On March 1st (that's tomorrow!), Google will be changing its privacy settings. The changes will unify all Google services under one umbrella, as far as privacy is concerned. In other words, what you search for on YouTube will be accessible by Google Search, and all other Google services. As of today, all your site and search history stayed sandboxed within the specific services that you used. Tomorrow, that'll be a different story.
Your search and activity history can obviously reveal a lot of personal data that you may not want Google to know. Things like medical conditions, location, personal habits, and more. That said, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep your search history private and outta Google’s reach. Taking these steps does not prevent Google from gathering and storing this information internally, and doesn't change the fact that this information can be requested and possibly turned over to law enforcement for legal matters. However, what it does do is make it so that Google anonymizes the information after 18 months, and that Google doesn't use your web history to offer you customized search results. With Web History enabled, Google will keep your records indefinitely. Keep on reading for a walkthrough!
September 9th marks the anniversaries of two systems that found their place nestled in the bosoms of video game culture in their own different ways. The PlayStation solidified itself as the first console to reach 100 million units sold (the PS2 has since surpassed this), while the Dreamcast remains a cult favorite among gamers. Both consoles helped to revolutionize the way that video games are played today, and we owe them a bit of gratitude on their American birthdays.
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If there is one thing that I hate, it is when technology inconveniences me more than it helps. We’ve all been there: it’s late, there’s a movie quote or an actor that you can’t get out of your head—you want, nay, NEED to solve this riddle before your body will allow you some restful shut-eye. What do you do? You roll over in your bed/futon/inflatable mattress and flip open your ever-present and never shutdown laptop and open a link to your favorite search engine. As you mindlessly begin to type your parameters, in my case the phrase ‘that hairy guy that dated Carla on Cheers’ (Nick, played by Dan Hedeya incidentally) is my search of choice tonight. No sooner have you gotten the letters ‘T-H-A..’ into the searchbox then a menu opens up listing more unrelated ‘tha’ phrases than a Wu-Tang song. After briefly looking at a list of ‘Thai Restaurants’ and ‘Thankless Jobs’ (*ahem*) you quickly close the menu and type out your search terms in their entirety. Annoying, isn’t it?
Well, Bing has taken that first step to making your oh-so-difficult web-searching easier by integrating your query history into their auto-suggest feature. Now when you begin to type your search in Bing your previous search queries will be taken into account when serving up auto-suggest keywords. Not only that, but they will appear in the same color (purple) that your web-browser uses to display already-visited links thus helping to differentiate them from non query-based auto-suggestions. In my case this means that when I type in ‘T-H-A’ like I previously mentioned about 30 purple-hued links to ‘That so-and-so from such-and-such-movie’ will appear since I am forever referencing pop culture but am blessed with the memory recall of a 2 month-old. At least now I’ll be able to save myself a few keystrokes before Bing directs me to IMDB. Bing has also allowed this feature to be turned off completely or to be managed with their ‘Manage History’ option if you are paranoid that your boss is going to search your work computer’s internet history and wonder why you keep searching ‘jobs that don’t suck like the one that i have now’. Either way, it’s progress.
Microsoft has launched Bing, a search engine tested under the code name Kumo, that replaces Live Search. Bing will supposedly make purchasing online easier, will be handier for finding medical information, and should facilitate travel arrangements. Besides searching, the engine retrieves and processes data, monitors history and displays it, and should be easier to read. Frankly, we were never all that fond of Microsoft Live Search so anything would be an improvement.
The State Department has invested $415,000 in a cell phone game named X-life. Designed to endear us to the Middle East and Persian Gulf, the game involves four or five hours of play with two modes, student and musician. It attempts to teach English and a bit of U.S. history. Only about 120 have been given away so far. That might be because it only works with Nokia N Series and Sony Ericsson P1i mobile phones or maybe those targeted have better things to do with their time than play games that may appear as propaganda.
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The HP Garage is recognized as the birthplace of Silicon Valley. We got the rare opportunity to get inside of the Garage (thanks to our sponsor HP) to bring you a look at an important piece of tech history. Be sure to also check out our HP Garage photo tour. We also have a bunch of images in our HP Garage photo gallery.
We give you a peek at the rich history behind HP - if you are into tech, this is definitely one to watch. We get the story of how two men took HP from your average startup, to what we see today.
