In the long and storied history of They Might Be Giants we've seen quirky songs, a couple of TV show themes and even further back, there was the "always free, often busy" Dial-A-Song. Sadly Dial-A-Song starting having physical issues with the actual answering machine, and eventually got disconnected in 2008. However it's back now, having made its triumphant return in the first full week of 2015. Every Tuesday in 2015 songs will be posted at DialASong.com and even videos on YouTube. There's also a network of radio shows that will be playing them each week. If you can't wait till Tuesday, you can hear it on Slate's The Gist with Mike Pesca, released Monday nights. If what you loved about Dial A Song was making a phone call and hearing music, you still have Callin Oates to fill that need.
LAS VEGAS -- Cocoon already has several stylish products for on the go tech, and the company is expanding its lineup to include even more, like its new waxed canvas laptop organizer bag. Along with a padded laptop sleeve and built-in Grid-It gear organizer, the bag also includes a padded back and a padded lumbar compartment to hold your Beats headphones. TMO checked it out at CES 2015 and it lives up to Cocoon's well-earned design quality. Cocoon plans to ship the new bag in blue, black, and green soon for under US$80.
LAS VEGAS -- Griffin Technology is hoping to make our lives a little easier with its new USB to Lightning cable for the iPhone and iPad that sports a reversible USB Type A connector. Along with a plug you can't insert upside down into a USB port, the new cable is coated in braided fabric for added durability, and includes reinforced points where the plugs connect to the cable wires. It also comes in three colors to match your iPhone or iPad. Griffin showed us the cable at CES 2015 and said it will be available soon for about US$30. A durable Lightning sync and charge cable with a USB connector that's always right side up? Yes, please.
Normally a commercial wouldn't be a big deal around TMO Towers, but I've applied for an exception so I can tell you guys about this one. It's a State Farm Insurance ad, and it is a bit different than the ones that feature classic Saturday Night Live characters. This ad was released today, Elvis Presley's 80th birthday, and features a variety of Elvises including my younger brother. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just tell you that he's the one who brings it home. It's a 30 second ad, so click on through and amuse yourself. Maybe if it's popular enough my brother will have a steady gig Elvising for State Farm ads. Enjoy!
LAS VEGAS -- Bad cell signals don't have to mean the end of your conversations, and now devices like AT&T's MicroCell aren't the only option for getting your calls through. Nextivity showed The Mac Observer its Cel-Fi at CES 2015, and instead of relying on your broadband Internet connection, it deconstructs weak cell signals and rebuilds them into stronger and usable signals. The Cel-Fi can take a poor 1-bar connection and turn it into a solid 3-bar signal without simply boosting a crappy connection that isn't any better than the original weak signal it comes from. Nextivity supports GSM-based services like AT&T and T-Mobile, but its planned LTE voice support means Verizon customers will have some hope for better signals soon, too. Cel-Fi costs about US$500, but may be free depending on whether or not your carrier offers it as a loyalty incentive.
LAS VEGAS -- Sengled thinks your lights should do more than simply illuminate rooms, so they packed a WiFi signal extender into their LED Boost bulb. The Boost packs a Wifi network extender into the bulb base, so you can get your signal to reach farther without needing to give up power outlets or take up shelf space with extra Basestations. Sengled also showed us their other LED smartbulbs at CES 2015 with built-in cameras, speakers for your audio system, and more. The Boost costs US$49.99.
LAS VEGAS -- It's easy to find Bluetooth products that turn solid surfaces—like your desk—into a speaker. Finding one that sounds really good is a harder task, but Bass Egg thinks it has that covered with its new Verb. The Verb vibrates to bounce air off hard surfaces that converts to sound waves, making your wood, metal, stone, or glass surfaces act as omnidirectional speakers. It's anodized aluminum body holds up under abuse, the audio range it offers goes beyond what we've heard from competing products. The Bass Egg Verb is priced at US$99.95, and the crew we spoke with at CES 2015 told us that soon you'll be able to gang them up for stereo audio, too.
Virtually everyone plays a game on their iPhone. And those of a particular vintage appreciate how different games are today than when you played in fear of being eaten by a Grue. We have now arrived at the perfect intersection of both these things: Mayday! Deep Space, a new game much in the style of the old-school text adventure, but this time you control the character using voice commands. It's US$2.99 from iTunes And so far it's the most fun I've had playing a game since Monument Valley. Via Silicon Florist we find out more about the creation of this game, including interviews with the creators. I haven't played for very long yet, but I am completely hooked. I should point out that unless you're known for randomly shouting out directions, this may not be the best choice for killing time in line at the grocery store.
From Apple: "The James Bond films have given us five decades of explosive action and captivating international intrigue. For the first time digitally, you can now own the entire iconic series — from Dr. No to Skyfall — in Bond 50: The Complete 23 Film Collection. This essential bundle is available for a limited-time price until January 12." The average price here is US$4.35 per movie. Moneypenny would be very pleased. Again ... January 12 is the drop dead date for this offer. Plus, see Kelly Guimont's CSF for more on the upcoming Bond movie (#24) "SPECTRE" due to be released in November this year.
Over at TekRevue, Jim Tanous has revisited the use of a RAM disk on two new Macs, a 2013 Mac Pro and a 2014 MacBook Pro. He reports that, "The 2013 Mac Pro features extremely fast PCIe-based flash storage, but it’s no competition for the speed of a 32GB RAM Disk. The internal flash storage hits around 1,200MB/s reads and just shy of 800MB/s writes, but the RAM Disk peaks at 4,800MB/s reads and 5,100MB/s writes. 5.1 Gigabytes per second. Nice." Of course, the RAM disk eats into the available RAM so it's geared for specialized applications that can really use the boost. But it's also volatile, so reboot or lose power and it goes poof. Even so, check out TekRevue's tantalizing tutorial and amazing benchmark tests.
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