Movies, Music, Video Games, Social Networks and Lifestyle News And Reviews

Product reviews and news of digital entertainment products and services in movies, music, video games, game streaming, social networks and lifestyle products.

Show of hands: Who’s sick of the Sponsored Stories and other encroaching ads on Facebook? Everybody? Although Facebook is free because Zuck & Co. have a massive advertising machine going, it can get a little obnoxious, and the Facebook advertising train is not slowing down. Soon, Facebook will leverage user activity to sell ads on third-party sites. Many users are annoyed and some are downright angry that Facebook appears to be implementing massive changes without bothering to consider users’ feelings on the subject. Strategically joining the chorus of boos is Google executives, who are painting Facebook as a money-grubbing, ad-mongering whore of Babylon, putting it in contrast... Read more...
We’ve all seen our share of bogus social media activity, be it fake likes, ratings, or reviews, that are paid for by a company trying to goose its sales or generate buzz about some product. According to research firm Gartner, the amount of that bogus activity will account for 10-15% of all social media activity by 2014. To be clear, the problem is not that companies are sponsoring content; that’s been a common practice for a long time in a variety of media, and as long as there are appropriate disclosures, there’s no problem. The issue with this kind of covert marketing is that it’s essentially a lie. The FTC certainly feels that way; in 2009, the commission ruled that... Read more...
Everyone appreciates a little love on their birthdays, and nothing in human history has done a better job of reminding your friends and family to wish you well on your big day than Facebook (whether you like it or not). Now, Google is adding birthday reminders to your daily Web searching via Google+, too. That’s right folks, when you share your day of birth with people in your G+ Circles, they’ll receive a notification when they’re on Google’s home page (and probably elsewhere, as the feature rolls out), and--wouldn’t you know it--they can use Google Plus to leave you a message or a clever photo or video. You have to hand it to Google; using the most-used search... Read more...
Guild Wars 2 has finally hit store shelves and the game, according to just about everyone, is a lot of fun. The full sequel to the popular game Guild Wars has been in development for a full five years; Guild Wars originally debuted in 2005. Today is the first day anyone could play; pre-orders were given a three day headstart that kicked off on the 25th. Like its predecessor, Guild Wars 2 is an MMO without a monthly subscription fee; character development and story arcs are handled by dynamic events rather than by static quests. Early reviews point towards a strong story, interesting crafting system, and a streamlined form of the skills / profession system that was used in the original game. It's... Read more...
Tech titans have become accustomed to litigation in recent years as they’re embroiled in perpetual Nineteen Eighty-Four-length patent wars, and now it appears that instead of arguing their cases in front of judges, several companies are planning to address laws by lobbying lawmakers directly. According to a Reuters report, a lobbying group called the Internet Association will be launching in September, and sources say that the group’s leading members include Google, Facebook, eBay, and Amazon. (So in terms of lobbying dollars, that’s somewhere between way more than enough and an infinite amount of money.) Although the prospect of yet another lobbying group in Washington perhaps... Read more...
Call Google+ a ghost town if you wish, but in terms of customer satisfaction, it's standing head and shoulders above Facebook, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) E-Business Report released on Tuesday. The report highlights customer happiness on a scale of 1-100, and Facebook, which was already the lowest-scoring e-business company, fell in favor even more in this latest edition, dropping 8 percent to 61/100. Google+, meanwhile, posted a respectable score of 78/100 on its first appearance in the ACSI scale. The reasons, ACSI says, have to do with an absence of traditional advertising and a superior mobile experience compared to Facebook. In contrast, Facebook users frequently... Read more...
We don’t often call out our blog posts in the news, but we thought this topic would be great to spur some discussion. J.D. just posted a little something in our Something Social blog titled, “Google+: The Best Thing That Could Have Happened To Facebook (And Its Users)”. Some of the most common complaints regarding Facebook are related to its privacy settings and how cumbersome and sometimes confusing it is to alter them. Since the introduction of Google+, however, Facebook has made some major changes to the way it structures its privacy settings and how accessible they are. From the post, “Facebook went in a new direction based upon the threat that Google+ represents.... Read more...
