Smart phones perform many roles in modern life, but political tool wasn’t at the top of our list. Fourth of July week is a great time to feature a politically driven app such as Congress by Sunlight Labs.
If by some chance you are unfamiliar with Evernote, you should sell that rock you’ve been living under and visit our Evernote Cheat Sheet. Evernote is a must-have app for every smart phone platform on the market, but if you are a Windows Phone user you’ve probably been making do with OneNote and Windows Live Skydrive up to this point as Evernote has only released their Windows Phone app in the last week or so.
The “maximum” in MaximumPC means doesn’t just mean the fastest speed or the highest ratings—it means more than best. It means pushing the envelope to be the best possible.
As geeks and nerds, we are always striving for the best possible, because we’re never satisfied with where we are or what we have. We want more. That’s everything you need to know about the forward thrust of technology—the unsatisfied human desire to have more, better, and different. In the long stumbling, bumbling, fumbling history of our weird little species, we have invented so many marvelous tools to expand the power of our muscles, but only one tool to expand the power of our brains—the computer.
As a species, for the first time in history, we have the opportunity to be more accurately informed and make wiser decisions than ever before. —assuming we use our technology wisely.
Too often, we forget that the most important component in any system is the user. We forget that we are the authors of our own choices. Even worse, we forget that we actually have a choice.
No one should escape the deflating experience of suddenly feeling old by seeing something they once used now exhibited in a museum. (“Hey, I used to have a rotary landline telephone just like that!”). To bring this discomfort to younger folks than ever before, some enthusiasts in Silicon Valley are founding a Digital Game Museum.
Once a month, I get together with friends for sushi. We call it ‘Sushi-Con’ and we descend on Sun-Sushi, on Reseda Blvd. in Northridge. (It’s an open invitation, check my Facebook wall for the next one. Or follow DavidGerrold on Twitter.) The conversation is generally free-spirited and meanders through such territory as favorite movies, science fiction books, ebooks, rock music, classical music, anecdotes about people not present, interesting scientific advances, current and future technologies, and whether or not the perfect cucumber roll includes oshinko.
A few weeks ago, one of the folks asked for advice on a new computer.
What’s interesting about the shift from an industrial age to a technological age is that we keep inventing new media: movies, records, radio, television, the internet, and now ebooks—and one of the things that’s most interesting about the invention of a new medium is watching it reinvent itself as it penetrates the culture.
In the study of mass communication, we see that a new medium always starts out building on the formats of preexisting media. A couple quick examples:
As movies grew up, especially in the first decade of sound, they went to novels and broadway plays for source material. (They still do. In fact, now they go to comics and TV shows too for ‘inspiration.’)
As radio spread, radio stations went to records and concerts for material to broadcast. Radio networks also went to vaudeville for performers and made stars out of Jack Benny, Fred Allen, George Burns, and others. (This is what killed vaudeville. You could stay home and listen to live performances.) Eventually radio started doing drama, mysteries, soap operas, game shows, and sitcoms.
When television began, it modeled itself after radio.
For more about what technology's history says about ebooks' future, read on!
I want a 3DS. Really badly, in fact. Of all the shiny new tech toys I desperately want to fiddle with at the moment, Nintendo's eye-popping portable is very nearly at the top of the list. I mean, the 3D effect looks stunning, and the brittle dam on my gushing nostalgia practically explodes at the mere mention of 3D updates to Metal Gear Solid 3 and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Call me weak, but the thing's a day-one purchase for me, and I'll be drooling all over the packaging during the drive back home.
It's a damn shame, however, that such a neat little machine's being born into a world that's already passed it by. Sad to say, the game's changed. New players have entered the arena, and Nintendo's not even on equal footing – let alone prepared to trade blows and come out on top. But hell, I almost can't blame Nintendo for its current predicament.
