Big Tech News Events of 2014

It would appear that this is the year of the hack with “The Interview” movie probably becoming bigger than it should be with Sony getting hacked. Then there was “The Snappening” and “The Fappening”.

Had a good holiday? Well, Amazon was ready with their Kiva robots. Amazon is also doing this Echo thing, a Siri for your home. Amazon also unveiled the Fire Phone with some 3D action as well as the Fire TV.

Well, I believe that the Internet wasn’t broken, but it wasn’t by Kim Kardashian.

I keep finding ways that apps are replacing jobs. Like how a smartphone might open your hotel room door, and Uber and Lyft are stealing cab business in San Francisco. Also, I saw this story about how Twitter is affecting the Airline industry.

Virgin Galactic had a Crash that will probably affect the Space Tourism Industry.

Then there was some business acquisitions. Like how Lenovo purchased Motorola from Google. Also, Microsoft purchased Minecraft maker Mojang. And Amazon acquired Twitch. I almost forgot that Facebook bought the Oculus Rift.

Here was a terrible video game called Hatred, and you’ll get my view of it here. I also had an issue with this “Girl is trying too hard to take a selfie”.

This looks like the year for VR with stuff like the Oculus Rift, the Archos VR Headset, Sony has the Project Morpheus, the Carl Zeiss VR One Virtual Reality Headset, and then there is a Kickstarter project called Dexmo Exoskeleton.

I’m just going to declare that Guardians of the Galaxy is the best film of the year, speculative fiction wise.

This seems to be the year of the hoverboard. The Hendo one looks legit. This Huvr is not so.

There was a slew of new smartphones like the Galaxy Mega 2, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, the Sharp Aquos, the Galaxy Alpha, Nokia phones, the Galaxy S5, the Moto E from Motorola, and of course, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Then there was tablets like the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 and the Surface Pro 3.

Android announced Lollipop as well as other Android stuff like Nexus 6 and Nexus 9.

The President announced that he is working on Iron Man. I haven’t seen anything more with that, yet.

In addition to some new gadgets, old successful ones became passe. The iPod Classic said good-bye. Also, Windows XP said goodbye. Also Music Hero downloads wrapped up an Age of Music. Oh, and Flappy Bird said so long too, even though there is so many imitators.

There was a report about iPhone 6 bending. But that wasn’t quite accurate.

There were a lot of crowdfunded products out there like the Coolest Cooler.

We attended some conventions this year like PAX Prime 2014, JetCon, and CES 2014. Didn’t make it to E3 2014, though.

I had two Look Up videos: One from I don’t know where, and another from Sesame Street.

On a personal note, I released two books: The Labyrinth House and LEGO Mindstorms EV3. Oh, I also write for Smartwatch Reviews and The Gospel Herald now. Also, I said that this blog was going to change, and I’m wondering if there will be some serious video posts next year. Hmmm….

All the gadgets that I reviewed this year for 2014!

I mentioned in an earlier post that I will be doing less posts this week. Today, I’ll be talking about all of the gadgets that I did hands-on reviews of this year. It will be about what I thought would be very good.

Here’s a little warning. WordPress has some interesting thing that happens when I put in a hyperlink, so don’t be surprised.

Finally got a chance to review the MOSS EXOFABULATRONIXX 5200, which I saw at CES last January. It is kind of fitting.

There’s Four Aduro Products that I had a chance to review.

Here’s some Otterbox and Defender and Symmetry cases for the iPhone 6.

I had a chance to review two iHome products, the iDL46 and the iBN6.

I had a chance to try out the K-Board from Keith McMillen Instruments.

I had a good chance to try out some Native Union products: The Gripster, MONOCLE, and Key Cable.

I’ve had a chance to review the iRig Pads MIDI Groove Controller.

Here’s a cool product for the iPhone 6 Plus: The NuGuard KX Screen Armor from NewerTech.

I had a chance to review the Pelican Voyager for iPhone 6 and the Protector for the iPhone 6 Plus.

I might as well bring up the Original Piggy Back Cellphone Stand.

In reviewing SteelSeries, I had a chance to try out the Siberia V3 Prism and the Rival Optical Mouse.

