Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine gets a 646 area code? Area code bigotry is alive and well in NYC. The price of a phone number in the 212 area code is, as of this writing, over $200kUS on eBay.
“The couple’s business manager, Russell Arons, vice president of marketing at Mattel, said that Barbie and Ken “feel it’s time to spend some quality time – apart”.
‘Like other celebrity couples, their Hollywood romance has come to an end,’ said Arons, who quickly added that the duo ‘will remain friends’.”
Why is this a sign of the apocalypse you ask?
Well, unfortunately, if you’re still using Windows, Ctrl-Alt-Delete’s retirement has been deferred because Microsoft gutted its retirement package, but the keyboard combo’s creator, David Bradley, DID retire last week. Our pal Paul McFedries, keeper of the awesome WordSpy site and daily word e-list, paid tribute by making Ctrl-Alt-Delete the term of the day. In the notes to the term, he writes:
Today’s term was inspired by the recent retirement announcement of David Bradley, who, way back in 1980, programmed the original IBM PC to restart (perform a “warm boot,” as the geeks say) when the user pressed the Ctrl-Alt-Delete key combination. Also known as the “three-fingered salute” and the “Vulcan nerve pinch,” this classic key combo has bailed out untold millions of users when their otherwise unresponsive paperweights, oops, I mean *computers* had frozen solid due to a slight shift in the barometric pressure. It’s a tribute to the resistentialist nature of the computing beast that Ctrl-Alt-Delete remains a part of the Windows operating system to this day.
If you’re still using Internet Explorer, you’re not only more likely to have security issues, you’re missing out on a whole lotta features in the latest release of the free browser Firefox. Formerly called Firebird, the updated web browser from Mozilla offers tabbed browsing,integrated pop-up blocking, improved bookmark management, extension files that can add amazon, google or any number of other search functions to the toolbar, or others that will remove banner ads or spellcheck anything on a page. It is easily the most powerful browser on the planet, and it’s super-speedy, relatively tiny, and very easy to use. Two thumbs up from ST Labs.
Also released in beta 0.5 is a new email client called Thunderbird which offers a great POP/IMAP email interface with tons of features including spam blocking and, get this, the ability to synchronize with Palm handhelds. For everyone who has been chained to Microsoft Outlook or Express as an email client because they need email syncing, Thunderbird now offers a replacement. Free at last! Free at last!
Creative has released the new MuVo2 with the 4Gb hard-drive that we mentioned last month — but at a much lower price than it first debuted in Asia. The 4Gb model retails for around $230, but can be pre-ordered from 3rd-party vendors for around $200, which is quite a deal, especially considering the value of the removable 4Gb CF hard-drive. C|Net has a review, but we’ll wait until we get our hands on it to see how it really performs.
Joining the mix a bit on the late side, Creative is finally releasing a portable video player called the Zen Portable Media Center. The device supports hard-drives from 20 gigs on up (probably up to 60 gigs on release) and is designed specifically to work with Window’s Media Center computers — much to its detriment. While the device does play audio files in the WMA or MP3 formats, video is limited to Windows Media video. No DivX or other video formats are listed as supported, though this may be a ruse to imply (as Microsoft often does) that all video codecs are really Microsoft codecs if they play on a Microsoft player. Price on the device is expected to start around $400, probably for release in Q2.
If you’re wondering what that smell is, it’s the smell of the 800 pound gorilla sitting in the corner picking its butt, while scheming to get a jump on Apple’s iTunes by setting up the video equivalent. Microsoft is almost certainly setting up a system for users to download individual television shows as well as on-demand videos for playing once or multiple times on a single Microsoft device, either desktop, X-Box or one of these portable video players. I’d like to say that the proprietary approach isn’t going to work in this case because consumers are far too savvy to ever buy something so locked to one media format, but that’s only StreetTech consumers that are so savvy. Most of the rest of the world will either volunteer or be forced to dance with this gorilla, and then we’ll never get rid of him ….
There was a brief spike recently in the trend of Bluejacking, which really wasn’t “jacking” at all so much as spoofing people by sending harmless messages to Bluetooth enabled phones. But Bluejacking has given way to Bluesnarfing (?) — an actual hack of a Bluetooth enabled phone that can copy or edit a person’s address or organizer files in the phone. This hack could affect users of many phones, such as the Sony Ericsson ones in which Bluetooth is more popular, but only when the phone is in “discovery” mode, which is user-initiated. Nokia phones with Bluetooth may be more subject to hack though, since for some reason the security hole in those phones can be exploited even when the BT is in passive mode.
A British-based company is selling MP3 players which can be attached to an assault rifle.
The “AK-MP3” player is built into the ammunition clip of a Kalashnikov and can be swapped with the real magazine.
Microsoft is trying to “engorge” sales of the X-Box in Japan by releasing a special edition clear-blue X-Box that comes with a sort of sex doll, called a dakimakura in Japanese. While there are no orfices to fill, the dakimakura, euphemistically called hugging pillows, are popular with young men obsessed with the characters from Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Kinda makes Janet Jackson’s stunt seem tame, doesn’t it? I wonder if Microsoft will be banned from advertising on T.V….