‘Surprisingly Tasteful’

Viknesh Vijayenthiran on Will.i.am’s customized Lexus:

The custom NX, which is based on the entry-level NX 200t variant equipped with the car’s available F Sport package. There is a long list of modifications but the most obvious is the new wide-body kit. It’s joined by brushed aluminum and carbon vinyl as well as matte pearl white paintwork and a black-tinted panoramic glass roof. As well as sitting lower to the ground, the custom NX is also fitted with massive 22-inch alloy wheels finished in a gloss black hue. These are contrasted by bright orange brake calipers.

But it’s ‘surprisingly tasteful.’

Lexus Will.i.am

The Mac App That Baby Boomers Need

There are times when I come across a Mac app that I’m certain was made for me. Usually they’re damned expensive. Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and Logic Pro X come to mind right away. Way down the list in terms of expense is the app Boom. What it does is what almost every member of the baby boomer generation probably needs.

Louder sound from your Mac.

Boom is loaded with a variety of sound enhancing features, but at the base level you get louder sound from your Mac’s speakers. Think of Boom as an optional enhancer tool for the Mac’s sound volume.

Instead of cranking the sound up to, say, 10, Boom lets you go to 14 or so, with crisper sound that’s clearer, louder but without accompanying distortion. Whatever comes out of your Mac’s speakers– iTunes music or movies, Skype, QuickTime Movie, iMovie, YouTube, Garageband music– comes out louder and easier to hear.

Sound settings in the built-in equalizer are customizable but presets make it easy to get results from Boom within minutes.

Boom Settings

Beyond the basics Boom also boosts the volume of audio and video files so they’ll play, well, louder on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod, too. Simply choose the files to enhance, and ‘boom’ them.

The presets are a godsend to anyone who’s ever suffered through the settings on an equalizer. Boom works much like the settings in iTunes, only better. Setup Classical, Acoustic, Jazz, and many others with just a click, but you can customize each to match your ear, room, and requirements.

For those who just want more sound, Boom’s slider control in the Menubar may be all you need. Slide up for more sound. Slide down for less. Boom is simple to setup, a bit more difficult to use all the capability, but if all you’re after is more sound, that’s exactly what you get in this inexpensive Mac app that’s made for the baby boomer generation.

10 Of The Creepiest Things Superheroes Have Done

You’ve got to have a favorite on this list from Chris Jenkins. For example, #10:

Even the most casual comic or movie fan knows two cornerstones of Batman’s character: Batman does not use guns, and Batman does not kill. However, for Bat-fans with long memories, both of these are actually untrue.

Yes, the early Batman killed his villains. #9? Superman got involved in p-o-r-n under the spell of Sleez. Ant-Man had some strange habits, Green Lantern was a mass murderer, and you don’t want to know what Kitty Pryde could do.

640 Horsepower Mustang

Nicole Wakelin on a customized Mustang:

The factory version of the 2015 Mustang V8 model has 435 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque and Saleen managed to bump up that number quite a bit.

How much?

The full specs include a naturally aspirated engine that will get a little boost up to 450 hp and 410 lb-ft, but the supercharger numbers are a huge jump. We’re talking 640 hp and 565 lb-ft of torque for a veritable beast of a car. The buyer can also choose from different final-drive rations and either a six-speed manual or automatic regardless of the engine choice.

Beast, indeed.

Black Holes Don’t Exist

Laura Mersini-Houghton with another view of the conflict between Einstein’s theory of gravity and a fundamental law of quantum theory that unites the two.

Physicists have been trying to merge these two theories — Einstein’s theory of gravity and quantum mechanics — for decades, but this scenario brings these two theories together, into harmony

Dog With 2 Noses

Video of a dog with two noses. I dated a woman that I thought had two noses. She could smell and smell at the same time.

Hidden In Plain Sight: How To Hide A Document Inside A Photo On A Mac

Steganography comes to the Mac. Steganography?

steganography |ˌstegəˈnägrəfi| noun
the practice of concealing messages or information within other nonsecret text or data.

Steganography is a way to conceal a message, image, or file within another message, image, or file. In this case it’s the free Mac app Outguess which does the deed– hide a document inside a photo. James Bond would be impressed.

Using Outguess is rather straightforward. Select a photo (it’s called a ‘container‘ and needs to be a common JPG file). Select the file or document to hide (it’s called ‘content‘). Type in a key (like a password). Click the Hide Data button.

Outguess

That’s it.

Outguess creates a new image or photo but with the file or document secretly embedded inside. Without the password key the file or document cannot be opened.

Extracting the file or document from the JPG image is just as simple. Select the Outguess image in the extract panel. Type in the password key. Click the Extract button.

