Posted: 02 Jan 2008 05:15 PM CST
When you join an online “community,” are you joining so that you can interact with like-minded users, or so that companies can track your every move on the Internet? Sears is banking on the latter, despite heavy criticism from security researchers.
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 03:49 PM CST
Filed under: Features
Each week Ross Rubin contributes Switched On, a column about technology, multimedia, and digital entertainment.
The consumer technology landscape shifted somewhat in 2007. Companies that were once major forces, including Gateway and Thomson Consumer Electronics, better known to most Americans as RCA, were acquired as their fortunes declined. MVNOs such as Amp’d and Disney Mobile closed their doors as did PC retailer CompUSA. Palm, forced to kill its “third platform” of Foleo, was saved from a similar fate by an influx of capital. Delivering alternative programming into homes proved too challenging for set-top boxes from Akimbo and MovieBeam. And there were changings of the guard at Dell, Sprint, AT&T, Motorola and Logitech, to name a few.
However, amidst all this tumult, a number of products were released that deserve recognition. In many industries, there is a defining award that recognizes excellence. Today, though, these products will have to settle for a Switchie, the third annual Saluting Wares Improving Technology’s Contribution to Humanity award.
The “The Right MultiTouch” and Product of the Year Award goes to the the Apple iPhone. While it was difficult to find news about this obscure device in 2007, the iPhone’s slick user interface, polished applications and appealing interface navigation methods outweighed its EDGE network limitations and touch-screen keyboard compromises. With a sleek design taken for granted in Apple products, the iPhone was noteworthy for straddling the traditionally fragmented worlds of smartphones and fashion phones. The announced arrival of an SDK next year offers tantalizing possibilities.
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 02:35 PM CST
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 12:00 PM CST
Massively Multiplayer Online games built around battling Cimmerians, sea-faring pirates and classic Order-versus-Destruction factions throw down the gauntlet. A sneak peek at the best new MMOs of 2008.
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 12:27 PM CST
Last June, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) ejected a credentialed reporter from a baseball game because he was live blogging the event for his paper’s web site. The reporter was stripped of his press credential and barred from the press box. His lawyer called out the NCAA for its draconian policy prohibiting live blogging, writing, “Once a player hits a home run, that’s a fact. It’s on TV. Everybody sees it. [The NCAA] can’t copyright that fact. The blog wasn’t a simulcast or a recreation of the game. It was an analysis.”
The NCAA responded two weeks ago by releasing a new policy for live blogging of collegiate sporting events (PDF).
The policy provides for limited blogging by credentialed bloggers only. I.e., American football bloggers get a maximum of 3 posts per quarter, and 1 at halftime. For baseball, it’s once per inning, for golf — 10 per day. Bloggers are also required to submit their coverage to the NCAA’s Blog Central directory and to include the NCAA logo and link on their posts.
TechDirt’s Mike Masnick points out that the NCAA’s rules apply only to credentialed reporters — and the NCAA can’t do anything about publications who just buy their reporters a ticket (except maybe make it harder to stay connected and blog at the venue level). Worse, concludes Masnick, is that the NCAA policy is really hurting fans.
The NCAA policy is also vague, specifying the number of “blogs” that a credentialed reporter can make during a given competition. It doesn’t define what a blog is, however. Does that mean single posts, or updates to posts? This Daily Eastern News blog post from November chronicles live the first quarter of a Southern Illinois University football game. It was sanctioned by the NCAA and I count 12 updates in the single first quarter post. Would that now violate the new NCAA policy? In a quarter of football, where they could easily be 60 or 70 plays, is 3 posts enough to keep readers interested?
Guardian writer Jemina Kiss notes today that the NCAA isn’t the only one getting rough with live bloggers. The International Cricket Council is considering banning sites provide live blog coverage of cricket matches without paying for coverage rights.
To me this feels a lot like the RIAA’s war against music downloading. A stodgy old regulation authority is confronted with a new technology, and because it can’t figure out how to control it or make money from it, it tries desperately to limit its use.
What the NCAA doesn’t seem to realize is how helpful live bloggers are at promoting collegiate athletics to their most passionate fans. As Mike Masnick astutely observed, the people who conduct and read live blogs are generally the people who are most obsessed with a particular team or sport (who else could stand to watch an entire sporting event unfold in a painfully delayed stream of text updates?). Rather than limit these people, the NCAA and ICC and other organizations should work to make it easier for them to live blog — especially since they are promoting the league product free of charge.
Further, like the proliferation of music downloading, there will be no stopping the spread of live news coverage. The NCAA and ICC may be able to stop credentialed reporters from live blogging events, but they can never stop ordinary fans from Twittering game results as they happen (something I am sure we will see people doing more of in 2008). Jemina Kiss predicts, “real-time text coverage is a relatively new format so no doubt it will be a decade before the rights framework catches up.” In that decade, how much unnecessary pain will bloggers have to endure because of institutions that just don’t get it?
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 11:00 AM CST
10. Get the local time anywhere
What time is it in Bangkok right now? Ask Google. Enter simply
9. Track flight status
Enter the airline and flight number into the Google search box and get back the arrival and departure times right inside Google’s search results.
8. Convert currency, metrics, bytes, and more
Google’s powerful built-in converter calculator can help you out whether you’re cooking dinner, traveling abroad, or building a PC. Find out how many teaspoons are in a quarter cup (quarter cup in teaspoons) or how many seconds there are in a year (seconds in a year) or how many euros there are to five dollars (5 USD in Euro). For the geekier set, bits in kilobytes (155473 bytes in kilobytes) and numbers in hex or binary (19 in binary) are also pretty useful.
7. Compare items with “better than” and find similar items with “reminds me of”
Reader Adam taps the wisdom of the crowds by searching for like items using key phrases. He writes in:
6. Use Google as a free proxy
What, your company blocks that hip new web site just because it drops the F bomb occasionally? Use Google’s cache to take a peek even when the originating site’s being blocked, with
5. Remove affiliate links from product searches
When you’re sick of seeing duplicate product search results from the likes of eBay, Bizrate, Pricerunner, and Shopping.com, clear ’em out by stacking up the
4. Find related terms and documents
Ok, this one’s direct from any straight-up advanced search operator cheat sheet, but it’s still one of the lesser-used tricks in the book. Adding a tilde (
3. Find music and comic books
Using a combination of advanced search operators that specify music files available in an Apache directory listing, you can turn Google into your personal Napster. Go ahead, try this search for Nirvana tracks:
2. ID people, objects, and foreign language words and phrases with Google Image Search
Google Image search results show you instead of tell you about a word. Don’t know what jicama looks like? Not sure if the person named “Priti” who you’re emailing with is a woman or a man? Spanish rusty and you forgot what “corazon” is? Pop your term into Google Image Search (or type
1. Make Google recognize faces
If you’re doing an image search for Paris Hilton and don’t want any of the French city, a special URL parameter in Google’s Image search will do the trick. Add
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 10:30 AM CST
A vaccine now in clinical trials gets the body’s immune system to attack cocaine when it’s introduced, thereby killing the desire for it, say researchers who believe they have found a cure for the addiction.
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 11:00 AM CST
Hudson wants you to keep your holiday spirit into the new year with a Bomberman Live tournament that features some pretty substantial prizes.
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 09:55 AM CST
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 04:10 PM CST
Guess what babies? All your wildest dreams are about to come true (provided they don’t get too wild). That’s right, according to new PR for Sony’s upcoming CES showing, Skype is apparently coming to the PSP. Details are scarce at the moment (i.e., nonexistent), but the company makes clear mention of a Skype client for the handheld game system on its CES 2008 promo site, which is pretty official — though we’re gonna hold our breath a little till we see a press release. Obviously, we’ll be hearing a lot more about this when the big show kicks off this month, but until then at least we can all sleep a little better at night knowing the PSP is about to get yet another succulent function. Just hit the read link and click on the controller icon, all you need to know is listed in the sidebar.
Update: Thanks to some sleuthing by the crew over at UberGizmo, a perverse and exciting little easter egg has been found in the PSP promo video which accompanies this new info. For literally one frame, Sony all but confirms Skype on the handheld with a nearly-subliminal image that reads “Make calls with Skype.” Check the image after the break and see for yourself.
[Thanks, Jorge H]Continue reading Skype coming to Sony’s PSP?
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 08:00 AM CST
If you were committed to canning one of your online outlets to stay better focused, where would you start? Share your executioners’ tales in the comments. Photo by Kevin.
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 06:53 AM CST
Twitter has the potential of breaking into the mainstream this year. A lot of what’s going on around Twitter is not dissimilar to the earlier days of blogging; we’re seeing evangelists, some basic mainstream adoptions, and even some tracking services. Sites like Tweeterboard and Twitterposter are providing basic Twitter statistics in a similar (although far more polished) way to Technorati and Daypop back in 2003.
Twitter Stats offers a key range of (as the name suggests) Twitter statistics based on username. My stats below demonstrate the basics. The service is a little slow at this stage (up to 5 minutes to generate the stats) and the graphics are basic, but for Twitter users looking for some statistics it’s a helpful service.
Loading information about Twitter…
Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.
Posted: 02 Jan 2008 03:33 AM CST
2008 is the year of the mobile internet, right? We hear that every year. Let’s forget about predictions and focus on what’s available right now. We bring you over 20 mobile internet applications that you’ll actually use. (more…)
Posted: 01 Jan 2008 11:00 PM CST
Tony Frudakis, a molecular biologist, says he can determine a suspect’s race by analyzing his DNA. The test, called DNAWitness, has been used nationally in nearly 200 criminal investigations, but its success hasn’t made the technology popular with law enforcement.
Posted: 01 Jan 2008 10:49 PM CST
A follow up to our story December 30 on the Australian Government joining China is broadly censoring the internet. Now apparently if you believe in Free Speech you believe in Kiddie Porn, via the SMH:
No one equates freedom of speech with watching kiddie porn, only the Australian Government does.
Whilst no one would disagree with the notion that kidde porn is abhorrent, it should be noted that the Australian Government’s censorship regime is going to be much broader than sites that show activities that are already illegal to distribute and watch across the world. Further still, as local civil libertarians have pointed out, it will not only take all of two minutes to bypass the great firewall of Australia, and worse still it will actually provide a false sense of security to parents who will wrongly believe that the internet is now a safe place for their children, when it still isn’t.
At least they’ve now admitted to taking lessons from China, not that this is something to be proud of, although the Australian Government seems to think that it is.
Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0
Posted: 01 Jan 2008 08:52 PM CST
Filed under: Gaming
Wiimote add-ons of all sorts have been flooding in virtually since the console’s debut, but when it comes to sheer uselessness and dangerousness, it’s tough to beat this latest bundle from the folks at Dragon Electronics, which offers no less than eight ways to accessorize your Wiimote and nunchuck. That includes a pair of daggers, an axe, and a pistol to name a few, which the company says should provide “amazing, exciting, fantastic and training body reaction.” If that sounds like the added depth of realism you’ve been waiting for, you can grab a set of your own right now for just under $30.
[Via Wii Fanboy]
Posted: 01 Jan 2008 07:26 PM CST
For the extreme tinkerer and iPod aficionado, we present to you what appears to be the first ever internal-Bluetooth enabled iPod. Using a flash-memory-modded 20GB 4G iPod, a Jabra A120S Bluetooth music adapter, some clever wiring, a little drilling, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, one modder has taken things inside his DAP to dizzying heights which can only be referred to as “the next level.” The mod has its catches of course — first you’ll have to kick the hard drive to the curb in favor of the more space-conscious flash memory, and you’ll need to be pretty handy with a soldering iron and voltmeter, but if you’ve got the mettle (and this how-to guide), you should be rocking the new Mortiis album wirelessly very, very soon. Check the read link for all the step-by-step goodness.
Posted: 01 Jan 2008 03:49 PM CST
Homebrewing is the tradition of video game enthusiasts trying to crack their various gaming platforms and getting them to do things the designers did not originally intend. For the really adventurous out there, you can also start to learn about making your own games for the various platforms.
360-HQ.com – Has a guide to various tricks you can attempt on your 360 such as adding an external hard drive.
Free60.org – A project to get Linux on to Microsoft’s Xbox 360.
xbox-linux.org – A guide to getting Linux onto the original Microsoft Xbox.
xbox360homebrew.com – More activity in the forums than on the site itself, but people are still giving it a go.
DrunkenCoders.com – A development community for the Wonderswan, Super Nintendo, GameBoy Advance and the DS.
DSLinux.org – A project concentrating on getting Linux on to the DS.
GBADev.org – A site dedicated to the GameBoy Advance homebrew scene.
GC-Linux.org – A homebrew project to wedge… yes… Linux onto the GameCube.
Nintendo DS Homebrew – A guide to doing homebrew on your DS and where to find downloads.
TeenDev.info – A group of teenage developers working on games for the DS homebrew community.
Dark-AleX.org – Maker of numerous homebrew firmware updates that allow you to get all the other goodies out there working.
HackingPSP.com – A companion site to the book of the same name, included edition updates that came out after th book was published.
Noobz.eu – Has a support forum and downloads for things such as a firmware downgrader, development tools and more.
PS2Dev.org – A community devoted to homebrew for all of the Sony gaming platforms since Playstation 2.
PS3Brew.com – A community devoted to everything Playstation 3 and includes numerous saved game files.
PSP-Homebrew.eu – A guide to the homebrew community including a FAQ explaining all of the jargon one might encounter in the community.
PSP-Spot.com – All sorts of news about the PSP including homebrewing developments.
PSP-Vault.com – Downloads of game saves,firmwares, homebrews and more.
PSP3D.com – Videos, files, articles and more related to the PSP and homebrew.
Lan.st – A forum for all forms of homebrew talk of all the current console game systems.
QJ.net – News and information on just about every gaming homebrew community you can think of.
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