The Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3 for the iPad Air 2

Kensington KeyFolio Thin X3I had this chance to try out this other Kensington keyboard with the KeyFolio Thin X3 for the iPad Air 2, and I have to admit, I can do more with it than I thought. Sure, it is a keyboard for the iPad Air 2, but it is also much more.

What is interesting is how you can use the KeyFolio Thin X3 on the go as a battery for a mobile device. The keyboard has a 1650 mAh battery to charge something and it includes a special USB cable for it.

Then there is the QuickFold design to hide the keyboard so you can open it, and bam, it is on. As long as the iPad Air 2 is leaning up on the magnetic stand, it will be on. If it is folded up, it is off, pure and simple, so battery life is conserved.

As for the keyboard itself, it has 6 rows of scissor keys and a whole lot of terrific shortcut keys. If this is something that you want to get, it can be purchased on the Kensington site for about $99.99.

Our Review of the Orbit Wireless Mobile Trackball from Kensington

Kensington Orbit WirelessI had a great time reviewing another fine Kensington product with the Orbit Wireless Mobile Trackball, and I have to admit, it is a pretty fine product.

Personally, I am more of a mouse person myself, as I need to move something around the desk. The Orbit takes your mouse and use it like a trackball, kind of like the controller on Centipede, the arcade game from 1981. Yeah, that might be a reference a lot of people don’t get.

The left and right click buttons are on the sides, so speaking of things that people might not get, it might take me a while to get used to this. Of course, that’s me, the mouse guy. I can’t even do a trackpad very well.

Set up for the Kensington Orbit Wireless Mobile Trackball is pretty easy as plugging in the 2.4 GHz wireless dongle and the drivers happen. Then the mouse needs 2 AA batteries.

If this is something that you want, feel free to head over to the Kensington site and lay down $59.99 for it.

Lenovo YOGA 900 and YOGA Home 900

YOGA Home 900 for productivityLenovo announced the YOGA 900 and the YOGA Home 900, and they are two new Windows 10 PCs.

The YOGA 900 is a very thin convertible laptop with a 13.3 inch QHD (3200 x 1800) screen and a watchband hinge with 800 intricately woven individual pieces. The purpose of the convertible laptop is the conversion between laptop and tablet modes. The battery has been heightened to over 50 percent more, and it has a Samsung Solid State Drive.

As far as the YOGA Home 900 Portable All-in-One Desktop is concerned, this has about three hours of battery life. The screen is absolutely huge at 27-inch screen, which means that you will be looking around this thing as a family, which I believe is the purpose of its creation with its AURA 3.0 interface. I’m not certain how much of this will be a portable computer, but it really has an NVIDIA GeForce 940A graphics and an Intel 5th Gen Core i7 processor.

The Lenovo YOGA 900 will start at $1,199.99 will come in a variety of colors including clementine orange, platinum silver, and champagne gold. The Lenovo YOGA Home 900 will start at $1,549.00.

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Happy Back to the Future Day!

timecircuitsYes, there are a lot of people on Facebook who just love to say “today is the day Marty McFly goes into the future”. That meme is old as it is incorrect, but today, October 21, 2015, it just happens to be true.

Yes, back in 1989, there was a little film called Back to the Future II, which wasn’t really little. In fact, it was probably the biggest of the year, but it is most famous for showing us a future that seemed quite realistic.

Yes, the world of 2015 in Back to the Future II showed us flying cars, holographic movies, cold fusion generators, hover boards, all in a very pastel and eighties way with a lot of product placements. I remember thinking that 2015 was going to look like that, and it seemed a start contrast to the dark futures still seen in most speculative fiction movies today. Of course, the future shown in the film wasn’t all good, as it had skyrocketed inflation.

At the time, I was about to graduate high school, and I wanted the future of 2015. There was no way that they predicted Internet, cellular/smartphones, and some things that would be a more realistic future. However, that future seemed to show that we would all turn out okay, in spite of things happening to us. Sure, Marty McFly didn’t get to be a rock star, but at least he had a decent family. Yeah, his dreams didn’t really come true, and neither did that movie’s idea of 2015.

