Google announced a new “research project” called Bloks, a wonderful concept that brings programming to very young kids with real-world block-like components. It’s an ongoing project that Google is opening up to the world, but the company is starting with electronic boards and programmable pucks. Brain Boards are built from Raspberry Pi Zero boards and can be used to power anything you could power from that device, like robots or switches for real-world devices. The pucks are essentially instructions, including on-off switches, directions, or volume controls. When used in sequence, they can send instructions to the Brain Boards. And it’s all hands-on for young kids. They can collaborate in ways they never could with any programming thing based on a screen and/or keyboard. I love it. It’s an entirely different approach from Apple’s Swift Playground, and I think they’re very complementary.
What started in 2008 as a small media server project today has matured into version 1.0. The first public release of Plex Media Server happened two years later in 2010, and it has been growing ever since, now used by milliions of people. The changes rolled into the 1.0 release aren’t all that major – certainly nothing more than any other Plex Media Server release we’ve seen recently – it’s the version number change itself that is significant.
Version 1.0 shows Plex’s commitment to ship software that no longer has the assumption of being beta, communicating reliability and predictability for customers. I’m a long-time Plex user and now with both iOS and Apple TV client apps it really is a best-in-class product. Many of its features are available for free, though a paid PlexPass is well worth your money if you want to view your content offline or on your mobile devices. Congrats, Plex! Thanks for doing what you do!
Check out Ingrein, a very interesting clock designed to help you detach from our devices. The clock is made of real (reclaimed) hardwood, and it has a built-in “LCD screen and light and sound sensors to interact with and display information from your smart devices and favorite apps.” The idea is that you limit what gets sent to the device to those things that are really important so that you can get your face out of your screen, especially when you’re with other people. It’s a very cool idea in theory, and I’m wondering how well it will work in practice. This product is funding through Kickstarter, where it already met its funding goals. Funding options starting at $299 are still available.
Propellerhead shipped Reason 9 on Tuesday. The newest version of the digital audio workstation and sequencer adds two main features: Players automate and process MIDI input, and Pitch Edit, a pitch editor designed for vocals (think Melodyne or Auto-Tune). There are other new features, too, including Bounce In Place, new visual themes, and reverse MIDI clips. On the content side, Reason 9 adds more than 1,000 new “cutting-edge” sounds, and Pulsar dual channel LFO, a rack extension that was previously available only as a stand-alone $49 purchase. I love Reason, especially for sequencing. It’s powerful software, and Propellerhead makes it ever-more capable with each new release. Reason 9 is priced at €405/US$449, while upgrades from any previous version are €129/$129. Propellerhead also has a stripped down version called Reason Essentials 9 priced at €120/$129. The software shipped today and is available now.