November 27, 2008

About this Black Friday business

While we're on subject of Thanksgiving, it naturally flows that we should also be thinking about Black Friday. Check this out for details on how Black Friday lines form, and when. Amazing.

Thanksgiving 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 24, 2008

More on the Verizon mandatory data plan

Some more info on this: in a fit of disgust, I stopped by my local Verizon kiosk in the mall over the weekend and asked them about these new mandatory data plans.
He repeated the party line as to the changes they're making, even going so far as to say it's a great deal at $29.99 since it used to be $44.95. But he did offer me a loophole. He said if you really want a smartphone which isn't data-connected, you can still buy one provided it was introduced prior to Nov. 14, which was the start date of the new program. So, if there's a model available now that you like, it won't have the restriction of needing the data plan. All new phones released after Nov. 14 will. That alone may give me the chance I need to upgrade. However, I'll be SOL in 2 years when all the available smartphones will be under the new regime.

It doesn't look like Tmobile will be any better. They're raising their data rates too:

http://www.brighthand.com/default.asp?newsID=14625

November 21, 2008

Don't look now -- MANDATORY Verizon Data Plans

Damn... check this news out. Verizon, as of Nov. 14, is now making ANY newly-activated smartphone require a data plan:

http://gizmodo.com/5074915/verizon-forces-30-minimum-data-plans-on-new-smartphones

Oh, and it gets worse. They're also hitting up full-featured phones, those that have an HTML browser built in, to require at least the $15 / month V-cast data plan (new activations only).

Here's another story on it: http://gizmodo.com/5086655/more-information-on-verizons-alleged-mandatory-data-plan

Wow...this is pretty terrible. Now I'm not sure what to do about re-upping my phone. I was leaning toward that new Samsung Saga with it's Wi-Fi capability, but now even that will cost me an additional $29.99 a month for a data plan.

Now I'm seriously thinking about switching carriers, although at the moment I'm not sure what I'll do.

November 17, 2008

Quantum of Solace

movie review Movie Review: Saw Quantum of Solace on Friday night. My initial reaction? A good solid Bond movie, and another positive step forward for Daniel Craig. While critics are largely blasting the movie for one reason or another, it's interesting how the love-fest that was Casino Royale has ended. While they couldn't get enough of that movie, largely I think because it was Craig in the role and not Brosnan, and because Craig and the producers took the franchise in a whole new direction, I find it interesting how quickly they've changed their tune. I've heard laments that Q still isn't in this movie, nor Moneypenney. Also that there's not enough gadgets (see CNET's related article: is Bond anti-tech?) . I for one, just want to register my vote for the new direction. The series was indeed getting stale, with the same lines ("shaken not stirred") and situations played upon in each release. There was always the Q scene, the Moneypenney scene, etc. I say throw it all away and let's get down to a good old fashioned spy movie with lots of action. Fortunately for me, that's exactly what the Broccoli family did, and I feel the franchise is in better health today for it.

If I have any qualms with Quantum (besides it's very strange title) it's that it's emphasis seems to be action, not much else. While Casino Royale was downgraded hy a select minority for it's casino scenes, which they felt were too long and drawn out, this movie offers up none of that. Instead it throws such dramatic suspense out the window and punches the throttle hard. You're in for a ride in this movie, and it seldom slows down. I for one would like a bit more of the charactierization and dialog we saw in Casino Royale, but still felt very satisfied by this latest installment. No spoilers here, it's just a good solid movie. Repeated viewings will reveal whether it makes the short list of my favorite Bond outings. So far, it's definitely behind Casino.

October 16, 2008

Holiday Expectations

Amidst the economy woes that have been hitting America hard, it's no surprise that many economy experts as well as writers and pundits are predicting that this could be a real bad year for the US retailers. The only upshot? It could be a real good holiday season for the consumer, with prices being slashed more than in recent years, and starting much earlier. How early? Analysts and experts are predicting they'll start this month, which is good news for consumers. Why wait for black friday when great sales are already going on? Of course, you could hedge your bets and expect better deals, but for that, you'll have to take your chances. [story link]

September 22, 2008

Tommorrow is Android Day

(Geek News) Autumn. change is in the air and it's not just the chilling temperatures along the East coast. We officially welcomed Autumn as of 11:44 AM today, and there's plenty more changes coming. First up is tomorrow's press conference and unveiling of the worlds first Google-powered phone (what was previously called the Google phone, or g-phone) which is built by HTC and exclusive to the T-mobile network. This is a big deal because it certainly represents the newest contestant in the smartphone wars and, if all the signs are correct, the emergence of the newest superpower in that war. Google certainly represents a formidable power in whatever arena it enters, be it search, hosted software, and now phones. It also means much more though. It certainly gives consumers one more choice when purchasing their next phone. For some time there's been Palm phones, Blackberry, and Windows Mobile. Last year we mightily embraced the birth of the iPhone, and effectively the ante was raised as to what a smartphone should be, do, and look like. Now it's Google's turn to dazzle the world and attempt to grab some luster for itself as it displays a brand-new cell phone platform called Android based on it's own software. It won't be Palm, Nokia, Windows, or Blackberry. It certainly won't be Apple. It will be Google.
The other thing that makes this special is that it's a supposedly open-source architecture. What that means is that while most cell customers can't change what their operating system looks or acts like, there shouldn't be these problems with Android. Think of it as Linux, where any developer can modify the OS and send it back to the owner, which in this case is Google. This alone should help speed up changes, fixes, and improvements, but we'll have to see how it is in action. Some have said that the carriers themselves could make their own cosmetic changes and effectively ruin the interface, as Verizon has historically done.

