Tag Archives: Software

Blocklets angling to be the new Legos

Blocklets sculpture

A sculpture made of Blocklets.



Blocklets mascot

The Blocklets mascot, Blocky, sports a “Creeper” face from the block-based game Minecraft.



A pair of North Carolina-based entrepreneurs believes they have the building blocks, literally, for a new breed of robots.

Blocklets, a line of interlocking sculptural blocks, are individually laser-cut wood or acrylic pieces that artist Mark Plaga and engineer Gabe Cantor say can be used to make anything from bots to furniture to Arduino trebuchets. Combining the individual pieces to make a Blocklet (a unit), builders need only to unblock their imaginations and see what tumbles out.

At the first “Minecraft Blocklet Party,” for example, creative types inspired by the digital block-based game Minecraft spelled out the word “Minecraft” in 5-inch-tall Blocklet letters and crafted a variety of miniature robo-guys and amorphous blocky blobs.

Blocket’s mascot “Minecraft Blocky,” a two-legged robo-man, is one of the founders’ prized creations. He is photographed on their Blocklets Web site doing headstands, waving, bending over, and reaching out for what appears to be a hug.

Plaga and Cantor also hope to eventually turn their design into an educational tool, making Blocklets available in the classroom for science students and others.

Blocklets is now seeking funding on Kickstarter and Plaga and Cantor plan to auction off Blocklet-based sculptures at the Maker Faire in Raleigh, N.C., in June.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/blocklets-angling-to-be-the-new-legos/8301-17938_105-20061261-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

OCZ releases ‘budget’ high-performance SSDs

The new Agility 3 solid-state drive from OCZ.

The new Agility 3 solid-state drive from OCZ.


You love the OCZ Vertex 3 solid-state drive but can’t afford it? Well, there are now more affordable choices from the same company.

OCZ announced today that it’s now shipping new SSDs that offer an “outstanding balance of performance and value,” the Agility 3 and Solid 3.

Like the Vertex 3, the two new drives support the latest SATA 3 standard (6Gbps) and, according to OCZ, feature the SandForce SF-2200 SSD processor and will significantly outperform traditional hard drives as well as SATA 2 (3Gbps) SSDs.

The new drives come in the 2.5-inch (laptop) design and will work in all applications where regular 2.5-inch hard drives are used. They can also be used in desktop computers.

OCZ claims that the Agility 3 can deliver up to 525MBps in reading, 500MBps in writing, and up to 60,000 4KB random-write IOPS, while the Solid 3 can reach 500MBps reading, 450MBps writing, and 20,000 4KB random-write IOPS. Basically, they are fast.

Now, the most important part is always the price. The Agility 3 comes in 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB capacities that carry the estimated price tags of $135, $240, and $480 respectively. The Solid 3 comes in 60GB and 120GB capacities that are slated to cost $130 and $230 respectively. They will all be available for purchase later this week.

While these prices are lower than those of the Vertex 3 or the Plextor PX-256M2S, they are not really within the “budget” level that most of us have in mind.

If you want to find out about how “outstanding” the balance between performance and value these new drives offer is, stay tuned for full reviews!

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/ocz-releases-budget-high-performance-ssds/8301-17938_105-20061254-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Mobile Make Out: Pucker up on your iPhone

Mobile Make Out app

Mmm, tastes like iPhone.

Sparkling Zoo)

Mobile Make Out is an iPhone app on a mission. It wants to help your cheating heart get some release without completely destroying your real relationship. The free app works by connecting to another user over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. You then smooch away on a pair of lips on your
iPhone‘s screen while your app partner mashes lips on his own device.

This raises an interesting question. Is kissing someone else through your iPhone considered cheating? The app makers encourage you to invite your colleagues, friends, and strangers at parties to join you in your kiss-a-thon. Try explaining to your significant other why you were caught making out with your mobile phone. Somehow, I don’t think that will go over well.

The best part about Mobile Make Out’s marketing is its insistence that loving up your iPhone is “almost like the real thing.” I’m not quite ready to test that out, but I suspect that necking the cold hard glass of an iPhone is pretty far from the real thing. The app does give a helpful warning that too much lipstick can damage your iPhone. So, ladies, go easy on the Avon.

Related links
? Cloud Girlfriends teach you how to fake it
? How to kiss your Facebook friend online for real
? Blow a Valentine’s kiss with your iPhone

There is a catch. It takes two iPhones to make the app work. That means having a potentially embarrassing conversation with the object of your crush. “Um, excuse me. Sorry to interrupt you in your cubicle as you’re crunching spreadsheets, but would you mind downloading an app that will allow me to virtually smooch you up during work hours? Yes, I am married, but this is purely platonic, of course.” Good luck with that.

The app’s YouTube promo video invites you to make out with all of your Facebook friends. I don’t know what your Facebook friend list looks like, but mine includes close relatives and colleagues. One word comes to mind: “Eww.” Still, this app could be a godsend for Apple fanboys who finally have an excuse to lay some real lovin’ on their beloved iPhones.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/mobile-make-out-pucker-up-on-your-iphone/8301-17938_105-20061147-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

HP reveals a handful of new laptops

HP’s latest Envy 14 laptop.


As sure as the sun rises in the East, every few months you’re going to see some new laptops from leading PC maker HP. That time is here again, and the latest additions include new versions of the high-end Envy, the Netbook-size Mini, and even a few professional-level ProBooks and Elitebooks. Here are some of the highlights:

HP Envy 14
The Envy 14, part of HP’s premium Envy line, gets a refresh with Intel’s 2011 Sandy Bridge CPUs, which offer better performance and battery life than the 2010 models. While it looks the same as previous Envy models, HP promises that the large clickpad is more responsive (multitouch gestures were a little wonky on the current versions), and USB 3.0 gets thrown in as well.

