Colin Furze Built a Giant Star Wars AT-ACT in His Backyard

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

YouTuber colinfurze did what any Star Wars fan would do: he built a 5.5 meter (18 feet) high AT-ACT in his back yard. I love all the projects this nut job builds—he’s awesome—and this one is truly spectacular. It’s a scale model of a scale model on the outside, and on the inside it’s a Star Wars fan club house. In the video below he gives us a great tour, and he also has a behind-the-scenes video of how he built it.

HyperDrive USB-C Hub for MacBook Pro Raises $341K on Kickstarter

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

There’s a project on Kickstarter called HyperDrive that raised more than $341,000 in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. It’s a USB-C hub from Sanho for MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. It’s similar to the 5-in-1 HyperDrive from the same company we had a deal on a few days ago, but this new one in development has even more ports. All told, it has HDMI, USB 3.1 x 2, microSD/SD, Thunderbolt 3, and USB-C. It’s designed to plug into both your MacBook Pro USB-C ports and take the place of any dongles you might need. As of this writing, there are still a few pledge slots for $69 that will net you one, but those are going fast. Sanho has blown by its funding goal of $100,000 by 3X, and there’s still 39 days to go on the campaign. Clearly, there’s a demand for this product in the Mac community. Check out the promo video.

 

Find Everything You Want to Read on NPR's Book Concierge List

· Jeff Gamet · Cool Stuff Found

Staying on top of all the great books coming out is pretty hard, which is why we’re glad when NPR’s Book Concierge list comes out each year. The 2016 list is out with more than 300 titles worth checking out. The book suggestions are divided into categories such as Biography & Memoir, Eye-Opening Reads, Kids Books, Funny Stuff, and more. Be sure to check out Staff Picks for a great go-to list of book suggestions. Each title includes iBooks and Amazon, local library, and independent book store links so you don’t have to go hunting. Links to previous Book Concierge lists are there, too, in case you want even more suggestions.

Find Everything You Want to Read on NPR’s Book Concierge List

Super Mario Run Demo in Apple's Stores Today

· Jeff Gamet · Cool Stuff Found

Super Mario Run launches next week on December 15, but you can try it out in Apple’s retail stores now. A demo version is running on iPhones and iPads in the stores starting Thursday morning so you can get a sneak peek before it hits the App Store. Nintendo made the announcement on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and he got to play a level on the show. Super Mario Run is the first mobile game to feature Mario. It’ll cost US$9.99 and you can sign up on the App Store to be notified when it’s available.

World's Largest Rube Goldberg Machine Lights Christmas Tree

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

I love Rube Goldberg machines, and according to Guinness World Records, we have a new largest one in the world. It was built by Latvian e-commerce company Scandiweb in (and for the people of) Riga. It’s purpose—aside from beating the world record—was to light a Christmas Tree. The video (below) is 4 minutes and 44 seconds, and most of it is the machine doing its absurdist thing. One of the things I like about this one is seeing the process. It’s an enormously long Rube Goldberg machine, but most of it consists of individual panels of multiple steps. Make the panels work and then “all” you have to do is worry about connecting those panels. One way or another, it’s a fun watch. Check it out. The link is to Guinness’s webpage for the record.

GoPower Plus Battery Space Gray Has Built-in Charging Cable

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

The Kanex GoPower Plus Batter Space portable battery. What I like about it is that it has a built-in charging cable. The main cable is a microUSB cable for Android users. But it comes with a Lightning adapter that slips over that microUSB plug, and both just tuck away in the body of the battery. It comes in Space Gray or Gold and has a capacity of 8,000mAh. It’s $59.95.

GoPower Plus Battery Space Gray Has Built-in Charging Cable

PDFpen 8.3 gets MacBook Pro Touch Bar Support

· Jeff Gamet · Cool Stuff Found

Smile’s PDFpen and PDFpen Pro gained Retina MacBook Pro Touch Bar support on Tuesday so users can edit documents with finger taps, and PDFpen Pro users can edit Table of Contents, too. PDFpen and PDFpen Pro are PDF document editing and creation apps. Users can add and remove pages from documents, edit text, and and remove images, create PDF forms, OCR scanned text, sync files via iCloud and Dropbox, and more. PDFpen 8.3 costs US$74.95 and PDFpen Pro 8.3 is priced at $124.95. The updates are free for version 8.x users.

