Marvel Is The New Apple

All it takes is a little success to signal a doomed future. Apple’s success was followed by ‘gloom and doom’ which never materialized. Marvel has never had it so go so now it’s about to get bad. Brian Lowry:

As credits rolled on “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a thought came to mind: Everybody at Marvel slapping high-fives should be forced to watch the movie with someone who is unfamiliar with the comics, then quiz them regarding what happened — or who exactly Thanos is.

The movie’s stronger-than-anticipated opening will no doubt leave the Disney-owned studio feeling invincible, adding another hit to its notably flop-free honor roll. Moreover, “Guardians” achieved those results with a second-tier property, possessing minimal name recognition.

All good signs, right? No.

Yet within the stratospheric liftoff for “Guardians” lie the seeds of failure, and the sort of ostentatious big-budget misfire that Marvel has thus far, impressively, avoided.

Even before the release, “Guardians” looked like a double-edged sword — a title that threatened to disappoint at the box office, or perhaps worse, embolden Marvel to plunge ahead with more relatively obscure titles, until the law of averages (and Hollywood’s version of gravity) inevitably catches up.

In other words, just like Apple, things are looking up; until they’re not.

Toyota FT-1: So Real It Hurts

It looks fast standing still. Lots of pictures on Autos:

Most concept cars are one-and-done: after their debut on the auto-show circuit, their shelf life is measured in weeks before they’re rolled off in favor of whatever’s next. That Toyota has taken the trouble of building a second version of the surprising FT-1 concept it unveiled in January at this year’s Detroit auto show.

Is something like the FT-1 coming for real?

Toyota FT-1

How To Record The Audio From Any Mac App

My history and experience with audio dates back to the days of Ampex reel-to-reel recorders, and using a razor blade to edit tape on an aluminum editing block. Thankfully, those days are gone, but my love for audio tools lives on, including a simple app that does basically one thing very well.

It’s called Piezo, and all it does is record the audio stream from almost any Mac app.

All you need to do is install Piezo, select the app whose audio you want to record, and press the big red Record button. It’s that easy. If you’re streaming audio from a DVD, a music website, a movie, Spotify, Skype, or mostly whatever, Piezo captures the audio and saves it to your Mac as an audio file.

Piezo Controls

Piezo comes with basic audio recording presets so you won’t have to fumble around to figure out how to record what. Plug in a microphone and Piezo acts as an audio recorder. Need to record the audio from a Skype call? Piezo can do.

Piezo records audio from QuickTime Player, VLC Player, and pretty much any Mac app that can play audio, including Safari, Chrome, or Firefox.

Each audio recording can be saved. Just add a title, select the audio quality from a drop down menu, and Piezo does the rest when you press the red Record button. The audio file can be played back in almost any Mac audio app, mixed in Garageband, sweetened in Amadeus Pro, or shared with a friend online.

If you want it to do more, say, for example, edit the audio file, you’ll need a different app (for Mac users on a budget, try the free Ocenaudio app). But no other app I know makes it easier to capture audio from another Mac app than Piezo.

17 Vehicles That Will Disappear After 2015

Justin Lloyd-Miller has a list of cars and trucks that won’t live beyond 2015:

Cars come and cars go. Most of the time, it’s exciting to see new arrivals, replacements, and the steady progression and evolution of the automobile industry. On the other side of the coin, though, it’s also a bit sad (usually) to see vehicles leave. While some production runs come to end and bring sweet relief, others mark the passing of an iconic vehicle that had the magic that just can’t be replicated.

Spoiler Alert:

  • Acura TL and TSX
  • Honda Insight
  • Honda Fit EV and FCX Clarity
  • Honda Ridgeline
  • Cadillac CTS-V
  • Jaguar XK
  • Chrysler 200 Convertible
  • Dodge Durango
  • Dodge Grand Caravan
  • Nissan Cube
  • Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet
  • Scion xD
  • Toyota RAV4 EV
  • Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • Volkswagen Routan

18 Tattoo Fails

See ‘em to believe ‘em. From Answers (18 click slideshow). My favorite:

Tattoo

Spellcheck fail.

25 Google Search Tricks

Zach Epstein:

Hundreds of millions of people around the world use Google Search more than any other Web service as they seek out information on anything and everything. It’s pretty amazing, though, how little people really know about the world’s top search service considering how many of us use it each and every day.

