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Game takes bite out of conferences

Friday, April 24, 2009 by Amber

Good afternoon -- it's a gorgeous day up here in the North East, so while I lament not being able to properly enjoy it, let's take a look at these headlines...

Have you ever played 'Werewolf'? Apparently it's all the rage along the West Coast where techno-geeks from around Silicon Valley are converging at conferences to play this psycho-whimsical game. Large groups -- often more than one at once -- are deemed the villagers while one unknown person among them is the werewolf. During the 'Night' the werewolf can kill the villagers (who have their eyes closed so they don't know who it is), but during the 'Day' they vote and eliminate on person they think it the werewolf.

Yeah, I've played before, and it can be pretty fun. Of course, when I played, it was with 10 8-year-olds in an acting class based on Harry Potter ... but I'm sure those kids thought they were geeks, too.

In news so sickening and offensive I thought about not mentioning it ... forget it, I can't bring myself to. Needless to say, Apple apologized.

Now, onto better things, Pixar is teaming up with cluster-balloon pilot Jonathan Trappe -- yeah, that weird guy who uses helium balloons attached to an armchair to fly. Pixar is hoping to drum up publicity for it's new film, Up,' about a cranky old man who uses a cloud of balloons to turn his house into a true mobile home .... 4,000 feet high!

President Obama is about to get his new Blackberry that has reportedly been secured by the NSA. They'd better hope the security holds -- Mr. Pres is going to have a bulls eye on his back larger than Redmond! Imagine the bragging rights of the hacker who busts into that account ...

Looking for a good rant for the day? Check out this one arguing how casual gaming is going to overtake and kill hard-core gaming -- or has it already?

I'm going to be gone all next week -- no blog updates!! But check back here May 4 for some full updates, new reviews and lots of snarky commentary :) Have a great week!!

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Keeping Mother Earth close to your techy little heart

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 by Amber

Happy Earth Day, everyone! I've already begun celebrating with my *brand new* Kindle 2 -- no more paperbacks for me!! Woo hoo!

Aside from new toys (birthdays are fun!), how are you celebrating this green holiday?

Mimoco (the adorable USB-character-company) has announced GURP -- a video contest, ending on Mother's Day, that promotes recycling via Mimoco’s MIMOBOT GreenBot USB flash drive Recycling Program. The deal: Trade in you tired, worn out UBS flash drive and they'll send you a gift certificate toward a new Mimbot! Sounds pretty cool to me!

Also for Earth Day, our Friends at CNET.com have put together a 'Green Electronics Guide' that answers questions you didn't even know you had about how to buy green, recycle you gizmos and keep Mother Earth close to your techy little heart.

See you all on Friday :) And, again, Happy Earth Day!

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Hey, geeks: It's your new favorite TV show!

Monday, April 20, 2009 by Amber

OK, geeks -- I have the show for you to tune into Thursday nights:
Krod Mandoon and the Flaming Sword of Fire!

First of all -- awesomely redundant name that makes you feel, without seeing a second of the show, that you're in for a fun time. At least, you hope that you are.

Well, rest assured, any time spent with Krod and his off-kilter and off-the-wall castmates will be well spent. The medeival-themed slapstick is a satisfyingly funny cocktail of Princess Bride, Monty Python's Holy Grail, Xena: Warrior Princess and Mel Brook's Robin Hood: Men in Tights. No, really, it's that good.

Let me clarify: Krod Mandoon is something you don't see often on TV shows these days: entertainment, in a pure, unabashed format. It was made to be funny, and it is.

Krod (Sean Macguire) is a bumbling hero so yummy you may want to jump through the TV screen and eat him up. With his fake American accent (he's British), he anchors and leads the show as the 'sane,' grounded person in a collection of fantastic characters:

-Krod's on-again-off-again girlfriend Aneka (India de Beaufort) is a pagan temptress/fighter who uses sex as a weapon and pleasure -- often at the same time. Perfect make-up in place, she is a total kick-butt heroine who doesn't need a man's help, thanks -- but certainly wouldn't kick one out of her bed.

- Zezelryck (Kevin Hart) would like you to think he's a powerful sorcerer -- ah, wishful thinking. His comedic talents and deadpanned one-liners border on a bit too racial, but he's a great companion who's always around to take credit for a fantastical event. Think Chris Tucker/Chris Rock, the early days.

- Loquasto (Steve Spiers) has a weird pig-nose prosthetic that doesn't even try to look real -- and it totally works! He is Krod's sort-of slave who is never, ever allowed to use a crossbow after shooting his master several times accidentally during battle.

- In what is possible the first openly gay character in medieval-themed media, Bruce (Marques Ray) makes me giggle every time he opens his mouth with barely (if at all) veiled sexual humor. He was the explicit prison lover of Krod's ill-fated general hero -- and now he's a long for the ride. Yes, pun intended.

But, playing probably one of the funniest, evilest and bumbling bad guys ever is Matt Lucas -- the unreal, brilliant mind behind Little Britain. As a hairless Chancellor Dongolor, he brings wit, timing, exhibitionism, and grade-school vengeance to the cast in a way only he can. And, he makes being a little bad very, very good.

So, top-of-the-line cast in place, Krod and company take on the Chancellor to free the county from his tyranny. Oh, and Krod is apparently the 'Golden One' whose sword unexpectedly lights on fire during particularly epic battles, presumably from his power and destiny to bring down an oppressive government. Oh, and he likes to cuddle his girlfriend.

I try not to lead you all down the wrong path when it comes to all sorts of electronic gadgets -- and the same is true for the geeky TV shows. This one is already on my TiVo and those of all my friends and family at my insistence.

Put it on yours, keep your expectations in check, and enjoy being able to laugh at TV again, my geekalicious friends.

See you all on Wednesday!

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Standing still over Flip Chrome

Friday, April 17, 2009 by Amber

Flip's got a new model out -- same as the previous version only this one comes in a chrome finish. I got a review copy in to take a look ...

It's cute, definitely shiny and cool to look at, but I'm not wowed this time. I love my Flip -- we all know this -- and the functionality of the chrome version is absolutely the same as the previous versions. The real question is this: Why wouldn't you simply customize the faceplate to something you really want? The chrome is certainly sleek and impressive-looking, but the shape of the pocket-corder hasn't changed. All things equal, I'd rather have a wicked cool design on one (which I do have -- it's a DnD landscape photo) than a metallic finish.

Also -- a HUGE annoyance to me is *fingerprints* on the chrome surface! Obviously, your fingers have to be all over this thing to make it record, shift it in place, zoom in and out ... I picked it up out of the box and got a big ol' thumb print right in the center of it. And, you
all know what it's like to clean fingerprints off metallic surfaces: Nearly impossible without smudging, which almost looks worse. And that's just by holding it.

As I continued to play with it, more showed up ... !!! I'm too OCD about cleanliness and order -- it's hard enough cleaning the face of my Razr -- to mess with having to keep my Flip clean, too.

Flip -- love you lots, never leave home without you -- but I'll leave the chrome version to those more laid back who can handle the cool factor and the fingerprint issues.

See you all on Monday -- have a great springtime weekend!

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Entertainment Report for Geeks

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 by Amber

When Shia LaBeouf got into a car accident last year, the world stopped moving. The actor was rushed into surgery to repair a hand crushed so badly that one finger no longer had any bone left. The second thing out of everyone's mind was, "How will this affect the Transformers 2 movie?"

Shia was in the middle of filming the epic sequel to the insane original (that made squeal like the little geeky girl I am in the theatre) when his truck got smashed by a moron driver who ran a red. Fast forward a couple of months and where are we? Shia's hand will be undergoing a third surgery within days (if it hasn't already happened) that the actor says should restore about 80% of its normal function.

Scary stuff. Here's the full text of the EW interview with Shia LaBeouf. Some highlights:

How is the hand now?
My middle finger is still crooked as a f---ing noodle, so they've gotta straighten it out and put a screw in it.

What do you remember of the initial surgical procedure?
The first voice I heard when I came out of surgery was Harrison's. Harrison [Ford] called me on the phone and said, "Hey, are you okay?" I said, "Yeah, I'm good." He said, "Well, then you need to get back to work." I said, "Are you serious?" He said, "That's the way this cookie crumbles." So I went back to work. The show doesn't stop for anybody.

In October, there was a report that you got hit with a prop just above one eye and needed stitches.
I basically stuck a f---ing sharp object through my eyelid.

Michael Bay, your director, says it was a large prop of some kind that caught you, which he didn't want to identify or describe because it's a plot spoiler. He also says he dropped to his knees as soon as he heard someone on the set say, "There's blood."
They stitched me up in a military hospital. The doctor looks at me and he holds his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart from one another. I said, "What is that?" He said, "Blindness." This is the most insane s--- I've ever been a part of.

In other entertainment news...

Have you seen the YouTube clip of Britain's Got Talent competitor Susan Boyle? I caught it on the Evening News with Charles Gibson last night when I was picking up milk at my friendly neighborhood corner store, and I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that every person in the store had stopped to watch her performance. It's so good it looks fake.

The best part of the Britain's Got Talent story for me is that this isn't the first time something this unreal has happened: If you don't know Susan Boyle, certainly you've heard of Paul Potts. Here's the clip of his first audition -- it's eerily similar and equally amazing. Plot spoiler: He went on to win the talent show and release a record of his own. Seriously, he's the new Luciano Pavarotti ... only he's better. You don't have to be trained to appreciate talent when you see it.

And what would our Entertainment Report for Geeks be without a mention of Stephen Colbert?

A few weeks back, I asked all of you Firefly fanatics (welcome to the club) to go online to NASA.org and vote to name a node on the International Space Station 'Serenity' after the show's iconic spaceship.

Well, you listened -- but Colbert still rules the stage when asking fans for favors. He caught wind of the contest and 230,000 fans later, the name 'Colbert' was the leading write-in vote for the contest.

Last night, NASA went on 'The Colbert Report' to announce the winning entry of the Name a NASA Node contest (my own name, not theirs), and instead of announcing the lead vote getter -- SERENITY -- or write-in winner COLBERT as the winner, the chosen voicebox for NASA said the new node would be named TRANQUILITY -- another write-in vote.

I am totally irritated by this!

Why bother having a voting contest if you aren't going to pick the top-vote-getting entry in either the suggested or write-in categories? Grrrr ... I'm definitely more angry about this than I should be. It's just a stupid, bureaucratic PR bull---- to hold a public voting contest then just give the award to the entry you like best.

Seriously... see if I promote any more of those stupid voting polls from NASA again. Yeah, and congrats on your exercise machine, Colbert. That's an OK consolation prize.

See you all Friday!

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Easter hangover headlines

Monday, April 13, 2009 by Amber

Hope you all had a nice holiday weekend! I had the coldest Easter Egg Hunt ever, and ate so many frozen Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs that I literally gave myself a stomach bug. Blech. Check out these headlines while I search for some Tums...

Microhoo is back! Rumors have it that Microsoft and Yahoo are in talks again -- only this time it's for a partnership instead of a buyout.

Twitter got hit with a few worms over Easter. Here's a separate story on the brat responsible.

I'm not sure how to classify this story on sugar daddies and their babies finding a way into today's technology, but I read the whole thing in one sitting.

Uh oh -- this story spells some bad news for Microsoft and my Zune ... I just gave the newest Zune 4G a review a few months back: I really loved it. Too bad, since I will not own an iPod.

Also out of Redmond: Employees of Microsoft are rebelling against the giant by not using it's www.live.com search tool. Personally, it's the only tool I use anymore -- I really like it better than Google. And just for you geeks: Live.com and Google.com split the tally of search
results for Feb. -- so they're equally as popular out there.

And, finally, in my favorite story of the day ...

Stephen Colbert will welcome astronaut Sunita Williams on his show tomorrow night to unveil the new name of the NASA module on the International Space Station. I voted for Serenity -- Firefly fanatic that I am -- but it looks like the write-in winner is going to take the cake. High five, Colbert fans!

I'm out, see you Wednesday!

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Peep this: Byte-Sized's Easter Peep Show

Friday, April 10, 2009 by Amber

Peeps. We all love them, and we all love to hate them as we shove their non-natural, multi-colored sugary marshmallow goodness into our mouths. Whether they are shaped like bunnies or chicks, no one can get enough of peeps!

So, For your viewing pleasure on this good Friday (but, let's be honest -- aren't they all good?), I give you the best of the Byte-Sized Peep Show!

100WaysToKillAPeep: This site made me cackle like a mad scientist! Thinks of all the wonderful ways you can rip apart, maim, electrocute, disembody, squish and pummel a peep! Rate your faves and sent to your friends immediately! My favorite? The GI Joes stabbing the peep with their little plastic weapons! I knew they were good for something!

PeepResearch: Don't let the bright yellow homepage fool you -- this site is absolutely adorably violent! The "scientists' do all sorts of experiments on the peep 'subjects' -- definitely worth a long look!

The WashingtonPost features a peep diorama contest for some seriously creative people! Wow ... I could waste hours looking at those pics. My favorite -- and I'm not sure why, it the Rosslyn Station peeps -- oh the colors!

Who doesn't want to see peeps act out some of the best scenes from The Office?

Speaking of office ... check out this hilarious office prank someone pulled on an unsuspecting co-worker who just happened to mention that he does not (gasp) like peeps!

The Slate looks into the pagan connotation of peeps. Weird. Interesting, but weird.

PeepsShow.com has an artist's spin on the multi-colored sugar pillows, plus some history and facts.

Looking for a hard news angle on peep toughness? Try this experimental story from the San Diego News.

For a complete-looking list of every Peep Site you could dare to fantasize about, visit GeekBabe.com.

And, just so we are giving them a shout out, visit MarshmallowPeeps.com and give some love to the official site for our favorite Easter treats. It includes real recipes, history and more. Bless you and you your big fluffy hearts!

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The things people choose to notice

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 by Amber

Over the weekend, I went out and got bright fuchsia highlights in my hair, something I've wanted to do forever and finally plucked up the courage to actually do. And, I know people notice it (by people, I mean work). But maybe 2 of them have said anything. Weird, and an oddly significant testament of the professional mentality surrounding proper work attire. I'm not sure what to make of that, really.

Anyways, enough about the inner workings of office politics, of which I am the last person who should ever make commentary -- let's hit up some cool stories!

File this one under 'iPhone apps everyone should have on their cell phone': The Bad Decision Blocker erases numbers from your calling list for up to a week to prevent you from calling someone you maybe shouldn't -- like a boss or feuding boyfriend -- but returns them to your list after a week. By blocking the number, it stops you from making a bad drunk phone call to someone you're going to regret in the morning.

Yesterday, I tripped and fell into geek heaven: ThinkGeek.com is my new favorite online store. They have *everything* you could possible want in addition to things you never knew you wanted but all of a sudden need! Case in point: Ninja Star push pins -- because who doesn't want their desk to look like it was targeted for a super spy attack in the middle of the night? !!!! Stay tuned for some awesome reviews of must-haves...

Twitter is dismissing rumors that it may be bought by Google.

Kindle owners are up in arms over the price of some e-books. When shopping on Amazon.com, look out for any e-book over $9.99 -- it'll be tagged with a protest badge from the group asking for you to boycott until the price drops. It's hard to disagree with them -- why in the name of Merlin's baggy pants would you buy the ebook of a title for $14 when the paperback version costs $10?? Come on publishers, embrace the future!

Hmmm ... light week so far. I'll keep my eyes pealed for interesting stories to tell you about on Friday. In the meantime, do some awesome geek shopping at ThinkGeek.com -- at least get a few laughs! :)

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Chocolate makes you smarter!

Monday, April 6, 2009 by Amber

Happy Monday, everyone. Boston is buzzing about Red Sox opening day, but it could be a washout with rain forecast for the first pitch. Let's get in some headlines while we wait, shall we?

Some upstart village Brits have formed a physical block in front of a Google Street View cam so as to not have their privacy invaded. Good for them -- what's the point of Street View anyway? I mean, cars do still work right? We're not in the middle of a 'Day the Earth Stood Still' revival, are we?

Microsoft's Stirling security site won't be up and running until Q4, and some parts won't be ready until 2010.

3-D hype has reached a breaking point: It's now available for the iPhone, thanks to futuristic-goggle-maker Vusix.

Finally! More reason to eat chocolate (as if I needed it).

Don't like Windows Vista? Weigh in on these top 10 ways to fix it!

Our friends at USA Today write: 'Congress has earmarked $7.2 billion in stimulus aid to deploy broadband in undeserved parts of the USA. But what does that mean, really?' Check it out for more info.

Good news for all us geeks: Based on specific brain chemicals, smart people may be less affected by stress.

You know the feeling when you scratch an itch? Mmmm ... Well, scientists have isolated that feel-good chemical and could use it to aid those people who suffer from persistent itchiness caused by AIDS and Hodgkin's disease.

And, last but not least: An entertainment columnist for Fox News has been unceremoniously fired for his review of a stolen, pirated version of the as-of-yet unreleased Wolverine movie. See, kids, stealing stuff online does have consequences. Especially if you're an idiot enough to write about how awesome it was to watch movies from your desktop instead of going to a theatre. Then post it to a major broadcast news site.

See you all here Wednesday -- here's hoping to rain can hold off a bit longer! Oh, darn... there are the first few drips...

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Goofing off is good for productivity!

Friday, April 3, 2009 by Amber

Happy Friday! I spent last night out cracking some ice monsters in DnD, so I'm up for anything today! Some headlines, if you please?

Rumors are flying that Google is looking to buy Twitter. Hm, then I may actually use without being tasked to by corporate. :-) Oh, and while you're at it, check out this list of 8 things that will get you un-followed on Twitter.

Pres. Obama brought the Queen of England a video iPod pre-loaded with videos of her state visit a few years back and, surprisingly, an impressive collection of showtunes. Apparently Her Majesty is a fan. Who knew? On a side note, I love the British monarchy so much! I am fascinated by the pomp and circumstance ... and I think it is absolutely adorable how much Elizabeth loves Michelle Obama!

Good news, slackers! A new study from Down Under shows workers who use the internet for personal use while on the job are actually 9% more productive than their non-online counterparts! So, surf away, and feel free to tell you boss that it is *for the good of the company* that you update your Facebook page a few times a day, and that Perez Hilton is making you a better worker! I certainly do!

Microsoft may be readying a Zune phone that offers free music.

My favorite magazine is making some cuts: Wired.com is laying off 12% of its online staff due to current economic conditions. So sad!

And just so we don't end on the day on a bad note, here is a link to my favorite video game blog, Game Hunters on USAToday.com!

See you all Monday!

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Nefertiti, Conficker and Facebook

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 by Amber

Good afternoon, all! Tonight is LOST night -- can I be more excited?! Although recent events have left my theories and arguments of the nature of time travel hanging in the precarious balance -- can't wait to see what the show will come up with next!

Now, as I get my feet wet in the wild world of the web over here in Captivate land, take a peek at these top headlines:

It's embarrassing but true: I, who blasts everyone for not being literate of computer security measures, caught a virus last week. Thank goodness it wasn't Conficker, which is still terrorizing computers everywhere. Watch out. Constant vigilance. And no online computer games. Sigh.

A new CT scan has revealed a different face lives under the ancient bust of Nefertiti -- a prized piece of ancient artwork. Apparently, underneath the stucco exterior is a highly detailed stone carving of the queen. How cool! And how weird that scientists though to look!

The Supreme Court has freed a spammer by not re-instating a Virginia antispam law, saying in its decision that the law was too broad and denied spammers their First Amendment right to free speech. Yeah, right. Thanks, Supreme Court. I mean, the guy didn't deserve to be jailed, but that really sends the wrong message to other spammers, doesn't it?

Fictionwise, bought by Barnes and Nobles late last year, has announced an eReader application for the BlackBerry! I can smell some competition for my darling Kindle... and you know what competition brings? Cheaper prices and better devices! Yay!

Is Facebook going public? After the social networking site's CFO left, rumors are running rampant the company will take over Wall Street.

Remember the Microsoft/TomTom suit we mentioned a while back? It's over, and Microsoft won pretty decisively.

Finally -- my wonderful wizard of Woz has been put to sleep. And, he took a Playmate with him. Hehe ... It'll be a long season in the Chemerkovski/Smirnoff household, though.

Our friends at CNet have a cute list of 4 cheap ways to entertain yourself (no), and one if them is my favorite as well! (No.)

PlayStation2 is getting a price cut -- sorry for all those who thought it was PS3. That's still the most expensive Blu-Ray player you'll find -- oh, and it apparently plays games too. Who knew.

Want to embrace Twitter? USAToday's story can tell you how to use the service (cough) to promote yourself and your business.

OK, that's all for me today -- check back here Friday for a recap of the week's top stories and maybe even some LOST theories!

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