Tommorrow all of this will be revealed. I personally know that Gizmodo will be liveblogging the whole press conference, so if you're really interested in seeing this thing as soon as it's available, check them out tomorrow: Gizomodo Android liveblog.

July 28, 2008

Anticipation

Apparently the new Knight Rider will indeed be made into a new TV series. This just shows how desperate the TV execs are to get anything new and even halfway interesting on the air. For those that saw the TV movie, my apologies. The horror continues.

On a brighter note, Tron, that 80's classic is being revived for a sequel too. Fans at Comic-Con were treated to a promo, which I'll try to find later. This one I'm pretty psyched about and hope it lives up to the original.

There's also plenty of Heroes rumors flying around. I didn't make it through all of Season 2, so I have to go to Hulu to check them out.

Also in the category of things I'm newly-psyched about: The Spirit. The promo looks great -- sexy, action-packed, fun. Follow the link to see the promo.

July 07, 2008

Your DeLorean is Ready

Checking out my numerous gadget sites, there was lots of interesting stuff today. There's an "official" Scrabble on Facebook, but it's clearly no match for Scrabulous. Even the name of the party favorite is better. Now that I'm officially on Facebook, I figure it's about time for lots of things to happen: lots of really crappy applications will be released (of which this could be the first, like a rider of the apocolypse) since all the good stuff's already come out, the platform as a whole will start it's decline (already happening from what I've read) and users will leave in droves, leaving me as the only one there (hasn't happened -- yet).

In Google cell phone news, otherwise known as Android, there's rumors that T-Mobile is prepping the release of the very first Android phone into the wild, as part of their nationwide 3G push later this year. If you've been reading my posts lately (doubtful), you'll know I'm watching Android developments very closely as it just might be the smartphone platform I've been looking for, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Some believe this phone will be the long-awaited HTC dream, but again that's speculation. And it's fun.

Other quick things: Yahoo's like an indecisive lover with her courtship by Microsoft, and finally anounces, "I'm ready"...whatever that means. Casio releases a camera that defies time by starting to record 5 seconds before you pressed the button (umm....I have to dig deeper to see how that works), and speaking of bending time and space, your new DeLorean just may be ready for you to pick up.

All in all, a pretty decent Monday.

July 03, 2008

Your YouTube Habits - Divulged!

Wow...Viacom has received a ruling to have the YouTube viewing habits of every single user handed over to them. This is huge. Google's official stance? Apparently they've done nothing about this since mid 2007, when this lawsuit was first started. "We urge Viacom to back off this overbroad request" says the Electronic Frontier Federation, a watchdog group. Yeah, I'd think that's about right. Every single user? Every video they've ever watched? How long would it take to go through all that data? And it's all because Viacom thinks Google has ripped them off by hosting videos of their commercial properties. I understand they should be compensated. I'm just not so sure this is the most expedient way to go about it. For sure it's the most inclusive, leave-no-stone-unturned way to do it.

Firefox 3 Gets the World Record, Digital SLR Research

Firefox 3 So apparently Firefox was successful on June 17 when it attempted to set a new worlds record for downloads.  Haven't downloaded it yet? Then head on over to their page, check out the goings on, and download it for yourself. I do believe it's the best browser out there right  now. It seems faster than Firefox 2, does have some nice features, and is generally a step forward.  I've even tried it against the most recent versions of IE (please, you call that a competition?) and Opera 9.5, which surprisingly, was a joke. I couldn't believe how slow it was compared to Firefox 2, much less 3.  And I say that as an Opera fan, having used it for years. I keep coming back to it, since I like the browser and it's interface, but it really can't compare speed-wise to Firefox.

I've been researching more into digital cameras again, this time DSLRs, which are digital single lens reflex cameras. The advantage of these is they have larger digital sensors that can capture the brilliance and colors of the scene, and they do it faster than normal compact digital cameras, usually without any shutter delay. Add to this the fact that they use interchangeable lenses for when different effects are desired (like a fish-eye lens or an extreme zoom lens like the pros use) and it's a real cool camera to have. They tend to be pricy though; thus the research. I'm leaning toward the Nikon D40, since its gotten great reviews and a friend of mine swears by Nikon -- of course he's got the big-brother Nikon D200, but that's splitting hairs. 

