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Byte-Sized Karaoke Sing-Off!

Friday, March 27, 2009 by Amber

When the winter doldrums are getting you down, what’s a cubicle-dwelling employee to do? Belt out karaoke in the office conference room, of course!

A few weeks back, with tons of help from our friends at Amazon.com, we held a Byte-Sized Karaoke Sing-Off in the Captivate conference room to test out the top machines. The resulting lunchtime song-fest was a terrifically off-key event that highlighted the Memorex SingStand Home Karaoke System and Singing Machine Pedestal Karaoke System.* We surveyed participating employees and included their input in making our final decision.

Meet and Greet:
The Memorex SingStand Home Karaoke System (l.) is basically a mic stand with a bulbous speaker as its base. You plug in any mp3 player – we used an iPod Touch to great effect – and either sing right along with your favorite songs, or with a touch button, you can muffle the voice and replace it with your own! No lyrics on this one, though – you’re on your own.

Price: $69.99. In Stock at Amazon.com.

The Singing Machine Pedestal Karaoke System (r.) is a classic, suped-up karaoke machine with a stand that looks a bit like a DJ booth, with two flanking speaker towers. It offers two mic hook-ups, with the option to go wireless or plug-in. It has a monitor that displays lyrics – though our model was black and white despite the box’s full-color claims. Also, on board the center pedestal is a small camera to record you singing along – so you could cut your own music video!

Price: $208.00. In Stock at Amazon.com.

Sound Quality:
The SingStand had fine sound quality, but with the music and lyrics issuing from your feet, it’s hard to hear in a larger room unless you are the singer. But that begs the question – are you performing for anyone but yourself? Really? :-)

The Singing Machine topped all of our survey results for sound quality, but it should. It has a full speaker system, with fully adjustable sound tuners for the speakers and the mics. Our wireless mic didn’t work at all, but we plugged in a separate mic and had a lot of fun (see video).

Winner: Singing Machine.

Both were simple to set up, simple to get started and simple to get caught up in playing all night. Controls were easy to find on both models, and tweaking pitch was a simple experiment of finding the levels that sounded best.

Each did have drawbacks, though: The SingStand was a bit clunky, and the holder for your MP3 player wasn’t a great fit for either the iPod or the Zune that we tested; The Singing Machine’s video feed was weak and blurry, as was the monitor.

Winner: SingStand

Cool Factor:
This, for me, was not a tough call – the SingStand made me feel like a rock star as I bent the mic stand and belted out Rascall Flatt’s ‘Life is a Highway.’ Not even Rock Band 2 comes with a stand standard. Anything that can make you feel this cool, boost your singing confidence and crank up the fun is worth it in my book.

However, Dee Murray begs to differ with me on which is cooler – for her, she loves the on-board video camera where she can be a ‘Dancing Queen’ as well as the best singer Captivate has seen, like, ever. And, she has a point: The Singing Machine is thick, heavy and sleek – a definite pro-level karaoke machine, or at least as close as you’re going to get with a home set-up.

Final Word:
Well, kiddies – we have a tie whose tie breaker was also a tie! So, here’s the breakdown:

If you want something to play with yourself or in a small space, like a living room, where awesome sound quality takes a backseat to feeling like a rock star and playing all your favorite songs (not just ones on the karaoke CDs), go for the SingStand.

If you’d rather play in a larger space, like a dance hall or at a party, go for the singing Machine. Sound quality is top notch, the monitor displays all of the lyrics to karaoke CDs, and the video monitor is a fun extra worth checking out.

All of these machines were loaned to Byte-Sized and are available for purchase from the folks at Amazon.com. When ordering, please let them know you heard it from us!

* There was a third combatant in this Karaoke Sing-Off, but it didn’t work out of the box, so, rather than call it out for being a worthless piece of junk, we allowed it to bow out of the competition gracefully.

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Grumbles from vocal Facebooks users

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 by Amber

I'm sure it's been a good week for at least some of you out there! For me -- I've been embarrassingly working off a loaner computer as mine has come down with a delightful virus that keeps pitching some stupid anti-virus software at me. I downloaded it while playing the 'Temple of Mahjong 2' that I recomended last time ... stupid computer games ...