How safe and secure is an image embedded with a file? Very.

First, out of sight, out of mind. JPG images are so common it’s unlikely anyone would suspect that a photo also contained a file or document with an embedded message. Second, a thief or hacker or NSA agent or Russian spy would need to know that and use Outguess to extract the image but without the password key that won’t happen, either.

Outguess is free and it’s about as simple as it can be to get a file or message hidden out of sight within the confines of a JPG image or photo.

Big Problem With Big iPhone 6

Articles like this are highly predictive. Every time Apple releases a new iPhone someone comes along with headlines like this one: ‘The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone.’

As I stood in line at my local AT&T store Friday morning, preparing to plunk down $399 on Apple’s next big thing, a fear crept into my thoughts: What if the iPhone 6 Plus is too big to fit into my pants pocket? Am I going to have to start carrying a purse?

Yeah, this is a big problem. If only one could test out the size of a new iPhone before buying it. Any other problems?

Yet just as I began to rejoice that I hadn’t wasted my money on a phone I couldn’t carry, a different drawback became apparent: There’s no easy way to use the device with just one hand.

Except for the little trick iOS 8 does which brings the screen down to your fingers (thumb).

When Apple announced the 6 Plus, I noted that it had included a feature that allows you to pull the top buttons halfway down the screen by double-tapping the home button. I did not anticipate that I would quickly come to rely on this feature for almost everything I need to do on the phone.

So, what’s the problem with the iPhone 6 again?

A device that requires two hands is a device that demands your full attention. It’s not a device you can whip out of your pocket and glance at quickly in between other tasks. It’s not a device you can use to quickly scan your email while carrying a grocery bag or hanging onto a subway pole. And perhaps that was Apple’s intention all along: An awkwardly sized phone might be just the incentive some people need to buy a $350 smartwatch.

Ah, that’s it. The big iPhone 6 Plus is there only to make us buy an Apple Watch. Clever, those marketers at Apple. Can I get a refund on the time it took to read an article with absolutely no redeeming value?

The Space Elevator

Add this one to the list of ‘I’ll Believe It When I See’ but someone wants to build an elevator into space. Meghan DeMaria:

The elevator could reach nearly 60,000 miles into space, which could start a revolution for space travel. Its robotic cars would transport passengers to a space station for significantly less than the cost of rockets, and the elevator could eventually eliminate rockets entirely. While space shuttles cost roughly $22,000 per kilogram of space cargo, the elevator would average just $200 per kilogram.

Ludicrous? Or, visionary?

Turn Your Mac Into A Security Camera

There’s nothing like a little paranoia to start the day. If you worry about who’s wandering around your home while you’re away, or who is checking out your cubicle while you’re at lunch, here’s a way to capture the perps (TV lingo for ‘perpetrator’). It’s a Mac app with the clever name Security Cam and it records both photos and video clips of whatever walks by your Mac’s built-in camera.

You can buy security cameras that work in standalone mode but they’ll cost $100 or more (Dropcam is a favorite), but this is a security camera in app form and it comes with a whole laundry list of features so you can customize to meet your security needs.

The Motion Trigger option turns your Mac into a motion detector. Set the trigger to capture a photo or video clip as soon as motion is detected by the camera and app.

There’s also a built-in Audio Detector which will snap the camera when a pre-defined level of sound is detected by your Mac.

No security camera is worthwhile unless there’s a stealth mode and Security Cam has that, too. It turns off the Mac’s display but keeps the app active. Security Cam is accessible from the Mac’s Menubar and displays settings, current camera view, and other options.

Security Cam for Mac

Security Cam can be customized with frequency settings, too. That means the audio trigger and frequency capture combine. There’s a similar setting for both frequency and motion detection.

As you would expect, the app exports videos and photos with a simple click, and if you prefer, each can have a time and date stamp so you can see exactly what took place and when.

Security Cam is nicely done, affordable, very Mac-like in usage, and a boon to any Mac user who is paranoid about home or office security. After all, if everyone is out to get you, a little paranoia is the right attitude to have.

Microsoft Predicts NFL Games

This is exactly what Skynet would do to divert our attention from the imminent takeover of the world’s computer systems and network. A computer that predicts NFL games. Tony Manfred:

Microsoft’s Cortana — the virtual assistant that correctly predicted 15 of 16 World Cup knockout stage games — went 9-7 in its NFL picks in Week 2

So, about the same as a monkey picking red or black on a roulette wheel.

10 Worst Rock Lyricists

We’re a nation of readers who gobble up shallow top 10 lists, and here’s another from Rob O’Connor:

There are so many to choose from, and I tried to kick up the variety. I looked for consistently bad writing. Sting should’ve been here; I just know it. But I don’t listen to his music enough to know the worst of it.

