Express Your Driving Rage with the Drive-e-mocion

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Just the other day I was pulling out of the train station in my RAV4 when all of a sudden, the cars in front of me were stopping short. Luckily, I was a good distance behind the car in front of me, but my eyes were glued to my rear view mirror as I watched this girl behind me in a black car riding on my tail. I knew she wasn’t going to stop in time and would rear-end me (which would have been the second time in three months), so preventing an unpleasant accident and assuring my safety, I made a quick decision to pull over to the shoulder.

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That’s when she starts honking her horn like a mad woman. I’m thinking to myself, “Okay, I just saved you from damaging my car, your car, and the cars behind you, and you’re honking at ME? WTF?!?!” And you wanna know why cars were stopping so short? Because there was a tiny branch in the road–unbelieveable.As I preceded to the exit ramp, she takes off like a bat out of hell into the left lane, hopefully on her way to get a speeding ticket. If only I could have given her a piece of my mind!!! But if I had the Drive-e-mocion, I very well could have!!Developed by London-based AU-MY Limited, the Drive-e-mocion is “an electronic display that sticks to your back window; you operate it by remote control from the front seat.

It can display a smiley face or a frowning face, along with the messages ‘thank you’ and ‘back off.'” However, it only comes with four displays so far. Darn, I’ll have to wait for the customizable version. It sells for 9 pounds sterling, but it’s currently out of stock until the new, revamped model ships. Want to be notified when the new model is ready? Just go to the AU-MY site and e-mail them. I wonder though, would this kind of thing be legal to drive around with in the US?

The Sidekick 3 …

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Or Is It 2 1/2?My Sidekick 3 review just hit PCMag.com, and I have mixed feelings about this sleek new handheld. First of all, it is sleek – while it turns out that it’s basically just narrower than the previous model (and heavier!) it feels less clunky. It’s super-easy to use, just like all Sidekicks, and various features have been bumped up a bit. But after making Sidekickers wait for 18 months, Danger and T-Mobile missed an opportunity to redefine the mobile communication space again.When the Sidekick first came out in 2002, it was the only easy-to-use mobile e-mail gadget for non-techie consumers. Blackberries were still corporate, and smartphones at the time like the Treo 180 generally didn’t have QWERTY keyboards (though I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the Kyocera 6035.) The Sidekick II kept the platform up to date and cemented its popularity with the young and the hip.

The Sidekick 3 ...

There are a lot of ways the SK3 could have made just as big a splash. For instance, the SK3’s core audience is heavily into music and video, iPods and MySpace and YouTube – how about a video browser that lets you save and post viral videos easily? Or a music player that syncs with iTunes (no, you don’t need Apple’s permission.) The SK3 is huge in Hollywood, with people who like to make home movies on the spur of the moment – how about a terrific camcorder mode? Or – let’s stick to communication. T-Mobile has a lot of Wi-Fi hotspots out there. How about making voice calls over those hotspots, something T-Mobile has been mumbling about for at least six months? How about folding in Outlook Web Access (like Blackberry does) so hipsters with day jobs can get their work e-mail on the sly while they’re at da club, without their bosses knowing it’s been transferred to a Sidekick? How about voice dialing so you don’t have to flip the darn thing open? Or heck, how about receiving POP3 email without a 15-minute delay?And how about making those features as radically easy to use as the Sidekick?I’m being too harsh, I know; and a lot of Sidekick buyers would buy a doorstop if it was emblazoned with the logo of a hip tattoo artist.

The SK3 is still tremendously easy to use, cool, and a fun way to get various kinds of messages on the run. But the mobile world needs more visionaries to bring together ease-of-use brilliance and feature brilliance. Danger was (and still is) a good nominee for that task, but this device doesn’t break new ground.

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Nielsen Ratings to Include iPod and Internet Television Viewing

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In these days of downloading television shows to your iPod, watching streaming video on your laptop, and DVR-ing your favorite shows while you’re away from home, the Nielsen television ratings aren’t as accurate as they could be. But Nielsen Media Research is right on top of it with their announcement yesterday that they will begin to take into account in their rating system all the new ways we watch television.

