Free Sh** Today! Ooga-Chaka!

Free Sh** Today! Ooga-Chaka!

Free Sh** Today! Ooga-Chaka!

I’m hooked on getting free stuff, especially a great soundtrack like the one from Guardians of the Galaxy. Variety reports that for ONE DAY ONLY (that’s Wednesday 11/19), Google Play is making “Awesome Mix, Vol. 1” from Guardians of the Galaxy available for free. That is Free-99, freezy, or sometimes known as the price is so very, very right.

Check out the Variety article here

and here’s the link to Google Play

Samsung Corporate Diversity Rap Video

Samsung Corporate Diversity Rap Video

Yeah, I couldn’t come up with a better title than that. Samsung Corporate Diversity Rap. Samsung, king of insanely weird PR stunts, hired Korean rap star Mad Clown to do a musical version of their 2014 corporate diversity report.

I really can’t say any more than that. It’s epic. And awkward. Epically Awkward.

The Verge posted up the uh….lyrics, which I’ve attached here:

Here we go once again
Samsung to the rescue
Put wings to your dreams
Everyone just listen

Samsung, we 280,000 humans
40 percent 112,000 women
You don’t have to worry after giving birth
Sit back, relax, no need to work
It’s all taken care of
Leave it up to us
Family friendly company
With kindergarten [???]

So many good employments waiting for you
Finding people with great skills and talents too
Sign up for Samsung software membership
Have talent for design
Go to Samsung design membership

Samsung’s all for diversity
We have in that full whole internship
For the student of handicap, make your dreams come true
All the possibilities what you want, we can do it all for you
We’re just letting our dreams come true

Make it shine, let us smile
Samsung we’ll be there
A global harmony with people, society, and environment

I would normally say that a giant corporation wouldn’t have an official uh…song that features the word “shit” but I dunno, it’s Samsung. Who knows what they’re thinking.

Samsung has blocked access on YouTube but for some reason Time still has a version up, check it out for a giggle…..WATCH VIDEO

Stay weird Samsung, stay weird.


Because Space Wasn’t Creepy Enough

Because space wasn’t creepy enough, Warner Brothers created a “Silent Space Version” of Gravity

Because space wasn’t creepy enough, Warner Brothers created a “Silent Space Version” of Gravity, featured on a new version of the movie due to be released on Blu-ray in February. The theatrical version was already subtly frightening with it’s pseudo-accurate depiction of sound as heard by an astronaut in an atmosphere-free environment, but this version will have even the film’s musical score removed. The silence should be deafening and deliciously scary.

I am oddly excited about this and can’t wait to try the silent version when it comes out. Check out The Verge for more details…..READ MORE


Who’s Reading Your Texts?

Who’s reading your texts?
Who’s reading your texts? Well according to the EFF, in their recently released security scorecard, could be a lot of people if you’re using any of the major messaging platforms (Skype, Google Hangouts, FaceBook, WhatsApp, etc.). There are certainly messaging solutions that are pretty safe but they are far from mainstream. The EFF graded a host of services in seven categories and only  handful passed all the checks. The EFF also stressed that a passing grade on these checks was only a first step towards security, not an indication that a service was completely safe.

What Got Tested?

The security checks covered a variety of criteria including whether or not data was encrypted end to end or just in transit, if past communications were safe if your security keys are stolen, and criteria less important to the average user like if the design was properly documented or if the code was audited by a third party recently.

Who Made the Grade?

There were 6 services that passed all 7 checks. I was only (barely) vaguely familiar with most of those and needless to say, most people aren’t using them unless security is really important to them. Notably, only Apple’s FaceTime and iMessage scored particularly well out of the mainstream solutions (passing 5 out of 7) – most importantly, Apple’s offerings passed the end-to-end encryption checks.

Who’s Repeating 1st Grade?

Unfortunately, Facebook, Google Hangout, WhatsApp and even BlackBerry Messenger scored pretty low, only offering transport encryption. QQ (one of, if not the biggest messenger clients in China) apparently doesn’t offer encryption at all…shocking in China, I know.

