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    October 30, 2012
    Grand Theft Auto V Is Coming

    It’s been awhile since Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive have returned to the world of Grand Theft Auto, but the long delay may prove to be worth it in the end.  Rockstar Games has announced Grand Theft Auto V will be coming out next year.  Apparently, the game will return to the fan favorite location of San Andreas, the Rockstar version of Los Angeles.  San Andreas was the setting for Grand Theft Auto:  San Andreas and promises to bring out more open world action.

    “Grand Theft Auto V builds on everything we’ve learned about open world game design,” said Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser.  ”We can’t wait to share it with fans.”

    Given Rockstar’s tradition, expect the game in May.  Rockstar’s most recent games, from Max Payne 3 to LA Noire and Red Dead Redemption, have all come out in May, so unless they want to break with their recent tradition, the game may be a good summer diversion for those days when it’s too hot to go outside.

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    October 29, 2012
    Free Plants Vs. Zombies For Halloween

    For years, dentists have complained about the damage that Halloween does for the teeth of children.  All that sugar and whatnot wreaks havoc on the tender dentifrice of the youngsters, causing cavities, tooth decay, and even the terror known as Zombie Mouth!  However, there’s a new warrior in the fight against bad teeth, and it’s more powerful than all the dental floss and toothpaste samples that have been dropped into trick or treat bags over the years.

    PopCap Games wants to stop Zombie Mouth, and they want your health.  Rather than give out delicious candy on Halloween, there’s an alternate option:  free games!  This Halloween, print out and hand out codes for free Plants Versus Zombies.  Just amble on over to StopZombieMouth.com and get the free copies!  The codes can be redeemed between October 30 and November 10, so there’s no hurry to get it cashed in just yet (though I’m going to turn mine in as soon as possible).

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    October 26, 2012
    A Guide To Microsoft’s New Interface

    I haven’t had a chance to play with any Windows 8-powered computers yet, aside from a very early beta version I played with last September at HP’s US operations center.  Still, the idea of a single, universal layout for all your devices, be they touchscreen, laptop, desktop, tablet, or any other kind of thing is a fascinating one, though it apparently comes with a learning curve.  Gone is the traditional menu system, and in its place is a series of tiles and swipes dubbed Metro by the geniuses at Microsoft.  It doesn’t look particularly intuitive, and apparently some people are having difficulty with it.  Fox News has put together a user’s guide to performing basic tasks in Metro.

    I’ll be honest, even just looking at the instructions leaves me a little confused, so maybe it’s the sort of thing that works best when you’re also looking at the Metro interface.  Might be awhile before I get that into it, though.  My next purchase will be an Android-powered Amazon Kindle, not a new Windows 8 laptop or Windows RT tablet, either touchscreen or standard edition.  Not that I’m not interested, but I’m not ready to learn a new OS just yet, and Metro looks like a complete change from what I’m used to.

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    October 25, 2012
    Free Upgrade From iPad 3 To iPad 4?

    With the surprise announcement of the iPad 4 earlier this week, a lot of people were bummed out.  After all, what’s more depressing than buying a brand new iPad 3 only to find out, two days later, that the iPad 4 is coming out?  Well, there are some Apple Stores in the world that feel your pain and are willing to work with you.  If you have bought an iPad 3 within the last 30 days, several Apple Stores in the UK are giving out free upgrades to the iPad 4.

    Of course, not all Apple Stores are doing this, and you have to have purchased your iPad at an official Apple Store in order to qualify for the deal.  Apple Stores in Aberdeen, Kingston, and Birmingham are giving the free upgrades while Apple stores in Cardiff and Manchester claim to be unaware of the deal.  Apparently, the deal also extends to recent iPad 2 customers as well.  Of course, if this is official Apple policy, maybe it will spread to the States.  Or just catch a plane and get your upgrade now.  Either way!

    If it seems like it’s a short upgrade cycle, that’s because it is.  The iPad 3 came out in March, only 7 months ago.  The iPad 4 is the first iPad to feature Apple’s new connector style, which is probably why they’re pushing out an upgrade.  There’s also an upgraded processor and a HD camera for FaceTime chats, but the real reason is the upgraded connector, I’m sure.  Now you have to buy the new iPad, a new case, and new chargers and accessories.

    Still, I’m sure Apple fans will have no qualms about paying for the upgrade.

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    October 24, 2012
    Wordless Wednesday: Scratch The Surface

    Image:  CNET

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    October 20, 2012
    4K Becomes Ultra High Definition

    Your next television won’t be a 4K television after all.  The Consumer Electronics Association (CSA) has decided that, at least here in the United States, 4K TV won’t fly.  Instead, in the United States, 4K televisions will now be called Ultra High Definition televisions.  After all, they’re definitely more definition than a standard HD television, and why take something that has a legitimate meaning like 4K when you can replace it with something that’s more expressive yet says significantly less?

    “This new terminology and the recommended attributes will help consumers navigate the marketplace to find the TV that best meets their needs,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA.

    Here are the government standards for 4K TV: at least a 3,840 by 2,160 display, at least one 4K Ultra HD input, and the ability to display 4K product natively without any upconverting.  Basically, in order to be an Ultra HD TV, it needs to have all the abilities of a standard HD TV, just amped up for 4K content.  Of course, there is no 4k content out there right now aside from one movie and no real 4K televisions on the market, but that’ll all change soon.  I have no doubt 4K will be the star of the next Consumer Electronics Showcase in January.

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    October 19, 2012
    The FTC Is Offering $50,000 To Stop Robocalls

    It’s election season.  Between now and November, you will get more random phone calls from political candidates, special interest groups, and assorted political pollsters than you will get the whole rest of the year together.  These calls from political and special interest groups are perfectly legal, albeit annoying, unless they are made to your cell phone.  Other robocalls are highly illegal, especially if they try to sell you something.  Given the shocking rise in robocalls, the government has made an offer to the community at large.  The Federal Trade Commission has a $50,000 bounty on anyone who can stop robocalls.

    The FTC’s bounty is pretty reasonable.  You get money and you keep the ownership of your invention or technique, and the government give you promotion, exposure, and recognition for your greatness.  The deadline for entries is January 17, 2013, with the grand prize winner being announced April 1, 2013.  Remember, these have to be a technical solution (like blocking unsolicited calls or stopping spammers from spoofing legitimate phone numbers on the caller ID) and not a punitive solution like shooting a few telemarketers to show the rest you mean business.

    To submit your ideas or follow progress, check the FTC Robocall Challenge website.

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    October 16, 2012
    Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

    You might be wondering, who or what is Ada Lovelace?  Well, once upon at time, Augusta Ada Byron-King, Countess of Lovelace and the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, became friends with researcher and scientist Mary Somerville.  Through Somerville, she met the infamous Charles Babbage.  Charles Babbage was the inventor of the computer, then dubbed the Difference Engine and/or the Analytical Engine.  Some say Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer, working alongside Babbage.  Thus, October 16 is dubbed Ada Lovelace Day, honoring women in the MEST fields (math, engineering, science, and technology).

    Of course, she’s not without controversy.  Some say her contributions are more limited than what her benefactors might say.  Others look to her turbulent personal life and rumors of affairs and gambling problems as her downfall (she even attempted to use computers and math to design a way to make and win big wagers, making her the first online gambler).  Still, for all her personal faults, she did design the first computer program and it did run correctly when the Analytical Engine was completed in 2002.

    Happy Ada Lovelace Day, everyone!

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    October 15, 2012
    The Astounding Cardboard Bicycle

    For most people in developing countries, a bicycle is a dream they can achieve.  Something fancier, like a car, is out of reach of most of the world’s population, but a bicycle is something that’s possible.  Enter the mad Israeli inventor Izhar Gafni.  He’s spent years becoming an expert in automated mass-production assembly lines, but that’s not what’s interesting.  In his off time, Gafni has managed to invent a $20 bicycle that is made entirely of cardboard.

    “I was always fascinated by applying unconventional technologies to materials and I did this on several occasions.  But this was the culmination of a few things that came together.  I worked for four years to cancel out the corrugated cardboard’s weak structural points,” said the 50-year-old Gafni, the bike’s inventor.  ”Making a cardboard box is easy and it can be very strong and durable, but to make a bicycle was extremely difficult and I had to find the right way to fold the cardboard in several different directions.  It took a year and a half, with lots of testing and failure until I got it right.”

    The cardboard is folded into a bicycle shape, and then is coated with organic flame retardant and waterproofing materials to further reinforce the bicycle.  The entire bike is made of cardboard, except for some bearings and the brakes. which are made of… well, Gafni’s not talking, other than to say it is made of environmentally friendly recyclable materials.  The bike weighs less than an average bicycle, features rubber tires that cannot be punctured, and the chain is a rubber car timing belt, which means that the cardboard bike never has to be tinkered with.

    It is simplicity and efficiency in the same package, and I for one want one.

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    October 14, 2012
    iPad Mini Models/Prices Leaked

    If you’re thinking about buying an iPad Mini, you should probably dump a bucket of water on your head because it’s not even close to being released, and you’re already lining up to buy a product that may not be available for months.  However, with all the information getting shown about the iPad Mini, it’s obvious that something is happening on that front.  Thanks to Apple’s lax security in Germany, some information about the iPad mini has been leaked, including models, pricing, and connectivity.

    The iPad Mini will be available in the following colors:  black and white.  It will also have the following on-board storage options:  8, 16, 32, and 64GB of RAM.  As if that wasn’t enough, there are two listed connectivity options, one for WiFi and one for cellular.  While Apple has been mum on whether the cellular will be 4G or 3G, and some sources are maintaining that Apple isn’t going to offer a cellular option, this listing seems to disagree wholeheartedly with that and I, for one, put mu faith in SKUs.

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