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Play Ball!

By: M T Glass

8 February 2012

 

For fans of baseball sims, there’s a new game in town — Digital Diamond Baseball– and it’s on pace to dethrone the reigning champions.

For the uninitiated, sims are different than video games — you take on the role of manager (and/or general manager) setting up leagues, divisions, schedules, line-ups, and pitching rotations. Then you play the games and manage your favorite team(s). You use your head and your heart — not your joystick and thumbs.

Over the years, I’ve played ‘em all from board games with little player cards and dice, to PC versions like Earl Weaver and Diamond Mind Baseball.

Digital Diamond Baseball is similar to the latter group but with one wonderful difference: you don’t need to continually purchase Season Disks.

Most Baseball sims ship with the most recent season, or “greatest teams” included. To play other teams or seasons, users must purchase additional season disks — often at $20 (or more) per pop. Not Digital Diamond Baseball (DDBB)

It ships with only 2 teams, but let’s you easily import any team or season from 1871 through 2011 — for free. You can even import up-to-the-minute, real stats for the current season! All of this is easy to do, using notable, reputable, free internet Baseball resources such as the famous Lahman database.

The game engine uses Bill James’ Log5 formulas for exceptional accuracy.

The DDBB website offers a collection of videos to walk new users through the steps involved to create the leagues — and you can create as many as you like. A forum allows users to share their library of leagues with others.

Version 2.0 of the game is available now for just $9.95 (you can try it for free, but games will be limited to 3 innings).

Look out DMB & SOM, there’s a new “expansion team” in the league and it looks like a winner!

Check it out yourself at: http://www.digitaldiamondbaseball.com

…tell ‘em M T sent ya.

Google No Longer the Golden Child?

August 19th, 2004. Although it seems like a lifetime has passed since then, it has only been seven and a third years since Google announced its IPO. At the time those 19,605,052 shares were valued at $85 per share. Fast forward to present day and approximately $497.27 per share and you have the Internet giant that is Google.

The company is comprised of a variety of products such as Google Translate, Google Maps, Google Images, Google Plus, Google Earth, Google Chrome, Picasa, Gmail, YouTube and of course the crowned jewel of the operation – the Google Search Engine. Just one look at that list of products and services would have any CEO of an Internet associated company jealous – or at least that was the case just a year or two ago. Surprisingly enough, there is now a CEO that Larry Page and Sergey Brin may actually envy – that man is Mark Zuckerberg.

Since its origins in 2004 (the same year of Google’s IPO) Facebook has taken social networking and the Internet itself to a whole new level. However, the company has gained the majority of its popularity within the past three years. In fact, from 2008 to 2011, Facebook managed to jump from 100 million to 800 million users.

*All Rights and Data are reserved to Facebook

From Mr. Zukerberg’s dorm room, to the computers of high school and college students, to the board rooms of Fortune 500 companies, Facebook has asserted itself as the most powerful company in cyberspace. Once portrayed as a diversion from reality, Facebook is now defines the term modern communication and has seemingly overtaken Google, Yahoo, and all other competitors as the Industry leader.

In just six years time, Facebook has caught and surpassed Google in terms of consumer attention. This phenomena has been true since September 2010, when marketing research firm comScore first reported that Americans spent more time socializing on Facebook than searching with Google.

*All Rights and Data reserved by comScore

With all of that being said, an enormous amount of hype has been built concerning the Facebook IPO, which as of Wednesday, was confirmed by analysts to open with an initial $5 billion issuance of stock. However, there seems to be two schools of thought when it comes to this highly anticipated stock: Facebook’s stock will crash and burn much like that of LinkedIn. Or Facebook is strong enough to defy any negative conceptions and is poised to make a lot of people, a lot of money. Unlike many other companies of the Dot com era, Facebook has products and services that have been proven to be wildly contagious and sustainable for the long term. Another component that assures Facebook’s continuing success is the fact that the site is a marketer’s dream come true. Facebook has become a pivotal resource for companies to track consumer behavior and publicize their products. Reports indicate the in September of 2011 alone, Facebook reached over 750 million users.

Ultimately, the advertising space is where the money lies for Facebook. But the company as a whole is rock solid and coming out of 2011 with a whopping $1 billion of profit from sales of $3.7 billion. And along with a product that has more than tripled in popularity in the past 3 years, it would seem that Facebook is not only here to stay, but ready to take the stock market by storm. The other day, CNBC threw out the interesting, and rather hilarious, statistic that upon its IPO, each of Facebook’s 800 million users would be worth approximately $125 to Wall Street investors. And much like in 2004 before Google’s IPO, all there is to do now is wait and see. (It’s also worthy to note the symbol FB is available for Facebook to use in the market.)

