SciTechBlog
May 27, 2010

Geek Out!: Who will be the next Spider-Man?

Posted: 02:21 PM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From sci-fi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it, you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

The Hollywood Reporter has a list of potential actors to take over the role of Spider-Man in the new incarnation on the big screen. They include Jamie Bell, Alden Ehrenreich and Josh Hutcherson ("Zathura").

The good news? Zac Efron, one name that was floated, is not among them. The bad news? The names that are here don't exactly fill me with confidence, either. My reaction, in a word? Meh.

The reason Tobey Maguire worked so well as Spider-Man is because he worked so well as Peter Parker. He was so good in the role it will be hard to live up to that (I won't quite compare him to Christopher Reeve as Superman, but he was close).

What I fear is that the studio is looking for the next Taylor Lautner to guarantee that teen girls will show up on opening night alongside the Spidey faithful. Marc Webb, the director of the new movie, as well as "500 Days of Summer," is looking for unknowns for this role and I respect that. Of all of the people here, I think that Bell ("Billy Elliott") might fit the bill best. I just hope they remember that they're ultimately casting Peter Parker, not Spider-Man.

What do you think? Are you more impressed with the list of potential actors than I am? What qualities are you looking for in the new Spidey?

Filed under: Geek Out!


Share this on:

Nintendo goes old-school with new Wii controller

Posted: 10:14 AM ET
Classic Controller Pro looks vaguely familiar
Classic Controller Pro looks vaguely familiar

At a time when other gaming-console manufacturers are ready to unveil their motion-sensitive controllers, Nintendo has released a new device that feels more old-school.

The new Classic Controller Pro looks and feels like a traditional game controller, with two joysticks, X-Y-A-B buttons, a directional pad and bumper buttons on the front. It was released in a package deal with the new "Monster Hunter Tri" game for the Wii.

Officials from Nintendo and Capcom said the bundle was done to appeal to the widest audience possible by giving them a controller that was designed for the game.

"Fans of the ["Monster Hunter"] series are used to this type of controller," said Eric Monacelli, product marketing manager for Capcom. "This is old-school. It will appeal to the hard-core player."

"It goes very well with 'Monster Hunter Tri'," added Nintendo representative Kumiko Hidaka. "Never has an accessory been so specifically designed for a game."

"Monster Hunter Tri" lets gamers become a prehistoric hunter who tries to defend his village from rampaging monsters while collecting supplies to help him with his quest. Oh, and there are constant earthquakes that need to be dealt with as well.

Creatures of all sizes live in the surrounding countryside, and the hunter's job is to clear them out, get better weapons and take on even larger monsters. The new controller allows the player to accomplish the major fighting action while offering ways to complete minor tasks (like cooking food to eat).

"Players will love this controller," Monacelli said. "It feels good for the game without taking away from any gameplay."

"Monster Hunter Tri" also allows for multiple players to band together online take down a really big monster. The game lets players use Wii Speak to communicate with each other and plan strategy, which gives the game a party feel. According to game director Kaname Fujioka, this is a big change.

"Everyone goes online and enters the same world, but not everyone has to do the same thing," Fujioka said in an "Ask Iwata" interview. "Each person can do his or her own thing, but when the group achieves the goal, everyone benefits."

The Classic Controller Pro will be compatible with nearly 400 Wii titles, Hikada said.

Posted by:
Filed under: Games • Gaming • Nintendo • video games


Share this on:
May 26, 2010

Third-grader wins Google doodle contest

Posted: 04:44 PM ET

Thanks to a box of colored pencils and a whole lot of creativity, Makenzie Melton now has a $15,000 college scholarship, a netbook computer and a $25,000 technology grant for a new computer lab at her school.

How did a third-grader from El Dorado Springs, Missouri, score the prizes? By winning Google’s 2010 Doodle 4 Google contest.

Melton’s doodle, titled “Rainforest Habitat," will appear on the Google homepage Thursday.

The doodle, which expresses Melton’s “concern that the rainforest is in danger,” was chosen over more than 33,000 submissions by students - ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade, according to a post on the Official Google Blog.

Melton and the rest of the applicants were asked to develop a doodle for the site’s home page based on the theme, “If I could do anything, I would…” A panel of “well-known illustrators, cartoonists and animators” helped choose the winning doodle, according to the blog.

