Monthly Archive for June, 2006

When will the Prey demo for Xbox 360 appear?

Update (Monday, Aug 7): Finished Prey and finally bumped my lame-ass Gamerscore past 1000. Definitely my all-around favorite 360 game so far, thanks in large part to the save-anywhere feature and the fact that you can’t really die. I’ve sent it off to my friend Ricky Wright to play, and I’m back with some Oblivion now and then, and into the second or third level of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legends.

Update (Friday, June 30): From an insider pal, the below. And obviously it was sooner, because you can get it right now on Xbox Live, just in time for weekend play.

I hear it’s coming this weekend or even sooner, fyi

Update: Straight from Jay Boor of 2K’s mouth e-mail reply:

From: Jay Boor
Subject: Re: Fwd: Prey 360 demo when?
Date: June 22, 2006 3:29:26 PM EDT
To: joe hutsko

Hey Joe,

Should be up soon – hopefully today

Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

– – – – –
Right on, Jay, thanks for taking the time to the reply. I know you want it out there as badly as we want to download it and dive in. We’re eagerly a-waitin’.
– – – – –

Update: From an Xbox 360 team contact:

Hey Joe,
There is no definite time right now. 2K may be able to give you more information.

– – – – –

Tried to stay awake last night for the midnight (EST) arrival of the Prey demo, but sleep won over. While the PC demo is available, not so for Xbox 360. I’ve put in a text message to an inside contact and am waiting to hear back from him on when the Prey for Xbox 360 demo will be downloadable from Xbox Live. Stay tuned.

Prey Limited Collector's Edition Prey Prey Prey Limited Collector's Edition


Saints Row Multiplayer Hands-On: Live and Die in the Lobby

THQ's Saints Row multiplayer demo

What was so amusing at last night’s first-ever, hands-on multiplayer demo of THQ’s upcoming Saints Row in the penthouse suite of the Royalton Hotel here in NYC, was how I and seven fellow journalists who jumped in and immediately started running around and popping and pistol-whipping one another thought we were playing the actual game. We weren’t. Asking for our attention please, our THQ guy informed us, “Hey, guys, you’re not really playing the game – this is only the lobby.”

We all cracked up. Holy hell, a(n Xbox 360)  lobby that lets you wander through a warehouse and practice your moves before the real action begins! THQ says Saints Row’s live (and live-and-let-die) lobby is a world’s-first, and from all I can tell, they’re right.

Unlike what you’re used to in Quake 4 or Call of Duty 2 or Burnout Revenge, which show simple rosters of gamertags that allow idle chit-chatter as you wait for the game to start, this lobby gives you the option of lounging or letting-rip on your peers until all eight slots to fill up so the real game can begin.

And begin it did, after a brief primer on our first game, Big Ass Chains. The object: plug the other players to collect the most bling-bling gold chains, redeemable at pawn shops indicated on the map. Our showdown took place in a multi-leveled parking garage outfitted with vehicles and a nice assortment of weaponry, including a shot gun, machine gun, moltov cocktails, and a rocket launcher.

The next game, Protect the Pimp, finds your team protecting your designated pimp from the opposing team chartered with taking him out. Favorite touch: The crazy purple top hat your pimp dons to distinguish him as the teams top dog.

Now that Saints Row’s live-and-die-while-you-wait lobby sets a new standard in the multiplayer-waiting-game, it shouldn’t be long before other titles follow its innovative lead and offer similarly lively lobbies too. Goodbye to the lazy-daze of lackluster lobbies.


business2blog: B2Day plugs

b2daylogo_189x61.gifWriter pal Erick Shoenfeld of Business 2.0 magazine plugged on his blog business2blog: B2Day. Erick’s the real deal, a serious journalist with years of big business stories to his credit, and the style of his blog is casual yet informative. He’s one smart synthesizer. Thanks for the kind words, Erick.

Update: is back online

After a week of troubleshooting with my site hosting service, is back online. And what a week it was. Thanks to noticing my post “Nintendo Booby-Traps DS Lite Press Boxes?”, my site enjoyed a ton of hits. Please visit for continued coverage of high-tech gadgets, games and gear. Thanks for stopping by.


A great book light: Petzl’s headlamp for the great outdoors

Petzl headlamp used as the perfect reading lightCrashed out in bed or on the sofa in the dark, I prefer a small, direct lamp to light the book I’m reading rather than a traditional table/desk/overhead lamp. I’ve tried all of those itty bitty kinds. The kind that attaches to the back of the book itself and points down on the pages. Those gooseneck types that twist and turn to aim but never quite get it right. Neither of those made-especially-for-readers lights work for me because they’re too much trouble to balance or hold. And moreoften than not, the neck assemblies wear too quickly and break.

The best reading light I’ve found wasn’t meant for a bookish life at all. It’s the Petzl E47P Tikka Plus Headlamp. The company makes outdoor gear like helmets and headlamps – as in lights you literally strapped to your forehead for nighttime caving or cycling or hiking or rock climbing. I found the perfect lamp at the EMS on Broadway near NYU. It cost about $30, takes three AAA batteries, has three brightness settings (plus flash, which isn’t helpful to readers, but is useful to cyclists who like to traverse roadways in a pitch black night), and comes with a headstrap.

No, I don’t lie in bed with the thing strapped to my head. Instead, I removed the strap, and set the Petzl on my chest, aimed at what I’m reading. Four click-stop settings make it easy to find just the right angle.

Why not an ordinary bedside lamp? Because for some reason I like the candle-like focus of this little lamp. It’s sort of like the reading light you might remember as a kid, reading under the covers with a flashlight or in a tent. It’s intimate and comforting, and nicely focused on what’s at hand: the book in front of your eyes, and nothing else around.

Sleep bright tight.

Petzl E47P Tikka Plus Headlamp


Nintendo DS Lite: first (light) hands-on feelings

First impressions of the Nintendo DS Lite, after the initial disarming experience of opening the (self-contained-disco-ball-in-a-box) in which it arrived.

The DS Lite is:

  • wonderfully brighter than the original DS
  • pleasantly smaller than the original DS
  • has a glossy white finish that looks and feels like an iBook
  • fixes the original’s too-easy-to-shut-off-by-accident power button with a slider switch like the PSPs
  • moves the original’s built-in mic front and center, below the top screen
  • has a pop-out dummy card to protect the lower, front GBA cart slot
  • is so much smaller than the original, GBA carts plugged in stick out like an ugly tongue
  • and lastly, requires me, when playing the excellent shooter Metroid Prime: Hunters, to poise my left pinky in a way that’s similar to how I sometimes oh-so-naturally hold a martini glass, and is necessary here to balance the DS Lite in order to shoot

As for whether I’ll suffer the hand and wrist numbing affliction I get when I play my PSP (pinkies thankfully curled under in a manly fashion), I haven’t played the DS Lite enough yet to say.

Dummy card hides GBA cart slot


Nintendo Booby-Traps DS Lite Press Boxes?

Thanks to a long-standing source close to Nintendo, I got my DS Lite yesterday, a few days before it ships. Famous for peppering their packages to journalists with confetti, swag, kazoos and other attention-getting doo-dads, I knew the DS Lite package would likely contain some kind of surprise inside beyond the DS Lite itself.

Intending to share photos on my games and gadgets blog (which is unfortunately resolving its domain after switching from TypePad to WordPress, and won’t be running for another day or so), I opened the box and started snapping pics.

It wasn’t until I removed the handful of shiny silver tinsel that I noticed the red and black wires and strange device taped to the bottom inside of the box. My brain flashed with much-loved memories of Sam Fisher in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory: The box was rigged with some kind of incendiary device that for whatever reason didn’t blow up when I opened it. Crazy thought, I know, but being a fan of spy novels and movies and most of all, games, it was a natural reaction.

Anyway, I then noticed the four clear LED lights taped to each inside corner, and also what appeared to be a light sensor, which was obviously meant to detect the moment I opened the box – at which point something should have happened. But didn’t. My box just sat there, wired but dead.

Careful not to rip anything, I gently excised the spider-like wires and inspected each until I found the culprit: the exposed – / + wires of the sensor were touching, shorting the circuit. Using my fingertips I gently pulled the wires apart, packed up the box again, and closed the lid.

This time when I opened the box I was greeted with flashing lights and song, as shown in this video.

Up next: A few shots of the DS Lite in hand.

Inside the DS Lite packageDigging in to the packageOMFG what's this, a bomb...?!?!

Nintendo DS Lite Polar White


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