With environmentalism being so hip and fashionable these days -- particularly on the corporate level -- every day kind of feels like Earth Day. Every other ad I see on TV is from some polluter-cum-born-again-environmentalist company touting its commitment to our planet. Every other news story concerns a company or municipality taking new measures to reduce its impact on Ma Nature. Everywhere I turn, I'm being force-fed tips on how to "green" this and how to "green" that. The message, and more specifically the word "green" itself, have become so saturated that they're practically meaningless.
As I sit down to write this week's Grouse column, I find myself having to work through one of those rather dull and annoying headaches, which, I'm almost certain, is from repeatedly slapping myself in the forehead over the course of the last few days. It's not that I'm a masochist -- I'm just upset with myself for not being the first to think of a Netflix-style site for books and book lovers.
Hey kids! Have you heard of the cool new program for Windows PCs that lets you boot your system in a jiffy and gives you instant-on access to e-mail, IM, and the Web? Yeah, it's called Linux.
That's the basic sales pitch for a new software package called Presto -- though the official verbiage doesn't dare go anywhere near that dirty "Linux" word. On its web site and in its documentation, Presto is positioned simply as a program for Windows. You download it as an .exe file and install it like you would any other application.
Earlier this month, an unknown little startup grabbed big headlines when it received Al "Internet Earth Soldier" Gore's official endorsement for a proposed ".eco" domain name extension (aka TLD, aka top-level domain). Dot Eco, as the company is appropriately named, hopes to ride the current wave of trendy corporate environmentalism into a pile of that other type of green. But with other "alternative" TLDs like ".biz," ".info" and ".mobi" already going largely ignored by Internet users and site owners alike, do we really need yet another URL naming convention on the Web? I don't think we do.
An iPhone app named "Cydia" made some big news recently, for posing the first real challenge to Apple's draconian dictatorship over the iTunes App Store. What's the big deal? If you haven't heard of Cydia, it's a gateway app -- a kind of seedy, underground version of the official App Store that let's you install unofficial, unauthorized and otherwise illegal apps to your Jesusphone or iPod Touch. The hubbub is over the latest version, which now allows developers to sell their wares and accept payments right inside of the Cydia app itself via Amazon Payments, Facebook Connect, Google logins, and soon PayPal.
Of course, Cydia and anything acquired through it can only be installed if you've mustered the cojones to jailbreak your touch-erific Apple handheld, thereby voiding its warranty. So, for the vast majority of multi-touch fetishists out there, news of this "alternate" app store is completely meaningless. Why should you care about it, then? Because the iTunes App Store, as it exists, is broken.
To me, nobody's got Fisher Price and its 65-year-old View-Master beat when it comes to 3-D. Sure, its paper discs are only capable of conveying still images, but no matter how many so-called 3-D movies, games, ads, or even football matchups I've seen over the years, nothing's come close to duplicating the awe I experienced the first time I ever peeped into those famous red binoculars. So, it was with great anticipation that I test drove the new GeForce 3-D Vision gaming goggles from Nvidia this week.
In February, seventeen of the world's biggest, big-boy cell phone manufacturers got their Voltron on, banding together under the flag of the GSMA (Groupe Speciale Mobile Association) to promise universal handset jack-ability by 2012. Ever since then, I've read countless articles by tech writers praising this announcement and heralding it as the long-overdue end to that proverbial bottom drawer full of old, outdated chargers we all supposedly keep. But I'm not drinking the GSMA's Kool-Aid.
It's been a rough week, friends. The Grouse has been holed up in seclusion mourning the passing of a very dear old friend: my 12-inch PowerBook G4. The tragedy of it all is, my beloved isn't even dead yet -- far from it, in fact. But I've just learned that, according to Apple, my five-year-old diminutive laptop is officially "vintage." Hey, sounds cool. Unfortunately, that distinction means Apple and Apple Service Providers will no longer patch up my computer with replacement parts should something go haywire. Not so cool.
Is Microsoft finally admitting that Windows Vista is a lost cause? Well, that’s certainly not the official company line, but it does kind of seem that way to me. The embattled OS’s successor, Windows 7, wraps up a public beta in a few days and speculation is that Microsoft is planning to crown its heir to the Windows kingdom as early as the Fall. By then, Vista will have been on store shelves for less than three years. That’s not a very long time compared to XP, which was top dog for five years before being replaced by Vista—if it was ever really replaced at all.
Been laid off? Sacked? Canned? Made redundant? Welcome to the new economy! Now that you've parted ways with regular pay, it's time to make a few lifestyle tweaks to help keep your head bobbing above the poverty line. First of all, don't worry a thing about your monthly health insurance payment—that nut will disappear all by itself when your coverage runs out. I'm talking about your tech habits and what you need to know while riding out this exile from the working world. As a gadget buff who has clocked some serious time "in between jobs" myself, I offer up this checklist of the bad tech to avoid and the good tech to embrace as you ease into your new situation.