I think I'm Stan Lee's biggest fan, but my daughter might be beg to differ. Lee is responsible for so many of the superheroes I grew up with and that are in the movie theatres today! Without Stan Lee, there would be no Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Avengers, and countless more.
I've been having fun with NHL Hockey Target Smash (free), and it's not all about smashing targets. With the hockey simulator game, you get to choose your team colors, enter your name, and customize your hockey stick and even your puck. That's something Tom Brady would love to do with his football! But that's another sport. Speaking of other sports, Concrete Software, the maker of NHL Hockey Target Smash, also makes PBA Bowling Challenge, another fun licensed app I've played and enjoyed.
This should be the year of home automation, as Apple's HomeKit specification starts to take root, and CES had a number of products in that arena. The Ring Video Doorbell is a novel product that can replace a doorbell, using the existing wiring. It lets you see who is at the door and communicate with them thanks to a microphone and speaker, all via the free companion app running on an iOS device. This means you can be thousands of miles away and see when a visitor, delivery person, or intruder approaches your door. It's a great idea and at $199, it's reasonably priced. The Ring can also be operated by battery, so you can add a video doorbell to a gate or just about anywhere, as long as it's within range of your home's Wi-Fi.
The Digital Harbor Foundation wants to give you a 3D printer. Thanks to their new Perpetual Innovation Fund, they have set aside funds to give 3D printers to worthy schools and teachers who can make a case for it. In addition to 3D printing, the foundation teachers technical skills like electronics, and web and app programming in their after-school and camp classes.
I'm a big fan of the MacTech Conferences, and iPhone Life Magazine is a media sponsor. The events bring together some of the brightest independent minds in the Mac and iOS universe, both as speakers and attendees. The once-a-year event in California has so many topics and speaker sessions worth attending that I wish I could clone myself to attend them all! An easier solution might be to attend a local MacTech Pro event. It costs less, especially if you live near one of the nine locations and is a single-track, hotel-based seminar, specifically geared to serve the needs of professional consultants, IT Pros and techs who support others on OS X and iOS. The first MacTech Pro will take place on March 4, 2015 in Seattle.
The iPad introduced a new way to interface with our computers. Before tablets, our computers could rest on a desk, table, or lap. As iPads became thinner and thinner, they still put a strain on your hands when held for prolonged periods. This has caused an array of accessory makers to develop innovate stands for tablets and smartphones. This year, at the Consumer Electronics Show, there were several notable stands on display.
The Apple Watch is Apple's next big (or little) thing and new details are starting to leak out. According to 9to5mac, the battery life could be as low as 2.5 to 4 hours for active application use and up to 19 hours of combined active and passive use. Standby mode could last for two to three days, but it's hard to expect early adopters will shell out $349 to $1000 to leave their watch in standby mode. To make the battery last longer, don't expect it to constantly display the time. Like many Android devices, it will blank the screen to save power and turn on when the sensors detect you're glancing at your watch.
It's a sad day, as a longtime (since 1984) Mac user. We lost MacWorld magazine last year (and the MacWorld tradeshow) and now MacUser has logged off for the last time. In fact, www.MacUser.com redirects to www.MacWorld.com, which is still around as an online publication. Both magazines were helpful when I, along with the rest of the PC counterculture rebelled to make sure "1984 won't be like 1984!" It was a great way to keep in touch with Apple news and learn about programs and accessories. I also looked forward to the different editorials and columns from like-minded (and not-so-like-minded) writers.
CES is over but the products that were presented are just hitting the markets or in some cases, aren't available yet. One of my perennial favorite product categories at CES is headphones and there were some distinctive sets introduced. Anyone can make headphones and make them loud, but Kidz Gear takes a different approach. Instead of trying to make them loud, they make them safe for kids' sensitive ears. After all, damage to the ear canal can be bad enough for old rockers like Pete Townshend, but for kids with their whole future ahead of them, it's an even bigger deal.
It's not a surprise that Samsung might be copying another feature from the Apple iPhone, especially since that feature, Touch ID, is over a year old. Samsung has already had a fingerprint reader, but it was the old fashioned kind that required the user to swipe their finger at just the right speed and angle to be recognized.