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Colourful pixels on the latest tech

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iPod Nano and Shuffle Stopped Playing

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 12:52

This is really the end of an era. The iPod Classic was already gone, but today it’s the day the iPod Shuffle and iPod Nano are retirered. They have already been relocated to the accessories part of the Apple Store and their table real-estate shrunk rapidly since the introduction of the Plus size iPhone and the aapl Watch.

Remember these little guys, they were the reason why Apple is still among us today!

And to aleviate your pain, Apple doubled the capacity of the iPad touch for the same price. 199$ now gets you 32GB and 299$ gets you a 128GB.


58: Terrible Fate

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-27 09:43

This week we discuss new retro consoles like the Ataribox and the Nintendo 64 Classic, a new Transmit app is released and a pair of yellow glasses in the Gunnar Intercept. We also review the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 HD Dock and pleas, please, do not force quit your iOS apps all the time!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock HD

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-26 16:20

We are starting to see more and more USB-C devices, we already reviewed the Griffin Breaksafe a USB-C magnetic cable. We now have one of the first USB-C compatible docks which lets you connect all your peripherals into the Belkin Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock and pass all the data through a single Thunderbolt 3 cable back to your Macbook Pro. On top of all that, the single cable provides enough power to charge your laptop at the same time.

Design

The overall design of Belkin dock is minimal and nice. The shade of silver is not quite the same as Apple hardware but it’s pretty close. The Thunderbolt 3 cable that comes with the dock is very nice. The power brick is a little big but considering the amount of power this dock provides it’s understandable. With most of the ports at the back of the dock it makes for a very tidy setup which means you can leave the dock on your desk. It doesn’t look out of place at all with the rest of your computer hardware.

The dock features a bunch of ports in the back and two easier to access ports in the front. The back includes one gigabit ethernet, a headphone jack, two USB-A 3.0, two Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C), one DisplayPort and one power connection. The front includes a USB-A 3.0 port, a headphone jack and a status LED that turns green from amber to indicate that a device is plugged and sharing. The dock is only compatible with the USB-C Macbook Pro, the USB-C Macbook is not compatible unfortunately.

Features

  • 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 ports
  • Ethernet, USB-A 3.0, USB-C, DisplayPort and 3.5mm jack
  • 85W power output
  • Dual 4K screen output (max 100W, via USB-C)
  • Daisy chain up to 5 Thunderbolt 3 devices

Performance

The dock delivers sufficient power to charge a 15-inch 2016 Macbook Pro. The dock provides 85W of power, the adapter that comes with the laptop is a 87W. The real performance comes with the update to Thunderbolt 3 which provides a 40 Gbps data transfer rate. This is double the rate of Thunderbolt 2, which isn’t considered slow event though it was released in 2013. You can daisy chain up to 5 Thunderbolt devices from the dock. With full use of all the ports the dock lets you collect up to 8 devices all connected to your laptop using a single Thunderbolt 3 cable. The Belkin dock can output two 4K video streams using the DisplayPort and Thunderbolt 3.

Conclusion

The Thunderbolt 3 Express Dock makes life a lot easier if you have an elaborate setup with many peripheral connected to your laptop. One downside is the lack of Thunderbolt 2 ports or the single Thunderbolt 3 port considering the second one is always connected to the laptop. All in all this is a must have a device to ease the transition to USB-C only laptops.


Gunnar Intercept, the Blue Light Blocking Glasses Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-21 18:22

As you can guess, the number of screens in our lives never stops to increase. Where we only had a big cathode ray TV two decades ago, we now have a phone, a table a watch, a computer and even a kitchen smart assistant. All those things have one thing in common, the screen. This LCD casting blue light to your retinas, all day long, and even late at night. This has tremendous effects on people’s lives, so much that the latest research says that it breaks your circadian rhythm thus preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep. Dry eyes and eye fatigue and headaches are the most frequent symptoms.

Electronic device manufacturers started to include technologies to reduce those effects. Apple introduced NightShift to reduce the amount of blue light emitted, and f.lux has been trying the same thing for the better part of the last decade. Gunnar is trying something different. They developed a proprietary lens technology that block 65% of the blue light and offers this lens in a wide variety of eyewear. Prescription or not, you have more than 20 different styles to choose from.

I got the Intercept glasses with the amber lenses right here. Here’s what I think of them.

Design

The frame is made of very light plastique and feels like you’re wearing almost nothing. The lenses are the yellow tinted ones, the ones that block 65% of the blue light. They also make a clear version that block 10% of the blue light and 100% of UV light.

You can basically wear the transparent one all day like you would with regular glasses. Also, Gunnar offers prescription versions so you can completely replace your existing pair of glasses.

Features

  • Amber lens
  • Block 65% of blue light
  • Anti-reflective, anti-glare coatings
  • Light transmission tuned to eliminate stress

Performance

I wore these glasses at work during long stretches of work facing a blue screen with NightShift disabled. I’m lucky enough not to suffer from strong symptoms, but I often feel eyesores and light headaches. When wearing the Gunnar glasses, I found them to be very effective and they left my eyes perfectly fine after long days in front of a monitor.

Since NightShift has been released on macOS, it automatically kicks in for me later in the day. However, I spend most of the day and not the night in front of my computer. Therefore, it’s not really useful for me. You could, of course, activate NightShift all day, but even then, I found the Gunnar glasses more effective. Everything seems to be sharper and better focused. I do not know if it’s a placebo effect, or if it’s really the light transmission that is tuned to remove the strain from your eyes as Gunnar says.

Nonetheless, the feeling is comfortable and prolonged use is very comfortable.

Conclusion

If you are in front a computer like me, you should really think of using something to protect your eyes and make that whole working on a computer thing more comfortable. I wished the Clear version were blocking the same 65% of blue light as the Amber lens though. I really love the design of many of the glasses, but the Intercept in Amber is my favorite, and I could really see me wear those in clear everyday if they were as efficient as the amber ones.


Nintendo 64 Classic Could be Next!

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-20 17:53

After posting filling for a new visual trademark, representing a long lost controller from the Nintendo 64, we can only assume that the next console from Nintendo will be the Nintendo 64 Classic!

The only two other non-text filings were for the NES Classic and the SNES Classic, so this kinda confirms the rumour!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Sony FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS Lens Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-20 17:21

When looking for a good macro lens that is compatible with the full-frame Sony E-Mount there are not that many possibilities. Sony is now offering two models, the first one released being the FE 90mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens. This lens is a prime lens that sports a few nice features that make it a great product. Here’s how it behaves in the real world!

Design

The 90mm is quite large and heavy, actually more than I was expecting. This is not necessarily a problem as when you shoot macro subjects you need to be very stable and the weight really helps. At 602g (1.32lbs), it can carry the title of being sufficiently heavy. On it aside you have a few buttons and selection switches that try to make your life easier.

The first switch is there to minimize the focus travel and give you a focused image quicker. It has three positions, infinity-0.5m, 0.5m-0.28m or Full. That last setting is covering the whole focus range but will hunt more for the focus on large apertures. The two other modes are limiting the focus hunting by shortening the distance it travels. Just make sure you think of the relative distance of the subject. The lens has a magnification ratio of 1:1, or 1x if you prefer. You won’t be able to zoom in on bug eyes but you can nonetheless do bug shots! As you will see later on, you can get close enough for many nice setup.

The other switch is the optical stabilization which has two positions, ON or OFF. Very useful when composing the shot! If you want to switch from AF to MF, you have this nice push/pull ring on the lens. Not everyone likes this, but for a macro lens it really comes in useful when the lens does not stop hunting.

