(You're reading all posts by Rob LeFebvre) Anchorage, Alaska-based freelance writer and editor Rob LeFebvre has contributed to various tech, gaming and iOS sites, including 148Apps, Creative Screenwriting, Shelf-Awareness, VentureBeat, and Paste Magazine. Feel free to find Rob on Twitter @roblef, and send him a cookie once in a while; he'll really appreciate it.
About Rob LeFebvre
We’ll admit it: we were all squeeing like fanboys when we saw the official trailer for the upcoming sequel, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
We may have watched it quite a bit more than once, but the YouTubers below have taken their fandom to another level, with some really well crafted remixes of the official short film.
Check out trailers below starring the cast of (and scenes directly from) the original trilogy, the trailer as Wes Anderson would do it, and a bizarre rendering of it all with pets in place of human actors. Oh, and there’s also the obligatory Lego version, as well, so be sure to scroll all the way down.
This week, we’ve got an amazing bunch of content for you, all cleverly bundled together into one fantastic high-quality digital magazine. It’s like all the best Cult of Mac stuff you might have missed crammed into a delicious metaphorical pastry that’s just brimming with sweet goodness.
Check it out below, and enjoy!
Though he’s toyed with escape games for years, Turkish developer Maruf Nebil didn’t get hooked on the genre until 100 Floors hit the App Store in 2012. When The Room Two upped the ante with gorgeous 3-D environments a year later, Nebil set himself a devilish task: To create an unbeatable game that was also undeniably beautiful.
“I decided to make my game the hardest of all of them,” the 25-year-old developer said, with perhaps an evil laugh. “It’s like all 100 floors in a single room.”
While some games in this genre are about as fun and fulfilling as one of those “spot the hidden object” puzzles from a Highlights magazine, others prove truly challenging.
Some might say this type of game is purely for masochists, but others get lost in the obtuse challenge of finding hidden objects and solving maddening puzzles, all while trapped within a virtual room.
In a delightful little video from Microsoft founder Bill Gates, the tech billionaire and philanthropist talks about the favorite books he’s read this year. It’s an eclectic collection: Thomas Piketty’s volume on income inequality, Capital in the Twenty-First Century shares equal space with fiction novel The Rosie Effect as well as a book from the late 1970s, Business Adventures, by John Brooks. It’s a rare insight into the mind of one of our biggest business and cultural leaders of the last several decades.
Check out the video below for the whole list, and a charmingly presented stop-motion Lego film starring Bill Gates himself.
I love the idea of being able to answer a phone call on my Mac, or even on my iPad. The convergence of this communication technology seems like it has great potential.
In reality, though, I end up getting three rings for every call, each slightly time-shifted from the rest, as I sit in my office/living room with my iPhone, iPad and Mac. You’d think that such an intelligent system would know that I had all three devices in one room, and only ring through to one specified device. Until Apple figures that out, maybe in an iOS update or OS X 10.11, there’s only one thing you can do: Disable the heck out of it.
Sure, comic books are an old art form, dating back to the 1930s in American culture. The four-color sequential art format has had some major success as well as several dips in its fortunes over the intervening eighty years, but the comic book is very much alive and well at this point in time, thanks to a resurgence of the comic book movies and television series currently in vogue.
There are so many new books out there as a result, that it’s hard to choose which ones to pick up and read when you head to your local comic book shop (still the way most of us get our comics). If you’re picking up two to three-dollar single issues, things can add up quickly. That’s why we’re here — to get you a sampling of the finest comics your money should buy, right now. Scroll through the images above to see what we’ve put together for you.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre, Cult of Mac
Trees - Warren Ellis, Jason Howard
Warren Ellis is one of the best comic writers out there right now. From his brilliant run on his own series, Transmetropolitan and Planetary to his time on the Astonishing X-Men, Ellis continually takes standard comic book tropes and turns them in on themselves while turning in characters that live, breathe, and speak like the rest of us do. No purple prose here. Trees plays out like an epic story already at seven issues, with no real sign of letting up. Giant alien artifacts named Trees appear in various places across the globe with no warning or explanation, and the mere presence of these massive enigmas is enough to change things for everyone. The various stories within these pages offer tantalizing glimpses at what it means to be human -- one of the best things about science fiction as a genre.
