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Archive: Mike Musgrove

Posted at 11:37 AM ET, 07/17/2009

New AOL Chief to Staff: Think Bigger

AOL's new chief executive urged his staff to "think bigger" and "embrace change" in a memo this week marking the conclusion of his first 100 days on the job.

"AOL is at the center of the industry changing the world," wrote former Google executive Tim Armstrong in an e-mail to company employees. "We have a lot of work to do, but we can make a lasting and meaningful impact on people's lives by building our company into what we know it can be."

While the former dial-up giant is still part of Time Warner, AOL is on track to be spun off and made into a standalone company again later this year.

Armstrong is scheduled to share some more of his strategy for the company with AOLers in an all-hands meeting next Friday.

The memo:


AOLers -

Today marks the end of the 100-day process and I want to personally thank you for the many ideas, suggestions and questions you shared about what AOL has to offer the world. I also want to thank you for the hospitality and time you put into making the 100 days as productive as 300 days. After seeing more than 6,000 of you and trading e-mails and phone calls with hundreds of others in the AOL universe, it is time for us to begin to execute the vision of AOL's future. We've already started our work and we have a long way to go down a very challenging road - but we're going to do what it takes to make AOL a global leader.

Before coming to AOL, I spoke with a lot of people about this company, and the views generally fell into two camps. The first group thought AOL and the AOL brands were past the point of no return. The second thought AOL was a misunderstood and underestimated asset. It probably won't come as a shock that, after spending 100 days with all of you, my view falls strongly into the second camp - AOL is an incredible asset and it can be improved.

AOL serves more than 275 million global consumers each month. We have the largest digital ad network by reach and many of the top content sites on the Internet. We have a massive local distribution platform and a communications network that serves more than 100 million people. Not to mention, there is an entire suite of assets we've rediscovered during the past three months that had been nearly counted out of the AOL portfolio. Most importantly, the pipeline of employee innovation is flowing again.

We'll be gathering as a global company next week to talk about our focus areas - content, advertising, local, communications and AOL Ventures. We will shape and change our company to focus on those areas. In our meeting we'll also unveil the mission statement, go deeper into our strategic plan, discuss our brand and, importantly, review what it's going to take us to operate AOL as a leader in the Internet economy. After the May 29th All Hands, a survey revealed that 96% of employees agreed or strongly agreed with the strategy we presented, and now it's go time.

In the meantime, I want to talk about some of the cultural aspects I've seen at AOL over the past 100 days, and what we need to do to create a winning culture at every level of the company.

- Focus on the consumer. During our kick-off meeting in March, I noted that AOL's success came when it focused on the consumer and on making their lives better with great products. That focus will help us win again as the digital transformation accelerates. One good example: on MapQuest, we removed almost 60% of the ads on some important pages, simplified the information and moved more content above the fold. Traffic went up and our revenue didn't significantly change.

- Embrace change. Our focus has changed, our structure has changed, and if your work, time and thoughts haven't changed, they must. How would you organize yourself to be the No. 1 person at your job, product, service, or function? By addressing change this way, you're taking charge of your destiny and ours. The Network Operations Center (NOC) teams in Dulles and Bangalore, for example, changed their communication systems to be connected with each other 24/7, 365. You would have a hard time telling the difference between the teams and the cultures (except for the Cricket bats in the Bangalore NOC).

- Deliver exceptional value for partners and for each other. If you are an employee or a manager, your job is to make sure you hold yourself, your group, and the company accountable for delivering what we commit to deliver to our partners and, just as importantly, to each other. Our partners and employees deserve and should expect us to deliver the value we promise. We just reviewed the 8th annual overview of the partnership with Google this week, and after billions of dollars and billions of searches, we're still finding ways to improve results and communication.

- Play to win. Winning in our business is simple to measure. Either you're growing more consumer and advertiser usage in a natural way or you're not. Pageview growth without unique visitor growth is losing. Advertiser retention below 90% is losing. Making processes and policies more complex is losing. Delighting employees, consumers and partners is winning. AOL's DailyFinance iPhone app launching and shooting up to the No. 1 free finance download in the Apple app store - that is winning.

- Think bigger. Great companies think big. We need to challenge ourselves to look for those big, bold, daring, audacious ideas and opportunities. Small ideas often take just as long to implement as big ones and have the same failure rates in many cases. We'll share some big thoughts at our meeting next week - including the next 100-day plan.

AOL is at the center of the industry changing the world. We have a lot of work to do, but we can make a lasting and meaningful impact on people's lives by building our company into what we know it can be. Many people helped make the first 100 days a success. Jeff Bewkes and John Martin at Time Warner provided invaluable guidance and advice. AOL Corporate Communications led by Tricia Primrose organized a flawless agenda and schedule. And lastly, Maureen Marquess has made every trip and has been a critical advisor to me and the entire AOL team.

We'll see you next Friday -- TA

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Posted at 1:23 PM ET, 07/ 1/2009

TerreStar: Today's Satellite Launch A Success

It's official: The Reston-based satellite company TerreStar is now, actually, a satellite company.

TerreStar, which I wrote about today, successfully launched its new satellite from French Guiana at a few minutes before 2 pm Washington time. The launch was delayed for over an hour, as a result of local weather conditions. With a 65-foot span, TerreStar-1 is the world's largest commercially-launched satellite.

A few months from now, after a few months of initial testing, TerreStar plans to introduce a new satellite phone and service that will use AT&T's network when it's in range of that carrier's terrestrial towers -- or TerreStar's satellite service when a user is in a more remote area. The company has not yet announced prices for the service.

"My heart is still pounding a little bit," said TerreStar Jeffrey Epstein, who admitted that the launch was a little "nerve wracking" as he spoke to employees around the world via Webcast. "This is really just the beginning of the story for TerreStar."

Aaron Lewis, the Washington-based director of media and government relations at Arianespace, Inc., the French company that oversaw the launch of the rocket carrying the new satellite also attended the launch.

"TerreStar had everything riding on this launch so the stakes were beyond high and there was no margin for error," said Lewis via text message. "It is pretty gratifying to deliver for a new customer under these tight circumstances."

TerreStar-1 launch.JPG

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Posted at 1:08 PM ET, 06/24/2009

ZeniMax Media Acquires Id Software

ZeniMax Media, the Rockville-based parent company of videogame publisher Bethesda Softworks, announced today that it has acquired game development studio Id Software.

Id is famous among gamers as the Texas-based studio behind bestselling action videogame franchises like Doom and Quake. Bethesda Softworks, meanwhile, is known for games such as last year's blockbuster hit Fallout 3.

"Our role will be to provide publisher support through Bethesda Softworks and give id Software the resources it needs to grow and expand," said ZeniMax chairman and chief executive Robert Altman, in a statement.

The move is just the latest expansion by the privately-owned local company, which happens features boldface names like Jerry Bruckheimer and Cal Ripken, Jr. on its board of directors. Two years ago, ZeniMax announced that it was opening a new game studio in Hunt Valley with the aim of creating an online game in the same genre as the popular computer title World of Warcraft.

Id is a legendary game company, said Edward Wu, an industry analyst at Wedbush Morgan, "But it seems that they lost some of their momentum to other companies in recent years and that may have prompted them to do the merger."

Consolidation in the videogame industry is certainly nothing new: Over the last several years, many local game development studios have been snapped up by major publishers like Electronic Arts.

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Posted at 1:49 PM ET, 06/17/2009

IPhone 3.0 Software: It's Here, Finally.

Update: Oh yeah. I am stuck in emergency mode once again, courtesy of the 3.0 update. Seems like some of you below are stuck there, too.

Personally, I tried calling Apple support and here's what they told me: My 3.0 update probably installed fine, but the phone now needs to connect to iTunes to verify my account information. Right now, everybody with an iPhone is trying to connect to iTunes and "our servers can only take so much traffic."

Not sure if this is the same problem a few of you guys are having, but Apple's advice, basically, was: Wait for a while and try again later.

If you haven't tried to download and install the 3.0 software update, I'd say holding off for a while is probably a good idea.

In the meantime, I'm glad I still have a landline.

_ _ _ _ _


Well, that took long enough.

