I went to the California World Guitar Show this past weekend (warning, that site blares music with no volume controls). In addition to more amazing guitars from the 1950s and 1960s than you can shake a stick at—check out this gorgeous 1963 Gibson SG or an amazing 1964 Firebird V— I saw a very clever device called Rockn Stompn. This is a power strip that conditions your power, something that's useful for live performances and studio recording alike. But that's not the clever bit. Rockn Stompn is also a power sequencer. The six plugs are arranged in three banks that will turn on in sequence. So you can have your pedal board plugged into the first bank so that it turns on first. Then a variable number of seconds later, the next bank turns on, and that's where you have you ramp plugged in. That means no popping. It's foot activated, so you can turn on everything (for multiple musicians) with just one stomp, and the delay for each bank is variable. It's very nifty. It's priced at $299, and is available at Amazon.
I don't know what's better about this video, Apple CEO Tim Cook having a bucket of ice poured over his head or the live soundtrack of Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby." It's all part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a fundraising effort to fight ALS (a.k.a. Lou Gehrig's Disease). Famous folks have been challenging each other to either submit to a bucket of ice water or donate money to the ALS Association. At a recent Beer bash on the Apple campus, Michael Franti was performing when he mentioned that Phil Schiller had challenged Tim Cook. Mr. Cook asked the crowd of Apple employees which he should do, get dunked or pay up. He then said he was doing both, because he's awesome like that, and got dunked by Mr. Franti (who sang Ice Ice Baby"). Mr. Cook also publicly challenged Dr. Dre, Disney CEO Bob Iger, and Michael Franti, the latter of which was dunked by Mr. Cook on the spot. Apple posted the video to its YouTube channel, and it's a great watch. Mr. Cook's expression in the frame i captured is priceless.
Apple has posted a tribute to Robin Williams in the iTunes Store, one day after the tragic death of the comedian. The company has gathered 23 comedies and 16 dramas , from the World According to Garp, to Mrs. Doubtfire, to The Birdcage (one of my personal faves), to Popeye, most of the actors work is represented. Missing (that I noticed) is Mork and Mindy, the sitcom where he made a national name for himself. Season 1 of The Crazy Ones, his most recent show, which was canceled in May, is available, as is a live performance. I've seen a few comments suggesting Apple is "cashing in" by posting this tribute (thanks to @Rich_DS for the heads up), and that might be the silliest thing i've seen said about Apple in recent memory, and that's saying something. Companies offer tributes on the death of a popular music artist or actor all the time, and people like to remember those who have died. More importantly, the idea that the $200,000 to $1 million extra Apple could conceivably net from this tribute would matter to the company is absurd. If Apple had jacked up the price on Mr. Williams's movies, one might have a complaint (I saw a record store do that once). As it is, I would encourage anyone whingining about this to take some time out and re-examine their priorities.
Apple has a new commercial out called Jason's Verse. It features Jason Hall, the cofounder of Slow Roll in Detroit. Slow Roll is a leisurely bicycle ride through the streets of Detroit where up to 3,000 people "witness the revitalization of Detroit from two wheels." The commercial follows Mr. Hall as goes through the day with his iPad planning a Slow Roll, which begins and ends at a local bar or restaurant. USA Today has a story about the man featured in the commercial—it's a cool story. Check out the commercial in full below.
Before the days of Web browsers and broadband Internet, online communities were hosted by single computers you connected to by dialing in over a traditional phone line via a modem. If you miss the old days -- or never had the chance to experience a BBS -- now you can, thanks to Level 29. The system runs on an Apple IIGS with a blazing fast (for 1983) 300 bps modem, but since not everyone happens to have a modem or physical phone line handy, you can also telnet in or connect via raw sockets. If you're still at a loss, go to the Level 29 website where you can view the BBS in your Web browser. It's retro-awesome, and it shows old computers can still do some really cool stuff.
Thanks to portable technology, pets can now scan neighborhood wifi networks. Wired reports on an upcoming DefCon talk from Gene Bransfield titled "How To Weaponize Your Pets", which is less a security talk and more a presentation of a clever way to find unsecured networks in the immediate area. Using a Spark Core board and the skills of the cat's human to sew a collar for it, he discovered more than a third of the hotspots in the area were less than secure. He says he did this for fun, but hopefully discovering a cat could detect open wifi networks might prompt some people to adjust their networks accordingly.
Sesame Street has posted a preview clip from Season 45 on YouTube. In the past they've done some clever nods to pop culture including a parody of The Voice, and one of my favorites, H. Ross Parrot. This season we get to see a trip to "Numeric Con," where one can meet such characters as Fiverine and The Dark Nine. Doctor Two (dressed as the Fourth Doctor) makes an appearance, along with familiar looking creatures who say "e-num-er-ate!" There's also a great cameo from someone wearing a gold Starfleet shirt who pauses dramatically at odd places in his sentences. Cap-TEN Kirk, perhaps?
Pizza is a staple of life for many people, but that whole ordering for delivery thing? What a total pain. That is, unless you're using Push For Pizza from Simple Food Solutions. The iPhone app was developed by a team of clever teens who saw a need and filled it... with pizza. After you fill in some basic info, like your name, address and credit card number, the pizza joint you like, cheese or pepperoni, and you're ready to go. Just tap the pizza button and your pizza shows up, fully paid for, including tip. It's brilliant, it's simple, and your next pizza is just a tap away. Push For Pizza is a free download at Apple's iTunes-based App Store.
Audioengine announced the B1 Premium Bluetooth Music Receiver on Tuesday. This device acts as a Bluetooth receiver for any audio system or powered speakers, allowing you to stream music from your iPhone, iPad, Mac or other Bluetooth device. The B1 receives your Bluetooth signal and has a stereo analog RCA outputs and a digital optical (SPDIF) output for connecting to your stereo, receiver, or powered speakers. This is an easy way to stream music to any setup that doesn't support Apple's AirPlay technology. We haven't tested this device yet, but we're big fans of Audioengine at TMO. We look forward to putting it through its paces. The B1 is priced at US$189, and it's eligible for Audioengine's 30-Day Audition.
The ever popular and always creepy first person shooter BioShock is making the jump to the small-ish screen this summer when it is finally released for the iPhone and iPad. The game was launched in 2007 and is currently available for gaming consoles, the Mac, and PCs, but so far has shied away from iOS's touch-based interface. There isn't any word yet on exactly when this summer it'll launch, or how much gamers will have to pay. Considering this is the original BioShock, and it's seven years old, we're betting it'll come in around the US$14.99 mark. Thanks to Engadget for the heads up.
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