Features

  • E-Mount Lens, Full-Frame Format
  • Aperture Range: f/2.8 to f/22
  • 1:1 Magnification Ratio; Internal Focus
  • Aspherical, ED and Super ED Elements
  • Nano AR Coating
  • Direct Drive Super Sonic Wave AF Motor
  • Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • Sliding Focus Ring for Af/MF Selection
  • Focus Hold Button; Focus Range Limiter
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 28cm (11”)

Performance

I really love what this lens is capable of and from a pure specs perspective is very good. When using it in real life though, I did have some issues with it. Not with the image quality or sharpness, but rather with the general use of it. The focus distance selector is there for a good reason, the 90mm is way slower to focus than I was expecting. Compared to my Sony 24-70mm f/4, it’s much slower.

This should not be a problem for portraits but when you’re trying to get as close as possible to your subject and do a macro shot, it’s going to hunt a lot. Selecting either close macro or wider shot really helps though. Also, the wider the aperture the tougher it gets for the lens to properly focus.

As you can see from the following photos, the macro capture is very good, just make sure you have ample lights, this helps a lot!

If you were expecting super mega macros, well, this is not the lens for you. It’s magnification ratio is 1:1 so you can get up close and see the details of your subject but don’t expect to get those bug eye shots fit in the frame. You will be able to get the insect by probably only most of its body.

Conclusion

The Sony FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS (SEL90M28G) is a great sense and for a few years the only real full-frame option from Sony. Nowadays, we also have a 50mm f/2.8 that has since been released. If you do not care for cropped images, there is also a 30mm f/3.5 that could be considered.

The quality of the 90mm is great and it’s a great companion for your Sony full frame camera. I strongly recommend it but know that it’s not as fast as you might be expecting to focus. This is no major problem as you can select the distance and you eventually get used to this limitation. Just don’t use it for action scenes as you might be able to quickly capture the still you’re looking for.


Transmit 5 Off the Assembly Line

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-20 11:58

Seven years after the first release of Transmit 4, our well-loved and widely-used macOS file transfer app, we sat down with an incredibly exhaustive list of ideas, and — this’ll sound like I’m exaggerating but I’m mostly sure I’m not — we did it all.

I insta bought Transmit having a need for a good FTP software and now that it’s also supporting Rackspace Cloud Files, where we host our images on this site, I did not need more reasons to buy it!

Plus, for a week, you can get it at 35$ instead of 45$. So, what are you waiting for?

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Apple Pay Debit Finally Lands on Tangerine

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-20 10:52

It took many months, but Tangerine finally released the debit card support for its debit card. We were one of the first to get the credit cards support for Apple Pay, but for some reason Tangerine is one of the last bank to add debit card support.

Being one of their loyal customer, I’m more than happy to finally see this happen!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


TwelveSouth Releases 5th Wallpaper Collection

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-19 15:13

We partnered with an incredibly talented local photographer Kim Graham, who has called Charleston home for most of her life. According to Kim (and we couldn’t agree more) the Lowcountry has a charm unlike anywhere else. With its glorious sunrises and ocean breezes, the smells of jasmine and pluff mud, and the historic homes on cobblestone streets - Charleston is truly one-of-a-kind.

From the look of it all, I couldn’t agree more!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


IonAudio Max LP USB Turntable Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-05 13:20

As it’s often the case, technology tries to hook itself onto vintage or old electronic devices. The turntable is not one to be ignored as audio geeks often requests this type of enhancement. A turntable that allows you to listen to vinyl records and at the same time digitize them is a great idea and it’s exactly what IonAudio did with the Max LP.

Design

The turntable itself has retro look using a wood grain looking finish, a set of speakers and the regular turntable gear that we all know and love. On the back, there is something extra thought. Together with the two RCA outputs, there’s a USB port that allows you to connect it to your computer.

Max LP Turntable

The record platter is protected by a thick plastic casing that also keeps dust out of the platter and in the end out of your records too.

Features

  • All-in-one turntable with speakers
  • USB port to digitally transform your vinyls
  • Works with 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM records
  • Headphone output
  • Standard stereo RCA outputs

Performance

The setup is very simple, all you have to do is install the transparent cover and plug it in. Then it’s only a matter of setting a vinyl record and listening to it. The stereo speakers are working as expected but they are not very high quality. They do not do a good enough job to actually fill the room and make it an enjoyable listening experience.

Once you plug in headphones though the experience changes completely! Using a good pair of Sony MDR-7506 studio monitors the experience gets so much better it’s night and day compared to the embedded speakers. The sound reproduction is rich and really gets the experience to another level.

Then, there is the USB port… Thankfully, it does not require any drivers whatsoever on a Mac. Just plug it in and it acts as an external microphone. I was able to use my faithful Audio Hijack to record the audio easily and even do a version with all the cracks and pops removed. Easy as pie!

Conclusion

If you are looking for a simple and affordable solution that looks great and most of all can help you preserve valuable vinyl records, the Max LP is a great sidekick to do just that. The embedded speakers are not great but the 1/4 jack really gives you a better experience and the driverless setup on a Mac is the cherry on top! Highly recommended!


SnapPower GuideLight and USB Charger Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-05 12:16

How many times did you want to plug in your phone and realize that your USB charger is missing in action? Or how many times did you wish the night light would not steal one of the sockets, so much that when you need it the most is the night that you actually see it lying on the floor… Well, SnapPower wanted to tackle both of these problems.

They first made the GuideLight, a LED powered nightlight that is embedded in the outlet cover. You hear right, the 10¢ cover that you have all over your house can be swapped in mere seconds for a version that include a light-sensing nightlight.

And for the iPhone charging, SnapPower offers the USB Charger cover that also goes on top of existing power outlets to add a 1A USB port.

Design

The GuideLight is like its name explains, a nightlight that is triggered when the sun sets. It has a small sensor so that it only triggers when really needed. Given that this LED is small yet powerful enough to light a passageway, it does not cost more than a few cents per year of actual power.

The USB Charger is a bit bulkier thanks to the USB port placed on the top (or bottom if you install it reversed) cover. It installs the very same way and gives you a 5V 1A USB power that is the equivalent of your iPhone bundled charger.

Features

  • LED light with am light sensor
  • USB Charger with one 1A USB-A port
  • Super simple installation

Installation

Well, this section will be short! You basically need a flathead screwdriver and need to remove the outlet cover plate. Then you simply install the GuideLight or the USB Charger as a regular cover plate. The smart thing at work here are the two prongs that actually make contact with the outlet’s + and - screws. This way the power is also routed through both of the types of cover plates.

That’s really all there is to it. Just make sure you select the proper type of plate design, Duplex (two holes) or Decor (rectangular hole) and you’re good to go!

Performance

The GuideLight is actually powerful enough for any situations and sometimes it would be too powerful if you have it in line of sight to your bedroom. SnapPower fixed this with their new SwitchLight that actually has a selector with variable intensity.

It has been installed for a few months and it really is the type of thing you set and forget. Regarding the USB Charger, I had to install it upside down so that the USB port faced the right side of the counter. But once again, it’s very easy to install and does properly charge an iPhone with its 1A power. You might be hoping for a 2A if the USB Charger is close to where you use your iPad. 1A will still charge your iPad but only very slowly.

I would have loved to have two 1A ports or at the very least one 1A and one 2.4A ports for more powerful devices.

Conclusion

All in all, these SnapPower GuideLight and USB Charger are great addition to any house and require no skills to install since it only lives on the outside of the outlet. If you are in need of a hallway light, really check out the GuideLight and the USB Charger is an affordable way to add a USB port to your wall outlet without the need to call the electrician.

Both highly recommended!


54: Magic and/or Fake

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-04 19:10

This week we discuss Chris Lattner’s exit of Tesla, the Scott Forstall interview, we review a Magic Bridge and warn listeners about fake electric skateboards campaign.

