Links of the Day, 2/23/2009

First of all, we'd like to point out that geekdom invaded the Academy Awards last night in a way it hasn't since the heyday of Lord of the Rings – La Maison des Petit Cubes became the first anime to win an Oscar since Spirited Away when it took the animated short prize, Steve Jobs' company Pixar took the animated feature Oscar with WALL-E, and the late Heath Ledger was named Best Supporting Actor  for playing The Joker in The Dark Knight. Couple that with the media blitz over Watchmen, and it seems that the geek audience is being taken very, very seriously by the mainstream film industry.

Video Games

Atlus Online will make its American debut with steampunk free-to-play MMO Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent, from a Korean developer. If more international online games come over here, that will definitely open up new job markets for localization teams, so this is a Good Thing.

Sony is closing its European PSP instant messaging service. More bad news for a platform that has struggled outside its native Japan.

More problems for Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures developer Funcom, which lost a ton of money due  to the games's underperformance – but the company says it still plans to invest heavily in the game, launching Age of Conan in Russia and Poland. This looks like a case of "what not to do when your game is failing" in the making, and as such, is worth keeping an eye on.


In the Steve Jobs health watch, the Apple CEO is skipping the company's annual meeting for the first time during his tenure. We still think the company will continue to thrive with or without Jobs – based on the momentum of the iPhone and iTunes alone – so don't cross them off your resume list.    

In the insult to injury department, Microsoft announced it gave some of its laid off workers too-generous severance packages and is asking for its money back. And this is a lesson in "how not to gracefully let people go."

Netflix will offer streaming-only service plans, most definitely a smart move in the age of broadband video and a way to keep the company from becoming a dinosaur.

Women's publishing and advertising company is looking to make money off Twitter through micro-blogging widgets, such as one launched last night for the Oscars. This allows users to provide a steady stream of commentary on a sponsored site. We have a feeling this is just the first micro-blogging cash-in of its type we're going to see: Yammer, a Twitter-like service for businesses, is looking to broaden itself with a suite of new features. 


Simon and Shuster reports sales decline: Definitely not a surprise given the catastrophic effect of the economy on book sales in general.

More newspaper bad news, this time from Pennsylvania: The parent company of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Phildelphia Daily News has filed for bankruptcy protection, as has Yardley, PA-based publisher The Journal-Register Co.  

Job Market

When the Search for a Job Becomes a Full-Time Quest: The Kansas City Star shadows one unemployed job-seeker. A portrait of what far too many people are going through right now.