As I sit here, in the mountains of Northeast Tennessee, surrounded by friends, family, and other loved ones, I just wanted to take a moment and thank you, our loyal readers, for buying our magazine, visiting the website, reading the newsletter, listening to the podcast, and just plain supporting Maximum PC over the years. The magazine is doing OK in a tough market, and the website has grown beyond our wildest expectations this year; and it’s all thanks to you. The rest of the team and I have a lots of fun putting Maximum PC together, but without you guys around to read it, we’d all have to go out and find significantly less awesome jobs. Speaking for all of us: Katherine, Tom, Gordon, Nathan E., Natalie, Boni, Norman, Alex, Paul, Mark, Pulkit, Andy, Justin, Nathan G., Dave, Michael, Benson, Flo, and myself; I want to wish you all the best during the holidays this year, whatever and wherever you celebrate.
We’re going to let our crack news team off for Christmas, so there won’t be any new news posts tomorrow. I’ll dig up some of my favorite posts from the last year and repost them on the front page (if you have story suggestions, post them in the comments). Assuming I don't drink too much egg nog, they should start showing up in the morning.
I also have a sneak peek at a contest I think you’ll be excited about. Around the Maximum PC offices, we get quite a few cool tchotchkes every day. From limited-run T-shirts and bobbleheads to hardware and accessories, it never really slows down. Until now, we’ve either returned or donated to charity anything over $50 in value, and the rest just piled up on our desks. Starting in 2009, we’re going to give it all away to you guys. From USB-powered mini-fridges to gaming mice to netbooks, I’ve been collecting a ton of gear, and I’m giving it all away to people signed up for my Twitter feed. In addition to sometimes terrifying glimpses into the personal life of a Maximum PC editor, I’ll run regular trivia contests and updates on what Maximum PC is up to. To win, all you need to do is sign up for Twitter and follow yours truly.
So, I hope you and your families have a safe and prosperous holiday, followed by a kick ass New Year! Now, I’ve got to get back to making cake and drinking egg nog…
It's finally possible to piss off your pregnant wife, annoy your Twitter followers, and brand your unborn son as the kid with the dorkiest dad on the block all at the same time. Making it all possible is the Kickbee, the first gadget to enable Twittering from the womb.
"The Kickbee is a wearable device made of a stretchable band and embedded electronics and sensors," creator Corey Menscher wrote on his blog. "Piezo sensors are attached directly to the band, and transmit small but detectable voltages when triggered by movement underneath. An Arduino Mini microcontroller transmits the signals to an accompanying Java application wirelessly via Bluetooth. (a SparkFun BlueSMIRF v2 module that communicates serially with a Macbook Pro)."
The wearable waistband isn't likely to start any new fashion trends, but then again, anyone interested in the concept of unborn Twittering probably isn't into fashion anyway.
Microblogging website Twitter came very close to being acquired by leading social network Facebook, but the two parties eventually retreated from the brink. Twitter’s CEO Mr. Williams admitted that his company took the negotiations seriously.
Want to kill some time, but tired of playing good games? We feel you. We recently decided it would be fun to try and come up with a list of the seven worst free games on the internet. However, we quickly discovered that trying to make a list of the worst anything on the internet is sort of like trying to make a list of the worlds largest numbers. That is to say, there’s an infinite amount of terribleness on the internet.
So, since we decided that coming up with a list of the worst games was too enormous a task for just us to handle, Maximum PC EIC Will Smith used his Twitter account to ask for help. Naturally, the MaxPC faithful delivered in spades. We received a whole bunch of seriously awful submissions, tried them out for ourselves, and had an office-wide vote to pick the most truly, hilariously bad games of the bunch. Now, we get to share them with you.
A few weeks back Twitter and Facebook ended some big talks, where Facebook was looking to snatch up twitter for $500 million of its stock.
Sometime in mid-October Facebook had instigated talks with the San Francisco- based Twitter about possibly bringing them both together. And while the idea seemed great on paper (the world’s fastest growing microblogging site along with the obscenely popular social networking site), concerns of integration and cost were a large part of why the deal didn’t come to fruition.
Still, Twitter executives and board members felt that they should work on building their own revenues before they look at the possibility of a merger. Currently, they’ve got none.
What the future holds for Twitter, we don’t know. But in the meantime, we’ll continue to keep all of you updated on how we feel by using it.
According to the U.S. intelligence community, terrorists might be turning to web 2.0 tools for their nefarious plans, including a specific reference to the popular Twitter social messaging service. Most of the report, which was published by the U.S. Army's 304th Military Intelligence Battalion, focuses on cell phone use, but a section titled Potential for Terrorist Use of Twitter: A Red Teaming Perspective points out how terrorists could use Twitter to plot their schemes.
"Extremist and terrorist use of Twitter could evolve over time to reflect tactics that are already evolving in use by hacktivists and activists for surveillance," the report warns. "This could theoretically be combined with targeting."
The reports lays out three different scenarios in which Twitter could be used for evil, including one in which a cyber terrorist operative could find a Twitter account belonging to someone serving in the U.S. Army. Information derived from the hacked account could then be used "for a targeting package (targeting in this sense could be for identity theft, hacking, and/or physical."
Does the report have a legitimate cause for concern? Give it a read, hit the jump, and let us know what you think.
The Eye-Fi line of Wi-Fi enabled SD cards just keeps getting more social. The October update of the Eye-Fi Manager, in addition to adding à la carte support for geotagging, webshare, and hotspot access service updates, also adds support Twitter and RSS integration. You can use Twitter to tell your contacts when you have new photos posted on line, and RSS support enables you to publish pictures in real-time to your preferred RSS aggregator.
Eye-Fi now offers cards through its online store as well as at an ever-growing list of retailers.
California residents are already banned from holding cell phones while driving, and starting January 1, 2009, sunny state motorists will officially be disallowed to text message while driving. A first violation will result in a $20 fine, with each subsequent offense costing $50.
"Banning electronic text messaging while driving will keep drivers' hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, making our roadways a safer place for all Californians," said California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
It remains to be seen how much effect the new ban will have on text messaging motorists, but it should come as no surprise if a high number tickets get written. According to Tom Marshall, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, there have already been 19,753 citations issued for holding cell phones since the law went into effect on July 1, 2008, less than three months ago.
Sorry for the late notice, but we're going to be taking Maximum PC offline for an hour or so later this evening, starting around 9PM Pacific/midnight Eastern. If you're reading this, we're back. Woo! The good news is that we're taking the site down to upgrade the hardware (more on that later), which should result in snappier load times and less downtime, even when the site is running under extremely heavy loads. I'll be posting status updates on my Twitter, as I don't have much else to do during the migration. If you notice anything weird after the site comes back up, please post about it in the comments.
Could Twitter help you get your cable fixed? Boston.com reports that C.C. Chapman, who noticed a blemish in his high-definition TV’s reception during the NBA playoffs he posted a gripe on his Twitter account about Comcast. Within minutes a Twitter user named ComcastCares responded and within 24 hours a technician was at his house to fix the problem.
I’ve been complaining about my Comcast service for months, that On Demand comes and goes, that the cable box sometimes runs slower than my old Windows 98 box and all I get for help is requests to reboot the cable box to fix the problem (maybe they do have Windows 98 running the cable box). Who knew all I had to do was post on Twitter to get their attention!