We’ve generally been big fans of this line, as its one of the few high-design, gamer-friendly series of laptops from a major brand. You won’t be able to get one of these new 14-inch models until June, and they start at $999.

The HP Mini 210.


HP Mini 210

It turns out Netbooks aren’t totally dead after all (just mostly dead). The new Mini 210 is pretty much the same as last year’s, with a dual-core Intel Atom CPU, and this is one of only a handful of new Netbooks we’ve heard about so far for 2011 (by this time last year, we were flooded with 2010 models).

But the new Mini 210 does add some new lid colors (including sweet purple, charcoal, crimson red, luminous rose, and ocean drive). Despite still being only about one-inch thick, it works in a streamlined six-cell battery, and, surprisingly, the Mini 210 includes a Netbook version of the same Beats Audio technology found in the high-end Envy laptops, which is something of a bold move.

Also available in June, these will run $300-$330, which is still the standard for basic Netbooks.

The HP Pavilion dv4.


HP Pavilion dv4
Other than a few vibrant new colors, the most notable thing about the Pavilion dv4 is the new version of HP’s Cool Sense technology it includes. This is basically a user control panel for the cooling fans, but now it actually includes some recommended user settings, instead of leaving it all for you to figure out.

The Pavilion dv4 is coming May 18, starting at $599.

Corporate and business users shouldn’t feel left out, there are a handful of new ProBook and EliteBook models as well. The $799 ProBook 5330m is a slim 13-inch with Intel’s newest Sandy Bridge CPUs and a backlit keyboard, as well as TPM and Intel vPro technology (which are important for corporate IT departments).

The EliteBook 2560p and 2760p are aimed at high-end business users, with metallic finishes and thin designs. The $1,100 12.5-inch 2560p is a traditional clamshell, while the $1,500 12-inch 2760p has a swiveling convertible touchscreen. All three should be available in May, and our sister site ZDNet has some additional details on the business systems, but the part we’re most interested in is the pay as you go 3G data plans, which is something we haven’t seen in a laptop before.

The system is called Data Pass, and with it, users of select HP laptops with 3G antennas can buy small chunks of data on an a la carte basis. The service is provided by Sprint, and seems like a good idea for those who need only occasional access, but the prices did seem steep — $5.00 for 75MB of data, which could easily be a single PowerPoint document, or up to 1GB of data for $30.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/hp-reveals-a-handful-of-new-laptops/8301-17938_105-20060960-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Musicmask keeps your music in the dark


Listening in the dark is a surprisingly different experience than listening with visual stimulation. Sure, the sound is exactly the same, but by eliminating visual distractions, we hear differently. That’s why some audiophiles prefer to listen in total darkness. Turning the room lights off gets you almost there, but even the small distraction of the little power-indicator lights on your electronic devices can be enough to give your eyes something to focus on.

The Musicmask was developed by Corly Bedacht at Acoustic Projects in Amsterdam. He said, “The idea for Musicmask came about during a meditation session in a darkened room. The music played sounded particularly spatial. When the light was switched on later, the spatial effect was diminished.”

The Musicmask is essentially a blindfold, but one that allows you to keep your eyes open. Construction quality isn’t lavish: it’s made with matte black plastic, foam inserts, and an adjustable Velcro strap, but I found it comfortable to wear for hours at a time. Yes, you can duplicate the Musicmask “effect” for free by shutting off the lights and covering all the tiny lights on your equipment, or making your own blindfold, but it’s a little harder to make one that lets you keep your eyes open. One thing’s for sure: you won’t be able to multitask when you can’t see! You won’t be texting or surfing the Net when you’re in total darkness. All you can really do is listen to digital music. LP playback requires more hands-on participation, but you can easily slide the Musicmask up onto your forehead when changing records.

Listening with the Musicmask (or in total darkness) you focus on the music and hear more details in it. I listened to the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” with the Musicmask and heard things I’ve never noticed before. I loved the way Paul McCartney’s bass lines locked in with Ringo Starr’s drum patterns on “Fixing A Hole,” and the swirling, psychedelic tape loops on “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” were more intricate than I’d imagined. I’m more aware of subtle shifts in the stereo image, soundstage depth, and very quiet background vocals while listening with the Musicmask.

Musicmask is sold direct from the Netherlands with a 10-day money back satisfaction guarantee and retails for $44.95.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20060756-47.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

This week in Crave: The animal-magnetism edition

Delias painting

Click on the above image to see which up-and-coming young artist painted this masterpiece using an iPad.

Amanda Kooser/CNET)

Too busy talking to a live parrot on Facebook this week to keep up with Crave? Here’s what went down while you were chatting up your feathered friend.

? iMacs got faster CPUs, Thunderbolt ports.

? Why isn’t Nintendo’s 3DS selling well? Some thoughts.

? New Nook likely to get e-ink treatment. (What’s in store for e-ink this year anyway?)

? Meet our favorite Blu-ray player of 2011 so far.

? Artistic cat + iPad app = Motherwell with an obvious Jackson Pollock influence.

? Don’t judge this monster by its evil looks.

? A new weapon in the piracy battle (piracy as in “arrr,” that is).

? Listen up, lazy lovers of live music.

? Into leather?

? Close the curtains on annoying noise.

But don’t you dare close the curtains on Crave! Write to us at crave at cnet dot com.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/this-week-in-crave-the-animal-magnetism-edition/8301-17938_105-20060249-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave