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Thekstategeek is new and improved. TECHTOIT.COM

January 29, 2011 Leave a comment

WE HAVE MOVED. Due to our unexpected success, we have changed domains and moved to a “big boy” server. If you reach this page via a search, or reference or anything really, then click the link below to take you to our new site – TECHTOIT.COM. New logo, new slogan, new look, new feel… it’s the real deal.

WOW THAT SOUNDS AWESOME! TAKE ME TO TECHTOIT.COM RIGHT NOW!

One thing the Xbox should have, that it doesn’t

January 16, 2011 1 comment

The Xbox 360 is versatile. Wanna indulge in the guilty pleasures known as video games? Xbox has it. Wanna watch highlights from last night’s big game that you missed? Xbox has it. Wanna listen to your favorite band and related artists on internet radio? Xbox has it. Wanna video chat with your friend across the country? Xbox can do that. Wanna update your Facebook status or tweet something on Twitter? Xbox can do that. Wanna surf the internet? PS3 and Wii can do that. Wait a second, Microsoft’s game console can’t surf the internet?

Herein lies the issue. Microsoft was established on April 4 in 1975 as a computing company. Their operating system, Windows, has sold billions of copies over the years, amassing an incomprehensible amount of revenue. Their success has created four billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from within their employee pool. Within the last decade they have diversified, creating the Xbox and its successor the Xbox 360 as well as portable media player brand Zune and a mobile phone OS Windows Mobile/Windows Phone 7. Both the Zune and their mobile OS have internet browsing capabilities, but the Xbox does not. The biggest computer company on the planet has withheld the ability to surf the internet on their gaming console. Ironic.

Its not an issue of can or can not, for both of the Xbox’s competitors as well as hackers have been able to load internet browsers onto their game consoles. The Nintendo Wii’s computing power is weak in comparison to that of the Xbox 360, yet the console allows for fairly smooth navigation online. The PS3, however, is more powerful so it does not come as a surprise that it also has an internet browser. In addition to flexing its computing muscle, the Xbox has internet-enabled applications that are built into the OS. Netflix, ESPN, Twitter, Facebook and Last.fm are all accessible when you’re connected to the internet. Oh, and one more thing. Xbox LIVE. The online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service that requires the internet? The service that millions use on a daily basis to interact with each other. That too, is an internet-driven Microsoft force.

So why, Microsoft? Why, Xbox 360 team? We want an internet browser. We know you can, and that you should. I mean, come on, everyone else is doing it.

One thing the Xbox should have, that it doesn't

January 16, 2011 1 comment

The Xbox 360 is versatile. Wanna indulge in the guilty pleasures known as video games? Xbox has it. Wanna watch highlights from last night’s big game that you missed? Xbox has it. Wanna listen to your favorite band and related artists on internet radio? Xbox has it. Wanna video chat with your friend across the country? Xbox can do that. Wanna update your Facebook status or tweet something on Twitter? Xbox can do that. Wanna surf the internet? PS3 and Wii can do that. Wait a second, Microsoft’s game console can’t surf the internet?

Herein lies the issue. Microsoft was established on April 4 in 1975 as a computing company. Their operating system, Windows, has sold billions of copies over the years, amassing an incomprehensible amount of revenue. Their success has created four billionaires and 12,000 millionaires from within their employee pool. Within the last decade they have diversified, creating the Xbox and its successor the Xbox 360 as well as portable media player brand Zune and a mobile phone OS Windows Mobile/Windows Phone 7. Both the Zune and their mobile OS have internet browsing capabilities, but the Xbox does not. The biggest computer company on the planet has withheld the ability to surf the internet on their gaming console. Ironic.

