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    September 30, 2011
    Fun Friday Videos: March of the Floppies
    YouTube Preview Image

    How does this work?  I have no idea.  However, it’s a pair of old 3.5-inch floppy disk drives playing the Imperial March from the Star Wars series.  If that’s not worthy of a few views, I don’t know what is.  Thanks to @sarahdobbs on Twitter for posting it, and thanks to me for stealing the video and reposting it here.

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    September 27, 2011
    Behind The Scenes At HP

    Right now, I’m sitting in a hotel in Texas having spent the entire day within the confines of HP’s massive complex where every computer, television, phone, and what-have-you gets tested for every conceivable flaw using every conceivable method under the sun.  You name it, they do it to computers.  If you’re not supposed to do it?  They do it twice, just to be sure.

    I’ve had good luck with HP products in the past, and I’ve usually recommended the company as one to look for when folks ask me what kind of computer they should buy.  The tour of HP’s facilities only underscores that confidence I’ve had in their products in the past.  The sheer amount of work put in to analyzing products for flaws and examining every bit about the product is amazing.

    I’ll talk about it more tomorrow and in the days to come, but for now, let’s just say that the behind the scenes stuff of the computer industry is pretty fascinating.

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    September 16, 2011
    A Windows 8 Preview

    It won’t be long now.  Every few years, the operating system on your computer becomes old and busted, and some new hotness takes its place.  Windows 95 was a revolutionary leap forward, then Windows XP refined and perfected that user experience.  These days, though, the idea of the personal computer isn’t a big square thing sitting on a desk in a spare room.  Computers are in your laps, in your pockets, and with you wherever you go.  Microsoft has seen the future, and a hands-on review of Windows 8 by Fox seems to suggest that MS has embraced a whole new way of managing personal computing.

    Weirdly enough, the future of Windows doesn’t involve windows at all, but tiles.  Or rather, in MS parlance, Tiles.  In order to have some kind of cross-over between Window’s tablet, phone, and computer OSes, Windows is getting redesigned for a more touchscreen-friendly input system, using big, colorful tiles and ribbon display menus to get to the stuff you want when you sit at your computer to do whatever you may be doing.  Don’t worry, though.  You can still use a standard keyboard and mouse if you don’t want to spring for a touch-screen monitor (or even use a pen if you have a tablet input).

    Would you use a touch-screen desktop PC?  I’m not really sold on it.  I like the way things are now, I like having a physical mouse and keyboard, and I like being able to use my computer and not worry about smearing barbecue sauce all over the display in the process.

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    September 15, 2011
    The $57000 Gold Phone

    It doesn’t connect to the Internet, and it lacks GPS, email, games, and a camera.  It’s not smart by any stretch of the imagination.  However, it has the one thing that iPhone doesn’t (unless Steve Jobs has an equivalent): it’s made of18-karat, solid gold.  The Dutch company Aesir has developed the $57,400 phone not as an actual, useful device, but as a fashion statement catering to Moscow’s rich elite.

    It’s a collector’s item. People are used to collecting, say, watches, while designer phones is a practically empty niche,” said Thomas Jensen, the mind behind the company’s fashionable phones.

    The phone itself is basically made of solid gold, as well as the other required parts to make it a phone.  They also produce a stainless steel version that’s a more affordable $9867, just in case you’re not sold on sinking the price of a Corvette into a conversation starter without GPS.  Still, if you have the money to buy this phone, you can just have a back-up phone for more important uses, and your butler can carry that one around.

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    September 14, 2011
    Wordless Wednesday: The Star Destroyer

    More images and video at Obvious Winner.

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    September 14, 2011
    Two Seniors Vs. Baffling Webcams

    Bruce and Esther Huffman are like any other senior couple from their retirement community in McMinnville, Oregon.  They’re doing their best to make their way in a modern world that they’re not quite comfortable with.  For example, their laptop computer comes with a webcam.  Their granddaughter walked Ester through the process of taking pictures, but the results didn’t quite stick.  The resulting struggle became the viral video sensation “Webcam 101 For Seniors,” which was uploaded to YouTube to rave reviews and mass hilarity.

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    While Esther does the struggling, it’s Bruce that steals the show.  He comments on his wrinkles, makes a monkey face, belches gigantically, and even flirts with his wife a little while she struggles to operate the webcam.  The video is very adorable, and I give these folks and their family all the credit in the world for embracing their unlikely fame and releasing the video to the world.  It’s a perfect mid-week pick-me-up.

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    September 12, 2011
    Silencing Snooki

    Celebrities are everywhere, and given the generally terrible nature of television news, programming, and what-have-you, they cannot be escaped.  Snooki’s exploits are on the nightly news; Kim Kardashian headlines TV gossip shows.  Even Charlie Sheen’s going to be back on TV soon, and there’s no way to control what your television makes you hear about… or is there?  Using a couple of Arduino circuit boards and an infrared light diode, a skilled hacker has manufactured the dream device:  a remote that automatically mutes the annoying celebrity or politician of your choice.

    “A while ago it was Charlie Sheen. And then it was Sarah Palin.  And then it was Donald Trump,” said Matt Richardson, the man behind the auto-mute and a video producer for Make Magazine.  ”And after a while I realized there’s sort of always someone who I don’t really want to hear about.”  When the remote first came online, Richardson says, “I was in silent bliss for that 30 seconds I didn’t have to hear about Kim Kardashian.

    How it works is simple.  You turn the closed captioning on and point the device at the CCTV stream.  When it reads a forbidden name, it mutes the television automatically.  The sound comes back on 30 seconds later, or whenever the news report about the annoying celebrity ends.  When they mention the celeb again?  The timer starts back up again.  It’s genius in its simplicity, and most importantly, you can build your own using Richardson’s plans or just follow the below how-to video!

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    September 7, 2011
    Wordless Wednesday: Deconstructionist

    Nizo via Things Organized Neatly

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    September 5, 2011
    Happy Memor-I Mean Labor Day!

    Enjoy your last official day of summer today, folks.  The weather’s already starting to turn colder, those whites have to be put away, and soon we’ll be talking about ways to keep warm.  On behalf of the entire Shak family, I hope you and yours had a wonderful Labor Day today.

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    September 2, 2011
    Amazon’s Android-Powered iPad Killer

    Amazon has been teasing the tablet audience for awhile.  Since they developed the Kindle and basically broke the ebook reader market open in one fell swoop, they’ve been itching to officially take on the iPad, and now it appears that they’re about ready to do just that.  According to TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, the Amazon Kindle tablet computer is very much a real thing, and very much a threat to Apple’s dominance of the tablet market.

    Why is the Android-powered Amazon Kindle tablet a threat to the iPad?  There are several reasons.  First and foremost, the price.  The cheapest iPad 2 is $500; the Amazon Kindle tablet is supposedly going to start at $250.  It will be a full-color, backlit, two-finger touchscreen device running a totally customized version of Android that has been completely redone to Amazon-ify it.  We’re talking the Amazon color scheme and full integration with Amazon’s services.  Amazon Cloud Player will handle the music; Amazon’s Kindle app will handle the ebooks; Amazon Instant Video will handle the movies; most importantly, Amazon’s app store will handle the app delivery.

    Granted, the Amazon Kindle will only have a 7-inch screen (at first) with 6GB worth of storage, but that won’t be a big deal.  If the launch goes well, a 10-inch version will be coming along next year.  The suspected release date is October, which is just in time for the holiday season.  If this thing hits as big as everyone thinks, the iPad may be in serious trouble.  I just hope Amazon’s got the operating system squared away and flawless.

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