So, as it gets its memory wiped completely clean and reinstalled, let's browse these headlines together ...

Netflix has teamed with Facebook to deliver your ratings of movies to your profile so you can share all your snipes with friends.

In other movie news, struggling chain and my former place of employment Blockbuster has teamed with TiVo for steaming movies over the DVR.

The Game Hunters at USAToday.com host my favorite new blog. Tune in for great video game news. commentary and reviews!

Don't like the new Facebook redesign, either? You're not alone.

Be careful if you are Google-ing 'March Madness' -- a virus has been poisoning would-be fans in the search results.

The judges are getting tired of him, but Steve Wozniak is still alive on 'Dancing with the Stars'! I do have to admit -- he is thoroughly ridiculous. But, who would've though that Maks and his weaselly, dumb, strangely visaged Barbie doll would get voted off before Karina and her awkward, uncomfortable gnome of a dance partner? I bet it was a funny night last night in that love nest -- you did know Maksim and Karina are engaged, right?

Ah, reliving that moment did make my day a little better... chuckle... Send me your thoughts on 'Dancing' and we'll make predictions for next week's show!

See you all Friday, when I will (hopefully) be offering up a review of 3 fantastically fun karaoke machines!

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Video game news -- GDC and sales numbers!

Monday, March 23, 2009 by Amber

Good morning, everyone! Thanks for tuning in to today's fresh Byte-Sized headlines ...

To all those not lucky enough to live in San Fran or have passes to one of the top gaming conferences of the year, GDC opens this week. Stay tuned for some cool gaming news out of the show.

Looking to pick up a hot Star Trekkie at the next conference? Check out these tips.

The video game industry bucked the losing trends for retail in Feb. Looks like we found the answer to the question, "What are all those laid-off investment bankers doing without a job?"

" 'Craigslist' surpassed 'MySpace' as the most popular search term last week, a according to a report released today, highlighting the increasing popularity of the online classified site and the proliferation of people seeking deals amid the economic chaos." So says our friends at SFGate.com.

You can't even use the excuse of religion to get away from the iPhone anymore, what with churches around the country now using apps to address their congregation.

Want an iPhone but don't want AT&T? Perhaps this is good news for you, then: AT&T will be selling an iPhone -- for $400 over normal price -- without a service contract.

Here's a round-up of the new Microsoft IE 8 features -- most of which are going over well.

Here is a cool game download of 'Temple of Mahjong 2' for you to waste some down time at the office -- if you don't rock Facebook's Hexic like me.

OK, have a great Monday, and we'll see you all on Wednesday for more headlines -- assuming, of course, that my flying lesson from Let's Go Flying doesn't end badly... :)

Winners and headlines abound

Friday, March 20, 2009 by Amber

Hi everyone! Today is the glorious first day of spring -- despite the temp in Boston hovering around a crisp 40 degrees.

But, without further rambling, I'd like to present you with the lucky winners of our Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

Congratulations to:

Sandy from Texas City, Texas!
Michael from Boston!
Cherie from Red Lion, Pa.!
Melanie from Susquehanna, Pa.!

And a special thanks to Dream Cheeky for supplying and allowing us at Byte-Sized to test, review and play with its great products! And, to all who entered but did not win, stay tuned here for another giveaway in the works for Q2 :)

Also coming in the next few weeks is a review of top-notch Karaoke machines, which were supplied by our good friends at Amazon.com, and a rare out-of-the-cubicle experience had by yours truly -- a flying lesson! Like, on a real plane! Inf you're interested in taking your own cheap ($100) lesson, check out Let's Go Flying. Stay tuned ...

And now, onto some of the week's big headlines!

- Pure Digital, our best friends from http://www.theflip.com/ has been bought by techno giant Cisco in what is the massive company's first venture into the consumer electronics market. Congrats -- but if you do anything to alter the ease of my Flip, there'll be hell to pay.

- Google announced that it has supplied 500,000 free book titles to Sony's Reader, the little e-reader that could, bringing it's running totaly of available titles to over 600,000 -- toppling those available by Amazon.com's Kindle.

