Strange New World: Picks of the Week

The Super Bowl may be behind us, but this week we have more sporting news of super techno-proportions.

CBS Sportsline and the NCAA have finally gotten with the Internet program. They are showing just about all of this season's 64 college basketball championship games — no local blackouts or hidden late-round events — on the Web and on TV. We're willing to bet the move not only won't hurt either feed, but will boost ratings for both versions. Also this week, what's hot in mainstream video games — and a Prius for your knee?

Yep, this is the Strange New World. Here are our picks for the top tech stories of the week.

March Madness Goes Online

In a move that is sure to destroy productivity and actually crush our country's GNP in March, CBS and the NCAA announced this week that 63 of the 64 games in the NCAA Men's Division 1 Basketball Championship (a.k.a. March Madness) will be streamed online for free.

Now, loyal alums, college hoops fans and workplace gamblers will be able to watch all the games they want without worrying about local blackouts. It's about time CBS wised up and realized that an Internet feed is not going to affect its TV numbers because, duh, if you are near a TV, you are going to watch the game on TV. And if the game you want to see isn't available in your area, then CBS will get its money from online advertising.

If you wonder why only 63 of the games will be shown it's because nobody really cares about that first game in the tourney, where the 64 and 65th teams play to see who will get destroyed that weekend. If you really want to see that game you are either an alum of a really small school or you have a gambling problem.

Video Game Oscars and the Next Big Thing

Awards show season has kicked into high gear with last weekend's Grammys and the upcoming Oscars. But the awards we were really jazzed about were last week's 11th annual Interactive Achievement Awards, the video game industry's big honors. (Sorry, we don't know of a cute nickname for the coveted trophies.) In a surprise win, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, the high-octane anti-terrorism thriller developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision, took top honors.

CoD 4 — released in November for PCs, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 — is the first game in this acclaimed series that is not set during World War II. Thought to be risky at first, the game's modern setting and story line involving deranged ultranationalist Russians, loose nuclear bombs and a Middle Eastern coup has made it a commercial and critical success. Activision has said the game has sold more than 7 million copies across its various systems.

In addition to overall game of the year, Call of Duty 4 took the honors for console game of the year, action game of the year and outstanding achievement in online game play. The awards had quite a few surprises, as the big favorites Guitar Hero 3 and Halo 3 were shut out.

With the big night behind us, industry talk now turns to next year's big deal in video games. And we'll tell it to you first: Competitive Eating. That's right, the Major League Eating folks who sponsor the 4th of July hot dog eating seen on ESPN and other contests have licensed their sport out to game developers and "Major League Eating: The Game" features the world's greatest gurgitory athletes competing across twelve different food types.

Batteries Are for the Lazy

Scientists in the United States and Canada announced last week that they have developed a unique device that can be strapped on the knee and exploit the mechanics of human walking to generate a usable supply of electricity.

It generates enough power to charge up 10 cell phones at once, the researchers report in the journal Science.

Now before you get all worked up about having to run around the house like an idiot to charge up your cell phone, consider that the knee brace-like device collects energy lost when a person brakes the knee after swinging the leg forward to take a step. It's similar to the way regenerative braking charges a battery in hybrid cars, collecting kinetic energy that normally dissipates as heat when the car slows down.

This technology will be of immediate use to backpackers and outdoorsy types; we desk jockeys will have to wait until there is some sort of glove attachment.

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.