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7Jun/11

Apple’s New Low Cost Gaming Console

First, I AM NOT a fanboy. My phone is an Android. Even when the iPhone was introduced, I steadfastly held onto my WindowsMobile phone, waiting for Palm to introduce something better. I have a Windows7 PC, laptop, AND netbook. When the iPad was first released, I thought it was gorgeous, but lacking. And, it was. Apple introduced an improved model a few months later, and a thinner, even more improved model less than a year later. Admittedly, I bought that one. And I love it. But I owned two Windows tablets well before the iPad was even a twinkle in Steve Jobs' eye. So I was predisposed, even before Jobs said it was the Next Big Thing.

Today at E3 in Los Angeles Nintendo showed the world the Wii U. Which looks and sounds like the birth-child of an Apple iPad and a LeapFrog LeapPad. (Yes, we own a LeapPad.) This, on the heels of Apple's WWDC where they emphasized major changes to Game Center that make it more XBox Live than Yahoo Games. At the same time, quietly and without any significant emphasis, Apple announced AirPlay Mirroring. Which, at first blush, sounds like someone accidentally left a slide in the Keynote deck from last year's WWDC. But, in reality, mated to a $99 Apple TV 2, it turns the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch into an accelerometer-equipped wireless TV gaming console (minus the console).

But, I'm not buying each of my kids a $499 iPad, when I already spent $249 on the Wii 4 years ago. And then I spent $179 each for two DSi's a couple years later. Plus, each one of the Wii game disks cost me between $30-$50, and then each one of my kids' DSi cartridges cost me another $20-30. And, if they want to play each other, I have to buy two of the same game! Worse yet, once they've conquered a particular game, it's useless.

Do the math. If I'm lucky, I'm only into it for a grand, or so. Now Apple's going to try to get in on the game? Apple has been focusing more recently on price, but their products are not what I'd call the "budget option."

Even if I just bought each of the kids the cheapest iPod Touch, that would still be $210 a piece. Plus every game is going to be another $0.99 to $5.99. And then there's the Apple TV 2 for another $99. That would be close to $500, just to replace what they already have.

On the other hand, that is half what I spent on Nintendo products. And it means that every game they purchased could be played on or off the TV. Going forward, they could purchase anywhere from as little as 3 to as many as 40 times the number of games for the same money as a single cartridge or disk. Of course, the AppStore only has a little over 60,000 to choose from, compared to around 2000 total Wii and DSi titles. And, there's another 35,000 or so iOS educational apps. Each of which could never be lost or damaged -- even if the whole device was lost or damaged. And, by purchasing the apps from the same account, everyone in the house can play the same game, at the same time, together or apart, for just one single purchase.  It doesn't hurt either that the iTouch does more than play games. My son, for instance, could use the calendar for scheduling. And both my kids would love to have an MP3 player. Which, again, would allow them to share music under the same account. There are dictionary and thesaurus, flash cards, SAT prep, and other good apps. Plus, the Apple TV 2 also has a few tricks, other than being a slave to iPad, iTouch, and iPhone. It's certainly a competent media player and Netflix tuner (even before jailbreaking).

Until yesterday, I might have been worried that they'd fight over a computer to sync. But, come Fall, not only will that be unnecessary, but -- with the addition of a Bluetooth keyboard and the Apple TV -- each practically becomes its OWN computer, portable and home video and MP3 player (also capable of wirelessly streaming from my iTunes library), handheld game machine, gaming console, PDA, and videoconferencing device. To do it up right: $210 iTouch, $99 ATV, add a nice screen for less than $200, and a $69 Bluetooth keyboard. Effectively, the same price as purchasing each of them a desktop computer, but one that fits in their pockets. Even the Apple TV 2 is pocket-sized.

Fine! I take back what I said about the "budget option."

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6Feb/11

Verizon’s iPhone Commercials Are So Snarky, You’d Think They’ve Been Stuck on AT&T For the Last 4 Years


Once again, Verizon isn't pulling any punches. I caught this commercial during the SuperBowl. Though there are actual differences between the iPhones sold on At&T and Verizon networks -- some favoring Verizon, and at least one, that I know of, favoring AT&T -- Verizon has chosen to make it all about The Network.


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8Jan/11

Proof That Sprint’s EVO 4G Battery Doesn’t Suck

Sprint EVO 4G Stops Bullet

Sprint EVO 4G Stops Bullet

With all the news on this site about the misuse of personal data, it's nice once in a while to read about how a device can save a life, even when it's severely abused in the process.

The HTC EVO 4G, while a workhorse of a phone, has gotten a very bad wrap for its less-than-stellar battery life. Meanwhile, it looks like Sprint will be facing some real stiff 4G Android competition from its rivals, in the aftermath of this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Thus, we're sure Sprint will appreciate a little good press for its flagship phone, no matter how decidedly un-technological.