- Ew. Did I mention this weird guy who made his missing finger into a USB drive? Ew.

- More sleazy practices at Best Buy are highlighting this this article, which also contains a flimsy statement from corporate as to why Best Buy doesn't like to price-match.

- A great new feature has been added to Gmail -- the ability to undo sending a message! The current time limit is 5 seconds after the message has been sent, but still -- who hasn't seen a typo in a really important letter seconds after you sealed your fate by sending it?

- Video games are still hot, despite the economic downturn.

- New data suggests social networks and blogs have become more popular than email. Doesn't stop me from checking mine at least 15 times a day. Seriously, at least.

K -- congrats again to our big winners, and I'll see you all back here on Monday!

The Wonderful Wizard of Woz -- plus Donuts!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 by Amber

Good morning! I've drawn the names for the Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway -- but I'm not going to reveal them just yet! I'll email you in the next few days if you are the winner, and I'll announce the names on Friday.

Moving forward -- let's get to some very interesting headlines!

- Dunkin' Donuts is launching a new ad campaign reminding everyone that, in addition to waffle sandwiches, egg-white omlettes on flatbread and lattes, they also sell ... doughnuts! My favorite will always be the Boston Kreme I remember from my youth, and my children can't drive by the sign without beggin me for 'Muchkin Donuts.' But, in case you don't have a favorite yet, DD has also posted an online contest to design your own donut! Winner will get $12,000 and the winning donut will be sold in stores starting June 5, so enter now!

I just designed three great ones (pictures) -- first is a sour cream chai-filled stick with roasted almonds, second is a pomegranate-filled donut with sweet frosting and matching sprinkles, third is a chocolate coffee-filled stick with cinnamon and chocolate shavings. Mmmmm....

In other news...

- We Tell Stories, a relatively unknown British web site specializing in online gaming and live storytelling, has won the SXSW award for Best of Show!

- New research says mobile commerce will hit $1.6 B this year as consumers increasingly use their smartphones' web browsers to make online purchases.

- Anecdotal evidence suggests that Best Buy is refusing to match prices even though their policy states that they do. Maybe you should think about this before buying there...

- The Discovery Channel (it's parent, really) is suing Amazon.com over an alleged patent infringement with security features in the Kindle and Kindle 2.

- Looking to check out the iPhone 3.0's new features? Our friends at CNet have a roundup and reaction.

- The Woz survives! For those of you not interested in Dancing With The Stars this season, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, an adorable gnome of a man who's best when he doesn't try witting comments to the judges, has danced *twice* with a pink feather boa around his neck and has survived the first round of cuts! Seriously, it's only becuase Belinda Carlisle can't dance. I mean not at all. Neither can the football guy, either. Of course, I'm not saying Woz should win it -- that should clearly be Shawn Johnson or Gilles Marini (yum), but he is fun to watch :)

OK, that's all for me today -- see you back here on Friday when I announce our Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway winners!

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SXSW headlines and a rant on Twitter

Monday, March 16, 2009 by Amber

Good morning and a Happy St. Patrick's Week to you! Listen to your own head, but I'd lay off the green beer -- if only because it's, um, green. Anyway, here are some headlines to keep you buzzin'...

All aboard the SXSW Express: Our friends at CNet have a roundup of the biggest stories from the conference.

Remember seeing a prototype of Microsoft's Surface -- its tabletop touch-screen computer? Turns out, the company is already working on a 2nd-generation model.

Who doesn't love a good Cupcake? Such is the name of the 2nd-gen version of Google's Android mobile platform. Rumors are saying it may be available as soon as April.

Green beer or a green apple? In a press conference set for this March 17, Apple is set to announce a 3.0 version of its iPhone, and speculation abounds... In a side note, I think I'm getting personally closer to buying an iPhone for myself. But I'd rather stay with Verizon. Hmm...

Google Earth has gone interplanetary with an updated map of Mars.

