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Last Week's 'Cool' News: Nov. Week 3

Wrath of the Lich King

Headlining this week’s news is Blizzard’s release of its second World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. Indeed this week’s top news topics are dubbed as “cool” to keep with the WoW expansion’s frosty theme.

Within its first 24 hours of sales, Wrath of the Lich King, sold an astounding 2.8 million copies, becoming the fastest selling PC title of 2008. Not surprisingly, the previous WoW expansion, The Burning Crusade, held the record for 2007 with 2.4 million copies sold at release in January 2007.

Without a doubt, PC gamers are addicted to WoW. Some players are so dedicated that they’ll do everything possible to win the race to the next level cap, which for Wrath of the Lich King is at level 80. One player reached the top level in just 27 hours.

Sadly, marathon gaming stints can be hazardous to one’s health. We’re all reminded of that award-winning episode of South Park, but it’s no joke when someone actually collapses from WoW overdose. After a 15-hour WoW marathon with only two hours of sleep the night before, a15-year old boy collapsed with epileptic seizures. Thankfully, his parents quickly rushed him to the hospital.

It’s clear then that the market for more World of Warcraft is still insatiable. Blizzard, knowing this full well, said that it is already brainstorming the next expansion, set for release perhaps as early as late 2009.

iPhone 2.2 Firmware

iPhone users rejoice! Apple released version 2.2 of the iPhone and iPod Touch firmware to the masses, bringing about new features.

Fresh things include podcast downloads, tweaked Safari and Mail, better sound quality from visual voicemail, and plugs for gaping security holes. Users who aren’t a fan of the iPhone’s predictive auto-correcting keyboard (which we find absolutely essential), can now turn the feature off.

Perhaps the biggest upgrade of all for iPhone users is the upgraded Google Maps, which now includes Street View as well as routing for environmentally friendly walkers and transit takers. Sadly, this feature is mysteriously missing for iPod Touch users.

Still no MMS with the latest firmware, though Swedish telecoms company says it plans to enable MMS with its own app.

Fans of Google may also want to give the new Google Mobile app a spin, which adds a very handy voice-recognition search feature that works quite well.

Don’t have an iPhone yet? What are you waiting for — it’s the new RAZR! Plus, you’ll be able to find one at Wal-Mart just after Christmas.

Finally, a recent Apple patent filing reveals that future iPhones and iPods could feature displays that are always on, alleviating the need to constantly check for new messages.

Gmail Upgraded

Google’s Gmail team had a strong week of new features for its popular webmail property. On Wednesday, users could opt to install a plug-in that would integrate video and voice chat right inside the Gmail window.

Besides just being able to use Gmail in new ways, developers have also found a way to spice up the look of the utilitarian webmail service. Most users should now see a “Themes” tab inside “Settings,” with different color schemes and skins. Which look is your favorite? Nightshade and Planets are popular amongst our Gmail-loving editors. Read more here.

Core i7 Desktops

With Intel’s Core i7 being the chip of fantasies for PC enthusiasts, it’s no surprise to see it revitalize the high-end PC market. Those who wish to purchase a pre-built system already have a myriad of manufacturers from which to choose from.

Dell’s entry naturally fits into the XPS line of high-end desktops, which from the outside looks little different from the rest of the Core 2 Duo models with cases that feature AlienFX lighting. Ooo.

Gateway’s offerings could be one of the more affordable ways to get into a ready-to-go Core i7, with the entry-level machine going for $1,249.99.

A quirkier but also more expensive option is from Commodore Gaming. With Core i7 machines ranging from $3,399 to $5999, it’s possibly the most expensive pre-loaded C64 emulator and fifty classic C64 games you can buy.

Falcon Northwest rules the roost by far, with a machine that it boasts as the fastest consumer PC on the market today, with the price tag to match. At $8,028, Falcon Northwest’s Core i7 beast better run Crysis at over 60 fps, and it does.

Rolling your own Core i7? Check out the recent market prices for the CPUs, motherboards and memory. As is usually the case, the more RAM the better, but it’s especially true in the case of Core i7.

