What Are You Playing This Weekend?

Anyone playing anything patriotic for Fourth of July weekend? After battling comment system issues, I’m looking forward to getting back into Dungeon Siege III. Some hacking, slashing, and looting is just what the doctor ordered. And really, what’s more American than looting and violence?!? Oh wait, that’s more of a Canadian thing, as Vancouver Canucks fans recently showed. Ha! After that, I need to figure out what portable devices and games I’m going to bring to Hawaii. Wheels up on Monday!

How about you? What’s on your weekend playlist?

Skype Adds Video Chat and SMS to Android Client

Skype has finally added some much-needed features to its Android client. The one that’s getting most of the attention is video chat. Android users will be able to use their phones to make Skype video calls. The receiver can be on a mobile phone or a PC. Unfortunately, this functionality is currently restricted to a handful of Android phones: the Google Nexus S, the HTC Desire S, the Sony Xperia neo, and the Sony Xperia pro.

The feature that I’m excited about is that finally — and I say that similar to how The Rock says, “Finally!” — the Android client gets SMS functionality. This is a huge addition for people that send international text messages. I send several every day and it’s so much cheaper on Skype than through a mobile phone.

Skype for Android is still a red-headed stepchild compared to its iOS counterpart, but I’m thrilled that the Google version is finally catching up to the Apple version.


Thursday Housekeeping: Good News and Bad News

It looks like the IntenseDebate comment system is mostly working. I’m still having a bitch of a time importing the old comments; I’m on attempt #6 and it has been stuck at 87% since 5:00AM. Hopefully that will get sorted today. Once that part is done, I’ll be able to fix the other settings so that the new comment system works on the mobile version too. I’m not positive about comment counts on the mobile site though. Now for a few tidbits:

– You’ll notice two new elements in the right sidebar. The first one is a new “recent comments” view. I think it’s pretty neat. Please let me know what you think.

– The other new element is the “top commenters” box. I’m hoping this will be a fun feature that will keep everyone engaged. The top spots are determined by the number of comments posted and the number of “thumbs up” ratings given. Please give each other props for comments that are entertaining, insightful, and fun. Please don’t give me any thumbs up ratings. I want this to be all about you guys.

– You’ll also notice that I’ve taken down the Amazon ads on the site. Unfortunately, California just passed a new Internet sales tax law and Amazon has decided to cut off all of its affiliates in California. This really sucks for me. I was finally getting to the point where Amazon was paying for my groceries. I wasn’t making enough money to live on, but it was helping. Now it’s gone. Hopefully I can find an adequate replacement. Perhaps Best Buy’s affiliate program will accept me…or one of you has discovered a rich uncle that wants to make a donation or purchase 1,000 RPad.tv t-shirts. Ha!

Activision Reveals Call of Duty XP 2011 Details

Activision has released details on its upcoming Call of Duty XP 2011 expo , which takes place on September 2 and 3, 2011 in Los Angeles, CA. It looks like a massive event that will keep rabid Call of Duty fans happy. It’s not all fun and games though. Activision was quick to point out that 100 percent of ticket sales benefit its Call of Duty Endowment charity, which helps soldiers with job placement and training after they’ve served the United States. That’s awesome!

As for the event itself, here are some details from the press release:

Total Call of Duty immersion is coming to a secure 12-acre compound in the urban confines of Los Angeles on Labor Day weekend, where more than 6,000 fans will be the first to witness the world premiere of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer. Attendees will be among the first to have the opportunity to get hands-on time with multiplayer and the new Spec Ops survival co-op mode. Also on display for the first time will be the full feature functionality of Call of Duty® Elite, the innovative new online service, built from the ground-up to support Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Supporting this epic reveal is a series of real-world Call of Duty action-experiences and gaming competitions as well as an unprecedented $1 million Call of Duty tournament by Activision and the event’s lead sponsor, Xbox 360. Through Activision’s network of global partners, fans will have the opportunity to qualify for the tournament prior to the event by showcasing their skills in Call of Duty®: Black Ops multiplayer through regional promotions and competitions. For those unable to qualify in advance, there will be select, on-site/at-large qualifications, further expanding the opportunity to compete for cash prizes among some of the best Call of Duty players in the world. For anyone that can’t be on hand, but still wants to keep an eye on the action, fans from around the world can link up for a connected experience by watching a constant stream of high-production value videos that will be available through television and the web, as well as a constant stream of photos and status updates from the event via social media outlets, including Facebook and Twitter.

