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The Internet’s Baby Pictures

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on September 4, 2009

Saw this a couple of days ago and forgot to post it until just now. From Gizmodo:

image © Gizmodo?

image © Gizmodo?

The image above shows the log entry of the first meaningful connection between two computer nodes. It happened on October 29, 1969. However, the very first heart beat, the first actual connection in which bits were exchanged between two hosts happened 40 years ago today.

Happy (belated) 40th birthday, internet. Hopefully by the time you’re 50, Hallmark will make a card for that.

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This Is Exactly What I Was Afraid Of

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on September 2, 2009

Um, Hooray?

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on September 2, 2009

As a follow-up to my RROD Xbox 360 post from last week (via Gizmodo):

Hey guys, have you heard? Xbox 360s die, horribly, almost without fail. In the wake of some devastatingly terrible survey results—54% failure rate terrible—a third-party warranty company is saying that RRoD troubles are on the wane.

image © Gizmodo, I think

image © Gizmodo, I think

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Rock Band Bar Nights

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on September 2, 2009

I’ve heard rumblings about this for a while now, but it looks like it’s official: Harmonix is bringing Rock Band to pubs and bars. They’re calling it—wait for it—Rock Band Bar Nights. Maybe it’s not the most compelling branding, but it does have a sort of Soviet industrial efficiency to it. And come on, this is from a developer who called their rock band simulation game “Rock Band” (possibly because “Music Game” wasn’t able to be trademarked?).

image © HotHardware.com

image © HotHardware.com

No, no, no… I kid the Rock Band. I’m only miffed because I’d been thinking about buying a PA and a projector and trying to do something similar myself. I think it’s an amazing idea and long overdue. There are going to be over a thousand songs available for the game by the end of the year, so there’s no shortage of content. Gamers who have honed their skills in their living room can come on out and show off their mad rocking skills to an audience that will actually appreciate them. And it should help the DJ (RBJ?) run through the list of sign-ups four times faster than a traditional karaoke joint.

It also has the capacity to be four times as brutal to the listener if a band of drunks fumbles their way through the song… unless No Fail mode is turned off. Then, instead of listening to some dude slur his way through “Baby Got Back,” the entire band fails out thirty seconds into the song, to howls of delight from the crowd. Of course, this infringes on my jointly held patent for Gong Show Karaoke (© Leaf Standard and Bryan Stratton), but I’m willing to let that slide, because I’m lazy and would rather let someone else do all of the hard work.

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Facebook v. 3.01 App

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on September 1, 2009

image © Bryan Stratton

image © Bryan Stratton

Now that I’ve had a few days to play with version 3.0 of the Facebook iPhone app (which was recently upgraded to 3.01), I can say with confidence that it’s the update I’ve been hoping to see for a long time. In fact, my only criticism is that we didn’t get it months ago, when Facebook went through its last major redesign.

The addition of the menu screen is probably the biggest and best improvement to the app. Navigating the app with nine, Home Screen-like buttons drastically simplifies what was a needlessly overcomplicated UI in the previous version. And being able to add quick links to frequently visited friends’ pages streamlines the browsing experience even more. (In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing something like this on the actual site, especially if it was implemented discreetly, to avoid the MySpace “who’s in my top eight?” drama.) I also like that there’s a Notifications tab at the bottom of the menu screen, and that the number of unread notifications (not just unread emails) appears on the Facebook icon in the Home Screen.

image © Bryan Stratton

image © Bryan Stratton

Other things I’m digging on include the ability to finally view and create Notes, see all of your upcoming Events (including friends’ birthdays) and enjoy the full filtered or unfiltered News Feed. The redesigned Chat interface is also quite slick and functional, and I’m glad they didn’t muck up the most useful feature in the original app, which was the ability to use your Friends list as a second Contacts list and call them without leaving the app.

Overall, I think that the app presents a very clean and efficient version of Facebook‘s core features, one that is almost preferable to the main site, especially  if you’re the sort of person who can’t stand seeing a feed that’s choked with quizzes and app postings. I’ll be interested to see how long it takes Facebook app designers to start taking advantage of the iPhone app’s potential and whether or not it’s possible to do so without sacrificing the iPhone app’s streamlined design.