Its not an issue of can or can not, for both of the Xbox’s competitors as well as hackers have been able to load internet browsers onto their game consoles. The Nintendo Wii’s computing power is weak in comparison to that of the Xbox 360, yet the console allows for fairly smooth navigation online. The PS3, however, is more powerful so it does not come as a surprise that it also has an internet browser. In addition to flexing its computing muscle, the Xbox has internet-enabled applications that are built into the OS. Netflix, ESPN, Twitter, Facebook and Last.fm are all accessible when you’re connected to the internet. Oh, and one more thing. Xbox LIVE. The online multiplayer gaming and digital media delivery service that requires the internet? The service that millions use on a daily basis to interact with each other. That too, is an internet-driven Microsoft force.

So why, Microsoft? Why, Xbox 360 team? We want an internet browser. We know you can, and that you should. I mean, come on, everyone else is doing it.

Gameloft, iOS’s game fuel

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Gameloft is known for one thing: its uncanny cloning ability. Several titles have fallen victim to the crafty coding of the French developer based out of Paris – Final Fantasy, Uncharted, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Call of Duty, God of War, Soul Calibur and Resident Evil with plans to create a StarCraft iPad clone. Their online multiplayer service is called Gameloft LIVE and you can obtain trophies (sound familiar?) as well as gaming points for completing certain tasks. Everything about the company wreaks of rip-off… yet I am in love with the company. Gameloft is single handily fueling the iOS gaming platform. They are providing iPhone/iPod/iPad owners with quality console titles despite their blatant inspiration from popular franchises.

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The screenshots above are reminiscent of many games I spend my time playing on my Xbox or Wii or my friend’s PS3, yet I commend Gameloft for being able to produce the likes of which they have. I actually collect Gameloft games. It is my guilty pleasure. But mind you, in addition to the wonderful clones that they produce, they have several “official” titles as well: Asphalt, Asssassin’s Creed, Spider-Man, Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, James Cameron’s Avatar, Brothers in Arms, Driver, Oregon Trail, UNO, Rayman, Earthworm Jim, Tom Clancy’s HAWX and more. Tell me that you do not begin to drool at that list.

Gameloft’s biggest competitor currently is EA Mobile with the leading sports titles Madden, NBA Elite, NCAA Football and FIFA as well as Battlefield, Need for Speed, Sims and classic board games such as Monopoly, Life and Battleship. They are running the biggest holiday sale with 70 titles tagged at only $.99, thus propelling them up the charts, but Gameloft has initiated their own $.99 sale on their older titles (N.O.V.A 2, Shadown Guardian and Eternal Legacy can’t enter the market at that price, they are worth much more than that!) as a counter-attack.

So all in all, this is my ode to Gameloft. I thank you for all of your December releases, and keep them coming. You have made my trip to my grandmother’s house for Christmas a tad more exciting 🙂

Gameloft, iOS's game fuel

December 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Gameloft is known for one thing: its uncanny cloning ability. Several titles have fallen victim to the crafty coding of the French developer based out of Paris – Final Fantasy, Uncharted, Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Call of Duty, God of War, Soul Calibur and Resident Evil with plans to create a StarCraft iPad clone. Their online multiplayer service is called Gameloft LIVE and you can obtain trophies (sound familiar?) as well as gaming points for completing certain tasks. Everything about the company wreaks of rip-off… yet I am in love with the company. Gameloft is single handily fueling the iOS gaming platform. They are providing iPhone/iPod/iPad owners with quality console titles despite their blatant inspiration from popular franchises.

The screenshots above are reminiscent of many games I spend my time playing on my Xbox or Wii or my friend’s PS3, yet I commend Gameloft for being able to produce the likes of which they have. I actually collect Gameloft games. It is my guilty pleasure. But mind you, in addition to the wonderful clones that they produce, they have several “official” titles as well: Asphalt, Asssassin’s Creed, Spider-Man, Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, James Cameron’s Avatar, Brothers in Arms, Driver, Oregon Trail, UNO, Rayman, Earthworm Jim, Tom Clancy’s HAWX and more. Tell me that you do not begin to drool at that list.

