Thursday, September 29, 2011

Microsoft Offers Up New Media Remote and Bluetooth Headset


Do you remember the Xbox 360 Universal Remote? No? Either do I, but apparently Microsoft hasn’t forgotten.

Navigating the numerous multi-media screens that now accompany an Xbox 360 experience is difficult, especially with a handheld controller. Thankfully a remote would be helpful and a remote is exactly what Microsoft is offering.

The Xbox 360 Media Remote is designed after the Xbox 360 S, so all you OCD types have nothing to worry about as the remote will also be clad in the same shiny-shows-a-million-fingerprints black. The remote will be able to control not only Netflix, HuluPlus, and ESPN, but the Xbox 360 Dashboard as well. This remote also has the ability to diminish or possibly eliminate your media remote stockpile by controlling many basic functions of many popular TVs brands.

It goes on sale this November for $19.99 – batteries included.

But a shiny new remote isn’t the only thing Microsoft is offering up before the pre-holiday wish list writing.

Also expect the Xbox 360 Wireless Headset with Bluetooth® to be available as well. The headset has the ability to not only allow one to communicate over Xbox LIVE, but also any Bluetooth enable device, offering seamless connectivity to a multitude of devices with the touch of a button.

The headset offers up to eight hours of talk time and up to 300 hours on standby for you hard core gamers out there.

It retails for $59.99 and expect it on the store shelves around the same time as the remote.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What's Wrong With College Today

The Atlantic is running a series of articles about the value of colleges to today's students.  Hitting issues like the problems with college rankings and admissions, the value of college itself, and who are the traditional students colleges are aiming for.

Being in college, I have partaken in almost every college-decision-sin The Atlantic says to avoid, from taking more than four years to complete my degree - which is near impossible if you have such a thing called a life, to choosing a college based solely on location instead of academics.

So I went to a local university with so-so credentials and yesterday's state-of-the-art technology.  So what?  There are larger problems I could have gotten myself into, but I didn't and now I am nearing the end of my bachelor-degree hunt. But there is more wrong with this than just the university itself.

Academics: The portion of college where you learn things to obtain a piece of paper stating you were sober enough to only sleep through half the classes and smart enough to know when to study (read six chapters fifteen minutes before class starts).

Sitting in class is part of "yesterday's state-of-the-art technology."  Journalism Law and Ethics is an evolving beast of, well, laws, procedures, rules, regulations, and complexly written guideline on how to be a journalist lawfully.

Everything discussed in today's class is either 1. set in Supreme Court stone or 2. has already changed.

Colleges are supposed to be on the cusp of new theories, procedures, information, and knowledge, but they are losing to something many students rely on.  The Internet.

The Internet has the ability to connect millions of people and their ideas with millions of other people and their ideas.

The Atlantic article, "Why You Should Root for College to Go Online" should be an ode to my generation.  Students shouldn't be sitting in class, but changing the definition of class. 

Clayton Christensen and Henry Eyring write, "Full-time faculty members must not only assent to the inclusion of online learning in the curriculum."  Though the faculty seems just has controlled as the students do.  They talk about doing this or that, but it always comes down to the University football seed counters who want to make sure the football field is lavishly green.

The quality of grass does not dictate the quality of education, as some like to believe.

The depths of the Internet have no green gas, or mortared institutions that has a board of regents to please with an outstanding football team, but it does have more information available than a university can even begin to offer.

Why can't a university be taught online?  Granted there are numerous classes that need hours and hours of hands on experience (nursing, dental, machining, and mechanics) to name just a few.  But history?  Literature?  Creative Writing?  What does a classroom offer that the Internet cannot do better, especially in a time when everyone can be connected to everyone else?

If universities had the materials to offer students the best education, they would not need to have access to the Internet for their students.

If  someone can put an accredited college online, the entire college and learning experience will go universal.  People would be able to learn what they want when they want, all while having access to more information than their professors can even begin to image.  And for professors...you wouldn;t have to listen to just anyone, the top professors in your field will be able to put their lectures online for anyone to view and learn from.

Think about what can happen when people begin to share ideas...what will we be able to think of next?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Where is America?

I'm pissed off.

I'm pissed off that bankers are running away with millions of dollars while millions go unemployed, hungry, homeless, and uneducated, as money is funneled to fund vacation homes, and millionaire salaries.

I'm pissed off that we are scared, afraid, frightened of our own government to stand up to them a protest against the wrongdoings that are being committed to us.

How much can we take?

As a nation that has been for so long perceived as the promise land of prosperity, what have we let happen to it?

