Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Funniest and Most Ridiculous sites for WEB 2.0

Web 2.0's Most Ridiculous Sites

(© PC World)

Gilligan's Web

The world loves Wikipedia, flocks to Flickr, and listens to And why not? Web 2.0 sites like them harness collective knowledge, promote interaction and communication, and improve the more you use them.

Alas, not every Web 2.0 site is a winner. Many are vague, pointless, or just plain silly. As Web critic Nicholas Carr notes, "If I were called in to rename Web 2.0, I think I'd call it Gilligan's Web," after the goofy '60s sitcom.

How do you identify a dumb Web 2.0 site? First, the site's mission statement must be impenetrable. ("Spotback is a personalized rating system that recommends relevant content based on personal rating history using collaborative filtering and aggregated knowledge technologies." Huh?) Second, the site must solve a problem that has been solved a million times already or didn't need solving in the first place. Third, its name must love the letter "r" but eschew vowels (Drivl, Grazr, Hngry), or be a refugee from "Jabberwocky" (CurdBee, Egghub, Humyo, Jiffle).

Here are 14 of the silliest and most redundant, tasteless, or mystifying Web 2.0 sites. Warning: Visiting these sites may impair higher brain functions.

-- by Robert Luhn, PC World


If you were a venture capitalist and some supposed Web visionaries came to you with a home page dominated by an animated picture of a talking alpaca, wouldn't that in itself be enough to make you say "No thanks"? Apparently not in the case of Blabberize, which lets users add audio and animate the mouths in pictures, like this take on Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. Now that's comedy!


Let's say Dan owes you $20 for pizza. You ask Dan for the money. "Robert," says Dan testily, "I paid for your botox last month, remember? Chill." D'oh! How embarrassing. If you were using BillMonk -- "a free service that makes it easy to track expenses between friends, and to settle them up instantly online" -- you wouldn't be in this fix. According to its creators, BillMonk is particularly popular with roommates, college students, and other folks who can't communicate via vocal cords or sticky notes.


The Short Attention Span Theater isn't gone -- it just moved to the Web. Blippr, for example, lets you review movies, books, games, and so on, in 160 characters or less. This setup results in such trenchant appraisals as "Some ginger dude eats macdonalds every day until he gets fat and chunders" ("Super Size Me") and "this is a fine specimen of bookage" ("The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy").


"Ate McDonald's every day until I got fat and chundered." Don't keep such morsels to yourself. Thanks to FoodFeed, you can share your eating habits with the world! Legarvin in Fort Lauderdale had a cheese stick 41 minutes ago. Maurawani in Vienna just wolfed down some "scholle müllerin, karotten und kartoffelpü". Mein Gott!

Yay Hooray

I once wrote about the most boring Web site in the world -- a single page that listed the latitude and longitude of every stop sign in my county. I may have found a topper: Yay Hooray, which seems to be an online watering hole where people network about, um, nothing. Think of it as a "Seinfeld" episode without the laughs. Killer discussion threads include "What are you listening to RIGHT THIS SECOND??" "DO-NOT-EAT-PRINGLES-FAT-FREE-POTATO-CHIPS.-THEY-WILL-GREASE-YOUR-ASS," and, of course, "i am my own doctor." The membership sign-up box says it all: "Wanna join up? Tell us why!"


In the words of one Web-development god, this site is FBC -- Fully Buzzword Compliant. A sample: "The Denodo Data Mashup is a highly innovative architecture that enables the agile creation of new services by integrating existing data from all kind of sources (not only structured and internal data, but also unstructured or semistructured content on the Internet)." Totally monetizable!

Greedy or Needy

Like any good reality show, Greedy or Needy brings out the very best in human nature: greed and groveling. State your pathetic greedy desire ("I love Turtles and Sherri has one I MUST have!") or needy wish ("I don't have any [dryer] balls"). Everyone votes, and two "winners" receive $100 apiece -- which, we hope, they'll use to buy a life.


Exercise your inner Nostradamus. At Predictify, you don't just read the news -- you predict it! If you’re accurate, you can earn real money. But who's coughing up the dough? "Premium question-askers" who could be vendors, marketing firms, pollsters, or individuals who truly want to know "Will Paris Hilton's energy plan be adopted wholly or partially by Congress this year?" In typical Web 2.0 fashion, you can connect with other members, compare rankings, challenge their predictions, and so on. The convoluted rules, however, may send you running back to Greedy or Needy.


Let's say you're looking for pictures of a Porsche 911. The antiquated, Web 1.0 way would be to click Google's Images link and type "porsche 911". But what a hassle! In the brave new world of Web 2.0, you go to YubNub and type "gim porsche 911". See how much easier that is? Why go all over the Web when you can do everything in Yubnub -- provided, of course, that you can remember dozens and dozens of arcane codes. The coolest part? Yubnub may someday let you link different Web services, so you could, say, automatically convert Web-page text into audio. Just be prepared to master syntax like "google jon udell | to_rss | xargs text_to_speech".

