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Friday, December 29, 2006

Picture this: creative holiday gift ideas

Microsoft At Home columnist Emily Leeson suggests ways to use personal photographs to make creative and one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. [more]

Webcam basics: How does one work?

Get the basics on webcams, including how they work and what to buy. Then follow our pointers to help you send the perfect video message to family and friends. [more]

Moving pictures: Put together a slide show for holiday guests

Start your holiday party off right by creating a slide show of your most festive photos. Learn how easy it is to do using Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows, a free download. [more]

Super Bowl party games

Get everyone into game spirit with two Super Bowl party games for both serious and casual football fans. [more]

Top 10 Web sites for students

For better or for worse, most students these days are doing their school research on the Web, not at the local library. Here’s a look at some of the most comprehensive—and reliable—educational Web sites for students. [more]

Work out with the help of the Web

Is losing weight or getting in better shape one of your New Year’s resolutions? Then check out these tips and Web sites that can offer inspiration and help you achieve your goals. [more]

Reduce stress and stay organized while running errands

A day of running errands can be stressful for anyone, because a simple journey around town can involve a great deal of coordination. Here's how a little planning and the right technology can help you stay organized. [more]

Create digital prints online

Learn how to take advantage of Microsoft Windows XP and the Internet for an easy way to convert your electronic images into album-ready snapshots. [more]

Make a portion of your screen up to 5 times larger

Point, click, enlarge, edit: Learn about the new Microsoft Magnifier in Microsoft mouse products and discover how it can be a real asset to you. [more]

Take your online communication to new heights

Do you use instant messaging (IM)? Take your IM beyond simple text chats with advanced features in Windows Messenger, including voice and video chat, photo sharing, and real-time collaboration on documents. [more]

Get started blogging

Are you new to blogging? Straight from the pages of the book "Share Your Story: Blogging with MSN Spaces," this excerpt walks you step by step through creating your first blog entry. [more]

Preparing for school: A Tablet PC helps you make the grade

If you're thinking about a new computer for school, consider a Tablet PC. Learn about some ways that a Tablet PC can help students stay organized, study more effectively, and be more productive at school. [more]

Get started with massively multiplayer gaming

Today's leading games for Windows XP and Xbox 360 can be enjoyed by thousands of players simultaneously—in massively multiplayer online (MMO) universes over the Internet. Learn what you need to do to get started with MMO gaming. [more]

Mobile blogging made easy

If you have a mobile phone or PDA with e-mail capability, you can post blog entries to your MSN Space while you're on the road. This excerpt from the book "Share Your Story: Blogging with MSN Spaces" shows you how. [more]

5 great time-waster games

You have 10 minutes left on your lunch hour, so what do you do? Play a great game that's perfect for a quick energizer and for, well, wasting time. Here are five of our favorites. [more]

Keep in touch with MSN Spaces

People blog for all sorts of reasons. You may want to share your views with the world, or you may want to communicate with just one or two friends. Learn how you can set permissions for your MSN Space so that you can stay in touch with your group in just the right way. [more]

Build an inspired music collection with your PC

Take a look at all the ways that your PC can help you appreciate your music—from storing and organizing music files to playing your songs to copying and burning CDs. [more]

Tips for buying a printer

Are you looking for a new printer for your home office? Here are some useful pointers for choosing the right printer to suit your needs. [more]

Hold the phone line: Talk over the Internet with VoIP

More and more people are turning to the Internet to make their telephone calls. Learn how voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) works and the advantages of switching to a digital phone service. [more]

4 fast fixes for your digital photos

We all take some bad digital photos. But rather than delete our photo mistakes, we can fix them. From taking the perfect picture to enhancing your images, here are four quick tips that will turn your bad shots into digital masterpieces. [more]

You Control: Fonts gains Universal Binary

You Software today announced the release of You Control: Fonts 1.2, the latest version of its font menu creation tool. The latest revision is the first iteration to run natively on PowerPC as well as Intel-based Macs as a Universal Binary, and receive updates for compatibility with newer applications including QuarkXPress 7. You Control: Fonts 1.2 ...

