Friday Grab Bag: Fox Sports 1 around the corner

If you have been waiting for a new 24-hour national sports broadcast network then your dreams have been answered as Fox Sports 1 is set to launch on Aug. 17 as the network once again challenges ESPN for sports supremacy.

The network already has a very full array of content teed up from different sports and leagues such as MLB, NASCAR, FIFA World Cup, UFC as well as college football conferences such as the Big Ten, Big 12 and the Pac-12.

Hopefully the fight between the two powers will be a bit more mature than the last time when they would both superimpose their logos over scenes so that if the rival carried the broadcast they had to show the logo.

Samsung to debut next Galaxy Note in September

Samsung has sent out invites to a major announcement that the company will be making on Sept. 4, and the line ’Note the Date” is being taken as a sign that the company will be delivering its Galaxy Note 3 at the event.

It is expected to follow in the footsteps of previous Galaxy Notes and be released at the annual IFA trade show that is held in Berlin, where the two previous generations were also unveiled.

Tablet sales slow, IDC says; no new iPad to blame
Market research firm International Data Corp. has reported that tablet sales slowed in the second quarter of this year, down 9.7% from the preceding quarter. However that number is more than offset by the 60% increase sales have increased compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

IDC expects the market to take off in the upcoming months, helped a great deal by the expected release of Apple’s next generation tablets. Apple has not refreshed the lineup in a year. It said it expects ‘impressive growth’ in the fourth quarter of this year.

One area of positive news for iPad rivals is that Windows Tablet sales on the upswing, with a 527% increase over the same period a year ago, reaching 1.8 million compared to the 300,000 shipped a year ago.

Spartan Race World Championship to be broadcast on NBC
The 2013 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship will be the centerpiece of a collaboration between Spartan Race Inc. and NBC Sorts Group for a television special on the obstacle racing sport.

The special will culminate with coverage of the championship that takes place in central Vermont on Sept. 21-22, 2013. That event is expected to draw tens of thousands of participants vying for the $250,000 in cash and prizes.

Apple’s fused glass patent destined for iPod, iPhone, iPads?
The most recent Apple patent application that has come to light shows that the company is looking to secure the rights to a method of fusing glass that the company describes as being applicable to several different products.

As shown on Slash Gear the next generation products that are built using the fused glass would be entirely enclosed by the material, but don’t get your hopes up for the current generation of Apple products expected within the next month or so, this looks to be a year out at the least.

Android-powered game console?
The game console market is a cutthroat business and minor errors in judgment regarding features and functions can alienate legions of fans. According to rumors from Game Informer, that segment maybe drawing a new player into the fold, Amazon.

The rumor is that not only does the company have a console in development that will use the Android operating system but that fans of midnight shopping may be able to get one by Black Friday.

Friday Grab Bag: Microsoft Goes Small and MLB hits it Big

People seem drawn to March Madness pools like moths to a flame, and this year ESPN’s mammoth pool, 8.15 million strong had a surprise winner, Lanny Kekua. If that name does not ring a bell it is the fake dead girlfriend of Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o.

The name was used as an alias by a fan named Craig Gilmore, who won the tournament and successfully selected Louisville to defeat Michigan in the final. He is now entered into a drawing for a $10,000 Best Buy gift card.

Reebok Spartan Race hits the baseball circuit
Last year the Sparta Race held an event at a baseball park, and it proved to be very popular. So this year it is upping the ante and will be holding a series of events at ballyards, and it has announced the first four venues.

Athletes living near The New York Mets’ Citi Field, The Philadelphia Phillies’ Citizen Bank Park, The Milwaukee Brewers’ Miller Park or The Boston Red Sox Fenway Park can start practicing for the event near you.

Did Windows 8 Launch hurt PC sales?
Market research firm IDC has reported that sales of personal computers continued a downward fall, and is ascribing part of the blame to the latest operating system release from Microsoft, Windows 8. The most recent IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker report shows that in the first quarter of 2013 there was a total average drop in PC shipments of 13.9% compared to the previous quarter.

Bob O’Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays said that the company’s research showed that not only did Windows 8 not provide the hoped for boost in sales that many had been planning on, it actually served as a major detriment to sales.

At Bat Starts off with hot streak
Major League Baseball’s popular At Bat program for mobile device users has been a hot download at the start of this year’s season. The program surpassed the 4 million download mark last week, five days into the season.

Last year, when the app was also on a record setting pace, it took it 45 days to reach the 4 million milestone. For the year the app was downloaded 6.7 million times in 2012. MLB’s other two major apps At the Ballpark and Beat the Streak had roughly a million additional downloads.

The Rumor Mill

Tom’s Hardware is showing what is reportedly the next generation tablet from Acer, the Iconia tab A1-810 that had been accidentally briefly advertised by a French retailer. The 7.9-inch tablet is said to be powered by a 1.2GHz Cortex A9 processor featuring 1GB of RAM.

Newly leaked images of the forthcoming iPad from Apple appear to show a device that is thinner than previous releases and has reinforced the rumor that Apple is completely redesigning the popular tablet, currently reported to have the name iPad 5.

