September 26, 2006

Nintendo looks ready to rumble

All signs point to "GO" for Nintendo's launch of the Wii on November 19. While Sony is cutting their forecast of available PS3's at launch, Nintendo is saying there should actually be more than they initially thought, to the tune of 1 million units for North America alone. Looks like Nintendo is getting their act together; now if only they get that software library bulked up with games that appeal to adults, we'll be all set. Early indicators have said that this is definitely happening. They've learned their mistakes from the Gamecube and are making sure it won't happen again.

Two ways to take your computer with you - BIG and small

It's funny how different designers come up with different solutions to problems. The situation at hand: how to carry your entire computer data with you in a portable device. The first approach uses a device that can be at best described as big. Gargantuan, by all other standards. I mean, who really would want to carry around that thing on their wrist? "Calling Dick Tracy...come in Tracy...I'm getting carpal tunnel and falling over just from using this darned thing...help...".

The other approach takes your standard iPod or keychain flash drive and enables it to house and run your entire OS, personal files, settings and all. Not a bad design, since most people already carry these devices with them anyway. My only gripe: I carry a keychain drive with me today, and have applications installed on it. Therefore, from any host computer, I can start my own email reader, web page editor, and other things, all with my own settings and preferences. Therefore, I'm not sure I see a real need for this guy's solution, since it's possible to already do this yourself.

September 25, 2006

It's Autumn

Before I forget, and I HAVE been thinking about it -- it's officially Autumn, or Fall as it's otherwise called. The dreaded event happened yesterday, on September 24, taking my beloved summer season with it. No more cookouts, no more summer days. Bah.

I'm resisting the urge to put up a countdown timer to next summer (or spring at the very least). But, in the absence of that, at least know that I am not going quietly into this whole thing, but rather kicking and screaming.

With that out of the way, we can all get on with things. Enough said.

Mucus robots and flying Virgin Atlantic

OK, two things you don't want flying around: Mucus robots and laptops on Virgin Atlantic airplanes. Should I continue, or give you a moment to contemplate? OK, let's begin. A researcher in the Netherlands is devising mucus-riding robots to make the diagnosis of internal conditions that much easier. While not yet ready, these robots could be in action by the end of the year, riding your mucus and reporting back on what it finds via it's on-board camera. Here's a sample, future, report from my system: "[static] There's nothing but caffeine here, sir!".

Also, in the category of things NOT being where they belong comes word that Virgin Atlantic airplanes are now not allowing laptops on board if the battery is identified as being from the affected batch as identified by Apple and Dell. Whoa. Mucus-riding robots good; Apple and Dell laptop batteries BAD.

September 19, 2006

Scary Vista and Triumphant Wii

Learn why some security firms think Microsoft's upcoming operating system, Vista, is scary and has some real security ramifications, and why some analysts think the Nintendo Wii will become the most successful video game console of all time. Wow...talk about the hype machine going into overtime. But I love the Wii. I can't wait to see how well it does in the marketpace. Come on November...

Sandisk and Real take on iPod

Sandisk and RealNetworks are teaming up to challenge the iPod (who isn't?). Sandisk's new devices are going to be pre-loaded with music from Real's Rhapsody service. You can replace the songs if you want, and subscribers to the service get all sorts of perks. One thing Sandisk and Real are hoping to do with this is provide the hardware-software solution similar to the iPod and iTunes combo. Also, this provides one thing the iPod can't: the ability to move your media library easily and seamlessly from one device to another. Just pop out your SD card (Sandisk, of course!) and put it in another device. Voila! Try doing that with an iPod and it's proprietary digital rights management.

You can be Jack Bauer

Yes, you can. Admit it. You've always thought about it -- going after the bad guys, guns blazing, fearing no authority. Heck, you are the authority! Well hotshot, now you get to put your money where your mouth is and be the real thing. The CIA wants you, and they're recruiting the next generation of Jack Bauers out there. This is an interesting recruitment technique, but the CIA should be careful what it wishes for.

Pirate day and annoying co-workers

So today is national "talk like a pirate day". Do we really need a whole day devoted to talking like Jack Sparrow? I like all the "savvy" and "salty dog...arrrgh!" lines as much as anyone, I'm just not sure we need a whole day devoted to it. Let's spread it out in small amounts instead. Throw something in an email...to your boss...and copy HR...and the CEO. See how that goes and get back to me, ye salty dog.

In case you're still employed after that, here's a way to send a message to your coworkers whom you find annoying. The site says it's anonymous (famous last words) so why not?. Hey, why not combine the two? Send them an email in pirate speak. I dare you.

September 18, 2006

Weird Photos

This dude's eyeballs make him look like he's just had an anvil dropped on his head or something from one of those old cartoons. If they ever do another Who Framed Roger Rabbit, they should definitely cast him -- no CGI needed.

