SAN FRANCISCO--The offices of Path float 40 stories above the city in one of the upper floors of a residential tower just a block away from the waterfront, where the hallmarks of a young start-up--fridges of Red Bull, whiteboards awash in colorful scribbles, the glow of massive Mac desktop monitors--colonize what would normally be coveted apartment space for one of San Francisco's most financially fortunate. There's a balcony with sweeping views of the Bay Bridge and the waters underneath, where on this sunny fall afternoon a lone kayaker in a bright-orange craft flits around uncomfortably close to industrial … Read more
BROOKLYN, N.Y.--It's a languid, late-summer Wednesday afternoon at the offices of online handmade-goods marketplace Etsy, and Chief Technology Officer Chad Dickerson is sitting at a table in a conference room decorated to look like a cartoonish version of the interior of a Mercury-era space capsule.
Surrounded by fake panic-button consoles, plush jet packs, and quilts depicting outer-space views of moons and planets, Dickerson is peering at his laptop screen to report a particularly important number that he's just been asked to look up: "We've got 263 search results for 'Justin Bieber.'"
That's 263 listings at this precise moment in time by Etsy sellers hawking homemade shoelaces, tapestries, pendants, and pillows (to name a few) featuring the visage of the sugary pop singer. Bieber is hardly alone on Etsy; poke through its listings, and you'll find necklaces in the shape of the "Golden Snitch" winged orb from the "Harry Potter" series, cuff links painted to look like the head of "Star Wars" robot R2-D2, and bottle cap pendants featuring the bronzed face of "Jersey Shore" star "DJ Pauly D."
Fan creations are a funny thing. For well more than a decade, the Web has provided an unprecedented gathering space for loyal and zealous followers of literary, cinematic, and televised franchises who might not otherwise ever interact, allowing many phenomena that were once cult hits to achieve mainstream, mass-market success and often phenomenal profitability. Sometimes, as with the sale of unofficial DJ Pauly D pendants and Star Wars cuff links, the fans stand a chance of profiting, too. And the trademark and copyright holders aren't always happy about it.… Read more
Sports fans can easily find the live stadium experience to be paradoxically out of touch compared with the instant stats, superior commentary, and HD replays available to home viewers. DVRs, HDTVs, and smartphones can't follow you to the live game. At stadiums, it's hard to get any smartphone to work properly. Streaming radio apps black out live game broadcasts, unless you're using Sirius. As for video, unless you've got some portable TV with an HDTV antenna converter box, you're out of luck.
This is the promise that NFL FanVision offers to a seasoned fan. At first glance, the device--a dedicated ruggedized handheld with a 4.3-inch screen formerly used at Nascar events--looks like a castoff from the early '00s, some idea of a personal media player from the early age of iPods. Purportedly waterproof (though we didn't test it) and boasting a 6-hour battery life for streaming, it's a bit too big to pocket and hangs from a lanyard around one's neck. Sure, it's not nearly as elegant as an iPhone. What it does, however, bears consideration. A live TV feed of the current game (plus audio commentary), multiple viewing angles, instant multi-angle replay after every play, plus live video of other games around the league, the NFL Red Zone channel, and stats...it's compelling for a hard-core fan.
How it works Others might ask, why not just watch the real live game in front of you? That's a valid point, but not for me. I'm a New York Jets fan, and my dad has been one for 45 years. We know the players, and we like to know what's happening down to the fine details. FanVision's audio commentary and stats offer more than what's given via the minimalist PA system and the infrequently updated HD megascreens. And instant replay, the killer app for the home user, is offered up at the press of a button.
Even better, FanVision seems to be set up to be overload-proof. FanVision works via a dedicated local UHF channel that's licensed to broadcast in the stadium and the parking lot area. The device is really a higher-tech TV, one that can receive up to 10 channels of digitally compressed video and stat data and cache highlight videos for replays. Once booted up via a small power button, the device locates the nearby broadcast tower and downloads team-specific data and channel programming. After a few minutes of initialization, the device is up and running. By avoiding Wi-Fi or 3G, FanVision's broadcast concept shouldn't suffer from slowdown.
It all sounds great on paper, but we wanted to test it for ourselves.… Read more
If you're a Miami Dolphins fan, FanVision might not be news. The handheld device, which rocks a 4.3-inch screen, was available to Dolphins fans all of last year, because it's Dolphins co-owner Stephen Ross' company. An attempt to answer back to high-quality HDTV feeds and interactive tools available at home, FanVision is an NFL technology debuting in a handful of stadiums starting with the imminent 2010 season. So far it'll be available in only 12 stadiums (for Cardinals, Bills, Dolphins, Broncos, Browns, Bears, Vikings, Jets, Eagles, Redskins, and Seahawks fans, specifically), in addition to being offered … Read more
Aside from selling inexpensive Android tablets, little-known company Abiko had another interesting gadget at its booth at Comex 2010 in Singapore--a bladeless fan. Yes, the electric fan trying to impersonate a lollipop from British company Dyson (read our hands-on coverage here) has been cloned.
Abiko doesn't use the fancy "Air Multiplier" moniker, but that doesn't matter since its version is indistinguishable from the original. The fan turns and tilts the same way, and the feel and position of the buttons all mimic Dyson's expensive table fan exactly.
The company is selling it at $223, $73 … Read more
After months or years of use, it's not uncommon for computers to become cluttered with unneeded and duplicate files. This not only takes up space that could be used to store useful data, but also contributes to poor performance. Disk Space Fan allows users to see exactly what's taking up room on their computers and eliminates the space-wasters. Although the program works just fine, it's definitely not the most intuitive we've ever seen.
The main problem that we encountered with Disk Space Fan is that it tries a little too hard to be cool, favoring sleek … Read more
A year ago when I first noticed a green dot had appeared on my PowerMac G5's display I was a bit disappointed, but not fully surprised because LCD pixels are known to die, go dim, or get stuck in a specific color. Not thinking much of it I dismissed it as a common issue and continued to use my computer; however, these dots were going to soon become a larger problem for me.… Read more