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One of the big smartphone trends this year is the “selfie” phone. HTC, Lumia, Sony, Huawei and many others all have at least one marketed that way.

I suspect that my initial reaction is like many of yours: scoffing dismissal. I’m now a convert however, and completely understand why this market might actually be large.

Sure, apps like Snapchat and Bolt encourage quick shots as ways of communicating, so the front facing camera is more valuable.

But it’s more than that, and it all comes down to this one tool: the selfie stick.

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I am a little confused by all the hubbub the The Interview movie has generated.

Did the North Korean government really do it? I have no doubt there’s a hacker unit in their intelligence agency — there’s probably one in every agency — but why would you target a movie or a Japanese entertainment studio of all things? I understand The Interview is offensive to North Koreans, but the movie isn’t even out yet so how would they even know just how bad it is.

If I was the head of that agency I’d target something more important. Something that would actually matter to national security and strategy. I wouldn’t expose my country to something as mundane as a movie, and a comedy at that.

I’m also a little confused with Sony. They pulled the movie because theaters didn’t want to show it? Everyone’s talking about this movie; it’s a goldmine with all the publicity it has generated. If I ran a movie theater I’d be falling all over myself to show it.

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Xbox’s Japan chief resigned recently due to lackluster sales of the Xbox One in Japan. Only 39,000 units were sold to date; 24,000 of which at launch. That’s horrible.

When it comes to console games in Japan, Microsoft needs to realize it is David not Goliath. Microsoft can’t fight Sony head-to-head, sword-to-sword in Japan. It needs to go guerilla warfare and use a slingshot.

Here’s what I would do if I was chief of Xbox Japan:

Scale back operations. Forget the huge office, the army of people, the national distribution networks. Xbox Japan should think like a start-up and go lean. This will allow them to shift resources to initiatives that actually work, instead of pouring money into hopeless battles.

Embrace the outsider identity. Position Xbox as anti-establishment. Make fun of regular Japanese people who only play regular Japanese games. Paint the Playstation 4 as conformist — you probably wear a suit and bow a lot if you have the Playstation 4. The Xbox One, on the other hand, is about being free. About giving the middle finger to the rigidity of society; basically, American values. 🙂

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What? Say it ain’t so. My copy of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is in the mail for my Playstation 4 and I’m excited. I’m getting bored of Destiny (my review here) so it’s time to play a new game.

Unfortunately, according to Digital Foundry, CoD for the Playstation 4 has minor frame rate issues in the single player campaign, even though it’s always 1080P. The Xbox One version on the other hand runs a more consistent 60 frames per second but its resolution is variable.

Don’t tell me that my eyes can’t discern past 24 frames per second. It surely can.

As a one time “serious” fighting game player, I can vouch that a rock solid frame rate is the most important thing to a great game experience.

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Have you heard about Destiny? It’s a videogame created by Bungie, the studio that developed Halo, which is in itself notable, but the real headliner is Activision’s claim that it’s backing Destiny with a $500 million budget. That’s half a billion dollars for an original intellectual property. Wow!

It’s not like the money is all spent; my understanding is that budget includes marketing, future add-on content (for example, a $20 DLC has already been announced for December) and maintenance. Nevertheless, it’s an insane number for a game that may or may not last. Has any brand new property been burdened with so much hype?

Unfortunately, Destiny launched to tepid reviews — it has an aggregate score of 76 on Metacritic. Which is good but not great, especially considering the gargantuan budget. Compare that with two other original IP shooters that debuted this current console generation: 86 for Titanfall and 82 for Sunset Overdrive.

I got Destiny anyway and to my surprise actually kind of like it.

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Microsoft made two important announcements recently. The first is about Office 365 being a game changer, which I covered yesterday. Today I’m talking about the $50 price drop for the Xbox One. Starting from November 2 to January 2, you can get any Xbox One SKU for $50 off, which makes the entry level version $350. That’s cheaper than the Playstation 4 at $400.

Microsoft is marketing this as a temporary promotion for the holidays, but that’s just marketing. I have a hard time believing the Xbox One will go back up to $400.

The price drop is long overdue. The Playstation 4 is outselling the Xbox One by a significant margin — Ars Technica estimated by at least 40% — and the entire gap can be traced to one crucial decision. That’s how thin the line is between success and failure is in the console market. You can have a fantastic brand, recruit third party support, obtain exclusives, introduce innovations, ensure wide distribution, spend a lot of money on marketing…and still fail because of one bad decision.

Can you guess which? It wasn’t bundling the Kinect, though that was quite bad because of the $100 price premium. It wasn’t the DRM policies or the always online requirement. No, Microsoft was able to reverse out of those decisions early enough.

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I haven’t played my Playstation 4 much since finishing the excellent Tomb Raider Definitive Edition.  So I was excited to blow off the dust and purchase The Last Of Us Remastered, which I had started for a few hours on my Playstation 3 and is supposedly much better on the Playstation 4.  The lure of 60 frames per second is enough to get my money again.  I saw that Playstation Plus members get a 10% discount in addition to in-game benefits — perfect.

To my surprise, the same credit card I used to purchase my Playstation Plus subscription a few months ago failed to work.  “The credit card information is not valid. Please check your entries carefully.”  Huh?  I double checked just in case I was suffering from memory loss.  Nope, perfectly valid.  Tried my other credit card, same message.

Googling revealed this problem existed since 2007, all the way to July 2014!  Holy smokes, how has Sony not fixed this yet?  Over the next hour plus, I tried all the tips suggested:

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