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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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Drone geeks get a blast of Star Wars speed in this new sport

That blur there is a quad-copter, racing through a sweet forest obstacle course. Screengrab: New Scientist

That blur there is a quad-copter, racing through a sweet forest obstacle course. Screengrab: New Scientist

It may be hard to tell from the image above, but that’s a hot-rodding quadcopter speeding through the forest at about 100 miles an hour. The drone is taking part in the first large-scale first-person video drone race ever in the United States, held last week in Los Angeles.

For the operators, staring at video screens or wearing virtual reality goggles while their drones record the high-speed chase via tiny mounted cameras, the experience is not unlike the best part of the prequel Star Wars movies — the podracing scene.

Check out the video below for a better sense of what these guys are doing.

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Hemingwrite keyboard would be perfect for typing your novel in the woods

Gosh that's pretty. Photo: Heirloom Electronics

Gosh that’s pretty. Photo: Heirloom Electronics

Back when I was in college, I didn’t have a computer and I didn’t have a typewriter. I did, however, need a way to write papers for my classes. While this may date me, my solution was to purchase an electric typewriter that had word-processing capabilities (I think it was a Brother). I could see one line at a time on it, and the only way to see a whole page was to print it out using the typewriter itself.

These days, of course, we all use full-on super computers to write our blog posts, school papers, and reports for work. You can’t get away from them. If you just want to write, you have to discipline yourself to turn off the Wi-Fi and ignore the constant stream of beeps and notifications that make up a typical work or school day.

The Hemingwrite wants to be the answer to the always-on computer writing conundrum. Instead of eschewing all network connectivity, however, the Hemingwrite tries something different.

“It combines the simplicity of a ’90s era word processor with the modern tech we all require,” writes the team on their web page, “like cloud backups and integration into our favorite document editors like Google docs and Evernote.”

Now that’s something I can get behind.

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Hard-rockin’ drum pedal lets you be the band

Fantastic sounding drums at your feet. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Fantastic sounding drums at your feet. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

There’s always that moment when your drummer can’t show up for rehearsal. She’s got some other commitment. He’s got another gig. Her boyfriend needs her to take him to the hospital.

It happens. When it does, you can do what I’ve always done – pound your foot against the floor and try to muddle on through – or you can use a drum machine. The problem with standard drum machines is that they’re made to be used by hands or, in some cases, drum sticks. I’m not a drummer (no sticks) and I need my hands to play my guitar. What I really need is a drum machine I can play from the floor, guitar-pedal style.

That’s what caught my eye about the BeatBuddy – this is a guitar-pedal-style device that lets you use your foot to play back drum beats in a variety of styles, fills and different parts included. This is my new best friend when the drummer can’t make it to practice, and it may become my new stage pal if I take my act solo.

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Christian Bale in talks to step into Jobs this spring

Batman goes legit. Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage

Bale is the front-runner for the role. Photo: Mike Marsland/WireImage

Entertainment insiders are saying that Oscar-winner Christian Bale will start filming Jobs this Spring as Apple’s late CEO and wonder-boy, Steve Jobs.

According to Variety, Bale is in talks to star as the mercurial tech leader in the movie based on the biography by Walter Issacson and a script written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network).

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10 new movies reveal roadmap for DC Comics’ cinematic universe

Wonder Woman in 2017! Photo:Warner Bros. Pictures

Wonder Woman in 2017! Photo:Warner Bros. Pictures

At a Time Warner investor meeting on Wednesday, Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara laid out his company’s plans to plaster movie houses with big DC-themed movies over the next six years, starting with Zach Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, set to release in 2016.

Disney-owned Marvel already dominates the box office with its comic-book team-ups like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy as well as movies based on top characters like Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America.

It’s going to be a tough job for Warner Bros. to catch up to Marvel, which has already laid a ton of groundwork in it’s previously released films for the ongoing cinematic dynasty, but this new list promises to please fans new and old.

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Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel blasts onto the Mac with more shootin’ and lootin’

Same-day release on Mac, PC, Linux, and console! Photo: Aspyr

Same-day release on Mac, PC, Linux, and console! Photo: Aspyr

Handsome Jack, the erstwhile villain of Borderlands 2, had to start somewhere. It’s not easy taking over an entire corporation, let alone a whole planet.

His story begins much more humbly, however, with Jack working as a programmer at Hyperion Corporation. Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, in some part at least, aims to tell the story of this psychopath’s rise to power.

What’s even better is that this newly released game, available on all the consoles and PC on Steam, is also available for Mac thanks to the tireless efforts of the best Mac game publisher around, Aspyr.

That means that if you rock a Macintosh computer as your main gaming device (and why not, it’s a fantastic machine!), you’ll be able to shoot your way across the moon of Hyperion, floating through the air with every low gravity jump and using new awesome weapons like the ice and laser weapons.

Check out the trailer below, starring Mr. Torgue High-Five Flexington and Sir Hammerlock, for more hilariously over the top details.

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NASA captures Halloween cheer with jack-o’-lantern sun

Black hole sun/Won't you come... Photo: NASA/SDO

Black hole sun/Won’t you come… Photo: NASA/SDO

Is there anything cooler than images of our solar system? Especially ones of the actual Sol, or, our sun. No, there is not.

This fantastically seasonal Halloween image was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which does nothing but stare at the sun all day and night in complete disregard of what its mother told it not to do.

Regardless, this image is amazing.

“The active regions in this image appear brighter,” writes NASA on its website, “because those are areas that emit more light and energy. They are markers of an intense and complex set of magnetic fields hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.”

This image blends the images taken with two different ultraviolet wavelengths highlighted, one at 171 and the other at 193 Ångströms, to create this one-of-a-kind jack-o’-lantern sun.

Whatever — this thing is just creepy cool and I want a giant poster of it.

This is who should have played Apple’s iPhone 6 event

These rockers might have thrilled more people than U2 did. Screen capture: Late Night with David Letterman

These rockers might have thrilled more people than U2 did. Screen capture: Late Night with David Letterman

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.

Imagine that.

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Supercapacitor-powered Bamboo speaker charges in minutes and lasts for hours

This speaker charges in minutes, plays for hours. Photo: Blueshift

This speaker charges in minutes, plays for hours. Photo: Blueshift

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.

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Skullduggery will turn you into a skull-flinging tax collector and you’ll like it

Flinging skulls, collecting taxes, like you do. Screengrab: Clutch Play Games

Flinging skulls, collecting taxes, like you do. Screengrab: Clutch Play Games

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.

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