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Preview: - @play - Technology Entertainment Column By Mike Musgrove - @play - Technology Entertainment Column By Mike Musgrove


A hotbed of techie agents of government transparency

Sun, 04 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Monitoring your elected officials and keeping track of your government's spending? There's an app for that, as it turns out. Or such was the theme of the second annual TransparencyCamp, held at George Washington University last weekend, an event aimed at bringing programmers and activists together to mingle and talk shop about how to mine government data in clever ways.

The blockbuster video game veers from action fantasy to realism

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT

After years of teaching its fans how to blast space aliens or clear a room -- counterterrorist-style -- one of the video-game industry's latest ambitious titles is trying to push a different set of buttons in players' heads, with an interactive experience closer to "The Silence of the Lambs" than "Doom."

At Play: Kickstarter is a Web site for the starving artist

Sun, 07 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EST

Baltimore-based director Matt Porterfield was overjoyed to find out that his latest film was accepted by the Berlin Film Festival. But there was one not-so-trivial problem: He didn't have any money to finish the editing and sound work.

With this Web radio gig, who needs FM?

Sun, 21 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

It's Tuesday, just before noon in Manassas, and time for Mike O'Meara to go over some quick notes with his on-air crew before the day's taping of the podcast that bears his name.

Xbox's 'Dante's Inferno' is a love story, sorta

Sun, 14 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

After this blizzard-y past week, I'd say there's never been a better time for Washingtonians to fire up the Xbox and pay an early visit to the warm and toasty depths of hell, as featured in a new videogame from Electronic Arts. And Valentine's Day, after all, is all the more reason to take a look at this epic title, called "Dante's Inferno," which is also a love story.

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Sonos ZonePlayer: The gadget that upgrades the digital music revolution

Sun, 07 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

It's always seemed to me that there's been something missing in the digital music revolution.

'Citizen cartographers' map the microcosms of the world

Sun, 31 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

On a cold Sunday morning in Washington, none of the two-dozen scruffy students and techie folks crowded into one side of a bustling cafe noticed as Steve Coast, a 29-year-old British programmer, moseyed in and joined their ranks. They didn't realize it, but there was the man with a plan to map the world.

2010 Consumer Electronics Show features less gloom than 2009's

Sun, 10 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

It's nice to see the consumer electronics industry get its mojo back.

New cash for your old technology

Sun, 27 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST

Now that the gift-giving holidays have passed, 'tis inevitable that last year's now-obsolescent gadgets end up forgotten inside a closet or a desk drawer. Or worse still, in a trash can on the way to the local landfill.

@Play: D.C. area developers find success through iPhone App Store

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 00:00:00 EST

It's been a successful year for Imangi Studios, the two-person iPhone application-development shop run from the Dupont Circle apartment of Keith Shepherd and his wife, Natalia Luckyanova.

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Holiday guide to video games

Sun, 29 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

When the holidays roll around, the video game industry rolls out the big blockbusters.

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How about an expensive extra with that expensive video game?

Sun, 29 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

Somebody needs to tell the video game industry that there's a recession still going on out there.

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@Play: At libraries, fun and games now the lure

Sun, 22 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

Nine-year old Cody Wallace and his seven-year-old brother Justin spent the day at the library last weekend, but for once they weren't working on book reports. They were playing video games.

The computer gets more like the TV every day

Sun, 08 Nov 2009 00:00:00 EST

The online video service Hulu added a long-overdue feature last week: A "coming soon" page designed to give the site's millions of users a heads-up about when they'll be able to watch the next new episode of "Fringe" or "Parks and Recreation" in their Web browsers.

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Video-game start-up picks up the pieces

Sun, 25 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

A modestly sized office tucked in the leafy northern corner of Baltimore might seem an unlikely perch from which to crack into the big-bucks video-game industry, but that's what Kalypso Media USA is setting out to do. Having opened its doors in June, the firm just launched its first title, a strategy game called Tropico 3.

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A Level Closer To the Mainstream

Sun, 11 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Nintendo of America's president and chief operating officer, Reggie Fils-Aime, says that when he talks to groups, he tries to make a habit of asking one question: How many of you have played a video game?