The Anytime Anywhere Media Measurement (A2/M2) initiative will include traditional in-home viewing, online streaming video, “Out-of-Home” viewing, video viewed on portable media devices, new research for measuring a viewer’s active engagement, and electronic measurements (targeted for 2011).Beginning this year, Nielsen Media Research and NetRatings, which together provide the Nielsen/Netratings Internet media and market research service, will being devising a system for tracking and reporting online audio and video consumption.

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This summer, the companies will combine viewing results from their television and Internet panels to offer “fused” data to the public and to advertisers.Nielsen will also begin measuring not so techy consumption methods. By the end of 2008, they’re hoping to introduce meters for measuring TV viewing when you’re at work, in bars and restaurants, hotels and airports. Another cool innovation coming this fall is “Go Meters”, which will collect audio signatures about your out-of-home viewing. One device will place metering technology in your cell phone, and the other is a customized meter that looks just like an MP3 player.Finally, the company is looking to expand electronic measurement overall.

This includes meters that can collect data when placed next (and not connected) to your TV, and wearable personal tags that would know when viewers are really watching TV (or at least in its line of sight). For iPods and other portable media devices, Nielsen is developing wired and wireless (Bluetooth) devices that would passiviely “listen in” to your portable programming.I’m hoping all of these updates will make a difference when it comes to the networks deciding the fates of my favorite TV shows. Surely, it will help up ratings for Veronica Mars and it could have helped Everwood, which was rudely dropped by the new CW network in favor of Seventh Heaven: attack of the twins.

How much Klout do you have on social media?

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I have a score of 56.  That’s my Klout score, the measure of my social influence on the internet.  I stumbled across Klout 3 months ago when is was doing some research for my blog.

What the heck is Klout?

Klout is a website that measures your social influence using a complicated algorithm to blend information from different social media sources.

The science behind the Score examines more than 400 variables on multiple social networks beyond your number of followers and friends. It looks at who is engaging with your content and who they are sharing it with. – Klout .com
It then presents you with your Klout score, which is suppose to tell you how much of an authority you are in the social media world.
Klout also lets you assign topics that you feel you are an authority on. They then ask you questions based on those topics for you to answer and show off your knowledge.

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Klout offers “Perks”. Perks are items offered by businesses to Klout members who are influential. Klout.com states that Chevy allowed certain influencers to drive a Chevy Volt around for the weekend. Disney sent out tickets and merchandise to other influencers for the release of Tangled. The thinking for these businesses is obvious. If they can get there products in the hands of a someone who has a lot of social influence, they can generate a lot of buzz on via social media. The most I’ve been offered so far is a free Red Bull newsletter
Klout also operates as a little bit of a social network. You can invite your friends to follow you on Klout. They will be able to see your Klout score, look at some of your popular posts from across the social networks you have collected, and “give you Klout” for the answers you give in your topics.
Sound like a pretty neat idea? I thought so, but Klout has yet to take off.  Social media types have taken a lot of issues with the way scores have been calculated, and Klout has tinkered with their algorithms more then one to try to fix some of these issues. It was released 3 and a half years ago but still remains in beta.

