J.D. has a (Hopefully) Helpful Hint about offering remote computer assistance to trusted friends and family and Pedro celebrates the 30th anniversary of “Return of the Jedi” by sharing what the Star Wars films mean to him. In the news, the U.S. Senate approves the Marketplace Fairness Act; more Google Glass(es) bans; Adobe changes their paradigm; and movie visual effects giant Ray Harryhausen dies at age 92.
When it comes to the film-release calendar these days, summer doesn’t unofficially start with Memorial Day weekend. It starts the first weekend of May, when the big brawny action pictures begin to land in movie theaters around the world. School’s out — and all those superhero sagas, space operas, fantasy worlds, animated adventures and other fantastic flicks are in.
So, what’s coming to your local cinema this summer? While not a complete list of U.S. summer-release dates, the list below (linked to each film’s official Web site) highlights the movies that may be of particular interest to the nerd herd.
- May 3 – Iron Man 3 (out already in Europe and some reviews are in.)
- May 16 – Star Trek: Into Darkness
- May 24 – Fast and Furious 6
- May 24 – Epic
- May 31 – After Earth
- June 14 – Man of Steel
- June 21 – World War Z
- June 21 — Monsters University
- July 3 — Despicable Me 2
- July 3 – The Lone Ranger
- July 12 – Pacific Rim
- July 19 – R.I.P.D.
- July 19 – RED 2
- July 26 – The Wolverine
- August 2 – 300: Rise of an Empire
- August 7 – Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
- August 9 – Elysium
- August 9 — Planes
- August 16 – Kick-Ass 2
- September 6 – Riddick
If you want to process the data visually, the Republic of Geek site has an artfully designed calendar and for one-stop viewing, the Geek Generation site has the trailers all in one place. IMDb’s Trailer Gallery and iTunes Movie Trailers are other sites to trailer-graze. For coming attractions on the go, check out the Flixster app for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry and phones with WAP browsers, Apple’s Movie Trailers app for iOS or any of the trailer apps in the Google Play Store designed for Android devices.
And not to forget one of the high points in summer-movie history: More than 30 years ago, the Star Wars franchise did its part in making the season an incredibly exciting time to pile into the car go see movies with your like-minded pals. So whether it be mall, multiplex, art house, IMAX, drive-in or wherever you grab your movies, have a great time — and may the Fourth be with you.
J.D. shows us how to navigate the Notifications Center on Apple’s Mountain Lion OS and Pedro has some stuff he needs to get off his chest. Let the ranting begin! In the news, Research in Motion becomes BlackBerry; Apple releases an updated iPad and a new version of its iOS; plus Twitter and Google release new transparency reports.
This week J.D. has some app suggestions that will help you maintain your automobile and Pedro fills us in on his weekend tablet modding exploits. In the news, lost in last week’s CES maelstrom was the announcement of a potential Java exploit that could affect almost 1 billion computers worldwide; Facebook gets into the search business and industry experts have suggestions for Apple on how to reverse their stock price slide.
Need a holiday gift for the technology enthusiast in your life, but you’re not sure what platform to buy for? Want to skip the whole iTunes/Amazon/Red Lobster prepaid card thing? Overwhelmed by the sheer number of phone and tablet cases out there?
Here are some suggestions, in no particular order:
1. Tablets are great for reading ebooks or watching videos in bed, but who wants to hold the darn thing up the whole time, especially when trying to relax? The $33 Peeramid Pillow is great for propping up your tablet — or even a hefty treeware tome — when one is inclined to recline.
2. Crazy weather and power outages can happen anywhere and you know how we get when our phone batteries slip into the red zone. If your gift sense leans toward the practical, consider a deluxe combination USB charger/radio/LED flashlight powered by solar panels or hand cracking; the $60 Eton FRX3 fits the bill — and you can also connect an MP3 player to pump out some tunes in the dark. The company makes several other charger models branded by the American Red Cross as well.
3. If you’ve got a radio lover in the family, consider a portable Wi-Fi model like the Mutant Innovation M-Wavio, which you can pick up online for around $80 from sites like NewEgg and Amazon. Once connected to a wireless network, this little baby can pull in streams from about 12,000 radio stations around the world, including those from the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio France and other international broadcasters. You can also tap into college radio stations from around the country, specialty streams and some Internet-only stations. And if the power goes out, flip the radio over to the regular FM band to get live news and make sure the zombies haven’t gone all apocalypse now.
4. For those young learners and engineers-to-be, check out the many educational kits from Radio Shack, like the $15 Tin Can Robot, the $13 Velleman Traffic Light Kit and the $70 Electronics Learning Lab. Science is the most fun when you can do it yourself and see it in action.
5. If the programmer on your list eschews the traditional can of Red Bull for a more stately approach to caffeine consumption, there’s the $20 Star Wars Death Star Tea Infuser, designed to brew up that cuppa with Imperial flair. And if you’re not shy about mixing movie franchises, you can back-order a $15 tin of officially licensed Star Trek Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. — which should be back in stock from ThinkGeek around January 4th. (Hmmm, January 4th. Why does that date seem so familiar? Oh…yeah.)
As the storms of the past few weeks — Hurricane Sandy, the US elections, a snow-spewing Nor’easter on the East Coast, it’s time to take a minute and regroup before hurling into the holiday season. Geeks everywhere were goggling over the news that Disney bought Lucasfilm and Star Wars 7 is headed for theaters in 2015; the screenwriter for the project has already been hired.
Princess Leia didn’t need no “Floral Kiss” pink blaster to pop those stormtroopers. She got the job done just fine with standard-color armaments, so sorry, product designers of little pink computers and little pink cars, you’re going to have to try harder with some of us out here. (At least a certain Hoosier songwriter already called dibs on little pink houses.)
Meanwhile, out in Redmond, Microsoft giveth and taketh away: A new Xbox Surface gaming tablet us said to be underway, but those who love Microsoft Messenger will be booted off the system next year when Microsoft retires Messenger to focus on Skype.
Amazon is said to be testing out a $7.99-a-month version of its Amazon Prime service for those who’d rather pay more in installments that cough up the $79 annual fee all at once. The Massive Superstore of Everything also signed up Staples to host its Amazon Lockers that hold your Amazon packages when you’re not home to get ‘em.
Instagram is getting some Facebook-like enhancements like profile pages and desktop access, which also seems to have generated some Facebook-like privacy concerns among advocates. Still, the mobile space is still where Instagram rules. Oh, and Mary Meeker popped up before her next annual report with some thoughts on the current state of Android, iOS, Windows and other systems people use to get in the Internet.
Mobile devices were often the only way some people on the East Coast had to communicate in the wake of Hurricane Sandy two weeks ago when the power went out in many towns and cities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a guide for what to do before, during and after a major storm and the folks at NBC’s Rock Center news show have compiled a list of Hurricane Sandy relief organizations and efforts for those wanting to help.
Hurricane season traditionally runs from June 1 to November 30 each year, so it’s not over yet, and then we move into winter storm season in the northern and western parts of the country. Having a cellphone car charger or hand-cranked turbine/solar unit (USB charger, flashlight, radio) on hand in times of emergency can really help, so if you’re compiling a holiday shopping list, perhaps one of those might make a more useful gift than another necktie or pair of fancy slippers. (Or those freaky singing robot fish that were way too popular a few years back…)
And if you see a storm headed your way on the TV, the Web, your weather app or your other source of weather news, be prepared. Stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, battery, candles, flashlights and all that. Fill up the car’s gas tank, batten down the hatches and bunker in until the storm passes. And if you’re going to be stuck inside while the weather rages outside, red-velvet cupcakes and a nice bourbon make excellent comfort food.
J.D. gives us her thoughts on the new iPad Mini and Pedro mourns the loss of his beloved Star Wars now that is a Disney product. In the news, new tech products designed specifically for women; Microsoft set to debut a gaming tablet, Amazon Lockers to be available at an office supply giant; and Instagram heads to the web.