Apple is reportedly pulling the plug on one of their bigger missteps, according to Engadget. As of September 30 Ping, the much maligned effort at social networking, will no longer be available.
I can remember my first reaction to Ping’s unannounced appearance on iTunes- “How do I get rid of it?”. Apparently my impression wasn’t isolated, as the service was never embraced by users despite star endorsements from the likes of Coldplay and Lady Gaga (although some of her posts were subsequently censored). Ping was instantly a source of consternation as registered users were flooded with spam messages within 24 hours of it’s release. It was later the source of more bad press as fake accounts began appearing under the names of various performers like Ben Folds.
I never understood the purpose of Ping; I get more musical suggestions from friends via normal social interactions and existing online networking than I need now. Sources of musical inspiration abound, from services like Pandora to the more obscure Aweditorium. I for one won’t mourn Ping’s passing.
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Any of you that have read my posts in the past are aware of my advocacy of cutting the cable, or getting rid of your paid television provider. I’ve had both cable and satellite television service, and both have been a less than rewarding experience. I found that I was paying far more (even on the less expensive plans without premium channels) than the four or five channels I watched were worth. Toss in extra fees for HD content and a DVR and you have a healthy monthly fee for the privilege of subsidizing a lot of channels the majority of viewers never watch.
A recent article posted by Engadget does an even better job illustrating the the flaws in paid television, and the growing acceptance of cord cutting. While still not an option that will suit everyone, I’ve been more than happy with my overall experience sans cable or satellite service. Between an antenna-powered TiVo, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and iTunes I’ve been able to watch about 90% of what I want to watch as easily if not moreso than I would have been able to previously. Some content (like Game of Thrones) can’t be legitimately viewed in a timely fashion, but for those that aren’t afraid of being nabbed for piracy even shows of that ilk can be had. The one thing I miss the most is sports programming, in particular football. While my favorite teams are still broadcast, I do miss ESPN and greater access to games that paid service provided, although Comcast’s provision of ESPN 360 online streaming channel helps temper my loss.
As Engadget points out in their article, content providers should have learned from the recording industry’s piracy battle. They attempted to force consumers into a single means of content, the CD. Bit by bit they have been forced to embrace other means of distribution and consumption, but could have profited far more if they had been of the mindset to mold the budding technology rather than attempt to block it.
While I’ve enjoyed having a media center PC for the past few years, it’s not an option many will choose (or possibly even be able to afford). The demand has spurred innovation: Roku, Boxee, Google TV, and Apple TV are all viable options for streaming digital media to your living room. Roku has expanded their lineup to include a diminutive version of their set top box plugging directly into an HDMI port that looks more like a thumb drive than anything else. Google is partnering with several TV makers to bundle Google TV into the set, eliminating the need for a box entirely. Apple has yet again been the target of wild rumors, with suggestions that the Apple TV may be expanded to offer a cloud-based DVR and App support to go along with its existing streaming capability.
Ditching cable was as much a financial decision for me as anything; even with the cost of Netflix and Hulu Plus taken into account I saw an immediate monthly savings. I already had experience with media center PCs and had the framework for a digital home theater already in place, but for those that aren’t tech savvy or don’t want to commit the same kind of money have multiple options. If you’ve been considering it, the transition has been getting easier and easier. Now might be the time to make the jump.
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When Google announced their Google TV initiative I was among the few anxiously anticipating its release. The initial product videos were very promising- tight media integration across multiple inputs plus the ability to search for shows like you search the internet sounded like the best of all possible worlds. Fast forward to today; Google TV flopped like an intoxicated spring break cliff diver. Content providers refused to play along, severely limiting the set top box’s entertainment possibilities. Competitors like the Apple TV and Roku offered better options at lower prices; now you’d be hard pressed to find a Google-enabled TV or set top box on retailer’s shelves.
Unlike other Google ideas that flopped (Wave, Google Answers, Buzz, the list goes on) Google TV might not have been abandoned. A recent article posted by Engadget alleges that the makers of my favorite media center software Plex have let slip that their product will be built into a Google-powered Sony TV. For those of you unfamiliar with Plex, it’s a fantastic answer to enjoying multimedia on your Mac or PC. Plex provides a simple, clean interface to categorize, sort, and watch or listen to media of any sort. Apple attempted to provide a media consolidator with the now-discontinued Front Row, Microsoft has done the same with the latest version of their Windows Media Center but neither come close to the user experience afforded by Plex.
If the rumor is true, this could be a device that allows consumers to comfortably bypass set top boxes as a means to enjoy the full range of entertainment out there. Whether you want to enjoy media saved to your home computer, watch streaming video from providers like Hulu or Netflix, listen to streaming music, catch the latest viral video on YouTube, or show guests pictures of your last vacation on the big screen in your living room a Plex-powered TV would be a boon. Anything else Google or Sony includes would just up the ante.
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Engadget has announced a new Insert Coin project (their endorsement of a Kickstarter campaign) for a truly promising niche product: the PowerPot. The PowerPot generates electricity for USB-powered (or recharged) devices by heating water in it. The device looks and functions like an ordinary camping or backpacking cooking pot, but also provides 5 or 15 watts of power depending on the model you have. It’s a great idea not only for the tech addict that needs to keep their device charged when camping off grid or for those without access to reliable electricity.
It’s a fantastic idea and a very worthy Kickstarter campaign- check out more at the PowerPot site or Engadget’s article.
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Posted in News, tagged Android, Atari, Engadget, games, gaming, Infinity Blade, ios, ipad, MaxPayne, Rockstar Games on April 8, 2012 |
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I’m an admitted gaming addict- from my current desktop favorite Left 4 Dead 2 (not a new game, but nothing has been able to take its place) to the big guns of iOS like Infinity Blade and all the casual games I can’t seem to put down (I’m looking at YOU, Popcap!) I’m rather excited to share a recent post on Engadget stating that one of the better action/horror/noir games is making the jump to iOS- Max Payne. I’ve played the first version of the game several times; it does a fantastic job of meshing good story telling with game mechanics that actually make the game more fun instead of getting in the way.
I’ll be interested to test play this when it’s released; I’m a little anxious to see how the controls transition to the iPad‘s touchscreen. Other games that rely on physical controls can be difficult to play without some means of feedback (Atari’s Greatest Hits comes to mind). Max Payne’s combat mechanics were the toughest thing to master for me when playing it originally and I can see it being infinitely more difficult relying on touching designated spots on the screen for control. That being said, I’m encouraged by this latest effort in iOS gaming.
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