Monday, December 29, 2008

Acer Aspire One Netbook

A few months ago I replaced my usual spiral notebook with an Acer Aspire One netbook. I'm usually out and about when I feel like jotting things down, hence the spiral notebook, but I type *whey* faster than I write. Now I can whip out an under-a-kilo dinky laptop and take notes, without having to clear off a swath of table space.

It's perfect for working with text, taking grubby webcam clips, tuning-in to Pandora, late-night ssh connections to the office -- simple stuff. Keep your MacBook Pro for the heavy stuff ... but keep it at home!

Case-Mod Tip: To dress it up, I found (after much sticky trial and error) that printing graphics on premium photo paper and then using "photo mount" spray adhesive to attach it to the case works nicely.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Vantec SATA/IDE to USB 2.0 Adapter

This thing just saved me a world of pain. Rather than try to resurrect yet another spyware infested windoze machine long enough to pull the important filez off it ... I plugged the IDE disk into this adapter, attached it to my Mac, and stuffed everything into a folder where I could burn it to a disc.

The thing handles the permutations of 2.5", 3.5" and 5.25" IDE or SATA drives, thanks to a thorough combination of power and data cables that are included.

And it was twenty-five bucks!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ogon Designs Aluminum Wallet

I haven't carried a wallet for decades. I much prefer a folded stack of bills in one pocket, and a calling card case in the other. My last card case finally got too scungy and I found this brilliant replacement that opens to an accordion of little folders. Clever!

You can fit up to thirty-six cards in it, in seven little pockets. I have frequent-buyer cards in one slot, my business cards in another, my id in one of its own, collected colleages' cards in another slot, and a whole slot for keeping my video game pre-order receipts until release day.

The Last Guy for PS3 (PSN)

I'm a big fan of ten dollar quickies and The Last Guy is one of my favorites. It's a total anachronism -- an eight-bit-inspired game with all the power of a modern console.

You must save the humans from the zombies. You run around collecting people from their hiding places, and they follow you to rescue zones. The more you find, the longer they line up behind you ... and the more likely a zombie will spot them as you run past.

These are the sort of gameplay rules you'd give to a Z80 processor, so the PS3's Cell processor just shrugs them off. It leaves plenty of processor time for decorations. There’s a super-catchy soundtrack played on a Moog synth. There's the playing board itself ... each level is based on a satellite photo of a real city, loviningly traced and colored into a beautiful 32-bit image. The humans scream and shriek when zombies get close. And there's a smooth Japanese announcer guy.

It's a ton of small details crafted into a coherent whole that make the game totally compelling and addictive.

Resistance Two for PS3

Laundry's piling up, new mail goes on the stack, my running shoes gather dust ... everything must take a back seat to fighting aliens in Resistance 2. Foremost, because it's pretty -- the graphics are stunning. Part of the fight takes place in the redwoods of north california and you just keep getting ambushed because you're looking at the lush scenery.

It's also a technical masterpiece. There are parts where you're leading a dozen guys in running street battles. They manage to keep formation around you, they fall back when you fall back, and they subtly lead the way to the next checkpoint. (The bad guys are similarly smart.) The AI is really sophisticated; it's kinda eerie.

I'm not very good at shooters, but this one comes with a "casaul" difficulty setting that a slow-twitch guy like me can handle. And the save points are close enough together that I rarely have much of a walk when I repeatedly die at the hands of an angry squid.

I just sit back and enjoy the cheesy (but fun) story line, blast aliens, and run around the smooth, detailed scenery. I can't put it down! (Which is lucky for humanity, 'cause we’re *whey* outnumbered.) Pew-pew!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rampage Total Destruction for Wii

You're a genetically altered monster, smashing your way through cities. You stomp around, you grab pedestrians and eat them, you pick up cars and toss them, you climb buildings to smash windows and pull out people and power-ups, you get on top of buildings and smash helicopters ... basically just a workaday routine in monster land.

I put a lot of quarters into this machine, when I should've been in school. It holds up to those halcyon days.

With the wiimote and nunchuck is not just brilliant ... it's therapy!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Civilization Revolution for PS3

Conquer the world! You get a choice of cultures, each with its own strengths, and a starting city or group of settlers. Then you you build up your civilization. To win the game, you can either conquer everyone militarily, or you can store up tons of gold and build the World Bank, or you can build culture and wonders that culminate in the UN, or you can work on technology until you're able to launch a mission to Alpha Centauri.

