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The Techday Weekender - Oct 15th 2011

15 Oct 11

It’s been over a week since the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs, yet his passing continues to colour technology news from around the world.

For its part, Apple forged on with the release of iOS 5 and iCloud, and, as your correspondent types, the iPhone 4S. There were some early teething problems with the first two, as the Apple users who managed to download the updates rushed to upload their photos and music, jamming Apple’s networks and causing problems for those still waiting for the new software. The backlog seemed to clear by the time the iPhone 4S was released two days later, although frustration remains for New Zealand Apple fans who still don’t know when the device will reach our shores.

As for Jobs himself, the release of his death certificate on Tuesday revealed his death was indeed caused by respiratory arrest relating to a pancreatic tumour, confirming that it was the cancer first diagnosed in 2004 that finally ended his life. The certificate also showed he died at around 3pm, meaning it was less than two hours before the news broke around the world.

Jobs even managed one final parting shot at his competitors, with Google delaying the launch of its new Android operating system, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich,  out of deference to the iconic leader (or perhaps for fear of being swamped by his continued eulogising in the press). Even with the new date confirmed, Google has showed it thinks Jobs could dominate the US media for some time, choosing to hold the event in Hong Kong rather than California.

From two tech success stories to one that just can’t seem to get it right, Blackberry users around the world had to endure outages this week, as device manufacturer Research In Motion struggled to plug holes in its network. Beginning in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the outages later spread to South America, and finally the big kahuna, the United States. RIM says the initial faults were caused by a core switch failure, and the continued outages are the result of a snowball effect as the company has attempted to clear backlogs.

At home, as the Rugby World Cup draws to a close, industry group NZICT has drawn the last drop out of the event’s promotional opportunities, hosting a goalkicking competition pitching former All Black Andrew Mehrtens against three robots built at Universities around New Zealand. The purpose of the contest was to promote the Robotics World Cup, which in turn was driving unsuspecting youths towards the Technology Jobs Fair, where representatives from organisations such as NatColl and the New Zealand Game Developers’ Association were in full recruitment mode.

On the subject of game development, Techday was lucky enough this week to have a chance to interview John McLaughlin, a producer for Sony’s XDev studio, about what gamers can expect from the company’s upcoming handheld, the PlayStation Vita. McLaughlin has most recently been involved in the development of Reality Fighter, a beat-em-up that uses augmented reality to enable users to create characters using photos of themselves, and engage in combat on the terrain directly in front of them.

Growing up in the eighties, I would never have thought a career in gaming was an option, but with the internet enabling New Zealand to compete on an even footing with the rest of the world, there is every sign it could be our next best thing.

Have a great weekend!