Keeping with my theme of DIY projects as gifts, I present to you this little treat, a laser-cut marble machine that comes to us via merry old England. While the mechanism is cool – you turn a little crank and send the balls climbing up a hill and then down a little ramp – the real fun comes in assembling the jolly little machine.
… it’s a complete marble machine that fits on a desk. You can set it up at work and amuse your co-workers or at home where you can stare at it, idly turning the crank as you drink a single malt and contemplate the meaningless treadmill of existence. Or you can pretend the marbles are penguins climbing up and down ice floes. Your choice.
… is a complete kit of wooden pieces as well as a “generous supply of steel balls.” It is nearly 5 inches tall. Plus, the creator writes lines like:
Anyone that excited about the prospect of making a little clockwork marble machine deserves our nerdish attention.
… folks who want to spend a little time building a clever clockwork device after gorging on figgy pudding and tripe. These sorts of things are cracking good fun and well worth the effort at assembly. Who knows, maybe the person you give this to will build something a bit more extravagant over time. Might make a good parent/child project for the cold January months.
Read more: Gift Guide: DIY Marble Machine Kit
Oprah hasn’t been shy about her love for the MS Surface. In early November, she claimed that it was one of her favorite things. This morning, she tweeted that she has bought 12 for Christmas gifts. She sent that using Twitter for iPad.
The Surface is on Oprah Winfrey’s list of 48 favorite things, with other gadgets such as Beats by Dre Powerbeats. As always, lists like this need to be taken with a grain of salt. Microsoft has spent $1.5 billion on Windows 8 promotion. Jessica Alba, Oprah, Gwen Stefani and others have endorsed Windows 8 and/or Windows Phone 8.
Oprah’s tweet is a good opportunity to examine the state of the Twitter apps for Windows RT. Arguably, the Surface is a new product and there wasn’t a good Twitter client for the Surface when it launched. But if you look hard enough, you will find Rowi, MetroTwit and Tweetro. Twitter shut down the latter after hitting the 100,000 user-login token limit, as it was a Twitter client replicating the core experience.
It raises an important issue. Twitter hasn’t released an official Twitter client in the Windows Store yet, but it remains one of the most popular apps on other platforms. The fact that Twitter hasn’t released an official modern UI style app shows that big app developers are still not allocating the same resources to Windows Store apps. According to the company, it’s a work in progress:
#Windows8 needs a great Twitter app. So we’re building it. Looking forward to sharing it with you in the months ahead.
Twitter Mobile (@twittermobile) October 30, 2012
But Windows 8 and Windows RT apps are two different things. Windows RT only runs on ARM-based devices and doesn’t support legacy Windows apps. It remains to be confirmed whether Twitter’s app will actually run on the Surface.
Even if Oprah has never used a Surface or insists on using official Twitter apps, she can still use the Twitter website — especially if she only needs to send one endorsement tweet for the Surface. And yes, the tweet would look the same even from her iPad. Now it makes her look like a sell-out.
See more here: Oprah Tweets Her Love For Microsoft Surface Using An iPad
I’m in love. The Vers 1Q is a smallish, cube speaker. It costs $119 and its simplicity is the biggest draw. With a single speaker and easy connectivity, this little speaker easily fits into anyone’s life. Plus, much to my surprise, it actually sounds pretty damn good.
… simply put, a speaker is the sum of its parts. There isn’t a magic ingredient. The formula involves the combination of speaker, amplifier and volume/density of the cabinet. This is where the Vers 1Q wins.
The 1Q employs a quality, single driver inside a wooden casing with a good amount of volume. The 2-inch speaker easily handles the mid-range wonderfully and is a tad bright with the highs. Surprisingly, there’s a touch of bass from the 1Q, likely due to the ported cabinet. This mono setup, while seemingly rudimentary, is far superior than using two smaller speakers. The single speaker in the 1Q more than holds its own, and, in a small space like a bedroom or cubical, the audio is pleasantly loud and mostly accurate.
… success story. Launched on the crowdsourced site in July, the company experienced a huge demand, acquiring $194k in preorders, although they were only looking for $10k. And now, just several months later, the company is preparing to ship the 1Q. It helps that Vers is not new at the hardware game. The company has been building and shipping clever iOS device accessories for some time now. Want something a little more multifunctional than the 1Q? Look at the Vers 1.5R, a fantastic-looking radio and alarm with a top-mounted Dock Connector port.