UI Browser 2.0 goes Universal

PreFab Software has launched UI Browser 2.0, a major update to its GUI accessibility and scripting assistant software. The new version is a Universal Binary that runs natively on both older PowerPC and newer Intel Macs. UI Browser 2.0 adds a host of new features, according to PreFab, including an enhanced Screen Reader that displays all of the acti...

Briefly: review, Shuffle clasp patent

In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Griffin Centerstage iPod Case ($25, shown at right), a small stand designed for Apple's video iPod that holds the device upright for viewing.... The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published Apple's newly granted patent for its iPod shuffle 'Clasp'.... Speck Products is offering 15 percent off entire orders at ...

Sub-$1,350 refurbished MacBook Pro

Apple is still offering its sub-$1,350 refurbished MacBook Pro top-end notebooks with free shipping alongside a slew of other pro portables. The refurbished 15-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro ($1,349) ships with 512MB of memory, an 80GB hard drive, a slot-loading SuperDrive DVD±RW/CD-RW, an ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 graphics card with 128MB of video memory...

MacBook owner opts for Dvorak layout

One enthusiastic Apple owner has physically modified his MacBook keyboard to utilize the Dvorak keyboard layout. Seeking the more modern Dvorak layout -- which is faster than the antiquated QWERTY style still in widespread use today -- resulted in the exchange of several keys using a standard mini screwdriver to produce the desired effect, accordin...

Atech ships KB-Dock keyboard with iPod dock

Atech has begun shipping its KB-Dock, a keyboard that incorporates an iPod dock alongside three separate card slots that support up to 10 different portable storage formats. The dock syncs as well as charges clickwheel iPods and iPod minis, according to Electronista. The card reader is a separate unit connected to the computer through which iPod da...

iTunes visits careen 413% on Christmas day

Apple's iTunes Music Store received 413 percent more hits on Christmas day this year than last year, according to a Hitwise, and the market share of visits to the Apple Store showed an increase of 110 percent this year over last. The Apple Store was also the fourth most visited website in the Hitwise Retail Index on Christmas Day of 2006. Microsoft...

UBS: Apple options fears seem overblown

UBS analyst Ben Reitzes has joined Piper Jaffray to conclude that Apple CEO Steve Jobs' decision to hire legal counsel is a normal course of action for the executive, given his immense personal fortune and influence in the industry. "We believe Apple seems to be on track toward putting options issues behind it and expect delayed filings within 2 da...

Microsoft gives Ferrari notebooks to blogger

Microsoft has provided numerous influential bloggers such as Scott Beale of Laughing Squid with free top-end Acer Ferrari custom-configured notebooks. Each system is said to ship with a preinstalled copy of Windows Vista Ultimate -- the premium edition of Microsoft's forthcoming operating system. Beale has documented his reception of the Acer Ferra...

Apps: iLocalize, iBabel, DarkAdapted

iLocalize 3 ($40) is designed to help developers localize applications to handle multiple languages in the same project. The software offers custom glossaries, and the update is completely rewritten with a new project window, new file editors, and a glossary inspector. [Download - 6.9MB] iBabel 2.3 (free) adds the ability to use ChemDraw...

Apple files cryptographic systems patent

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published two of Apple's security-related patent applications titled 'Chaos generator for accumulation of stream entropy' and 'Method and apparatus for establishing a secure connection.' The former, which was originally filed in mid-2005, relates to the generation of secure random numbers for use in cryptogr...

Blu-Ray, HD DVD protection already cracked?

One skilled hacker is already claiming to have defeated copy-protection measures built into new HD movie formats, which were originally designed to stem piracy efforts. A poster in the Doom9 forums says that an application he's developed, BackupHDDVD, bypasses the Advanced Access Content System (AACS) encryption found on both Blu-Ray and HD DVD dis...

Apple files for drive guard system patent

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today published two Apple patent applications titled 'Guard system for portable computer disk drive slot' and 'Method and apparatus for binding user interface objects to application objects.' The former, which was initially filed in mid-2005, relates to a guard system for the disk drive slot on Apple notebooks. Th...

Briefly: MacNN reviews; games on demand

In brief: MacNN has reviewed the Saitek Eclipse II Backlit Keyboard ($70, shown at right), a keyboard with a silver casing and a weighted base with rubber feet to prevent unwanted movement.... MacNN has also reviewed the Kenpo Jacket for iPod ($100 on sale, regularly $190), a unique iPod accessory with a technological fabric control system sewn int...

It's About Time offers iPhoto learning tool

It's About Time Products has released 'It's About Time' to learn iPhoto, designed exclusively for users new to Apple's iPhoto software. The learning tool teaches users the basics of iPhoto interactively, such as how to import photos from a digital camera and organize them into albums. 'It's About Time' to learn iPhoto covers using the crop tool, sh...

Lithium Network Monitoring Platform released

Lithium has released its Lithium Network Monitoring Platform to monitor networks, servers, and appliances via a management platform. The software is designed to provide an end-to-end solution with automated device monitoring, out-of-the-box support for SNMP, and an integrated trouble-ticket case management system. The platform is built around a sca...

Analyst warns of premature Vista launch

Microsoft's Vista business launch was premature and has instilled doubt that the company was ever truly ready for a 2006 launch, according to one industry analyst. PC World analyst Russ Cooper of Cybertrust observes that much of the software compatibility in Vista is broken, leaving many early business customers and even some home users stranded as...

iTunes settles after hiccup disturbs sales

Apple's iTunes Music Store today returned to normal after numerous customers reported receiving numerous error messages and long delays as they attempted to download songs over a two day span. Wall Street analysts suspect that the delays were caused by mammoth music sales which exceeded the company's expectations, as well as its ability to handle t...

Apple takes $84m charge for option scandal

Apple will restate financial data going back to 2002 and take an $84 million ($105 million pre-tax) charge after a board committee found the company had improperly backdated thousands of stock options grants to employees and executives. The company took a a charge of almost $20 million to adjust for Apple CEO Steve Jobs' options, but exonerated cur...

Apple 10-K reiterates previous conclusions

Apple's 10-K filing reiterates that current management was not involved with stock options wrongdoing, according to Piper Jaffray senior analyst Gene Munster. The investigation found that Apple CEO Steve Jobs was aware of some favorable options grant dates, but that he did not benefit from them personally and was not aware of the accounting implica...

$1000 music sequencer can play Pong

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Of course, to get Pong, you have to add a $30 upgrade, but hey ... retro gaming action on your $1k machine! It may seem a bit like overkill, but at least when you play Pong it does trigger different sequences and effects. No word yet on if you can get the original 'dit dit' sounds of Pong or not, but you can trigger a nice little drum riff and scratch if you want. Think Moby has one of these?

Next up: $250k Ferrari can play Duck Hunt.

[Thanks, Tom]
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Hidden games in Mac OS X

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Mac OS X uses emacs as a text editor, which contains a number of hidden games including Snake, Tetris, Pong and a whole slew of others. Follow the simple steps included here, and you could be playing a boatload of games that you didn't even know were on your Mac. Granted, the games pretty much suck (the graphics make the Wii look like Super High Definition 2160iii), but if you're trying to kill 30 minutes while sitting in the library, look no further.

We're still exploring these and trying to figure out what the heck some of the games are.
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Analyst: Publishers not supporting Wii to get left behind

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In a interview with CNBC today, analyst Evan Wilson declares Wii the early next-gen console victor. But the report appears more concerned with the possible implications for publisher stocks rather than just Nintendo's.

Wilson believes game makers who have formed early partnerships with Nintendo via Wii can look forward to a banner year, one he says will be the fastest growing in a long time. He predicts THQ and Activision as big winners for their early commitment to the motion-sensing platform with no mention of Ubisoft.

So what about EA, the world's largest games publisher with 25% of the market? The analyst thinks the company will get left behind in 2007 for not scheduling more upcoming Wii games and because their hardcore games don't appeal as much to Wii's desired non-gamer audience. Also, after calling the PS3 a "disappointment" to an investor audience, he's wary on both EA and Take 2 stock for their strong support of the PS3. Not only is Sony getting some bad press now, so are any publishers aligned with its console, at least from one analyst.
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Goldeneye: Source beta released

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The 22-man team working to modernize Goldeneye 64 with the Source Engine have given everyone the perfect Christmas gift: a public beta showing off the fruits of their labor. (It's just a step above last year's present, the alpha version.)

The mod, which requires a Source-based game to work, has already garnered much attention over the years for the level of detail in its stage design and weaponry. All information, including known bugs, can be found on the developer Wiki. Here are some suggestions, via the mod's main website, on how to stabilize the game:
  • Check for and download latest video card drivers
  • A server with 10 people seems to work better
  • Have the Base SDK installed
  • Download the mod again on another mirror and reinstall the mod.
  • Turn HDR off
  • Turn shadow detail on low
A patch is being planned but no date has been determined.

[Thanks to everyone who sent this in!]
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History (and logic) suggest it obviously ain't over for the PS3

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It's hard not to get caught up in the doom and gloom of Sony's status quo. You know, the one where the PS3 can't catch a break and is rumored to be experiencing waning demand desp ite a short supply. Enter one level-headed writer over at Amped News who gives the company and console the benefit of the doubt based on recent history and some much-needed logic.

Author Anthony Perez in an article entitled "Hasty Conclusions: The Fate of the PS3 and Wii" profiles early PSP and GameCube buzz to what would eventually become lackluster systems for most gamers, and a poor PS2 launch that would later become the beginning of the most widely purchased home console to date. So keep hope alive despite the PS3's controversial launch.

Perez also reminds us that enthusiasts like you and I are merely a minority in mass gaming culture, you know the one where Madden consistently is the top selling game in the US contrary to what is covered in the press. From the article: "Sony still has the definitive brand in gaming and to the average mainstream consumer that's all that r eally matters." So what's the doom and gloom conversation really focused on: The fact that Sony may have blown its 70% PS2 market share, or the long-shot of a chance that the PS3 may have seriously jeopardized the company's gaming business? There I go getting all hasty again...
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Defcon dev announces new game: Subversion

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Introversion, creator of indie darlings Darwinia and DEFCON, have announced their next project will be called Subversion. Company co-founder Chris Delay made the announcement earlier last week, noting that the project is early in production and the development will be blogged.

Understanding that many developers fall into the trap where hype lead s to disappointment, Delay assures that he will make no promises as to final features and game play details.

As another point, Delay points out that the attached images, including the one to the right, is not a representation of the game and anyone who treats the screenshots as such are mistaken. You've been warned.

[Via videogames blogger]
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"Fun" not the real reason you continue to play games?

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You know the routine; nearly every idle moment of your day is spent either pondering or playing video games. Gotta get past that boss, roam another dungeon, or beat your buddy one more time. Why is that? The obvious answer is "because it's fun" but a recent study suggests it may be more than that.

Researchers at the University of Rochester found after surveying 1,000 gamers that the real reason games are so widely played is because achievement, explorative freedom, and connection with others (be it human or in-game characters) trump the "shallow sense of fun" which the study believes doesn't keep players as interested.

From the article: "'It's our contention that t he psychological 'pull' of games is largely due to their capacity to engender feelings of autonomy, competence, and relatedness,' says Ryan. The researchers believe that some video games not only motivate further play but 'also can be experienced as enhancing psychological wellness, at least short-term,' he says." So instead of having to look in the mirror every day telling myself that people like me, I'll just play more Halo. Ahh...
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