This year, I'm trying to do something different with game of the year awards. You can find a full explanation in part one, but the gist is this: I'm eschewing a list – because, let's face it, you've already skimmed 10,000 top-10s – in favor of writing about how these games affected their players and the specific moment that made me realize how great each game really was. Needless to say, SPOILER WARNING. Today's topic? BioWare's latest space odyssey, Mass Effect 2.
As much as I love my job, I have to admit that there's one major downside. After years of nitpicking games until their every naked flaw is flapping freely in the breeze, it's become rather difficult to separate work from play. Instead of seeing a giant battle brimming with earth-shaking violence, heartbreaking tragedy, and inspiring camaraderie, I see a highly scripted scene that'll go completely haywire if I even inch my pinky toe off the beaten path. Most people watch the puppet show; I look for the strings.
Every once in a while, though, a rare game comes along that's able to shatter my cold cynicism and spirit me away so thoroughly that – for a few magical moments – I forget I'm just some guy staring blanky at a monitor in a dimly lit room. Mass Effect 2, perhaps moreso than anything else in recent years, managed to be that game.
This year, I'm trying to do something different with game of the year awards. You can find a full explanation in part one, but the gist is this: I'm eschewing a list – because, let's face it, you've already skimmed 10,000 top-10s – in favor of writing about how these games affected their players and the specific moment that made me realize how great each game really was. Needless to say, SPOILER WARNING. Now then, on with today's pick: Fallout: New Vegas.
I've seen some stuff, man. I've seen some stuff. Fallout: New Vegas is about as variety packed as videogame worlds come, fully capable of evoking every major emotion in the book: happiness, sadness, anger, “OH SH** DEATHCLAW” – you name it. Most impressive, though, is the game's masterful ability to manipulate players' curiosity like a big red button with the words “Do Not Press” printed on it.
It's like you're some kind of post-apocalyptic private eye. Why is this office full of bloodthirsty robots? What's a lush green forest doing in this underground vault? Uh, how is Elvis still alive? Each of the game's many, many, many areas hooks you with questions before carefully reeling you in with a slow stream of incomplete answers. You have to put all the pieces together and get the full picture, though. It's this compulsive, almost overwhelming urge. If curiosity killed the cat, then Fallout – perhaps fittingly – is a WMD.
But there are “typical” (read: not typical at all) New Vegas adventures, and then there's the time the game truly, profoundly, “so much for sleeping tonight” disturbed me.
Lists, lists, lists. It seems like everyone throws together an obligatory “Game of the Year” list this time of year, because, well, everyone else is doing it. So we get all-encompassing, “comprehensive” rundowns that are immediately accused of leaving out Big-Name Game 127. It's all about "non-biased journalism," writers and readers alike clamor. But I don't think that's what game of the year should be. It's subjective. It's special. There can't be a unanimous game of the year because different games appeal to different people in different ways. A monolithic, "objective" game of the year spits in the face of creativity and - as a result - the fine folks who've striven to make it possible. If games are - in any way - art, then we can't reduce them to numbers and arbitrary rankings. And so, I present an experiment. I'm going to explain precisely why my favorite games of the past year are my favorites, and the precise moment in each game that made me realize just how important they were to me personally. I hope you enjoy each entry, and of course, feel free to contribute your own favorites as well. Lastly, as a general rule, SPOILERS AHEAD.
The original BioShock was thought-provoking, philosophical, and prone to painting in broad, all-encompassing strokes. It brazenly put its Big Daddy-sized foot down and made a far-reaching statement on both videogames and the nature of humanity. It also pitted you against an evil statue man in its final battle.
Sure, the game wasn't perfect, but its goals were undeniably admirable. Still though, it was missing something. Hard as I tried, I couldn't really feel for a sealed-up tin can full of snooty geniuses or their debatably sane dictator. Enter BioShock 2. It aimed a lot closer to home, and unlike its predecessor, it hit its mark dead-on. At least, for me it did. Although, I imagine that – in this age of extreme familial dysfunction – it very well may have played a pitch perfect solo on your heartstrings as well.