Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Monday

Missed the Black Friday dealzmodo rush, or nothing really catch your eye? You might still be in luck. Cyber Monday is when online retailers are supposed to shine. Here's a linktastic list of big-brand deal pages. Updated!

I've noted some of the more interesting deals that caught my eye, but it's by no means a complete list. Click on the retailer name to go through to their Cyber Monday page. And don't forget that most of the specials are either time bombed or limited to a small amount of stock. You can also find more deals over at LogicBuy.

• Sennheiser RS 130 Wireless Surround Sound Headphones - $60 (save $140)
• Garmin nĂ¼vi 260W 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator - $115 (save $115)
• Logitech Harmony 890 Advanced Universal Remote Control - $290 (save $110)
• Flip UltraHD Camcorder, 120 Minutes (Black) - $152 (save $48)
• Panasonic VIERA G10 Series TC-P42G10 42-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV - $948 (usually up to $1200)
• Panasonic VIERA G10 Series TC-P46G10 46-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV - $1150 (save $350)
• Panasonic VIERA S1 Series TC-P42S1 42-Inch 1080p Plasma HDTV - $798 (save $202)

Best Buy
• Free shipping on all orders over $25 (big ass TVs excluded)
• 15.6-inch Acer Aspire (1.2GHz AMD Athlon, 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD) - $400 (save $100)
• Panasonic - VIERA / 58" Class / 1080p / 600Hz / Plasma HDTV - $1500 (save $800)
• Panasonic - VIERA / 50" Class / 1080p / 600Hz / Plasma HDTV - $898 (save $502)
• 2 Days Only

• HTC Droid Eris – Free with new Verizon contract ($450 off-contract)
• Motorola Droid - $120 with new Verizon contract ($560 off-contract)
• Dell Mini 10v netbook - $279 (save $119) [Actually usually around $300, anyway]
• Inspiron 17 notebook (17-inch screen, Core 2 Duo processor, 3GB memory, Windows 7) - $549 (save $269)
• Sharp 47-inch 120Hz 1080p HDTV - $799 (save $400)
• Sony Bravia 55-inch 120Hz LCD 1080p HDTV - $1769 (save $530)

• HP dv4t 14-inch Laptop $549.99 (save $469 in upgrades & discounts)
• HP p6270z Quad Core desktop w/4GB RAM $429.99 (lowest ever)
• HP TouchSmart 600t $999.99 (save $325)
• HP OfficeJet 6000 Wireless Printer $59.99 (50% off)
• HP Photosmart Plus All-in-One $74.99 (50% off)
• HP Photosmart Premium All-in-One $99.99 (50% off)

• VAIO FW VGNFW550F/B Laptop $829.99 (list $1079) - use $250 Coupon Code: BLACKFRIDAYFW250 (ends 11/30 or after 500 uses)
• Buy a PS3 and get two free games: Infamous and Uncharted Drakes Fortune
• 32" Sony BRAVIA HDTV (KDL32L504) $379.99 (list: $479.99)
• Sony Blu-ray Disc Player (BDP-S360) $129.99 (list $199.99)
• 40" Sony BRAVIA HDTV (KDL40S504) $664.99 (list:$999.99)
• 46" Sony BRAVIA HDTV (KDL46S504) $854.99 (list: $1299)

• ASUS P50IJ-X1 Intel Pentium dual-core 15.6" Intel GMA 4500M NoteBook – Retail - $450 (save $100)
• OCZ Agility Series OCZSSD2-1AGT120G 2.5" MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) – Retail - $289 (save $50; $30 of which comes from a mail-in rebate)

• TomTom® One130 GPS - $80 (save $50 instantly)
• Norton 360 v3.0 (1–3 User) - $10 (save $70 after combined savings)

• Sony Bravia 32" Class LCD HDTV, KDL-32L504 - $398 (usually about $450)

• Purchase for only one penny the Nokia e71x, Sony Cybershot, Curve 8900, Pantech Reveal, or Samsung Jack. Device offers rotate every three hours. Two-year service agreement required.
Waived activiation fee and free overnight shipping, too.

• Everything in the Mimoco shop will be 25% off until 11:59pm PST.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Godfather Of Spam Sentenced to 4 years in jail

A Detroit judge sentenced Alan Ralsky, a spam mastermind who headed an elaborate international organization, to 51 months in prison. Ralsky was convicted of wire fraud, mail fraud and violation of the CAN-SPAM act for his schemes. Ralsky and his cohorts netted millions from pump and dump stock scams which were bolstered by their spamming. He plead guilty in June and will be serving time along with his son, who was sentenced to 40 months.


