Monthly Archives: November 2007

Mattel Pixar Cars: Factory 2006 Set Case – UNBOXING Photos!

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Thanks to Noel who not only got the set but wanted to be the first in his town so he added the 2nd day shipping and there it is!

All nicely packed and in his house – in pristine condition!

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It’s already a Merry Christmas!

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Easy to spy the two exclusive CARS on cards peeking through the window – sorry for the watermark but you know, some eBayers are a bit lazy 😦

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Of course, here’s the very cool back of the box design …

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And closeups of the foil stickers indicating it’s factory sealed …

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Reminder it’s a very small run …

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The legalese & stock number …

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And of course, the proof that it’s from Mattel … knowing Hot Wheels collectors, they would probably pay $79 for this packing slip 🙂

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And of course, I know the next thing Noel did was cut it open, rip open the blister packs and start playing with it on his lawn … as I’m sure the other 499 owners of this set are doing 🙂

Or not …

Here are some interior shots from the Mattel HWC website:

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Thanks for giving us a vicarious thrill, Noel – enjoy!

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Filed under Advertising, Film, Marketing, Retail

iPhone Review: Aliph Jawbone Bluetooth Headset

Now that California passed a law that drivers must use a hands free headset, I was forced to go out and get a one … and since a bunch of you were so kind to complain loudly that Apple credited us early iPhone buyers with $100, the headset was essentially a Chistmas present from Apple & the crabby people – so thanks!

If you’re going to get a (mostly) free headset, why not get the best one?

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Of course, I did not test out every possible choice, for some reason, no one really like you to jam an earpiece headset into your ear and then hand it back to them … so I read a lot of reviews and while the praise was not unanimous, the best reviews seem to be for the Jawbone. I had used a few before and rejected them as dorky looking or poor sounding – neither of which applies to the Jawbone.

Of course, people might wonder why you have a square satellite TV dish in your ear but that’s more puzzling or scary than dorky.

SOUND QUALITY

Yes, it’s not the smallest thing but the sound is quite nice. I have horrible AT&T reception at my house (what a shock, I know) so it’s the perfect test as I have to walk around on the street to get reception so I could hear people fine and people could hear me fine. In fact, the quality is way better than the really dorky Apple wired set … for some reason, listening on white buds and wires on an iPod is fine but talking on one is just dorky.

Okay, I’ll stop using the word dorky now.

Some people seem to have overly high expectations of the sound quality – is it going to match two people in adjoining rooms on landline phones? No … but can you hear them easily and they can hear you easily? Then yes, it’s fine. Thay’s all you can reasonably expect. There’s no white noise, there’s no hum or feedback – it just sounds like a normal conversation.

SIZE

Of course, that’s pretty much the only reason to get a headset is sound quality. And technically, it’s more of an earpiece but Aliph calls it a headset … As someone who does not normally walk around all day with an earpiece, while it seems sort of large, it’s lightweight and the earpiece evenly distributes the weight so it didn’t really bother me to leave it on for three hours as part of my test. I’ve never understood why people wear one in the supermarket – honestly, is so hard to hold a phone and reach for some Hamburger Helper?

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(BTW, the earpiece photo directly above is pretty much actual size so if you can print out and stick on your ear to test it out. Make sure to do it when solicitors come by the front door and you can pretend to talk on it 🙂 ).

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IPHONE SETUP

The iPhone setup could not be easier.

Charge up the headset (using USB or the AC adapter).

Nice RED glow band when it’s out of juice (as straight from the box) – turns white when charged.

Turn on the headset.

Turn on iPhone – go to GENERAL. Select Bluetooth and turn on.

Place JAWBONE next to iPHONE, it will show up as “discoverable” device – tap on it and type in the factory pin …

The JAWBONE will be listed and it reads “PAIRED.”

That’s pretty much it.

When the phone rings, you press the earpiece towards the back to answer. Press and hold for 1 second to hang up. To dial out, you do need the iPhone out of your pocket.

As another nice touch on the iPhone, the SPEAKER portion that is active during a call switches to read AUDIO SOURCE and if you tape it, it now reads JAWBONE, SPEAKER or IPHONE so you can switch quickly – another nice iPhone touch.

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EARPIECE

I think one of the reasons some reviews rank the Aliph as poor is because the ear piece hook is NOT intuitive. If you look at it, you presume, it hooks over your ear but it doesn’t really and once you get the hang of it, it actually works fine and by not hooking over your outer ear flap, it distributes the weight better so you can wear it longer without a giant device resting on your ear. But it’s not very intuitive and I’m sure some people never figured it out and gave up.

The Aliph manual can be a little more descriptive on how to wear the thing.

You angle it slightly so it hooks and is ANGLED over the gap BETWEEN your head and your outer ear (the cartilage area). Once you get used to that, it’s easy to wear, it distributes the weight and is pretty firm.

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IT AIN’T FROM APPLE

I definitely looked long and hard at the Apple bluetooth but the reviews were very middling and while Aliph has done a nice job on the earpiece technology wise and exterior looks, they do fall down in small areas that Apple would never.

It comes in a gorgeous rectangular plastic box and the Jawbone rests on a museum like stand but once you open it, the details are lacking.

Instead of a carrying bag or preferably – a mini hard plastic carrying case, you get a bubble wrap bag? Huh? They just presume people will put this one in the morning and wear it all day until they get home? There should be a hard plastic carrying case you can slip into your pocket … while the thing is not ultra delicate, you do have the pivoting ear hook and most people would prefer not to jam this in their pocket … even a small vinyl bag? Nada.

