Raoul Björkenheim is one of those artists who has been around for years, but has not seen the recognition he deserves. I first heard of him through work with Bill Laswell a few years back, and more recently with Scorch trio. Now he is back with his group ‘eCsTaSy’, and the results are powerful and engaging.Read more
In 1998 I got Thief as a birthday present. It presented a morally ambiguous first-person world with choices and freedom, and the ability to sneak around the world in a way no game had ever done before. The sequels were excellent. Now we get a ‘reboot’ of the series – and a trailer to tell us what to expect.Read more
Retro-gaming is alive and well in many different forms, from virtual arcades on consoles to ports on smartphones to emulators to ‘TV games’ and new compatible hardware. But old gaming systems don’t work with HDTV systems. Enter Hyperkin’s Five-in-One Retro Gaming Console the Retron 5. The Retron 5 brings classic consoles to life – and works with HDTV systems!
One of my favorite indie developers is Soldak Entertainment, and perhaps my favorite game (I actually like all four) is Depths of Peril. DoP is a game where your choices have consequences, and the rest of the world continues even if you ignore your quests. This ‘indie classic’ Depths of Peril is now available DRM-Free on GOG.com for only $9.99!Read more
Imagine you are someplace where you need water but have none, and the only source is of questionable quality. Solving that problem is the basis of LifeStraw, a portable water filter technology used in third world countries and places with compromised water sources, that you can now buy for personal use in the form of the Lifestraw GO water bottle.Read more
The past two years I have tried GPS watches from Nike to Garmin(s) to Magellan to Polar. Each has positive and negative attributes. Ultimately the design comes back to ‘how much can we stuff into this and keep it wearable’. Magellan Echo answers this by offloading functionality to the smartphone we carry, and acting as a display and controller. Brilliant!Read more
Today we got confirmation that Google sold its money-losing Motorola handset business for about $3 billion to Lenovo. Google bought Motorola for $12.5 billion a couple of years ago, then sold off the set-top box unit and now the handset division. With the sale Google retains many of the valuable Motorola patents it sought initially.Read more
While reviewing the Magellan Echo, I needed a fitness app on my iPhone. There were a few supported, so I tried the popular ones. They didn’t expose much functionality, so I tried Wahoo Fitness, which was detailed in a document from Magellan. Turns out it the perfect partner for the Echo, and it’s the best fitness app I’ve ever used!Read more
Polar built its reputation on heart rate monitoring technology starting in the late 1970s designed to let you REALLY listen to your body. I have friends who swear by their products, and with the RC3 GPS they offer up their latest hardware and software for tracking all of your workouts, and it represents some of the best technology for runners.
Apple announced its earnings yesterday, which featured loads of record-setting device sales numbers and revenue and profit figures so high they are hard to fathom. Even Mac sales saw a significant boost while the rest of the PC industry marked another double-digit declines. The one area not even mentioned? iPod sales, which continue their decline in a no-update year.
So … did you watch the Grammy Awards? My family watched most, and with expectations set suitably low it was not a bad time. Spirited performances by Kendrik Lamar and Imagine Dragons easily offset the awful Katy Perry vocals, bland Taylor Swift showing, and plainly lip-syncing Pink. But the real question is … how did Spotify do predicting winners?Read more
Today, Apple’s homepage celebrates 30 years of the Mac. For those of us who have ‘been around’ – and even more so for those of us who bought and used an Apple ][ before the advent of the Mac, it is at once surprising that so much time has passed and unimaginable that we lived without the convenience of computers.Read more
This weekend the Grammy Awards present the music side of insular industry self-celebration and back-patting. Trying to figure out who wins in the post-Esperanza Spalding years is as much about who the industry needs to ‘reward’ as anything else. But the folks at Spotify have used data gleaned from their streaming service over the last year to make predictions!Read more
If you were to ask my younger son about his most elusive piece of affordable technology, it would be the M-Audio Trigger Finger from 2005. The popular controller was used by all of his favorite music producers but was discontinued. Now it is back and better than ever with the M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro announced at NAMM 2014!
The other day Dan shared a video on the Gear Diary ‘back channel’ that is really amazing. It shows a music video in French with the singer slowly being photoshopped over the course of a song. It is an amazing video – but what I didn’t know at first was it came from The Verge, because the link said ‘Feedly’.Read more
I’ve loved video game trading site Goozex for more than 7 years since it launched in 2006. Initially it grew quickly as an alternative to paltry trade-ins handed out by GameStop or the cumbersome trade mechanics of early trade-site GameTZ. Goozex acted as middleman on millions of trades, but industry shifts doomed trading and now Goozex appears closed for good.Read more
When I reviewed Mary Halvorson’s ‘Illusionary Sea’ (which made my Top Music of 2013) I noted that there was a trade-off of intimacy for the larger ideas that are only possible with the broader palette of a septet. Now Halvorson is back leading the trio Thumbscrew in their self-titled debut recording, and it is simply amazing.Read more
2013 is over, and it was an amazing year in music – cool new pop, a rap album from Kanye West I actually liked, Daft Punk returned and more. But my main area of interest is jazz … and there was TONS of great jazz! So I wanted to detail some of the best stuff I heard all year.
If you’re a casual web user of Rdio or Spotify, chances are you’ve hit against their limits on occasion. Aside from not getting to do ‘on demand’ listening, you get ads and time limits as well as some other minor limits. This week both services set aside limits for web users and now offer unlimited use of their radio services.Read more
This morning I opened my Mac for the first time in … a while, since I mostly use my iPad. I had a series of birthday and holiday alerts I needed to dismiss before moving on. A bit later Dan asked how to get notifications in Mavericks to automatically go away. So I took a look, and it’s very easy!Read more
Gamers love tower defense games, and fantasy action-combat games. Bardbarian has all of this and more. Based around the hero Brad and his Axe guitar, this light-hearted romp has you summoning companions and special attacks as you work to fend off the invaders and protect your village. For a bargain price you will get loads of fun!
G5 Entertainment and Artifex Mundi has a great recent track-record of hidden object puzzle adventure games, and they continue with the release of 9 Clues: The Secret of Serpent Creek for iPad and iPhone. The game tells the story of a reporter lost in a mysterious town in the 1950s and the friend who investigates!Read more
Back in early December I talked with Ossian Studios head Alan Miranda about the release of The Shining Sun, and my single concern was that Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition was due for release just before Christmas. That didn’t happen, and TSS enjoyed time in the spotlight … but now the ultimate classic RPG has arrived on the iPad!Read more
If someone suggested to me a year ago we would be looking back at data showing that more than 21% of laptops sold last year were Chromebooks … I would have laughed heartily in their face. I mean, to me these were pretty much netbooks that only run a browser. Yet that is the reality at the end of 2013.Read more
When we bought our house, one thing the builder was proud of was radiant heating installed throughout. One downside it is slow to respond – so when the temperature here went from +50 to -30 back to +40 within 5 days our house seemed to always be too hot or too cold. The upside? The floors were never cold!Read more