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Ereaders take center stage!

Monday, November 30, 2009 by Amber

Welcome back from your Thanksgiving break -- and for those of you in Canada and beyond ... well, welcome back anyways :)

We've got a bunch of stories to catch up on, but first I want to thank everyone for their entries into our Pre-Thanksgiving giveaway and make an announcement: We've got another great giveaway right on the heels of the Atomic9 GrungeBuds!

Starting on Wednesday, Dec. 02, we're going to open the second annual Byte-Sized Holiday Giveaway, featuring the new Rubik's TouchCube -- a touchscreen-style Rubik's Cube that's fully electronic! We've got our copy out with a reviewer right now, so tune in Wednesday for the full story!

In the meantime, here are the stories that have the tech world buzzing today!

--It's Cyber Monday, so where are the deals? Check this guide from DigitalTrends to get the most from your mouse clicks, or this one from CNet.com! And, for all you shoppers: Please remember to stay safe, and don't buy anything from an e-tailer you aren't familiar with, no matter what deal they are offering!!

--If you're planning on getting an ereader for your someone special (and trust me, they want one!), here is a fun guide to help you pick out the right one.

.... Though, if you want my opinion, which I know you do, I'd say go for the Kindle every time. The Barnes and Noble Nook is a cool ereader to consider, but I really haven't found my black-and-white Kindle 2 lacking in anything the Nook now delivers. Oh, and stay as far from the Sony ereaders as you can -- I've tried one and it's garbage. Sorry, that was harsh. How about, 'They can't hold a candle to the Kindle or Nook. Heck, they can't hold the unlit match that lights the candle.' Yeah, that at least sounds nicer. Convoluted, but somehow nicer. Moving on ...

--File this one under 'Gee, you don't say...,' right alongside the complaints of there being long lines on Black Friday: A new study shows people complain more online than they do in person. Shocker.

--See what all the twits have done?! Twitter has become the most-used word of 2009. Well, I'm not really surprised ... but it came in higher than 'Obama' and 'vampire.' That's actually pretty impressive. Sorry, Twi-hards -- you lost this round.

--Amazon has sneakily announced-without-announcing that its Kindle had a banner November. Highest sales ever! Awesome job, but move over, this bandwagon is getting pretty full! :) (Why was the announcement shaded in mystery? Because Amazon doesn't ever give actual sales stats regarding the Kindle.)

--In other ereader news (I swear I'm not becoming the ereader blog, there is just a lot of news swirling on them today ...): Barnes and Noble has pushed back shipments of the Nook for a week to give priority to those who preordered. Good for them I say; I appreciate customer service.

That's all for today! Remember to come back for the announcement on Wednesday! Catch you on the flip side ...

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Giveaway Winners Announced!

Friday, November 20, 2009 by Amber

Hello all! I'm pleased to announce the winners of the four GrungeBuds from Atomic 9:

-Caity G., Boston, MA
-Kathy H., NY
-Jeanne G., MA
-Angela R., Seattle, WA

Thank you to everyone who entered. You are the best readers on the planet for tuning on on a regular basis! For those of you who didn't win, please check out http://www.grungebuds.com/ to order yourself a pair! At $39.99 each and clustered with Swarovski crystals, they're a wicked cool gift!

We're all taking a break for Thanksgiving next week, but be sure to come back Nov. 30 (CYBER MONDAY!!) to enter yourself into another giveaway we're featuring on the site!

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Captivate launches original web features

Wednesday, November 18, 2009 by Amber

This is the final day you can sign up for the Byte-Sized Pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway for the Atomic9 GrungeBuds, so send in those final emails to bytesized@captivate.com!

Now, on to the headlines of the day!

--Captivate.com has branched into the realm of creating our own featured content, written by yours truly. Head over to our Original Features homepage for more info and to read the latest guide to ensure Holiday Happiness!

--Looking for where to be in the pre-dawn hours after Thanksgiving? Here is a list of some of the best Black Friday deals!

--Barnes and Nobles' nook is aligning with e-publication standards.

--Who are you morons out there who still text while you're driving? Please cut it out -- haven't you heard that it's not safe *or* cool?

-- If you have a grievance with a retailer or company, why not write them an open letter like this CNet blogger did for Sony Ericsson?

--Here is a superb interview with Nintendo exec Cammie Dunaway on the state of the Wii and the industry overall.

See you all on Friday, where we announce the winners of the Atomic9 GrungeBuds giveaway! Thank you to Atomic9, and thank you to all those who've entered!

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Review: Atomic9 GrungeBuds

Monday, November 16, 2009 by Amber

We’re back and H1N1-free here at Byte-Sized, and we’ve got a review in store for you today: The current Byte-Sized Pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway, Atomic GrungeBuds!

Buy them now: http://www.grungebuds.com/

Your choice of techno-gadget says a lot about you these days – Are you a slick, colorful little iPod? A shiny new Zune HD? A constantly connected iPhone or a crackberry addict? Now, fashion is taking an even more prominent leap into the world of technology with your choice of earbuds so you can underline and accentuate your personality.

The Atomic9 GrungeBuds are sharp, sometimes-sparkly and always-punk accessories made to make you stand out among the throng yet, with their noise isolation technology, make you feel like you’re all alone dancing to a personal movie soundtrack.

GrungeBuds come in eight varieties sure to hold your interest: Pandas and monkeys for the animal lovers, skulls and dragons for the gamers, angel wings for the dramatics, and super-sparkly kittes that look a little more like chess pawns than they do felines. Each has the added style bonus and slight flair of embedded Swarovski crystals shining from inside the silver metallic sheen or painted characters.

Also, each comes with a few choices of bud sizes to make a tight, comfortable fit, and an added bonus: a built-in microphone.

Why a mic? Because these awesome little earbuds work with your iPhone and Blackberry as a bluetooth-esque handless headset. Simply click the buds into your phone and with a touch of the button, you can snug in the earbuds and call up your friends and family without having to hold a phone up for your face. Just be careful – you’re not technically allowed to listen to earphones while you drive.

Sound quality on the GrungeBuds is just as high quality as you’d expect. Music comes in loud, clear and booming, while phone calls are easy to understand – and sound kinda weird coming in both ears at once, but that’s just because I’m so used to one-ear conversations.

Overall, I say these buds are totally functional and really cute. Obviously the biggest ‘wow’ factors are the Swarovski crystals and the phone compatibility – I’d appreciate clear cords or maybe hooks for behind your ears so the buds look less like reverse anchors dangling from your ears (like all earphones) and more like awesome earrings or an otherwise unexpected accessory. It would also help if they weren’t as hard to wrap around my Blackberry between uses, but again, that’s a fault of the product category, not the product itself.

None of those reservations preclude me from recommending GrungeBuds for the discerning fashion punk or punktress in your life!

We’re currently holding a giveaway for four sets of Atomic9 GrungeBuds: Send me an email at bytesized@captivate.com to enter to win, or here to purchase them directly from Atomic9 without waiting until the winners are announced on Friday.

Have a happy Monday, and we’ll see you all back here for more techy headlines on Wednesday!

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Analyze Your Cough ... With Your Phone

Friday, November 13, 2009 by Amber

Now that I've been able to share with you all the great news about the GrundeBuds giveaway, it's time to get back to normal here at Byte-Sized --

Let's take a look at the week's headline in the realm of technology, science and just plain cool stuff ...

-- It's that time of year again ... when people who shouldn't be shopping for gadgets take to the retail stores to utterly confuse themselves as they shop for their tech-loving friends. Here is a guide to navigating retail stores help them out. Email it around and share well.

-- Much to my own delight, it looks like ebooks/ereaders have finally gone mainstream! Once just a niche technology for the technophiles like me, Barnes and Nobles' new nook has broken that fourth wall! And, it looks like publishers are embracing the ereaders ... on the surface. Underneath, they-re probably pissed, but what can you do?

-- Eek. Video game sales dropped 19% in October. Not that they'll stay low for much longer, what with Dragonage Origins and Modern Warfare 2 blasting into the market and, as my brother says, 'changing the face of gaming forever.' Especially this close to the holidays. Don't worry, I expect an upswing.

-- On the video game vein, XBox is getting a Facebook upgrade! Next Tuesday, Nov. 17, XBox users will download a new firmware upgrade to their dashboards that will bring with it Facebook, Last.fm and Twitter upgrades. Be sure to log in and get this set up! Also, for more video game news, check out Captivate's Gamer's Edge blog.

--And, finally, here is the strangest story of the day. Coming soon to a smartphone near you: An app that analyzes the quality of your cough to determine what virus you may or may not be harboring. That's lab diagnostics at your fingertips -- for real. Just don't share your phone after you get your germs inside of it, thanks.

See you all next week, when we'll announce the winner of the Pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway of the Atomic9 Grungebuds! Thank you so much for all of the entries thus far, and if you want to enter yourself, shoot me an email at bytesized@captivate.com! See you Monday!

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Byte-Sized Pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway!

Monday, November 9, 2009 by Amber

Here at Byte-Sized, we give thanks for all you wonderful viewers every day. Corny, I know, but it's true! So, as a token of our grattitude -- and courtesy of the *amazing* folks at Atomic9 --we're announcing the Byte-Sized Pre-Thanksgiving Giveaway!

What are we giving away this time? Only the COOLEST tech accessories I've seen in a long time: Atomic9 GrungeBuds! I'll post a full review of them in a few days, but trust me that these little buds are amazing. They are superbly styled and boast a big celebrity clientele! Each set retails for $39.99 and are studded with Swarovski crystals -- the perfect mid-ranged holiday gift!

Here's how it works: Anytime from right NOW until next Wednesday, Nov. 18 at midnight, send us your name and contact infor to bytesized@captivate.com and we'll enter your name into the pool of contenders. On Friday, Nov. 20, we'll pick four lucky winners of one sah-weet pair of GrungeBuds Noise Isolation Earbuds each from Atomic9.

Should you want to include a brief note about which tech gadget you give thanks for this holiday season (Kindle, can you hear me??), that won't help your chances but it will amuse me! I'll post the winners and their annecdotes right here on Byte-Sized!

On the other hand, if you want to by-pass the whole giveaway and buy a set of GrungeBuds for everyone on your list -- and who could blame you, really? -- visit http://www.grungebuds.com/ for ordering information!

Thanks again to our friends at Atomic9 for helping us thank you for being such great readers!

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Official Giveaway Rules

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 Friday, March 12 at 7:00 a.m. EST and ends Monday, March 15 at midnight. THE FIRST NAME, CITY AND HAIR TIP 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 59Fifty New Era hat, average retail value of $35.99

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.


Out Sick ... after a Dose of Headlines

Friday, November 6, 2009 by Amber

Good morning, Byte-Sized-ers! We're H1N1-free over here, but I'm still sick with a raging sinus infection.

We'll keep it short and sweet today with a review of today's headlines before I collapse on my couch with a hot compress. Ugh.

-Are you a Mac? Well, here is a review of the new Mac mouse. Still doesn't have a right click.

-How often have you wanted a 'dislike' button on Facebook? A French engineer has created an unofficial workaround for Firefox that lets you do just that. Of course, you have to install the add-on and have other people do the same ...

-Want Windows 7 but don't know much about it? CNet's ambiguous PC reporter has the answer to your FAQs.

-OK, got your questions answered, now check out the top-rated and reviews netbooks for Windows 7.

-I love a good caffeine fix in the morning, but this is taking it to an extreme ...

-Apparently the Large Hadron Collider (oh, Hadron, you're at once the best and worst typo I've ever made on the LIVE Captivate Network) has been shut down again.

-If you have Adobe Shockwave on your machine, you should read this story about its security flaw. Like, now.

-Are you a tech-savvy novelist with a story to tell and no publisher? You can always self-publish your tome at any of these sites. But buyer beware: Real publishers don't really like buying books that have already been self-published. Just an FYI.

-Look who's jumping on the 'climate change is bad' bandwagon. A little late, dontcha think?

-And, finally, DigitalTrends is featuring a podcast today with the do's and don't's of texting and relationships -- probably worth your while before you change your Facebook relationship status after that last spat. Just saying.

See you all Monday, when hopefully I don't want to rip my own face off and suck out my sinuses with the pointy end of a vacuum cleaner :) Have a great weekend!

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Still here!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 by Amber

This is going to be a teeny post today, just to let you faithful readers know that I'm still alive and well! :)

We've got a few wicked exciting weeks ahead in Byte-Sized, including our Holiday Gift Guide and a few surprises I'm not allowed to announce jus yet!

Stay tuned for more info hopefully by the end of this week!

See you all back here then!

(Wow, that was a lot of exclamation points. Are you thoroughly excited yet? Hehehe)