Episode 188

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GLENN’S SHOWNOTES

Briton Paul Chambers convicted for Twitter bomb ‘threat’

 A MAN who joked on Twitter that he would blow up an airport has been found guilty of sending a menacing electronic message.

Paul Chambers, 26, is the first person in Britain to be convicted of sending an offensive tweet.

Chambers, who lost his job as a company finance supervisor as a result of his arrest and prosecution, said the message was a joke and that he was frustrated that the airport had been closed due to heavy snowfall.

The airport in Yorkshire, northern England, decided it was not a credible bomb threat but passed the message on to police.

A judge at Doncaster Magistrates’ Court fined Paul Chambers £385 ($635).

He was arrested in January after he posted a message on the micro-blogging site that he would blow Robin Hood Airport “sky high” if his flight was delayed.

Pirate Party polls dismal UK election results – Oddware – Technology – News – iTnews.com.au
http://www.itnews.com.au/News/174111,pirate-party-polls-dismal-uk-election-results.aspx
Pirate Party polls dismal UK election results

 The Pirate Party’s first general election has ended in disappointment after the group received just 1,340 votes in total for its nine candidates.

Manchester Gorton candidate Tim Dobson performed best, winning 236 votes, while Jack Nunn, in Cities of Westminster and London, faired worst, achieving just 90 votes.

Additionally, no member managed a five per cent share of the vote, meaning that they all forfeited a £500 ($832) deposit.

Apple releases local pricing for iPad tablet

 The iPad can be pre-ordered in Australia from 10/05/10 at $629 for the base model iPad with 16GB of memory and WiFi-only internet access. Prices range right up to $1049, the cost of a decent laptop PC, for the top-of-the-range iPad with 3G access as well as WiFi and 64GB of storage space.

The connect anywhere, 3G network-capable version of the gadget starts at $799 for a 16GB model and has local telcos lining up to offer data plans for it.

Telstra will offer dedicated data plans for iPad 3G, starting at $20 for a pre-paid SIM plan with a 1GB data allowance and ranging up to 6GB for $60.

Welfare slashed, health up in Instabudget

 news.com.au‘s Instabudget, which enables you to decide where to spend and whether to raise or cut taxes for workers and businesses.

More than 7000 people have jumped at the chance to play the game, which lets you take on the role of Treasurer.

And while Australia’s bank balance would remain firmly in the red if readers were in charge, it wouldn’t be nearly as bad as Swan’s actual deficit. The average punter so far has clocked up an $8 billion deficit.

Most notably, the Instabudget slashes spending on welfare by nearly half. Readers on average spent $60 billion on social security compared with the Government’s $111 billion in 2009-10.

Volvo’s crash-avoidance technology fails at media demonstration day

 

The Swedish car-maker with a legendary reputation for protecting those who ride in its cars was left red-faced after inviting a horde of motoring journalists to witness the wonders of the crash-avoidance system in its S60 sedan.

Out rolled the shiny new S60 from the testing bay, with iconic crash test dummy at the wheel.

As it headed for the rear end of a truck parked some 50m ahead and hit a top speed of 50km/h, journalists watched and wondered when the new system would save it from certain disaster.

S60 ploughed into the truck without a hint of crash-avoidance, crumpling the front end and planting said crash test dummy’s face square into the steering wheel.

Needless to say, it wasn’t meant to be like this.

“We’ve had some kind of mishap in the testing here,” Volvo’s senior safety Thomas Broberg said, red-faced but smiling.

“Ah, apologise for that.

“This car actually contains the collision-avoidance system that we did not demonstrate in this crash.”

“Obviously the dummy didn’t respond to the collision warning that it got,” he said

 

The company later issued a statement claiming that if a human were behind the wheel, they would have noticed the collision-avoidance system wasn’t working and taken the appropriate action.

Apple blames GST for iPad’s high price

 APPLE has blamed the GST, not international price gouging, as the reason Australians are being forced to pay more for its top-selling iPad.

Australians will have to pay $629 for the entry level 16GB version of the tablet PC – about $70 more than for the same model sold in the US.

And they will pay an average 12 per cent more for the six various iPad configurations than US buyers.

An Apple spokeswoman defended the company against charges it is profiteering at the expense of international customers.

Corporate affairs spokeswoman Fiona Martin said if not for the GST component, the difference between an iPad bought in the US and Australia would be marginal.

“The (Australian) price is actually very comparable to the US price,” she said.