Why Do I Enjoy Klout

I know my Klout score doesn’t yet carry much reworld value, but I still enjoy the Klout and here’s why:
1) Potential – just because your Klout doesn’t carry much value currently, doesn’t mean it won’t gain traction in near future. Klout continues change their algorithms and add new features. As of this month, they are now linked to Bing and will be starting to show Klout scores in the the search results for top influencers. There have also been articles written about employers using Klout scores to make job hiring decisions. As they continue to fine tune and grow, they just may become relevant. It’s still early enough in the process to get in on the ground floor.
2) Free and Easy – Klout doesn’t cost anything and is simple to check in, use, and manage. It really doesn’t require much time commitment at all, I check in for maybe 10 minutes every other day. I answer a question, check my score, friend a new influential person or 2 and I’m done.
3) Motivating – I happen to have a competitive streak in me. If I can make a game or a competition out of something, I work harder and stay more motivated. My tasks also becomes more fun.
I really enjoy using Klout to find out what the scores are for bloggers who’s work I admire.  Then I target them!  I make it a goal to have a higher Klout score then them -I’m coming for you Ant Pruitt .  It motivates me to write and post consistently so that I can generate more interaction, which in turns gives me a higher Klout score.  This has been the most valuable part of Klout for me.
Answering the Klout Topic questions has also given me inspiration for future articles. It’s really nice when I can write a 1 paragraph topic response and then paste it over into WordPress as part of a future article.
If you haven’t tried Klout, I’d recommend stopping in and giving it a shot. The potential far outweighs the effort it takes to sign up and manage. When you stop in, make sure you stop by my Klout profile and say hi!
So what’s your Klout score? Is Klout something you would consider signing up for? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories: Internet Articles

EA’s Takeover FAQ

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If anyone thought that EA was just toying with the idea of buying Take-Two Interactive, think again. To say that the company is getting aggressive is a major understatement. EA has put up a Web site at www.eatake2.com detailing all public statements to Take-Two, and offering a very interesting list of Frequently Asked Questions that attempts to answer what would happen under an EA purchase. The site is obviously aimed at shareholders, not Take-Two’s management, which has already publicly rejected two offers.

One thing EA fails to do is convey that this offer is not hostile, despite what the FAQ says. The company says that the “proposal is friendly to Take-Two shareholders, developers, partners, and customers” and that they “continue to seek a friendly, negotiated transaction.” Of course, the reason I’m categorizing this as hostile is because the FAQ doesn’t mention management at all in this statement; EA probably knows that it has a brick wall there.
If you want a good definition of a hostile takeover, you can’t do better than Investor Words, which defines it as “a takeover which goes against the wishes of the target company’s management and board of directors. opposite of friendly takeover.” That sounds about right.

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EA is, at this point, appealing directly to shareholders. Take-Two’s shareholders can be moved to action contrary to management’s position, but with GTA IV waiting in the wings, it’s hard to gauge what shareholders will do. The news of an EA takeover certainly hasn’t hurt the stock price — Take Two’s stock ended the day with a 54.90-percent increase, closing at 26.89 — slightly more than the last offer EA made.

Some other interesting tidbits that should be highlighted from the FAQ: The company says that all of Take-Two’s studios will retain their organizational structure including Visual Concepts, Irrational, Firaxis and Rockstar’s multiple studios. The company also says that Rockstar’s management would work well with EA because many of both companies’ top executives have worked together in the past.
There were a number of questions that the FAQ couldn’t or wouldn’t answer, like EA’s plans for 2K Sports and what it would do with the structure of that label, what it would do with competing 2K sports titles, whether or not it would terminate any Take-Two employees, or get rid of Take-Two as a company altogether.

My personal opinion on the matter is a little different. While it may not matter to shareholders of either company, it should be noted that the most vocal part of the game community at large isn’t all that happy about this news. They are concerned that the games they love will be destroyed by reorganization or eliminated altogether because they compete directly with EA’s top brands. Personally I am concerned with what happens to all these workers, studios, brands and labels in a year or two after the smoke clears and everyone has calmed down. As a victim of multiple corporate mergers I can also tell you that (if this happens) one thing is certain: There will be blood.
We’ll have more information on this story as it develops, but you can get more background information by checking out this story, along with this follow-up story from David Chapman.

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LAN parties in Dave’s living room

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It’s a bright Saturday afternoon in the middle of June, and I’ve just pulled into a suburban driveway a half-hour outside of Boston. As I’d covered most of the distance between New York and my friend’s house by bus, I’ve arrived without my full desktop rig, widescreen monitor, and macro-programmed keyboard. Instead, the seat beside me holds just my trusty Logitech G9 mouse, headset, and a 16 ounce can of AMP energy drink. As I gather my handful of peripherals, Dave spots my car, and opens his garage door in greeting.

