December 21, 2007

USB Fun Gifts

It's not too late to pick up a good gift for someone. Do they have a computer? Then get them a cool USB toy. I'd pick the missile launcher, but the aquarium is cool too. And the Christmas tree? Classic.

Japanese Officials Use the Godzilla Threat

It's true, Japanese officials have threatened containing Godzilla and the army...and it all started over a UFO debate. People complain about the USA; what's Japan coming to? The again, since they seem to know about cultural and technological trends before us, maybe it's possible they know something we don't? Hmm...

And, in other girls--whoops, news --- the Dalai Lama is NOT a callgirl. Just wanted to clear that up. You know, in case you were wondering.

December 20, 2007

Another Christmas, Another Search

Man, it would be great to get through a Christmas without having to search everywhere for one specific gift. But then again, would it truly be the holidays if I didn't? The item this year is the Microsoft Zune 30 GB music/video player. It was available on Black Friday for $69 and I couldn't get it. They were sold out since forever, it seemed. Doors opened and the guy said, "Sorry, no Zunes" and then he followed up with, "and no Turbo Man dolls either". Damn. So I've been on the hunt for a little while now. Stupidly, I forgot about it until recently while trying to finish up shopping and think about what else was needed. Yeah, I think I should have remembered sooner.

On the plus side, I have run across a lot of information. One site which was particularly well put together is anythingbutipod.com. It still didn't help me find the Zune and buy it, but I did get some worthwhile information.

December 19, 2007

Knight Rider's Back, Microsoft Syncs

Aaaaaah, the holidays. Filled with laughter, good times and the promise of nice presents. Wait..what's this I see? A present from NBC, who's bringing back Knight Rider? Oh baby...you know what I like. I'm not sure how I feel about a Ford Mustang taking the place of KITT, but since Pontiac discontinued the Trans Am, what choice did they have? Suffice it to say, I'll be watching on February 17. Check out the video clip and see a little bit of the action for yourself.


Since your video player's already warmed up, check out this one from Microsoft, touting their latest product, the Sync system for cars (I wonder if KITT will have this?). From a company that sometimes doesn't do so well with public relations and naming (Zune, anyone?), this time it's not so bad.


December 18, 2007

Amazon's Kindle, Dads Spiteful, and Nintendo

Yes, I should be blogging more. I've come to that conclusion myself. I do enjoy reading other people's blogs, and their steady and constant updates both give me an appreciation for their dilligence and make me realize I need to get with it.

One of the things that's got me the most excited right now is Amazon's new Kindle ebook reader. It seems like they really designed the device right, even down to the implementation mechanism for obtaining ebooks. The wireless service for downloading is built right in, no need to search for a hotspot, no need to pay for a separate service (I hate that). The wireless service is built right in. Take it out of the box, hit "connect" and you're on amazon's site. From what I've read, you can also surf the web with it too. Strangely, they try to make you pay for blogs, which seems a bit odd to me. They're free everywhere else, so why pay on the Kindle? Also, if the thing has web surfing abilities, couldn't you just navigate to the blogs directly? I guess the payment goes for the ability to download them locally on your device. Still, I think this device has a lot of promise, and I look forward to seeing its evolution. Things to improve: give it a color screen, mainly. That would be a great start.

Speaking of Holiday-related things, here's a kid who won't be very happy on December 25. Guess he forgot about two things: Number 1, Dad's a spiteful person and likes to teach you a lesson. Number 2, it's unwise to get caught smoking pot. Lesson learned.

Nintendo's flying high with both their Wii (still sold out across the country) and the DS, going strong after what, years now? They're both great systems, and they're at really good price points. Something Nintendo would like to see the retailers honor, and not jack up with bundles.

November 30, 2007

Christmas Lightsaber

I know I need to put some more posts up here with all kinds of things I've been up to lately. I'll start with this, which really caught my eye, especially with the Christmas season now upon us.

November 12, 2007

Holiday Shopping

Ah, the holidays are upon us. We've just passed Halloween, which means that we're now at the edge of the Holidays looking in. Black Friday in particular should be interesting, since some retailershave sent cease and desist letters to the big online spoiler sites, bfads and blackfridayads. At least in the midst of all this turmoil (and hey, if the deals are leaked early, doesn't that just push more people into the stores? Hmmmm...) there's still people willing to post suggestions for getting good deals, as well as coupons and online codes. Consider that an early primer on what to do this season to ensure some sanity and save a buck or two.

Oh, and what would I like for Christmas? This suit. I'm just letting you know early, in case there's a rush on these and they sell out.

September 30, 2007

Digital Life Swag

Just to wrap up the news from Digital Life, here's the official swag report:

Giveaways:

1 Ooma pen
2 Opera pens
2 Palm pens
1 Xyberpc.com pen
2 dtv transition pens
1 picture of me with the New York Knicks cheerleaders (PRICELESS)
1 Elixir strings guitar pick
3 T-shirts: Ooma, Newegg, headplay.com ("Play with me" logo on it)
1 deck of Vista playing cards (might be more useful than the actual OS)
3 digitaltips.org drawstring napsacks
1 Opera software baseball cap
1 Newegg.com baseball cap
2 Palm Centro drink coasters
1 Palm rubber stress ball
1 Full game of Americas Army on CD
1 Xtatix glowing necklace
1 MobiTV wristband
1 Newegg.com stress ball/egg
3 Lord of the Rings Tattoos

Literature:

Palm Centro
Godin Guitars
egglad.com games
Novint Falcon
Ablton live software
Spykeeworld.com
Dell
Duel-systems.com
Ooma
Xyber Technologies
John Lennon Songwriting Contest
Sonicbids.com
Full Sail Real World Education
PC Magazine - latest issue
NYCvisit.com postcard with Jimmy Fallon
Star Wars R2-D2 projector
Newegg.com
Zipitwireless.com
Simulscribe
Opera,com

September 29, 2007

Digital Life 2007

Digital Life, NYC-- the show was great, and there were lots of things to see, although I'll admit the show was smaller than I've seen before. Despite that, there seemed to be lots of enthusiasm and some cool new products. This time I actually got out of my shell a bit and instead of just walking around looking at everything, I stopped and talked to the representatives at the booths. Some highlights follow.

