MOUNTAIN PASS, Calif.--Here in a hot, dusty corner of Southern California desert, a set of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table--so critical to advanced technology industries that they're a matter of national security--are being unearthed. Molycorp's rejuvinated $500 million facility, now under construction and set for completion in July 2012, will reduce the environmental impacts of the rare-earth-element-mining process and dramatically cut costs, providing a homegrown source for the elements used in so many national defense, energy, and consumer electronics products. This week, I toured the facility here, the only place in the United States that … Read more
So, I got a Nintendo 3DS roughly three weeks ago, ahead of the officially released one that's now in stores everywhere. Nintendo's handheld is in the wild, and while I've used mine a fair amount, I'm curious how those not in tech journalism feel about the product.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the 3D effect on the 3DS, but I wondered whether 3D would be a gimmick whose appeal faded quickly. Much like any shiny new gadget, there's a quick fascination period that tapers off pretty fast, especially if you're the type (as I happen to be) who plays with a lot of gadgets over the course of any given month.
Several weeks in, here are my observations.
I (almost) never use the stylus. The DS' chief appeal, along with dual screens, was its touch element. The 3DS still has a stylus and a lower touch screen, but the stylus is tucked away in the back behind the display, instead of easily accessible on the side. Maybe this was a wink of acknowledgement on Nintendo's part, because so far I've barely used touch. Why? Because I'm too busy staring at that big 3D screen, that's why.
The addition of a great analog pad also means I'm far more likely to use physical buttons. The 3DS is an immersive portable experience, and I'm far less interested in pulling back and tapping away with a stylus. I think most 3DS games will make little to no use of that touch capability, except in cases like Super Street Fighter IV, where virtual lower-screen buttons are simply pressed with a finger.
Adobe Systems today announced a service it hopes will give TV companies a way to let people watch their video where they want--for example, cable TV subscribers who'd like to see a show on their computer, tablet, or mobile phone.
Such sharing has been difficult because of rights management issues: those who create premium video content are leery of seeing it spread willy-nilly, and supporting a multitude of devices is complex and expensive.
The day after Apple officially shared details of its new App Store subscription plan, which lays the groundwork for Apple to take a 30-percent cut from publishers who sell content within their apps, Google announced the launch of Google One Pass, its online charging service for newspapers and magazines. Google's rival service offers two big differences from Apple's: content providers will get to keep 90 percent of revenue from One Pass sales and publishers will retain control of consumer data.
Outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who becomes Google's executive chairman in April, announced Google One Pass in … Read more
Kenley is back on The 404 today to announce the winner of our Nerd of the Year contest, and Stupid Andy is the victor!
Stupid Andy is a closet geek, so even though you might mistake him for a regular guy, he's well versed in audio/visual languages which I think puts him in the category of nerd, according to this article comparing the two.
Time has announced its Person of the Year for 2010, and although Justin Bieber, the Chilean miners, and the Tea Party all came close, Mark Zuckerberg clinched the title of the person who Time describes as "for better or for worse...has done the most to influence the events of the year."
With Zuckerberg in the cockpit, Facebook has changed the way we communicate and consume news, but we have to question whether the release of "The Social Network" had anything to do with the nomination.
Plenty of Gawker accounts were compromised as a result of last weekend's Gnosis breach, and we learn on today's show that even some of our fellow CNET colleagues were affected by the hack!
We also take a look at a graph of the top 50 Gawker Media passwords that are now posted online for public consumption. Clearly people just don't care about their commenting passwords on the site, because the first 10 are all lazy keyboard strokes like "123456," "abc123," and "qwerty." On the stranger side, "monkey," "consumer," "superman," and just the number "0" were all identified as popular passwords.
In the face of disaster, the smart thing to do is adapt and move on, so check out this Lifehacker guide to reassessing your online security measures. The page suggests using a free password manager called LastPass that generates complex passwords for you, stores them on a network, and even audits them to make sure they're not easy to guess.
Narcs around the world have been waiting for a Big Brother app for the iPhone, and now it's here. It's called the PatriotApp, and it deputizes any iPhone user (pending a 99-cent fee) with the ability to report a number of crimes directly to the appropriate governmental agency. It links your iPhone to organizations like the FBI, the EPA, and the CDC so you can report things like government waste, environmental crimes, white-collar crimes, and public health concerns on the fly, but it just seems like a professional tool to snitch on your neighbor. Finally, you can also use the app to post your claims to Twitter and Facebook, so all your friends can be aware of your citizen's arrests.
Remember Daniel, our friend who visited The 404 studio last March? He left us this video voice mail telling us about the current fashion trends blanketing his middle school. Congratulations on your graduation, buddy--be sure to tell all your new high school friends about The 404!
Episode 729 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS Video… Read more
Last week I wrote two blogs with opposing headlines, Why does analog sound better than digital? and Why does digital sound better than analog? The Comments sections of those two blogs ran hot and heavy with opinions as to why analog or digital are hopelessly wretched-sounding things. I was surprised to see that the pro/anti comments were interchangeable between the two blogs; each side dug in their heels and wouldn't budge.
I own 2,500 CDs, 300 SACD/DVD-Audio discs, and 4,000 LPs. I play records on a VPI turntable and spin discs on an Ayre C-5xe/… Read more
In late September, Xmarks, the popular browser add-on that syncs bookmarks, saved passwords, open tabs, and so on, took its some 4.5 million fans on a roller-coaster ride.
It announced the imminent shutdown of the service because of lack of funding just to retract that a few days later when CEO James Joaquin hinted that a knight-in-shining-armor rescue was likely.
Now that rescue has been confirmed. In a blog posted today, Xmarks announced that it has been acquired by LastPass, a cross-platform password management service. This also means that Xmarks is now in transition from a "free" to a "freemium" business model.
The new model, which is similar to that of LastPass, allows people to utilize most of Xmarks' existing functions for free. More-savvy users, however, can also opt for Xmarks Premium, which costs $12 per year and includes new enhanced features such as support for iPhone iOS and Android, priority support, and more.… Read more
Password management has long been one of the most crucial and most complicated tricks to safely and securely pull off. The browser add-on LastPass simplifies it all in a cross-platform tool that's a must-use--as long as you don't mind that it's all in the cloud.
There are several installation options for LastPass. Windows users can run the LastPass universal installer to get the add-on for Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer simultaneously. An extension is available for Opera 11 beta users, but those on Opera 10 will have to settle for the LastPass bookmarklet until the browser's … Read more
The bottom line: Effective, secure, and easy to use, LastPass offers a broad base of password-management features for free that can be expanded when upgrading to the premium version. It's an essential add-on for modern Web browsing.
Passwords have gotten so complicated that even people with ferociously sharp memories can struggle to recall the eccentric combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols. There are passwords for personal e-mail, work e-mail, bank accounts, Twitter, and Facebook, and woe to anybody who uses the same one for those two malware magnets. On top of that, it's recommended that you regularly … Read more
Those hoping for an easy, browser-based system to manage TiVo recordings are in luck: a new tool is coming to the DVR maker's Web site.
Dubbed the Season Pass Manager, the new service will let people modify Season Pass recordings from the Web. Season Pass is TiVo's service for recording all new episodes of a TV series. The new tool will let people prioritize their Season Pass recordings, as well as transfer specific recordings from one TiVo box to another on their account. In addition, TiVo owners can delete series from their Season Pass list.
Season Pass Manager … Read more