All posts by John Skrhak

John Skrhak | Gadgets, Sports and Toys Fanatic | Read about them all here.

Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 97, Suns 94


Rapid Reaction, NBA, Dallas Mavericks, Shawn Marion, Dahntay Jones, Phoenix Suns, Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo, Goran Dragic, Darren Collison, Chris Kaman, Brandan Wright, Sebastian Telfair, Markieff Morris

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Google Apps discontinues basic package, asks new customers to pony up $50 per user for premium

Google Apps discontinues basic package, asks all new customers to pony up $50 per user for premium

Looking towards Mountain View to provide a suite of digital tools for your new business? Make sure to pen per-user costs into your ledger — Google Apps isn’t free anymore. According to Google’s enterprise blog, the basic Google Apps package is being abandoned to streamline the service, offering businesses a single, $50 per user option that promises 24/7 phone support, 25GB inboxes and a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Pre-existing free customers can still hum along unmolested, of course, and the standard pricing doesn’t apply to schools or universities, either. Personal Google accounts are still free too, doling out gratis Gmail and Drive access to anyone with a unique user name. The team hopes that streamlining the Apps will allow it to provide better service, possibly offering enterprise users new features on a faster timetable.

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Look at the ‘Star Wars’ art, you will

The official poster for the ‘Who Shot First’ exhibition of ‘Star Wars’-themed artwork, which opens December 13 at the Ltd. Art Gallery in Seattle.

Ltd. Art Gallery)

If you’re the kind of person who can remember when you first heard Darth Vader speak the words, “I am your father,” you’ll want to be in Seattle starting next week.

That’s because on December 13, the Ltd. Art Gallery there will begin exhibiting “Who Shot First,” a collection of more than 40 artists’ “Star Wars”-themed works.

Once upon a time, in an art gallery far, far away (pictures)

The artists “will be displaying their own unique interpretation of these classic films,” the release for the show reads, “drawing upon the characters and themes that have inspired them since childhood.”

(Via Laughing Squid)

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$24,000 Transform Robot goes from car to humanoid

“No transform, no robot” is Brave Robotics’ slogan.

Brave Robotics)

We’ve seen transforming robots before, and I’m not talking about anything related to Hasbro.

Researchers from MIT are among many engineers and tinkerers trying to design robots that perform different functions by changing their shape or appearance.

Japan-based Brave Robotics has designed a 1/12-scale RC
car that can transform into a humanoid robot. It can shuffle around, grab footage with its Wi-Fi camera, and even fire little missiles from its arms.

But the intriguing part about the Transform Robot is its scope. Not only has Brave Robotics hobbyist Kenji Ishida put 10 years into building robots in disguise — he began in 2002 with a simple pair of legs and the Transform Robot is version 7.1 — he wants to build a full-scale transforming, drivable car with artificial intelligence by 2030.

Transformers fan gone wild? Perhaps.

Even though building a real Autobot seems highly unlikely due to the enormous power requirements, not to mention the sheer cost and AI hurdles, Ishida is an undaunted dreamer.

He showed off his RC transformer last weekend at Maker Faire Tokyo, which also witnessed the appearance of 13-foot mecha marvel Kuratas, inspired by a different sci-fi franchise.

The Transform Robot is partly made of 3D-printed components and runs on lithium-polymer batteries.

The car even has room for two seats in case your action figures want to hop a ride. Check it out in the vid below.

Ishida will make only 10 Transform Robots, custom painted and already programmed, each for $24,000. Yes, that’s the 1/12-scale version.

Well, how else is he supposed to fund Autobot development?

(Via Boing Boing)

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W2W4: Can Mavs spoil Suns’ fun guarantee?

Maybe the money-back guarantee wasn’t too big of a risk for the Suns’ marketing department.

Fans who don’t have fun tonight can get their ticket prices refunded. That’s not necessarily guaranteeing a win, but it’s not like the Mavs are tough to beat when they’re playing the butt end of back-to-backs.

The Mavs are 1-3 in such games this season. That includes a couple of lopsided loss, being blown out by 19 in Utah and 23 in Chicago.

The Mavs were on the wrong end of a rout against the Clippers last night, but their starters other than rookie Jae Crowder still played pretty heavy minutes. This could be an especially tough task for 38-year-old point guard Derek Fisher, who played 27 minutes in the first half of his first back-to-back of his season.

The Suns have certainly had their share of struggles this season, having just wrapped up a 1-5 road trip, but they are 5-3 at home.

Records: Mavs (8-10); Suns (7-12)

When: 9:30 p.m.

Where: US Airways Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: The Suns go as point guard Goran Dragic goes. His numbers from the Suns’ seven wins: 18.9 points, 52.5 field goal percentage, 50.0 3-point percentage, 7.4 assists. His numbers from the Suns’ dozen losses: 13.5 points, 44.5 field goal percentage, 29.4 3-point percentage, 6.1 assists per game. If Darren Collison struggles – particularly on the defensive end – it will be interesting to see if coach Rick Carlisle gives meaningful backup point guard minutes to Dominique Jones.

Key matchup: Chris Kaman vs. Marcin Gortat – The Mavs at least need Kaman to hold his own in the big man matchup. A big offensive night from Kaman, who has had three 20-point game this season, would be nice. It’s imperative, however, that he gives a solid defensive effort. Kaman has struggled with the Mavs’ pick-and-roll coverages, which require their big men to aggressively show and recover. Gortat, who averaged 15.4 points last season but has seen his scoring average dip almost four points per game, is at his best as a roll man.

Injuries: Mavs – PF Dirk Nowitzki (knee) is out. Suns – F Channing Frye (heart) is out.

Up next: at Houston Rockets, 7 p.m. Saturday

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Twitter to give users fewer characters to tweet with when URLs are involved

Twitter giving users fewer characters to tweet with when URLs are involved

The shock! The horror! The genuine nightmare of losing two more valuable character spaces per tweet! Such a scenario is indeed going to play out, as Twitter has just announced a subtle change in its wrapper that’ll go into play this coming February. The firm will be extending the maximum length of wrapped links from 20 to 22 characters for non-https URLs, and 21 to 23 characters for https URLs. It’s announcing the change now in order to give developers time to tweak their apps to handle things with poise, though it’s not going so far as to clarify why the change is being made. Enjoy those shortened links while you can — that whole “140 characters” thing will soon be gaining yet another asterisk.

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