A recent Power Rangers fan film created major excitement online. Photo: Adi Shankar/YouTube
Fan films are the ultimate way for devotees to pay tribute to the characters they love. They give fans the chance to show how the beloved heroes (and antiheroes) should be portrayed — without the creativity-sapping “benefit” of focus groups, hack screenwriters and overpaid producers.
With a war raging between the fans who make these productions and the rights-holders who argue they’re being damaged, Cult of Mac runs down six of the best fan-created short films doing the round on the interwebz.
I finally pitched the cheap plastic desk lamp I’ve had since high school and replaced it with the light I’ve always wanted: the iconic Anglepoise 1227.
If you’re looking for a classic desk lamp that won’t fade into the backdrop next to your sleek iMac, this is the one for you.
Launched in 1934, the design of the 1227 has changed astonishingly little. It still looks functional and modern, which makes perfect sense given Anglepoise started out making hard-wearing lamps for factory workers.
Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List has a date with the hottest gear in the world. This time around we're talking impressive audio experiences, fantastic bicycling equipment and awesome accessories for iPhone users (which basically means everybody, right?).
Soho Wireless headphones by Harman Kardon
“Hey Jim, what are those?”
“Hey Jim, let me check those out.”
“Hey Jim, are those any good?”
“Hey Jim, I bet those are expensive.”
Never has a pair of headphones brought me such attention. To a person, everyone wanted to know what was up with the wireless Sohos. There is no denying the fact these cans look good. The design is very much in line with Harman Kardon's aesthetic, but in a petite package.
The big question on everyone’s mind is, "Do they sound as good at they look?" And the answer is, "Almost."
The $250 Soho Wireless headphones are comfortable to wear, as long as you aren't overly active. The sound quality is good in the mids and treble, but lacking slightly in bass response. And the Bluetooth is great, when it works. But using numerous devices is mildly frustrating at best and downright annoying at worst. The touch sensors on the side of the cans is a great added feature, but can’t be relied on to work consistently, as I found myself trying to pause my music with a tap over and over and over again.
Oddly, I still find myself recommending these to friends as a pleasant alternative to traveling with earbuds, but with the caveat being you have to be prepared for the limitations of the Bluetooth connection. — Jim Merithew
Looking for a wallet case for your iPhone that will get everyone talking? Take a look at the new BookBook for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from Twelve South. I've been asked by waiters, bartenders and casual passersby whether I’m carrying a Bible, a dictionary or a tiny leather notebook.
When I flip it open to show the capacious five-card interior and my connected iPhone 6 Plus, the oohs and ahhs increase exponentially. When I show them how the iPhone separates from the BookBook for easy access and sharing, most people are ready to go buy one.
This is one fantastic iPhone case, and I can’t sing its praises loudly enough. The iPhone 6 Plus version has six pockets, including one with clear plastic for my ID. Snapping my iPhone out of the delicious leather portfolio wallet case is a breeze when I want to take the device on a run without carrying my wallet. You can even snap half of the iPhone off the wallet and prop it up for easy movie watching on an airplane. You can’t go wrong with this for any price, but the affordable $60 makes the BookBook, available in black or brown leather, an iPhone case you’ll take everywhere. — Rob LeFebvre
Giro designed the Synthe to be a high-end aero helmet, but it's really a great everyday, all-day road helmet. Sure they claim the Synthe is some percentage more slippery, while going some mph and at varying yaw angles, but what’s really impressive is how all this aero blabbity blah doesn’t stop the helmet from being comfortable, cool and stylish.
And by cool I don’t mean hip: I mean the airflow through this helmet keeps my head temperature regulated nicely. Also, you can thank the Roc Loc Air retention system for keeping the helmet comfortable and secure against your noggin, while eliminating hot spots.