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This summer marks 10 years of LAN parties in Dave’s living room. Though we first met at Nashua Catholic Regional Junior High School, it would be several years until our friends’ shared interests in Everquest, Counter-Strike, and pizza aligned sufficiently to accrete a full LAN party. The first events were pretty tame; a handful of friends dragged their computers into Dave’s house, which at the time was still located in New Hampshire, and threaded a tangle of Ethernet cables and spare routers through a Tetris of spare card tables and folding chairs. One or two unlucky gamers would always be caught with an installation error or unpatched version which barred them from play for the first hour, but with the tech savvy of Dave’s older brother, Jim, everyone was soon off to an afternoon chock full of trains and smoke grenades.
Photo Credit- Michelle Ciotta 3:00 PM – After logging into a borrowed laptop, catching up, and scoping out the deals on Steam, we played through Left 4 Dead 2’s The Passing, and have now stopped to snag lunch from the pizza & sub shop on the corner. Although the well-reviewed DLC had released several months prior, we had each chosen to hold off playing until we could do so in person together. While a host of games have consumed our time at past parties, including such classics as Dungeon Siege, Star Wars Jedi Knight, Serious Sam, Mobile Forces, and Battlefield 1942 and 2142, Valve games seem to have distinguished themselves as overall favorites, most notably Counter-Strike (1.6 & Condition Zero) and Left 4 Dead 1 & 2.
Experiencing the cooperative team-based formula of CS while in the same room as your teammates proved to be particularly alluring to our high school crowd, and as word of Dave’s private battlefield spread, a wave of friends and frequent parties followed. LAN parties began to host as many as 16 players, overflowing from the living room into other parts of the house, with routers and cables snaking haphazardly between, often regularly running for as long as 16-24 hours. In an attempt to redistribute the burden of what rapidly became a biweekly event, the LAN went on tour, with parties being held in friends’ garages, basements, back porches, and barns. An upper limit was finally reached when the power needs of so many computers began to trip the houses’ circuit breakers, and lack of sleep resulted in one friend dosing off while driving home, only to be awakened by the sound of his car sideswiping the median. To his credit, after safely making it home, he managed to convince his parents to give him a ride back to the LAN party.

waning - lan party9:00 PM – We’ve spent several grueling hours pushing through a L4D2 campaign in “Headshots Only” mutation mode and L4D’s fan-made I Hate Mountains, and have just made another trip to the corner for a well-earned snack of french fries, onion rings, and jalapeño poppers. Our Left 4 Dead battles have been especially challenging as Dave, Jim, and I are the only three players here. For the last several years, this has frequently been the norm. Jim takes some time to make a phone call, while Dave and I boot up another favorite, Rise of Nations, whose AI opponents, when teamed en masse against us, have helped us compensate for our dearth of present human opponents.
Two factors were principally to blame for our falling attendance: college and the development gap between CS and Valve’s next cooperative release. The former caused obvious problems, as for a significant portion of the year, our friends were scattered across the country, and LANs became limited to Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring, and summer breaks. Meanwhile, the latter left us with only iterations of Counter-Strike or the games of other developers to sustain us. A further blow was dealt when Dave’s family moved from New Hampshire to their new house in Massachusetts. At just under an hour away, this presented one more hurdle to bringing players to the card tables. While our gamers persisted for the first few semesters, and I managed to spawn a new, smaller LAN group in my college dormitory, it soon became clear that our golden age of LAN parties had passed.
2:00 AM – After more than 12 hours of gaming, a hard fought Rise of Nations victory, and achieving both the “Stache Whacker” and “Guardin’ Gnome” L4D2 achievements, I unplug my mouse and headset, shake hands with Dave and Jim, and head for home. While our numbers have dwindled, few experiences in gaming have been as enjoyable, meaningful, and long-lasting as these LAN parties, and even after 10 years, I find that I never leave that living room disappointed. I pull out into the street. Driving to the on-ramp, the night is cool and damp from an unheard rainstorm. I sip my AMP and peer out at the empty streets, where the reflected colors of the traffic lights shimmer and change, heedless of the traffic that has long since moved on.

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