Over at Boing Boing, this fantastic homage to classic gaming really hit home with me. Partially because I could identify so many of the games (even though I’m much younger than some of the oldest in the video) and have played a lot of them – even up to some of the most recent.
It’s also worth noting that the single SNES game that ate a good bit of my life when I was younger, a side-scrolling shooter called UN Squadron in North America but better known as its original Japanese title, Area 88, is represented. It’s only for an instant, but it’s there. And even though I already loved the video enough to share it with the world, this made me love it more.
The music is an 8-bit remix of Mad World by Tears for Fears, and I think it’s appropriate. Enjoy!
I have to say, the concept of “+1″ is actually pretty geeky. Lots of people have pointed out how close to net-speak +1 really is, although Google has the right idea with it. Saying “+1″ is usually a way to affirm that you agree with what the person said (kind of like saying “signed,”) and support their sentiment. Google wants to take it to the next level by giving you a way to +1 search results, services, products, and good results from Google so they can improve their search results.
It’s not Google’s first attempt at leveraging user input to improve search results, but this one might catch on because it has a lot of things in common with Facebook’s beloved “Like” button. The end goal is that you can put a “+1″ button on your Web site to get a little more exposure, and to have people click to prove to Google that your site is a good one and full of good information.
The down-side though is that it’ll be difficult for Google to separate the wheat from the chaff on this one: a number of tech pundits I know have already pointed out that SEO specialists and marketers have found ways to exploit and leverage virtually all of Google’s social search tools and techniques up to this point: why would this one be any different?
I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.
Here’s Google’s video describing exactly what the +1 button is and how it’ll work:
So word is that the Nissan Leaf is about to hit the road – almost literally, as the all-electric vehicle had previously only been available in a few select markets, especially on the west coast. Soon, according to Nissan, the Leaf will be available anywhere in the country. Here’s the skinny from UberGizmo:
The 2011 LEAF from the Japanese car manufacturer is 100% powered by a lithium-ion battery. Seating up to 5 people, the new LEAF can go up to an impressive 100 miles without using a single drop of gasoline. With a highly efficient electricity-powered motor, the LEAF generates up to 107 horsepower and 207 ft-lb of torque, making the car completely green without sacrificing any performance. The car can be charged up to 80% in just 30 minutes with a quick charge port; however it will take up to 8 hours to completely charge when done from a regular 220V outlet from home. The 2011 Nissan LEAF is already available in certain states in the US, but it will be released nationwide in the coming months.
The Leaf is a pretty strong vehicle. It’s earned high praise, drives like a dream apparently, and all in all is an incredible low-emissions vehicle. I love it as a car: my problem with the Leaf’s rollout is less technical and more infrastructural: more and more electric vehicles are hitting the road without places to charge their batteries, no battery swapping stations (a really innovative idea that involves swapping batteries instead of recharging them – that way you’re at a swap station for a few minutes while your batteries are swapped out and then on your way without waiting hours for recharges – in exchange, the company that operates the swapping stations pay for your batteries by eating a sizable chunk of the purchase price of your vehicle,) and no infrastructure for people who live in cities, commute to offices, or don’t have a garage/own their own homes to use to charge their vehicles.
Sadly, with the majority of the world’s population now in cities, it’ll be a while before electric cars see serious adoption unless they can be plugged in virtually anywhere – including outside of an apartment building, or in any parking garage, not just at someone’s house plugged into a custom power outlet the owner’s had installed.
Even so, I’m glad to see the Nissan Leaf taking off, and I’m happy to see that the people who can get the infrastructure willing to invest in it. For people who rent or prefer to live the city life like me, we’ll have to wait until the infrastructure supports electric vehicles more robustly before we can dive in.
Now that Discovery has finished its final journey into orbit, crews are getting the Space Shuttle ready for its retirement – which isn’t to say that it’s headed off to a dusty trail somewhere: Discovery has a lot of work yet ahead of it, including heading up here to Washington DC to go on display at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.
But for now, this slide show over at DVice will walk you through Discovery’s last trip to the Orbiter Processing Facility at Kennedy, as she gets all cleaned up and partially disassembled for the road show she’s about to embark on. Eventually she’ll probably come to rest at the Smithsonian, but for now, hopefully she’ll get a few more paltry miles on her traveling the country and being gazed at adoringly by fans everywhere.
The photos themselves are both stunning and saddening, signaling the end of an era, but also giving us a look at Space Shuttles that we’d never had before. Click through to see all of the photos.