While I was engrossed in all things DSLR, I caught this story about a legless man who gets around on a skateboard and takes pictures of people's reactions to him. He's gone all over the world doing this, and taken at this point well over 32,000 pictures, posting many of the best ones on his web site. Inspiring, to say the least. Oh yeah, he's using a Nikon D200 too. I'll still be looking at the D40, since I believe it will do everything I want it to do, as well as leave less of a dent in my wallet.

Countdown to the 4th!

So here I am working, whiling away the hours until I'm in the vortex of the July 4 holiday. Good times.

Testing out blogging from my phone

Testing out a new mobile phone blogging service. Kind of a homegrown Twitter, which integrates directly with this site. Cool.

June 23, 2008

KITT as a GPS device

Not a whole lot of time to post today, but I figure I should get to it anyway, especially when juicy tidbits like this literally drop in my hands. Most of you know I'm a Knight Rider fan, so when this showed up on my (virtual) doorstep, I was pretty happy...and sad. Happy because it's a Knight Rider-themed GPS, which is very cool, and a great marketing/tie-in idea. Why sad? Because a) I already have a GPS unit that I really like and is probably better than this, and b) they put the red strobing lights vertical instead of horizontal. Come on, everyone knows it was horizontal. Sheesh.

But hey, lots of props to Mio for actually getting the Knight Rider franchise to go with this. If I didn't have one, this would be great.

June 09, 2008

iPhone day plus geekness both good and bad

Today was the big iPhone 2.0 announcement. Surprise of it all, some of the rumors were actually true, especially the $200 price, which I thought was rubbish. Announced today by the black turtlenecked Steve Jobs himself, the device indeed supports third-generation cellular technology (so called 3G, offering broadband like web surfing and data operation speeds), lots of cool new programs (some even free), and a nifty $199 price tag for the 8GB model. My one thought: how pissed are all those people that lined up and paid $500 or more for the original model? I'm betting they're pretty mad, unless they're too delirious with giddiness at the new features. iPhone people can be a tricky bunch to decipher.

In unrelated geek stuff as the clouds parted and the world heralded the arrival of the newly descended cellular God (iPhone), others things were in fact going on. Amazon had trouble simply keeping it's web storefront open and online, much todo was made over a Huffington Post blogger for some political and journalistic missteps she took while interviewing, and McDonalds said, "No more free Wifi" with those burgers. You'll have to rely on your Blackberrys, Palm Treos, and iPhones from now on. Phooey.

There were also some good ideas and bad ideas thrown around recently. Good idea: therer's a Palm OS emulator coming soon to the iPhone. Hey, that's a pretty neat idea. As people flock away from their Palm Treos and their Palm PDAs for the almighty iPhone, at least they can take their personal information manager (PIM) experience with them. All their data from the Palm, including the look and feel of the OS itself, will be emulated on the iPhone. Shrewd move on the part of StyleTap. Palm's dead, the iPhone isn't -- but there's still lots of legacy data out there to be looked after. Now on to the bad idea: apparently Staples is going to start selling self-destructing DVDs. You may have seen these before, circa 1998, in Circuit City and other stores.. Basically you pay something like $5.00 for the DVD, watch the movie, and then after a set period of time, usually a few days to a week, it's dead -- unwatchable. What to do then? Simply toss it out. Great for you, not so great for the environment. So let's look at the timing here: it's 2008, and all the major players are prepping or already offering legitimate movie downloads over the internet, Eventually this will displace DVD rentals just as surely as DVD displaced VHS. And it is at this very moment in time that Staples decides to resurrect the crippled-DVD format. Dumb.

And, since I can't leave you on that note, I'll leave you with some good things. First is the worlds first hard drive with built-in disaster protection, (see the pic below)



I'm still OK!





and next is the new graphic novel from writer Cory Doctorow, which just so happens to be FREE. Released under a Creative Commons license, you're free to grab this thing and do what you will with it -- but I'd suggest actually reading it, since I've heard good things about Cory. I do plan on reading it myself.

And, in the spirit of Apple's announcement today, I have just one more thing: a toaster made for hot dogs.
Enjoy!

May 30, 2008

Indiana Jones and other interesting reads

Some interesting, and mostly fun, things have popped up in my browser today. Firstly, there's not one but a whole bunch of articles on the Hudson Valley of New York, where I live. Articles on the restaurants, a local B& B lighthouse, and even a whole section with more articles. I especially like the one about the haunted houses.

Stumbling around the 'net I saw a fisherman who bagged a rather large halibut (you have to see it to believe it, thankfully there's a few pictures). I also found a rather terse and heavy handed review of the new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. While I'm on that subject, let me just add my two cents worth. I saw the movie last Friday, and loved it. Should have posted some sort of review before this. Without giving anything away, it follows in the fine tradition of the other movies and doesn't let the franchise down at all. I'd say it's more in the tradition of Last Crusade, and maybe just a bit of Temple of Doom thrown in. I was hoping it would have more of a Raiders feeling, namely more serious and a bit more in the way of intelligent dialog, but wasn't terribly depressed that it didn't deliver on that. What it did serve up was good Indiana Jones fun that didn't disappoint. Catch it if you get a chance. And -- one more thing on Indy -- follow the previous link on the movie title to go to the official site, where there's tons of movie goodies.

