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Archive for March, 2013

Robot Underpants #93 – 03.20.13

Posted by Langley at 11:23 PM on March 20, 2013

Langley, Eric Rice and “Starman” Michael Gaines talk Google gripes, “Splash” celebrity diving, Mr. Rogers, Bitcoin, Star Trek and more!

* Escape from NY Reboot

* Ghostbusters Replica Basement

* Ian McKellen Officiate Patrick Stewarts Wedding

* Spider Eats Bats

 

Which is it? $99 Amazon Kindle Fire or no?

Posted by Alan at 12:58 PM on March 20, 2013

amazon rumored tabletTwo major tech blogs seem to be warring today over Amazon rumors — to save problems I will not even bother naming or linking to either because it is honestly not even important to the whole story here. The subject in question is if Amazon has a $99 Kindle Fire HD in the works or not.

While there are sources claiming this product is in the pipeline, an Amazon spokesman claimed it “does not exist”. Honestly, while its hard to believe “unnamed” sources, it is also hard to believe Amazon would tip its hand on something like this, so we really are left to guess for ourselves and go with instinct.

Regardless of who is right and wrong in this little internet spat, there is one thing that I feel I can be certain of — Amazon can afford to do exactly this. The company has no need to profit from the hardware — it displays ads on the device, sells apps and sells music, movies and TV shows. The profit comes on the backend.

Honestly I have expected such a move for sometime, though I assumed it would come as a Kindle Fire discount offered to Amazon Prime customers. Prime already offers tremendous value to its users, and it does so because of the aforementioned backend.

So what does Amazon really have in store? Will there be a $99 Kindle Fire HD? It certainly would jump over the competition and could actually serve as a “game over” move against tablet rivals, including the Nexus 7. And it would do so all while using Google’s own mobile operating system as a weapon against them. Check mate.

Today only – Amazon offering 4 TB Seagate drive for $139

Posted by Alan at 1:56 PM on March 19, 2013

Depending on your location, you perhaps have more of the day left than I do here in the, still rather chilly, mid-Atlantic region. That’s a good thing if you are looking for your next external hard drive, because today Amazon has a one day deal for you.

The online retailer is offering the Seagate 4 TB USB 3.0 external HDD for only $139.99 — a price it touts as $100 off of the regular retail rate. Before you wonder what is wrong with the drive, I should point out that The Wirecutter’s Seamus Bellamy rated it as their favorite external drive. It also carries a four-star rating on Amazon as well.

seagate 4tb drive

The retailer lists the feature set as:

  • Keep copies of your precious digital files, in case disaster strikes
  • Impressive 4 TB storage capacity
  • Save feature enables user-generated content to be backed up from your favorite social network
  • Share feature allows multiple files to be uploaded to social networks at once from your computer
  • Install the pre-loaded NTFS driver for Mac and use the drive interchangeably between PC and Mac computers without reformatting
  • Features USB 3.0 for quick data transfer rates; upgrade to Thunderbolt technology or FireWire 800 with the available additional adapter

The deal ends tonight, so if you are in the market then act now. Heck, with a deal like this, it may not hurt to grab one even if you aren’t in the market.

GNC-2013-03-18 #844 No Cell Service?

Posted by geeknews at 6:58 PM on March 18, 2013

I was off-site today and the location I was in had no cell service have not seen a location like that in years. The Hotel bandwidth is good thank goodness. Cold here in Hoosier country… Lots to share and of course I talk about my Delta Airline experience.

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CEO John Riccitello Resigns from EA

Posted by JenThorpe at 6:03 PM on March 18, 2013

EA LogoIt’s official. The CEO of Electronic Arts, John Riccitiello, has resigned. Personally, I’m not very surprised by this news considering the problems that EA has experienced. In his place, for now, will be Chairman Larry Probst, who is a previous EA chief executive, while the board searches for a permanent replacement.

According to the Wall Street Journal, EA’s shares have fallen nearly two-thirds since John Riccitiello was named CEO of Electronic Arts in 2007. In a letter that John Riccitiello sent to employees, he acknowledges that the company has fallen below expectations and takes responsibility for it. Part of the letter said:

My decision to leave EA is really about my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable.

EA, as you know, is the company that makes the SimCity game that has frustrated so many gamers recently. To make a long story short, it is clear that the company failed to anticipate the server instability issues that it faced after the game went live. It didn’t help that it took a very long time before EA acknowledged the problems or tried to fix them.

Players became more frustrated when they tried to return the malfunctioning game and discovered that EA was refusing to accept returns. Eventually, EA offered “something for your trouble” to the disgruntled players it managed to alienate – a free PC download of a game from the EA portfolio. I’m not sure that was enough.

Previously, EA, (which owns Bioware) had problems attracting and keeping players interested in the Star Wars The Old Republic game, which was intended to be a competitor for Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. According to The Wall Street Journal, SWTOR cost “hundred of millions of dollars to make over the five years” it was created.

In June of 2012, the game went free to play up to level 15. EA charged players for certain items within the game. The company stopped reporting the number of subscribers the game had, and that is never a sign that things are going well.

Video Podcasts Behaving Like TV?

Posted by tomwiles at 1:23 PM on March 18, 2013
image

Roku

One of the downsides to Internet-based video content is that generally each new program being played back must be initiated by the user. This isn’t much of a problem if one is watching a full-length movie or television show via Netflix or Amazon Streaming. However, if one is watching short-form content like video podcasts such as “Film Riot” then watching a bunch of episodes in a row tends to be a bit more of a pain since each one must be started playing depending on the playback platform.

I discovered an interesting trick that the Roku is capable of using the free iTunes podcast database app that can be added from the Roku store on your Roku. The app connects with the iTunes podcast database and will display both video and audio podcasts. Select an episode and it will begin to play. If you select an older episode, either video or audio, it will play that episode and then automatically play all episodess that follow it in the correct order.

This is a very useful feature say if you want to catch up with several weeks’ worth of video podcasts. Each podcast plays automatically in the proper order. It is almost like being able to turn video podcast streaming into more of a conventional television viewing experience.

Yurbuds Ironman Series Earphones

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 12:58 PM on March 18, 2013

Yurbuds Spring is coming, which means a lot of walking outside. I like to listen to music or podcasts when I am walking. The problem I have is my ears get sweaty and when they do I have trouble keeping most earphones in. I could wear over the ear headphones, but then I can’t hear what is happening around me and since I have to walk on the side of the road that could be dangerous. When I try to wear most ear buds they are constantly falling out as I am walking. Which means I am continually trying to stick them back in or they end up dangling down in front of me and I can’t hear the music. Either way it is very frustrating. I wanted to try to find a solution for this problem before the spring weather comes into full swing and I think I have.

Yurbuds slogan is “Developed by Athletes for Athlete” and according to the box they are guaranteed to never fall out. They come in a small box and inside the box are the headphones , a small carrying case and a card with instruction on them. The earphones are kidney-shaped and fit snugly inside the ear and then “lock in”. The hardest part is getting them in right, which is key to them not falling out. Once they are in they stay in. I wore them walking on the first warm day of spring and although I was sweating they didn’t fall out. The true test though will come in the summer when it is humid and its 80 degrees, while I am walking. My other complaint is the fact that the cords do get tangled up if you just throw them in your pocket.

The earphone are made of a soft silicon and they feel very comfortable in my ear. The audio sounds fine. I was listening to a workout music playlist from Songza and the bass beat was good, not great but good. The upper and middle tones sound fine. If you keep the volume down to a reasonable level you can hear what is going on around you, which I appreciate. Overall I am happy at this point that I purchased Yurbuds Ironman Series.