Apple had promised to release the latest major update to the iPhone's operating system today, but the company didn't specify what time users could expect to download OS 3.0. Last time around, Apple released its iPhone update in the morning, an event that turned into a minor fiasco for the company when its servers were slammed and many were left with a phone stuck in the almost entirely useless "emergency" mode.

I'm downloading and installing the update right now; hopefully things don't go south this time...

The new iPhone software introduces some features that likely should have been incorporated into the device when it was released a couple of years ago. Users can now "cut, copy and paste" text from one application to another, for example, and use a new search function to look up information parked in various application databases. One new feature allows users to incorporate a picture into their text message (though, whoops, AT&T, the only carrier with the iPhone, doesn't support this just yet. That's coming later this summer).

Users will now also be able to record voice memos and buy more stuff directly from the iTunes store. Apple is touting a new, enhanced stock checking application (as of this writing, AAPL is down two cents today).

The update is free for iPhone owners and $9.99 for owners of the iPod Touch.

If you're an owner of one of these devices and hit a glitch, please post away. Otherwise, see you on the other side.

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Posted at 1:25 PM ET, 06/16/2009

Twitter Users And The #IranElection

Twitter appears to be turning green today, for some users anyway, as many regulars on the microblogging site are changing their user icons to a new hue to mark their support of defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mirhossein Mousavi and Iran's protesters

As Iran's election drama plays out this week, supporters organized in modern fashion: With Web sites and services such as Twitter, Flickr, YouTube Facebook and Google Maps. At the moment, the subject header "#IranElection" is one of the top discussion topics on the service.

"My friends are being held against their will in the university," wrote one Twitter user. "Rasoul Akram hospital has medics outside. Go there for help," wrote another. Others uploaded pictures and videos of alleged police violence against protesters.

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone blogged on Monday that some previously scheduled maintenance for the site was being delayed as a result of the situation in Iran. According to one report, the delay came after State Department officials asked Twitter to keep its service operational.

Twitter users blasted CNN over the weekend for not covering the election controversy enough. Others were alarmed to see that some media accounts of the Twitter communities' discussions of Iran were including the site's user names, and possibly putting some users in Iran in jeopardy.

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Tip For Summer Vacationers: Careful With Those Twitters

Well, it had to happen sometime. An Arizona man's house was recently robbed, and he suspects that his Twitter and Facebook habits might be to blame for how his home's burglars found out that he would be away on a vacation. Check out the story here. "It's not that these...

By Mike Musgrove | June 11, 2009; 02:25 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jobs On Track For A Return To Apple?

When Apple chief executive Steve Jobs went on medical leave in January, he promised that he'd be back in five months. According to a new report in the Wall Street Journal citing unnamed sources, Jobs is on track to soon return to the company he founded. Whether Jobs returns in...

By Mike Musgrove | June 5, 2009; 10:59 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Domain Names In The Future? Call It a Definite.maybe

The non-profit corporation responsible for overseeing the Web's domain-naming rules came to the Hill today, partly to push forward an agenda that it's time to expand the type of Web addresses beyond the familiar ".com" and ".org." But don't expect to be able to register "your.name" as a Web address...

By Mike Musgrove | June 4, 2009; 01:58 PM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Local Game Studio Big Huge Games Acquired

Local videogame studio Big Huge Games got a new lease on life today after a Boston area game company, founded by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, announced that it has acquired the Timonium company. Big Huge Games appeared to be facing bankruptcy, after its former owner, game publisher THQ,...

By Mike Musgrove | May 27, 2009; 12:57 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Surprise, It's the President -- Of the Colonies

Whoaaah. I just, unexpectedly, met Mark Sheppard, who played one of the cooler characters on Battlestar Galactica.   Here's the story: This morning I had a meeting with videogame company High Voltage, which is set to release a Wii "shooter" game set in Washington, DC next month. I was mainly...

By Washington Post editors | May 22, 2009; 02:17 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Coulton Plays Birchmere... And Stops By The Post

Internet rock star Jonathan Coulton often says, fondly, that his fans are a bunch of geeks. Turns out, judging from last night's turnout at the Birchmere, he's right. After the lights went back up after his (terrific) performance, the house looked like a big chess or math club meeting, or...

By Mike Musgrove | May 22, 2009; 12:48 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Snarky Amazon Reviews Send T-Shirt's Sales To The Top

Can a T-shirt go viral online? Well... of course it can. There's an informal comedy-writing workshop of sorts going on over at Amazon, where a growing wave of reviewers have latched on to a T-shirt bearing the image of a trio of wolves howling at the moon. Snarky reviewers at...

By Mike Musgrove | May 19, 2009; 03:32 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Palm Pre Smartphone Gets A Release Date

Sprint and Palm announced this morning that Palm's upcoming smartphone device, called the "Pre," will be available on June 6 at a price of $199. Is Palm's new smartphone enough to bring the company back into relevance? Too early to say, but the company wowed over many skeptics at the...

By Mike Musgrove | May 19, 2009; 11:11 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook's Latest Bug: 151.im

Be careful where you click: There's a new bug going around on Facebook. This one arrives in your inbox with the subject header "Hello." Open that up, and you'll find a simple link trying to get you to head over to a site with a name like 151.im or 121.im....

By Mike Musgrove | May 14, 2009; 02:58 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

UPDATE: Googlefail Is Now So Five Minutes Ago

Google users this morning began reporting that the search engine's main site and several of the company's properties had been either slow to load, or not loading at all. But the problem looks to have been fixed. The apparent glitch had been a major topic of discussion among Twitter users...

By Mike Musgrove | May 14, 2009; 01:01 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Verizon: We Already Have Peggle, Thanks.

Attention Peggle fans: Jeffrey Nelson, executive director of corporate communications at Verizon Wireless, wants you to know something. In a column I wrote Sunday about Peggle's upcoming debut on the iPhone and Apple's App Store, I quoted a commenter at the tech culture blog BoingBoing as saying the news was...

By Mike Musgrove | May 6, 2009; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Amazon.com Unveils Kindle DX

Ending what might have been the tech world's most poorly kept secret this week, Amazon.com unveiled a new version of its Kindle reading device this morning. The new version, called the Kindle DX, has a 9.7 inch screen, much larger than the current generation of the wireless book reader, and...

By Mike Musgrove | May 6, 2009; 11:28 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Apple's App Store Hits One Billion Downloads

Less than a year after opening, Apple's App Store, where owners of the iPhone and iPod Touch can download software for the devices, is hitting the billion download mark this afternoon. The store has been such a success for the company that every rival consumer electronics manufacturer from Nintendo to...

By Mike Musgrove | April 23, 2009; 04:45 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

UMD To Introduce "Video 911"

A University of Maryland computer science professor is getting to roll out what he hopes will catch on one day as the next version of 911. Soon, on the University of Maryland campus, students or faculty members will be able to hold up their cell phones and instantly relay video...

By Mike Musgrove | April 23, 2009; 11:35 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Apple Removes "Baby Shaker" App

Well, that was quick. Just hours after activists started to raise a stink about a potentially offensive iPhone App, Apple seems to have taken it down. In the App, for "Baby Shaker," users are presented with a series of baby images. As the baby begins to cry, players are supposed...

By Mike Musgrove | April 22, 2009; 06:22 PM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

House Committee Sets Sights On LimeWire

Update: LimeWire sent a statement on this matter, which has been added at the end of this posting. While peer-to-peer file-sharing applications have gotten a lot of media attention for carrying pirated versions of the latest movies and albums, a House committee is showing a fresh round of concern over...

By Mike Musgrove | April 21, 2009; 04:00 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rosetta Stone Expected To Make Public Debut Today

If all goes as expected, the New York Stock Exchange will have at a new listing today. Shares of the Arlington-based language instruction company Rosetta Stone are scheduled to begin trading under the ticker symbol RST, starting this morning. Rosetta Stone plans to offer 6,250,000 shares of common stock priced...

By Mike Musgrove | April 16, 2009; 08:45 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Capitol Hill Gets A Taste of Health Games

When Kaiser Permanente wanted to develop a program to teach kids about the value of proper nutrition and exercise, the health care company tried what an increasing number of companies are doing these days when they hope to get younger generations to pay attention: They turned the topic into a...

By Mike Musgrove | April 15, 2009; 03:04 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Will Wright Leaves EA

One of the world's most famous game designers is leaving one of the world's largest videogame publishers. Will Wright, lead creator of bestselling computer game titles like The Sims and Spore, is leaving Electronic Arts for his own venture, called Stupid Fun Club (if you can't get this site to...