It’s a good thing to have choice in terms of electric skateboards and longboard, but some scammers are also coming out of the woodwork and try to squeeze money from crowdsourcing users. This is very sad.

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Where to Buy the SNES Classic?

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-04 13:08

The SNES Classic or SNES Mini is coming out September 29th, but stores all over the web are starting to enable their product page for the small console. Here are a few places where you can buy or even pre-order it.

This page will be updated often so come back often and bookmark it so you can quickly open all tabs when looking for stock!

USA 🇺🇸

Super NES Classic - Amazon.com

Nintendo SNES Classic Edition - BH Photo

SNES Classic Edition - Best Buy

Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Classic Edition - Wal-Mart

United Kingdom 🇬🇧

Nintendo Classic Mini - Amazon.co.uk

Nintendo Classic Mini - Nintendo UK

Super Nintendo Classic Edition - Game

SNES Classic Mini - Argos

Canada 🇨🇦

Nintendo SNES Classic - Amazon.ca


Never Try to Scam a Security Developer… Project Mayhem Is Born

Permalink - Posted on 2017-07-02 18:00

Not too long ago, a security developer received a call from the IRS saying that there was an error in total calculation and that he owned the IRS over 8,000$. However, this was a phone call from India and there were lots of spoken mistake… It was a scam.

Our developer got fed up from people trying to scam him and decided to fire back at them. So he wrote a program that calls them back 28 times per second to flood their lines and voicemail at once. This way they can’t scam other where their phone network is overloaded. Brilliant, simnply brilliant!

The scammer changed number so he looks online for the new one and starts his process once again! As one might say, fight fire with fire! He’s now running this program regularly and since he’s using the Twillo service there are costs associated with this endavour so he opened up a Patreon account to leverage fees to make this run, eventually, non-stop!

I hope he then goes after the “you won a cruise to the Bahamas” company after this one…

Source


TP-Link Deco, Mesh Networking Differently [Review]

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-30 21:50

2017 is really the year of the mesh networking releases with the likes of Google, Linksys and now TP-Link with a mesh network offering. Of course we had to take is for a spin, here’s what we think about it!

The Deco is a system that includes three or more of these satellites routers that can be added and placed strategically so that your whole house is covered with Wi-Fi. The branding of the Deco even says so: Paint your house in Wi-Fi! Most of the other contenders in this space have chosen a column style shape whereas TP-Link has chosen the “puck” design. At first I was sceptical about this choice given that more space between antennae is normally what makes an array of antennae work well.

Design

In the box, a box that offers an amazing unboxing experience; sadly I’m not yet equipped for video reviews but that might change soon! As soon as you remove the outside sleeve you start an unboxing experience that is very similar to what Apple offers us. The different units are disc shape with a subtle raised portion. It really looks good on any type of furniture. On the back of the devices you have the USB-C port that acts as an A/C port and two Ethernet ports. But really all you need is a single port for the unit close to your router.

Included is, of course, three power bricks for the 3-unit version and a single Ethernet cable. You have all you need to get started easily.

Ethernet and USB-C

Features

  • 1 or 3 unit packs
  • AC1300 speed units
  • Adaptive Routing technology
  • Online threats protection included
  • Fast and easy setup using a mobile

Deco M5 Power Adapters

Setup and Configuration

The very first step is to get your mobile phone out and load the app from your App Store of choice. You are then taken to a step-by-step flow that allows you to configure the first node of your whole house wi-fi system. As you can see from the following screenshots, it’s as simple as stand close to the plugged-in units (for Bluetooth to work its magic) and do a bunch of Next taps.

First Node Setup

You are then taken to the main screen where you can do a speed test of your network and not your device. This is an important point as your proximity to these nodes will impact the overall performance of your connection.

Firmware Upgrade when Installing

You can then add more nodes. I decided to add the two remaining nodes at the very same place as I did with the Linksys Velop system. One in the “machine room”, one in the dining room and one in the master bedroom. The setup was close to perfect except for the master bedroom where it would complain that it’s too far from the second node. It’s basically just above it and 2-3m away from it. I tried a second time and it registered. It probably needed to optimize the network a bit more to accommodate that last node.

Adding an extra node

There is no back-channel band on the Deco as there is with the Velop so in order to maximize performance, and if possible, you need to plug each of them in the wall. In this scenario they use the wires to move data from the device to the Internet. I would strongly suggest you do so to benefit from the best performance possible. Since most of the users will not have multiple Ethernet jacks in their homes, I’m not using this feature in the performance assessment coming right up.

Final Network Optimization

Performance

As it becomes custom, I’m now placing the different units at the exact same place as with my previous tests as well as use the very same setup with my NAS capable of outputting over 1000Mbps of real-life transfer rates. Well above the real-life performance of any wireless devices on the market.

Deco M5 from the Front

I have also kept the same test area as in previous tests so that you can get a feel for the real-life performance of the router units.

Deco M5

How We Test Speed

I currently have a network attached storage that is using link aggregation to merge the power of 4 Ethernet ports and offer unprecedented connected power. I will post something about this in the future. Sufficient to say that this network storage can be fast, over 300 MB/s fast so it makes a good test subject for speeds since it’s next to the main Velop node and wired to it using a Smart Linksys switch.

I’m using iPerf to test the speed over the Wi-Fi network. The NAS being the “server” in the scenario and a 2015 MacBook Pro being the client. I’m also testing from various locations in my home.

  • Basement - Living Room
  • Basement - Office
  • Main floor - Kitchen Table
  • Second floor - Master’s Bedroom
  • Second floor - Second Bedroom

This covers the whole house and can give a good test bed for performance of wireless products. Since it’s the only house I have access to, I cannot say what will happen to multi-generation housings that are not necessarily high but instead very long. I think the Velop system might be even better suited for these kinds of configurations from what I can see from the testing below.

Results

The following results are using MB/second as the unit.

Router/Location AirPort Extreme Linksys Velop TP-Link Deco M5
Basement Office 50 32 32
Basement Living Room 70 48 52
Main Floor Kitchen 15 28 15
2nd Floor Masters Bedroom 9 18 23
2nd Floor Bedroom 2 6 18 25

As you can see from the above results, the Deco M5 are actually surprisingly better in certain scenarios! Faster than the Linksys Velop in almost all scenarios and sometimes even by a good margin. Still not as fast as a dedicated AC router like the AirPort Extreme in close quarters, but as soon as you change floor level you get 2.5 to 12x better speeds! Even when I was on the top level, the theoretical speed got lowered but the experience was not visibly affected. Websites and YouTube loaded as fast as when I was in close proximity to the initial node.

And remember that you can use the wired connection to use it as the back-channel band (connection upstream to the Internet if you prefer). Even if you don’t have it for all nodes, one or two could really help!

Conclusion

Once again, appearances are nothing, the puck design of the Deco M5 by TP-Link is better than the cylinder design of much powerful Linksys Velop. The Deco are super easy to setup, as much that any non-tech person could do it very easily with no problem whatsoever. The added security is a plus that can mean a lot for many and you have great parental controls as well as many advanced features that allow the more techie to personalize the setup. Just keep in mind that most of the Wi-Fi settings are handled by the Deco itself.

Overall the Deco, its surprising performance and its ease of use make it the top recommendation I can make for a large (vertically or horizontally) house. If you have Ethernet jacks close to the units, expect even better performances! All this comes at a price though, but there are sometimes sales that are quite interesting. The base price at the moment is $US 299 and $CA 449.

At this moment, Massdrop has the Deco M5 kit for just 199 $US!