The roads are no longer paved with gold, but instead the hopes and dreams of middle America that have been tossed out the mainstream for profits margins and payouts. 

The backbone that made this country great has grown soft with fear - with fear of the future, with fear of the government, with fear of what this country has become.

Where has all the common sense gone?

It seems like everyone can figure out how to run the government, except those who are in charge.  But wait aren't we, the people in charge? 

I thought so, or at least would like to think so, but the cards are stacked against us, friends. 



Does this look like we are in charge?

Police, the ones who swear to serve and protect us, penning protesters like animals, and then pepper spraying them?

We do not protest because we are afraid too.  We wish to stand up against the government, but can we stand  up to a government that doesn't even uphold the same constitution we are governed under?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A latte a day keeps financial gain away

The published version can be read here on The Eastern Echo's website or Monday's issue can be picked up on campus.

Are you the type of caffeinated machine that thinks a Red Bull is an alternative to Ambien?  Have you ever attempted to attach a baby bottle nipple to a can of Monster for easy bedtime accessibility?  Or are you a milder latte-a-day kind of person?

A latte is a coffee drink made with espresso and steamed milk; an inexpensive pick-me-up for those who have a complicated relationship with mornings.

For those that live on the mild side, let's say the average latte runs around the $4 mark; tax, title, and licensing fees included, along with whatever else you toss in...one shot, two, shot, three shot, four -  of espresso. 

This kind of latte dedication (addiction?) does add up.

One latte a day at the predetermined $4 price for 365 days equates to $1,460.  Is this figure realistic? No, no one gets a latte every single day of the year, but there is somebody currently sifting through receipts trying to add up how close they come to the high-end watermark - don't forget to carry that seven.

A more realistic number would be a latte five days a week, right?

A latte a day sans the weekends should be what a normal person needs to shake the morning cobwebs off by noon, ringing up at a milder $1,040 a year in spending.

$1,040 a year, you're thinking, but it's just a latte?

Yeah, well, lattes are Italian, and Italian things are fancy, and fancy things are expensive, like a Ferrari or a Fiat.

So, what else can $1,000 and some change net you over the course of a year?

Actually, a decent amount.

$1,000 can buy a year’s worth of Sprint's Everything Data plan with 450 anytime minutes, which retails for $69.99 (plus tax and fees), and you would have money left over.

$1,000 can buy a Sharp Quattron 40-inch 1080p 120 hertz LED-LCD HDTV for $649.98 new on Amazon with some change left over for the cable sports package and some brewskies if you want. 

You can never forget the brewskies.

For the more adventurous type, a vacation on the cheap can be had if you stay in the states, but you may need to bring an exterminator, too.

But where does this fit in for a college student who needs a double shot of espresso intravenously to wake up from a study-induced coma before a 1pm class and their idea of spring break is working?

For the espresso fiend it means having enough money to pay for a three credit hour class in cash, if you are a paying tuition as a Michigan resident, which runs $246.95 according to Eastern Michigan’s website.  This includes the usual technology, $11.55, student union, $3.45, and general fees, $24.40, with enough left over for the class’s books - usually.

“I’d probably pay for tuition or put it in a savings account,” Ricky Hurston, a freshman at Eastern Michigan University said.

If you are a non-Michigan resident student you will have to give up more than lattes to cover a three credits class.  This would put you back $727.35 a credit hour plus fees.

Cutting $1,000 out of your financial need for college will help you avoid those nasty student loans that rack up like, well, your latte spending.            

With the cost college being anything but latte-esque in price, a smart move would be to spend it on tuition or books.

“I’d save some of it for school because I have to start paying myself next year,” Taurie Davis, an Eastern Michigan University sophomore said.

Yes, giving up a latte a day sounds wonderful and easy, but can a caffeine addicted Starbuk-aholic really give in?               

“I’d probably not give it up,” Darnell Bostic, a freshman at Eastern Michigan University, said , even with the proposition of an extra $1,000.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Facebook Changes Up What It Created

It looks like Facebook is doing some social change up as Google+ goes public.  Facebookers are crying they'll run to the Google camp, but woah just one minute...Timeline...what's this?, they ask.

Timeline is Facebook's take on your life story - a digital scrapbook of sorts that was revealed Thursday at the F8 Conference.  It catogorizs everything you've ever posted into years so you can look back to see who you were, one, two, or five years ago.  Photos, post, friends, everything - and a slew of new items too, like movies, music, books...virtually anything you can think of.

This is changing the social game forever.

Facebook is bringing the emphasis back away from Farmville and back to the profiles.  Why is this important?  Because the future of social networking will be finding and following trends your friends are starting or participating in.

We go to our friends first for advice on new things, why not make that social and digital too?

Also, I think this opens up Facebook to a whole new world of applications...why can't college classes be tought through Facebook and social networking?  Files can be transfered and sylabi downloaed.  What's stopping a school from going social?

Not a whole lot actually, it's just a matter of time before we move to that relm.

Here's the video on Facebook Timeline, set to debut just a few weeks from now:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dancing Hamsters and Importing From Detroit

Don't you just love good advertising?  I know I do.  And when I catch myself going back to watch a car commercial for a pepped up econobox - well - damn, marketing must have done their job.

First up is the 2012 Kia Soul commercial with the legendary and sometimes freaky dancing Hamsters.


They may be freaky, but you have to love the hip feel to the commercial.  Who are they targeting?  Young adults who thrive on hip, and this does the job,

This next one palyed during the Superbowl this last year and made waves throught the media community with its references to Detroit and it's troubles as of recent.  Some question the usage of the Chrysler 200, but either way, the commercial can be moving for those who know and love Detroit.


Ominous of the troubles Detroit has been through?  Yes.  Imported from Detroit...not so much.  Chrysler is owned by Fiat, an Italian company, and Fiat is far from Detroit.

HTC Flyer- it plays Angry Birds, too!

Here is my first reveiw - The HTC Flyer Tablet.  The original version can be read here on The Eastern Echo's website or Monday's issue can be picked up on campus.

For those of you that love to drink the Apple Kool-Aid – as tasty as it is – there are other tablet products on the shelf. Where are these tablets, you ask? They are usually tucked away next to the broom closet and discounted tape players, forgotten amongst the iPad craze.

One manufacturer, HTC, a Taiwanese company, who has had long running success in the smartphone market with its large selection of Android, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile and Palm OS devices, is dipping its toes in the tablet market as well. One of their more interesting tablets is the HTC Flyer.

The HTC Flyer is an Android 2.3 based tablet with a 7-inch 1024×600 resolution capacitive touch screen, 1.5GHz dual core Snap Dragon processor and 16GB of internal storage space.

If you are looking for a tablet to use in class, don’t worry, the HTC Flyer plays Angry Birds and it’s free. The tablet itself, not so much. The HTC Flyer is selling for $499.99 (plus tax), exclusively at your local Best Buy. But, if you’re smart, you can dart over to Amazon.com and buy one new for $500.00 or used for $379.00, without the pressure of buying any add on merchandise.

There are two cameras on the Flyer; a rear-facing 5 megapixel one and a forward facing 1.3 megapixel one. I wasn’t impressed with the quality of either. Although, I was impressed by the battery life, which lasted 10 hours on normal usage.

What might be the most beneficial feature of the HTC Flyer is a preloaded app called HTC Notes. In order to use the Notes program you need to purchase the Scribe Digital Pen for $79.99 from Best Buy, or $52.99 new on Amazon.com.

If a stylus feels so 1998, well, honestly, it kind of is. Tapping away on a modern tablet with a stylus may feel outdated, but the functions it allows you to do are strictly 21st century.

Notes allows you to literally write on the tablet within the HTC Notes app. But it just doesn’t let you jot down a few scribbles of tic-tac-toe in a varying array of pens, pencils, and makers.

It has also unique function that will allow you to record sound while taking notes.This allows one to not only go back and review the notes, but also listen to a lecture as well. People whose handwriting is comparable to early Egyptian hieroglyphics will find this function useful. The features are reminiscent of the popular, with college students, LiveScribe pen.

The notes feature gets better; with the 5 megapixel camera you can take a photo and embed itself within the notes. Is there an interesting or useful graph you may need later? Just snap a photo and it is in your notes for later referencing.

If your organization skills topped out at a sixth grade level, HTC Notes will even help you keep them organized. Instead of searching though files and files of notes, the program will let you sync your notes to your Google Calendar.

Say you had class last Tuesday at noon and you have that scheduled. The notes you took that day in class can be saved to the specific date and time in your calendar so you can go back and access them.

The final upside to HTC Notes is its Evernote connectivity. Evernote is a program for Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, WebOS and web that allows you to save and synchronize your notes from one device and instantly access them from any other device with an Evernote app or web access. The Flyer comes with Evernote pre-installed.

Evernote has cataloguing capabilities and text-in-photo scanning abilities so any image with text can be categorized and made searchable.

HTC notes and Evernote aren’t the only apps you can get. The HTC Flyer has access to Google’s ever growing Android Market, which has a very high percentage of free apps. . Popular free apps include Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Google Maps, Pandora internet radio, and of course the ever popular Angry Birds.

The Flyer is only connectable via 802.11n Wi-Fi, and there is no 3G version available.

If you want to enable the Evernote synching you will need to be connected to the internet via WiFi. Although, some might see this as a drawback, not having a 3G connection also means you don’t have to purchase any expensive data plans, or pay the standard $70 3G upcharge for the hardware.

Even though the HTC Flyer tablet may not have the shine and polish of the coveted Apple tablet, but for those you who think the Apple Kool-Aid is a little to bitter, the HTC Flyer can be a viable, and smaller, alternative.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Commuter Students in Michigan

UPDATE: Edited and published story can be read here.

BEEP…BEEP…BEEP…

You roll over and the clock reads 9:15.

Class starts in fifteen minutes.

You live thirty miles away.

And you have a final exam.

This is a thing that leads to restless nights and horrid, sweaty, nightmares for commuter students.    Just a minute of over sleeping can lead to felonious speeds on the highway, suicide dives for parking spots on campus, and fighting against handcuffs as you beg with the officer to let you go to class before you go to jail –a once in a lifetime plea.

But why take the risk of living off campus and potentially end up being late?

“It’s cheaper and I have someone to live with,” said Jackie Bass, a junior at Eastern Michigan University.  She lived on campus the previous two years and enjoyed living on campus to avoid the parking fiasco, but now enjoys having a plethora of food options that comes with living off campus.

“I lived in Hill and it was awesome to walk downstairs and across the front yard and there was food hot and ready for you,” said Kevin Murray, a former Eastern Michigan University and then commuter who was on campus with a friend.

Living on campus for many is not an option simply due to cost, but living off campus can come with its own surprise surcharges. 

Vehicle maintenance and gas can quickly add up, especially for those that live a good distance away, or those without the sturdiest of wheels.

Gas prices aren’t the only thing that can hurt a student.  With Michigan’s weather being about as unpredictable as U of M’s defensive abilities, some students are faced with tough decisions during the winter months.

For many it’s a split-decision call of heads or tails – or a press of the snooze button – on whether they come into class when the weather turns nasty.

Bass, living only five minutes from campus, doesn’t have to make those kinds of class-participation damaging choices.

Murray said his sub-compact car wouldn’t have made the hour drive through the snow.

“I would have tried, but probably would’ve gotten stuck,” he said.

Michigan isn’t known for temperate winters, with bright sun and moderate temperatures, so for many students driving in the worst conditions is unavoidable. 

Even if you have an oil well in your backyard, and the toughest vehicle to tackle any terrain in any weather, there is still one nail that can be driven into your automotive coffin: reliability.

Climbing into your car at nine in the morning and turning the key over to hear the weak click-click-click of the starter is as about as dreadful as failing a class.  Vehicle maintenance never comes cheap, and the high costs can quickly add up.

What starts as a simple issue, can snowball into thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs, if the problem isn’t fixed.

“You have to keep up on things like checking the fluids, belts, and tires, to avoid the costliest of repairs,” said Jerry Clark, a retired mechanical engineer from Ford Motor Company.

“If something major like a transmission is going to fail, it’s going to fail.  There isn’t much you can do, but keep up on the easiest of things” Clark said.

Not everyone can afford a car made to take a bullet, or barrage for that matter, but if you keep up on the basics, the car, like the body, will keep trucking.  You don’t need a heart transplant, when a simple blood transfusion will work just fine. 

“Changing the oil on a regular basis is the best thing you can do to keep your car running,” Clark said.

So like anything in life, there are pros and cons to go with commuting as there are to go with living on campus.  Which way the scale tips depends on the person.  Some enjoy the close proximity of everything while living on campus, while others enjoy the thrill of beating the clock to get to class.

The question is what will stop you from getting to class; gas prices, a dead battery, the snowpocalype, or a few set of stairs and a walk across campus?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembrance

Ten years ago the world change. The bubble of safety was torn by four airliners slicing through the innocence of the American people; a dagger deep in the mentality of all of us

We were changed.

As a country we were one and on that day we were watching in horror, shock...disbelief at what we saw. 

Our country....attacked? 

Watching through the looking glass of television and photographs many of us were shielded from the reality of that day.

Sometimes, it still feels like a dream...one where you wake up in a cold sweat, glancing around to reassure yourself you are still in the safety of your bed.  But the bedroom has fallen away and the dream is a reality.

Innocent lives were lost at the expense of a cowardly attacker with an agenda of hatred and fear.  No matter what you believe about that day, lives were lost and changed forever. 

