Saturday, December 30, 2006

Vintage Computer Commercial Flashbacks

Since the Introduction of the first games consoles like Pong and the first personal computers like the Altair. These devices have forever changed our lives by making computer technology available to the masses.

As time passes new generation of game consoles and computers are created. Each of these new devices is generally better then its predecessors, and each one trying to build on the success for the previous generation.

Today we have game consoles and computers that are literally tens, hundreds or thousands of time more powerful then those only one or two decades previous. Also the graphics and sound rendering on some of the latest video games systems are more realistic then any previous generation of these devices.

The television commercial of vintage computer and game console listed give you a brief look at how things once were.
  • Atari 400: An early attempt by Atari to enter the home computer market (circa 1978).
  • Atari 2600: One of Atari's most successful games system ever created.
  • Commodore VIC-20: The VIC-20 was a low-powered home computer, but what is different about this commercial was that William Shatner stars in it. Tag line "Wonder Computer Of The 1980's" (circa 1982).
  • Commodore 64: The Commodore 64 was one of the most successful home computers ever produced. It was a great computer, and it was affordable. Tag line "What no one else can give you at twice the price" (circa 1982)
  • Coleco Adam: A home computer created in the early 1980s by the toy manufacturer Coleco to follow on the success of its ColecoVision game console (circa 1983).
  • TI-99/4A: The TI99/4A was never a great or really successful home computer, but they did own a third of the home computer market at one time. In this commercial Bill Cosby is pushing a $100 rebate on this computer (circa 1983).
  • Kaypro: One of many CP/M-based computer sold in the 80's. Tag line "The complete computer" (circa 1984).
  • Apple Lisa: The Apple Lisa was the first commercial computer to have a graphical user interface.
  • IBM PC/AT: This is one many commercials that IBM did in the 80's using a Charlie Chaplin like character (circa 1986).
  • Apple //c: A compact, low-cost, non-expandable version of the Apple ][ line of computers.
  • Amiga 1000: This is an early Amiga Commodore commercial (circa 1986). Watch for the spining red/white ball at the end, that graphic made this computer famous.
  • Tandy 1000: Radio Shack's entry into the IBM PC compatible market. They really need to make their commercials more compelling. I almost hate including this one because its not very interesting.
  • Apple Newton: The Newton was the first PDA, and it was really was great device. The handwriting recognition on it never worked very well, but it was still cool. Although this device is huge by today's standards.
  • Atari Jaguar: Advertised itself as the first 64-bit game console. Here is a Wikipedia article with all the information.
    • A compilation of more Atari Jaguar commercials.
  • Atari Lynx: The Lynx was Atari's first entry into the hand-held cartridge video game market which was popularized by the Gameboy.
  • IBM PS/2: IBM attempt to regain the control of the PC compatible market by introducing a proprietary architecture that they controlled. This commercial also includes a reunion of the original M*A*S*H characters (circa 1988).
  • Windows 95: While not a computer or game console, Windows 95 was significant. Tag line "Where do you want to go today" (circa 1995).
  • Packard Bell: I was never a Packard Bell computer fan, they made IBM PC compatibles during the 90's. Although, they did a great job on this commercial (circa 1996).
  • Dell: Bootcamp: I really enjoyed this commercial from Dell. Although it doesn't hold a candle to some of Mac ads created by Apple over the years (circa 2005).
    • Dell Dude: This is the first of a series of the 'Dell Dude' (aka Ben Curtis) commercials. Tag line: "Dude, you're gettin' a Dell!"
  • iPod: While its not a computer, its still a device that has caused the a cultural revolution of its own (circa 2005).
If you notice that I have not included a lot of Apple commercials, check out the following article. This articles includes real Macintosh commercials, and several parodies.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

AJAX DNS Utilities

It seems that AJAX is everywhere. Any company that is calling themselves 'Web 2.0' is using this buzzword to try to get some attention.

Below are a few example of what may be the latest trend (DNS lookup tools) in AJAX enabled web sites.
  • AjaxDNS: An AJAX based DNS lookup tool suite (DNS lookup, Whois lookup, etc.)
  • Yet another AJAX based DNS tools site.
  • AjaxWhois: An AJAX based DNS Whois lookup tool.
For more information on AJAX, read my article 'What is Ajax, and Does it Matter?' (Buy, Swap, or Sell A Gift Card)

Did you receive a gift card for Christmas from a store that you don't like? At, you can buy, sell, or swap your gift cards.

Personally I like giving gift cards for presents, because I don't have to guess what the person wants. Plus, it just makes it easier to buy stuff. All you have to know (or guess) is the store that the person will shop at, and how much you want to spend.

Polar Rose - We sort the web of photos!

There's a interesting site from Sweden called 'Polar Rose' that has gotten a few peoples attention over the last couple of days. The company is creating a technology that uses a combination of computer face recognition algorithms and user feedback to identify and tag people in pictures.

The technology is a way of giving context to visual content that is hard for search engines to process. Currently search engines like Google have to index pictures based on tags that are attached to them or the content of the text around the images.

The company is creating a plug-in for the Firefox and Internet Explorer browser that finds people in photographs. When the software finds a person in a photograph that the user is viewing, it displays an icon on the person and requests the user to identifies them if they can.

Google prototyped a somewhat similar technology (minus the face recognition algorithms) called the 'Image Labeler' a few months back. Check out this article for more information.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Article: Faster external drives arriving--slowly

CNET reports: "This one is for eSATA, an external version of the technology that's used to connect hard drives inside the PC chassis. Unlike USB and FireWire, eSATA (external Serial ATA) lets external drives communicate at the same speed as internal drives, so the technology would be welcome for those trying to back up digital photo archives or who need added capacity for storing digital music or recording video."

eSATA is the new external hard drive standard that could replace the FireWire or USB interface as the default connection for attaching these devices to your computer. Ultimately the the market will decide if it does or not.

Article: BBC moves to file-sharing sites

BBC News reports: "Hundreds of episodes of BBC programmes will be made available on a file-sharing network for the first time, the corporation has announced."

If you're a fan of old BBC programs and want to download them legally this is great news. Read the article for the latest information.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Google New Patent Search

Google is continuing their mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible. They just released a new patent search feature, that allows you to perform full text searches on 7 million+ US patents.

All the information for this site comes from the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). This service allows you to search patents from the 1790s through the middle of 2006.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

NORAD Is tracking Santa

NORAD is continuing its 50+ year tradition of tracking Santa as he makes his Christmas journey. You can watch Santa's progress starting on Christmas Eve at the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site. Also on December 24th, the kids can call the tracking service toll free at 1-877-Hi-NORAD anytime after 9AM EST (Eastern Standard Time) to find out the status of Santa journey from NORAD.

Chad Vader Episode 5 (Holiday Special)

This is the latest installment of the continuing story of Chad Vader, Darth Vader's less-talented, less-charismatic younger brother

If you have not yet already watched "Chad Vader - Day Shift Manager" episodes 1-4, you may want to watch them to get the background story. I have included links to these videos below:

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Psychedelic Milk Experiment

Here is a great experiment that you can do with your kids to get them interested in science. All you need is a pan, food dye, milk and dish soap. Watch the video to find out what happens. Have fun, and make sure throw away the milk after the experiment...

Just Don't Drink It After - video powered by Metacafe

Friday, December 15, 2006

Video: 'Will It Blend' an iPod?

The popular internet video series 'Will It Blend?' is known for blending objects not previously thought to be blendable (rakes, marbles, golf balls, hockey pucks, cell phones etc.). In the latest video Blendtec CEO Tom Dickson decides he needs a new iPod, and you know what that means - blend the old one!

To buy the blender in this video, check out the eBay aution.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Article: Skype Replaces Free SkypeOut Calls With Flat Rate

PC Magazine reports: "On Wednesday, Skype announced it will be offering U.S. and Canadian customers a new unlimited calling plan at a flat rate of $29.95 per year, or, for those who decide to subscribe before January 31, 2007, $14.95. ... The Skype Unlimited Calling plan will let users make 12 months of unlimited SkypeOut calls to any phone in Canada or the U.S. and, according to the company, is the first time that Skype is making an annual calling plan available anywhere in the world."

So, if you frequently call people within the United States or Canada (even if you live in other parts of the world), you can call any phone in that region, for an unlimited amount of time, as many times as you want for $14.95 for the first year (if you sign up before January 31, 2007). The catch is that you have use your computer to make the calls.

I expect that this could cause a price war with the other major VoIP (Voice Over IP) carriers such as Vonage, AT&T, etc.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Gone in Four Seconds (Protecting Yourself Against ID Theft)

Identity thieves are targeting your car. View the video guide to learn how protect your valuables and personal identity.

Lesson learned: lock your car at all times, make sure the windows are rolled up if you have leave your car, and don't leave valuables in plain site.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Best Mac Ads, Spoofs and Parodies

Since its original 1984 Macintosh commercial Apple has continued to create great ads for its products. The best thing about these ads is that people love to parody them. The current PC vs. Mac ads continue Apple's legacy that it started more then two decades ago.

