Thursday, October 25, 2007

Microsoft acquires equity stake in Facebook, expands advertising partnership

Updated 3:50 p.m. PDT: It's official: Microsoft will take a $240 million equity stake in Facebook during its next round of financing, valuing the company at a whopping $15 billion.'s Ina Fried in her Beyond Binary blog reported earlier Wednesday that Microsoft had beaten out Google in the high-stakes bidding war for the slice of tasty Facebook cake. The final deal resulted in a 1.6 percent stake in the social-networking company, notably smaller than the 5 to 10 percent that had been talked about in recent weeks.

"We are pleased to take our Microsoft partnership to the next level," Owen Van Natta, vice president of operations and chief revenue officer at Facebook, said in a statement. "We think this expanded relationship will allow Facebook to continue to innovate and grow as a technology leader and major player in social computing, as well as bring relevant advertising to the more than 49 million active users of Facebook."

In a conference call on Wednesday afternoon with press and analysts, Van Natta and Kevin Johnson, Microsoft's president of platform and services, emphasized that this deal is all about the existing advertising partnership between the two companies, which has been going on for over a year now. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, it should be noted, was not present on the call.

"It's a strong vote of confidence in the innovation that Facebook is doing," Johnson said of the deal, which was signed Wednesday. It's ironic, considering that just earlier this month Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer brushed off Facebook and other youth-friendly social-networking sites as a "fad."

Under the terms of the new agreement, Microsoft will be the exclusive third-party advertising partner for the Palo Alto, Calif.-based social-networking site, and the Microsoft ads will expand beyond the U.S. to Facebook's international presence. So far, the advertising deal does not appear to have expanded beyond its current 2011 expiration date.

"It's pretty clear that Microsoft wasn't investing in this as an economic move. This is clearly not just about adding a company to your portfolio," Gartner analyst Andrew Frank told CNET "Microsoft is looking to anchor itself in the emerging ecosystem of social-media advertising, and getting this partnership with Facebook is a good way to get a structural advantage."

Developing a robust advertising strategy is clearly a pressing issue for Facebook, which has come under scrutiny in recent months for showing only lukewarm signs of long-term profitability. Earlier on Wednesday, Facebook confirmed rumors that it will be making a major advertising announcement on November 6 in New York.

Van Natta and Johnson stressed that Wednesday's deal, at least on the surface, doesn't go far beyond advertising and the "$240 million poke." There won't be any integration of Facebook into Microsoft services, nor will Microsoft's non-advertising properties--like Windows Live Messenger, for example--be worked into Facebook.

But Frank speculated after the call that the partnership could easily grow. "I think (Microsoft) may get more. I think that the language of the press release, which is always rather contrived, emphasizes what they agreed to emphasize at this juncture, but I think they left the door open for a whole lot more stuff down the road," Frank said. "Microsoft will continue to have influence beyond just being an ad platform."

But on the call, Van Natta and Johnson repeatedly referred to it as an expansion of an existing partnership. When asked what had happened with Google, widely rumored to be another major bidder in the Facebook stake competition--and which serves the ads for Facebook's chief rival MySpace--Van Natta answered that it was because the partnership with Microsoft was already in place.

"We were very fortunate to have a lot of folks that were interested in partnering with us around advertising," Van Natta said. "We've been working with Microsoft for over a year now in the U.S., and it's been a partnership that's been really great for both of us."

Speaking to journalists near the end of Google's Analyst Day, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that "it's not appropriate for us to comment without taking a look." He added that Google is "very happy to work with Facebook and anyone else," but when asked if his company had been in talks to acquire the stake, Schmidt said that he "would rather not talk specifically."

Google co-founder Sergey Brin had more to say to journalists, though he was not specifically speaking about Facebook. "Occasionally we've lost one here, one there," Brin observed. "Some of our competitors might be willing to spend very large amounts of money...and we're really interested in doing sustainable economic deals, so we would rather not participate in those sorts of transactions. But we definitely wish those companies well."

"Overbidding," Schmidt added, "always upsets me, and Sergey calms me down." (Again, Schmidt was not talking specifically about Facebook.) He then elaborated. "Sometimes people include a revenue guarantee, an absolute number, or on a per-ad basis or per customer...a guarantee (that they will pay the publisher)," Schmidt said. "And they do that to enter a market...It's perfectly legal as far as I can tell...It's essentially a subsidy."

Much of the fine print on the Microsoft-Facebook deal has not been disclosed, including the specifics of how the advertising strategy will work--which goes into the question of exactly how much Facebook user data Microsoft will have access to. "User trust is core to what it is that we focus on every day at Facebook," Van Natta said, but would not provide details.

The executives also asserted that there will be no new rules or restrictions on the thousands of developers who have been working with Facebook since the social-networking site opened its platform to third parties in May.

As for the rest of the social-networking world, Gartner's Frank said that even Facebook's competitors should consider the Microsoft partnership a good sign overall.

"Clearly a rising tide floats all boats, and so the fact that Microsoft is making a big commitment to the medium itself will probably help the overall sector because it gives it credibility, and gives it some long-term interest from a pretty serious company," he observed. "The effect on the sector probably outweighs any competitive effects because if the sector grows as fast as Microsoft seems to think it will, there should be a lot of room for growth for a lot of different players beyond Facebook."

But, Frank added, there's still some uncertainty involved. "There are still risks inherent in the category of advertising in social media. I think that no one has figured out the perfect formula for it...There's risk around trust factors and privacy that haven't really fully been explored. I wouldn't say that the market is anywhere near mature enough to call it risk-free."

