George W. Bush has Joined Facebook

You’ll notice that almost every comment is favorable. Why? It could be that there’s been a turn-around since the new administration was introduced. Or it might be that in order to post a message to Bush’s wall, you first have to ‘Like’ him. What a happy coincidence for someone who is famous for saying, “You’re either with me or against me.”

Incredible Computer Graphics Art Made Using Crysis

Here’s a taste of an amazing fantasy scene made by Finn Meinert Matthiesen using CryEngine 2, the graphics engine behind Crysis (click the images for larger versions):

I want to clarify (to avoid misunderstandings) that this project is just a personal realtime fantasy environment art project for my application for employment. It’s NOT a mod project and i’m NOT planning to release a playable version of this virtual environment. There are rumors that this is a fantasy mod for crysis. This is NOT true. I repeat - it is just a personal art project, although the scene is a playable realtime environment.

Thank you very much,
Finn Meinert Matthiesen

Credit: Finn Meinert Matthiesen aka. MadMaximus83 (deviantART profile)

Google Announces Web Television: Google TV

Google just announced Google TV at Google I/O today. It’s basically a giant TiVo with Chrome built in:

Google TV is a new experience for television that combines the TV that you already know with the freedom and power of the Internet. With Google Chrome built in, you can access all of your favorite websites and easily move between television and the web. This opens up your TV from a few hundred channels to millions of channels of entertainment across TV and the web. Your television is also no longer confined to showing just video. With the entire Internet in your living room, your TV becomes more than a TV — it can be a photo slideshow viewer, a gaming console, a music player and much more.

It’ll be interesting if they can keep the streaming quality high. YouTube certainly doesn’t have the best track record in that department.

These devices will go on sale this fall, and will be available at Best Buy stores nationwide. You can sign up here to get updates on Google TV availability.

Steam on Linux is the Snowball Linux Needs

Whether or not you’re a gamer, if you’ve been following the “Year of Linux on the Desktop” prophecies over the years, you’ll undoubtedly have noticed that incompatibility with today’s popular games has been a significant obstacle to wide-spread adoption among the young, gaming crowd; the sons, nephews, brothers and sisters who are their families’ go-to IT guys. The people who are asked, ever so often, “What should I use?”, “What’s best?”, “What do you use?”. Their response to these questions might soon change; Valve is going to release Steam for Linux:

If Valve makes Steam on Linux a success, many of the people who are on other platforms today because they practically don’t have a choice will give Linux on the desktop a second thought, and might just recommend it to others if they stick with it. By now, there are plenty of other reasons to recommend Linux on the desktop as a serious alternative, after all.

But okay, let’s not kid ourselves. PC gaming is a much smaller market than console gaming, and adoption among gamers surely wouldn’t cause the Year of the Linux Desktop by itself. The side effects, however, will be interesting to observe. If Valve ports all of their games, including the Source engine, to both Mac and Linux, there could very well be a shift in the industry, away from the DirectX monopoly, that will benefit both Mac and Linux and widen public interest in the development of OpenGL. Not a significant shift on an Xbox scale, perhaps, but enough to shine a spotlight on Linux. That spotlight could be what Linux needs to gain momentum with the gaming generation, and, as a side effect, in general. A snowball, if you will.

Word of mouth is the most powerful kind of marketing, after all.

Ubuntu's New Look is Just Right

It sounds a little shallow, but one of the largest obstacles in my personal desktop Linux adoption in the past has been the lack of overall polish across applications in most major distributions. It doesn’t get to you right away, but eventually, you grow tired of aesthetic artifacts like huge fonts in some applications (Thunderbird and emacs-gtk were complete messes), font colors that are nearly indistinguishable from the background, non-transparent tray icons, and, of course, unappealing default themes (Ubuntu’s old brown, for instance).

I’m happy to see that Canonical have done a near-perfect job of solving this problem in their latest installment of Ubuntu Linux, Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. It has a few problems (namely, I think the relocation of the Minimize/Maximize/Close buttons was unnecessary), but I’ll be damned if it’s not the most polished and aesthetically pleasing Linux release I’ve used to this day.

I’ve always liked dark colors, but when the majority of the screen real estate is occupied by the browser — which is almost invariably displaying something contrast white — it quickly gets tiring, so I’ll admit that my first thought when seeing the new default theme was, “Bah, not dark!”. To my surprise, Ubuntu 10.04 hits a perfect balance that is classy and easy on the eyes; the kind of look that competes with OS X’s Aqua and Windows’ Aero. Pair this with X.Org’s superior font rendering and it’s clear that Linux isn’t the laughing stock of the aesthetics department any longer.

Best of all? This look is unique. Canonical isn’t copying anyone.

X.Org font rendering: