Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Wii rules!

Never having been a video gamer because of a lack of dexterity with traditional game controllers (and little interest in the titles available), I am surprised how much I am enjoying our new Nintendo Wii! I am good at bowling, air hockey, and Skee ball since I have successfully played these in real life. I am not good at tennis, ping pong, or golf since I am unsuccessful at these sports in real life. I have a little trouble with Guitar Hero since, having taken guitar lessons years ago, I keep moving my hand up the fret. Dance Dance Revolution is really fun, and seems to be very good exercise, so I will keep at that. (Not much to compare it to in real life, however.)

The bottom line is that the Nintendo Wii, with its handheld wireless controller (the Wii Remote) which can detect movement in three directions as you flail about the living room, seems pretty close to simulating real life action. I am amazed that I could be quickly successful at the things I could do in real life and performed so poorly at the sports I was not good at in real life. I guess the real test will come, for me, when I can practice with and learn some tactics with the Wii that will transfer over to the real world of games of golf, darts, pool, ping pong, "ping cup", or shuffleboard.

(Of course, the Dance Dance Revolution practice will come in handy for a dance-off with 6th graders at school!)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

The more things change...

...the more they remain the same! (Alphonse Karr)

Growing up in northern New Jersey, it was a traditional part of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (from 1966 on) to see the burning Yule log on the WPIX television station, Channel 11, and listen to the Christmas music. I always figured they aired the burning log all day long, without commercials, for both the enjoyment of the viewers and to give everyone at the station the day off to celebrate with their own families! I had not thought about it in years, though.

Here is the 1970 version of the Yule log movie which aired on WPIX.

My friend, Midge Frazel, sent me a note today letting me know that, on Comcast OnDemand, in the list of HD programs, there is a Yule log with holiday music playing. I must admit, the quality of the burning log in HD is much better than the WPIX 1970 version, but, thanks to the Internet, I was able to enjoy the original one, too!

The more things change...

Addendum: Since Tony Vincent sent the link to the virtual Yule Log for your handheld device, I decided to create a "virtual virtual Yule Log" by filming a Second Life fireplace...enjoy!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

NECC 2008 presentation accepted!

See you all in San Antonio for NECC! Mark your calendars to attend my spotlight session (if you wish), on July 1, 2008, from 11am - 12pm.

Title: "Get a MUVE On: The Power of Synchronous Online Environments"
Place: TBA in mid-May

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Kathy's Konsumer Korner: Holiday Edition

Schrock Holiday photo
Well, it's that time of year here in the US, and people are starting to ask me for suggestions for holiday tech gadgets. Here is the list of my newest gadgets that others may be interested in.

1. iPod Touch: This iPod may only come in 8GB and 16GB models, but that is enough for most of us. I have 600 songs and audiobooks, lots of photos, and five TV shows on my touch right now, and I have used only 6.5GB of space. With the easy access to the Web via Safari, the ability to sync with Microsoft Outlook, the widescreen for viewing photos and movies, and just one of the nicest devices you will ever hold, the iPod touch is a great gift.
$299 and $399

2. The Asus Eee PC just came out a few weeks ago and is already available in a couple of different models. I have the 4GB flash and Webcam version and used it extensively at a tech conference this week. It performed flawlessly and many of the vendors at the show tried their Web-based solutions on the Eee PC and were happy with the results. I tried the VGA-out to a projector, and it worked great! Find out all about it on the Asus site.
$399 from Amazon (with a long wait) or the same price at NewEgg when you can catch them in stock.

3. The XO laptop from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. I have not received mine yet, but all the reviews of those who have tried them seem to indicate it is a great little machine! In addition, for $400 you get one machine, and one gets donated from you to a student in a third-world nation. Also, T-mobile sweetened the pot with a year of their hotspot service included with the device. These are only available to the public through December 31, and you can read all about it on the OLPC site.

4. I often get asked about digital cameras as presents for children, high school and college students, and adults. If a large LCD screen on the back and a small size is what you are looking for, just be sure to get the most analog zoom possible. The numbers that indicate zoom on a digital camera (i.e. 3x/5x) mean that the camera lens really zooms in 3 times and also uses a software process to digitally zoom in 5 more times. You want the one with the largest first number.

I cannot hold the smaller cameras still enough to get a good photo, so I like digital cameras that are a bit larger and have both an eyepiece, a really good lens, and a really large analog zoom. I have the Kodak Z812IS which has 12x analog zoom, image stabilization for those of us who have trouble holding the camera still, and is an 8.2 megapixel camera. It is available from Amazon for $242.23.

5. And if you want to step up to a digital SLR, I have the Nikon D40 and love it! I had the Nikon D50 before I had the D40, and the D50 did more than I needed to do. The D40 is simple to use and, with a good photographer behind it, can take excellent photos! You can pick it up from Amazon with one lens here for $479.99 and with two lenses and two DVD's here for $569.93.

Happy gadget shopping!