Cybernaut 

Human Wii-kness

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The Nintendo Wii was easily the most popular gaming system of the holiday shopping season, with stores struggling to keep up supply to meet the demand. Worldwide, Nintendo expects to sell about six million units by March, bringing it more or less even to the Xbox 360 and leaving the troubled PS3 in the dust.

Credit Nintendo for surviving the meagre GameCube years to launch a console that appears to have succeeded in putting the fun back in gaming. The main attraction of the system, which has a fraction of the computing or graphics power of other next generation system, is the creation of a motion-sensitive controller, or Wii-mote, that allows users to control the action on screen by waving it around. I took a few swings of a tennis club at an EB Games in Vancouver a few weeks ago, and it is as fun as it sounds.

Unfortunately Nintendo failed to keep in mind a few key laws of nature when designing the Wii.

First, there is the familiar Murphy’s Law that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. Second, there is the Newton Law of Motion that basically says that objects in motion tend to stay in motion until they’re acted upon by other forces. Add a few laws of physics, some general rules about the physical limitations of materials and design, and some common sense to the big picture and you can easily see what went wrong.

Basically people are swinging their Wii-motes so enthusiastically that they’re hitting each other and various objects of value around their households. The Wii-motes are slipping out of their hands, wrist straps snapping, and leaving wide cracks in some expensive television screens.

Some people are even reporting an ailment known as Wii-mote Elbow, and are icing their joints for overuse.

None of this has dulled interest in the Wii by the slightest, and to Nintendo’s credit they did include a few warnings in their packaging such as not to let go of the Wii-mote and to make sure there is ample space between you and other players. But in this plug-and-play world when is the last time you sat down and read the instructions for anything?

Since all of these stories have come to light Nintendo has started a recall of 3.2 million Wii-mote straps, basically doubling the thickness of the nylon. They have also beefed up the warnings, and there are plans to put additional warnings on games to remind people that the Wii can be a dangerous toy.

Still, it wasn’t enough to stop a class action suit from Wii owners, still waiting approval, who want refunds for their damaged Wii’s, Wii-motes and televisions. We can only assume broken glasses and chipped teeth will also be covered.

 

Year’s best, year’s worst, blah, blah, blah

Although most “Best of/Worst of” year-end lists qualify as filler for our tech journalists — nobody wants to work, and if they did there’s nobody on the other side of the phone to work with — it’s still fun to look back at the year that was and see what we have to look forward to this year.

There are lists for games, personal portable technology, home computers, software, peripherals, phones, printers, you name it. Look hard enough and you can probably find an article somewhere extolling last year’s selection of blue USB 2.0 cables.

Rather than rehash the list I’ve put together a short list of websites to browse to get the lists on your own. How’s that for filler!

Wired — www.wired.com

PC World — www.pcworld.com

Ars Technica — www.arstechnica.com

MacWorld – www.macworld.com

C/Net — www.cnet.com

Engadget — www.engadget.com

ZD/Net — www.zdnet.com

Globe and Mail Technology —  www.globetechnology.com

Gizmodo — www.gizmodo.com

Gamespot — www.gamespot.com

IGN — www.ign.com

Joystiq — www.joystiq.com

Boing Boing —  www.boingboing.com

Slashdot — www.slashdot.org

TechDirt – www.techdirt.com

Google Tech News — http://news.google.ca

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