To the surprise of no one it has been reported that Microsoft has a 7-inch tablet in the works. With the rapidly growing popularity of this form factor a better issue might be what took them so long? The Wall Street Journal, via The Hispanic said that the tablets are expected to go into production later this year.

Warrior Dash Runs into Portland this Weekend

Warrior Dash

I was kidding a friend about how he would stay in shape between Spartan Races, since the ones in the Pacific Northwest are few and far between and he said that he would of course be participating in this weekend’s Warrior Dash in Portland.

I should have guessed but what can I say? Anyway this weekend, for those of you so inclined, there will be a Warrior Dash, an event that takes place on a 3.11 mile course and features 12 obstacles, 13 if you count trying to find your way to Horning’s Hideout for the start.

The event provides a nice map that shows you the position and type of each obstacle starting with the Deadweight Drifter and going on through the Great Warrior Wall and ending with the ever popular Muddy Mayhem.

The Warrior Dash does not allow teams, which seems a pity because I could see the

event obviously does not take itself too seriously. In the FAQ section there is the question about what to do if you cannot swim. Part of the response is that you can always jump on another Warrior’s back.

One feature that I like, aside from a free beer for all participants, was the advice that it gives to both experienced and novice participants in terms of a training regime. For the rank novice, called a virgin warrior, it gives a six or seven week timeline to prepare for the race with both strength and cardio training. It is just basic advice but it is a good starting point. There is also advice for both the casual warrior and the ultimate warrior.

It will be interesting to track how my buddy does because since his first attempt at tackling this type of race he has completely changed his workout. I mean in the past he never trained to leap over a fire, what a slacker! If you are attending send us some photos, please.


Spartan Races Expands- Three this Weekend!

After competing for the attention of fans against the Olympics for two weeks it looks as if Spartan Races is taking the upcoming weekend off prior to heading into a very busy period that will see multiple races on several of the next dates.

For competitors in the UK there will be a third event in a row (not counting the off week) as the contestants head down to Yorkshire for the continuation of a grueling set of events held in the United Kingdom. The race is slated for Sun, Aug 12 and will start at 10 am, so head on out to Ellington Banks to watch or participate.

There is a pair of events up in New England this weekend, so if you cannot head out on Saturday you still have a viable option to get your Spartan on.

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The events will be held over at the Amesbury Sports Park in New Hampshire and will start at 8 am ET.

Also as a note I see that Dial for Men is now a sponsor, at least for the New England Spartan Races. Other major names have appeared on the Spartan Race Web site in the past but I am not sure of they are just filler or if the races have signed additional sponsors. Hopefully we will see more advertisers/sponsors come on board, which in turn could help get some of the events broadcast on television.

There has been no update on winners of the last two UK events on the pages web site and I did not find any additional information at its Facebook page. If anybody can point me to a page that has current winners circle information I would appreciate it.


Spartan Race in Cambridge an Alternative to Olympics

For sports fans that want to get out of London for the crowds that have gathered for the Summer Olympics but still want their live sports fix, head on over to Cambridge to catch this weekend’s Spartan Race.

The popularity of the event can be seen in that even competing with one of the major sporting events of the year it has already filled 80% of available slots for the athletes, showing that they would rather compete than watch someone else do so.

Held at Bassingbourne Barracks Royston, Hertfordshire the event will be held Sunday July 29 with the first heat starting at 10 am Elite heat for the 5km race. As always the obstacles for the race are held secret until race time, which is a pity since it would be nice to get a photo or two of them in advance. Below is a look at last week’s race in London.

A bonus for this event is that if you manage to dominate you can win entry into a Super Spartan event, and then you can try and dominate there!

The current Top 5 in the point series
1) Hobie Call 12,272
2) Christopher Rutz 12,257
3) David Glover 12,245
4) Shane Mckay 12,222
5) Shawn Feiock 12,213

As of the running of this piece the results from last week’s events had not been posted so in the future we will post race results two weeks after the fact.

Spartan Races heads to London for some Pre-Olympics Competition

Top athletes are lining up for some grueling sports this weekend in London, and they are not here for something as easy as the Olympics, but rather the latest in this season’s Spartan Races as the event heads over seas.

The event is Sunday July 22 and will actually take place in Surrey and will be held by Priority Events Ltd. The distance will be 5k and the start time will be 10 am for the Elite class and then heats of 250 people starting at 10:30 with another group leaving every half hour until 12:30 pm.

If you are curious, and I know you are, there are a lot of events held in a variety of nations over the next year including Edinburgh, Quebec, Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, London again and of course Fenway Park.

The top five men in last week’s race in Pa were, in order Singen Elliott, Olof Dallner, Chris Place, Brent Kreider and Jan Peter Brajer while in the women’s it was Jill Danley, Jessica Law, Shorty, Katherine Backel and Julie Jennings.

Looking at its point system, the better fit you are and the higher you compete then the greater the points you can earn. There are four race categories, Sprint, Super, Beast and Ultra Beast and each has a different payoff, using the Super races as the baseline. It’s a bit convoluted but in that race the Elite winner gets 5,000 points, second gets 4,999 etc.. The open winner in that race gets 3,750 points, second gets 3,699 etc.. Cash and prizes will be awarded to the top finishers starting at $5,000 and will grow to a total of $100,000 by the completion of the Arizona race.