October 29, 2004

Who would you vote for President of USA?

Please vote on our online poll who you would vote for in the Presidential election and discuss why on the message board. Non-U.S. citizens welcome. Poll

October 24, 2004

Saturday Night Live: Ashlee Simpson Gets Caught Lip Syncing

UPDATE: In the interest of fairness, 60 Minute had a story on SNL the week of the Ashlee episode. It showed Ashlee crying in rehearsal because she was upset that her voice was hoarse. This does not forgive how she tried to cover it up after the blunder, it does show she isn't a total liar when she said she had throat problems. It seemed she really intended to sing it live until the problems creeped in. I was watching SnL on my Tivo with Jude Law hosting and Ashlee Simpson as the musical guest. The first song went well. I even told my wife "Wow. She sounds really good. Very impressive since it's live." As the second song starts we hear a voice track from her first song in the background. The problem is Ashlee is NOT singing. She looks petrified and dances goofily off the stage, while the band keeps playing. SnL then cuts out into commercial break. At the end of the show, Jude Law and Ashlee Simpson come onto the stage and explain, "Sorry the band starting playing the wrong song, so I didn't know what to do. Sorry, it's live TV." Uhh.. whatever. There are reports in the West Coast feed later in the night, SnL edits out the voice track. Nice. It makes you wonder how many LIVE performances are actually lip synced on TV. "Lucky Magazine: What are your takes on lip-synching? Ashlee Simpson: I'm totally against it and offended by it. I'm going out to let my real talent show, not to just stand there and dance around. Personally, I'd never lip-synch. It's just not me." Discuss

October 14, 2004

Halo 2 Leaked on the Net

A copy of the European version of Halo 2 is out in the wild on piracy sites and newsgroups. Microsoft is upstet, but I doubt it will impact sales when the game gets released next month. One reason is the pirated game can't play online, which is a huge feature of Halo 2. Read

Cellphone Ear Tumors

According to the Karolinska Institute, cellphone users of more than 10 years are 4Xs more likely to get an acoustic neuroma ear tumor on the side of the head they use their phone on. This type of condition can cause brain and nerve damage and normally effects 1 in 100,000 people. You can avoid the risk by using a hands-free headset kit. Read

How Bout Them Apples!

Apple reported their September quarter yesterday and crushed financial expectations due to the power of iPod Mini. Net income was $106M vs. $44M a year ago. Overall iPod units sold were 2M units, up 500% y/y. 54% of the revenue was laptops, up 44% y/y. The iTunes business was up 370% y/y and the desktop business was actually down 7% y/y due to supply constraints of the G5 processor. Damn you IBM, damn you! The company said the high-end dual 2.5ghz G5 PowerMac will still be in tight supply in the coming three months. iPod backlog in the States is down to 1-3 days, but there are significant delays overseas. Apple also plans to open 100 more stores by the end of year with 6 this weekend in the "Mini" format, which is half the current store square footage. Apple's PC strategy was stated of focusing on the mid to high end of the market. The company said that is where the R&D will be spent as the low margin $500 business would not be very profitable for them.

October 13, 2004

First Nvidia SLI Benchmarks

HardOCP has the first benchmarks of SLI on Nvidia's new graphics cards. So for you rich folks longing for the good old days of Voodoo 3dfx SLI power, your time has come. Doom 3 performance really doesn't jump unless you have the Ultra version of the card. The low and mid-end performance probably doesn't justify the cost of a second card. Read

Dell Axim X50 Review

The latest and greatest Dell Pocket PC PDA is out in the wild with reviews all over the net. The new Axim has a bit more styling form factor, a VGA screen 640X480, 624mhz Intel Xscale processor, dual memory card slots, and dual wireless. Sounds pretty nifty. Too bad it doesn't have the battery life of Palm PDAs.

What would really be sweet is a good phone app implementation with VOIP and a blue-tooth headset. That would be a killer app.

iPod Dominates Marketshare

NPD Group in their latest study put Apple's iPod at 68% of the MP3 player market and 82% of the hard-drive market. Pure utter domination. The Rio brand, which was the first MP3 player, only has 6% share now. Good riddance too. My first two MP3 players from Rio both broke down within a year. Flash memory players are SUPPOSED to be more durable, then how come my iPod is still running like a champ for a year and a half now. Rio also had horrible user interface and build quality vs. iPod. Read

October 12, 2004

Stop, It's Fiber Time

NYTimes reports on how the regional Bells are betting their future on fiber-to-the home. Verizon has already started wiring homes in Forth Worth, Texas that let people have 6Xs the speed of cable internet access for only $34.95/month. Verizon pledges to spend $3 billion to install fiber technology to 3M homes by the end of 2005 starting with 1M in 9 states this year. Each installation will cost the company $1000 per home in labor and equipment. The phone companies are forced to do this because they have lost 16% of their land-line customers in the last 4 years. Fiber cable does not rust and uses less electricity. Some analysts think the company can save $1 billion in operating costs by 2008 after the initial outlay. The skeptics say the return on investment will never work and the companies have promised grand capital investment schemes before that never panned out. As phone companies try to move into TV space, one thing for sure is the cable companies will not stand still. Read

Internet Prostitute Economics

NYTimes has a profile on a call girl enterprise that is using the internet to book reservations and as a marketing channel. Let's call it the next Expedia. Mae Lee has over 2200 customers in the Tri-State area and 8 women in her stable. She is careful to screen every new customer by checking their home phone number as undercover cops would never give up their home contact info. The key traits for her success are reliability, discretion, and customer satisfaction. Although she doesn't use violence, to punish her girls she sends CD-ROMs of nude marketing to their families. If a customer books online they get a discount. Rates go for $300 an hour or $3200 for an overnight stay. The women get a 2/3 cut of he fee and fly in from Florida, California, and Canada for a five day stint. I bet they use JetBlue to keep overhead costs low. The madam makes $20,000 a week tax-free. Read

The High Life Brought to you by eBay

A 17 year old is up for sentencing next month after bilking tens of thousands of dollars from a 100 people on eBay. He used the proceeds to live it up bringing two friends to New York City staying at a 5 star hotel and taking a helicopter ride over Manhattan. Moreover he rented stretch limos to nights on the town and bought the latest computer and audiophile equipment. All was well, until the arrogant little twit started emailing his victims and taunting them for their stupidity. We know the old adage, when you point stupidity at others you have four fingers pointed at yourself. Read

Microsoft Media Center Version 3

The big Bill Gates is going to announce the third version of Microsoft's Media Center. The software turns a PC into a photo album, jukebox, DVD player, TV, and PVR all-in-one. About 1/2 of the new media center PCs will now be under $1000. Critics complain of video quality, clumsy interface, PC fan noise, and expense of the Media Center Extender, which lets you watch the PC recorded programs on your living room TV wirelessly. It's going to have a tough time succeeding as people just don't like controlling their TV watching sitting in front of a computer. They like the remote control couch potato experience, a la Tivo. Read

Nvidia Release GeForce 6200

Nvidia announced the low-end of their new product line, the GeForce 6200. The 6200 has 4 pixel pipelines which is 1/2 the 6600 and 1/4 of the 6800. The company also cut the core clock speed and memory bus bandwidth to not cannibalize high-end sales. However the good news is full DirectX9 compliance and decent Doom 3 800x600 performance. Unfortunately for most ethusiasts it will be PCI express only for about $129 street price. For us upgraditis hobbyists, the 6600GT AGP version will be available at the end of November. Read

Halo 2 Gone Gold

One of the key games of the console holy trinity (Halo 2, GTA:SA, and Gran Turismo 4) has gone gold for a street releas date of November 9th. Master Chief, reporting for duty SIR! We finished every line of code, every pixel of art, every frame of animation, every phoneme of dialog and every note of music. We finished it when we said we would (when it was done) and shipped that baby right on time to make its November launch date. And we're kinda proud of it. We think it's "fun." Read

October 11, 2004

Grand Theft Auto San Adreas Preview

IGN has the latest scoop on GTA: SA with a preview of a couple missions. San Andreas is 5Xs larger than Vice and will let you hijack trolleys ride bicycles, monster trucks, and go-karts. Sound fun? Read

South Korean Music Retailers Dying

Reuters reports that 95% of South Korean music retailers have gone out of business in the last 5 years from 8000 to 400. Analysts blame the prevalence of broadband and music piracy. Even music sales to cellphones is outpacing CDs. Read

Photo Slideshow iPod?

Mac sites are abuzz with a 60gb 4th generation iPod rumor that will be able to display photos and run a slideshow with music on TVs foir $499. This seems a bit underwelming as the competition has full blown movie players in that price range with beautiful large LCD screens. Read

Half-Life 2 PC Optimizations

IGN has a 7 page guide on how to get your PC ready for Half-life 2 action. From cleaning your registry, defragging, optimizing your driver settings, to tuning every Windows XP setting, the article has it covered. Read

Anandtech on his First Month with Mac G5

Anandtech reviews his first month on a Mac G5 Dual 2ghz. In a 25 page article when printed out, he extols the virtues of Mac OS X, caching, multi-tasking, slightly better stability, and Expose. He doesn't like the speed of web rendering, weak graphics card, and MS Office. Read

Google SMS Service

Google announced a new service which you can get quick information from your cellphone. Users can SMS Google and get back local business listings, product prices, dictionary definitions, and much more. Read

Nintendo Gamer's Summit

Penny Arcade has their impressions of the Nintendo DS at the Gamer's Summit last week. They were pleasantly surprised at the promise of the machine, although they whine there is still no killer app. The best game seems to be the free demo pack-in: Metroid Hunters. Read

October 08, 2004

JibJab "It's Good to Be in D.C."

JibJab released their latest flash animination making fun of Bush and Kerry political machines. The first flash satire "This Land" has been shown over 50M times and the site got 10.4M hits in July alone. The latest one is called "It's Good to Be in D.C." It's not as good as the first one, but still worth a gander. Link

X-Box Live Arcade

IGN has a first hands-on look on X-box Live arcade, which is coming out on November 3rd. To use it, consumers will have to order a $5 starter kit including shipping & handling. After the installation, you can order games for $9.99 to $19.99 a pop. The initial selection will range from Namco arcade classics (Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga), card & board games, and puzzle games about a few dozen total. I doubt X-Box Live Arcade will be a barn stormer in the beginning. There simply isn't any killer apps as most of these games you can download for free or for cheaper on the PC. The key feature they need to focus on is simply multi-player games like Mario Party and a low cost. Read

October 07, 2004

More Nintendo DS Software Launch Details

We got a hold of more details about the Nintendo DS launch on November 21st. 10-12 games will be available the first month with 20-25 games available by Q1 2005. 120 games are in development by 46 companies. Nintendo published games will be as low as $29.99. Titles available the first month include: -Super Mario 64 DS -Madden NFL 2005 -Tiger Woods PGA Tour Golf -The Urbz: Sims in the City -Ping Pals from THQ -Feel the Magic: XY/XX from Sega -Rayman DS -Asphalt Urban GT from Ubisoft -Ridge Racer DS -Mr. Driller: Drill Spirits from Namco In the following months, Nintendo will release Mario Kart, Metroid Prime Hunters, Animal Crossing, Yoshi's Touch & Go, Advance Wars DS, and a new Super Mario Bros. Other publishers will add GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, Need for Speed Underground, Viewtiful Joe, Bomberman, Frogger, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles.