For once, we had absolutely no trouble getting in. My buddy and I had pre-registered so we were all set. We literally got our official badges and walked in the exhibit area within 2 or 3 minutes of walking in the Javits Center. In the past there have been throngs of people and much waiting, that was even the case last year. But this year, declining attendance and exhibitors meant a quicker entrance for us.

Upon entering we were greeted by two people dressed up as television sets, handing out business cards for mobitv. The card wants people to text "NBC" to number 43888. We then walked around some more and I immediately spied the one place I really wanted to see: the Palm booth, where they had just announced the new Palm Centro smartphone. I got a chance to play with it and try it out, and found out I liked it. The keyboard is a bit cramped, but it's usuable, and the form factor is very good -- so much better than a Treo. It's smaller and feels more like a consumer entertainment device, yet it's a smartphone. I think this will be the way for Palm to go in the future. Palm's booth was set up like a cocktail lounge with a bar and they were giving out free drinks to those who sat through a short Centro demo. My friend Chris and I sat through it, since we're both Palm fanboys, and then bellied up to the bar. I had mistakenly thought that the drinks they were handing out were some kind of mock cocktails or smoothies. Not a chance -- this was a real mixed drink, although I couldn't place what it was. It hit hard, since at this point it was about 11 AM and I hadn't eaten anything since around 6 or 7 AM. Ouch. Thanks Palm. Now I need some food to absorb this alcohol.

Over in the corner there was a tractor trailer for a group called the John Lennon Songwriting contest. There were scores of people clustered around it. I guess there's a fair crossover these days between musicians and techies. Other music exhibitors included Godin guitars, Roland, and a service called Sonicbids that touted the virtues of "making music your day job". This one looked interesting, as it allows you to create a press kit for yourself or your band, complete with bios, photos and of course music, then email your electronic press kit (EPK) to anyone at no cost. It also has services such as letting you know about music festivals, conferences, tours and other job opportunities. There was a 3 month trial available by entering promotional code DAYJOB at their site.

From here it was on to the other vendors, out of the music area and more mainstream. We saw a product called ooma that is basically an internet-enabled answering machine with unlimited long distance thrown in. You buy the box itself (which admittedly was a pretty unattractive device) but then there's no monthly fees or anything -- you supply the connectivity via your own network at home. It was intriguing, but then again the show special was $200 off the price of the box...which made me wonder how much could this thing be worth, anyhow? For my money, something like Skype seems like a better bet and far cheaper. We then saw some really high-end workstations from Xyber Technologies, which looked really good until we saw the price tag -- let's just say it's nothing you'd really want to plunk down unless it's on the expense account. Their models had great specs though, and their niche in the market seems to be a fanless cooling system, which uses passive heat dissipation via the use of aluminum tubing filled with gas that allows the heat to escape. Their literature states that because of this, their systems only require one tenth the power of a normal high end system: 110 watts instead of 1000 watts. They also have specific machines for home theater systems, and high-end gaming PCs, all with the same cooling functionailty built in. From there we walked a few more feet and talked to a rep from Duel Systems Adapters, which makes conversion kits for PCMCIA cards. It's funny, but with all the USB devices out there, I haven't heard about PCMCIA devices in years, except for the cellular cards that business travelers use. Nice to see that technology is still in existence and being put to use. The booth rep was very energetic and talked to us for quite a while, showing us all the kits. The company also does RFID tagging as well as custom packaging and enclosures for devices. We then took a look at a school program called Full Sail, which provides real world education to students in the fields of computer animation, digital arts, film, game development and the music business, just to name a few. Looks like a great program, where students get real hands-on experience on actual real world projects such as movies, games, etc. Finally, we saw a device called the Neuros, which seemed to be a portable Tivo system, allowing you to record TV shows, store movies, etc, and then take it anywhere you want to view it, without a PC. I didn't see a demo of it, but my guess it that it hooks in to your TVs video and audio inputs. They were offering 20% off the device price with coupon code DL2007NYC.

Clearly it was now time for lunch. The alcohol from the Palm booth was now disspitating on it's own but in it's place was hunger. Amazingly the downstairs food court wasn't open, which really blew my mind. I guess they didn't anticipate massive crowds so they decided not to open it? I'm still unsure about that decision. So, in its place were some individual snack areas peppered around the exhibition floor. We found one selling panninni sandwiches and decided to go for it -- our only other recourse being to go outside to one of NYC's vaunted hot dog vendors. While we were grabbing our sandwiches, the rep from the Duel Systems Adapters booth walked up and ordered one -- so we struck up a conversation with him and the three of us had lunch together. I think this is one of the things I'll remember most about this show--all the great conversations I had with absolute strangers. How cool is that?

After lunch it was off to the more entertaining sections of the show. Unfortunately there wasn't any Napster booth with strippers like at last year's show, but there was lots of other good stuff to see. We started by going to the newegg booth, which was one of the busiest booths in the whole place. Now what does that say when a simple web retailer's booth is the place to be? Not that I'm complaining, since they had a bunch of good show deals to let us know about, plus they were handing out Tshirts and baseball caps. But still, it amazed me that this was one of the booths that was hopping. We then looked at the Dell booth, which had some of their XPS laptops, which I really liked. A lot. Talk about power wrapped in a svelte package. These were full-blown desktop replacements, capable of running any program or game (we got to play Ghost Recon 2 and it was nice and fluid). Just awesome to see them in use and get to play with them. We even saw some of them running full blown interactive games, such as a go-kart game which is actually connected to a real go-kart. Pretty cool, and it was all being run off the XPS laptop. So now we were squarely in the gaming section of the show. We saw an innovative new device called the Novint Falcon, a new take on the traditional joystick. This thing is an orb, which you grip and depending on the surfaces you encounter during the game, the orb reacts differently to it, approximating it's feel. They call it 3D touch. So, the orb will slide along quickly if you're on ice, but will bump along if you're climbing or driving over rocks. Even more so with boulders. The device was a bit awkward to hold at first, but you got used to it. It seemed especially well-equipeed for walking around type games, but not so great for shooter-styles. Supposedly they're coming out with an add-on or a separate device to handle that. While this device seems well-poised to follow in the Wii's footsteps with the innovating and immersive gameplay, I don't think it's a serious contender yet, despite some of the press release-style statemtents on their literature, "I realized this product was going to change the way we all live in a fundamental and beautiful way". Umm....we'll see. It all depends on the games this will work with. Make it work and bundle it with something like Ghost Recon or Call of Duty and you might get an audience. I'm mentally bookmarking this item to see how it does in the marketplace. After this we saw a new robot by Erector called a Spykee spy robot, able to be used for surveillence. The cool thing about this is that you can view things through it's camera from any web browser. Kind of cool technique to keep tabs on your stuff. We also checked out the Digital Life game tournament area, where gaming contests were going on. Think: banks and banks of high-end PCs all with late teens to early 20-somethings glued to them. They were also giving out Tshirts which said "Play with Me" and an arrow pointing downward. Umm...OK, that's making a statement I guess. I grabbed one but have absoultely no idea where I'll wear it. Right next to this was the Lord of the Rings area for the online game Shadows of Angmar, which is a MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing game), where they were signing people up and handing out temporary hobbit tattoos.