Via Engadget:

We knew the HTC EVO 4G was a pretty super phone, but we didn't know it was an actual superhero. A nightclub valet in Atlanta was recently the victim of two disgruntled patrons' wrath, falling in the middle of a five-shot bullet volley, but luckily for him, he had his EVO in his chest pocket. While the phone's glass shattered on impact, its battery did not and absorbed much of the impact of the one bullet intent on ridding him from this mortal coil. The fortunate chap is still with us, uninjured but stupefied by the event, and he promises he'll never buy another brand's phone again.

Read full article at http://www.engadget.com/2011/01/08/htc-evos-battery-deflects-a-bullet-earns-life-saver-badge-v/

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12Oct/09

OT: Verizon — Oh no you di’nt!

It's rare that I clap for [watch] TV commercials. But Verizon just took AT&T to the mat -- er, map.

Technically, this is off-topic, but I think I can apply a little broad discretion when it comes to bad data -- That is, the data that every U.S. cell phone company uses to claim to be the best.

I know I spend a lot of time picking on Apple -- especially the the iPhone. But when something falls just short of great, it leaves room for criticism. That, however, doesn't describe Apple's choice of service partner. Verizon customers love their coverage. T-Mobile customers love their customer service. Sprint customers love their features (and free 3G roaming to Verizon). AT&T customers love their iPhones, and tolerate their service. Now Verizon is taking them to the map.

Watch and see what I mean.

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9Sep/09

Electronic privacy is for the birds.

Source: Wikipedia

Source: Wikipedia

In a match between Bird-brain vs. broadband, you might be surprised to see who wins.

An old friend of mine pointed out what sounded like an interesting story out of South Africa. Tired of slow download speeds, a South African call center pitted a racing pigeon against Telkom South Africa Ltd.’s ADSL data service to see which could move a 4GB file faster. In total it took just under three hours for the bird to fly approximately 50 miles--about 30 times faster than the ADSL service, which had only downloaded 4% of the file in the same time.

I'm afraid we're not really comparing apapane to apapane, or even apapane to ostriches. I doubt, for instance, that the pigeon would fair quite as well over, say, a 500 or 5000 mile "data run". ... CONTINUE READING »

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24Aug/09

Protected: HazDat Geocaching Private Page

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19Aug/09

DNA hacking: the ultimate identity theft

DNAIsraeli scientists are declaring war on DNA evidence. According to a paper published today in the journal, Forensic Science International: Genetics, scientists in Tel Aviv have have demonstrated that it is in fact possible to fabricate DNA evidence, opening up an entirely new avenue of reasonable doubt.

As quoted to the New York Times by lead author, Dr. Dan Frumkin, “You can just engineer a crime scene. Any biology undergraduate could perform this.” ... CONTINUE READING »

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29Jul/09

Beware of Cell Phone Companies Baring Gifts!

Though, not strictly on-topic: I got a call today from my cellular telephone company offering to lower my monthly rate, plus add 500 shared minutes, plus unlimited messaging, free call forwarding (they were charging for call forwarding?!), and add unlimited data* (notice the asterisk) to the line that didn't have data, all for a few bucks less than I was already paying--and, no contract extension!

So, what's the catch?

I spent 2 hours on the phone, and researching online. I was skeptical, accusatory--even a little rude, at times. I just couldn't find anything wrong with the deal...unitl, I got to that pesky asterisk (*). (Not that I could actually see an asterisk, since the cell phone companies seem to have adopted the most liberal interpretation of an oral contract. Even Kim Basinger had to "shake on it".)

When I finally agreed that there was, apparently, nothing wrong with the offer, I asked for a "read-back" of the details. When she got to the "unlimited data", she paused and said, "well, you know, 5G's, or something like that. I mean, that's basically unlimited, right". (Insert screeching-brake sound effect here.)

I asked her to check my data usage history, and found that, when I'm traveling, I tend to go well over 5 Gigabytes of monthly usage on my current--actual--unlimited plan. Mind you, this may not be typical for all subscribers. After all, occasionally, I like to stream a little television from my smart-phone via a video adapter cable to the TV in my hotel room. And, though I won't admit to hacking my phone and unlocking its tethering capability, I could--if I wanted to. I also won't admit to broadcasting said broadband via wi-fi for a room full of people to use as an impromptu hot-spot, I could do that too--if I wanted to.

Finally, I could see why I was receiving the call. This was a Trojan Horse. An opportunity to blind a customer with pretty bauble's, as not to notice his fortress was being raided for all it's precious and truly unlimited bounty. I wasn't buyin' what she was sellin'.

Suffice it to say, a little haggling later (and, probably a little more rudeness), I kept my unlimited broadband, and lowered my cell phone bill.

Moral of the story: When a service is in abundant supply--in this case cellular providers--it's a buyers market. Now, if someone would just flood the market with physicians.

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