New Froogle at Google

Google has launched a new service called Froogle which is a free resource for retailers to list their goods. No fee to list, and no paid top-listings. Hopefully this will make it easier to find niche products and minimize commercial listings from the info side of Google.

Playstation 2 Linux Kit Now Half Price

Prices on the Playstation 2 have dropped from $300 to just $180, and the hobby linux kit for it has also dropped in price — now just $100. For that price you get a 40 Gb hard-drive, a linux distribution designed for the PS2, a network adapter (broadband only), USB keyboard and mouse and a cable that allows you to hook the PS2 to a standard monitor.

Considering the multi-functionality of the Playstation, $280 for a brand-spankin’-new, pretty capable linux box that also plays games is relatively good deal. Of course what you can do with that is limited by the non-standard architecture of the PS2, but there’s a pretty active community of PS2-linuxers that have extended the capabilities quite a bit.

Note that the 40 Gb drive indluded with the Linux kit cannot be used for games, and may prevent you from playing the latest Final Fantasy XI released this week ($100) that includes its own 40 Gb drive.

PSP More Powerful Than PS2: Video Clip

I’ve changed my mind — I want one. When first the Playstation Portable was announced, I thought that handhelds were for teenagers, while adults did their geeky gaming in the privacy of their own homes with the curtains drawn. But as details of the PSP have steadily crept out, my interest has steadily increased.

The latest bit of info to be released indicates the PSP will indeed have internal WiFi to connect to Playstation (2? 3?) or PC and head-to-head gaming. It will also be more powerful than the current Playstation 2, though that’s on a “polygon for polygon” count, and polygon’s aren’t everything. But they’re a big part of it, if this video of a game called Death Jr. (a Tim Burton inspired platformer) is any indication.

The release of the PSP is still up in the air, but this recent news indicates that it’s not vaporware, and gives some credence to the expected March 2005 release date. Price, and other specs, are still unknown.

Free Shrimp For All Earthlings!

You’d swear this was an Onion story, but it’s true — Long John Silver’s is giving away free giant shrimp because of the recent discovery of evidence of an ancient flowing body of salt water on Mars:

“We can’t wait to celebrate NASA’s out-of-this-world success, and there’s no better way to recognize their giant accomplishments than with free Giant Shrimp for America.”

The only connections I can think of between the discovery and giant shrimp are that perhaps LJS’s is admitting that these giant mutant shrimp are actually not from earth, or perhaps that the discovery of salt water on Mars opens the possibility of shrimp farming on the red planet, which would certainly be much better for our environment considering that shrimp is one of the worst species to eat because of the environmental impacts of their harvest…but then again, they are so tasty, especially wrapped in bacon….

via boingboing

Vespa Goes High HP

Vespa has announced the latest in their line up — the GranTurismo. It’s the “most powerful Vespa ever made” which is a bit like saying WinXP is the most stable version of Windows ever made, since the GranTurismo only has a meager 21 hp. But at 200 cc’s it’s got four times the displacement of the more familiar Vespa ET2, and it’ll do more than 60 mph, rolling on comfortable 12″ aluminum wheels. Plus it’s got room for storage of two helmets under the seat — making it the perfect machine for darting off to the market. The same engine is available in the lower-end Piaggio BV200. Price for the Vespa is $4900, and just $4300 for the Piaggio. Unknown if it is available in the popular-but-decidedly-ugly mint-green color.

Zork, Hithiker’s Guide On Your Mobile

If you’re above the age of 28, one of your first computer gaming experiences was probably a text adventure like Zork or the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (anyone else spend like 3 hours trying to get that damn babelfish to work?).

Now those games, which have been available for sometime for free, can be accessed via AIM from your PC or any handheld/phone with AIM, thanks to an enterprising group dedicated to preserving gaming history. Check out the Wired article for details.

Bit Torrent Auto Downloads

If you haven’t heard, BitTorrent is the new Napster, with the advantage of actually scaling bandwidth for popular downloads automatically (that’s the non-technical explination). The downside is that it’s not anonymous and you are only allowed to download what you are willing to upload. The upside is that it’s fast and easy to use for those familiar with P2P. And to make it even better, now BitTorrent is available in a clever, bite-sized download from BannedMusic. They’ve come up with a system that effectively installs a 3mb version of BitTorrent, and then automatically searches and downloads a particular piece of software (or file). The effect is that visitors to your website get a seemless file download through a distributed network without bothering with searching. More bandwidth, less hassle, less cost. Good resource. Of course BannedMusic and others use this system for linking to music files that may or may not be copyrighted, and it is still an open question whether this sort of linking represents a violation of the DMCA — or if it is whether the DMCA is constitutional. Of course even linking to banned music might be a violation of DMCA, and even mentioning DMCA in the same sentence as BitTorrent could also be, especially if I mention the EFF as well…I should shut up know before I get into trouble.

Get Paid Not To Read!

I recently subscribed to Salon, and though I realize the sun is setting on that little rag, I did it because I like Joe Conason and because Arianna Huffington told me to do it.

As part of my $30/yr subscription I get a few free goodies, including a subscription to the decidly conservative and boring US News and World Report. I was pleasantly surprised when they sent me a reverse-invoice offering to unsubscribe me and pay me $20! Naturally I took them up on their offer. I’m thinking about not subscribing to the The Weekly Standard, the National Review, and American Spectator next. Sort of reminds me of farm subsidies for intellectuals…