“The difference is just the effect of local taxes such as the GST. If you took the GST off it, the difference would be as little as $6 or $7.”

Prices quoted in the US don’t include sales tax, which varies between states.

Site offers lousy way to seek revenge

 A WEBSITE in Britain called crabrevenge.com says it sells pubic lice. MAKE THAT BITCH ITCH

We sell you crabs to give to your ex girlfriend or whoever has pissed you off enough to make you seek revenge on them.. If you want a method of revenge that doesn’t involve permanent damage or risk of personal injury or jail time, you have come to the right place

“I Never knew revenge could be so sweet! I have a noisy next door neighbour who just loves his dog so I made sure that the next time he petted old Rodger that he would be more mindful of other peoples sleep now that he is scratching his balls off every night” Niall – Belfast

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales takes rest from purging pornography

 WIKIPEDIA’S parent company is struggling to purge pornography from its site which was reported to the FBI last week by its own co-founder.

Despite efforts over the weekend, the original images that the online encyclopedia’s co-founder reported to the FBI are still up on the site – along with an entire category called “nude children”.

Over the weekend, Wikimedia president Jimmy Wales announced that he was taking a rest from purging the websites of porn.

“Much of the cleanup is done, although there was so much hardcore pornography on Commons that there’s still some left in nooks and crannies,” he wrote.

“I’m taking the day off from deleting, both today and tomorrow, but I do encourage people to continue deleting the most extreme stuff.

Farmville creators Zynga mulling split with ‘greedy’ Facebook – reports | News.com.au
http://www.news.com.au/technology/farmville-creators-zynga-mulling-split-with-greedy-facebook-reports/story-e6frfro0-1225865013389
Farmville creators Zynga mulling split with ‘greedy’ Facebook – reports

 FARMVILLE, Cafe World, Mafia Wars, Petville – Facebook could be on the verge of losing a key part of what makes it so popular.

Zynga – the company behind four of Facebook’s top 10 social gaming apps – has had enough of the site’s increasing love of cash, according to Techcrunch.

Following an escalating battle over Facebook credits, Zynga has begun preparing its own social gaming network, Zynga Live.   

Facebook is testing a service called Facebook Credits that would offer a single virtual currency for use on many different apps. If the social network forces app makers to use Facebook Credits, as some developers expect will happen this year, Zynga would have to pay the company up to 30% of every transaction

MARK’S SHOWNOTES

Telstra loses wholesale pricing appeal

 

TELSTRA has laid down arms in its long-running battle to nearly double the price of wholesale access to its copper network in metro areas after the Australian Competition Tribunal rejected its latest appeal.

For more than five years Telstra has been engaged in a string of legal battles to win the right to impose a $30 monthly access fee on wholesale customers who wish to use Telstra’s copper network to deliver telephony and internet services to clients in metropolitan areas – but it’s been vehemently opposed by both the telco’s competitors and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
 
Telstra’s wholesale competitors currently pay around $17 a month to access the telco’s copper network and industry rivals fear any rise would outprice them from offering telephony and internet services in competition.
 
In April last year the ACCC rejected an appeal from Telstra to charge its rivals $30 a month to use the telco’s last mile copper network in metropolitan areas. Telstra lodged an appeal with the Australian Competition Tribunal to overturn the decision but yesterday the arbitrator rejected the telco’s claims. 

Telstra said it would accept the tribunal’s ruling but the telco refused to say if it would pursue other legal options to pursue the matter further. That’s because the ACCC last December published new indicative prices for wholesale access which closely align with Telstra’s wishes.
 
“The ACCC has started industry consultation on how to best determine regulated access pricing. We support this approach and are focused on achieving certainty for Telstra and industry, as quickly as possible, through a resolution of the appropriate costing of our network,” Telstra spokesman Craig Middleton said.
 
Optus government and corporate affairs director Maha Krishnapillai welcomed the tribunal’s decision but called on Telstra to not pursue new attempts to jack up wholesale pricing.
 
“Telstra needs to realise that its war on wholesale prices has now been lost. For the benefit of the industry and Australia’s broadband customers, it should call off its lawyers and confirm today that no further appeals to raise broadband prices will take place,” he said.
 
Mr Krishnapillai said it was imperative that the government pass its telco reform package in the senate to ensure telcos can no longer lodge serial undertakings to dispute ACCC rulings. The bill — which proposes crucial changes to regulation of the telco market and threatens to separate Telstra’s retail and wholesale arms — is scheduled for debate before the senate tomorrow.

Conroy appointed to UN broadband taskforce

 

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy has been appointed to a United Nations taskforce aimed at speeding the roll-out of high-speed broadband networks around the world.

The International Telecommunications Union’s Broadband Commission for Digital Development was launched this week – as foreshadowed by The Australian in February – with the aim of encouraging agencies and governments around the world to come up with new ways high-speed broadband networks can be used to improve social services.

The commission, which includes 30 companies and organisations, will be co-chaired by the world’s richest man, Mexican telecom-magnate Carlos Slim Hélu, and Rwanda President Paul Kagame. It will report directly to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon at the UN MDG Summit in New York in September.

Under its terms of reference, the Commission will deliver its findings in two reports. The first report will be based directly on input from the Commissioners.

The second report will be an in-depth research paper that will examine the social and economic benefits of broadband rollout, evaluate different deployment and financing models, and look at the different technologies that can be employed to bring maximum speeds and network reach at affordable prices.

“I look forward to sharing Australia’s experiences in developing our national broadband network as well as contributing to the work of the Commission,” Senator Conroy said.

“The digital economy presents social and economic opportunities that have never before been possible and making the most of these opportunities will be crucial for nations around the world.

“The NBN will lift Australia to the top of world-rankings when it comes to broadband access and I’m pleased to see the ITU has recognised our important work.”

The Commission includes members from around the world representing not just the technology sector, but also leaders from across a wide range of business and social sectors, including Ericsson chief executive Hans Erik Vestberg and the US Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski.

Overwhelming support for R18+ games rating

 

 THE federal government has received overwhelming support for the introduction of an R18+ classification band for computer games, largely due to lobbying efforts by games retailer EB Games.

For months EB Games convinced customers at its stores to support R18+ for games by getting them to participate in the public consultation process.

In preliminary figures released last week, a whopping 98.2 per cent out of the 58,589 submissions to a public consultation backed the move.

The federal Attorney-General’s Department received 59,678 submissions in total from individuals and various organisations including religious groups.

EB Games was the most active participant, providing 34,938 submissions where only 4202 had individual comments.

The classification changes are crucial to the gaming industry as adults have been unable to legally purchase certain computer games because they are unsuitable for minors.

The industry is hopeful the adult rating for games would be introduced as soon as possible.

The 23-page status report said myriad women’s, children’s and church groups do not back an R18+ scheme because they believe violent content in games would be “more widely acceptable”.

The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia, 13 West Australian parliamentarians, FamilyVoice Australia, the Commissioners for Children and Young People and Child Guardians (CCYPCG) and the Australian Council on Children and the Media provided research to back their claims that violence in games was a source of aggressive and anti-social behaviour among gamers.

But Interactive Games & Entertainment Association, Media Classifiers’ Association of Australia, XLAN and civil liberties group Electronic Frontiers Australia argued that there was a lack of conclusive scientific evidence to back the violent trigger claims.

The report concluded that there was no clear consensus on any correlation between violent computer games and real-life violence.

Other organisations to back R18+ include Telstra, Australian Computer Society, the Older Gamers, Fox Interactive Media and the Communications, Entertainment & Technology Law Committee of NSW young lawyers.

Those opposing include the Australian Christian Lobby, Media Standards Australia, Women’s Health Victoria and Australian Catholic Women’s League.

The Australian Catholic Bishops would rather R18+ material be banned outright but since such material is currently available — despite being illegal — it would prefer the new category be available so children would not be able to access these games, the report said.

Censorship ministers will continue to deliberate on the R18+ classification for games.

“Censorship ministers have not yet made a decision on whether or not an R 18+ classification for computer games should be introduced and have requested further analysis of community and expert views,” Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said.

“The Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department continues to process and analyse submissions from the public consultation, so figures are preliminary and may change as the processing and analysis of submissions continues.

“This feedback will play an important role in assisting ministers to make a decision on this important public issue.”

Borders takes orders for Kobo eReader due in June

 

 

Borders Group Inc said on Friday that it is taking pre-orders for the Kobo eReader, which will arrive in customers’ homes starting on June 17, and plans to launch its eBook store in June.

 

Borders also said it plans to designate “Area-e” shops inside its stores to sell the Kobo eReader and other eReading devices starting in August.