Although the $250 Synthe's looks may not be for everyone, it is clear that only aesthetics should keep you from sporting this helmet, as the fit and finish are impeccable. — Jim Merithew
I love me some saturated tube crunch more than just about anything in the world, but sometimes it is just not possible. That's when I turn to my iRig PRO and my laptop or iPad for jam time.
You can use IK Multimedia's multitude of apps, including the popular AmpliTube, but I still prefer to dick around in GarageBand on my iPhone 6 Plus, iPad and Macbook Pro. The iRig and your Apple device let you lay down a recording pretty easily, including using the microphone input with phantom power, but I mostly find myself plugging in my guitar and jamming through a bunch of preset amplifiers in GarageBand.
Whatever your software choices, the iRig works exactly as advertised, letting you plug in and jam on. And, for those looking for even more sonic possibilities, the little black box even has MIDI in capabilities. — Jim Merithew
iPhone docks have never really been my thing, but the Spool Dock just begs to be appreciated. Quell & Company dock is “crafted in the U.S.A. from sustainable North American white oak, merino wool felt and a weighty metal base,” and it's quite the looker. From a design perspective, it’s also pretty smart.
The biggest issue I have with docks I’ve tried in the past is cord management. They usually make it difficult to plug the iPhone into the Lightning port, resulting in a bunched-up cable that looks messy.
Not the $65 Spool Dock, which comes in white and black metal. Its base swivels, letting you roll out the cable as much as you desire. It also lets you turn your docked device 360 degrees. Setting it up is super-simple, with removable support bars for the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5, 5s, 5c, iPad mini and 5th-gen iPod touch. Most normal cases will work just fine too, as long as they’re not bulky like an Otterbox. — Alex Heath
I want extra pockets without having to wear goofy cargo pants. So while perusing one of my favorite guy websites, Everyday Carry, I came across a little bag made by Koyono called the bolstr bag.
It's perfect for tooling around Chicago, allowing me to discreetly store a phone, iPad mini, notebook and point-and-shoot camera. Plus, its slim design and asymmetrical shape look way cooler than knee-level flapped pockets on either leg.
The bolstr small carry bag comes in a variety of colors and left- or right-side orientations (as a lefty, I appreciate this design consideration). — David Pierini
With the PowerControl 8, SRM will finally add GPS to its line of outstanding cyclocomputer head units.
This is truly a computer designed by bike nerds for bike nerds. It lets you use from one to four screens, with two to eight fields per screen. You can configure your data in so many ways it will make your head spin as fast as your wheels. The new $850 model, available for preorder now and shipping before summer, also comes with Wi-Fi and is compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth. — Jim Merithew
If you think the UE Boom is fantastic, you’ll double over with delight at the newer, bigger version of the best portable Bluetooth speaker we’ve ever used. This thing is seriously loud with deep bass, sparkling highs and clear mids that will faithfully reproduce pretty much any music you throw at it.
It’s also seriously rugged, with a strong, rubberized top and bottom and a tough outer mesh cloth shell. Just toss it in a bag and go. Hell, this bad boy is waterproof to the point of still working after a full-on shower or dip in the pool.
The UE Megaboom's battery life is amazing, too, taking just a couple hours for a full charge that seems to last all day long (rated at 20 hours of play). Download the iOS app and you can remotely EQ your sound, set up a booming alarm and turn the speaker on and off. You can even connect two Megabooms for a massive stereo blast in any room. At $300, this thing is worth every penny. — Rob LeFebvre
Freakishly tall bicyclists no longer need resort to modifying a smaller bike or paying the tab for a custom frame. They can just take flight on an off-the-shelf Flite 747 from KHS Bicycles.
The company partnered with the Tower of Power, Leonard Zinn, to create this huge road bike. Zinn, who has been building bicycles for big fellas for somewhere around 30 years, helped design the Flite 747. It comes in 64 cm and 67 cm frames made of Reynolds 520 chromoly, and delivers standard road bike geometry at those massive sizes. (It's so huge i couldn't even get my leg over it.)