The regional and state finalists’ doodles can be found on the official Google Blog.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Google


Share this on:

Geek Out!: 'Hornet's Nest' rounds out trilogy

Posted: 04:04 PM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From sci-fi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it, you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

Do you know Lisbeth Salandar? The tattooed, bisexual, computer hacker is one of the most popular characters in fiction since Harry Potter. She’s also the unlikely heroine of Stieg Larsson’s bestselling Millennium trilogy.

The third and perhaps final book of the series set in Sweden, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” hit store shelves on Tuesday but it’s been a bestseller for the past several months, ranking among the top pre-orders online. The book has generated huge anticipation among U.S. readers.

It was released in Europe last fall but hardcore fans who couldn’t wait have been paying $50 or more to buy the book from overseas, a practice the book’s publisher calls illegal.

Nevertheless, the millions who read the “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and its sequel “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” are about to be rewarded in the Nordic Noir finale. The new novel picks up right where the last book ended.

Salander is in intensive care at a Swedish hospital, with several gunshot wounds, including a bullet in her brain. She’s fighting for her life and facing murder charges.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by:
Filed under: books • Geek Out!


Share this on:

Fake BP Twitter feed mocks company over oil spill

Posted: 11:22 AM ET


Wow ... did a BP representative really say that?

Well, no. But a satirical Twitter feed, which at first glance looks like an official BP account, is serving up a scathing daily parody of the company's efforts to clean up the Gulf Coast oil spill.

A quick read of @bpglobalpr, a Twitter account created last week, should reveal to most users that this is no BP-sanctioned public relations campaign.

"Please help us with rebranding. We're not calling it an 'oil spill' anymore, now it's a 'Southern Fun Party' #bpcares," read a post from late Tuesday.

"Funny, no one has thanked us for seasons 3-15 of Treme yet. #bpcares," read another, referencing the HBO series set in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The feed definitely requires an appreciation of gallows humor. Written in the voice of a clueless oil-company spokesperson, it often makes light of the spill.

From Monday: "The ocean looks just a bit slimmer today. Dressing it in black really did the trick! #bpcares."

And from last week: "Please do NOT take or clean any oil you find on the beach. That is the property of British Petroleum and we WILL sue you."

The feed's popularity is steadily climbing, with more than 38,000 followers as of Wedneday morning. By contrast, the actual BP America Twitter feed had about 5,600.

Aside from tweaking the company whose offshore oil rig exploded, dumping millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, there may be an altruistic motive behind the Twitter account.

The feed repeatedly links to a site selling anti-BP T-shirts and claiming the proceeds will be donated to the Gulf Restoration Network, a group that works to protect and restore the Gulf region.

Whoever is behind the Twitter account did not respond to a message requesting comment for this post. A spokesman for BP said the company is aware of the Twitter feed, saying that anyone who sees it almost surely will know it's a spoof.

Posted by:
Filed under: Twitter


Share this on:
May 25, 2010

Geek Out!: Happy Geek Pride, Towel, etc. Day!

Posted: 04:59 PM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From sci-fi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it, you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

Romulans, puppeteers, hobbits - lend me your ears! Today, we geeks can gather today and celebrate all that makes us unique.

Worldwide, May 25 is known as Geek Pride Day, Towel Day (for "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fans like our own No. 42 above) and Glorious 25th of May, for Discworld fans.

See how some are celebrating Geek Pride Day on iReport.

Although Geek Pride Day is a relatively new holiday; founded in Spain in 2006, the Inalienable Rights of Geekdom (at least as we see them) that it celebrates are not:

1. The right to strive to be even geekier.
2. The right to not leave your house when there's plenty to entertain you there.
3. The right to not like football or any other sport.
4. The right to freely associate with other nerds.
5. The right to have a few select (inevitably awesome) friends.
6. The right to have a ton of friends - each geekier than the last.
7. The right to not be “in-style.”
8. The right to be overweight/underweight/have poor eyesight and the like.
9. The right to show off your geekiness at all times.
10. The right to take over the world.

Not all geeks will agree with or adhere to all - or in some cases even most - of these rules. Everybody geeks out in their own way; that's the beauty of it.

But we can all agree that being a geek can be a good thing. Why is that?
Well, let’s take a look at a couple of the great things about being a geek:

1. We can always find a game to play no matter what. We are like the MacGyver of games. Give us a pen and paper and we’ll entertain ourselves and others.
2. We look good in glasses. Seriously, we do.
3. We are clever. Who was the one who everyone turned to on "Lost?" The doctor.
4. Speaking of doctors, we have Doctor Who. He’s smart, funny, has a time machine and is one of the biggest geeks in the universe.
5. We can balance a checkbook. Whether we use a computer program, our raw brain power or a good old-fashioned abacus, we will not be overdrawn.