By Mike Musgrove | April 8, 2009; 06:11 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New AOL Chief Armstrong Urges Company to 'Dream Big'

Former Google executive Tim Armstrong took the reins at AOL yesterday -- and sent out his first company-wide memo. What does Armstrong have in mind for the company? It's not clear just yet; from this memo, it seems that he's starting out on a listening tour that will take him...

By Mike Musgrove | April 8, 2009; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

AOL: Change of Leadership, Change of Debt Structure

Is Time Warner finally gearing up to spin off AOL? As a new chief executive takes the reins at AOL today, the Dulles-based company has turned to debtholders with a request to change the terms of more than $12 billion in loans. The proposed revisions suggest a separation of AOL...

By Mike Musgrove | April 7, 2009; 11:44 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Flutter: The New Twitter"

Tired of reading all those long, time-consuming Twitter entries? Just a little late for April Fools Day comes this YouTube-posted spoof documentary about a fictional "nanoblogging" site called Flutter. Where Twitter lets users ramble on for an entire 140 characters, Fluttter's site keeps things short and simple, at a tidy...

By Mike Musgrove | April 6, 2009; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

MySpace's Latest Move: Local Restaurant And Bar Reviews

MySpace announced today that it has partnered with online city guide service CitySearch to let users of the social networking site search for reviews and information about restaurants, bars and nightlife in their area. In a phone call with reporters, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe described the new service as the...

By Mike Musgrove | March 31, 2009; 01:01 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Netflix: Increased Fee For Blu-Ray Users

Blu-ray-owning movie fans who belong to the online-based video subscription service Netflix will soon be paying a little extra for access to the high definition discs. For people who use the service's most popular plan, which lets you check out three discs at a time from the company, there's now...

By Mike Musgrove | March 30, 2009; 04:00 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Washington-based Blackboard Releases iPhone App

Blackboard, the Washington-based maker of software designed to help students stay in touch with their coursework assignments and their professors, is releasing an iPhone App today. Blackboard's new software is designed to provide a mobile version of the same tools that students and teachers use at the company's Web site....

By Mike Musgrove | March 26, 2009; 01:12 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New Bethesda Softworks "Fallout" Content: A Little Glitchy

(Update: Bethesda Softworks has fixed this issue, as of Wednesday afternoon....) Some videogame fans are a bit cranky with Rockville-based game developer Bethesda Softworks today. Seems that some new downloadable content designed to expand the studio's bestselling game Fallout 3 comes with some serious bugs that are now causing the...

By Mike Musgrove | March 24, 2009; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Big Huge Games Seeks Big Money Buyer

Looks like a local videogame company's shift in focus to stay relevant in the Wii hasn't paid off. Game publisher THQ said this week that it will shutter its Timonium-based subsidiary, Big Huge Games, if it doesn't find a buyer for the studio within 60 days. The California-based publisher acquired...

By Washington Post editors | March 19, 2009; 06:44 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

iPhone, Version 3.0, Revealed

Apple showed off everything from a blood pressure monitor to the latest version of The Sims at an event today where the company revealed new features and software for the iPhone. The latest version of the iPhone's software, version 3.0, launches this summer. And yes, at least one rumor was...

By Mike Musgrove | March 17, 2009; 02:40 PM ET | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)

GTA "Chinatown Wars" on Nintendo DS Today

Blood and gore, drug references, strong language and violence -- the latest Grand Theft Auto features pretty much the type of fare that you'd expect from the controversial and bestselling game franchise. But there's something a little different about the latest foray onto crime-filled streets of Liberty City, called Chinatown...

By Mike Musgrove | March 17, 2009; 02:00 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Consumer Music Spending Trends: A Fresh Snapshot from NPD

The number of U.S. consumers buying music CDs fell by 17 million last year, while the number of music fans paying for digital music downloads increased by 8 million, according to a new report from NPD. The research firm said that it found the decline in CD purchases was most...

By Mike Musgrove | March 17, 2009; 12:00 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Could There Be A New iPhone On The Horizon?

There's some potentially interesting news rolling out for iPhone owners this afternoon, as Apple gears up to introduce.... something. The Internet is abuzz that the company will introduce new software for the popular smartphone and possibly some new tweaks at its iTunes stores, including a new tiered pricing system for...

By Mike Musgrove | March 17, 2009; 10:50 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Birthday, Internet

Twenty years ago today, an independent contractor for the European Organization for Nuclear Research named Tim Berners-Lee pitched his employers an innovative idea on how to share the lab's research on an open computer network. That idea is now credited as being, essentially, the basic blueprint for what we know...

By Mike Musgrove | March 13, 2009; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

DC Elementary School Puts Wii Music On the Curriculum

Used to be parents rewarded kids for good academic performance with a little bit of after-school videogame time. These days, sometimes, videogames are in the classroom. H.D. Cooke Elementary School, near Howard University, is getting a Wii today as part of a collaboration between Nintendo and the National Association for...

By Mike Musgrove | March 12, 2009; 11:55 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

AOL Layoffs Happening Today

Looks like the ax is falling at AOL today, according to a report posted this morning by Silicon Alley Insider. In an internal memo, the company announced in January that it would be laying off workers as a result of the economic recession and a sharp reduction in spending by...

By Mike Musgrove | March 10, 2009; 12:28 PM ET | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Apple Co-founder Woz on Dancing With the Stars Tonight

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is hoping for the support of techies and Mac fans tonight, as he appears on a popular dancing competition TV show. As the latest season of ABC's Dancing With The Stars kicks off, "Woz" will be competing against the likes of Denise Richards, Lil Kim and...

By Mike Musgrove | March 9, 2009; 12:45 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Hasbro Drops Suit Against Scrabble-like Facebook Game

It appears that board game maker Hasbro has quietly dropped a lawsuit it had filed against the makers of a popular Facebook game called Scrabulous. Scrabulous, designed by a pair of brothers in India, was strikingly similar to Scrabble and was for a while the most popular application on Facebook....

By Mike Musgrove | December 16, 2008; 02:48 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

DC Leads Nation In HDTV Uptake

Check it out: According to some fresh research from Nielson, the Washington area has the largest percentage of high definition TV sets in our homes than any other metro area in the country. HDTV sets are in 31.1 percent of Washington area homes, compared to a national average of 23.2...

By Mike Musgrove | December 12, 2008; 04:30 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Coming Soon: More 3D Flicks

Looks like Hollywood is hoping that a new wave of 3D movies will help bring film-goers to the theater this coming year. Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg came to town today to show off an early look at Monsters vs. Aliens, a kid-friendly animated feature coming out in March. Pay...

By Mike Musgrove | December 12, 2008; 02:36 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sony Launches PS3 "Home" For The Holidays

Sony announced today that it is launching an open beta test of a new virtual world it has developed for the PlayStation 3 called "Home". PS3 owners will be able to download and check out the new service starting tomorrow. Home is free to Web-connected owners of the game console,...

By Mike Musgrove | December 10, 2008; 12:30 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

New Research: Adults & Videogames

In September, Pew internet & American Life revealed some research about kids and videogames. Now the non-profit research organization is revealing some figures about how many grown-ups participate in the pastime. Perhaps not too surprisingly, it turns out that younger people are more likely to play videogames than older people....

By Mike Musgrove | December 7, 2008; 04:00 PM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

CSPAN: ESA Head Talks Shop

I'm appearing on a C-SPAN show called The Communicators this afternoon with Michael Gallagher, the head of the Washington-based videogame trade group Entertainment Software Association. I've written about Gallagher and his tenure at ESA twice, once when he took the reigns at ESA last year and once this past summer,...

By Mike Musgrove | December 5, 2008; 07:00 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

New Bells and Whistles for Xbox

I was about to chase my mailman down the sidewalk on Saturday morning to get him to take a DVD-sized red envelope off my hands. Then I remembered, I don't need to do that anymore thanks to a new partnership Netflix has with Microsoft. Microsoft is pushing out a major...

By Mike Musgrove | November 19, 2008; 09:00 AM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

What's New On Sat Radio? Confusion.

