June 30, 2009

Firefox 3.5

Today is Firefox 3.5 day, when the beast is finally unleashed to the world. According to the specs, it's faster and has a host of new improvements; the trouble is, how has it kept up with it's competition? And no, we're not talking about Internet Explorer...

June 22, 2009

Welcome Summer

It seems like only yesterday, or last week, or many many snow-covered weeks ago that we were counting down the days until Spring. And now, like a thief in the night comes it's hotter cousin, Summer. That's right, as of yesterday at 1:45 AM it officially became Summer, and that's very cool. The only downside? The fact that yesterday was also the longest day of the year, and after this the days will progressively get shorter. That's right campers; while we're all busy playing and basking in the sunshine thinking we've got all the time in the world we're actually losing party time in small increments each day. Wow. Kind of makes you enjoy it while it's here, doesn't it?
Now don't get all depressed on us, we're just showing off our knowledge of the way the seasons work -- there's lots of time to play in the sun. As a matter of fact, since summer's only a day or so old, we're all just getting started. And speaking of getting started, check out how some people over at Stonehenge ushered in the summer solstice. The pictures pretty much tell the story, and it's pretty incredible.

June 21, 2009

Happy Fathers Day

Fathers Day is here! That day when children everywhere give their dads one of the following, seemingly interchangeable and revolving, biennial gifts:
  • Cologne
  • A tie, the gaudier the better. Gaudy with Disney characters is a plus.
  • Hand-made ashtrays they made in school, regardless of whether dad smokes (actually, those are kind of cool)
Part of getting the right gift for your dad involves actually knowing him (yes, that means paying attention -- put down the game system). Is he a gear-head? An exercise fan? Sports fan? Geek? Try out this checklist to validate that last possibility.

And be nice to dad today. If you were a seahorse, you would owe him big time.

June 20, 2009

The DeLorean Gets its Own Movie

Great Scott! A biopic about the inventor of the DeLorean? Well, there's three of them in the works, so we'll have to wait and see how this shakes out. Our guess? It comes down to two or maybe just the one, with a pooling of the different scripts and talent involved. But what a movie this guy's life will be: hotshot designer for GM, youngest-ever division head, hobnobbing with celebrities, inventor of the GTO and the Firebird, and later, owner/CEO of his own company which brought to life the DMC-12, otherwise known as the DeLorean. Oh yeah, there's a little cocaine smuggling thrown in there somewhere. This should be great once it finally gets made. We're picturing a darker, grittier version of Tucker, with a cameo by Johnny Carson, one of the highest profile DeLorean owners.

In other news, but no less dramatic, Pixar proves it's the coolest movie-making company by granting a dying kids last wish, to see their new movie, Up. They put together a DVD and trucked it over to the kid's house, since she was unable to even get to a theater. This speaks volumes about the good people at Pixar.

And then, on the other side, there's Microsoft, who apparently won't even let owners of their upcoming Windows 7 Starter Edition change the wallpaper on their netbook. You'll apparently be stuck with whatever they give you as the default. That alone should make peole want to upgrade to a costlier version. But hey, apparently Microsoft is sticking it to the people buying the cheap version. How novel.

June 19, 2009

Eulogy for AvantGo

We've written about PDAs before. You remember those schedule thingies that we all had back in the 90's? They had those cool monochromatic screens, and the calendar, and the list of all your friends addresses? You remember... before our phones usurped all those abilities and took over as the chosen one? But, we digress. There have been many nails put into the PDA's coffin, but another one, perhaps the final one, came recently. One of the most used, and beloved, piece of PDA software is being (gasp) discontinued. Killed off. Banished, sorta like Yoda at the end of Episode 3 even though he totally almost kicked the emporor's wrinkled behind. The difference though, is that for this piece of software, it's final. No coming back. The software is AvantGo, and if you ever had a PDA you no doubt had this on it at one time or another, or at least knew about it. It was that good. Its reason for living was to enable you to semi-automatically copy information from the 'net to your PDA and take it with you. Every day people would wake up, download scads of the latest information (from online newspapers mainly, but who knows what all else they grabbed) and then read it on their PDA on the way to work. It was simple, effective, and just plain good. It served a use that was extremely important -- it enabled people to take their favorite sites with them, and read that information where they chose, at a time they chose, and not have to be bound to their PC in order to do so. It was liberating.

But in the last few years, something happened. The phones started doing all this, and they were doing it in real-time. From the lowliest Virgin Mobile T9 puke-white clamshell to the almighty iPhone, it seems that net access with a cell phone is all too easy these days. Sure, there's a price to be paid, but most people seem to ante up at one time or another in any number of various ways. There's the $5 monthly plan from Verizon on their lowest phones, there's the $30 smartphone/Blackberry bundles that just about every carrier has these days ("oh, we didn't tell you? That's on top of your monthly voice plan") and then there's the cream of the crop, the iPhone plan, which near as we can tell involves some kind of revolving credit line and a Swiss account. Different methods, different price points and devices. There's even free services from Google which use text messaging to deliver results from the net. For free, no less. Have they no shame?

In the end, it seems that AvantGo's demise may well be the last vestige of the old PDA age, and herald the bellwether of the true smartphone age, as more and more people rely on their phones for data services and connecting to the internet. It's been forecast for years, but now it's finally coming true.

So farewell AvantGo. We knew you well, we used the hell out you, and we loved you. You did us proud.