Be sure to check the official Call of Duty XP site for more details and ticket announcements. It sounds like an awesome event and I can’t wait to go. How about you guys and gals? Any of you thinking of making the trek to Los Angeles for an awesome Call of Duty show?

Beats, Rhymes, and Life Trailer (A Tribe Called Quest)

I’m so psyched for Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. The documentary will see a limited release on July 8, 2011 and I plan on catching it as soon as I can (I’ll be in Hawaii and I’m not sure where it’ll be playing or how I can get there.). I love A Tribe Called Quest. I love that era of hip-hop. Groups like Tribe and Diggable Planets made for a cool and stylish hip-hop period. It wasn’t about pimps, gangs, coastal warfare, etc. It was all about slick beats, sweet samples, and smooth lyrics. I’m looking forward to reliving those times and seeing today’s hip-hop stars pay tribute to A Tribe Called Quest (represent, represent!).

Check out the trailer when you have a chance and let me know what you think (please)!

Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn Admits to Steroid Use

Controversial actor Charlie Sheen told Sports Illustrated that he used steroids while playing pitcher Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn in the movie Major League. Known for his love of controlled substances, expensive call girls, and nonsensical statements, Sheen’s admission shouldn’t come as a surprise. Here’s a clip from the SI interview:

I was already bitchy because — let’s just say that I was enhancing my performance a little bit. It was the only time I ever did steroids. I did it for like six or eight weeks. You can print this, I don’t give a f—. My fastball went from 79 to like 85.

I wasn’t doing enough to be completely insane — just a little bitchier than normal.

I think it led to my arm problems because it doesn’t enhance the strength of the tendons and ligaments, it just makes the muscles bigger.

Of course it’s not enough that several professional baseball players used performance-enhancing drugs. Naturally, make believe baseball players used them too. What a silly world we live in.


Will the HTC Status Facebook Phone Become the New Sidekick?

From roughly 2002 to 2007, Danger’s Sidekick phones were the choice for teens and tweens. They were cool, relatively cheap, and focused on messaging. The smartphone market has changed drastically with the introduction of the iPhone, but there hasn’t been a phone that was aggressively targeted towards teens and tweens…until now.

The HTC Status has been officially announced for AT&T and Telus. It’s a Google Android phone with HTC Sense 3.0 and, most importantly, heavy Facebook integration. Here’s some marketing copy and specs from the official Facebook page:

The HTC Status lets you share pretty much everything with just about everyone, instantly. It’s the first-ever device with a Facebook Share Button. Now, you can share videos, chats, check-ins, sites and songs with your friends on Facebook at the push of a button. And with new music, new videos, group deals and live events to share with you all summer long, it’s the most outgoing phone in the social universe.

Platform: Android™ 2.3 + HTC Sense™
Display: 2.6-inch touch screen with 480 x 320 resolution
Network: Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE 850/900/1800/1900 UMTS/HSDPA 850/1900
Memory: 512 MB RAM, 512 MB ROM
Processor: MSM7227, 800 MHz
Battery: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery, 1250 mAh
Camera: 5 MP main camera with autofocus, 1.3 MP front-facing camera

On paper, it seems like a brilliant idea. The Status should be a relatively inexpensive phone that combines a capable mobile operating system, fashionable hardware, and the most popular social network in the world. That said, I wonder if the target market even wants such a phone. The Android and iOS apps for Facebook are already quite capable. Is more Facebook integration really required or needed? Would a teen on a budget rather have the HTC Status or last year’s iPhone model?

Of course I’d love to get your thoughts on the HTC Status. Do you think it will take off? Will it be this decade’s Sidekick? Or will teens and tweens be content with slightly older Android and iOS products that already have strong Facebook options?

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