Coffee Talk #188: Has Technology Ever Gotten You Out of a Jam?

Last night I was at Ralph’s buying some groceries and the Motorola Droid X helped me save $5. You see, I love taking advantage of promotions. Ralph’s currently has this deal that lets you save $5 for buying 10 participating items. I diligently found sale items that were eligible for the promotion. Getting an additional $5 off items that are already on sale is awesome. As I was walking out the grocery, I noticed that two of the items didn’t register for the promotion and I didn’t get my $5 savings.

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, if the media is out to get Dez Bryant, spicy BBQ sauce recommendations, or the desktop vs. laptop argument, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

Last night I was at Ralph’s buying some groceries and the Motorola Droid X helped me save $5. You see, I love taking advantage of promotions. Ralph’s currently has this deal that lets you save $5 for buying 10 participating items. I diligently found sale items that were eligible for the promotion. Getting an additional $5 off items that are already on sale is awesome. As I was walking out the grocery, I noticed that two of the items didn’t register for the promotion and I didn’t get my $5 savings.

Naturally I turned around and went to the service desk. Next I was directed to a manager. As she was checking out customers, I explained my situation and showed her my receipt. She insisted that the two tubes of toothpaste I selected were not part of the promotion and that I needed to buy two more items. Annoyed, I went back to the toothpaste aisle, snapped a picture of the toothpaste that showed it was part of the promotion and returned to the manager. For some reason, this wasn’t enough proof for her and she went to check it out for herself (as if I could doctor photos on a phone in two minutes). After seeing she was wrong (and stupid), she gave my my $5.

So yay for the Droid X for saving me $5!!! Too bad it couldn’t get back the 15 minutes I wasted on the situation. I missed a train home and my ice cream got a little melty. Ha! Today I’d like to know if you have any stories of technology getting you out of a jam. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. I’m just curious to see if gadgets or tech have helped you catch a break or get out of a silly situation.

Apple Launches Magical Battery Charger (and New iMacs, Trackpad)

Remember those “amazing products” Apple promised when it announced its Q3 earnings? They’re here! Leading the way is an incredible new battery charger that…uh…recharges batteries! This $29 product comes with six rechargeable batteries and features extremely low “vampire drain” when the AAs are full. Okay, that wasn’t the really exciting product announcement today. Here’s a clip from the press release on the new iMacs and Magic Trackpad:

Starting at $1,199, the new iMac line is the fastest ever with dual-core processor speeds up to 3.6 GHz, quad-core speeds up to 2.93 GHz and discrete graphics including the powerful ATI Radeon HD 5750. The new Magic Trackpad, with a smooth glass and aluminum design, gives iMac users the same intuitive Multi-Touch gestures that Mac notebook customers have come to love and is available separately for $69.

iMac displays feature IPS technology to deliver a brilliant image across a wide 178 degree viewing angle. The SD card slot on the iMac now supports the SDXC format to handle the latest high-capacity storage cards. Customers of the 27-inch iMac have the option to order a 256GB solid state drive (SSD) as a primary or secondary drive. The iMac SSD supports up to 215 MB/s data transfer rates for faster startup and application launch times.

The Magic Trackpad is a pretty interesting device. First of all, it’s magical, which is always impressive. For work purposes, I think mice are stupid and inefficient. I prefer working with a Kensington Trackball; I love the cursor control and that my hand never gets too far from the keyboard. The gesture capability of the Magic Trackpad has the potential to speed up workflow. It’s kind of crap that it’s not included with the new iMacs.

Speaking of which, the new iMacs have me drooling and crying at the same time. I really want to start doing video on the site and need a Mac to edit on. A 27-inch iMac with an i7 processor, an SSD drive for apps, and a 1TB drive for scratch space sounds like a brilliant video-editing machine for my purposes. That’s why I’m drooling. I’m crying because there’s no way I can afford one right now. Ha!

Any of you excited by Apple’s new products?

T-Mobile USA Teases its First HSPA+ Phone

T-Mobile USA has launched a teaser site for its first HSPA+ mobile phone. While the company has been very aggressive at deploying its “3.5G” HSPA+ network, it only has USB data modems that take advantage of the speeds, which have a theoretical max of 21Mbps down. Some T-Mobile phones get higher speeds with HSPA+, but a specific chipset is needed to reach the 14.4Mbps promised on the teaser site.

As I mentioned earlier in the month, rumors pointed to an HSPA+ phone launching in September. The word on the street is that the September device will be comparable the current crop of high-end Google Android phones. Where it gets really juicy is in November, when the rumored “Project Emerald” is set to hit T-Mobile. The buzz on this phone, allegedly running Android 3.0, is that it will be the first handset in North America to feature a dual-core Snapdragon processor.