Savvy Auntie

Go to Google and type "social network +" along with your biggest obsession (fudge, cats, Tupperware), and you'll probably find a social network just for you. How niche do things get? Consider Savvy Auntie, a network for women who desperately need tips on being an aunt or grandmother. (Apparently, having relatives who procreate isn't enough.) Here you learn how to sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (in case you've forgotten the lyrics) or how to throw a "High School Musical" theme party. You can also tap into Auntiepedia, a wiki that boasted two postings when I checked. Uncles need not apply, as they are superfluous. is the ultimate black-box interactive Web 2.0 experience. Upload a file to the site, and you'll receive a random file from another user. Have a TIFF of your divorce papers? A slide from your vacation at the Pismo Beach Snail Ranch? Upload away! You just might get this fine piece of portraiture in return.

Experts we polled agree: could be the shallowest site on the Web. It isn't just another clueless social network. This Twitter wannabe takes the "deep introspection required out of blogging" (say what?) and gives you entrée to "instant gratification, instant celebrity, instantly YOU ... Plurk!" Yurk! (And if Plurk isn't enough for you, there's also Plurkaholics, Plurkular, and Plurkland.)

Experts we polled agree:


Want to raise a good little Web 2.0 consumer? is the place for your princess to log in and get down. With the free account, she can design her virtual character, decorate her room, chat with new friends, and visit their rooms. But step up to VIP membership ($6 per month), and we're into amassing virtual purses and jewelry, sending gifts, staging a fashion show, getting a special tiara and hairstyle, and, of course, earning Barbie-bucks. If you're raising a future Zsa Zsa or Paris, go no further.

Not only is the name yucky, it bears no relation to the site's purpose. You'd expect to, um, hold stuff in. In reality, this "social media aggregator" is an information toxicity generator. With a few clicks, the site grabs everything "you and your friends create online ... from 186 sites by default." In my test, Profilactic spewed pages and pages of online nattering, photos, and other digital detritus that my friends and I had posted in moments of weakness. My advice? Forget data aggregation -- and find friends who can't type.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Summer's Top Hi-Tech Outdoor gadgets

A Trek in the Grand Tetons

High-Tech Hiker Outdoor Tech

For this special feature, MSN Tech & Gadgets put nine pieces of equipment to the test on a 45-mile trek through the Grand Tetons.

With conditions in the Wyoming backcountry ranging from hail and lightning at high elevation to 90-degree sunshine on a canyon floor, here’s the gear that proved both tech-savvy and trail-tough.

-- by Rich Maloof
(with special thanks to trail brothers William Breslin, John Donato and Douglas Edlin)

SPOT Satellite Messenger
SPOT spells peace of mind both for adventurers and for the people back home worrying their safety. The device uses a GPS network to locate the user’s precise position, and can transmit a reassuring check-in message to friends and family or a distress call to emergency rescuers. Because SPOT utilizes satellite technology, it works anywhere on Earth, making it invaluable for those venturing far beyond the range of cell phone towers.

Once you’re in the wild, pressing the “OK” button sends a pre-written message like WE ARE SAFE or DON’T FORGET TO TAPE THE DAILY SHOW to your email and/or text recipients. They also receive GPS coordinates and a link showing your present location on a Google map (nice!).

SPOT’s most critical function, though, is not just as a messenger but as a lifesaver. The 911 button sends your location to emergency responders, and updates coordinates every five minutes in case you’re on the move.

Does a bear spread giardia in the woods? Yes, he does, and that’s why water from even the most pristine mountain stream must be sterilized before you drink it.

We relied exclusively on SteriPEN (the Journey model, pictured) during our trek and found its technology nearly as remarkable as it is simple to use. The tapered end of the wand dips into most any water container and emits a UV light that effectively destroys over 99.9% of illness-causing bacteria, viruses and protozoa. There’s none of the tangy aftertaste familiar to users of iodine tablets, and no long wait: within 90 seconds, a smiley face on SteriPEN’s LCD indicated the water was safe to drink.

How do we know it works? After several days of four guys constantly refilling Nalgene bottles from streams and snow runoff, there was not a single midnight scramble from the tent to the latrine.

Our chief navigator relied heavily on the accuracy of Highgear’s AltiTech2 altimeter as he studied topographic maps to keep our journey on course. In fact, no single piece of gear was used more frequently, and it never disappointed. The device is billed as an altimeter but also incorporates a compass, barometer, chronometer, thermometer and watch.

Wrist-worn devices combining the same functions tend to be oversized and clunky. The beauty of the AltiTech2, though, is that it hangs on a carabiner that clips to any loop on your clothes or backpack. Data can be read even in direct sunshine on the generously sized LCD display.

We calibrated the altimeter just once, at an elevation of 7,700 feet. Six days later, when one of our team took the AltiTech2 on a technical climb up the 13,770-foot Grand Teton, the device proved accurate within three feet at the summit.