Among my favorites, geographic search, wildcard asterisk, and wiki.

Pro Level Portrait Photos For The Mac

What does it take to create a professional quality portrait photo? Depending upon the quality you want, the list of basic requirements can be extensive; ranging from an expensive DSLR, to lighting equipment, to Photoshop (with the requisite background in learning Photoshop). Or, you can add Portrait Plus to your Mac and enhance almost any portrait photo to near professional level.

They say it’s best to have the right tool for the job and if you want better portrait photos then a portrait retoucher app gives you results that compete with Photoshop but without the expense or the extensive learning curve.

Portrait Plus, as the name implies, does portraits. That means the app is almost automated. It can detect a couple of dozen facial features and improve the face with just a few clicks.

Improve? Skin blemishes, discoloration, scars, and wrinkles are easily removed with basic presets, while it restores skin smoothness, texture, and color. The user interface is straightforward and uncluttered.

Portrait Plus

Portrait Plus facial recognition means faces can be adjusted in shape to appear more symmetrical. Smiles can be enhanced, freckles removed or subdued, eye color adjusted, wrinkles removed, and eyebrows enhanced. All with a few clicks.

Presets and focus make the difference here. The learning curve is mild because every tool is there to enhance the face; eyes, nose, skin, smile, shape, color, texture. Batch processing is built in and helps to reduce the time to enhance a portrait to near Photoshop-like levels.

There’s a lot of sophisticated photo processing power here, but it’s gently applied, non-destructive to the original photo, and improved results are really truly merely a few clicks. If there’s a negative at all, it’s the price tag, though Portrait Plus goes on sale often, and there’s a try-before-you-buy version.

The app’s actual name is Portrait+ rather than Portrait Plus. Either way, the name is lame and does not do the app justice. Any application or product name that incorporates “plus” or “+” is lame and lacks imagination. Yes, Google+ included.

Even with the anemic product name, Portrait+ is worth a try, especially if you love taking portraits but can’t afford Photoshop or all the equipment you need to do it like the professionals.

Crazy Résumé Lies

Christine DiGangi on the lies job hunters put on their résumés that don’t get them the job:

The magnitude of the lie doesn’t matter, because any form of intentionally misleading a prospective employer is sure to hurt your chances of getting the job

My favorites:

  • Daddy Deception: An applicant listed his father’s work experience as his own, because the two shared a name. Junior didn’t get away with it.
  • Doghouse: An applicant said he had previously been a construction supervisor, but his experience consisted solely of building a doghouse a few years before.
  • Math Genius: A 32-year-old applicant claimed to have 25 years of work experience

iPhone 6 Specifications Confirmed

Evan Niu grabbed the latest rumors about Apple’s iPhone 6 and made a list:

We now have a likely date in hand for Apple’s iPhone 6 event. The iPhone maker is reportedly set to unveil the latest model on September 9.

What’s on the list of features?

  • 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen
  • Apple’s A8 CPU
  • Sapphire laminate screen
  • 5G Wi-Fi (802.11ac)
  • NFC

Clear Thinking Comes Cheap With Shapes On A Mac

Many years ago I had the pleasure of going to work for an company full of engineers. That experience taught me to think in a different way. Most of the engineers relied on two things each day. A white board with markers, and a spiral bound notebook. White boards are a good way to flesh out ideas, describe basic processes, highlight problems, develop solutions. A spiral bound notebook is good to keep track of everything that takes place in a meeting, especially action items and who said what.

The world is far more digital these days, but I keep track of the day’s details– engineering style– by using a couple of basic applications on my Mac– a diagramming app, and a notes app. For simple white board-like layout and thinking, there’s Shapes, a digital diagramming app. For notes, I use Evernote, among others.

If you’re new to digital diagramming but understand the benefits of white board thinking, Shapes is a good choice. It’s elegant, almost simple, but has enough symbols and functions to be useful in almost any environment.

Shapes is easy to pickup and has almost no learning curve. Pages and Symbols are displayed in the left sidebar, while individual shape or object details are available in the right sidebar.

Shapes for Mac

Shapes makes easy work of wireframes, organizational charts, processes and flowcharts. Drag a shape to the main workspace, add a caption, link it to other shapes. All the basic OS X tools are built in, too, including fullscreen mode, autosave, and versions.