All sorts of cultures. Four ways to win (which means three ways to lose). Plenty of fiddling details like roads, the overlap in the tech trees, opponents with differing strategies ... it makes for a thousand permutations.

I've played a dozen different ways and I'm still not repeating. I love it!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Resistance Fall of Man for PS3

Save humanity in this first person shooter. It's the usual rules, you run around shooting crap, pick up ammo and the occasional new weapon on the battlefield ... kill anything that moves. Stewart has the best advice, duck behind rocks while they're shooting at you, then step out and shoot when it's quiet. So far so good!

What's better than the usual FPS is the graphics ... the world is lush and detailed. The lighting effects are part of the game, for instance your vision gets a increasingly darker when you've sustained more damage. The story pieces actually tell a story, enough so that I didn't fast forward through the dialog to get to the action.

I can see why everyone's abuzz about Resistance 2 getting here ... if this one looks this pretty, the next one is going to be beautiful.

Saturday, July 5, 2008


Mobzombies: run from the undead ... using your body as the controller.

Plundr is a browser game (Mac/Windoze, no linux yet) where you make-believe that wifi access points are islands, with unique resources to exploit. Visit different access points during the day to ship goods back and forth.

Super Mario Galaxy for Wii

Once again, Mario's eternal quest to impress the princess yields a fabulous game. It's the usual run-and-jump rules of Mario ... collecting star pieces (instead of coins), stomping on things, shooting stuff, and beating up bad guys.

You start out running around on teeny planets, like the little prince but with less French. Then there's a part where you get a pair of bee's wings. Another part and you're flipping tiles by walking over them, trying to make 'em all match. After that you might ride a manta ray down a water slide. The same wacky stuff you'd expect from a hero who collects mushrooms.

When this disc isn't *in* the Wii, it's right next to it!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hot Shots Golf Open Tee 2 for PSP

Hot Shots Golf is a game that stays near the top of the stack because you keep pulling it out for a few minutes here and there. I love the "Minigame" mode, where you've got one shot to get the ball in the hole ... they're all straight shots, and the green slopes right into the hole, but you have to pay attention or you'll miss. I also like the longer-playing "Challenge" mode, where you complete a whole course.

The thing is, I really don't like golf. Tons of land fenced in, tons of water spent on a few people, super-competetive freaks who don't remember that it's a game, after all. So why does the video game appeal to me? I think it's because they've really *nailed* the scenery and the physics, making it more screensaver than game in some respects. I just enjoy flying through the different sites, and watching the parabolic course of a ball struck with a force and then deflected by gravity. It's actually kinda relaxing!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Burnout Paradise for PS3

I love this game, and not just because it boots up to the rock anthem "Paradise City" by Guns 'n' Roses.

It's a driving game, where you start out with a basic car, driving around town, finding challenges. Challenges can be a race, or a challenge to destroy other cars, or a trial to do stunts in a time limit ... each time you succeed, you collect new cars and things. Some are easy, some are hard, and your choice of car and strategy change things subtly.

It's an incredibly detailed world. The challenges are varied enough you can "just pick one" and never get bored. There are persistent challenges, too, like jumping through all the billboards you can find/reach. The music that plays throughout is great.

The best part, though, are the slow-motion playbacks of your spectacular crashes. Kaaaaaaa--boooooom!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Andrew suggested that we try Brightkite. It's a location based mobile social networking app. It does a good job of doing what others do, letting you "check-in" at different locations and then make notes about each location. Checking in lets your friends track you; and you can see where your friends are.

Unfortunately, all these sites still suffer from the problem of figuring out what "your location" means. Pretty much the only thing I can match on is an address (although once I do that, I can give it a shorthand name) and I just don't know the address (or fancy spelling) of places like University Towne Centre [sic].

The problem of figuring out what "place" means to a user is gonna get solved ... it just hasn't yet. (And GPS is not a solution in itself.)

Friday, May 30, 2008

Namco Museum Battle Collection for PSP

You get seventeen Namco arcade games emulated onto the PSP ... functionally similar to if you ported MAME to PSP. But you also get four games re-done for the widescreen of the PSP: pac-man, galaga, dig-dug and rally-x.

