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Staring at a computer monitor all day is tough on your eyes. If you're a heavy gamer or iPhone addict, that's even more strain on your ocular instruments. Since none of us are about to give up our eye-frying jobs, gaming systems, or BlackBerries, what do you do? Gunnar Optiks offers a solution with its line of eyeglasses and lenses designed to relieve eyestrain due to heavy computer use, gaming, and PDA use. The company claims that its goods help prevent digital eye fatigue (DEF) and computer vision syndrome (CVS). I haven't heard of either of those, but I know my eyes get tired after a long day of work coupled with a multi-hour gaming session.

I've picked up a pair of Gunnars and will be using them for the next month. Today I'll have some unboxing fun with you and give you my initial impressions. I'll hit you with an update in two weeks to see if Gunnar Optiks have mad a big difference (or not). In a month, I'll give you my conclusion and closing thoughts on the company's curious eye wear. On a side note, I think it's cool that the company is (obviously) named after the more talented Nelson brother.

Hit the jump for some unboxing love and first impressions!

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Before we kick this off, I want to give a shout out to Raymond Padilla for giving me yet another negative Sony story to write. He loves throwing me to the fanboys. Now, onto the story:

We already knew Sony was going to post its first operating loss in 14 years and the company expected losses of $1.1 billion. That figure has now been revised to a whopping $2.9 billion. At over 100% more than its original estimate, Sony cites the strong performance of the yen and lowered worldwide demand for its products as the culprits.

As previously mentioned, it looks like Sony will be fast-tracking its planned restructuring, which would cut 16,000 jobs by March 2010. The games division (PlayStation) was also cited for underperformance and is expected to lose $338 million.

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The Supreme Court yesterday quietly killed the Child Online Protection Act, a law that could have had a chilling effect on both online porn and some parts of the video game industry. The court declined to review a decision made by a lower court that COPA is unconstitutional, and Internet filters and other technological solutions are more effective than the law would have been anyway.

 The act, originally introduced in 1998 and passed by Congress, sought to prevent for-profit websites -- as judged by “contemporary community standards" --  from allowing children access to materials deemed harmful or inappropriate to them. Here's part of the act's text:

"Whoever knowingly and with knowledge of the character of the material, in interstate or foreign commerce by means of the World Wide Web, makes any communication for commercial purposes that is available to any minor and that includes any material that is harmful to minors shall be fined not more than $50,000, imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both."

If that sounds vague, it is. No one was quite sure how the act would have been enforced or who it would have applied to, but many thought it would result in Web companies having to put any material considered "harmful" to minors behind credit card verification screens or other verification systems.

Although the law was aimed at porn websites, in practice, it might have been applied to video game sites, as well. If it was determined that, say, Grand Theft Auto IV was harmful to minors, a for-profit website such as g4tv.com -- that discusses the game -- might have been required to carefully age screen anyone trying to access that content. Or be charged huge penalties. Not to mention online communication -- if someone sent inappropriate pictures over Xbox Live, would Microsoft have to age-gate their entire service? Luckily, we won't have to find out the answer to that one.

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Tags: Videogames

Piracy Positive For Economy?

Posted January 20, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

According to a report commissioned by the Dutch government, piracy may be beneficial to the economy, as opposed to the commerce killer some companies suggest. The 142-page report is available online here, but sadly, it is in Dutch, so we'll have to take the word of Internet translators.

According to the report, the recent fall in CD sales isn't because everyone is stealing music, it's because people have "finished" re-buying digital versions of music they used to enjoy on analog sources. The report notes that those who pirate music are actually more likely to buy music than non-pirates: "Lots of people download for free to learn about new music and eventually buy when they like it," the report reads. Apparently, it works the same way with movies, and when it comes to games,  this effect is even stronger. "Among downloaders of music and movies, the percentage of buyers is as high as among non-downloaders and with games the percentage of buyers is even higher."

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Windows Virus Spreading Quickly

Posted January 20, 2009 - By Stephen Johnson

A computer virus is spreading rapidly through Windows users' boxes all over the world. It's infected nearly 9 million machines so far in the U.S., Europe and Asia, but the bug hasn't done much -- yet.

Security company F-Secure has been tracking the malware for several weeks and says it is moving through corporate networks faster than anything they've seen in years. "The gang behind this worm haven't used it yet," F-Secure's chief research officer, Nikko Hypponen told the Associated Press. "But they could do anything they like with any of these machines at any time."

The "Downadup" or "Conficker" virus spreads by gaining access to a computer and then guessing at passwords of other users in the same network.  It also will infect removable devices like USB drives.  Businesses are most at risk for the worm, as home computers usually have firewalls that will stop the worm.

Microsoft has issued a fix for the problem, but infected machines will reject the patch -- so use this as a lesson in computer hygiene:  Update your system as soon as patches are released, and strengthen your password...or get a Mac!

I'm hoping that hackers who spread the worm plan to give out free candy to everyone with an infected system, but this is unlikely as it is a ridiculous idea. Have you had problems with viruses lately? Are you infected with Conficker?