Photo: Image Comics
Thor - Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman
At only two issues, the new female Thor is the epitome of "just getting started." While the first issue waited to the final page for her reveal, the second issue just released gives us an inside look at an unnamed woman who can wield the power of Mjolnir, the God of Thunder's famous hammer. What's most intriguing to this reader, anyway, is the way this woman's thoughts and her speech are so very different. She speaks like a Norse god, but thinks like a modern woman. It's a great mystery, and much more important than the rest of the story, which drops us in media res to an attack on a multinational company with a minotaur for a CEO that's being attacked by frost giants. Very Thor, and very...not. Be sure to give this one some space on your pull list.
Photo: Marvel Comics
Roche Limit - Michael Moreci, Vic Malhotra
The Roche Limit describes the distance within which a planet will disintegrate due to a second planet's tidal forces exceeding the first body's own gravitational pull. This gorgeous hard science fiction comic of the same name focuses on one woman's search for her missing sister Bekkah Torin. Set on the Roche Limit Colony, a manmade space colony near the cusp of an energy anomaly in the Andromeda Galaxy, this comic pulls in some great themes, like violence against women, the drug trade, organized crime, and humankind's place in an uncaring universe. Uplifting stuff, for sure.
Photo: Image Comics
Brass Sun - Ian Edginton, I.N.H. Culbard
From the anthology comic company 2000 AD comes a fantastic new steampunk comic book called Brass Sun, which focuses on a teenage girl (Wren) and her quest to make it to the center of her world's clockwork solar system and restart the literal brass metal sun that lies at the heart of it all. There's a corrupt Church of the Cog with it's own hypocrites and true-believers, a crazy cult devoted to the secrets of the Brass Sun, and some fantastic sequential storytelling. It's a quality book with amazing art and a deliciously engaging storyline with characters you'll root for on every page.
Photo: 2000 AD Comics
Batgirl - Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, Babs Tarr
Coming off a brilliant Gail Simone run, Batgirl has a new writing team, a new costume, and a whole new sensibility. Her exploits are still superhero-centric, fighting off bad guys (and gals) across a variety of settings. What's new here is Barbara Gordon's life as a college student in current times. She's navigating social reality, dealing with dating apps and other bits of current technology that puts the action clearly in today's world. Babs Gordon is a young woman living in our world with the typical issues that plague all young women in our society. And then the whole crime-fighting thing. It's a fun read, and worth your comic dollars.
Photo: DC Comics
Classic adventure game Grim Fandango is getting a brand new coat of paint, with a newly restored version of the noir/Day of the Dead mashup coming to Mac and other gaming platforms in January.
The game will have all-new advanced lighting effects, high-resolution textures, and remastered audio for today’s high-end gaming devices. It wall also have all the charm and cleverness of Tim Schafer, the designer who created many other classics of the genre first at LucasArts, and later at his own company, DoubleFine Productions.
Grim Fandango is one of the more influential games of the late 1990s, with 3D environments and a high quality level of writing and plotting that is rarely seen in video games. This new version will bring the legendary title to a whole new generation of gamers, letting them experience the genius alongside those who just want to re-live the joy of the original game on a machine that they currently own.
What does the bacon above have in common with The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Both were created with 3D animation software called Houdini by Toronto-based Side Effects Software.
The newest release is coming next month, and, as you can see in the stunning video below, it’s going to further revolutionize the world of 3D animation in movies, TV and video games.
Check the video out below, and try not to lick your screen when the bacon shows up.
Just like The Force, the Internet has both dark and light sides. How you see the possible spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens that just leaked is mostly a matter of perspective.
If you read on, you’ll be exposed to an embarrassing wealth of spoiler-y plot and character details about J.J. Abrams’ upcoming film. But be aware: Whether true or not, the sheer volume of close-up detail and conflicting information will change you.
If you want to go in unspoiled, read the following rumors at your own risk.
As for the supposed insider who leaked the information? Who knows their motivation? Even the Sith think they’re doing “the right thing.”
We all like our email signatures to look fantastic, of course, and Apple Mail has always let you do so with an HTML-style email signature feature, starting back in OS X Lion.
The process has only gotten more complex, unfortunately, and takes a bit of patience and a sturdy sense of adventure, but it’s not too difficult.
If, then, you choose to jump right in and create your own HTML signature for Apple’s Mail app on OS X Yosemite, keep on reading.