Tag Archives: Toys

Mix your music and experience an artistic adventure: iPhone apps of the week


The big news this week from the world of Apple was the discovery that iPhones have been tracking users’ locations as they go about their daily lives. Apparently, whenever you use Google Maps, or take a picture, or do anything that consults the GPS, your location and a time stamp are recorded in a log file on your
iPhone. Apple is not using this information for anything, but it’s not surprising many people find this particular previously unknown feature pretty unsettling.

Like probably anyone who heard this news, I had a lot of questions about what was being recorded, why it’s being recorded, and what Apple has to say about it. Fortunately, our very own Josh Lowensohn and Elinor Mills put together an extensive FAQ to help you get all the info about the iPhone location-tracking function. Apple has not yet commented, but it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks and whether the company will strip this functionality from later versions of the iOS.

This week’s apps are a DJ app that lets you mix music on the go and an artistic adventure game that is both challenging and very engrossing.

Djay for iPhone and iPod Touch

The easy-to-use controls make it a snap to find the right music for the mix.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Djay for iPhone and iPod Touch (99 cents for a limited time) brings two turntables to your touch screen so you can beatmatch, scratch, and record mixes of music from your library. A unique interface lets you hold your iPhone sideways to view the turntables side by side, or you can switch to vertical and view a single turntable to adjust the EQ and BPM and get more screen area in which to work with your mixes.

Djay boasts a “hyper-realistic low-latency touch-screen interface,” and I found that it definitely feels more precise than similar DJ apps in the category. As an added bonus, your cover art will show up on each record, making it easy to identify your music at a glance.

Along with the basic controls for selecting songs, playing, and crossfading between tracks, Djay comes with a few more controls that will come in handy for mobile mixing. You can match songs on your own and adjust beats per minute for smooth transitions or you can have Djay autosync BPM for you. There is even an Automix function to let the app mix your music automatically. The app recognizes your playlists as well, so just queue up a big playlist of dance songs, for example, and then let the app do all the transitions for you.

Among the many other features are the ability to create a cue point trigger to start the music on one track at a specific point; full visual waveforms, so you can pick out specific parts of a song quickly; and auto-cut scratching, which lets you use two fingers while scratching for beatmatched cutting.

Overall, Djay for iPhone and
iPod Touch is probably the best low-cost DJ app I’ve seen yet in the iTunes App Store. The unique screen orientation feature that lets you view one or both turntables makes mixing and fiddling with settings easier, and automated mixing and beat-syncing features mean just about anyone can create a good mix.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery

As soon as you begin playing, you’ll notice this game’s unique visual style.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP ($4.99) is a stylistically unusual and engrossing action and adventure game that focuses on artistic audio and visuals. Immediately upon starting the game, you’ll notice it has a very distinctive style and you’ll get onscreen cues that teach you how to control your character. As the story unfolds, you’ll travel across a mythic realm and solve puzzles as you go.

Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery offers a unique experience and an interesting control scheme that sets it apart from other side-scrolling games. As you travel the world, you’ll run across impassable areas that require you to solve visual puzzles before you can move on. The game is sometimes frustrating early on because it’s a learn-as-you-go type of experience, but even though you may die a few times, the solution becomes that much more rewarding when you figure it out.

As a mythical knight, you have a sword and shield for when you need to do battle with occasional monsters. What’s interesting here is that to wield your sword, you need to turn your iPhone vertically to get into battle mode. The buttons are a little bit awkward at first, but I really like the idea of turning the iPhone to switch control modes. As you get further into the game, you’ll also unlock spells that will help you defeat your enemies and solve puzzles to continue.

Overall, Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery is an exceptional game for its artistic and musical style and interesting ways of presenting puzzles you need to solve. If you’re looking for hack-and-slash or shoot-’em-up action, this isn’t your game, but if you want to take in an audio-visual experience while solving interesting puzzles, this app is a good option.

What’s your favorite iPhone app? Do you have a better DJ app than Djay for iPhone and iPod Touch? What do you think of using iPhone orientation as a way to switch control schemes in either app? Do you like the somewhat mystical and slower pace of Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery? Let me know in the comments!

Article source: http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-20056606-12.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Transcend ships USB 3.0 rugged portable drive

The new rugged SJ25H2 portable drive from Transcend.

