Archive for March, 2010


Bigger isn’t always better

People may not know this about me, but I love video games.  I still remember my parents buying me and my sister a Sega Genesis for Christmas when I was in 3rd grade.  I was hooked.  I still am, actually, as that same Sega Genesis is with me here at college!

I own a lot of different gaming consoles, from the Genesis to a Wii to my Nintendo DS, so when Yahoo! posted an article about the new Nintendo DSi XL, I was intrigued.

This new Nintendo has a bigger screen (93% larger than the DS Lite!) and longer battery life, but is bigger always better? My answer: no. Sure this new gaming system has a larger screen, a brighter backlight, etc. etc., but the point of an Nintendo has always been that it’s PORTABLE.  What’s next, reverting back to the original grey Nintendo Gameboy?? (Google it if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

The point of portable gaming consoles is to take them with you wherever you go.  Yeah, this new DSi XL has a longer battery life so you can play more, but if you can’t easily carry it with you, why would you need to have the long battery life?

According to the Yahoo! article, “By most accounts, the DSi XL is a little too bulky to tote around in your front pocket. It’s not as unwieldy as an iPad, but it’s hardly as portable as your iPhone…or your standard DSi.”  This brings up a good point: iPhone/iTouches let you download games for relatively cheap and are extremely portable.  Sure, you may not be able to find Mario Cart, but you can find 50 other racing games, some that probably are very similar.

A screen shot from my iTunes store, showing just a few of the racing titles available. Try one of these out instead of wasting $30 on Mario Cart!

Why bother paying $15-30 per DS game, when you can pay $5, $3, or even $0 for a game from iTunes.  I can understand paying for games that are used on Wiis, etc. because that platform isn’t replicated on iPhones, but when it comes to games that require you to push 2 buttons, don’t bother wasting your money.

I love my Nintendo DS, but I only buy secondhand games.  If I want something new, I either buy something similar on my iTouch, or get it for my Wii (as Nintendo makes many of its games for all their platforms).  So skip on the DSi XL unless you want to pay to have a heavy, awkward videgame controller.

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Popping out of your television set

In just one week, Panasonic’s 3D television has sold out. The first 3D TV to hit markets, Panasonic’s 50-inch television cost around $3,000, according to ABC news.

Recently, 3D technology has become the “it” thing, as films like “Avatar” and the upcoming Pixar film “Dragon” feature the technology.  There is talk of more and more films getting the 3D treatment, including “Toy Story 3”, which comes out later this year.  Luckily, director Judd Apatow is against this move, stating on Jay Leno last week that “I’m pretty sure nobody wants to see Jason Segal’s [private parts] in 3D. I’m pretty sure of that!”

While Apatow joked about the newly hot technology, it is a very real possibility that every film and TV show will be in 3D soon.  These televisions, with makers like Sony and Panasonic, can operate in both 2D and 3D mode, allowing viewers to choose their 3D watching.

I personally think it’d be pretty cool to have 3D TV and films in my house.  I love 3D and the only thing that stopped me from watching “Avatar” was that it is 3 hours long.  There’s no way I can sit still that long!  As for “Toy Story 3,” I’ll be the first in line.

Too bad you can't just steal these from the movie theatres for your 3D TV! (photo from stock.xchng)

There is one major snag with these new 3D television sets.  The glasses aren’t included.  And they aren’t your typical red/blue cardboard glasses either.  One pair of these glasses cost around $150.  According to Panasonic’s Web site, two pairs of glasses are included with the TV, which is better than what I originally thought it’d be (no glasses included).  Still, if you have a family, you’re going to have to shell out major dough to enjoy having a 3D theatre in your house.

Unplug yourself from the past

This image could be a thing of the past if Powermat has its way (image courtesy of stock.xchng)

As I returned home this week for Spring Break (yay!) I ran into one of my pet peeves- all of my cords decided to wind themselves into one knotted ball of wires.  Now, this wasn’t too big of a problem for me right now, but I’m flying to Boston later in the week and am just dreading having it happen on the plane.

In steps the Powermat.

The Powermat, a nifty new contraption that eliminates cords, would be perfect for me, especially while traveling. The way this works is that you attach a Powermat receiver to the back of your appliance your cellphone, iPod, Nintendo DS, GPS, whatever.  When your appliance needs to be recharged, simply place it on the charging mat and voila!

So how does it work? According to Amazon, “Powermat utilizes principles of magnetic induction combined with Powermat proprietary patent-pending technology to safely and effectively provide power to electronic devices. Powermat transforms surfaces including walls, tables, floors and desktops into safe, simple, and efficient conductors of energy.” What does that mean? I’m not quite sure either, but I think it basically transforms magnetic energy into a charge for the appliances.

The mat not only lets you charge wirelessly, but has USB ports for charging incase your device won’t recognize the Powermat for some reason.

All in all I can see this being popular for businessmen (or others that travel a lot and need constant access to their offices/family/etc.). For your average person? Not so much right now. I’d love to try one, but I’m not willing to shell out $85-100 for the charging dock (there’s multiple color choices along with portable and home/office docking station options) and $35-40 per receiver right now. If iPods/cell phones start having receivers built-in, then I’ll be the first to sign up.

