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    June 28, 2012
    The Tablet Wars: How The iPad, Kindle Fire, MS Surface, And Nexus 7 Compare

    When it comes to tablet shopping, it pays to study the various offerings.  Here, courtesy of the Washington Post, is a comparison of the various major players in the tablet PC industry.  Some of these, like the Microsoft Surface, are speculative in nature or incomplete.  Others, like the iPad and Kindle Fire, are based on their more current iterations.

    While we don’t have all the information, what we do have is very interesting.  Surface has the largest display, but the iPad has the most screen resolution.  The iPad is the most expensive, and the Kindle Fire has some competition on the lowest end.  The best looking combination of price and features looks to be, shockingly, the Google Nexus 7.  It has more memory and a similar amount of storage as the Kindle Fire,  has a camera where the Fire lacks one, and is the thinnest and lightest of the various tablets.

    Of course, Microsoft has a lot of information yet to be released about its tablet, including price point, so the tablet war is finally getting interesting.

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    June 26, 2012
    Apple’s New Podcasts App

    I’ve really started getting into podcasts recently.  I know, once again I’m way behind the curve, but when I’m at work and looking for a little entertainment, I head to Nerdist or Earwolf and download or stream a podcast to my desktop computer.  My preferred mode is, of course, streaming.  Unfortunately for users of iPads and iPhones and whatnot, Apple didn’t really support streaming to your devices.  Well, prepare for a new change in the world:  Apple’s Podcasts app will now support live streaming to your device via wifi and 3G.

    Will this change the world of podcasts?  Well, maybe.  Most major podcast broadcasters have their own apps that allowed easy streaming well before Apple allowed it; this may cut into their downloads and thus might harm their numbers.  Or, just maybe, it will help guide more ears to podcasts that might not be as well known thanks to the smart recommendation system Apple has developed (which uses your subscribed podcasts to suggest other ‘casts you might like).

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    June 25, 2012
    13 Disappearing Tech Sounds

    Remember this sound?

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    Odds are you don’t hear this sound much anymore.  If you do, you have my deepest sympathies.  That sound is the sound of a dial-up modem handshake, AKA when a modem connects to another modem to grant the end user access to the Internet.  I haven’t heard that horrible, wonderful sound since the early 2000’s, and for some people, that dial-up modem sound has been a historical artifact since the late 90’s.  It’s one of many tech sounds that have gone the way of the dodo.  Yahoo has gathered 13 classic technology sounds that have disappeared, from Windows 98’s start-up chimes and Mac’s infamous “Uh-oh!” error sound to dial-up modems, the chirp of a dot matrix printer, and the click and pop of a tube television.

    Do you ever find yourself missing these sounds?  I do at times.  The thing I miss most is probably the clacking of a full-sized, old-fashioned keyboard featuring keys.  The louder and clackier the better, so as to sound most like a typewriter.  That was a wonderful noise, and I kind of miss it.

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    June 22, 2012
    Netflix Dominance: 252 Movies In A Single Month

    Comedian Mark Malkoff is a Netflix power user like no one I’ve ever seen before.  He had a challenge for himself:  watch as many movies on Netflix as he could in 30 days.  The goal was 250 movies; Mark Malkoff watched a staggering 252 movies in 30 days!  From April 16 through May 15, all Mark Malkoff did from 10 AM through 2 or 3 AM was watch movies.  Over 404 hours later, he accomplished his goal on the final day.  More importantly, he made a video of his journey.

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    Say what you want to, this is dedication.  This is impressive.  Sure, everyone WANTS to do this, but no one actually does it.  Well, except for Mark Malkoff.

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    June 20, 2012
    The Star Trek Home Theater

    When it comes to boldly going where no man has gone before, you have to give it up to the Aspen, Colorado, designers ESC.  If you check out their website, they’ve done some good work, but nothing’s better than their home theaters.  They have designed what might be the best-looking Star Trek home theater I’ve ever seen.  This thing is beautiful.  Check it out, won’t you?

    Here’s the project overview:

    The theater represents one of the most distinctive, technically and structurally advanced private theaters in the United States.  The client insisted upon a unique and specific set of criteria including extremely high volume levels within a tasteful and highly-detailed Star Trek-themed architecture.  Other technical assemblies unique to residential environments include motorized sliding doors, intelligent concert-type lighting and related DMX512 controls, and commercial-level HVAC, all coexisting seamlessly and reliably for a typical homeowner.

    Long story short, it’s expensive, but it’s probably better than any home theater setup you’ve ever seen, unless you’re a multi-millionaire.  In which case, this is probably already your house, so please invite me over to hang out and join in on the Star Trek: The Next Generation marathon.

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    June 19, 2012
    Windows Phone 8 Coming Tomorrow

    Today, the rumored Windows tablet computer made its debut.  The tablet, dubbed Windows Surface, looks like it’s going to be an impressive piece of work and a bold attempt by Microsoft to challenge Apple and Amazon’s tablet dominance.  But that’s not the only thing the folks from Redmond, Washington, have coming down the pipe.  Tomorrow, the Windows Phone developers are gathering in San Francisco, California, for a full-day conference.  The subject?  No one knows yet, but the rumor is Windows Phone 8 may be coming announced.

    Would Microsoft throw out multiple new product announcements in the same week but not at a major conference or huge media event?  It doesn’t seem terribly likely, but Microsoft is a company with lots of divisions and tens of thousands of employees; it’s entirely possible that the rolling rumor/announcement cycle is by design.  Rumors on Monday, tablet launch; more rumors, launch Windows Phone 8 on Wednesday.  It’s a good way to dominate a news cycle, for sure.