Posted by Caroline McCarthy
Via Cnet
CNET's Elinor Mills contributed to this story.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Macs Not as Popular As Fanboys Think

For Mac fans, there is good news and bad news coming out today from analyst Gene Munster of investment bank Piper Jaffray. The most remarkable aspect of Apple's skyrocketing popularity is the fact that the company shipped 2.16 million Macs in the third quarter of this year. The part of the analyst's report that might give some Mac fanboys a bit of perspective is that even with that tremendous surge in sales, Apple's market share constitutes a mere 3.2% of the worldwide PC market. The remarkable news is that Apple's share of the worldwide computer market was 2.5% six months ago, so there was a 28 percent increase in market share in half a year. But something's fishy about these figures.
According to IDC, Apple's market share is considerably higher, reaching 6.3% at the end of the third quarter of 2007. That's compared to a 5.7% market share at the end of the same quarter last year, a 15.9% gain. Still, that's a tiny sliver of Dell's 28% market share an HP's market share of 24.3%. Either way you slice it, even though in the echo chamber of the blogosphere it seems like Apple is dominating, Macs are still a relatively minor player when it comes to market share.
via Gizmodo

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Burton Audex iPod Field Jacket

The Burton Audex iPod Field Jacket ($379) is a high-end snowsport jacket with an integrated iPod remote control. If you've ever taken a spill and watched your snowboard and MP3 player shoot off in different directions, then the Burton Audex iPod Field Jacket is worth more than a passing glance.

Like most Burton products, the Burton Audex iPod Field Jacket has a very hip design, constructed with materials that are both high-tech and high-style. The jacket employs taped seams, laminated fabric, and resizable fittings to keep moisture from finding its way through to your clothing. Zippered pockets can be found practically everywhere, in sizes large enough to stash away a pair of snow gloves, or snug enough for a pair of earbuds. An interior pocket is built into the field jacket specifically to cradle your iPod. With your iPod tucked away, earbuds can then be threaded through a small port within the jacket's lining and up to the ears.

The Audex iPod remote control can be removed from the Burton Field Jacket's molded rubber compartment.

While the jacket alone is worth the price, what really makes the Burton Audex iPod Field Jacket unique is the iPod remote control integration. The Audex-branded iPod remote comes in two parts: a remote receiver that plugs directly into your iPod's dock connection; and a remote control. Both the receiver and the remote use high-frequency radio signals to communicate with one another, with an expected range of 100 feet. While the Audex iPod remote receiver is basically a nondescript black nub that plugs into your iPod, the remote control has a little more going for it. The pebble-shaped Audex remote features five rubber buttons that control volume, track skip, and play/pause. Although the Audex remote is meant to be operated within the field jacket's custom-molded rubber compartment, it can also be used separately as a go-anywhere iPod remote. We found that the Audex iPod remote system worked flawlessly with both a fifth-generation video iPod and a third-generation iPod Nano.

Taken as a whole, both the Burton Field Jacket and Audex iPod remote system provide an uncompromised solution for sliding down a snow-covered mountain in style. There are other good ways to bring your music onto the mountain, but none that are nearly as cool.

Reviewed by: Donald Bell
via Cnet

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Nu CinePlayer PDP100

Nu Technology proudly claims that the CinePlayer PDP100 ($135 list price) is the slimmest standalone DVD player in the world, and that claim is probably true. The CinePlayer PDP100 is only 0.71 inch thick and just slightly larger than the actual size of a DVD, putting so-called "slimline" DVD players to shame. The design is certainly striking, but as you might imagine, there are tradeoffs. There's no HDMI output, and even component video requires a breakout cable that's sold separately. There's also no room for analog multichannel outputs or even a coaxial digital audio output, so hopefully you have a spare optical input on your receiver or don't mind stereo analog audio. Still, even with these drawbacks, the PDP100 is a compelling player, as its small size, PAL output, and gaggle of power outlet adapters make it an excellent international travel companion--although you could always buy a portable DVD player and get a screen and battery power in the bargain. The PDP100 can't compete with upscaling standalone players in performance or features, but it's a good option for travelers or those who need (or want) an extremely small DVD player.

One of the flat sides of the PDP100 has a reflective, mirrorlike finish (which is why the product image looks a little strange), while the other side has a standard white finish. As we mentioned before, the PDP100 is only 0.71 inch thick, and it measures 5.91 inches wide and 6.42 inches deep. You can position the player on the included stand for vertical positioning, or just lay it flat on its side. If you're really into the PDP100's design, you can even buy a wall mount ($30) to display it next to your flat-panel HDTV. With no front panel controls, you'll definitely want to make sure the remote doesn't go missing. Unlike standard standalone DVD players, there is no DVD tray and discs are loaded via the same kind of slot-loading mechanism found on Mac laptops or the Nintendo Wii. The mechanism works fine, although you have to push the disc almost all the way into the player before it pulls it in on its own, which feels a little strange.

The PDP100 is only slightly larger than an actual DVD.

The included remote is pretty lousy. It follows the credit card-style remote popular on many cheap products, and its slimness isn't a virtue. The buttons are all similarly sized and barely rise off the surface, so you never really know if you've pressed one. The remote is powered by a small lithium cell battery, so you'll want to have a spare on hand for when the battery dies--remember, there are no front panel controls.

We weren't big fans of the credit card-style remote.

Like almost all DVD players, the PDP100 plays standard DVDs and can pass their Dolby Digital and DTS surround soundtracks to a compatible AV receiver via its optical output. It can downmix Dolby Digital soundtracks to a stereo PCM signal if you don't want surround sound. In addition to DVDs, the PDP100 can also play CDs and DVDs with DivX files on them, as well as MP3s and JPEGs.

A breakout cable is included, enabling composite video and stereo analog audio.

Connectivity, as we mentioned before, is barebones. There's no HDMI output, and component video and S-Video output require breakout cables that are sold separately. The only included cable is also a breakout cable that enables the lowest quality connection: composite video and stereo analog audio. There's an optical digital audio output, but no coaxial digital audio output or multichannel analog outputs. These shortcomings are somewhat understandable given the size, but we really would have liked an HDMI output instead of all the breakout cables.

The PDP100 includes UK/US/AU/EU-type power adapters.

Also included in the box are several different AC adapters, for use with different international outlet standards. If you like to travel a lot, they're a great addition. The PDP100's small size makes it perfect to take on the go and get DVD playback around the globe. This is important, because although a hotel might have a DVD player in it, it might not be a "region 1" DVD player, so your North American DVDs won't work in it. Even more important, the PDP100 supports PAL output, so it will work with international TVs. We tested this on a PAL-compatible Panasonic TH-50PH10UK monitor and it worked as advertised--just hop into the setup menu and change TV output from NTSC to PAL.

We started off our performance test by looking at Silicon Optix's HQV test suite, using the component video output in progressive-scan (480p) mode. Although the component cable ($13 list price) isn't included with the player, we used it for our testing because S-Video and composite video output of DVD players is largely the same. We weren't expecting much from the PDP100, and we weren't surprised. It failed the initial resolution test, which means that it cannot display all the detail that DVD has to offer. It also did rather poorly on the jaggies tests, displaying more jaggies on test patterns than we see on any of the more expensive upconverting DVD players we test. Moving on to a 2:3 pull-down test, the PDP100 also came up short, showing very noticeable moire in the grandstands behind the speeding race car.

We also took a quick look at some program material to confirm what we saw in the test patterns. The introduction to Seabiscuit is a torture test for video processing and, sure enough, the opening sequence of black-and-white photos had some jaggies. Honestly, we were expecting worse considering its failures on the test patterns, and we've actually seen more expensive players perform more poorly on this sequence. We also tossed in Star Trek: Insurrection and confirmed that the player does in fact have 2:3 pull-down processing, despite failing the harder HQV test. We also took a look at Aeon Flux, and the PDP100 stumbled on rendering the long cables present during Chapter 9--instead of smooth lines, there was moire and jaggies. On other less-demanding scenes, however, the PDP100 did an acceptable job.

We could go on and on about how the PDP100 doesn't satisfy tougher image quality tests, but ultimately it's not designed to offer excellent performance. As a DVD player for traveling or for those unconcerned about image quality, it does an acceptable job and should meet expectations. Those interested in better performance should consult our Editors' top DVD players and recorders list.

Reviewed by: Matthew Moskovciak
Edited by: David Katzmaier
via Cnet

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Acer completes Gateway acquisition -- GTW delisted

It's official, Acer has acquired nearly 90% of Gateway shares bringing an end to Gateway's pioneering independence. The $710 million deal makes Gateway a wholly owned subsidiary of the Taiwanese PC maker and brings an end to the GTW listing on the New York Stock Exchange. With Gateway ready to gobble up Packard Bell, Acer becomes a solid, global number 3 powerhouse behind HP and Dell.
by Thomas Ricker
via Engadget

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The watch that refused to die

Its name may not be as menacing as the "Radio Active" watch, but this timepiece could be right out of a '50s B-movie in all its grainy atomic glory. Just like the creatures and objects regularly exposed to dangerous radiation levels at drive-ins across America every Saturday night in those days, the "Superluminova" made by Reactor Watches will glow day and night for a full 10 years.
But rather than the bomb, this watch owes its luminescence to tritium-filled tubes that need only a few rays of light to recharge instantly, according to Gadget Venue. Other than that spooky feature, it looks pretty much like a conventional analog watch--which, we hasten to add, is a refreshing change from so many other timepieces we've seen on Crave.

Mike Yamamoto
via Crave

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Hitachi breakthrough: 4TB disks by 2011

When Hitachi -- the first disk manufacturer to go perpendicular and subsequently break the 1TB consumer disk drive barrier -- speaks about advances in hard disk technology, you'd be wise to listen. Today they're touting the world's smallest read-head technology for HDDs. The bold claim? 4TB desktop (3.5-inch) and 1TB laptop (2.5-inch) drives within the next 4 years. The new recording heads are more than 2x smaller than existing gear or about 2,000 times smaller than a human hair. Hmmm, Samsung may have to update their SSD vs. HDD graph after this, eh?
by Thomas Ricker
via Engadget

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Toilet-Shaped House...Now That's Classy

Just because you have the resources to build the world's first toilet-shaped house doesn't mean that you should. Then again, if you happen to be Sim Jae-duck, the chairman of the organizing committee of the Inaugural General Assembly of the World Toilet Association, you may have an interest in such a thing. And a guy with a title that long deserves to get his way.
The 4,508-sq-foot structure features four deluxe toilets—one of which includes a misting device that helps users "feel more secure" and electronic motion sensors that lift and lower the lid when needed. And if that wasn't hilarious enough, Sim Jae-duck is letting patrons rent the house for an absurd $50,000 a day. I would take him up on it, but there's no pool. Where am I going to drop the kids off?

via Gizmodo

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

iPod touch now running Mail, Google Maps, and more

We're not looking at general availability yet, but those happy hacking cats unravelling the iPod touch have decrypted the ramdisk and are now busy installing applications. Already, Mail, Maps, and other 3rd party apps are up and running on their jailbreaked touches. The race is on between the cat and the mouse to see who will release their wares first.

by Thomas Ricker

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tree hugging Rice burners rejoice! One Hot Hybrid

The Honda CR-Z hybrid concept is designed to the nines. The reality check, even if this is just a concept, it's a concept built around Honda's current gen hybrid in this generation's Civic Hybrid/Accord. No matter—the LED headlights, body lines, and dash are kind enough on the eyes:

Honda Announces Automobiles to be Displayed at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show 2007
TOKYO, Japan, October 9, 2007-Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it will exhibit production and concept automobiles and a number of technologies at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show (sponsored byJapan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Inc.), to be held from Saturday, October 27 to Sunday, November 11, 2007, at Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.

The theme for Honda's automobile booth for this year is: "For the endless joy of mobility on our earth". Based on this theme, Honda will display a variety of advanced environmental technologies that address environmental issues such as a reduction in CO2 emissions, together with the fun of mobility.

Two concept models will make their world premiere at the motor show. The CR-Z is a next-generation lightweight sports car equipped with Honda's original gas-electric hybrid system which achieves both clean performance and a high level of torque. The PUYO is a fuel cell vehicle which was designed based on out-of-box thinking to provide fun for both the vehicle owner and people around them as well. Also on display will be a model of the i-DTEC next-generation diesel engine, first announced in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show, which delivers both outstanding environmental performance and engine performance characteristics.


CR-Z' stands for 'Compact Renaissance Zero'-an expression intended to capture the idea of a renaissance in the design of compact cars that begins anew from fundamentals.

This design research model of a lightweight hybrid sports car features advanced technologies that deliver enjoyable driving for all while reducing the vehicle's environmental footprint.

Exterior design

Designed to be 'Futuristic and Dynamic', the CR-Z combines powerful performance in a compact form with a futuristic image. For its frontal view, an over-sized grill with a high-performance look is offset by openings on each side that lighten the overall feel. In the rear, tube-shaped rear combination lamps ensure better rearward visibility. Design details emphasizing the CR-Z's advanced image include door mirrors that provide high visibility in a stylish form, LED headlights patterned after luminous bodies to convey a sharp impression, and jauntyfin-shaped

Interior design

The key words for the CR-Z's interior design are 'Hi-tech and Sporty'. The goal was to create an all-new sporty interior that fuses the liberating feel of airy spaciousness with an advanced interface that brings out the fun of the drive. Mesh material on a simple framework construction is used throughout the interior to convey a light, sophisticated image without being oppressive. In the cockpit, the meter unit conveys the image of advanced technology ensconced in a piece of glass artwork, offering the functionality of immediate recognition while enhancing the driving experience with a futuristic and exhilarating feeling.


via engadget

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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

OnStar Stolen Vehicle Slowdown hits the brakes on jacked cars

Although OnStar has offered Stolen Vehicle Location Assistance to its subscribers since 1996, the firm is getting set to add a snazzy new enhancement for 2009 vehicles. The feature, dubbed Stolen Vehicle Slowdown, can use GPS to pinpoint a vehicle once it has been reported as stolen, and after OnStar confirms with local police that it has the vehicle within sight, it can then be slowed down remotely. The system actually receives a signal that "interacts with the powertrain to reduce engine power, which will [in turn] slow the vehicle down gradually." Interestingly, customers will have the option of opting out of the service if they so choose, but we'd rather be safe (and potentially paranoid) than sorry.

by Darren Murph

via Engadget

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Monday, October 8, 2007

24-Inch Syncmaster Monitor from Samsung Has Legs, Supports HDCP

Samsung has brought out another LCD monitor from its Syncmaster range. The 245T is a 24-inch monitor with PiP (Picture in Picture), PbP (that's Picture by Picture), and its Motion Picture Acceleration gives better-quality pics. Also featured is HMDI and 5-Video connections.

At over a million Won (that's around $1,100), the 245T is an expensive option, legs or no legs.


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Friday, October 5, 2007

Art.Lebedev shows Pultius, One helluva remote

At first we were wondering if the Art.Lebedev Studio was kidding with this design concept for a remote control. Named Pultius, this 20-inch-long clicker solves a problem of designing "a remote control with as many buttons as there are channels on TV." We weren't aware that was an actual problem, but if such a solution were actually needed, this is about the most beautiful way to accomplish that we can imagine. Whatever happened to "less is more?"

This thing is crazy, but awfully pretty.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

Artificial corneas could save eyesight

While there's been no shortage of research surrounding the saving of one's eyesight, the EU-funded CORNEA project has now developed an artificial cornea that is showing promise in trials. Reportedly, scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP in Potsdam and the Department of Ophthalmology at the University Hospital of Regensburg have created a device that is "based on a commercially available polymer which absorbs no water and allows no cells to grow on it." Put simply, the cornea implant can "firmly connect with the natural part of the cornea, while the center remains free of cells and therefore clear." Apparently, early versions have already been successfully placed in the eyes of rabbits, and if ongoing testing goes smoothly, they'll be headed for humans as early as next year.
by Darren Murph

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Suit claims Nike, Apple stole idea for Nike+ iPod Sport Kit

A while back we had a tech review of the Nike + iPod series, here is an interesting follow-up to that story...

A little-known athletic company from Utah has filed a lawsuit that names both Nike and Apple, claiming that Nike knowingly stole its decade-old idea for the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit.

Brothers Greg and Kenny Anderson of Leaper Footwear, LLC say they invented in 1995 and successfully patented in 1998 a unique breed of footwear which -- like the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit co-developed by Nike and Apple -- measures locomotive performance parameters such as a user’s walking or running speed and/or distance traveled.

According to their complaint, filed Monday in the United States District Court for The District of Utah Central Division, Leaper’s counsel sent a letter to Nike in 2000 suggesting that the shoe maker take a license to the Anderson's patent (#5720200) and incorporate their invention into Nike shoes.

Nike reportedly wrote back two weeks later, stating that it had "no interest" in pursuing the idea.

"Six years later," the suit continues, "in May 2006, acting on Leaper’s suggestion but without contacting or seeking permission from Leaper to use the patent, Nike and Apple jointly announced their partnership to launch Leaper’s invention through the 'Nike + iPod Sport Kit'."

The "Nike + iPod Sport Kit" allows Nike+ footwear to communicate with Apple's iPod nano music player. It includes a sensor that fits into a pocket in the inner sole of Nike+ footwear, and a receiver that plugs into the bottom of an iPod nano. Information about time, distance, calories burned and pace is displayed on the iPod screen and audio feedback is announced to the user through the iPod’s earbud headphones.

In their 8-page suit, the Andersons claim that Apple and Nike have achieved "huge success" through unauthorized use of their patent. They recall comments made by Nike chief executive Mark Parker during a conference call last December in which he widely touted the sport kits, stating that users had already logged more than 3 million miles on the devices and that over 3-million Nike+ shoes had shipped.

"We expect that number to double by the year end," Parker added during the call. "Clearly our confidence in this concept has proven to be accurate."

As a result, the Andersons allege, Nike and Apple have generated "hundreds of millions of dollars in infringing sales" of iPod nanos, Nike + shoes, and Nike + iPod Sport Kits, "easily exposing them to liability in the tens of millions of dollars" for their infringement of Leaper’s patent.

"It is further believed that Nike and Apple’s infringement has spawned additional revenues through sales of products related to the Nike + iPod system, such as the Nike Amp + bracelet, " the suite adds.

The last time Nike or Apple provided sales figures for the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit was in September of 2006, when Apple said it had sold 450,000 units in the kit's first three months on the market.

Leaper's complaint is the second to target both Apple and Nike over allegations that the Nike+ iPod Sport Kit makes unauthorized use of patented technology. In January, Colorodo-based PhatRat Technology filed a similar suit, charging both companies with infringing on four of its own patents.

By Kasper Jade

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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The World's Brightest Cycle Lamp is Called Betty

Betty is a 22-watt, 1400-lumen bicycle lamp that you can buy from Gretna Bikes. And it's expensive—at 84¢ per lumen, the grand total is $1,185. It is, however, the light of all lights for cyclists— just have a look at what it can do below.