The re-done games are *really* well-done, we loved them! But every once in a while I just had to go retro and play Xevious, just as it looked on some old Z80 processor, decades ago.

The best ten bucks spent on our PSP so far!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Vimeo is a video sharing site that lets you share HD video. While the kids are posting to YouTube, and the SLR-toting crowd are trying flickr's video functionality, the professional video artists have been at Vimeo.

SimpleTODO for Mac OS X

SimpleTODO is my current To Do item applet. It's pretty, and it lets you sort things into categories that can be expanded & collapsed. It's between this and Anxiety, until I give-in and purchase OmniFocus.

Quicksilver for Mac OS X

Quicksilver is, well, it's an app launcher .. but it's also a customizable "thing doer." For launching apps, one keystroke (I use command-option-F1) and then I type enough of the name of an app to be distinct, and then hit return and the app launches.

Keystroke, m, a, i, l, return. Keystroke, f, i, r, e, return. Keystroke, t, e, r, m, return.

Did I mention that it learns? The first letter is usually all I need.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Facebook Lexicon

Condiment competition: mayo breaks away from the pack.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Tumblr, FTW! Finally, another app that's fun enough I'm still using it! I mean, I *try* mobile and user-generated apps all the time ... but it's really rare that I actually keep using one after I've played with it, tried its features, showed it to my friends and crafted a quick, superficial review.

Tumblr lets me "dash off a quick note" much like I already do on twitter ... but it also accepts pictures and videos and other things that don't fit so neatly into 140 characters of UTF-16.

It's great to snap a cameraphone picture, email it to tumblr with a descriptive subject line and have it just get appended to my "tumblog" automagically. (Video too!) It's more casual than adding things to my flickr stream, and whey easier than a "real" blog, which takes engagement/attention before I hit "post."

Ambient Intimacy got a really sweet upgrade!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nike Plus Sportband

Nike introduced the Nike+ SportBand this week. It's a little USB device that stows away on a wrist strap and records the data from your Nike shoes. Later you plug it into your computer to upload stats to Nike. It includes the in-shoe transponder and it's only sixty bucks. Don't have Nikes? Ziptie the transponder to your existing shoes and use "calibration" mode to teach it how they "feel."

Some marketing genius got their wings for the up-sell possibilities, but I can't wait to see what the alternate reality gaming people think up!

Suppose you want to walk X miles per week as part of your commute ... but you never know when the bus will appear *while* you're walking to the next stop, making you wait for the next-next bus.

Now I'll bet your phone has rudimentary GPS and *some* internet capability. So you punch up and it looks up the next bus' arrival time, distance to the next stop, divides by your average morning/afternoon pace and tells you "might as well walk!" (And if you're whey under your weekly goal it could nag you, "better walk!")

This could get really interesting!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

RoadID Interactive

RoadID lets runners, bikers, nudists or demented/tenured elders keep emergency contact & medical information on them without having to carry a wallet. Laser-etched stainless steel threaded onto a bracelet, anklet or shoelace fob presents seven lines of text to tell paramedics who you are and what special conditions you've got. So far, not exciting.

What *is* exciting is the RoadID Interactive. Two lines of text identify you to whomever finds your mangled body, but the rest of the text instructs rescuers to contact RoadID by 800 number or web for your information, 24/7. An included serial number and PIN secure these data with a shared secret.

You tell RoadID what drugs you're popping *now* or what condition you *just* got from a toilet seat and they make sure that first-responders always get the latest info.

Does your neighbor in the changing room really need to know that you're taking antipsychotics?

HP PhotoSmart C4385 All-in-One

We got one of these printers a few months ago and it's perfect. When not in use, the paper in and out tray flips closed for maximum kitty-defense. It includes wifi networking. It reads any kind of memory card. You can scan over the network -- and I don't mean the box just says you can do it -- you can actually do it, even with a Mac. And it fits fine on a standard book shelf. (Goodbye ugly table just for holding a printer and network adaptimifier!)

Anxiety for Mac OS X

Part of the iCalendar specification describes "To Do" items. Apple complies with the spec, but you have to open Mail to access your To Do lists. Can't I just have 'em in a floating little window that I put somewhere out of the way, yet always at hand?