Windmill Delta windproof lighter
Say goodbye to matchbooks in Baggies. Windmill’s Delta lighters not only withstand winds up to 75 mph but are waterproof and shockproof thanks to a rugged elastomer housing that clamps securely shut with a topside clip.

The armor surrounding the Delta makes it look like a miniature hand grenade, so be prepared for a discussion with airport security on your pre-hike flight. Also, it can be tricky to light a fire with the jet of an invisible butane flame. But because the lighter has no flint or batteries, it’s virtually impervious to a downpour or a dunk in a glacial lake.

Back at sea level, the Delta lighter does a heck of a job as a cigar lighter. Overkill, sure, but awfully cool.

Jetboil Helios cooking system
Jetboil is the far-and-away leader in outdoor cooking. With the recent addition of Helios, the technology that made their personal cookers so popular is brought to bear on a group cooking system. The Helios packs light and heats up extraordinarily fast thanks to Jetboil’s FluxRing heat exchanger (insert "Back to the Future" joke here).

More than once our foursome had to rush a meal before darkness or rain, and the Helios never left us hungry. Even the most loyal users ding Jetboil cookers for onboard piezo lighters that don’t always spark, and the Helios’ 1.5 liter pot doesn’t easily find a level seat on its base. But these minor potshots are eclipsed by the Helios’ super-fast heating and economical burning of fuel. There’s no better group cooker on the market.

Olympus Stylus 1030SW digital camera
Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, crushproof — if only we could say the same for our own bodies. Instead, those are the claims of the Stylus 1030SW, and Olympus challenged us to push the camera’s limits.

Thankfully, we didn’t find ourselves in the 14-degree temperatures or 33 feet of water the 1030SW is advertised to withstand. But the camera was splashed by cold water, knocked around on rock scrambles, and sloshed in the mud of a soaked campsite — and never stopped shooting 10.1 megapixel photos. On a single charge, its new battery also endured six days of repeated power switching, picture reviewing, and even movie-shooting.

The camera garnered many oo’s and ahh’s when it captured the vastness of a canyon in a panoramic composite, and we found a full complement of additional features accessible via bright, easily navigable menus. (The image back on slide 1, incidentally, was taken with the 1030SW.)

K2 Focus Control Plus headlamp

Anyone who has fumbled with a flashlight while setting up camp or rummaging through a backpack knows the value of a good headlamp. You want both hands free and a bright light on the ground, even if strapping a light to your noggin does make you feel something like a coal miner.

Essential Gear’s K2 Focus Control shines an extremely bright 85 lumens of white LED light, the type renowned for luminescence and battery preservation. Holding down the power button on K2’s pivoting head activates smaller blue, green, or red bulbs — great for ambient light and further reducing the draw on the headlamp’s three AA’s, which are housed in a back-of-the-head battery pack. There’s also a rear-facing strip of red light on the pack so you can be seen from behind as you flee the woods at night.

Bushnell Excursion EX Binoculars
What’s that moving behind the pines ahead — a bull moose? A bison? A b-b-bear? With a pair of 8 x 42 mm binoculars from Bushnell’s Excursion EX line, we were able to suss out the threat from a safe distance. OK, so it was just a bird, but with these binoculars we were able to scope it with outstanding brightness and clarity.

These hi-res EX glasses boast an impressive 330-foot field of view, are waterproof, and in our experience never fogged in any weather. They’re quite lightweight at 1.5 lbs; and though that’s still more than some long-distance hikers want strung around their neck, one simply can’t appreciate nature’s distant gems through a pair of opera glasses. We found these Bushnells worth their weight in gold for zooming in on bald eagles and for spotting our narrow trail clear across a snow-strewn basin.

Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Camera

These days, you don’t talk about a great outdoor adventure — you post it on YouTube. So strap an ATC3K to your arm — or to your helmet, hang glider, handlebars, or wet suit — and start shooting footage from the extreme athlete’s POV. This “all terrain camera” is waterproof to 10 feet and designed to take a pounding on land or sea.

The ATC3K is about half the length of a hot dog bun, and at half a pound (with batteries) doesn’t weigh much more. With an optional 4GB SD card, you can shoot up to 120 minutes of hands-free, full-color video in 640 x 480 VGA at 30 frames per second. Oregon Scientific includes all the mounts and straps you could need, and even throws in a mini tripod if you want to use the ATC3K as a webcam. To share footage, simply upload via USB or play back directly to your TV. Voilà, you’re an instant action hero.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Extreme Tech - Extreme Sports Athlete's Tech Gadgets

Extreme Tech - Extreme Sports Athlete's Tech Gadgets

Do you know Tony Hawk? He's cemented in the skateboard extreme sports history as the most famous guy to ever ride a skateboard, let's take a peek at his gadgets favorites and the technology in his pockets and desktop

Tony Hawk: Skateboard superstar, entrepreneur, philanthropist, gadget geek. Find out what tech toys this frequent traveler and tech enthusiast uses to keep himself in touch while he’s on the go.

