Mr. Bill George Presents

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

SQUlifeARED

In Technology on July 24, 2009 at 12:04 AM
The square. What a perfect shape. Four equal sides and a perfect receptacle for information to be contained. Confused? Allow me to enlighten you.
My digitized life is now really all contained inside of squares. I bought a Nintendo Wii seven months or so ago, and really loved the “Channel” concept it had to offer. All my favorite things kept nice at neat in little squares just a quick little point away. (Yes Bill, I know the Wii channels are slightly rectangular and have rounded edges but roll with me here.) Then one day as I was surfing the internet a little Google at popped up asking me if I wanted to try Google Chrome. I like Google. Chrome is shiny. Where could it go wrong? So as began the download I began to wonder what this “Chrome” was really all about.
If you haven’t tried Google Chrome. Try it. Now. It’s stripped down, it’s quick and it doesn’t try to kid itself with what it is. A browser. A smart browser that when opened is eerily reminiscent of the Wii Channels. Except the little squares contain not Super Mario World and Sonic, but 9 of my most visited websites. I happen to really love Wikipedia and YouTube, so Chrome has search bars for both sites built in so you don’t need to go to the actual site. Genius.
Is this a review for Google Chrome? Kind of. You see, Chrome isn’t just a browser, it’s a way of life. It says I’m busy, but I’ll make busy cool.  The way I see it there’s a Big 3 of Web Browsers. Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
Firefox: Firefox users are usually tech-saavy, Mac loving types who, at least in my experience will defend Firefox until the point of coming to blows. I know this post has to yield at least one angry comment for a user. FIIRRREEEFOOOXXXXX!!! It could be our generations FREEEEBBBIIIRRRRRDDDD!!!!
Internet Explorer: Usually people who are not very internet centered. Facebook is usually their homepage and They keep updating Internet Explorer only because its friendly and familiar, like that animated paper clip that Microsoft used to have.
Chrome: I’m not going to fill this one out. Try Chrome for yourself and join us. (I think this might have been what Lennon was talking about in ‘Imagine’) I’ve converted at least 20 people now, and hopefully a few more after this post.
So flame away, do your worst TIAW readers. I can handle it. And damn it I’ll say it, its just so hip to be a square.

The square. What a perfect shape. Four equal sides and a perfect receptacle for information to be contained. Confused? Allow me to enlighten you.

My digitized life is now really all contained inside of squares. I bought a Nintendo Wii seven months or so ago and really loved the “Channel” concept it had to offer. All my favorite things kept nice and neat in little squares just a quick little point away. (Yes Bill, I know the Wii channels are slightly rectangular and have rounded edges but roll with me here.)

Then one day as I was surfing the internet a little Google ad popped up asking me if I wanted to try Google Chrome. I like Google. Chrome is shiny. Where could it go wrong? So as began the download I began to wonder what this “Chrome” was really all about.

If you haven’t tried Google Chrome: try it. Now. It’s stripped down, quick and doesn’t try to kid itself with what it is – a browser. A smart browser that when opened is eerily reminiscent of the Wii Channels. Except the little squares contain not Super Mario World and Sonic, but 9 of my most visited websites. I happen to really love Wikipedia and YouTube, so Chrome has search bars for both sites built in so you don’t need to go to the actual site. Genius.

Is this a review for Google Chrome? Kind of. You see, Chrome isn’t just a browser, it’s a way of life. It says, “I’m busy, but I’ll make busy cool.”  The way I see it there’s a Big 3 in the world of Web Browsers: Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.

Firefox: Firefox users are usually tech-saavy, Mac loving types who (at least in my experience) will defend Firefox until the point of coming to blows. I know this post has to yield at least one angry comment from a user saying, “FIIRRREEEFOOOXXXXX!!! It could be our generations FREEEEBBBIIIRRRRRDDDD!!!!”

Internet Explorer: Usually people who are not very internet centered. Facebook is usually their homepage and they keep updating Internet Explorer only because it’s friendly and familiar, like that animated paper clip that Microsoft Office used to have.

Chrome: I’m not going to fill this one out. Try Chrome for yourself and join us. (I think this might have been what Lennon was talking about in ‘Imagine.’) I’ve converted at least 20 people now and hopefully a few more after this post.

