tech


Was the BlackBerry CEO’s “Wall Hugger” Comment Just An Innocent Jab?

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BlackBerry CEO John CheniPhone users now have a new nickname courtesy of BlackBerry CEO (at least the current one) John Chen. While speaking at the Oasis Montgomery Conference this week Chen was asked about the popularity of the iPhone. The CEO must have been at the top of his game because he was quick to respond “I call you guys wall huggers” apparently take a jab at iPhone’s battery life.

While this seems somewhat witty and clever, to me it’s an indication that BlackBerry is still set in their typical old-time ways. While I believe there is a market for longer battery life, the fact that many iPhone and Android handsets maintain popularity even though their battery is a weak point indicates that the majority of the market (myself included) prioritizes other features above battery life.

Last year I made the plunge to the Android world and bought a Nexus 5 – I’m the first to admit that I have to recharge my phone when I get home from work each day. While some people might think that this means I have to go essentially phone-feature free while my phone is charging, the reality is that my data is so well integrated into my Google Account that I just pull out my Nexus 7 and continue on with my docs, email, etc. When I couple my built in Google Features with multi platform messengers such as mySMS it means that I’m able to continue on messaging (including plain SMS/text messages) from my tablet, desktop, etc. This is just one example of how it my situation battery life is low priority for me.

I do realize Chen’s comment was most likely just a shot at the competition but I really worry that it also is a prime example of BlackBerry still not shaking the old-generation thinking on smartphones. I would like nothing more than to see BlackBerry make a come back in the smartphone world but in my opinion focusing on their less important pluses over the competition rather than focusing on how to fix their negatives won’t help this happen.


The Future is Here: 10 Sci-Fi Gadgets That You Can Buy Right Now

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Photo courtesy of k-ideas via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of k-ideas via Flickr Creative Commons

Next year, the movie ‘Back to the Future’ predicts that we’ll have flying cars and hoverboards as our modes of transportation. Unfortunately, from where we are standing now, it looks like there’s still a lot of technological advancements before we can reach that point in the future. We’re currently excelling in producing almost anything in touchscreen technology, from smartphones to washing machines with touch pads.  But, unknown to many, there are many Sci-fi gadgets on the market that gives you a first hand idea on what to expect next in technology. To give you a heads up, here’s a roundup of the futuristic devices that you an try right now.

1. GE VScan 

If you still remember the tricorder in Star Trek movies, which is used to provide efficient and painless diagnosis for patients, then you will be amazed with the GE VScan medical scanner. The electronics company has finally decided to invest in something that his competitors haven’t ventured on before – futuristic and portable medical equipment. It looks like a flip-top phone with a powerbank. Similar to an ultrasound, the GE VScan scans your internal body of any critical issues, especially around the heart. It only takes around two minutes to get the full results.

2. iPhone 5S: First 64-bit smartphone with fingerprint scanner 

We’ve heard of the first fingerprint scanner smartphone before, with the silent (and very unnoticeable) launch of the Motorola Atrix. But, Apple has more surprises for us on its new flagship, the iPhone 5S. The handset’s page on O2 presented its ‘Forward Thinking’ features such as the PC-like processor (64-bit architecture) that performs twice faster than before and the M7 Co-processor that takes care of motion tasks to save battery life. The Touch ID sensor, which Motorola tries to sue Apple for, can unlock the device and provide access to the user when purchasing music and apps.

3.  4K TV Resolution (Sony quasi pro VPL-VW1100ES) 

Goodbye HDTV and hello to 4K Ultra HD televisions. This new breed of television delivers four times better picture quality than your current 1080p HD TV, which means details of images will be clearer, the texture will be greater, and photo blend will be smoother. Steve May of TechRadar reported that all 4K UHD TVs on the market sport 50-inch screen and beyond. This is because smaller screens cannot handle 3840 x 2160 screen resolution, which is almost near to the digital cinema standard of 4096 x 2160 resolution.

4. Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses 

We are expecting that Google Glass will somehow be included in this list, but unfortunately, the search giant is not yet ready to reveal is much-awaited virtual smart glasses. But, another contender took the spot for the first smart glasses on the market – Vuzix M100. Digital Trends’s Andy Boxall said it’s actually more of a hybrid of earpiece and monocle mounted over the head. The view is similar to images from a 4-inch screen viewed at 14-inch away. It runs the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with 1GB RAM, 1 GHz processor, 4GB of internal memory, MicroSC slot, microphone, sensors and a speaker for voice command. The camera on the front can also take 5-megapixel still pictures or shoot 1080p videos.

5. Celluon Magic Cube Laser Projection Keyboard 

If there’s one part of tomorrow that we’re certain that is the rise of projected items. Today, even a computer keyboard can be projected by a laser light through a small box — introducing Celluon Magic Cube. A plug and play device connected via Bluetooth, this cube sized box projects a laser keyword that you can use along with your laptop, smartphone, or tablet, as well as a multitouch sensor mouse.