Extreme Tech (© Tony Hawk)

Tony Hawk, tech aficionado
Tony Hawk may be the world’s premier skateboarder, but he’s also an avowed tech enthusiast. When he’s not doing 900s, stalefishes or 360 varial mctwists, he’s checking out the latest technology. Though the video games that bear his name are best-sellers, technology is not just a professional interest. Electronic gadgets have been a lifelong passion. When MSN Tech & Gadgets spoke with Hawk recently, he talked at length about his current gear and hinted at his wish list for the future. So, if you were Tony Hawk, what tech would you require?

Extreme Tech // Sony AVCHD camcorder (Image Courtesy © Sony)

Sony AVCHD camcorder
Hawk shoots a lot of his own video for His camera of choice: a Sony AVCHD camcorder, the HDR-SR7. He likes the fact that his camcorder has a 60GB hard drive and that it creates fairly small files. Hawk likes to shoot while he’s skating. “It's also small enough to do handheld shots,” he says. The camcorder’s Super SteadyShot® optical image-stabilization capability keeps images clear even when Hawk is in motion. Featuring Zeiss lenses and a 10x optical zoom, the HDR-SR7 creates a crisp, clear picture that makes you feel like you’re there on the half-pipe with Hawk. Sony has since produced several more models in this line.

Extreme Tech // T-Mobile Sidekick LX (Image Courtesy © T-Mobile)

T-Mobile Sidekick LX
When you’re a globe-trotting skateboard superstar, a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and family man, you’ve got to stay in touch. One way Hawk stays connected is with his T-Mobile Sidekick LX, much more than a mobile phone. Turn it horizontal, slide it open, and you’ve got a high-resolution LCD screen topping a full QWERTY keyboard for sending e-mail, surfing the Web and sending instant messages on most of the major messaging services. A 1.3 megapixel camera with flash allows you to take pictures no matter where you are. And a slim profile lets you slip it into your back pocket without a second thought.

Extreme Tech // MacBook Pro (Image Courtesy © Apple)

2.6 GHz MacBook Pro
Tony Hawk says that for “speed, power, storage and editing capabilities,” the MacBook Pro is his laptop computer of choice. The MacBook Pro contains Intel Core 2 Duo processors that run up to 2.6 GHz, plus full size screens at either 15 or 17 inches (or plug it into the 30-inch Apple Cinema display for a truly epic experience), exactly the tool Hawk needs for editing his own videos. The MacBook Pro offers many features similar to its competitors, and is still portable enough for a frequent traveler looking to keep his load light.

Extreme Tech // iPod (Image Courtesy © Apple)

Where would any of us be without our iPods these days? Hawk didn’t specify which model iPod he takes with him when he travels, but each model offers its own advantages for someone constantly on the go. The iPod classic offers up to 160 GB of storage, which translates to up to 40,000 songs or up to 200 hours of video. Hawk’s interest in video might also point him to the iPod nano, which offers up to five hours of video, with a smaller profile and a lighter body than the classic, making it a little more comfortably portable.

Extreme Tech // Griffin 9781-TRP30BK iTrip FM Transmitter (Image Courtesy © Griffin)

Griffin 9781-TRP30BK iTrip FM Transmitter
Sometimes an iPod just isn’t enough. Among the gear Hawk always travels with is the Griffin iTrip FM transmitter. This small device plugs into your iPod and turns it into a portable radio. The iTrip offers a choice between LX and DX modes, which allows you to adjust your reception for the clearest signal possible under a variety of conditions. And the iTrip is a great way to maximize your iPod on the road, expanding its versatility.

Extreme Tech // Panasonic Lumix camera (Image Courtesy © Panasonic)

Panasonic Lumix camera
Hawk’s current camera is Panasonic’s DMC-LX2, a compact camera that packs a punch. It offers 10.2 megapixel resolution, 4x optical zoom and video, as well as still shooting capability, a nice option to have when he’s not toting his camcorder with him. That kind of versatility works well for a working dad with a tight schedule.

Extreme Tech // Sony PSP (Image Courtesy © Sony)

Sony PSP
Hawk lists the PlayStation Portable (PSP) as one of his must-have gadgets on the road. Not only does it allow him to play games instantly anywhere, he can play music downloaded from his computer, watch movies on universal media disc (UMD , developed by Sony for use with the PSP) or from a memory stick, share photos and play games with other PSP owners via Wi-Fi, among other things. Its 4.3-inch wide LCD screen provides a bright, clear image for playing games and watching video.

