Archive for January 28th, 2008

Qtrax goes “live,” tracks nowhere to be found

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Technology

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Sorry to disappoint, but Qtrax is falling just a bit short of its promised 25 million tracks at launch. Qtrax busted out its software in "beta" this evening, but isn't offering a single song -- or even a working music browser. The application is a barely skinned version of the open source Mozilla-based Songbird music player, which has certainly come a long ways since its infancy, and which means Qtrax has done just about nothing for you yet -- other than lie about label deals. When you launch the application it helpfully points you to a placeholder page from a Oracle application server, and that's all you'll be getting until Qtrax manages to get label deals sorted, which isn't looking likely at this point.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in]

Read - Qtrax
Read - Music labels say no deal

 

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Best LEGO Sets in History [Lego]

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Technology

bestlegosever.jpgTo end the celebration of the 50 years of the LEGO brick, here are the best sets in history. Handpicked from Lugnet—the biggest LEGO database—based on their popularity, these 229 sets belong to the most iconic lines—LEGOLAND Space, Town, Castle and Pirates—plus three of the most popular ones—LEGO TECHNIC, Star Wars and Racers. From the most significant to the most amazing and complex, from the late seventies to today. We can't get ourselves to pick the Best of the Best. Jump, see them all and decide for yourself (plus the official LEGO video of 50 years of the brick.)

newVideoPlayer("lego50_gizmodo.flv", 463, 387,"");

I remember the first time I played with LEGO bricks. Shiny, perfectly smooth and with that unique smell of plastic, which back then I imagined was probably captured by magic elves in Denmark. Today it's almost the same—shiny and perfectly smooth, except the elves are now blue-eyed buxom danish valkyries in skimpy LEGO swimsuits.

As someone who grew in the Golden Age of LEGO, I just can't decide on any particular model as the Best LEGO Set EVER. I have to confess a soft spot for LEGO Space, yes, but also for TECHNIC. And Town. And of course, although this is way later in my LEGO career, Star Wars.

But the soft spot for all those old models from the late 70s and early 80s is the key here: even if I sound like a total nerd, seeing some of these give me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my tummy—some even make me teary. Seriously. It's not like the Galaxy Explorer, the Space Command or the big TECHNIC Helicopter were all that special. It's what happened around them what makes them special, the countless hours I spent with my brothers and father building a thousand combinations of vehicles and weird buildings.

It's all that fun, all those days of complete and most absolute happiness which comes back just by looking at the box photos of those sets. And that's what makes them so special, so emotionally charged. They bring back the best in me.

Today I marvelled again at the popularity of that simple LEGO brick timeline, and I guess this, the emotional link, must be the reason why LEGO stories are so popular among all our readers. Not because LEGO bricks are cool, which they are, but because they are inevitably linked to intimate memories, to happy memories, the best memories, shared with family or friends or completely personal.

For all that: happy birthday LEGO, and thanks for all the bricks.

galleryPost('LEGO50space', 26, 'LEGOLAND Space');
galleryPost('lego50castle', 40, 'LEGOLAND Castle');
galleryPost('LEGO50pirates', 19, 'LEGOLAND Pirates');
galleryPost('LEGO50technic', 44, 'LEGO TECHNIC');
galleryPost('LEGO50starwars', 23, 'LEGO Star Wars');
galleryPost('LEGO50racers', 5, 'LEGO Racers ');
galleryPost('LEGO50town', 65, 'LEGOLAND Town');

So what's your favorite set? If you can't find it, what are we missing? Tell us in the comments (and don't forget to check Lugnet for all the LEGO sets in all lines in history. The ones in the post may be the best, but they are just a fraction.) [Lugnet]


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XFPS RateUp emerges for PlayStation 3, includes sensitivity adjustments

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Technology

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Believe it or not, it's been over a year since Team Xtender's XFPS for Xbox 360 was released and lambasted for its sketchy handling of mice inputs. Thankfully, it seems the crew got the message, and has attempted to remedy the issue on its latest contraption, the XFPS RateUp for PS3. According to IGN, this device includes the same keyboard / mouse-to-console capabilities, but throws in a pair of much needed adjustment wheels that "add an additional 16-levels of X and Y axis sensitivity for dialing in mouse movement." Still, it remains to be seen if PlayStation 3 owners will be willing to fork over a C-note to pick one of these up -- especially considering the unit's native KB / mouse support in some titles -- but on the real, we'd hold off for a review even if you're currently tempted.