Gameloft’s biggest competitor currently is EA Mobile with the leading sports titles Madden, NBA Elite, NCAA Football and FIFA as well as Battlefield, Need for Speed, Sims and classic board games such as Monopoly, Life and Battleship. They are running the biggest holiday sale with 70 titles tagged at only $.99, thus propelling them up the charts, but Gameloft has initiated their own $.99 sale on their older titles (N.O.V.A 2, Shadown Guardian and Eternal Legacy can’t enter the market at that price, they are worth much more than that!) as a counter-attack.

So all in all, this is my ode to Gameloft. I thank you for all of your December releases, and keep them coming. You have made my trip to my grandmother’s house for Christmas a tad more exciting 🙂

My Plea for the Universal Device

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

In my experience, the typical techie likes the newest, shiniest, coolest gadgets that come out. In my case, I like to purchase them. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside to read up on the newest iDevice or Android handheld that is coming out, because I can envision myself dropping some-odd hundred dollars and tearing into the box the beautiful hardware would inevitably come packaged in. Lately I have broadened my horizons to objects that can’t necessarily fit in my hand, ala Google TV. But henceforth is where I was stopped cold. I was hit with a revelation; my eyes had been opened; I can see clearly now the rain has gone: I will be wasting my money.

Since the middle school days where I would draw my dream device and type furiously away into Microsoft Word, spilling the features from my brain to paper, I have craved a “universal device.” (I code-named mine the Lotus, but that has absolutely nothing to do with this article.) Take an iPod Touch, a Kindle, a laptop, the EVO, a Garmin GPS, a Nintendo DS, an Xbox 360 plus Kinect and any other innovative, crazy-awesome technologies that will come out within the next few years and splice them together. I had envisioned a 4-inch, technological Frankenstein that I would carry around in my pocket and forever cherish until death do us part. I had not taken into account how many steps, how many attempts and how many years it would take to create the likes of which I had fathomed… or the amount of money I would throw at electronics to help them get there.

And that is where I have arrived today. It seems as if every device is trying to become like the others. TV now plays YouTube videos and allows you to check your Twitter between episodes of Full House, an eReader now allows you to access and download apps that facilitate the same activities, and my phone has been able to do that for the last year. Laptops want to be like tablets and cell phones want to be like laptops. Everything includes GPS capabilities and touch screens are the new QWERTY keyboard. My iPod can remotely control my TV and my Blue-Ray player requires software updates. Nearly everything that comes out these days has the ability of the next, but not quite, and that is wherein my dilemma lies.

I like where things are headed. In a few short years, my Lotus will be real, but until then I am finding myself questioning each purchase. Because of the new features that each device is trying to incorporate to compete with the others, the prices are rising, and the markets are blurring. Take the iPod Touch for example. What exactly is it? It’s not just an MP3 player. 5 years ago an MP3 player cost roughly $60 and played MP3s. The iPod Touch is in a category of its own. Wikipedia calls it “a portable media player, personal digital assistant and Wi-Fi mobile platform.” WTF? 5 years ago, hardly any average person would even know what that would entail, but now 10 year-olds receive them in their stockings during Christmas time. I would be perfectly ok with this if the Kindle did not roll out with an App Store of its own, and my TV didn’t develop the same internet functionality.

The other day I was talking to my roommate about getting a Kindle and a Google TV with some money I had saved up. He looked at me very quizzically and asked “Well, why? Can’t your iPhone read eBooks and let you do the same things as Google TV?” And to that, I really had no answer. And that really put a damper on my geeky, gadget collecting mood. So I suppose the bottom line is this: could someone please develop the universal device ASAP? I, as well as my wallet, would greatly appreciate it.