Spoiler Alert!

  • Paul McCartney
  • Jewel
  • Neil Peart
  • Conor Oberst
  • Gavin Rossdale
  • Trey Anastasio
  • Dolores O’Riordan
  • Gene Simmons
  • Bon Jovi
  • Alanis Morissette

No word on whether O’Connor made the list of Top 10 Lame Lists of 2014.

30 Rolls-Royces

What will $20-million get you? Kelvin Chan on a deal any car salesman would die to have.

A Hong Kong tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms to chauffeur guests at a luxury resort he’s building in the global gambling capital of Macau.

A single Phantom’s base price starts at nearly $750,000. How big is Macau’s gambling mecca?

With casino revenues of $45 billion last year, Macau is the world’s most lucrative gambling market, outpacing the Las Vegas Strip seven times over. After authorities ended a casino monopoly a decade ago, newly wealthy mainland Chinese high rollers started pouring in to wager at glitzy new resorts built by foreign operators such as Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Wynn Resorts.

7-times Las Vegas?

Cheap: Fhotoroom Brings Fhilters To Fhotos On A Mac

The digital generation is wreaking havoc on my iPhoto collection. It’s growing. Growing by the thousands each year. And it’s not just the taking of more photos which causes my photo collection to grow. Every photo that gets enhanced with new effects and filters causes a doubling or tripling of that photo. Here’s why.

I lay the blame squarely upon clever Mac app developers who create useful, inexpensive, feature-laden photo enhancement apps. A good example is Fhotoroom X for the Mac. For just a few dollars, or about the price of a combo meal at McDonald’s, you get an app that comes with a gazillion photo tools– filters, effects, and much more– to improve almost any standard photo file format (BMP, PNG, TIF, JPG, JPEG, GIF, TGA) as well as camera RAW support (ARW, CR2, CRW, DNG, EXR, MRW, NEF, ORF, PEF, RAF, RW2, SGI).

Filer and effects are straightforward to implement and include numerical slider bars to adjust each control.

Fhotoroom

Controls?

Fhotoroom has exposure controls for highlights and shadows, white and black point, gamma, and the standard sharpen, contrast, and brightness, but also brings color correction controls for vibrance, temperature, tint and contrast, plus saturation.

There’s also a built-in HDR filter which enhances shadows and highlights. Yes, there’s more, including a lens correction control for distortion, rotation, chromatic aberration, and perspective.

See what I mean? Filters and effects by the dozens, each of which is simple to adjust, and results are displayed almost instantly.

Fhotoroom

Any Mac photo enhancement app worth more than a few dollars needs presets so you don’t have to go into perpetual trial and error mode just to improve a photo.

So, Fphotoroom X has dozens of presets which also include the history of each, grouped into Film, Undertones, Duotones, Lomo, and Color categories. The list of custom adjustable styles is extensive.

  • Tsar
  • Tsaritsa,
  • Americano,
  • Mack,
  • Classic Pro,
  • Velvia X,
  • Herc,
  • Rain
  • Tinge
  • Cape
  • Komo
  • Kapla
  • Haze
  • Adele
  • Hazelnut
  • LowDef
  • Ansel
  • Silver
  • Dose
  • Bella,
  • Lucy

That will keep you busy for awhile. Any misgivings or caveats? Yes. There’s no trial version for the Mac. Fhotoroom for iPhone is free, but has four in-app purchase options to complete the filters and effects collection, so, for a change, the iOS version actually costs a bit more than the Mac version.

Still, if what you want is a growing collection of tools to apply to your photos, including many presets, Fhotoroom X for Mac is a good buy, but it’s a dollar or two beyond my personal threshold for throwaway money (without a trial version).

Samsung Bashes Apple Again

If you can’t beat ‘em, and you can’t join ‘em, bash ‘em. Samsung, which is gettered hammered by Apple in the premium smartphone segment, and attacked by low cost Chinese makers at the low end, tries to look cool by bashing Apple. MDN has all the commercials and BGR the details:

What’s interesting is that Samsung isn’t making fun of Apple customers anymore, which was a strange approach anyway to convince iPhone fans to switch to the next big thing in previous years, but instead it’s making fun of Apple Genius employees, who are supposedly making fun of their own products.

Yeah, like that will make Apple customers switch. Where are the Samsung geniuses?

Samsung is making fun of Apple’s big screen devices and wearables, while at the same time promoting its own devices that were unveiled just days ago and happen to be… big screen devices and wearables.