For a video review, I had a chance to review the Threadsmith Hydrophobic Nanotechnology.

Here’s a cool mobile battery known as the Cygnett ChargeUp 11000 mAh Pro Powerbank.

Here’s a Stelle Audio Mini-Clutch Speaker. It is quite good.

See Clear-Coat products with some Full Body Skins.

Check out the iGrill Mini from iDevices.

There is a Hard Rubber case for the iPhone 6 by SKECH.

Had a chance to review the Jstyle Leather Wallet Case for the iPhone 6 Plus from the iLuv. It is easily the best iPhone 6 Plus case of the year.

Nothing I like more than some HiFiMAN products, and here is the RE300a InLine Control Earphones.

I’m also happy to review ZAGG products, such as the Slim Book Ultra-Slim Tablet Keyboard and Detachable Case.

There was also a good chance for me to review the Philips Norelco Click and Style.

Here’s some Marblue Reviews that I have with Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Just click the links if you want to see what they were.

Here’s the Olloclip for the iPhone 6, as well as the iPhone 6 Plus.

I also had a chance to try out some Wallet Cases from jimmyCASE. They are not bad.

Speaking of cases, I had a chance to try out a few HEX ones for the iPhone 6 Plus. Check it out here.

I also had a chance to try out the Life n Soul MT 101 Bluetooth Earbuds. I also had the same chance to review the Knomo Mini Portable Organizer for 8-inch tablets.

Here’s a good product for GoPro called the Steadicam Curve from Tiffen.

Here’s a pretty interesting mobile battery with the myCharge Energy Shot.

Here’s one cool Bluetooth Speaker that I wrote about with the Life Jacket from Altec Lansing.

This is a good Adonit product with the Jot Touch.

You should know about the EyeFly3D, it is quite cool.

I had a chance to review several Digital Innovations on two occasions. Check out them here with Part 1 and Part 2.

Here’s a cool Bluetooth Speaker with the Dash-A from Soundmatters.

Outdoor Tech had some very cool Bluetooth earbuds with the Orcas Wireless Headphones.

Here’s some cool Cygnett products.

I also had some chances to try out the HEX iPhone 6 cases.

Here’s a good review of VisionTek High Power USB Four Port Charging Hub.

I had a good chance to check out the Jabra Move Wireless headphones. In a related story, I also got a chance to try out the Plantronics RIG SURROUND PC Gaming Headset.

Carson Optical had a product known as HookUpz Universal IS-100 Smartphone Optics Adapter, it is pretty good.

There’s a mobile battery known as the Charge from Thinium, here’s a review.

Check out this HUB IT Sync and Charging Station from Eggtronic.

You should check out the HyperX Cloud Gaming Headset from Kingston.

There is an interesting product called the Une Bobine.

I mentioned the OlloClip before, and here it is for the Galaxy S phones.

I had a chance to review the Skech Crystal cover for the iPhone 6. I also had a chance to review another SKECH product known as the Polo Book.

Here’s a product I reviewed for the LifeCHARGE InAir Battery Case with Wirless Charging for the iPhone 5/5S.

Looking for a speaker? Check out the X-mini MAX Capsule Speakers and the X-Mini We Thumbsize Bluetooth Speaker.

I had a chance to try out the Speck Candyshell Inked Cases, Amped Cases, and DuraFolio Case for the iPad Air.

I also had a chance to try out the TimeShaker Micro from iLuv.

What a geeky opportunity that I had to try out the Star Wars First Editon STREET by 50.

Then there was the TYLT SYNCABLE-DUO for Lightning and Micro-USB devices.

This is the iKlip Xpand Mini from IK Multimedia.

Here’s some new products from VidaDoo. See it at Part 1 and Part 2.

I had a great chance to review some Arkon Products.

You can check out the Henge Docks Gravitas iPhone and iPad Stand and Vertical Docking Station for the MacBook Pro with Retina Display.

Here’s the Olloclip 4-in-1 iPad Photo Lens.

Another interesting product is the Tablift, a good way to mount the tablet.

Oh, and I just had a chance to review the Samsung Galaxy S5. It was good, and I’m still usin’ it.

I had a chance to review the Slingbox M1, and it is quite good.