Griffin BreakSafe Magnetic USB-C Power Cable Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-29 16:52

The introduction of USB-C ports on the new Macbook and Macbook Pro from Apple has brought lots of discussion. The laptops lost a bunch of ports but one port that often goes overlooked is the old MagSafe 2 charging port. Griffin is out to fix that problem with the BreakSafe Power Cable, a magnetic USB-C charging cable.

Design

The finish and materials are high quality. The cable is flexible and feels solid. Both the cable connector and the magnetic connector feature a nice chamfered edge a la iPhone 5. The magnets are strong and line up easily, the magnet will always break loose before the USB-C connector comes out. The magnetic connector sticks out from the laptop a little too much for my liking, especially if you want to carry your computer around in a sleeve or backpack. I’m always a little scared or breaking the connector inside the USB-C port while I commute. The magnet connection is great when running around the office to attend meetings.

Griffin BreakSafe Cable

Features

At first I found it strange that the BreakSafe only allowed connection on one side. The cable cannot physically be attached if the cable and quick disconnect magnetic connector doesn’t line up on the right side. Turns out, it’s a safety feature that assures the cable’s polarity is consistent with both the device and the power adapter. The cable connector also has markings to help you identify the correct way to attach the connector and the quick disconnect magnetic connectors. All static electrical charges are dissipated since the ground pin is always the first conductive elements that touch when the connector and the cable are joining.

Performance

The BreakSafe carries up to 60 watts which is enough to charge the 13-inch Macbook Pro at the normal rate given the power adapter provided with the laptop is 61 watts. The 15-inch Macbook Pro, however, comes with an 87-watt adapter meaning you might see slower fill up speeds. Both the Macbook and the Google Pixel will not see any time difference in charging times since the adapters output less than 60 watts.

Conclusion

It you miss your old MagSafe connector than this a definitely a great alternative. The price is a little steep at 9 considering the Apple charging cable is 9. This will save your laptop from falls so I guess you can see it as a much cheaper alternative to Apple Care. The LED indicators that would turn from orange to green when the laptop was fully charged is the only feature missing from this product.


Nintendo SNES Classic on It’s Way!

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-28 08:02

After the immense success that was the Nintendo NES Classic, Nintendo officially announced the SNES Classic Edition! This time again we have a compact HDMI console with a bunch of pre-installed games but Nintendo learned its lesson on some of the finer details this time around!

The SNES Classic Edition Box

The SNES Classic is a two player console that looks identical to the 90s console but much smaller. Nintendo included two controllers in the box this time so no more hunting for third-party to fill the gap. Also, it appears the controller cord are living room size and not a scaled down version like they were on the NES Classic. There will be a total of 20+1 games, 20 will be unlocked from the start but you will need to either beat or succeed at a Star Fox challenge to unlock the never released before Star Fox 2!

Here’s the full list of games:

  • Contra III: The Alien Wars
  • Donkey Kong Country
  • EarthBound
  • Final Fantasy III
  • F-ZERO
  • Kirby Super Star
  • Kirby’s Dream Course
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • Mega Man X
  • Secret of Mana
  • Star Fox
  • Star Fox 2
  • Street Fighter II Turbo: Hyper Fighting
  • Super Castlevania IV
  • Super Ghouls ’n Ghosts
  • Super Mario Kart
  • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
  • Super Mario World
  • Super Metroid
  • Super Punch-Out!!
  • Yoshi’s Island

The console will debut on September 29th for 80$.

Amazon.com link

On a more technical side I’m pretty happy to see Nintendo go though the extra work to emulate the SuperFX chip for Star Fox and also the DSP chip in Mega Man X. For someone that has been following the emulation scene for more that 20 years, and hoping for a SNES Classic since, this is great news and perhaps mean a “perfect” emulator written by Nintendo? I can wait to side load roms on that little machine!


Panobook, a Widescreen Ratio Notebook for Your Desk

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-28 07:35

Sometimes the most appreciated thing is the simplest. This is what I think pushed Studio Neat to create the Panobook, a simple yet very elegant and highly practical notebook that is of a widescreen shape. Perfectly fits between you and your keyboard in landscape mode or to the side of your keyboard in portrait mode.

As things goes with Tom and Dan, the two men product Studio that Studio Neat is, you can expect a refined product with very specific material as a design that is practical but is not in your face. The high quality paper has a dot grid that can be easily disregarded as well as three iPhone size rectangles for those that are doing app design and a few guides to easily locate the center point. All of these are super helpful yet light enough that they don’t distract you from your work.

The Panobook is currently on Kickstarter with the goal reached in only 2.5 hours! You can get one Panobook for 20$ and three for 55$. As you might have guessed, I insta-backed this product from Studio Neat (once again), I’m backer #12. I was really looking for something like a Moleskine but of better quality and I really never could find the perfect size for it. I really think that the Panobook will be perfectly sized for me.


Magic Bridge Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-22 12:50

There were many accessories released over the years that can help you with the ergonomics of your desk. Wrist rests are one type, we even had a keyboard riser in the past that was quite the opposite of ergonomic. But what if you are a proud user of a Magic Trackpad 2 and a Magic Keyboard? The newer models do not have the round battery compartment so they can’t fit old solutions to keep them still.

This is where Twelve South, makers of quality accessories, gets in the ring! The Magic Bridge is the solution to keep your Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad 2 closer together.

Magic Bridge by Twelve South

Design

The Magic Bridge is a simple plastic holder that allows you to snap in your Keyboard and trackpad. There is also a gray sliding component that allows you to set the Magic Keyboard to the left or to the right. Lefties will be pleased!

Clean and practical!

Once installed, both devices are firmly set on your desk and they will not move!

Features

  • Compatible with Magic Trackpad 2 and Magic Keyboard
  • Designed to fit perfectly
  • Made of quality plastic
  • Compatible for righties and lefties

Performance

The setup process could not be simpler. Choose if you want the Trackpad to your left or your right, slide the hold to the correct side. Drop in your Magic Keyboard with an angle, same for the Magic Trackpad and bingo! You’re all set!

The charging ports are accessible so you do not need to take either device out of the Magic Bridge. And the same goes for the ON/OFF switches. Being made of plastic, there are no more interferences so they should work as they do without it from the same distance if you need to take your keyboard to the couch.

The rubber pads below the Magic make sure that it’s stable and does not move on your desk.

Conclusion

I really love the look that the Magic Bridge gives us. A clean, straight setup and the best thing is that when moving your hand to the Magic Trackpad 2, it does not push it around. Clean and highly practical is the best combo for a killer looking (and efficient) desk!


(Podcast) RGBA 53: Juiced to 120Hz

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-22 11:19

This week we discuss new laws for cellphone carriers in Canada, fake followers (ours and Trump’s) and review both the new iPad 10.5” and the Juiced Board!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Tinboard, an Affordable Electric Longboard That Can Do Off-Road

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-21 11:55

Ed. The campaign was pulled, some concerning reports came out of Reddit where the company was not based in Switzerland, but in Slovenia and the founders photos were actually stock imagery. We cannot safely tell you to back the project! Please don’t!

The market now has two major types of electric board, belt system boards and in-wheel hub motors. Following the footsteps of the Juiced Board the team at Tinboard are building an affordable very powerful board. If the Juiced Board was an affordable version of the Inboard M1, the Tinboard would be a cheaper version of the Evolve Carbon GT.

The Tinboard is now live on Indiegogo where you can pick-up a street version or off-road version that also includes the street wheels. For either 499$ or 599$, you can reserve your Tinboard. The campaign offers a great rebate since the board will retail at 599$ and 799$!

But what can this board do? Well, it’s the latest generation that allows you to get a much better range. You can reach 25 miles of range and 25 MPH in terms of speed. And to get these specs you do not need to lug around a board that weighs a ton, thanks to a carbon fibre board, the total weight is only 12.3 lbs!

