torsdag 29. april 2010

How Sandra Bullock kept a baby a secret

Sandra Bullock has Oscar-winning talent, but it took more than just being a good actress to keep the adoption of her infant son private for months -- especially when the paparazzi started swarming following allegations of marital discord.

Mark McGrath and fiancée welcome twins

Thursday morning was twice as nice for rocker Mark McGrath and his fiancée, Carin Kingsland, who gave birth to twins -- a boy and a girl -- in Los Angeles

Kid Rock to host 2010 CMT Music Awards

Someone alert the authorities: Kid Rock's been given the keys to the CMT Music Awards.

'A Day in the Life' lyrics to be auctioned

John Lennon's autographed lyrics for "A Day in the Life" -- one of the best-known songs from an iconic album -- are expected to sell for more than a song when they go up for auction at Sotheby's New York on June 18.

AdMob opens the gates to other mobile ad networks

Mobile ad network AdMob, a San Mateo, Calif. startup that Google hopes to acquire as soon as the FTC approves the deal, has removed two major restrictions in hopes of broadening its customer base.
First, it has enabled support for iPhone and iPad apps that use Apple’s iAd system by complying with the confidential rules and restrictions Apple has provided to ad network companies.
AdMob’s ad system, AdWhirl, was acquired along with the company of the same name last year. AdWhirl will now let app developers serve their own ad units — “house ads” in industry jargon — along with ads served by Apple’s iAd system onto the screens of iPhone and iPad toters.
Second, AdMob has removed a previous restriction that only let developers add one other advertising network into their apps. “Adding their own in-house advertising was probably the most popular feature,” CTO Kevin Scott told me during a phone interview. “But based on feedback from our developers, they wanted more flexibility.”
“It was easy for us to go in and allow an unlimited number of other networks. Otherwise, they’re going to go out and try implementing their own solutions.”
AdMob, which claims to serve ads for 1,700 apps, released its source code last December, another move aimed at bringing in a larger customer base. Developers frustrated with one little thing now have the opportunity to try fixing it themselves.
Tags: iAd, ipad, iPhone
Companies: AdMob
People: Kevin Scott

Our own interview with Bungie’s Harold Ryan and Activision’s Thomas Tippl on their new game deal

All eyes in the video game industry are now on Bungie and Activision Blizzard, which announced this morning that they are working together on Bungie’s next major game after the Halo series.
I just interviewed Thomas Tippl, chief operating officer of Activision Publishing (a division of Activision Blizzard) and Harold Ryan, president of Bungie. Here’s the transcript.
VentureBeat: Tell me about the thinking behind the deal.
Tippl: From Activision’s perspective, this is a fantastic opportunity for us. It broadens our portfolio of existing games with a new franchise from a proven team. Bungie is one of the best development teams, one of the most creative out there with a proven track record. We are the leading publisher with presence in all parts of the world. We have a multiplatform strategy and distribution capability. The gaming community will be very excited about the future and play Bungie’s games on all platforms. This is a partnership that is going to be accretive to our operating margins and consistent with our strategy to grow.
Ryan: For us, we became independent from Microsoft in 2007. We put a lot of thought into it and what we wanted for the future of the company and our products. We had a lot of opportunities to work with different potential partners for our next intellectual property. Activision allowed us to meet all of the goals we had for remaining an independent company. We wanted independence. We wanted to create new original properties we wanted to control. And we wanted to get our stories out to consumers worldwide on multiple platforms.
VB: Why was it so important to go off into a new game universe, considering you had done so well with Halo?
Ryan: Microsoft still has full ownership of Halo itself. We tried to coordinate on a new, well executed franchise plan over the next 10 years. That required control of the messaging, timing and content. There are a lot of things that went really well for us with Halo, and there were things we would do differently. Now we have an opportunity to plan 10 years out. We can address all of the things we didn’t do quite right last time with a partner we trust.
VB: Thomas, how do you do this in a way that makes business sense? Bungie is probably not a cheap partner.
Tippl: It depends how you want to look at it. The way you generate financial returns in the industry is focus on really big opportunities, make sure you have best development talent, best marketing talent, best sales talent, best online talent, and make games that appeal to the right audiences. There are very few developers with this kind of track record. Over the last couple of years, we have done that with Blizzard, the No. 1 online game developer. We attracted Bizarre Creations, the No. 1 independent racing game developer that will do a new intellectual property for us. We have attracted great teams, such as a new studio that is working for us as Sledgehammer Games. They have started work on the Call of Duty franchise. Now Bungie is working on the next big thing in interactive entertainment. Our strategy has clearly paid off. We haven’t just been throwing money around like some of our competitors. That is why in 2009, Activision Publishing delivered operating margins above 20 percent while our competitors posted losses. This is totally working and is very exciting for our long-term prospects.
VB: By the way, what is that Call of Duty game you are announcing tomorrow night?
Tippl: Tomorrow you will see a teaser for this year’s Call of Duty release, which is shaping up to be awesome. The quality is really great. Treyarch is taking the Call of Duty franchise to the next level with their release this holiday.
VB: This deal took place amid what happened at Infinity Ward. How did that affect the discussions here?
Tippl: From our point of view, those are completely unrelated topics. It’s unfortunate. We have been in this business for 20 years. We have never been put in this situation. The timing on this announcement is totally unrelated. We have been in discussions for the last nine months. We signed a term sheet in March. We finished the long form discussion today, and that’s why we are discussing this with you.
VB: And Harold?
Ryan: It really has been unfortunate what is happening at Infinity Ward. From Bungie’s view, we have been talking potential publishers for a couple of years. We have come to completion of the deal. We have lots of other stuff going on with Halo: Reach, which starts a multiplayer beta next week. We are done with the negotiations and are ready to step forward into the partnership.
VB: You have been working on the property, the new game universe, since 2007. Is it pretty far along?
Ryan: Yes, it is pretty far along. It is a natural stage to find a publisher. Our focus has been on Halo: Reach. Most of the studio will move over to the new intellectual property [IP]. Our burn rate will go up compared to what it was. Until now, we have been completely self-funding the development.
VB: There is a lot of talk in the industry about other platforms like the iPhone, iPad, Facebook and MMOs. It seems like you believe very strongly in the core console platform. Is that true?
Ryan: No. We are very focused on fun. We like to create competitive and cooperative fun for gamers. And we focus on connecting people and building communities. We have always done that. We are absolutely looking to take this IP to the broadest consumer group we can get to worldwide on almost every platform.
VB: So you could take this to some of the new platforms I have mentioned?
Ryan: Absolutely.
Companies: Activision Blizzard, Bungie
People: Harold Ryan, Thomas Tippl

Cisco tops new Greenpeace ranking of IT companies

Greenpeace released its latest listing of information technology companies ranked by eco-friendliness today, promoting it at GigaOm’s annual Green:Net conference in San Francisco. The big winner is Cisco Systems, which topped the Cool IT LeaderBoard, buoyed by its relatively new environmental policies.
To produce the list, Greenpeace looked at companies’ full environmental footprints and at their various initiatives to lessen their impact on the environment and become more energy- and resource-efficient.
Cisco, which knocked IBM out of the No. 1 slot, scored extra points with its push into Smart Grid and connectivity technology, helping not only itself but many other businesses become more energy efficient. Cisco itself has a goal to reduce its emissions by 25 percent by 2012 (from 2007 levels).
The other notable placement was Google, which was dropped to the middle of the pack despite its trumpeting of green efforts and recent approval to buy and sell wholesale energy. The company claims that it wants this capability in order to use more solar and wind generated electricity, but this remains to be seen. Greenpeace dinged it because it hasn’t been as transparent in its emissions reporting. It is also not very forthcoming about the amount of energy being sucked up by its data centers.
Ericsson came in second place, acknowledged for its efforts to measure carbon emissions and other metrics. It equips its customers with the tools they need to see how big their footprints are, and to take action to reduce their energy demands and carbon output. IBM fell to third despite its increased involvement with Smart Grid technology.
The bottom of the list belonged to large electronics manufacturers, including Toshiba, Sharp and Panasonic. While these companies have been racing each other to advanced battery and storage technology that could one day vastly improve the capabilities of the Smart Grid, they have remained relatively quiet about current efforts to shrink their footprints.
Greenpeace was pretty unforgiving in its analysis. As the New York Times points out, Sony is the largest buyer of renewable energy in Japan, but it still came in second to last place because it has not disclosed any emissions data.
Tags: energy efficiency, information technology
Companies: Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Google, Greenpeace