This year, I reviewed several IK Multimedia products, like the iRig Voice.

Here’s another Bluetooth Speaker with the Jam Rewind Wireless Pocket Speaker.

One thing that is terrific about my job is I get to review some interesting products, such as the Vision Protective Shield from Konnet Care.

I had a chance to review two simplehuman products: The Sensor Mirror and the Rechargeable Sensor Pump.

Here’s the Tech Armor Samsung Galaxy S5 FlexProtect Case and HD Clear Screen Protector and the Tech Armor iPhone 5 Case.

One great product that I loved reviewing is the Fugoo Sport Bluetooth Speaker.

This is another fine charging product: the LifeCHARGE ZEAL Extended Battery Case for the Apple iPhone 5C.

This is the TYLT ENERGI Sliding Power Case made for the Samsung Galaxy S5.

I also had a chance to review the ZAGG Rugged Folio Keyboard.

Then there is the cool Kinivo BTC455 Bluetooth Car Kit with Multipoint.

This product is worthy of trying out, the Darbee Darblet DVP-5000 HDMI Video Processor.

I enjoyed the Phonesuit Flex XT Pocket Charger for the iPhone.

Then there is the WakaWaka Power a solar-powered light.

I got a chance to try out a cool Bluetooth Speaker with the Sound Spot from Soundfreaq.

I had a chance to check out several Element Case products.

Then I had a chance to try out the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 QuietPoint headphones. Also had a chance to review these cool Tonino Lamborghini Quantum EL-01 headphones.

Again, I got to review two Otterbox products with the Preserver and Symmetry Series for the Galaxy S5.

I was glad to review this toy with the Heliquad 2.4 remote-controlled quadcopter from Interactive Toy Concepts.

Outdoor Tech has some cool things with the Kodiak 6000mA USB Power Bank.

Then I had the chance from 120 Watt Cup Inverter from Energizer.

Soundmatters put out a good speaker with the FoxL DASH7.

I was pleased with the Lite S Android Phone from CellAllure.

There are some pretty good products from Turtleback Leather and Nylon products.

This is my review of the Fluance Fi30, and excellent speaker.

I like the Inspire Vivid Sport Earphones from yurbuds, they are always good.

Again, there are two HiFiMAN products like the HM-700 Portable Player and RE-600 Songbird In-ear Monitor.

Then we have the Ventev products, as well as two iWalk products.

This was a Kickstarter project known as the PUC.

Then I had a chance to review some iB85 Wireless Headphones from iHome as well as the iDL46 Docking Station and the iBT65 Wireless Rechargeable Speaker.

I’m always pleased to try out the Nyko Charge Base for the PS4.

Then there is the Klick Universal Tablet Desk Stand from the Joy Factory.

I reviewed a lot of T-Tech products like the Snap-on iPhone case, the Universal Bluetooth Travel Keyboard, Wireless Mini BlueScan Mouse, Driver Series Earset, and Laser Presentation Remote.

In reviewing TYLT products, I had a chance with the TYLT Alin and Energi + Backpack.

I also got to review some Zimri products you can read about here.

This Soundbook X3 from Bayan Audio sounds very good.

I had a great chance to review the Plantronics RIG Headset and Mixer.

Had a good hands-on with the Stanley True Laser Measure TLM65.

I also tried out the Anker TC930 Bluetooth Keyboard Cover.

It took me a while to review it, but I did the LUNA mini from Foreo.

I’m pretty certain that I reviewed the Drift Light Smart Bulb. Yeah, I’m losing track.

I had a chance to try out two CM4 products, the Q Card case for the iPhone 5/5S and the one for the Galaxy S5.

Here’s something cool with the Mionix NASH 20 Gaming Headphones.

I was able to review the Epson LabelWorks LW-600P, a portable label printer.

I’ve had a good opportunity to review the T 51 i Headphones from Beyerdynamic.

Here’s The Rollick by iLuv, and I also had a chance to review the Jabra Rox Wireless.

Then there is the Able Planet NC2000BCM Headphones.

I had a chance to try out the ChargeHub from Limitless Innovations and the Divoom Voombox.

