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    September 19, 2015
    Get A Big Box, Win A Gold PS4

    So you like video games, right?  And if you like video games, odds are you’ll be a fan of cheap, delicious fast food.  Fast food like Taco Bell, usually with some Mountain Dew.  Never a company to break away from sterotypes, Taco Bell plays into those by partnering with some interesting marketing friends.  In this case, Sony and Taco Bell are working on a great marketing idea to get people to hit up the store more regularly for delicious quesoritas or whatever.  Taco Bell is giving away a limited edition gold-colored PS4 to 6000 lucky customers.

    There’s a catch, though.  You have to buy one of Taco Bell’s new Big Boxes to enter the contest.  The bundle comes with a controller, a one-year subscription to PlayStation Plus, and a free copy of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection video game.  The contest begins September 24 and runs through November 4 with a promised winner every 10 minutes, which means that roughly 6000 gold PS4s will be given away.

    Here are the official details on the contest, and how you turn your code into a contest entry.

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    September 18, 2015
    GameStop Refuses To Sell Digital-Game Console Bundles

    GameStop is taking a stand, and considering their industry, it is a corporate stand that makes a whole lot of sense.  These days, a lot of console bundles come with digital copies of games, rather than actual games on discs.  You buy a new system, go home, set it up, and boom, wait a few hours while you download 40GBs of video game files.  Well, GameStop says no more!  GameStop is refusing to sell console bundles with digital games.  Instead, GameStop is pressuring publishers to allow them to sell physical copies in lieu of the downloads.

    “We expect that if a game is provided as a promotional item in a hardware bundle, GameStop will see more of these physical offers than digital pack-ins on upcoming third-party releases,” said GameStop COO Tony Bartell.

    Of course, there’s a good reason GameStop is refusing to tow the digital line.  GameStop’s biggest business is used games, and you can’t sell a used digital copy of a game, so it’s only natural that GameStop would want to get actual games into the hands of actual customers.  The amazing thing is that it also benefits the consumer, because you don’t (or shouldn’t) need to spent time downloading a game you just bought when a guy can give you that same information burned on a disc that could last for years.

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    September 17, 2015
    Microsoft Eliminates The Last Zune Reminder

    It seems like the Zune has been gone forever, resigned to the mists of history like the Apple Newton and other failed products that were good ideas that didn’t quite take off.  The Zune was only taken off the market in 2012, but it’s as if Microsoft was in a hurry to wipe it all out, renaming their music product to Xbox Music (and again to Groove).  There was one thing still around, though; Zune Music Pass.  The physical players themselves are still around too, but all support for them is now officially unofficial.  Microsoft is finally ending the Zune Music Pass.

    The Zune services will be shutting down November 15, thereby ending one of the weirdest periods in music.  Big companies were fighting left and right to make music players and provide interfaces for said music, and in the end, Apple won but that victory is going to be short-lived thanks to the rise of streaming services and always-on Internet in everyone’s pocket.

    The very smartphones that drive the company’s profits have killed their former golden goose, but I doubt they’re complaining.  Phones need upgrading more frequently than music players ever did.

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    September 16, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: Delivery!

    Via Reddit.

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    September 16, 2015
    Sharp To Sell World’s First 8K TV

    Have you gotten your 4K tv yet?  Well, if you haven’t, I suggest saving your money, because it’s already rapidly growing obsolete.  How is the latest thing in TV already getting surpassed?  Simple, you up the ante and improve the quality.  Turn that 4K television into twice the power and twice the screen and see just what happens.  Sharp is going to be the first company to bring an 8K television to market.

    That’s a staggering detail. 4K televisions are just finally getting off the ground, and now they’re already being bested as we speak.  The Sharp Super Hi-Vision TV will have an impressive 7,680 pixels by 4,320 pixels of resolution, double that of a 4K TV.  That’s even better than digital screens at the movie theaters!  The power does come with a cost; the first screens won’t be available until October 30 and they’ll sell for a hefty $125,000.

    Still, it’s going to be awhile before Blu-Rays and the like catch up with it, but still… that’s a lot of resolution; finally, they can have cinema quality viewing at home.

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    September 15, 2015
    Japan’s Cool PS4 Controllers

    Japan just seems to have all the luck when it comes to cool video game accessories.  I’m not sure if it’s because they’re where all the video game companies are located or if it’s because they’re mad about video games in a way that the rest of the world isn’t, but Japan gets the cool stuff first, and America’s lucky to get it at all.  Japan is getting four awesome PS4 controllers for the holiday season, and they’re looking awesome.

    The four colors are as follows:  gold, silver, steel black, and clear.  The four controllers were announced at Sony’s Tokyo Game Show, and they’re being accompanied by nine different faceplates to dress up the PS4.  The nine color options are black, white, aqua blue, yellow, pink, red, purple, gold, and silver.  None of these things have a release date in the US, but in Japan, they’ll be rolling out on November 6 (the crystal clear controller will be out December 3).

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    September 14, 2015
    Happy 30th Birthday, Mario!

    Who would have known that two brothers in overalls, one doughy and one skinny, would take the world by storm?  When Mario and Luigi made their first appearance, the two essentially saved video games, turning a forgotten toy recovering from the Atari bust into something that hasn’t really left consciousness since then.  Systems may come and go, but the brothers Mario are eternal.  The Super Mario Brothers debuted on the Nintendo Entertainment System 30 years ago.

    My first gaming experience involved Mario and Luigi.  My best friend in childhood had an NES before I did, and I loved it.  Eventually, I got one too, and me and my father would spend hours playing together, mashing buttons and making Mario and Luigi fight their way to the 8th level.  We never could quite get over that hump and beat the game together, but the fun wasn’t in winning, the fun was in the attempt.  The fun was in spending time together, and playing Mario with my dad is one of the happiest memories of my childhood and my life.

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    September 10, 2015
    Battery Charging And Car Batteries

    I’ve been a car charger person since I first got my phone, and it seems like a strange thing to me that I never once considered the effect of charging my phone on my car battery.  Sitting listening to the radio with the engine off?  Driving down the interstate?  Pretty much anywhere or any time, I am more than willing to plug my phone in if I feel like I’m going to need a little extra juice from the battery.  It’s not often that I really do this, mind you, but from time to time I’ll plug in without the car running, just because.  Turns out, that actually does run your car battery down.

    Score one for my father, who hates when you leave anything plugged in or otherwise drawing power with the engine off.  However, while it does work down the battery, modern phones only charge when they need to or when they’re in use, which means that if you walk away and leave your phone plugged in, it’ll draw some off your battery, but not so much that you’ll run down your car’s battery.  Unless of course your alternator is bad and your car battery is already close to dead, in which case your charged phone might be doing you a favor because better to have a dead car and a life phone than a dead car and a deader phone, right?

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    September 9, 2015
    Wordless Wednesday: They’re Serious

    Via ABC News

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    September 8, 2015
    Adblock Browser Launched

    I’m a very, very late convert to smartphones, but I love having that power in the palm of my hand.  What I don’t like is when I’m trying to read something or browse a site and I accidentally hit an advertisement while trying to scroll down on a page.  It’s the worst, it’s disruptive, and I feel like every misplaced finger is going to completely ruin my phone.  Not sure why I feel like that, but there you go.  Thankfully, after months of looking for a solution, a solution has been given to me.  Adblock Plus now has a web browser.

    That’s phenomenal.  Working off of the Firefox/Mozilla base, Adblock Plus’s developers have launched an ad-blocking browser for Apple and Android.  That’s pretty great, and they’re beating Apple to the punch by a few days on the ad-blocking browser front.  I haven’t tried the browser out yet, but I’m going to get there and I know it’s going to be awesome.  It’s not as good as having an installed ad blocker for Chrome on my phone, but at this point I’ll gladly change browsers to give myself a little freedom of scrolling.

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