15 INCREDIBLE THINGS CUT IN HALF

Jawbreaker cut in half

Jawbreaker cut in half

15 Incredible Photos of Things Cut in Half–” Search on that phrase to see how odd things look inside. A Leica camera lens looks incredibly complex, jawbreaker gum balls are beautiful, an engine is a marvel and a photo copy machine looks bizarre.

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CUTTING THE CORD

winegard antennaAccording to Forbes Magazine, a fifth of American TV watchers are “definitely” or “probably” going to drop cable TV this year. That’s around 20 million people. Are they right? Should you join them?

Using Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime, you can get everything but the latest movies, and cut your home entertainment bill by 80 percent or more. (It seems likely that cable companies will respond by merging.) If you like older movies, you’ll find a lot of them for free on YouTube. We recently watched “The Egyptian,” a lavish production with big-name stars.

That all comes in over the Internet. To bring in some free broadcast channels you just need to add an antenna to your TV set. Aye, there’s the rub. Roof antennas work pretty well, but if you live in an apartment, that’s just not practical.

The best, and lightest antenna we’ve tried so far is the “FlatWave Indoor HDTV Antenna” from Winegard ($34 at Amazon). It weighs only a third of an ounce and is a little bigger than a sheet of letter  paper. It’s so thin, (2/100 of an inch), we thought at first it was a piece of the packaging. But its rubbery feel saved it from the trash can.  Plug it in, hang it on the wall or place it near a window, and scan for channels. We just tossed it behind the TV, and got 18 channels right away. Most came in crystal clear, like high definition TV. A few had pictures that broke up into little pieces, but we’ve had that happen on some cable channels as well.

These channels do not come in from a cable service. If you Google “over the air broadcast schedule,” these are channels usually listed with a decimal point, like “5.1,” for example, instead of channel five. Many of them show movies, often some pretty good movies.

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GETTING THE MUSIC YOU WANT

freemake youtube to mp3It’s easier than ever to fill up a portable device with music to take on the road. A free Windows program called “FreeMake YouTube MP3 Converter” can collect music and voice from any YouTube video. This lets you make your own playlist from favorite movie scenes and concerts. You might also want to take up dialogue from great movie moments.

We think there’s nothing better than the blues and jazz from the movie, “The Blues Brothers.”  So we tested FreeMake by pulling a couple of the best scenes from that movie (they’re all great) into our computer. The program quickly and easily converted the music to digital. We picked up some voice along the way as well, getting a few seconds of Ray Charles before he went into his piano rendition of “Shake a Tail Feather.” Then we collected Aretha Franklin singing “Respect,” from the same movie.

Warning: During installation, be sure to click on “custom” and then uncheck boxes for any extras it wants to install. This is stuff you would not normally want to have since it just gunks up your computer. You’ll actually have to click “custom” twice to be sure you’re not getting unwanted junk. The only box we left checked was the one that created an icon for our desktop, to make finding the program easier.

The program has over 100 million users, but we found their “Freemake YouTube Downloader,” another free program, even handier. Though it’s illegal to download YouTube videos for commercial use, saving them for your own enjoyment seems harmless. And for some frosting on the cake: the program strips out ads.

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NEWS YOU CAN USE

facebook paperThe much-touted Facebook “Paper” is a news app for the iPhone, but it only works if you have the latest iOS 7 operating system. If you have an older iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, it won’t install.

No need to cry over crumpled Paper, though, there are many alternatives. “Flipboard” lets you create your own magazine of news sources. It’s easier to customize than Paper.

For Android phones and tablets, there’s Google Play Newstand, which shows you headlines that expand to full stories when tapped. We use the free AP Mobile (Associated Press) app.

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SELF-DESTRUCTING MESSAGES

blinkBlink Secret Messaging, for iPhone and Android phones, allows users to send each other self-destructing messages – you know: like the old Mission Impossible shows — including text, photos, videos and voice messages. Around 51 percent of users are in the U.S. The next largest group (over 15 percent) is in Saudi Arabia.

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TRACKING YOUR BABY’S MOVEMENTS

bellabeat appThe “Bellabeat Tracking System” for Android or iPhone lets expecting parents listen to their unborn baby’s heartbeat. It also has tracking tools for things like fetal movement and pregnancy weight gain.

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EVERY HOME A WORKSHOP

printing in wood to make a glasses frameMost of the stuff that comes out of a 3D printer looks like really low quality plastic toys. We’d call it junk, but that would produce a huge outcry from the hobbyists who love it. Okay, we’re calling it junk anyway.

Another approach to making stuff is to use a milling machine to cut things out of wood and metal. This raises the possibility of making things that are actually useful. The prices are close to what you would pay for so-called 3D printers.

You can get free software from Easel.com that can control a small desktop milling machine like the new “Shapeoko.” This takes a design made by you with the software and feeds into the machine to carve out objects in wood, plastic, or metal. The software is still in the testing phase but if you go to their site you can sign up for early access. Other 3D design software should work as well.

The “Shapeoko 2” milling machine costs $299 if you’re handy enough to put things together yourself. If not, it’s $650 for the whole kit from Shapeoko.com.

We go to manufacturing shows once in a while, and this is the first time we’ve seen what is usually expensive equipment being taken down to what could be called home shop level. The technology is called CNC, which stands for “computer numeric control.” Million dollar machines do wonders with this technology. You won’t be able to do that kind of machining at home, but think of it as a beginning.

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GOOGLE DRIVE EXPANDS TO 15 GIGABYTES FREE

Google driveDrive.Google.com –Google Drive now offers 15 gigabytes of free storage, or 100 gigabytes for $2 a month, or $10 a month for a terabyte.

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THE PERFECT LOGO

logo guideEleven Steps to a Perfect Logo” is a quick visual guide. Find it by searching on that phrase.

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SUPER MARIO BROTHERS

Super MarioSuperMario.me has free online games for fans of Super Mario Brothers. We played the classic version, using our keyboard to jump up and collect gold coins, go through doors, fight bad guys, the usual stuff.

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