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Playstation 3 vs. Wii

Hmmm... It's a hard choice on how to spend your after Christmas/Hanukkah money. I hope these informational videos will help. [youtube]MFoyp71xw3w[/youtube] This is a commercial for the Wii. Nobody wants to play with the fat chick. But she is wearing layers[youtube]WPfMUD0_PHA[/youtube] And for the Playstation 3. Why does the font for the Playstaion 3 make me feel like I am going to be subjected to watching really bad films like Blade 3? This one is just creepy. The choice is yours, bored internet fans.

Top 10 Ways to Download Free MP3s without Breaking the Law

So, you finally got that shiny new iPod for Christmas.  How will you fill it up? After ripping your CD collection (I recommend CDex), you'll want some new music.  Don't have any cash left but want some new tunes?  Don't worry - there are plenty of good ways to download MP3s for free without getting a nasty letter from the RIAA. Below are ten of my favorite ways to get free MP3s legally on the web: 1)'s Audiofile. It helps to be a Salon member, but you can usually get a day pass by watching a commercial.  Audiofile is a music blog that writes a little about each tune and usually includes a direct download or a link to where you can download a track.  The music selection is pretty eclectic, and I find that even if I don't recognize any of the bands being covered I can usually catch a reference or comparison to something I have heard before.  If you have to time, go through the archives and just download everything and toss what you don't like later. 2)'s Free Downloads section is chock full of MP3s. For a long time, this was the best-kept secret on the web in terms of free music downloads, with hits by Yo La Tengo, the Hives, Sleater-Kinney, among many others.  It's a little hard to find, and to tell you the truth I'm sort of surprised they haven't removed it. ...maybe I spoke too soon.  It looks like their download landing page has been trimmed down to almost nothing.  I guess they are opening up an MP3 store soon.  Luckily their free MP3 search still works, and there are some good listmania lists to peruse. 3)  Music blogs like Hobby Box on The Larry Page.  There are a lot of passionate listeners out there writing about what they're hearing, and The Larry Page is a good example.  Some cover specific genres, while others just follow the writer's wandering tastes.  Many of them provide links back to band home pages and record label home pages with free promotional downloads. 4)  The Creative Commons CD was included in the November 2004 issue of Wired Magazine, but it is still available for download. You'll find pretty decent tracks from the Beastie Boys, David Byrne, Danger Mouse (of Gorillaz and Gnarls Barkley fame), Le Tigre and others. 5)  The Weekly Free Downloads page. (formerly Audioscrobbler) is a great site that tracks what people are actually listening to.  Install their plugin into iTunes, WinAmp, Windows Media Player, or another player and the site will keep track of your favorite songs and musicians and make recommendations based on what others are listening to. The free downloads page is a relatively new feature, but there's already a huge list with some surprisingly well-known bands. 6)  The cover song sections at Soundclick.  I don't mean to imply that the only music worth listening to is something you can find on the radio, but it can be very hard to sift through  the thousands of unknown artists on sites like Soundclick.  One of my favorite techniques is to look for a cover of a song I know and then grab the rest of that band's stuff if it sounds interesting.  For example, here's the Super Mario theme in acoustic guitar. 7)  If you are feeling adventurous, there are many, many more places to check out that have independent music, garage bands, and other homebrew stuff. CNET has thousands of tracks but the quality can be uneven at best. 8) There's a ton of stuff from the South by Southwest music festival in Austin.  You can even download all 700 MP3s in one giant bittorrent. 9)  Netlabels at the Internet Archive.  There is a lot here, and it can be hard to find something you'll really like, but I have heard some worthwhile stuff here in the past.  Take a look at the staff picks, the items with high ratings, and the songs with high "batting averages." 10)  Legaltorrents lists a ton of legal-to-download, public domain files including MP3s and other music.  You never know what you will find here, but it's worth checking out. I like to find stuff that is interesting and new, but I can never seem to get deep enough into a particular genre to listen to bands "no one has heard of," and the list above reflects that.  You can always look for more free music on blogs that cover your favorite genre, band home pages, and MySpace. Do you know a site I left out?  Please let me know in the comments section below.

Nintendo Wii Could it Kill Your Child?

Nintendo has announced that they are offering a recall of 3.2 Million wrist straps for the Nintendo Wii controller. Apparently people are getting so worked up playing the Nintendo Wii that the controller straps aren't durable enough to resist the force and the controller ends up being hurled at the TV.

Quite frankly people just need to calm down. You don't see people hurling bowling balls, tennis rackets or baseball bats in real life. When people play sports they can "control" themselves enough to to not start hurling sports equipment without prejudice. When you're playing Wii Sports just pretend that your actually playing real sports and be a little more cautious when swinging the controller.

But for all those ADHD kids who just can't settle down, Nintendo will replace the current strap with a thicker one. Honestly I don't think this will stop the problem. These maniacs will just keep swinging the controller as hard as they can until they break the new strap.

The solution to this is to replace the strap with a handcuff. This way if they throw the controller the rest of their body will go with it and hopefully they'll learn a lesson. Attached is a clip of what I'm talking about. Also what is that one kid drinking, a bottle of wine? Kids these days...


Gift Ideas: 5 Practical Presents that are Actually Useful

Looking for some interesting gift ideas? Sick of buying the traditional tie for dad and sweater for your nephew, and want to get them something they might actually have a use for? Look no further! Well, actually you should look further down the page. Below are five unique holiday gift ideas for that special someone that won't find their way into a box in the attic. Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner1. Give the gift of convenience. It is the year 2006, and yet you cannot fly around town on a hoverboard, jet pack, or even a flying car. Luckily, we do have robots to do menial household labor. I highly recommend the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner. You may be wondering: does it really work? Our experience with the Roomba has been very positive, so much so that we got one for my parents last Christmas. How is it practical? You just have to press a button, and it cleans the whole floor! Seriously. It takes longer than you might be able to do with a fancy Dyson vacuum, but you don't have to do anything! My mom loves it. To be fair, you do still have to empty it out when it is done and once in a while you might want to clean hair out of the brushes. But if you are lazy like me, it will do a much more thorough cleaning job, and you'll end up vacuuming twice as much. $149.99 at Amazon 2. Give the gift of health. Many of us suffer from health problems that could be improved by improving our diets. There is a lot of homeopathic quackery out there, but there's also a large and growing body of research on how to fight high blood pressure, cholesterol, and other common modern ailments. Unfortunately, the vitamin, supplement, and "natural " health food industry is largely unregulated. How can your dear mum be sure she is taking fish oil and not a mercury smoothie? Get her a subscription to How is it practical? I think this one is pretty obvious. Access to independent testing data on different brands can ensure you're getting what you're paying for. It might not seem like as much fun as a Big Mouth Billy Bass or a keyboard tie, but trust me, no one wants those things anyway. $27.99 for a one year subscription Kil-A-Watt 3. Give the gift of power. Not everyone is a tree hugger, but everyone likes to save money on their electric bills. You might be surprised which appliances and gadgets are sucking down the most power - or your recipient will, when you give them the Kill-a-Watt Electricity Usage Monitor. How is it practical? Just plug the thing you want to test right in and you'll be able to compare kilowatt-hours. It can also help justify buying that new flat panel monitor, air conditioner or other more efficient device. "Look honey, buying this new MacBook with the Core 2 Duo will actually save us money!" $24.99 at Amazon (and a little less from some of their "featured merchants.") Mind Hacks 4. Give the gift of brains. Publisher O'Reilly is well-known for their technical books and their fun "Hacks" series. Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain is a very entertaining book on how your brain works and why it works the way it does. The book is not just for nerds--it definitely does not read like a dry technical manual. It does adopt the hacker point of view, a combination of curiosity, cleverness, and an interest in real-world results. A similar book in the series (which I haven't read yet) is Mind Performance Hacks: Tips & Tools for Overclocking Your Brain. How is it practical? The chapters are, quick, light reads that give you practical insights and tricks, everything from improving memory performance to figuring out optical illusions. Everything is grounded in scientific research, and they cite actual sources! If you think your intended recipient will be put off by the title and format, you might want to consider Forty Studies that Changed Psychology: Explorations into the History of Psychological Research, which covers some of the same ground from a different perspective. $16.47 at Amazon Lego Ice Cube Tray 5. Give the gift of cool. Like most people, you are probably sick of boring old ice cube trays. Wait, you say you haven't given ice cube trays any thought in your entire life, and that my premise is specious? Once you've seen the Lego Ice Cube Tray and the Lego block-shaped ice cubes that it produces, you'll agree with me. This is the perfect gift for that certain someone. How is it practical? Well, how else are supposed to build a frozen scale model of Edinburgh Castle on the kitchen counter? Unfortunately, it looks like it is sold out until March! Not-nearly-as-cool but just as practical substitutes include the OXO Good Grips Ice Cube Tray and the ISI Orka Freeze and Press Ice Cube Tray, both with spill-reducing lids. $7.99 for the Lego tray (sold out) $3.99 for the Good Grips tray $9.95 for the Orka Freeze and Press Bonus gift idea! Finally, for those of you who need to the right gift for a godless, hedonistic liberal, The War on X-Mas Manual will no doubt fill their hearts with joy. If they are too far from the lord to truly know joy, then at least you know their hearts will be filled with secular blood as they pick up helpful tips on destroying your faith. How is it practical? Remember: whenever a minimum-wage cashier at a big box retail store says "happy holidays," Jesus cries a single tear. Better yet, if you can get the press covering a "war" against Christmas, they won't have as much time to report on the war in Iraq.

10 Reasons You Will Want the Apple iPhone

Since the dawn of time, man has wondered: will Apple come out with a iPhone, and will it match the success of the iPod? This is the Internet, of course, so by the dawn of time I mean three or four years ago, well before the Motorolla Rokr came out. Despite whipping the rumor mill into a frenzy, the Rokr ended up being not much of an Apple iPhone and was immediately overshadowed by the iPod Nano. Now, it seems Apple may be actually coming out with an iPhone in early 2007. And you are going to want it. Here's why. (A quick disclaimer: I don't have any inside info about Apple or the iPhone. This list is an educated guess. I like to think of it as "analysis" rather than "idle speculation.") 1. Simple controls. My very first cell phone, a Kyocera 2135, had a keypad, a directional pad, a total of four buttons and a couple of menus. Since then, as I have gotten new phones and new plans, the number of buttons and menus has increased at an exponential rate. It looks like amazing progress, a Moore's Law of mobiles, except most of the time, I'm just trying to make a stupid phone call. The evolution of the iPod has been a study in simplification, to the point where all you have now is the clickwheel, unless you have a Shuffle, in which case you have even less. 2. Consistent controls. When you get a new phone, how long does it take for you to get used to it? Forget any new features for now -- what about just using the "dial", "hangup", "OK", and other common buttons in different contexts? Earlier cell phones were often better current phones in this regard, probably because they had less functionality. When a phone has both a dial and an enter button (like the Treo), you're not always sure which is appropriate in which situation. I can almost guarantee the iPhone will embrace the "it just works" attitude Apple is known for. I know my contact list is getting way too long to navigate with up/down arrows, and even jumping by letter is becoming tedious. Look for the contact list to work the same way a playlist works, and expect to spend a lot less time figuring it out and more time just using it. 3. Innovative controls with obvious affordances. Big words, but all I'm saying is that the interface will be different from what's out there, but won't require much explanation. Affordnaces are surfaces and shapes that imply use - for example, a handle on a door implies "pull" while a horizontal bar implies "push". My guess? A haptic interface for common, atomic actions. Instead of needing to find and press a little button to hang up, maybe you can just shake the phone--think erasing an Etch-a-Sketch. 4. Streamlined interaction design. Current phones include a lot of functionality - calling, text messaging, taking photos, shooting video, sending email, surfing the web, etc. The current solution is a burrito-like seven layers of menus and icons. If Apple is smart, the iPhone will make sure the most common tasks will be the most visible and easiest to get to. Think of the actions you perform the most with your current phone - making a call, finding a contact, hanging up, etc. The main difficulty for Apple will be effectively combining music player and phone functionality without adding a whole layer of menus or icons. Something like Front Row might be a step in the right direction. Listening to music is a more passive activity that calling, and you don't want to add a "switch to phone mode" step when the phone rings, so It's not exactly the right metaphor. 5. No more disgusting face grease on your screen. This is, in my opinion, the holy grail of cell phone design. There have been a few phones that tried to address this issue, but the vast majority of phones are shaped such that you must press the screen to your face to make a call. I know what you're thinking. "But my face isn't oily and gross." Yes it is. Take out your phone and really look. Perform this experiment: clean the screen and buttons, eat a couple slices of pizza, and call your grandma (you really should call more). Now look at the screen. I cannot imagine Steve Jobs allowing skin oil and other human excretions on his beautiful devices, let alone requiring it just to make a call. I have seen the press conferences, this is a man who exfoliates. I'm not sure how exactly they will get around this one, but is it possible they might make a phone... actually shaped like a phone? I have never had this issue with a landline phone. 6. No more lock in. I'm not talking about the elimination of Apple's one major lock-in scheme, requiring iTunes for purchased, DRM-ed music. But notice that with the iPod there are no limits on loading up your own MP3s, photos, etc. My guess is the iPhone will be similar. This is actually revolutionary for a cell phone. There is a good amount of hardware and functionality built in to the phone in your pocket that you don't have access to. It's because the carriers will block anything they would compete with any service they offer (or think they might offer some day in the future). They also like to lock you in to a contract when you purchase the phone. Apple, debuting a shiny new must-have cell phone, just might have the leverage needed to just say no. 7. It will look really, really nice. This is subjective, and I'm sure there are a few people out there not impressed by the iPod. It's clear, though, that Apple knows how to fashion artifacts that a large number of people drool over. And this mass of drooling people seems to include geeks, hipsters, famous people, and all the popular kids at school. 8. Integrated voicemail, chat, SMS and email. This isn't a new idea, and there are plenty of carriers and startup companies promising to do this really soon now. As far as I know, there really isn't a solution that makes the different forms of messaging work together that has been adopted by the general public. It would require integration with the service providers (difficult) or a chip beefy enough to encode audio, but imagine if you could store and manage voicemail and SMS as easily as you do email, through a simple visual or audio interface. There is plenty of hard drive space on an iPod, so why not apply the Gmail concept of effectively infinite storage to voicemail? 9. No camera. I'll say up front that I'm not nearly as confident about numbers 9 and 10, but I have a feeling the iPhone will not have a camera. Why not? It is a little-known fact that people only use their cell phone cameras in two situations: the first week after purchase, and when drunk. The cameras themselves are not very good, the shots are low resolution, and the carriers have made it their mission to make getting the photo to your computer or printing it at Walgreens difficult and expensive. So why not leave it out? That's one less thing to squeeze into the form factor, one less item in the menu, less clutter. 10. Connectivity. At the very least, expect to be able to connect to anything an iPod can connect to now. The iPod does not have wireless features like the Zune, but it seems like the Zune was crippled for DRM purposes. Cell phones are inherently wireless, so it will be interesting to see what Apple does here. Is it possible they might make bluetooth actually live up to its promise? Specifically, it would be really nice if it was easy to beam contact info, photos, etc. to others. This is 2006, there's no excuse for making us strain to hear someone's number in a loud club or try to manually enter names and numbers while being jostled by a crowd. And every phone I've ever played with that can store or take photos makes it a major chore to ever get them off the damned phone. I'm not too sure this will happen, because getting the bluetooth turned on with my wifes iBook was a chore, and getting it to actually connect to my Treo was a pain too. Of course, there's no guarantee the iPhone will have any of the above.  It's possible that Motorolla or Nokia's next phone will cover enough of the items above to become the next must-have gadget.  But they've had plenty of chances.  I'm guessing it will take a company with a new perspective to make a really great phone, and Apple just might be that company.