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CE industry hopes 'Avatar' is a hit

Besides a $300 million budget and James Cameron's reputation, the movie "Avatar" is also heaving under the weight of the future of 3D entertainment.

When the uber-hyped 3D film opens on Friday, Hollywood studios will, of course, be closely watching the box office receipts. They won't be alone: the consumer electronics and cable television industries are also hoping for a blockbuster. If "Avatar" is a hit, it could be what pushes 3D from the movie theater to the living room.

Chock full of big-budget fodder like computer-generated creatures from another world, as well as … Read more

The 404 Podcast 485: Where Justin is leaving on a jet plane

Goodbyes are never easy, but it ain't so bad when you're leaving for a three-week holiday vacation to Huntington Beach, Calif. On today's episode of CNET's The 404 Podcast, the dudes celebrate Justin's last show in 2009. To everyone's disappointment, he'll back back in January 2010 for one episode, and then the dudes are off to CES for four shows from the CNET stage!

It's hard to believe that 2009 is almost coming to a close, but it's been a fantastic year of growth for the show. We're very excited to see what 2010 has in store for us, but this year won't be over until we get through the dreaded holiday shopping season. With Hanukkah starting tonight and Christmas just around the corner, there's not a lot of time left for us to head to the store or order gifts online. Then again, there's always the wonderful gift of debt relief!

We also can't officially wave goodbye to 2009 until we finally see "Avatar." In an unexpected twist, apparently someone at the movie studio leaked the film to a few critics who had surprisingly positive reviews!

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter assures us that "every bit of technology in Avatar serves the greater purpose of a deeply felt love story," which should come as a relief the film's detractors. Wilson also brings up a good point about Cameron's depiction of independent women that reinstates our confidence as well. Plan on watching the movie during the holidays? Let us know what you think!

There's still a full spread of 404 episodes next week featuring special guests Russ Frushtick, Bonnie Cha, Natali Del Conte, and more, but I want to wish everyone an amazing holiday and a super green New Year, see you in Vegas!

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Official 'Avatar' AIR app is a must-see

If you're planning to check out "Avatar" when it hits theaters next month, you'll definitely want to download its official Adobe AIR app.

Like so many other Adobe AIR apps, the "Avatar" app has really pushed the limits of what can be done with the mobile-widget platform.

Once you start using the app, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find. You can view all the trailers released so far for the film. You can also follow movie updates and the cast with the help of the app's built-in networking … Read more

BOL 1080: Blow up the moon

NASA is sending a rocket into the moon Friday morning to study the composition of lunar material. But really, you stopped listening when you heard "blow up the Moon." And so did Cooley. For one small second, that made him love space. We also talk about the world's largest phishing sting and Windows 8. Yep, 8.

Subscribe with iTunes (audio) Subscribe with iTunes (video) Subscribe with RSS (audio) Subscribe with RSS (video) EPISODE 1080

Operation “Phish Phry” nabs largest number of phishers ever. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8295945.stm

Wife bans FBI head … Read more

New report warns of dangers of trashy avatars

If you're running a business that has a presence in a virtual world, market research firm Gartner thinks you might want to make sure your employees' avatars aren't dressed like Lady Gaga at the VMAs.

"Companies with codes of conduct for other Web activities, such as blogging, should be able to extend those policies into virtual environments," a release Wednesday from Gartner announcing its new report "Avatars in the Enterprise: Six Guidelines to Enable Success" explained. "However, because 3-D environments add the visual dimension, they will need to make sure that their policies … Read more

Twitter gets the munchies again, eats user avatars

Twitter recently changed its default user avatar--you know, the one that pops up if you haven't uploaded a picture of your own--to a cute little bird icon. Unfortunately, then the service got a little bit overzealous and started chomping up existing users' photos, replacing them with the defaults. Oops!

"Many people in my timeline suddenly have default user icons," Twitter engineer Alex Payne posted to his Twitter account on Thursday. "This is probably not intentional. I have inquired with colleagues."

By the time the end of the day rolled around on Friday, there were still … Read more

The 404 414: Where we eat Snow Leopard for dinner

Wilson's back, but we figure everyone is tired of hearing about the Apple Mac OS X Snow Leopard by now, so we shift gears and talk about Walmart shoppers instead. Behold: a new blog documenting the People of Walmart. While Wilson "Tennessee" Tang thinks this all looks pretty typical, Jeff and I are straight up spooked. It's humiliating enough to set foot in a Walmart, but what if I just need to pick up deodorant? Now I have to worry about being publicly humiliated on this blog too? And who brought that goat into the store?