A Box within a Xbox

As of yesterday, Microsoft began upgrading Xbox Live product, and will continue to do so for the remainder of this month. The upgrading taking place will allow Xbox Live users to access an online entertainment service, filled with a variety of television shows and movies – nothing too spectacular right? Well what if I told you that Xbox Live users will also be able to search for and select shows with voice commands and hand movements via the Xbox Kinect?

Of course, users will have the option to simply select their desired content with their Xbox 360 controllers as well, but this new feature is sure to attract users in the future. As Microsoft continues to build this online library for users to access, they will also be adding other major sources of programming such as Xfinity, HBO and Verizon FiOS. Up until now, the television capabilities of the Xbox 360 has been fairly limited by Microsoft with the most popular video services including Netflix, Hulu Plus and ESPN. These services will still be offered to Xbox Live users, but this new upgrade will undoubtedly take the content viewing capabilities of the Xbox 360 to new heights.

While it may seem plausible to ditch your old cable box completely, the deal that Microsoft and these cable providers have agreed to does not allow customers to do that. In order to have access to this online entertainment database, you must have a traditional cable contract with one of these providers and then pay the $60/year for a Xbox Live Gold membership. Users should also be mindful that during the early stages of this upgrade, a majority of the shows they are used to accessing via their cable box may not be available on Xbox Live because of the negotiating that is necessary in deciding the content rights within these deals.

Clearly, this innovative idea, that Microsoft has begun implementing, is not a favorable choice for the consumer that is on a tight budget. But for those that will be able to afford the luxury of a cable contract and the Xbox Live Gold membership, they will be be the first to utilize the impressive voice control technology that the Xbox Kinect has with these new services. The majority of Xbox players would not hesitate to tell you that typing out searches and messages with the traditional Xbox 360 controller is somewhat of a hassle and can be time consuming. Early tests of the Kinect’s voice control technology have been very successful and shown that this feature will be very useful to users of the online entertainment services.

For Microsoft and the Xbox, this is just another step towards developing a gaming system that can do it all. In fact, with the many luxuries that the Xbox 360 now has in store for its millions of users, you could say that Microsoft is taking the same approach towards their gaming system that many other technology companies have towards their smart phones – including Apple. The ability of Microsoft to develop the Xbox 360 into a device that is capable of so much more than just gaming is relatively similar to the ecosystem that Apple pioneered within many of its devices. With this upgrade in process, Xbox users can now stream music, movies, television, download game demos, store their own personal music, videos and pictures and even access their Facebook and Twitter accounts. This new service will also increase the perceived value of the Xbox Live Gold membership that has become quite expensive for the traditional gaming uses. But with all of these new built features that are accessible right from the Xbox, $60/year suddenly seems like a bargain.

On the other hand, Cable companies such as Verizon and Comcast are sure to have mixed feelings about this deal with Microsoft. Yes, it is another way to receive revenue from their services via these contracts, but at the same time this new feature exposes the fact that gaming systems are not far from becoming the singular device that users will need to access everything they want on their television – where does that leave these cable companies? Of course they will continue to stay in business as the two largest cable operators in the nation, but it will be interesting to see if Microsoft does not re-negotiate this contract in the future to allow users to use the Xbox 360 as their prime cable box as well. If something along those lines were to happen, the cable companies, and their suppliers, would be sure to lose millions of dollars in revenue.

Regardless of what plans Microsoft may have for the future uses and capabilities of the Xbox 360, for now it seems that users are currently receiving a fantastic product for a reasonable price – let’s hope it stays that way.

From “the lou” to “the throne”

$6,400 can buy you a lot of things.  From a used car to utility bills for the year to a lifetimes supply of Nutella.  But ask the company Kohler what you should invest those $6,400 in and they will reply with one word – Numi.

Numi is Kohler’s newest model of toilet – that’s right I said toilet – and after taking a in-depth examination of all its features, it is safe to say that Numi is the Ferrari of toilets (if such an assumption was ever possible).  So what is the total cost of this “wonder” toilet, you guessed it, $6,400!

