Archive for April, 2014

If you are interested, they have assembled the cast of Star Wars Episode VII

Episode VII castYesterday, I mentioned that I was trying to be a bit more serious on my technology reporting, but I couldn’t help reporting on the finding of E.T. Atari 2600 games. I guess I have too much of a personal connection to them, just like I have with Star Wars.

In case you haven’t heard, Disney bought Star Wars for about 4 billion. The first thing that they want to do is make Episodes VII, VIII, and IX, and J.J. Abrams is planning on directing the first of these films. It seems like everyone wants to hear more about the production of this film, and the cast has finally been established. I honestly say I haven’t heard of some of these actors but they are John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, as well as these two I have heard of Andy Serkis (Gollum from Lord of the Rings) and the famous Max von Sydow. Original cast members will return to their roles, and these included Carrie Fisher (Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke), Anthony Daniels (C-3P0), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Kenny Baker (R2-D2), and at long last, Harrison Ford (Han Solo).

I realize that most have been following this news closely, and I think I know why. If you are old enough to remember when Star Wars came out, then you have your own memories associated with it. As for me, I first saw the original in the theater in 1977, and I was in kindergarten. After that, I had to get all the toys because my friends had them. When Empire came out, I had to get all of the toys for that. By the time Jedi came out, I just wasn’t really interested in collecting the toys, and was in the 6th grade.

I loved the story of Star Wars, and the universe it presented was just unlimited in its possibilities. It was like it mixed in all the cool stuff of speculative fiction: aliens, lasers, robots, all wrapped up with a magical religious creed of The Force. Once the trilogy came to VHS, Star Wars became a pleasant reminder of epic, special-effects filmmaking.

For years, a copy of the trilogy was on everyone’s shelf, and I always admired the closure of it. I never really wanted to see more of Star Wars, even though I loved the characters and setting. I just felt there was a mortality of its story that shouldn’t outlive the first three films.

Unfortunately, the revised editions came out, adding more special effects and even deleted story elements. It was what I wanted, as it was Star Wars reborn. The problem was these films didn’t need to be updated because a lot of the effects still looked pretty good.

Then there came the prequels, and I really don’t really have to mention the mediocrity of Episode I. It only became a landmark because it unleashed CG in every other film after it. Episode II was a darker offering, and I believe that Episode III is the best of these trilogy of prequels.

Now there are Star Wars books, the Clone Wars TV series, and the universe is so detailed that I actually want to see less of it instead of more. It is sad how something so good just became so bad, and I honestly am not looking forward to these new Star Wars movies.

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Posted by on April 30th, 2014 No Comments

Acer unveils the Iconia One 7, Tab 7 Tablets, and the Switch 10

acer-iconia-one-7In New York today, Acer made a big announcement about three particular tablets. I won’t go into detail about some other announcements like the smartphone, but here’s the info about the tablets.

I’ll start with the Iconia One 7 tablet, with a 7-inch LED backlit IPS display with 1,280 x 800 pixle resolution. It features Android 4.2 Jelly Bean with promises to update to Kit Kat. There is a 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 processor, 1GB of RAM, MicroSD support, and 5 Megapixel rear camera.

The Iconia Tab 7 is something that I have been looking for a long time. I have been constantly saying that most tablets should just be phones, and this actually grants my wish with 3G functionality. It has a 7-inch IPS display with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, with KitKat. Other features are rear and front facing cameras, and 6 hours of battery life.

As for the Aspire Switch 10, it is a 10.1-inch Windows device that has some interesting forms. It is a tablet with a magnetic keyboard dock which is good for a tablet and clamshell laptop. Then there is hybrid modes: display, with the screen facing away, and tent, which is upside down.

All in all, I think Acer is pretty on the cutting edge when it comes to their tablets, honestly. I wouldn’t be surprised if we will see more tablets that are like it.

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Posted by on April 30th, 2014 No Comments

E.T. Atari 2600 game found

ET Video GameIn this next week, I am going to be changing gears on this blog and will devote my time writing on it to more serious technological comics. Sure, it will still be geeky, and who knows, I might report on stuff like this in the future.

I will have to say that I have a kind of personal connection to this. As a kid, I loved the Atari 2600, and I also liked E.T.. When the film was a runaway hit, Atari decided that they were going to make a video game out of it.