I am probably not saying anything new, or useful, or even worthy of a read, but watching the coverage from that day...the pain in the people's hearts and faces, their lives scarred like the landscape of New York, Washington, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania brings full circle the evils of that day and the pain still present in America. 

The landscape has healed but will forever be marred.

Look back on that day and remember the lives that were so tragically ended, the men and women who, in the face of their own death, ran back to save the lives of people they didn't even know.  The heroism that prevailed that day, and as a nation we united.

This day will never be forgotten and  as a nation we move on, but will forever remember those who so tragically died.  

9/11/2001 - 9/11/2011: 10 Years of A Nation Changed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Mon Coeur Fait Vroum (My Heart Goes Vroom) - English Translation

If you are a fan of Cars 2, then there is one song, "Mon Coeur Fait Vroum," that makes your heart melt for the open road.  Upon searching for the song I discovered it was by the French artist Benabar.  I eventually found the French lyrics, piecing them together from different sources, and using Google Translate, and a French-to-Spanish translation as well, I pieced together the English version.  Enjoy, and of course, any and all suggestions are welcomed.

J'ai parcouru le monde, Chercher l'amour profond,
Ma vie s'allume et mon coeur fait,
Vroum, vroum, vroum
Ce soir je porte mon plus beau manteau,
Et mon bon vieux, mon bon vieux chapeau,
Permettez?...après vous...peut-être la prochaine fois...
J'ai parcouru le monde,
Chercher l'amour profond,
Ma vie s'allume et mon coeur fait,
Vroum, vroum, vroum
 
Vous et moi marchant sur les chemins,
Main dans la main c'est fou,
Laissez moi vous offrir en cadeau,
Ce delicieux gateau,
 
J'ai parcouru le monde,
Chercher l'amour profond,
Ma vie s'allume et mon coeur fait,
Vroum, vroum, vroum
 Une soirée sous le ciel étoilé,
Ou devant la télé,
Entre nous...avec vous...pas du tout
 
Je veux lire dans vos yeux,
Qu'il y a l'espoir de jours plus heureux,
Et vous entendre dire
Ne partez pas, il faut rester pou moi

J'ai parcouru le monde,
Chercher l'amour profond,
Ma vie s'allume et mon coeur fait,
Vroum, vroum, vroum
J'ai pensé renoncer,
Ne pas m'abandonner,
Ce jeu va me tuer,
Car mon fait
Vroum, Vroum, Vroum...



I have traveled the world
Searching for profound love
My life alight
And my heart goes
Vroom, vroom, vroom

Tonight I'm wearing my best coat
 And my old, good old hat
 May I? ... After you ... maybe next time


I have traveled the world
Searching for profound love
My life alight
And my heart goes
Vroom, vroom, vroom

You and I walking on the roads
 Hand in Hand is crazy
 Let me give a gift
 This delicious cake

I have traveled the world
Searching for profound love
My life alight
And my heart goes
Vroom, vroom, vroom

An evening under the stars,
 Or watching TV,
 Us ... with you ... not at all

I want to read in your eyes,
 There was the hope of happier days,
 And hear you say
 Do not go, we must stay together

I thought to give up,
 Do not abandon me,
 This game will kill me
 Because my heart does,

Vroom, vroom, vroom

Monday, September 5, 2011

EA Announces Grand Slam® Tennis 2

Tennis games have never been a cash crop for the video game industry.  You never see a line of caffeinated teenagers standing in the December cold eagerly waiting to throw down some mad aces.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t a game for the tennis aficionados.

EA has announced it is resurrecting the Grand Slam nameplate for a second coming, hoping to fill the tennis game void.

“We are very excited to bring the EA SPORTS Grand Slam® Tennis franchise to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 platforms and leverage the graphical power of these high definition consoles,” said Line Producer Thomas Singleton. “Players will now get to experience the excitement and drama of serving it up on prestigious tennis venues such as Wimbledon’s famed Centre Court.”

But EA isn’t filling that void with just another swing-and-a-miss tennis game, o no.  They are including things like PRO AI, where real players play like themselves.  There is also the inclusion of Wimbledon, the crème brulee of tennis locales.  Though the Xbox 360 version won’t be sporting Kinect playability.

To modernize the tennis playing fun EA is introducing its Total Racquet Control system, where buttons become nonexistent and everything is played through the joysticks.  The right stick controls the racquet while the left controls your player on the court.  EA sights this as, “…the first true innovation in the tennis genre in years.”
 
We shall see.

Expect Grand Slam® Tennis 2 to hit store shelves sometime in 2012.  Until then, check out the teaser trailer below.