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Showing posts from August, 2008

World leaders show up at trade show

It's difficult to imagine George W. Bush or any sitting American president attending a gala for a technology trade show. But German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to attend just such an event Thursday night in Berlin kicking off the Internationale Funkausstellung, or IFA. (In English, that's the "International Radio Exhibition," according to Babelfish.)
Pronounced "E-fa" and little known in the States, IFA is best thought of as the European version of the massive Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which takes place each year in Las Vegas. The German show, which its backers claim is the largest of its ilk, dates back to the 1920s and is open to the general public. You have to work in or with the tech industry to snag credentials for CES.
Though mainly targeted at a core EU constituency, IFA attracts LG, Panasonic, Phillips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and other Asian and other European tech giants. Products span a pretty wide CES-type range: sexy thin high defi…

Those crazy Germans and their designer cappuccino machines

A coffee maker for the living room? One early IFA product that has my attention is a designer cappuccino maker from DeLonghi. The limited edition Perfecta 5500 versions (only 1,900 per model are being produced) come in titanium, burl wood and leather.
All I can say is the coffee, which I didn't get to taste, best be good. Perfectas command a jolting 1399 Euros or more than $2,000 in U.S. dollars. They're due out in Germany in September; there are no immediate plans for U.S. distribution.
And yes, they're meant to be placed in the living room.
Another strange thing from Germany:
When I tried to log into my Google Gmail account, I received this error message:
"We can't provide service under the Gmail name in Germany; we're called Google Mail here instead.If you're traveling in Germany, you can access your mail at http://mail.google.com.
Oh, and we'd like to link the URL above, but we're not allowed to do that either. Bummer.For general information about Go…

'Pac-Man Fever' collection available for BlackBerrys

Ah, the early '80s: hairspray, pastel clothes, Flashdance and Pac-Man Fever.
Well, now you can keep your quarters in your pocket and play five classic Namco games right on your BlackBerry smartphone: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug.
Called the Pac-Man Fever collection, these remakes hold up incredibly well today thanks to faithful map layouts, intuitive control and authentic graphics and sound effects.
You know the rules for the various Pac-Man games: munch as many dots on the board as possible while avoiding the ghosts, but eating one of the four power pellets temporarily reverses the chase.
The alien-blasting Galaga and underground antics of Dig Dug will also slap a nostalgic smile across your face.
Available at Handmark, the individual games range in price from $9.99 to $14.99. Too bad there's not a discounted price for all five together in one download.
Game-play tips:
-- In the Pac-Man games, the fruits always move around the ghosts' starting pen. Use…

High-tech TV/dishwasher, huh?

About six years ago I reviewed the first Internet refrigerator for the home, an $8,000 LG Electronics kitchen appliance that to say the least left me cold. As I remember it, the on-board Windows computer froze about as often as the ice cream you might store in the thing.
Fast forward to the present and I am at IFA in Berlin, walking around looking at "white goods." That's what the companies at this European tech show call household appliances –never mind that there are a heck of a lot more color choices.
And some products still fit the "curious" or should I say the "because we can" category.
Take Vestel of Turkey. It demonstrated a dishwasher with a built-in TV screen that has to be at eye level for a four year old. This assumes you'd actually want to watch TV on a dishwasher, but that's another matter. Besides, I was more interested in being able to peer inside the machine's transparent windows. To be fair Vestal has no plans to market the T…

Hunt for Easter eggs in Google Earth

As millions of users already know, Google Earth is one seriously cool -- and completely free -- program that lets you view satellite imagery and maps of virtually any place on the entire planet.
You can also get turn-by-turn directions from one spot to another and share tagged photos and videos with friends.
But you already know about all this.
What you might not be aware of, however, are a couple of hidden Easter eggs and other little-known goodies found in Google Earth (version 4.2 or higher). The following are a few of our favorites.
Flight Simulator
Click on the globe and press CTRL+ALT+A. Now you can choose from one of two aircraft -- the F16 (Viper) or a SR22 propeller plane -- and an airport, such as London Heathrow, LAX or even Kathmandu. To fly, follow the onscreen keyboard commands (or use a mouse or game controller) and check out the scenery below. Sweet!
Every human has rights
Open up Google Earth and copy these coordinates into the search field: 51°36'38.60"N 0°06'5…

LG TV delivers 3D without the glasses

At one point or another, many of us have donned those dorky glasses to watch a three dimensional movie in a theater or play a 3D game on a computer. The flat panel TV that LG Electronics is displaying at the IFA conference in Berlin lets you see 3D content without wearing glasses. The technology in model 3D MNT (M4210D) basically works ok, though though it's difficult to keep everything in focus and it's all a bit disorienting. (Four to five meters, LG says, is an optimum viewing distance.)There's a PC and 3D content player inside; LG says the 3D effect works through "parallax image " technology meaning each eye sees a different object when the other is closed.
But the company admits the TV is unlikely to be competely blurry-free. In December, LG expects to develop software to convert 2D movies to 3D. But at about 4,999 Euros or more than $7,000, the TV isn't exactly priced for consumers. Instead the company envisions commercial use in casinos, shopping malls …

CubicMan a worthy game for iPhone, iPod touch

IPhone or iPod touch owners who enjoy puzzle games will find plenty of head-scratching challenges in TeemSoft's CubicMan, available as a 10-level free version (CubicMan Lite) or the full 80-level version (CubicMan Deluxe) for just $2.99.
For each of the uniquely-designed levels, the goal of the game is to use your fingertip to move a 3D rectangular object from one spot on a grid to the marked finish. The catch is this cube must be standing upright on the final spot in order to finish the level. Because of its shape, you must carefully study the layout and plan your moves so that it avoids obstacles -- such as walls and ledges -- while inching towards your goal. Handy teleports help to transfer the cube from one spot on the level to another.
A single tap near the edges of the screen moves the camera to better see the level, while tapping two fingers anywhere on the screen zooms in. Tap three fingers on the screen zooms back out.
The Arcade mode keeps track of all of your moves and has…

Democrats, Republicans deploy high-tech systems at conventions

There's a lot more than politicking, speeches and policy at this week's Democratic National Convention at the Pepsi Center in Denver.
Payment-processor vendor First Data is testing a new mobile payment technology for 5,000 delegates and media. It's a limited edition lapel pin that can be used as a payment device to purchase up to $10 in merchandise. The 1 by 1.5-inch GO-Tag pin eliminates the need for cash, credit and debit cards. The pin is activated by tapping it on a reader at a vendor's stand to register a sale.
"It is the future of mobile payments," says First Data CEO Michael Capellas, who you may recall as the former CEO of MCI. "It lets you leave your wallet at home."
Capellas says First Data is talking to several retailers about business partnerships. So far, it has deals with major caterer Sodexho, Blockbuster and Bay Area Rapid Transit, a San Francisco-area subway system. It expects to generate $100 million in revenue in 2009.
Not to be out-t…

It's game over for popular 'Tetris' clone

You might have seen a clever Tetris clone for the iPhone called Tris –- after all, it was the No. 1 free download from Apple's App Store –- but it's too late if you want to grab it.
As of Wednesday, the puzzle game is no longer available at the App Store, following a threatening letter received by Apple by The Tetris Company over alleged copyright infringement, says Tris developer Noah Witherspoon.
The disappointed college student writes this on his blog, entitled Two Finger Play.
"I'm afraid it's essentially game over. Do they have a case? No. Not really. I am convinced that if it went to court, the 'copyright' claim would get thrown out completely. The trademark, perhaps not -- but if I changed the name, to e.g. Trys, that would be much harder for them to argue."
Witherspoon says he doesn't have "the time, energy or resources to fight this battle right now."
While he understands The Tetris Company is protecting their interests, the approach…