[Via IGN]

 

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Nikon D60 Basically a D40x Plus Stop Motion and a Few New Tricks [Nikon D60]

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Technology

d60.jpgNikon obviously couldn't let PMA pass without its own fresh volley into the cutthroat consumer-level DSLR market: Enter the D60. It's a D40X refresh, not a whole new cam built from scratch—it still has the same 10.2-megapixel image processor and body, but Nikon has added some spicy new potatoes to the meat to keep it competitive with Canon's latest EOS Rebel, like a schnazzy stop-motion moviemaker. galleryPost('d60', 4, 'Nikon D60');

Even though the guts of the camera are essentially a year old at this point, we still walked away from our brief time with it pretty satisfied, actually, thanks to small improvements that add up to a lot, like the new image-stabilizing kit lens, auto-orienting screen (horizontal or vertical) and built-in stop-motion moviemaker for quickly stringing together Robot Chicken-style clips on the go (which we adore, just wish the 100 pic limit was higher).

But, there are a couple of things that don't quite stack up to the EOS 450D XSi, live view being the most glaringly absent feature. The XSi also has a bigger screen, packs in more megapixels (even though it has a slightly smaller sensor than the D60) and shoots faster in continuous shooting (3.5 fps to the D60's 3). But enough paper football—we'll be putting these two head-to-head, flesh-to-the-floor soon enough.

NEW NIKON D60 DIGITAL SLR CAMERA MAKES CAPTURING BEAUTIFUL PICTURES FUN AND EASY

MELVILLE, N.Y. (Jan. 28, 2008) - Nikon, Inc., today introduced the new D60 digital SLR camera, which provides consumers with stunning picture quality and versatility in an easy-to-use, compact camera design. The D60 joins Nikon's award-winning line of D-series digital SLR cameras and shares a form factor similar to the D40 - Nikon's smallest D-SLR camera ever. With 10.2 effective megapixels and a wealth of innovative and user-friendly features, the D60 enables both photo enthusiasts and those new to digital SLR photography to capture incredible images like never before.

"The Nikon D60 makes stepping up to digital SLR photography easy for anyone, but is also a wonderful choice for photo enthusiasts looking for remarkable performance in a compact package," said Edward Fasano, general manager for marketing, SLR System Products at Nikon, Inc. "This model, like the wildly popular Nikon D40, greatly simplifies use and builds confidence in the user. With a host of innovative features, such as a visually intuitive LCD information display, Nikon's highly regarded EXPEED image processing concept, new dual dust reduction countermeasures, in-camera editing tools and exciting creative options, the D60 enhances the picture-taking experience for picture-takers of all skill levels."

Users will immediately appreciate the D60's fast 0.18-second start-up time and split-second shutter response, which combine to eliminate the frustration of shooting lag - a common issue with many point-and-shoot digital cameras. With a fast and accurate autofocus and the ability to shoot continuously at up to three pictures-per-second, the D60 faithfully captures pictures that other cameras often miss. The D60 does all this while delivering extraordinarily vivid and detailed pictures, ensuring that fleeting expressions, special moments and memorable events are captured beautifully.

Packaged with Nikon's new AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR image stabilization lens, the D60 camera and lens outfit delivers striking image sharpness. What's more, Nikon's proprietary VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization technology also dramatically reduces blur caused when shooting handheld pictures, especially in low light.

The camera's 10.2 megapixel CCD sensor delivers crisp, high-resolution images with astounding color and clarity, while Nikon's advanced 3-D Color Matrix Metering II ensures that images are exposed beautifully and automatically, even in challenging lighting conditions. Additionally, Nikon's new digital image processing concept, EXPEED, delivers smooth tones and accurate color for vibrant pictures and flattering portraits.

