Posted tagged ‘Ars Technica’

What Happens in Vegas…

February 2, 2011

As we turn the calendar from one year to another, what does it make you think about? New Year’s Resolutions? Back-To-School? The Super Bowl?

Well, if you’re like me and employed in the world of tech PR, it means one thing…the annual “Super Bowl” of consumer electronics events, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES).

If you’ve ever attended CES then you know that the show has grown exponentially since its early days. There’s nothing quite like getting more than 140,000+ of your closest friends together in Las Vegas for 4 days of the latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos from some of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world. Each year, months of hype lead up to the show. Who’s going to be there? What are they going to be demonstrating? What’s the big, new “it” product? And this year was no different.

Quite a few major technology trends emerged from this year’s show floor that are sure to keep me busy throughout 2011. Some of the significant topics of discussion included the launch of dozens of new tablet devices, wireless 4G LTE and enhanced connected television technologies.

And if you thought that CES had lost its luster and prestige…think again! Last year was a major down year in terms of attendance for CES. But, it was the large crowd at this year’s show that caught the attention of many in the media:

“I must’ve gotten the following question fifty times in the past few days: what’s the coolest thing you saw at CES? Every time, I’ve given the same answer: the crowd…It’s what the size of the 2011 CES signifies about the consumer electronics industry, and about the cultural centrality of a set of devices and issues that used to be the sole province of geeks.” Jon Stokes, Ars Technica

“CES 2011 is back to normal. It was packed with vendors and attendees. The overall tone was extremely up beat… It was fun to walk the floor and see what was on display.” Bill Wong, Electronic Design

There was no shortage of big names at CES. Amongst those speaking in Las Vegas this year were Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, Rupert Stadler of AUDI AG, Boo-Keun Yoon of Samsung, Alan Mulally of Ford and Ivan Seidenberg of Verizon. Each gave a Keynote presentation and Mulally used his presentation to unveil the company’s first electric vehicle, the Ford Focus Electric. Did you miss any of the Keynote presentations? Don’t worry…in this day and age you can easily go back and watch all of them online on the CES website anytime you like.

We talked trends coming out of the show earlier, and in 2011, there was no shortage of hot button topics that everyone wanted to talk about. Here’s what members of the media had to say about what they saw on the show floor:

“From the very first press conference, the main theme from the show emerged: your next smartphone will likely connect to a 4G network. For business use, 4G on your smartphone or tablet means easier Internet back-ups, smooth video chats, and snappier Web viewing.” John Brandon, Inc. Magazine

“This year, the show was all about Android. We ushered in the era of dual-core Androids with LG and Motorola, we celebrated the 4G revolution with LG, Motorola, and Samsung, and we even got a glimpse at how Android works when screen resolution is bumped beyond the all-too-common WVGA, thanks to Motorola. Oh, and a little thing called Android 3.0 Honeycomb is going to transform the way we think about not only tablets, but smartphones too.” Brandon Miniman,

Larger crowds, 4G and gadgets galore! These were some of the highlights of CES this year. I think we can safely say that the recession appears to be over and if CES is any barometer for the state of the industry, then we’re in for a big 2011!

Did you go to CES this year? What was your biggest takeaway? What was your most memorable moment (at the event…not in Vegas)?

Get Ready For Lego Rock Band

April 21, 2009

Lego Rock Band has officially been announced for the 360, PS3, Wii, and the Nintendo DS. All versions will hit near sometime near Christmas later this year.

From Ars Technica:

The game “will allow families, tweens and teens to experience a wild journey to rock stardom where they can ‘Build a Band and Rock the Universe.'” Was the original Rock Band not already pretty family-friendly, as long as you pick the right songs? Do we really need to dissuade our children from rocking?

“Players will become rockers as they embark on a journey to stardom that the whole family can enjoy as they work their way through local venues, stadiums and fantasy locations on Earth and beyond that mimic the imaginative settings that the LEGO world offers,” the game’s information states. “Also continuing the LEGO ‘build-and-play’ gaming experience, players will be able to create their own LEGO Rock Band style as they customize their minifigure avatars, band and entourage, including roadies, managers and crew. LEGO Rock Band supports Rock Band instruments, as well as other music game controllers.”

Can Social Media Help the Republican Party?

January 7, 2009

Great article on Ars Technica today on this very topic!

After experiencing defeat at the hands of Barack Obama’s networked Democratic Party, a number of young Republican strategists have been arguing the future of the Republican Party will be found using social media.

While author Julian Sanchez believes deeper soul searching might be required to bring the Republican Party back to power, his article provides some interesting background on the discussions surrounding the GOP’s online future.

From Ars Technica:

Since the humbling results of the November election came in, the conservative movement has been scrambling to assess what happened—and to figure out how to prevent it from happening again. Much of this effort, in light of the Obama campaign’s much ballyhooed online operation, has focused on closing the technology gap with the left, and getting conservative candidates and activists to make better use of new media. Hence we see sites like Top Conservatives on Twitter, meant to publicize co-partisans on the popular microblogging service and encourage others to sign up.

The most prominent of the restructuring efforts, though, is Rebuild the Party, brainchild of a group of Republican online strategists who are pushing the idea that adapting to the Internet must be the GOP’s top priority over the next four years. They’re proposing an ambitious goal of recruiting 5 million new online activists and insisting on a new openness that better integrates distributed grassroots efforts. In the past week, RedState founder Erick Erickson has laid out some more detailed advice to his fellow conservatives—heartily seconded by The Next Right’s Patrick Ruffini.