And, check out this snake, who just got done eating a ewe. OK, all together now: "eeeewwwwe....".

September 13, 2006

Showtime for Apple, Sony tries a fall rally

Under the headline of "It's Showtime", Apple finally had their event yesterday, which amounted to -- what else -- product announcements. This time around, Steve Jobs, decked out in a more appropriate button-down shirt to go with his trademark blue jeans, showed the world that iTunes now offers full-length movie downloads as well as TV shows and music. This pretty much completes the picture of digital entertainment in my book. Jobs also proved that the iPod Shuffle isn't dead, just being reborn -- but smaller. Much smaller. Think the original was minimalistic? Check out the new one. It makes the Nano look gigantic, but then again, that's been updated too, and is now available in metallic skins and different colors, reminiscent of the old iPod mini.
As if all that wasn't enough, also making it's debut is iTV, which marks the missing link from the computer room to the living room. Essentially, it's hardware that connects iTunes on your computer, with your music, TV shows, and now movies, to your television. And it does it wirelessly. Neat.

While all this is great and offers people lots of fun toys to put on their Christmas list, you can understand that Sony might get a little nervous and want some of the love. "Hey! We make electronics too!" They're pinning their hopes on some of their latest wares, but in reality, they're not as sexy as anything Apple showed. That Playstation 3 can either be Sony's salvation -- or a big nail in the coffin. No pressure, big boy. You just take your time.

September 11, 2006

Plethora of new cameras

There's literally tons of new cameras coming out soon. Makers such as Sony, Nikon, Olympus, Kodak and Casio have all recently introduced new models to their lineups. It looks like it might be a snap snap snappy Christmas, after all. Now you can take great pictures of how disappointed you are with that new Playstation 3; or how disappointed you are that it didn't make it under your tree - but I digress. New cameras are good. Playstation 3? We'll see.

September 10, 2006

Free games

Open source games and plenty of 'em.

Area 51 activity increase

Popular Science is reporing an uptick in the activity at Area 51 in the Nevada desert. You remember Area 51, right? The myth of aliens being taken there, reverse-engineering their technology, and even a tie-in with the Roswell, New Mexico alien landing of 1947? Yes, that's the place. The story states there's a surge of activity out there, and even offers artists renderings of what kinds of new planes might be undergoing testing.

September 08, 2006

Sandisks's MP3 troubles

Apparently, the name and usage of the MP3 technology is a big deal. Just ask Sandisk, who was initially barred from showing it's latest players at a trade show in Germany due to a licensing snafu. Sandisk fought back and was granted permission, yet I'm sure the sting of the German authorities still rings in it's ears: "No MP3 for you!" Still, their defense is awefully hokey. They market their device as an MP3 player, yet they stated to the authorities that it is "completely different from certain audio data transmission and reception techniques that has been patented for Philips and others many years ago". Ummm, yeah. You might want to remove that big wording of "MP3" on the packaging then.

FreeDOS 1.0 released

Afer years of work, FreeDOS 1.0 has been released, to the happiness of Windows-hating fans everywhere. Now we're gonna party like it's 1989.

Palm's in trouble (again)

It seems like everyone's writing the death-knell for my buddy, Palm. When you're the originator of a certain space in the world (handhelds) people just love to take shots at you. Although their stock has been in the dumpster for years now, their products have gotten better and better. Some Treo watchers are noting that there haven't been any redesigns since it's introduction 3 years ago, and that this design is starting to look ancient compared to the newer Motoroal Q and Nokia E-series devices out there. Well, hang in there Palm...you're still the best, but if you could manage it, how about some new handhelds this fall? Please?

Am I dreaming? It's Real?

A flying car? Oh yeah! I've written about this a few times, and it's been an elusive dream. Not that I can afford the $148,000 purchase price, but just for kicks I could afford the $7400 down payment. Hey, every dream's gotta start somewhere right?

Wii chips ready!

IBM in Burlington, Vermont has shipped the processor chips for Nintendo's next gaming console, the Wii (damn, I hate that name --- I still call it the Revolution, it's much cooler code name). This can only mean that Nintendo appears on track to deliver the system for the holiday season. With a price hundreds less than it's competitors, and free online play (read: no Xbox Live fee structure to deal with...that's $60 in your pocket right there, every year) this system looks poised to be the most successful of all the new consoles. But only if Nintendo can beef up their game library and market it not only to the kids of the gaming world, but the adults as well. These are the lessons of the ill-fated, yet incredibly powerful Gamecube. It appears as if Nintendo's learned them well, but we'll see. In the meantime, chips for everyone!