The recharging portion is so un-Apple like. The charger features EXPOSED prongs that dig deep into the back of the earpiece – but removing it is so un-iPod like. Again, Apple thinks and gives you the small details – on the iPod/iPhone – if you press on the charger connector head on the side, it “unlocks” & loosens the connector so a gentle tug will remove it from the iPod and the connector is a solid piece of metal so it’s much more difficult to damage – here – you get 4 metal exposed prongs that require you to use force to plug in and when done, to try and remove it straight and with force … not a very smart design.

The charging light portion is a cool and classy touch – a thin band of light on the exterior glows briefly – red while low and charcoal white when it’s ready to go – same color scheme in turning it on and off. That is nice.

You go get additional ear hooks (left ears and large & standard) though the difference is pretty subtle – you also get some additional ear canal plugs. You also get an AC adapter to plug in the charger – though again, no carrying case to protect the exposed prongs.

And the manual should spend way more time explaining how to wear the thing … we might be morons but we’re your paying customer morons … plus you’d probably get a lot fewer returns.

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SUMMARY

So, technology-wise, no problems. The noise reduction clearly works and you get nice sound quality in-coming and out-going. I presume the larger-than normal size is more a technology limitation and not just laziness on Aliph’s part … though clearly the acccessory portion of the packaging is laziness or cluelessness and needs to be revamped – especially for something that is probably the most expensive ear piece.

So, looks nice, sounds fine and easy to setup on the iPhone. You do have to supply your own carrying case for the earpiece & the charger. The earpiece hook is not super intuitive – either a better design or better instructions are called for.

So, room for improvement is definitely needed. If the Apple headset had noise reduction, the sale would have gone to Apple so Aliph better get on the horse and start going a little faster. So recommended as probably the best out there now but lots of room for improvement. It does look nice so a very classy looking holiday gift.

It comes in red, silver & black. At Amazon, the silver comes in a Cingular box and not the Aliph box and the pricing varies. The larger Apple stores and Apple online carry all three at the same price.

One other thing, if you’re like me, you’ll need to spend another $10 for these … Jabra ear gels … while they look superfluous, they go help “grip” your actual ear canal area which is not round or oval (as Aliph seems to think) …

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They also come in colors.

And like the ear loops, you’re buying a bunch when you really only need one … once these are mass – we should start up an exchange of some kind …

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Filed under Apple, Computing, Design, Gadgets, Internet, iPhone, Marketing, mobile, Retail, Toys

How to Fix Your Mac DVD & Other DVD Players for $7

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While not exactly the most exciting bit of technology, before you rip out a wonky DVD player from your Mac (or throw your AV DVD player away), spend $7 to run this cleaning DVD with brushes over the laser eye – in many cases, the ONLY reason your DVD player is working spotty and wonky is the household dust on the lens is diffusing the laser.

While the link here is to Amazon, you can buy it at most places like Target, WM or your electronic stores … from what I’ve seen, most places charge around $7-$8 and paying more isn’t really going to get you much better …

For those who’ve never used one, it’s the simplest cleaner device. Put it in, press PLAY. Nothing to spray, nothing to wipe. Press PLAY a second time to just to be sure. Eject. Done.

The Memorex one also has a speaker tester, nothing sophisticated but you get a speaker testing portion – highs, lows, seperation, left, right, etc … so give it a shot, it can’t hurt and after you run it twice and you still have problems, THEN you should consider replacing the DVD-R … Good luck!

(You can also run it for your AV DVD player as well as your car deck).

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Filed under Apple, Apple Mac, Computing, Gadgets

Black Friday, Black Holiday: Gifts to Avoid

As someone who once worked in retail, it’s not hard to get cynical about Christmas – I actually saw & witnessed people buying presents by the pound – actually holding it up and declaring loudly that it’s price to bulk weight ratio was sufficient … sufficient for what? To not be excluded from the reading of the last will & testament in the ensuing years? I’ve seen the dead and haunted eyes and the death maul dragging of their bodies on a FORCED DEATH MARCH to the malls and shops to fulfill the ritual of celebrating the coronation of another year… but without meaning – it’s all just the transfer of crap from the malls into the homes of those you allegedly care about … “just to get it done” robs it of all meaning.

So, when you are out there – don’t make it seem like Sir John Franklin wandering aimlessly looking for a Northwest Passage into your loved one’s hearth and heart and metaphorically – freezing to death, going mad or forced to utter the phrase “I’ll eat Johnson first, Gordon has a gammy leg.”

In other words, don’t buy these …

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Yes, the Wii is hard to find. But do not resort to this from WM unless the following is true:

I like to taunt my kids.
I like to traumatize my kids.
I would like my kids to hate me.

Yes, the Wii is hard to find but this card literally guarantees YOU NOTHING. It merely states you had $249 dollars you were willing to convert to a plastic card with a picture of Wii. This is not a HOLIDAY for anyone under the age of 24. If they’re graduating college with a degree in tractor air conditioning repair, that’s fine – they’re old to know that sometimes in life you ask for a fun, you get a picture of a guy having fun … so if you want to show the kids you searched high and low and far & wide, make a photo scrapbook of all the stores you visited in vain … they’ll think their parents are crazy but at least they won’t think you’re mean … there is a difference.

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Now, Costco doesn’t sell a lot of things too kooky (well, maybe coffins) but this is just bizarre. I did not realize this was a problem in America … man, I have a lot of canned food goods and man, I just do not have the time to properly rotate them as I should.

Do we really need to spend $50 to $320 to add a device that rotates our cans?

First of all, maybe you have too DAMN MANY CANNED GOODS in your house if they’re going boutalism and bad in your household cabinets … OR maybe you are just not eating them fast enough. Now I know Costco likes to sell everything in the 144-pack but maybe you have too damn many beans if you need to rotate the 140 cans you have left or maybe you should eat the beans you have before buying more?
To the two ladies in the photo, STOP BUYING CANS! Enough already. Is the can goods council of America your neighbors so they might pop by for a quick look and you want to avoid the social embrassment of having less than a thousand cans? Maybe your family might want to consider other kinds of food packaging – even frozen? And if you really need to have 300 cans in your pantry – shouldn’t you have a butler that can do that for you? After all, Del Monte peas need as much care as a 1996 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon?

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If you ever thought, I need to class up my life, I need to break from the mold of norm, I need to introduce color to my ass …

Yep, colored TP.

Too many jokes … please make your own.

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If you’re the sort of person who likes to back up puns … sure, anyone can say someone else else is corny but how many people can back it up with $64 of fun … specifically a giant corn on the cob? And if that’s too corny for you, they sell another 100 giant items.

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While you’re stepping up in the world of TP – why not step up your furniture? Do you keep running into your neighbors at the Goodwill store – you want to upgrade but you can’t now that your mortgage APR is 27.6%? Have you ever been in that HoJo in Decatur and thought, nice sofa but I could never afford this quality in my house … your prayers have been answered. Now, take that furniture home from your favorite hotel/motel/bungalow/double wide … they also sell used mattresses …

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If this global warming thing is true – time to step and motorize your cooler to double duty … now in electric versions! Your teenage kids will love a ride in this to school.

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If you can ignore the girl for a second, just a second, what is the Gray Kangroo? It’s a filter for your cheap liquor (mostly voka) so your Seagram’s will taste like Grey Goose … now if you buy it yourself and your friends don’t notice, woohoo your bank account and maybe your friends are all drunken clowns … now, if you get this as a gift, what are people saying about YOU?

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It’s a stun gun, it’s a flashlight and it’s a keychain. Sure it can be used as self defense but honestly, don’t you think the following scenario is likely to happen:

When they need a flashlight, they will trip, fall on it and they will activate the stungun.

When they need to stun someone, they will shine a puny light in the chest of their attacker, annoying the blazes out of them?

It also has a ‘Nap Zapper’ … which if you replace the letters AP out of the first word and replace it with UT – that is what is most likely to happen?

Oh the other hand, it can be fun watching your brother-in-law fall asleep on the 25th and the keychain slips to his groin area … gather up the kids and fire up the videocamera …

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Art? Infantile? You & your significant other have sexual identity issues? You & your significant other stumble around in the dark too often in a drunken stupor? What are your friends saying when you get this as a gift?

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If you only wish your husband or boyfriend had a hobby that could also be potentially* profitable? For only $2,500.99 (yea, that $.99 is going to bring in all the fence sitters on this item), you too can change not just your odometer but all the neighbors also – a hobby that is both fun, brain teasing and potentially profitable! Roll back your ’88 Buick LeSabre to 12 miles – it’s a collectible!

*Potentially could mean lots of things – like jail time also but hey, maybe $2,500 is a small price to pay to send him up the river?

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Sure, there were lots of funny scenes in the Godfather but the horse head was the funniest gag involving a bloody horses head since FUNNY GIRL … now relive it over and over and everyday with your understanding spouse … it just kills me!

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5 Lbs of Silly Putty – no problem, you want that in pink, purple, blue, or yellow?

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Pee Goooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, feel free to buy these for YOURSELF but do not gift these items, please, just buy them a gift card … or better yet …

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Or a ssheet of $50 dollars uncut – practical AND exercise … if you need to eat, just snip off a piece …

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And don’t buy anything for your best guy or girl here … better save it for Valentine’s Day … nothing could be more romantic than a SYNC OUTLOOK UPGRADE?

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Filed under Advertising, Financial, Gadgets, Internet, Marketing, Retail, Toys, Universe

Apple iPhone Forced to Unlock in Europe – Crying to the Bank …

While Apple is being forced to unlock the iPhone in Europe, it is tragic … because Apple is going to pay so much more in taxes from the HUGE profit they will be making … yea, that’s quite a tragedy.

The deal will be much like T-Mobile’s just-announced revised deal in Germany. Get the iPhone for $590 (in USD) if you sign a 2-year contract (monthly rates are like the US – about $50 to $100 (converted to USD)). If you want to buy an unlocked phone, it’s @$1,500 (USD).

So the consequences for Apple will be either make $500 + $20 a month from T-Mobile for each iPhone customer … or make some $1,300 in one fell swoop now.

Oh, what a tragedy for Apple.

While $1,500 is a lot for a phone, people have a choice but the bottom line is it doesn’t hurt Apple’s bottom line.

Consumers can get the full experience with T-Mobile or get slightly less with another carrier but don’t have to worry about a contract. It’s a win-win for Apple.

