% fortune -ae paul murphy

Xbox 360 and software

And, on a lighter note...

I spent an hour or so last week playing with an xbox 360. On the positive side the graphics, on a 24" HDTV display, are remarkably realistic with good shading, great sound, and something akin to natural motion for games characters - all in, a very long way from playing Rogue on a Vax/VT220 with BSD Unix.

This thing comes with 18 available games, 11 of them sports things I find uninteresting and the rest pretty much just variations on older shooting or adventure games - generally about as satisfying as watching a porno flick a second time.

Multi-player variations are more fun, but the network games I got the console's owner to show me didn't seem all that different and certainly the two person variants changed the predictability of "enemy" response, but not the basically repetitive nature of the games.

On the other hand it's an awesome machine -512MB, a 20GB disk, 3.2Ghz across three cores and a potential six threads plus a hot graphics controller, all for $399. Unfortunately it just isn't being used remotely to its potential with the x86 heritage on some of the games pretty plain: in one driving game, for example, the system visibly hesitated when sliding two cars past each other on a curve - something that should never happen with a multicore PPC.

You can expect that to get fixed as the developers get better at working with PPC and the Unix threading model, but it will probably take years and, of course, the financial stranglehold the big players have on the industry means that new games models will not be forthcoming.

And that's too bad, there's obvious scope for innovation with the hardware years ahead of the software - right now looking through the available titles is far too much like going to the sci-fi section at your local bookstore and finding it entirely populated by swords and dragons.

I did try, too, to find the right people at Microsoft to email about the cost of licensing DRM access to the X360 for a favorite daemon filled interactive game -God Wolley (Xunil) - for which I happen to have source. Sadly, although this is exactly what Microsoft's Nexus software is set up to facilitate, I had no luck on finding contacts, cost, or technical information on any of their websites.

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.