Tech


I have been on Google Plus for a week now and I really like it. There is so much more customization especially with the brilliantly simple idea of Circles, being able to group your audience into different sections and edit the posts and updates so that only certain people see certain things is a game changer.

I have not yet gotten into the Hangout (video chat) yet but in conjunction with the circles it certainly makes for an intriguing way to run a Tabletop style of RPG,

Imagine wanting to run a game of  Dungeons and Dragons, the DM could create a circle for the players. He (or she) could then post updates for the game group that wouldn’t be seen by others. then on the designated game night simply start a video hangout just for that circle and the players could then join for the game. You could use public Google docs for the character sheets and maps, with the exception if dice rolls it would automate the entire game, if playing a Pathfinder or 3.5 edition game the rules are even available online as SRD.

Below is the inevitable Downfall video when Hitler is informed of the G+ rising popularity (some strong language):

 

 

 

The venerable classic computer that many of today’s geek first cut their teeth on was the Commodore C64.

Now Gizmodo tells us that the classic beige box is making a come back next month.

With the innards of a netbook (Atom CPU and Ion2 graphics) but including a DVD or optional Blu-Ray, instead of a cassette tape drive, and with plenty of USB/HDMI ports this will be a modern machine capable of being hooked to any modern monitor or HDTV (for an extra wave of nostalgia) . The keyboard is lovingly crafted to recreate the classic IBM feel and sound.

The system will ship with a Ubuntu Linux OS but will have an icon to launch directly into C64 OS for 8bit retro computing (games anyone?). They are working on a Commodore OS 1.0 complete with classic game package and will mail this to buyers when complete.

Link to CommodoreUSA webpage is here.

The geek in me wants this now!

After two weeks of owning a Nook Color, let me give some verdict.

Overall its a winner, color+touchscreen for an e-Reader is just what I was waiting for. Barnes and Nobles’s website does experience some downtime but its been minimal for me. What sealed the purchase for me was that you can buy (single issues) and subscribe to magazines.  In order to fit the full size magazine to a 7 inch screen they have an article view which displays just the articles’ text in column form (no ads, yay! but no photos, boo!) this is the one feature I love the most, being able to subscribe electronically to magazines.

The touchscreen works well although it definitely lacks some sensitivity, its hard to get pages to flip at times. You gotta wonder if B&N cheaped out there.

Battery life is good although the color screen does drain power, I can get a days worth of reading out of a charge.

The Nook is WiFi only so you will need wireless to download books and magazines.

hmmm, if you think prices on tablet computers are excessive then look at installing Android OS 3.0 on a Nook Color and get a 250 dollar tablet computer. Sweet, I am tempted to try this for myself….

 

 

The Motorola Droid 2 got leaked out just a bit early, from Engadget:

And that, folks, is our first in the wild look at Motorola’s second generation Droid. It’s not officially supposed to hit retail until tomorrow, but that obviously hasn’t stopped a delivery truck from unloading a few at a nondescript Sam’s Club. We’re still waiting to hear back on whether or not they’re actually being allowed out of the store today, but hey, tomorrow ain’t too far away.

According to the blogs the Droid 2 is not different than the current Droid, just with a faster processor, Android 2.2, and a different keyboard.  Also from Engadget:

You already know the specs by now — a 3.7-inch multitouch display, 5 megapixel camera, DLNA streaming, 8GB of onboard memory and a 8GB microSD card

Why are we getting an update that is a mere incremental improvement, why with some overclocking and the awaited update to Froyo. The current version pretty much equals Droid 2. I really don’t want to use a 3G connection as the path for a mobile hotspot although it would be nice to be able to use it for laptop internet connecting. I hope this is not a sign that Motorola is desperate for sales or wants to compete with the iPhone 4.

What kind of Apps are available for the Android smartphone crowd wanting to learn or practice Japanese? and more importantly what can we get for a budget. Even though the Android market is relatively new compared to the iPhone’s there are a lot of apps available for the study of Nihongo. Two of the ones I have tried just recently and like:

Robert Muth’s Kana Drill. The basic demo version is complete for Hiragana for free with a paid upgrade to include the Katakana syllabary. The app is simply for review of the kana syllabaries. A hiragana symbol appears at the top and the user has seconds in which to match it to the romanji pronunciation. The options allows you to set the time and the number of rounds and alter the number of rows that the kana are used in the drill. A very simple and effective free app that I have been using quite a bit to learn kana.

Survive! Japanese Lite is a little adventure game for learning basic hiragana, vocabulary and common phrases. This is a nice little adventure style game that puts the player/user into daily situations that would occur in Japan and uses both audio and text to teach basic Japanese. Very simple and fun idea, the basic game is free with the full version as a paid upgrade. The game begins with the user disembarking at Narita airport after flying into Japan and a little adventure awaits. Very highly recommended little game. The company also makes other study Japanese related apps.

These are just two of the better free apps available for Android, surely more to come as the developers come into Android.

Motoroal-Droid-by-VerizonVerizon’s answer to the popularity of the iPhone would be in the new Droid line of Android based smartphones. The first two of which appeared on 11/6/09 in the form of the Motorola Cliq (called the Droid by Verizon) and the HTC Eris.

I went to a Verizon store for some hands on to get a real feel for each and can definitely say that the Droid is very nice indeed. The Eris may have more appeal to users specifically wanting its smaller size and rounded corners, but the speed of the web on the Motorola Droid when loading web made it feel like a mini desktop. The lack of muti-touch and Sense UI was apparent when zooming in and out of web pages but the extra screen real estate compared to the Eris and the resolution made browsing using it very nice indeed.

I am a little disappointed in AT&T not upgrading their 3g networks and expanding their coverage when they have the popularity of the iPhone to bank on. IMHO, their 3g should either be better or they should be dumping into 4g to leapfrog Verizon. But thats just one man’s opinion…

In short, IT MUST BE MINE!

(it also seems that the rumors of Verizon getting a variant of the iPhone once AT&T’s exclusivity contract runs out may hold a kernel of truth …)

asus-gaming51The search is on for a new laptop/notebook. The must have list is an ability to play games to some level; i.e. I expect to be able to do World of Warcraft level of gaming, i.e. I don’t want it choking on a simple 5-man raid with WoW’s cartoony graphics. I don’t expect unbelievable framerates and killer sound, but gaming requires a base level of horseppower that will be what I want from a new computer, the trick will be finding one at a reasonable price.

The Asus G51 notebook got a refresh to keep it up to date, getting a core i7 Intel processor and nVidia GTX 260M graphics. From a review at notebookreview.com:

The ASUS G51J has a few solid improvements over the older G51VX, most notably the shift from the Intel Q9000 to the Intel Core i7-720QM processor. This change shaved roughly 5 seconds off its wPrime score alone. 3DMark06 performance went up as well, but we didn’t see that much of a boost in actual gameplay. PCMark05 is also down, but it is hard to say if it was related to hardware or operating system differences. Overall users who are interested in purchasing this notebook should look at one item; the price. With specifications improving or staying equal, ASUS dropped the price $200, from $1,699 to $1,499.

here is a very recent video of Battlefield 2 running on a G51 (ostensibly):

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