Geek Pride Day is all about looking at the best parts of being a geek, so grab your towel, stick out your thumb and tell us what your plans are - or what you've already done - for Geek Pride Day.

Share your comments below, or go to our iReport page to submit your story.

Posted by:
Filed under: Geek Out!


Share this on:

Google Pac-Man eats 4.8 million hours

Posted: 03:04 PM ET
Championship Pac-Man
Championship Pac-Man

A productivity blog figured out that we wasted (some would say, enjoyed) over 4.8 million hours of time on Friday playing the Pac-Man game on Google.

The game was the search site's featured logo over the weekend to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the popular arcade game. The logo was actually playable and would continue for 256 levels of chomping.

The RescueTime blog did the math to figure out how much extra time people spent on Google on Friday, and how much did that time cost.

Typically, users spend an average of 11 seconds per each Google page view. RescueTime found the average user spent 36 second more on Pac-Man Friday. With 504.7 million unique visitors on May 23, that totals up to an additional 4,819,352 hours spent on Google.

Armed with that number, the blog then wanted to figure out how much productivity was lost. Assuming the average Google user has a salary of $25 per hour, the total bill comes to $120,483,800.

The game would start if the user hit the "Insert Coin" button or if the site sat idle on the Google home page for about 10 seconds. Google left it up on their homepage throughout the weekend, but gave it a permanent home to be enjoyed whenever you like.

Posted by:
Filed under: Games • Gaming • Google • pop culture • video games


Share this on:

Facebook to simplify privacy controls Wednesday

Posted: 02:31 PM ET

Heeding widespread concerns about how much of its users' personal data it shares on the web, Facebook said it will begin implementing simpler privacy settings on Wednesday.

"I can confirm that our new, simpler user controls will begin rolling out tomorrow. I can't say more yet," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes told CNN in an e-mail Tuesday.

Currently, users of the popular social-networking site must navigate through some 170 privacy options. Some Facebook members have said they're confused by the settings, while others have threatened to delete or deactivate their Facebook accounts until the site gives them more control over their info.

Tuesday's announcement suggests Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is making good on a recent promise.

"There needs to be a simpler way to control your information," he wrote in an op-ed piece published Monday in the Washington Post. "In the coming weeks, we will add privacy controls that are much simpler to use. We will also give you an easy way to turn off all third-party services."

The recent backlash against Facebook came after the site, which has more than 450 million members, introduced a new tool last month to spread Facebook users' preferences and data to partner sites around the web.

Posted by: ,
Filed under: Facebook


Share this on:

Geek Out!: Five unanswered 'Lost' finale questions

Posted: 01:28 PM ET

Editor's note: Geek Out! posts feature the latest and most interesting in nerd-culture news. From sci-fi and fantasy to gadgets and science, if you can geek out over it, you can find it on Geek Out! Look for Geek Out! posts on CNN's SciTech blog.

There are many, many questions still out there about "Lost," some which were answered vaguely, many that are "up for interpretation," shall we say... and the series finale itself raised some questions as well.

Here are just five of the frequently asked questions about the way the show ended, and my best educated guesses on the answers:

Q: Did all the characters die in the original plane crash?
A: No. Going by what Christian Shepard told Jack (and the fact that the final scene showed Jack's death), everyone died at different times, some on the island, others many years later. In the case of Hurley and Ben, it would appear that they died after perhaps thousands of years protecting the island, like Jacob, based on their exchange about being a great number one and number two.

Q: Why didn't Ben go into the church? Why was Penny there? Where were Michael and Walt?
A: It would seem that Ben, despite knowing the truth about purgatory (that's what we'll call it here, anyway), chose to stay there a little longer as a father figure to Alex. Desmond and Penny weren't on the plane, but Desmond brought all these people together, and Penny was the reason he "let go" and had a connection to everyone else there.

Michael's ghost is presumably still on the island, whispering. Walt either wasn't ready to "let go," or already has, which brings us to the next question...

Q: Why were people the age/state they were in purgatory? Why did Aaron have to be born again, for example?
A: One presumes that Aaron lived a long full life, but he had to be born in purgatory for Claire to "let go." Everything that people needed to "let go" was there for them if they were willing to accept what had happened to them.