Then there is the iRig HD Guitar Interface from IK Multimedia as well as the iRig PRO.

There is the NuGuard KX Kinetic Energy X-orbing Case and Screen Armor from NewerTech.

Kanex sent me two product to review with the simpleDock and the Multi-Sync Keyboard.

D-Link makers of the Outdoor HD Wireless Network Cloud Camera and D-Link Wi-Fi Baby Camera that I reviewed.

Here’s the Cypher, from Kicker.

I reviewed Keith McMillen Instruments twice this year, and the first time was with the QuNexus.

Had a chance to try out the Stick N Find.

This is the DT4G 5-Band SmarTech III by Wilson Electronics.

Then there is the Neet Sleeve that is an Authentic Apple Lightning Cable.

Here’s the Perfect Choice Canvas 15-inch Laptop and Tablet Briefcase.

Audio-Technica has some cool products like the ATH-AX5iS Sonic Fuel Over-ear headphones.

You got to like the PhoneSuit Elite Battery Case for the iPhone 5/5S.

Then there is the BackBeat GO 2 from PLantronics.

I’ve got to like the Sound Pockets iPhone case.

It should be known that I liked the Levo Essential Tablet and eReader Floor Stand.

There is a decent product here called the Techsling that you should check out.

I also liked the Griffin Merchant Case and Square Reader for the iPhone 5.

Here’s my review of the Steelie Pedestal Kit from Nite Ize.

Here are some reviews of Pelican products for tablets.

And here is a review of the Oontz Curve by Cambridge Soundworks.

Here is a review of the Privates Wireless Headphones by Outdoor Tech as well as the Safe5 iPhone 5 case.

Did I mention the Color Cables?

Let me also mention the Innergie LifeHub.

I got to review another iHome project with the iB12 Sport Earbuds.

Then I had the chance to try out the Incipio f99 Hi-fi Stereo Earbuds. Speaking of headphones, here is the Siberia Elite from Steelseries.

Another product from Incipio that I reviewed is the ATLAS ID for the iPhone 5.

I might as well talk about the Magnetyze Mobile Battery and Protective Case.

Then there is the Jot Script Evernote Edition from Adonit.

Beyerdyanmic put out the A 200 p Headphone Sound Supercharger.

EKUSA has the MagCat iPhone 5 case. It’s nice.

I wanted to try out the Boogie Board Sync 9.7 LCD eWriter from Improv Electronics.

I got a chance to try out the Accell Powramid and the GreenGenius.

Cobra Digital allowed me the chance to try out the HD Digital Spy Pen.

Here’s the ShockDrop Case for the iPhone 5 and the Neon Bubble Case for the iPad Air from Hard Candy not to mention the Drop Tech Color Case.

I usually review a Blue Microphone product each year, and this time, it is the Nessie.

I forgot that I reviewed this NewPotato Technologies foosball table for the iPad.

Did I review the Jabra Sport Wireless? Well, I did.

Then there is that Nuevue case.

I also tested out the Leef Bridge 3.0.

I reviewed the SleepPhones and the RunPhones.

I got a chance to review the Able Planet True Fidelity NC210SCS headphones.

I also reviewed this Luxi incident light meter attachment for the iPhone 5 and the Halo Galaxy S 4 Power Case from Lenmar.

Then I finally had a chance to review the Generation CQ iDevice products.

I also reviewed the Jabra Solemate Mini.

I reviewed the Audio-Technica ATH-CKX5iS Sonic Fuel.

Okay, I am very tired. Here is what I reviewed last year, by the way.

We are giving away an iRig Pads from IK Multimedia!

iRig PadWe’re probably not going to have a lot of posts this week, just like we had last week. The reason why is it is a holiday, plus I will be traveling to CES in Las Vegas and will have to take a few days off for the excess trip.

Since it has been a while since we had a giveaway, I thought I would end this year with one final one. It is the iRig Pads from IK Multimedia. It is a product that we have reviewed before, and you can read the review here. It is a MIDI Groove controller, if you want the short form.

If you want to win this, it is simple. First of all, Friend The Geek Church on Facebook. This article will be on it, and you can share and like the article from there. Second, simply leave a comment on which one that you want, and then we will enter your name in a drawing to win.

We will have our final drawing on New Years Day. I will send a Facebook message to the winner, and if you, the winner, send me your address, I will send you your prize. Yes, this is a way for me to get the word out on this site, so what are you waiting for? Enter! By the way, if you want to leave a comment on this article, that counts as an entry.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6This will be the last film that I will talk about this year, but I don’t think it is really the best. This isn’t to say that Big Hero 6 is a bad movie, as it does stand out in a world full of superhero movies. The fact that it is Disney, owner of Marvel, the king of superhero movies makes it self-aware.

“Self-aware” is one of those terms thrown about by Internet critics describing films that follow conventions, but are clearly aware that they are following these conventions. Big Hero 6 is a superhero story that seems to know that it is a superhero story. Superhero stories have been done to death, and this one has the most important ingredient: improbability.

The film opens with Hiro Hamada, and he is an incredibly smart character who is so smart that he has essentially done with school in spite of being very young at…I don’t know…let’s just say 15. Hiro doesn’t seem to know what he wants to do with his life, but he does like robot fighting, and gets himself into trouble at the beginning because of it.

Hiro has a brother, who encourages Hiro to apply at a certain school that apparently has nothing better to do than encourage its students to pursue futuristic technology. Now, this film takes place in a world that looks futuristic already, some weird mix of San Francisco and Tokyo called: San Francoskyo. I probably misspelled that, but you get it.

Hiro realizes that he wants to go to this “nerd school”, but he needs some brilliant idea for an invention. His brother already has one with a robot named Baymax who is easily the mascot of this film. Baymax is essentially a robot medical droid with a complex structure within and the rest a balloon.

After a fast-forward montage, Hiro creates these microbots which are tiny little robots that can link together to form just about anything. Unfortunately, there is an accident at this lab, and Hiro’s brother dies off-screen. This is the second element of a superhero story: tragedy.

After that, it is only a matter of time before the Hiro arises from his tragedy with the improbability and become a superhero to fight against…something. In Hiro’s case, he has a sufficient motivation. Some guy in a Kabuki has Hiro’s microbots, and could be using them for something bad.

So this is your basic superhero story, and there is no denying it. The film even shows a scene where Hiro is inspired by comic books and action figures in order to turn he and his friends into superheroes. It’s a good thing that his friends are into the habit of playing with experimental technology. It’s also good that one of the Big Hero 6, Fred, is a huge fanboy who has a father that looks like Stan Lee.

One of the strengths of this film is one of its weaknesses. It is very clear that the focus of the film is the Big Hero 2 with Hiro and Baymax, and every trailer that I saw of this film focused only on them. This is a real shame, because some of the other characters of Big Hero 6 are for the most part, ignored. Kind of like how Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura were glossed over in the original Star Trek series. There is one character named Honey Lemon who is this super-smart girl who is trapped in the body of a supermodel and is very sensitive. She is such a great character, but is hardly ever used.

However, the relationship between Hiro and Baymax is really about how we deal with loss. As someone who has lost his best friend, this part really got to me, and there is a scene where Hiro has to say goodbye. The scene is everything the film is leading up to, and it works.

Now, I believe that the source material was some Marvel manga, and so I would imagine that these characters have been through a lot of adventures and development. I have no idea if they are making a sequel, but it is clearly set up for a franchise. Of course, I would imagine that Frozen is the one that everyone wants.

DisneyWorld Accepting Mobile Payments

disney-fastpassWe have reported on Apple Pay, and I think it is probable that we are headed for a mobile payment era. I haven’t really heard much about it, other than the fact it is taking place.

Well, I suppose that if anyone is going to help a new fad become completely mainstream, it is Disney. Man, that sentence ended up being more of a slam than I really wanted it to be.

Of course, the reason why I am reporting on this is because Disney World in Orlando is accepting mobile payments, just in time for Christmas Eve! This is where you can use Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and other tap-to-pay credit cards. Well, it won’t work at any place that doesn’t have mobile payment acceptance.

Oh, then there another thing. It isn’t available at Disneyland in California yet.