Do a quick search on “diagrams” on the Mac App Store and you’ll end up with a dozen options, each with functionality similar to Shapes. My favorite is Diagrammix, which is more full featured, but also priced much higher. Likewise, Scapple has more features than Shapes, but is priced higher, too.

That’s why it’s wise to start off with an app like Shapes; if anything, to see if you can adapt your thinking and organizing process to a digital diagram app. If it works well for you, then the more feature-laden apps may work better.

Stoplight Showdown

Video of McLaren P1 vs. Nissan GT-R Nismo at a southern California stoplight: Zach Doell in BoldRide:

Filmed from behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang, this cameraman captured a striking yellow McLaren P1 open the throttle against a white Nissan GT-R in Southern California. After chatting for a bit, the lights turn from amber to green and both drivers give it the beans, sort of.

Spoiler Alert!

The GT-R sprints away into the distance while the P1 – the world’s biggest traffic cop magnet – lets off the juice after a short run. And honestly, we’d probably do the same. There’s no sense in owning a $1.15 million hypercar if you no longer have a license.

Using GPS Could Be Illegal

File this one under the “I didn’t know that” category. Mike Gikas writing for Consumer Reports:

GPS devices are covered under distracted-driving laws. Whether you’re in compliance depends on how you use them, even how you install them. And failing to follow the rules is not only expensive in terms of tickets, points against your license, and higher insurance premiums, it can also be dangerous.

The key seems to be whether you’re holding a GPS device or not; which includes a smartphone with GPS.

The ‘Smart’ Flood

Tero Kuittinen on the coming flood of weird but smart devices:

Semiconductor Industry Association threw a curve ball by announcing that chip sales actually increased by a surprisingly robust 11% in the first half of 2014 compared the same period in 2013. SIA is actually hiking its annual growth estimate to 6.5% from earlier projection of 4.1% growth. How can chip sales growth be accelerating if phone and tablet markets are mediocre?

New ‘smart’ devices.

As cars and medical devices grow smarter and demand more and pricier semiconductor components, some rudimentary intelligence is starting to pop up in a startling range of formerly dumb objects, from lightbulbs to coffee makers.

My favorite is Vessyl, a smart cup that tells you what you’re drinking.

Try The All-in-One Color Picker, Color Scheme, Color Palette Tool For Macs

Seldom do all-in-one, jack-of-all-trades, Swiss Army Knife tools live up to the hype. As far as color tools go, most of us have a few; color pickers, color wheels, color palettes. Few of them are all-in-one color tools, and one of the most popular in many years simply hasn’t been updated in recent years.

That brings me to Colors PRO.

This Mac utility is a color picker, combined with a color scheme tool, with color palette management, which makes it mostly all-in-one, though a bit different than my previous favorite, ColorSchemer Studio (which hasn’t been updated in years).

What you get are most of the color tools you’ll need to use, regardless of which app you use, yet available from within any Mac app. The three basics are a color picker, a color scheme tool, and color palette management.

Colors PRO

The color picker tool works much the same way every color picker works. Zoom into a pixel to select the color, then make the color code available in RGB, HEX, CMYK, HSB, etc– 20 different color codes. It’s fast, easy to use, but only the tip of the Colors PRO iceberg.

Also built into the app is an option to analyze the colors in a photo or image, giving you an accurate color scheme.

Colors PRO also lets you manage colors and color palettes from the same drop down menu.

More Colors PRO

It comes with plenty of import and export options, too– perfect to help you manage color palettes created from other graphic design apps, or simply to export as needed. Colors PRO can export as Adobe Swatch Exchange, and even import ColorSchemer Studio XML files.

As a good Mac app citizen, Colors PRO also comes with a trial option to try-before-you-buy. If you remember the popular Tangerine or worry about the future of ColorSchemer Studio, it’s good to know there’s still an all-in-one color management tool available. While I appreciate the try-before-you-buy option, I noticed that Colors PRO was not available on the U.S. Mac App Store, and there’s a similar but lower price version simply entitled Colors which has fewer features, though not clearly differentiated by the developer.

It’s Just Resting

Are tablets a dying breed? Already? That means Apple is doomed, right? Maybe, but not this year despite Best Buy’s CEO saying tablet sales are crashing. David Goldman with a theory on why tablet sales are tanking:

There are three big obstacles facing the market that are impacting demand for tablets: Smartphones are getting bigger, tablets last a while and businesses aren’t buying them. Who needs a tablet when you’re already carrying one around in your pocket?

Fair enough, though industry watchers speculate that the first tablet cycle is about the arrive and with it, more sales.

So the tablet’s not dead. It’s just resting.

Ejection Seat?

There’s a button on the Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet which looks like an ejection seat but it’s not. Joe Bruzek:

The Mercedes-Benz E550 Cabriolet’s mysterious button hints that it expels something from the front seats, but it’s not the scented breeze of pine trees when your passenger can’t catch a hint. This button activates the Mercedes-Benz Airscarf feature, which was No. 1 on our Top 10 Most Extravagant Car Options list. Part of a $3,270 package, Airscarf places a vent in each of the front seats’ head restraints. Those vents blast a warm shot of air directly at the back of your neck on a cool day of drop-top driving. Our home base of Chicago recently experienced a dip in summer temperatures and the Airscarf worked wonders on 60-degree nights.

How about a glove box with built-in gloves instead Or, maybe a real scarf?

The Airscarf

The Shockwave Jet Truck is Over 100mph Faster than a Bugatti Veyron

Zach Doell

This souped-up Peterbilt Semi sports not one but three Pratt & Whitney J34-48 jet engines, the same type used in the US Navy’s T2 Buckeye training aircraft. Arranged in a triangular formation at the rear of the truck, each jet puts out a staggering 12,000-horsepower for a total output of 36,000hp and 19,000 pounds of static thrust.

Alright, how fast will it go?

Guinness World Records clocked Shockwave at a screaming 376mph. Even more shocking, it’ll cover a standing quarter mile in just six and a half seconds. Not too shabby considering the truck weighs about 7,000 pounds.

And the picture worth a thousand words (or less):

Fast Truck

Free: Screen And Microphone Recorder For The Mac

My Mac is graced with a number of screen capture tools, including a couple of the more expensive versions, a few of the mid-range screen recording apps, and, now, one that’s free. These apps have one thing in common. They capture the Mac’s screen as a movie, including sound. The free one is called Screen Replay. It doesn’t do much and that’s the point.

For Mac users who need to capture the screen as a movie the most important functions are 1) screen capture, 2) audio capture. Screen Replay does both and could not be much easier to use, even considering the lack of a price tag.

Open Screen Replay. Select Start Recording from the Menubar icon. When you’re done recording the Mac’s screen, select Stop Recording.

Screen Replay

That’s it. Screen Replay saves the screen video as a movie file in your Movies folder. It doesn’t care how long the movie is (within storage limits) or the Mac’s screen resolution (up to 4k). In addition to the video, Screen Replay saves the audio, too (including built-in microphone or an attached mic). Movies from Screen Replay can be edited or sweetened in iMovie or Garageband.

What’s missing?

Well, considering the price tag is free it’s hard to determine if anything is really missing, but there are no keyboard shortcuts, including the very basic Command-Q to quit. Either way, you still have to click on the Menubar. While it captures Mac system audio, I’ve had difficulty getting it to capture audio from some video clips. And, there’s no pause option.

Mac users have access to QuickTime Player and it does much the same thing and a little more– record the Mac’s screen as a video, records audio, too, which may account for Screen Replay’s lack of a price tag.

66 Seasons

MLB and Vin Scully:

It is very difficult to say goodbye. God willing I will be back next year. Over the years I have been blessed to have so many friends including those that sit in the stands and listen as well as those at home, who listen and watch. It is just too hard to say goodbye to all these friends. Naturally there will come a time, when I will have to say goodbye, but I’ve soul-searched and this is not the time.

I listened to Scully call games when I was a kid.

The iPhone 6 You Can’t Afford To Pre-Order

Chris Smith on the Brikk Lux iPhone 6 customized model available in 24-karat yellow or pink gold, or pure platinum (with diamonds):

Luxury retailer Brikk has decided to throw its hat into the iPhone 6 preorder ring as well, and allow potential buyers to request their custom, and extremely expensive, 24-karat gold iPhone 6… will be GSM unlocked for worldwide use and will be packaged in a “custom metal first aid box” that will contain all the iPhone materials and accessories you expect.

Pricing starts at $4,495 and goes up to $8,795.