Half-life 2 Pre-Order at 1PM and CS: Source Release

Valve has announced starting 1PM EST today, you can pre-order Half-life 2 on their STEAM broadband delivery network. Once you order, you will get access to the full version of Counterstrike: Source. ATI coupon orders can use their product keys to get the Bronze version. Pricing is as follows: 1. "Bronze" $49.95 -- Half-Life 2* -- Counter-Strike: Source *(To be made available upon product's release.) 2. "Silver" $59.95 -- Half-Life 2* -- Counter-Strike: Source -- Half-Life 1: Source* -- Day of Defeat: Source* -- Valve's back catalog currently available on Steam *(To be made available upon products' release.) 3. "Gold" $89.95 -- Half-Life 2* -- Counter-Strike: Source -- Half-Life 1: Source* -- Day of Defeat: Source* -- Valve's back catalog currently available on Steam -- Complete Half-Life 2 Strategy Guide from Prima Games -- 3 different Half-Life 2 posters -- Half-Life Collector's box -- Half-Life 2 hat -- Half-Life 2 postcard -- Half-Life 2 stickers -- Half-Life 2 Soundtrack CD -- Chance to win a trip to Valve! (1 trip offered for every 5000 Gold packages purchased). *(To be made available upon products' release.) Link

ATI Kills Nvidia with Great Results

ATI just reported an excellent August quarter this morning with $572M in revenue and 24c in EPS vs. expectations of $534M and 21c. They also raised guidance to $620M next quarter vs. expectations of $578M. On the earnings conference call the company said it continued to gain share with significant strength in the consumer and digital TV business, which doubled this quarter vs. last quarter (consumer business overall was 15% of revenue). Product mix was 60% desktop and 40% notebook in their PC graphics business. PCI Express was more than 10% of the graphics business. On an industry level, ATI said the industry was slightly slow in May, June, and first half of July. However the seasonal PC business picked up in the latter half of July and August. It's quite hilarious to see Nvidia complain about Intel and market conditions the last time they reported. It is pretty obvious now that ATI just gained share vs. Nvidia. Read

October 06, 2004

Howard Stern for $100M a Year: Surely you can't be Sirius?

Sirius Satellite Radio announced a deal today to pay $100M a year in producing the Howard Stern show starting in 2006. This is a mind-boggling deal because Sirius has only 600,000 subscribers and doesn't even make any money. This is a strange result of the CBS Superbowl Janet Jackson fiasco. As result of the boob wardrobe mistake the government came down hard on Viacom, the owner of CBS, which then pressured the raunchy Howard Stern show. Stern got sick of it and fled to the unregulated promise land of satellite radio. The company said it would need 1 million more subscribers to cover the cost of the deal. Unbelievable. Something is wrong with the world when something like the Howard Stern show costs $100M a year. Read

Play Halo with Keyboard and Mouse

Lik Sang is coming out with a new peripheral that lets gamers connect a standard keyboard and mouse to play first person shooters on Xbox or Playstation 2. It is called the SmartJoy FRAG and will debut for $29. The peripheral will come with pre-set configuration drivers for most of the popular games like Counterstrike, Halo, and Splinter Cell games. This might make FPS on console a playable alternative to PCs. Read

October 04, 2004

Best Buy Launches a Brand

Best Buy is launching their own line of consumer electronics under the Insignia brand-name. Initially the company will offer LCD TVs, portable DVD players, and desktop PCs using contract manufacturers in Asia. Dell, HP, and Gateway do the same thing outsourcing manufacturering and some cases even design and just putting their brand name ont he product. So be wary in the future when all of sudden the Best Buy sales reps start exuding the greatness of this Insignia product. I bet they will say it is the Best Buy and try to sell you a useless extended warranty, from which they make tons of profits. Read

PalmOne Tungsten T5 Announced

PalmOne announced the Tungsten T5 handheld today. It comes with 256MB in storage, 320x480 hi-res screen, Blue-tooth wireless, USB flash drive functionality, and 416mhz Intel xScale processor. Pricing is $399 MSRP. I like how they got rid of the pull-out screen functionality. However no 802.11b Wi-fi is a disappointment. The price is also expensive once you realize the Treo 650 is right around the corner with similar features with a phone / keyboard on top. Read