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Long time readers may have noticed ZNF contributor and TiVo fan Davis Freeberg has gone silent. Well, I’m stoked to share that he’s been putting his free time to better use in launching a Bay Area startup… and unlike so many others, we’re not talking Web 2.0 and Ruby — Davis is taking on the real world with what I like to refer to as the Netflix of Arcade Games. No, not Xbox One or PS4, rather classic gaming cabinets (as you might have gathered from the photograph above). For $75/month, All You Can Arcade offers:

  • Keep your games as long as you want or pick a different one each month.
  • No delivery or pick up fees
  • Unlimited gaming without breaking your piggy bank. All of our arcade games are set to free play.
  • No late fees or long term commitments, cancel your membership at any time.
  • Wide selection of adventure, racing, sports, shooters and RPG games to choose from.

While I have to admit I had some doubts early on, Davis seems to be having the adventure of the lifetime (although the shipping container in the backyard filled with game components, along with every room of the house, is a little out of control). And the coverage (AP, SF Chronicle) has been overwhelmingly positive. We wish Davis all the best and although we miss his TiVo and Netflix coverage, he’s resumed blogging… about arcade games, without the pen name, over at All You Can Arcade.

CES Gadget Go Bag

Mari Silbey —  January 3, 2013

CES gadget go bag

 

After skipping the “International CES”* last year, both Dave and I are headed back to Vegas for the consumer electronics show in 2013. And that means it’s time once again to look into the gadget go bag. For next week’s trip I’m packing up the laptop and smartphone, but also a few accessories that should hopefully make my rounds at the show a little easier. First, despite Dave’s insistence that I use my phone to take all photos, I’ve acquired another point-and-shoot camera. The quality of my smartphone photos is seriously lacking, and while I have no aspirations to be an award-winning photographer, it would be nice if a few of my gadget pics were recognizable as such, even in low light and among jostling conference-goers.

Second, I’ve added a critical new piece of hardware to boost my phone’s naturally crappy battery life. The Anker Astro 3 external charger may be overkill given that I only need one of the one thousand enclosed adapter tips, but it promises to power my phone at least six times on a single charge. And that is invaluable while traipsing around Vegas roughly 20 out of every 24 hours each day.

Finally, I’ve included a small Skooba case for organizing my various gadget cables, and a set of cheap but worthwhile Panasonic earphones so I can safely ignore my fellows anytime and anywhere. Remember, just because we bloggers want to learn more about this year’s gadgets doesn’t mean we actually want to talk to other people while doing it.

Interestingly, while pulling this post together, I happened across a photo of my gadget bag from CES 2010. There have been a few changes since then. Continue Reading…

The DC region was treated to a historic flyover by the Space Shuttle Discovery riding atop a 747 earlier today, en route to its final home at the suburban Dulles annex of the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Museum. And, while I may not have impressive capital region views from my office, I conveniently (?) work across the street from the Dulles Airport and was able to take in Discovery’s curtain call (video above).

Like many of you, the Shuttle program captured my imagination as a child and I watched many a launch… either on television or by following the contrails across the Florida sky where I grew up. Sadly, I never actually made it to Cape Canaveral for a more first hand experience and the best opportunity I had was derailed by a weather delay. So it goes? Although, I did make it to Space Camp and celebrated whenever it was that I hit 5’4″ (or was it 5’2″?) – the minimum height requirement for astronauts at the time.

Surely this represents the end of an era. As a coworker asked on camera while losing the Shuttle between buildings, “Where’d it go?” Indeed. Where did America’s manned space exploration programs go? Guess other (costly) interests and obligations have taken national priority. And we currently find ourselves without a Shuttle replacement program and a contested NASA budget. Perhaps the private sector will pick up the torch or maybe we’ll one day find ourselves in an era of peace and budget surpluses. In the interim, we’ll continue to hitch rides to and from the International Space Station via Russian rockets. Pack that caviar and vodka!

Below are a few fun pics shot by pals today near (or at) Dulles. Far left, my wife took in the flyovers and landing from the Sully Historic Site. Center, Joel Ward captured the landing from the top of his office – just down the road from mine. And, far right, Tom snapped this beauty from the tarmac.

