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    February 29, 2012
    Apple Joins The $500 Billion Club

    Only six companies have crossed the $500 billion dollar mark in market value.  Most of them have sunk far below that level shortly after their high water mark.  Microsoft, the most valuable company in history, was worth a staggering $604 billion at the end of 1999, but eventually sank down to a comparatively paltry $266 billion.  The other companies to cross that barrier–Intel, GE, and Cisco–are well below their highs.  Only Exxon, worth $405 billion at the moment, has retained something close to that value.  Now, there’s a new member in the club:  Apple is now worth $500 billion dollars.

    Will Apple hold this value?  Well, no.  Not forever, anyway; no company can stay on top forever because now Apple is the big target.  Everyone from Microsoft to… well, some company we won’t hear about for years yet… will be aiming at Cupertino’s fruit company.  Still, for the moment, Apple is top dog and they’re looking like they may stay that way for awhile since they’re sitting on a $100 billion war chest of cash and investments.

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    February 27, 2012
    Best Buy Drops iPad 2 Price, Prepares For iPad 3

    Very quietly over the weekend, the price of the iPad 2 dropped at your local Best Buy store.  Every model of iPad 2, from the 16GB baseline version to the 64GB version with 3G and WiFi capability, lost $50 off its price, and there’s a good reason for the subtle, but unexpected, drop in price.  No, Best Buy isn’t suddenly generous; they’re clearing shelf space.  The iPad 3 is definitely coming to America, and it may hit store shelves as soon as March 7.

    Will it be out by then?  I have my doubts; after all, we haven’t gotten any kind of build-up of this, but I don’t remember a huge build-up for the last iPad.  I just remember one day they told everyone it was going to be in stores on a certain day, and then it was.  Of course, my memory is sketchy, especially on product launches, but this seems particularly low key if it really is happening.

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    February 24, 2012
    Improving Brain Functioning With World Of Warcraft

    The negative aspects of MMORPG games like World of Warcraft are pretty easy to dig up information about, as nobody likes writing good things about anything.  However, can Warcraft-like games have a positive effect on brain functioning?  Well, according to a new study conducted by Jason Allaire and fellow professors from North Carolina State University, playing MMORPGs can have positive benefits when it comes to improving brain functioning in seniors.

    “It met a bunch of criteria we had,” said Allaire.  “Primarily that it is really engaging and cognitively complex, so we chose a game that we thought would have the best chance of exercising older adults’ cognitive abilities and thereby improving them.”

    Seniors were given baseline mental aptitude tests before and after the course of MMORPG medication.  After agreeing to the study, seniors were allowed to play World of Warcraft for two hours a day for two weeks.  Those who performed well on the initial testing stayed the same; those that had lower functioning on the first screener actually showed improved performance.  That’s right, WoW improved brain functioning.

    The full results of the test were published in the peer reviewed journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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    February 22, 2012
    OnLive Desktop: The Power Of A PC In An iPad

    When I finally upgraded from my ancient laptop to a newer, sleeker machine, I went with a netbook form factor.  There are a few reasons for this, but mostly it boils down to usefulness.  iPads are great, and a lot of fun, but they’re not terribly flexible or strong.  I can’t edit images in an iPad.  I can’t do a lot of typing with an iPad.  There are no Flash videos, so standard things like YouTube are right out.  You can’t Hulu on it, either.  So, I spent more money and got something capable of performing all the functions of a standard desktop, but in a 13-inch format.  It’s a shame I didn’t know about OnLive Desktop Plus, an app/service that puts a real Windows 7 PC right into your iPad.

    So how does it work?  Well, you log into OnLive Desktop, and boom, there’s a Windows 7 desktop.  Right there, you have Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Paint, Media Player, and 2 GB of storage on the go… basically anything you need, and it all runs remotely from a state-of-the-art computer farm thousands of miles away.  Your iPad connects to OnLive, and OnLive does whatever you want with blazingly fast speeds of up to 1000 times faster than your high-speed connection (though they recommend a 2 megabyte connection on your end for OnLive to work properly).  Basically, OnLive’s server farm fetches the data, and sends only exactly what your iPad needs, which allows it to work blazingly fast.

    Of course, you need a desktop or laptop connection to set up OnLive Desktop, but once it is configured… you’re ready to go.  Of course, with the $5 per month premium OnLive Desktop Plus, you get all this plus a staggering 1gb-a-second Internet connection with Internet Explorer and Adobe.  If this sounds like something that might be of interest to you–and why wouldn’t it?–check out OnLive Desktop’s website.