September 05, 2006

Complete chart of the seasons until the year 2014

While looking at some of my past summer rants I started checking links and came across some interesting information. First off, there's a page mentioning how some meterologists count the entire months of September, October and November as Autumn. Bah..I'm sticking to my summer shade methodology.

A better page I found was a complete listing of all the equinox and solstice dates and times until the year 2014. Never be late again for that spring equinox or summer solstice party.

Summer Sun -vs- Summer Shade

I'm still in kind of a funk after the whole end of summer Labor Day thing. I had meant to do a write-up yesterday as part of the whole "It's Labor Day" theme, but time got away from me. I was busy enjoying that last day of unofficial summer, as I'm hoping you all were.

This morning I had a thought about all this "unofficial end of summer" versus the real summer schedule, as dictated by the actual seasons and the position of the earth to the sun. Here's my thoughts as to how to separate and identify the two:


  • The "unofficial" summer schedule starts on Memorial Day weekend, at the end of May. This year Memorial Day was May 29, and of course that weekend (May 26-29) was the Memorial Day Holiday weekend, the start of the summer season. The unofficial season ended yesterday, which was Labor Day.
  • The "official" summer season, according to the seasonal equinoxes and every printed calendar on Earth, started on June 21 with the summer solstice and ends this year on September 23 with the Autumnal equinox, a name so cool it almost makes me enjoy it.


So, what we can see by this is that the two schedules overlap a lot, but the the unofficial schedule starts earlier (end of May) and also ends earlier, at Labor Day. I propose that this period should be referred to as the "summer sun", to indicate it's the prime summertime season. Enjoy it, bask in it, bathe in it...love it.

The period directly after Labor Day, which we're in right now, is still officially summer, yet people tend not to think of it that way. To them, things are changing already and they tend to think of it already as Autumn. My thoughts are that we should celebrate this as still being summer, and refer to this period as the "summer shade", indicating it's still summer but it's the last waning instances.

So for now, we're still in "summer shade" (or summer's shade, if you prefer) which still qualifies as summer. We've got 17 days left until the autumnal equinox... enjoy them!

September 01, 2006

Disney Fingerprints, You're Fired, and...the Bee Gees?

Walt Disney's catching some heat lately for it's policy of taking and storing it's visitor's fingerprints at it's theme parks. Disney's trying to play semantics on the whole thing, saying what they have represents the "mathematical representation of the prints, not the prints themselves". Ummm...OK...but why do you need that at all? Tickets to your theme park are like, what, $100 a day? And then you're going to catalogue all of us and keep our records in your Mickey Mouse vault? I think not. Cease and desist now. Now I say.

Carolyn Kepcher, Donald Trump's former right-hand lady and co-star of the hit (read: washed up) TV show The Apprentice heard some familiar words the other day: You're Fired. Familiar in that she's heard them every freaking week on that TV show, but never heard issued to her. Now that's changed, and the Donald has asked Kepcher to leave, saying she's become a prima donna and too much of a celebrity. Hmmm..no one's safe anymore.

Speaking of unsafe, I thought the 70's and Disco were soooooo over. At least, that was a conceit that helped me sleep at night. But, say it ain't so because the record label responsible for bringing all of that crap to us in the first place is re-releasing the Bee Gees entire catalog, and they're starting by reissuing the first 3 albums. Polyester pants...activate!

Car stuff

Looks like Chevy finally realized, "Hey, people actually want that Camaro prototype to be built". Yeah, that's what it means when your concept design is chosen as the winner at the North American Auto Show. Great market research; now just build the thing.

Subaru's new grille design, which was to become a standard on all their cars as a branding item, hasn't quite worked out the way it wanted. Somebody lost their job over it, and now it's history.

Finally, if you're a woman and feel you've been treated unfairly or taken for a financial ride when you've gotten your car serviced, there's hope. A new website aims to inform women drivers about chick-friendly car dealers. OK, they didn't actually call them that, I did. But if it catches on, you heard it here first.

Free stuff and lots of it

Since this is now September first (read: the END OF SUMMER AS WE KNOW IT -- yeah, I'm still bitter in case you didn't read yesterday's post) and people are either off today or just about to walk out the door to enjoy a nice 3-day weekend, I thought I'd offer off some free downloads since a boatload were just tossed my way. You think I'm joking? Check out the 46 Best Ever Freeware Utilities and I want a freeware utility to... One takes the Best-Of each category list approach, the other takes the approach that you're on a mission to find a specific piece of software for a specific job and then shows you the best free software to get it done.
Beware though: each site has lots of listings and you'll find yourself poring over categories you didn't even know you needed help with. So, be sure to give yourself plenty of time. But hey, it's labor day weekend, right? You've got time.