All Zinn's trials and tribulations came to bear on this bicycle, which sports impressive 200 mm crankarms. It's allegedly plenty stiff going up and a blast coming down. Priced at $1,899 list, this is the second year the model has been offered (last year they sold like hotcakes). Big fun for big guys like Zinn. — Jim Merithew
There we were, walking down the street, when suddenly I decided to snap a quick selfie of the six of us. We all hunched together, trying to jam ourselves into the frame of the iPhone that I was holding out as far as possible with my arms to make sure we all got in the picture. It was that moment when I realized that I wanted one of the more ridiculous gadgets out there, a selfie stick.
With the MiniSuit Selfie Stick's telescoping pole and Bluetooth shutter button on the handle, I could have taken a much more well-composed shot of all the people in my party, with much less effort and grunting. The included adjustable mount holds smartphones small and large, and the selfie stick has a standard tripod mount so you can even use it with a regular point-and-shoot camera.
My iPhone 6 Plus nestles nicely in the holder and lets me take photos of myself and many other folks from farther away than my own arm can handle. And, at $20, it’s hard to not grab one for a friend, too. — Rob LeFebvre
VX Adventure Race mountain bike pedals by VP Components
Taking a play from their strong platform mountain bike pedal lineup, the team at VP Components has released the Shimano SPD-compatible VX Adventure Race pedals. The clipless pedal adds a giant platform for additional stability. At a reasonable 460 grams and spinning on a roller and double-sealed cartridge bearings, these trail-worthy pedals are rider serviceable and run about $130. — Jim Merithew
If you want to know if your smoke or CO alarm is going off while you’re away from home, the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight could be your best option. It’s an attractive little $99 night-light that lets you customize its color, but its real trick is letting you monitor your home’s safety alarms remotely.
You use an iPhone app to connect the Leeo to your home Wi-Fi network for set up and monitoring, and if your alarms go off while you’re out and about, the Leeo will notify you right on your iPhone. If you don’t respond, it will even notify other folks that you specify in the settings. If that isn’t enough, the Leeo will monitor your home temperature and humidity and notify you if they change much. — Rob LeFebvre
Elektro, a robot built by Westinghouse in 1937, was a star at the World’s Fair in 1939-40. Photo: Courtesy of Scott Schaut/Mansfield Memorial Museum
America’s oldest surviving robot no longer smokes cigarettes.
Long lines of people no longer wait to see him, topless women haven’t danced around him in years and his legs have been broken since that amusement park gig.
But Elektro is home now, his head reunited with his body, cared for by a man named Scott Schaut, who is so fiercely protective that museum requests to borrow the gold robot usually end with him replying “over my dead body.”
Patent: 'Accessing a vehicle using portable devices'
Filed in late 2011, this patent application would allow you to unlock your car — and even start its engine — using a designated iOS device, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch.
Just as important as what it does is what it doesn't: This technology could let you disable your car's engine between particular hours, potentially cracking down on would-be burglaries while you're asleep.
Patent: 'Automatic identification of vehicle location'
Apple clearly has designs for Siri that go far beyond the intelligent assistant's current implementation. Siri forms a key component of CarPlay right now, but it could certainly go further. Apple also has a number of interesting concepts, such as a patent designed to let you ask "Siri, where's my car?" when you're lost in a parking lot — at which point, your dedicated AI helper will guide you back to your car. Helpful, no?
Siri's all well and good, but this 2009 patent filing goes further still, with calls for in-car camera technology — possibly letting you perform gestures from the driver's seat to control car functions such as window wipers and temperature adjustment.
The patent filing even mentions heads-up displays embedded into an automobile armrest and cameras built into a car to detect the head position of drivers.
Patent: 'Automatic configuration of self-configurable environments'
This car-related Apple patent, filed in early 2012, tries to solve the problem of how multiple people can easily configure one vehicle for all their individual needs. Apple's answer: Use an iPhone to program user preferences related to everything from seat and mirror orientations to ideal cabin temperature and favorite radio stations. Best of all, you could take the same preferences with you to another vehicle, immediately customizing it to suit your requirements.
