Posted on December 4th, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
It may be possible to put together an automatic sign-language reader. Put on a necklace that senses hand motions and translates them into sign language and displays the words in text on your phone.
The necklace uses “Leap Motion” technology. “Leap Motion” is also a very small $80 box that registers and interprets gestures. It measures about three inches long, an inch wide and a half-inch thick. That’s pretty small. Two cameras and a motion sensor detect what’s going on either with your hands or anything else moving in front of it.
So if you’re watching anything, you can wave your hands, wiggle your fingers, make a fist, etc., to make the computer react and do things; it’s all about control. At least that is the promise. So far users describing their experiences with the box have given it mixed reviews to say the least. One noted that the device couldn’t even tell how many fingers he was showing. There is obviously promise here, and you see such futuristic control displayed in movies and television. A lot of work needs to be done and some of you may want to experiment. This is an open field.
The Portuguese designers of the sign language translator are competing in the “TEDx Youth Competition” in Sydney.
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Posted on December 3rd, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
Tabletop computers are the latest thing this season. They’re flat enough to mount into a coffee table. The ones getting the best reviews are full-fledged Windows 8 computers and cost $900 to $1800. They have stands – like a kickstand – if you prefer it that way.
The 27-inch Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon is the jazziest and most expensive at $1800. Two people can play a game like air hockey or monopoly and the computer knows that your finger is yours and mine is mine. When flattened down, many custom games and apps become available. A new “Aura” interface lets you spin wheels to choose games and do other neat tricks. But for a much lower cost, around $1300, we’d go with the Asus Transformer AiO, a Windows 8 tabletop which becomes an Android tablet when you lift it off its dock.
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Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
Interesting new android tablet from a company we never heard of: Astak. It’s called a Neos, costs a bit under $500 and is permanently mounted on an inclined stand. The whole thing is much heavier than a tablet alone, and you wouldn’t want to hold it in your lap. In fact, our initial reaction was negative. Like: who needs this? Now we love it.
It’s like having a small TV in the kitchen. Listen to music, watch news and lectures, display recipes as you work, play games. It seems to be waterproof, though we don’t want to try dunking it in the sink. Many apps are available offline, others require the Internet, cabled or wireless. It also takes camera cards and has a USB port, which means you can plug in a thumb drive.
Neos uses the Android (Jelly Bean) operating system. You can use any Android apps and play any of the games. If the game allows it, two people can play and the tablet knows whose finger is whose. We tried “Glow Hockey 2, which reminds us of “Pong,” the first computer game. If you’re thinking of buying this to play two-person games, it’s not worth it. Board games are more fun.
Another downside is that the Neos has no battery and has to stay plugged in. Joy says that’s actually a good feature, because then you know where to find it. Otherwise she frequently asks: “Have you seen my iPad?”
Neos’s sound quality is excellent. We found ourselves listening to online radio and TED talks far more often. Picture quality is so-so. We plugged in our camera card to watch a slideshow, but it was better on our computer. It’s hard to find Neos on the web, but you can find it on Amazon by searching on “Astak Neos tablet-top.”
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Posted on December 2nd, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
Nikon is offering $17,000 worth of equipment to the creator of the best video.
Upload your two-minute to three-minute video to YouTube or Vimeo.com and then submit the URL at EverydayCinema.com before December 31.
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Posted on December 1st, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
– “Shopular” was ranked by TIME magazine as one of the 50 best iPhone apps for 2013. When you walk into some stores, a pop-up on your screen tells you the latest deals. The app works at 40,000 locations around the U.S. and is used by over a million people.
–FastMall has interactive mall maps. Shake your phone to find the nearest restrooms. The app also gives you turn-by-turn directions to your favorite stores.
– Jifiti Gifts – Send any item you see in the app or in a store by email. Your friend receives a gift card code to purchase the item online or in the store. Saves on shipping, otherwise seems useless.
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Posted on November 30th, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
“Legends of Chima” is a free LEGO game at ChimaOnline.com. All you need is a computer and the right browser. Google Chrome worked fine for us, but using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, gave us a message saying we needed an upgrade — even though we were already using the latest version.
In “Legends of Chima,” still in the beta or testing phase, you choose an animal tribe and then customize a warrior to fight their enemies for the power of “Chi.” As you go, you build LEGO outposts on the frontier.
For girls and less battle-hardened boys, there’s “LEGO Friends” for the Nintendo 3D game machine. Five girls vie for your friendship and teach you to choreograph dance routines, train pets, rescue fawns and practice soccer. The goal is to become a true friend of each of the characters. Girls just want to have fun.
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Posted on November 29th, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
A $329 gadget called the “TronicalTune” won the “Best of What’s New” award from Popular Science magazine. It attaches to an electrical guitar and tunes it for you. We mean literally.
The device turns the tuning keys on the guitar’s neck as you play. You can even set the instructions to turn some or all of the strings slightly off-key for special effects. There’s a YouTube video showing it tuning a guitar for special effects even in mid-performance.
The TronicalTune tunes a guitar within seconds. The device weighs about eight ounces.
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Posted on November 27th, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
Starting next year, you can call or text friends from up in the air — if your airline allows it. (Joy thinks it’s amazing that calling from an elevator is virtually impossible but calling from the air won’t be. The reason, of course, Bob says irritatingly smugly, is the steel shell of the elevator acts as what’s called a “Faraday cage,” named for the famous scientist. This cuts off wireless transmission. You can look all this up.)
You’ll find the GoGo Air app (Text and Talk) in the Google Play and iPhone App store sometime in 2014. The regular “GoGo Air” Internet service costs $14 for an all-day pass or $40 a month of unlimited use on your favorite airline. An all-airline pass costs $50 a month. It’s available on about 2000 airplanes and most airlines.
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Posted on November 26th, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
Running a malware (bad stuff) program on our test computer picked up over 950 “PUP” files. “PUP,” is short for “Potentially Unwanted Programs.” This triggered the computer to go wild, filling out web addresses with bizarre characters and slowing everything to a crawl.
Malwarebytes, a very nice free program from Malwarebytes.org, found them all. But unfortunately, they were listed with a check box next to each. Checking off each one was really tedious, so we stopped at 20 and planned to come back later. Wrong! When we stopped, the list vanished.
We got the solution by emailing their tech support: Use your right mouse button to click the first piece of malware. That gives you the option to “remove all.” Who knew?
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Posted on November 25th, 2013 by Bob and Joy Schwabach
Quora.com is our favorite question and answer site. It recently had some great tips for using Google in little-known ways. Like these:
- Type “movies” to get a list of all the movies in your city, and with links to trailers. Click on a movie title and you get show times at local theaters.
- Type in “Books by Elmore Leonard” — or any author — to see all of his books on a shelf. Clicking on a book gives you more information. (They show you all the covers in color; very nice display. We typed in “Books by Dr. Seuss” just to see the cheery covers.)
- Type “Songs by (name of artist)” to see a list of all their songs. Clicking on a song plays it in some instances. We listened to Sheryl Crow’s “All I Want to Do.”
- Type “Tip Calculator” into the Google search box and you’ll get a form with three fields. Fill in the number of people in your group, the percentage tip you want to pay, and the bill total, and it figures out how much each person should pay. No more lengthy discussions on who had what.
- Type “puppy etymology” to find out the origin of the word “puppy.” (It’s from the 15th century French word “poupee,” for “doll or plaything.”) Type any word you’re curious about.
- Type in a special day like “Chinese New Year” or “Mother’s Day” to find out what day it’s on, and click “remind me” to get a reminder on your phone or tablet.
Find more tips at quora.com by typing “What are some lesser known Google search tips?”
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