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App Watch: Homemade photo filters, self-scheduling calendar and more

Gadget Watch: Bags, bags and … bags. Plus, some cool new camera gear

iPod engravings are nearly as obsolete as the device

Remember your first iPod? Mine was a Christmas gift and came engraved with the date for posterity. That white brick 10GB model has shuffled into obsolescence and my new 7th generation Nano is smaller than a pack of gum and so commonplace even though it was a birthday gift (thanks, Mom!) there was no engraving this time.Apple’s free engraving meant that your personal motto, declaration of love or lost-and-found information got carved on your epic new device.
The sad thing is that it seems no one wants to play any more: there’s just one engraved Shuffle on Flickr since the end of 2013.Speculation mounts ahead of the upcoming Apple event: will the iPod line be floated out on the iceberg of death for the iWatch? Or will the iPod design be refreshed again, despite flagging sales?
Whatever happens, here's our tribute to the device as etched in our favorite engravings.
Photo: Ekinus

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Lady Liberty sparks ‘statue selfie’ trend

Definitely too sexy for Milan, New York and Japan. Via vencislago

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App Watch Aug 12 2014 — Lists, learning, coffee and spaaaaace

Smart toys for grown-ups with back-to-school blues

This cardboard Foosball table gives you all the wrist-wrenching drama of the game minus the heft of having to transport it for your next picnic. It comes with two full teams and one ball and, low-fi as it is, still sports a built-in iPhone speaker for your winning jams. Best part? You can personalize the faces of the players from the Kartoni website.

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Fantasy clashes with reality in wonky wonderlands

Real life gets old real quick. Work, chores, traffic jams, monotony — all the details of the daily grind infect the human body and build into a fever that only breaks when bags get packed.

The search for diversion leads to amusement parks and roadside wonders, roller coasters and stage extravaganzas. Kids can be kids, adults can be kids again, and sometimes, David Walter Banks is on hand to capture fantasy becoming reality with behind-the-scenes images that cast new light on tourist attractions.

Such moments of cognitive dissonance comprise The Fourth Wall. The entertainment industry takes in billions annually but even the most luxurious resorts and casinos provide an imperfect illusion. Visitors fill the gaps between animatronics and costumes with their own imagination, and the disconnect beats at the heart of Banks’ photo project.

“I love the idea of these places,” he says. “As adults, so many of us have lost our wonder and given up our urge to chase dreams. In a way, these places invite the adult population to chase an outlandish dream once more, even if only for a fleeting moment. Even if it’s plastic and cracked and they know it is all fake. They are still getting up, putting on their tennis shoes, and going out in search of magic.”

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App Watch: iPad messaging, speedy news reading and reinvented music albums

Gadget Watch: Hip flasks, shaving kits and a Spinning Beach Ball of Death tote

Sci-fi toys spring to life in filmic photos

By day, Robert Larner works for an investment firm. By night he directs Stormtroopers, Transformers and Daleks.

Using toys, camera tricks and a keen sense of story, the photographer delights Flickr and Instagram fans with movie stills. But the movies don’t exist.

The Scotsman grew up a discerning cineaste with a taste for the Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters movie franchises, but his greatest inspiration — in film and toys — was Star Wars.

“I could probably track my interest in toys via Star Wars,” Larner says. “When I was a kid in the early ’80s, I was completely swept up by the original Kenner 3.75-inch range. Then, in the ’90s, the remastered movies came out along with whispers of the prequels so the Star Wars toy range was reintroduced, so that caught my interest again. However, it was when Lego had the bright idea of making Star Wars Lego sets in 1999 that I really got sucked in and I haven’t looked back since!”

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