Making zipdrives obsolete

Alright so there’s this nifty new software program going around that I recently was told about (props to my sister for actually being ahead of me in technology for once).  It’s called Dropbox and is actually pretty cool.  It’s a program that allows you to store documents-no more emailing to yourself or zipdrives! Think of it as a File City (for you Brockport kids) that you have more control over and is more reliable.

All you have to do is download the program onto whatever computers you use and create your account.  After that, as long as you save the file into the Dropbox program, it’ll be on any of those computers when you need it.

Some cool features with Dropbox is that it automatically creates a backup file that is saved online, you can invite others to be able to see files (think how easy group power points or reports would be!), it automatically syncs when changes are made to the file, so once it’s uploaded you’re good to go, and finally….there’s an app for it.  So say you’re sitting on the bus, when you suddenly get an amazing idea for a story.  Instead of frantically looking for a pen, type it out on your “Notes” section of your ipod (if you have a touch or iphone), and you can automatically send it to all of your computers without having to deal with emails, a great thing especially if you have the touch and your email isn’t automatically synced to the ipod.  Better yet, the app is free! And we all love free stuff!

Speaking of free, the program is free to download and comes with 2GB of space for you to use for whatever files you want.  If you need more than that, it goes up to $9.99/month and $19.99/per month for larger amounts of gigs.

So why not check it out? It’s free, it’s easy, and it will save you loads of time in the end!

Paladin – A Rogue Antivirus Program

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com

This post is a little different then some of the other articles we will do for this site. Today’s topic isn’t a new or trendy product or technology that deserves my analysis and promotion – but rather an extremely useful and potentially “life saving” piece of security technology your PC may be in desperate need of.

At the beginning of this past week – I was hit with a nasty virus that rendered my PC unusable. When streaming videos on my lunch at work, a box popped up in the middle of my screen telling me to download Palidin Anti-Virus because it detected my computer had no anti-virus protection. I knew this was a scam immediately because I had just recently purchased McAfee Anti-Virus, and because this prompt window had no exit “X” button to close out of the window. Any legitimate program would have the option to close. As I was putting this together it automatically started an install behind the pop-up box, with no option to stop the install. I tried to “alt-F4” it to force close the program. It worked for a few minutes before the whole thing happened again. When it finished I tried to open McAfee to scan and remove the bad files, but when I clicked on McAfee nothing would happen, not even an hourglass. My computer became virtually useless until the “blue screen of death” (the windows error screen) came up and my computer automatically restarted. After that I was unable to enter my username and password to even log on to my user interface.

Palidin is a rogue antivirus program which acts as a clean-up program. It is one of several fake software programs that often come bundled with trojan-rootkits that block legitimate anti-spyware software from removing it and its corrosive components. Rootkits currently represent the greatest threat to PC users. They install themselves invisibly on a target system and give the attacker full control over the system. Once installed, clever hiding mechanisms make Rootkits very difficult or even impossible to detect. To get rid of this kind of problem you have to remove the trojan-rootkit first. This can be done with two programs.

Start by restarting your computer, the press and hold F8 key for 3 seconds after your computer initially powers on (right away!). Once you see the Advanced Boot Options menu (or hear a beep) you can stop. Then use the up/down arrow keys to highlight first “Last Known Good Configuration,” which is what worked for me, or if that doesn’t work with the following steps, then do the previous and instead select “Safe Mode with Networking” and press Enter. You should see drivers loading, this may take a few moments. You should then be at the Welcome Screen. Logon to your computer using an account with Administrator privileges, and log online and do a Google search for “Combofix” and for “Malwarebytes” or “MBAM” for short. Download both programs, both are TOTALLY FREE, and first run the Combofix scanner. This program is able to dig deep within the system to pull out the rootkit trojans that bury themselves so deep into your computer, the most popular pay scanners including Norton Antivirus, McAfee, and Spy-Sweeper cannot detect. Give this program full access despite a few warnings that may pop-up, these only appear because the scanner is digging so deep into the computers opperating processes to search for the trojan. After this scans and restarts your computer, run the “Malwarebytes” scanner to remove the rest of Paladin and the remaining traces of the trojan. When MBAB is done, your computer will again restart and it should be back to its old-self, if not better from other hidden viruses that your professional scanner missed.

It really is concerning that the expensive scanners miss these devastating trojans, and free scanners only a google search away can eliminate them in under a half hour really astounds me. These viruses are becoming more and more prevalent since they are so tricky to erase. If you think you may have been compromised, or even if not – it still is a good idea to run these deep scanners to make sure you are clean and that no-one has hacked into your computer.

There are a few alternate ways to take care of this same problem. If this doesn’t work for you or someone you know with this problem, please look to this discussion board for further tips on how to remove the virus and rootkit. http://tinyurl.com/y97qp9w

This Article Was Written By Josh Dimino of The College at Brockport SUNY.
Contact Josh at JoshDimino@gmail.com