Strange New World: Picks of the Week

This week our journey through all things cool and gadgety takes us from the great outdoors to the center of the world: Times Square, New York City. The big Outdoor Retailer Show out West featured some new toys to take on a beach vacation, and outside of the outdoors show we found a great video game to pass time if it rains. Finally, we have a great Web site to check if you actually care what other people think.

Here are our picks for this week's top tech stories:

Jump In -- the Water's Fine

Our gadget coverage is usually limited to the great indoors, but after scoping out the Outdoor Retailer Show we found a couple of things that might actually get us off the couch. The DragonFly 2 XC Kayak ($330) from Advanced Elements is an inflatable, full-size, two-person kayak that breaks down into a duffle bag.It's perfect to throw in the trunk for a long weekend ( For those of you who enjoy the water sans inflatable conveyance, we found something for you, too. AquaSphere has developed a set of swimming goggles that can be fitted with prescription lenses. Its Eagle Google Optical System ($24.99 goggles, $15.99 per lens) will let you "pop and swap" in prescription diopter lenses, and finally be able to see the all-important difference between manatee and shark (

Madden 08 Is Here!

EA Sports' Madden 2008 video game ($59.99) has arrived with the pomp and circumstance usually reserved for a Hollywood premiere. This latest iteration of the world's most popular football video game features the Tennessee Titan quarterback Vince Young on the cover (curse be damned) and is, in our opinion, pretty damn sweet. Unlike last year's version, this Madden really steps up and uses the full capabilities of next-generation consoles like the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Tuesday night the game took over Times Square for a "Maddenoliday" event. The spectacle included a video game tournament featuring NFL legends like Warren Moon and Eric Dickerson, the "Today" show's Tiki Barber selling the first copy of the game at midnight and a live performance by the prince of darkness himself: Ozzy Osbourne.

The Public Finally Gets Its Say

In the age of Wikipedia and YouTube, experts are wrong and the public is right. We actually think this is pretty cool and are eager to see where this trend of "user-generated content" is going to take us. This week we find ourselves at a Web site called and its court of public opinion. The site allows users to post questions on myriad topics and find out the general consensus of the public. For example, 82 percent of the site's visitors say it would be harder to stay at home and raise kids than to keep their current job.

Jonathan Blum and Dan Evans co-host "Strange New World," a weekly syndicated radio show. Blum hosts the blog and Evans is a features editor at PC Magazine.