Urban Armor Gear (UAG) Part 2: Rogue Folio and Outland

UAG FolioAll right, it’s time for another visit to our friends at Urban Armor Gear (UAG) with two iPhone 6 cases, the Rogue Folio and the Outland.

The Rogue Folio is one of those cases that doubles as a wallet, and it can hold about three credit cards. It is also made with water resistant FrogSkin Technology and grip, It also has a magnetic strap to lock the Folio closed.

The Rogue Folio can meet military drop-test standards, and there are some interesting holes in this case made for some audio and video output. If this sounds like something that you might be interested in, you can go to the UAG site for about $39.95.

UAG OutlandAnother case that I got to try out for the iPhone 6 is the Outland. It does not have the wallet feature, but it is pretty nifty in its own way.

It is feather-light with an armor shell and impact resistant soft core. It feels pretty hard and yet soft at the same time. There isn’t much that I can say about that, because it’s pretty much your standard case for a mobile phone.

If this something that you are needing, and apparently the entire world needs one of these. It can be purchased on the UAG site for $34.95.

AVERT allows flat robots to move your car

One of the reasons why I started this tech and gadget blog is because I wanted to report on very neat things. I couldn’t think of anything more cool than some flat robots that can move cars.

The AVERT, which stands for Autonomous Vehicle Emergency Recovery Tool, is a system that is designed primarily for law enforcement. It starts with this main robot that can autonomously map a parking lot inside a crowded garage, and then deploys a lot of smaller robots that can roll underneath another vehicle. These flat robots go underneath the wheels, and then lift it barely an inch off the ground so it can move it.

The whole point of this is so the robots could remove a car or other vehicle that might be carrying explosives or something. This way, the robots do all the work and don’t endanger any humans. Clearly, this has other uses, like removing vehicles that just down belong, for example. Yes, this power could be abused, and I’m not looking forward to an era where these tiny robots roll out every time a car parks illegally.

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Urban Armor Gear (UAG) Part 1: Scout for the Microsoft Surface 3

UAGI have been wanting to review Urban Armor Gear (UAG) for a long time, and I finally had a chance to try out a few products. I’ll start with the Scout for the Surface 3.

The Scout is made to be a back cover for Microsoft’s tablet with a keyboard, and it is completely compatible with Microsoft’s Type Cover Keyboard and multiple keyboard positions. On the back is an aluminum kickstand that is good for 3 angular positions. Now, the official site says that it is good for portrait views, but I could get it to work that way. I can’t help but think that there is a hidden switch somewhere.

It does have a place to hold the Surface Pen, and it also has some interesting Frogskin Technology so you can get a grip on this when it is wet and slippery. By the way, it also meets military drop standards.

If you don’t like the Scout in black, you can also get the Rogue in red here for the same price. The Scout is available here for $69.95.

An Interview with Gwenda Bond, author of Lois Lane: Fallout

Last week, I reviewed the most recent Gwenda Bond work, Lois Lane: Fallout. I read and reviewed the book here, and I had a lot of questions about possible criticisms to the book that I addressed in a separate article that I wrote here.

I was very fortunate that I could submit a list of questions to the author, and here are the questions that I asked:

1)       Okay, let’s bring up the obvious question:  Did you first conceive of a Lois Lane YA novel first, or was DC comics looking to write a Lois Lane YA novel and you applied to be the writer?   If you approached them, how did they respond at first?  If they approached you, what convinced DC comics to hire you for the job?

From my standpoint, things came about remarkably quickly. DC and Capstone were planning a novel featuring Lois as a teen reporter, and my agent was approached about whether I was interested in writing it. The answer was YES, obviously. I can’t speak to their decision-making, but I’m extremely grateful for it. A dream opportunity.

2)      According to the “About the Author”, it sounds like you really like Lois Lane.  Tell me about where you first learned about her, and why you grew to like her so much?

My first concrete memory of the character is Margot Kidder in the Superman movie, which was one of my favorites as a kid. I was instantly intrigued by her, this career woman with a sense of humor, tough but not without vulnerability. There’s also something particularly appealing about the fact that, sure, she’s interested in Superman, but he’s also just as interested in her—with good reason. I always kept an eye on Superman, first through my brother’s hand-me-down comics and then my own as an adult. She’s an incredibly rich character. Iconic, yes, after more than 75 years, but also always human, flawed, and fascinating. A character like Lois is a gift to write. She wants something, always, in every single scene.

