August 19, 2009
Posted: 09:32 AM ET
Sony has officially confirmed rumors surrounding the PlayStation 3 game console. In a video posted on the PlayStation Blog SCEA President and CEO Jack Tretton announced a new slimmer PS3 will be available September 1st. In addition, all PS3 consoles got a $100 price cut today, dropping the cost to an enticing $299.
Engadget received an early look at the new PlayStation 3 Slim and provides a great hands-on gallery.
Price has always been an obstacle preventing the widespread adoption of the PS3. Just last week Ars Technica criticized the cost of the console:
Will a $299 feature-rich PS3 be able to dethrone the value-priced Nintendo Wii ($250) or challenge Microsoft's Xbox 360 Pro ($299)?
August 14, 2009
Posted: 11:28 AM ET
Here's a round up of a few tech stories you should know about before heading into the weekend.
Microsoft: A group of Web developers is out to kill Microsoft's Internet Explorer 6 Web browser. But, according to the BBC, the software giant is standing behind the product - in part because it has to keep the browser going for corporate customers:
RockMelt: Tech blogs are abuzz this morning with news of a new browser called RockMelt, which has the support of Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. That gives it a hefty bit of street cred in the tech community. Andreessen tells the New York Times that browsers are somewhat behind the times:
RockMelt is rumored to work with Facebook, which is something the blog Mashable finds particularly interesting.
eBooks: Sony has announced that its e-readers soon will accept books published in an open format called ePub. GigaOm heralds the move as good for consumers. It stands in contrast to Amazon's apparent desire to keep its e-books on its Kindle reader,although there are worries Sony's format won't be completely open. More from GigaOm:
Twitter: Time to give that left index finger a rest. If you're sick of typing "RT" in front of all those tweets you republish on your feed, then you'll like this news from Twitter's blog: The micro-blogging site is adding a "re-tweet" feature. Expect it to launch in a few weeks.
August 5, 2009
Posted: 09:53 AM ET
Homeland Security officers arrested Cal State Fullerton student Michael Crippen on Monday for modifying Xbox video game consoles to play copied games.
The practice of "modding" a video game console is fairly common. Directions to modify the Xbox and Xbox 360, and even instructional videos, can be found online.
Xbox "modders" defend their actions by claiming the game console is personal property and that modification is necessary to upgrade console hard drives or play legal backups of games they already own.
However, bypassing DRM security is a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, which states, "no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title."
In an indictment provided by Wired.com, authorities claim Crippen "willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain, circumvented a technological measure that effectively controlled access to a copyrighted work, more particularly, used software to modify a Xbox machine's Optical Disc drive so it would circumvent anti-piracy measures contained on the original unmodified Optical Disc Drive."
Speaking to Wired.com's Threat Level blog, Crippen admits he modified consoles for $30 a job, but claims “This is for your legally made backups. If you’re talking about piracy, I’m not helping you out.”
Crippen faces two counts of violating the DMCA and the possibility of ten years in prison. He is currently free on $5,000 bond.
Crippen was targeted by the federal government for allegedly running a console-modifying business out of his house. But what do you think of people who modify their Xboxes for personal use? Should modding be illegal simply because it could result in piracy, despite other legal applications?
July 13, 2009
Posted: 10:40 AM ET
Sometimes you come back from the weekend already feeling behind. Here are a few of the latest tech stories to help you get back up to speed:
Microsoft Office 2010 gets the buzz award of the day. The new version of the mammoth computer applicaiton suite, which will be released to a select group today, is expected to challenge Web-based applications, like Google Docs, which have been gaining popularity. From TechCrunch:
More on what Office 2010 means in the big scheme of things from CNET:
Mashable has a good post on location-based phone services. A new survey says the number of people using location-based services will double to 5.7 million this year. The rise in GPS-enabled smartphones - those that know where you are and act like mini-computers - accounts for much of the increase.
Some cool ways to use these services, from the blog:
For the parents among us, BusinessWeek has an interesting story on the federal government's slashing of a program to put more technology in schools. Check out the story for the details of the impact, but the core of the story is in this factoid:
Finally, for those looking to purchase some of the many new gadgets out there - especially the iPhone 3G S - take note of this Ars Technica post, which says bricks instead of phones are turning up in some retail boxes. But don't blame the Apple store, the site says:
June 24, 2009
Posted: 03:51 PM ET
Outlook 2010, the next generation of Microsoft's software for managing e-mail, appointments and other business functions, hasn't launched to the public yet. But that hasn't stopped a sudden chorus of complaints about Microsoft's decision to use Word to format HTML e-mails, which some designers say will fail to properly display them.
Not surprisingly, the engine behind this online protest is Twitter. "Outlook 2010" was a top trending topic on the micro-blogging site Wednesday, thanks to an organized campaign of protest tweets. Many of the tweets reference a site, http://fixoutlook.org, which appears to be simply a page containing the icons of Twitter users who have joined the campaign.
"It’s time to rally together and encourage Microsoft to embrace web standards before it’s too late," states the site, which claims more than 17,000 Twitter followers. "Let’s use Twitter to send a clear message to Microsoft." The site then steers visitors back to Twitter.
Is this "outrage" over Outlook 2010 real? Will it force Microsoft to change its plans? Or is this just another example of clever people using Twitter to advance a cause and manipulate public opinion?
May 27, 2009
Posted: 09:39 AM ET
Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday announced it will release a new portable media player this fall. The Zune HD, with its rectangular design and touch-screen navigation, looks as if it is designed to compete with Apple's high-end iPod Touch, which is pretty much like an iPhone without the phone.
Among the Zune's new features is the fact that it can play HD radio over a Wi-Fi Internet connection. That sets it apart from some other media players, but, as San Francisco Chronicle blogger Ryan Kim writes, new features alone won't help any of Apple's competitors to take down the iPod Touch. The real power of the Zune HD may be in its ability to link up with Microsoft's gaming service, Xbox Live.
CNET says Microsoft may have more details about how Zune HD will work with Xbox next week at E3, a major gaming and entertainment conference in California:
As a newbie to the gadget world, here's my question: Why not link up the Zune HD with a phone? Or, put in Apple terms, why would you buy an iPod Touch when you can get the essentially the same device, with a phone, in the iPhone?
It seems that more gadgets are breeding and folding into each other. Video games are moving onto phones, as Wired reports. Phones are being used in South Korea to let people access public transit, check into their school classrooms and pay bills, accoridng to the New York Times. What's the advantage of having a separate media player?
That's meant to be a genuine question, not a snarky remark. I'd like to hear what you all think in the comments. Are you excited about the Zune HD? What do you think will come of Microsoft's announcements next week?
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.