OK, OK, Don’t Freak Out

Particularly in this post-Snowden era, companies are being scrutinized for their data security procedures, especially as it pertains to government oversight. The EFF’s scorecard is particularly geared toward whether or not your communications are secure from government snooping.

Even without end-to-end encryption, your Facebook messages to your buddy are probably not going to be accessible to the guy sitting across from you at the coffee shop. I mean unless he’s some kind of elite hacker (I almost wrote that in l33t but thought I’d spare you…damn, I just did it…oh well). And anyways, if you have really private eyes-only stuff you are communicating and you’re using Facebook Chat, well, you’re an idiot.

If you have a legitimate need for enhanced communications security, check out one of the services that have passed the EFF’s first set of checks. Their scorecard can be found here along with more detailed descriptions.

Will You…TouchID Me?

Will You…TouchID Me? This strip from Joy of Tech is completely hilarious. I’m going to propose to my wife when I get home.

Seriously, it made me think whom I would entrust with touchID access to my phone. I used to have no problem giving my 4-digit code to my friends and family but once I switched to my 6+ I made my passcode complex, which is a pain to give to others. It’s not often that I need to hand over my phone to someone, but still, makes you think.

Joy of Tech has been around for over a decade and creators Nitrozac and Snaggy focus on topical tech news 3 times a week. Check it out if you haven’t before, it’s good stuff!


Guys Are Kinda Dumb

Guys are kinda dumb. OK, maybe not dumb, but we’re (very) easily distracted.
Guys are kinda dumb. OK, maybe not dumb, but we’re (very) easily distracted. How long did it take you to get to this sentence while your eyes were trying to clarify the blurred image? Be honest.

Well, a Russian advertising company decided to prove that:

1) Sex still sells…or at least gets a lot of attention
2) Truckside ads are a worthwhile marketing vector

So they sent out 30 of these trucks with text that translates to “They Attract” and a phone number. Well, they definitely got a lot of attention. As in caused upwards of 500 accidents and I’m sure a lot of traffic slowdowns. (Apparently the company responsible is going to be covering out of pocket compensation costs for anyone in an accident). As AdWeek points out, the ads were even more distracting than meteors. Or those crazy people shooting all the dashcam videos (check it out on YouTube if you don’t know what I’m talking about). I’d be curious to see how successful that promotion actually was, especially if people realized that their ads wouldn’t necessarily be quite as eye catching without nearly naked breasts.

Check out the AdWeek article which has more details…..READ MORE

Oh yeah, before I forget….here’s the unblurred image

 Guys are kinda dumb. OK, maybe not dumb, but we’re (very) easily distracted.

Guess What Amazon Just Added to Prime?

Guess what Amazon just added to Prime? Unlimited photo storage, that’s what. Meet the new Amazon Prime Photos. That’s right, they’ve basically added all the functionality of Flickr to Prime. Oh wait, Flickr only gives you a terabyte for free. OK 1 TB is a lot, but not as much as unlimited.  In other words, Amazon just ate Flickr’s lunch.

Breaking down Prime

So let’s tally up what you get included in your $99 yearly Amazon Prime subscription:

  • Prime Instant Video – Watch an unlimited amount TV shows and movies (their catalog is anemic compared to something like Netflix)
  • Prime Music – Streaming music service (slightly less anemic but no match for Spotify or Rdio)
  • Kindle Owner’s Lending Library – If you own a Kindle you can borrow half a million different e-book titles
  • Prime Photos
  • Two-Day shipping for free

Also, unlike a lot of the other players in the online photo storage space, Amazon will let you upload full-size photos without counting against your storage quota and they also support RAW files! Like it’s competitors, there’s a mobile app to go along with the service, and if you like it will auto-upload your photos to the cloud.

Are they crazy? How can they give you unlimited storage?

OK, there are a few limits. Video files DO count against your storage quota. There’s also a 2gb file size limit and videos can’t be longer than 20 minutes. For most people that won’t be an issue. Amazon is also careful to call it a storage service not a backup service. So if something bad happens and you lose some photos…well don’t go crying to Jeff Bezos.