The Beloved iPhone

November 27, 2010 Leave a comment

My first target is the Apple iPhone. This spectacular device came into existence in 2007. In just three and a half short years, the iPhone has commandeered the mobile platform. The name “iPhone” has become synonymous with innovation and beauty. It is both the sexiest looking device on the market and the prime performer. In addition to spawning a whole generation of large, multi-touch touchscreen phones, it ushered in the App Era. Not to mention visual voicemail, full QWERTY keyboards in portrait orientation, etc., etc. Yes, I am fawning over the device, but perhaps that’s because I am posting this from my very own iPhone 4. I use this magnificent phone daily and yet, it is my first victim nonetheless. After countless software updates it is still lacking a few MAJOR improvements. If good ol’ Steve and his crew would oblige,  the iPhone would remain seated in its smartphone throne for many years to come.

First, let’s wander into the jailbroken universe. In this boundless place, iPhone/iPod Touch users are treated with complete freedom. In this blinding, techy bliss, many have seized the opportunity to capitalize on the open frontier of Cydia apps. Cydia, in short, is a hacked App Store. In this candyshop, users can download applications that unlock features on the device that Apple has attempted to keep hidden from the public. Thousands of iPhone/iPod owners jailbreak their devices solely to unlock these capabilities. Among the most popular: allow your phone to become a wireless hotspot (a feature that Android’s top contenders boast; create a “blacklist” of numbers that can be ignored automatically; customize every aspect of the user graphical interface including, but not limited to the Internet browser, music player, wifi bars and the loading or “busy” icon; replace the old shitty notifications system with a lock screen overlay that shows all notifications, rss feeds, sports scores, weather info and more; emulate games from old systems: NES, SNES, N64, PS1, GBA, etc.; among many others. It is wonderful. And legal now. But I am staying faithful to Apple and their official updates on my phone (my iPod was another story). So below I have constructed a feasible list of modifications that I’d like Apple to release in one of their next software updates in, oh I don’t know, the next year? Preferably six months (before the new iPhone comes out)?

Notifications

Let’s be honest. No one likes the notifications on the iPhone. We are stuck in eternal, singular popup hell. You can get a new e-mail, 2 text messages, a few game challenges and a calendar reminder and all you’ll see is the calendar reminder on your lockscreen. “Oh, but some apps show you notifications as well!” No. A red badge with the number of new notifications appears in the top left/right-hand corner of the icon and you have to open it up to find out what you missed. Take notes on Android – its notifications are simple and user-friendly and unobtrusive. Hell, you recently acquired the man who created the Pre’s beautiful notification system… make use of it. Amateur coders in the jailbroken community have a few options for enhanced lockscreens that have the weather forecast, sports scores, excerpts from new emails and more – if they can do it, I’m sure you can too.

Customization

Who doesn’t like customization? No one. Apple made a small step forward with the new wallpaper option for the homescreen instead of the empty black abyss, but that is the extent of it. We need themes. The iPod and iPhone are already the top of the line in handheld gadgetry, but every user would like a few more options. I guarantee it. Take a poll. I dare you. New icons, new loading buttons, new battery meters, new wifi bars; for God’s sake new SMS sounds! Every jailbroken iDevice has Winterboard. Do you know what Winterboard is used for? Graphical facelifts out the ass. Look at the picture above. A theme that looks like Vista – complete with working widgets (something else we need). That’s freaking awesome! I understand that allowing users to create their own and upload them to a public server for iDevice owners to download from probably would make for some security issues, but at least do something “officially.” How about a new app: iCustomize. An official app created by Apple that allows the user to customize their device with Apple-created GUI (graphical user interface) enhancements. A few new keyboards, some alternate icons for pre-loaded apps, graphical overlays for the music player and internet browser, etc. Give us something to quench our artistic thirst. Thank you.

