SmartyCard, which launches at Demo 09 on Tuesday, is both compelling and disturbing. The well-crafted site, which is aimed mainly at third- to sixth-graders, is compelling because it not only engages children in fun and interesting learning activities, but it adds an element of incentive by rewarding success with points that they can use to purchase virtual or real merchandise.
That very incentive is what also makes SmartyCard disturbing.
I'm not saying that the carrot approach--giving kids rewards for doing well--can't be appropriate and effective. But I'm somehow bothered by the idea of an automated system that … Read more
Toward the end of last year, I more or less decided that I wanted to get myself a Kindle, but I wanted to hold off for the next generation. So when Amazon announced the Kindle 2 in February, I put my order in right away.
I've now had it for a few days and have had a chance to play around with it a fair bit. Here are some early thoughts.
Yes, it's expensive. $359--and typically add to that at least $29 for a case. Although there are many free books available (more on this in a bit), and new releases are generally cheaper on the Kindle than in hardcover, it's a good bet that you're not going to save enough on book purchases to come close to paying for the device--especially if you buy a lot of books used (as I do) or get them from the library. This is a premium-price convenience device.
It's the convenience that the Kindle 2 offers that convinced me to buy one. I travel a lot, and the idea of having a library in the form factor of a single paperback is immensely appealing to me. Frankly, I probably would not have purchased a Kindle, if I didn't spend so much time traveling by air with as little luggage as I can get away with.
Plenty of others, including CNET Reviews' David Carnoy, have reviewed the device itself, and I agree with what seems to be the general consensus: the Kindle 2 is easy on the eyes, and the controls seem to work reasonably well.
For reading books, it is a qualitatively different experience from reading on a laptop or a phone. It's not that you can't read on those other devices--in fact, I do it all the time--but the Kindle's e-paper display and long battery life make it far better suited for reading books.
That said, I do believe that we're still in a relatively early stage of this device's evolution. There may or may not be any truth to these specific rumors from Fast Company. (After all, we heard various inaccurate Kindle 2 "leaks" and predictions throughout much of last year.) … Read more
He told his personal story and details of the newest version of his software to CBS News and CNET Technology analyst Larry Magid
Are Apple stores elitist? You bet--and that's not a bad thing. Unless the U.S. economy keeps going south.
How do I know Apple stores are high rent? I live in Southern California, and every Apple store within 50 miles of me is in a tony, upscale neighborhood. A new store, for instance, opened in September near my home in the swankiest shopping center in the area--bar none. No Best Buy, Radio Shack, or Circuit City could touch this real estate.
Ditto for the East Coast. The Apple store nearest the town where I grew up is in one … Read more
I chatted with Chris Shipley (you can listen by clicking the podcast link below) as she was getting ready to launch Demo 2009, where 39 companies plan to introduce new products.
Shipley gave me a sneak preview of what to expect, including a new screen capture product from Citrix Online (of GoToMyPC), some "hard-core development platforms," and consumer technologies, including a live streaming Web service for individuals from Avaak.
There will also be a new Netbook computer "that fits in a space between an iPhone and a laptop" and a product that is "putting a … Read more
Microsoft's legal team got a workout this week.
Microsoft filed two separate patent infringement actions against GPS navigation company TomTom. In complaints before the U.S. District Court in Washington and the International Trade Commission, Microsoft is alleging infringement of eight patents.
In an interview, Microsoft deputy general counsel Horacio Gutierrez said that the software giant has been trying to start licensing talks with TomTom for more than a year.
"They basically never were prepared to have a discussion with us with respect to licensing terms," Gutierrez said.
Although Microsoft has been on the receiving end of … Read more
Whitebox vendors in the Asia-Pacific region may warm up to the One Laptop Per Child's decision to open its design, according to market research analyst IDC.
Multinational PC makers, on the other hand, will continue their focus on mini-notebooks, Reuben Tan, IDC's senior manager for personal systems research in the Asia-Pacific region, told CNET News sister site ZDNet Asia in a phone interview.
Earlier this month, OLPC founder Nicholas Negroponte announced the organization's intention to open-source its hardware design and invite commercial PC makers to copy it. In an e-mail interview with ZDNet Asia, Negroponte said the … Read more
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on February 26 that, from now on, the company will post proposed changes to its terms of service and other policies for member input.
If more than 7,000 people comment, the policy will be put to a vote, and the result "will be binding, if more than 30 percent of all active registered users vote."
Based on Facebook's current 175 million user base, that's nearly 53 million people, which makes it questionable whether the company will ever get sufficient voter turnout.
CBS News and CNET Technology analyst Larry Magid discuss … Read more