So flame away! Do your worst TIAW readers. I can handle it. And dammit I’ll say it: it’s just so hip to be a square.

Chrome Logo

My Primary Home Screen And Why

In Technology on July 7, 2009 at 12:26 AM

1st Home Screen

Above is an image of the primary home screen on my iPhone 3GS. I recently rearranged it and have been very pleased with my current setup. So much so, I rarely check the other screens, except when searching for games. Which I consider a good thing.

So, here is the breakdown, going top to bottom, left to right.

SAFARI – Built in web browser. ‘Nuff said.

BYLINE$4.99One of the best apps The best app I’ve ever purchased. It’s an RSS reader that syncs with my Google Reader account. Anything I read on the road and mark as read, is marked as read in greader, so if I check my feeds online or through EventBox, I never get repeats. It’s perfect. I love it. (I just hope it gets push notification support so I can see a badge with the number of unread articles.)

TWEETIE$2.99 – Best twitter app I’ve found. I used Tweetsville for a long time but one day it failed to update for me and I moved on. And I found a lot more to like in Tweetie, like the ability to see people’s profiles, followers and who they follow etc. Also has a nice clean interface.

DONE$.99 – Easy to use, color coded to-do list manager. Best part: you can take a snapshot of your list and set it as your background, so every time you wake your phone you see a slick, priority sorted, color coded list of things you have to do.

AP MOBILEFree – AP Mobile is an associated press news app that utilizes push notifications, including sounds, badges or pop-over alerts. I decided to have a dedicated news app instead of flooding my greader with a CNN feed. So far it’s working out pretty well.

MAPS – Built in Google Maps, perfect for GPS and directions. Especially with the 3GS’ built in compass that will reorient the google map depending on which direction you are facing. (Except when there is ‘compass interference.’ Lame.)

PHOTOS, CAMERA – Also have my camera set to come up when I double-tap the home button. Never know when you’re going to need it quickly.

FACEBOOKFree – Of course. Although I hope it gets updated to include events. It has zero event support right now.

BANK OF AMERICAFree – A life saver. Let’s me view my accounts and transfer funds on the fly. A requirement for any BofA customer.

THE WEATHER CHANNEL MAX$2.99 – Yes, I know there is a free app that’s very similar from the same people, but it’s ad supported and the ads take up about a third of the screen! I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I spent the money and sprung for the clean one. It’s so much easier to read and use. Great forecasts, radars, severe weather alerts etc. Must have.

22 NEWSFree – Local news that you can’t find on something like AP Mobile. Gotta stay in touch with the community.

iPOD, iCAL, CLOCK, APP STORE – All built in. All essential.

And finally, the constant four:

PHONE, MESSAGES, MAIL, SETTINGS – The key things I find myself checking regardless of what home screen I may be looking at. If I’m playing a game or looking at something and I’m interrupted, it’s because I get an email or call or text or need to adjust my settings. Gotta have access to them at all times.

Alright. So that’s me. What is everyone else doing? Give a shout out for your favorite apps in the comments below!

Odds And Ends #1

In Film, Technology on July 2, 2009 at 12:08 AM

Alright, so I tacked a #1 at the end of the title of this post because I imagine this will happen again: I don’t have any one thing to discuss at length at the moment, but there are a number of subjects stirring around in my mind. So I’ll just blurt them out in no particular order.

PUBLIC ENEMIES – I just got home from seeing Michael Mann‘s latest film, Public Enemies. It stars two of the finest actors working today: Johnny Depp and Christian Bale. Together they recreate the cat and mouse game between famous depression-era outlaw John Dillinger and investigator Melvin Purvis.

Mann maintains his usual style, using almost all handheld cameras to give the film a more real and gritty feel as well as putting plenty of emphasis on the frenetic and riveting gunplay. But as engaging as the action is, it is spread out across ~2.5 hours of fairly thin plotting. The story of Dillinger is an interesting one but it is done in such a matter-of-fact way that it can be underwhelming. And the unconvincing love story doesn’t help move things along.

At the end of the day it is a solid piece of filmmaking but it could have used more upbeat pacing and 15-20 minutes could have been shed easily. Which would have made for a much more enjoyable viewing experience.

THE CORPORATE TREE – A contributor and friend to TIAW has officially launched his own site! At TheCorporateTree.com you’ll find insights into the business world courtesy of the founder’s own business philosophy and those of his contributors. As well as a bevy of links to interesting articles and enterprises on the web. It has just launched and will continue to grow over time so head on over to get in on the ground level and follow him on Twitter. Good luck TCT!

GDGT LAUNCH – More news about a site launch. This time from the guys who brought you engadget. Their new site, gdgt.com, is one of those things that I wish I thought of. It’s a community driven site for gadget lovers where you set up your profile, including a list of all the gadgets you own, and then read up on tech news, review products, connect with people with the same stuff, troubleshoot etc. It’s pretty genius and I, for one, have already signed up. Check it out.

THE RAVEN – Isn’t The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe, like, the greatest poem ever? Tell me I’m not alone on this one. I recently read it yet again and it’s just so good that I felt like sharing it. Especially after being on a literary kick from my last post. I’ll leave you with a taste, enjoy:

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!’
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

(It’s so good that you can’t not read it out loud. Am I right?)

Stuff

In Music, Technology on June 23, 2009 at 1:37 AM

So, there hasn’t been a post in quite some time. Reason being: I’ve been busy. And I assume so have my contributors. I’ve been working a lot more than usual lately due to the release of a new iPhone you may have heard a little something about. But I figured I’d take this opportunity to share with you some of the stuff I’ve been reading, while I haven’t been writing.

The Perry Bible Fellowship. It’s a comic strip that was introduced to me by @angusmcweiner back when we were roommates in college. It is honestly some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever seen. But be warned: it’s addictive. They are short and sweet so once you start reading, you don’t stop. Multiple times I’ve taken 45 minutes out of my day just going through all of them. Definitely worth a look.

John Elliott & The Hereafter. John just came out with a new live album called Too Many Ghosts, available now via iTunes. I just picked that up and am listening to it as I type. It’s amazing just like the rest of his music. It is certainly worth checking out. Especially since in the albums page you’ll find his first release Parade available in its entirety as a free download. You can’t go wrong (especially with The Girl Next Door). And don’t forget to check out the video for American in Love off his latest studio album… because I made it. (Shameless plug? Yes.)

Mint.com. Little late to the game on this one but I just got into it and love it. Mostly because it actually succeeds at syncing with my Bank of America accounts with ease and dividing my spending into accurate categories automatically. I just wish it included pending transactions instead of just cleared. Oh well. Best part? It’s free and so is its corresponding iPhone app.

– I’ve also been spending a lot of time reading articles from a blog entitled, Lifehacker. Including this stand out article I’ve been sharing with everyone I know. It’s genious ideas like this and tech news/stories that make Lifehacker a wonderful addition to anyone’s RSS readers. (This one comes courtesy of TIAW friend @mattrawding)

– Okay, last one: This is just interesting – Movies with the Most Instances of the F-word.

So that’s some of the stuff I’ve been reading while I haven’t been writing. Anyone else been occupied with anything particularly interested? Leave links in the comments!

Prized (Tech) Possessions

In Technology on June 16, 2009 at 12:48 PM

So I’m getting a new phone very soon and I’m very, very excited. But this change is not insignificant. It has given me pause and caused me to reflect. I’ve been using the same phone for a while now and we’ve been through a lot. It has been good to me, even if I have not been to it. It is one of many pieces of technology that has stuck with me, not often replaced by newer or better models.

Which made me think: what other tech do I have that won’t be replaced anytime soon? What other gear do I have that I consider a truly prized possession and has become virtually invaluable?

Here are the big three:

1. My (soon to be retired) Phone:

G'Zone

The Casio Gz’One phone in burgundy and gold. A color scheme only available if purchased at a Verizon kiosk in the now defunct Circuit City. That in and of itself makes it special. But the best part of the phone is its build quality. It is virtually indestructible. It’s shock resistant. It has plungers over all the ports, making it water resistant. And it’s dirt resistant. And (just like King Leonidas did to the Immortals) I’ve put its name to the test. And it has passed time and time again.

I love the weight of it in my hand. I love how I never have to worry about its condition. I love how I can drop it anytime I want merely to prove a point. It’s a luxury so many phone owners don’t have.

What I won’t miss though are the cheap plastic belt clips. I’ve gone through two already. (But that’s still not as bad as the six Razr clips I plowed through back in the day…)

2. My Microsoft Trackball Explorer

Microsoft Trackball

God I love this thing. One of the primary reasons it is so valuable to me is because it is so valuable period. They don’t make it anymore! Don’t ask me why. I love it and so do lots of people on the forums (yes, I’ve visited trackball forums… don’t judge me!). But the thing is selling for a couple hundred bucks on Amazon.

Would I ever sell mine? No. Regardless of the price (within reason). I just love it too much. The ball is moved by the fingers instead of the thumb like many trackballs today. It has a primary and secondary click seperated by a solid scroll wheel. All perfectly positioned. And then the biggie: it has forward and back buttons for your ring and pinky finger. And they work across apps, not just browsing. You can do next song or previous song in iTunes etc. It is the most functional and fast pointing peripherial I have ever come across.

3. My Gibson (originally made for GH3 but used exclusively for RB) Guitar Controller:

Gibson

You have to picture mine with an American Flag face plate. I couldn’t find a picture online of one with it. And my camera is being lent out to a friend at the moment so I couldn’t take a personal shot. (Which shows you right there how my camera is not one of these prized possessions.)

Unlike the trackball, this item could easily be replaced if it breaks down. You can get one of these at any Best Buy (like I got mine) or Gamestop or online. But… it wouldn’t be the same, ya know? Sure, it’d be the same model. But it wouldn’t be the guitar that I finally beat Painkiller and Panic Attack with. It wouldn’t be the same guitar I’ve taken to endless Rock Band parties. It wouldn’t be the same guitar I’ve devoted hours of my life to beating Green Grass and High Tides with (still unfinished business there…).

This guitar has been with me a year or so, maybe even less. But I still feel like it has become an intimate part of my collection. It hangs on my wall like a trophy earned and comes with me wherever I go to rock. It will not soon be replaced.

But enough about me:

How about all of you? What gear do you have that seems indispensable? Shout out your stories in the comments!

Sony At E3 2009

In Technology, Video Games on June 2, 2009 at 4:18 PM

And last, but not least (well, technically it is in terms of sales) Sony had its own media briefing. And here is what went down:

Uncharted 2, M.A.G., Assassin’s Creed II, GT5, God of War 3 DemoedUncharted 1 was one of the PS3’s big exclusives that helped launch the system and the sequel looks pretty amazing in terms of graphics and intensity. M.A.G. is the 256 player online war game announced last year. But now we got to see it in action.

Is It A Big Deal? Uncharted 2, not so much. We’ve seen it already, this is just more of the same. Showing M.A.G. is a huge deal because everyone has been wondering how it looks and how it works. And if you ask me, it delivered. And of course God of War 3 is gonna be a huge, huge release and a major system seller in March.

PSP Go! Debuted50% smaller PSP with a slide up screen revealing the controls. 16 gig internal memory, downloadable games using built in Wifi etc. Sony says it won’t replace the full-on PSP but both will exist and be supported simultaneously. Available in October for $249.99.

Is It A Big Deal? Not for me, that’s for sure. Never been a big fan of the PSP (or handhelds in general) and the Go! is no exception. But if that’s your thing, then enjoy life without UMDs.

New PSP Games: Gran Turismo, MGS: Peace Walker, Resident Evil Portable, Little Big Planet, SOCOM et al. – Many games were announced and previewed including the next GT game for PSP and a new Metal Gear game made by the main team behind MGS4. Kojima says it isn’t a spin-off or a side story but a legitimate part of the canon. (Too bad it’s for the PSP…)

PSN News Final Fantasy VII now available for full download. And Home… well, it still exists…

Is It A Big Deal? FF7 is huge. Everyone loves that game (I’ve never actually played it… ssshh!) Home still stinks. Period.

Rockstar’s Next Game Will Be PS3 Exclusive – Sony announced the game Agent, made by the guys behind GTA etc.

Is It A Big Deal? Big time. Rockstar North seems to have the golden touch and the fact that their next game will be PS3 only is a big win.

Final Fantasy XIV AnnouncedIt’s PS3 exclusive (for real this time) and it’s online.

Is It ABig Deal? Yes. The announcement of a new FF is always big, not to mention it’s PS3 exclusive which helps Sony save face after last year’s surprise. And it’s an online game which will excite most fans.

Something Totally Original, Innovative and Never-Before-Seen in Video Games: Motion Controls! – Oh, wait… Anyway, in the spring of 2010, Sony will be releasing a motion controller that looks like a wand (similar to the Wiimote) with buttons on the handle and (for the tech demo at least) has a glowing sphere on the tip that the EyeToy tracks with 1-to-1 precision.

Is It A Big Deal? Believe it or not: yes. The Wii is finally getting 1-to-1 controls, Microsoft is doing controller-less motion and now the PS3 has its own 1-to-1 tracking that actually looks even more accurate than Nintendo’s (after watching the Resort demo at their briefing and comparing it to this). They made a  jab at Microsoft saying that buttons are necessary for motion controls, especially for FPS’s. And since it tracks the sphere itself and isn’t based on an IR sensor, you don’t have to worry about room lighting and sensor bars. Just the camera. It’s an interesting technology that could spice things up even more in the console war.

New Game Announced From Team-Ico The Last Guardian is a PS3 exclusive made by the team behind the phenomenal PS2 stand-outs Ico and (one of my personal favorites) Shadow of the Colossus.

Is It A Big Deal? You betcha. A lot of people have been waiting long and hard for what this team has to offer. And I’m sure it will not disappoint (even if it looks a bit weird).

Sony’s Overall Showing – Not too shabby. God of War 3, The Last Guardian and motion controls definitely stole the show and will keep people talking. Gonna be an interesting year for gamers, no doubt about it.

Nintendo At E3 2009

In Technology, Video Games on June 2, 2009 at 2:25 PM

Nintendo just wrapped up their press conference from this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo, so let’s look at what we can expect from the Big N in the near future:

New Super Mario Bros. Wii A new Mario game for Wii in the classic style of a 2D side scroller. The twist being: 4 players simultaneously. Someone plays Mario, another Luigi, and two toads.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes. Almost anything with the name ‘Mario’ means sales and going back to the series’ roots sounds like a good idea to me. Looks pretty fun.

Wii Fit Plus Announced – A new release of Wii Fit you can purchase as a bundle with a board if you don’t have one yet, or as stand alone software.

Is It A Big Deal? Not really. Just another add-on to an already successful game. More activities and options, blah, blah, blah.

Wii Sports Resort and Wii Motion Plus Discussed – As previously alluded to in my Microsoft post, Nintendo is releasing an add-on to Wii-motes that actually support one-to-one motion and make them work the way they should. More parts of Resort were demoed on stage including sky diving and basketball. Also included was the announcement of games that will use motion plus such as Tiger Woods 2010, Grand Slam Tennis, Virtua Tennis and Red Steel 2.

Is It A Big Deal? In the grand scheme of things yes. As for importance to this conference, no. We’ve known about it for a long time, this is just reinforcement.

New DS Games Final Fantasy: Crystal Bearers, a new Kingdom Hearts. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, C.O.P., Style Saavy, some book club game, Mario & Donkey Kong with level creation etc.

Facebook Integration – Much like Microsoft, Nintendo has announced the ability to upload photos taken with the DSI directly to Facebook. Including the opportunity to edit them.

Is It A Big Deal? Just like I thought it was for Microsoft, I see it as a good move for Nintendo. Anything that gets people to spend more time on their platform and get more use of it, the better.

Vitality Sensor -Iwata gave us a sneak peak of a new device he is working on that clips to your finger and keeps track of your pulse and biometric information.

Is It A Big Deal? No idea. Depends on what they can do with it. This was a very brief glimpse.

Super Mario Galaxy 2 Announced – Full sequel to the last 3D Mario game that won many ‘Game of the Year’ awards. Oh… and it has Yoshi!