OK, next up was one of the high points of the event, not only for me but it was one of the most-attended area: the America's Army Virtual Army Experience. This was an area where you could, after waiting for around an hour in line, get to play in a combat game, in a sort of virtual reality environment. The line was full of teenagers, making myself and Chris easily the oldest ones there (sigh). We joked to the kids in the line that this game was really just a recruitment tool. They scoffed at this, but we're sure that it is. Upon getting to the head of the line, we were met by some of the real Army soldiers, very young men and women, including a stunningly beautiful asian women, who tell you that what you're about to experience is the closest thing to real army combat imaginable. One of the army guys also when on to point out his attractive army co-worker, and said, "You like her? Think she's pretty? That's what you get if you join up in the Army...the chance to meet women like her". Talk about selling it. Anyway, once inside, they have you fill out your information, including address and phone number (for recruitment purposes, I'm sure) and then you're given a temporary badge and you're ready. You're ushered to a separate section, comprised of about 6 HummVees, each one with machine guns bolted to the doors, the dash, and yes even the roof. Everyone takes the spot they want and the game begins where you pretty much blow away the enemy on a large screen, where the game is projected in front of you. It's very engaging and immersive. One drawback is that even though you have to give them all your personal information, and the badge they issue you has an RFID tag in it, there's no stats in the end to tell you how well you did for the team. No shot accuracy, enemies killed, nothing. Bah. The other downside is I just know I'm going to get a phone call from the Army recruiter now too. One upshot: you got the full videogame of America's Army for your PC, which is pretty much like every other soldier/warfare game you've ever played. But nice to get it for free.

After this we checked out a few more booths, most notably the Opera web browser booth, where the nice booth girl took lots of time showing me the new features of the browser. She sold it so well that both Chris and I installed it the next day when we got home. We then checked out Zipitwireless, a dedicated device for text messages and instant messaging (hey, isn't that normally handled by a cell phone?) . It uses your network at home and doesn't rack up the minutes or against your phone plan's texting plan quota. Finally, we ended by looking at perhaps the coolest movie projector ever, the R2-D2 projector, and then took a look at some Gelaskins protection skins for electronic devices. I probably should have bought one or two of these since their designs were so cool.

One thing I didn't see, although I tried: U3 was giving out their USB smart drives at the show, and if you couldn't win one or grab one from the rep, they invited you to buy one at reduced show rates. So, I tried and tried to find booth 622, but to no avail. Chris and I did see an empty booth in the 600s section, and we assumed that was the booth and that they never made it to the show. Too bad...I was intent on getting one.

On the way out someone handed me a postcard with Jimmy Fallon from Saturday Night Live fame, which said "Everything tastes better late at night". Rock on, Jimmy, rock on. We grabbed a couple of hot dogs from a street vendor, then made our way home.

Check out the show pictures:

September 27, 2007

Going to Digital Life 2007

One of the biggest tech shows of the year opened today -- Digital Life in New York City. What makes this show different from most is that it's open to anybody, and it's geared toward consumers, not necessarily just professionals or industry-types-- everyone. Therefore, there's a broad spectrum of things you'll find there -- televisions, Blu-Ray + HD DVD players, cell phones, PDAs, home theaters, cars, desktop computers, laptop computers, robots, you name it. If it's tech-related, it will be there--usually in a big way. Another reason this show is so good is that it exists, and it's relatively young. The steam is still in it's stride. It's not a show that's been going on for 10-20 years, like the old PC Expo was. That show, and others like it, eventually burned themselves out, and now don't exist. DigitalLife, by contrast, is in it's 4th year, and if last year's show was an indicator, it's still going strong. Although personally, I'd like to see every square inch of the Javits Center utilized like it was back in the Internet World days (ahh...the good old days. Huge event, lots to see. Click to read an opinion by Alan Meckler, who used to own and run the Internet World show, after he attended the first Digital Life show 4 years ago. Suffice it to say he wasn't too impressed -- I'm sure it's gotten better since then). Maybe they'll pack them in better this year. The word from this year's coordinator, Monica Vila, is that it looks real good.

The press event beforehand seemed to have it's usual amount of hype surrounding it, according to CNET. Maybe someday I'll be able to go on a press pass? Hmmm.. that would be great.
And since this is all part of technology week in New York City, there was an event for that too, but it sounds like that event underdelivered.

Speaking of this year's show, it seems that so far the Newegg booth is one of the best to visit for giveaways -- good to know. I'll also be checking out the Palm Lounge, where they've today just announced the new Centro smartphone...whoops, excuse me, smart device. Seems they're using some phrasing to differentiate themself and their device. Smart move. I'll also check out booth # 622, U3 Smart Drives, where they've got a portable USB drive that is secure and will mimic your PC. Allows access to your applications, files, even your settings such as desktop wallpaper, etc. I've seen this done before, and it can even be done manually with just about any USB drive, but they look like they do it better. That's important. I'll check them out, and may even buy one.