I’ve reviewed a bunch of mobile apps that promise to help you text while walking or in motion without forcing you to not pay attention to where you’re going, but this is the first time I’ve seen an app that actually proactively takes action against its owner if the owner has pirated the app.
The rogue Android App, Walk and Text, is not an official version of the app from the developers, and it’s listed as a version number that doesn’t exist (1.3.7.) Essentially, the only way to get it is to get a pirated copy of the app – one that includes the trojan that’s lying in wait under the surface for you to install and try to run it.
Once the app is installed, it’ll display a screen to you that makes it look like the app is cracking or installing itself, or setting itself up in some other capacity. What it’s really doing behind the scenes is taking your name, your phone number, your phone’s ID information (your International Mobile Equipment Identity or IMEI number,) and anything else it can get to an external server.
Then, and perhaps this is the clincher if the previous weren’t bad enough, the app sends an SMS to everyone in your contacts list that tells everyone that you pirated an app and how cheap you are. The SMS looks like this:
Yowch. That’s pretty harsh.
While I have no love for piracy, I think this one might go a little too far. Maybe if it sent a message to your own e-mail address or something, or did something clever that stayed between you, the app, and the people who knew you pirated it, I wouldn’t think too much of it. Then it’d be harmless.
This, on the other hand, is anything but harmless, and the folks collecting that data are slowly building a repository of data about mobile devices and their owners that they could do just about anything they want with, including sell it to the highest bidder. The SMS to all of your contacts too is pretty underhanded, I don’t think anyone would want their family, friends, or worse employers to get a text message like that.
Admittedly, the folks behind it would say “well then, don’t pirate apps,” which I think is a good moral of the story now that we’ve all heard it. It won’t stop me from feeling a little sympathetic to the people who get busted by it, though.
I wrote about this once today, but I simply have to share it again because it’s absolutely hilarious. Just when you think the Angry Birds ship has sailed, someone like the folks at Rooster Teeth go and do a hilarious trailer for a war film that will clearly never be made about the premise.
Real pigs, odd buildings, bird puppets, a badass slingshot, and human characters with more depth and personality than a lot of feature films, and you have yourself a really hilarious video. Do yourself a favor and press play below, right now.
The story here is actually pretty impressive, I stumbled onto it thanks to a post by a colleague over at Gearlog, who wrote:
A homeless man in Brazil took advantage of the discarded shells of these junkers and threw together a brand new car, built entirely from scrap. Starting with a 125cc motorcycle engine, Orismar de Souza was able to put together a working vehicle, capable of hitting 50mph on the highway and featuring such luxuries as a reverse gear and an actual car starter to replace the kickstarter of the 125cc engine. It also sports an in-dash stereo.
The car essentially cost de Souza about $300 for the metal plating and base components, and the rest of the parts he needed were from discarded vehicles of similar models. The car has been dubbed the “shrimpmobile,” and managed to help de Souza land both a job and a place to live, so thankfully he’s no longer homeless.
One of the nicely noted things about brazil is that the economy is very heavily built on biofuels, so fuel prices aren’t quite as bad as they are in North America – he could presumably get pretty far on a little fuel and a little money. Enough to hit a few jobs interviews, at the very least.
I have to say, it’s a really impressive stories of someone’s ingenuity really leading to something very special. Gives me hope for humanity.
The folks at Quantum Mechanix have outdone themselves: the image above is of a replica Colonial Viper, of the kind piloted by Starbuck in the BattleStar Galactica television series. There are actually three versions of the replica: one with Starbuck’s insignia on it, one with Admiral Adama’s old “Husker” placard under the cockpit, and then there’s a “fleet” edition, which can be personalized to include any callsign you prefer, including your own if you want.
The Starbuck model is autographed by Katie Sackhoff herself, and the Adama model is signed by Edward James Olmos. If that weren’t enough reason to pick one up, check this out:
The QMx Viper Mark II Artisan Replica boasts a cockpit chock full of hand-cut details, including gauges, data screens, throttle, ejection seat, and seat belts with fabric belts and metalized buckles. But the pièce de résistance of the QMx Viper is the active, working DRADIS – a 9/16″ OLED (organic light-emitting diode) video display of the remote sensing system in action, displaying the actual DRADIS video used in Battlestar Galactica. The canopy can be opened for an optimal view of the cockpit and this first-ever digital model effect.
In addition, the ship’s three rear engines feature a pulsating lighting effect that is randomized using a white-noise generator.