Bloodhound is a car being designed to run at a swooshing one thousand miles-per-hour. That's 1,609 km/h, which is way faster than the speed of sound. As the video shows, it'll have more thrust than the Eurofighter combat jet:

Of course, the car has yet to be built, let alone break that record. But the effort is quite serious, these people are not amateur, and they have serious sponsors. It will use one EJ200 jet like the one used by the Eurofighter—hopefully a real one, unlike the one I got into at Dubai two years ago—alonside a one 18" hybrid rocket, and a V12 piston engines. The 6500-kilogram Bloodhound—which is being built in Bristol—will have a 47,000lbs trust, with a top speed of 1050mph.

The driver will be former RAF Wing Comander Andy Green, who broke the landspeed record in 1997

Monday, November 23, 2009

China tightens supervision of online games


China has vowed to tighten supervision of its fast-growing online games market, saying some games contained content that was "harmful" to players.

Some online games used "bloody, violent and obscene" content to attract players, hurting their "physical and psychological health", the culture ministry said.

The ministry said it would toughen the approval process for new online game companies and step up oversight of content such as role definition and language.

For their part, online game developers should limit the number of virtual marriages and player-versus-player combat and improve technology to restrict the amount of time teenagers can spend on the Internet, the ministry said in a statement posted on its website Wednesday.

The number of Internet gamers in China reached 217 million at the end of June, or 64.2 percent of the nation's total online population, according to the government-linked China Internet Network Information Centre.

Sales revenue rose 52.2 percent to 20.8 billion yuan (three billion dollars) in 2008, making China the world's second largest online games market after the United States, according to a report by research firm iResearch.

By 2012, China's online games market is expected to be worth 68.6 billion yuan, or 46.9 percent of the world's total, the report said.

The Communist Party has a history of blocking online content it deems unhealthy, which includes pornography and sensitive political information.

Earlier this month, another ministry rejected an application by Chinese Internet portal NetEase seeking approval for the game World of Warcraft.

NetEase violated a rule banning new account registration and collection of subscription fees during a trial period that started July 30, when the firm was ordered to "revise harmful content" in the game, the General Administration of Press and Publication said.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Youtube adds 1080p HD

The world’s most popular video-sharing site is planning to offer content in all of its high-resolution glory. YouTube announced that it will allow users to upload and view video in full HD; a 1080p test video is now available. All of you viewers with fast computers and even faster broadband connections will soon get to indulge in much more.

It’s been about a year since the Google-owned broadcaster made 720p video available. In that time, full-HD camcorders have become relatively common and more of YouTube’s content has been uploaded as 1080p, though it wasn't viewable as such. The company plans to re-encode all of this previously created material so that viewers will be able to take advantage of its original resolution.

It’s hard to believe that YouTube has only been around for a little over four years. It will not be the first video-sharing site to offer full HD, but it will almost certainly be the one to bring it to the masses. Alternately derided and celebrated for blockbusters like “Charlie Bit My Finger,” YouTube has recently become eager to present commercial content and compete with the likes of Hulu, a joint venture of three major broadcast networks. Last spring, YouTube began to offer some premium content from Hollywood; the term “premium” should be used loosely, however, since the pickings have been slim. In September, the Wall Street Journal reported [subscription required] that YouTube was in serious talks with major film studios to stream movies on a rental basis.

The move to 1080p should support those initiatives. It’s conceivable that YouTube could provide Blu-ray quality streams for paid content. For regular folk, full HD will mean the chance to share those bloopers and family videos on a wall-size screen. Would-be auteurs should be aware that, for now, YouTube will still limit user-generated content to 10 minutes in length. It seems plausible, however, that the current 2GB file-size limit will get a lift, considering how monstrously large those 1080p videos will be. Get those cameras rolling!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Modern Warfare 2 destroys in sales

LOS ANGELES – Ryan Norwalk cleared his schedule.

Unlike his friends who had class or work, the 26-year-old California State University, Northridge college student was spending Tuesday gunning down foes and building his online notoriety in "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," the highly anticipated, first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision Blizzard Inc.

"I want to get a head start before everyone gets it tomorrow," he said.

Late Monday night, Norwalk was among the fans lined up for the "Modern Warfare 2" launch outside the GameStop in West Hollywood, Calif., one of over 10,000 retail outlets deploying the game at midnight. In the first week, fans worldwide are expected to spend at least half a billion dollars on the follow-up to 2007's "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare."

"I'll start playing as soon as I get home," said Frederick Guese, a 24-year-old fan donning black paramilitary gear in line outside the Best Buy in West Los Angeles. "I think the servers will probably go down tonight because everyone will be trying to play multiplayer tonight, so I'll probably start with the single-player campaign before going online."

With a tank and humvee stationed in the parking lot, the Best Buy location where Guese was positioned was transformed for the launch. Developers from Infinity Ward were on hand to sign autographs of the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC game while attendees chugged "Modern Warfare 2"-themed energy drinks and practiced their shooting skills on game consoles.

Many fans were miffed to learn the title was sold at several GameStop locations ahead of Tuesday's launch. A spokesman for the chain said the decision was made to sell reserved copies early after other retailers unleashed the game early. A spokesman for Activision said the publisher had not given any retailer permission to sell the game before Tuesday.

And there were other flaps in the weeks leading up to the game's launch. Footage leaked last month revealed that a skippable level allows players to open fire on innocent civilians as a terrorist in an airport. Earlier this month, Infinity Ward pulled a viral video promoting the game that featured an acronym that is a derogatory term for gays.

"We've been trying to keep the game under wraps for maximum impact for the players," said Infinity Ward CEO Vince Zampella outside the Best Buy in West Los Angeles. "It's been stressful with little things leaking here and there. With the unveiling finally here, we don't have to worry about that stuff anymore. Now it's about what's going to screw up that we have to fix over the next week."

Monday, November 9, 2009

Engineer $10 DIY Cellphone

-Cellphones are handy in a pinch. They make emergency calls, serve as a late night texting platform, and now in developing areas where money is tight and malaria runs rampant, they can serve as a microscope.

The DIY design is the brainchild of Aydogan Ozcan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and member of the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. He did it all with some software he wrote and about $10 in off-the-shelf parts, reports the New York Times.

There's actually no lens to speak of, as the magnification is handled entirely by software, holograms and electronics. This, Ozcan says, is what's at the heart of the device's portability and affordability. Better still, this means that a future system based on this design could have the ability to diagnose and research even better than a traditional microscope in the field. Said Bahram Jalali, an applied physicist and professor of electrical engineering at U.C.L.A in an interview with the New York Times, the beauty of the design is in its lack of mechanical scanning.

"Instead you capture holograms of all the cells on the slide digitally at the same time," he said to the Times. This makes it possible to "immediately see pathogens among a vast population of healthy cells."

Friday, November 6, 2009

New `Call of Duty' could set entertainment record


This holiday season's biggest entertainment blockbuster likely will be a sequel to a popular franchise, with jarring depictions of war and an intricate story of good versus evil. It could easily rake in more than last year's record $155 million opening weekend for "The Dark Knight."

But this blockbuster is not a movie.

It is "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2," a video game that Activision Blizzard Inc. is releasing Tuesday. Fans worldwide are expected to spend at least half a billion dollars on the game in the first week.

That would at least match last year's "Grand Theft Auto IV," which was the most successful video game release in history and might have been the top entertainment launch ever.

Justin Criswell, 31, plans to line up at a GameStop store in Brooklyn on Monday night so he can buy the new "Call of Duty" when it goes on sale after midnight, for $60. It's available for PCs, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3.

"Ever since they announced it, me and most of the friends that I play with have been crazy excited about it," Criswell said. Once he gets a copy, he plans to stay up much of the night to play it online with friends and relatives scattered in Tennessee, California, Ohio and Florida.

"Those who have to work the next day have taken the day off," he said.

Like the previous five "Call of Duty" games, which are all rated "M" for mature (not for kids under 17), this one lets players shoot their way through a complex series of scenes. The game's developer, Infinity Ward, spent two years creating realistic graphics that are amplified in many players' homes by big-screen, high-definition TVs sets and powerful speakers. It's like stepping into a movie.

A big part of the game's appeal is in its multiplayer component — players can fight each other, whether they're at the same game console or in separate locations and connected online.

Or a player can dive in alone and get swept into the game's plot, which picks up where "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," left off. That game ended with victory over a Russian terrorist, but he was just part of a larger conspiracy. This time, the target is an even more vicious leader of the Russian Ultranationalist movement. Settings include a snowbound Siberian base, a leafy American suburb and the burning streets of Washington, D.C. One trailer for the game shows a glimpse of action in outer space.

While video games are increasingly marketed to men and women of all ages as mainstream entertainment, the core demographic for "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" is mainly guys.

For David Dague, 36, who lives in Chicago, the launch of "Modern Warfare 2" is like the beginning of football season for a sports fan. Because he can play the game with other people, joining up in "clans" or fighting against them, "Call of Duty" is like "paintball in a box," he said. Better yet, paintball on a couch.

"Playing against other living, thinking players becomes a competitive pastime," said Dague, who runs a Web community for adults who play multiplayer games on the Xbox 360. Dague said he plans to play "Modern Warfare 2" for about two hours at a time, two to three nights a week.

"I don't watch soap operas, I don't watch football. Multiplayer gaming is where my competitive spirit gets its outlet," he said.

Activision is working with retailers to plan more than 10,000 midnight openings in the United States, including most of the 4,300 GameStop Corp. stores around the country. It won't give numbers, but GameStop says pre-orders for "Modern Warfare 2" hit an all-time high.

In all, about 28 million "Call of Duty" games have been sold in the United States, with each installment doing better at launch than the previous one, said NPD Group analyst Anita Frazier. Optimism about the latest title led Activision on Thursday to reaffirm its outlook for 2009. It expects more than $2 billion in revenue for the current quarter — roughly half of the year's total.

Wedbush Morgan analyst Michael Pachter estimates Activision is spending as much as $50 million to market the game, including TV spots, billboards and ads on social-networking sites. Activision won't say how much the game cost to make, but most blockbusters require tens of millions of dollars.

For Criswell and Dague's generation, video games are entertainment on par with movies, except they last many more hours and immerse players in stories in which their actions affect the outcome.

Patrick Kienbauer, an 18-year-old student in Austria, said the game's last installment, which has sad background music and a "comfortless ambiance," let him "feel the cruelty and violence of war." He's already ordered a copy of "Modern Warfare 2" so he can get it as quickly as possible.

If this sequel does its job, it will not only pick up where the last one ended but also advance the story in ways that will shock and surprise him — and keep him coming back for more.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blockbuster Employee Stabs Himself Because He Didn't Want To Go To Work

We all know that Blockbuster kind of sucks, but I had no idea that working there was this bad.

Amazingly enough, 29-year old Aaron Siebers stabbed himself then made up some phony story about being attacked by three skinheads in an attempted robbery. However, surveillance footage of the area where it supposedly happened turned up nothing. In the end, Siebers admitted to stabbing himself so he could get out of going to work at a Colorado Blockbuster. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors stitched up his wound.

I have a hard time understanding why someone would pass over calling in sick and go right to self-mutilation in order to get out of work, but perhaps someone who has worked at Blockbuster in the past can confirm that they too have thought about this strategy. [The Denver Channel via Westworld via Digg]

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

China regulator rejects World of Warcraft game: official

BEIJING (AFP) – Chinese players of World of Warcraft, one of the world's most popular online games, may be out of luck after a government regulator rejected an application from the game's new licensed operator.

The General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) has terminated Chinese Internet portal NetEase's application seeking approval for the game, the agency said in a statement posted on its website Monday.

NetEase violated a rule banning new account registration and collection of subscription fees during a trial period that started July 30, when the firm was ordered to "revise harmful content" in the game, it said.

World of Warcraft, developed by California-based company Activision Blizzard Entertainment, was previously licensed to another Chinese firm, The9, which ran the game in China for four years from 2005, earlier media reports said.

The online role-playing game had around five million active users in China, and The9's financial report showed it booked net revenue of 380 million yuan (56 million dollars) in the fourth quarter of 2008, the reports said.

NetEase announced in April that it had won a three-year licence for the game from Blizzard after The9's licence had expired.

Analysts said it was uncertain if GAPP's rejection would lead to a permanent ban in China as NetEase in April received approval from the culture ministry, which is also tasked with regulating computer games.

"The chaos is mainly due to the vague demarcation of responsibilities between GAPP and the Ministry of Culture," said Liu Ning, a Beijing-based analyst with research firm BDA China.

"It is not yet certain what will happen -- to be honest, it depends on who will finally win (in the turf war) -- GAPP or the culture ministry," he said.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Marvel Comics come to iPhone

Excelsior! The makers of three apps Comics by Comixology, iVerse, and Panelfly, have brought one of the “big two” comics publishers to the iPhone for the first time.

On Thursday the companies announced that, effective immediately, several comics from Marvel Comics will be available for purchase via in-app purchase from the free Comics app.

The Marvel comics available initially from Comixology are Joss Whedon’s 24-issue run on Astonishing X-Men, Robert Kirkman’s five-issue Marvel Zombies miniseries, Ed Brubaker’s first 30 issues of Captain America, and two other X-Men-related books, X-23 and X-Men: Age of Apocalypse, each six issues long.

Each individual issue is priced at $2 on Comics and iVerse, and $1 on Panelfly. (Presumably Panelfly is running a special sale or taking a loss on the sales as a way to promote the Marvel additions.)

This isn't Marvel's only foray into the world of the iPhone. The company recently launched two "motion comics" sold directly via iTunes: Spider-Woman and an adaptation of Whedon's Astonishing X-Men.

(Updated Friday morning to add two other comic apps which also added Marvel Comics support late Thursday. Thanks to the members of Macworld Forums for pointing out the other apps which added this feature.)