If you're a satellite radio subscriber and you're not sure what stations you still have access to today, you're evidently not alone. With the merger between Sirius and XM complete, the satellite company has just today changed around its channel lineup and shed some stations in the result. Sirius XM...

By Mike Musgrove | November 12, 2008; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (21) | TrackBack (0)

Call of Duty's History Lessons

Hank Keirsey wants you to know that he's not a videogame guy. "I was prepared to hate these guys, these little squirrels who make videogames," said Keirsey, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who has for the last few years served as a consultant on all of the versions of the...

By Mike Musgrove | November 12, 2008; 08:00 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Gears of War 2 Launches

No doubt, the big video game launch of the week is Gears of War 2, which is hitting retail shelves today. I got a chance to play a few chapters yesterday and I'd say it seems as gripping as the first one, so far. (Some early highlights: Trying to blow...

By Mike Musgrove | November 7, 2008; 11:47 AM ET | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Google: Web Surfers Hungry For Election Info

If Google search queries are a barometer of what topics are occupying the nation's thoughts, you can probably guess what Web surfers are consulting the Internet about today. As voters head to the polls today, it looks like they're also looking for information about how McCain and Obama are faring,...

By Mike Musgrove | November 4, 2008; 02:36 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Beatles Songs Coming to Video Game

A new music videogame dedicated to The Beatles is in the works and set for release next year, according to an announcement this morning from the band's management company and the upcoming game's developers. The game is being developed by Harmonix, the studio that makes the popular Rock Band music...

By Mike Musgrove | October 30, 2008; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Netflix Allows Mac Users to "Watch Instantly"

Whenever I write about Netflix -- and especially if I'm writing about the online movie rental company's "watch instantly" feature -- it seems I get a lot of e-mail from Mac fans who are annoyed with the company. Here's their complaint: While Windows users have been able to watch about...

By Mike Musgrove | October 27, 2008; 12:57 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

Washington's Role in Fallout 3 -- Radioactive

Todd Howard, executive producer at Rockville-based Bethesda Softworks, spoke to us last week about the video game studio's latest release, Fallout 3. For gamers, the new Fallout game -- which is a revival of a computer game franchise that was originally popular a decade ago -- is one of the...

By Washington Post editors | October 26, 2008; 06:00 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tokyo Woman Jailed for Avatar "Murder"

According to an Associated Press story, a Tokyo woman is in jail today for logging on to a virtual world and deleting her virtual husband's virtual identity. The woman, a 43-year-old piano teacher, was evidently upset that her online companion in a virtual world called "Maple Story" decided to abruptly...

By Mike Musgrove | October 23, 2008; 02:10 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Robo-goats and Nosy Toothbrushes: One Futurist's Predictions

Don't we all kind of expect by now that it's just a matter of time before computers become smarter than we are? One tech industry pundit is now throwing in his best guess for a year by which this will happen. Futurist Richard Watson makes a living by telling companies...

By Mike Musgrove | October 22, 2008; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Talkin' About the Digital Generation

This week, the Post's tech podcast featured a guest: John Palfrey, co-author of the just-published book Born Digital. Palfrey is a director of the Berkman Center for internet & Society and a professor at Harvard Law School. His new title looks at the young, Internet generation now coming of age,...

By Mike Musgrove | October 17, 2008; 05:10 PM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

YouTube Passes Yahoo in Search

Looks like there may be a new runner-up in the online search world. For years, Google has been the number one most widely-used search engine, followed by Yahoo and Microsoft -- but a new report from Reston-based market research firm ComScore shows the Google-owned video site YouTube as having edged...

By Mike Musgrove | October 17, 2008; 04:26 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (2)

Apple Shows Off New Laptops

Apple revamped its laptop line this morning, just in time to take advantage of what is usually the computer industry's busiest time of year. The company's least expensive laptop, the white plastic MacBook, now costs $999 -- down from $1,099, the company announced at an event thrown at its headquarters...

By Mike Musgrove | October 14, 2008; 02:30 PM ET | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)

Obama Reaches Out To Gamers

Drive through the virtual streets of Burnout Paradise this week and you might find, among the usual mix of deodorant and fast food billboards, a new one featuring an image of Barack Obama. The Democratic presidential nominee is looking to connect with young voters through campaign billboards planted in the...

By Mike Musgrove | October 14, 2008; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (49) | TrackBack (0)

Mixx Reaches The One-Year Mark

Today's the one-year anniversary of local Web start-up Mixx, a company trying to make a business out of delivering customized online news to its users. The idea behind the McLean-based Mixx, as I wrote in a piece about the local start-up this past summer, is that users can vote on...

By Mike Musgrove | October 9, 2008; 11:00 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Fallout 3 Hits Metro Center

Don't get too freaked out, commuters: It's just a video game. Local game studio Bethesda Softworks has blanketed the advertising space in downtown's Metro Center Metrorail station with some dark and kinda disturbing images of DC landmarks, such as a bombed-out-looking Capitol building and Washington Monument, lifted from its upcoming...

By Mike Musgrove | October 8, 2008; 01:48 PM ET | Comments (35) | TrackBack (0)

Google Wants You to Think Before You Drink and Send

Google's e-mail service Gmail just introduced an unusual new feature, called "Mail Goggles," designed to help keep people from sending emails that they'll later regret. That's right, the new email feature is an effort to help keep people from emailing after they've had a drink or two too many. Turn...

By Mike Musgrove | October 7, 2008; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (2)

Nintendo Rolls Out New DS

Nintendo rolled out an upgraded version of its bestselling mobile game device, the DS, at a press conference in Tokyo last night. The new device, called the DSi, comes with a digital camera built in and an SD memory slot that can be used to take advantage of the device's...

By Mike Musgrove | October 2, 2008; 10:12 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

'Android' Unveiled

Well, here it is: The first smartphone powered by Google's new, open source technology called Android. This morning, executives from T-Mobile USA, Google and mobile phone maker HTC showed off the upcoming device, called G1, at a press event in New York City. Featuring an iPhone-like touchscreen in addition to...

By Mike Musgrove | September 23, 2008; 11:04 AM ET | Comments (32) | TrackBack (0)

New Research: Nearly All Teens Play Video Games

Well, it's official, I guess: Nearly all teens play video games. No, seriously. A recent study, conducted Pew Internet & American Life Project, has found that 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls play video games on a regular basis. Half of the 1,102 kids, ages 12 to...

By Mike Musgrove | September 17, 2008; 04:05 PM ET | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

Apple: New Nanos & ITunes On The Way

Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the stage in San Francisco at an event thrown this morning to show off the company's latest hardware and software for music fans. The company has a new line of Nanos on the way, which Jobs touted as the thinnest ever. The new players will...

By Mike Musgrove | September 9, 2008; 01:45 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Spore: Carnivore Seeks Company

Anybody looking for a gray or green flesh-eating flying bipod to fill out their universe? I've been playing an advance copy of Spore this past week; it's the latest game from the creator of The Sims and hits retail shelves this Sunday. Where The Sims let people control a pretty...

By Mike Musgrove | September 5, 2008; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

IPhone: Data Outage Problem?

Update: AT&T just called me back to say this morning's problem has been fixed. It was a "routing issue where traffic was being routed incorrectly," a spokesman said. Any other iPhone owners out there having accessing data from AT&T's wireless network today? Apple's support page is lighting up with complaints...

By Mike Musgrove | September 3, 2008; 11:01 AM ET | Comments (16) | TrackBack (0)

Chrome: Google's New Browser Launches

Google introduced a Web browser today, a piece of software that the company has secretly had in the works for two years. "There have been a lot of advances in the browser space," said Sundar Pichai, Google's vice president of product management in a news conference earlier today as he...

By Mike Musgrove | September 2, 2008; 04:02 PM ET | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

EA To Give Gamers a Virtual Crack at Real-World Sports Stars

Game publisher Electronic Arts and Gillette announced today that they have teamed up, with Tiger Woods, to sponsor a videogame tournament that will let the winners play sport-themed videogames against real-world sports stars. That's right: If you're good enough at Tiger Woods (the EA-published videogame), you'll get a chance to...

By Mike Musgrove | August 28, 2008; 05:28 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Says It Has Contained Malware Threat

Facebook says that it has put the brakes on the spread of a malicious software attack that was trying to propagate itself via the popular social networking site. In an e-mail sent last night, Facebook's director of communications, Brandee Barker, wrote: "The safety and security of our users is a...