The board also has a battery cell that’s made at the Tesla battery factory, a partnership with Panasonic, if I remember correctly. You can expect a large-capacity battery without the bulk that cheaper batteries would require. And for riding safely the board includes headlights and brake lights so that traffic around you is aware of your intentions.

The Tinboard has bigger wheels that comes with the off-road model that can be used to run in grass and dirt paths. If the power output is similar to what Evolve makes, we can assume that the board will be powerful enough to race on a dirt track just like a dirt bike!

The board looks amazing in terms of specs compared to the 7-11 miles and 15-20 MPH other much more expensive boards currently offer. But what about the campaign, will it be able to get its funding? They want 25K and at 500$, it’s only 50 of the cheaper models offered! It was reporter and closed!

TINBOARD: Most Advanced All-Terrain Electric Skate


Firing Steve Jobs, a Documentary Featuring John Sculley

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-20 08:21

I come to realize that most of what I back on Kickstarter is actually documentaries. After Easy to Learn, Hard to Master - The Fate of Atari, and The Commmodore Wars, 8-bit Generation is now going after Apple and documenting the period where John Sculley was brought on board and eventually had the job to fire Steve Jobs.

The documentary has big names like Wozniak, Markkula, Hertzfeld and Kottke. If this one is as good as the previous two I backed, then for me this is an insta back! I’m backer 36 by the way. ;)

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


RGBA, 52: Storm of Announcements

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-07 06:31

This week it’s all about the latest Apple announcements from the WWDC keynote

This was a fun one as we were scared that WWDC would have no surprises with all the leaks and rumors, but in the end it was a great keynote packed full of great new software and hardware!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


N2 Elite, Amiibo Backup Solution Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-06 22:45

Announced quite some time ago, the N2 Elite aka the Amiiqo is a device that can store up to 200 Amiibo characters in one single device slightly larger than a 1$ chocolate coin.

The purpose behind the product is to gather your collection of Amiibos and save them on this little puck device so you only need to carry around this little gizmo instead of a full luggage of Amiibos. This has saved my ass quite a lot with all the Zelda Amiibos I currently own. With Zelda Breath of the Wild, I like to scan all my Amiibos daily but since I’m mostly playing during my commute I would not see myself actually lugging along all my Amiibos. Also, I have the 8-bit ones at work acting as desk decoration.

Design

The N2 Elite is a small puck that contains a memory chip and a rewritable NCF chip. When you scan your N2 Elite, it reads the Amiibo from the active bank into the chip and acts as if you had the Amiibo on you.

N2 Elite with an Amiibo

There is also a button on the N2 which lets you toggle between banks, you simply hold it down when scanning and this tells the N2 to load the next memory bank from the list to the NFC chip.

Features

  • up to 200 banks
  • backup multiple states of the same character
  • multiple games with the same character
  • required an Android smartphone

Amiibos, N2 Elite and Pixel XL

Performance

First of all, it’s much easier to use an Android device than any types of McGyver style apparatus built from a computer. It’s possible but highly complicated. The iPhone has an NFC chip also, but it’s not readily accessible as it is with an Android phone.

First off you need to download the app from N2 Elite’s website and install it on your Android smartphone. Then, you can scan your Amiibo to dump its NFC chip content to a .bin file on your handset’s memory.

Then, scan the N2 Elite, set its Bank Count (the number of slots you need) and tap it to save. Select a slot, choose the saved file from your Amiibo and then tap to save it to the N2 Elite.

That’s it! No need to run scripts or commands or anything else!

You are now ready to scan the N2 Elite on your Nintendo 3DS, Wii U or Nintendo Switch. Simply active the feature in your game and tap your N2 Elite to the NFC reader part of your console/controller. It should react exactly as a real Amiibo.

N2 Elite

If you want to move on to the next slot, simply hold town the side button of the N2 Elite, and while having it pressed down, scan it on your Nintendo device. It’s as simple as that!

Well, you should check with your country’s law, but at least here in Canada I am allowed to scan my own purchased Amiibos and make a backup of them. Of course, you can also find all of the Amiibo’s binary file online but as long as you only copy your own Amiibos you should be safe 1.

Conclusion

The N2 Elite really is the simplest way to backup your Amiibos for scanning on the go or for a keepsake. The whole process is not very complicated and as you can see in the video it’s a matter of a few seconds per Amiibo.

I would have loved to be able to see what Amiibo is currently loaded on a small grayscale LCD. Right now you always need to re-scan it or simply go through all of your Amiibos one by one. It’s not too bad for Zelda but if you want to play Smash Bros with your levelled up character, you need to know which bank is currently loaded.

The only problem I had with it is basically understanding the workflow as there is not much documentation available. I had to guess my way around. The button also sometimes do not register and the game says I can’t scan the same Amiibo twice, you simply try again and it usually works fine. The N2 Elite does not feel of the greatest quality so I can’t say it’s going to last years. For the moment, it worked ver well for the last few weeks even with kids handling it.

  1. This is not legal advice, we do not condone piracy and we are not responsible of what you do with this device. Stay legal, stay safe kids! 


Sony MDR-1000X, a Hybrid Music Headset With Noise Cancelling [Review]

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-06 18:01

The noise cancelling headphone space just got a little more crowed. And I must say that more competition is always better for the consumer bying all these gizmos. After many years of being the king of the hill, the Bose QC35 now have a major competitor in the form of the Sony MDR-1000X. A serious contender that offers a comfortable fit, quality driver and some nice innovative touches to make this scene a bit funkier!

Design

The MDR-1000X are like the competition a premium pair of headphones with the well known Sony esthetics. Mostly made of dark and serious looking colors and materials, you know they mean serious business!

Sony MDR-1000X

The earcups are large and completely cover your ears. They have a texture that ressembles leather on the outside, it’s actually synthetic leather. On the inside, the foam surrounding your ears are very flexible but not as much as the Bose QC35. The headband is adjustable and comfortable when resting on your head. Instead of Alcantara fabric like the Bose, you have a very foamy plastic that adapts to the shape of your head.

Sony’s Large Earcups

The MDR-1000X comes with a carrying case and the headset is foldable to take minimum place in your bag or luggage.

Touch Surface

The right earcup has a touch sensitive surface with which you interract to change the track, playback or the volume. Double tap to pause or resume, swipe up or down for volume and left or right for skiping tracks.

Overall this touch surface is one of the best I had the pleasure to use on a headset. Sadly, it’s not perfect and I still have a high number of misfires. I basically only use it for play/pause and use my aapl Watch to control track changes. But still, a 30% error rate is still quite high in my opinion.

Features

  • Digital noise cancelling technology
  • High quality wireless audio
  • High-resolution audio compatible
  • High quality drivers

MDR-1000X Ambient Sound

Performance

As soon as you open the box you can see and feel the quality of the product. As much as the Bose QC35 are light, they still feel fragile. Althgough they are not as I’ve dropped mine a couple of times and they are still in perfect shape. The Sony MDR-1000X are a bit heavier and feel alot more resistant to impacts and strong. Once on your head you immediately feel that this is a Sony product.

Pairing is done as usual on an iPhone and you can use NFC if you have an Android device. The sad part here is that you can only pair it with one single device at a time. A couple of months have passed since the review and we still do not have any updates that could fix this problem.

Sound Quality

This is where this headset shines! The sound quality is so much better than the Bose, the bass is much more powerful and the presence of the music is a lot better. This feels and sounds like a high quality headset.

If I had to compare them with other pairs I’ve test, I would say that they are definitely better sounding than the Urbanite XL, but not quite as well balanced as the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless.