Do you hear that noise? It sounds like pacing, which we imagine is what Mark Zuckerberg spends a fair amount of time doing these days as he contemplates how to fend off Google+ from one day becoming the world's largest social networking site. And before you dismiss that notion, consider this: in less than a month, Google+ has attracted over 25 million members, every single one of them by invite only. That data comes from market research firm comScore, according to a report in the Associated Free Press, and while 25 million is a drop a bucket compared to Facebook, what's remarkable is how quickly Google+ accumulated those numbers. Google+ is now officially the fastest growing social networking... Read more...
Welp, here goes. Google just opened fire on Facebook, Skype and who knows who else. The company has tried for years to properly get into the social networking field, and it has become somewhat of a running joke at this point. There's Wave, Buzz, and lots of other dead Google dreams, but the Google+ Project may be the one that finally takes off in a major way. It's a new service that's launching this week in the form of a limited field trial. If you don't have an invite yet, either ping someone that has one, or just wait patiently. It'll contain profiles, circles, sparks, photos, hangouts, sparks, and who knows what else. Basically, this is a monumental effort to coordinate your Google contacts... Read more...
Well, maybe hacking does pay off. George Hotz, a young fellow with a bright future (and a history of breaking into iPhone software) has found his next gig: it's in Palo Alto, and Mark Zuckerberg is his boss. Yep, he's going to Facebook. The social networking company isn't saying what he's going to do while there, but it's still pretty wild that this even happened. He's known as GeoHot around the web, where he's credited for helping people jailbreak their phones for unlock purposes. He's also the guy that let loose instructions that enabled PS3 owners to modify their game consoles to run unauthorized titles. And then, Sony sued him, but ended up settling just before it was nailed with a flood... Read more...
The state of California is currently considering a bill (SB761) that, if passed in its current form, would require websites to ask visitors for permission before tracking them via cookies. While there are already apps and add-ons that allow web surfers to manually control what cookies they accept or refuse, the new bill would require companies to explicitly ask visitors if they wanted to be tracked. Google and Facebook have jointly sent a letter to the government claiming that passage of the bill would have disastrous consequences. The relevant text is as follows: [The bill] would require a... person or entity doing business in the state of California that collects, uses, or stores online data... Read more...
Google may still be considering a dive into the music realm, but they aren't considering going head to head with Twitter or Facebook, despite rumors. Google has shown in the past that they aren't scared to battle with the best. Google TV challenged the entire DVR model, and Android has obviously done well against iOS. And some were suggesting that Google Circles would be coming soon to get the company into the social networking game, which is hotter than ever these days. The news emerged at the South by Southwest conference in Texas. Google’s Chris Messina, who was rumored as being one of the frontrunners to lead up Circles, confirmed that he didn't know what any of the rumors were about,... Read more...
For PC gamers, the gear we use to play can provide a tangible edge in our games. Although much noise is made about backlit keyboards boasting gamer oriented layouts and fancy mice with odd shapes, the most important considerations for gaming are still the guts of the gaming machine, a comfortable desk layout, a good monitor and a quality sound reproduction device. While most gamers understand the need for a capable system and a quality monitor, they don't often appreciate that last bit about sound. The engineer didn't hear the spy approaching from behind. Any old speaker will provide the most basic audio cues, but you'll need something better if you want a real competitive edge. In the past,... Read more...
General Motors has been pushing OnStar in their vehicles for what feels like forever. At this point, OnStar and GM just go hand-in-hand. We've come to expect it in new GM vehicles. But the technology hasn't really evolved a whole lot over the years, at least to technology driven consumers. But the world has moved on, and the world now lives on Facebook and Twitter. And so, Facebook is coming to OnStar. Yes, really! General Motors has announced a "relaunch" of OnStar, with the brand and focus now pointing to "responsible connectivity." Apparently that also involves adding Facebook audio updates, so users can hear the status updates of their friends without having to take their eyes off of the... Read more...
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