AOL, Google, The News, & I

Dave Zatz —  February 21, 2011

In the last couple of days, two respected Engadget editors have resigned (details here & here). Amongst their publicly disclosed grievances, both cited the AOL Way – which appears to favor assembly line content. Quantity over quality, current, and search engine optimized. While Engadget hasn’t yet been subjected to the AOL Way, these defections make many wonder if the writing’s on the wall. Instead of continuing to evolve as a largely independent (and loved) entity, will Engadget be consumed Borg-like into newly appointed Huffington’s AOL media empire?

Along with this discussion is a renewed debate over ‘blogs as journalism’ and eHow Google might deemphasize the likes of low quality content farms. From a blogger with stints at Mashable and Engadget:

Almost everyone uses Google to find out more about news that’s happening right now, whether it’s tech industry stuff, celebrity breakups, or political revolutions. Unfortunately, the rules Google uses to determine which websites gain strong rankings — and thus frequent traffic, high impressions and strong ad revenues — betray journalists and the people who need them at every turn. Google’s algorithms and the blog linking customs built around them favor those who write first, not those who write accurately. I have no qualms about producing entertainment and other products to meet demand. But journalism must not function this way if it is to remain useful.

And it certainly seems like many pander to Google. For example, TechCrunch (another AOL property) was once a blog purely dedicated to Web 2.0. They were extremely successful and I was a regular. But I suspect it’s been even better for business to expand their reach by covering Apple’s every move.

Yet, building a business around Google’s indexing and oversized influence shouldn’t necessarily be burdened with negative connotation Continue Reading…

Photo Fun at CES

Mari Silbey —  January 13, 2011

CES is over for another year, but the photos live on. There was the minion who visited the blogger lounge, the Panasonic sand sculpture, and the masses of entirely non-goofy-looking people wearing 3D glasses. I also snapped a pic of a dude named Mo, who was selling solar chargers in the middle of the night at the Venetian (doesn’t he know the sun there is fake?), and swiped a photo from Liliputing of me and Brad Linder posing at the Digital Experience event. Good times.

You may know of the Avengers or Fantastic Four, but how well versed are you in the ZigBee Alliance and HTML5? When you stop to think about technological labels a bit objectively, our chosen lingo can be pretty bizarre. (Roku, Vudu, Hulu, oh my.) At grad school, in the mid 90s, I ran with a pretty geeky crowd (as you might imagine). And we came up with super hero names based on various jargon and gear. My alter-ego was the SCSI (“scuzzy”) Adapter. But it’s time to refresh our lineup given the mass extinctions and frantic pace of evolution. Feel free to play along in the comments, where we’ll be joined by The Cloud, Hyper Miler, and Super Amoled. Just beware any blu-rays emanating from active shutter glasses.

We can’t say Zatz Not Funny really needs custom link shortening. But it’s kinda cool in a vanity plate sort of way. And at only $35/year (for .tv Tuvalu domain registration), why not?

I’ve been a long time bit.ly proponent as a way to shorten links for sharing on Twitter, given their high availability and pretty analytics. Now, due to the recent .ly domain dust up, I’ve learned that bit.ly also white labels their shortening services for others – which is how sites like the Washington Post, Amazon, and TechCrunch provide unique and concise links. Fortunately, in addition to their enterprise class solution (~$1k/mo), there’s a free Bit.ly Pro tier available to those of us working with smaller budgets.

At our level, the customized bit.ly service provides two ways to leverage our new zatz.tv domain. First, anyone who uses bit.ly to share a ZNF link will end up presenting a zatz.tv string. Second, any link from any site that I choose to share will also feature our brand:

Setting up Bit.ly Pro was a pretty simple affair. I updated the zatz.tv A DNS record to point to bit.ly and uploaded a HTML file to ZNF to prove it belongs to us. Going with a .tv domain over .it (Italy) or .me (Montenegro) cost us double or triple, but it’s in line with our blog personality and these are relatively small sums of money. Lastly, bit.ly Pro isn’t the only game in town if you’re interested – I did uncover a few roll-your-own scripts and other hosted services, like Stumble Upon, that offer similar custom link shortening. Although I can’t imagine anything simpler to implement than bit.ly.