By Mike Musgrove | August 26, 2008; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Facebook Reports Malware Attack

Facebook is warning about a couple of scams directed at its users over the last few days. One nasty bit of malicious software attempts to lure users in with messages ranging from "You've been catched on hidden cam" to "Paris Hilton Tosses Dwarf On The Street." The messages contain a...

By Mike Musgrove | August 25, 2008; 04:48 PM ET | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

Madden 2009: The New Season Begins

The latest Madden goes on sale today. And, as always for the die-hards, a few stores opened their doors just past midnight last night to sell the first pile of copies of the massively popular football video game. At the Rockville GameStop, a dozen or so guys were hanging around...

By Mike Musgrove | August 12, 2008; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Verizon, District Reach Deal on FiOS

The District and Verizon Communications have reached an agreement to bring the company's FiOS high-speed Internet service to the city. Eric Richardson, director of D.C. Office of Cable Television, said the agreement requires approval by the mayor's office and the D.C. Council, a process he said could be completed by...

By Washington Post editors | August 7, 2008; 03:35 PM ET | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)

Guitar Hero Battle at Hard Rock Cafe

Local Guitar Hero fans showed up at the Hard Rock Cafe downtown Sunday night to battle for a chance to win a trip to Boston and a motorcycle designed by Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler. The contest, sponsored by Spin magazine and Hard Rock Cafe, was thrown to promote a new...

By Mike Musgrove | July 28, 2008; 03:31 PM ET | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

New iPhone: Pretty Much Sold Out Everywhere

Don't count on getting your hands on the new iPhone 3G today. News service Bloomberg is reporting that only three of 188 Apple Stores -- in California, New York and New Hampshire -- have phones available to sell today. One analyst has predicted that the shortage will last well into...

By Mike Musgrove | July 21, 2008; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (28) | TrackBack (0)

Guitar Hero Gets Jimi Hendrix

The Guitar Hero videogame franchise has landed another real-world guitar hero's music for inclusion in the next version of the bestselling game: Two Jimi Hendrix songs will be in this fall's "Guitar Hero World Tour." The upcoming title will let players fake-rock their hearts out to "Purple Haze" and "The...

By Mike Musgrove | July 18, 2008; 01:56 PM ET | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

TiVo Gets YouTube

TiVo has announced that users will soon be able to view YouTube content on their devices as a free new service. "We're continuing to bridge the gap between TV and the Web and YouTube is certainly a critical part of that plan," said Tara Maitra, vice president and general manager...

By Mike Musgrove | July 16, 2008; 04:11 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

E3: Nintendo and Sony Show What's Next

Many videogame fans are pining to be in LA this week, as the industry's major annual trade show, E3, kicks off at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The show, once known for huge crowds and loud parties, reinvented itself as a small, business-focused event last year, but one tradition remains...

By Mike Musgrove | July 15, 2008; 02:43 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Want an iPhone? Get in Line.

Anybody else having problems with their iPhones today? IPhone owner John Carnett, who I quoted in a story for today's paper, said that trying to update to the iPhone's new 2.0 firmware has left his iPhone useless and stuck in "emergency" mode. I'm stuck without a cell phone today after...

By Mike Musgrove | July 11, 2008; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

Sony Re-releases PS3 Updates

Last week, I posted an item about how Sony had to take a software update for the PlayStation 3 down after it caused problems for some users who downloaded it to their systems. The PlayStation blog now says they have fixed the problem and put the update back online. If...

By Mike Musgrove | July 8, 2008; 05:50 PM ET | Comments (33) | TrackBack (0)

Activision Blizzard: It's Official

This afternoon, game publisher Activision announced that its shareholders have voted to approve a merger with Vivendi Games. The proposed merger between the two video game giants was announced in December, but required the blessing of Activision shareholders. The game publisher said that 92 percent of shareholders approved the deal,...

By Mike Musgrove | July 8, 2008; 04:14 PM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (1)

Sony Pulls PS3 Update After Users Report Problems

PlayStation 3 owners had been looking forward to the features offered with a downloadable update for the game system's operating system due this week. But looks like some of the software bugs might not have been squashed before the update, called version 2.40, went online yesterday. Sony has taken the...

By Mike Musgrove | July 3, 2008; 09:34 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

DC Public Library Offers MP3 Downloads

The D.C. Public Library announced yesterday that it has a new online collection of audiobooks available for download in the MP3 format. It's a first for a public library system, according to a statement from the system's chief librarian. While public libraries have offered audiobooks online before, the standard move...

By Mike Musgrove | June 27, 2008; 12:25 PM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Sleeping Beauty in Blu: Disney Shows Off New Blu-ray Features

Disney is in town today showing off the bells and whistles the entertainment company is incorporating into its upcoming Blu-ray release of Sleeping Beauty. The new features show Disney taking a page from the popularity of just about every consumer electronics trend, from text chatting to YouTube. Owners of the...

By Mike Musgrove | June 16, 2008; 12:41 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Spore: New Game From The Creator Of The Sims On The way

Will Wright, the famous game designer behind The Sims, has a new game on the way and it's enormous. Also, it borrows a few ideas from the social networking world. Called Spore -- and scheduled for a September release -- players control the evolution of a species from its earliest...

By Mike Musgrove | June 6, 2008; 11:23 AM ET | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

Colossal Cave Adventure Lives Again at UMD

A text-based computer adventure game from the '70s, regarded by some to be the first work of interactive fiction -- or even the first virtual world, came to life again yesterday for an hour or so at the University of Maryland. "You are standing at the end of a road...

By Mike Musgrove | May 16, 2008; 01:35 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nintendo's "Mario Kart Wii" at Union Station Today

Some folks from Nintendo's public relations team are in town today showing off the company's new "Mario Kart" racing game for the Wii at Union Station. The video game company is the middle of a 12-city tour to drum up some buzz for its latest title, and is, at the...

By Mike Musgrove | May 8, 2008; 11:46 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

GTA IV: 6 Million Sold

Grand Theft Auto publisher Take-Two Interactive Software announced today that the latest version of the popular and controversial game has sold 6 million units globally in its first week on the market. Put it another way, that's $500 million in sales. The company says it sold 3.6 million copies of...

By Mike Musgrove | May 7, 2008; 03:40 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Eddie Izzard's IPhone

British comedian Eddie Izzard isn't famous for his consumer tech humor, as far as I know, but he worked many observations and riffs about technology into his act last night at DAR Constitution Hall. Izzard, known by some for his role on the TV program The Riches, and to others...

By Mike Musgrove | May 2, 2008; 11:23 AM ET | Comments (9) | TrackBack (0)

GTA IV Hits the Shelves

Predictably enough, the new Grand Theft Auto game is selling briskly. One local DC game store tells me they've already sold 200 or so copies of the title, which was released yesterday. They have a few left, but those are all reserved copies for customers who already put a few...

By Mike Musgrove | April 30, 2008; 11:40 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Bethesda Softworks Parent Goes Global

The Rockville-based ZeniMax Media Inc., parent company of game developer Bethesda Softworks, announced today that it is opening a publishing subsidiary based in Tokyo. Bethesda Softworks is a household name among gamers because of its bestselling and critically acclaimed title Oblivion, which was an epic sword-and-sorcery sorta thing. This fall,...

By Mike Musgrove | April 28, 2008; 01:56 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Grand Theft Auto IV Leaked?

Has Grand Theft Auto IV already been leaked to the Web? Looks like some Xbox 360 owners are already playing the thing -- thanks to the software tools that Microsoft put into its Xbox Live service, it's easy enough to check online and see that at least a few people...

By Mike Musgrove | April 25, 2008; 09:50 AM ET | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)

LOLcats: Now Hiring

Do u has the skillz? The humor Web site "I Can Has Cheezburger?" is now seeking applications for somebody to help sort through the 7,000 submissions it gets every day. The site is famous for posting users' pictures of cats snapped in cute or awkward poses. Each shot is accompanied...

By Mike Musgrove | April 24, 2008; 11:22 AM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Bus Accident Blamed on Driver's GPS Distraction

Well, it might have only been a matter of time before something like this happened, thanks to the soaring popularity of those handy GPS devices. A charter-bus drive in Washington state ran into a pedestrian bridge last week. Seems that the driver was paying attention to his GPS device --...