3)      There have been comparisons to young Lois with Veronica Mars as well as Nancy Drew.  Were you inspired by these young girl detectives in any way?

I definitely love a girl detective! In fact, most of my novels feature daring or gutsy girls solving a mystery of one sort of another. No surprise, I suppose, given that YA novels are often about becoming who you are and figuring out where you fit in the world, which can be like unraveling a mystery. I was a huge fan of Veronica Mars, so I take the comparisons very much as a compliment, even while I think there are major differences between the characters. I bet they’d get along smashingly.

4)      Did you want to involve Clark Kent in the plot at first?  Did DC insist that you do?

I’ve said before, I feel like these are characters that are better together. It felt right to have him be a part of Lois’s life, even though she’s younger than we usually see her.

5)      There are clearly some things that Lois Lane can’t do in this book, such as meet Clark in real life.  Were there some rules set by DC of what you can and cannot do with a teenage Lois Lane?

Honestly, I’ve had a tremendous amount of freedom and support to shape the story and this version of Lois (and Clark) as I wanted to. I did an outline early on, but I think everyone involved has been on the same page all along, wanting to do justice to these characters.

6)      Let’s talk about Maddy, James, and Devin.  As far as I know, they are not inspired by any characters from the Superman mythos.  Are they based on actual people that you know or knew?

I don’t typically base characters on people I know, and this case is no different. I did want to create in Lois’s fellow members of the Daily Scoop staff (which is a publication new to the world/book) a cast that people would invest in. I wanted them to be fun characters to read in their own right, with some surprises up their sleeves. I hope people like them.

7)      The technology with the holosets and Worlds War Three was quite unusual, and it almost puts a bit of a science fiction twist on the book.  Is there a reason why you went in this unusual direction instead of just a regular MMO game?

This is absolutely 100 percent intentional. There’s a smattering of technology more advanced than our own throughout the book, the Worlds War Three game being the most prominent example. There were a few reasons why I wanted to go this route. The first is simply that Superman itself is science fiction at heart, being about an alien, and is also suffused with super science. I didn’t want to lose that. I also felt instinctively that even as young Clark is still discovering the extent of his powers there would be glimpses of things beyond the easily explainable popping up in the world, and Lois would be one of the first to pick up on that and begin to write about it. I didn’t want these elements to be overwhelming, more part of the fabric of Lois’s Metropolis and the world at large. Hopefully, it feels just slightly more advanced than ours.

8)      Do you intend to write any more Lois Lane books, or can you not talk about that?

I can’t answer this. But picture me with a cryptic smile.

9)      Is there any plan to write more YA novels based on other DC intellectual properties?

My hands are full with Lois, so I don’t know the answer. Personally, I’d love to see more stories like this. On the Marvel side, I’m very excited about Margie Stohl’s Black Widow YA novel coming out this fall.

Okay, that ends the interview, and I think question number eight is probably answered by her not answering it.

LucidBrake is a brake light for the bike!

LucidBrakeIt’s very strange that in an age where all cars need brake lights, bikes do not. This could change with the Lucidbrake, a smart wireless bicycle brake light.

At first I thought this was some brakelight that would attach to some mechanism on the bike so the moment you hit a brake, the light will go on. Actually, it is not like that at all, for the brake light will go on when the bike is about to stop. I guess there are some motion detectors that will light up the 8 LEDs, and it will know the difference between a brake and a bump.

These lights can be seen a half mile away a night and a quarter mile during the day. You can put the LucidBrake on the back of your helmet, your jacket, and the back of the bike. Yeah, might as well make more brake lights for even greater safety.

Now, this is a Kickstarter project, which means that it will need your funding to make certain that it will get off the ground, or on the bike.

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Second Coming of Google Glass Coming Soon?

Google Glass 2Remember Google Glass? Yeah, we thought that was the future, didn’t we? I think that idea just kind of faded, but I think we all know that someday we will all have one of these smartgoggles just like we all have mobile phones, most of us.

Yeah, good ideas just don’t die, and this Google Glass version 2 is no exception. In fact, it would appear that the CEO of Italian eyewear maker Luxottica says that the next generation of the Glass will be soon. Yes, this is Luxottica company that made Oakley and Ray-Ban is going to make the second version of Google Glass.

So, what will the next version of Google Glass look like? I would like to think it would look cool and not well…nerdy like the first version. There, I said it. Yes, let’s see how this one goes.