Is It A Big Deal? No doubt about it. I said they needed a flagship game announcement and they delivered.

Metroid: Other M AnnouncedA new Metroid game made by Team Ninja that looks to be a Samus Aran origin story of sorts.

Is It A Big Deal? Absolutely. I’m confused by the gameplay in the video and am unsure of how it actually works, but it sure looks pretty and will sell a billion copies.

Nintendo’s Overall Showing – Lackluster. Too much time wasted on numbers, stats and the DS. But a new Mario and Metroid should satisfy most people.

Microsoft At E3 2009

In Technology, Video Games on June 1, 2009 at 6:53 PM

So, my fellow gamers, it is time once again for the Electronics Entertainment Expo. Of the big three (Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony) Microsoft kicked things off with its press conference this morning and they announced no small amount of stuff. So here’s the breakdown of what you may have missed:

The Beatles: Rockband – We’ve known about this one for a while. It’s coming out 9/9/09. Ringo and Paul came out to say how pleased they were with it. Ten of the tracks for it were announced and it was demoed on stage.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes, because it’s the first time the Beatles’ music has ever appeared in a game or anything of the sort. And whatever helps edge Rock Band over Guitar Hero, I’m all for it.

Tony Hawk: Ride – Mr. Hawk himself came out to demonstrate his latest game that includes a skateboard controller.

Is It A Big Deal? Umm, if you like skate boarding, sure, I guess. I couldn’t care less.

New Games Shown: Crackdown 2, Left 4 Dead 2, Splinter Cell: Conviction, Forza 3, Alan Wake, Halo: ODST – I loved Crackdown, so a sequel will be nice. I missed out on the original L4D but have played it a few times and enjoyed it so maybe I’ll get 2. The new Splinter Cell has been delayed a million times so it’s nice to hear from it again. Forza I don’t care about. The Alan Wake project has been plauged with issues just like Conviction so it’s good to see it up and running. Halo: ODST we’ve known about for a while, I’m still not all that interested to be honest with you.

Is It A Big Deal? A mild yes in most cases.

Halo Reach Announced A new Halo game and it’s a prequel. Not a gap-filling half-game like ODST, this is the next big one and it’s looking at a 2010 release.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes. Any new full entry into the Halo series is huge for Microsoft.

Last.fm, Facebook, Twitter Coming To NXE – Streaming radio and the ability to check your favorite social networking sites will now be integrated into the dash.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes and a smart move if you ask me. Yet another way to get people sucked into spending time on the platform. I know I’ll try it out. Doing it through the PS3 or Wii in a browser is one thing, but having it integrated into the system and allowing screenshot uploading to Facebook walls etc, that’s something else. Good thinking.

Metal Gear Solid: Rising Coming To The 360 – The MGS franchise has been exclusive to Sony for years (just like Final Fantasy, but we all saw how that went last year). It has been their bread and butter and MGS4 is how they managed to get as many PS3’s out the door as they have.

Is It A Big Deal? More like HUGE. Big win for MS.

Project Natal – Probably the biggest bombshell of the conference. Microsoft announced a camera add-on for the 360 that will include facial and voice recognition and full body motion capture. No need for a motion controller like the Wii, instead you are the controller. They showed a video of a kid in a fighting game, two girls video chatting, operating the dashboard menus by waving your hands around etc.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes… on one condition: that it works. Just like when the Wii came out, it talks a good game but when you try it yourself something feels off. And Nintendo admitted something was wrong in the form of announcing Wii Motion Plus, the controller add-on that will make the system as responsive as it should have been from the get go. But as far as controller-less video gaming, I don’t see it taking over the industry anytime soon. I’ll believe it when I see it in action.

Ability To Download Full Retail Games From XboxLive – PS3 has already done it with a handful of games but now you will finally be able to purchase full retail games and download them directly to your 360’s hard drive.

Is It A Big Deal? Yes! Finally! I can’t wait until we get to the point of disc-less media and this is another huge step in the right direction that they have been dragging their feet on.

Microsoft’s Overall Showing – Impressive. A lot of content to the presentation this year as opposed to last. Nintendo is going to need a new flagship game (Mario, Zelda etc.) and Sony is going to need more than a new PSP to counter Microsoft’s early momentum.