They prepared the game to sell like hotcakes. They had more copies of the game than there were actual Atari 2600 consoles on the market. When the game hit the stores, it was a flop. Some people consider it the worst video game ever, and I remember playing it as a kid. The gameplay was not very good, and it was only fun for a few plays. I’m pretty certain this was the beginning of the end for Atari.

There is a huge rumor that all the unsold E.T. cartridges were buried in some landfill, but I’m not certain if this was a rumor until now. A screenwriter named Zak Penn (famous for superhero films) has made a documentary involving a dig in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

I am not certain why all the tech blogs and mainstream news is covering this story. What really is the point here, that Atari tried to make their shame disappear? Maybe were are all just nostalgic about this, at least anyone who had their childhood in the early eighties.

Say, here’s one to grow on: how could you make the E.T. video game good?

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Posted by on April 29th, 2014 No Comments

Xapo: A Debit Card for Bitcoin

xapoI actually think this is the first time I have ever mentioned Bitcoin on this particular blog. If you are not familiar with it, it is a type of digital currency that is made for P2P (peer to peer) that works for worldwide payments with zero or low processing fees.

I guess it was about time that someone invented the Xapo Debit Card, which works on a similar method to other debit cards, but it uses Bitcoin instead of a bank account. In fact, it even eligible where debit and credit cards are taken. Also, if you make a payment via Bitcoin, it will show up to the merchant in question as funds in the local currency.

We should be seeing the Xapo card in about two months. I haven’t decided whether or not if Bitcoin is going to be the biggest thing. There was a mention of Bitcoin in the futuristic show Almost Human the other day, and I can’t help but wonder if that is a dated reference or not.

So will Bitcoin be the new form of money? I personally believe that we are headed in this direction. I’ll let you decide what that means.

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Posted by on April 29th, 2014 No Comments

The Rollick by iLuv

iLuv RollickI believe that Dr. Dre’s Beats has created this pill-shaped speaker, and it looks like iLuv have come out with their own version. I’m going to look at this as coincidental design.

The Rollick, which I will have to say sounds a lot like my last name, has dual speakers for producing awesome sound. This is a wireless speaker with Bluetooth, or aux-in wired possibility as well.

Like I said with my review of the Rox Wireless by Jabra, there is no way that I can talk about how good the sound is. It is very good, and should be able to get it for about $49.99 on the iLuv site.

Posted by on April 28th, 2014 No Comments

Jabra Rox Wireless

Jabra_RoxWireless_image_viewer_1440x810_04Yeah, at this point, there is no way I am going to give a negative review of a Jabra product. Their Bluetooth wireless products occupy my ear every day, and they have been in the business for a long time.

I’m not going to bother trying to describe the sound of the new Rox Wireless, because how am I supposed to do that in written form? I’ll just tell you that it has the same in-ear monitors used by professional musicians for “full sound and strong bass”. Yeah, I took that from the press release and website, but what else can I say.

The Rox Wireless has that very cool look so the wire goes around the back of the neck. This design really helps when you are not using them, as you can magnetically link them together to conserve power when not in use.

Other features of the Rox Wireless including some protection of dust and water, and it also has EarGels to keep it in your ears. There is also a Jabra Sound App for creating playlists, share music, and even updating the graphic equalizer.

You should be able to find more information about them here on the main website of Jabra, and it costs about $129.95.

Posted by on April 28th, 2014 No Comments

Speculative Fiction Saturday: The Coneheads, and it isn’t good

coneheadsWell, I hesitate to call this speculative fiction, as The Coneheads has always been more comedy than it has been speculative. In case you are not familiar with The Coneheads, it was originally a sketch from Saturday Night Live.

I have seen a few of The Coneheads sketches from the 1970’s, and they are pretty funny. The premise was that two aliens, Beldar (Dan Aykroyd) and Prymatt (Jane Curtain) that have somehow blended landed on Earth and settled there. The joke was that these aliens could blend into American suburbia, in spite of their enlarged craniums. Yes, the Coneheads do a terrible job of acting like humans, and it is interesting how people just sort of tolerate them.

Now, any time a Saturday Night Live sketch is turned into a movie, the results are mixed. I consider The Blues Brothers and Wayne’s World triumphs of film, and something tells me that the success of the latter led to the greenlight of The Coneheads. Sadly, the film ends up being more Superstar and Night at the Roxbury, which are sucky films based on famous Saturday Night Live sketches.

