Sony Makes Money While You Sleep…

They are also probably eating your lunch out of the office fridge, got your girlfriend pregnant, and your mom secretly likes them better than you. They are like a malevolent clown doll that watches you while you sleep. One day, when you least expect it, it will strike when you are most vulnerable.


Sony, a massive company with a diverse product line competes with other large corporations to become your electronic gadget maker of choice. We all know this as this is nothing new.

You also may know that Sony has invents and manufactures a lot of technology that goes into various doodads. Some of Sony’s tech even goes into products manufactured by their direct competitors. The Blu-Ray player in the Xbox One for example, ensures that Sony gets a taste of the action for every console that Microsoft sells, just like Don “Black Hand” Fanucci from Godfather II.

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He just wants to wet his beak.

This is not ground breaking news, but what I do find amazing is just how much revenue Sony brings in by selling components to its competitors. When the Xbox One was first introduced and it became known that it would sport a Blu-Ray drive, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter estimated that Microsoft would have to pay Sony $2 to $3 for every Xbox One sold to license the Blu-Ray drive.

Let’s assume that Microsoft pays Sony just $2.00 per console for the Blu-Ray license. Well that would translate $20 million if Microsoft sold 10 million consoles worldwide since launch, as they claimed back in November 2014. $30 million if Microsoft pays closer to the top end. In the end, it’s probably someplace in the middle, so let’s just say Sony made approximately $25 million from Microsoft since the Xbox One was launched, give or take a couple million. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Now keep in mind, my math can be completely wrong in terms of how many actually Xbox One consoles were sold. I got my numbers from Wikipedia, which is quoting a Microsoft PR flak, so chances are good that my numbers are completely wrong. At the end of the day, it’s safe to say that Sony making millions off of Xbox One sales.

Sony is not just taking millions from Microsoft however. They also currently have Apple over a barrel. According to the Wall Street Journal and Fortune, “Sony is trying harder than ever to profit from other companies’ innovations, such as the iPhone 6. Each iPhone 6 contains two Sony-made image sensors and related parts, which generate revenue of as much as $20 per phone for Sony, analysts say. Earlier-generation iPhones had one Sony sensor apiece. The ‘selfie’ craze has strengthened Sony’s grip on the market.”

Apple sold 10 million iPhone 6 on its weekend. That’s a $200 million payday for Sony and that figure doesn’t include revenue from all other Apple product that may be using Sony technology, like older iPhones and iPads.

Kaz Hirai, who you may remember as the former of President of Sony Computer Entertainment and is now CEO of Sony stated in an interview with WSJ.com:

“Whether it’s a device that goes into other manufacturers’ products or sometimes our own, if there’s innovation there… That’s something I get excited about.”

I imagine that he was tweaking his nipples when he said that.

Meanwhile, Sony makes its very own smartphones and tablets in the Xperia line, but why even bother when you can just ride on the coat tails of other manufacturers?

And that is a scary thought for me personally. I’m a fan of Sony and a fan of their Playstation brand—especially the exquisite PS4, but what does Sony have to gain when they can make more money being a supplier of technology to other manufactures and letting them take all the risk? This is not a rhetorical question as I would really like to know.

Kaz Hirai in the WSJ.com interview readily admits that this may lead to a pivot for the company as he goes onto say,

“If we’re talking about the organization and our strategies and where we want the company to be next year, two years from now, three years from now, yes, we’re starting to turn the corner.”

Will Sony one day decide to bow out completely from the limelight of high stakes consumer electronics? I can’t say for sure, but we have seen stranger things. Who would have thought that Konami would stop making video games to manage health clubs, open up gourmet cup cake shops, and make slot machines full-time? What if Sony, at their E3 presser announces that they are getting out of the consumer electronics business to sell chips and sensors to Apple? I would imagine that the combined fury of gamers everywhere would tear a rift in the universe.

I Played Paula Deen’s Recipe Quest… So You Don’t Have To 

When a “celebrity” releases a mobile game, I begin to feel all warm and gooey, because I have a weakness for horrible mobile games. The prospect of a possible train wreck that is associated with someone famous brings me joy, because I’m a horrible person.

I have played Kim Kardashian Hollywood, which was bad, but surprisingly enjoyable. I also had the honor to play Lindsay Lohan’s The Price of Fame on the iOS, which was so bad, I’m not sure it can even be defined as a game, but rather a horrible psychological experiment and was utterly unenjoyable.

Beta testing Lindsay Lohan's Price of Fame was literally torture.

Beta testing Lindsay Lohan’s Price of Fame was literally torture.

Coming off the horrible experience that is Lindsay Lohan’s game, I did not have high hopes for Paula Deen’s Recipe Quest.

Deen, as you may or may not know was a Food Network star, who specialized in southern cooking. Southern cooking in the U.S. does have the stigma of being very rich and unhealthy. Deen does not help break this stereotype as the majority of her recipes are ridiculously unhealthy.