After our rant is over, we move on to dissect a few upcoming movies like James Cameron's newest science fiction CGI powerhouse, "Avatar." The weird part is that James Cameron has been planning this movie for 10 years but hasn't been able to make it because the technology just wasn't there. Well, now it's here...and the movie looks like a cheesy cut scene from Halo. Next up on the butcher block is "Cirque de Freak: The Vampire's Assistant." Don't get me wrong, I love me some John C. Reilly, but a convincing vampire he is not. When was the last time you've seen a bloodsucker with curly hair?

The rest of the show devolves into the three hosts doing vampire impressions, which isn't incredibly hard to do, just follow these three steps:

Talk loudly and open-mouthed Raise the intonation of your voice at the end of every sentence Don't forget the "AH AH AHHH" at the end

If you're like Wilson and don't have anything to do over the weekend, why don't you give us a call at 1-866-404-CNET and tell us what's on your mind? We're also on Twitter, Facebook, and Meetup as well, so there's really no excuse for falling out of touch. Or, if you have a suggestion for our Weekend Throwback Episode, let me know in a comment below!

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Augmented reality augurs the future of toys

I have seen the future of toys, and it is augmented reality.

That was my conclusion Monday after seeing Mattel's i-Tags, new technology that will be included with action figures the company will make for "Titanic" director James Cameron's new film, "Avatar."

For those not familiar with augmented reality, it's an overlay of digital information or imagery on top of real-world objects. AR, as it's known, "is a field of computer research that deals with the combination of real-world and computer-generated data (virtual reality), where computer graphics objects are blended into … Read more

Will Avatar's 3D technology save the movie biz?

We dropped by CNBC's Power Lunch today to talk about James Cameron's upcoming Avatar movie and video game, and the related rush of interest in 3D technology. With a 16-minute preview trailer in select theaters, buzz is high, but so is the film's reported $240 million budget.

Will this give disaffected couch potatoes a good reason to get out to movie theaters (and pay a $2-4 premium)? Or will it end up like any of the previous attempts to 3D filmmaking -- consigned to the cultural kitch bin?

Check out the clip below:

The 404 409: Where Kenley ain't no 'skank' blogger

Kenley Bradstreet joins the show to fill in Justin's shoes, after he has an unfortunate accident with a missing bike seat. On today's show, Jeff rants about Digg's new ads while he gets new Hoboken Twitter followers. Wilson doesn't feel too hot about James Cameron's new movie "Avatar." Violet Blue starts her own URL shortner. And Kenley brings us a story about a murderous Brazilian talk show host. Yes, it is yet another episode of The 404.

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let's explain today's show title. Apparently, there is a blog called "Skanks in NYC," and someone called a Vogue cover model, Liskula Cohen, a skank. Using words like "psychotic," "lying" and "whoring" to describe Ms. Cohen, a judge ruled that the model has a right to know who was defaming her. Beyond the First Amendment questions that this ruling raises, Kenley wonders if this undermines the whole point of the Internet?

James Cameron has been on hiatus for the last couple of years after his massive success with "Titanic." Turns out, he's been working on "Avatar" for the last 10 years, inventing all sorts of new technology to bring his vision to the big screen. While the project has been hyped in Hollywood, The 404 gang remains unimpressed with the blue people with tails. Kind of looks like a cross between a PS3 game and Halo, doesn't it?

Before we leave, we mention the new URL shortening service from Violet Blue, sex educator and columnist. At first, we were a bit confused as to why one would need another URL shortening service, but after a few hints from the chat room, we figured out that it's a warning that the link you're about to click on might be a bit NSFW. Bravo! Finally, Kenley alerts us to Wallace Souza, a Brazilian television host. On his top rated show, he features crime busts. Turns out, he was calling hits on people to get the ratings in the first place. We think the police were tipped off when a Steadicam operator, crane and lapel mic were found on scene.

Everyone have a great weekend! Wilson will be out for most of the week next week, so expect more awesome guests to keep his seat warm. In the mean time, please, please, please call in and leave a message at 1-866-404-CNET (2638) or write to us at the404 [at] cnet [dot] com.

EPISODE 409 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more