Noise Cancelling

If you are reading this review, noise cancelling must be something you are interested in. I personally could not live without an active noise cancelling headset so when I heard that Sony was releasing their response to the QC35, I had to try them out!

MDR-1000X Noise Cancelling

The noise cancelling is better than what Bose does! I did not think it was possible but it really is. The general sound is slightly more dampened but where it shines is when you hear a bang or some kind of strong short lived noise. The Bose QC35 emits a “shhhhh” whereas the Sony MDR-1000X do not.

Also, on the Bose you can’t disable it if you ned to listen to the outside world but on the Sony you can! You can press the “Ambiant Sound” button to disable it and by pressing the “Noise Cancelling” button you reactivate it. But the cool thing is if you are in noise cancelling mode, you can simply press your hand on the right cup and it will pause the noise cancelling. The gesture is perfect as it’s similar to what you would naturally do, reaching for your headset.

Conclusion

Overall the Sony MDR-1000X is one of the best noise cancelling headset on the market. If you can live with only one device paired at once, then it’s the headset you should choose. If however, you are like me and need at least 2 or 3 devices paired at all time this irritant will be high enough that you will go back to another headset. In my day to day life, I still prefer the flexibility offered by the Bose QC35.

The sound quality is much better with the Sony headset so this would be the part that I miss the most. If only Sony would put out a firmware update to handle 2 or 3 devices I would switch instantly!

Sony has a terrific product here and you should really consider it if you are looking for a noise cancelling headset, it has so many pro and, sadly for me, just one too many cons.


Juiced Board Electric Longboard Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-05 13:00

Electric skateboards are super popular this year and we have already seen many models of longboard that are over 1,000$US if not even 1,500$US. A Canadian company is trying its way at make this dream board, affordable, powerful and really democratized for once!

Juiced Boards are a special breed of electric longboard boasting high-powered hub motors, 4 different riding speeds and a rapid 45 minutes full charge. But that’s not the most important, the price tag of 449$ for a single motor and 599$ for a dual motor is what makes this board standout!

Editor’s Note . This review of a pre-production dual motor Juiced Board with a few incomplete features and unfinished parts.

Design

The design of the board is very similar to the one popularized by Boosted Board, bamboo longboard with stub nose and orange wheels, but that’s only what you see without scratching the surface. The Juiced Board and the Boosted Board are much different when you start looking at them closer.

Juiced Board

The Juiced Board has a maple and bamboo board that is stiffer, yet still flexible and efficient for shock absorption. On the outside, the shape and look is great and allows for stability and carving if you desire too. The big 83 mm wheels are especially good in Montreal where we have notoriously bad roads. Just carve around the potholes, this is not an ATV by any measure!

Juiced Board

The < 99Wh battery is installed below the deck, on the rear, and has a single button for powering it and pairing the board with a remote. It has one power plug and a USB port that can even charge your smartphone while on the go! However, its main use would be for a system of lights and backlights. Both of these ports have a rubber cap that allows the battery to be completely sealed.

I’ve seen mentions online that Juiced Boards should not have so blatantly copied the design of the Boosted Board. I agree that they should have chosen another colour as for the shape of the board, we had this shape for many decades and Boosted even get their boards from Loaded which has been making them for a while. I think the real downside is that people stopped me thinking I had a Boosted Board and I had to explain the difference. If it had its own colour, it would have been unique and overall better for the brand.

Remote

The remote has a simple slide toggle used to drive the board forward or stop. Powered by triple-A batteries, the remote has two switches, ON/OFF and Low/High settings. Under the battery compartment is a third switch to toggle between the turtle or hare modes.

Juiced Board Remote

Not included in my pre-production unit is the smoother acceleration on the turtle mode. In the final units, if you are in the turtle mode you will have less of a kick to help you getting used to an electric longboard.

Features

  • Electric bamboo + maple longboard
  • 20 mph (32 kph) max speed
  • 7 miles range (11 km)
  • 15% grade hill climbing
  • 45 minutes to charge
  • Regenerative breaking
  • Water Resistant

Is That Thing On?

When you take it out of the box, you quickly see the quality behind the product. And you instantly reach for the power button! Slide in batteries in the remote and boom you are good to go. You cycle through the modes to hear the hub motor roar and let me tell you it’s way quieter than I was expecting!

Technology

Before I get into my experience with the Juiced Board, there are a few things to note that makes this board quite interesting. Apart from the quality longboard deck and wheels that are obvious and the price.

Hub motors are located in the wheels therefore you do not have any strap or mechanism exposed at all. You kick the skate up, carve like you want and even run in puddles of water. The motor being sealed inside the wheels and the battery being encased in what looks like a carbon fibre enclosure, there is no risk of damage running it on wet pavement. Since hub motors in the Juiced Board are less powerful than a Boosted Board, I don’t think it’s as dangerous to ride on wet pavement. I did a 7.4km (4.6 miles) ride right after it was pouring rain and city workers even cut the grass around the bike path so it was a real puddle and grass fiesta! Not once did I get scared to or skid. Stable all the way.

The battery recharges in 45 min which, in my opinion, is the longest time it should take to recharge such board. I can see myself going to a cafe and taking a 45 min break to eat a snack and drink a good coffee. But when it’s getting into the 1h15 like other boards, it’s a bit too long, in my opinion.

Riding Experience

This is the part where I mention how great and fun the product is and though I was guessing it was fun, I did not expect to love it that much! Growing up, I was more of a blader than a skater and I did own a skate for a few weeks at one point. But the sheer fun of riding at full speed and carving while doing so is amazing! On a bike path, I could see myself going faster but in reality I spent most of my time in the streets and in Québec they are awful so 32 kph (20 mph) is fast enough.

 

Braking occurs when you press down on the toggle, it basically recharges the battery while doing so until you are stopped. It does not go backwards so it’s a much smoother braking than belt drive systems. I measured the breaking distance at about 3m (12 ft) when going full speed. I had to emergency brake once or twice and it’s easy to shorten this distance a lot by hitting your foot on the ground.

But how did I use the board? I wanted to use it as a mean of transportation to and back from work, as a quick “Daddy, we are out of milk” situation, let’s go to the mall and back and plain fun let’s ride for fun.

The quick ride to the convenience store is simple, quick and not a bummer anymore. It actually makes the ride super fun and gives you small jolt of adrenaline to wake you up :) The ride to the mall was the one I mentioned above where it was wet with puddles of water and freshly cut grass. My pants were soaked and full of grass bits but it was always very fun to do. Especially since there were hills and puddles and it was an almost non-stopped ride.

Finally, the ride to work. This is the one that has the most benefit as it’s much faster than to use the subway! Instead of walking 3 minutes, take a subway for about 12 minutes and then walk another 10 minutes (that’s a total of 25 minutes), I can do this exact same ride in about 8 minutes and I even cut some time off my initial bus ride since I exit ahead of time and probably save another 5-7 minutes. All in all, the ride is much more fun, partially on a bike path so it’s safe and it saves me about 17 minutes twice a day! And I could even pay less in terms of monthly pass if my workplace was not already providing it for me! Saving about 40$ per month from April to October would me 280$ right there!

Performance

I was wondering and have been wondering for a while how my weight affects the performance of the board. After all, with my 115 kg (253 lbs) I’m way over the usual 80 kg used as the reference on various electric board specs. I’m happy to report that even if this is not final and still a pre-production hardware I was able to get very close to the promised numbers!

Juiced Board

I fully charged the board during the day and at sunset, I took it out to fully test it from 100% to 0%. I was able to reach 29.9 kph (18.58 mph) as my top speed and the whole drive had an average of 24.4 kph (15.16 mph). I had the button pressed down about 99% of the time, only released it when I had to a make 90˚ turns. I was able to achieve a total distance of 10.18 km (6.33 miles). For comparison, the specs sheet says 32 kph (20 mph) and 11.27km (7 miles). All in all, this is pretty impressive considering my weight!

