It's the last week of summer -- the perfect time for a last splash with truly sporty cameras and a first encounter with fantasy football.
Our picks this week lead off with the best sites to help you host your own make-believe league and find the hottest new choices in waterproof point-and-shoot digital cameras for your last bit of summer fun.
We round out our Top 3 with our second Strange New World Pick of the Year nominee: a resurgence in airships. Blimps -- no kidding -- are resurfacing as platforms for surveillance and energy generation.
Here, then, are our picks of the week:
1) Web Sites Help With Fantasy Football
We are a week from the start of another glorious football season. You know what that means, besides a drop in attendance at Sunday services and a spike in DirecTV sales. It means you'd better get your fantasy football league in order.
If you are among the 15 million fantasy sports fans out there, you might already have a league set up. But if you and your buddies are new to the game, you should check out these sites.
Yahoo Fantasy Sports has been in the fantasy sports space for years and it shows. The site is easy to use, customizable and the free version is terrific.
If you are a total info junkie, ESPN is for you. These guys have gotten past the technical troubles that crashed the system earlier this year. And they put everything at your fingertips: stats, injury status, rumors, analyst columns, podcasts, news feeds and the works.
BTW: If you get the first pick in your draft and you don't pick LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers, you really should find a new hobby.
2) New Cameras Capture Last Moments of Summer
As you head off to the beach, lake, pool or illegally opened fire hydrant this Labor Day weekend, why not bring along a waterproof camera to document all the water-soaked antics? No longer are you limited to those clunky scuba cameras you see on the Discovery Channel.
New compact, waterproof point-and-shoots work underwater at limited depths of about 10 feet. Olympus just announced its sexy new 790 SW. The $299 camera, due out in September, is pretty sweet: It has all the cool features you would expect from today's digital cameras and it comes in five colors. And it can take a punch, too; they should have called it the Cannonball 790, because that's what it seems to be made for.
This unit is competing with established players Pentax and Sanyo which also have small waterproof cameras. The Pentax Optio W 20 ($220) and the Sanyo E1 ($399) are simple to use. We've been using waterproof cams for about two years and we love them.
Nothing beats being able to snap a picture of your family and friends looking like idiots underwater.
3) Big Brother's Got a Blimp
They say that fashion runs in cycles and that if you wait long enough your old clothes will become hip again. We never thought the same thing would be true for technology. But it might be. The airship, or blimp, is getting called back into military service and as a platform for energy generation.
One of America's largest private security companies, Blackwater, is getting into the business of making airships. (http://www.blackwaterusa.com/airship)
Its remotely piloted airship vehicle (RPAV) will serve as a passive cheap surveillance system that will hover over unsecured areas around the world. Construction starts this year, company documents say. Hmmm... it seems to us that you really have to be daft to not notice a giant overhead balloon spying on you, but, hey, we'll take any edge in a time of war.
In nonmilitary airship news, a company called Magenn is using airships to keep an electric turbine aloft. The new system will keep a spinning rotor up in the high-altitude winds like a giant kite, where it can harness electricity for domestic use. What a great idea! These balloons will be way up in the air and barely noticeable, unlike a destructive and potentially dangerous oil derrick in your backyard.
If that is not pick-of-the-year worthy, what is?