‘Wolfram|Alpha’ Is A Go

In Technology on May 23, 2009 at 7:46 PM

Two words:

Game. Changer.

Wolfram|Alpha has been in the news since it launched a week ago and a lot of people have heard of it, but still don’t get quite get what it is. So I decided you should get it straight from the horse’s mouth:

What Are You?

That’s right, a ‘computational knowledge engine.’ Wolfram|Alpha is indexing all the information it can, and organizing it into a searchable, comparable format. It isn’t nearly complete yet but it is already astonishing.

No one can explain it better than the man himself: The inventor, Mr. Stephen Wolfram. Here is a 13 minute introduction video that first got me amped about the whole project (courtesy of future TIAW contributor Matt Rawding).

Within a few years there is no doubt in my mind this will fundamentally change how we gather information on the internet, and thus, it will change the world. Period.

It’s the ambitiousness of W|A that makes it so amazing. If someone made a computational search engine focused on sports stats, that’d be great. If someone did it using just mathematical and scientific formulas, that’d be good too. If someone made a database full of information on movies and television shows, that’d be quite useful (which it is: IMDB.com).

But instead of jumping between those separate sites, we are talking about one entity. One single location on the web where you can find data on virtually anything: Stocks, websites, formulas, popularity of names, weather, maps, locations, schools, genome sequences, finances, government, music, food, nutritional values, the list goes on. And it is in an easy to read, easy to understand, clean looking format.

Google shows you places you may find what you are looking for, W|A finds what you are looking for. (A whole generation of high schoolers are going to have to find a way to cite this thing ASAP.)

Is it perfect? No. At least not yet. It still doesn’t have NBA stats or information on commercial products, among other things. But both those subjects are  still being indexed along with many others. And sometimes it can be easy to over-think how you want to search for something and W|A gets confused by the input. But that’s where watching the video comes in handy. It gives you a great idea of what it can do and how you can do it. I’ve watched it about 3 or 4 times now and get something new out of it every time.

The best thing to do is just play around with it. One good starting point is looking up your birthday. Or search your first and last names to see their popularity. Or look for your hometown or school. And just experiment from there.

So, for those already familiar with Wolfram|Alpha: sound off in the comments. What’s your take? Or what’s your favorite thing to compute?

My Genius Idea

In Comedy, Technology on May 12, 2009 at 11:59 PM

So the other night I was struck with what could possibly be a fantastic, albeit ridiculous, idea. It all started when I had knocked back a few with some friends in what can only be described as a colloquial situation. We were sitting around playing the mini-games found within Pokemon Stadium 2 for Nintendo 64 when I felt my proverbial “seal” start to break. So, after the round was over, I made my way to our fetid bathroom.

What happened from then on is what you might expect to happen, I prepped, aimed and let loose my swollen bladder. But as I coated the inside of the bowl with my lemon stream I was stricken with said genius idea.

Now picture a product, a product that is thin, adhesive on one side, battery powered (maybe solar though, gotta go green after all), waterproof, touch sensitive, and that contours to one half of the inside of your toilet bowl. Now the device is segmented into 8-10 touch sensitive columns, all programmed with a different musical note to play whenever the touch-sensitive pad is “interacted” with. Basically what I’m getting at is a touch sensitive abomination of a keyboard that you stick in your toilet bowl and piss on for entertainment. Wouldn’t that be great?

At first thought I was amazed that my mind had percolated such an idea and wondered why I hadn’t seen anything like it. Surely this is something that would be seen on the shelves of your local Spencers.

However, upon further thought, I started to see the flaws inherent in the idea. It is possible that such a device would promote excessive splattering, be seen as ridiculous, and/or would leave customers dissatisfied when they had to change the batteries (not if it was solar powered though!)?

No product is without its flaws, however, and knowing that I can say that I would feel confident in my purchase of a “Pee-Board” (patent pending) for use in my bathroom. Now would you readers (women urinators excluded sadly) feel a sense of glee if whenever you peed you made sweet, beautiful melodies? Or would you shake your head in maturity?