Lots and lots of littler things

  1. A radio app. The iPod Nano had one… why does the all-powerful iPhone not? Come on! (That’s something that Nokia’s free shit has that you don’t!)
  2. A quick-reply for SMS alerts. When you get a text mid-YouTube video or Angry Birds level, you have to open up the Messages app to respond, then click the Home button, then press on the app icon again (or wait! Utilize the new multi-tasking. Double click the Home button, and press on the app icon again…)
  3. Week-view for the Calendar.
  4. Updated Weather and Notes apps. Simply put. Make the Weather app more like the Weather HD app in the App Store ($.99) and the Notes app like Awesome Note ($3.99). I love them both dearly over yours… I’m sorry.
  5. *More like 4b* The ability to Hide pre-loaded apps that we don’t use (or have gladly found a replacement for). They just take up space on my Homescreen. Yeah, you can hide them away using the new Folder feature of iOS 4.0 and label them “Do Not Use,” but why in the world would we do that? Help us out.
  6. Text count on text messages. This may seem extremely trivial, but my girlfriend always doubts that I text her more than anyone else and I would like to prove that to her, but unlike her ANDROID phone, my Messages app doesn’t count how many texts are to-and-from each contact in the Messages screen.
  7. Settings that aren’t an icon. Try Android’s way of doing things. If you don’t want to conform to Google, at least listen to your jailbroken community. SBSettings is another one of the top Cydia apps. This allows a drop down menu to appear when you preform a gesture much like that on an Android handheld (a swipe to the left or right along the top). Within this menu you can toggle Wi-Fi or Bluetooth or Brightness or any of a handful of different things. In fact, don’t remove the Settings app. Keep that for more detailed Settings, and just add the simpler, easier-to-access Settings menu to the GUI.
  8. Flash, Java, or any other plugin within Safari.
  9. Orientation lock in Settings (something that could be on the modified, added-in Settings 2 menu).
  10. iTunes sync over Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth.
  11. Folder system within Photos on the device. I want to be able to sort the photos on my Camera Roll into folders that I make and name on the device, not to mention possibly creating and deleting folders for my other photos as well.
  12. Haptic feedback option for the keyboard (this is a luxury, and some people even hate it… but at least make it accessible. And don’t say its not possible… there’s a Cydia app for it).
  13. A ringtone creation app. The way that Apple handles custom ringtones is ridiculous. Users should be able to take a song that’s on their device (one that they likely already paid the ludicrous $1.29 for) and create a ringtone on the device by cropping the song. It could be as simple as dragging the start point and the end point to where you want them to be and saving them straight into the Alerts files. Come on Apple. Palm had one of these for their Treo-series like 5 years ago. Call it iRingtone for all we care.. and charge $4.99. It’d still be on nearly every handheld sold.
  14. We want widgets. The LiveClock on HTC Android phones is elegant, sleek and sexy. Not to mention the FriendStream feature (Facebook and Twitter updates) and the implanted Calendar. Sure there’s an app for that… but we want to be able to place that on our Home Page (and the Lockscreen). Without widgets, the homescreen remains a grid of uninformative icons. Android and Nokia phones have had these for a while… where is the innovative Apple version that trumps everyone else?
  15. A mobile version of Garage Band. The iPhone appeals to everyone. Everyone knows what an iPhone is, and does. Many artists, music enthusiasts, DJs, and overall curiously creative people encompass that “everyone” I speak of, and would love to see a mobile version of Garage Band. Sure there are apps that allow you to press virtual keys to play the piano, or strum virtual strings to play the guitar but I want to see Apple roll out the be-all-end-all music creation app (although slightly watered down from the true Mac version obviously) that destroys the competition. Come on Apple. Do it.
  16. The ability to make the iPhone into a mobile hotspot. Weak Wi-Fi signals suck. They plague the country, but with your handy dandy iPhone, there could be no more Wi-Fi blues because you could connect to the inernet on your laptop in the middle of BFE (as long as you have cell service), or play friends on your DS or PSP or whatever. And I ask this to be a free service. Yes it’s possible. There’s a Cydia app for that as well. 😉

So this concludes my first foray into product design/product reviews/blogging and the demolition of the beloved iPhone. Comments, questions, concerns are welcome. Do you agree? Did I miss something?