Archive for April, 2011
This clever little app, called Bike Repair, shows you how to fix your bike using videos and pictures. Is your transmission borked? Are your breaks soft? Do you have a squirrel in the spokes? It’s all here. It will even help you fix your seat and handlebars for the most comfortable ride.
It runs on the iPhone, iPad, and under Android and costs $ 2. I, personally, enjoy the rough and ready techno music accompanying the official demo video.
Don’t want to spend the cash? You could also just head over to MAKE and learn how to do it yourself without risking getting smutz all over your iPhone or iPad
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Pepsi plans to introduce a new line of touchscreen Pepsi machines that, not only serve cold beverages (â™« I like cold beverages â™«), but also help you interact with your friends by buying them sodas. Which, for the record — I AM NOT YOUR SUGAR DADDY. Get it? Because of all the sugar in soda! That’s why kids are so chubby.
The new machines of course let you buy a beverage via a fancy animated UI, complete with swipe controls, but they also let you gift a Pepsi to a friend, or even a complete stranger through “Random Acts of Refreshment”.
All you have to do is enter a friend’s name and cell phone number (I’m sure PepsiCo has NO plans to keep a database of such details) and they’ll receive a txt message with a special code that can be redeemed at any of the interactive machines. You even have the option of recording a 10-second personalized video message that will be played back when they redeem it. Or, you can send a caffeinated gift to a complete stranger in a different city if you’re feeling particularly philanthropic.
Yeah, how about no. The only social networking Pepsi machine I need is one that can communicate with the vending machine next to it to choose the best snack to accompany my Mountain Dew. I kid, I kid. IT’S FLAMIN’ HOT CHEETOS, DERDER.
Hit the jump for a video demo or something (I dunno, it looked boring so I skipped it).
Gas prices are going up again, not one single Gordon Gekko-lyte has been held accountable for the financial meltdown of recent years, and most of us are just now sobering up from a tax filing hangover. So if you’re looking for another reason to complain about the government, here it is: Reports are that 13 out of 36 surveyed FBI agents lack the skills to deal with cyber crime.
However, it’s Friday afternoon and the sun is — finally — shining in much of our soggy country, so we’re going to focus on the positive in this report.
Skip over the doom-and-gloom in the article and look at the bottom where Jason Mick writes, “Since 2009 the FBI has been trying to hire 3,000 new agents, with a heavy emphasis on individuals with IT experience.”
So if you’re a nerd and you’ve ever wanted to live out your War Games or Chuck fantasies, then Uncle Sam wants you!
Motorola’s Atrix 4G may have some serious competition from a performance standpoint, but it’s still got one thing going for it over all of the other Android superphones hitting the streets these days: an optional laptop dock. ‘Course, it’s debatable whether or not said accessory is truly worth paying for, but the phone itself has certainly done its fair share of impressing. You’ve read our take on Motorola’s latest Android whizkid, and now it’s your turn to vent. If you had the power necessary to overhaul the Atrix 4G, how would you go about doing so? Would you nix Motoblur altogether? Toss the latest build on Android onboard? Make it available on more carriers? Handle the laptop dock differently? All (sane) opinions are welcome, and comments are open below.
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3D printing service Shapeways is useful for everything from unprecedented puzzle construction to werewolf hunting. But this time they’ve really outdone themselves.
You might remember the Strandbeests, a set of sculptures/machines that “walk” under their own power due to clever design by their creator, Theo Jansen. The originals were large and hand-made from light wood so they could move easily — but Jansen collaborated with Shapeways to put together a version that they can just print.
It won’t go in wind, of course, but you can see how it moves when pulled by a string in this video. Simultaneously creepy and amazing. They call it Animaris Geneticus Parvus, and you can order one (fully formed! No assembly required!) for around a hundred bucks.
Isn’t it just shocking how cool of a world we live in?
Each morning, the President of the United States gets briefed on the day’s news by some of the smartest advisers around. The rest of us aren’t so lucky. We have to sift through newspapers, magazines and websites to find out what’s going on around us. Now, thanks to a free iPad app called Zite, the news-gathering process may get a lot easier for those of us who aren’t leaders of the free world.
Zite, by a Vancouver company of the same name, crawls over half a million Web domains to find specific reading material that would be of interest to you, according to your social network and/or online reading behavior. It evaluates this potential content by tracking signals (like tweets, comments, tags and sharing) from stories that indicate a certain level of social interest and momentum in the story. The result is a personalized magazine that gets more accurately targeted toward its reader the more it’s used.
Wednesday, Zite launched in Apple’s App Store, and for the past week I’ve been testing an early version of it. As someone who is regularly overwhelmed by information overload, just on technology news alone, I found Zite to be a huge help. I realized every time I grabbed my iPad, I anxiously checked this app to see what new content it gathered for me. And I found myself reading stories from sources I don’t usually read.