We had the honor of getting invited to tour the HP Garage, considered almost universally to be the “birthplace of Silicon Valley.” In a nutshell, the HP Garage is a literal 12’ x 18’ wooden garage. This is where Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett founded the Hewlett-Packard company, way back when in 1939. Yes, even HP was a struggling, bootstrapped startup.
The Gear Live crew, along with Xavier from Notebooks.com, Michael from Hardware Geeks, and Rob from Windows Now, got a fantastic history lesson from HP Archivist Anna Mancini. If you are a geek like we are, you would have had a blast hearing all the interesting tidbits that Anna shared. For example, did you know that the company name was decided by the flip of a coin? Had the coin landed different, the company would have instead been named Packard-Hewlett, and would no doubt have been nowhere near successful. That’s how those things work, right?
Another interesting fact is that the bread and butter of HP was their line of audio oscillators, which they actually made by hand. They even baked the metal slabs in their kitchen oven. Way to save cash, eh? After Disney ordered eight of them to use in conjunction with the release of Fantasia, HP was well on its way to the big time.
We’ve put together an HP Garage tour photo gallery, featuring a good 26 images that Xavier Lanier graciously hooked us up with. Check it out for a fantastic glimpse into the history of consumer electronics.
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Gallery: HP Garage photo tour
Gamers of a certain age, if given half a chance, will gladly recount grand tales of smoky rooms, dimly lit by a few dozen cathode rays where the only sounds are the white noise of competing digitized soundtracks, crude speech sythesizers, blips and bells, pings and whistles and artificial arpeggios rolling down an electronic scale.
The misty sincerity of those gamers who cut their teeth on the quarter-munching cabinets of Space Invaders, Asteroids, Missile Command and Sinistar is almost enough to make one forget what a mess the modern arcade equivalent has become. The gargantuan interface machines with their elaborate weapon approximations and physical demands juxtapose over a likewise spectacular price per play resulting in a hollow shell of what the old guard knew so well. These are not arcades as exist in those guarded memories, they are interactive entertainment experiences: The kind of branded, marginalized speciality device that has been focus tested and trade-show marketed to get the premium floor space right out front in view of the mall concourse is showpiece here.
Even those arcade machines which can still accurately be described as video games compete for the higher-yield ticket-generating skill games (which ironically involve very little skill). Most of those who recall the days when 3D graphics referred to the vector lines of Tempest pass by these modern emporiums. Perhaps they shake their heads a little or make a disparaging comment. Kids these days. Get off my lawn. They don’t enter; inside is only heartbreak.
Perhaps what hurts the most is that it is a heartbreak we chose. We have no one to blame but ourselves, for while the arcade as it was may be dead, ultimately it is us who killed it.
We wanted the more valuable entertainment experience. We asked for and then demanded a perfect replica of our arcade favorites that we could play at home from the comfort of our couches. We pressed for more arcade-quality graphics on our home consoles until our set top boxes had visuals that outpaced anything showcased on a standalone machine. We asked for, and received, greater narrative depth in our games and as a casualty for our insistence we killed the arcade—the very entity we now mourn.
Hideo Kojima talked about the Metal Gear franchise through the years at the GO3 Expo in Australia. Gamasutra covered his speech, an interesting walk through game development starting from the 80s through to his work on Metal Gear Solid 4. From the MSX to the PlayStation 2, it seems Kojima has been bumping against the technological limitations of each platform while trying to refine and evolve his “hide and seek” gameplay concept from the original game. While he offered no real new footage from Metal Gear Solid 4, he did discuss where he wanted to take the conflict in the next iteration of the franchise.
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Next Generation reviews the history of software game publisher Rare, from its beginnings creating games for the Sinclair Spectrum in 1982 to its position as one of Microsoft’s lead developers for the Xbox 360. Next year, Rare will have been in the industry for 25 years. In many ways, Rare’s fortunes kind of mirror the changes in game development over the years. Initially, Rare focused on releasing massive amounts of titles to market; from 1987 through 1991, Rare released 44 titles. Eventually, Rare’s partnership with Nintendo caused some of the Japanese company’s development processes to be adopted by Rare, focusing on fewer higher quality releases. Still, it has been a while since Rare has produced an unqualified hit like they had in their hey-day. Their next release will be Viva Piñata, hitting November 1. Rare and Microsoft hope that this game will sell well and turn around Rare’s fortunes.
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