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    November 26, 2015
    Happy Turkey Day!

    Happy Turkey Day!  Whether you’re eating dinner with friends or pigging out with family, I hope you have a great Thanksgiving.  As always, there’s nothing I am more thankful for than the folks who stop by this blog to read my words.  You’re all very appreciated.

    As for me, I’ve got two family meals today, and in between those meals I’m going to be watching the MST3K Turkey Day marathon from Shout Factory.  You can find out more information at the #BringBackMST3K Kickstarter page.  I wholeheartedly recommend downloading the Pluto.TV app for your phone, bringing your headphones, and enjoying yourself during your car rides.

    Image via Shout Factory.

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    November 25, 2015
    Sony: PlayStation Sells 30 Million Copies

    Sony wasn’t the winner of the last generation of video games; that winner was probably the Microsoft Xbox 360.  Before that, the winner was probably the Nintendo Wii.  However, the Xbox One/PS4 conflicts is easy mode for Sony, who has been dominating this generation of video games with relative ease.  Despite only being released two years ago, Sony’s PlayStation 4 has sold 30 million units.

    Nintendo, which has been out a year longer, has only sold 10 million units; Xbox doesn’t release sales numbers, but the last time they did they were about 10 million units sold in November 2014.  Given Microsoft’s reticence to issue sales numbers, that would probably suggest that Microsoft isn’t winning this particular iteration of the console war.  Everyone has a moment, and while this doesn’t seem to be the Microsoft year, it’s worth nothing that tens of millions of units sold is still really good.

    Do you have a PS4?  Is that the next game console I need to pick up, or should I see who gets what exclusive game over the holiday season?

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    November 23, 2015
    Conserve Data Streaming With Opera Max

    I’m just now running into a problem with my smartphone.  After some traveling and some forgetfulness on my part, I’ve been running close to the top of my data cap for my smartphone.  The struggle is real, first world problems, etc.  However, in a lot of places, data caps mean that once the phone runs out of online connectivity, the user runs out of online connectivity, too.  Hence the need for bandwidth conservation apps.  Opera Max not only cuts down on data usage for normal apps, but it also conserves data when streaming music, too.

    Reads an official Opera Max company blog post, “Opera Max also saves your data on music apps like Pandora, Slacker Radio and YouTube Music, to name a few.  But, this is just the start as we will be bringing even more data savings to more apps over the next few months.”

    I just upgraded my data plan from 2 to 3 GB for free, thanks to Verizon, and that bought me more time, but I’m still very low on bandwidth and it’s being shared between my phone and my parents’ tablet.  For whatever reason, the 2GB that I did have doesn’t seem to be enough.  Of course, I’ve been streaming a lot of music, and I think that might be the cause.  Needless to say, I’m really considering giving Opera Max a test drive.

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    November 21, 2015
    Microsoft’s Black Friday Deals Start At 10 Cents!

    If you need anything, Black Friday is usually the best time to get it.  There are better deals, but there are seldom that many great deals happening at once, which explains the shopping frenzy that overtakes the United States every Friday after Thanksgiving.  However, online retailers aren’t waiting until Friday, choosing instead to roll deals out slowly on the week leading up to Black Friday’s main event.  Microsoft is having some great deals on music, movies, video games, and everything else for Black Friday!

    Movies, songs, and apps can be available for as low as 10 cents!  Whole albums can be bought for $1!  Xbox One bundles will be dropping down to $299!  There are tablets and computers with hundreds of dollars slashes off the price!  Xbox Live memberships for $1 a month! And, best of all, you don’t have to wait for it to show up on Black Friday; all of Microsoft’s deals are available online right now!

    For more information, check out Microsoft’s blog post about the very deal.

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    November 19, 2015
    Write And Pitch To Amazon Studios

    Amazon has become one of the biggest players in the entertainment industry over the years.  First they worked as the best way to sell stuff online.  Now, they’re not just selling the movies and TV shows made by others and are just making themselves.  Every six months or so Amazon does what they call a pilot season, when new shows are trotted out for the public to vote on.  Now, to expand the pipeline and get content even more efficiently, Amazon is going into the writing business.  Amazon has free scriptwriting software that submits your ideas directly to Amazon Studios!

    The program is called Amazon Storywriter, and it’s basically your standard screenwriting program, but with the added carrot of being able to turn your script in for submission when you’re done.  There are categories; TV Comedy, TV Drama, Feature Film, and while there’s a lot of legalese to protect both sides from any bright ideas occurring for multiple people at the same time, it’s also a pretty fun idea to get your script out there in the world.  There’s even a Chrome extension for Storywriter for writing on the go and writing in offline mode.

    Will anyone ever wade through the slush pile?  Who knows!  But that’s part of the fun, right?

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    November 18, 2015
    Gift Guides: 12 Under $50

    There’s nothing quite as terrifying as figuring out just what kind of gift to buy for all the people you need to buy gifts for.  More importantly, buying people fun or useful gifts on a budget is even more difficult.  Thankfully, for the holiday season, everyone lines up to throw out their best ideas for gifts for cheap.  PC World has put together a great guide of under-$50 gifts for the holidays.

    Of the many gifts mentioned, one of them that I like the best is the idea of Tile.  Basically, it’s a little square thing that you connect to whatever you seem to lose most often, and when it’s missing, you just use an app to trigger the tile to beep or show up on GPS.  And if you happen to lose your phone, just reverse it… use the tile to make your phone emit a signal to help find it.  There are other fun things on there, like selfie sticks, USB sticks, and the Amazon Fire Tablet.

    Of these, the one I like the best would probably be the Fire Tablet.  I have one, and while it’s not the best tablet on the market, for that price and if you’re an Amazon Prime customer, you really can’t beat it.  Plus it comes with a free month of Prime, so maybe it’s a good pre-holiday gift to get for a friend who is going to be doing some holiday shopping online and could really use the two-day shipping.

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    November 18, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Wordless Of The Year

    via PC Word.

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    November 16, 2015
    Walmart’s $10 Android Phone

    How would you like to have a smartphone for less than the price of a large pizza at your local fast food chain?  Well, if you’re willing to put up with some cut corners, then there’s a deal out there for you.  Walmart is selling a pair of $10 pre-paid Tracphone smartphones.  That’s right, that’s the cheapest possible smartphone available out there today, and probably the cheapest one that isn’t fully subsidized by a carrier.

    The two phones are called the the LG “Sunrise” L15G and LG “Lucky” LG16, both locked to Tracphone’s services.  The two phones are basically the same, with one being GSM and one being CDMA.  Neither phone supports 4G, but both connect to wireless internet and both are similarly featured, with a  a 3.8-inch LCD screen, a quad-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, a 3MP rear camera, a 1540 mAh battery, and 4GB of storage with the capacity to add a micro-SD card (the phones come with a 4GB card to increase storage space).  There’s no selfie camera, and there aren’t a lot of bells and whistles to the phones, which run off two-year-old Android builds.

    So the phones aren’t the newest or the best, but did you get your smartphone for $10 without a contract?  More than likely not, unless you’ve been shopping at Walmart.

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    November 14, 2015
    Get A Roku Streaming Box For $25

    I love to have streaming video at my disposal, but I’m getting tired of being held down by my slow, glitchy built-in streaming.  I have a Blu Ray player with Netflix and some other streaming services, but it’s very, very slow and it’s prone to crashing or disconnecting in the middle of streaming whatever goofy movie I’ve picked out for the night.  I’m frustrated with it, and I think it’s time to make a change.  I have an Amazon Fire TV stick for the upstairs TV, and I think now it’s time to get a Roku SE for the living room.  Roku will have their SE box for $25 on Black Friday.

    It’s actually a really good deal, cheaper than pretty much all the other streaming options out there with the addition of some 3000 channels that come as part of Roku’s services.  Here’s the full run-down on what the Roku SE provides, and even if it was only used for Netflix and some of the streaming from my premium channels, it’d be worth the $25.

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    November 13, 2015
    Cell Batteries That Charge 10 Times Faster

    Since I took the plunge and got a smartphone, the thing I miss most about having an old non-smart phone is the battery life.  When I get my phone out and start using it, the battery life just very slowly dissipates with every click of the on-screen icons.  It’s incredible to behold.  I used to get all day on my phone’s charge, even though it wasn’t exactly a useful phone.  Now I have a phone that can do pretty much anything, and it’s got to be charged routinely or it becomes an expensive brick.  That charging process usually means I’m tethered to the wall, but a Chinese phone manufacturer is working on that issue.  Huawei has developed a cell phone battery that charges 10 times faster than current batteries.

    The battery works not by being substantially different from standard batteries mechanically, but by changing how lithium ions are stored and move inside the battery.  In five minutes, the phone charges from dead to 48 percent capacity!  There are other companies working on ways to charge phone batteries wirelessly, and others are working on phones that don’t need charging for up to 7 days.  Maybe if you combine multiple technologies, you can finally solve the biggest problem with modern phones:  battery life!

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