The D60 also offers consumers comprehensive in-camera functionality, such as Active D-lighting. Through this innovative Nikon feature, the camera can, with the option selected, further optimize shadow and highlight detail--as pictures are taken. Shots that once required adjustment with photo editing software can now go straight to the printer, bypassing the computer altogether.

For added fun and creativity while reducing or helping to eliminate time spent manipulating pictures later, the D60's In-camera Retouch Menu enables users to accomplish a wide variety of tasks without a computer. The D60 offers new in-camera editing capabilities, including adjustable cross-screen star effects, color-intensifying filters as well as D-lighting, Red-eye correction, Image Trim and more. The D60's Stop-Motion Movie mode is a D-SLR first that enables users to create stop-animation movie clips from a series of as many as 100 consecutive JPEG picture files. More experienced photographers will also enjoy shooting in the lossless NEF (RAW) format, and then adjusting image parameters, such as size, format, and white balance, all within the camera.

While many cameras now feature a dust cleaning function, the D60 takes this idea one step further. In addition to offering an Image Sensor Cleaning function that quickly and silently shakes off specks of image degrading dust, the camera also minimizes the dust that can come into contact with the sensor through a unique Airflow Control System. This design works to channel particles away from the sensor with every click of the shutter, resulting in even further reduction of dust particles and the spots they can leave on pictures.

Ergonomically designed with intuitively placed controls, the D60 is a camera that's compact and ready to go wherever life leads. It also features a new power conserving Eye Sensor that turns the big 2.5-inch color LCD monitor on and off automatically when the user alternates between taking pictures and reviewing camera settings.

A customizable LCD monitor user interface rounds out the D60's convenient features, as users can create their own wallpapers and adjust color settings to adapt to their preferences. The D60's design also supports Eye-Fi memory card functionality, enabling the convenient wireless transfer of images from the D60 to a computer, when using Eye-Fi memory cards.* Additionally, photos can be securely written to readily available SD cards, high-capacity SDHC cards and Eye-Fi memory cards, offering users a range of data storage options.
The D60 will be packaged with the 3x zoom AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens and will be available throughout the United States beginning in February 2008. Pricing information will be available approximately 30 days prior to sales availability.

The D60, along with Nikon's entire line of photography, optics and digital imaging solutions, will be on display at the PMA 2008 International Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 at exhibitor booth # G220. For more information, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

[Nikon]


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Nikon’s Newest CoolPix Style Series Cameras Are Plum Purty [Digital Cameras]

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Technology

Nikon_CoolPix_2008_S_Series_1.jpgPoint and shoot cameras tend to blur together, so instead of listing them all separately, like their own God's gift to amateur photographers, here are the four S (for "style") series CoolPix cameras Nikon is introducing tonight, and their raisons d'être, plus a gallery of them striking various poses a bit lower down.

CoolPix S210 - Thinner than its predecessors at 18mm thick, with 8MP and electronic vibration reduction, the S210 comes in plum, graphite black, blue, and brushed bronze. The key here is compactness of body and of price: $180.

CoolPix S520 - Step up from the S210, this slightly larger camera reads similar in specs, but with optical image stabilization rather than the electronic kind. You'll pay extra for better pictures; included in the $230 camera's intelligent scene modes is a high-ISO mode one optimized for food. (Yours or someone elses—totally your call.)

CoolPix S550 - A sidestep to the S520, this one also costs $230 and comes in plum, blue and graphite black, but has 10 megapixels instead of 8 and no optical image stablilizer. It does have two cool tricks, however. Smile recognition (already seen in cameras from Sony and others) means it snaps when your subject smiles. The more unusual blink warning system automatically suggests you retake shots where someone's eyes are closed. Pretty crazy stuff—definitely our favorite in the lineup.

CoolPix S600 - This is the high-end performer, a 10 megapixel with 4x wide-angle zoom lens and optical image stabilizer (aka "vibration reduction") that'll cost you $300. It comes in slate black, has the fastest start-up time of any camera in its class (says Nikon) and has an Active Child Mode for getting the fast moving kids. (Yes, grammar sticklers, it probably should be "Active-Child Mode" but nobody asked us, now did they?)

Overall, it's a fine lot of cameras, but I'm not quite taken by the color choices. While I can dig the black and especially that brushed bronze, I do not think I'll ever be down with the plum. No sir. See for yourself in the gallery below. [Nikon]

galleryPost('NikonCoolPixSSeriesEarly2008', 23, '');

NIKON'S NEW COOLPIX S-SERIES ARE AS STUNNING AS THE PICTURES THEY TAKE

Nikon is pleased to introduce the new COOLPIX S210, S520, S550 and S600 to its Style Series line of compact digital cameras. The super thin, just 18mm, (less than 3/4-inch) COOLPIX S210 offers 8 effective megapixel resolution, a 3x Zoom-NIKKOR glass lens, Electronic Vibration Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization technology, and a quality-crafted aluminum body. The S210's slim, elegant camera design comes in an array of color options such as plum, graphite black, cool blue, and brushed bronze, delivering high performance and ease-of-operation.

The slim, ergonomic COOLPIX S520 boasts a streamlined profile, 8 effective megapixels, a 3x Zoom-NIKKOR lens, Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization, and a quality-crafted aluminum body. Style-conscious consumers will love the S520's design, in addition to the latest Nikon technologies that make this camera compact, easy to use, and capable of capturing breath-taking images. Additionally, the S520 adds the "Food Mode" to its existing scene modes. Food Mode allows for users to capture beautiful close-up images of food at high ISO settings in restaurants or other locations where flash photography is not permitted.

The COOLPIX S550 elegantly packs high performance and advanced functions into an ultra-compact body. The S550 boasts 10 effective megapixels of sharp resolution, a 5x Zoom-NIKKOR lens, and Electronic Vibration Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization and two new modes that enhance portrait photography: Smile Mode, which automatically triggers the shutter when the subject smiles, as well as Blink Warning, which displays a warning message when the subject has blinked. The COOLPIX S550 will be available in an array of new colors - plum, cool blue and graphite black - allowing consumers to not only express themselves with their photos, but with their cameras as well.

A standout in the slim-compact camera category, the COOLPIX S600 features an astonishingly fast start-up time, advanced functions, outstanding photographic performance and a slim and stylish body. Boasting 10 effective megapixels, a 4x wide-angle 28-112mm Zoom-NIKKOR lens, Optical Vibration Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization and the fastest start-up time for any camera in its class, the COOLPIX S600 is perfect for consumers who want stunning photos and an equally stunning camera. The COOLPIX S600's all-metal body will be available in ultra-cool Slate Black. For capturing action shots or fast moving kids, the COOLPIX S600 adds an Active Child Mode to the 14 existing scene modes that are standard in COOLPIX cameras.

The new COOLPIX S-Series cameras will be available nationwide beginning March 2008. The S210 will retail for 179.95**, the COOLPIX S520 and S550 will retail for $229.95**, and the S600 will retail for $299.95**.

** Estimated selling price listed is only an estimate. Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to change at any time.



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Pick Yer Low-Frill Nikon CoolPix Cam: $130 L18 or $230 P60 [Digital Cameras]

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Technology

Nikon_CoolPix_L18_P60.jpgFor every super sexy, super slim, multicolored point-and-shoot, there's a meat-and-potatoes model aimed at classrooms and people on tighter budgets. Nikon's $130 CoolPix L18 comes in blue or red and has some nice enhancements like in-camera redeye removal. The retro-styled CoolPix P60 costs $100 more, because it has a 5X optical zoom lens and an impressive 200,000-dot electronic viewfinder. With some manual controls, it's aimed at people who want to fiddle more, but don't want to break the bank. Both cameras run on AA batteries and have 8-megapixel sensors. [Nikon]


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Save Ink, Paper, and Money with GreenPrint [Featured Windows Download]

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Uncategorized

greenprint.png
Windows only: Save money on ink and paper while helping the environment with GreenPrint World Edition. The freeware version of the otherwise shareware GreenPrint offerings, GreenPrint World Edition identifies and removes unnecessary pages or space—like images you don't need to waste ink on or pages with lone URLs—from your print jobs. GreenPrint also keeps track of just how much money, paper, and greenhouse gases you're saving by using it. The freeware world version includes most of the best features of its shareware siblings, so give it a try and start saving both white and green ($) paper today. GreenPrint is freeware, Windows only. For a closer look at how it works, check out their screencast.