 

The Kobo eReader, priced at $149.99, will join the space that has been dominated by Amazon.com Inc’s Kindle. Borders’ larger rival Barnes & Noble Inc is already selling its Nook e-reader and Apple Inc recently entered the fray with its more expensive iPad and has already sold more than 1 million of those devices.

The Kobo eReader, which will be preloaded with 100 classic books, will start arriving in customers’ homes starting on June 17, Borders said.

The Borders eBook store will have more than 1 million titles, which shoppers will be able to buy through its web site as well as via free apps available for the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, iPad and computers.

Technology Hardware dictates the Software.

Face-to-face time makes us happier than Facebook

 

Nothing makes us happier than our families and loved ones, a new study shows, with face-to-face socializing beating reaching out to people online hands down.

The Happiness Barometer, conducted in 16 countries across the globe, was based on the Coca-Cola Happiness Index, which surveyed between 500 to 1,000 people per country.

Almost two-fifths, or 40 percent, of those surveyed said catching up with their loved ones after work was the happiest time of their day, while more than 20 percent said they were happiest when eating with their families.

By contrast, only 5 percent said they were happiest when connecting with friends online, and even less — 2 percent — said the first text message of the day made them joyful.

Families and partners were, by far, the biggest source of happiness for almost 80 percent of those surveyed, with friends coming up next at 15 percent.

“Despite our celebrity driven culture, fame is not likely in itself to be a primary source of happiness. Instead, real happiness depends on our connecting with people, especially through love and kindness,” the study said.

Hugs and food also made a lot of people happy, especially in Britain and Russia, where almost a third of people said they are likely to find comfort in a hug or seek it in food.

The countries surveyed were France, Italy, Spain, Britain, Belgium, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Russia, South Africa, China, Philippines, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and the United States.

Cable worries about Web video as fee disputes grow

 NSS – No Shit Sherlock

When executives gather for the annual Cable Show industry event in Los Angeles this week, two issues will be near the top of the agenda: rising programing fees and the growing threat of new Web video services.

Many industry watchers have long argued these are two sides of the same coin. They say if cable distributors keep passing along the higher programing fees to subscribers, then those subscribers will eventually seek out entertainment elsewhere. One likely place would be online video.

Such high stakes have led to ugly fee negotiations in recent months. Stand-offs include Time Warner Cable Inc versus News Corp’s Fox Networks as well as Cablevision Systems Corp versus Scripps Network Inc. Two months ago, ABC local station signals went dark on Cablevision due to a dispute with ABC parent Walt Disney Co.

“The affiliate deals between cable networks and operators have been increasingly contentious over the last six months,” said Thomas Eagan, analyst with Collins Stewart. “There’s got to be some realization that the ecosystem works if they work well together. It falls apart if their negotiations are disruptive.”

Standoffs between programmers and distributors are almost a staple of the American media business in a tough economy. But a particularly weak advertising market and the recent introduction of retransmission fees have further complicated matters.

Retransmission fees are the amount broadcasters charge to distributors who deliver the free-to-air signals to their subscribers. Broadcasters have in the past allowed cable companies to carry those signals for free but as advertising rates fall they been pushing for this alternative revenue.

CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves, a keynote speaker at the Cable Show, has been among the biggest champions of retransmission fees and shows no sign of backing down.

But these battles over fees have been bad for the industry, and cable companies have dedicated marketing dollars to explain programing fee hikes as the reason for rising cable bills.

CORD-CUTTING

One reason for this is the long-running fear that customers will tire of paying more, give up cable TV and cut the cord.

It is not yet clear that consumers will make that move. Collins Stewart’s Eagan points out that pay-TV additions for cable, phone and satellite customers have outpaced customer losses for the last two years. He expects the same this year in spite of the growth of Web video.

The cable industry is aware of the threat. Comcast Corp and Time Warner Inc launched TV Everywhere at last year’s Cable Show, which allows paying subscribers to watch their favorite cable shows on-demand via the Web. The service has been rolled out gradually. but has yet to fully capture the imagination of everyday cable subscribers.

Until recently, cable investors argued the average American family isn’t prepared to sit around a laptop to watch HBO. But a proliferation of new devices and services has made it easier to watch PC content on flat screen TV sets.

“You’re going to see an accelerated cord-cutting beginning this Christmas season with Web-enabled TVs and games consoles,” said Todd Mitchell, analyst at Kaufman Bros.

Programmers have also been holding talks with Apple Inc to stream cable-type programing packages to its devices like the iPad. Such packages could allow an Apple subscriber to buy a cheaper, smaller package of their favorite TV channels or shows unlike current cable offerings.

Meanwhile, companies like Netflix Inc and Sony Corp’s PlayStation have started streaming movies in competition with cable’s video on-demand services. PlayStation is also offering live Major League Baseball games.

But there could be an even more dramatic change if the cable companies themselves decide to transform their Internet-Protocol-based cable systems to deliver programing over the Web.

“If it’s all IP-based what’s to stop Comcast delivering a mini-package of Discovery, ESPN and CNN to a customer?” said Mitchell. “They could aggregate programing at a more effective price than cable outsiders.”

BP turns to Twitter, Facebook on spill information

 

Phone lines at the command center where teams are directing clean-up of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are often jammed, but media-savvy fishermen, residents and others can find the latest updates on Twitter and Facebook.

News that the massive containment dome to be placed over one of the leaks had arrived above the leak off the Louisiana shore appeared first on the popular social media sites. So did word that controlled burns of the oil slick would go ahead on Wednesday after a week of bad weather.

“In a crisis situation, social media is the fastest and most effective way to reach consumers besides television,” Lauren Hurvitz, a New York-based media consultant who worked in crisis public relations, said on Thursday. “It’s much more cost effective and direct.”

Oil company BP Plc is also able to control the message without it being filtered by radio, television and newspaper reporters, Hurvitz said.

A Facebook page launched by the joint U.S. and BP spill response team, located here has over 11,000 followers.

They have access to photos, spill-trajectory maps generated by the government, video on topics including the controlled burns by BP, and summaries of daily news briefings.

BP America’s Twitter site, found at, twitter.com/BP_America, has over 2,500 followers.

“We want to ensure that we can get out information about the response to this incident and spill as rapidly and widely as possible,” David Nicholas, a BP spokesman wrote in an email.

“Twitter is a clearly popular medium that can complement other, more traditional, communication efforts.”

U.S. responders are also posting video on YouTube and are running photograph slideshows Flickr, according to their main web site, here

BP’s critics are also active on Facebook. One site “Make BP responsible for the Gulf Coast oil spill,” has 867 followers. Another, “Speak out on the Gulf oil spill,” has 227.

BP isn’t the only notable party to use social media to comment on the spill. Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has used it to weigh in on the accident.

“Gulf: learn from Alaska’s lesson w/foreign oil co’s: don’t naively trust- VERIFY,” Palin said this week, referring to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Still, Hurvitz said that corporate messages sent via social media outlets do not reach those who do not have computers or are not familiar with the medium.

The Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20 after a well ruptured. The explosion killed 11 workers, and the well is gushing out of control, spewing crude oil in a massive slick that threatens the coastlines of four states.

Fishermen have been banned from working in the waters affected by the spill, which could also damage wildlife and hurt tourism in popular beach resorts.

Concert promoters embrace new media for fan services

 

After graduating last year with a degree in computer science from Sacramento (California) State University, 24-year-old Alex Rude decided to try his hand at iPhone application development by creating a scheduling app for that summer’s Vans Warped tour, which he was planning to attend for the fifth year.

The idea stemmed from Warped’s practice of announcing each day’s lineup the morning of the event, which can be a hassle for fans trying to keep track of which act is playing when and where. So Rude bought a Mac and taught himself how to code for the iPhone. A couple of weeks later, he finished the app and, to his surprise, Apple approved it.

“That actually shocked me, because I thought there would be some kind of copyright restriction,” he says.

In fact, there was. Warped new-media manager Paul Kersh discovered Rude’s app a week after it went live and had to make a quick decision.

“We could either sue him for using the Warped trademark or we could hire him,” Kersh says. “Of course we ended up hiring him.”

Since then, Rude’s app has gone from an unofficial fan scheduler with only a few thousand downloads to the official Warped tour mobile app that’s been downloaded more than 30,000 times and typically ranks among the top 100 music apps in the iTunes store. Rude is now creating similar apps for the Mayhem Festival and Country Throwdown tours.

‘THE PLACE WHERE IT’S ALL AT’

The story illustrates how important mobile apps are to organizers of summer music festivals. In addition to Warped, such events as Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza are using mobile apps to enhance the concert experience for attendees as part of a broader new-media push that also includes social media and Internet initiatives.

“It’s a continuation of what we’re seeing with mobile technology becoming the place where it’s all at,” Kersh says. “It’s really changed how we interact with fans at the show itself.”