9/9/09 Apple Event

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on August 31, 2009

Apple just announced a rock and roll-themed event in San Francisco on September 9th, 2009. This is the same 9/9/09 that sees the release of The Beatles: Rock Band and the remastered stereo and mono Beatles discography boxed sets. Is there anyone out there who will bet against the Beatles’ music finally turning up on iTunes?

image © Engadget/Apple

image © Engadget/Apple

Other things I expect to see at the event:

I will bet against seeing the Mac tablet/”iPad” a week from Wednesday. Anyone want to take my money?

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Rock Band DLC 9/1

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on August 28, 2009

More Rock Band DLC awesomeness on tap for next Tuesday:

  • Avenged Sevenfold – “Bat Country”
  • The Jam – “A Town Called Malice”
  • The Jam – “Going Underground”
  • Oasis – “Supersonic” (Live)
  • Rage Against the Machine – “Guerilla Radio”
  • Talking Heads – “And She Was”
  • Talking Heads – “Crosseyed & Painless”
  • Talking Heads – “Girlfriend is Better”
  • Talking Heads – “Once in a Lifetime”
  • Talking Heads – “Take Me to the River”
image © Bryan Stratton

image © Bryan Stratton

Video Game Cupcake Roundup

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on August 28, 2009

I’m pretty sure that these have been around the internets for a while, but they’re new to me. Courtesy of Boing Boing:

image © Boing Boing/Omar
image © Boing Boing/Omar

Pac-Man cake with cupcake ghosts

image © Boing Boing/knightPhlight

image © Boing Boing/knightPhlight

Legend of Zelda’s Link executed in cupcake pixel-art

image © Boing Boing/Hello Naomi

image © Boing Boing/Hello Naomi

Retro-gamer cupcakes OM NOM NOM NOM

(Thanks to Sara for discovering these.)

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Google Zombie Map

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on August 28, 2009

This might be the best use of Google Maps ever: a map that shows the real-world locations of all of the appearances, deaths, events and locations from Robert Kirkman‘s excellent comic book series, The Walking Dead. Click on the icons in the left navigation bar to jump to their locations on the map, plus scanned panels from the comic.

If you haven’t read the comic, what are you waiting for? The AMC series based on the comic might be as little as 18 months away. You’ve spent the last two and a half years pretending that you were hip enough to start watching Mad Men from the first episode and living in fear that someone will discover that you devoured both seasons on DVD within the last six months. Don’t miss your chance to get in on the ground floor with this one.

image © Bryan Stratton/Google Maps/Robert Kirkman/some guy named "Jason"

image © Bryan Stratton/Google Maps/Robert Kirkman/some guy named "Jason"

(Thanks to Darren for bringing this to my attention.)

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Augmenting Reality

Posted in Blog Posts by Bryan Stratton on August 28, 2009

The newest version of the Yelp app for the iPhone (released yesterday) has a nifty Easter Egg that we weren’t supposed to get until the iPhone 3.1 OS upgrade. From the Yelp home screen, shake the phone three times to enable a feature called “Monocle,” which triggers an augmented reality feature, overlaying the iPhone’s camera view with a real-time HUD indicating businesses that are reviewed on Yelp.

image © Bryan Stratton

image © Bryan Stratton

I tried it this morning while walking to the Little Red Bike Cafe in North Portland. At a distance, it worked pretty well, but as I got closer to my destination, the accuracy decreased. In the screenshot above, Darcy’s actually is pretty much right across the street from me, but Taco Bell is behind me, and the Little Red Bike Cafe is to my left.

I’m sure that’s just an issue with the calibration and the fact that the iPhone 3.0 OS isn’t fully equipped to handle augmented reality apps at this point. But for a secret feature that’s still in beta, it’s frickin’ cool, and it’s definitely got me looking forward to seeing what creative uses app developers come up with for the finished API.

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