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Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today RPG Review

Dead SynchronicityOf course, I always like testing out new RPG games on Steam, and I was pleased to try out Dead Synchronicity. Unlike some of the other great point-and-click games that I have tried out, such as Descent to Deadrock, I didn’t finish this one before my review.

The reason why I didn’t finish this game because honestly, I am stuck! Seriously, games like these take a lot of wandering around and doing things before the next area can be uncovered. In this particular case, I am really stuck, and I have played a lot of these games. I just seem to be wandering about, wondering what in the heck that I missed.

Dead Synchronicity: Tomorrow Comes Today begins with a very typical video game cliche character of amnesia. It is very common to use this trope in video games because you don’t have to have a backstory for the main character, and its easy to introduce those elements as the game goes on.

In this case, the forgotten backstory is that there has been a Great Wave, an explosion that has taken out all electronic devices. In addition to being plunged into a new Dark Age of no technology, some of the population has become “dissolved” in the sense they die of some disease from within.

Of course, with the fall of civilization comes antagonistic bad guys who just want to take everything for themselves and let the have-nots starve. Dead Synchronicity has those kinds of people to spare, mostly in the form of some military group keeping secrets, I guess.

Dead Synchronicity has a weird artistic style that is hard to describe. It reminds me of a lot of minimalist comic book artists, but I can’t really nail down any names to compare it to properly.

Anyway, I will recommend this one to those who want a challenge, because it is most certainly challenging me. You can read more about it here as well as purchase it on Steam for $19.99.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: Interstellar

InterstellarWell, with my theme this month of talking about whatever speculative fiction that I can get my hands on, I decided to discuss a film that has already been a subject of discussion: Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. If you aren’t familiar with Christopher Nolan, the guy has produced some really good films like Memento and Inception. Oh, he also did those Batman films, and some of them were good.

Nolan decided to go for something big with Interstellar, and yet a film that is a great human story from an actor that I never expected anything from: Matthew McConaughey. Yeah, that guy has a reputation of acting very hysterical, but in this film he is a father figure who drives the plotline so very well.

Okay, I did like this film, and I have to admit that the beginning is one of the best and filmmakers should take note. Interstellar opens in a world of the future, I guess. The thing is, it doesn’t look very futuristic, as it begins in the countryside where everything is timeless. We learn through dialogue that crops all around the world are dying. That’s right, through dialogue. There is no scrolling at the beginning saying this, and Nolan chose not to go the easy route and start off with a news broadcast explaining how the world got this way with riots and mass panic. Most filmmakers also would have gone out of their way to show dark gray skies, but in this film, the blue skies are just a sign that bad things are to come.

In fact, the reason for the world being in a state of famine isn’t really explained other than this “blight” which might be caused by environmental damage, maybe? It looks like the midwest is becoming a dust bowl as bad as the Great Depression, complete with sudden dust storms. In all honesty, I wanted to see a bit more on this world. Apparently, all the armed forces have been disbanded and textbooks have been revised, and no one cares. There seems to be this spirit of bleakness in this future world, a sense that planet Earth is in the final state of entropy, and most are in denial.

Now I’m going to bring up something that I don’t like. In the film, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) has a young daughter named Murph (who is played by three actresses). Murph believes that she is seeing messages from the ghost of her mother. At this point, I was thinking: “there’s ghosts in this film?” Apparently, Murph is seeing coordinates in these signs, and she and her father follow them, leading the to a secret NASA installation.

Of course, NASA has long since been abandoned, but this organization is known as Lazarus, as they intend to bring the world back from the dead. As it turns out, Cooper used to be an astronaut pilot, and they are looking for someone to fly a new spaceship into a wormhole on Saturn. There has already been a wormhole mission by twelve astronauts, and only three of these astronauts reported back planets capable of life. Okay, I’m not certain if I believe that whole coordinates leading them here, because in all honesty, NASA should have contacted Cooper for this mission.

In other words, the Earth is in a state where humanity has to leave or die. Unfortunately, Cooper might have to leave his family behind to save the Earth, and it is a huge burden. There is a scene where Cooper has to go to a planet where one hour is equivalent to seven years of time on Earth. This leaves Cooper and the audience to wonder whether he can save the Earth and his daughter, Plan A, or everyone dies and humanity is jumpstarted on a distant planet, which would be Plan B.