… for nearly anyone. At $119 it’s rather affordable but more importantly, very unique. The 1Q is not the traditional plastic nonsense sold by big box electronic stores. A fallen rap star is not endorsing the 1Q. The casing is made of wood and available in several different finishes. It sports Bluetooth connectivity but also a 3.5mm jack and comes with a cable. Don’t worry about pairing the speaker with your phone. Just plug-in the cable and rock out. The 1Q even features a 3.5mm out which can be used to string together another 1Q, forcing the two speakers into a stereo mode with each speaker representing a different channel.
Continued here: Gift Guide: Vers 1Q, A Wonderful 2-inch Bluetooth Speaker
Google has sent out a ‘test’ version of its new mapping app, reports The Wall Street Journal. This test version of the iOS app has apparently been seeded to ‘some individuals outside of the company’.
The app is having ‘finishing touches’ put on it before it is submitted for approval to the App Store, according to the source in the article. None of this is all that surprising, as the app has been rumored for some time.
But there was one very intriguing bit of info, namely that the app will have navigation:
The forthcoming Google Maps app for the iPhone is expected to contain turn-by-turn navigation that would allow people to use it like a GPS device while driving, said the person familiar with the matter. The turn-by-turn navigation feature didn’t exist in the previous Apple-device version, partly because of various disagreements between the companies over other aspects of the Apple-controlled app.
Some folks had assumed that, since the Google Maps app for Android has had Navigation for some time, and that it is quite good, Google would withhold it as an advantage point for its own platform. If this report is accurate, that isn’t true. Instead, Google is looking to bring the full force of its mapping prowess to bear on iOS.
Personally, I think it only makes sense for Google to bring its A-game to iOS. If it’s going to launch a mapping app on the iPhone then it needs to show exactly how much of a grip it has on the mapping industry in bold style. Google has been doing this a lot longer than Apple, and is a lot better at it. Displaying this on the iPhone will do nothing to hurt Google in the long run. Instead, it can act as a brand ambassador for Android. “If our maps are this good, how good is the rest of our OS? Come and see!”
And any rumors you’ve heard about Apple not approving a Google Maps app for iOS are likely bogus. I’ve heard nothing of the sort and it makes no sense for Apple to do so. First, it gives people with an iPhone a viable alternative, alleviating some of the pressure they have to fix Maps so quickly. Second, it allows them to play the mapping game on an even playing field, putting forth their, eventually, improved version of Maps in a head-to-head battle.
Shouldn’t be too long now.
Image Credit: Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images
Sony makes a lot of really nice things but it has never taken smartphones seriously. That’s to change if Sony Mobiles’ sales chief, Dennis van Schie, is to be believed.
Speaking to the Financial Times Deutschland, he basically acknowledged that Sony’s current phone lineup does not have a direct competitor to the iPhone or Galaxy S III.
“We will create in the near future a flagship model that can with Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy S III to compete,” he said. A spokeswomen also noted that the model will be available at CES and Mobile World Congress in the first part of 2013.
Sony, and previously, Sony Ericsson, has produced stunning-looking phones. You cannot argue that they lack a strong design or build quality. But Sony’s Android update history has been nearly non-existent. Sony essentially releases a phone and then moves on to the next one, letting it fend for itself as competitors get updates and enhancements.
The Sony Xperia TL is the current Sony Mobile flagship. It has the goods to stand tall against any other smartphone on the market: dual-core 1.5GHZ S4 Plus, NFC, 4.6-inch 720p display, 13MP camera and it only costs $99 at ATT. The casing is wonderful and it feels great in the hand. But have you heard of it? Have you seen it in any ads or heard it mentioned in any Android flamewars? Yeah, that’s the problem.
Sony knows hardware and can build a fine device. No one argues against that. But it has lost the midas touch. Making a “better” smartphone in terms of specs is not enough to sell to consumers anymore. People do not shop smartphones by specs. They shop by trends dictated by popularity and massive marketing campaigns. If Sony is to have a shot with its iPhone and GSIII competitor, the marketing message is nearly as important as the device itself.
Van Schie went on to tell Financial Times Deutschland that Sony is not currently planning and Windows Phones but adding, “We have a good relationship with Microsoft and the development of Windows Phone are watching closely. If it succeeds, we will not be caught off guard.” A smart plan. With the explosive growth of Android, it’s probably best for an upstart like Sony Mobile to focus on the sure thing. There is plenty of lucrative goodness left in Android market share pie for Sony — as long consumers know its upcoming flagship exists.