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    March 30, 2012
    Codename Orbis: The Hottest Video Game System Of 2013

    It’s called the Orbis, and if everything goes according to plan, you or your children will want one come the holidays 2013.  So, here’s the question:  what’s the Orbis?  That’s simple, it’s the next generation of Sony’s venerable PlayStation line of video games.  That’s right, Sony’s future-proofed system with a 10 year development lifespan is already about to be replaced.  So why is it going to be replaced?

    Well, for one thing, the rumor is that the new PS4 will be capable of running a 3D game at 1080p, rather than the 730p it can currently manage.  It will offer support for a 4096×2160 display, which is significantly more than current HD televisions, and it will feature the latest in AMD processors, both CPU and GPU.

    There are a couple of reasons, but it comes down to this:  Sony wants to control the used game market, and apparently Orbis is going to have some sort of online verification system that locks your game in with your PSN account (if you buy the disc version) or adds it to your PSN as a download (as they’re going to provide downloads of full titles, apparently… not sure how that’s going to work considering a Blu-ray disc is 10 gigabytes or more of data).


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    March 27, 2012
    24% of Americans Want An iPad HD

    Do you want an iPad HD?  If so, you’re far from alone.  Baird Equity Research conducted a recent survey of 448 potential iPad customers and found that 24 percent of Americans and 29 percent of international customers want a new iPad HD.  Admittedly, the group was a bit younger and more tech-savvy than the average group of consumers, but the results were still surprising when you consider that among the existing iPad owners in the group, 48 percent were planning on upgrading to an iPad HD within the next three months (and 35 percent of those already own the iPad 2 and thus have no real reason to upgrade!).

    One of the least surprising results of this survey?  Some 15 percent of the respondents were looking to pick up a discounted iPad 2, and I am definitely one of them.  Unfortunately, I doubt Apple will discount the new iPad 2s to a level where I’m willing to fork over money for one.  I would love to have one, if only to play Words With Friends and Draw Something, but I’m not going to pay $300 for last year’s technology for gaming purposes.  I already have an XBox 360; between that and free online games, that should be enough to slake my desire to play fake Scrabble with my friends.

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    March 25, 2012
    Friday Funnies Vs. Sunday Funnies

    So, there are a lot of good tech-related webcomics out there, and I’m just wondering when you, the Shaktronics audience, would like to read them?  The question is this:  would you be more appreciative of them on Friday or on Sunday?  Friday seems to be the default day for taking a fun look at the end of the week, but Sunday is the traditional day for comics.  Perhaps no one really cares, but I’m curious.

    Personally, I’m leaning towards Friday, if only because by the end of the week I’m ready for a laugh and I’m pretty busy on Sundays, or traditionally am considering my slate of television reviews and movie reviews on weekends.  Friday seems like fun to me, in addition to our regular programming, but I do welcome reader thoughts.

    Image:  Joy of Tech


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    March 23, 2012
    Facebook Says No To Employer Password Requests

    Facebook, the largest and most ubiquitous social network in the nascent history of social networks, has had a lot of privacy concerns.  While there are data leaks, apps stealing information, and that sort of thing, the latest in Facebook’s concerns with privacy isn’t nefarious hackers, but supposedly-responsible organizations, businesses, and the like.  Increasingly, businesses are asking for the Facebook passwords of potential employees, but Facebook is having none of that, telling employers that they’re willing and able to take legal action to protect user privacy.

    “Facebook takes your privacy seriously,” wrote Facebook Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan in a post on Facebook.  ”We’ll take action to protect the privacy and security of our users, whether by engaging policymakers or, where appropriate, by initiating legal action, including by shutting down applications that abuse their privileges.”

    You have to give credit to Facebook for being ahead of the curve on this one.  More importantly, you have to appreciate that Facebook is actively protecting users from the very people who can scare them into voluntarily giving up their privacy:  potential bosses.  In this economy, people will do a lot of things to keep their job, even things that are violations of their right to privacy.


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    March 23, 2012
    Angry Birds Coming To A Theme Park Near You

    Would you go visit an Angry Birds theme park?  Rovio certainly hopes so, as they’ve got plans to take their video game and plush toy phenomenon Angry Birds and turn it into the sort of thing you wait hours in line for.  The first Angry Birds theme park will be opening at Särkänniemi Adventure Park in Tampere, Finland.  And that won’t be the last, if Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka has his way.

    “Zynga is a game company.  We stopped looking at ourselves as a game company.  We sold 25 million plush toys last year. For us, it’s about making Angry Birds available everywhere,” said Vesterbacka.