GreenPrint World Edition [via Download Squad]


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Restore Your Data with Time Machine [Backup Utilities]

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Uncategorized

time-machine.pngOf course you know all about Time Machine's marquee feature—the ability to browse your files back in time—but Blogger James Duncan Davidson details Time machine's equally-excellent-in-its-simplicity feature: restoring an entire system after a hard drive crash. The process is painless. Simply boot from the Leopard install disc with a fresh hard drive in place of your crashed drive; instead of continuing with the install process, go to Utilities -> Restore System from Backup. Then select your backup source (your Time Machine drive), choose which backup you want to restore (most likely you'll want the most recent), then pick the destination drive (your new drive). Then it's simply a matter of kicking back and waiting for Time Machine to do its magic. When all's said and done, your entire system (with a few small exceptions) should be back in the exact same state you left it. I've already done this a couple of times myself, and frankly, it feels good. The simplicity of Time Machine really does compel you.

Restoring from Time Machine [DuncanDavidson via TUAW]



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Third iPhone 1.1.3 Jailbreak Upgrades Directly via Installer [Iphone Jailbreak]

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Technology

If you've got an already jailbroken 1.1.1 or 1.1.2 iPhone, you can now upgrade directly via Installer.app—no connecting to Mac or PC required. The only caveat is that the process takes 45 minutes as it downloads the entire upgrade via Wi-Fi, so hook your phone up to an AC adapter before you start. Again, find it in installer.app on your jailbroken 1.1.2 iPhone. [Crunchgear ]


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Notes: Tried and True Winter Gadgets Have No Batteries [Notes]

Posted by Ry on Jan 28 2008 | Technology

Chris, Adrian and I went to Tahoe to snowboard and test some winter gadgets for an upcoming story. When it comes to the great outdoors and winter gear, little pieces of electronics have nothing on old fashioned tech like solid AWD, dedicated winter tires and gore tex outerwear. Driving up, we ran into a bit of trouble.

At about 2am on our late Thursday drive, I glanced up from my radar detector and GPS didn't see him in my rearview mirror for a minute longer than I should have. When I turned around, I found Chris and Adrian at the side of the road looking at the fender of their car. He had a bit of bad luck, hit some ice a little too fast and pinballing around a tight corner on rt 89 near Homewood. Even with AWD, the all season tires on his Subie and slightly-too-fast speed didn't keep him on the road. We were only 2 miles from the cabin, too. Even better than winter tires would have been those Qtires with retractable ice pins. Reminds me of The Animal, that toy truck with claws that pop out of the wheels. You know what I'm talking about. Trying to push the car out of the drift after banging out his severely dented and scraping wheel well made me think I needed more emergency supplies in my own car. Could have done with a few more bottles of water, a lighter, to go along with the weather radio and hand crank cellphone charger. (Rest in Peace, James Kim.)

The next day, we went for a short ride, and luck didn't improve. Since the snow was so thick, Lisa and Chris, really both better-than-decent at skiing and snowboarding, convinced me to traverse to the steepest slope at Homewood and take a dive. Meanwhile, I flopped my way down, avoiding snow wedgies only by virtue of some 3 layer gore tex high top pants. Chris bombed the hill, not noticing that there was a snow covered lake at the bottom, which he ended up having to hike out of. Later, we think it was his blue goggles that kept him from seeing well in the cloudy conditions. Gear matters, but not always the kind we write about on a daily basis. It's a pretty good story, though, you have to admit.

One last thing: If you guys have a moment, I'm not too ashamed to ask for some votes over at the bloggies for Gizmodo. We're nominated in a few places, but I don't recommend you vote on us for Design. Kotaku and Jezebel are there, too, as is Consumerist. I'll probably put up a proper beg post tomorrow, but for now, the few of you who made it to the bottom of this rather pointless post could make this editor pretty happy with a few good clicks. [Bloggies]


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