I'll be going to this event on Friday (9/28), so expect some pictures and commentary shortly thereafter. Should be a good time, with lots of new stuff to report on. I love the smell of technology in New York City. Fall is here. Aaaahhh.

September 26, 2007

DRM-free Music; Weird Images and Videos

Lots to mention today. Things have been flitting across my desktop and I've been sticking them in "to-blog" pile.
Digital music's getting an interesting, in not naive, shot in the arm with the arrival of Amazon's no-DRM music downloads, as well as a new service called SpiralFrog, that gives you free music that contains embedded ads. I think Amazon's loss of DRM will make it money (as will the same technique on iTunes) and is a very good idea. I'm not so sure about SpiralFrog. I really think people want music, not ads. And I can't imagine anybody really utilizing this service to get the latest music singles, except possibly teenagers. Everyone else would just cough up the 99 cents and get on with their day.

If you've got some time and are inclined for some graphical fun (no, not that kind), check out this guy and his huge tongue. I know he's a whale, but still -- that's huge. Other graphical, animal sights include this snake, which apparently had a bit of indigestion with his meal -- a hippo. If we've still got your attention, there's a real good slideshow of a shop in New York City for Superheroes. Now I know where to get that cape fixed, or buy that magic lasso. I just can't decide.

September 14, 2007

Last week: Chinatown

Last Friday I spent the day in New York City. Took in a little bit of Fashion Week at Bryant Park (couldn't get inside the tent, but I was outside and saw some models and celebrities wandering in and out..and I think I saw Jeff Goldblum) and then went to Chinatown. While there, I went in to the little shops that litter Canal street. They're all basically the same, selling cheap knockoffs of luxury watches and purses. One guy tried to sell me a "Rolex" for $50. Well, I am a watch fanatic, but no thanks. I'd prefer the real thing any day. Just in case anyone else is interested in this, here's how to tell a real from a fake. Not that the $50 price tag isn't a big indication. The real ones start at around $3500.

While in the shop, little did I know that some of these stores have secret rooms that you can get trapped in for hours. Nice to know...just a little too late. Live and learn.

September 12, 2007

thoughts on the site

I've been thinking quite a lot about this site and how best to approach it in the future. Looking around at the best blogs out there, most focus specifically on one topic. They have well-written articles which are edited and well thought out. At times, that hasn't been the case here. In the interest of time, articles were sped up, churned out, just to keep the content going.

That seemed to be nice and all, but quality suffered. You could argue about the real value of a blog entry that's only a line or two long. What value does it have? Any? Minimal at best, in my estimation. But not even that lasted forever, and then even the minimalist entries and links started dwindling.

The best blogs are those that have well thought out stories, with plenty of information and commentary. A simple link just isn't sufficient to engage the reader. There is more information required.
Even in those blogs that are more eccentric in nature, as the Revision Bar is, there's a running dialog from the author(s) to the reader to keep those links stringed along nicely and explain their relevancy. No link is just placed there and left sitting in it's compartment, hoping some reader will click it. There's surrounding information, some context or opinion on the piece. Whether it garners any interest is irrelevant at that point; at least the readers know why it's there, and why the author chose it and placed it on the site. This information can be brief, and sometimes it can be quite exhaustive, but at least it's there to add relevancy and credibility to the posted information.

What will the future hold? An embracing of these characteristics that make up a good site. More contextual information and explanation about why the sites I've listed are there. Probably the frequency will slow down a bit from mutliple daily posts as we have experienced in the past, but to the casual reader, it may seem as if it's actually increased, since they may have seen weeks go by without any posts. What they may or may not have seen is the weeks and months that went by with posts all over the place, yet of dubious quality. In the end, the correct level will probably be something in between. Posts every couple of days, at least one per week, but of better quality.

Things that may change, and I'm only guessing here, are the look and feel of the site, and the way it operates. Firstly, the look is something that has bothered me lately as I wasn't sure visually it was the most engaging it could be. But that's simply aesthetics and has now been changed. Hopefully you noticed and like it. Programmatically it's a bit better and easier to manintain, which makes updating it easier. More troublesome to me is the lack of a dialog from the readers to me, which is something that helps define a good site, whether it be blog, news site, or any other kind of site. Community is important, as witnessed by all the social networking sites out there (myspace, facebook, etc.) , the shared bookmarking sites (digg, del.ici.ous) and so on. I've had comments enabled in this site for years now, yet it's rarely used. At some point I may disable it entirely, else find some way to make it really work. I'd much prefer the latter, but don't know yet how to make it so.

What won't change is the nature of the site. This site has always been a sort of "here's what's new on the web" place. A place which started out as a place to centrally store the new things I've found, the stories I've read and become interested in, and sometimes things which were just too bizarre not to share. This won't change. I'll do my best to string together the odd subjects that I post about with dialog to the readers, to make those connections. It's something that's been missing from this site and is needed.

April 23, 2007

Horror Writing, Star Wars, and Tabloid Nicknames

Amidst all the talk about the Virginia Tech shooting, certain voices rise above others. I guess it's my selective listening kicking in. We all have it -- we hear that which we want to hear, or that which matters to us or that we identify with. In my case, I heard the voices of the people saying, "How could the professors not know he was going to do something like this when you see the kind of stories he wrote in that creative writing class?". I heard this loud and clear, but it puzzled me. Yes, this was a terrible tragedy, no doubt. Let's get that out of the way right now. However, we do have a very active Horror genre out there, one which is enjoying a resurgence both in print and (especially) film. I seriously doubt anyone's trying to lock up Wes Craven or Rob Zombie. We also have writers out there that are very much revered, from our modern day Stephen King going all the way back to Edgar Allen Poe. My point is that there really needs to be a separation of thinking from the writer to the piece he's written. We must be careful about judging the writer...they're not all out to hurt people. This piece from Salon seems to agree with me, and for that I am very happy. It's a well balanced piece that offers information on both sides of the issue.

On a much lighter note, this piece from Wired magazine about the making of Star Wars offers details on an upcoming book and shows pictures taken before and during Star Wars, in the mid 1970's. Just looking at some of these pictures brings back memories from that time. Check them out yourself and get psyched for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars -- really, it's been 30 years? May 25 is the date to circle on your calendar, just in case you care, or want to send George Lucas even more money.