By Mike Musgrove | April 23, 2008; 02:45 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (7)

Rock Band and Guitar Hero Love the 80s...

This has turned out to be a good week, I guess, for fans of 80s-era metal bands who also like video games.... For the first time, according to an announcement just hitting my inbox from developer Harmonix and MTV Games, fans of the video game Rock Band will be able...

By Mike Musgrove | April 18, 2008; 05:27 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Digital Copy": New DVDs and Blu-ray Discs Bundled With iPod-friendly Files

Consumers are getting a little extra something with their movie purchases this spring, in a few cases. Pick up one of a few DVDs or Blu-ray discs and users will also get a digital file of the flick that they can easily throw onto their iPod or PDA. Take the...

By Mike Musgrove | April 18, 2008; 11:30 AM ET | Comments (1) | TrackBack (1)

New for Nintendo: Air traffic controllers & SAT prep

You know that trend we wrote about a couple of months ago about the proliferation of unusual game titles and "non games" like "Endless Ocean" onto the Nintendo Wii and DS? Still going on in full force, it seems. This week, two new unlikely-seeming titles for the mobile game device...

By Mike Musgrove | April 16, 2008; 05:31 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hail to the Chimp: Bungie Founder's New Game

Ever have a hankering for a fun party video game that you could play with your kids, but which also incorporated some witty-ish jabs about the political process? Yeah -- me neither. But that's about the best way to describe an upcoming called Hail to the Chimp, due out next...

By Mike Musgrove | April 10, 2008; 03:47 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Congress Goes Virtual in Online World Hearing

A Linden Lab worker put on her nicest black suit and her most formal pair of wings this morning, to help run a Congressional subcomittee hearing about online virtual worlds that was broadcast simultaneously in the company's own virtual world, Second Life. Okay, this might be a little confusing, but...

By Mike Musgrove | April 1, 2008; 02:09 PM ET | Comments (15) | TrackBack (0)

Lessig & Zittrain talk at Google Washington

It was a geek double-header at Google's Washington offices yesterday afternoon, where Professor Jonathan Zittrain of Oxford University and Professor Larry Lessig of Stanford Law School showed up to share some of their thoughts about the future of the Web. Zittrain's talk was based around his new book, "The Future...

By Mike Musgrove | March 21, 2008; 09:58 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Red Octane Comes to Washington

If you're going to get beat by anybody at Guitar Hero, it might as well be by one of the guys who invented the game. Red Octane founders Charles and Kai Huang were in Washington on Friday. If you've ever picked up a habit for one of the Guitar Hero...

By Mike Musgrove | March 19, 2008; 11:45 AM ET | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

MMOvie Goes Online

This past October, I wrote a column about a group of friends and filmakers trying to put together an original movie filmed entirely in the online virtual world of the game World of Warcraft. This week, the first installment of "MMOvie" is online. MMOvie is an ambitious work of "machinima,"...

By Mike Musgrove | March 18, 2008; 11:59 AM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

HD DVD: Anybody Have Early Adopter Pains?

The recent announcement that Warner Home Video is giving up on HD DVD and opting instead to support the Blu-ray format created a huge wave of speculation that this little format war -- over which video technology will replace the standard DVD -- may be winding to a close. But...

By Mike Musgrove | January 15, 2008; 05:06 PM ET | Comments (8) | TrackBack (20)

Writers Guild Hits CES; CES Hits Back

At the heart of the ongoing writers strike is the issue of whether writers should get a cut of of online and digitally distributed content. So, what better place to bring up the matter than at CES? "They tell us there's no money in online entertainment," reads a flier that...

By Mike Musgrove | January 8, 2008; 04:15 PM ET | Comments (4) | TrackBack (3)

Skype Shows Sony Users It's Got Game

Users of Sony's mobile gaming gadget got a surprise treat among the announcements at the show. The game device, which already featured wireless Internet connectivity features, will now be able to double as a phone. PSP owners who start an account with the popular voice-over-Internet service Skype will be able...

By | January 7, 2008; 06:02 PM ET | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

We Have a Wii Story Winner

Thanks to everybody who contributed a story about victoriously landing a Wii this holiday season! Hopefully, the tales you shared under a previous blog entry gave others some sound strategies for finding a Wii duing the last weekend before Christmas. (Or, alternately, I hope these tales inspired people to give...

By Mike Musgrove | December 24, 2007; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wii Watch: Dec 20

Hello out there. Just wanna say: I don't know how you can get your hands on a Wii, sorry. Best I can do is refer you to the booming number of sites loaded up with useful Wii stock-tracking widgets or helpful tips supplied from the trenches. Looks like people are...

By Mike Musgrove | December 20, 2007; 11:34 AM ET | Comments (55)

Halo 3 First Look

I invited some friends over to play some Halo 3 this weekend after Microsoft sent an early review copy of the game on Friday. The group review: Halo 3 is some pretty good stuff. If you liked the first two, you'll like this one. If feels almost exactly like playing...

By Mike Musgrove | September 24, 2007; 11:18 AM ET | Comments (13)

Halo 3: PR-a-palooza

Microsoft ain't holding back in the marketing for Halo 3, as I've already reported. My copy of the game came today. It was packed in a huge military-green duffle bag that had my name stamped on it. Packed inside: A set of personalized dog tags, a first aid kit and...

By Mike Musgrove | September 21, 2007; 05:20 PM ET | Comments (2)

Apple Offers Up The IPhone Rebate

Apple has posted a page at its site where all those early iPhone buyers can get that $100 rebate promised last week. In case you missed it, people who forked over $600 in order to have one of the first 8-gig iPhones got irate last week when Apple chief executive...

By Mike Musgrove | September 14, 2007; 12:49 PM ET | Comments (23)

IPhone Price Cut Annoys Some

Update: A letter penned by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and posted to the company's Web site is apologizing to early iPhone buyers and promises that a $100 Apple store credit is on the way. _ _ _ _ _ _ _ One of my colleagues was in an Apple...

By Mike Musgrove | September 6, 2007; 12:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

Apple announces an iPhone-like iPod

Owners of Apple's latest iPod will be able to purchase and download music from iTunes wirelessly, thanks to a new line of players the company introduced this afternoon. The latest high-end digital music players will also feature touch sensitive screens and look much like the company's recently-introduced line of iPhone...

By Sara Goo | September 5, 2007; 02:56 PM ET | Comments (0)

Apple's Announcement: The Countdown

Apple is set to make some sort of announcement today... about what, we dunno just yet. In its customary fashion, Apple hasn't said what to expect. Most of the guesswork going on at popular Mac news sites centers around updates to the iPod line, which seems a pretty safe bet...

By Mike Musgrove | September 5, 2007; 11:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Wii Sales Catch Up To The Xbox 360

According to a Web site that tracks this sort of thing, sales of the Nintendo Wii console have now edged past sales of the Microsoft Xbox 360. According to VG Chartz, Wii sales across the globe are at 10.57 million, compared to 10.51 million for the Xbox 360. The Nintendo...

By Mike Musgrove | August 24, 2007; 06:12 AM ET | Comments (6)

iPhone: The Scratch Test

I've made a serious effort to keep my iPhone in my pocket without change or keys over the last month or so -- but dang, if the screen doesn't have a few light scratches already. Early reviews of the iPhone emphasized how damage-resistant the screen is supposed to be. One...

By Mike Musgrove | August 23, 2007; 06:52 AM ET | Comments (15)

BioShock: Rave Reviews at Metacritic

The new Xbox 360 title BioShock looks to have grabbed the new high review score record over at aggregate site Metacritic.com, where the game is scoring a 97 out of 100 among critics. I mentioned last week that my launch-era Xbox 360 recently up and died on me just when...

By Mike Musgrove | August 22, 2007; 12:20 PM ET | Comments (12)

Skype Outage Continues Today

Internet phone service Skype has been down since yesterday for many users. The company is blaming a software glitch, though it isn't being very specific about the cause. The service claims some 220 million users, though I don't seem to know any. Have you been experiencing frustration or lost productivity...