Finally, here's a pretty insightful article on why you'll be rejoicing at $8 a gallon gasoline. What it will do and why it ultimately is a good thing. Read the article for all the details, but in my opinion it was very well thought out and provided lots of good economics-ripple effect reasoning behind what's going on now, and what will happen if prices and the trend continue. I think his statements about invention and research being bumped up dramatically are spot-on. People right now are only just beginning to alter their driving habits and think more ecologically. Will the current state of oil and the economy really push people to change things? Will it push venture capitalists, technology folks, or research labs to really come up with something new and end our dependence on oil? Could be, but push the price up to $8 and the answer is a resounding yes.

May 23, 2008

To Twitter or Not?

So, I've been thinking of doing more with this site and getting my Twitter on. There's lots of ways to do it --- from your PC, mobile phone, etc. So in the future you may see some micro-blog posts from me. You know, stuff like, "getting coffee", "watching a movie", "hiding from authorities". Stuff like that. For now I'm holding off because Twitter seems to be having it's share of problems, although they've recently ended their silence and started talking about their plans.

I'm starting to get back into digital photography, the nice weather and the exposure to sunshine and outdoor activities all but demands it. For now I'm holding steady with my Olympus C-740 UltraZoom, which I've had for a few years. Its' an awesome camera and produces fantastic shots
that it's 3.2 MP specs wouldn't necessarily suggest. I also have a Canon SD630, which is quite a bit faster than the Olympus, but alas, even at 6 MP, it doesn't produce as good shots as the Olympus. And that, my friends, just proves that this whole camera business isn't just about the megapixel count. But I disgress. For now I've been going through tutorials on the web to brush up on my skills, and found a few: irphotoschool, webphotoschool, and even some lessons from Olympus themselves. What I really want to get is a Digital SLR --I'm thinking either the Canon digital Rebel or the Nikon D40 -- but the $500 price tag has so far kept me away. And, speaking of cameras, here's what a $3,000 dollar camera can do -- namely get you chased by the secret service.

David Pogue from the New York Times recently stirred up a hornet's nest when he
questioned just how dangerous the internet was for children, and suggested that some parents were overprotective. And then, suddenly, hundreds of Times readers descended upon his post en masse to decry his opinion.

I'm currently rocking the Motorola Q smartphone, but looking forward to Google's Android OS later this year, as well as the next Palm OS. Researches at Nokia have put together a wish list and designed a PDA chameleon device. Could this be your next PDA or smartphone?

And, just in time to amuse you on Memorial Day weekend, here's someone who definitely knows how to party: David Lee Roth, former front man for Van Halen. Check out this video of him singing minus the background music. Hmmm... something's just not right there.

May 16, 2008

Indy reviews, new music and the flying man

The new Indiana Jones movie is about to be debut (May 22) yet some people are already giving it an early thumbs down. One bad sign: action figures will be available.

While I run out the remainder of my Verizon contract, I keep busy by looking around and trying to figure out which carrier I might go to next, that will have the best mix of coverage, price, and an inexpensive data plan. Apparently Sprint won't be on my list, since they're having such problems lately. Witness this story on Sprint's ups and downs.

Google Sites launches, allowing people to collaborate on web sites. Strangely enough, they're not calling it a Wiki.

FYI, here's a great blog that I've been going to every day: The Cheapskate. It's a must read, and one of my first stops in the morning when I start the browser (along with Woot, of course).

Microsoft drops Vista prices. Things must be getting quite tense there in Redmond, everybody bashing Vista and such. I've been running Vista on a brand new PC (thank you, Christmas) and I have to say I'm a bit underwhelmed. Although I do like the new graphical effects, really the only significant feature is the new tagging feature, where you can put labels, or tags, on documents, pictures and anything else on your hard drive. Then, you can search using those tags and instantly find what you need, without having to remember what folder you stored it in. That's a great feature and a fantastic timesaver. However, I don't see many improvements in the rest of the operating system. And it is slow, despite me increasing the RAM to 4 GB!

Recently I've been captivated by the funny T-shirts @ snorg.com. For some reason they appeal to my nostalgia, since they remind nme of some of the shirts of the 70s and 80s, but they also seem so expressive, unlike most of the conservative crap worn everyday. It looks like something Dr. Gregory House would wear, and my friends, that's just cool.

I've been trying to get more new music lately. Through some music sites I saw that the Nine Inch Nails album Ghosts could mostly be downloaded for free (well, the first 9 tracks anyway) . Check it out at http://ghosts.nin.com/main/order_options. Then, while I was still listening to that and trying to figure out whether I really like it or not (it is a bit strange) they released another new album, The Slip. That one's along the same lines as Ghosts, so if that's your style, you can grab a bunch of it for free.
I've also bought the new Asia album, Phoenix, which in a word is: awesome. There was also a launch celebration hosted by Amazon where they streamed a live concert of them on the album's release date, which was pretty cool. I had never attended a concert that way before, and found it kind of cool, but also a bit strange, watching it there on my computer. However, parking was much less of a hassle than usual.

