News Schmooze: Gaming gets ugly

Sony trash-talked rivals, Linux got more boring than ever, and robots finally got a killer app...

In the PC world, executives at top companies such as Microsoft often take an almost self-effacing attitude, talking about how the important thing is "customer focus" and adding value for users, even as they pull every dirty trick in the book to grab market share. In the gaming world things seem to be simpler and more direct: like Sony Computer Entertainment of America president Kaz Hirai telling journalists this week, "The console wars are over... I liken the gap with our competition to the Grand Canyon."
Sony: Game wars are over - we win Don't tell that to Microsoft, which said it's planning to spend $2bn to build its Xbox online network -- for that price tag, let's hope it's more of a success than the MSN dial-up ISP. Microsoft said Xbox sales were improving, which shouldn't come as too much of a shock after prices were cut by up to 40 percent.
Xbox closes sales gap in UK Could this be Sony's cunning plan to cement its PS2 lead? A kit shipping this week lets you transform that gaming powerhouse into... a command-line Linux box. Well, at least this Linux workstation will have a better selection of games than most.
PlayStation2 Linux kit ships in UK Open source is also making its way into less flashy areas, such as paint companies and oil drilling firms. But this is probably a good sign, since Wall Street usually starts to wake up only when the news starts to get really dull...
IBM drills Linux into oil industry
Paint retailer brushes up on Linux A US company has come up with what must be the "killer app" of home robotics, namely an artificially intelligent mechanoid with just enough brainpower to shuttle beers from fridge to television. While cuteness appeal may have made Aibo take off in Japan, the Schmoozer predicts that this particular form of utility will see the dawn of the robot age in the Western world.
Transforming a laptop into a robot Is it the end of innovation on the Internet? Maybe not, but it seems that nowadays large, moneyed special interests like the RIAA are able to put companies they don't like out of business simply by bankrupting them. At least, that's how Kazaa and Morpheus tell it. On the other hand, is Morpheus, famous for secretly embedding a second peer-to-peer network inside its file-trading software, really the best poster child for freedom to innovate?
Kazaa, Morpheus conceding defeat On the other hand, here's what we can expect more of, if online file-trading were to disappear tomorrow: Vivendi Universal and Maverick are selling a new MP3-format single for 99 cents, a mere six years after the format arrived on the scene. It's the first time a major label has released an Internet-format song without copy protection, meaning you can freely burn it onto a CD and actually play it wherever you like -- just, in fact, like something you'd buy in the high street.
MP3 for sale online in industry first The South African cops may have finally found a solution to the main trauma that has accompanied the growth of the Internet -- this being, obviously, those Nigerian spams. Far from a bizarre yet amusing and ultimately tedious waste of time, these emails have apparently jilted eager moneymakers out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. The police arrested three men responsible for the marauding missives, only one of whom, disappointingly, was Nigerian. Police said a major problem in tracking the activities of the spammers was that people didn't know who to turn to when they received one. To solve the problem they've invented an easy-to-remember contact address within the Specialist Crime OCU Fraud Squad: 419@spring39.demon.co.uk.
Six arrested over 'Nigerian email' frauds The News Schmooze is ZDNet UK's irreverent take on the week's news. Send your tip-offs to: mailroomuk@zdnet.com.


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