Freestyle 101: Saafir

Posted January 20, 2009 - By Frank Meyer

Freestyle 101: Saafir »

Saafir is known as one of the Bay Area’s greatest lyricists. Founder of the Hobo Junction crew, he first made waves in 1994 with his classic debut, The Boxcar Sessions. He followed with 1998’s indie Trigonometry, made his major label debut the following years with The Hit List, and issued Good Game: The Transition in 2006.

Many also know him as 1/3 of the short-lived supergroup Golden State, alongside Xzibit and Freestyle 101 vet Ras Kass. Or you may also remember him from his role in the film Menace II Society. But it is Hobo Junction’s controversial on-air freestyle battle with rival SF crew Hieroglyphics that many hip hop heads remember him best.

In his Freestyle 101 interview, Saafir goes into great detail about what set off this legendary KMEL battle with Del the Funky Homosapien’s crew; how it went down in the studio; and how it finally ended back on the streets. It’s a unique look into one of the most notorious and infamous freestyle battles ever.

He also spits over a slippery R.N.S. beat at The Engine Room in Hollywood, chats about his days with Digital Underground, and weighs in on the debate over whether written rhymes can be used in freestyle or not. Fascinating stuff from a man many feel is one of the game’s all-time most underrated.

Plus, make sure to come back tomorrow when we air a bonus interview with Saafir where he talks about living with Tupac in the early days. The two rappers were roommates in the Bay area before they hit it big, and Saafir gives us a rare glimpse into what Pac was like as a roommate, a friend and a freestyler. You will not want to miss this.

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A business development rep from Belkin, makers of computer and gaming accessories, has supposedly been paying people to write five-star reviews on Amazon.com. Using a service called Mechanical Turk (Reno and Rude's side business?), Belkin's Michael Bayard was apparently paying people 65 cents a pop for each rigged review. Furthermore, he was supposedly encouraging people to mark low reviews as "not helpful". The Daily Background did some excellent sleuthing, exposing Bayard and his connection to Belkin. The site reported:

"Yep, that’s right, according to his LinkedIn profile, Bayard is the Business Development Representative at Belkin International in charge of 'Sales of Belkin products to major .com accounts such as Amazon.com.' In other words, this guy is paying people to post fake good reviews of his own products which, according to most people who actually use them, suck (and ironically, he’s using Amazon’s own service to screw up their own review system)."

Should this story be true, It's a shame that Belkin has stooped to such shady practices. User reviews on Amazon can be a great resource and it sucks that companies are trying to game a community-driven effort. Fake reviews can really break the system. That said, I have to admit at laughing out loud at a fake review of The Beatles' White Album, which said that it was good, but didn't measure up to classics like Guns 'n Roses' Use Your Illusion II.

Does this news make you think less of Belkin? How about Amazon's user reviews?


Tags: Tech, Videogames

Remember when Sinden was like, "Yoot Saito, Japanese game designer, famous for Seaman and Odama (GameCube), is working on the iPhone version of Seaman 2 called Gabo" and you were all like, "That's totally awesome!"


The game is actually done, but Apple has reportedly denied Saito's game from getting on the App Store. Ouch. Let this be a lesson to would-be developers hoping to get their application on iTunes. Unless that application is a virtual fart machine...

With that being said... How dare you, Apple? This could be a real problem going forward if companies and established game developers can sink time and money in a project only to have Apple reject it for whatever reason it chooses.

Furthermore, this is exactly the type of application that should be approved in place of a mobile fart machine. Shame on you, Apple... shame on you.

Also, the development team has moved on to other projects. Don't expect this to be released unless Apple reconsiders.


If you're the kind of person who takes the integrity of fictions created by your favorite comic book series personally, you should probably seriously examine your priorities. But before you do all that soul searching, rest assured: The upcoming Watchmen: The End is Nigh series of video games is based on bonafide Watchmen canon material.

Although Alan Moore didn't write the games, here's what original Watchmen artist David Gibbons said about the material's authenticity:

"Alan and I have always resisted doing any sort of back-story to the Watchmen graphic novel - at various times it's been suggested that we could do the Comedian's Vietnam War Diaries or Rorshach's journal, which we thought would be a bit dopey. But the precedent is, at the time the original comics came out, Mayfair games did a role-playing game that Alan helped write bits of, and it's completely canon, so this game uses a lot of that less-well known material."

The game will be available for download in March. For more details,  check out the interview at the link below!


Joshua Krane, G4 senior vice president of interactive and new media, has announced that Billy Berghammer has been appointed G4TV.com's director of gaming editorial. In his new role, Berghammer oversees gaming content for all of G4’s nonlinear platforms, including G4TV.com, G4 on Demand, G4 Podcasts, G4 Mobile, as well as the network’s Wii and PS3 browser-based content platforms. Many of you are familiar with Billy's work as managing editor for Game Informer's GI.com and the founder of Planet GameCube.

So what does this mean for you? Well, expect more exclusive content, breaking news and interviews on G4TV.com and all the aforementioned products. The team has tremendous things planned for you in 2009 and with Billy leading the way, I'm confident that you'll enjoy all the great content.

“Billy’s outstanding experience coupled with his strong relationships within the gaming industry make him the perfect fit to lead G4TV.com,” said Krane. “As we continue to expand videogame content on G4TV.com, Billy will play an integral role in shaping the web site and maximizing opportunities for gamers, publishers and developers.”

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Tags: Videogames
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