There are plenty of good ideas here, and this is clearly an area where the right needs to make up ground. We now know that strategists on McCain’s team actually proposed taking advantage of text-messaging, but were shot down because the idea seemed “undignified.” We also know, via the folks who model the blogosphere with an array of sophisticated statistical tools, that there was a lot of grassroots writing and activism going on that never got well integrated into the online activist “core.” And as I reported the other day, Barack Obama is looking at a huge advantage in supporters who are connected, and ready to push his agenda, on the Internet.  It’s absolutely true that they’ve got to play serious catch-up on this front.

But while Nancy Scola at TechPresident lauds Ruffini for avoiding “tool fetishism”—for recognizing that adapting to the Net is more about embracing a certain culture and worldview than about exploiting any particular gadget or social networking site—I wonder whether there isn’t a broader technofetishism at work here.  It’s not that they shouldn’t be thinking about how to do online organizing as well as the Obama team did, but at times the impulse to focus on modernizing tactics and strategy makes me think of the Microsoft execs convinced that the right ad campaign will finally convince people they love Vista.

Conservatism has much bigger problems right now than a paucity of Twitter skills. (I say this, for what it’s worth, as someone who’s often classified as part of the broad “right,” my frequent criticisms of this administration notwithstanding.) Front and center is that the end of the Cold War and a governing party that made “small government” a punchline has left it very much unclear what, precisely, “conservatism” means. The movement was always a somewhat uneasy coalition of market enthusiasts and social traditionalists, defined at least as much by what (and who) they opposed as by any core common principles. The Palin strategy—recapturing that oppositional unity by rebranding the GOP as the party of cultural ressentiment—is just a recipe for a death spiral. Conservatives don’t need to figure out how to promote conservatism on Facebook; they need to figure out what it is they’re promoting. To the extent that a new media strategy is part of opening up that conversation, great, but it had better not become a substitute for engaging in some of that painful introspection.

There are plenty of good ideas here, and this is clearly an area where the right needs to make up ground. We now know that strategists on McCain’s team actually proposed taking advantage of text-messaging, but were shot down because the idea seemed “undignified.” We also know, via the folks who model the blogosphere with an array of sophisticated statistical tools, that there was a lot of grassroots writing and activism going on that never got well integrated into the online activist “core.” And as I reported the other day, Barack Obama is looking at a huge advantage in supporters who are connected, and ready to push his agenda, on the Internet.  It’s absolutely true that they’ve got to play serious catch-up on this front.

Google Android: All Hands on Deck for Mobile Showdown

August 20, 2008

It certainly has been a big week for the Android phone platform and those consumers who have long waited for it’s arrival. What a long way we have come since just a few weeks ago when it appeared that Android was far from ready for the public.


Credit: Google

From Ars Technica:

The user interface has been completely redesigned, with a strong focus on attractiveness and usability. The new home screen provides a loose grid for placing icons and small widgets, such as a digital clock and search bar. Users can drag application launchers to the home screen directly from the main menu. The widgets and icons are organized across three separate home screen panes that the user can flip between with a dragging gesture.

The main application menu flies up from a tab at the bottom of the screen and displays launchers for all of the installed programs. The home screen background image is now configurable through a wallpaper selector that is activated from the hardware menu button. The top row of the screen has a status bar with a clock and notification icons. Dragging down that bar will provide access to the notification pane, which shows information about missed calls, recent messages, and other application-specific notices.

The applications included with the platform have been improved, too. The entire set of software exhibits a uniformly high level of usability. The dialer and address book are pretty much what one would expect, but everything is a lot more polished now. The mapping software got some new features, including support for Google Streetview, but still has a few bugs. For instance, switching between modes on the map will clear an active search, and there is no way to have street view and satellite view enabled at once.

Android offers a flawlessly desktop-like browsing experience with excellent support for JavaScript and modern web applications.



The SDK is still extremely easy to install and configure. The user just has to download and decompress the SDK, install the Eclipse plugin, and then provide the plugin with the path of the SDK. If you already have Eclipse installed, it’s really a five-minute operation.

The most significant area where Android has an advantage over the iPhone right now is in the potential for hardware diversity. Users who want a mobile device with a hardware keyboard, full Bluetooth support, a microSD slot, and any number of other similar features that haven’t been blessed by His Steveness, will not be inclined to buy an iPhone. The iPhone’s one-size-fits-all approach is conducive to a great user experience, but necessarily locks the product out of large segments of the market. Android, on the other hand, can be shipped on a wide range of hardware devices that are designed to cater to the needs of specific audiences. That alone will give Android a big boost in the competitive mobile phone market.

So what will we need to see in terms of security: Check out InformationWeek for more on this.

This version of the Software Developers Kit (SDK), version 0.9, Google says, is very close to what the final SDK will look like. While this is all good news for anyone who has yet to buy an iPhone and sign-up for a lengthy AT&T contract, it also means that more security researchers, if they haven’t already started, will begin hammering away for any existing security related vulnerabilities. It’s what they do, and in the long-run, their work improves the quality of software.

Google knows this, and is already bracing for the storm.

See this e-mail the Android Security Team posted to the popular Full Disclosure mailing list yesterday.

Not surprisingly, the Google Android Security Team favors reasonable disclosure practices, which is to say researchers would contact Google with the flaws they find, give Google a chance to fix the flaw, and then the flaw and patch are announced the same day with kudos going to the security researchers who found the problem.

Responsible disclosure is the best way to go for everyone. Whenever security flaws are randomly dumped out publically, end users get attacked and vendors are forced to rush shoddy patches out the door. With responsible disclosure, the flaws get fixed, and we all have a chance to patch our systems.

We are getting closer and closer to the long anticipated release of Android. Now we must wait and see if Google can deliver and how many problems consumers will have to deal with upon its release. Thoughts?