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    February 21, 2012
    Mass Effect 3: The Take Earth Back Trailer

    Bioware’s Mass Effect has been one of the most popular and most beloved video games in recent history.  Like any video game, Mass Effect 3 needs a little more than to simply roll out into stores and wait for people to buy them.  Oh no, Mass Effect 3 needs a trailer, and boy did Bioware really up the ante for video game trailers with this one.  Dubbed Take Earth Back, Mass Effect 3’s trailer got a big debut on Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead and is now available online with extra footage.  You can check it out below.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Mass Effect 3 is coming out on March 6.  If you can’t wait that long, two levels of the game’s single player (as well as multi-player co-op mode!) are available for download for PC, the Xbox 360, and the PlayStation 3.  It’s the foremost action sci-fi roleplaying game, so it’s probably worth checking out if you’re into that kind of thing.

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    February 20, 2012
    Buy Two, Get One Free For Your PS Vita

    So, you bought yourself a nice new PlayStation Vita and you’re looking to get your portable video game on.  That’s all well and good, but who wants to play a video game system with only a couple of games?  Fortunately, has a great solution to that problem thanks to a brilliant sale.  B2G1, as the kids say.  That’s right, gang: buy two get one free on all launch PS Vita games.

    GameStop and Target are doing similar deals, but only Amazon’s deal covers basically all the video games available for the Vita.  You don’t want to be limited, do you?  No; when you’ve got a buy two, get one, you want your one to be anything you want, and Amazon is making that happen.  Now, a tougher assignment might be to pick out just three games, or to find three games you like among the launch titles, but that’s an entirely different article for a different time.

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    February 18, 2012
    Your ASUS Warranty Won’t Stop The Aliens

    Like a lot of people, I’m getting to be a fan of ASUS products.  Since the company jumped on the scene here in America, they’ve put out some good products.  In fact, an ASUS motherboard is controlling the machine I’m typing this blog post on right now.  They’re got good products, and a pretty comprehensive warranty system.  That said, there’s a few things the ASUS warranty doesn’t cover, including alien invasion.  That’s right, ASUS has an alien invasion clause in their warranty.

    So, for the record, if aliens invade and somehow damage your computer, you’re on your own, pal.  Even if humanity needs those codes you’ve got on your hard drive to insert a virus in the alien mothership and crash it a la Independence Day, you’re going to have to go down to Best Buy and pick up your own motherboard, because ASUS is officially off the hook.  Thanks a lot, ASUS.  You’ve just doomed humanity.

    Image: Gizmodo

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    February 17, 2012
    The Hottest New Meme: How People View My Profession

    If you haven’t seen these everywhere, you will soon.  Basically, it’s a breakdown of perception versus reality via funny pictures with captions.  This is the Internet; everything is funny pictures with captions.  The Washington Post has a great breakdown of just what you’re seeing on every Google+ stream and Facebook wall these days.

    This meme has been amazing to watch.  It started, to the best of my knowledge, on Monday or Tuesday of this week, and now it’s everywhere in a really short time.  (Of course, I could have only just noticed it on Tuesday, since I’m not on Facebook, but since I saw the first one, they’re not EVERYWHERE AND INESCAPABLE).

    Do you like this meme?  I kind of do.  I actually find it pretty informative, especially when you see just what people say they actually do when they’re doing whatever it is they do.  Perception of a job is always very different than what the job actually entails, so it’s nice to get a glimpse behind that curtain, even if it’s just exploited for laughs.

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    February 16, 2012
    Romance Blooms Over Words With Friends

    Playing Scrabble doesn’t strike me as the sexiest activity.  I mean, I’ve played Scrabble for most of my life, but it has never ended up being any kind of sexy shenanigans, a meet-cute event, or anything worth writing about.  I’ve made some good friends–provided they didn’t beat me at the game–but that’s about as far as it goes.  Apparently, Words With Friends is different.  In a recent survey, 10 percent of WWF players say a game has lead directly to a hook-up, while 44 percent flirt in play and 47 percent admit to having a crush on someone they’ve played with.  Part of this is due to the random opponent feature, which is used by 30 percent of the Zynga game’s 20 million monthly players.

    “It’s the purest version of fate.  When two people meet, it’s that they’ve hit that button at the exact same moment in time,” said WWF co-founder Paul Bettner.

    I used to play Literati (the Yahoo Games version of Scrabble/Words With Friends) all the time in my college days.  Not only did I not get a crush on anyone or hook up with an opponent, most of the time I didn’t even get a decent game of Scrabble out of my randomized Yahoo opponent.  Maybe I’m too competitive for my own good.

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    February 14, 2012
    Have A Happy Valentine’s Day From Shaktronics (And Some Friends)

    Via Agent M Loves Tacos.

    PS: If you haven’t seen The Muppets yet, do so as soon as possible.  Especially this time of year; it’s sweet and funny and the perfect date night movie for your significant others.  Even better, you don’t have to wait in line or have reservations to see it!

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