    So what’s Windows Phone 8 rumored to do?  Well, support multi-processor devices, for one.  The other big innovation will be NFC support.  Time to turn the smartphone into a portable wallet!

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    June 16, 2012
    Rumor Mill: Microsoft Launching A Windows Tablet

    Microsoft roared to the top of the computer business by working hand-in-glove with partners.  Anyone can buy a Windows license and put Microsoft’s operating system on their computers.  That’s how Microsoft nearly killed Apple in the 90’s; market share is power, and when everyone can use your OS for their products, you pick that up pretty quickly.  However, Apple innovated, continuing to build its own products but creating markets for things we didn’t know we needed, like tablets and MP3 players.  For 37 years, Windows has licensed, not built.  Now, Microsoft is expected to announce a Windows tablet on Monday.

    Granted, Microsoft had the Zune, and the Xbox 360, so it’s not as if the company has no experience in the field.  The Xbox is essentially a more powerful tablet and an underpowered PC, so that’s the perfect niche to kind of extrapolate the experiences of the computer industry from set-top boxes to tablets.  The same space economy, the same heat protection, and less need to cram powerful stuff into a tiny form factor.  Here’s hoping it has more power economy than the 360!

    The tablet will be powered by Windows RT, a tablet version of Windows 8.  Having seen early versions of Windows 8 enabled for touch screens, that will no doubt be very successful.  The touch localization was pretty tight, even in an alpha version, and that kind of touch interface is what’s needed to do battle with the iPad.  Apple has a great touch interface, but it’s definitely not perfect.  Touch is never perfect, but I think Windows can definitely launch a good competition product.  Between the Kindle Fire and the Windows tablet, Apple is facing some legitimate competition in the tablet arena.

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    June 14, 2012
    Retina MacBook Pro Is The Least Upgradable Laptop Ever

    Apple’s new line of retina display laptops cram the best available technology within their displays and a comparatively impressive amount of internal hardware.  Good thing, too, because what you get from Apple is what you’re stuck with for good.  iFixIt, the professional Mac tear-down artists, have called the MacBook Pro with Retina Display the least upgradable/repairable laptop ever.  Indeed, the MacBook Pro seems designed to fail if you even try to open it!

    “Laptops are expensive. It’s critical that consumers have the option to repair things that go wrong, as well as upgrade their own hardware to keep it relevant as new technologies roll out,” writes iFixit’s Kyle Wiens. “On top of being glued together, the new MacBook Pro is virtually non-upgradeable—making it the first MacBook Pro that will be unable to adapt to future advances in memory and storage technology.”

    So just how stuck together is the new MacBook?  Well, the display is one big piece stuck together.  The RAM is soldered onto the motherboard and can’t be removed.  The hard drive is not upgradable.  Even the battery is glued into the case.  But hey, if you want to use a computer for a few years and then throw them away in a couple of years when the parts start to wear down, this may be just the thing for you!

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    June 13, 2012
    New Top Level Domains Released, Prepare For .facebook

    For quite some time, the though has been that the Internet was running out of domain names.  While finding a good domain name is harder than ever, it looks like that situation is about to change.  ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the domain registrar of the world and the company that essentially runs the skeleton of the Internet, has decided to make things easier.  ICANN has opened up bidding on a whole raft of personalized top-level domain names.  You know .com?  That’s a top-level domain.  Soon you may be hitting up google. google for your search news.  Or maybe, if companies get their way.

    “The Internet is about to change forever,” ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom declared.  “We’re standing at the cusp of a new era of online innovation, innovation that means new businesses, new marketing tools, new jobs, new ways to link communities and share information.”

    We’ve heard all this before.  For all the hype about .info, .tv, .biz, and all the other available top level domain additions made in recent years, if you’re not a .com or at least a .net, then you’re not exactly taken seriously.  Granted, if I was Google, I’d pay millions for a .google top-level domain and the right to administer it as I saw fit, if only to keep it for myself.

    Of course, that costs money.  Serious money.  Interested top-level domain bidders are paying $185,000 per application, and that’s before they’re granted the rights to the domains they seek.  There’s also a 10-year commitment per domain, with each domain needing a staggering $25,000 per year to maintain.  Google applied for 101 different domains, including .app, .music, .love, and who knows what else; meanwhile, Apple applied for one top-level domain, .apple.

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    June 12, 2012
    Tidbits From Apple’s WWDC

    Apple’s World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWCD) is a treasure-trove for Apple fans.  Every year, the WWDC comes with wave after wave of news.  What’s next, what’s new, what’s Apple going to do?  Well, people who were able to go have been answering those questions, and Information Week has compiled the 17 coolest innovations to be announced at Apple’s WWDC.

    The bid news is probably iOS 6.  It’s not going to really affect iPhone users, but if you have a first-generation iPad, then consider yourself officially obsolete.  That’s right, when iOS 6 rolls out, Apple will be cutting off all those first-gen iPads in favor of the iPad 2 and 3; those users with iPod Touch and the iPhones 3G and the iPhone 4 family will all be given passes into the next generation.  Sorry, iPad early adopters.  But hey, when you update to the next-gen iOS you’ll get a fully functional release of Siri, enhanced email, a new Apple Maps offering (replacing Google Maps as the Apple default), and the ability to use FaceTime over a cellular connection rather than having to find an open WiFi connection.

    If that sounds like something worthwhile to you, then I suggest you start saving your money now.

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