G-Technology G-Drive Mobile Review

Posted by Andrew at 5:05 PM on March 17, 2013

On review today is the G-Technology G-Drive Mobile, a 1 TB mobile external hard drive. Aimed squarely at the Apple MacBook crowd, the brushed aluminium finish and white LED compliments the host machine, and the combination of both USB3 and FireWire 800 show its Mac heritage. Of course the drive can be formatted for Windows or Linux use but the G-Drive is pre-formatted for HFS+ and is TimeMachine-compatible. As expected, the G-Drive is bus powered so there’s no power adaptor.

G-Drive Mobile

 

G-Drive Mobile Ports

The G-Drive Mobile has a couple of touches that set it apart from the other mobile drive offerings. To start with, it comes with all the cables that might be needed, so in the box there’s a USB3 cable, a FireWire 800 cable and a FireWire 400 to 800 cable. There’s no getting the box home only to find the cable need for your setup is missing.

G Drive Mobile Cables

Second, the packaging presents the G-Drive to best effect and the “Getting Started” instructions are printed on the inside  lid of the box. Again, it comes back to appealing to the Apple crowd who expect good design.

G-Drive Package

But enough of how it looks. How does it go? Pretty well actually. Connected up to USB 3, the G-Drive Mobile recorded the following data rates:

hdparm gave 107 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
dd gave write speeds around 105 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 104 MB/s for writes and 141 MB/s for reads.

I’m fairly sure that those figures make G-Drive Mobile the fastest USB3 unit tested, beating the previous holder by a considerable margin. Under FireWire 400, the figures were obviously slower, but are provided here for comparison.

- hdparm gave 36 MB/s for buffered disk reads.
- dd gave write speeds around 22 MB/s.
- bonnie++ gave 22 MB/s for writes and 55 MB/s for reads.

Price-wise, the model here costs £129.95 but if you want USB3 only, there’s a much sleeker and cheaper version at £109.95 in the Apple store. However, if you need FireWire with USB3, the model viewed above is hard to beat, giving historical compatibility with older gear while also offering fast data transfers on newer kit.

Thanks to G-Technology for providing the G-Drive Mobile to review.

Google Created a Dancing Doodle for St. Patrick’s Day

Posted by JenThorpe at 4:08 PM on March 17, 2013

Google St Patricks Day DoodleHappy St. Patrick’s Day! If you are celebrating in the United States, this day involves viewing a parade and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. If that doesn’t interest you, then perhaps the Google Doodle for today will.

Google has created an adorable troop of Irish dancers for today’s Doodle, who appear to be preforming a traditional Irish dance, (complete with costume and poofy hair). Each dancer is wearing one letter from the word Google on his or her outfit. This is not the first time Google has celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a Doodle, but it is the first one that has been animated.

The first St. Patrick’s Day Google Doodle was created in 2000, and was very minimalist. The letters appear in different shades of green, and a green hat with a black band and a shamrock was placed on top of it. Since then, the St. Patrick’s Day Doodles have gotten more complex. In 2013, the word Google appeared as though it had been part of The Book of Kells. This year’s animated, dancing, St. Patrick’s Day Doodle may be the only thing Google has done lately that will make people smile.

Feedly taking full advantage of Google’s stupidity

Posted by Alan at 5:08 AM on March 17, 2013

feedly logoWhile all of us will lose thanks to Google’s inexplicable decision last week to shut down a service which seems to have been much more popular than the search giant would have you believe, one company is certainly not unhappy about the move. Feedly has been in a whirlwind since that announcement.

Within hours of the Google announcement Feedly had already posted detailed instructions on how disenfranchised users could export their RSS feeds from Reader and import them into the Feedly service.

Now the company has announced that it has received an influx of more than 500,000 new users in the first 48 hours after the Google announcement. “More than 500,000 Google Reader users have joined the feedly community over the last 48 hours. We love passionate readers. Welcome on board”.

Feedly says it has added ten times its previous bandwidth to handle the load and that new servers are being brought online to help with the new found popularity. The company also plans on adding new features weekly.

Its nice to see a company that still understands the need that many of us have for a good RSS reader and wants to support the users of it, as opposed to simply ignoring its customers as Google has shown it is willing to do. Feedly is available for iOS, Android, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.