That’s why Apple is on a roll. They win by winning and they win by “losing.”

They will not only INCREASE sales but make more money upfront as a “consequence” of the ruling.

So, yes, the tax department will have to work a little harder and Apple will probably have to come up with more upgrades to deter people from buying a US phone (where the dollar is much cheaper), unlocking it and using it in Europe but all the bricking fears will silence most buyers – most that want an unlocked phone would rather pay $1,500 for an official phone they can take into an Apple store versus saving some money upfront but maybe worrying that every 2 months, there will be some major upgrade and their phone might die … you can bet adding the ablity to run 3rd party apps next year wll be a major upgrade and brick many unlocked older phones.

Again, win by winning and win by “losing.”

That’s how you plan ahead and run a business – where your worst consequence is you make more money and have more tax hassles …

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Filed under Advertising, Apple, Financial, Internet, iPhone, Marketing, mobile, Retail

Nintendo Wii: The Bundles & Best Casual Games Reviews

Unfortunately, it looks like we are headed into the 2nd holiday season with Wii’s not readily available. There is nary a consumer electronics store you can go into that doesn’t have a giant pile of PS3’s & XBoxes – both fine systems but who’s got that much time these days – the Nintendo Wii is the perfect FAMILY & CASUAL gamer system.

PS3 & XBox players/gamers just don’t get the Wii … to them, if they can’t spend 400 hours online playing it or if the graphics rival motion pictures, to them – that is the only criteria that counts. The Wii on the other hand takes MINUTES to understand and provides hundreds of hours of FAMILY & CASUAL fun. The most time consuming process on the Wii is waiting and deciphering the start up process … and after you’ve created your Mii (your Wii caricature on screen), theh you are set to go.

That’s not to say there aren’t great time-consuming games on the Wii like Madden ’08 or Resident Evil or even the Godfather but you can read reviews those most anywhere. The problem is that most video game reviews are written for hardcore gamers who only judge a game on its long playability, being able to go online or that the graphics are processed by a supercomputer. They just don’t get why anyone would want to jump online in 2 minutes, play for 30 minutes, not save anything and move on to something else or sure, it sounds stupid to try and rope a barrel by YOURSELF but get 6 friends (drunk of otherwise) or 3 kids (um, drunk only on sugar, of course), and it’s great fun – especially because ANYONE at that party who can wave their arms can jump in and play – no having to play soft so they understand that Right AB Up is to swing or that Right BB down is to engage their weapon … Want to swing at me, raise and swing your arms – IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

If you have friends and younger kids and you want to play along with them, get a WII and check out these games. These are NOT comprehensive reviews but just a sampler for you to read more to decide if you want or to highlight the casual games out there for the Wii.

Perfect for Party/Casual/Family Gaming …

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Mario Party 8

The perfect casual game – 70 mini games – and up to 4 people can play. Nothing really new but something for everyone and kids who are 5 can compete with skilled gamers …

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Carnival Games

25 “carnival” games – games everyone knows how to play. (sold out in lots of places).

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Rayman Raving Rabbids

Now valued priced – an even better deal – weird humor and dozens of mini games.

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Playground

Not as many games as Carnival Games and maybe not as much fun for everyone at a party but still a pretty good choice – you get to relive your schoolyard days playing Dodgeball, Tetherball, Wall Ball, Kicks, Slot Car Racing, Paper Racers, Dart Shootout, and more …

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Boogie (Microphone Included)

Less game and more just singing and making your own videos so great for young teens or really, really drunk adults 🙂 (includes microphone).

A Little More Involved – Not so Much as Party Game But Fun For Kids/Family

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Backyard Football

Play the NFL as a the little kid version of real NFL stars – Brady, Manning, Tomlinson, Urlacher, Alexander, McNabb, Rothlisberger, Young, Bush, etc … Younger kids might have problems grasping what to do but older kids and probably more specifically, older boys should like it better.

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High School Musical: Sing It! with Microphone

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Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour

Both these are games that is either a MUST HAVE or a RUN FOR THE HILLS – you know if you want it or you would never want it 🙂 . It’s EXACTLY as advertised – sing along, sing as yourself, sing & dance with Hannah, etc … again – either exactly the fun you want or not so much …

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The Dance, Dance Revolution includes the mat and uses the Wii controllers to make sure you’e using your arms correctly and of course, swing the Nintendo Wii controller to send obstructions to your opponents.

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Cooking Mama: Cook Off

It certainly doesn’t sound like much but if your kids or more specifically, girls in your family enjoy “less intense” competition games like the pets games and so forth, they should enjoy this … it’s just a fun family game … as with a lot of Nintendo games … it’s like trying to describe why an squat Italian plumber is fun … this game just is for the right kids and families.

Good Family Fun/Harder for Younger Kids

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Rockstar Table Tennis

Surprisingly deep and a little more effort than expected … from easy to master and 19 different arenas, 11 different players and 4 different game modes so you definitely get your money’s worth. Easy access but value for those who want to build and sustain a character.

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LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga

Great fun – only thing better is the Wii lightsaber accessory was out. Includes all 6 movies in one game for the first time.

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Excite Truck

Pretty fun truck rally game – driving & flying – not much planning or thinking ahead. Be nicer if it came with a steering wheel but works pretty well with Wii remote.