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Video Game Redskins Not Much Better

Sun, 04 Oct 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Every August, Redskins fan Brion Summers picks up a new copy of the bestselling Madden football video game. He likes to go up against his friends online as they pit their favorite teams against his version of the Redskins.

A Virtual Theme Park for Kids Explores Life's Wonders

Sun, 27 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

"I think this is educational," observes my 8-year-old stepson, about half an hour after logging on to Wonder Rotunda, a Web site aimed at kids that was recently launched by a Washington area dad.

Twitter Writ Larger: Woofer

Sun, 06 Sep 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Sometimes, 140 characters isn't nearly enough.

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Man Vs. Beast

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDT


Nintendo Makes Strides With Personal Trainer: Walking

Sun, 23 Aug 2009 00:00:00 EDT

As it turns out, I take twice as many steps on the average day as my dog does but a couple thousand fewer than the president recommends.

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One Fan Gets His Big Break With Rock Band's Expansion

Sun, 26 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Fans of the music video game Rock Band were abuzz this month when its creators announced that they will throw open the doors to the online store where it sells downloadable tracks for the game. But where most players will be logging on to the service to spend their money, at least one local software programmer sees a business opportunity.

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Click by Click, Reviewers Gain Clout

Sun, 12 Jul 2009 00:00:00 EDT

If you value your spare time, don't start posting comments and reviews on Amazon, Mark Espinosa suggests. It can be a hard habit to break.

Now on the Wii: Aliens, Guns and the Capitol

Sun, 28 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDT

When you're lobbing radiation grenades and fighting aliens on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial on an otherwise quiet Washington evening, it's hard not to feel a sense of history. After all, this is the same address where the climactic final events of one of last year's best video games, Fallout 3, took place.

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@Play: New Products Can Be Obsolete in a Heartbeat

Sun, 14 Jun 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Last Sunday, I was lurking at the local Apple store, poking at laptops and feeling a mild bit of concern for my fellow shoppers.

This Book Is Only Half the Story

Sun, 31 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

A video game blogger named Rachael Webster created a minor stir in the blogosphere last year, when it turned out that she didn't exactly exist.

The Hits Keep On Coming

Sun, 17 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Jonathan Coulton doesn't measure his success as a musician by the number of appearances he's made in the music magazines or blogs -- who needs that when you've got Google Analytics?

Peggle Finds A New Home

Sun, 03 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

A few levels in, and I'm hooked all over again.

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Where Tinkerers Take Control of Technology

Sun, 19 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

At a recent HacDC get-together, Tim Collins displays his latest toy to a visitor. It's a microcontroller, a $6 mini-computer on a chip smaller than his thumb. "This has more computing capacity than my first computer, which cost thousands of dollars," he observes.

At Play: Nintendo Bites Back at iTunes

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Open up the latest portable game gadget from Nintendo, the DSi, which goes on sale today, and you'll be able to log onto a new online store carrying a small catalogue of software titles. If you see one that grabs your interest, you can buy and download it to your device on the spot, with prices starting at $2.

They're Apps to Make Money

Sun, 22 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Todd Moore didn't foresee that he was about to embark on a new career when he bought his first Mac last year. It just sort of happened.

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A New Battle Over Used Video Games

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 00:00:00 EST

In the past couple of weeks, my mail carrier has brought me nearly new copies of Gears of War 2 and the latest Call of Duty, a couple of video game blockbusters released this past holiday season.

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Challenging Assumptions About Online Predators

Sun, 25 Jan 2009 00:00:00 EST

Are your kids safe online? A recent report about this sensitive subject is stirring up controversy.

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@play at CES: New TV Models Are Model-Thin

Sun, 11 Jan 2009 00:00:00 EST

As a professional journalist, I find the latest trend toward thinner TVs, like the ones shown off at this past week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, troubling. You see, my retirement plans may include living out of a cardboard box at some point, and I'd like to know that there will be some housing options out there with a little more elbow room.

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PS3's Virtual Home Is Inhospitable

Sun, 28 Dec 2008 00:00:00 EST

"Dude, this place is quiet," says one avatar, a rather generic-looking 20-something guy as we lurk on one side of the Home central plaza, watching virtual people go by on what appears, on my television screen, to be a sunny day in a modern town center. "This could get boring fast," texts another in agreement, a speech balloon popping up over his head.