I’m not going to reveal the end of this film, but I will say that it bears a huge resemblance to Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. That is, there is a journey into an unknown anomaly, and there is even a sentient computer thrown into the mix. By the way, the sentient computer is this cool looking robot that I just like, and is one of those neat things that we watch science fiction for.

This film succeeds on many levels, emotionally and story-ily. I couldn’t think of any better way to say that. There are some very good moments in this film, but if you willing to buy the ending, you will fully enjoy Interstellar.

Our review of Lois Lane: Fallout, a YA novel

Lois Lane FalloutI had an terrific chance to review a YA (young adult) novel entitled Lois Lane: Fallout, by Gwenda Bond, published by Switch Press. Of course, being a big Superman fan since my youth, I had to give it a try.

I’m sure that many of you are thinking: “Oh man, another cash-in”. Yes, this is about a young Lois Lane, but it doesn’t appear to exist as a prequel to anything Superman. In fact, one of the things that I like about this book is that Lois Lane: Fallout is that it can stand on its own. It doesn’t really take a huge stretch of imagination to envision what a teenage Lois Lane would be like, but perhaps the better question is: why hasn’t it been done before?

From my Press Release, the critic quotes describe a young Lois Lane as similar to Katniss (Everdeen from The Hunger Games) and Veronica Mars. I have to admit that there are some similarities, but Lois Lane is an original character, assuming that you don’t know about Superman.

man of steel 2Lois Lane is introduced as a “military brat”, which matches her comic book roots. She always refers to her father as “The General” and never “Dad”, and Lois has moved from town to town a lot as her father is constantly stationed from place to place. The book begins as Lois Lane starts as a sixteen year old girl at a high school in Metropolis. She discovers a case with a new friend named Anavi who is being bullied by a clique of kids in black known as The Warheads.

Lois is soon recruited by Perry White (the same guy from the Superman comic) to work for the Daily Scoop, which is kind of a juvenile version of the Daily Planet. I guess Perry had to get his start somewhere, and so does Lois, who believes that there is a story with The Warheads.

Lois works with three friends and fellow reporters who help her named Maddy, Devin, and James. As far as I know, it doesn’t like these characters are related to the Superman stories from the comics or Superman legends. Lois does get some help from an online friend who is known from Smallville Guy. Yeah, do I even need to tell you who this is? It’s a younger pre-Superman Clark Kent! Of course, the audience knows that, and I won’t tell you how he gets involved.

Lois and moreYeah, I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that most of the book is Lois investigating the Warheads. Now the Warheads are this group who seem to have some weird hive-mind mentality. I have to admit that they have an interesting symbolic feel of how high school works, and I was definitely taken back to my high school memories with this work.

Now, this book would have worked even if Lois wasn’t the main character, but I will have to admit that there is one thing that I had a problem with. In the book, Lois uses a holoset to play an online game known as Worlds War Three to track down the Warheads. This holoset is some tech that we don’t have now, as it can project images of a game onto our eyes. It is pretty close to the Oculus Rift, but it brings a bit of a science fiction element that is similar to Ready Player One.

Lois Lane: Fallout will be released on May 1st, according to Amazon. I would probably say that it is good enough for a sequel, but if it becomes a series, it might be better if it doesn’t try and tie in any Superman lore. Let’s let Lois Lane stand on her own.

Why Nintendo is still valid: Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D WorldOkay, I know I have said that Nintendo’s Days are numbered, and as the owner of a PS4 and the Nintendo Wii U, I will let you know which one that I play more. The other night, that changed. It didn’t all change, but I was propelled into a fun realm with Super Mario 3D World.

It is hard to believe that when I bought the Wii U, I didn’t want the Super Mario 3D World game. In all honesty, I’ve done Mario before, and I just didn’t want to do it again. However, I will have to admit, that the game is still pretty challenging after all of these years.

Also, the actually has a score, and a limited number of lives. How many games do that these days. If it is Game Over, I have to start again, I guess. While I was playing, I realized that I had three lives left, and I had to just say: I need more lives. So I then went back to the first few levels and searched for Stars and Stamps.

Yes, this game has these Stamps that you have to collect because game have these hidden prizes that you just have to get. The same thing comes for the three green stars to be found in every level. I found that it is good just to find all three and the stamp too.

Is it possible that Nintendo can make all their profits from Mario? No, it can’t. Seriously, Nintendo, I think you might need to change your gaming strategy. I am more than just a little worried, and I want to play some Mario, Zelda, and Metroid.