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Cars: The Game

Pretty fun – though definitely for fans of the movie and in particular, younger kids – because you can just drive around the twon and explore without it being some intense competition. Nice & cute – not great but still fun and now valued priced at $19.99, a great deal. There is a new Mater-National CARS game that is mostly racing. Just coming out so you can check it yourself.

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GT Pro Series (With Wheel)

The wheel doesn’t clamp down to a table and it feels a little weird in the beginning but eventually you forget. Not a great game but value priced and boys and guys who want a driving game without too much thinking required & is pretty fun.

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Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games

Parts are fun but it’s actually hard work and some competition is not very easy to grasp for casual/party gamers or young kids. 20 events to master with dumb unlockable stages (how about we get the entire game we paid for?). It’s okay but more complicated than it should be – we’re running as a hedgehog not Carl Lewis – why so serious about keeping score & competition? Can be a good workout but not much too hard for party/kids gaming. Disappointing.

Me’h – RENTAL is okay for the following …

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Brunswick Pro Bowling

The bowling portion of WII SPORTS (included with your Wii console) is pretty nice and too realistic (somehow, the scores are EXACTLY like my scores in real bowling! I can roll a 201 followed by a 63 with the greatest of ease!) … so you would think a full game devoted to bowling would be even better and more fun but this one is pretty dull. If it were priced like the PS2 version at $14.99, I would say – not great but worth $15 but the Wii version is priced at $39 – um, no thanks. Rental if your party is a bowling theme.

ALSO CHECK OUT

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Hooked

Haven’t played it so I can’t say either way but it does come with the fishing reel accessory.

ACCESSORIES

Controllers

Our other post covers bundles accessories & well as Wii bundles.

Wii Controller

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You can plug up to 4 “Wiimotes” into your Wii. You get 1 with the console.

Wii Nunchuck

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You can plug-link 1 Nunchuck into each Wiimote – up to 4 Wiimotes and/or 4 Nunchucks.

Wii Zapper

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The Wii Zapper is a gun peripheral that allows the user to insert a Wii Remote and Nunchuk, both sold separately, into either end and play a compatible game. The control stick on the Nunchuk controls player movement (on stages that allow player movement), while aiming the Wii Zapper moves the targeting reticule on the screen. The Zapper comes with Link’s Crossbow Training, which helps to familiarize the player with the Zapper in a shooting gallery style game. Link’s Crossbow Training contains three game styles: target shooting, defender and ranger. DOES NOT COME with Remote or Nunchuck.

Gun

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While you don’t really need a Gun for most of the casual games, if you plan on playing Resident Evil 4, Call of Duty 3, or Metroid Prime 3: Corruption – you might need a gun, this gun, or this one, or one with a target laser.

Wheel

From Core Gamer or from eforcity. The only table top wheel for a Wii so far.

Cables

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If you are connecting to an HD set or most sets, you’ll noiced the improved picture quality with component cables – either of these choices are fine:

Madcatz or Nyko.

USB Adaptor

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The Nintendo Wii has built in WiFi and its sense, search and setup process is VERY Apple like – mistake proof – once you plug in your Wii, you are set to go after a few minutes.

HOWEVER, if you do NOT have a WiFi hub/network in your house – you will need this which converts your wired internet access to an unwired version through your USB hub. You DO NOT need internet access to use your Wii, you do lose the ability to upgrade your Wii, you cannot access the oldies/classic store and stuff like the weather or sharing your Wii (the actual internet access requires an additional fee) so if you don’t want to set up a wifi hub, you can use this stick to create a wireless wifi hub. It does not work with every PC (because of your setup or firewall) but it might be better than nothing …

So again, if you have WiFi in your house, do NOT buy this.

Keyboard

The latest upgrade activated the keyboard feature so if you like, you can add a keyboard for web surfing. It’s definitely not a necessity unless you plan on spending a lot of time online with your Wii (the Wii Opera browser area is a separate paying area). While most low-end USB keyboards should work, here are two that have been tested (not be me) with claims that they work with the Wii:

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The Logitech Classic 200

& the Kensington 64370 Keyboard

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If you’re interested in the business angle of the video game console fight, here’s our take on it.

Of course, the holiday Wii buying guide.

Also – Older Nintendo Wii owners, Nintendo is offering a free Wii Remote Jacket so the remore controller isn’t quite as slippery. It’s free with free shipping. Log in with your serial number to this website.

Your serial will look something like this on the side of your Wii.

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Filed under Gadgets, Media, Retail, Toys, TV, video, Video Games

Political Punditry On “The Race” So Far

Ron Paul was recently asked about Dennis Kucinich becoming his running mate which he supported.  That’s like a fat chick asking her fatter roomate to attend the Tappa Kegga Beer house party…no one cares and worse they get ignored like hippie at a VFW bar.

While the Republicans race toward mediocrity, the Democrats are finally waking up to the fact that there ‘love-in’ with Billary had better end quickly if any of the Donkey party contenders have a prayer on making it past the first two caucuses.

Obama is cranking up the numbers in the latest Iowa polling as is Edwards which is making Billary’s crew pour more money and other resources into the state that they would rather spend elsewhere.

My favorite Republican contender is also showing some Iowa poll steam.  Mike Huckabee is now ranking second in polling in Iowa.  Since he is the most straight talking and non-waffling aspirant in either party of course the media is scared to death of him as that means low Nielsen ratings (and let’s face it – 99% of MSM hate anything Republican).

There are those in the “press” who are already trying to shut down Huckabee’s momentum by saying “OK, Huckabee wins Iowa.  So what?  What does he do for an encore?”.  I’ll tell you what he does.  He starts to  quickly attract money and attention which is what those that lag behind do (not too many people remember the low 7% polling in Iowa that Kerry had going into that caucus and guess who ended up with the nomination?)

McCain drags too much baggage around with him and has stopped short of saying the one thing he should which is that Bush #2 has totally screwed up by allowing Cheney to yank him around by his short hairs.  Loyalty in politics is not something you want to be known for believe it or not (look at how often Reagan dumped his cronies when the political winds changed – Bush should have co-opted that playbook by dumping Cheney and several others going into round 2 but that is wishful thinking at this stage).

The scariest part off this coming presidential election isn’t who is running so much (although there is plenty to be scared of there).  It is in not hearing a dang thing about who is waiting in the wings of each candidate to suckel at the Washington teat.  Just who would any of these people choose for a VP running mate?

Imaging any of the top three Dems bonding in any fashion is like trying to envision cold fusion happening.  You may yearn for that to be so but there is no freaking way it will work.

The Republicans got it easier and I wonder just what would happen if say Romney or Giuliani who declare their VP running mate now.  You could get two people out in the populace stumping for votes for the top guy and double your ability to gain media attention.  I think whatever scrutiny comes your way as a candidate would easily be worth it.  You would force the Dems to babble on about what the Republicans are doing and lose any ability to keep any traction with the media spin.

Can you imagine someone like Huckabee pulling in someone like Bloomberg as his announced running mate just after the Iowa caucuses?  The media would flip and Huckabee would have major free press rolling into the subsequent caucuses.  That won’t happen unfortunately but I wish it were so.  What could very well happen is that Huckabee is selected as the winning Republican’s VP.  He draws the evangelical vote, the southern vote, as well as several others and would probably be best paired with Giuliani.

Who would Billary choose?  In taking the wild ride scenario one step further, why not hubby Bill?  If Billary wins (and she won’t even make the Dem nomination – sorry Donkeys), she may as well let him have the Veep role as he will be parading around the White House sticking his nose into things (and probably not only his proboscis).  And if not Bill, who?

The next election will be a startler to be sure and the coming months will be filled with surprises.  Too bad so much is at stake or I would enjoy the process.

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Mattel Pixar Cars: Black Friday CARS Sales 2007 (Cyber Monday UPDATE)

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For those outside the United States, we have a new shopping holiday – BLACK FRIDAY. The day after Thanksgiving … of course, now Thanksgiving is essentially a day of eating, napping and football watching … with virtually all stores other than grocery stores closed – 24 hours is just about all that most Americans can stand not only cooped up with family & relatives but the longest period of time without buying anything … so on the Friday after, people would literally burst from their homes to begin shopping for the Christmas/holiday season.

Being competitive, stores began opening earlier and earlier and now – we have stores that open at MIDNIGHT. Nary a second shall pass after Thanksgiving before we begin to BUY, BUY, BUY and of course, SELL, SELL, SELL. Yes, 5 AM is for pansy – we are now open at MIDNIGHT on FRIDAY so you can buy that thing that is not so great for $13.99 but now at $6.99, I am all over it like butter on Ali Larter (sorry, I wish I had an accompanying photo – just close your eyes).

What CARS items are on sale for Cyber Monday

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This week, TRU has a special – if you buy the Piston Cup 500 Track playset (which comes with Lightning McQueen, Chick, Leak Less & King), you get the carrying case free.

There is a “booster” (two spinning discs) that sends the cars racing around the track. Seems like fun though apparently one should keep it away from the windows as it can just send the CARS flying off the track.

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If you use Paypal, you can get up to $50 back for the new few days.

THE REST OF THESE DEALS HAVE EXPIRED – WILL UPDATE IF NEW MAJOR SALES APPEAR.

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Car Theme Twin Sheet Set – $12.99
Cars Dinoco 400 Box – $19.00

Okay, I might actually get to a Target by 10:00 AM, though I’m sure by then the shelves are stripped bare …

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Disney Cars 13″ TV – $139.99

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Cars Dinoco Helicopter McQueen Vehicles – $12.99
Mater Lights And Sounds Vehicle – $12.99

$10 Bonus Bucks When You Spend $50

Not sure if the first item is the large Dinoco Heli & the large McQueen each $12.99? Closest KB is 30 miles away so I won’t be going but the Buy 1 Get 1 Video Game sale sounds pretty good. Don’t forget that some KB’s are closing – check the store locator link.

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Cars Little Rides Radio Controlled Car – $12.99

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50% OFF Entire Toy Stock

It says EARLY BIRD so it’s 4 AM to 1 PM ONLY on Friday!

While the Kohl’s on the West Coast tend to be smaller and not much toy inventory, be sure and look if you’re still trying for Luigi’s – 50% is around $18 and whatever CARS singles and multi-packs they have.

Of course, this only covers the CARS items … so happy shopping!

Info from: bfads.net, blackfriday.gottadeal.com, blackfridayads.com, and blackfriday.info.

OUR OTHER “CARS” POSTS:

THE BASICS

If you want a recap of the Mattel Pixar CARS line from the beginning.

Mattel Pixar Cars Checklist: It’s What to Collect

Unlike other toys/hot items that stay hot for a few weeks or months – this Mattel Pixar CARS diecast line has pretty been SIZZLING for 16 months – not just rare but almost un-heard of.