There's a custom-designed lens system for optimal beam quality and seven top-grade LED lights. Its three modes include a low power-consuming emergency mode, which gives you up to two weeks' light using just 0.25W. Using its strongest battery, it will last all night for a month. But is that worth $1,185? Depends how safe you want to be.

Site of the day: Gretna Bikes

[Lupine via Book of Joe]

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Monday, October 1, 2007

The Sony Drive XEL-1 OLED TV: 1,000,000:1 contrast starting December 1st

It's here friends, Sony's Drive teaser is none other than their 3-mm thin, 1,000,000:1 OLED TV, just announced official with a December 1st Japanese retail date. The 11-inch SonyDrive XEL-1 set features a 960 x 540 pixel resolution, terrestrial digital tuner, 2x 1W speaker, and HDMI, USB, and Ethernet jacks in a package measuring 287 x 140 x 253-mm and 2-kg (3.3-pounds). How much? Well, ¥200,000 or about $1,740 -- That's about $160 per inch of OLED. Rich indeed, but so it goes for first generation technology.

Via [Impress]

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Friday, September 28, 2007

DataPlay unveils CSS-friendly external DVD burner

Just a week after the DVD CCA approved an unexciting (and incredibly restrictive) download-to-burn scheme, DataPlay has unveiled what it calls the "world's first CSS-managed recording DVD burner." Of course, this isn't the first time we've heard about this type of setup, and as it turns out, DataPlay is actually "participating in the Qflix technology and IP licensing program." The aptly-named MovieWriter is an external USB 2.0 device that is "capable of writing CSS encrypted content for playback on standard DVD players," but alas, you'll be forced to pick up the presumably expensive CSS-MR pre-keyed recordable discs through Verbatim or Taiyo Yuden before any burning can take place. Currently, no pricetag is being listed, but we are told that the outfit is already planning an internal version for OEMs to integrate into pre-fabricated machines.

by Darren Murph

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Palm-Sized Cellphone Jammer Gives Public Gabbers the Smackdown

This is not the first cellphone jammer on the market and won't be the last, but this $166 model is small enough to discreetly carry anywhere. It's powerful enough for personal use, slam-dunking GSM calls within about a 30-foot radius. That might be just the range of earshot in a movie theater, unless there's yelling involved. But there usually is. Don't get caught, this can't be legal.


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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Voodoo launches the ENVY M:152 Core 2 Extreme laptop

Love to be beaten to a bloody pulp by your overpowered laptop? Looking for performance that would make even the strongest bodybuilder collapse in fear? Have you been feeling let down by game speeds which don't actually rip open a hole in the space-time continuum? Well, luckily for you, Voodoo exists... and its made a new laptop. Check into the ENVY M:152, the company's latest entry into the gamer-centric laptop world, which showcases a Core 2 Extreme X7800 CPU, Intel's murderous Santa Rosa chipset, a 15.4-inch, WSXGA+, 1680 x 1050 display, the NVIDIA GeForce 8600GT video card, up to 4GB of RAM, a wide array of hard drive options, plus Bluetooth, a built-in webcam, and style to spare (or so we hear). No word on pricing or street date, but you can expect the systems soon.

by Joshua Topolsky via Gizmodo

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Top ten laughably bad tech ads


The tech industry has a rich and hilarious history of being unable to promote itself as anything other than unutterably dorky. Originally we were going to call this 'The top ten worst tech ads', but as we hunted around we discovered these are pure gold. They are shockingly bad, but you'll derive so much pleasure from watching them it didn't seem right to use 'worst' anymore.

Anyway, we've collected ten of our favourites -- in no particular order -- that made us laugh, either because they feature lycra, awful singing, pathetic old technology, Steve Ballmer or some combination of all of the above. -Ian Morris

Steve Ballmer sells Windows 1.0
You've got to love Steve Ballmer. Now Bill Gates is stepping down from the day-to-day running of Microsoft to concentrate on being a full-time good guy, Ballmer is pretty much in charge at Redmond. Anyone who saw his monkey dance will know why that's a little scary.

Anyway, this video is him selling Windows 1.0. And while it's funny for all the wrong reasons, you have to respect Ballmer for not caring what people think of him. We can't imagine Jobs doing this.

Update: Several commenters have pointed out this was an internal MS video that wasn't broadcast. Fair enough, our mistake. It's still incredibly funny. And there's still no way Jobs would do it.


Don't copy that floppy

We've all heard how piracy is killing the music/movie/book/software/corn (delete as applicable) industries, but this advert was the first of its kind. It was designed to educate people about all the hard work that goes into making games for the PC.

'Don't copy that floppy' follows a couple of young children on a voyage of discovery that covers morality, economics and the art of song. It's actually much less annoying and patronising than the ones that have followed since. But more on that later...


The Ellen Feis Apple switch advert

Our next video documents a few moments in the life of one girl who lost her school work to a crashing computer. Ellen Feis became an Internet and TV star in 2002 when her 'switch' Apple advert became an Internet phenomenon.
Geeky boys loved her, the tech press questioned her sobriety and everyone else wondered why the hell she didn't press Ctrl+S more often. However you look at it, she became a star for losing her homework, but looking at her eyes, we question how good it would have been if it hadn't gone missing.


Keeping up with Commodore

Are you keeping up with Commodore? Well, are you? In this brilliantly cheesy advert from the 80s we see lots of people smiling, pointing and generally enjoying the life and the flexibility afforded to them by owning a Commodore personal computer.
Ultimately even Commodore couldn't keep up with itself and went bust. Lamented by many as one of the great tragedies of personal computing, many of us still miss the Amiga -- and these fabulous adverts.


MS DOS 5 Upgrade promo video

One of the best clips here isn't really an advert, more a promotional video. We're introduced to the joys of MS DOS 5 by some bloke who looks like David Arquette and a trio of backing singers. All involved are yapping about why you should upgrade to the latest version of DOS through the medium of crap white-man rap.