And when I was out of juice, I was able to easily get back home by kick pushing myself as the hub motors work like a regular wheel when you don’t have any power. No belt system to slow you down!

Conclusion

The Juiced Board is a great electric longboard that can help with your commute and bring back some fun into small otherwise tedious errands. I would go as far as to say it can save you time and money and probably pay for itself in less than 3 years on bus pass savings only!

The promise the team made was well delivered and I was able to come close to the promised specs even though I’m heavier than the usual guy on the specs. On the longboard side it’s a great board, quality woods, great trucks and huge wheels that help with those Montreal pavement cracks. The board is fast enough for cities and the technology of the hub motor is superior to belt systems as you do not need to replace anything and no mechanical parts are exposed to the elements.

I did get to try a Boosted Board a few weeks back and even if it’s a more powerful board, the Juiced Board is a much better value for the price. Remember that a dual Boosted Board is 1,300$US and the Juiced Boards dual are only 600$US (it was even 550$US as early bird, when the Indiegogo campaign started!). The way I see this, the Juiced Board is more affordable, has less maintenance and is as fun as a Boosted Board for less than half the price!

Juiced Boards on Indiegogo
Juiced Boards’ website

Where is the review score Since this is a pre-production model, we do not give scores since the product is not yet launched. If we can get our hands on a final version, we will post an update to this review.


51: Beating Apple Rumours

Permalink - Posted on 2017-06-04 14:52

This week we discuss an old, new app that is back on the App Store, an 12,000$ hourglass, we do a full round-up of iPhone 8 rumours and list our 10 predictions for WWDC 2017.

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Galaxy S8 Iris Scanner Circumvented Using a Laser Printer

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-24 12:38

After the launch of the first generation Touch ID, a few smart bio hackers found a way to mimic the fingerprints of an individual to get a phone to unlock. However, it took major skills, equipment and knowledge to rightly do so. What if I told you can circumvent the new Galaxy S8 iris scanner using a black and white Samsung laser printer and a contact lens?

Well, that’s exactly what a group of researchers did. And it only took three simple steps. First, you take a photo using the night mode of the camera to gather the infrared information. Then, you print it on high resolution and real life dimensions on a laser printer. Finally, you place a contact lens on top of the eye to give it a rounder shape.

Ta-da!

It’s pretty scary that this is all it took to make this work. Of course, you need some ingenuity but not a lot of skills or complicated devices to recreate a fake iris. Let’s hope a software update will make breaks this approach.

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


JSON Feed, a New Feed Format for the Masses

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-23 18:20

Web developers and web innovators have to keep up with the times and often old standards have to be replaced by other newer, better, simply format. This is exactly what is happening to the old RSS feed (or the even weirder ATOM) standard with the new JSON Feed standard. Replacing XML and all it’s complicated attributes, enclosures and weird nesting alternatives is this new format with a simple JSON document that represents your latest content in an easy and simple parsable format.

XML is simple for writers, podcasters and bloggers since it’s been here for a long time. But it’s not an easy thing to work with for makers of new tools or software that can interact with it. That’s why Brent Simmons and Manton Reece have put together the new JSON Feed format. It’s much simpler and streamlines easy to grasp specifications. Most knowledgeable web developers could implement it on their platform of choice in matters of minutes.

I sure did for the Jekyll platform. I build a ’feed.json’ file that can be dropped in any Jekyll project and it will generate the feed for you. It has support for tags, header images and link posts. If you like it and can think of something, I’m missing send me a pull request and I’ll make sure to update my little feed.

Over the course of the last few days, we have seen a validator and online renderer pop-in and many client libraries for various technologies. Maxime Vaillancourt built his JSON Feed Viewer in one hour. Just look at the list of nice tools the devs have already written here.

Hey, Implement it!

A standard is only as good as its widespread adoption so please, implement it in your CMS, projects and tools. This way we might be on the road to something much nicer than the old RSS feed format.

For the moment, you can subscribe to Hipster Pixel’s JSON Feed right here!


The MP3 (as a Business Plan) Is Dead

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-15 08:49

This was making the news this morning. Many tech journalist say that the MP3 format is now dead simply because the patent holder for encoding and decoding announced that they stopped licensing the format due to the patents being expired in Apri 2017. The MP3 is only dead as a business plan for the patent holders.

Long live the MP3!

This means that anyone can code up an encoder or decoder of MP3, or include the technology in a chip or device for free without any royalties to Alcatel-Lucent, Thompson or AudioMPEG, the three MP3 patent holders. Rett Jones writing for Gizmodo worded his article as such:

MP3, the digital audio coding format, changed the way we listen to music and drove the adoption of countless new devices over the last couple of decades. And now, it’s dead. The developer of the format announced this week that it has officially terminated its licensing program.

Yes, there are better more advanced file formats for audio compression like AAC, still behind active patents and a licencing model, but the simplicity and ubiquity of the MP3 format was what made it so popular. Pirates also helped :P

A Stroll Through Memory Lane

I still remember the afternoon after school when I booted up my dad’s Pentium 166Mhz beige tower and went over the forums I consulted daily. I discovered a post explaining a new file format that can take a 40 MB WAV files and squeeze it down to 3 MB without any noticeable difference.

Remember that this was in 1996 and I was still on a 33.6Kbps modem connection for my Internet at home. For you young folks, this is 4.2KB/s in ideal situations. This means a good 15 (when fast) to 25 minutes to download a 3 MB file. Forget about a 40 MB file, this was a whole night’s worth of download time and in the 90s era you were not billed by the bandwidth but by the hour you were connected!

I still remember find a link to a Directory Listing page with about 20 MP3 files. I was starting to learn to play guitar and saw Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne. I decided to download this file and a software called Winamp. Boy, was I in for a revelation!

Nowadays, even if the MP3 format is twice or three times as large as an equivalent quality AAC file, it does not matter because 200MBits residential Internet is easy to come by. And shaving 1-3 MB per song means waiting 0.3s extra for a download to finish.

I would still love to see more come out of the MP3 format. Perhaps a project that is similar to what Google is trying with Guetzli, the JPEG encoder that makes good ol’ JPEG files much smaller with better quality. A new MP3 encoder that could make it so that files are smaller or higher quality for the same size could push the format to make a comeback for streaming services.


Handbrake Was Infected by a Trojan, How to Check if You Are

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-12 06:58

It happened not too long ago with Transmission, the BitTorrent client, the dowloadable .DMG file was replaced with another version that contained both the app and a malware. This time, it happened to Handbrake when you were redirected to the download.handbrake.fr server between May 2nd and May 6th. The server was closed down and here are the steps to make sure you are not infected.

If you did not download Handbrake between May 2nd or May 6th, you are safe. The trojan that comes with the infected package is called OSX.PROTON.

Detection of Infection

  • Run Activity Monitor, and look for a “Activity_agent” process. If you see it, you are infected.
  • If you installed Handbrake and still have the .DMG file, AND it matches the following hash you are also infected. The “Activity_agent” might just not be running yet.
    SHA1: 0935a43ca90c6c419a49e4f8f1d75e68cd70b274  SHA256: 013623e5e50449bbdf6943549d8224a122aa6c42bd3300a1bd2b743b01ae6793

Removal of Trojan

Open up the “Terminal” application and run the following commands:

launchctl unload ~/Library/LaunchAgents/fr.handbrake.activity_agent.plist

rm -rf ~/Library/RenderFiles/activity_agent.app

If ~/Library/VideoFrameworks/ contains proton.zip, remove the folder.