Of course, we would love to tell you that if you show up here at 7:00 AM, you are assured of seeing it on the shelve un-touched … or course, that is not really possible with this line due to real demand and eBay “re-distribution” demand but we have tried to sum up why it’s seems impossible and some buying tips that while not foolproof, might make things slightly easier …

Mattel Pixar Cars: I Want to Buy But Where?

BUYING CASES & WHAT’S NEXT

First, one way to skip the driving around is to buy sealed cases, here is a brief rundown on what that is AND what are the CARS coming this holiday season (the last two months of 2007):

Mattel Pixar Cars Checklist: New Sealed Boxes

And what’s coming in 2008:

Mattel Pixar Cars Checklist: New Sealed Boxes Holiday 2007 & 2008

Or what the latest on the shelf cards & CARS look like?

Mattel Pixar: What’s in Stores Now

If you wish to plot out what CAR will make its first appearance & in what box in 2008, a friend of 2aDay has thoughtfully provided a spreadsheet you can download or it’s also been added to our online checklist/spreadsheet.

HOW TO COLLECT

For those on the intermediate & advanced stages of this obsession (yes, I has the fever! I has the fever 🙂 ) … you’ll want a “field guide” to spotting what’s what:

A Basic Checklist (in spreadsheet form)

The checklist offers a few versions on how you like your poison 😉

Then of course, a more indepth guideline on how to collect them – just one of each? one of each available on a different card?

Mattel Pixar Cars Checklist: How to Collect

As you progress further, you might need or want a guide to understanding what do the three different designs on the front indicate and how complete of a collector you want to be:

Mattel Pixar Cars Checklist: Card Backs

Info on the Blu-Ray Dinoco “Blu” CAR

The LIMITED & EXCLUSIVE Disney Blu-Ray “Blu” Dinoco McQueen

MORE INFORMATION THAN NORMAL

Of course, by now, you’ll want to know everything and plan your budget carefully … Mattel will definitely release 35/36 of the Piston Cup Racers in one massive collector’s set but will they release them in smaller sets? Our speculation on why rioting is probably not necessary:

Mattel Pixar Cars: All the Piston Cup CARS-Speedway of the South Box Set

If you prefer to see some of the cardbacks in a larger file size or to view the two posters for a visual look at the CARS to collect, our FLICKER page is here.

Did you know the Blu-Ray DVD (for HDTV’s) will include a “name-spotter” feature that will let you see the names of 217 CARS within the movie?

Mattel Pixar Cars Checklist: It’s What to Collect-Part II – 217 CARS?

And while we’re at it – pure speculation on our part as to what might be coming next?

Mattel Pixar Cars: What’s Coming in 2008 or 2009

Mattel Pixar Cars: What’s Coming in 2008 or 2009? Part II

Mattel Pixar Cars: Mia & Tia – All the Possible Variants

MORE USEFUL INFORMATION

Details on the Mattel sponsorship & CARS charity auction for CAAF (Children Affected by AIDS Foundation):

Mattel Pixar Cars & Children Affected by AIDS Charity Auction

While Frank the Combine on eBay seems enticing, you might want to know that he’s very small and all plastic but there are some other options …

Mattel Pixar CARS Movie: Frank the Combine – eBay Warning

Too much money in your bank account – starting collecting the other CARS line …

NEW Mini Adventures CARS & Playsets

The Sarge Recall:

Mattel Recalls Pixar CARS Sarge Diecast Metal Car

Nothing very insightful about what’s coming but still good to know that CARS is bringing in money and everything is looking smooth.

Mattel Pixar Cars: 3rd Quarter 2007 Earnings-Financial Numbers

CARS 2, THE SEQUEL?

Yes, more speculation & answers on our part but the stars and other things seem to be syncing up for a 2011 sequel:

Pixar CARS 2 Sequel: Rumors, Rumors, Rumors

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iPhone “Free” Custom Ringtones Are Back – How To Make Your Own

UPGRADE SOME COMPONENTS FIRST

You will need to make sure your iPhone is updated to 1.1.2 and iTunes 7.5 & maybe even Quicktime 7.3. Of course, your iPhone upgrade is best handled by clicking on UPDATE after you dock your iPhone and turn on iTunes 7.5. This is a pretty big upgrade including a firmware upgrade so it will take 10-15 minutes in total – maybe sure you can do it un-interrupted.

READY

Yes, you can still pay $.99 for a ringtone from Apple which is the least amount of work required and sounds the best – but it’s very limited – maybe one of every 20 tracks is available to scrub as a ringtone, you also can’t merge different parts of a song together and of course, personally, if I buy a song, I should be able to mash, squeeze it and manipulate to my hearts content as long as I’m not selling it … but anyway, custom ringtones are back and here are some basic guidelines to converting your tracks to .m4r ringtones.

STEP 1

You will need some software that can open music tracks and let you edit portions. It’s would also be nice if that software offered you features to manipulate the sound – in particular, useful features available to you include:

Raising/Lowering Volume
Fade In & Fade Out
Boosting Bass

Note, the update of 1.1.2 seems to have raised the volume again (yes!) so you don’t need to increase as much as previously, in fact, I actually had to turn the ringer down slightly.

Fade In & Out is SO much classier than it just jumping in to the track and jumping out.