Extreme Tech // MacBook Air (Image Courtesy © Apple)

Wish List Topper: The MacBook Air, plus …
When we asked Hawk what was on his tech wish list, it wasn’t a product already on the market. He told us that he’s waiting for a MacBook Air with a bigger hard drive. Currently, the MacBook Air comes with an 80 GB hard drive, apparently not enough for Hawk’s dream laptop requirements. With its 13.3-inch LED screen and full keyboard, and weighing in at only 3 pounds, it’s already a frequent flier’s dream. But given his need for light, portable and -- most important -- powerful technology, it’s easy to see why the MacBook Air of the Future would be Tony Hawk’s ultimate laptop goal.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Gayest GTA IV ever -GTA IV gay version

The Gayest GTA IV ever -GTA IV gay version in a VIDEO

Maybe, we found it funny, the video was exceptional enjoyable because we remember and get reminded, for the first time we played Grand Theft Auto. After a brief visit to Best Buys game stores we enthusiastically, paly the game for the first time.

Without any real concept of the game, but a huge desire to slip into a dark and rough roads in a very fast car, walked around the city Clueless sense of ATMs and search the car so much that we have a car.

In a few days on foot in various parts of the city and several visits to the farm shop, we decided to press freedom, and a call to a friend from fifteen years, son, we knew was a great player, GTA ask about the location of ATMs and those that could Buy things that you need to be in the game.

Apparently we have the wrong approach, as we are told that there are no ATMs in Grand Theft Auto, and that if we want to create a vehicle that we should steal "simply someone's nest." Ah, it is now clear, it seems, our lack of "Go" instincts are criminals expensive cost us the game. So, perhaps, explains why this video with soft Grand Theft Auto children seemed quite logical for us. Maybe we should only play into the Sims stupid softness more.

Is it us or does the voice sound kind of like Danny Tanner from Full House?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

1 out of 5 Americans Never heard of Emails

Survey: One-Fifth of Americans Have Never Used E-Mail

By Steven Musil, CNET

The digital divide is apparently alive and well.

About 20 percent of all U.S. heads of household have never sent an e-mail, and about 20 million households, or 18 percent, are without Internet access, according to a study released in May.

Survey: One-fifth of Americans have never used e-mail (© CNET Networks)

Similar percentages of respondents also indicated that they had never looked up a Web site or information on the Internet, the survey found.

Age and education were significant factors cited in the study, which was conducted by researcher Parks Associates. Half of those who have never used e-mail are older than 65, and 56 percent had no formal education beyond a high-school level, the telephone survey found.

"Nearly one out of three household heads has never used a computer to create a document," John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates, said in a statement. "These data underscore the significant digital divide between the connected majority and the homes in the unconnected minority that rarely, if ever, use a computer."

Just 7 percent of the 20 million households without Internet access indicated during the survey that they plan to subscribe to an Internet service within the next 12 months. However, the study noted a steady decline in the number of disconnected households when comparing findings with previous years; the 2006 survey found that 31 million households, or 29 percent, of all U.S. households were without Internet access.

"Internet connections have slowly increased in U.S. households, but getting the disconnected minority online will continue to be difficult," Barrett said in the statement. "Age and economics are important factors, but the heart of the challenge is deeper. Many people just don't see a reason to use computers and do not associate technology with the needs and demands of their daily lives."

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Speed Racer is Low on substance but High on Gadgets

Speed Racer is Low on substance but High on Gadgets

By Todd McCarthy,

True to its origins as a '60s Japanese animated kiddie favorite, "Speed Racer" blasts into cultural prominence four decades later as an ultra-cartoony actioner defined by its DayGlo colors, resistance to any laws of physics, and notions of good and evil that go no further than having the hero drive a white car. Aimed squarely at family audiences, the Wachowski brothers' return behind the camera for the first time since the "Matrix" trilogy is a blur of video action painting and very loud sounds notable solely for its technical wizardry. In every other respect it's pure cotton candy -- entirely non-nutritious but too sweet and pretty for young people to resist. General audiences worldwide look to make this Warner Bros. release a substantial hit in all formats, from IMAX to eventual home video sales, with extra coin assured from moppets of a certain age who require repeat viewings.

Emile Hirsch

In its thinly developed narrative, dully functional dialogue, paramount devotion to family cohesion, and somewhat cheesy, albeit expensive, CGI-against-green-screen look, "Speed Racer" reminds of nothing so much as Robert Rodriguez's "Spy Kids" movies. Like them, the new pic is tolerable fun for the easy to please, but completely silly if held up to any scrutiny. It also remains mystifying why producers currently believe it's a good idea for moppet-aimed movies to run well over two hours.

Which is not to say that the target audience won't be amused, or at least distracted, through most of "Speed Racer." With the visual aesthetic of Japanese anime shot through with video game dynamics, this glossy, outsized bauble with a perky cast will make kids feel right at home. For others, however, it will be a cinematic pile-up.

The Wachowskis' script includes a procession of mild twists, withheld identities and mysterious motivations, but its through-line unwaveringly stresses the goodness and purity of the independent maverick over the venality of profit-obsessed corporations. Former qualities are embodied by every member of the quaintly named Racer family: rock-solid car designer Pops (John Goodman), steadfast Mom (Susan Sarandon) and racing-mad sons Rex (Scott Porter), Speed (Emile Hirsch) and Spritle (pint-sized Goodman look-alike Paulie Litt).

The time-jumping opening reveals how the handsome, dashing Rex seemingly died in an epic crash years back, an event that haunts Speed, whose skill is now such that he's courted by unctuous tycoon Royalton (Roger Allam) to join his team of top drivers. When rejected, however, Royalton turns nasty and suggests Speed is now just as washed up as his late brother.

The action pulls over for occasional pit stops involving Racer family mix-ups, some literal monkeyshines (Spritle's constant companion in mischief is a mug-happy chimp) and the introduction of secondary characters who include an Asian racing team (among them a driver played by Korean pop sensation Rain, who will boost the box office in that part of the world), a sports corruption investigator, a band of very broadly played thugs who ineptly try to put the brakes on Speed, and a mysterious masked man named Racer X (Matthew Fox) who may or may not be Rex resurrectus.

But, for the most part, "Speed Racer" is on the move, which keeps the eyes busy but also presents plausibility problems for anyone impertinent enough to pose them. The racing venues, both man-made and in a cross-country rally, resemble a fearsome combination of roller coaster, slalom course and skateboard facility; they're contorted with impossible twists and turns, quadruple black diamond grades, open-air gaps in the roadway and deliberate obstacles. Some cars are equipped with weapons designed to take out competitors. Vehicles glide through curves, turn on a dime, vault high into the air, ride on their noses and otherwise comport themselves in physically impossible ways.

All this indisputably augments the desired spectacle. But it doesn't stimulate excitement or suspense, for the simple reason that you don't know what the rules are or what constitutes genuine jeopardy. Time and again, Speed and other drivers endure what seem like catastrophic crashes and accidents, only to simply keep on trucking without apparent ill effect. Repeatedly, there are no consequences to road peril, just continuous cutting to new situations and unvaried high speeds. In a driving video game you know what will do you in, but here drivers just ram ahead as if nothing can stop them.

The editing is so fast that this film alone will lower the average length of a sustained shot in Hollywood features by a considerable margin. Stylistically, the Wachowskis have devoted themselves here to lateral moves, ushering big faces on and off the screen as if on a conveyor belt; the effect is attention-getting through sheer uncommonness.

Clearly, no expense was spared in the effects arena; viewers who love to bathe in the latest CGI innovations will be in a corner of heaven here, even if the layering of brilliantly-in-focus objects within a single frame at times resembles nothing so much as a kindergartner's art class collage. Cinematographer David Tattersall, who filmed the three most recent "Star Wars" entries, knows how to get the most out of the new Sony F-23 HD camera, and all technical hands had an evident field day. If Michael Giacchino's playful and busy score ever lets up for a minute during the movie, it's impossible to notice for all the other sounds booming forth.

The cast is very good for this sort of thing, not that much is asked of the actors other than to look alert and driven. In a far cry from "Into the Wild," Hirsch is well-scrubbed and appealing as the title character. As his loyal lifelong girlfriend, Christina Ricci looks more fetching than ever, positively radiating from the screen. Goodman and Sarandon are stalwart, little Litt is a firecracker and Allam, rather like a non-campy Tim Curry, makes a delicious love-to-hate-him villain.

Speed Racer Synopsis


The Matrix masterminds Andy and Larry Wachowski usher anime icon Tatsuo Yoshida's classic 1960s-era hit into the new millennium with this family-friendly story of a young racecar driver who takes on the mysterious Racer X in a custom-made, gadget-loaded speed machine named the Mach 5. Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is the kind of driver that every wheelman wishes he could be: a born winner whose unbeatable combination of aggression, instinct, and fearlessness always finds him crossing the checkered flag with a comfortable lead. In Speed Racer's mind, the only driver who could present him with any real challenge is his late brother -- the legendary Rex Racer. Rex died in a heated cross-country rally known as The Crucible many years ago, and now his younger sibling is driven to fulfill the legacy that Rex left behind. To this day, Speed Racer is fiercely loyal to family. It was Speed Racer's father, Pops Racer (John Goodman), who designed the unbeatable Mach 5, and even a lucrative offer from racing giants Royalton Industries isn't enough to get the young ace to break his family ties.

Upon turning down Royalton's (Roger Allam) astronomical offer, Speed Racer makes the shocking discovery that the outcomes of the biggest races are being predetermined by a handful of powerful moguls who pad their profits by manipulating the drivers. Realizing that his career would be ruined if word of the fix gets out, Royalton vows that the Mach 5 will never make it to another finish line. Now, the only way for Speed Racer to save the family business and beat Royalton at his own game will be to win the very same race that claimed his brother's life so many years ago. In order to accomplish that formidable feat, however, Speed Racer will not only have to rely on his family and the aid of his longtime girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), but form a tenuous alliance with his longtime rival -- the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox) -- as well. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

Friday, April 25, 2008

Cool Gadgets and Cell Phones Not available in the USA

Cool Gadgets You Can't Get In the US -- Yet

A high-definition TV you can carry in your pocket. A remote you talk to. A dongle for bringing HDTV broadcasts to your laptop while you're on the go. Sound great? Too bad, because you'll have to cross an ocean to get them.