By Mike Musgrove | August 17, 2007; 02:12 PM ET | Comments (27)

My Ex-Box 360

Well, for whatever it's worth, it finally happened to me: My Xbox 360 flashed the dreaded red ring of death last night, meaning I am now in possession of a deceased game console. Mike's XBox 360. I can't say that it was a surprise. Xbox 360 failure rates have been...

By Mike Musgrove | August 17, 2007; 10:31 AM ET | Comments (22)

AOL Revamps Game Site

AOL rolled out a reinvention of its game news site today. The new version of GameDaily offers more free downloads and high resolution video, according to the company, along with tighter integration with partner game blogs like Joystiq and Engadget. Following the rest of the Web, the new version of...

By Mike Musgrove | August 15, 2007; 12:55 PM ET | Comments (0)

New Xbox 360 Price: Thank Madden

Microsoft is cutting the price of the Xbox 360, starting tomorrow. The announcement comes on the eve of one of the big events of the video game industry's year: The new version of Madden comes out next week. The new prices on the Xbox 360 are: $280, $350 and $450....

By Mike Musgrove | August 7, 2007; 11:50 AM ET | Comments (4)

Xbox Exec Moves to EA

Surprising bit of executive-shuffling news from the video game world yesterday: Peter Moore of Microsoft is leaving that company to be the head of the sports division of game-publishing-giant Electronic Arts. For years Moore, as vice president of interactive entertainment at Microsoft, has been the face of Xbox to the...

By Mike Musgrove | July 18, 2007; 06:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Xbox for Families

The Xbox 360 is trying to break outside the realm of the hardcore gamers this year, with trivia games and Disney movies available for download. Jeff Bell, Microsoft's vice president of marketing, is hoping that the latest batch of family-friendly titles will promote "family date night" among Xbox-owning families. Microsoft's...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 13, 2007; 06:55 AM ET | Comments (2)

What Nintendo Wants

"A year ago, people were still advocating that we get out of the hardware business," says George Harrison, Nintendo of America's vice president of marketing. Nintendo's George Harrison. It's been a good year for Nintendo, as we've already noted in today's article, but Harrison admits there's one thing he'd like...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 12, 2007; 06:10 PM ET | Comments (1)

Testing Nintendo's New Controller

To show off its games for the E3 trade show this week, Microsoft has rented out an entire hotel, the Viceroy, and decorated this ritzy place with throw pillows emblazoned with an outline of the Xbox 360's controller. Mike Musgrove tries one of the new Wii controllers. This is the...

By | July 12, 2007; 03:36 PM ET | Comments (1)

Sega's Next Horror Game

Now that the Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft press conferences are over, it's finally time to get a look at some video games and talk to the game makers out at the E3 trade show. My first meeting of the show was with Sega vice president of marketing Scott Steinberg, because...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 12, 2007; 11:48 AM ET | Comments (0)

More on E3's Microsoft Opener

The new, scaled-down version of the E3 trade show began last night as Microsoft threw a press conference to promote upcoming games for the Xbox 360 and Windows. "This holiday will be unlike anything that's come before it," for video game fans, said Microsoft vice president Peter Moore. Peter Moore...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | July 11, 2007; 10:02 AM ET | Comments (1)

Microsoft Extends Xbox 360 Warranty

Microsoft announced today it will extend the warranty on Xbox 360 video game consoles to three years, and said too many have succumbed to hardware failure. Microsoft's corporate vice president of interactive entertainment, Peter Moore, has posted something of a mea culpa at the company's Xbox Web site. "Good service...

By Mike Musgrove | July 5, 2007; 06:01 PM ET | Comments (0)

Web Royalty Battle Continues on the Hill

Nate Query, the bass player for the Decemberists, is in town this week because he's worried about the future of Web radio. The Decemberists are a popular band these days -- and they got that way partly with support from Internet radio stations and online music review sites like Pitchfork...

By Mike Musgrove | June 19, 2007; 12:55 PM ET | Comments (1)

Robert Florio: Advocate for "Accessible" Video Games

In case you missed it, please check out this cool video that washingtonpost.com put together about a disabled gamer in Glen Burnie named Robert Florio. Florio was mentioned in a column I wrote on Sunday about soldiers recovering at Walter Reed who get together regularly to play video games. Florio...

By Mike Musgrove | May 29, 2007; 11:46 AM ET | Comments (0)

Tech Tip Of The Day: Don't Drop Stuff

This morning I wrote about a little phenomenon called "e-mail bankruptcy," in which beleaguered e-mailers send a note to everyone in their inbox saying they've given up on trying to tackle to their backlog of e-mail. The story runs at sort of a funny time for me, because just this...

By Mike Musgrove | May 25, 2007; 10:38 AM ET | Comments (0)

Halo 3 Beta Delay for Crackdown Owners

There are a lot of grumpy Xbox 360 owners out there. A downloadable, beta version of Microsoft's next entry in the Halo game franchise was supposed to be available yesterday to people who had purchased the game Crackdown earlier this year. So hotly anticipated is Halo 3 that more than...

By Mike Musgrove | May 17, 2007; 02:04 PM ET | Comments (1)

Video-Game Trade Group ESA Gets New President

The video game industry's main trade group announced a new president: Michael D. Gallagher, who has served as chief telecommunications and policy advisor to the Bush Administration. In a call with reporters, Gallagher didn't give up much detail on what topics he think will be the most important or the...

By Mike Musgrove | May 17, 2007; 11:10 AM ET | Comments (0)

Bethesda Softworks Hires Liam Neeson for Upcoming Game

Rockville-based game developer Bethesda Softorks announced this morning that it will use the voice of actor Liam Neeson in its upcoming game Fallout 3. Neeson will appear as the voice of the player's father in the game, a prominent character in the upcoming post-apocalyptic adventure title, the company says. The...

By Mike Musgrove | May 8, 2007; 10:29 AM ET | Comments (1)

Xbox, Lunchbox Redux

I wrote in this morning's paper about a few companies where video games are played in the break room. Here's one tidbit that didn't really belong in the article, but I feel inclined to confess here in the blog, for the prupose of full disclosure: The guys at Platinum Solutions...

By Mike Musgrove | May 7, 2007; 10:53 AM ET | Comments (1)

The HD-DVD Digg revolt

News aggregate site Digg had a bit of a meltdown yesterday over whether users could post a 16-digit code that can be used to crack the anti-copying technology on HD-DVDs. The group behind the HD-DVD format's digital rights management technology have been sending around "cease and desist" letters from its...

By Mike Musgrove | May 2, 2007; 11:41 AM ET | Comments (48)

Counter-Strike & Va. Tech

A story that appeared on washingtonpost.com yesterday mentioned that the Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung Hui was a fan of the terrorist-vs.-counterterrorist game Counter-Strike. Small world. Counter-Strike was co-designed by a Virginia Tech student, Jess Cliffe, who graduated in 2003. Cliffe now works as a designer for famous game developer...

By Mike Musgrove | April 18, 2007; 11:42 AM ET | Comments (38)

Va. Tech: Dr. Phil & Jack Thompson Blame Video Games

That was quick: Seems that video games are already being blamed for the shootings at Virginia Tech. Yesterday, anti-video game activist Jack Thompson was expressing this opinion before anybody knew who the shooter was. Thompson says that the killer likely trained or rehearsed his actions in games like "Grand Theft...

By Mike Musgrove | April 17, 2007; 12:35 PM ET | Comments (21)

Top-selling Software for the Week: The Tax Edition

Is it a surprise that tax software has been selling fast in the last several days? Probably not. Research firm NPD Group shows no less than four Tax-related software products in its latest weekly top-ten chart. The list: 1. TurboTax 2006 Deluxe w/State 2. Spy Sweeper 3. PC-Cillin AntiVirus 2007...

By Mike Musgrove | April 16, 2007; 05:39 PM ET | Comments (0)

Tolkien's Middle-Earth Goes Online

In the upcoming online subscription game based on the Lord of the Rings books, players who are rusty on Tolkien lore will be able to brain up on "Middle-earth" by using an in-game Wikipedia and find their way around using Google's handy map service. Turbine, the company that created the...

By Mike Musgrove | April 11, 2007; 12:34 PM ET | Comments (0)

The iPod: 100 Million Sold

Apple announced today that the iPod has just passed 100 million mark, in terms of units sold, in five-and-a-half years of its existence. That's equal to roughly half the number of cell phones in use in the U.S. It's also equal to the number of households in the U.S....