Then, remove any “HandBrake.app” installs you may have and any .DMG files.Make sure you empty the Trash so you don’t acciently reinstall it.

Now, the Bad Things

Removing the malware is not very hard and getting back to a clean status is quite easy. But what does this malware do?

We do not much informations but it seems to be strongly suggested that you change all of the password of items in your Keychain. Yes, a big pain…

Update: it seems this malware targets source files, passwords and SSH keys to download software source code. At the very least, Panic was the victim of said hacker.

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


iTunes Is Coming to the Windows Store

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-11 14:34

Tom Warren, writing for the Verge:

In a surprise announcement at the Build developer event today, Microsoft revealed it has been working with Apple to get iTunes listed in the Windows Store.

This is great news for Apple when you know they need to have as many platforms as possible to use Apple Music, but it’s also great for Windows uses because it’s a partnership, one that can be mutually beneficial.

For many years, iTunes has been a dumpster fire mixing legacy software, a music store, video store, app store and now music (and video?) service, and many cloud features and tools to configure your Apple account. It’s no surprise, it’s way too much for a single piece of software to handle. And on Windows, it’s been hell for even more years than that. It does work, but in my Windows days I encountered way too many problems and weird situations to call this reliable. But all this now has the opportunity to change.

Apple by itself did not put much thought into Windows over the last few years. And since people consider the iPhone the ultimate gateway drug to test the Apple offerings, many Windows users bought an iPhone and eventually switched platform to macOS, thanks in great part to the non-update of iTunes on Windows. Microsoft would like users to stay on Windows and Apple would like Windows users to have a Windows Apple Music subscription (since they already have a device). At first my brain read the news as if Apple was making an Apple Music app on Windows and breaking down iTunes in feature focused apps… but hey, my brain is allowed to dream too!

Microsoft is working with Apple to make iTunes great again. Microsoft is in a position where it can really help Apple make the best out of the Windows tools be it by being available to its engineer or directly working on parts of the application that needs specific APIs that are missing or complex to implement. This way Apple will be coding iTunes in a way that is better optimized and compatible with the platform.

Or they are simply porting the existing iTunes to the Windows Store.. in which case I’m sad 😔

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


48: Break a Leg

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-08 12:49

This week we fake human voice, the iPhone 8, discuss a new coffee roasting technique and introduce a camera cylinder for your bedroom!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]


Google Daydream View Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-06 22:05

It’s been here for a while. VR has been in front of consumer eyes but for a price and at the opposite end of the spectrum we have Google Cardboard that could give a glimpse of what VR could be without the need of an expensive PC, console or gaming rig. What about the space in between? That’s where the Google Daydream headset comes in. A simple fabric covered headset with minimal technology, to offer at an affordable cost a better VR experience without the need to dedicate a space, a hefty price or even wires!

The Daydream View is exactly what Google thinks strikes the right balance of VR experience and affordability to hit the masses.

Design

The headset is by itself a dumb device with no electronics. It’s basically a refined Google Cardboard that comes with a small Bluetooth remote. You need a compatible smartphone to power the Daydream and actually use it. The list is not the longest but it includes about 8 devices from ZTE, Huawei, Motorola and the two Google Pixels.

The small remote is where most of the hardware is located. It’s a Bluetooth remote that pairs with your Google Pixel (or compatible smartphone) to offer you a pointer in the virtual world. You can point and click, and most important of all, re-centre the cursor. More on that in a minute.

Google Daydream View

You take your Pixel phone and slide it inside the headset, tie it solidly with the rubber band and you are good to go. Install the headset on your head and tighten the headband.

Google Daydream View VR

Features

  • Fabric covered headset
  • Wireless pointing remote
  • Headset has no electronic
  • Smartphone powered with compatible device

Wearing the Gear

After installing the Daydream app, you can quickly jump into the VR experience by setting the headset on your head. The headset is easy to install and adjust to the proper size for your head. Once in the app, you are brought into a virtual world to onboard you into the experience. You are explained how to look around and use the pointing controller. After this, you can then use the included VR App Store to download different apps and games.

Google Daydream View

Up to this point the experience is very interesting and immersive. The App Store has featured apps for each section and more apps if you drill down deeper in the store. Many are free and many are paid apps that offer a more intense experience. You will mostly jump-scare games or interactive stories.

After a good 30 minutes though the headset started to feel heavy. I was using it with the Pixel XL by the way. This the best experience, in my opinion, as it offers the wide field of view. Unless I could rest my head, I would not tackle a full Netflix movie with the Daydream.

Look into my eyes!

Experiences

One of the very original ideas is the Google Street View app that can take you, virtually, to very real places on the globe. I particularly liked visiting the Machu Picchu with 360˚ photos. The illusion is so believable that once I was standing on the edge of a precipice, I surprised myself feeling vertigo. :)

With the Netflix app, you are brought to a cottage in the mountains and presented with a large cinema display, a red couch and a coffee table. On the right wall famous Netflix series posters and on the left a window to snowy peaks. A perfect setup to enjoy a great movie! At first the movie is very pixelated but once it’s been running for a few minutes, it’s perfect and I did enjoy the experience. If the headset was lighter, it would have been even better though, as I would not see me watch the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition with the Daydream.

The kids enjoyed the adventure types games and stories. The weight, once again, and the adjustments not being easy to change when the kids are passing it around made for the most complains. For one person, once you get the headset setup you are good to go but when multiple individuals try it, you have to constantly adjust it and it takes a few tries to get it right. Kids also love the experience though!

That Temperature Though!

After a relatively short VR session, maybe 30-40 minutes, the Pixel XL phone got so hot that I could barely hold it in my hand. Now I know that all that VR stuff is bleeding edge, but that could not be a good thing for the phone to keep running at its maximum processing speed and crank out that much heat. Especially that the whole back of the phone is made of aluminum and acts as a heat sink. I’m pretty sure that once we get dedicated chips in future devices for VR related tasks that this will not be a problem anymore. Until then, expect your phones to be hot like never before!

Conclusion

I can see affordable VR having a great place in our houses. Still, it’s not a social experiment and will need to be added to our human interactions consideration, like don’t check your phone at every notification when you’re around others. But the experiences are cool and fresh enough to warrant some kind of investment to experience it. Not sure everyone should jump on the budget intense PlayStation VR kit but the Google Daydream platform is a great one that requires less of an investment if you have a compatible phone.

The quality of the Daydream headset is amazing and I really love the attention to details. I would strongly suggest you invest in a dust repealing gadget like the O2 Hurricane to blow away all the dust particles on both sides of the lens as they are very much apparent since the image is zoomed and so are the dust particles.


Linksys WRT3200ACM AC3200 MU-MIMO Gigabit Wi-Fi Router Review

Permalink - Posted on 2017-05-06 21:13

After a few months of using the new Linksys WRT3200ACM exclusively, I’m blown away by the speed and by the reliability of the connection that this router provides. Other routers I’ve used in the past often tend to need a reboot every once in a while to work reliably, this one does not. The web interface and web applications are very polished and intuitive, the list of features is extensive and the speed, the speed is addictive. This router makes me want to call my ISP and treat myself to a fat internet connection to really unleash the power of the device.

Read more »


RGBA #47: Converging Rumors

Permalink - Posted on 2017-04-26 15:24

This week we discuss the latest iPhone 8 leaks, Apple’s Earth Day specials, a bunch of apps and the new AppStories podcast!

Yes, we are still dreaming of the new Mac Pro and poke fun at Apple for rear-seat driving using a Logitech gaming wheel in their Apple Car prototype. We also cover a few great apps and welcome John Vorhees and Federico Viticci, both from MacStories, to our ears with their new AppStories podcast! Have a listen it’s great!

[Read on Hipster Pixel]