It's small, it's simple and it's called Anxiety!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Incoming message from starfleet command..." because in the future we'll *all* use video voicemail. Embedded in laptops and fones, video cameras are becoming ubiquitous. Web browsers with Flash(tm) easily capture video from any device, letting web developers "just embed it." Now just add broadband internet/3G and season to taste.

Seesmic is structured as a forum for *discussion* rather than broadcast, and it's fascinating. Watch someone's comment in video, then watch others' video replies to it, then click to add your own video to the fray. The interface makes it simple to view the current threads or quickly find replies to your own comments.

I think this site's gonna succeed where others fail because it's not just another broadcasting tool ... it's about conversation. It'll be awesome to see what happens as the community gets bigger and integrates disparate voices and sub-cultures. The video flame wars should be spectacular!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wifi Autodiscovery Soap Box

Some clever attendee at sxsw set up a politically-inspired shared-device on the wifi network. (Easily done with file sharing or printer sharing settings.) When browsing the available wifi networks, their device's name appears in the menu of auto-discovered choices.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Andrew tipped me off to, a social network aggregator. It's the first I've tried, so I can't really compare it to anything else.

Anyways, you tell it what sites you're on; It natively talks to twitter, flickr, youtube, google reader, digg, delicious ... a bunch of others. It's *very* easy to set up. And once set, it tracks your activity on all of your social network sites.

Then your friends sign up, supplying the same infos.

All your social networking sites and all of their social networking sites stream a continuous flood of data into the tubes, and iminta happily aggregates it. Then it emails you a daily update, telling you all about how your cow orkers wasted their whole day on twitter and digg.

After a couple days the novelty wore off for me; too much information without any filtering. But I'll recommend it *heartily* to the data-addicted!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

ShoveBox for Mac OS X

Note to self ...

Something to pick up at the drug store. A URL someone sent you when you were too busy to click through. The name of a new SNS you want to try. A dozen things a day you need to jot down and deal with later, not now.

The Getting Things Done (tm, r, all rights reserved, buy my book, watch my segment on a fox morning show) method says these go in your "inbox."

These days, they're going in my ShoveBox!

Friday, February 8, 2008 is yet another dropbox site ... except better. Sure, you can upload files of any type and download 'em later. Image files are conveniently displayed as thumbnails and mp3s can be listened to in yer browser. Quick text notes are easily added to your drop, just click and type ... it's even easier on the mobile version of the site. Natch, you can subscribe to an rss feed or receive email when filez are added to your drop. Hold me back.

The super-spiffy feature, however, is that you can leave voicemail for your dropbox. Every drop has a phone number (in New York, not the Indian Ocean) and an extension; call it up, enter your extension and leave a message. The system turns it into an mp3 and adds it to the drop!

Someone should create a drop and record bluetools yammering into their always-attached bluetooth headsets.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Photobucket is a picture and video sharing site. They seem to target teens and they appear to be primarily ad-supported. They've got the usual links to order merchandise with your pictures on it, but they aren't pushing it as their main deal (e.g. shutterfly). And they're definitely not for professionals (e.g. flickr).

It was super-easy getting photos into my online album. Their "Bulk Uploader" is a jabba app that lets you browse the pictures on your computer, shown as thumbnails, and click to add/subtract them from the queue waiting to upload. All right there in your browser.

Similarly, they make it easy to embed images in other sites' pages. Each image in your album includes the address and html code right there in the album. Copy and paste.

It's pretty slick how quickly you can create an account, upload some pictures, and then embed them elsewhere. I'm impressed!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Is your myspace page loud enough?

Glitter Photos

... it's like Figlet, but not!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shutterfly is an online photo storage site with a focus on facilitating printed output. A month ago I took pictures at a family function and folks asked me to upload to Shutterfly so that they could browse the fotos and then order prints for pickup at Target.

I'm a long time flickr user; it was fun to try another service.

A couple clicks and it'd integrated into my iPhoto. Then it ran me through registration and *presto* I was uploading photos. Very slick.

It was simple to share the album with the folks from the family function. And when people added comments to photos, the site sent me a summary the next day. *Click* and there I am, reading folks' comments. Very seamless.

Clearly this is a site driven by users' feedback and usage, rather than business requirements to "monetize" and "up sell" everything. I'm very impressed!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008