6. LG Lifeband Touch Smartwatch 

Smartwatches will emerge this century, and expect the mobile manufacturers to bring on their best games. LG presented their Lifeband Touch at the CES 2014 that pushes notifications from your Android or iOS smartphone, as well as become a fitness band that calculates your steps and heart rate. It works with the heart rate earphones from the same manufacturer that has a sensor that sends heart rate and oxygen consumption information via Bluetooth. CNET’s Editorial features said that “this (Lifeband Touch and Heart Rate Earphones) is like if Pebble and a Fitbit got married.”

7. 3D Optical Finger Mouse 

Say goodbye to wires or wireless physical mice, when you can have your fingers do the touching. No, we are not talking about touchscreens, but a real invisible mouse for your laptop and PC. Mouse pad-free, this device is strapped on your finger and uses the optical lens to detect your hand movement. It also has an auto-roll and zooming function. The plug from the 2-button Ergonomic USB optical finger mouse is plug and play.

8. Underwater Digital Camera Mask 

Another headpiece technology is this Underwater Digital Camera Mask that can take pictures and videos while submerge in water. It sports  a 500-megapixel front camera that produces VGA format videos and 2560×1920 solutions photos. It saves all output in its built-in 16MB flash memory that expands up to 2GB of external MicroSC. Running two triple A batteries, the camera automatically turns off when not in use for more than 120 seconds to save battery life.

9. Super Mini SLR camera 

Weighing only 11 grams, this super small single lens reflex (SLR) camera can produce a 36-minute long videos or 200 million pixel photos. It supports Micro SD or Trans  Flash cards for data storage. All photos are in JPG format and can be transferred to your PC or laptop through a USB port, where you also charge the mini SLR camera.

10. Cyclone Power Technologies 

First seen on Back to the Future movie where the car will be fueled with garbage, this gadget has finally come into a reality. The Cyclone Power Technologies is a power generator device that produces energy from biodegradable agents such as orange peels. It requires no fossil fuel oils, thus it’s certainly environmentally-friendly and safe to all users.

This is a quick roundup of the futuristic and sci-fi gadgets that are now available on the market. Try acquiring one of the items we listed above and  be one of the first to experience the future at your fingertips.


iThing of the Week: Yahoo! Weather

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Cold. Snow. Even colder. More snow. That’s basically been the weather for the past month here in Minnesota. To help me keep track of weather conditions throughout the day, I’ve been using Yahoo! Weather.

Yahoo! Weather is a much better app than the one included on an iDevice and other weather apps I’ve used because of its design. When you open the app, the first thing it does is update. The display has a pretty picture in the background representing the current weather conditions. On the bottom left is the temperature, what the high temperature is expected to be and the current weather like fair, rain, snow, etc. The name of the city, the time, a button to quickly access other cities and Yahoo! apps, and a plus sign to add more cities are at the top of the screen.

The best parts are when you swipe up. Scrolling up reveals the forecast for each hour (swipe the times of the day right and left to see the hour by hour) and for the next five days with an option to see ten days. Next are the current details: more information about the forecast for the day, what it feels like outside, the humidity, visibility and UV index. As you keep going down, there is a map of your area. Tap the map to make it larger. The initial map is the one from U.S. Radar, but you can change the map to the satellite view, heat map, and wind.

yahoo weather

Below the map are three more sections. The precipitation segment displays the chances for rain, sleet, hail or snow for the morning, afternoon, evening, and night. Next is wind and pressure with the speed and direction of the wind and a barometer reading. Last is the sun and moon with the times of the sunrise and sunset. The section has an arc that shows you where the sun is at that time and the phase of the moon.

The Yahoo! Weather app is easy to understand, loads quickly, and has a lot of information about the current weather conditions and the forecast so you can plan your day. During days with snow, I’ve also used it to determine the best time to shovel my driveway.

Yahoo! Weather, by Yahoo!, is available for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, requires iOS 6.0 or later and is rated 4+. The app is also available for Android on Google Play.


Microsoft Announces New CEO

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0130-satya-nadella-630x420
The news broke yesterday the replacement Microsoft CEO five months after Steve Ballmer announced that he’d be retiring. So who is it? Satya Nadella – the company’s executive VP of cloud and enterprise.

With Microsoft struggling to maintain the market share it once held critics wonder if staying within the company was the right decision. While I personally admit that I don’t know much about Mr. Nadella, from what I’ve read he does seem to be a little more ‘with the times’ than some of the other Microsoft execs. Time will tell….