Obama

Things are going to be different with Barack Obama—at least that’s what the President-elect is telling all of us.

Obama could bring the image of being the President to version 2.0, as he’ll be the first to “broadcast himself” on YouTube, bringing fireside chats to not only the American public, but the entire Internet.

He also plans to bring in the White House’s first ever CTO. We don’t know who that could be, but we know it certainly won’t be Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

As powerful of a man Obama will be, he’ll still have to give up his wonderful toys. Sources say that Obama will have to surrender his treasured BlackBerry once he takes office. We hope that he doesn’t experience too much gadget withdrawal.

Perhaps giving up the fancy phone isn’t such a bad idea, as Verizon Wireless just confirmed that an old cell phone account belonging to Obama was snooped by employees. No sensitive data was compromised, but it does illustrate a point regarding security.

Chief Yahoo!

It’s been a tough year for Yahoo! founder and former CEO Jerry Yang.

Yahoo! last Monday announced that Yang would step down from his post as CEO and would return to his former role as Chief Yahoo! and Board Member.

Yang then followed up the news with a direct letter to company employees in his expected uppercase-challenged style, delivering words of assurance of the bright future ahead.

The former CEO later addressed the public through the company’s Yodel blog, but this time with the added bonus of capitalization.

Yang clearly believes in the company he helped founded as much as ever, but now is a turning point for the Internet company. The year ahead will be crucial to Yahoo! and will be one we’ll be keeping close tabs on.

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Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • malveaux
    There's nothing `cool' about it. Silly game. No one is `cool' for playing it. The art work is really nice.
    Reply
  • hexploit
    Poor suckers get to pay for the same game 13 times a year.
    How cool is that?
    Reply
  • Tindytim
    malveauxThe art work is really nice.To bad the game looks like a PS1 game with higher res textures. You would think they could increase the poly count, and use newer DX versions at higher settings, rather than making the game look like crap for everyone.
    Reply
  • physx7
    2.8 Million sales in the first 24 hours!?! That's just scary....
    Reply
  • afrobacon
    lets see:
    -wrath of the lich king sells 2.8 million, wow cool; are that many people really addicted to it?
    -ipod firmware upgrade, sweet now i have more reasons to buy something i dont need.
    -gmail now has themes, cool i guess, what does it have to do with hardware?
    -core i7 now in desktops, that was a little predictable; its nice knowing the price of core2 desktops will go down slightly.
    -verizon employees looked at some of Obama's call history from a few years ago... thats funny.
    -yahoo CEO steps down, intriguing, wonder why?
    -toms survey, why do they want to know my purchasing habits? if anything i would think they would want to have opinions on how to improve the site.
    Reply
  • randomizer
    afrobacon-gmail now has themes, cool i guess, what does it have to do with hardware?Nothing, that's why it's on Tom's Guide.
    Reply
  • You guys probably didn't even touched World of warcraft by the looks of it. Don't judge before you played it. ;)
    Reply
  • Tindytim
    TastyYou guys probably didn't even touched World of warcraft by the looks of it. Don't judge before you played it.
    I played it for a few months. Ironically, I spend most of my gaming time playing PS1 games on my PC with AA and texture filtering at high resolutions (not to mention various shader effects).

    I'd much prefer a game use my processing power for AI, Physics, etc, rather than graphics. But there is a certain limit. When Megaman Legends (a game that's over 10 years old) looks better on my PC than WoW, I would think you'd need to step it up.

    Not to mention that it's an MMO, so little processing is being done client side other than the graphics and IO. You would think I could benefit from a nice Video Card, and processor to get a higher poly count, with some of the improvements from DX9.
    Reply
  • Who cares if the game looks like a Playstation 1 game? I've seen the game played and it doesn't look that bad in motion especially if you crank the settings all the way up plus who the hell cares about graphics? Graphics do not make a game fun... a game being fun is what makes a game fun. Crysis looks amazing but the game is crap and outside of being astounded by the level of detail I wish I hadn't spent money on it.
    Reply
  • pbrigido
    HeXploiTPoor suckers get to pay for the same game 13 times a year.How cool is that?
    If it is up to the free willed consumer, very cool.
    Reply