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About Rob LeFebvre

Rob LeFebvre Anchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre is Cult of Mac's Culture Editor. He has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef

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Air New Zealand uses The Hobbit to make the most epic air safety video ever

Maybe they'll take the bird all the way to the destination, for a change. Photo: Air New Zealand

Maybe they’ll take the bird all the way to the destination, for a change. Photo: Air New Zealand

Tired of the same old boring pitch that flight attendants have to give you in accordance with FAA regulations? Well, Air New Zealand decided to make its own briefing a lot more epic in the latest video for the official airline of Middle Earth stand-in country.

Watch as Elijah Wood and other cast members grace this light-hearted, good natured air safety briefing, complete with fake Gandalf explaining how to position yourself in the event of a crash landing.

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ICMYI: Apple Pay, iOS 8, Yosemite

Apple Pay, iOS 8.1, Yosemite, and more! Cover Design: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Apple Pay, iOS 8.1, Yosemite, and more! Cover Design: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Yes! Another week, another scintillating issue full of Cult of Mac’s best news stories and features, compiled in one place to read through easily on your iPad or iPhone. This week we’ve got some delightful coverage of the new Apple Pay features in iOS 8, tips and tricks on the latest operating systems, iOS 8.1 and OS X Yosemite, and a couple of great apps you won’t want to miss. That and more in this week’s spectacularly useful Cult of Mac Magazine.

Dig into Cult of Mac Magazine October 24 Edition, Free on iTunes

These clever gadgets bring email into the real world

Oliver silently displays the state of your inbox using a simple light system. Photo: Brendan Dawes

Oliver silently displays the state of your inbox using a simple light system. Photo: Brendan Dawes

Email has become somewhat of a necessary evil lately, with a attempts like Google’s recent Inbox to use software to corral the over-abundance of the technology into something that makes better sense for us humans.

Designer Brendan Dawes worked with email marketing provider Mailchimp to come up with these fascinating single-use gadgets that bring email into the real world. Nim, the gadget named for a famous chimp in linguistics, is a light switch that lets you turn your email off. And on again, assumedly.

“Email is an interface we’ve been using for years,” Dawes told Wired, “so why not leverage its power some more?”

Dawes has several other gadgets he’s designed in concept. Each one tries to make the digital real and interactive. Some are more successful than others, of course, but they’re all fascinating.

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Iron Man takes on the Hulk in first Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer

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Hulk smash! Iron Man huge! Photo: Marvel Studios

Update: The leaked Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer has been pulled from several sources, but once the toothpaste is out of the tube, even superheroes can’t put it back. Marvel Entertainment has responded with an appropriately cheeky tweet (see below) and released the official trailer in HD.

It’s hard not to contain our excitement for the upcoming Joss Whedon joint, Avengers: Age of Ultron, especially with this new leaked trailer. It’s not the high-quality one you’ll likely see when Marvel Studios puts the official trailer up on YouTube, but it definitely looks legit.

The trailer gives us our first glimpse of baddie Ultron, voiced by James Spader, and features some creepy use of the Pinnochio song, “I Got No Strings” — a reference to the fact that Ultron is no longer a puppet, perhaps?

Check it out below:

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Meet Inbox: Google tries to reinvent email yet again

Inbox tries to re-invent and re-vitalize our most popular communication tech: email. Photo: Google

Inbox tries to reinvent and revitalize our most popular communication tech: email. Photo: Google

Google’s got a new way to manage email: Inbox. It’s a refinement of Google’s already pretty rad Gmail service, and it’s headed up by the folks, like Jim Denis, who used to work for Sparrow, a fantastic Mac email app that was acquired by Google in 2012.

“Built on everything we learned from Gmail,” says the Inbox announcement, “Inbox is a fresh start that goes beyond email to help you get back to what matters.”

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Turn your game audio up to 11 with these Bluetooth cans

These Astro 38s are easy to pair, last for hours, sound amazing. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

These Astro 38s are easy to pair, last for hours, sound amazing. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I typically try out a new product for review without reading any of the documentation or media relations stuff that the folks who send us such things want us to look at. I want to have as pristine an experience as possible. Sometimes that leads to little surprises.

I put these new Astro Gaming A38 Bluetooth headphones on my head last week, and paired them with my iPhone to play a little music. After a few songs of various genres, I stopped the tunes and took these off my noggin. I suddenly realized that my girlfriend had been blending up a protein shake in the nearby kitchen. It was surprising because I honestly could not hear it with the headphones on my head and playing music at a relatively low volume – and our blender is really loud.

While they’re great for music, these are also fantastic sounding headphones that help you immerse yourself into any game on your iPad or iPhone, cutting down on the auditory distractions from the outside world when they’re powered up.

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BBC’s fact-tastic data-dicing tool puts your tiny life in perspective

So many changes. Screengrab: BBC

So many changes. Screengrab: BBC

Wondering how many solar eclipses there have been since the day you were born? How about when your next birthday on Mercury is? Perhaps you want to know how much Earth’s population has changed since your very special day.

You can answer these questions and more at BBC Earth with this interactive tool — you just plug in your birthdate, height, and gender, and you’ll get all sorts of interesting facts about our planet, as it relates to your lifespan.

“Find out how,” says the BBC site, “since the date of your birth, your life has progressed; including how many times your heart has beaten, and how far you have travelled through space.”

Heady stuff, indeed.

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Camp Pokemon puts monsters in your pocket

Gotta catch 'em all. Photo: The Pokémon Company International

Gotta catch ‘em all. Photo: The Pokémon Company International

The Pokémon Company International just took another step towards iOS domination with its free-to-play game, Camp Pokémon, now available on the App Store for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. This new game will let children of all ages explore Camp Pokémon, learning to become a Pokémon trainer.

This is a big step in the right direction for Pokémon video game players, since Nintendo has as yet refused to put it’s incredibly lucrative Pokémon RPG games on any platform besides its own. However, The Pokemon Company owns the rights to the card game; they can put it on any platform they choose.

“Kids will have a blast exploring Camp Pokémon as they immerse themselves in the Pokémon universe in a fun, interactive setting,” said The Pokémon Company’s J.C. Smith. “Parents will love watching their little campers participate in fun activities and create memories at the virtual Pokémon island.”

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Keep OS X Yosemite from sending Spotlight data to Apple

Spotlight is sending your searches back to Apple Photo: Apple

Spotlight is sending your search information back to Apple. Photo: Apple

OS X Yosemite has changed the way your Mac deals with your privacy. On the one hand, Apple has decided to enable hard drive encryption by default, despite the FBI requests not to.

On the other hand, every time you type in Spotlight, your location and local search terms are sent to Apple, and, according to developer Landon Fuller, other third parties like Microsoft.

Fuller’s created a website, Fix Mac OS X Yosemite, where he’s posted up a way to stop Yosemite from sending such private data out. He’s also been contributing to a developer project on GitHub to find out and fix other ways that OS X phones home.

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Sublime night-skiing video shows off brilliant LED technology

Custom LED suits and a small fortune in equipment to make a 12 minute movie: so worth it. Photo: Philips Ambilight TV

Custom LED suits and a small fortune in equipment to make a 12 minute movie: so worth it. Photo: Philips Ambilight TV

Filmed on location at the Alyeska resort in Alaska, the Alaskan wilderness, and the Golden Alpine lodges in Canada, this incredible film of extreme skiing will light up your screens on October 19.

The 12-minute video was created to show off the color and light technology of Phillips Ambilight TV. To do so, the filmmakers created LED ski suits and let loose their pro skiers in the Alaskan and Canadian mountains.

Check out the gorgeous preview in the short teaser below.

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