PDFpen 8.3 gets MacBook Pro Touch Bar Support

Behold the Electro Mechanical Voice Inscriber from the 1950s

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

Oh my goodness…check out this film about EMVI, the Electro Mechanical Voice Inscriber. This device was invented by a 16 year old kid named Victor Shineman in what looks to be the mid 1950s. Using analog electronic gear, EMVI used a microphone to “convert [spoken] letters into low voltage current. Electrical impulse would type out the spoken letter” on a typewriter. It’s primitive, and it appears to have only done one letter at a time, and maybe even only one letter (“a”). But come on, in the 1950s? Using analog gear? That’s nothing short of magic. This video was shot for the “21st School Science Fair,” put on in New York City by The American Institute of the City of New York. It’s utterly fascinating.

iKlip Grip Pro: Adjustable, Tripod, Selfie Stick, Camera Grip

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

IK Multimedia announced Tuesday that iKlip Grip Pro has shipped. This clever device serves as a desktop tripod, an above-the-crowd extender (or selfie stick), or a handheld camera grip. It features a pivoting ball-joint attachment for 90 degree angle adjustments and 360 degree rotation. It also comes with a detachable Bluetooth button you can use to trigger your camera app or camera. It will mount a smartphone, GoPro, or DSLR camera, too. I’ve been thinking about tripods recently, and while there are a ton of good ones on the market, this device seems super flexible. I plan on checking it out. It’s US$59.99/€59.99, and it’s available now. The video below offers a solid look at the iKlip Grip Pro.

New Apple Spot: 'iPhone 7 - Romeo and Juliet'

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

“Your movies look like movies on iPhone 7.” That’s the tag line to Apple’s newest commercial, iPhone 7 – Romeo and Juliet. It features a performance from Shakespeare’s play of the same name with children in the starring role. The piece looks like a movie at first, but then you see the kids on a stage and a proud parent filming his daughter (Juliet) with his iPhone 7. It’s touching, It’s cute. I suspect it will tug all the right strings for parents with younger kids. I also think it’s a powerful message that paints a solid picture of how good iPhone 7’s camera is without it being a ‘splainy commercial.

Amazon Snowmobile is a Giant Truck That Can Move 100PB to the Cloud

· Jim Tanous · Cool Stuff Found

Amazon’s servers provide the backbone for much of the Web, and while upload speeds are improving, what happens when you need a few dozen petabytes backed up to the cloud? Enter Amazon Snowmobile, literally a giant truck with a mobile data center capable of physically moving up to 100 petabytes of your data to Amazon’s cloud servers. The concept is the evolution, both in name and function, of the company’s “Snowball” service, which ships customers data units with capacities up to 80TB. As for price, it’s in the “if you have to ask…” category, although Amazon says it aims to make the Snowmobile cheaper than any network-based data transfer which, even at gigabit speeds, would take a while.

Amazon Snowmobile is a Giant Truck That Can Move 100PB to the Cloud

2016 MacBook Pro vs. 1989 Macintosh Portable: FIGHT

· Jim Tanous · Cool Stuff Found

Think the 2016 MacBook Pro is overpriced and underpowered? Check out this comparison video of Apple’s latest laptop with the company’s first portable computer, 1989’s Macintosh Portable. While far from an in-depth technical analysis, the video offers some nice HD shots of how design at Apple has changed over the past 27 years. Bonus points for the Jean-Louis Gassée archival footage.

Latest Apple Campus 2 Drone Shot Looks Star Trek

· Jeff Gamet · Cool Stuff Found

Apple’s spaceship campus is looking more impressive as construction gets closer to wrapping up, and TMO’s latest drone pic really drives that home. Taken Wednesday, our intrepid drone pilot’s flying skills let you see the roof solar panels are nearly all installed, landscaping is starting to come together outside the massive building, and the giant courtyard in the building’s center is taking shape, too. The building really looks like something from JJ Abrams’ Star Trek. Apple Campus 2.0 isn’t finished yet, but is moving along well enough that the company will likely start moving in some time in 2017.

Latest Apple Campus 2 Drone Shot Looks Star Trek

Researchers Bypass iPad and iPhone Activation Lock

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

Vulnerability Lab has published a video to YouTube (via AppleInsider) demonstrating a method for bypassing the Activation Lock on an iOS device. Researchers discovered a convoluted series of steps one can go through starting with a buffer overflow, and also using a Smart Cover…it’s complicated. The bottom line, though, is that the method would allow someone to bypass the Activation Lock, meaning they could use a device that’s been locked by Find My iPhone. Apple is usually able to patch these bypasses, but this video nicely highlights the ongoing cat and mouse game involved with security. The video is presented in real time, meaning there are long stretches where not much is happening. It’s interesting, though, to see the steps necessary for the exploit and the end result.

How about a Computer Keyboard or Trackpad Made of Wood?

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

I have no idea how practical these products are, but they’re gorgeous. Check out the Orée Board and Orée Touch Slab, a keyboard and trackpad made from wood. The Board is portable and can connect via USB or Bluetooth. It’s designed to work with macOS and iOS, or Windows and Android. Each is made from a single piece of wood, making individual units unique. The Touch Slab is a multitouch trackpad that can also be used as a numeric keypad. Look closely and you’ll see the keypad outlined on top. It’s Bluetooth only, and works with macOS, and Windows 7 or 8. The Board is priced at US$129, while Touch Slab is $150. I haven’t tested them, but they totally caught my eye.

How about a Computer Keyboard or Trackpad Made of Wood?

Turn $1 Into an Augmented Reality Tour of the White House

· Jim Tanous · Cool Stuff Found

Forget Pokémon. A really cool use for augmented reality on your iPhone is an animated 3D model of the White House, complete with an audio tour of its importance and history. The new app 1600, released this week by the White House Historical Association, uses AR to build a fully animated 3D model of the White House on a $1 bill while White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest narrates a miniature history lesson. Users can also tap on various parts of the model to reveal additional information and a few hidden secrets. Check it out now for free on the iOS and Android app stores.

Turn $1 Into an Augmented Reality Tour of the White House

Plex Media Player is Now Free for Everyone

· Jim Tanous · Cool Stuff Found

You all know that we love Plex around here, and yesterday the company announced that its new Plex Media Player app for Mac and Windows, which had previously been limited to paying “Plex Pass” customers, is now free for everyone! Even better, the latest version of the app now supports both a “10-foot” interface for navigating with a remote as well as the Plex “Web” interface for more intimate use with mouse and keyboard. Check out the announcement at the Plex Blog and download your copy of Plex Media Player for macOS.

Plex Media Player is Now Free for Everyone

Finally: a Self-Driving Car System That's Open Source and Free

· Bryan Chaffin · Cool Stuff Found

Former iPhone hacker George Hotz has released his company’s self-driving car software and hardware as open source. The software itself is on GitHub, as well as 3D printer plans for housing the smartphone needed to run it. The Verge reported there is only one device that will work—the OnePlus 3—and you’re going to need some specific Honda or Accura models to use it. And really, what could go wrong with a bunch of folks experimenting with unproven autonomous vehicle software? Mr. Hotz has been developing the software and hardware as an after-market conversion kit, which he intended to compete with Tesla’s self-driving system. He abruptly announced he was pulling the product from market after regulators had the temerity to express an interest in it. This week, he announced its release as an open source project, rather than a for-sale product. Again, what could go wrong?

Finally: a Self-Driving Car System That’s Open Source and Free

Watch Nature Rage and Man Sprawl with Google Earth Timelapse

· Jim Tanous · Cool Stuff Found

Google Earth Timelapse is “a global, zoomable video that lets you see how the Earth has changed over the past 32 years.” It’s not exactly new, but the project was just updated this week with new data and improved historical images. Head over to the Timelapse website, zoom into your favorite location, and watch the path of rivers change, glaciers melt, and cities spread from 1984 through 2016. It’s an incredible way to view the immense library of Google Earth’s satellite imagery.

Watch Nature Rage and Man Sprawl with Google Earth Timelapse