There’s nothing unhealthy about a bacon, egg, cheese, and doughnut sandwich.

Deen’s career path has been on a downward spiral ever since news came out that she’s racist. Even though she fiercely denies being a racist, it doesn’t help your case when you say things like this:

[W]hen asked if she wanted black men to play the role of slaves at a wedding she explained she got the idea from a restaurant her husband and her had dined at saying, “The whole entire waiter staff was middle-aged black men, and they had on beautiful white jackets with a black bow tie.

“I mean, it was really impressive. That restaurant represented a certain era in America…after the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War…It was not only black men, it was black women…I would say they were slaves.”

HOW QUAINT! That’s a fine dining experience there. No sir, there’s totally nothing racist about that.

Incredibly, Deen just can’t help doing racist things while denying being a racist. Just take the advertisement for her restaurant.

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The fuck, Paula? 

According to a Deen spokesperson, the image in the ad is not new and has been used on the restaurant’s website for over five years. The spokesperson goes on to say, “…the lady featured in the picture has worked at the restaurant for over 17 years and is like family to the Deens.” (So it’s totally okay to use a racist stereotype from the American South’s antebellum plantation era, because the Deen’s have been doing it for years.)

So when I heard that Paula Deen had released a video game, I simply had to play it. I really did not know what to expect, but a part of me was hoping for it to be highly inappropriate and possibly racist. Maybe Amos & Andy were going to be featured in the game in black-face while singing Camptown Races?

Nothing insensitive in the image, said a Deen spokesperson... probably.

Nothing insensitive in this image, said a Deen spokesperson… probably.

So imagine my disappointment when the game turned out to be puzzle game, in the same vein as Candy Crush. In fact, Paul Deen’s Recipe Quest is so mediocre and safe, I became downright angry when I could not find one solitary example of Paula’s well documented acts racism.

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The game starts off with a map that you must navigate. Each point on the map is a recipe in the form of a puzzle. Take the first recipe for example, for Low Country Cookies, which I assume is the opposite of High Country Cookies where the main ingredient is marijuana.

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The goal is to unlock three eggs and nine sugar cubes (I think those are sugar cubes). Paula is kind enough to explain while not dropping the “N” word once.

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The quicker you beat the puzzle with the least amount moves, the more points you get, while unlocking more recipes.

Of course, like all free-to-play games, you can expect to get nickel and dimed. Failing to unlock a recipe will force you to use coins that you earned while playing to purchase more moves. If you run out of coins, you can start the map over, but you only have so many attempts, before you either have to wait for more chances to unlock or, you can always buy more coins or attempts with real money.

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Apparently, it’s impossible to complete the game without purchasing the later stages. This was not a problem for me, but if you’re a completionist, you better be willing to pony up.

All in all, Paula Deen’s Recipe Quest is not a bad game, but It’s not a great game either. If you played Candy Crush you know exactly what to expect. Matter of fact, this game is so similar to Candy Crush, I wouldn’t be surprised if King sues the makers of Paula Deen’s Recipe Quest for copyright infringement.

At the end of the day, Paula Deen’s Recipe Quest is a serviceable title that lacks racial epithets and is actually enjoyable. I give it 3 out of 5 Paul Deens assaulting Ernest Hemingways.

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Gaming in the Classroom AND 5 Classic Apple IIe Games

Couple weeks back, I was browsing the interwebs pretending to work, when I came across an interesting TED Talk about gaming. What made it even more interesting was that it was presented by third grader Cordell Steiner. The presentation was called ‘Individualization, failure and fun’, and I’m hundred percent certain that his parent’s helped him this.

Here’s the presentation, in its entirety. It’s just over 5 minutes long. Go ahead, I’ll wait.


First things first, he really gets on my nerves. There’s nothing more annoying than a precocious kid who talks like an adult. There’s something disturbing about it ­– something, unnatural. It gives me the heebie-jeebies, like watching a spider or millipede scurry across the floor.

You may be surprised by this reaction, since I have written many times that I’m a father myself, and you may be under the incorrect assumption that parents love children in general. You would be only half right. I love my daughter, more than anything in the world. Every other child is intolerable, and should be seen not heard.

Or both.

Or both.

I don’t want to be cruel, especially towards an argyle sweater clad third-grader, but his entire “talk” concerning games in the classroom is a non-issue. Before watching the video, I assumed that he was going to make a plea for mainstream and commercial games like Call of Duty, or GTA, stating how they improve problem solving or hand-eye coordination or some other stupid cliché shit.

To my surprise, he was speaking of educational games, which his third-grade teacher, Mr. Pie (TEE HEE!), assigns to his students. He goes into how the games assigned to him and his classmates are individualized, so that everyone can learn at their own pace and how fun it is. He waxes eloquently on how his teacher, the so called Mr. Pie (if that’s even his real name!) “rocks”, and how cutting edge he is. The little scamp even nonchalantly drops that he’s an “advanced learner.” Perhaps Mr. Pie should teach a lesson on humility next week.

Maybe I’m being tough on the kid. There’s a very good possibility that I’m harboring a wee bit of jealousy, towards a child no less, since no one has asked ME to do a TED talk. Sometimes, when I’m home alone with the dog, I like to give an impromptu TED talk to an audience of one. The wife may be out shopping, or visiting her mother, and I’ll just be inspired to give a kick ass presentation to the dog like a fucking BOSS! When I’m done, I feel fantastic. Maybe the dog will be awestruck by my rhetorical eloquence. Then she’ll lick her own ass and leave the room. MY DOG DOES NOT APPRECIATE MY IDEAS!

Meh...

Meh…

After watching the video, I decided to do a bit of research. When I say research, I’m referring to speaking with my wife, who just so happens to be a teacher with seven years of experience, and also currently teaches the third grade. COINCIDENCE!?!?

Actually it’s totally a coincidence. And aliens.

Actually it’s totally a coincidence. And aliens.

Do kids no longer have access to educational computer games in school? When I was in elementary school, back in the 80’s, when big hair was in and Michael Jackson was legitimately cool, we played tons of games on Apple IIe computers.

Matter of fact, the possibility to play a game on those old Apple machines was a bit of distraction. Many of the classrooms in my elementary school had only one and maybe two computers if you were lucky. The urgency to get your work done first for the chance to play a game on the computer led to some Lord of the Flies style shenanigans. It was not a pretty site when two kids finished their work at the same time and rushed the teacher to get permission to boot up the computer and play a game.

Little Simon got the message. He'll read a book silently in the corner.

Little Simon got the message. He’ll read a book silently in the corner.

Things have changed over the years however. Having visited my wife’s classroom multiple times, I’ve noticed that she has five desktops in the back of the room for her students. I asked if her students play educational games on those machines and she said that they do all the time. All of the computers are loaded with educational games and the browsers are bookmarked to hundreds of educational Flash sites.

So frankly speaking, what the hell is Cordell Steiner talking about? This is a non-issue. Maybe he’s speaking about schools in poorer areas, where they do not have the budgets to facilitate video games in the classroom, but he never states that in his talk. If that’s the case, then this is societal issue. I really can’t blame Cordell for that GLARING error though, since he’s just a kid, albeit a self proclaimed “advanced” one. I blame Mr. Pie.

...And his parents for dressing him in that HORRIBLE sweater

…And his parents for dressing him in that HORRIBLE sweater

Okay, enough on TED talks! Let us take a trip down memory lane, where acid wash jeans were worn non ironically, MTV played actual music videos, and Playboy Magazine had more bush than a botanical garden in summertime.

That's a big bush

That’s a big bush

Spieler Dad’s Top 5 Apple IIe Educational Games from the 80’s

5. Math Blaster

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All that I remember about this game was how cool the title was. In the 80’s anything with the word “blaster” in it was cool… probably. It reminded me of the NES game Blaster Master as well as the totally cool Master Blaster character from the movie Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Sadly, Math Blaster has nothing in common with each of these things.

WHO RUNS BARTER TOWN!

WHO RUNS BARTER TOWN!?!

4. Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego

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I had the hots for Carmen Sandiego when I was in grade school. Carmen Sandiego, for a fictitious female thief is not unattractive. The red hair, the fedora, the sultry come hither glare, she’s a pre-pubescent boy’s dream come true. Was she a Latin? Pretty sure she was a Latin. I’d say she’s probably from Argentina. That means she’s red blooded and fiery.

I vividly remember Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego being so much harder than Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. What can I say, even as a child, I was so much worldlier and sophisticated. The borders of the United States could not contain me.

3. Oregon Trail

This is the game that made shitting one’s self to death into a meme.

This is the game that made shitting one’s self to death into a meme.

Every Brooklynite hipster has the t-shirt.

2. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego

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Did I mention that I had a crush on Carmen Sandiego? Sometimes, while playing this game, I used to fantasize that I was part of some international crime fighting task force, akin to Interpol. Carmen was smart, but no match for my wits. I will pursue her to the ends of the earth and I will capture her. She will crumble under my interrogation and we will give in to the sexual tension. We will then run off together becoming the most formidable art heist syndicate known to the world. Our lair will be a stately villa on the shores of Como. Antiquities and famous objets d’art will not be safe. We’ll sip cordials from our terrazzo while planning our next big heist, before retiring to our boudoir for a night of passion.

1. Odell Lake

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This game was my favorite. I’m not even sure that this game could be defined as being educational. You were a fish. You ate other fish. You tried not be eaten by bigger fish or caught by anglers. I’m not sure what this game was trying to teach. Maybe it was a commentary on society? Was it teaching the big fish little pond theory? Maybe it was trying to teach kids about the dog eats dog mentality of our society?

Or maybe this game was designed by a bunch of Minnesotan stoners and this is about being a fish. The world will never know.

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It’s a mystery.