How in the world could a toilet be worth $6,400 (approximately 81 times worth the price of a regular toilet at Home Depot)? Kohler tries to justify this obscene price by including the following unprecedented features into the Numi’s design.  First of all, the Numi has no visible levers or buttons.  In fact, the exterior of the toilet is completely barren.  The Numi is controlled by a remote that is all touch screen – think of it as an iPod touch only for your toilet!  This remote can make the Numi flush in one of two settings (eco-flush or regular flush), clean or dry itself.  But it can also play music, provide heating and other user preferences.  The remote comes with a charging station that you may place it in during the time you aren’t using it and if it were ever to break the Numi does have what I am calling emergency flush buttons located on the back of it.

*All rights to this photo belong to Kohler

Next comes the most blatant visible feature of the Numi, its curious design.  It is in the shape of a rhombus (thank you high school geometry), which in my opinion hardly seems ideal.  The Numi also has light sensitive detectors that are will turn on LED lights located in the rear panel and the bowl when the room turns dark.  But wait it gets better, you do not even have to open the Numi toilet by hand, it comes with a built in sensor that you place your foot in front of upon arrival and the seat will automatically open.  The other notable features of the Numi are the built in MP3 plug in and a FM Radio. It comes with a 43 page users manual that will explain how to use all the features properly.

I’m not quite sure if I should be impressed or disgusted with this incredible amount of detail placed into a toilet.  But the only flaw I can find with the Numi is that it seems to me in order to get all of your $6,400 worth out of this toilet you’ll have to spend hours at a time on it.  And maybe with all of the features of a seat in a luxury car you may be able to do that.  So never mind that car you were saving up for, or the apartment you were planning on renting, or the student loans you were planning to pay off.  Clearly, your money will be better spent facilitating your comfort on a toilet.  All in all, we have clearly gotten to the point where we are just abusing the power of technology for our own laziness.

Check out this youtube video on the Numi!

But I must warn you, if you are as immature as I am, you will have a very hard time not busting out laughing 20 seconds into this video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mn3OfkDgEho

iSplash

Device: Macbook

App Store Category: Photography

Graphic Design has developed into a rapidly growing field in the workforce today.  Unfortunately, most graphic design software packages cost any where from hundreds to thousands of dollars.  But for those of you  (like me) that like to mess around with your photos and express your creativity I bring you hope!  iSplash is a very simple, but very addictive app that serves a simple purpose: isolate the color in your pictures.  Yes, I know this does not sound like something that is groundbreaking, nor does it seem like something worth spending your money on.  Personally, I have devoted hours of my rainy days doing my best to imitate the graphic designer that I wish I was, here are just a few of the photos that I have worked on in my spare time.

Location: Heidelberg, Germany

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location:  Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location: Pompeii, Italy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA

*All rights are reserved to the owner of this photo

The first three photos are from my own personal collection that I have uploaded onto my Macbook, while the fourth is an image that I found and like from a Google search.  Clearly the concept of iSplash is simple, but the results are pretty impressive for the app.  iSplash is usually worth $4.99, but right now the App Store has it on sale for $0.99!  With that being said, I highly recommend this app – especially for $1!!  iSplash is a great example of an app that’s purpose is very simple, but the makers of this app have perfected that purpose.  That is why I am giving this app a 5 out of 5 stars – you truly get your money’s worth from iSplash.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Passing of Steve Jobs

In 2004 Steve Jobs made his struggle with pancreatic cancer public.  Ever since then he has defied the odds placed against him by not only continuing to live, but by continuing to live up to the standards that consumers have come to expect and love him for.  There are few words that can describe someone as accomplished as Steve Jobs, but the word that instantly comes to my mind is Visionary. From his garage to Fortune 500 CEO, Steve Jobs took the world by storm and did it in a way that no one else could have.

Wall Street will remember him as the CEO that increased his company’s market share approximately $100 billion from 1997-2010. But the feeling that his death has brought about is one that is not often felt when it comes to the passing of a Fortune 500 CEO.  Neighbors and fans respectfully dropping off flowers at his home, celebrities/CEO’s/Politicians expressing their admiration, Twitter producing a tweet per second on his death and Apple flying their flag at half mast.  These are just some of the gestures that have taken place on this morning of October 6th, 2011 in response to the death of Steve Jobs.

If you had used the word “beautiful” to describe a piece of technology two decades ago the person next to you might have given you a funny look.  But today that term would be considered quite common and we have Steve Jobs to thank for that.  His ultimate goal was to merge art and technology – needless to say he did more than accomplish his goal.  Steve was a rare breed of person that I believe is best described as a mix of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.  Throughout his life, like Edison, Mr. Jobs continued to invent products that the world did not know they needed – and now we could not live without them.  He revolutionized the computer – invented the modern smart phone – came up with the concept of the iPod, iTunes and the App Store – and much much more.  He may not have been an inventor in the sense that he was not a coder or developer, but he had the creativity and outside of the box thinking that these ideas came to fruition from.  It was not just the functionality but the design and feeling that these devices and creations give consumers that truly epitomize Mr. Jobs intention of combining art and technology into something beautiful. But he was more than just a modern inventor, he was undoubtedly one of the greatest CEO’s that has ever lived.

