 12% of them under 15 years of age at the time.

The survey was conducted across six countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Papua New Guinea.

The findings in the report are mind-boggling. So how did the team gather such brutally honest responses?

"The methodology is something that we feel is quite innovative for the study," said James Lang, the Program Coordinator for Partners for Prevention, which carried out the study.

"We used these handheld devices - iPod Touches - to ensure men would answer the questions about the perpetration of violence in a completely anonymous way."

The survey team also never used the word rape. Instead, participants were asked questions such as, "Have you ever forced a woman who was not your wife or girlfriend at the time to have sex?" or "Have you ever had sex with a woman who was too drugged or drunk to indicate whether she wanted it?"

In addition to revealing the prevalence of sexual violence in the region, Lang says the study reaffirms that such violence is preventable.

"To prevent violence, we have to make violence unacceptable," Lang tells me. "We have to change these norms in communities where violence is allowed, as well as norms around gender equality and the subordination of women."

Lang's study has the statistics to shock anyone into recognizing the scourge of sexual violence in the region. Here's hoping it will spur policymakers across Asia into action and end the impunity for men who use violence against women.

September 6th, 2013
02:08 PM ET

LEGO: Getting more girls to build with bricks

With sales soaring 13% during the first of this year, LEGO is now the second-biggest toy company in the world.

Revenue growth was driven largely thanks to customers here in Asia, where the new "Legends of Chima" line has performed particularly well.

The company also says its LEGO Friends line is going strong. The franchise is unabashedly girly with its pink-hued boxes and sets like "Heartlake Pet Salon." When it launched, many said it reinforced sexist stereotypes.

So if "Friends" is more Barbie than LEGO, why is it such a huge hit for the Danish toymaker?

"It's really hitting at the heart of that particular consumer interest," LEGO CFO John Goodwin tells me.

"For a long period of time we had our evergreen products - the LEGO City line and LEGO Star Wars. But we felt there are a number of children out there, particularly girls, who were not getting themes relevant to their interest."

Goodwin goes on to say, "We are also seeing more girls' purchases of evergreen lines on the back of the Friends introduction because that whole experience of construction is getting more relevant for them."

So is a predominantly pink, gendered toy a bad thing if it gets more girls to build with bricks? I'm starting to think otherwise.

As for other female fans of LEGO who still can't stomach the series, there's always this - LEGO's first female scientist minifig.

August 30th, 2013
07:10 AM ET

Game Faces: Josef Fares

Video games aren't always seen as the best medium for storytelling. But I think they should be, for one simple reason: interactivity.

As the player, you're experiencing the story first-hand. Whatever happens to the protagonist of the story is happening to you as a player. How you act and react forms part of the story.

I think interactivity should, in theory, allow people to have a greater connection with the story. But too many games use non-interactive, cinematic sequences to show their most important scenes. At a time when games could hammer home the advantage they have over movies, the player instead puts down the controller to passively watch it unfold without his input.

So it's funny that it took a Swedish filmmaker to make a game that avoids cinematic tricks to tell his story.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Game Faces • Games • General • Personal musings
January 15th, 2013
10:22 PM ET

Coca-Cola: Anti-Obesity Crusader?

Play a game of word association and there's fat chance (pun entirely intended) you'd pair "Coca-Cola" with "healthy". Perhaps that's exactly why the world's most valuable brand is pumping millions of ad dollars into convincing us it cares about our bodies.

FULL POST

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Filed under: General • Health • Personal musings
December 21st, 2012
07:31 AM ET

Why I love my Raspberry Pi

My name was on the waiting list for the first batch of Raspberry Pi machines long before I traveled to Cambridge to meet Eben Upton.

Something about the tiny computer sent me back to my childhood days. It could plug into your TV, it could use the same programming language that I used in primary school. It was all very retro.

Only after I got my hands on one did I realize how useful the little thing actually is. At first I was excited about using it as an introduction to Linux and to refresh my dormant programming skills. It was only after I put some media software on it that it really became part of the furniture. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology
December 14th, 2012
03:34 PM ET

Mapping showdown: Apple vs Google

All iPhone owners, rejoice: No longer do you have to put up with Apple's widely criticized Maps app. Google Maps is back, and it's much better than before.

And the irony is, we have Apple to thank for it.

FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology
December 4th, 2012
05:01 PM ET

Was The Daily's downfall the paywall?

The Daily was one of the first apps I downloaded after I finally purchased an iPad.

I got the free trial and read every page of the first issue. But when it came time to cough up for a subscription... well, let's just say no thanks.

Don't get me wrong, I loved the idea. But I'll confess I didn't read it every day. And after a while, I forgot I even had the app.

Obviously I wasn't the only one unwilling to pay for The Daily's content. A few months ago, the editor-in-chief reported 100,000 subscribers as he denied rumors of The Daily's demise.

Compare that to The Wall Street Journal Digital Network, which counts more than 1.3 million paid subscribers.

Now if you were hoping to read The Daily before its final issue on December 15, you may be out of luck. The app has already been removed from the iTunes store.

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Filed under: Personal musings • Technology
September 25th, 2012
04:47 PM ET

Tempted by inflight electronics


It's the summer of 2006. I'm playing multiplayer Grand Theft Auto with a friend on the PlayStation Portable via Wi-Fi. And we're 38,000 feet over the South China Sea.

I know there's a ban on wireless devices in the middle of a flight. I know I shouldn't be doing it.

But there I am, speeding through the streets of Liberty City, chasing a friend who's sitting four rows behind me, when my car hits a barrier and explodes.

The plane shakes a little. FULL POST

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Filed under: Gadgets • General • Personal musings • Technology
July 25th, 2012
07:30 AM ET

Sally Ride: Trailblazer

NASA

The first American woman in space has passed away at the age of 61. Sally Ride broke barriers and inspired people to reach for the stars.

And in death, Ride may have become a role model for another reason. The obituary posted on her organization's website noted Ride's partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy. It's believed to be the first public acknowledgment of their same-sex relationship.

A 2009 article on the same site described Ride and O'Shaughnessy as "good friends" and "co-authors." But it also reveals some of their romantic story. They met at age 12 through tennis. O'Shaughnessy went on to play professionally. And through the years, they stayed in touch.

Ride's sister, Bear, tells the website Buzzfeed that the relationship was never hidden. She says most people also did not know about Sally Ride's pancreatic cancer because she was a "very private person."

Some will argue that Ride's orientation is unimportant, that she should be remembered solely for her scientific and educational accomplishments. To that I say, name one openly gay astronaut.

Sally Ride was a trailblazer for women into the final frontier. Let's not limit her now.

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Filed under: Personal musings • Space
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