The Warped app, for example, goes far beyond the scheduler that started it all. It also features such items as information about each band (complete with links to buy their music at iTunes), news, tour date info and integrated Twitter feeds. Future updates will include automatic notification messages telling fans when the bands they’ve entered into their scheduler are about to play and a promotional code to download 10 free songs from iTunes.

The Coachella app featured an interactive map, a friend finder, photo uploading tools and the ability to mark on a map the location of a car or campsite. And Bonnaroo organizers say they’re in the final stages of selecting a developer to create a “much more robust and functional” app than what it offered last year, including maps and integration with Twitter and Facebook.

But there are downsides, as organizers at Coachella discovered this year. Spotty coverage and mobile network congestion rendered many of the app’s features useless. Also, only a fraction of attendees have smart phones, which is why many are also creating simpler mobile Web versions.

BUILDING A LIFESTYLE BRAND

This push into mobile is indicative of a broader effort to bring more new-media capabilities to live music fans, essentially blending a real-life experience with a virtual one. While mobile apps are designed primarily for onsite use, other digital efforts are intended to drive ticket sales and establish a year-round connection with a festival brand to keep fans engaged and to profit from additional sponsorship opportunities.

“One of the things we’ve realized about our events is that there’s a community built around them that is much larger than the people attending,” says Rick Farman, co-founder of Superfly Productions, which organizes the Bonnaroo and Outside Lands festivals, among others. “Yes, it does push people to attend. But where we think it can go is to build a much bigger lifestyle brand that is monetizable in some way.”

Both Warped and Bonnaroo have amassed more than 100,000 friends on their respective Facebook pages, and both are establishing their own dedicated social networks as well.

The Warped website, created four years ago, has more than 350,000 registered members who can post photos and comments and connect with friends. Kersh credits the site for driving preorder sales up 20 percent above last year’s previous record-setting number of preorders.

Superfly, meanwhile, created the Bonnaroo 365 site, which features streaming video of a handful of performances from the 2009 festival as its first experiment in establishing the event as a year-round brand. Farman declined to provide specifics but said the reaction to the site was good enough that he’s stopped adding content to it in order to formulate a more lasting business model based on advertising and, possibly, subscriptions.

Looking ahead, festival organizers are contemplating how to incorporate such buzzworthy technologies as location-based services (such as Foursquare) and perhaps even mobile ticketing and payment systems.

“If you’re in the business of promoting music or events,” Farman says, “and you don’t have a presence on those platforms or understand how they’re different from one another, you’re not doing your job.”

Man Creates Video Game to Propose to Girlfriend

 

For Anders Howard, proposing to his girlfriend (now fiancee) via a video game he designed may have been the geekiest marriage proposal in the history of all proposals. It could also qualify as one of the most awesome.

“I was sitting on the bus wishing that I could do something more memorable than proposing over dinner,” Howard explains to Asylum. “Being a game designer by day, I hatched the plan to make a game.”

After whipping up a few friends and fellow video game gurus (Jeff Aydelotte, programmer; Thomas Bennet Jobling, animation; Justin Fong, character rig; Ian Buczkowski, sound), they set out to design a food-based video game created specifically for Howard’s leading lady.

Click here to read how Howard planned the proposal and to watch the actual footage.

A few weeks later, the video game was complete. In front of a group of friends, Howard asked his Stephanie to test the game.

“I was really nervous about was whether or not the game would be playable from beginning to end,” he told us. “It could have broken, or worse, she might not have been able to figure out how to get to the end by herself since she’s not really a gamer.”

Despite all that worrying, Stephanie managed to get to the end without any bumps. And, fortunately for Howard, she agreed to the whole marriage thing and didn’t leave him stuttering / crying uncontrollably in front of all the family and friends who attended the event.

“She says she was surprised that I went to such great lengths to come up with a proposal, so I think that means she was impressed,” he tells us.

If this whole proposal thing wasn’t awesome enough, you can actually play the game here. If you do, you’ll get a sneak peak into the relationship of the happy couple.

It only takes about five minutes to beat (seriously) and involves a character who looks like Howard’s fiancee walking around a cartoon city collecting food and booze. As the game progresses, a character resembling Howard helps collect food so the two can work more quickly. If that’s not sickeningly sweet enough for you, get this: During the game, the girlfriend look-a-like gets a bouquet of flowers, love letters professing a deepening love and, of course, a cartoon ring.

