Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

Wii Gets Rock Band Killer

Disney today announces Ultimate Band for the Wii. A music and rhythm video game which will require no new peripherals to be purchased to be played.

Now that last part is intriguing. They’re saying that they will use just the Wiimote and the Nunchuck controllers to simulate the drums, guitar and bass. That should be interesting. I think that if they can pull this off, it definitely might be a Rock Band ‘killer’. However, there is something to be said for actually hitting pads and holding a guitar shaped controller to really get you in the ‘rock out’ mode! Especially hitting things. I like hitting things. (My favourite Muppets character? Animal.) For the full story click on “read more” below.

read more | digg story

TV is dead, long live TV

I grew up in a house without cable TV. (In fact, they still don’t have cable! I’m not sure what they’ll do when all broadcasts go digital, but we still have a few years to go before that happens in Canada.) When I first got married and moved out, one of the first things we did was get cable. My wife grew up in a house with cable. (See how these things happen?)

When we had our own kids we made the decision to cut the cable, figuratively and literally! It was pretty hard at first, and we found that we really missed things like the news, and the food network. But that was five years ago, and we’ve never looked back. We still get some channels via antenna (but only on the second floor), and if the kids want to watch something, we only watch selected DVD’s and videos with the them. They get to watch TV when they’re at the in-laws in the afternoon, but only 30-60 minutes of kids programming. And because the kids go to bed at 8:30PM, we don’t catch any grown-up shows during primetime. We don’t turn on the TV till after they’re asleep.

While I have no regrets about our decision, I have been tempted by the DVD rental by mail services lately. For Valentines Day I rented a movie from Blockbuster, the first rental in a number of years. I was a bit shocked that it cost me $6 and change to rent a new-ish movie for a week. I’ve done the torrent thing in the past, and I don’t want to anymore. Firstly, it’s in a grey area of the law, and secondly, the video quality is mediocre. I’m a really visual person, and I enjoy good films and shows, how they’re shot, the lighting, and so forth. I don’t really enjoy compression artifacts that much. I can’t wait to get a Blu-Ray player and a 1080p TV, but that’s another story.

Since there’s so many TV series on DVD now, joining one of these mail rental services makes total sense. It’s cheaper than cable, you can keep the shows/movies for as long as you want, and you can essentially rent them as fast as you can watch them, depending on the type of plan you get. You can watch shows without commercials, and in high quality. What’s not to like?

Next time: which DVD mail rental company is the best?

more kids and gaming

There’s some interesting discussions going on about when is the right age for kids to play video games, and parents and psychologists are weighing in on the issue.

Here’s a post at Slashdot that got me started:
http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/01/24/1425221&from=rss

Here’s the MTV Multiplayer blog article:
http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/01/23/when-are-you-old-enough-for-video-games-part-1-of-2/

And here is an article summarizing the thoughts of industry experts recently gathered at CES:
http://www.news.com.au/technology/story/0,25642,23036907-5014117,00.html

I think I can agree that the educational aspects of some games is definitely overstated, and I think parents definitely need to be involved with their child in any kind new media situation, whether it be gaming or electronic gadgets or otherwise. Having grown up with my fair share of electronic educational toys, and also just purely non-educational but fun electronic toys and games, I feel pretty comfortable allowing my children access to games and computer, as long as I have approved it.

What do you think? Do you have parenting ‘rules’ about gaming and computers? I’d love to hear from you.

[UPDATE]: Chris Brogan, social media advisor, and someone I follow on Twitter, has a new post on gaming and virtual worlds:
http://chrisbrogan.com/xbox-ps3-wii-second-life-and-you/

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MWSF 2008 Keynote thoughts

This year I decided to wait for the Keynote stream to be posted, and watched it spoiler free. My reaction to the announcements can be read here.

wake up: the RCA RP5500i mini review

RCARP5500iiPodDockClockRadio_lores.jpg
For Christmas I got my DW this clock radio. But because the clock radio resides on my side of the bed, it’s like I bought it for myself. I know. Shameless. Anyway, after using it for a week I thought I’d share a little review. It’s the RCA RP5500i.

First of all, and most prominently, it handles the iPod. It docks the iPod in a little slide out cradle, and it charges it as well. It also features a USB connector, so you can also get mp3’s to play if they’re stored on a USB memory key. There are two alarm time settings, and four ways to wake up: Graduwake alarm (volume slowly increases), Radio, iPod, or USB key containing music files. There are shuffle and repeat buttons, as well as track skip buttons.

What I like about this unit is that it hasn’t forgotten what it’s main purpose is, an alarm clock. The time display is large and easily readable, and adjusts its position depending on whether the iPod is docked or not. It’s also a nice orange colour, reminds me of the monitor of my old Apple II clone. It has a “Nap” feature which lets you select 10, 20, 30, 60, 90, or 120 minutes after which time the alarm goes off. That’s neat. The radio tuner is analog, but it uses the large LED display to show you the frequency you’re tuning into. Very smart.

Minor quibble, and I only have one: the blue LED light under the iPod stays lit whenever the iPod is inserted, and blinks if the cradle is open but no iPod is present. This is annoying, and the light is bright. Very bright. So it’s not great for iPod listening to go to sleep. I plan on putting tape over the light.

So far, it’s been doing its job: waking me up.

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how cool is this?

One of the new features of Safari on OS X Leopard is the ability to create a Dashboard widget from anything you like on the web. Apple calls it a ‘web clip’ and I used it to do this:

This is the twitter entry box from my twitter homepage, floating in my Dashboard as a widget. (Note the cool looking torn edges look!) So I can now update my twitter from Dashboard, directly to the twitter homepage, without opening an internet browser of any kind. Pretty nice.

Of course, you don’t have to use it for twitter, you could use it for a blog, a search window, comics, whatever you like.

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new toys

I recently purchased a pair of Etymotic Research ER6i earphones from Amazon. I couldn’t resist the almost half price deal, plus the strong CDN, well… it was too much.

I just tried them and have been figuring out which eartips work the best in my ears. I think from all my years of drumming with foam earplugs, these work the best and are the most comfortable. The other ones just feel like someone jammed a big rubber thing in my ear, which, I guess, is exactly what I did. 🙂

Mine are black, and yes, the foam eartips are that exact colour. I guess I’ll be buying replacement eartips in the near future, as some of us have discussed previously, foam earplugs get kind of, well, you know, gross.

How do they sound? Pretty nice. Even. Once you get used to all the sound outside being blocked, and the feeling of earplugs in your ears, it’s a nice experience. Just don’t expect me to answer when you ask me what time it is on the subway, ok?

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congrats to

Congrats to Gizelle who just got her first Mac, a 13″ Macbook. Hurray! I expect blog posts! and pictures!

Really, there’s nothing like unboxing a Mac (or any Apple product, for that matter) and smeling that new electronics smell. Aahhh. Ok, I’m a total geek.

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why blogfriends?

this is why:

blogfriends

Do I know David Marriott? No. But I went to his blog because it looked interesting to me. Based on my interests and friends of friends’ blogs, this came up. If you want people to discover and read your blog, this is one great way to do it, and reach a more targeted audience.

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what, a digicam?

One of the other reasons I activated a YouTube account was to have a place to upload all the videos that I plan on taking now that I got a new digital camera I bought my DW a new digital camera. Heh. I ended up with a Canon A570IS, which I got as much for it’s video capabilities as it’s photographic capabilities. It’s able to do 640×480 video at 30fps until your memory card is full, or the video clip reaches one hour, whichever comes first. Since I just got an 8GB card today (he he) I should be able to do 2 hours of video. That’s crazy.

Why use a digital camera for video instead of a camcorder? I like it because there’s no tapes to get jammed, or mistracking, or anything like that. It’s quick to transfer to the computer to edit, instead of having to transfer it in real time like you do with a camcorder. (I’m assuming a tape based camcorder like MiniDV. If you have a hard drive based camcorder it’s a different story) No moving parts to break down. Takes much better stills than a camcorder does. The only downside is there’s no optical zooming during video, you have to zoom to where you want before you shoot. The stabilization does wonders for shaky video, it almost feels like a SteadiCam. Well, not quite (sorry to all you SteadiCam operators out there, I didn’t mean to offend you). But it’s pretty steady.

Now I just have to remember to hold the camera level, and my videos will be great!