Ew and cool at the same time... A Finnish hacker who lost part of his finger last year now wears a prosthetic finger that doubles as a hidden UBS flash drive with 2 gigs of memory. I know I love a good USB device, but this is taking the Robocop image a bit far for me...

In other news completely -- I'd like to talk to you all for a moment about the current upswing and intensified media coverage of Twitter.

I have a hard time thinking something is still cool when I see CNN newscasters hailing it as the technology of the future (aside from the fact they look like soccer moms desperately trying to look cool for their kids) and people shifting from blog posts to tweets. I just can't understand the fascination with reading short, mundane bits about people's lives multiple times a day.

Another editor here at Captivate tried to explain to me that it's news instantly with no delay -- but if this is the direction news is going, it's seems bass-akwards to me. People didn't like being given the news from various sources -- that's why newspapers were invented. Then, people wanted instant access, which is why news web sites and RSS feeds were invented.

Do we really want to go back to various sources, with the added pleasure of sifting through all the useless garbage in the numerous feeds you're subscribed to for a rare morsel of actually interesting content?

I'm all set. There, I said it.

Now, let's see what you've got to say. Send your emails to me at bytesized@captivate.com to weigh in on the topic.

That's all for today. Stay tuned later this week when I'll announce the winners of the Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway! A huge thanks to everyone that entered -- this contest was a great success!

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Incoming! Desktop missiles abound

Friday, March 13, 2009 by Amber

Good morning, readers! Our Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway ends tonight at midnight, so be sure to get those last-minute entries in! Thanks to all those who have entered so far -- you'll be receiving notification next week as to whether you've won one of the fabulous DreamCheeky.com products made to accessorize your desk.

Fellow Captivate editor Kyle Scribner, who runs our Green Among Gray blog, has these thoughts (pictured left is the Missile Launcher on his desk):

Relieving tension with stress balls is a time-honored office tradition – not by squeezing them, but by throwing them of course. And while stress balls certainly have their advantages – they’re hefty enough to do some major desktop damage and instigate top-notch cubicle hijinks – there are some minuses. Say, if your arm accuracy ain’t quite what it was in little league and you clock an innocent bystander (nothing uglier than office collateral damages), or if there happens to be an open container in the vicinity. Nothing halts good-natured rabble-rousing quite like a coffee scald, after all.

So the next time the office ordnance starts to fly, escalate the inter-cubicle arms race with precision, not might, with the USB Missile Launcher.

That’s right, a missile launcher. That draws its compressed-air power from your very own computer. This fully directional, armored-looking, turreted desktop beast plugs right into a USB port and will have you pegging Peggy from Accounting in just a few minutes (after downloading the software from the included CD).

An onscreen, mouse-activated calibrator allows you nearly omindirectional aim, and, after experimenting with the best rocket positioning on the turrets (hint: don’t snug them), you’re ready to blast anything within about 20 feet.

The launcher’s mechanism whirs pretty loudly as you adjust its aim, so you’re hardly going to sneak up on anybody. But lull them into a false sense of security with, “I’m just using my new shredder,” then bring on the shock and awe by letting them have it with all three of the supplied rockets.

Of course, then they have your ammo.

No worries – you can always follow up with a stress-ball barrage.

Thanks, Kyle ... if only I wasn't the intended target for your hailstorm of foam missiles. :)

For more info on the DreamCheeky products, visit its site and check it out! Still to come in the reviews, Dee Murray will talk about the On Air Mic -- and we are patiently awaiting Kate Scanlan (author of our Book Break blog) to review her Greenhouse, which is currently growing some desktop flowers.

See you all Monday with a list of the day's top headlines! Have a great weekend!

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Glitter Lamps add sparkle to desks

Wednesday, March 11, 2009 by Amber

Happy Wednesday morning, everyone -- lots to do, so let's get right to it!

Thank you to everyone who has entered the Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway! We are accepting entries through midnight on Friday, so keep 'em coming (one per person, please!).

First up in the reviews of the Dream Cheeky products is the Glitter Lamp (pictured left sitting on my desk -- yes, that really is my desk):

About 8 inches tall, this little beauty is the perfect gift for girls (and women) looking to add some sass and spice to an otherwise boring desktop. The lava-lamp shaped gem is full of bits of sparkle that cast pretty glimmers on industrial walls via an internal light source that fluctuates in waves through red, green, blue, orange and fuchsia.