No matter where Mr. Jobs took his services, he brought success.  He left Apple in the 1980’s – all he did was form his own company and purchase the majority share of a relatively unknown company from George Lucas – Pixar.  After Microsoft caught up to Apple in terms of technology and market share, Steve agreed to come back to Apple and was eventually renamed the CEO of the company for an annual salary that he came up with of just $1.  His ingenuity and charisma were unrivaled in his industry and he was worth an estimated $8 billion, but you cannot place a dollar amount on what Mr. Jobs brought to the tech. industry and the world.

How often is it that we see a community – a nation – and an industry – mourn the loss of a CEO of a Fortune 500 company?  Whether he knew it or not (and he probably did), Steve Jobs connected with his consumers and his community on a personal level through his products and attitude.  Maybe it was the Levi’s jeans and New Balance sneakers, maybe it was the fact that he always took the stage with a smile and news that always left his audience shocked and amazed.  Or maybe it was that despite his larger than life status, he was still part of a community – a community where his children attended public school and he was known to be very friendly to his neighbors.

Unfortunately we now face the question – where do we go from here?  Steve Jobs dictated not only Apple’s products, but he also influenced the creativity and thought process behind an entire industry.  The answer to this question can be found by simply looking at the legacy of Steve Jobs as a whole.  The creativity and originality that he has inspired not only at Apple, but throughout the world will live on and undoubtedly inspire generations of extraordinary thinkers.

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

-Steve Jobs

*This touching logo tribute, simply named “Thanks, Steve.” was created by Jonathan Mak Long, a 19-year-old designer living in Hong Kong.

The Fall Technological Boom

What a last two weeks it has been for tech. nerds/fans/consumers.  First Amazon announced their new tablet that they believe will be able to compete with Apple’s iPad 2.  Yesterday Apple announced its iPhone 4s with a higher quality microprocessor and voice recognition system than that of the regular iPhone 4.  And what’s this? A $35 tablet? It’s true! Developer Datawind just announced that they will be selling $35 tablets in India as of today!

Now for those of you that don’t care about tech. – I know that I’ve already lost you.  But for all of my tech. lovers, take a minute to breath.  I’ve already shared my opinions on the new Amazon “Fire” Tablet, but what about the iPhone 4s and this new tablet?  While the rest of the world (including the stock market) was anticipating Apple to unveil the iPhone 5 on October 4th, Apple pulled a fast one on everyone and unveiled the iPhone 4s – which in a sense is just a re-vamped iPhone 4.  And although there was no iPhone 5, there was iOS5 – the fastest mobile processing system that Apple has ever produced and iCloud.  The iPhone 4s is also priced very reasonably, compared to previous iPhone’s at their release date, starting at $199 for 16GB.

This announcement is a historic milestone for Apple because for the first time ever they are offering consumers 3 different models of the iPhone to chose from in a purchase – and at all time low prices.  Doesn’t sound like usual Apple strategy, but the fact is that Apple is far off the smart phone market share due to the increased quality of Android phones.  In fact, according to the New York Times, Apple has approximately only 18% of the smart phone market share.  However, despite this low market share, Apple still makes the most revenue out of the smart phone industry than any other company.  So what does this all mean?  Well given the fact that Apple and Sprint have just struck a deal to allow Sprint to carry the iPhone, and the new iPhone 4s at a lower price, it is clear that Apple is taking a run at Android for the smart phone market share.  In my opinion, this is a full proof strategy because not only has Apple given their consumers the variety in a purchase that they usually lack, they have also relaxed their prices during the holiday season AND right after announcing a new product! Do not be surprised if Apple climbs back up in terms of the smart phone market share and continues to increase their revenue from their mobile product line.

Back to India – a $35 tablet? Really? Well it is not nearly as good as it sounds because you cannot buy one!  Nonetheless it is a incredible story.  Developer Datawind is selling these tablets to the Indian government at $45 per unit, and with subsidies, the government is reducing the price to $35 for students and teachers in India.  What is the point of all of this? Well the obvious is that Developer Datawind has initiated a tablet price war in the Indian market.  But on a more ethical platform, the company has decided that it is important to use their products as a way to provide the countryside/impoverished of India with modern technology at a affordable price in the attempt to increase their standard of living.

Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal called the announcement a message to all children of the world.“This is not just for us. This is for all of you who are disempowered,” he said. “This is for all those who live on the fringes of society.”

*Katy Daigle (Associated Press)

All of these recent events in the technology industry have sparked what is sure to be an undoubtedly change in the market(s) and consumer perceptions.  And while I am not going to go replace my iPhone 4 with the 4s or purchase the Amazon Fire (I bleed Apple) I am looking forward to the day when an American company takes a run at the tablet market and introduces a $35 tablet!!  That I would buy in a heart beat.

 

Anything You Can Do, We Can Imitate

The saying goes something like “fight fire with fire”, but in Amazon’s case it has become “fight Apple with the fire.”  Fire being the name of the new $199 tablet that Amazon announced today that will be available for purchase on November 15th.  And so it seems a new chapter of the so called “tablet war” has begun.  But while this competitive market has been utterly dominated by the Apple iPad, it would seem that the Amazon Fire is the best contender so far.  7” Full Color – Multi-Touch Display – Android Operating System – and Wi-Fi these are the most notable features of the Amazon Fire.

Amazon has decided to use a low cost strategy to try and undercut Apple, much like HP tried to do with their $99 touch-pad. But unlike HP, Amazon has been able to create the self-controlled ecosystem that has given Apple its incredible competitive advantage in the technology market.  iTunes and the App Store are components I am referring to when I say “self-controlled ecosystem”, and quite frankly no one has been able to keep up with Apple in terms of volume of available music and apps.  “18 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines and books” – this is one of the other benefits of purchasing an Amazon Fire.  What this ad fails to mention is the fact that the Amazon Appstore contains approximately 10,000 apps, while the Apple app store is up to 42,500.

But that is not to say that Amazon cannot give Apple a run for their money in terms of the tablet market share.  Let’s face it – the iPhone is far superior than any phone on the market – so much so that no company has even come close to duplicating its success.  And while the iPad and the iPad 2 have had a tremendous amount of success as well, companies seem to be more willing to take their chance knocking off Apple’s tablet product. And if there was ever a time to resume the “tablet war” it is now.  With the holiday season just around the corner, Amazon’s timing could not be more ideal.  Today’s announcement gives customers over a month to contemplate taking a chance on the Amazon Fire and it also gives Amazon another whole month to promote the living you know what out if it.

As the “tablet war” rages on, only time will tell if anyone will ever to be able to compete with Apple.  And while Amazon has produced what seems to be a quality tablet at a fraction of the iPad 2’s price, I believe that their efforts are ultimately going to be wasted.  Yes the Fire will be cheaper.  Yes Amazon is constantly expanding their app store.  Yes Amazon has a huge music library. And yes it could be argued that Amazon has already captured a loyal following with the success of the original Kindle.  But in the end Apple has a few things that Amazon does not – the greatest processing system in the world – the superior app store – and most importantly an image in the mind of consumers that makes all the difference in this competitive market.  And if you asked me, I would pay the $300 difference for an iPad 2 every single time.

 

 

Neumann Media Video Tour

Welcome to Neumann University’s Neumann Media Club. This is a quick tour of what the club has to offer to students & faculty. Neumann students…CHECK US OUT at media.neumann.edu!!!

Move Over IPad…

(image provided by: http://my.blackberry.com/index.jspa)

By: James Meyers

Move over I Pad there is a new tablet making its way to the masses. Canadian smartphone maker Research In Motion (RIM) has finally announced their not to secret tablet named the BlackBerry PlayBook. This is on monster of a tablet that will surely test the I Pads dominance over the tablet market. There hasn’t been to much news on price or availability except Early 2011, but RIM has set up a beautiful teaser on their site (http://na.blackberry.com/). Below are a list of features that the BlackBerry PlayBook will have:

  1. Adobe Flash 10.1
  2. Support for HTML 5
  3. A 7 inch LCD display
  4. 1024 x 600 screen resolution
  5. .9 lbs
  6. Full Multi-Touch
  7. Wi-fi
  8. Multi-Tasking
  9. On Screen Keyboard
  10. HD Display
  11. A 3MP front facing camera
  12. A 5MP rear facing camera
  13. 1080p HD video
  14. 1 GHz dual core processor
  15. 1 GB Ram

If you want to stay up to date you can sign-up for email updates on their website. You can also follow RIM on Twitter at @BlackBerry. You can also find them on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/BlackBerry