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Cor Smart Thermostat gives a new age of Modern Air Conditioning

Cor CarrierCarrier is one of those industries that is known for high technology heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning solutions. They have come up with the Cor, which is a way of taking control of your home comfort system.

I believe that there is another product known as Nest which does the same thing, and I don’t know, maybe it is different. The only reason why I am reporting on this is because a press kit was sent to me. it is for immediate release, but the date on it is for January of next year. Did someone just give me a CES Press Kit a few weeks early?

Anyway, the purpose of the Cor is to monitor your house so that you can have reports on demand, and then use the data to reduce your bills. By the way, you can change your home temperatures from your smartphone from a distance if you want. I am pretty sure that the Nest can do that.

I am not certain when you can get this, but I am told that when you get it, the company will install it for it.

80 Days by Inkle is one of the most complicated (and cool) games ever

3_GlobeZoomedOutI think we have all at least heard of Around the World in 80 Days. It is a classic book by Jules Verne, but it has been done time and time again. The most recent re-interpretation had Jackie Chan in it, and it was an excuse to have a star-studded cameo adventure with a steampunk twist. There was an award-winning film of the book where the characters travel the world in a balloon. The original book had no air travel at all, and it was a pretty standard adventure story full of imagination that wasn’t too far-fetched.

This is different than 80 Days from Inkle, a mobile game that decides to take the Jules Verne element of pseudo-science and run with it. I would have to say that this works, but for different reasons than its original source material.

The 80 Days game is essentially a huge “Choose Your Own Adventure” book. In the game, you play Passepartout, the assistant to Phineas Fogg, and you help him go around the world in 80 days. There are over 128 cities you can visit in this game, and you might be able to do the trip in less than 80 days!

Much of the adventure is mostly text, and there is over 500,000 words of it. That is much bigger than the actual book, and larger than the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. It leads to about 10,000 different choices, which means you can explore towns that you go to, and find all kinds of ways to encircle the world.

What makes it really interesting is how much text there is, and it is almost like you are choosing what kind of story you are in. I’ve never really seen anything like this in a text-adventure game. There are pictures of this world that are brief, but they use things like robotic horse-drawn carriages and mechanical porters to immerse the player into this steampunk world. By the way, you can play this game against other players, even seeing their travel plans in real-time.

Inkle’s 80 Days is quite a game, and it is no surprise that it has won several “Game of the Year” awards. It is available on iOS and Android, and find out more information about it here.

My Review of MOSS EXOFABULATRONIXX 5200

exofabulatronixx-mainI have reviewed the MOSS Robot Construction System before, and I recently had a chance to review the EXOFABULATRONIXX 5200.

The MOSS construction systems are an educational building tool that is similar to stuff like LEGO MINDSTORMS, as the builder creates a lot of interesting creations. All of these creations are these cubes with metal spheres that connect together magnetically.

This has a lot of interesting parts to it, and I won’t bother going into detail about what they are. I will tell you that without all of the instructions, I wouldn’t be able to build this. Here’s the deal, I have written a book on LEGO MINDSTORMS, and I was stumbling on this. I think there was some kind of color code to how these cube things are put together, but I couldn’t make sense of it. So I don’t know how kids will work with this.

Well, if you want your kids to work with this, head over to the ModRobotics site and lay down $479.95.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: How to Train Your Dragon 2

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-poster2I’ll admit that I only somewhat liked How To Train Your Dragon (the original) when it first came out in 2010, but the more I watch it, the more it grows on me. I always felt that Hollywood needs a good “dragon” movie, something quintessential. I mean, when you think space opera, you think Star Wars. When you think fantasy, you think Lord of the Rings. When you think dragons, you have choices of Dragonheart, Dragonslayer, but nothing that really stands out, and this includes the last two Hobbit movies.

Dragons are an essential part of fantasy fiction, and I am not certain why they are so prevalent there. How to Train Your Dragon is based on a book series that I haven’t read, but the first movie was an excellent offering. The plot is about a boy who discovers a dragon, in a world of Vikings, who despise dragons’ destructive behavior. The boy, Hiccup, befriends a dragon that he names Toothless, and his friendship leads to saving his village.

The first film reminds me of a nineties Disney animation, where an unconventional and forbidden relationship changes society. The film also had flying scenes that were better than the last Man of Steel Superman movie.