The totally cute lamp plugs into the USB port on any computer and comes equipped with an click-button on-off switch right on the lamp itself to avoid having to ever unplug it. And with the light effects dancing in my periphery, why would I ever want to? As spoken by Cereal Killer from 'Hackers,' "I bet it looks crispy in the dark." Indeed.

My one issue is a big one though -- (most likely) by no fault of anyone, the units I received from the company were leaking. Even after I turned them upright and let the contents settle on my desk after their long trip from Hong Kong (yes, Hong Kong), small drips continued from the top for a few days. And, it's sticky, filmy liquid that makes you want to wash your hands constantly.

Of course, this could just be eek-y examples of a great product. I can assure you that, even with the small dribbles, the lamp still works perfectly, looks fab and has garnered my desk quite a few nice compliments.

Unfortunately, because of the leaks, I don't have any Glitter Lamps to give away as part of the Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway, but I do recommend them. Cautiously. They are really, really adorable.

Fellow Captivate editor Jacqui Pini, who runs our Indulge blog, has these thoughts (pictured left is the Glitter Lamp on her desk):

My desk is a little brighter these days because of my new Glitter Lamp. It sparkles subtly and changes every 5 seconds to vibrant shades of color. While it is a great desk accessory I see it slowly… very slowly… leaking out the top. One drip that has not even fallen to the desk, but not the best feature for something you put on your desk. It doesn’t bother me, but it is not something you want to have around children.

Thanks, Jacqui! Coming on Friday -- reviews from editors Kyle Scribner and Dee Murray on other Dream Cheeky Products!

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Official Rules: Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway

Monday, March 9, 2009 by Amber


2. ELIGIBILITY: Each promotion is open to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada (excluding Puerto Rico) who are 18 years or older at the time of entry unless otherwise stated. Employees of Captivate Network (“Sponsor”), Gannett Co., Inc., and each of their subsidiaries and affiliated companies, advertising and promotional agencies, and the immediate family members of, or any person domiciled with, any such employees are not eligible to enter or win. You are not a winner until you have been notified as a potential winner, your eligibility has been verified, and you have complied with all terms of these rules.
3. HOW TO ENTER: Send an email to Bytesized@Captivate.com with your name, phone number and address where prize can be shipped. Contest opens March 9, 2009, at 7:00 a.m. EST and ends March 13, 2009, at midnight EST. THE FIRST NAME AND CITY OF WINNERS WILL BE POSTED ON BYTE-SIZED, PERMISSION IS GRANTED BY THE WINNERS BY SENDING IN THE EMAIL ENTRY. The Sponsor is not responsible for incomplete, lost, late, postage-due, misdirected or illegible entries, or for failure to receive entries due to transmission failures or technical failures of any kind, including, without limitation, malfunctioning of any network, hardware or software, whether originating with sender or Sponsor. All entries become property of Sponsor and none will be returned
4. SWEEPSTAKES WINNER SELECTION & ODDS: Sweepstakes winners will be selected in a random drawing from among all eligible entries received by Sweepstakes deadline. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received.
5. PRIZES: ONE DREAM CHEEKY USB DEVICE, average retail value of $35.00
6. WINNER NOTIFICATION AND ACCEPTANCE: Winners will be notified at the telephone number, email address and/or U.S. mail address provided on winner’s entry form. Email or mail notification: Sponsor will email or mail notification and affidavit/release forms at the address provided. Return of prize notification as undeliverable may result in disqualification and an alternate winner may be selected from among all remaining eligible entries. Winners are required to confirm acceptance of the prize, complete an affidavit of eligibility/liability and publicity release which must be returned within the time period specified. Failure to sign and return the affidavit or release or to comply with any term or condition of these Official Rules, may result in a winner’s disqualification, the forfeiture of his or her interest in the prize, and the award of the prize to a substitute winner.
7. PRIZE TERMS: PRIZES WILL BE MAILED TO THE ADDRESS PROVIDED BY THE WINNERS. Winners may waive their right to receive prizes. Prizes are non-assignable and nontransferable. No substitutions allowed by winner. Prizes and individual components of prize packages are subject to availability and Sponsor reserves the right to substitute prizes of equal or greater value. Winners are solely responsible for reporting and payment of any taxes on prizes. If the prize involves travel or other benefits for a companion in addition to the winner, persons traveling as guest of the winner must also sign any affidavit or release as Sponsor may require. Acceptance of any prize constitutes winner’s consent to the publication of his or her name, biographical information and likeness in any media for any commercial or promotional purpose, without limitation or further compensation. Prizes not won and claimed by eligible winners in accordance with these Official Rules will not be awarded and will remain the property of Sponsor.
8. PARTICIPATION: By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of Sponsor. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify persons found tampering with or otherwise abusing any aspect of this Sweepstakes as solely determined by Sponsor. In the event the Sweepstakes is compromised by a virus, non-authorized human intervention, tampering or other causes beyond the reasonable control of Sponsor which corrupts or impairs the administration, security, fairness or proper operation of the promotion. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to suspend, modify or terminate any promotion at any time. Should a promotion be terminated prior to the stated expiration date, Sponsor reserves the right to award prizes based on the eligible entries received before the termination date.
9. CONSTRUCTION: The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any such provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable, these rules shall be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or unenforceable provision was not contained therein.
10. The decisions of Sponsor regarding the selection of winners and all other aspects of a promotion shall be final and binding in all respects. Sponsor will not be responsible for typographical, printing or other inadvertent errors in these Official Rules or in other materials relating to the promotion. If you have questions on a specific sweepstakes, contact: Amber Plante, aplante@captivate.com, or for a list of winners: send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to the “Byte-Sized Gift Giveaway,” Captivate Network, 2 Executive Drive, Suite 301, Chelmsford, MA 018240.

Opening day of the Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

by Amber

Good Monday morning to you all, and we have an announcement!

Drumroll please: Today is the opening day of the Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

Thanks to our friends at USB-gadget site DreamCheeky.com, we are offering up a sweepstakes for all of you, dear viewers, to will one of four assorted fabulous desk accessories that gather their power from an open USB port on your computer!

Whether it's shooting foam missiles at coworkers, adding a touch of green or sparkling up an otherwise drab desk, Dream Cheeky is the place to go to add personality to your office cubicle. Shown left is the USB Plasma Ball.

To enter, send me an email with your name, address and phone number (I won't share them) to bytesized@captivate.com between now and midnight on Friday. Four winners will be chosen randomly and their first names and cities will be posted here! For more on the official rules, click here.

In addition to our Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway of some of these gadgets, we are also offering up reviews of some of the coolest ones to you, coming on Wednesday!

And, now, for a sprinkle of headlines on your otherwise dreary Monday...

Oh. My. Gosh... My favorite puzzle video game -- Hexic -- is coming to Facebook as part of an agreement with Microsoft's MSN games portal! Oh man... that's bad news for my work productivity! Hehehe

Game Stop -- famous for its video game trade-ins (at least in our house) -- is getting challenged by Amazon.com, which has unveiled plans to give Amazon credit for trade-ins. What isn't Amazon.com getting into these days? I think they are spreading themselves a little too thin...

Here is a silly review of ear buds that have bit of a different flavor...

Looking to change up your screensaver? Our friends at Cnet.com have a list of the top 6 choices from Download.com ... I love the fire one and the space one... how cool...

You're know they're out there... and less of you seem to care. Researchers say more web surfers know they are being tracked by advertisers, but less are bothered by it than ever before. That's fine by me ... as long as it doesn't make my machine run slower or dig for any personal info, I don't care either.

Here is a fun story on the art of making video-game sequels, with a comparative look at Prince of Persia (new one is great with a crap ending) and others...

Could text slang be bad for kids? Speaking from an editorial perspective, I think so. Let's see what this column has to say on the topic.

OK, that's all for us today! Don't forget to enter the Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway at bytesized@captivate.com, and we'll see you back here Wednesday for reviews of the gadgets and some more headlines!