Lenovo Buys Motorola Mobility from Google for $2.9 Billion

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Google’s Motorola experiment has been short lived as recently it was announced that China’s Lenovo Group would purchase Motorola Mobility’s smartphone business for $2.9 Billion Dollars. If it seems like it wasn’t long ago that Google bought Motorola Mobility that’s because it was less than two years ago the $12.4 billion transaction occurred.

While there is a difference between the two figures, the deal allows Google to hold onto most of Motorola’s more than 20,000 mobile patents. As you may recall when Google bought Motorola Mobility it was speculated that one of the main motivations was to gain control of these patents.

Although it’s only been a short time that Google has held the Motorola name, during this period they’ve been relatively successful with some of the Motorola branded devices they’ve produced – the Motorola X and Motorola G. What does the future hold for Motorola? I guess we’ll be watching Lenovo to find out.


iThing of the Week: Doctor Who: Legacy

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I like Bejeweled, but I’m not a fan of the game’s many clones, which is why I was hesitant to play Doctor Who: Legacy. I’m a new Who fan, so the game caught my eye, but I went in with low expectations because I assumed I was in for a simple matching game.

I was wrong.

In Doctor Who: Legacy, an enemy of the Doctor is unraveling time, and it is up to the Doctor and his companions and allies to travel back in time to repair rips in space and time before the universe comes apart. The game is organized into seasons, and each season has episodes. You have to complete each episode to unlock the next season. As you play each episode, items can drop such as time fragments, time crystals, and companions and allies. Some characters join your team as part of the story, but many have to be earned by playing levels repeatedly to get an elusive rare drop.

Each character is associated with a color — blue, yellow, green, red, or black. Pink gems restore health. The Doctor can have a team of five, so you want to make sure you don’t have a team that is only one color. Matching gems allows the character to attack, and if there isn’t a good amount of a color, then having a monochromatic team could lead to a quick death. Also, each character has a special move. Some attack, some heal, some increase damage, and others turn gems into different colors. Special moves can only be used when the conditions are met such as number of turns or number of combos.

doctor who legacy shot

Yes, you need to match gems, but you get to tap on a gem and drag it to the spot you want. Because you can do this, there is strategy involved. You want to make combos for a strong attack, but a chain of combos at the end of a wave, when an enemy is weak, is wasted when another wave approaches. Doctor Who: Legacy is more than a match game; it’s more of a puzzle game with strategy. The player needs to build the right team, level characters up, and decide on the right time to use special moves.

Doctor Who: Legacy surprised me, and I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how many hours I’ve played so far (um…it’s a lot). You fight Daleks, Weeping Angels, the Snowmen, Cybermen, and other Doctor Who enemies. In addition to the regular storyline, special packs have been released such as the Advent Pack, which is a collection of Christmas episodes. And the best part is that there is no energy system, so you can play for as long as you want and you don’t have to wait for your energy to restore.

Doctor Who: Legacy, by Tiny Rebel Games LLC, can be played on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, requires iOS 6.0 or later, and is rated 9+. You can also get the game on Google play.

 


iThing of the Week: Why I Got an iPhone 5S

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This isn’t about the iPhone 5S being the best phone ever. There are a lot of excellent phones now, and it’s great that we have so much to choose from. Before I made my decision, I did a lot of research, which I suggest everyone should do. I decided to stick with Apple for three main reasons.

Familiarity: I have to admit the task of switching everything over to a new system wasn’t appealing. Also, I’ve spent a lot of money on apps, money I’m not in the mood to or able to spend again. It’s true that I’m very deep into the Apple ecosystem, so deep that something spectacularly different needs to come along to get me to leave.

Multiple iDevices: In addition to my iPhone, I also have an iPad, and my mother’s iPhone is linked to my account, so when I buy an app, I can use it on three devices. Yes, most apps are cheap, but if I decide to purchase a more expensive app that I can use on multiple devices, then the purchase is worth it because I can use it on my iPhone and my iPad.

iphone 5s pic sliver

Purchase price: Since I planned to stay with my carrier, I didn’t have to worry about paying the off-contract price for any phone. Then one weekend, Best Buy had a sale. A great sale. Because of the sale and getting an open-boxed item (box opened, but device never used), I bought my iPhone 5S for the grand total (including tax) of $121.21.

So far, I really like the iPhone 5S. It’s quicker and sleeker than my 4S (I have a tradition of only buying the S models; my first iPhone was the 3GS), and iOS 7 does work best on the new iPhones. I like the size and feel of the phone in my hand. The only feature that doesn’t impress me is the Touch ID. I can never remember what part of my thumb will unlock my phone. One feature that is a good improvement is the camera. The 5S does take slightly better pictures than my old phone. And the good news – iMessage finally works!

This isn’t about Apple products being better than Android or Windows phones. The market has changed drastically in the past few years, and I’m happy that I had so many quality phones to choose from. My decision was based on what was best for me and my current needs. Don’t let anyone, including me, be the only reason why you buy a certain smartphone. Look around, decide what your needs are, and go from there.


iThing of the Week: My Favorites of 2013

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With the year coming to a close, it’s a natural time to reflect on some of the highlights of the year. Comparing various types of apps to each other is odd; after all, a productivity app is very different than a game, so I’m not ranking my favorites of 2013.

 

The Simpsons: Tapped Out – I started playing this game this time last year, and I’m still playing almost daily. With the same tone and quality of writing as the show, Tapped Out is one of the funniest games I’ve played. With regular updates and new storylines, the game stays fresh and gives players plenty of reasons to keep playing. The Simpsons: Tapped Out is made by Electronic Arts.

the_simpsons_tapped_out logo

 

GoTasks – I use this organization app every single day. Every. Single. Day. I’d be lost without this app. GoTasks is made by Evgeniy Shurakov.

gotasks logo

 

Haunting Melissa – I am a big fan of horror films, so this app intrigued me because of its unique take on storytelling. Instead of dumping every chapter at once, days would pass before you got a new chapter. The story of Melissa’s grief over the death of her mother and mystery about the entity haunting her only got better with each chapter. Haunting Melissa is made by Hooked Digital Media.

Haunting Melissa iDevices

 

Year Walk – This eerily puzzle game is effective in creating a sense of foreboding. This first-person tale about a journey into the unknown will stay with you long after you play it. Year Walk is made by Simogo.

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Tayasui Sketches – While I liked this sketching app when I discussed it, I’ve come to really appreciate it after having to create diagrams and illustrations for work. Tayasui Sketches is made by Tayasui.

sketches

 

iOS 7 – Yes, iMessage still doesn’t work correctly for me, but the new OS has made my iPhone 4S quicker, and the new look has grown on me. I like the new features, especially the flashlight and being able to add more apps into folders.

ios7-130610-1

 

While there were other good apps this year, these are the ones that have stayed with me because of their uniqueness and their usefulness. I’m sure there will be plenty of great apps to come in 2014.

 

 

I’m using the holidays as an excuse to take time off. iThing of the Week will return January 9, 2014. Happy Christmas and Merry New Year!  


iThing of the Week: Deer Hunter 2014

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I have killed thousands of digital people while playing various games, but I’ve never really killed many animals. At first, Deer Hunter made me uncomfortable. The game is a hunting simulation. During the first levels the prey stood still, so there wasn’t much of a challenge. However, as the game progressed, it became challenging. Sometimes you have to hit a certain body part like the lungs or the heart, and eventually the animals react to your attack, running towards you or away, making getting the shot more difficult.002

Deer Hunter 2014 has a simple interface. Tap on the crosshairs to look down the scope, and tap on the bullet hole to shoot. There are a variety of guns, and you have to upgrade your weapons as the game gets tougher. The game has six regions; to unlock a region you have to complete the hunting series and the trophy hunt. There are other challenges as well, such as rare hunts, contract hunts, and series requiring a specific weapon.

I have to admit that my uneasiness wore off rather quickly as I kept playing. Just like I don’t have the urge to kill masses of humans, I don’t want to hunt large animals, but video games allow us to do things we know we can’t do in real life, so I ended up letting myself have fun.

The game is free, but you can buy the in-game currency of gold to get special weapons or speed up the importing of upgrades. Deer Hunter 2014 is by Glu Games, Inc., is rated 12+ for violence, can be played on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, and requires iOS 5.1.

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GEEKATION 2014 : “A Meetup, to Geek Out”

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What exactly IS Geekation?

  • Geekation 2014, or #GK8TN for the hashtag-infatuated sort, is a gathering event that pulls together an international group of geeks, nerds, and like-minded people for a extended weekend of discussions, activities, parties and other tomfoolery that feeds our big, geeky hearts. In other words, “A Meetup, to Geek Out”

Where is Geekation 2014 being held?

  • Details are being finalized on a Las Vegas gathering for an extended weekend in the spring of 2014, in either April or May.  Exactly when? Well, that’s a good question…read on!

When is it taking place?

  • An excellent question! You should really see Vegas in the spring! Vote in the online poll (via Doodle.com) to decide which weekend best fits everyone’s preferred schedule. Point a browser at THE OFFICIAL GEEKATION DATE SURVEY! <Insert impressive fanfare here.>

What will be going on that weekend?

  • Events will include live podcasts, discussion groups on ours and a number of other geek topics, dining and outings in the LV area.

  • As the agenda is finalized, updates will be made to this site.

Have other questions? We’re sure you do. Geekation2014.com and Gonnageek.com will be updated as more information develops, but at ANY time, feel free to email with any questions or feedback at Geekation2014@gmail.com. After all, this event is all for you, so no one matters more!