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Mega-pedal serves up soaring vocal harmonies, impressive guitar effects

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I’ve been playing music for coming up on 30 years now, and I’ve tried a ton of music gear. These days, I run a fairly bare-bones setup, with a smaller amp for those close venues, a couple of dual-effect pedals (Visual Sounds’ Route 66 and H2O), and a Boss VE-20 vocal harmony box to thicken up the background vocals in my disco band.

I’ve always had a thing for multi-effect boxes, though, running through my share of a few complicated ones that never quite gave me what I needed in terms of both effects sounds and onstage ease-of-use.

When I heard about TC-Helicon’s new VoiceLive 3 mega-stomp box, with a huge range of guitar effects and amplifier modeling, an amazing vocal-harmony processing system and a stage-quality looping feature, well, I had to try it out.

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Now you can slay Monster Hunter’s epic beasts right on your iPhone

So pretty. So many monsters.

So pretty. So many monsters.

Imagine if you were actually a hunter of massive, dangerous creatures. You’d need to gear up, make sure you have all the weaponry and armor you’d need, enough ammo for your ranged weapons, and you’d have to be sure your giant swords are sharp enough to cut through touch monster hide.

You’d need to practice, for sure, and you’d probably get better over time, able to aim your sights at even more deadly monsters, because the bigger the baddie, the better the payoff.

Monster Hunter Freedom Unite is exactly this. While hunting monsters is a ton of stressful fun, full of dodging and attacking and slaying, the rest of the activities in-game — choosing weapons, farming, hiring chefs and companions, crafting and buying better weaponry and armor — are equally as satisfying.

And now? It’s on your iPhone (or iPad), with some really excellent touch controls and better visuals than ever.

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Picturelife 3 should be your new super-awesome online photo library

The iPhone version is one of the best photo apps I've used. Screenshots Picturelife.

The iPhone version of Picturelife is one of the best photo apps I’ve used. Screenshot: Picturelife

Remember Picturelife? It was one of our top picks for online photo storage when Everpix bit it, and now it has been upgraded to version 3.0. The highlights are a new $15 per month unlimited plan, which is really truly unlimited and can be shared with up to three other family members, plus an all-new, redesigned iOS app.

Things in the online photo world are definitely heating up again. iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite will bring exciting new features for photographers and a recent update to Adobe Creative Cloud gives shutterbugs even more options for editing and storage.

But Picturelife has some pretty cool tricks up its sleeve to make it a worthy competitor to the big guns. Here’s why it deserves a shot at becoming your new super-awesome online photo library.

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Beautiful leather folio puts absolutely everything in its place

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

I’m a digital pack rat. I’ve got an iPhone, an iPad mini, a Barnes & Noble nook eReader, a space pen, several USB flash drives, and various earbuds along with a few charging and adapter cables.

I usually just jam all these things into my backpack as I head out the door, hoping they don’t get lost or tangled in the process. They get lost in my bag of choice, and I spend a fair bit of time searching around for stuff I need in any given moment when out and about.

Honestly, though, it hasn’t been much of an issue. I’ve been ok with taking the extra effort to find my headphones, say, and unwrap them from the unholy tangle they’ve become in my bag, for the simple fact that I’m not super organized.

This new leather folio case, however, has me re-thinking all that. What if I could keep track of all the little digital ephemera I carry with me in a more compact, organized way?

Turns out that I can, and look great doing it.

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Lust List: Time to seriously upgrade your life

Adorable puzzler Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake will keep you up all night

monsters ate my birthday cake

This is how my non-gamer girlfriend shows me which games are worth playing: She stays up until 3 a.m., wearing down the iPad mini battery to 22 percent while she tries to solve the next level.

This time, she bathed our dark bedroom in colorful reflected light while she moved Niko, Groggnar, Eek and Claude around on the screen in Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake. If it’s so important to solve environmental puzzles on the bright screen in the middle of the night, I know the game’s addictive.

This morning, still playing on the couch after charging up the iPad while she (finally) got some sleep, she told me like it is.

“It took me 15 minutes, but I finally got that level,” she bragged. “With three stars, bitch.”

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Snappgrip iPhone camera grip fails to deliver on great idea

The wrist strap is the best part of the Snappgrip. Photos Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The wrist strap is the best part of the Snappgrip. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

The Snappgrip is a fantastic idea, with not-too-bad hardware to back it up. It’s an accessory grip for your iPhone that adds a Bluetooth shutter release, zoom buttons and control dial to the phone’s camera, as well as a wrist strap and a handy handgrip.

But in practice, you’ll be better off with the iPhone’s own volume switches if you want a hardware shutter release. Which is a shame, as I was super-excited to try the Snappgrip out.

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This 80-year-old coffee pot still makes an amazing cup of espresso

The moka pot was designed over 80 years ago, but still beats most modern methods. Photos Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Designed more than 80 years ago, the moka pot still beats most modern methods. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Before the AeroPress, there was the moka pot, or cafetera as it’s called in Spain. There is at least one cafetera in every Spanish kitchen, and if you want a quick fix of something strong and good, it’s your go-to coffee gadget. Not bad for something invented way back in 1933.

I’ve had a moka since I first saw one in action a couple decades ago. Up until I bought an AeroPress, I used a moka every day, never tiring of its old-school charm and serious wake-me-up taste. But what is a moka exactly, and why is it so good?

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Road warriors share their iPhone toolkits

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CC-licensed, thanks to Moyan_Brenn.

In the interest of saving you time (and money) when you travel on apps that won’t help you get from point A to point B, we’ve sounded out dozens of road warriors — including flight attendants, serial conference goers, travel writers, CEOs, expats and even a comedian — to find out what they really need when stuck in an airport or mired in the daily commute.

Here are their picks – which just may get you some extra airline points or mellow out on the way to work.

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Logitech’s updated Ultraslim Keyboard Cover is worse in almost every way

ultraslim-2

Old versus new: Logitech takes several steps backward with its next-gen Ultrathin Keyboard Cover. Photos: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Logitech’s updated Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for iPad Air replaced its predecessor mere months after the original’s launch. The most obvious difference between the two is the flip-out hinge that joins the keyboard to the iPad like a cover to a book, but in reality the two devices are completely different.

Is the new one better? In one way yes. In others? Nope.

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