The world of How To Train Your Dragon is pretty well developed, as there are all kinds of different types of dragons. The characters are also extremely good, and Hiccup, voiced by Jay Baruchel, feels very real. The sequel grows the characters up noticeably, and it is much, much bigger like the second Hunger Games movie Catching Fire.

The premise of How To Train Your Dragon 2 is that Hiccup is old enough to become chief. In spite of the fact that Stoick, Hiccup’s father, is pretty healthy, he seems to want Hiccup to be ready to step up to the plate. Hiccup seems to like nothing more than flying around with Toothless, and one day, he discovers a group of dragon hunters that work for a ruthless tyrant named Drago.

When Hiccup tells his father about Drago, Stoick gets very afraid and braces his village for attack. Apparently, Drago met with the village chiefs years ago, and offered to rid the village of all the pesky dragons, provided Drago can rule. Of course, the village chiefs refused, and then Drago commands dragons to destroy the village. Only Stoick survived, which means that Drago had destroyed the village completely. Apparently, Stoick managed to rebuild the village, and…yeah, there are a few things wrong with this.

The story with Drago feels like a retcon, which is a word for when a storyline tells an origin story with elements that haven’t been mentioned before, but will take the present story to a knew level. If you read comics, retcons are very common to clean up bad plotlines and heighten the drama of the stories.

Another retcon that takes place is the introduction of Hiccups’ mother Valka. This isn’t really a spoiler, because the preview revealed this. It is revealed that Valka was stolen from the village by dragons when Hiccup was a baby. Valka never returned because she saw that the dragons were friendly creatures, and lived on this island all alone with several dragons.

In fact, one of these dragons was kind to baby Hiccup, even though it accidentally scratched him on the chin. This is how Valka recognized Hiccup as her adult son because of the scar. By the way, the scar is apparently in the first How To Train Your Dragon, so I am told.

Valka is proud of Hiccup because he has befriended a dragon, but no where in the original did Stoick ever mention that a dragon killed Hiccup’s mother. At least, this is what Stoick thought, and it would explain why Stoick was so against dragons in the first one. Like I said, this was a retcon, but at least the scar is consistent.

As Hiccup bonds with his reunited mother, the other dragon riders meet up with Drago. Drago apparently has some new way of controlling the dragons that is similar to how Hiccup trained them, but with fear and not love. Drago even takes control of an Alpha, huge dragon that can control other dragons. I think there was one of these in the last film, but in this one, it can hypnotize dragons.

When Drago meets up with the other characters, the film seems to have way too much going on. Don’t get me wrong, it is an awesome epic, but it is very, very confusing. There are times where scenes play out between characters while there are probably other scenes going on with other characters that we don’t see.

Act 2 also ends with a tragedy that is very emotional, and is as effective as the killing of King Mufasa in The Lion King. The problem is that after that, the epic conclusion doesn’t measure up to the Act 2 battle. I actually thought that after Act 2, the movie would end, and the story would concluded in How To Train Your Dragon 3, which I heard that they are making.

On the whole, How To Train Your Dragon 2 is very inspired, and it makes me want to write fantasy stories of my own. By the way, I might be working on one, but I can’t say anything about it now. For that, I saw it twice, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for the ultimate dragon movie, because the How To Train Your Dragon series is the best in film so far.

Snapchat purchases Vergence Labs

epiphany-eyewear-640x317I’m sure that you have heard of Snapchat, especially with that whole Snappening incident. For those of you who don’t know, Snapchat allows the user to take a picture or send a message, and then these photos and messages are automatically deleted. I think it is interesting that Snapchat is quite popular, which means that there is a demand for self-destructing messages a la Mission: Impossible.

Snapchat has recently acquired a company known as Vergeance Labs, a company who created products like Epiphany Eyewear, glasses that allow the wearer to record vids at the touch of a button. These videos can be accessed to cloud storage, and they have the ability to hold up to 32 GB of videos.

So, are we looking at a future where Snapchat exists on goggles? If so, then why doesn’t it exist on Google Glass already? Well, once again, I am covering theoretical gadgets based on acquisitions.

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