JK Rowling Announces Pottermore, Coming October 2011

JK Rowling has announced her plans for the web site Pottermore. The site will expand on the world of her Harry Potter books by offering new information, e-books, and interactive contests. The Leaky Cauldron has a long list of the site’s features. Here are a few:

  • Pottermore is an interactive new Web site and reading experience with more than 18,000 new words from J.K. Rowling: Much more to come.
  • JKR behind the scenes filming the video picture.
  • An online experience to read, interact with and share the Harry Potter stories. Exclusive writing from J.K. Rowling and more.
  • Pottermore will feature infromation J.K. Rowling has been “hoarding” for years about Harry Potter.
  • Pottermore will be the exclusive place to purchase the digital audio books and, at last, eBooks of the Harry Potter series.

I’m interested in Rowling’s additional stories and finally being able to purchase digital versions of the Harry Potter books, but a lot of the site’s other features aren’t my thing. And you? Are you interested in Pottermore? What features of the site excite you?

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Coffee Talk #367: Hidden Coins and Smashing Barrels

I’ve been having lots of fun playing Dungeon Siege III for the last week, but some of its old-school RPG conventions are…comical. For example, I smashed hundreds of barrels and pots looking for…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the congressional bill that looks to battle bogus 4G claims, Mark Cuban buying a baseball team, or the 2011 NBA draft, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

I’ve been having lots of fun playing Dungeon Siege III for the last week, but some of its old-school RPG conventions are…comical. For example, I smashed hundreds of barrels and pots looking for treasure. Why do people leave weapons and coins in barrels? Why do heroes think it’s okay to smash every barrel they see? Are you given a license to smash every barrel you choose when you’re issued a sword and shield? Hell, at several points in the game I was thinking, “You know, if I lived in the kingdom of Ehb, I’d make barrels and pots. With all these a-hole heroes smashing them, there would always be a demand. I’d be frickin’ loaded!!!”

Then there’s the matter of monsters dropping coins. Whether it’s poisonous slug creatures or a giant spiders, all the monsters in Dungeon Siege III drop coins (and sometimes weapons). This was understandable in 1996. In 2011, it seems silly. Why are monsters carrying around loose change? Where do they put the coins? Do they hide them in their rectum or silk glands? Do monsters think they can walk up to local merchants and buy things with their gold?

In 2004, InXile made fun of several RPG conventions with the awesomely tongue-in-cheek The Bard’s Tale. Seven years later, developers are still using these design techniques. I wonder what year it will be when RPGs are free or barrel smashing and hidden coins in monsters? Will I live to see the day?

Are there any old game design techniques that irk you because they should have stopped being used a long time ago? Or are you content to smash barrels and pots in games for the rest of your life?

Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston Get Hollywood Stars

The Hollywood Walk of Fame has announced the latest entertainers to get their very own stars on the world famous Hollywood sidewalk. The list is lead by hotties Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Aniston (in my head anyway). Naturally I saw this announcement as an opportunity to post sexy photos! Other honorees include the late, great Richard Burton, D&D fan Vin Diesel, Matt Groening, and Adam West. Here’s the full list from E!:

Movies

  • Jennifer Aniston
  • Vin Diesel
  • Scarlett Johansson
  • John Lasseter
  • Malcolm McDowell
  • Sumner Redstone
  • Kate Winslet
  • Richard Burton (posthumous)

TV

  • Valerie Bertinelli
  • Matt Groening
  • Mariska Hargitay
  • Patricia Heaton
  • Marg Helgenberger
  • Walter Koenig
  • Adam West

Music

  • Pepe Aguilar
  • AMERICA
  • Boyz II Men
  • Hal David
  • David Foster
  • Vince Gill
  • Jennifer Lopez
  • Ann and Nancy Wilson (Heart)
  • Barry White (posthumous)

Radio

  • Ellen K.

Now onto the photos!

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This Week’s Videogame Releases

It’s a great week for videogame releases! FEAR 3 has been getting some good reviews and is a fine pick for those longing for some atmospheric action. Shinki Mikami (Resident Evil) and Suda 51 (No More Heroes) team up on Shadows of the Damned. I totally goofed on Dungeon Siege III last week; it comes out this week. Sorry!

Last, but not least, is the first great games for the Nintendo 3DSThe Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D!!! I’m so looking forward to diving into the game this weekend!

Any of you picking up new games this week?