To prevent alienating prospective customers, bashing needs to be subtle and humorous to be effective. You know, like the ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC‘ commercials from a few years ago.

9 Things You (probably) Didn’t Know About Luke Skywalker

Interesting reading from Scott Collura:

In early drafts of George Lucas’ Star Wars script, Luke was no farm boy at all, but rather a seasoned Jedi general — an Obi-Wan type who was an advisor to a king. In the second draft he became a short and chubby 18-year-old called Luke Starkiller, while a holy man from thousands of years earlier was known as “the Skywalker.” It was this mysterious figure who had discovered the Force and helped found the Republic… But, eventually Lucas settled on the bratty moisture farmer version instead

8 more just like that one.

Why Many Disney Characters Don’t Have Moms

Some insight on Disney’s ability to touch emotions from John Boone:

Ever notice how Disney characters—especially Disney princesses—rarely have moms? Their moms are either died, have gone missing, or are otherwise unaccounted for?

So, Boone got an interview with producer Don Hahn who worked on The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and other Disney classics.

One reason is practical because the movies are 80 or 90 minutes long, and Disney films are about growing up. They’re about that day in your life when you have to accept responsibility.

The other reason is more tragic.

The other reason—and this is really odd—Walt Disney, in the early 1940s, when he was still living at this house, also bought a house for his mom and dad to move into. He had the studio guys come over and fix the furnace, but when his mom and dad moved in, the furnace leaked and his mother died. The housekeeper came in the next morning and pulled his mother and father out on the front lawn. His father was sick and went to the hospital, but his mother died. He never would talk about it, nobody ever does.

Sesame, Mac Security, & The Value Of Proximity Controls

It’s been a long time coming, but proximity controls are about to enter the mainstream of technology, thanks to Apple. Apple Pay and Apple Watch will be used to make payments at retail stores without the need to open a wallet or purse, fumble around to get a credit card, wait for the swipe and transaction to complete, and then put everything back.

Wave iPhone or Apple Watch over a scanner and the transaction is done; safely, securely, quickly, and someday soon; maybe.

Here’s a good example of proximity controls Mac users can enjoy now. It’s a free app called Sesame that locks your Mac when you walk away.

Sesame is a Bluetooth device, much like a thumb drive or key fob, which links to your Mac. Walk away with the Sesame device and your Mac, through the free Sesame app, gets locked down. The idea and implementation are sound, but there’s a price for the device and that is likely to limit appeal. After all, both iPhones and Android smartphones can do much the same thing with a third party app for far less money.

But if you don’t use an iPhone or Android phone, Sesame offers another layer of security. You can adjust proximity sensitivity to lock the Mac as you and the Sesame device walk away, as well as set a time period. It also comes with a nice feature which will mute and pause iTunes when the screen is locked, then resume iTunes at the same volume when you return.

For yet another layer of security, Sesame provides a two-factor authentication option which requires a password and the Sesame key fob. The key fob weighs next to nothing, uses Bluetooth LE (low energy) so the batter can go for a long time, and it won’t put a drain on your Mac’s battery.

I can see the need for a device in an office setting where an employee steps away from a Mac frequently and needs an automated method to ensure privacy and security, but there are some issues.

Sesame doesn’t work on most Macs beyond 2011 (MacBook Air and a Mac mini model are an exception). It an extra device to buy, manage, and maintain. Because it’s not smartphone based it will have limited appeal to the masses, but it is indicative of the need for proximity controls on our devices so they can communicate with one another automatically.

New iPhones: What You Need To Know

TechnoStorm has everything you need to know about the new iPhone 6 models; few details, plenty of pictures (or, just visit the Apple site):

With screens sizes of 4.7 and 5.5 inches, respectively, the iPhone has finally broken the 4-inch barrier, bringing Apple’s phone up to speed with most other high-end smartphones on the market. In addition to the bump in sizes, these two new iPhones also pack performance enhancements, courtesy of Apple’s new A8 chip, and better cameras.

The ‘better cameras’ is an understatement.

Apple Watch vs. Android Wear

No one outside of Apple and a limited few partners have actually used an Apple Watch, yet Jacob Kastrenakes is ready to compare it with various and sundry Android-based wearables.

There are already quite a few competitors vying to define what should go on your wrist, however: Google beat Apple to the punch just a few months ago by releasing Android Wear, and watches powered by it have been hitting stores all summer.

Know anybody who has one (or, admits to it; lots of returned items, I hear)?

Unlike choosing between an Android phone and an iPhone, the smartwatch you get is pretty much decided by what phone you have. Android Wear watches only work with Android phones, and the Apple Watch only works with the iPhone.

That pretty much ends the discussion, right?