Movie piracy is a crime

Okay, this isn't so much a tech advert, but it is one of the most annoying things ever to be seen on TV. Usually it's found on any DVD you buy from a shop, so is of course perfectly marketed at people who don't break the law. Generally the Internet pirates remove it from the start of the films they rip for Internet distribution. We're sure you'll see the irony in that.


Atari Pole Position

This truly magnificent advert is one of several Atari ads that had an unusually keen sense of humour. We love the way the real racing footage is mixed seamlessly with the in-game footage. As if no one would notice the difference between the two.


BT Slimtel

Those of you old enough to remember a time when everyone didn't have a mobile phone will probably remember how huge home phones were. Many of the UK's telephones were still rotary dial things in the 80s and this advert attempts to tempt you into buying a new, slim, touch-button phone.
So, what you might ask, is wrong with it? Well it's got singing and lycra. That's all we really need to say.


Kevin Costner flogs Apple kit

Although Ellen Feis made everyone hate Apple while it was floating around the memeosphere, this Apple advert features someone who should really have known better.
There are two main things wrong with this advert. Firstly HE DOESN'T KNOW HOW TO USE A MOUSE and secondly, it's so boring we all nearly jumped out of the office window waiting for it to end.


Amstrad Studio 100

Our final advert is comedy gold from Amstrad, the company founded by Sir Alan Sugar. Here we see more hopeless ad-agency rap and some magnificent exploding product shots, not something you really see much of these days.
We can only assume this ad was the result of an awful lot of Friday night drinking at a Karaoke bar in central London, where someone with a looming deadline met a chap called Dave who reckoned he had a talent for rapping.

as seen on Cnet

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Monday, July 23, 2007

PlayPumps - Kid Powered Water

These merry-go-rounds use kid power to pump water in developing countries, so far 700 PlayPumps have been installed in South Africa - "While children have fun spinning on the PlayPump (1), clean water is pumped (2) from underground (3) into a 2,500-liter tank (4), standing seven meters above the ground. A simple tap (5) makes it easy for women and children to draw water. Excess water is diverted from the storage tank back down into the borehole (6). The water storage tank (7) provides a rare opportunity to advertise in rural communities. All four sides of the tank are leased as billboards, with two sides for consumer advertising and the other two sides for health and educational messages. The revenue generated by this unique model pays for pump maintenance. The design of the PlayPump makes it highly effective, easy to operate and very economical, keeping costs and maintenance to an absolute minimum. Capable of producing up to 1,400 liters of water per hour at 16 rpm from a depth of 40 meters, it is effective up to a depth of 100 meters."
Site of the Day:

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Harvard Develops Robotic Flying Insect

In a move sure to enkindle flying robotic creatures everywhere, a new species is finally ready to join the gang, as a "life-size, robotic fly has taken flight at Harvard University." The diminutive creation weighs just 60-milligrams, sports a three-centimeter wingspan, and has been developed to boast movements "modeled on those of a real fly." Notably, this isn't the first time we've seen researchers rely on the works of nature in order to craft their own mechanical beings, and given the fly's innate ability to be an excellent spy or chemical detection agent, it's no shock to hear that DARPA is reportedly sponsoring the endeavor. As expected, taking flight was simply the first step in a long line of improvements to come, as the man behind the machine is now looking to integrate an onboard battery and create a flight controller so that the robot can move in different directions.

Site of the Day: watch the video

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Electric Shock Fishing

There is an invasion of Fish on the Mississippi River. That doesn't really sound like a big deal, but the fish that are infesting the river are not originally from the river. They are invaders. Asian Carp counts for approximately 9 out of 10 fish on some tributaries of the Mississippi.

Park Rangers have only one way to observe how dire the situation has gotten... they put metal wires into the water and SHOCK the fish. It's absurd how many fish are in the water and how they jump out! Take a minute or two and watch the video below. You'll be shocked (that is such a terrible, terrible pun). But, hey, anything to make fishing a little more interesting, you know?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Free DIY Microsoft Surface

Microsoft Surface is the company's brand new initiative to make touchscreen computer-tables possible. Microsoft recently had a press conference to announce this product for the future. You may remember reading about this in our newsletter. The major downside is, hands-down, the price. Each 'Surface' will cost upwards of $10,000. Who can pay for that? Linux to the rescue!

Linux is in the process of developing a free version of a similar product. The software will be free, anyway. You only need a normal computer plus any number of keyboards and mice attached to use it. The system lets multiple users to interact with one or various applications simultaneously. The software is still in development and there are a ton of bugs to fix according to However, it will give you a good idea about what you will be able to do.

Things get a lot more interesting when you connect a MPX-enabled Linux system to a Mitsubishi Electric's DiamondTouch display table. Like Microsoft Surface, the DiamondTouch is also a "multi-user, debris-tolerant, touch-and-gesture-activated screen for supporting small group collaboration" surface. (with help from

Site of the Day: Gizmodo

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Free mp3s are NOT dead

You can still download mp3s nowadays on the internet.... for free. In fact, if you spend some time with your 13 yr old daughter, she'll show you exactly how to do it. Except maybe you'll want to download Steely Dan's Greatest Hits and she'll want to download some sad rock band where the lead singer uses more mascara than any 22 yr old boy should.

Download the FULL ALBUMS all in one shot!!! (hooray!)

BitLord is the piece of software that is going to do the actual downloading....
You will only have to install this software once....ever.
Step 01: Go to
Step 02: Click on the "Download" tab that is on the main menu (underneath the huge skull)
Step 03: Click on "Download Bitlord v.1.1 STABLE VERSION"
Step 04: Don't chicken out yet! We won't let you down.
Step 05: Hit "RUN." Hit "RUN" again when it tells you that "Bitlord is an Unknown Publisher"
Step 06: JPC is NOT sketchy. We wouldn't tell you to download viruses. sheeesh.
Step 07: Hit the "NEXT" button until you finish.

Torrents are the things you download. They have all of the mp3s!
Step 01: Go to
Step 02: This site will let you search through ALL of the search sites.
Step 03: Type what you are looking for in the box at the top-left of the screen.
Step 04: Click on a website to search (we recommend Torrentspy)
Step 05: Pick (and click on) the search result that best suits your query.
Step 06: Note that the more "Seeders" and the less "Leeches" the faster you will download.
Step 07: Scroll down and look through the "files"
Step 08: Select "Download Torrent" and then select "Open" on the Pop-up box
Step 09: BitLord will open up. Select a destination for the files and download away!

Sites of the Day: /

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

FON. Get WiFi Wherever You Are

Remember when you were in Kindergarten and your teacher told you that sharing is caring? Well, it's true. FON is about sharing WiFi with everyone. You purchase the FON router and share a part of your home's wireless internet with everyone and in turn you will get access to everyone else's wireless internet.

The best part (besides the commercials) is that FON is all over the world. If you find yourself travelling alot or just like the idea of being able to get to the internet wherever you are (for free) then FON may be exactly what you were looking for.

So instead of paying for a Linksys router, consider spending the $50 for the FON router. You still pay for your own internet, but you're just replacing your old router with one that will share that internet. The router creates two networks (on public and one private) so that you don't have to worry about random people hacking into your house's computer network. Oh, and please see the hilarious matador commercial below:

Site of the Day:

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Can't Find A CD or DVD?

Today we focus on different types of Disc storage and management. Well, at least the ones we like:

The first is the Imation Disc Stakka system. This device is great for small business or home use. There are many versions out there, but the Imation Disc Stakka is a great product. It allows you to catalog the CDs as you insert them, so that later on you can search a database using Imation software and have the Disc Stakka spit out the correct disc without ever having to flip a page! Once set up it’s as simple as using Google to find and retrieve your CD or DVD. The jukebox can be linked to more of the same device offering space for up to 1000s of discs. The downside, you have to remove the disc from the jukebox and insert into the DVD player or the CD-ROM drive in order to access the information on the disc.

Imation Disc Stakka – 100 Discs to 50,000 Disc Options. Each $169

Second, but my personal favorite, is the Case Logic Leather 92 CD holder carrying case. This rugged case comes with enough room to hold 92 discs in protective sleeves that also make it easy for you to see the disc’s title. The binding is high quality plastic, holding 23 pages, holding 2 CDs on each side. The zipper is built to the leather casing and can withstand lots of abuse. The case has a leather handle that makes carrying this awesome case a joy!
Case Logic Leather Case – Holds 92 Discs $19.99

Friday, July 6, 2007

One Red Paperclip

Trade one paperclip for one house. Deal. That's what Kyle McDonald did. He's a young man from British Columbia (Canadia) who started with one red paperclip and then started to "up-trade" for bigger and better things. We keep talking about around here, and this is a perfect example of why it is so wonderful. He posted the Paperclip onto and then he got a trade. Then went back and got a better trade. It started to spiral out of control. AMAZING.

He traded a paper clip for a pen, for a doorknob, for a grill, etc, etc.... Alice Cooper got involved and then there were recording contracts and snow globes and movie roles on the trading block. It is quite amazing the people that Kyle met and traded with. Finally he ended up with a house on Main Street in Kipling, Saskatchewan. 503 Main Street to be exact.

Check out his story and see what you can trade for bigger and better things. Have fun!

Site of the Day:

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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Forget XM and Sirius

Maybe don't just forget about XM and Sirius, but you should consider forgetting about them while you're at work or at your home computer. is going to be your next music best-buddy.

Create a profile and download the software to get personalised radio whose playlist is based on YOUR music taste. The radio player will learn what you listen to and start to stream music that you will love. It tracks the music you play in iTunes and Media Player and tells your profile. It learns you and exposes you to things that will make you happy. The more time you spend with it the more it will make you happy. Sort of like a niece or nephew (and you can shut it off, much like you can send your sibling's kin back to them). It streams the music too, so you can listen at work.

UPSIDE: It's free!! You can stream from all of your favorite, popular artists.
DOWNSIDE: You can't download the tracks unless the artist offers the tracks for free.


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50" FlatScreens Compared

(by David Katzmaier)
Plasma technology seems like it's been around a long time--so long, in fact, that we've received reader mail asking whether plasma is going the way of the dodo, soon to be supplanted by LCD and other technologies coming down the pike. But with the delay of SED, the popularity plasma in larger screen sizes, and the further development of plasma technology, we feel comfortable predicting plasma will be around for a long time to come.

While we have yet to see how some examples of improved plasma technology, such as Pioneer's upcoming high-contrast models, perform in the real world, we have gotten a chance to test other new tech, in the form of the glare-reducing screens on Panasonic and Samsung plasmas. Glare reflecting off the screen from in-room lighting has always been an issue with plasma, so both makers set out to combat the problem with special screens--and Panasonic was a bit more successful than Samsung, although the Samsung plasma's picture was good enough in other areas to make up the difference. Meanwhile we just reviewed a budget 50-inch Vizio plasma that proves, once again, that even the "old" flat-panel tech can be a great choice at the right price.

Please see the handy-dandy spreadsheet below for the side-by-side comparison. If your eyes aren't tuned to read that small type, click on the image to see the full size. Hooray!

Site of the Day: The Review: Click Here

P.S. Please tell us that it feels like a Monday in your office, too! In our eyes the 5th of July should be a holiday as well. Don't they know that we're just gonna stay up all night watching fireworks?

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Sensationalism: The Prairie Doggy

The internet is a beautiful place where people can go to interact and share. Yet they insist on sharing complete stupidity. We Love It. Whether it's Paris Hilton, the ridiculous iPhone or a Dramatic Prairie Dog, it's all for fun. Just to cheer everyone up on a Monday morning, we're compiling a group of videos that display the Prairie Dog craze at its best. Doesn't it remind you of the Dancing Baby!?

Site of the Day:

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Makeover! and War of the Consumers!

Hey! If you're coming back for another visit, you undoubtedly know that we just got a brand new look for the blog. If you're brand new, welcome!

TODAY IS THE DAY. At 6pm today, the Apple iPhone will be released. Soon enough there will be an unreconcilable rift of pandamonium that will rage across shopping malls and retail stores nationwide. The Evening News will report that rioting has ensued and a war is being waged by consumers. People, this is no Tickle-Me-Elmo! This is a disaster waiting to happen. The world as we know it could be interrupted and turned upside down by a single piece of electronics!

More likely than not this won't happen, but we expect this iPhone business to be on the top of every News channel this evening.