It takes our artisans about 50 hours to hand assemble the 140 parts that go into this spirited fighter, hand layering 18 different colors of paint, and adding special decals and hand-painted stencils.
That’s ridiculous. If you’re still not convinced, here’s a video of the design and build process of the replicas, including some delicious shots of the finished products:
I’m a big fan of two things about the above photo: Admiral Ackbar, and the sadly now-defunct microblogging and messaging service Pownce, which got sold to Six Apart, found itself tossed in the dustbin along with all of the other good technologies Six Apart has purchased over the years, and instantly replaced by a service that wasn’t nearly as robust or as fun to use: a service called Twitter.
Anyway, this post over at Blastr highlights some of the more fun and entertaining 404 error pages the Internet has had to offer, including the one above. There’s a good Lost reference in there, and some Mario action too, even a little Chuck Norris. Hit the link to see them all!
Over at PC Mag, some big questions that have been on everyone’s mind since AT&T announced last Sunday that they were buying T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom for something on the order of $39 billion get answered by the one and only Lance Ulanoff. Among them, topics like whether or not your T-Mobile phone will suddenly be an AT&T phone, or whether T-Mobile will survive at all are all on the table.
After all, it’s important to note that the implications for the merger have a little less to do with users (as T-Mobile was the smallest of the big four wireless carriers) as it does with the industry: AT&T doesn’t want T-Mobile’s customers, it really wants T-Mobile’s network. See this question:
3) Why Didn’t AT&T Buy Sprint?
I’d say it’s the network. Sprint is a CDMA carrier, which makes it more like Verizon. AT&T uses the GSM network, the same as T-Mobile. That said, network platforms are changing fast. T-Mobile has its 4G-like HSPA+ and AT&T is working, slowly, on its 4G LTE build-out.
That’s the clincher. AT&T is willing to absorb T-Mobile in order to get its spectrum and its network and infrastructure. Don’t get me wrong, AT&T whines a lot about spectrum but they’re not hurting as much as they allow themselves to hurt by not beefing up their own infrastructure with decent investment in it, but this is one way for them to get a little more saturation.
Which raises this question:
5) Why didn’t AT&T Use that $39 Billion to Build Out its 3G Network?
I saw this question on Twitter and had to laugh. AT&T was, prior to Verizon LTE, the fastest mobile network around, but it was also the most inconsistent. I carry a BlackBerry Torch 9800 and the Swiss cheese 3G coverage drives me to distraction. AT&T has pretty much acknowledged the issues with its 3G network, but has also touted all the work it’s done in the last two years (like using more spectrum) to build up its 3G coverage. None of it seems to have helped much, though. Obviously, it takes time, effort, and money to build out a better network. I bet that even a portion of that $39 billion could have made a huge difference in AT&T’s 3G coverage.
You know, I thought this too as soon as I saw the news, and while Lance takes a more measured approach to answering it, I’m a little more livid at the notion that AT&T managed to get $39 billion – mostly in cash – to close the deal for T-Mobile, but could have wiped them off the map with market forces if they were willing to invest in their future and in their network.
Instead, they’re taking a more tactical, market driven approach that makes their balance sheets look better in the short-to-mid term by adding more assets, adding more revenue, and shrinking both companies to try to do more with less (in the name of streamlining due to the merger, of course) as opposed to actually improving their service offerings. Still, that’s been the AT&T way, ever since it bought Cingular: buy the good things and then drag them down with you.
Still, some people are optimistic that the FCC will block the move, or at least create enough friction that the deal falls through. I’m with Lance here: I think the deal is inevitable, partially because the US Government does not and never has understood the complexities of technology enough to know that this is probably a bad idea for customers.
It’s not just wireless phones that this applies to: the FCC allowing Comcast to buy NBC Universal is another example, and the FCC allowing XM and Sirius to merge is another example of how easily officials can be fooled by lobbyists who can smooth over the anticompetitive mergers by pointing out competition in radically different markets (for XM/Sirius, they said “but there’s still traditional terrestrial radio to compete with us,” conveniently avoiding the fact that if you wanted satellite radio or had no terrestrial radio in your area, there would be no other option than their newly formed company.)
So to that end, we’re looking at a wireless marketplace that will eventually be two major carriers and a few bit players: Verizon and AT&T far and away the major competitors, and then a smaller batch of companies in the way of Sprint, MetroPCS, Cricket, and other startups that essentially leverage spectrum and infrastructure already used and partially owned by the big two. Who wins here? Shareholders of the big players, that’s for sure, but the consumer? Likely not.