Start Saving for Airfare
It's true: The coolest gadgets often debut overseas -- usually in Asia. Some are cell phones that double as music players or TVs. Others are supersmall yet powerful notebooks or handheld PCs. And some are just weird, like the world's most disturbing piggy bank.

Luckily (in some cases, anyway), you may not be totally shut out when it comes to procuring one. Though these devices aren't officially for sale in North America, some are available from gray-market importers such as, or on eBay. Just make sure that you can obtain a service plan to support what you buy, if appropriate.

Screen Gem -- Panasonic Viera P905i
Think of it as the world's smallest "big-screen" TV. Panasonic's Viera Ketai handset boasts a 3-inch screen with a contrast ratio of 2000:1 -- comparable to that of many full-size LCDs, along with powerful image processing and a tuner for Japan's 1seg ("one seg") mobile broadcasting service. You can use it as a standard vertical flip phone to make calls, or turn it 90 degrees and flip the screen open horizontally to watch TV and play 3D games. High-speed broadband, GPS tracking and a 5-megapixel camera complete the package.

Availability: Japan only; distributed by NTT DoCoMo.

Run, Baby, Run -- Raon Everun UMPC
The diminutive Raon -- 7 inches long and just over a pound in weight -- is for travelers who want their laptop to feel not much heavier than a densely woven doily. This Windows XP-based handheld sports a full QWERTY keyboard, a 4.8-inch touch-screen that can shift between portrait and landscape modes, and your choice of either a standard 60GB hard drive or 6GB of energy-saving solid-state storage. Integrated Wi-Fi lets you log onto the Internet; a docking station, a car mount and an external keyboard are optional. This ultramobile PC (UMPC) earns its name with a battery life rated by the maker at seven hours for the standard battery and 12 hours for a larger, enhanced unit.

Availability: South Korea (but at least the enhanced battery should last through the long flight back to the States).
Soul Proprietor -- Samsung 'Soul' SGH U900
Samsung's sleek new cell phone is thin and rich: The 13mm-thick handset includes a 5-megapixel camera with 4X digital zoom, image stabilization and face detection, plus support for blazingly fast 7.2-mbps data connections. But the real innovation here is the interface: This slider phone offers both a numeric keypad and a touch-screen that vibrates when you press it; meanwhile, the Soul's Thematic user interface displays only the icons relevant to the task at hand.

Availability: Europe, starting this month.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Netflix Streams to TV

Netflix Streams to TV

After writing the book on movie-rental convenience, Netflix is about to add a new chapter that’s sure to please consumers’ growing appetite for immediacy. The online rental giant first began expanding its services when it gave subscribers the ability to stream select titles to their PCs. Now Netflix is taking the concept a step further with a plan that will have users streaming content directly to their TVs, thanks to a set-top box the company is developing with LG Electronics (partnerships with other consumer electronics makers could also be in the works). Expected in the second half of 2008, the box will allow Netflix to function much like
the Amazon Unbox service available to TiVo subscribers. Pricing for the box has not been announced; the service will likely be included as part of a standard Netflix subscription.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The 10 Coolest Cars In Hollywood compiled

  1. You could travel to auto shows around the world to see the latest breakthrough concept cars, customized hot rods, and classic roadsters. Or you could sit on your couch and watch these ten awesome autos.
  2. DeLorean DMC-12
    As Seen In: Back to the Future Part I, Part II and Part III
    Modified by: Dr. Emmett L. Brown
    Key Technical Specs: Goes from 1985 to 1955 in under three seconds.

    Before Doc Brown's breakthrough mod -- the flux capacitor -- the iconic DeLorean DMC-12 was the "it" car for movie producers, record execs and other dirtbags. But this car is capable of so much more. Not only can you impress the ladies along the Sunset Strip, but you can also outrun terrorists, thwart high school bullies, and resolve oedipal issues.

    Available Options: Deluxe edition runs on trash and doesn't need roads.

    Back to the Future | Back to the Future Part II | Back to the Future Part III
  3. 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T
    As Seen In: Grindhouse: Death Proof and Vanishing Point
    Key Technical Specs: 375 horsepower Magnum V-8; seats six: two in front, three in back and one on the hood.

    If you absolutely, positively have to get away from Kurt Russell, this is the car for you. This 440 cubic-inch beauty is the car of choice for reckless adrenaline junkies everywhere. Perfect for a nihilist race across the American west or pursuing a serial killer through Tennessee's rolling hills.

    Available Options: Comes with matching stuntperson E-Z grip gloves.