By Mike Musgrove | April 9, 2007; 05:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

Easter Eggs & Videogames

Good Friday is also, sometimes, a slow Friday. So let's talk about Easter eggs-- not the kind you hunt for on the White House lawn, but the kind you find in video games and, sometimes, on software & DVDs. Easter eggs are hidden little treats, jokes or messages planted in...

By Mike Musgrove | April 6, 2007; 03:58 PM ET | Comments (1)

Booted From World of Warcraft

Last night I got an automated e-mail from Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of World of Warcraft. My "WoW" account has been put on a 3-day suspension. As I wrote about for Sunday's paper (and talked about in this video), I recently paid a "power leveling" service a few bucks to...

By Sara Goo | April 3, 2007; 10:52 AM ET | Comments (18)

From the Makers of Guitar Hero: Rock Band

The folks behind Guitar Hero just shared, a few minutes ago, some details a new game they're working on called Rock Band, scheduled for release this holiday season. The best-selling Guitar Hero games have let players tap in to their rockstar fantasies while banging away on a plastic guitar controller...

By Mike Musgrove | April 2, 2007; 12:33 PM ET | Comments (24)

Bum Rush the Charts: More Numbers

I got an e-mail from Paul Durham, Black Lab's singer, over the weekend. As you'll recall, a song from the band was used as part of an unusual online campaign made by podcasters last week. Here's what he had to say: To me, one interesting thing is that five hours...

By Mike Musgrove | March 27, 2007; 10:30 AM ET | Comments (0)

An iTunes Feat

The band Black Lab got a spike in iTunes sales for its track "Mine Again" yesterday, thanks to the blogger/podcaster campaign we wrote about Thursday. The idea, briefly, was to get music fans to buy copies of "Mine Again" on Thursday and get the song on Apple's iTunes bestseller list....

By Mike Musgrove | March 23, 2007; 01:44 PM ET | Comments (1)

Stanford Helps Fight Alzheimer's with PS3

Scientists at Stanford University are hoping that video game fans will soon donate their PlayStation 3s to the good cause of finding a cure for diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. With the next software update for the game console, PS3 owners will be given an option to click an...

By Sara Goo | March 15, 2007; 05:37 PM ET | Comments (0)

Microsoft To Open Xbox Live to PC Users

Microsoft announced plans this morning to open up its "Xbox Live" service to PC owners who don't own the Xbox 360 game console. Like to play Halo 2 on the PC against your friends? Starting May 8, you'll also be able to connect with other PC game fans using the...

By Mike Musgrove | March 14, 2007; 12:18 PM ET | Comments (0)

God of War Returns to the PS2

God of War II is out today... For those of you who don't play video games, the original God of War was one of the best-reviewed and best-selling games for the PlayStation 2 a couple of years ago. It was about an angry Spartan warrior guy named Kratos in ancient...

By Mike Musgrove | March 13, 2007; 12:13 PM ET | Comments (0)

South Park: Now in High Def

Ok, I like "South Park," and I like downloading shows and movies on the ol' Xbox 360. But I gotta say I'm a little confused by a promotional e-mail I just got from Microsoft. A high definition version of the South Park episode "Good Times With Weapons" is now available...

By Mike Musgrove | March 9, 2007; 12:12 PM ET | Comments (8)

Sony Brings the PS3 "Home"

Sony gave a look at a funky virtual world they've got in development for PlayStation 3 owners today. Called "Home," it's an online world designed to work as a meeting place for PS3 owners, complete with customizable virtual apartments. The idea is that gamers will meet, hang out and socialize...

By Mike Musgrove | March 7, 2007; 03:52 PM ET | Comments (0)

Mobiletours: New Dial-a-Tour Service for DC Tourists

The Washington Monument is just a little over 555 feet high. Pierre L'Enfant originally envisioned building digs for the president that would have been four times the size of what we know as the White House. Launched Monday, there's a new service is designed to let tourists dial their cell...

By Mike Musgrove | March 6, 2007; 06:22 AM ET | Comments (2)

Microsoft offers (little) Xbox perks

Microsoft has just introduced a new scheme intended to keep Xbox 360 owners glued to their consoles -- keep playing long enough and the company will give you some little perks, in a promotion the company is launching with Old Spice. Announced here, the promotion takes advantage of the company's...

By Mike Musgrove | February 8, 2007; 11:14 AM ET | Comments (7)

Steve Jobs: Let's Get Rid of DRM

Apple Inc. chief executive Steve Jobs released a statement today calling for record companies to let online music stores sell digital music files online without anti-piracy controls. "This is clearly the best alternative for customers and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat," Jobs wrote in a letter titled "Thoughts...

By Mike Musgrove | February 6, 2007; 04:03 PM ET | Comments (18)

War games at Walter Reed

Locally-based soldier's aid organization Cause (stands for Comfort for America's Uniformed Services), kicked off the first of what it hopes will be a regular, monthly video-game tournament at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center last night. Cause plans to hold the event on the last Sunday of every month. Prizes...

By Mike Musgrove | January 29, 2007; 02:02 PM ET | Comments (0)

Guitar Hero 2, part two: The bootleg

I'm suffering from a rawk hangover today. While Frank was doing his text-message frenzy thing last night, I was at home fake-jamming 'til the wee hours on "Stairway to Heaven" and Metallica's "Master of Puppets" on a hacked version of Guitar Hero 2. The next version of the hit title...

By Mike Musgrove | January 25, 2007; 12:16 PM ET | Comments (12)

Apple Makes It Official

Steve Jobs made it official today, announcing the iPhone and Apple TV at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. Oh, and no longer will the company be known as Apple Computer. From here on out, just call them Apple. Click here to read the story on washingtonpost.com....

By Mike Musgrove | January 9, 2007; 02:28 PM ET | Comments (6)

Camping Out for the PS3

Washington-area lines for the PlayStation 3 have begun. In Rockville, about 100 people have already staked their places in line to take the Rockville Pike Circuit City store's inventory of the new game consoles. Bethesda residents Michael and Valerie Torres joined the line Tuesday afternoon, grabbing positions 78 and 79...

By | November 15, 2006; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (21)

PS3: The Lines Begin

Some die-hard video-game fans in Burbank, Calif. have already started lining up outside a Best Buy for the PlayStation 3--more than a week before the new console goes on sale. The device, which is expected to be in short supply this fall and winter, doesn't hit stores until next Friday,...

By Mike Musgrove | November 10, 2006; 02:17 PM ET | Comments (3)

A peek at this week's new games

It's been a pretty big week for video game releases. Microsoft released a game called Gears of War-- it's a big sci-fi action game for the Xbox 360 that the company is hoping will be another Halo-style hit. Sorry, I haven't gotten a look at the finished version of it,...

By Mike Musgrove | November 8, 2006; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (0)

Video Games Go Prime Time

Video games have been creeping into TV shows more than ever in the last few weeks, seems to me. Last night, Comedy Central's Freak Show, an animated series featuring the voice of David Cross, featured some Capitol Hill grandstanding against some gay content in a video game called Blood Crusade...

By Mike Musgrove | November 3, 2006; 09:52 AM ET | Comments (0)

Coming Zune: An iPod killer?

Microsoft's entry into the digital music player space is just about here and the tech team at the Post got a peek today. The Zune's selling point, as Microsoft pitches it, is that it lets users share their music with each other, by sending songs around wirelessly. If another Zune...

By Mike Musgrove | November 2, 2006; 01:42 PM ET | Comments (26)

Star Wars & Legos: The Force is Still Powerful

(Screenshot courtesy of LucasArts) I have a secret agenda: To get my girlfriend's five-year-old son interested in Star Wars, so that I don't have to just watch Pixar's summer blockbuster Cars 5 million times this winter after it comes out on DVD. Thanks to a new video game, this...

By Mike Musgrove | October 31, 2006; 05:30 AM ET | Comments (7)

Blogger Profile: Mike Musgrove

Mike Musgrove covers consumer technology for The Washington Post, where he has worked for more than a decade. He has written about gadgets, computer viruses and software companies, but the biggest part of his beat lately seems to be video games. He writes a column about the video game industry,...

By washingtonpost.com Editors | October 18, 2006; 12:47 PM ET | Comments (0)

 

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