Coffee Talk #366: Your First Mobile Phone

Today’s Coffee Talk is a request from RPadholic N8R. He would like to know about your very first cell phone. Do you remember the make and model of your first mobile phone? Did any of you rock the…

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, your Wimbledon 2011 pick, the MLB McCourt drama, or George Clooney being single…again, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Today’s Coffee Talk is a request from RPadholic N8R. He would like to know about your very first cell phone. Do you remember the make and model of your first mobile phone? Did any of you rock the Zach Morris? Or did you have one of those classic Nokia candybars? Did any of you start out with the Motorola RAZR?

As for me, I borrowed my Dad’s Motorola StarTac a few times while I was in college (mostly to look cool), but the first mobile phone that was all mine was an Ericcson CF688. Hell, I don’t even remember what carrier it was on, but I remember being enamored by its slickness and form factor…which seems hilarious when looking through the retroscope.

Now it’s your turn! What was your first mobile phone?

Nokia’s MeeGo Powered N9 Looks Beautiful

At Nokia Convention in Singapore, Nokia unveiled its upcoming N9 mobile phone. The N9 features Nokia’s typically gorgeous hardware paired with the MeeGo operating system. Judging from the numerous videos the company posted, the N9 looks like a wonderful phone — so wonderful that many people are wondering why Nokia committed so extensively to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

On the hardware side, the N9 features a 3.9-inch AMOLED screen with a resolution of 854×480. The screen is covered with Corning Gorilla Glass for extra durability. The N9 is powered by a 1GHz OMAP 3630 processor, which is based off of ARM Cortex A8 architecture. While that seems dated compared to the dual-core chips found in Android and iOS products, MeeGo doesn’t require as much power to run at a snappy rate. Apps, particularly games, are another matter and it will be interesting to see if the relatively modest processor limits the N9’s app potential.

The body of the N9 is made from a single piece of polycarbonate, which is a fancy word for expensive plastic. Nokia chose polycarbonate instead of metal or glass so as to avoid signal issues. I’m curious to see how the N9 feels compared to the luxurious N8, which uses an anodized aluminum casing. The phone packs an eight-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens. Nokia’s high-end phones feature the best mobile cameras in the world and I’m expecting great images from the N9.

The good news for American customers is that the N9 supports the 3G bands used by AT&T and T-Mobile. This also makes it a compelling option for world travelers.

The software side of the N9 surprises. The N9 will be the first mass consumer product using the MeeGo operating system. This particular version of MeeGo runs on top of Nokia’s Harmattan skin. At first glance, the OS seems really elegant and intuitive. It uses three panels — one for an app locker, one for notifications (including social networking), and one for apps that are currently running. It’s simpler than modern operating systems like Android, iOS, webOS, and Windows Phone 7, but it still seems powerful.

As far as apps go, the N9 will run native MeeGo apps as well as QT apps. The good news is that it will launch with robust software support thanks to QT. Remember, QT apps run on Symbian and there are still millions of Symbian phones floating around the globe. Furthermore, Nokia is still committed to launching new Symbian devices. That said, I wonder how many developers will code apps that take full advantage of the MeeGo OS and the N9 hardware.

On paper (and video), the N9 looks like typically excellent Nokia hardware paired with atypically elegant Nokia software. I love Android for my phone and iOS for my tablet, but I’m still highly interested in the N9. The software seems refined and user friendly, which is shocking for a Nokia product. I’m tempted to pick one up for editorial purposes and as my world phone.

How about you boys and girls? Any of you interested in the Nokia N9?

Verizon Tiered Data Starting in July, Prices Revealed?

Verizon has been up front with its plans to eventually move from a flat charge for unlimited data to a tiered system. It looks like those plans have been revealed. Droid-Life obtained some documentation allegedly sent by company executives that outlines the new data fees.

On top of monthly voice charges, Verizon’s new data plans will cost $30 a month for 2GB, $50 a month for 5GB, and $80 a month for 10GB. Additional data will cost $10 per GB. The pricing is the same for 3G and 4G (LTE) devices. Customers that wish to tether will be charged an additional $20 per month. The current charge for unlimited data is $29.99. The new plans allegedly roll out on July 7, 2011.

It’s kind of a bummer that data pricing continues to escalate even though the cost per GB has actually gone down. I realize that Verizon still needs to recoup the costs of its expensive LTE network, but the pricing seems excessive. Thankfully existing customers will be able to keep their current rate plans, but who knows what will happen when it’s time to renew.

Whether you’re a current Verizon customer, a prospective customer, or a spectator, please let me know how you feel about these new rate plans.

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