Headline roundup on TGIF

Friday, March 6, 2009 by Amber

Well, I humbly apologize for the lack of a post today, loyal readers. The most I can muster for you is a list of some great headlines you should check out!

See you all back here on Monday for a full review of a must-have cubicle accessory and the *huge* announcement of our Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway!

Mozilla has posted a new version of the semi-popular browser Firefox.

Looking for something to give up for Lent? Even if it is a little late, Rome urges you to give up texting! For real...

Noticed weird posts on your Facebook page lately from celebs? It's intentional...

Oh, this will be fun... the Beatles are headed to Rock Band fame this fall!

Al Gore is pushing for a .eco domain name ...Wonder what kinds of stuff will qualify?

A dress the disappears? See what happens when fashion and science (and a lot of extra time) coincide...

Will Serenity really have a space-based home?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 by Amber

We're just going to have a short entry today -- not too much going on in the world of tech. But first...

Exciting news! This coming Monday (March 9) we will be kicking off our Byte-Sized Spring Cleaning Giveaway, featuring some fantastic, work-friendly, cubicle-must-haves from our friends over at Dream Cheeky! My fellow editors and I have personally tested some of its awesome USB-powered devices and will be featuring the reviews during the giveaway. Trust me, you're not going to want to miss this!

Now, on to some top headlines in the tech world ...

Cool auction alert: Ever wonder what's on a celebrity's iPod? Well, this auction gets you one better -- for pretty fair prices (at the moment), you can bid to buy a real star's iPod, including those from Scarlett Johanssen, Hilary Duff, Mandy Moore, Marc Jacobs (currently highest) and Bill Clinton. The auction site, Tonic.com, even has a preview list of the songs loaded on the players -- though I'm not sure most fanboys care about the songs so much as it was actually touched by ScarJo. But I can't guarantee that -- damn the digital age :)

OK, Firefly fans -- I know you are out there. And, if you don't know what Firefly is ... well then you either just aren't a true geek (sorry) or you must go buy the entire Firefly series now. Anyways, for you fans, NASA is looking to name Node 3 on the International Space Station and it looking for *your* input: one of the choices? Serenity. Srsly. Go vote now! The answer will be revealed in April. I'll be sure to keep you updated!

Lastly, for the biggest news of the day, Amazon.com has announced it will be releasing an iPod Touch and iPhone version of its Kindle software. So, you're in luck if you have one of those geeky gadgets -- in one free download, you're also getting a smaller-screened version of the oh-so-popular Kindle 2!

OK, that's all for me today -- see you all on Friday!

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Kindle 3 already? Geesh.

Monday, March 2, 2009 by Amber

Happy snowy Monday! We're in the midst of a positive blizzard up here in the north east, so let's turn our back to the window and check out some hot headlines:

Give the geeks an inch ... days after the Kindle 2 officially launched, Amazon.com is now battling rumors the Kindle 3 will launch before EOY and feature a touch screen. I say, give it a rest. Let people enjoy their gadgets for more than a week before declaring them obsolete. Geesh.

Also in Kindle news, Amazon.com has bowed to copyrights and will now allow authors and publishers to decide if they want their books to be able to be read by the e-reader. Byt that I mean by the device's computerized voice, not a trained actor using different voices.

If you are all up in arms about the new Facebook policies on building a community-run social network, feel free to read this story. I can't make myself care about it enough -- call me old-school, but as long as the site works for me and lets me do regular status updates, I'm cool. And, yes, some of those breast-feeding pics were too racy. There, I said it.

This is a must-read for people, like me, who use Google's awesome GMail. Every month, it seems, we are getting stories about a fun new tool from Google Labs to make email more usable -- this story tells you the ones to absolutely use and the ones to skip like fridge-hardened mac-and-cheese. So many cool things I didn't know I could do!

Have a BlackBerry? Try out some of these cool shortcuts, from our family at USAToday. We'll be featuring these all week on our elevator screens -- email me if you have any shortcuts of your own to share with the class.

Have a good few days, and keep those D&D characters coming!

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