I’m extremely interested in T-Mobile’s HSPA+ phones. While I’m a big fan of the Evo 4G, its WiMax performance isn’t the best in buildings due to its frequency. HSPA+ should offer comparable speeds with better building penetration. The thought of a phone with a dual-core processor is also cool…in a that ultra-nerd way.

PlayStation 3 Firmware Update 3.41 Adds Recommendations

The upcoming PlayStation 3 firmware update (3.41.) adds an interesting and potentially useful feature: a recommendation engine. While you’re browsing games in the PlayStation Store, a series of “you may like” titles are shown. Sony Computer Entertainment America vice president of network operations Eric Lempel explained on the PlayStation Blog:

This feature is a great way to discover new games that you may not know about, and it’s another step toward making the shopping experience easier and better for you all — similar to the five-star ratings feature we added in the last firmware update. Please note that while the 3.41 update will be released shortly, the recommendations feature on PlayStation Store is slated to go live by the end of July.

While some people (impulse buyers that can’t control themselves) aren’t digging this feature, I think it’s more useful than not. For example, a certain RPadholic was not aware that Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions was available in the PlayStation Store. Perhaps this recommendation engine can help avoid such travesties.

What do you think of this feature? Useful? Annoying? Meh?

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Coffee Talk #187: The Limbo Length Argument

My friends were arguing about Limbo for Xbox Live over the weekend. They all agreed that it’s a clever game with a fantastic art style, but they differed on whether it’s worth 1,200 Microsoft Points ($15). I haven’t played the game yet, so I was a curious and impartial observer (like Switzerland…but without the chocolate and yodeling). It was a fun argument to watch because both sides were sure they were right. One argued that it’s a unique experience that’s so different from anything else on Xbox Live. The other argued that it was simply too expensive for a three-hour game with low replay value.

Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, Dan Haren getting hurt in his first start for the Angels (*snicker*), Mel Gibson’s latest hit, or whether I should buy a $75 bag of coffee, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.

My friends were arguing about Limbo for Xbox Live over the weekend. They all agreed that it’s a clever game with a fantastic art style, but they differed on whether it’s worth 1,200 Microsoft Points ($15). I haven’t played the game yet, so I was a curious and impartial observer (like Switzerland…but without the chocolate and yodeling). It was a fun argument to watch because both sides were sure they were right. One argued that it’s a unique experience that’s so different from anything else on Xbox Live. The other argued that it was simply too expensive for a three-hour game with low replay value.

When you’re arguing with your friends about similar gaming issues or considering purchasing a game, which side are you on? Does game length factor into your purchasing decision? Or do you value originality over hours? Certainly this isn’t a black-and-white issue in all cases,  I’m sure you lean towards one way. I’m curious to hear which way that is! Shout it out in the comment section (please)!

Jailbreaking iPhones is Now Legal! (Uh…Was it Ever Illegal?)

Great news to all you rogues, villains, and malefactors that enjoying jailbreaking iPhones and using apps that aren’t approved by Apple — you’re all legit now! According to the Associated Press:

Owners of the iPhone will be able to legally break electronic locks on their devices in order to download software applications that haven’t been approved by Apple Inc., according to new government rules announced Monday.

Perhaps I’m missing something here, but was it ever illegal to jailbreak your iPhone and use unapproved apps? Are there prisons full of people that used QuickPWN and Redsn0w just so that they could get Google Voice on their iPhone 3GS handsets? The wording seems funny to me. In related news, the government rules also cover the following:

  • Allow owners of used cell phones to break access controls on their phones in order to switch wireless carriers.
  • Allow people to break technical protections on video games to investigate or correct security flaws.
  • Allow college professors, film students and documentary filmmakers to break copy-protection measures on DVDs so they can embed clips for educational purposes, criticism, commentary and noncommercial videos.
  • Allow computer owners to bypass the need for external security devices called dongles if the dongle no longer works and cannot be replaced.

Seriously, are any of you iPhone felons? Am I going to serve time for aiding and abetting?

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This Week’s Videogame Releases

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty is coming out this week. This will be the biggest PC game release of 2010 and one of the world’s most important games. I’m pretty sure the release is a national holiday in South Korea. On consoles, hardcore fighters have a treat in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. Last but not least is Arc Rise Fantasia for Wii. These are the only three releases that I thought would interest you. I was going to include Clash of the Titans as a joke…but it’s not that funny.

Any of you picking up new games this week? Are you attending any midnight StarCraft launches?