    Angry Birds Lands won’t be a stand-alone thing, but a featured attraction inside a preexisting theme park.  In that way, Angry Birds attractions could be coming to any theme park in your area… or possibly EVERY theme park EVER!  The Angry Birds zone at Särkänniemi will contain slides, sand pits, and video games, all of which will center around Angry Birds.  There is also an Angry Birds movie AND an Angry Birds television show in the works for the Bird-based empire.

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    March 21, 2012
    Inside The iPad HD

    Have you ever wondered what the inside of your favorite gadgets look like?  I know I have!  Recently, a friend of mine had a Mac die on her, so I got to gut it, take out the hard drive, and then take all the pieces out and really take a look at them.  I was surprised at just how much it was like my standard Windows PC.  Still, it was pretty awesome to take all those pieces out and explore.  One of the many things TechRepublic does that is fun is tearing open gadgets.  Here’s TechRepublic’s tear-down of the new Apple iPad HD.

    When I interviewed at TechRepublic ages ago (probably 6 years now), one of the things I was most excited about was the possibility of getting into their lab, taking pictures, and joining in on their tear down operations.  Unfortunately, the part-time gig I was expecting turned out to be more hours than I could comfortably work while keeping my full-time job, so I only get to tear apart gadgets that are already broken and that I can beg off of others.  Still, I love reading about this sort of thing even if I don’t get to do it myself.

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    March 20, 2012
    The Technology Of The Hunger Games

    MSNBC’s Cosmic Log does a wonderful, interesting thing when it comes to upcoming movies.  If a movie, such as The Hunger Games, has some sort of futuristic technology, MSNBC takes a close look at it.  They call their feature a reality check, and it’s time for a reality check of Hunger Games technology.  Just how much of this sci-fi technology is sci and how much of it is fi?

    As it turns out, The Hunger Games is actually fairly realistic.  While forcefields don’t exist in a practical sense in our world, a lot of other things about Panem seem to be factual, or at least based in fact.  Massive hovercrafts aren’t patroling our skies, but the world currently has genetic engineering the sort of which the Capital indulges in, unmanned surveillance drones patrol the skies over war zones (and hundreds of thousands of video cameras watch city streets, shops, parks, and all sorts of other areas throughout the world), and reality TV is as huge now as it ever was.

    Here is the biggest, most true Hunger Games/reality parallel.  While most of the world currently has cell phones, the scariest truth behind Panem is the fact that, much like the former United States in Suzanne Collins’ book, North Korea has severely limited Internet and cell phone privileges; cell phones were banned in that country until 2008 and visitors still have to turn in their phones!

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    March 18, 2012
    Hiding In Plain Sight

    Everyone loves modern technology, but almost no one likes how it looks.  There’s a reason why most people go to the trouble to hide their wires, drop their cables through the walls or up through the floor, and generally go the extra mile to make sure that they have internet, cable, or telephones but they also don’t have a lot of wires and whatnot hanging around.  Wires aren’t pretty.

    However, some things can’t be easily hidden.  Microwaves and coffee pots, for example, tend to sit out on the counter where anyone passing by the kitchen can see them, even if they don’t blend in as easily as a stove does.  But what about the outside of your house?  A satellite dish is a wonderful thing, but nobody likes having one just sticking out off the side of their house, looking ugly.  That’s why some enterprising people have gone to great pains to diguise their dishes either using camoflage or as yard art.

    Failblog has a great image gallery of cool and funny satellite dish paint jobs.


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    March 17, 2012
    Happy St. Patrick’s Day From The Muppets (And Shaktronics!)

    It’s 0ne of the most emotional songs ever written, and it’s a surefire way to get a bar full of St. Patricks Day revelers sobbing.  It’s Danny Boy, and it’s a real tear-jerker.  Of course, if you take something sad and put it into the hands of the Muppets, it becomes less tears of pain and more tears of laughter, as you can see by the following video.

    YouTube Preview Image

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!  If you go out, be responsible.  Even if you stay in, be responsible.  Holidays are all fun and games until someone gets hurt, so be careful out there and take care of each other.  Slainte!

    Via Mental Floss

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    March 16, 2012
    Fun Friday Comics: Kerning

    From the always brilliant xkcd:

    For those of you who don’t know or aren’t big typography nerds, kerning is the space between letters used in a particular font.  Actually, there are two terms for this, kerning and tracking.  Tracking is when all the letters have the same amount of space between them, and kerning is when the space between the letters is based on the letter pairs.  (If you miss the joke, look carefully at the sign on the wall, specifically at the gap between the C and E in Offices.)  Wikipedia has a pretty good explanation for it at its kerning page, but it also has  a handy image, which will be shared below.

    While I’m no graphic designer, and thus I don’t see kerning issues as easily as they do, I have been an English nerd for most of my life, and what a designer sees in kerning, I see in grammar, syntax, and improper apostrophe use.  I know their pain all too well.

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