Almost Pefect?

Well, not quite, but pretty darned good. For me, the selling point of Prime is still the upgrade to 2-day shipping and everything else is a bonus. Most of their services are adequate at best, and only to be used because they’re “free” with your Prime membership. The Prime Photo service though is shaping up to be one of their best add-on services. Amazon’s photo service is more feature packed than any of their competitors, and if you already have a Prime membership, it’s free. I haven’t had a chance to play with the interface much but I’m uploading some photos now so I can see how well it works.

Amazon is really making some bold moves with Prime. In the same way that Apple absorbed you into their ecosystem and locked you in to their hardware, Amazon is doing with digital media in general. Kind of genius. Well of course, Amazon still needs to turn a profit…..


Old School Gamers Rejoice!

Old school gamers rejoice! The Internet Archive has added classic arcade games to their offerings and best of all, no need for quarters! Right now they’ve got almost 1,000 titles for your walk down geeky memory lane.

Old School Gamers Rejoice!

The Archive is calling the collection “The Internet Arcade” and all the titles are emulated in JSMAME, part of the JSMESS software package. The games are from the 70s and 80s and I have to admit I didn’t recognize a lot of the game titles (Tranquilizer Gun, Special Forces Kung Fu Commando, Hunchback???), but most of my favorites are there. Yeah, I know some of these have been remade on platforms like XBox Live Arcade, but a lot of these will never see the light of day again.

Now, f you’re a retro geek like myself, you’ve played MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) emulated games before so you know what to expect. There will be bugs, the controls are usually very difficult (tough to replace a joystick with the 4 directional keys) especially since it can’t register simultaneous keystrokes (moving and shooting can be a challenge). Still…another chance to play that arcade game you used to love?

Check it out for yourself! Meanwhile, I’ll be playing some Sinistar and Victory Road. While you’re there check out their Console Living Room which has emulated titles from almost 2 dozen console systems.

TechChrunch has a great write up with more details…..READ MORE


5 Things to Know, 5 Things to Use when Traveling Abroad

I’ve been in Europe the last couple of weeks and have some thoughts and tips about getting around and staying connected (if that’s a priority for you – it is for me). A lot of these tips apply outside of Europe too. Just as an aside, I got pulled aside for a random bag check and the security guy was impressed with my collection of tech (2 universal adapters, 1 universal 4-port USB plug, external battery, iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Macbook Air, DSLR…some say it’s a sickness….).

5 Things to Know

1. Staying Connected….Internationally

If having full use of your mobile device is important to you while traveling (it is to me), you have a few options. Obviously you can get whatever international package your existing carrier offers, but that’s usually costly. There are also options for truly international mobile hotspots and SIMs with data, but those can run you in the range of $15-25….per day. Fine for a real quick trip but anything longer….ouch! If your phone is unlocked, what I HIGHLY recommend is getting a prepaid SIM from a local carrier, wherever you’re going. Keep in mind that even with the same carrier you probably won’t be able to use the same data package and/or SIM in different countries.

2. Unlock Your Phone…Before You Leave

If you’re out of contract, unlocking your phone is usually not a big deal. Also, I’ve heard that some US carriers (Verizon or T-Mobile) allow you to use foreign carrier’s SIMs without issue. I use AT&T so I unlocked my iPhone 5 online on AT&T’s site, and it took me about 5 minutes to get that done. You’ll need to factory reset your device to complete the process unfortunately.

If your phone is under contract and with a carrier that won’t let you use international pre-paid SIMs, your options are more limited. You can pay their exorbitant rates or just get your hands on an older, unlockable phone. I’d recommend the latter.

3. Get a Local SIM…Unless you LIKE giving your carrier a ton of money

Once you’ve unlocked your phone you have a lot of options to get a prepaid SIM. The Pay as You Go SIM with Data Wiki is pretty comprehensive and contains most of what you need to know about how to get a prepaid SIM card for your phone in most countries, including a breakdown of your carrier options.