"This is Trisha Takanawa on site for Fox News. I'm reporting on the line of people here at the Apple store. It's all very boring, but we're just going to make the hype much worse by supposing this is a very imperative issue in the social agenda."
Site of the Day:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

For our NY buddies...

Ok, so the size of this image stinks, but if you click the image you'll be brought to a larger version of it. On the large version you can actually see what the heck we're talking about. It basically shows you all the wonderful places (in Manhattan) where you will have the best luck in buying an iPhone. Have at it & good luck!
Site of the Day: Click that image ^

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So Strange We Couldn't Help Ourselves.

Wtf, mate? Well, there is a brand new genre of robots out there... and beleive us, it's out there. These "Blubber Bots," designed by LA artist Jed Berk, just want to roam around, eat, and be your friend. They are simple, autonomous robots that fly around like blimps and like to socialize with each other. They seemingly feed off a large white light, and show different colors depending on whether or not they're happy or hungry. Reminds you alot of those little Tamagotchi dudes, but with blimps attached, right?

Social and friendly in nature, Blubber Bots like to play. You can invite other Blubber Bots over for a party to watch a roomful flock and mingle. They propel themselves using helium buoyancy and two directional motors. They are a little clumsy though and bump into things. Fortunately, Blubber Bots are born with a feeler (bump switch) to help them out of tricky situations. At a flick of a “feeler”, they back up and head in a new direction. Not only do they like to play, but they love to sing. Blubber Bots have a unique voice generated from a vibrating motor and a small piezo speaker attached to its mylar body. They bellow sounds similar to a whale’s song and serenade you with melodies. When not being played with, they rest for awhile, awakening periodically and seeking attention.

Site of the Day:

Buy a BlubberBot here:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nature + Lunch + CellPhones

NYC - Nokia Lunch in the Park
Thursday, June 28th, 11:00 - 3:00
Union Square Park (W 4th St. and University Pl.)

The Rub
The Glass

This summer, unchain yourself from your desk and reconnect with nature. Nokia is sponsoring free WiFi and events in parks throughout the city. This one is in Union Square Park and features DJs, cold drinks, and the latest cool stuff from the Nokia Nseries. Surf the web on a Nokia N95 or Nokia N800 Internet Tablet. Explore the hidden corners of NYC with an exclusive city guide. Or just get some fresh air. Get yourself outside - it's summer!
Site of the Day:

Monday, June 25, 2007

iPhone, yay!!..... or nay?

Whether or not you decide that you love the iPhone or you hate it with a deep, burning passion, you should still take a look at Apple's new iPhone tour.

This tour is an incredibly detailed way to spend 20 minutes of your day. No real secrets are being revealed, but the video gives an in-depth look into the ins and outs of using most of the apps and getting your way around everyday functions like unlocking the phone, merging phone calls, and skipping through Visual Voicemail. Trust us, the Visual Voicemail will make you feel very warm and nice inside.

In terms of the doubters, the tour is very vapid since the real proof is going to come on game-day (June 29th at 6pm). It will prove itself when you can get your hands on its touch-screen and see if the EDGE software will load up internet pages as fast as it claims. True believers should rejoice in having a new tidbit to sink their teeth into before Friday.
Site of the Day:

Friday, June 22, 2007

We're NOT Hippies

Ok, this one is for the ladies. We told our Moms that we had this new blog.

"Oh, that's great hunny. What's a blog"
"Well Mom, it's like an online journal"
"I'm very confused, but I'll bet anything you silly fellas are writing about color tvs and palm pilots and websites all day long"
"Whoa, that's right Mom."
"Sweetie, I think you should do the right thing and save the planet, at least for a day or two."

So we're taking Mom's advice and telling you to please save the planet. See, she's not worried about our silly butts... so much as she's worried about the little kids that are going to come from our silly butts. That's speaking figuratively, you know. Anyway, we recommend strongly making a big difference by purchasing ENERGY SAVING LIGHT BULBS.

Don't worry, we're not hippies trying to preach to you. We're just saying that if you're the one paying the electric bill, you should save yourself some cake ($$$) and install these little dudes. Plus, you'll make nature smile, alot. An Energy Saving Bulb can save over US$30 in electricity costs over the lamp’s lifetime compared to an incandescent lamp and save 2000 times their own weight in greenhouse gases. Good reasons, no?

Site of the Day:
Buy the bulbs at , thanks.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

FUN! It's not just for kids.

You've been in that office for over 5 years now. Congratulations, you have successfully run out of fun websites to go to during your 15 minute coffee break. Refresh your senses and boost your originality, you silly goose, you. Smile, they are supposed to make you SMILE!

Doug Purver:
Animator Extraordinaire ala NYC. Be sure to check out his "ShowReel" and the Hugo Boss commercial. He's makes fun things to look at.

This little suitcase wants to go on vacation! Pack him up with all the fun things and see what he has to say. Plus he has a funny accent.

Very, very pretty. There are fishes and boats and fun paintings to look at. If you like paintings that make you feel all warm inside, than this is for you.

Pudding the Phantom Thief:
We're still not really sure what this is, but it's cool. Just navigate as far as you can and then hire these guys to design your website. We like the mustaches. :{

Guinness Hands:
This is a short film that has to do with hands. Hands wrote it and hands star in it. Hands! It is very funny to watch and will be very entertaining... we promise.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Trouble at work

JPC believes in creating the most professional work environment, but we realize that sometimes an employee can reek havoc on office's political correctness (God forbid!). Alot of the time it's funny, but the second someone gets offended, oh boy, there is going to be a hellish-storm.

So to help everyone out, we've compiled a pictorial guide to help you judge what is funny and what is trouble. Be careful, but please, please be funny.
Site of the Day:

Post-its, FUNNY
Invoices, TROUBLE

No-Farting Sticker, FUNNY

Actually Farting, TROUBLE

Your Co-worker, FUNNY
Your Secretary, TROUBLE

Over-doing it, TROUBLE

Conference Room, FUNNY
Bathroom, TROUBLE

Email to Jim, FUNNY
Accidentally Email to HR, TROUBLE

Empty, FUNNY
Half Full, FUNNY
3/4 Full, FUNNY
To the Brim, TROUBLE

Joking about....