Below is a list of all the best Apple ads, spoofs and parodies that I am aware that are available. If you can find better ones let me know.

Note: Viewer discretion advised. Most of these spoofs contain inappropriate language, so if this offends you please don't watch them.

PC vs. Mac Spoofs (watch all the current ads)
Think Different/Switch Spoofs (example of the original ad)
iPod Parodies
  • New iPods - This is an SNL (Saturday Night Live) skit about Steve Jobs and the new iPods (such as the Micro, Picano, and Invisa)
  • Apple iRack - This is an MadTV skit about Steve Jobs and the new iRack
  • iPod Flea - See the new iPod flea and it's accessories.
  • Apple iPod 1984 - A parody of the original 1984 commercial.
  • iPod Racer - You have to see it to believe it. The Steve Jobs mask is a great touch.
Other Parodies
  • Toasted Bunny - Apple G3 vs Pentium 2 commercial. (Note: this is a real ad)
  • iBox Ads - An ad for Apple's new gaming console?
  • MacIntosh Jr. (The Power to Crush the other Kids) - This is an SNL skit of an older Macintosh ad.
  • McIntosh Post-It-Notes - This is another SNL skit which makes fun of the Apple Newton PDA.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Video: Skyguard Laser Defense in Action

A demo video shows the Skyguard high-energy laser defense system eliminating various targets, inclusing mortar rounds and artillery shells.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Article: U.S. Dominates List of Technology Pioneers

eWeek reports: "Forty-seven companies—more than half of which are U.S.-based and 19 of which are IT-focused—were awarded status as Technology Pioneers 2007, announced the World Economic Forum, a Geneva-based independent organization that seeks to improve the state of the world, on Dec. 4."

Article: Nintendo Warns Wii Owners: Don't Let Go

PC Magazine reports: "Nintendo Co. Ltd. has some cautionary advice for players of its Wii video game console: when waving the controller, use the wrist strap, keep your palms dry and, whatever you do, don't let go. ... The Wii has been pitched as a cheap alternative to pricier machines from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp., but some gamers complain they are facing unexpected costs after losing their grip on the console's remote control and smashing their televisions and other appliances."

Some of these problems reported on this site are the fault of the users not using the equipment properly. The other problems are the fault of the manufacture not properly designing the strap on the Wii remote.

Article: Cell Phones Don't Raise Cancer Risk: Study

PC Magazine reports: "Using a cellular phone does not increase a person's risk of cancer, according to a broad study released on Tuesday involving more than 400,000 Danish cellular telephone users. ... A team of researchers used data on the entire population of Denmark to determine that neither short- nor long-term use of cellular phones, also called mobile phones, was linked to a greater risk of tumors of the brain and nervous system, salivary gland or eyes, leukemia or cancer overall."

This is good news for now. The real question is a year from now will they find evidence of the opposite information.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Best Star Wars Parody/Fan Films (Updated)

Below are my picks for all-time best Star Wars parodies and fan films. When you watch the videos you will notice that they all vary in video quality from really good (i.e.: I.M.P.S.), to really bad (i.e.: Tie-Tanic). I also tried to find versions of these videos that use the Google Video service so they're easier to view, but some of them were not available from this site.

So here is my list:
  • Star Wars - Robot Chicken: Darth vader calls the emperor to inform him that the Death Star was destroyed by teenagers. [New]
  • G4 - Emperor Gets a Job: The emperor is forced to get a new job. [New]
  • I.M.P.S.: The Relentless: IMHO, this is the best Star Wars fan film (ever).
  • MTV Movie Awards 2005 Star Wars Parody: A hilarious and well edited Star Wars parody featuring Jimmy Fallon
  • Troops: Hilarious take-off on Cops, using Storm Troopers.
  • Ryan vs Dorkman: One of the best amateur lightsaber battles ever done in a fan film.
  • Hardware Wars: The grand daddy of all Star Wars fan films. It was probably created in the late 70's, and its very cheesy but very funny.
  • Tie-Tantic: A hysterical Titanic/Star Wars cross parody. (Note: The video quality of this file is really bad, but watchable.)
Honorable Mention
  • Triumph vs. Star Wars Geeks: This is not a fan film or parody, but if you have not watched Triumph (the insulting comic dog) take on the Star Wars geeks then you're missing some great comedy. (Note: some content in this video is PG-13)
  • Star Wars Kid: I almost hate to list this video because of its background story, but in many ways its really part of the of the Star Wars fan film/parody culture. (Note: There are several remixes of these videos available all over the Net.)