Finding a carrier can be a little challenging at times. Although, for example, in the Lisbon airport, there’s a Vodafone store right on the way out.

4. My SIM Is Too Fat

OK, this part is a little tricky. Not all carriers/stores will carry a nano-sized SIM if that’s what you need. I couldn’t find one in Andalucia, Spain, they just had the micro size. In Lisbon, Vodafone had the nano size no problem. In any case, if you can’t find a nano SIM, you can always cut a micro SIM down to size either with scissors or with a SIM cutter. The SIM cutter route is obviously easier, and you can buy them on Amazon for around $20. However, unless you’ll be traveling to multiple countries, it’s probably not worth it. Especially since they’re not super small. You can cut a micro SIM down to nano size with a pair of good scissors, it just takes attention to detail. Basically you just cut all around the metallic parts. You’ll end up with something that’s slightly smaller than a nano SIM, but will still fit into the SIM tray for your phone.

OK, hard part’s done. Now, on the card they gave you with the SIM, there’s a PIN code. DO NOT LOSE THAT. You’ll need to enter that PIN any time your phone shuts off. I recommend taking a picture of the PIN code too. You lose the PIN and you’ll be buying a new SIM card.

5. Getting Around

Google Maps is great overall, especially for walking. However, it falls short on transit, depending on the country. In London, for example, it’s pretty good for the underground schedule. But in Lisbon, Portugal, it only covers trains and buses…NOT trams. Also, outside of Lisbon proper, they don’t cover public transit at all. A lot of places have great free apps, specifically for public transit. Most major European cities (that I’ve visited) are highly pedestrian friendly so I’ve only needed a car when venturing outside large cities.


Flying within Europe and many other countries is great. In Europe for example, an hour flight can get you to a multitude of different countries. And it’s generally cheap, with some caveats.

RyanAir – Doesn’t get much cheaper, but there’s a reason it’s so cheap. They charge for EVERYTHING. Want a particular seat? There’s a charge for that. No free check-in baggage is a given. Forgot to print your boarding pass? No problem, just hand over 15 EUROS and they’ll print it for you. They have an app with electronic boarding passes but they state they don’t work everywhere. I’m guessing the app works fine if your flight is not anywhere on the planet Earth and if you book your flight for November 31. If you are careful, however, RyanAir is a great option for the budget conscious. (There’s other airlines that are similar that I won’t get into here, but just keep in mind that their luggage policies are different than in the US.)

IMPORTANT TIP: Make sure your gadgets have enough power to turn on completely! If you get asked by airport security, you will need to show that your gadget actually works for its intended purpose. If your electronics can’t power up, you’ll have to charge it up or it may get confiscated :(

Yelp Sucks (internationally)

The first time I went to Paris I had to pick restaurants at random. I mean, like walking down a street and walking into a restaurant at random. Most of the time, this didn’t work out very well for me. At the time, Yelp wasn’t available at all in Paris. Now in 2014, Yelp is available in most countries. HOWEVER, nobody uses Yelp so it’s still pretty useless. TripAdvisor is extremely common and there’s another service called zomato that works pretty much just like Yelp. Zomato isn’t available everywhere, but if it’s available in your location it’s not a bad option. It’s actually better designed than either TripAdvisor (UI is pretty bad) or even Yelp.

5 Things To Use to Make Your Trip Easier

1. Chargers

I got a great charger from Amazon that allows you to charge up to 4 USB devices, including 1 tablet. The cool thing about this particular charger is that it includes snap-on adapters for all the major plugs (US/UK/Europe).

A lot of international flights have electrical sockets you can use to charge your devices on the long flights. Some even include USB sockets. However, I HIGHLY recommend that you avoid using USB sockets and instead use your own chargers. It’s been proven recently that plugging your devices into unknown USB receptacles is a good way to get malware or hacked.

5 Things to Know, 5 Things to Use when Traveling Abroad


2. External Battery

Got mobile devices? You need one of these then. If you’re the type of traveler that goes out all day to check stuff out and like to post photos or video, you’re probably going to run down your device battery. You can carry around a plug and hope you can find an outlet (actually easier than in the US), or you can bring an external battery with you. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and they’re rated by how much of a charge they can store, measured in milliampere-hour or mAh. I had a 3200 mAh battery that gave me an extra 1.5 charges on my iPhone 5. They make them a lot bigger but keep in mind that size and weight is directly proportional to the amount of charge. BTW, they’re always bigger than they look when you’re buying them :D

5 Things to Know, 5 Things to Use when Traveling Abroad


3. Travel luggage scale

You can buy these for about $20 USD, and they’re totally worth it if you’re anywhere close to the limit on weight and you’re flying within Europe. Remember, the weight (and size limits) are different from the US, so if you travel anywhere within Europe (for example) the bag you so carefully packed when leaving the US, may NOT meet the weight limits for another country. With the luggage scale you can repack your bags easily (or at least see how screwed you are) and it makes it easy to switch from pounds to kilos too.

4. Universal Adapter

You’ll also need a universal adapter for regular plugs  so you can charge your laptop, camera battery, etc. These are usually brick shaped and include all the necessary plugs, some even include a USB port.


5 Things to Know, 5 Things to Use when Traveling Abroad

5. Helpful Apps and Services (these are all IOS/Android and/or web)

Wordlens – This is a cool little app that will convert written words (like a sign) from one language into another (I only tested Spanish and Portugeuse to English). Your mileage will vary depending on the language and sign, but it can be helpful at times. Using it on a menu is always entertaining. It only works with a limited number of languages however.

Google Translate – Not much explanation needed here. This app from Google will translate most languages back and forth and will prounounce words or phrases for you. It also displays the translated phrase in large letters which can be helpful for example when you’re trying to tell a taxi driver where you want to go.

WhatsApp – Traveling with a bunch of people? This app is great for you then. You can text or send voice messages to large groups and you can also pin your location to tell people where to meet you. You can do all this with other services (like Facebook) but with a multi-generational group not everyone may have a FB account.

TripIt – It’s a cool service that lets you organize your itinerary and share it with others, either fellow travelers or people you’re visiting. If you get the Pro service it has some extra bonuses like alerting you of last minute changes on flights and seats.

SeatGuru – Especially for long flights, making sure you don’t have a bad seat is crucial. Strangely, not all seats are created equal, but on SeatGuru, they have practically every plane mapped out with notes on particularly good or bad seat locations.

OffMaps2, I highly recommend this app – especially if you are on a limited data plan. Again, it doesn’t help with transit, but it’s a really cool app that easily lets you pin locations on a downloaded maps so you can plan out all the places you want to go and see where they are in relation to each other. It also lets you download the Wikipedia article for your downloaded location so you can see all the sites you might want to visit and gives you some background without needing a tour guide. [Looks like it’s IOS only for now, sorry Android users]


Well, that’s all I can think of for now. Hope this will help my fellow nerd travelers and feel free to drop me a line via email or twitter if you have any specific questions, I’ll do my best to help! Hope you have a great trip and have fun out there.


The Empire Strikes Back like you’ve never seen it before!

This is frikkin’ incredible. A fan-made, shot-for-shot recreation of The Empire Strikes Back!

From the official YouTube post:

“With more than 480 fan-made segments culled from over 1,500 submissions, The Empire Strikes Back Uncut (also known as ESB Uncut) features a stunning mash-up of styles and filmmaking techniques, including live action, animation, and stop-motion. The project launched in 2013, with fans claiming 15-second scenes to reimagine as they saw fit – resulting in sequences created with everything from action figures to cardboard props to stunning visual effects. Helmed by Casey Pugh, who oversaw 2010’s Emmy-winning Star Wars Uncut, the new film has a wonderful homemade charm, stands as an affectionate tribute to The Empire Strikes Back, and is a testament to the talent, imagination, and dedication of Star Wars fans.”


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