Tag Archives: Guardians of the Galaxy

PTJ 232: Love and Rocket

Love is all around as the unofficial 2017 Geek Summer Movie Season gets ready to roll next week with the arrival of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in theaters ‚ with Wonder Woman, King Arthur, and another Spider-Man right behind.  After a stomp through the week’s tech headlines (including the hunt to shoot down fake news and drones you can fly with your head) El Kaiser and J.D. discuss some of the most anticipated films on the way over the next few months.

Links to Stories in This Week’s News Segment

PTJ 108: Yo Apple, What Time You Got?

It was done quietly and with little fanfare.  After Apple’s traditional September iPhone launch, the fruit-themed toy maker killed off the iPod Classic.

El Kaiser “pours one out” for the venerable personal media player, Apple’s last disk-based iPod, and he and J.D. break down the latest iPhone and Apple Watch news.

The summer movie sensation “Guardians of the Galaxy” focused a huge spotlight on the power of the mixtape. This week J.D. shows you how you can make your own mixtape in today’s stream happy world.

In other news, Samsung releases two new Galaxy Note phablets; Amazon drops the price of the Fire Phone to under a buck, the FCC is collecting more comments about Net Neutrality; the Discovery Network speaks out against potential Comcast and Time Warner Cable merger; Twitter gradually roles out its “Buy” button; Home Depot stores suffer through a huge Target-like security breach; Microsoft debuts a new presentation and internal service app; and Tivo announces a new super high-end and super high-priced DVR; and


Mastering the Modern Mixtape

awesomemixThe top-grossing film of the year so far, Guardians of the Galaxy, brought some much needed fizzy fun to the summer box office — along with a killer soundtrack comprised of feel-good hits from the 1970s. One of the key props in the movie was an ancient Walkman and battered mixtape, and those may have led many a Gen Xer or young Baby Boomer to get all nostalgic for those days when “playlists” were the handwritten track names on the back of the folded card in the cassette-tape case. (They’re so cemented into American pop culture that there’s even a Broadway song about mixtapes in the Tony Award-winning show Avenue Q.)

For some people, the mixtape prop may have posed the question: These days, how do you share a specially curated batch of songs with a loved one, or compile your personal favorite tunes in one time-capsule collection? Cassettes are pretty much extinct; Google Play doesn’t support sending digital media as gifts and you can’t burn songs to CDs there. Apple even removed the Gift This Playlist feature from the current version of iTunes. But there are other ways.

spotifyYes, it’s become a largely streaming world out there, but some popular services like Spotify let users create and share playlists with each other. The 8tracks site has playlist sharing too, as does the appropriately named Mixtape.me site. Other streaming services offer similar tools, so if you already use one, check the feature set to see if sharing playlists is an option. There’s also a site called Tape.ly that does online mix tapes.

If you want a more physical, personal-memento way to share a mix, there’s an Australian-based start-up called Sharetapes that works with services like Spotify, Soundcloud and 8tracks. You can also use Sharetapes with YouTube, a site many people use to make and share playlists of audio and video clips.

With Sharetapes, you create an account and you then buy a pack of blank “Sharetape cards,” five for seven bucks. You make a playlist in a supporting service and click the Record button on the Sharetapes.com site to copy the track information to one of your blank Sharetape cards. Then you give it to someone. The cards have QR codes and also work with NFC-enabled devices, so when your recipient gets the card, he or she can use the QR code or NFC function to zap the info onto a mobile device and hear the tracks on the playlist.


But what if you want to send music mixes to someone who doesn’t use any of the online streaming services? As one might expect, Amazon also lets you send albums or individual songs as gifts.

Even in  iTunes 11, you can still send individual song downloads to another iTunes user as gifts; right-click the menu arrow next to the Price button and select Gift This Song. And, while a bit retro these days, you can still burn CDs from songs you’ve bought and downloaded from the service. Once you make a playlist and have it open in iTunes, you can even print a custom CD cover by going to the File menu and choosing Print.

CDprintAlthough there may be copyright issues involved, people have also shared tracks on a playlist by uploading unrestricted MP3 ripped from CDs to online file storage folders or passed them along on flash drives.

So even though cassettes have become fluttery antiques, there are still many ways to share your musical whims with friends and family. And going digital does have its advantages. As the Brotherhood Workshop points out in “LEGO Guardians of the Galaxy: Star-Lord’s Mixtape,” Peter Quill’s homemade audio cassette probably wouldn’t sound too good after 20 years of constant play.

PTJ 105: A Cat, a Dog, And a Groot

El Kaiser takes a listen to the INEARPEACE earbuds from Om Audio and likes what he hears while J.D. tells us where and how to find quality documentaries online.

In the news, Amazon continues its war with book publisher Hachette and now finds itself battling Disney; Microsoft has Xbox announcements; Apple appears to have ramped up production of the new iPad; the U.S. government creates new agencies to handle its tech woes; Akamai releases its latest State of the Internet report; we have robot news and yes, it does rattle the Kaiser; and a security researcher weaponizes his pets.

PTJ 105 News: Amazon’s Great Muppet Caper and Other Tales

Amazon, who seems to be having a year of contract battles with its merchandise providers, is dragging the Muppets and Captain America into the fray. Variety and Home Media Magazine are among those reporting that Amazon’s U.S. site is currently not offering pre-orders for many Disney movies scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-ray, including last spring’s Muppets Most Wanted, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Maleficent. This is not likely to go over well with geeks, parents and, well,  geek parents.

The übermegastore is still slugging it out on another front with Hachette over e-book pricing and the some of the people who actually write the books are piping up. More than 900 authors signed a public letter last week that demanded that the Amazon stop messing around with writer’s book distribution and sales as a negotiating tactic. The company also got some flack earlier this week for misusing — of all things — a George Orwell quote in a letter from its Amazon Books Team.

At the Gamescom tradeshow on Germany this week, Microsoft made several announcements. One big one:  the upcoming Rise of the Tomb Raider will launch as an exclusive to the Xbox when the game arrives next year. Other data points from Microsoft’s games division include the betas for the multiplayer Fable Legends starting on October 16 and the one for Halo 5: Guardians starting on December 29th and new Xbox One bundles including a shiny white version of the console this fall. The Xbox One hardware itself will be getting some additional features as well.

ipad2In Apple News, supply-chain watchers note that production of the next generation of iPads seems to be underway, probably headed to stores by mid-fall. The new models are expected to sport an anti-glare coating to make the screens easier to read and will come with the new iOS system. One of the features previewed in iOS 8 last June at the Worldwide Developer’s Conference — Healthkit — could be getting some traction. The Reuters News Agency reports that Apple has been talking about possible integration with folks at the Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and Mount Sinai, as well as with at least one electronic health record provider. One last Apple bite: The New York Times had a big story this week about Apple University, the company’s secret training program for employees that educates them in Apple philosophy. As the article noted, at least one Apple U. alum found the quality of the campus bathroom tissue to be superb.

The United States government seems to have realized that good, functional websites make life easier for its citizens and announced this week that it’s dedicating the new U.S. Digital Service department to the cause. The group will live in the Office of Budget and Management and there’s now a U.S. Digital Services Playbook online that outlines best practices and another online document called the TechFAR Handbook that explains Federal Acquisition Regulation to help government agencies implement their digital services. The USDS is intended to serve mostly as consultants, but there’s another department of government geeks over in the General Services Administration. The other group, called 18F, is designed to be more of a hands-on-get-in-there-and-fix-that-mess team.

Akamai has released its latest State of the Internet report and among other things, rates average Internet speed on a state-by-state basis. While data speeds may be slow in certain parts of the United States, six companies are forming a consortium to create a new $300 million dollar Trans-Pacific cable system between Japan and the US West Coast.

It’s Google Science Fair time again and one of the more notable projects from this year’s crop is called “Rethink” and it’s by Trisha Prabhu, a 14-year-old girl from Naperville, Illinois. As she outlines on the Google Science Fair site, Ms. Prabhu wanted to create a system to help cut down on cyberbullying between adolescents on social media sites and her experiment seems to have worked.

botlrIn robot news, our still-benevolent mechanical helpers are finding work this summer as bellhops and museum guides. Starwood’s Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California, is experimenting with a rolling butler called Botlr that delivers items like toothpaste and razors from the front desk up to guest rooms. The Tate Britain Museum in London is unleashing four robots into its galleries after hours to live-stream footage from the museum’s collection. The After Dark project runs five nights through August 17th and curious art lovers can log in through the museum’s online portal to follow along.

kittehAs detailed in Wired, security researcher Gene Bransfield successfully used a cat with a custom WarKitteh collar to map Wi-Fi security in his neighborhood. He explained it all in a DEF CON presentation called “Weaponizing Your Pets: The War Kitteh and the Denial of Service Dog.” As for the Denial of Service Dog project, Mr. Bransfield showed how a canine equipped with a saddlebag full of hacker gear was able to troll bars and turn off TV sets during the World Cup. (Brazil fans may have actually been grateful for the act of mercy during that notorious semi-final match with Germany.)

And finally, if you found yourself charmed by Vin Diesel’s Groot character and his limited dialogue in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, check out the 15-button Groot soundboard over on Vulture.com. And you can bring the magic along during your Web travels, grab the Grootify script button from the Us vs. Them site. It makes a number of websites so much better, as shown below.


Appointment Viewing

The Comic-Con International: San Diego event wrapped up this past weekend after about five days of nonstop hype and news blasts. The event — which throws Hollywood marketing people in with comics fans, animation lovers, cosplay kids, science-fiction and fantasy enthusiasts and all genre aficionados in between — saw a number of announcements.

Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Gillian Anderson turned up for an X-Files panel and joked that there’s a lost Mulder-Scully sex scene out there from the old show, which sent some fans into a frenzy — although she actually said later she’d been kidding. But she wouldn’t mind doing another X-Files movie some day.
  • And Batman and Superman are going to team up for movie in 2015. Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill are set to return as director and hero, Batman needs to be cast since Christian Bale hung up the cowl. The film is expected to pave the way for a Justice League movie that teams up even more DC superheroes for 2017. No sign of casting calls for Zatanna, Elongated Man, Martian Manhunter or the Hawkcouple, but please, someone needs to get crackin’ on a Wonder Woman flick. Like, now.

If you need more Comic-Con 2013 news, click here or here or here for roundups — and start clearing your schedule for 2015.