It is interesting to see the full backstory of how the Coneheads came to Earth, settle down, and even start a family. This was something that I’m not certain if the original Saturday Night Live sketches did, and I suppose that this could make an interesting movie that would be part speculative and part comedy. These have mixed well before, such as the famed Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters wasn’t based on a Saturday Night Live sketch, but it was written by Dan Aykroyd and the late Harold Ramis. Aykroyd also co-wrote The Coneheads, which is a real shame, as he is one of Hollywood’s best writers. Not only did he write Ghostbusters, but The Blues Brothers, and these comedies are almost genres in and of themselves. He feels wasted in The Coneheads, but you did need him to play the title character from his old SNL days.

There are other SNL alumni in this film that also feel wasted. There’s the late Phil Hartman, Adam Sandler, David Spade, Kevin Nealon, Jan Hooks, Julia Sweeney, Garrett Morris, as well as Laraine Newman and Jane Curtain (also SNL Coneheads alumni).

The Coneheads movie has the typical plot of an alien-who-comes-to-Earth film. That is, at first they hide, then some agency comes after them, blah-blah-blah. Normally, films like this take the E.T. route as the alien makes a successful trip home, but there is actually a half-hour left when The Coneheads when that happens.

This is where the film gets…stupid. The race of the Coneheads punish Beldar for settling on Earth, so they put him in an arena with a monster. The monster looks so fake, as it is done with stop motion. This film came out at the same time as Jurassic Park, but the effects of The Coneheads just plain suck. Then again, it is a comedy, but how Beldar overcomes the monster is not funny whatsoever.

I do admire that Beldar is willing to give up his position in the big alien alliance for his family, but this theme feels tacked on. I’m not really certain what could be done with this film, which makes me wonder why it was made other than the fact that it could be.

Posted by on April 26th, 2014 No Comments

Al Fayah Park will be a stunning addition to Abu Dhabi

Desert ParkI don’t know if you are familiar with the city of Abu Dhabi, but it is quite a city of the future in the midst of the desert. It is the home to Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Now there is this plan for Al Fayah Park, which is an artificially created oasis in the midst of an ersatz desert. In the Park are “cafés, community gardens, a public library, recreational spaces, as well as public pools and saunas”.

This park is expected to open in 2017, and it will be designed by an architect Thomas Heatherwick. I believe this man will have his work cut out for him to bring water and a lush green garden.

This leads to a question that I have to ask: if we can create a garden in some fake desert, can we create real gardens in the middle of real deserts? This is something that we really want technology to do, isn’t it?

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Posted by on April 25th, 2014 No Comments

@7PM by Looq System

looq systemAs I mentioned before in my review for the Blumoo, people are using their smartphones for all kinds of controllers. The product known as @7PM by Looq system is meant to change the smartphone into a master Universal remote.

The @7PM, which I will have to admit has an odd name, and I can’t turn off the automatic link to this one guy’s Twitter site. This product is something that I believe is necessary. As you can see, it is an adapter that you can plug into your smartphone’s headphone jack. It is good for the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, as well as other Android devices.

Just to let you know, I tried this out, it was pretty easy to download the app and let it attempt to sync with my TV. I say attempt because I could not get it to sync with my television, but in the product’s defense, my TV is kind of old. However, there is a database of 9,000 different devices that are compatible with this thing.

I see this product on Amazon for about $34.99 here, and I wonder if you can get it cheaper.

Posted by on April 25th, 2014 No Comments

Logitech Ultrathin Bluetooth keyboard for all iPad models

Logitech UltrathinI have reviewed a lot of iPad keyboards in my time, and I have to admit that the Logitech Ultrathin looks similar to other types of products that I have reviewed.

What makes the Ultrathin different is that it is ultra-thinner and lighter than products before it. You should be able to use it for protection as you can use it to cover the vulnerable or touchscreen side. As for using the keyboard, it has a magnetic clip to tilt the iPad at a usable angle. The keyboard itself is also well-spaced with iOS shortcuts.

You should be able to get the Logitech Ultrathin for the iPad Air for about $99.99, and the ones for the iPad Mini will be $10 more when they become available next month.

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Posted by on April 24th, 2014 No Comments