This Apple automotive patent, filed in mid-2012, describes how the iPhone’s geo-location capabilities could be used to intelligently monitor and control certain car functions, based on “geofences.” Using signals sent via Bluetooth LE, the technology could execute functions like locking your car and arming its alarm when you are a certain distance from the vehicle.
Different geofences could also be established and configured for a variety of boundaries. For instance, moving toward the rear of your car could automatically pop the trunk.
Apple loves the idea that you get a lot of use out of your iPhone, but it doesn't want to be responsible for car crashes! This 2008 patent filing describes a Windows Phone-style "drive mode" that would use a variety of sensors or iPhone data to detect when you're operating a vehicle, and would then block certain functions that might distract you while driving.
This isn't so much a car patent as an iPhone one, but it still demonstrates that vehicular safety is a subject up for discussion in Cupertino. Could talk of self-driving cars naturally follow?
Patent: 'Method and apparatus for providing mobile inter-mesh communication points'
One possible challenge with a vehicle packed full of connected components is what happens when you're out of range of the Internet. That problem could be partially solved by technology described in a 2003 patent (the oldest on this list, although it was only published in 2012). The patent describes a mesh network capable of keeping a car running in such a scenario.
Apple has since explored mesh networks beginning with iOS 7, becoming one of the first mainstream consumer tech companies to do so.
What are the LIDAR units doing on this Apple van? Photo: AppleInsider video
The mysterious Apple minivans roaming the roads in California, Florida and elsewhere are generally assumed to be self-driving cars, but they are not. They are almost undoubtedly collecting data for maps.
One of Ryan Cash’s favorite games growing up was GoldenEye on the N64. “One thing I remember so clearly is that the game was hard,” he recalled. “You couldn’t just beat the game on its toughest setting if you weren’t amazing.”
Luckily for Cash, his friend Bruno was a master at GoldenEye, and he would come over to unlock cheats. “He was the guy,” Cash remembered.
Most of us probably had a Bruno growing up. Back when you couldn’t pay $1.99 with Touch ID to unlock more gems or coins. Back when games were just as fun as mobile games are now, but also challenging and dependent on skill.
With Alto’s Adventure, out today in the App Store for $1.99, Cash and the rest of his team drew from the games they love to make something unique. They’ve created a game that’s not only really fun to play, but beautiful to behold. And unlike GoldenEye, there are no cheat codes to help you get ahead.
Tangerine was filmed with the iPhone 5s, but its cinematic feel comes from an app, a lens adapter and several hours of post-production work. Photo: Sean Baker
There was the buzz going into Sundance and the applause of satisfied audiences at the end of the movie’s screening. But there was also a collective gasp as the last line of the credits rolled past.
Shot on the iPhone 5s.
Sean Baker’s Tangerine, the story of two transgender sex workers in Hollywood, was a break-out hit at the renowned film festival in January. The Hollywood Reporter said the film stands out as “crisp and vigorously cinematic.”
Oft-praised for the rich fringe characters in his independent films, Baker did not set out to change the filmmaking landscape by shooting with a cellphone. Like most indie filmmakers, he had no money.
There’s money to be made in them there App Stores. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
John Hayward-Mayhew is one of the most prolific iOS developers ever to peddle a blackjack game. Over the past four years, the 25-year-old entrepreneur flooded the App Store with an astonishing 600 separate apps — everything from endless runners such as Dangerous Caveman Bum Runner to dentistry games like Emergency Dentist Race — raking in close to $1 million in the process.
The most miraculous part of all? He can’t even code.
But by taking advantage of one of the App Store’s great weaknesses, and borrowing a game plan from one of Hollywood’s most unusual impresarios, he’s built a one-man gaming empire.