The new rugged SJ25H2 portable drive from Transcend.


Transcend today announced that it now ships the StoreJet 25H3P portable drive, which supports the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 connection. The drive is based on 2.5-inch internal hard drive housed in a robust shockproof case.

The company claims that the new portable drive’s antislip rubber enclosure and reinforced hard casing have passed the rigorous U.S. military drop tests, and that the StoreJet 25H3P is one of the most robust portable hard drives in the market.

The new StoreJet 25H3P comes with 1TB of storage space and is designed to offer a transfer speed of around 90MBps via USB 3.0. The drive is bus-powered (no separate power adapter is needed) and is backward-compatible with USB 2.0 ports.

Together with the StoreJet 25H3P, Transcend also announced today that it’s now shipping the StoreJet 25H2P portable drive, which is the same as the StoreJet 25H3P except that it only supports USB 2.0 and hence offers much lower transfer speed.

The StoreJet 25H3P and the StoreJet 25H2P portable drives are available now, at suggested prices of $205 and $185, respectively.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20056269-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

TiVo wins key ruling in EchoStar case

TiVo has scored an important victory in its patent battle with EchoStar.

In a 7-5 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled (PDF) yesterday that EchoStar did, in fact, violate TiVo’s “multimedia time warping system” patent that allows consumers to record one show, while watching another. The decision paves the way for TiVo to finally force EchoStar to disable any infringing devices in consumers’ homes.

TiVo’s battle with EchoStar started in 2004, when the DVR company first brought to light its belief that its patent was infringed. In 2006, a Texas court granted TiVo $73.9 million in damages after finding that EchoStar violated its patent. In 2009, a U.S. District Court judge bumped that figure to $200 million.

Last year, EchoStar brought its case to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of TiVo in a 2-1 decision. EchoStar then asked for an en banc opinion, requiring all 12 judges to rule on the case. It was granted, and EchoStar received its answer yesterday.

But the fight isn’t necessarily over. In a statement released yesterday, EchoStar said that it intends to bring its case to the U.S. Supreme Court and “seek a stay of the injunction while doing so.”

For its part, TiVo is pleased. The company anticipates disabling the devices in question and receiving damages related to the case.

“We look forward to the permanent injunction against EchoStar and Dish Network finally being enforced with respect to the DVRs they must now disable,” TiVo said in a statement. “This ruling also paves the way for TiVo to receive substantial damages and contempt sanctions regarding the DVRs that EchoStar and Dish Network failed to disable.”

EchoStar was formerly Dish Network’s parent company. The satellite provider, which has been included in this case, was spun off in 2007.

EchoStar noted yesterday that many of the allegedly infringing devices have been taken out of customers’ homes. The company said that if it can’t secure a stay, it will “work as quickly as possible to upgrade the remaining customers to our current-generation DVRs, as these are not an issue in the ruling.”

TiVo shares were up more than $2 to close at $10.84 yesterday, following news of the ruling.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-20056021-17.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Square lands in Apple Stores, online


Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s new company, Square, gives
iPad, and
iPod Touch owners the capability to accept credit card payments and charges a small percentage of each transaction only. No monthly or annual fees. No hardware expenses. And now, you can get a Square reader at an Apple Store or from Apple’s Web site.

This is obviously a huge step for the start-up that has been offering a mobile payment solution for independent contractors and small businesses for almost a year now via its Web site.

Square’s device is a small card reader plugs into the headphone jack on your iOS (or Android) device. The app is free. The reader is free. It’s a great deal for small businesses that can’t afford traditional credit card machines or the monthly and yearly upkeep fees that many companies still charge.

I have been using Square for the last several months with ease and to great response. Square keeps its iOS app updated and running soundly and offers tremendous online support for the product, and now that its availability will be increasing, Square should see nothing but continued success.

Read more about Square from fellow CNET writer Rick Broida here. You can already order your Square from the Apple Store online (the $9.95 price tag includes a $10 credit for Square fees, evening out the hardware cost) and will soon be able to pick one up in every Apple Store in the country. Currently Square is only available in the U.S.

Do you have a small business that would benefit (or already has) from Square? Let me know in the comments (and include links if you’ve got them)!

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20055877-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Route 66 Muffler Men: Collect them all

Gemini Giant

Would you like a side of rocket ship with your hamburger?

Amanda Kooser/CNET)

LIVINGSTON, Ill.–I see that you have a mint condition Rocket Firing Boba Fett action figure. That’s pretty cool, but not as cool as my fully restored Gemini Giant with all accessories, astronaut helmet, and rocket ship intact.

I’m collecting Route 66 Muffler Men for the Geek’s Guide to Route 66. These massive fiberglass statues dominate the parking lots and roadside attractions where they live. They all come from the common birthplace of the now defunct International Fiberglass in Venice, Calif., during the 1960s. As impressive as they look standing in place, imagine seeing one trucking down the highway on its way to a new home.

Muffler Men along Route 66 (photos)

Roadside America has a handy spotter’s guide to get you oriented when starting your own Muffler Man collection. I bagged three Muffler Men in one day of driving on Illinois’s extensive chunk of the Mother Road. I was going to have them mounted on plaques for my living room but couldn’t find a willing taxidermist.

Gemini Giant
This bad boy is a reminder of the days when the Space Age was upon us and all things rocket-related were cool. The Gemini Giant holds down the fort at the Launching Pad Drive-In in Wilmington, Ill. He weighs 500 pounds and is a towering 28-feet tall. That’s more than 27 feet taller than your average action figure.

Bunyon’s Statue
The Gemini Giant’s twin brother hefts a honkin’ huge hot dog just down the road in Atlanta, Ill. He once stood sentinel over a cafe in the town, but decided to stick around after the the diner closed. Really, who’s going to tell a 500-pound man with a hot dog that he can’t hang out?

Related links
? Geek’s guide to Route 66, part 1
? Dungeons Dragons park: Dice not included
? Cadillac Ranch: Texas-size lawn ornaments
? Route 66: Build your own giant Blue Whale

Pink Elephant Harley Man
He’s not as big, but there is an unmistakable family resemblance between the fiberglass Harley-Davidson Muffler Man and his bigger brothers up the road. He also looks a bit like that guy from the Village People. His home is a field next to the Pink Elephant Antiques Mall in Livingston, Ill.

Why is it called the Pink Elephant? I’m glad you asked. Instead of a big blue ox, this Paul Bunyan look-alike has a fiberglass pink elephant for a pet. Plenty more fiberglass creations surround the building, including a freakishly tall boy dressed for the beach and a Twistee Treat stand that dishes out ice cream to Route 66 travelers.

Harley Muffler Man with ice cream sign

A muffler would fit right into those big hands.

Amanda Kooser/CNET)

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20055145-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Seagate agrees to buy Samsung’s drive business

A Samsung hard drive

A Samsung hard drive


Seagate has agreed to acquire Samsung’s hard drive business for $1.375 billion in a deal that gives Samsung a 9.6 percent stake in the hard-drive specialist and that forges an alliance for the new era of flash memory storage.

The companies announced the deal today, a new step in the steady consolidation of a major part of the computing industry. Last month, Western Digital signed a deal to acquire Hitachi’s hard-drive unit for $4.3 billion, thereby vaulting it over Seagate to become the largest hard drive maker. Seagate’s deal today would reduce the market to just three main players, the two hard-drive specialists and Toshiba.

Under today’s deal, Segate will pay $1.375 billion, half stock and half cash, to Samsung. Seagate will supply Samsung with hard drives for its computers and consumer-electronics products, while Samsung will supply Seagate with flash memory for business-grade solid-state disk (SSD) storage products, the companies said.

Flash-based drives are a major trend in the computing industry, offering advantages in performance, power consumption, ruggedness, and silent operation. However, the cost per gigabyte is considerably higher for flash storage. Samsung is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flash memory.

The deal is expected to close by the end of 2011. The Wall Street Journal reported the deal yesterday.

Also as part of the deal, the companies will cooperate on enterprise storage product development, a Samsung executive will be nominated to Seagate’s board, and the companies will expand their current patent cross-licensing agreement.

And Seagate expects to gain better access to companies manufacturing products in China and Southeast Asia, the company said. “In addition, the mutual supply agreements enable Seagate to secure an important source of leading-edge NAND flash supply as the company expands its SSD and solid state hybrid product offerings, and position Seagate to be a more significant supplier of disk drives to Samsung,” it said.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30685_3-20055186-264.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave