Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

Boxee Box, my new favourite toy

Boxee BoxI’ve had a Boxee Box for several months now, and since I haven’t done a review in ages, I feel it’s time to sing its praises. This great little device is a Home theater PC (HTPC) or also called a Media Centre. Before I bought the device I did a crazy amount of research and I just couldn’t find the right solution for me. My criteria was simple, I wanted something affordable, I didn’t want to build my own HTPC, and I didn’t want to be locked down. The Boxee fit the bill on all of these, but when it was first released it was lacking many features and early reviews said it quite buggy. Fast forward almost a year and the Boxee team refocuses their efforts entirely on set-top boxes and mobile devices bringing in much more favourable reviews. I can say that I’m glad I waited, and the Boxee Box is definitely now ready for prime time.

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Zen Coding – a new way to write HTML lightning fast

Zen BonsaiThe other day I purchased a new editor called Coda. I might review this fantastic little piece of software at a later date, but one of the reasons I purchased it was to use some of the many plugins the community has created for it. One of these plugins has been produced for several editors and could change how you code. It’s called Zen Coding, and it will make you write large chunks of HTML a lighting speeds.

What is Zen Coding?

Zen Coding is hard to explain, but if you have been working with HTML and CSS for awhile now you should be able to pick it up very quickly. It’s easy to learn and best shown by example, so lets start with an example.

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Bespin, web design in the cloud

Mozilla Labs BespinMozilla Labs released a really exciting Open Source project this month called Bespin. It’s still in an extremely early alpha stage right now, but it looks promising and really gets the imagination going. There’s a great video by the developers about what Bespin is all about, but the real highlight is near the end when they talk about different scenarios in which Bespin could be used.

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Is wireless charging the future?

PowermatSome seriously cool technology was shown at CES 2009, but one that really popped for me was wireless charging. This looks like it’s going to be the future of how we charge things.

It’s a new technology that could be dropped into our counter tops, end tables and dressers. Drop your cell phone on your dresser and it starts charging. What about wireless blenders, coffee makers, toasters, you name it. Someday your whole counter top may be a giant charging terminal. Think of what this could do for laptops. Maybe even public areas will have charging surfaces in the future. It really gets you thinking, but the real key is getting manufacturers to build this technology into our devices and have it work seamlessly anywhere. I nominate Apple first.

Check out some of these technologies on Wired and and watch an iPhone get charged wirelessly on Gizmodo.

What’s better than Pinball?

Pinball TablesI know, many of you are probably thinking “Nothings better than pinball!”. Well how about unlimited Pinball, how about a Pinball tournament? Okay, I think I have sealed my geek status for life now. Anyway, this weekend I went to a Pinball tournament and it was way fun. The entrance fee was 20 dollars and all the tables (a lot) were set up to play for free, no quarters needed. A friend and I spent the better half of a day just flipping away at little steal balls.

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World of Goo will blow you away

Today I happened to run across an article on a DRM free game called World of Goo and how even though it has no piracy protection it is being pirated at about the same rate as games with protection. Nothing new here, people have been saying that for years. Anyway, the screen shots perked my interest so I decided to download the demo. I knew that less than half way through the demo I would be purchasing this game. First it’s an independent game and I like that. Second the developers don’t believe in punishing their legitimate customers with stupid copy protection that only annoys the end user who paid for the game. And third, the game is freakin fantastic and totally original, so lets get on with the freakin fantastic part.

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2008 year of the smartphone

This year has been without a doubt, the year of the smartphone and Apple has led the charge with it’s iPhone. Touch technology seems to be all the rage now, and of course Apple introduced it’s first smartphone last year, but their second phone reached a far greater audience with more countries and recently announced sales of 6.9 Million iPhones.

I of course jumped on the iPhone bandwagon, but before I did I spent a lot of time researching many of the smartphones out there. At the time just before the second iPhone was launched there were a lot of great smartphones on the way, but none were out yet. Now that the iPhone has been out for a few months a lot of new devices have emerged. One of the reasons I bought the iPhone was because Apple was ahead of the curve, now a lot of the other manufacturers have similar offerings, but are any of them really iPhone killers? I decided to do a quick smartphone round up to see what’s currently out there.

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Google Earth for the iPhone and iPod Touch

Google released Google Earth for the iPhone and iPod Touch today. I’m a huge fan of the PC version of this great application and have killed many hours traveling this virtual world known as Earth. If you have never tried out Google Earth then I highly recommend downloading it now. You can view the entire planet in 3D, see photos, read Wikipedia entries and download different data overlays. This only scrapes the surface, but it’s an incredible application, and best of all, it’s free.

So how does Google Earth hold up on the iPhone? Well obviously it’s a bit trimmed down, but still much better than I thought it would be. You can see photos, Wikipedia entries and move around the earth in the typical intuitive Multi-touch way that we are all so used too. You can even twist two fingers to rotate, and if you tilt your device the accelerometer kicks in and allows an angled view so you can see the 3D surface of the Earth. You can also use the iPhones GPS to find your current location on planet Earth. The application runs fairly smooth on the iPhone, but I did notice a few hiccups which sometimes even happens on the full Google Earth.

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Apple’s new brick laptop to be announced tomorrow?

Apple LogoThere has been a load of buzz over the past few days about Apple’s new MacBooks. Rumours of a sub 1000 dollar laptop along with speculation of a new manufacturing process that allows Apple to produce them for less are fueling the buzz. The new laptops are being code named “brick” and it may refer to a new manufacturing process.

On Tuesday, October 14th Apple has invited media to a special notebook event, so the wait to find out if the rumours a true will be over tomorrow. AppleInsider has more details and photos of the laptop.

Techcrunh also has details on the new laptop and CrunchGear will be there for the announcement.

(update: Engadget will have Live web coverage of Apple’s “The spotlight turns to notebooks” event.)

Space Monkey for the iPhone, iTouch is free for a limited time

Tonight I was browsing the top free downloads and noticed Space Monkey in second place. This was originally a $9.99 game, but right now it is temporarily free from the Glu developers (Update: Space Monkey is no longer free, but it looks like it’s now 99 cents, still a great price). This is why it’s always a good idea to check out the top free apps every few days, because a lot of apps start out free and then cost money later on. Sometimes they will also go on sale or as in the case of Space Monkey go completely free.

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