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The Battle of the Fake Bands

Sun, 14 Dec 2008 00:00:00 EST

The American people have an important and historic decision to make this holiday season: Guitar Hero World Tour or Rock Band 2?

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A Wish List for Gamers

Sun, 30 Nov 2008 00:00:00 EST

"We really wanted to drive home that if you want to stretch your $60 out, this is the best way to do it," said Ryan Schneider as he shot saw blades through an aggressive bunch of zombie monsters on the TV screen during a recent visit to Washington.

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A Wish List for Gamers

Sat, 29 Nov 2008 21:40:58 EST

"We really wanted to drive home that if you want to stretch your $60 out, this is the best way to do it," said Ryan Schneider as he shot saw blades through an aggressive bunch of zombie monsters on the TV screen during a recent visit to Washington.

TV Breaks Out of the Box

Sun, 16 Nov 2008 00:00:00 EST

My friend Susanna has never had a cable subscription.

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Games That Turn Players Into Creators

Sun, 02 Nov 2008 00:00:00 EDT

There's an odd new feature tucked into the latest version of Guitar Hero, designed to appeal to those fans who feel the creative spark.

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Fallout 3, Starring Washington, D.C.

Sun, 26 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Washington is a bit moody lately, a little under the weather, a bit achy. But even in these troubled times of ours, it could still be so much worse. There could be monsters roaming the streets, okay? And, our economy could've really collapsed already, I mean to the point where we're stuck using bottle caps for currency.

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Meanwhile, All the Virtual Markets Are Thriving

Sun, 19 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Thomas Cleberg spends a lot of spare time thinking about which stocks he wants to buy these days. In the past few months, the college student has decided he might pursue a career on Wall Street, of all things.

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Bells and Whistles in Search of an Audience

Sun, 05 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Pop in a new Blu-ray version of the animated flick "Sleeping Beauty" this week, and you (or your kids) will be able to connect online while watching the movie to text-chat with friends or other Disney fans. Or you could pick your favorite scene and send it with a personalized video message to family members who also own the disc. With another new, Web-connected feature, the movie's interface will reflect the real-world weather outside your living room: If it's raining in your hometown, it'll also be raining on the castle in the title's menu screen.

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A Game's Quest for Online Success

Sun, 21 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDT

"I don't think there's any other field where you can find a failure rate this high and still find people willing to invest," said Mark Jacobs, general manager of the Fairfax game studio EA Mythic. "The failure rate is unbelievable."

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Spore, Dividing Cells and Opinions

Sun, 14 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDT

The Turtok species is trying to kill me. The Katmondo are my allies. I'm trying to befriend the Wurbles, but it might not work out, due to some other interplanetary commitments I'm hoping to maintain. Probably none of these alien species would want anything to do with mine, if they knew we used nuclear weapons as a shortcut to world domination a while back on our home planet of Fiumincino.

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Lego Obsession Builds and Builds in Adulthood

Sun, 07 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Until recently, Will Chapman worked as a Web software developer near his home in Redmond, Wash. But he quit his job a couple of months ago to become a small-arms dealer.

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Related Links

Sun, 07 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDT

-- The Washington Metropolitan Area Lego Users Group

It's First and 10 For Fantasy Football on Facebook

Sun, 24 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Are Facebook users ready for some football?

Weaving a Tighter Web 2.0

Sun, 10 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Until now, there was never much reason to linger at the online MP3 store eMusic past the time it took to click on a download button or two.

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It's Not Easy Being a Restaurant Guide, Jukebox, Game Console and Lightsaber

Sun, 27 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Among all the new applications I've downloaded to my iPhone this month, it seems that there's something else new tucked in that I wasn't counting on: bugs.

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Product Placement Creeps Into Amateurs' YouTube Offerings

Sun, 13 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Matt Harding has this silly dance he does, this running-in-place thing where he waves his arms around spastically. If it had a name, you might call it the Excited Toddler.

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The Crack of a Bat, the Wail of Guitar Hero. Wait, What?

Sun, 29 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Capitol Hill resident Patrick Lavigne gets his family to Nationals games early. The idea, originally, was that they'd be spending that pregame time trying to get autographs or heckling and cheering players during batting practice.