Article: Cars that talk to each other

Wheels24 reports: "In the near future, motorists will be able to detect danger even if it lies around the next bend or over the horizon. ... DaimlerChrysler and their technical partners have conducted field tests of the 'WILLWARN' (Wireless Local Danger Warning) European research project."

This is a great project in concept, I just hope it really catches on. I also hope that they lockdown the technology before someone figures out how to exploit it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Article: How to Quiet Your PC

ExtremeTech reports: "We've all seen plenty of reviews of those big CPU coolers that promise to keep your processor chilly while reducing noise. Big, slow-moving fans are good at that. There are other parts of your system that can make a lot of noise, though. That graphics card can get loud when it spins up. The hard drive and optical drive vibrate the case during heavy use. If there's a fan on your motherboard chipset, it can sometimes be the worst offender: That small fan often spins at a really high speed, emitting a loud high-pitch sound. Of course, your case fans matter, too. An often overlooked part of the noise equation in a high-end PC is the power supply."

Photos: A kite to pull a cargo ship

CNET reports: "It won't replace propellers, but an oversize paraglider-shaped kite could help cut fuel costs for ocean-going vessels as it also reduces their emissions. The airborne gear, from a Hamburg, Germany-based company called SkySails, has been tested on smaller ships over several years and now is being fitted for a cargo ship from Beluga Shipping, headquartered in nearby Bremen. The maiden voyage for the 130-meter MV Beluga SkySails is expected in 2007."

Its a very novel idea to leverage the power of the wind to help propel a cargo ship to cut fuel costs. In our modern age, I think sometimes we forget to look back to older technologies to see how we can improve upon it.

: Say Hello to the Goodbye Weapon

Wired News reports: "The crowd is getting ugly. Soldiers roll up in a Hummer. Suddenly, the whole right half of your body is screaming in agony. You feel like you've been dipped in molten lava. You almost faint from shock and pain, but instead you stumble backwards -- and then start running. To your surprise, everyone else is running too. In a few seconds, the street is completely empty."

This is a pretty nasty 'non-lethal' weapon if it can make your skin feel like it was 'dipped in molten lava'. I just hoped its never used as a form of torture. For more information about it, read the article.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Article: '9 out of 10 e-mails now spam' reports: "Criminal gangs using hijacked computers are behind a surge in unwanted e-mails peddling sex, drugs and stock tips. ... The number of 'spam' messages has tripled since June and now accounts for as many as nine out of 10 e-mails sent worldwide, according to U.S. email security company Postini."

That is a lot of spam. I know I have recently seen my spam folder increase in size by about a third.

My question, are we going to be reading soon that 99 out of 100 emails is spam.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Video: Haxx0r Flakes

Are you a n00b who wants to be an L33t Haxx0r, then you need to eat Haxx0r Flakes...

Video: OLPC User Interface Demo

This video demos the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child, aka "Hundred Dollar Laptop") User Interface (using an emulator). It's pretty unconventional and worth having a look.

Video: Innovative supermarket in China

What do you get when you cross a roller coaster with a supermarket? Watch the video below to find out.

Cool Web Sites

Below are some cool Web sites that I found that you can check out:
  • 10 Minute Mail (Gives you an anonymous email that lasts for 10-minutes, great for sites that require you to register with an email address.)
  • (Create free phone conferences with your friends, family and colleagues.)
  • Media Convert (Convert files from one format to another)
  • ResizR (Resize your images)
  • NutritionData (Find nutritional data on different product)
  • Montastic (A free website monitoring service)
  • Protopage (A Web 2.0 start page site)

Popups Must Die

Popups Must Die

Article: Sweatshops: The Ultimate Botnet?

"Pay people 2 cents an hour to click on ads and spam blogs. Computers should make most of these jobs obsolete. ... Every now and then you read stories about how people in the Third World are being paid to perform repetitive tasks to assist in fraudulent Internet schemes."

I have read all sorts of weird stuff, but this is a new one on me. These are human sweatshop botnets where people in third world countries are paid a small amount of money to perform repetitive tasks that used to be done by computers.

I am assuming that the criminals had to go to low cost labor to get around the technology stopgaps that were put in place to stop this stuff from happening. For example, I am manually approve all comments to this blog, and I have remove all the spam I find.

It always amazes me what people will do for a buck. Is the next big thing going to be exploiting low wage labor in the cyberworlds like 'Second Life' to make stuff?