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    August 15, 2014
    Britain’s Tate Museum Adds Creepy Robots

    If you ever get the chance to go to London, expect to spend a lot of time in museums.  After all, the city is home to some of the world’s most famous museums, and each museum is loaded down with hundreds of priceless pictures, artifacts, sculptures, paintings, and all that sort of artsy stuff that are worth taking the time to visit.  However, between Buckingham Palace and St. James Park and the British Museum and all the other stuff that you have to do, it’s easy to miss some things.  In my case, I missed the Tate Museum, which is a shame in and of itself.  However, not to worry.  The Tate Museum will be open for late-night online visitors courtesy of an army of creepy robots.

    The Robots will have LED lights and cameras, and lucky visitors to the Tate website could be the lucky folks who get to actually control and pilot the robots.  Tour guides will provide commentary as the robots roll silently around the darkened Tate Museum, like creepy mechanical guards standing sentinel over 500 years of artwork.  It’s a cool thing, but it’s also for a limited amount of time, so be mindful and cross your fingers that you’ll get lucky.

    “We want it to feel a bit spooky, a bit mysterious,” says Jane Burton, Creative Director of Tate Media at the museum. “[Online users] will probably see different things in the artwork than [visitors] would see in them if they came during the day.  ”From your couch, anywhere in the world, if you’ve got the right Internet connection and browser, you can come and see what we have in our galleries, at night.”

    If this sounds like something you’re interested in, and why wouldn’t it be, you can check it out at the Tate Museum’s After Dark website.

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    January 9, 2014
    T-Mobile Will Pay Your Termination Fees If You Switch

    If you’re in the market for a new cell phone and you’re getting tired of  your current status, you’re pretty stuck until your contract runs out.  At least, that’s how it has traditionally worked for smartphone users.  Two years with Verizon or AT&T in exchange for a lower-cost iPhone and a decent data plan price seems like an okay deal, but when you’re trapped with a phone you don’t like and you’ve got another 16 months until you can get something different, there’s where problems arise.  T-Mobile is giving interested parties an escape by offering to pay their cancellation fees and buy their locked phones.

    So how much will T-Mobile offer those that want to jump ship?  A total of $650; up to $300 for the cost of the phone you’re giving up and $350 in early termination fees (that T-Mobile will refund you after you send them a copy of your final bill from AT&T or Verizon.  Of course, there’s a problem with that offer.  If you pick up a new iPhone 5S, the cost of your phone ($25 spread out over 24 months) will be $600!  Sure you won’t have a contract, and you’ll get to own the phone, but it will be locked to T-Mobile and you’ll still have to pay for your minutes, text, and data ($50 for unlimited minutes, texts, and 250mb of high-speed data and unlimited throttled bandwidth).  You might be better off just paying for the phone you want with your current provider at that price, then leaving whenever your contract is up to take advantage of whatever offers the competitors have at that point.

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    August 23, 2013
    Amazon Testing Out Broadband Service?

    The trend these days seems to be for companies to expand out from their original mission into the lucrative world of internet connectivity?  Weirdly, it seems so!  Once upon a time, AOL spent millions to buy Time Warner and escape the perception that it was just an ISP, and now companies who aren’t ISPs are reaching into the broadband Internet game.  From Google and Google Fiber and beyond, everyone wants to be something else.  For example, Amazon started making its own tablets, and now they’re going to be making the jump to having an ISP?

    Amazon is rumored to be testing out a broadband service with the help of Globalstar, who provide the bandwidth.  Of course, Amazon has been rumored to be working on a smartphone, and the Kindle line of devices uses broadband access, too.  Kindle also has its Whispernet of 3g to send purchased Kindle books and whatnot to tablets no matter their location.  The source of the wireless network, Amazon’s Lab126, is its Kindle skunkworks in Cupertino, California.

    Currently, AT&T is the provider of 4G wireless for the Kindle Fire, but I imagine if Amazon really does roll out a wireless broadband provider, that will be changing.  I, for one, would love to see that kind of cheap connectivity continue in the future, and if I can stop giving money to AT&T and give it directly to Amazon, I’m on board.

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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 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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    December 24, 2011
    Nearly-Instant Gifting: $50 iTunes Cards For $40

    So you’re sitting around, waiting for your holiday festivities to start, and you’ve got nothing better to do than to take care of those last-minute surprise gifts.  Well, fortunately for you, Walmart has your back, and they also have a pretty rare discount.  If you’ve ever bought an iTunes card, you know they’re never on sale.  Well, not only does Walmart have an iTunes card for 20 percent off retail price, they also have free electronic delivery and you can buy two of them, rather than buying a limit of one.  For the information on how to redeem your card (or email it to a loved one, as I did this morning), see The Cheapskate for more info.

    The whole process could not have been easier, and despite ominous warnings about the cards not being shipped until December 27, I had the receipt and the redemption emails within my inbox in less than an hour.  So don’t be afraid you’ll be stuck waiting around for this thing all morning; my redemption process was prompt and surprisingly easy, and that $50 iTunes card is being cashed in as we speak.


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    November 6, 2011
    Lost Steve Jobs Interview To Debut On Big Screen

    What would you do if you discovered a 70-minute Steve Jobs interview that only a few people on earth have ever seen in its entirety?  You’d try to make a few bucks off of it, right?  Well, a lost Steve Jobs interview has been discovered by a documentary filmmaker; it goes without saying that the documentary will be coming to a theater near you in the middle of this month.  It’s called “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview,” and in it, the long-haired computer salesman reveals his feelings on Microsoft, his firing from Apple Computers, and everything in between while letting down some of his carefully-cultivated public persona (probably because this is before he discovered his persona).

    The interview was conducted with Jobs in 1996, shortly after his 1995 firing from Apple Computers.  Pre-iPad and iPhone, Jobs here is described as “a cranky guy” by writer/producer Robert Cringley, who interviewed Jobs for the documentary “Triumph of the Nerds: The Rise of Accidental Empires” for PBS.  The interview was lost until Robert Sen, the film’s director, found a VHS dub of the 70-minute interview in his garage.  That’s when Landmark Theaters stepped in, optioning the documentary interview and splashing it up on the big screen!

    Landmark will be screening “Steve Jobs: The Lost Interview” in their theaters in 19 cities on November 16 and 17.  For more information, or to find your closest Landmark Theater, click here.

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    November 2, 2011
    Occupy Google Reader

    I currently subscribe to hundreds of blogs, and daily I sift through thousands of articles via my feed reader, Google News, or various other trips down the rabbit hole.  As a somewhat professional blogger and writer, I depend on Google Reader’s ability to sort RSS feeds and show me the newest, the hottest, and the best in news on technology, weirdness, or just whatever happens to strike my fancy.  It’s very important to me.  Google Reader has been incredible for me and my various businesses, and I couldn’t do this without it.

    More importantly, as I scour the web from multiple locations, I depended heavily on Google Reader’s ability to make notes.  I added the Note In Reader bookmarklet to every toolbar on every browser I use regularly, and yet now, with the Google Reader redesign for Google Plus and Google removing the social features from their product, the Note In Reader bookmarklet is disabled and all my notes are just plain gone.

    It goes without saying that I’m not terribly pleased by this development, and I’m now looking for a Google Reader replacement.  I’ve been using Google Bookmark, but I know that may go away too, so it’s time to find something else.  Do you have a good feed reader/online note-taking app you can recommend?  I could use it.

    Image via Lizzie B

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    October 28, 2011
    Flashing Back To NBA Jam

    The year was 1993, and the arcade was still hanging on.  While the glory days of the video game arcade were dwindling, there were still some standout titles, and most of those came from Midway.  Midway had the hottest consoles in the arcade, including Terminator 2, Super High Impact Football, and of course, NBA Jam.  It was, and is, an epic game the likes of which cannot be duplicated.

    Now, here’s an incredibly rare, behind-the-scenes look at just how Williams Electronics pitched NBA Jam to the National Basketball Association and NBA head David Stern.  Even now, this is an aspect of the business most people don’t get to see.  It’s amazing to see just how A) much work Midway put into developing the player movements and digitizing the various moves, B) how their whole idea of a realistic game got thrown out the window for whatever reason, and C) how much cooler the game could have been if they had included that first-person POV dunking control.

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    It’s just a shame Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley never were able to get included into a home version of NBA Jam, though Kevin Johnson and Thunder Dan Majerle were borderline unstoppable in spite of the lack of the Round Mound of Rebound.

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