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Not the Usual Game Application

Sun, 22 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EDT

One of these days, the thinking goes, some positive lesson learned in a game's virtual world might just inspire young people to go out and change the real world for the better.

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Fewer Players in the Gaming Group

Sun, 08 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Why is the ESA shrinking?

Wii Fit, Tipping The Scales on Exercise

Sun, 25 May 2008 00:00:00 EDT

After all the good times we've had together, it's nice to know my Wii doesn't think I'm fat.

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Some Heroes Want to Get Real

Sun, 11 May 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Myrna Sislen, the owner of Middle C Music in Tenleytown, figures Guitar Hero is here to stay.

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New Kid on the Blox

Fri, 09 May 2008 00:00:00 EDT

If you heard, say, that director Steven Spielberg was coming out with a video game, chances are you wouldn't have pictured Boom Blox, the Wii game released this week with his name on it.

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The Adult Crime Game Kids Love

Sun, 27 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Get ready: There's a new Grand Theft Auto game about to roll out this week, and we're probably in for a burst of discussion about violent video play.

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Breakthrough of the Podcast Authors

Sun, 13 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EDT

As a regular listener of the podcast version of the nationally syndicated radio talk show "Don and Mike," I've been a little worried lately.

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Outsourcing Music Videos to the Fans

Sun, 30 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EDT

So, have you edited the new R.E.M. video yet?

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Karaoke That Lets You Compete

Sun, 16 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Simon Cowell thinks I'm awesome.

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Dusting Off the PlayStation Portable

Sun, 02 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EST

Once upon a time, tech pundits predicted Sony's PlayStation Portable would be an "iPod killer" because of all its flashy features. But the PSP has suffered from a slightly unfortunate image among gamers and gadget lovers: It's the device that can do pretty much anything, from surfing the Web to playing games, but that actually seems to spend most of its time gathering dust.

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An Undersea Trip That Leaves Gaming Home

Sun, 17 Feb 2008 00:00:00 EST

Some video game fans are puzzled over a new title for the Nintendo Wii system -- mainly because it's not really a game.

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Blu-ray vs. HD DVD: Who Cares?

Sun, 20 Jan 2008 00:00:00 EST

Dane Cook: Just as annoying in Blu-ray. The Fantastic Four: Still terrible in Blu-ray, if not worse.

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A Breakthrough for TV on the Web

Sun, 06 Jan 2008 00:00:00 EST

"What's so funny?" asked a holiday e-card at the top of my Gmail inbox the other day, sent by a friend of mine who writes for "The Daily Show."

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A Dinosaur With a Future?

Sun, 23 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

"When the robots take over the Earth, I want them to remember somewhere in their DNA that I was kind to the Pleo," says Frank Townend.

Car Gadgetry at Your Command

Sun, 09 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

Have you talked to a Ford lately?

Scratched Discs Can Wreck a Rock Band

Sun, 25 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

The band broke up a lot earlier than I expected last weekend.

The Points of It All

Sun, 11 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

I recently spent at least a half-dozen hours playing a video game I'm not sure I liked very much.

Waiting for Netflix's Plot to Advance

Sun, 28 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EDT

"It's like a three-act play, and we're in the opening minutes of the second act," says Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communications at movie-rental Web site Netflix, as he gives a tour of the company's Rockville processing center.

Shooting a Movie in a Fantasy World Is Not All Fun and Game

Sun, 14 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EDT

For the past few months, New York-based programmer A.J. Loiacono and his buddies have been logging onto the popular online sword-and-sorcery game World of Warcraft a little more often than usual.

Into Facebook and Old Friends

Sun, 30 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDT

I took an accidental walk down memory lane last week after finally signing up for a Facebook account.

Monster Fun. But Is It Art?

Sat, 15 Sep 2007 08:46:00 EDT

On a recent Saturday morning, I headed over to the house of Pulitzer Prize-winning Post book columnist Michael Dirda with an Xbox 360 under my arm. I plugged the device into his TV, showed him how to turn on the console and vanished. My assignment for Dirda was to try a new game called BioShock.

As Comfortable on Guitar Hero as on the Hill

Sun, 02 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDT

On trips to Capitol Hill these days, Michael Gallagher usually has a black Nintendo DS stashed in his suit pocket.

Introducing The New and Improved iPhone -- by Hackers

Sun, 19 Aug 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Well, that was quick. The hacker community has taken over the iPhone. Heck, in some cases, hackers are already releasing updated versions of their underground software.

Tote a Small Library to the Beach

Sun, 05 Aug 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Summertime: Time for the beach, and time for some beach reading.

In the Band but Out of State. Or the Country.

Sat, 21 Jul 2007 14:00:00 EDT

Jason Hannah says his Fender guitar had just been gathering dust in the closet until a few months ago.

Making a Case For Water Music

Sun, 08 Jul 2007 00:00:00 EDT

People tend to look at you funny when you jump into the pool with your iPod strapped to your arm and a pair of waterproof headphones stuck in your ears.

Making a Case For Water Music

Sat, 07 Jul 2007 13:24:01 EDT

People tend to look at you funny when you jump into the pool with your iPod strapped to your arm and a pair of waterproof headphones stuck in your ears.


Thu, 28 Jun 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Asales guy at the electronics store tried to make a point about the relative picture quality of the high-end plasma and LCD TV sets lining the walls.

For High Def, Decision: Impossible

Sun, 24 Jun 2007 00:00:00 EDT

A sales guy at the electronics store tried to make a point about the relative picture quality of the high-end plasma and LCD TV sets lining the walls.

The New Political Games Make a Point

Sun, 10 Jun 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Okay, wonks: Think you know how the political game works?

Games as Therapy for Walter Reed's Wounded

Sun, 27 May 2007 00:00:00 EDT

It's video-game night at Mologne House, a brick hotel-like building that is the largest residence at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Tied Up With Spiderweb To a Blockbuster Movie

Sun, 13 May 2007 00:00:00 EDT

In my experience, New Yorkers are a quiet sort. They rarely say anything, and they don't seem to mind if you punch them, or shoot spider webbing, right in the face. Conveniently, there's never any traffic, though there is this weird quirk that just about everybody drives the same few types of car. If you need to get across town, just catch a ride by standing on somebody's windshield. Nobody will bat an eye.

A Washington Ringtone Symphony

Sun, 29 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Do cellphone ringtones reveal anything about their owners? Maybe they do, and maybe that's why a lot of official Washington avoids the things.

Great Shots That Never Happened

Sun, 15 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

It's getting hard to believe photos these days -- the distinction between real photos and fakes is getting pretty blurry.

Proxy Fighters Take Warcraft to Another Level

Sun, 01 Apr 2007 00:00:00 EDT

If you're a fan of the PC game World of Warcraft, you might want to go to another article right now. There are 8 million of you, and I'm sure you're all good people. But I just don't get it.

Developing Selective Hearing

Sun, 18 Mar 2007 00:00:00 EDT

My iPod is filled with about 20 gigabytes of great tunes that I mostly don't listen to anymore, but I'm not sure which music to download next. Tower Records is gone. And Washington's local rock stations, whenever I tune in, seem to be aggressively pushing John Cougar Mellencamp's back catalogue.

Family Game Night, Version 2.0

Sun, 04 Mar 2007 00:00:00 EST

Video games in Genevieve Woche's household used to be strictly kids-only. The adults weren't invited, and they probably weren't interested anyway. These days, it's a family affair.

Hackers Love to Vacuum

Sun, 18 Feb 2007 00:00:00 EST

Chris Hughes has a vision of the future that involves -- finally! -- bringing together hacked game systems, wireless Internet access and clean floors.

Exercise That's All Fun and Games

Sun, 04 Feb 2007 00:00:00 EST

Tom Klimchak says he has been overweight for most of his life -- but figures he might slim down this year with a little help from Nintendo.

Season Over, Nats Head For Home

Mon, 03 Oct 2005 00:00:00 EDT

Outfielder Brad Wilkerson plans to play a little golf, maybe at his favorite course, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club in Gainesville, then hit the road to his off-season home in Palm Beach, Fla.

The Adult Crime Game Kids Love

Sun, 27 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EDT

Get ready: There's a new Grand Theft Auto game about to roll out this week, and we're probably in for a burst of discussion about violent video play.

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Breakthrough of the Podcast Authors

Sun, 13 Apr 2008 00:00:00 EDT

As a regular listener of the podcast version of the nationally syndicated radio talk show "Don and Mike," I've been a little worried lately.

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