I’m not certain if Back to the Future Day is a lesson that we shouldn’t put a date on a movie. Seriously, when I first saw the first back to the future film, I thought it was a bad idea for Marty to give Doc Brown a date of 1985. All I could think of was how that film was going to be dated in a few years. Now, here we are, 30 years later, and the film is just as good as it was then, with time making it even better.

So hey, 2015 isn’t the cool wizmo-gizmo future, but so what? At least it’s not like Minority Report or Blade Runner. We’ll have to wait another four years for the latter, and thirty-nine years for the former.

Our Review of the D-Link Full HD Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera

D-LinkI’ve reviewed a lot of D-Link products in the past, and the last camera was The Outdoor HD Wireless Network Cloud Camera. I was fortunate enough to receive another from D-Link with the Full HD Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera (DCS-2630L), and something else came with it as well.

The company sent me these glasses that had these blinders on them, so my field-of-vision was limited. I decided not to take a picture of myself in them, but to quote Dennis Hopper from the movie Speed: “You got your blinders on!” I have no idea how much field of vision an actual human has, but this Ultra-Wide View Wi-Fi Camera has a 180 degree view, with 1080p resolution. What is interesting is that the view feels like a movie theater rather than the fisheye lens in some 180 degree cameras.

This camera can record video footage to a microSD card up to 128 GB. This allows for up to a week of continuous clip recordings that are accessible through web portal and the MyDlink application. By the way, the camera begins recording automatically to a microSD card when it senses changes in the home. You can even add up to three additional D-Link Wi-Fi cameras and make a kind of homemade security system.

The camera itself has a lot of interesting bonuses, like a built-in microphone, and it can even send alert notifications if the sound gets loud, like with broken glass. There is also a light sensor in case the camera needs to see in the dark.

If this sounds interesting to you, it is available for $199.99 at Best Buy and the D-Link shop. You can find out more information about it here.

Our Review of the HTC One M9 Smartphone plus HTC Android 6.0 Marshmallow Release Date

HTC One M9Well, I’ve had a chance to review the HTC One M9 Android smartphone, and what I will have to say is pretty positive. I’ll go ahead and start with just how it feels in my hand. Even though the HTC One M9 is made of cold metal rather than warm plastic, I like its curve. I don’t know if it is ergonomic, but I like it.

One of the big selling points of the HTC One series is that it has two stereo speakers on the front of it, located very obviously on the top and bottom. Now, most people listen to their music through their headphones or stream it to Bluetooth or NFC speakers, but if you just want one device to play it and you and others can hear it, this HTC One M9 is good for you at 5.1 surround.

Might as well take the time to talk about the camera now, it is a 20 Megapixel job, and it is good. Thanks to this camera, I didn’t have to worry about using the flash, as it did it pretty much automatically. Then there are other things it can do like editing photos and videos. You can then use these photos to customize the phone for the wallpaper, icons, and a whole lot more.

I would say that on the whole, the HTC One M9 just feels comfortable, and part of it has to do with its version of Android. HTC puts their own spin on Android known as Sense, and I don’t know if that affects the most recent release of Android, but there are reports that it could skip from Android 5.1 to 6.0, bypassing the 5.1.1 version entirely. It should be interesting what happens when they get to 6.0, and I can’t wait until it arrives, which should be before the end of the year.

In short, I’m going to recommend it, and you can find out more information about it here.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: Minions

minions posterWell, I’m going to have to say that I honestly didn’t think that I was going to like this movie, but unlike CHAPPiE from last week, I’m going to give this a thumbs up. I explained in my review of the Despicable Me movies how I figured that the Minions were, at best, side characters that somehow outshined the main characters of that series including Gru.

I will have to say that the Minions movie would seem like a cash-in from Universal and Illumination Entertainment, and it is. It doesn’t look self-aware of this fact, but it really should be.

I remember when I saw the first Despicable Me film, I just assumed that the Minions were some kind of failed clone experiment or something from Gru, to make thoughtless slaves for his evil plans. Apparently, the Minions have been around since the beginning of time, and their purpose in life is to serve stronger and villainous figures. However, the Minions are not terribly intelligent, and they are often the reason why their masters fail.

The last master, which appears to be Napoleon, of all people, doesn’t end well, and the French army chases them to some snowy place, presumably the Himalayas. The only reason why I know this is because some abominable snowmen show up, but this doesn’t work out for the Minions.

Fortunately, three specific Minions named Stuart, Kevin, and Bob decide to leave the tribe in order to find a new master and a home. What makes it interesting is that they arrive in New York in 1968, and the film does an excellent job replicating the time period. Eventually, they hear of a convention in Orlando called Villain-con, and, after hitchhiking with a family of bank robbers that could easily be its own film, the Minions find their new master, a powerful supervillain named Scarlet Overkill.

I will have to say that Scarlet is played by Sandra Bullock, who is the big celebrity voice in this thing, which is not really needed. She does a pretty good job being evil and at the same time very wounded as well. It is pretty clear that she wants power because she wasn’t given it at a young age, but never questioned why she wanted it in the first place.

But this isn’t a film to probe someone’s past pains, and sadly, Scarlet’s husband Herb, played by Jon Hamm, isn’t well developed at all. Herb is dressed like a reject from the Monkees, and he’s kind of the tech genius in the film. It is interesting that Herb and Scarlet seem happy with each other, so I guess there is no lack of love making them evil.

One of the things I mentioned in my Despicable Me review is that this world presented is full of super-villains that are straight out of comic books and James Bond films. However, there are not any super heroes in this world, but this does not mean that there isn’t virtue. What makes the Minions funny is they are essentially pure creatures trying to survive in this very evil world.

Okay, that might be giving this film too much credit. Minions is really a comedy of errors, of the Minions being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and occasionally being at the right place at the right time. One chase scene leads to the other, often with a montage in between. Minions reminds me of a Warner Brothers cartoon, and I always felt there was a heavy Chuck Jones influence in the Despicable Me series. I always loved the Looney Tunes for their comic simplicity and imagination, and Minions takes full advantage of it.

So, yeah, it is not Oscar material, but it doesn’t have to be. There are scenes here that are pretty darn funny. I watched this film with a group of college kids and shorter kids and there is a scene where the Minions start singing their version of “Hair”. The audience was silent, because they didn’t get the joke. It actually took me a while before I figured out what they were satirizing, but once I got it, I loved it.

This is what works about the Minions, they are in their world and they often don’t let the audience in. Their entire language is a series of gibberish that is never given subtitled, but like Inside Out, it isn’t about a literal translation, but feelings. You understand an idea of what the Minions are saying, and you don’t need to know the specifics.

A Review of the iblazr

Needing an extra light when you are taking a selfie with your front facing phone camera? Is your tablet missing a flash? The iblazr can help with that! th (1)

When testing it out on my Samsung Galaxy S4, I had some problems getting the free iblazr companion app to work. The answer given to the similar reviews in Google Play was to download the Shotlight app(also free). Unfortunately, I did not have the room on my phone to do so. I did download it to my LG tablet, and found the program to be useful with the ability to adjust iso, focus and exposure. I found that I couldn’t get the iBlazr flash to go off automatically when I wanted to take a picture. I had to push the button on top of the flash to turn it on and adjust the brightness. The video below shows how you can adjust the brightness from your phone.

Iblazr is supported on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. The 1 x 1.25 in device weighs 10 grams and easily plugs into the headphone jack on your device. It can shine as bright as 270 Lux while used as a flash on the phone, and has the ability to be dimmed. It will flash 500 times before you need to recharge it. Charging USB cord, small stand and soft case included. The original iblazr can be purchased on Amazon.com for $34. On the iblazr shop, you can buy it for $39.99. There’s also a premium aluminum one for $10 more. They now have the 2nd generation iblazr2 available for pre-order also.