    Grindhouse: Death Proof | Vanishing Point | 2008 Dodge Challenger
  4. Wayne Industries Tumbler
    a/k/a The Batmobile
    As Seen In: Batman Begins
    Key Technical Specs: Chevy 5.7-liter V-8 engine; genuinely frightening to see in your rear-view mirror.

    It's the latest vehicle from Wayne Industries' lead engineer, Lucius Fox. Sure, the Tumbler lacks the stylistic flourishes of previous models -- no tail fins, bubble windshields or neon lighting here. Instead it delivers pure, jet-boosted power. This ride will shock and awe any evil-doer into submission.

    Available Options: Stealth-mode. Rocket launchers. iPod input.

    Batman Begins  |  The Dark Knight
  5. 1968 390 GT V8 Ford Mustang
    As Seen In: Bullitt
    Key Technical Specs: 325 horsepower; turns the hilly streets of San Francisco into the American Le Mans.

    This pine green hunk of steel and attitude gets more air time than Michael Jordan in a shoe ad. It is the ride for running a Dodge Charger filled with mafia hit men off the road. This car has proven to be so iconic that 40 years later Ford has revived its look and feel for the 2008 Bullitt Mustang.

    Available Options: Allows you to look cool in a turtleneck/blazer combo.

    Bullitt  |  2008 Ford Mustangs
  6. 2009 Chevrolet Camaro
    Modified by (or into): Bumblebee
    As Seen In: Transformers
    Key Technical Specs: 5.7-liter LS1 V8 engine; becomes a 17-foot-tall robot.

    If you're a socially awkward adolescent aiming for a girl who's way out of your league, this car is for you. Not only can this coupe dispense well-timed dating advice and mood music, but it can also turn the driver into a hero of an epic intergalactic fight between good and evil. The ladies dig that.

    Available Options: Deluxe edition fires laser cannon while being towed.

    Transformers  |  2009 Chevrolet Camaro
  7. 1963 Aston Martin DB5
    Modified/Weaponized by: Q
    As Seen In: Goldfinger, Thunderball, GoldenEye and Casino Royale
    Key Technical Specs: 282 hp 4.0L straight-6; passenger ejector seat.

    Aston Martin has been the make of choice for MI-6 agents for years, but this remains the gold standard. The DB5 is ideal for fleeing sinister henchmen on Alpine by-ways or mowing them down with the .30 caliber machine guns hidden behind the tail lights. Remember: do not drink martinis and drive.

    Available Options: New double-0 agents can upgrade to the DBS V12.

    Goldfinger | Casino Royale | New Aston Martin Models
  8. 2002 MINI Cooper S
    As Seen In: The Italian Job
    Update of: Austin Mini Cooper S MkI seen in 1969's The Italian Job
    Key Technical Specs: 1.6L 4-cylinder; ample trunk space for stolen gold.

    The Mini Cooper has long been the preferred car for bands of thieves both on the Continent and here in the States. Whether you're winding your way through the streets of Turin or the subway tunnels of Los Angeles (not recommended), you won't find a groovier ride that the MINI.

    Available Options: Buy in bulk for your (funky) bunch of crooks.

    The Italian Job | The Italian Job (1969) | 2008 MINI Car Models
  9. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California
    Modified/Destroyed by: Cameron Frye
    As Seen In: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
    Key Technical Specs: 240 horsepower V12 Engine; plays the Star Wars theme.

    Looking to get the attention of an emotionally distant parent? Slamming one of these through the glass wall of an elevated garage might just do the trick. Since only 45 of these babies were ever made, the going price is in the neighborhood of $2.5 million. So unless you're looking to get throttled or disowned, find another set of wheels for your "sick day" joyride.

    Available Options: Deluxe edition had odometer that does run backwards.

    Ferris Bueller's Day Off  |  New Ferrari Models
  10. 2002 Nissan 350Z Fairlady
    As Seen In: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
    Key Technical Specs: 287 horsepower 3.5L V6; runs on gas, not (Vin) diesel.

    A lot of cars are fast. Some are furious. But few cars combine speed with anger management issues like 350Z Fairlady. With its custom paint job and fine tuned suspension system you'll be drifting like a Tokyo crime lord.

    Available Options: Discontinued Paul Walker add-on is available again.

    The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift | 2008 Nissan 350Z Coupe
  11. 1963 Model 117 Volkswagen Type 1 "Beetle" Deluxe
    As Seen In: Herbie: Fully Loaded
    Key Technical Specs: 34 horsepower, 1.1L 4 cylinder engine; sentience.

    Ever longed for a set of wheels that handled like a dream, was fuel efficient, and would follow you around like a love-hungry golden retriever? Well, this is the car for you. It's sporty enough to compete in NASCAR, yet so dependable even Lindsay Lohan can drive it without endangering others.

    Available Options: May develop a romantic interest in a New Beetle.

    Herbie: Fully Loaded | 2008 Volkswagen New Beetle Convertible