June 05, 2011

Announcing...here's the thing!

As many of you know, I said my goodbyes to Yahoo! a few months ago, and since then I've been dropping hints about a new project up my sleeves.

Well, I'm almost ready to take the lid off my new site, but I wanted to give friends and family—that's you—the chance to take a sneak peek.

Without further ado, say hello to here's the thing, your source for practical advice, the latest buzz, and the bottom line about gadgets and technology.

here's the thing is a safe, friendly place to talk about technology and gadgets—the gadgets that matter to you.

I could tell you more, but seeing is believing—so head on over and take a look for yourself. And if you like what you see, by all means, don't keep it to yourself; tell your friends, "like" us on Facebook, and spread the word on Twitter.

See you at here's the thing!

March 16, 2011

"Dragon Age II": Pared-down, yes, but it's got the original's soul (and it's still fun)

I was a huge fan of Dragon Age: Origins; indeed, I’ve playing it through two and a half times in a little over a year, and I would still be hacking and slashing had I not lost all my saved games following a botched PS3 hard drive swap. (Yes, I know, I need to move on.) Needless to say, I’d been eagerly awaiting Dragon Age II for many months, with the game finally dropping into stores—and into my anxious hands—last week.

Unfortunately, the new Dragon Age hasn’t been greeted with the same acclaim as its predecessor, with furious fans of the first game bemoaning the sequel’s pared-down scale (rather than an entire world to explore, you’re confined to a single city, named Kirkwall), the simplified character abilities (no more “skills,” such as persuasion and trap-making) and inventory systems (you can’t customize the armor of your companions), and the gratuitously recycled environments (expect to see the same dungeons, neighborhoods, and hallways over and over again).
In fact, anyone who’s played Mass Effect 2, a wonderful, sci-fi-oriented gaming epic, will notice more than a few similarities between that game’s “action”-style RPG gameplay and Dragon Age II—not that surprising, perhaps, given that both titles come from game developer BioWare.

March 11, 2011

Bidding farewell to Yahoo!

It’s been a blast, but as I wrote in my farewell post today … change is good.

I’m proud of my four-year tenure as Yahoo!’s resident Gadget Hound, and I’ll miss the Yahoo! News team. It was a great experience—one of the best of my career—but it’s time to move on, and I’m looking forward to the opportunities ahead.

I’ll be taking a (much-needed) break for a few weeks, but after that, I’ll be back in the freelance game … so drop me a line if you’d like to talk about an assignment. I’ve also got a couple exciting projects of my own to roll out in the coming months—stay tuned for more details.

My Yahoo! farewell post follows ...

March 02, 2011

iPad 2 gets unwrapped. Yes, I want one.

Here's my coverage of today's iPad event on Yahoo! News, along with a comparison of competing tablets. And yes, I'm getting one—the slimmer, lighter form factor and dual-core processor look too good to resist. Too bad about the non-"retina" display, though.

As for the dual cameras ... meh, not that interested anyway. Indeed, I've yet to place a FaceTime video chat on my iPhone 4, and I don't envision myself starting anytime soon.

So, are you thinking about the new iPad, or will you stick with the original — or will you go for one of the iPad's tablet competitors?

February 01, 2011

Sony fixes PS3 update 3.56, but keeps it quiet [updated]

It looks like those of us who bricked our PlayStation 3 consoles after trying to update our hard drives are getting some relief, with Sony recently replacing the 3.56 firmware update that was causing all the trouble. (You can download the tweaked firmware right here.)

I re-installed my original PS3 hard drive (which, luckily, I hadn't formatted yet), updated the firmware, swapped in my new 500GB hard drive, and bingo—the console recognized and formatted it. Unfortunately, restoring my PS3 backup didn't go as smoothly, with several game saves getting lost in transit. (For example, a solid year of activity in Dragon Age: Origins—gone, apparently.)

While I'm glad to see that Sony acted quickly to fix the botched firmware, I'm concerned and disappointed that Sony HQ didn't see fit to announce the new firmware on the PlayStation Blog—and indeed, the updated firmware has the same version number (3.56) as the old. If you ask me, the conscientious thing to do would have been to make a brief announcement and change the version number to 3.57.

Big picture? I'm happy to have a massive, 500GB hard drive in my PS3, at last. Based on my experience, however, swapping out the HDD isn't a process I'd recommend to casual users; clearly, it's a dicey proposition, and there's no guarantee all your game data will be restored intact.

Update: A company PR rep tells me that Sony "isn’t planning anything formal" in terms of announcing the firmware fix.

"For any consumer that ran into an issue, they would contact the consumer services department and be helped out in real time," the spokesperson said.

Perhaps, but I still think Sony should go ahead and change the version number of the tweaked firmware.

January 29, 2011

New PS3 firmware foils HDD upgrades, bricks my console

One of the best aspects of the PlayStation 3 is Sony's unusually considerate policy of letting users upgrade the built-in hard drive themselves, using any compatible third-party notebook drive. That means you can head over to Amazon, pick up a massive 500GB HDD for $60 or so, bust out a screwdriver, swap in the new drive, format it, transfer your data, and you're set — no need to shell out, say, $130 for a proprietary 250GB hard drive. (Looking at you, Microsoft!)

Seeing as my old 40GB PS3 hard drive had been getting pretty cramped lately, I figured it was high time to trade up. So I watched a few how-to videos, got my 500GB Western Digital HDD from the UPS guy, unplugged my PS3, and warmed up my screwdriver. Should be smooth sailing, right?