And, if you're dating someone and want one of those cool celebrity-style joint names to throw around, like Benniffer, or TomKat, check out this page which explains the whole thing and then has a generator for you to plug in your own names and get your very own tabloid-style monikor.

April 10, 2007

Easter Break: Atlantic City

Last week I had the privilege to go to Atlantic
City
for some much needed R&R. I stayed at the Fairfield
Skyline tower
, which has a swimming pool on the 6th floor. I
had never seen that before, so that was neat. When the weather
turned nasty it was odd to wake up in the middle of the night and
realize that you're in a 31-story building currently surrounded by
lightning. But in the end it was fine, and the folks there know how to
treat people right -- from unpacking my car for me, to re-packing it
when it was time for me to leave. That's always the job I hate to do,
and this time it was done for me. I liked that.

Atlantic City itself has some great things to offer. Of course
it has great casinos -- Bally's, Resorts,
the Tropicana, Caesars, and of course, the Trump
Taj Mahal
. Some of these casinos even pack extras, like fine
dining and shopping -- presumably all the better to catch people flush
with their winnings from the casino. Caesars has The
Pier
, a nice shopping area still under development, but
already offering nice shops and restaurants, as well as a choreagraphed
water show (check out this video review of The Pier here). The
Tropicana has a floors devoted to shopping called The Quarter (video
review here
), which also has fine dining and luxurious stores
(including a Coach store containing handbags over $1000 each) and also
includes an Imax theater on it's top floor (Spider-Man 3 will be there
next month -- I just barely missed it-- darn). And Trump's casino, the
Taj Mahal, sports a family-friendly restaurant, the Rainforest
Cafe
, downstairs from it's casino. These are some of the
little surprises that I found as I walked around.

Outside the casinos, there was the world-famous 4.5 mile Atlantic
City Boardwalk
. And I think I walked almost every mile of it,
almost every day. In lieu of a good gym, this would help to keep you in
shape. There's the normal fare like the clothing shops and restaurants,
the dollar stores and such, but there's other things too, like the
Ripleys Believe it or Not Museum, which sports thousands of exhibits
and takes well over an hour to go through -- lots of reading and lots
of things to look at. The beach is adjacent to the boardwalk, and was
fun to explore as well. My only complaint about any of this is that the
temperatures were pretty cold the entire time I was there, staying in
the 30s most days but being aggravated by the coolness from the ocean
just feet away. Wind chill is putting it mildly -- some evenings it
felt like the dead of winter just trying to walk back the mile or two
to my hotel.

Other things I did and saw: I sampled some Fralingers
saltwalter taffy and brought some home; I got some magic lessons from a
magician in a magic shop called MagicMasters
(located in The Quarter) and bought 2 tricks to call my own; I learned
from a young saleswoman that a fine brand of watches that I've had my
eye on, Invicta, is actually owned by
Rolex, a fact that made me incredibly giddy since they're the same
styles at a fraction of the price; I went to The
Spy Shop
(also in The Quarter) and looked around, but most of
it was so kitchy that it's not even James Bond stuff -- I was
disappointed with that store. All in all though, it was a good trip and I saw a lot of new and unique things.

And I got to catch up on some sleep.

March 21, 2007

Spring wallpaper

Download some Spring wallpaper for your computer, courtesy of the Peanuts gang.

It's Spring! 2007 Edition


OK, so it's finally spring, one of my favorite days of the year. Everyone rejoice! We've come a long way through the cold and icy days of winter and groundhogs. Let's hope the temperatures jump up soon and really get this season going.

Don't forget to get your free iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts today.

March 20, 2007

Spring means a Palm sale?

OK kids, get ready, because Spring is ready to explode all over your environment. When, you say? Well, according this chart on Wikipedia, Spring arrives at 12:07 am tommorrow. Yeah, bring it on. Sunshine, 70 degree weather and all the fixins that go with it. Unfortunately, many people in the northeast are still digging snow out of their driveways, so let's hold the barbecues until all this stuff melts.

With the arrival of Spring comes news that the often-reported sale of Palm is imminent. Sources say that the analysts fielding the offers and counseling Palm on this latest move want the deal done by March 22. Stay tuned here for more info, as its received.

Personally, I just want a new Palm device. Note to new owners: build it and I will buy.

March 16, 2007

Indiana Jones news; Harry Potter

Apparently Indiana Jones 4 is still a go. You'd never have thought so since the news coming out about it is virtually nonexistent. That is, until today, when it was revealed that Cate Blanchett will play a lead in the movie. Speculation has arisen whether it's Indy's love interest or daughter, but hey -- you gotta expect those things when you're 60+ years old. Shuffleboard anyone? And hey, can we finally learn where the heck that eye patch came from ? (see The Indiana Jones Chronicles if you don't know what the eye patch refers to)

Also in the news: seems like they'll make a symposium out of anything these days, even Harry Potter. I mean really -- discussions, dissertations, papers on Harry Potter? Really, I'd go just for the quidditch game.

March 12, 2007

Cell contracts and cameras

Speaking of cellular contracts, here's how to break yours, without paying the outrageous termination fees.

And, on the radar for later this year is the falling price of digtial SLR cameras. Currently in the $1,000 range, but not for long.

Is Palm Still in the Game?

So, now Palm finally finds it's voice and says it actually IS working on some new products. At last. What I'm hoping is that these new products are not just sequels to the Treo, but a full-fledged handheld device which can be used with or without a phone contract. Think wifi and a big screen, maybe a keyboard. Cool factor = 100. I know I'm dreamin', but the guy they've hired to do it (supposedly) has a track record for such things. We'll see.

March 09, 2007

More superhero fun

Just in case you're as bored as I am tonight and looking for something to do, check these out:


And even though it's not superhero-related, check out this bit from Tom Wilson, the guy who played Biff on Back to the Future (at least it ties in to the previous post...)

