The Web has made cheaters of us all. It's why I don't play online Scrabble anymore. I like to play honestly. It's more of a challenge. Until I find myself getting smoked by my 11-year-old nephew with "Zymurgy" on a triple word. Right. Then the gloves come off and the anagram generator comes up, you little squirt. But where's the fun in that?
Rumors have it Apple is a month away from announcing a tablet computer. Another tablet, the Crunchpad, is also due for imminent release. These and other fine keyboardless computers get great play on gadget blogs (including our own Crave), but in the real world, I believe this whole category is a nonstarter. Why we keep waiting for the killer tablet computer is beyond me. Few people really want one, especially at the prices that they will have to sell for.
Tablet computers--elegant slates that you operate with a touch screen--are attractive if you're a sci-fi fan. There's something … Read more
I don't know why Microsoft attaches retail prices to it mainstream software products, Windows and Office. You have to be a loser to pay them. Even beyond the specials and promotions you may already know about, there are other, restrictive programs for acquiring these apps. Chances are the licenses won't let you use the software the way you want, but given that enforcement on these licenses may be lax, they're certainly tempting.
Correction: This story has been modified from the original. It now correctly states that Windows and Office software obtained through the Microsoft Action Pack may be used for business use, while the BizSpark software may only be used for development and testing.
Windows 7 Home Premium, the full retail version, lists for $199.99. Unless you are building a computer yourself, from scratch, you don't need it. Windows comes on computers, and if you buy a machine today with Vista, you get a free license to upgrade to Windows 7.
For computers you already own, you can get an upgrade edition for $119.99, which, if you have an existing Windows machine, is functionally the same (it does a clean install); it only needs to verify that you already have XP or Vista before doing its thing.
But don't get it. Because you can get three upgrade licenses all together for just $149 in the Family Pack upgrade. You think Microsoft is going to check to see if everyone using the license is related to you?
Prices for Windows 7 Pro are higher, but the pricing programs are the same. For the full "Ultimate" version of Windows 7 (which seems to be a pointless product for 99.9 percent of consumers), prices are even higher, and there are fewer discount programs.
For Office 2010, the prices and packages have not been set yet, but we can assume they will be close to Office 2007, which retails for $299.99, or $182.49 for the upgrade version (on Amazon). You can do better.
You probably know that you can get the Home and Student edition for a lot less (Office 2007 Home and Student is $81.99 on Amazon). This version omits Outlook from Office; the e-mail and calendar app is $79.99 by itself. Better yet is the three-user family pack for Office 2007 Home and Student. It's about the same price as the single-user version, $79.99 on Newegg.
If you can convince Microsoft that you're a college-level student--if you have a .edu e-mail from an accredited institution--you can get the Ultimate Steal version of Office, with Outlook, for just $59.95.
I assume the programs for the next version of Office will be similar, or perhaps slightly less expensive. So I project that a three-computer household will be able to upgrade its computers to Windows 7 and the latest version of Office (without Outlook) for about $76 per machine, or roughly twice that with Outlook (assuming family packs of Windows, a Home and Student edition of Office 2010 that's priced similarly to the current version, and the same a la cart deal for Outlook). That's more than Apple charges for upgrades, but it's not a wholly terrible expense.
Two interesting, new video-sharing services just launched.
UShow: A new video sharing service, UShow, launched Wednesday. It lets you very easily share videos to your Twitter or Facebook network. That in itself is no great feat; anyone can paste a YouTube URL into a Twitter post. What UShow does that is kind of cool is let you tag a person or object in a video by drawing a frame around a portion of the video at a specific time. Then, when someone clicks on the UShow URL you send out, the video starts playing from that point, with your framed … Read more
Your local police may soon be packing flying surveillance bots. At the AlwaysOn Stanford Summit, Aeryon Labs President Dave Kroetsch gave a compelling pitch on his company, which makes a two-pound robot helicopter that has enough on-board intelligence and stability control to allow it to be flown by people who just point to locations on a Google Map-based interface.
The whole kit, including a table-based control module, fits in a suitcase-sized crate and can be quickly assembled in the field. After the user snaps the flying bot together, he or she just tells it where to go by pointing to … Read more
Larry Marcus, from the VC firm Walden Venture Capital, has previously put money in music companies Pandora and Snocap. He came by recently to talk about his latest music investment, Melodis. Melodis makes a cool service called Midomi that recognizes music it hears (over speakers, or just when you hum it), so you can identify a song you want to know more about, or buy it. (See also: Shazam.)
The business model of Midomi is straightforward and attractive, especially now that there's an iPhone version of it. The free app can sell music tracks and generate revenues from affiliate … Read more
It appears some people haven't figured this out yet, but the Internet is a dollar store, the kind you see tucked into the corners of shopping malls about to be demolished. In dollar stores, everything is a buck. So why not buy it? It's just a buck!
The Internet is not a Tiffany, the kind of store you see in the best locations in shopping malls that have not yet become dated monstrosities about to be demolished. In a Tiffany store you pay too much for a hunk of metal because the brand name behind the metal adds … Read more
Late Tuesday night, Google, the company that became a tech giant through search and advertising company, announced that it's branching out into an unrelated direction, the operating system business. It will release next year the Chrome OS, a free competitor to Microsoft's Windows operating system. It will be targeted at Netbooks, a class of small, inexpensive computers, although eventually it will make its way to full-powered notebooks and desktop computers. It will be designed for accessing Web applications (like Google's own GMail and Google Docs), and it will take a lot of design and technology cues, as … Read more
After I heard that Skyhook Wireless was announcing a deal that would put its geolocation technology into a line of Dell Netbooks, I talked with the company's CEO, Ted Morgan. I'd last talked to Morgan three years ago when he pitched me on the merits of Wi-Fi over traditional satellite GPS location-finding technologies. Ironically, the Dell deal puts Skyhook technology only in those Netbooks ordered with the optional GPS hardware in them, even though all Netbooks have Wi-Fi. But as Morgan described it to me, the best real-world solution for geolocation today is a combination of GPS and … Read more