Zite joins the ranks of other personalized digital magazines, like Silicon Valley-based Flipboard, which came out last July. Flipboard differs in that it takes data from your Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as other topics or people you can manually choose to set up, and builds a personalized digital magazine with this content.
Zite isn’t just a mirror of your social-networking account. It figures out what you consider interesting according to your Twitter or Google Reader accounts, then fills your magazine with stories about similar topics.
It also tracks and learns from user behavior as people open stories (or don’t), so if users just read a story on Zite, its personalization still works. With each story a user reads, he or she can opt to indicate they like a story, want to see more of one or all of the individual topics covered in that story, or want to see more from the source of that story. Zite then makes suggestions according to that knowledge. So your Zite magazine will never be exactly like mine.
By now, you’re probably wondering what Zite does with this knowledge about your reading preferences. Zite CEO Ali Davar says the company won’t sell user data to third parties, but may use it internally on an anonymous basis for advertising purposes. The company will share aggregate data with publishers (like number of clicks on a story), for ad-placement purposes, but this won’t include a user’s individual data.
Flipboard is more polished than Zite, including images that take up the entire iPad screen and clever animations that mimic real pages turning. Zite’s animations are limited to more straightforward gestures like swiping from right to left to turn to a new page of content, though there is a cool animation on Zite’s home screen that swings several images from stories onto the magazine’s first page. Both Zite and Flipboard pull text and images from sources, but Flipboard usually just displays a portion of a story on its digital magazine pages with the original website on which content was found displayed below it.
Above, ‘Top Stories’ compiles stories Zite thinks a user wants to read. Top, a Customize option lets users add favorite sections.
Zite displays entire stories on its own formatted reading-mode pages, though some stories, like one I read from the New York Times, appeared in the article’s original Web-page format. Mr. Davar said this is because roughly 3% to 5% of articles are tagged in a way that doesn’t allow for reformatting in Zite.
There are currently no ads in Zite, but Mr. Davar said the company will begin to put ads from publishers in the reading-mode pages of the magazine in a few months. He said the site may have ads that aren’t from publishers, but publishers have control regarding ads that appear on their content.
Setting up Zite was a cinch. I entered my Twitter username (not the password) and Zite took a minute to churn and grab content that interested me, setting up sections of my magazine according to topics I follow in Twitter. I didn’t enter my Google Reader account. Users who don’t have Twitter or Google Reader accounts can skip those steps and still use Zite by selecting sections of the magazine that interest them.
Upon opening Zite, a section called “Top Stories” appears first. This is a compilation of the stories Zite thinks I’ll find most interesting, and its content refreshes about every 30 minutes depending how often I use Zite.
My auto-generated magazine had a list of topics including Gadgets, Mobile, iPhone, Google, Mac, Social Media and Technology. I tapped a Customize icon to pick some additional sections for my magazine. I could choose from over 2,000 topics ranging from Wedding Photography to Gardening, from Wine & Mixology to Celebrity Gossip & Industry Rumors. A search box lets users look for even more topics, like “Martha Stewart,” which I added to my Zite. Topics can’t be manually added.
I ran into a couple bugs while using my early version of Zite, which Mr. Davar said are being fixed. A Mashable.com article crashed the app four times in a row when I tried to read it. And though videos from major providers like YouTube and Vimeo are watchable in Zite, I had trouble playing a video that used HTML-5 playback.
For now, Zite is limited to Apple’s iPad, just like Flipboard. Mr. Davar said he plans to get Zite on other tablets by this summer and on mobile devices and Web browsers before the end of this year.
If you’d like a smarter way to handle information overload, Zite can do the dirty work of amassing relevant content for you. It’s designed to get more personalized over time and I certainly plan to keep using it to see what it uncovers for me.
Watch a video with Katherine Boehret on Zite at WSJ.com/PersonalTech. Email her at email@example.com.
Write to Katherine Boehret at firstname.lastname@example.org
Continue reading Triton 36,000 submarine to plumb ocean’s deepest depths, comes in yellow (video)
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The GMT version of the updated Oris BC3 comes as a limited edition done for the Oris Big Crown Sky Racing team. Why does “Big Crown” need to be in that term? I know that Big Crown is a line if watches from Oris, but does that mean there are other Oris Sky Racing teams? Anyhow – that BC3 Air Racing Limited Edition watch comes in the same 42mm wide case as the BC3, but here in titanium. It also has a special red ring about the crown to go with the GMT hand.
Read the rest here…
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If you’ve been on the hunt for the biggest, fastest hard drive around, it seems your options are expanding. I-O Data just introduced the HDCA-UT3.0K external hard drive, which offers USB 3.0 support and 3TB of storage, which, as the company notes, makes it an ideal companion for TVs with a USB recording mode. Struggling to resist the charm of its blue LED and the possibility of owning more storage than you’ll ever need? Look for it in mid-May with a price of ¥26,400 ($ 324).
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