And, in OH MY GOD ISN'T IT COOL news, check this out: the latest in flying man technology. I mean, check out this picture...doesn't that just say it all?



Flyin!

May 02, 2008

Evil Darth Hilary?

Things have gotten far too busy lately so I haven't found time to write. Ah, scratch that -- I haven't made time to write. Correcting that now.

Some things I've stumbled across in the time since I've last posted... a very interesting article about how there is no gas shortage, and the price is just a manipulation. In the end, the article ends up asking more questions than giving answers, but it does point out some interesting facts and makes me scratch my head and say "why?". Why the high gas prices if this story is true?

Since I'm a blogger I found this story about Engadget -vs- Gizmodo very interesting too. How scooping the competition has become a way of life and absolute obsession among the heads of both these sites. The fact is, most people do read both, so I think this may be mostly for naught. Personally I would concentrate on getting material the other person won't get, such as more detailed specs, secret info, etc. The story about the one guy having insomnia because he lost the scoop on the new big-screen television just doesn't make sense to me. Doesn't he realilze that the world would eventually, and sooner rather than later, learn about this TV on their own? Again, I'd concentrate on things the other guy wouldn't be able to get. The TV example is clearly something that wouldn't fall into that category, even if it was top-secret and behind a curtain. It was still a consumer electronic device about to be unveiled at a trade show, of all places. Sheesh.

Speaking of other things I've learned, Arthur C Clarke died. Yes, I know it was a while ago, but since I haven't written since it happened, this mention is deserved. I remember that his writing was some of the earliest science fiction I ever read, and still remains the finest. His collections of short stories, as well as novels, were the stuff that made me dream and in turn made me want to become a writer. Someday soon I need to start churning out my own short stories, but that's a topic for some other time. Interesting tidbit: one of Clarke's contemporaries, and the other sceience fiction writer whose work I read quite a bit of was Piers Anthony. Over the last couple of months I found Piers' web site and discovered his newsletter, which I began reading regularly. In one of the latest ones, he honors Clarke as a good person, who furthered the craft of science fiction writing, while simultaneously saying he didn't think he was that gifted of a writer. Each person has their opinion, I suppose.

Some Star Wars stuff to pass along: there's a new amateur movie coming out, about two Star Wars fans who cook up a plot to sneak into George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch. The punchline? Lucas has actually blessed the project and opened wide the doors to said ranch. Yep, the movie's being filmed right there, amidst all the force-inspired goodness. Why, it's every geek's dream come true, and should turn out to be a pretty cool movie.

The other Star Wars find: this political video about Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama (see below). I truly found this hilarious, although I'm not so sure that Hilary's the evil Empire's Darth Vader character. And Obama as Luke Skywalker? Ummm... I'll have to get back to you on that. Here's the video though. Pretty well done.






Finally, some news on what to drive and what to eat: maybe buy a BMW instead of a Prius, achieve better science through coffee and make sure you also drink green tea, because it's good for you.

You've been informed.

February 25, 2008

Hawk Troubles and Finding Cheap Deals

Well, back in September I went to the Digital Life show in NYC and saw a lot of cool things. One thing that I vowed to keep tracks on was the Novint Falcon, which promised more accessories as time went by and interoperability with different types of games, such as first person shooters. I wasn't sure if they would make good on that promise, since I often go to these shows and hear about "our upcoming plans for this product" and then they fall off the face of the planet, never to be heard from again. Well, not this time.
Also while I was at the show, I was literally buzzed by a remote controlled dragonfly. Well, now that this toy is avaailable to the real world (and yes -- I got one for Christmas and it rocks) it's having a little trouble with hawks.

OK, so now people are thinking that maybe the Foleo wasn't such a dumb idea... geez, who had this story first? Oh right-- it was me, just a couple of days ago.
[read here for a dissenting opinion of the Foleo]

Now that the Academy Awards are over, you'll either be ramping up your DVD watching to see some of those award-winning movies, or you're bored because you've already seen them. If you're one of the latter, you can watch old CBS shows online for free, or organize your music collection. Apparently I'm good at giving people suggestions on how to spend their free time.

I know I've talked about this before, but the information just keeps rolling in, and I'm sure it will until next February. Here's all your questions answered about the upcoming switch to digital TV.

From the FYI department, there's a new blog over at CNET, and it's worth checking everyday. It's called The Cheapskate, and I've already found great deals there, repeatedly. I check it every morning along with Woot.

February 18, 2008

Toshiba: It's Over for HD DVD

Some important questions to ask today:

What will happen now that HD DVD seems to have admitted defeat? Yep, it's true. Toshiba, the primary advocate left of HD DVD, has thrown in the towel and declared it over. Surprisingly, even Toshiba investors cheered this action, maybe because it means less fracturing of the marketplace and Toshiba can now focus more squarely on other projects.

Is the Playstation 3 finally coming of age? The move by many retailers to embrace Blu Ray, while declaring HD DVD the loser, may be what this console really needs.

Ever wonder what happens to all those shirts and caps made up ahead of time for the team that didn't win the Super Bowl? Apparently they end up in other countries.

Is it time to get a new television set, in light of the imminent switch to digital? Or will you simply grab a converter box? Coupons for the converter boxes will start being mailed next week. In reading the story, I just realized most households won't need this at all. Only households "which are not connected to cable or satellite will need a converter box when full-power broadcast stations begin transmitting digital-only signals in February 2009". And thus die my plans for getting that new big screen.

Is Al Pacino going to play the villain in the next James Bond film, Quantum of Solace? Note to Barbara Broccoli and the rest of the Bond production family: please say yes. Although I have to say that I wasn't very happy with his performance in Oceans 13, I believe that may have been a problem with the script he was given, not the actor himself. With the good work that was done on Casino Royale, I have faith in the forthcoming script and think that Pacino would do a great job with it. Oh, and I'll go on record right now stating that I'll bet this rumor isn't true, but merely an item from someone's wish list, much like the rumors that swirl about Sean Connery playing a cameo in every Bond movie since Goldeneye. We'll see if I"m right as more details emerge about the movie.

By the way, that new Knight Rider movie last night totally sucked. Just so you know.

February 15, 2008

Death Knell for HD DVD, Foleo's Revenge

Technology marches forward: there's a new "camera pill" that you can ingest and it will take pictures of your insides to help doctors diagnose any possible conditions. The best part? It's reusable.

Speaking of technology, Best Buy will start advising customers to buy Blu Ray. WalMart has announced it will only sell Blu Ray from now on. So long HD. Take your place next to Betamax over there on the bookshelf. Is this the PS3's doing, the same way DVD adoption was sped up by people buying the original PS2, which doubled as a DVD player? I remember Sony taking some heat by putting a Blu Ray in the PS3 -- maybe they knew what they were doing all along. Maybe.

And, in a technology sense of the future kind, director JJ Abrams gets serious about his Star Trek movie, even hiring a Nasa expert as a consultant.

Clothing might change in the future too. Scientists are working on clothing that actually produces energy. It uses the vibrations that occur when you walk to power up portable electronic devices. Think of your own body movement powering your pacemaker. Or better yet, an iPod. Ok, I guess the pacemaker would be better, but maybe not quite as fun. I mean really, can your pacemaker download and play podcasts? What? It can? I think that's an undocumented feature.

If you've got a cellular phone (hello --- this is 2008 calling, get on the bandwagon) you might want to pay attention to this: the analog network that many older phones use is going away next Monday. That's February 18 for those without smartphones and thus no calendars. According to the major carriers, this change won't affect many users, since they've weaned almost everyone over to the newer digital-only phones anyway. Hurray for equipment upgrades, whether you really wanted it or not. But, if your phone suddenly won't work next Monday, you've been warned.

And speaking of cell phones, remember Palm's Foleo? That weird combination of cell phone processing power and laptop size that didn't really seem to be needed, that never really fit in, that was killed off before it ever made it to any retail stores? Palm may have learned their lesson, but now Windows Mobile phone users get their shot. The Redfly, from a company named Celio, is making it's debut. It's designed to do the exact same thing for Windows Mobile phones as the Foleo was for Palm 's phones. Somewhere I'm sure you can hear Palm executives laughing and filling out condolence cards. Those that don't pay attention to history are doomed to repeat it.

Nintendo's got some buzz going these days too, but it seems to be about their star player's hair. Seriously, no one wants to bash the Wii anymore, so now they're turning their sites on Nintendo's people? And, while we're on the subject of hair, take a look at this page, supposedly with tips for making thin hair look thicker. Note the weird use of quotations, and the fact that it conveys no real information. No comment as to how I found that page or what I was doing there in the first place.

One last thing: Be careful what you put on Flickr; some photos have been illegally sold.
That's right, those pictures of you and Grandma at the family reunion could end up on some website somewhere, maybe even the heading of, "stock footage".
Hey, that's my Grandma!

February 14, 2008

Gadgets instead of Dates

As promised the new Indiana Jones trailer hit the world today. I caught it on Good Morning America, where it was promptly played at 8:16 AM (as promised yesterday and noted here). The trailer looked good and has lots of great stuff. In one scene Indy says, "this isn't going to be as easy as it used to be". And in another he's looking at an army container which has the words "Roswell, New Mexico" stamped on it. Since the movie takes place in the 1950's, this falls in line perfectly with the whole alien crash landing at Roswell timeline. I love it. Also as promised, the trailer is now online for those that couldn't catch it this morning. Check it out and read other's reactions too.

And, since this is Valentine's Day, here's a little something for those of you without a date -- get a gadget instead.

February 13, 2008

Bond Press Release plus the New Indiana Jones Movie Trailer

In entertainment news, there's plenty going on, aside from the whole
Microsft/Yahoo shenanigans (or should we call them Yahoolilgans?).
The Writer's strike has been settled, although details so far haven't been disclosed. Hopefully this means the writers will finally get a share of Internet-related profits, as their creations get disseminated worldwide, not just on the networks where they originally aired. It remains to be seen which shows come back fairly soon, which ones wait until the new fall season, and which
ones don't make the cut at all, and never come back.

There's also big news in the movie world, where tomorrow marks the first trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which will be available both on television spots and on the Internet. Watch Good Morning America tomorrow between 8 and 9 AM Eastern time to get your first look. I'm sure it will be online directly after that.

Today must also be a banner day for George Lucas, who in addition to taking part in the Indy announcement also had some Star Wars news to share: there will be a new movie, albeit an animated one based on the Clone Wars. Hey, we'll take whatever movies you throw at us George. We've been buying tickets to Star Wars since 1977, and it's not going to stop now. The date for the new movie is August 15, so there's quite a while to wait--but the expectation helps to build it up. Pass the popcorn.

OK, so we've talked about two of my favorite film franchises, Indiana Jones and Star Wars. I just wish we had some James Bond news to round this all out.

Hmm...as a matter of fact, we have a video of the press
conference
for Quantum of Solace, the next Bond movie. Aaah, that feels better.

And don't forget about the new Knight Rider movie, presumably the pilot for the new series, debuting this Sunday.

Blackberry Outage, Ballmer's Outrage and Yahoo

A Blackberry outage causes the world to seemingly end; Woot offers up advice for the next outage.
My favorite quotes from these stories:
"Everyone's in crisis because they're all picking away at their BlackBerrys and nothing's happening," Garth Turner, a member of the Canadian Parliament, said during a caucus meeting. "It's almost like cutting the phone cables or a total collapse in telegraph lines a century ago. It just isolates people in a way that's quite phenomenal."

"I don't know what happened, I don't care what happened. They need to save their excuses for someone who cares."


Seriously, I use email a lot. I have 2 personal accounts, plus 1 for this site, and a corporate account. Email is indeed a lifeline. However, my mobile device doesn't have to be the only device I get it on; I do have a laptop (remember those, Blackberry users? Real computers?) and it's perfectly fine, almost preferable, to use that to get email. The outage lasted 3 hours. While I know this isn't the greatest thing, I'm not sure I see what all the fuss is about. That one quote from the Yahoo story still stands out:
"I don't know what happened, I don't care what happened. They need to save their excuses for someone who cares."

My response: Get a life. Be patient. It was only 3 hours. You had other means to get your email.

[Story Sidebar: While we're talking about Blackberries, here's a testimonial from someone who tried to give it up. ]

Other mobile phone news: at a worldwide phone conference in Barcelona, the first Google Android prototype phones debut. This should be interesting, as it's a new addition to the world of smartphones, the first for Google, but a direct competitor to Windows Mobile, Palm, and Blackberry.

Meanwhille, Microsoft just won't give up on it's quest to acquire Yahoo, and they've apparently got some Yahoo investors on their side? I guess the bottom line, and stock price, really are worth more to some investors than any loyalty to the company. One thing I don't understand, and I guess a business degree would help me out immeasurably in this case, is how can Microsoft's Ballmer be preparing to engage in a proxy fight and nominate directors to Yahoo's board? Apparently Ballmer's got until March 13 to do just that. Yahoo's story seems to clear this up a bit:

Microsoft, which called its bid "full and fair," could switch from wooing Yahoo's leaders to declaring war on them by making allies of shareholders in order to oust board members at annual elections mid-year.

Yahoo's 10 board members are up for re-election. The deadline for board member candidate nominations is in March.

So it seems that during the re-election of Yahoo's board members, Microsoft would woo potential members to seeing things their way, which means accepting a future buyout offer. This could include nomination of new people to Yahoo's board...people who have been hand picked by Ballmer himself. Outside of business we call this stacking the deck, so that the odds are all in your favor. I'd really hate to see Microsoft gain Yahoo this way.

One thing that is an interesting sticking point is that certain investors in Yahoo are also major investors in Microsoft. This presents a slight conflict of sorts, as they may or may not want Yahoo to sell, but if they do they certainly don't want Microsoft paying too much for it, so they're on both sides of the fence.

Allegedly, if Microsoft raises its bid to $35 or $36 per share, key people involved have said Yahoo will have no real choice but to sell.

"Yahoo! management has already exhausted the patience of its largest, longest-suffering shareholders," said RBC Capital Markets analyst Jordan Rohan.

The last line from the story in the NY Post summed it up pretty well:
If Microsoft raises its bid, even if it is only by $1 or $2, "The board may have to tell Yang that his emotions are getting the better of him and take the negotiations out of his hands."

I think we may be about to witness some nasty, yet historical negotiations.

February 11, 2008

Hillary, Technology and the Towel Monkey

As the Presidential campaign heats up, Hillary spars with Obama, pundits start scrutinizing everything from the speeches to the candidates web sites. Meanwhile, Microsoft thought it smelled blood and started poaching on a near-defenseless Yahoo. On Friday it seemed as if we'd soon have a Micro-Hoo, however things changed over the weekend and became official today: no deal. Yahoo says it will try and turn itself around, which seems like the better deal than selling out to Microsoft. So instead, Bill Gates and company turned their sites on smartphone visionary Danger, the makers of the Hip Hop and Sidekick. Apparently Danger actually welcomed the buyout, which seems strange in itself. Microsoft's apparently on a buying spree, which means it's looking to foster innovation yet again with deep pockets. There's no telling where this could end. Not at Yahoo's headquarters though.

Microsoft's foray into Dangerous territory could augment their smartphone business, but would put them even more squarely into a firefight with Google, as it launches it's Android platform in the second half of this year. Smartphones aside, it would just be nice if their first service pack for Vista didn't suck so much.

Amidst all this talk of takeovers and politics, there's something new on the horizon: the Real ID, a way of positively authenticating US citizens via a database of information. Apparently, the best way to authenticate yourself is to get a US Passport -- prepare for lengthy delays and a run on the Passport agency. However, without one you could face even longer waits at the airport -- and don't even think about going into a Federal building. Meanwhile, there's rumors out there that Apple's planning a late February event, which almost always means a new product announcement.

And, life's not all gloom, politics and technology takeovers. There's a new phone out there just for Batman fans (I've waited years for this), you can learn how to fold a towel monkey and really scare your house guests (or the occasional shower burglar/nosy next door neighbor).

February 04, 2008

Enter the Smartphone

So, I finally gave in. To be fair, I've used a PDA for about 10 years now, starting with the 256K Sharp Wizard (with the magnificent keyboard), then going through the Palm III and all manner of subsequent PDAs as they were rolled out, both Palm and Windows OS. However, the last few years, having a cell phone and a PDA meant leaving one behind, and the phone always won. To add insult to injury, Palm in it's latest incarnations changed it's handwriting system (that nasty lawsuit with the makers of Jot) and made my scrawly characters illegible by Palm's system. And Windows Mobile only liked me a little better, so that was no help. I longed for the days of a full-featured PDA with the keyboard like the Sharp Wizard, that would also double as my cell phone. The trouble is: now that I had made up my mind, how best to do it? I was only half-way through a contract with Verizon, and that meant no cheap carrier-subsidized upgrade. So, I did what millions do: I eventually headed to Ebay.

The Palm Treos initially caught my eye. Being a long-time Palm user this seemed like the best fit. However, the Palm's ancient OS (developed back in 1996 and only tweaked marginally in the ten years that followed) and the large, brick-like size of the Treos didn't seem like the best way to go if I was truly trying to make a change for the better. My Windows Mobile PDA had it's quirks, such as it's inefficient use of memory and the need to have regular soft resets, but aside from that it was a prettty good unit (I think it says something about the state of things that I was willing to accept these shortcomings). I decided that this functionality, plus the newer OS of Windows Mobile, would do the trick.

Enter the Motorola Q. Quite slim, based on the Razor design, with a nice keyboard and all the trimmings. In fairness, the keyboard isn't as nice as it could be (I've also tried out a Blackberry 7250 and its was much nicer -- more on that some other time) and the number of key taps to enter data is sometimes maddening. For instance, I should be able to simply put the cursor on a time field- let's say ten am- click and start typing -- but on Windows Mobile I cannot. But it is a big step forward from the stylish yet data-challenged Razor I previously had. For one thing, the device is designed to swap data with a PC, no hacking required. The mini-SD card is easily accessible, not under the battery (who ever thought that was a good idea anyway?), and the screen is absolutly gorgeous. Pictures and videos look quite nice and believe it or not I think the Q is faster than my old standalone Windows PDA. So, it seems like it will serve me well for the year as I ride out the rest of my contract.

What will I do next? I'm already eyeing up a Blackberry. The Curve looks quite nice (if it comes to Verizon) and I'm sure there will be other models announced and available by next year. I can already tell you that the speed and ease of use of the Blackberry platform trounces anything Windows Mobile has. So for now, I'll bide my time and enjoy my entrance into the world of Smartphones. It was time to bid adieu to the cell phone -- PDA shuffle and get everything in one device. After all, smartphones are the new PDAs... and I'm enjoying mine so far.

January 14, 2008

Sci Fi Drive-In

While researching I stumbled across this: full length movies on the web, and at a reputable site as well. It's true: Scifi's drive-in, a subset of their main scifi.com site, has a bunch of old movies for your viewing pleasure. When I first clicked in, I thought it might be select scenes, or the first 10 minutes and then you have to pay for the rest or it would just tell you to watch SciFi on TV.

Nope.

Those are the full movies, all there for your enjoyment. Some are B-grade movies, which are pretty good in their own right (if you're in the right mood and actually like that genre) but some are outright classics. I'm talking about movies like Metropolis and 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea to name just two. Unbelievably good and a sure-fire time suck if you're ever at a loss for something to do and your PC is just sitting there starting at you.