(You're reading all posts by 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
About Rob LeFebvre
Imagine this: Tim Cook walks out on stage to introduce a special musical act at the end of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch event last month.
Instead of trotting out “aging Irish rockers,” though, imagine if the Foo Fighters came out. Then Zach Brown. And then they launched into the killer rendition of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” you can see below.
A few years ago, Portland resident Sam Beck built a bike-powered speaker that wouldn’t cut off when he stopped pedaling at stoplights. He accomplished such a feat with an amazing new technology: supercapacitors.
Instead of stopping there, however, Beck decided to bring his vision to the portable bluetooth speaker market, and his company — Blueshift — was born. Crowd-funded and open sourced, these gorgeous bamboo speakers charge in minutes and sound amazing for hours. The original unit, called Helium, is a big, bold bamboo speaker that packs a ton of sound.
Beck is releasing a second generation speaker called Hydrogen on crowd-funding site Crowd Supply. This new boombox is smaller and a little less loud, but it’s the same quality and design as its larger sibling, and a little less pricey.
Part of the appeal, for Beck, of figuring out this entirely new way of powering a speaker was the inherent challenge of doing something that no one else had.
“It seemed like such a good idea,” he told Cult of Mac over the phone, “I wondered why no one else was doing it. I saw that there was another way to do things that no one else was doing.”
Check out the video below for more details on this gorgeous high-tech portable speaker cabinet.
Picture this. You’re a disembodied skull with stretchy brain parts. You use this elasticity to fling yourself around the afterworld, Angry Birds-style, in order to collect taxes from the deadbeats who reside there.
Sound like fun? It is, oddly enough. While Skullduggery may be one of the odder platforming games you’ve played, it’s as challenging and action-packed as anything out there. Once you’ve wrapped your, ahem, head around the control scheme, you’ll find yourself flying through level after level with glee.
Check out the launch trailer below to get a sense of what we mean.
You know you hate showing up to the Halloween party with that lame generic pirate costume. We all do, but we all end up doing it.
Then there’s those of us who want to make the coolest, most unique costume ever. But we never do, because, let’s face it, we just don’t have the time.
Your solution, then, just may be these amazing just-add-iPhone costumes from Digital Dudz. You buy the mask or shirt, download a free app, and you’re suddenly the best costume at the party. Check out the video below to see how it all works.
My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle. Ponyo, Kiki’s Delivery Service. Chances are you’re thinking of these lovely, peaceful, wonderful animated films right now.
And these are just a few of the fantastic and bewitching animated films that Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli have made together over the past couple of decades. Now, however, Miyazaki has retired after making one final, autobiographical film, The Wind Rises. Studio Ghibli has put its film-making on hold, as well, citing restructuring.
Independent filmmaker Pablo Fernandez Eyre was a little sad when he heard the news.
“I decided to make a tribute to show my love for movies like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away,” he told Cult of Mac in an email. Check out his moving 8-bit piece below.
It’s that time of the week again — all of Cult of Mac’s best news stories and features, compiled in one place to peruse easily on your iPad or iPhone. This week we’ve got heartfelt remembrances of Steve Jobs, some products we’d like to see updated along with the coming new iPads, a look at upcoming Twin Peaks in our modern era, and some hard lessons learned in running the top iPad magazine. Plus, some great new apps to look at and a reminder that the iPhone 6 continues to sell like, well, iPhones.
A young girl gets out of jail and is given back her paltry few belongings. A baseball cap, some gum, and a pin. The pin? Isn’t hers.
“What if there was a place, a secret place,” says the voiceover in this new teaser trailer for Disney’s Tomorrowland, “where nothing was impossible. A miraculous place, where you could actually change the world.”
As she touches the pin, the world around her changes. She freaks out.
Says the man in the voiceover, “You wanna go?”
If this would have happened to me when I was a young kid, enthralled with the idea of sci-fi-themed Tomorrowland as the best place to go when visiting Walt Disney’s happiest place on earth, I would have grabbed the pin in a heartbeat. Check out the trailer below.
Tired of being stuck with tiny little Emojis?
Well, the developer for new app LOLy has the solution: huge, animated emoticons that you can send to friends via text message, Facebook, or email. You can also just copy them and send along to any other text-accepting app, like Twitter, Kik, or Whatsapp.
The images are cute and fun to send, and once you’ve used the images included with the free LOLy app, you’ll want to grab a couple more packs for $0.99 each.
“I primarily designed this app for women with a focus on the 30s-50s demographic,” says app developer Gina Pell. “I had a hunch that most emoji were geared towards teens and lacked the sophistication, style, or wit that my friends or I would find interesting.”
The Magazine, one of the best original technology-focused Newsstand magazines out there, is closing up shop as of December of this year.
The Magazine raised the bar for a digital-only publication, providing well-written and edited short and long non-fiction that ranged topically from Apple to personal stories with true warmth and impact. We’ll miss the twice monthly title and wish the team the best.
When asked on Twitter why the publication was ending, The Magazine’s official account cited money issues.
Ready for your next nerdy dose of Star Wars awesomeness? Lucasfilm Animation and Disney have put together an all-new animated adventure that takes place 14 years after the Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (the third and final prequel in the Star Wars saga) and five years before Star Wars: A New Hope (the original movie that came out in 1977).
If you have an Apple ID, you can check out the first regular episode of the series right now on iTunes for free. How’s that for a deal?
Check out the extended trailer for the Star Wars: Rebels series below.