P.S. Thanks a lot, Anders. Now our girlfriends are gonna be even more unimpressed when we propose on the Jumbotron.

Nintendo DS XL Touched Kissed Hugged. A big brick that may get kicked in the butt by the iPad.

Google’s Android takes No 2 spot from iPhone

 

Google Inc displaced iPhone maker Apple Inc to become the second most popular provider of smartphone software in the United States during the first quarter, the latest sign of the increasing competition in the fast-growing mobile market.

But Google’s success in becoming a leading mobile software player was tempered by the news on Monday that Google lost a key partner in a related effort to redefine the cell phone industry by selling phones directly to consumers through its website.

A Sprint representative said on Monday the company would no longer support the Nexus One, the sleek touchscreen smartphone developed by Google and HTC and sold directly on the Google website.

Smartphones featuring Google’s Android operating system accounted for 28 percent of U.S. smartphone unit sales in the first quarter, according to NPD Group, behind top-ranked Research in Motion Ltd, maker of the Blackberry phone, which had a 36 percent share of the market.

Smartphones, which allow consumers to surf the Web, send email and run specialized applications on wide, color screens, are increasingly replacing no-frills cell phones for many U.S. consumers.

The devices have become a prime battleground for a variety of technology companies seeking to ensure a good position in the evolving market.

Last month, Hewlett-Packard Co said it would pay $1.2 billion to acquire Palm Inc, which sells two smartphone models based on its WebOS operating system. Microsoft Corp, whose Windows operating system is used in the majority of the world’s PCs, unveiled a pair of smartphones last month and recently launched a revamped version of its mobile operating system.

Apple has sold more than 51 million iPhones since it launched the device to wide acclaim in 2007 and the company says more than 200,000 apps are available for the phone.

In the first quarter, Apple’s iPhone, which is available exclusively on the AT&T wireless network in the United States, dropped to third place as its share of the smartphone operating system market remained flat quarter-over-quarter at 21 percent.

Unlike Apple, Google offers its Android software to other phone-makers. In April, Google said a dozen vendors currently offer 34 different devices that feature the Android software.

NPD analyst Ross Rubin said the strong showing of Android phones during the first quarter owed to promotions by Verizon Wireless, which he said has expanded its buy-one-get-one offer. Verizon Wireless is a venture of Verizon Communications Inc and Vodafone Group Plc.

“As in the past, carrier distribution and promotion have played a crucial role in determining smartphone market share,” Rubin said in a statement.

While the Android operating system is gaining momentum in the market, Google has had less luck with its Nexus One phone, the Android-based device it designed in close collaboration with HTC. Google sells directly to consumers from its website.

Sprint said the Nexus One would not be available on its wireless network because of the upcoming availability of the HTC EVO 4G phone, which also runs Google’s Android software and is compatible with the next-generation high-speed networks Sprint offers in certain markets.

Sprint’s decision to drop support for the Nexus One comes a few weeks after Google acknowledged a version of the phone that runs on the Verizon Wireless network was being scrapped. Google initially promised a version of the Nexus One for Verizon Wireless in the Spring.

In a report earlier this year, analytics firm Flurry estimated Google sold roughly 135,000 Nexus One phones in its first 74 days on the market, compared with the 1 million iPhones Apple sold in the same time frame when it released the device in 2007.

Telstra Saga – So the points.

BIGPOND – 256k Upload
On The Net – 1mb Upload

BIGPOND – $109.95 (50gb Allowance) Includes U/L & D/L
On The Net – $49.95 (60gb Allowance) D/L Only U/L Not Counted.

BIGPOND told me to keep me with them, sign up for 2years to pay 99.95 a month for 50gb WOOT WOOT What a saving, what  joke.

BIGPOND told me I may need to keep my e-mail address for business reasons, to do this I need to switch to the lowest plan, GET THIS $39.95 per month to keep an e-mail.

TURNS OUT my modem wasn’t detected by Telstra Tech Support, Alexis the techie told me he could not see our modem on the system. I said, if that was the case why am I being charged. Sending a Tech Guy over tomorrow to check Modem etc. Need to be home between 12pm and 5pm. Luckily I get a phone call 1 hour before. Will keep everyone posted how it all turns out.

ADSL2+ Turbo not available in my area due to Telstra owning the Exchange. Telstra won’t match the plan On The Net are offering and I was told by the Ombudsman’s office that the ACCC are looking into this issue.

 

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