The sixth season premiere actually implied that Rose might have been trying to help Jack "let go" while on the plane, and she said those words to him herself (this scene was replayed on the "Jimmy Kimmel Live" special after the finale). This might also partially explain why Walt wasn't in the finale, as most people in purgatory would remember him as a kid, not the teenager that the actor (and character, when Locke last saw him) is today.

Q: What was that light/"source" on the island after all? How did that cork get there? What were those skeletons below the waterfall?
A: For those looking for concrete answers, this could be the most frustrating question of all. Last year, executive producer Damon Lindelof told E! Online, "I feel like you have to be very careful about entering into Midi-Chlorian territory (referring to the oft-maligned Star Wars Episode I)... But 'What is the Island?' That starts to get into 'What is the Force?' It is a place. I can't explain to you why it moves through space-time—it just does. You have to accept the fact that it does."

The "source" is whatever you interpret it to be. In "Across the Sea," it was implied that Jacob and the Man in Black's Mother was not the first protector of the island, and that many people have been there and have dealt with the light or "source" while they were there. The Dharma Initiative is just one example of that.

The skeletons and the cork are likely representations of people who were there before the Mother even got there.

Q: Did Ajira Flight 316 return to the mainland safely? We saw the wreckage of a plane during the end credits.
That was the wreckage of Oceanic 815, which I would interpret as further confirmation of Jack saying, "There are no shortcuts, no do-overs – what happened, happened. All of this matters."

The plane did crash, they did land on that island, and the "flash-sideways" was only a "do-over" in the heads of the crash survivors and others. One can assume that Kate, Sawyer, Claire, Richard, Miles and Lapidus all landed safely and went on with their lives.

And speaking of moving on with our lives, here was Lindelof's final "Lost"-related tweet before going to an "undisclosed location:" "Remember. Let go. Move on. I will miss it more than I can ever say."

There is no doubt in my mind that this series and this finale will continue to resonate and be debated for years to come. And that's exactly the way the makers of "Lost" wanted it.

Share your final thoughts on "Lost," not to mention my interpretation of the finale's big questions, in the comments below.

Filed under: Geek Out! • television


Share this on:

AOL celebrates 25 years

Posted: 11:52 AM ET
Mario takes on the Universe
Mario takes on the Universe

AOL, an early titan of the internet that now finds itself struggling to rebrand in a vastly bigger online world, turned 25 on Monday.

In people years, 25 is young. On the internet, it makes you a wizened veteran.

At a celebration at AOL's Dulles, Virginia, campus, chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong worked to turn a celebration of the seminal web portal's past into a look at its future.

"Today's event is not just meant to honor that rich history, but celebrate the next 25 years of helping people through innovation and creativity," he said. "We're certainly proud of our past, but we're even more excited about what we have in store for customers as we move forward into the future."

To be sure, AOL's customer base is smaller than it once was in the dial-up days.

Known best for its pay e-mail service and "you've got mail!" greeting, AOL has watched a peak of 26 million customers dwindle to about 6 million by the end of last year. Its instant messenger service remains viable, although it too has slipped as people move toward text messaging and direct messages on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

But AOL's homepage remains one of the internet's most visited, ranking consistently in the top five sites and drawing about 250 million unique visitors a month, according to web analyzers comScore.

After a split late last year with CNN parent company TimeWarner (dissolving a deal that some analysts have called the worst corporate marriage in history) AOL rolled out a visual remake and a new strategy.

Focusing on advertising, a blog network and quick-hit news, AOL is stepping into areas that may not even carry the familiar AOL logos (the blue triangle and yellow "running man" have largely disappeared and AOL is now technically "aol." - with the period).

Some landmarks of AOL's first 25 years:

_ 1985: Launched as Quantum Computer Services
_ 1989: Members hear "You've got mail!" for the first time
_ 1989: Instant Messenger launches
_ 1995: AOL reaches 1 million members
_ 1996: The "running man" debuts on Instant Messenger
_ 1998: "You've Got Mail" movie is released
_ 2001: AOL and Time Warner merge
_ 2006: AOL begins offering e-mail and most of its web services for free
_ 2009: AOL separates from Time Warner. Time Warner stock that once sold at $99 hovers around $30 a share

Posted by:
Filed under: Internet


Share this on:

subscribe RSS Icon
About this blog

Are you a gadgethead? Do you spend hours a day online? Or are you just curious about how technology impacts your life? In this digital age, it's increasingly important to be fluent, or at least familiar, with the big tech trends. From gadgets to Google, smartphones to social media, this blog will help keep you informed.

subscribe RSS Icon
twitter
Powered by WordPress.com VIP