Whispering Willows on the Wii U…Whee!

Whispering_Willows-6I had a really great chance to try out Whispering Willows, and I tried it out for the Wii U. Is there any reason why I said “Whee” in the title? Not only did I want to complete the alliteration with “W”, but the game is a lot of fun.

Now, this is a game that I don’t think is supposed to be “fun” per se, as there are a lot of parts of this game that are pretty serious. Whispering Willows is a side-scrolling adventure game where the player is Elena, and there isn’t really much backstory given other than she is trying to find the mystery about her missing father.

The issue with Elena is that she is exploring this very spooky place, and she learns that she can project her spirit. She can’t walk through walls, but if there is a crack in the wall, Elena can seep herself through and do something so her body can get in. Elena’s spectral form has some limited telekinesis for moving objects like pulling levers to unlock doors, which leads to more places to go.

Elena is solving a mystery and she often gets clues from the ghosts that she can talk to in her spectral form. There is also these notes that Elena finds that she collects in order to find out something about the mystery. I haven’t played the game all the way through, but it looks as if the mystery is about some massacre of indigenous people has taken place, and spirits are not at rest. That is, this is what I think is happening, because the notes that Elena collects in the story have several parts scattered all about. I honestly don’t think it is necessary to get all the notes to win the game, but hey, if you are going to play, get all the stuff you can get.

This game kept me going, as there is always a door that you need a key to open, or a ghost that needs an item. Yeah, this is like other adventure games where you have items that you find and use them later. There is even an inventory, but if you have the right item in the right place, you’ll find what you’re looking for.

As I mentioned, I played this on the Wii U, and I only have one problem with the game. Whenever you walk through an open doorway, the game has to load, and it takes about a half a minute. It reminds me of playing game on 80’s computers, and waiting for the next screen to load. I’m guessing that nothing could be done about that, and it doesn’t remove the player too much from the game. However, there is one part of the game that takes place in a maze, and there is a lot of waiting in between locations.

So, if you want to play the game, it is available on several platforms including the big three consoles, and the Steam Store for $9.99.

Somebody’s Prayers are Answered as Playboy will no longer have Nudes

PlayboyI don’t think I have ever talked about anything pornographic here on this site, even though some of the films that I reviewed on Speculative Fiction Friday contain some sex scenes and possible nudity. Personally, I believe that there might be a place for pornography, but it should not be with those who are lonely for real love and embracing the fake.

All right, I’m stepping off the soapbox. I’m sure that you have heard the news that Playboy is no longer going to be putting naked women in their magazine anymore. Sure, that was incredibly racy back in the 50’s, like that cover that you see here with Marilyn, but there are good reasons not to do this.

Two of my Sources blamed the Internet porn that helped bring about this decision on Playboy Enterprises part, and there is a quote that proves that. Scott Flanders, Playboy Enterprises chief executive, has said that “you’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so nudity is just passe at this juncture”.

I hate to say it, but Playboy is right. If they ever want my services as a writer, I would write for them. However, if they had contacted me a few years ago, I would have accepted to. Those people that say they read Playboy for the articles have a point that the articles are usually well-written.

For this reason, Playboy has a reputation of being a magazine full of “artistic” nudity rather than just sexual acts that other pornographic magazines are prone to show. It seems that Playboy’s move to not have nudity is a wise one, and it is also a business decision to veer their brand away from pornography and more towards men’s magazines like Maxim.

So, does this mean that it will be possible to purchase a Playboy from a magazine rack that doesn’t have something blocking the cover? I’ve heard that the Centerfold will still be there, but it will be tastefully PG-13.

You know, ten years ago, if you would have told me that they will let anyone purchase Playboy, I would think it was a bad sign. However, since it is PG-13, who cares?

Source 1, Source 2, and Source 3