Brokeback to the Future

Sometimes a video is meant to be funny to ends up backfiring and becoming something else. Take this one for instance: I believe it was meant to be a takeoff on Brokeback Mountain using the Back to the Future stars, but instead it comes off as a very well done homage to the franchise, and to Michael J Fox. Funny? No, but a great selection of clips and editing. Enjoy.

Digital Text

Damn this is a good video. Tells the story of how HTML and web content got started and how it works now. It discusses how we're using the web and the many different forms of content and how it's now separated from presentation, enabling reuse wherever we want. It uses a really unique way of conveying the information; you'll have to click it and check it out for yourself.

Jack Bauer, Teaching Assistant

OK, it is a Friday so I need to put something fun up (and when have I ever failed to do that before?). Here's a YouTube video where Jack Bauer becomes a teaching assistant. I don't want to knock the creators, but it's not the best thing I've ever seen -- "Jack" doesn't look anything like Jack, same for "Tony". However, some of the stuff is pretty good -- I've never seen a stuffed animal tortured before.

March 07, 2007

Captain America, RIP

From the halls of "are you kidding me?" comes this tidbit: the Marvel comics Superhero known as Captain America, has been killed.

OK, wait for it. Wait for it.

Now.

"WHAT?"

We're at war and have been for years, and now Marvel's gone and killed off a character who plays into that so well that his storylines could actually mean something, and teach something, to the kids reading them today. But NO, they thought it was much better to just kill him off. Less work for them in the long run.

This is the same company who thought it prudent to give Spider-Man a clone, and just when people were starting to warm up to the idea of Peter Parker having a "brother" of sorts, they kill him off (go here to see scans of most of that story). Oh, thanks Marvel. Thanks for the memories.

I swear, this had better be for a real good reason, or be part of a damn good story arc (like I'll ever see it anyway). If they kill him off now and bring him back in the near future with a lame explanation, that will just be sad.

March 06, 2007

More 'Today', more Google phone talk, and more deposits?

There's still rumors about Google working on a cell phone all it's own, reportedly in conjunction with Samsung. How about some more details, Google? Specs, capabilities? Anything?

Meanwhile, the Today show is gearing up to add a fourth hour to it's programming (do we need a fourth hour? I mean, I like the show, but still...) and also an online counterpart, to take you through the entire rest of the day. Hmmm...do we really need that much of the Today show? That much Al Roker can't be good for anybody.

And finally, a teenager in Germany found a way to leave a deposit that was inappropriate for the ATM. Check it out.

Fleming's Bond

Researchers put together all the physical attributes mentioned in the James Bond novels and interviews with the author, Ian Fleming and come up with a composite sketch. So, which of the cinematic James Bonds does it look most like?

More on Palm...including a non-believer

The Palm rumors are really swirling now. If something's not up, then all this commotion must really be off the mark, and at least person think it's all preposterous and untrue to begin with. It's stock price is up as are the number of rumors. Here's hoping some definitive news comes soon.

Amidst all this talk of takeovers and mergers and buyouts comes word that Palm is building a new facility in China. Odd for a company that may find itself as part of another company soon. And, on the innovation front, or what passes for innovation from Palm lately, is that they may be releasing details of a mysterious new device in May. According to the architect, Jeff Hawkins (otherwise known as the father and inventor of the whole Palm industry), it won't be a traditional Palm or a Treo. It will be new device designed from the ground up to be part of an active person's lifestyle, with access to a superfast Internet connection, all their data, pictures, videos, calendar, etc.

March 05, 2007

Blogging parents

In this world of blogging, where we put our thoughts, opinions and yes, personal information online, it's important to keep some safeguards in mind. So, if you're a blogging parent, here's some tips.

Tube TV's still sell

Not all the TVs flying out the doors of those big-box electronics stores are LCD or plasma, according to sales figures. Tube TVs still have a large following, in no small part because of their still-cheaper price and (some say) superior quality. Advocates say blacks are blacker and colors are more true. Who are these advocates, you say? Well, there's plenty of everyday people who have an opinion either through research or first-hand experience, but there's also this company you might of heard of -- George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic (ILM). Now you're talking.

NYC ComicCon 2007

Well, I'm pretty bummed out because I just found out that New York City's ComicCon convention took place last week, and I missed it. I had been telling a friend earlier in the year that I haven't been to one in ages (read: decades) and would love to go to the next one. Looks like I can save up that wish and bookmark February 2008 as my next attempt.

This years event focused a lot on the marriage of technology to traditional comics and how the two play nice with each other, and how sometimes they don't (there's a great video segment here). Particular attention was placed on gauging fans' reaction and seeing what they liked best about each medium. Older readers liked traditional comics, both for the tactile feel of holding the comic in their hands and also for the lack of eyestrain when they want to read through a bunch of comics. Reading on a CRT or LCD for that length of time is tough on older eyes. Also for the older readers the collectible quotient is high, meaning they want the real comics just as much for the thrill of having them as for their investment value. Younger readers, on the other hand, tend to shy away from the paper comics and flock to online or other softcopy formats (one such example mentioned was a DVD put out by Marvel comics that has hundreds of comics on it, making it possible for you to bring the equivalent of decades of comics with you on a plane or car trip -- an excellent time-diversion). Younger readers tend to be all about consumption, not collecting, meaning they'll take the comics in any format they can get them (preferably the formats they already use, i.e. softcopy), but they're not terribly interested in having them sit around in stacks.

After you've read through the article, check out the best costumes of the show, and more photos from the show.

More on Palm

So now we have another source saying Palm's up for sale, and that they're advising them as to their options. I'm not sure whether to be exited about this or not. But, based on their non-innovation this past year or so, I'd say it might be a good thing if they got bought out. If it's Nokia that does the buying, I could see some great synergy happening between the two companies.

March 04, 2007

More Palm rumors...this time with Nokia

Dial "1" for rumors. I'm hearing more and more rumors of Palm being up for sale, as evidenced by this newest one naming Nokia as the potential suitor. While this would be pretty interesting since Nokia's got some pretty wild PDA/phone combos out there that are mind-blowing compared to the old-technology which has become Palm, and could infuse a shot of creativity into Palm's corridors, it should be noted that this is just a rumor. However, these rumors usually happen once or twice a year. I've heard 2 or 3 rumors in the last week. That alone tells me something may indeed be happening.

No more pole dancing

Sometimes you just have to know when enough is enough.

March 02, 2007

Starbucks Finder

Just in case having a Starbucks on every friggin' corner isn't enough for you, or in case you're not observant enough to see the signs, now there's another way for you to find the location of the nearest overpriced coffee hut: a text message. It's an automated service where you send a text with your zip code to the Starbucks number and it sends you the location of the three nearest Starbucks.

I'm just wondering, if you're too lazy to look around and see all the Starbucks out there (and there's a lot) will you do this?

Password Protectors

So, Apple's recommending that people write down their passwords just in case they forget them and need to look them up. Umm...yeah...that might just be a real easy way for someone to get all your passwords, no? Nevertheless, Apple's providing a nice form you can fill out, so if you really want it, head on over to their site and download away.

While most people probably won't do this, there are other ways to secure this data while making it easy for you get at. One such way that I've written about before is with EssentialPIM, a free personal information manager (think: Palm, just without the device it goes on). Other software tools include Evernote (absolutely great program) and LockBox, an online file locker for your information. Check them out and see which fits best.

Brittany's Hair; Revision3's Original Video Content

Plenty of things to talk about today. Apparently Brittany Spears' hair was up for auction on Ebay, although a quick check just now showed nothing. It's a safe bet that the auctions have been pulled. Amazing what they'll sell though.

I wrote previosly about a site called Revision3 which had caught my eye, due to the similarity of it's name to this site (and hey -- did anyone else notice that their site design isn't that different from what I've done in the past? Eerie). I've since checked out their site and they create a bunch of original programming for the 'net. Most of it is very well done and fun. This story details their latest plans for attracting more readers and viewers, this time in the music space.

February 27, 2007

Not so fast, Vista

A french researcher has run tests and claims that Windows new operating system, Vista, is slower than XP. Things like how fast menus appear, how quickly you can open a folder from the desktop, and even how precise the mouse pointer is -- all slower on Vista than on Windows XP. In fact, the researcher found that Vista is at the same level of performance that Windows 98 was. And that was a loonnnng time ago.

So, think twice before taking the vista plunge. You might be better with XP.

February 26, 2007

More Palm Rumors

Ah, my beloved Palm. I've used you since 1996 and loved every day of it. Yes, I've wandered across the trailer lot to Windows Mobile-land a few times, but hey -- a guy's gotta look around every now and then, right? Well, more and more now I hear rumors about your demise and it just makes me sad. Rumors that you're going down for the last time, that you're on your last legs, that you've jumped the shark and preparing to sell the company. Now those rumors have resurfaced. Please Palm, say it ain't so. Remember all the good times we've had; all the things we've seen and done together. Continue to innovate and come out with some unbelievable product that will have everyone throwing away their Motorola Qs, their Blackjacks, and not even look at that iPhone which is poised to blow away all comers. Do it Palm. Do it.

February 20, 2007

Why Second Life's Not So Great

Inflated figures? In this age of recent Enron/Arthur Andersen scandals, it should come as no surprise that people have inflated their numbers and overstated their actual worth. Such seems to be the case with all the hype surrounding Second Life. Apparently there aren't as many real users as they're claiming, and the real money to be made simply isn't there. Gee, what a surprise--the virtual world really isn't a cornucopia of goodness and the streets aren't lined with gold.

Microsoft's Free Virtual Emulator and Damn Small Linux

Microsoft recently released a new emulator for it's Windows XP and Vista operating systems. While it gets props for making it free, it loses for the environments it can emulate. I mean, if you've got a brand new Vista machine, do you really want to emulate Windows Millenium (ME)? I think not. I'd love it if they opened it up a bit so you could emulate Mac OSX, or some of the other more obscure OS's. Apparently it can run IBM's OS/2 Warp (a damn fine OS in it's day, and ahead of it's time), and some people have had success getting Linux to run on it. Now that it's out, it's up to the hackers to make it do what it really should.

Speaking of Linux, I've posted before about some of the different flavors I've tried and liked. I've just been introduced to another one, which you may to try out as well. Damn Small Linux. Small enough to be installed and run off a USB key, making for a very modular and portable OS. I like it. Sometime soon I'll put it on a USB device and give it a whirl.

February 15, 2007

Scale like Spider-Man, get Vista for free

Amazing inventions are just a web click away. An MIT student has developed a way to let regular people (OK, police and firefighters; I doubt they're going to give me one of these things) a way to scale buildings like Spider-Man. Cool (speaking of Spider-Man, I caught this story, which somehow escaped my notice back in December).

In other news. Bill Gates isn't very happy about the recent "I'm a PC and I'm a Mac" commercials. Geez, with all that money, doesn't the guy have a sense of humor?

Ways to get Windows Vista capabilities and looks on your current non-Vista rig, and ultra-small PC's are all the rage at the Consumer Electronic's Show (CES). You know I want one, but with price tags between $1000 - 2000, I think it will have to wait. I'd settle for a brand new Palm, and while that doesn't look like it will happen any time soon, they are trying to move things along and grab market share in Europe . The problem is: Europe's already got Symbian and they're quite happy with it, thanks. Good luck there Palm. Maybe innovating instead of just cranking out Treos would make you more attractive. Damn it, give us some cool new features we actually want, and maybe wrap it up in a shiny new handheld. Not everyone wants a new phone.

And, speaking of things I want, there's a new player in the flat-panel TV area, and it's cutting costs to make a name in the industry. How much cost-cutting? How about half-price? Now your'e talking.

February 11, 2007

Some thoughts on '24'

A really poorly written opinion on the last few episodes of "24" (go to the heading called, "Brotherly Shove"). Has it jumped the shark? My opinion is no, but I wonder what others think. Personally, delving a bit into Jack Bauer's personal life gives a bit more dimension to the character. You know, amidst all the violence.

February 10, 2007

Revision 3?

Hmmm... and I thought the Revision Bar name was pretty unique. Now it seems some guys have launched a site called revision3. Seems I missed the launch in September. No matter. Guys talking about comic books? Sounds like a good show to me.

February 05, 2007

Chewbacca's in Trouble...

It's so sad when fantasy-film characters run amok. I smell a "Chewbacca: Behind the Growls" special on VH1 coming up.

January 25, 2007

Long Live Van Halen

It's been a while since they've been in the news, but apparently Van Halen is planning a comeback of sorts with their original frontman David Lee Roth. Good to see the guys back in action. Hopefully they can still provide a good show.
More details here.

January 24, 2007

Creating holiday movies

This is mainly as a reminder for myself, since I've taken tons of holiday movie clips since Thanksgiving. One of my tasks for this winter is to compile all of them into a watchable movie. You know, edit out all the boring parts, include only the good stuff, and maybe add a neat soundtrack playing in the background. Maybe you're in the same boat. If so, check out this video editing advice from USA Today.
My goal is to get it done before spring hits. No one wants to watch Christmas videos 3 or 4 months after the fact.

January 23, 2007

Interesting Quotes and HD Porn

Some things are just too interesting too ignore so I gladly pass them along. A comparison between hundred-dollar laptops and beautiful women and a reaction to a new agreement deal by Microsoft, "Excuse me while I throw up". Indeed.

Not quite related to throwing up, but a stone's throw away, the porn industry is rushing to adapt to and adopt HD formats for it's DVDs. The only problem is that in an industry that prides itself on showing everything, they've found that HD shows things that some people don't want to see. Quite the irony.

iPhone musings

So, I've been meaning to post some thoughts on the new iPhone. Seems like a really good device, and it certainly caught my attention as well as many other people's. You would have thought that Steve Jobs delivered something from heaven above to save humanity. In reality, he delivered a nice phone with some new features, not seen before in a cell phone package.

While some people definitely want it to succeed, there are others who are actively posting it's shortcomings and putting up the "stay away" signs. If I can add my thoughts on the subject, and I haven't seen this posted yet so I may just have a new and unique opinion, it's that this could be Steve Jobs' revenge for the ill-fated Newton. Yes, although Apple hasn't gotten into the PDA game since the Newton days, this could be the way they're getting back into it: through a cell phone...or is it an iPod with cell phone capabilities... or is it a true palmtop computer... or is it a personal media player (PMP)? Whatever you choose to view it as, it's certainly a breakthrough device, but could just be their backdoor way into the world of PDAs. Of course, Steve Jobs would vehemently deny this, saying "No, no, it's just an iPod and cell phone!", but clearly it's about more than that.

January 05, 2007

Game News

Microsoft's extending the warranty on the Xbox360, and the next-gen console shortage could actually last well into 2007. I mean, I know we're there now, but I had expected things to get back to normal after the holiday rush. Apparently this may not be the case.

I finally found some actual admission of how scarce the Nintendo DS was this holiday season, especially the pink one. Seems like I searched forever before I found one, but found one I did. It kicked just about every other new system out of the water in terms of sales. It's worth it. I still can't decide whether to get the Polar White one or the Black. Decision to be made this weekend...hmmm...

January 04, 2007

Gross James Bond

No, not gross as in disgusting; gross as in who's made the most money averaged out over all their movies? USA today's done some of the homework for us and even included Daniel Craig in the mix. So far his figure stands at $146 million.

List of US Presidents

With the death of Gerald Ford, talk of US Presidents has been topical lately. There was a disagreement earlier among two friends of mine because one said there's never been two Presidents named Johnson, and the other insisted there had been. A quick trip to the 'net proved the second friend right. See for yourself, the list of US Presidents, and then check out the sidebar on the right for interesting goings on currently at the White House.

January 03, 2007

Welcome to 2007

Well, it's been an interesting holiday. I took off and pretty much dropped off the face of the planet (and the 'net) around December 15. Didn't do a whole lot of web surfing and certainly didn't do much posting here. For that matter, I've noticed that historically (I've had this site since 2001) I don't post at all during the month of December. Hmm... at least I'm consistent, but it's something I definitely have to work on and plan for next December.

Speaking of my holiday (you were wondering, weren't you?) it was jam packed with events but still managed to be relaxing. A delicate but worthwhile balance. I tried to get an Xbox360 on Thanksgiving for $100 (no luck, but it was fun trying), I thought about buying the Mio H610 GPS unit on Black Friday but passed on it and now really do want it, drooled over all the LCD flat-screen televisions on sale and decided sometime this year or next christmas for sure I'll pick one up (apparently, a lot of people are doing this), I saw some relatives, did my annual guy shopping night with a buddy (no women allowed -- we literally spent an hour just looking at tools. That's my idea of a good time shopping), went to some Christmas concerts, did the obligatory Christmas eve church service, tried out a new ice cream place that recently opened up called Cold Stone Creamery where they "carve" out the ice cream with spades and make whatever concoction you want on marble tablets, had a great Christmas day and got lots of nice gifts, but then had a brutal New Years Eve where I had a headache/sinus/migraine and a house full of people for a party. So, I'm trying to talk to them and socialize and my head is pumping and pounding and I feel like the ball's already dropped in my head. My guests must have thought I was drunk, but I didn't have anything to drink, for fear it would have sent me even further off the dizzy end of the pool and they'd find me on January 1 face down outside.
The next day I medicated myself and felt much better. Mental note: I should have done that a day earlier and I could have salvaged New Years Eve. Ugh. At least the food and company were good.

So that's my holidays in summary form. But enough with that, It's now a new year, and it's back to the blogging. I'm currently in search of a way to get a second phone line into my house without paying much for it. I'm currently very interested in Skype, although some concerns about its security do give me pause. I'll probably give it a try, but for now I'm still in the investigating stage. A full years worth of unlimited calls to US and Canada for $14.95 does sound good though!

Speaking of good deals, apparently lots of people hit the net for their gifts this year. I know it's becoming more and more of a resource that people are using and making a part of their holiday shopping. I've heard of many people who have even foregone the Black Friday sales in person in lieu of getting the same deals online in their pajamas. Hey, if it works, that's great. For me, it's kind of a ritual to get up at some ridiculous hour and be at the mall at a similar ridiculous hour (this year it was up at 4 AM, at the mall at 5 AM). But it just might be fun to do the whole thing online.