Boosting the Bass – most AIFF to mp3 to AAC to .m4r conversion seems to strip out the bass so it can sound kind of tinny – try to boost the bass a bit but not too much.

Also keep in mind, it has to be below :30 seconds.

WHAT TO USE?

If you are extremely lazy, the track sounds okay and you don’t care about FADE IN or OUT, you can even use iTunes. Insert your CD. Click on the track, Select GET INFO and shorten the in & out points to what you want and select CONVERT TO AAC. You now have a :30 track. Go down to instructions beoow on conversion to .m4r and you are set to go.

You can kludge iMovie also to get a FADE IN & FADE OUT but much more work is involved. If you only intend to create one ringtone, it is a way to go.

Or QT Pro will also allow editing but again, not very precise and a last resort.

REAL EDITING SOFTWARE

SOUND STUDIO

If you got SOUND STUDIO with your Mac purchase as I did you are set (currently, it’s $79.99), select IMPORT WITH QUICKTIME to open any MP3 file, highlight the areas you want and paste into a new file – you can even clip, edit and smooth out your edits – just keep it around :30 seconds and use the Fade in and Fade Out – then EXPORT with QUICKTIME to create an AIFF file. Then drag into iTUNES and convert to AAC.

GARAGEBAND

I don’t use GarageBand much but it’s free if you don’t have SOUND STUDIO. Create NEW Podcast. Open your ITUNES LIBRARY – search for song, drag TRACK to JINGLES – edit and manipulate away. Export PODCAST TO DISK – it will already be an AAC file.

Note, podcast export files are low fidelity but then it is a ringtone so you can decide.

FISSION

Rogue Amoeba also offers FISSION if you don’t have SOUND STUDIO. It’s around $32 and offers additional MP3 features other than just editing. Can’t go wrong with a solid app like Fission.

OTHERS

There are probably 50 other editors ranging from freeware to studio quality music editors if you have other software you prefer – just make sure the volume is okay, add fade in and outs and boost the bass a bit.

STEP 2

Once you have your tracks as AAC files – the easiest is to use the FREE Make iPhone Ringtone courtesy of Rogue Amoeba.

Download the MAKEIPHONERINGTONE app. That is the direct link to the app – Rogue’s blog notes are here.

Launch MakeiPhoneRingtone – drag your AAC file onto the front panel, it will auto convert, launch and place the file into the newly created RINGTONE line in your iTUNES LIBRARY.

Then sync and you are ready to go.

So, good luck – as long as you can convert the file to AAC, MAKE IPHONE RINGTONES will take care of the rest.

So if time is money, then you have the easy way but if you don’t mind a few minutes of work to save $.99, there are lots of ways to go.

Thanks to Engadget, we have the legal go-ahead.

ALSO

Remember you can assign different tracks to different people in your contacts … just make sure your boss & your significant other gets an appropriate track …

For those who need a primer on using Apple’s iTunes ringtone maker feature, read our previous post.

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NBC Direct.com: iTunes Replacement in 11 Steps + Ads!

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NBC decided to dump iTunes because they wanted to go down their own path.

Why offer consumers, viewers and customer convenience when consumers will do ‘whatever we at NBC say?’

NBC – we’re so good – people should jump through flaming hoops to watch us!

iTunes was oh so simple and boring.

Sure, ONE CLICK could buy, download, sync and load onto an iPod but who wants portable downloading TV as convenient as normal watching TV?

We at NBC can add so many more steps!

Okay, ready to watch NBC Direct on your computer?

Here’s all you need to buy first:

A Windows PC

Then you will you will need to download and install a few things:

Internet Explorer
The .NET Framework
Windows Media Player
Windows Media Player Security Update

Five restarts later … and a quick prayer your DLL file is not messed up …

NOW, we’re cooking!

Oh wait, the lawyers do want you to know a few more things:

US residents only!
TV shows will be available for 7 days!
Whatever you download dies after 48 HOURS!
We’ve added the commercials you love best (no fast forwarding)!
& of course NO downloads to iPods and no not even Zunes or SanDisks.

NBC’s motto?
“We want to make it so inconvenient you just throw up your arms and watch at home like it’s 1975 … (ah, pre VCR, the good old days …).”

ITUNES – ISH, ISH

The resemblence to iTunes is uncanny … well, for the 3 GE execs who sat down for Zucker’s presentation – they didn’t have to spend 4 hours downloading, re-downloading, scrubbing and patching their PC to get this working. All they had to do was walk into the conference room and see THE OFFICE up & running and sign off on this $15 million project to buy more servers and license the other white meat DRM.

I don’t know what this project actually costs but I presume it’s probably exactly the same amount of iTunes revenue NBC is giving up – just corporate karma.

So, in other words – no iTunes, no iPods, 48 hours to watch, short shelf life, lots of Windows downloading to get it to work and commercials …

This could only be dumber if they hired the Dog Bounty Hunter & Britney Spears to be the spokespersons … but not by much.

GE sure thinks Jeff Zucker is a genius … I am so selling my GE stock.

So, what’s my other choice … what is this TORRENT, TORRENT, TORRENT, TORRENT, TORRENT & TORRENT thing you speak of? How will I ever find a TV show that just aired in HD to load onto my iPod … if only there was an internet solution, if only it weren’t 1975 and I was in some peachy future of 2007 where I was connected to millions of others on some vast network … oh, if only …

Via MASHABLE.

And our thoughts on Zucker.

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