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Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is as short and sweet as its heroes

Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

Treasure Tracker takes place across a series of block-shaped worlds. Photo: Nintendo

If you played last year’s Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U, you probably remember the “Adventures of Captain Toad” minigame in which an adorable little mushroom guy combed a series of square worlds in search of fortune and glory.

And if you couldn’t get enough of that mode, Nintendo has you covered with Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, a standalone Wii U title composed entirely of that gameplay.

Admittedly, building a $39.99 game around optional side content created as a diversion from a completely separate title sounds like a risky sell, but Treasure Tracker manages to provide a fun, challenging and surprisingly complete experience that lasts exactly as long as it needs to.

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Grovemade’s Walnut Monitor Stand is an iMac accessory that will last you a lifetime

The Walnut Monitor Stand is the perfect way to prevent neck strain while sitting at your iMac. Photo: Grovemade

The Walnut Monitor Stand is the perfect way to prevent neck strain while sitting at your iMac. Photo: Grovemade

Most of my work day is spent at a 27-inch iMac, circa 2009. It’s admittedly getting a bit long in the tooth, but buffed up with as much RAM as it can take and a homemade Fusion Drive, it still gets the job done.

One complaint I have about the iMac, though, is that the screen is actually a little too low by default. Resting on my desk, the center of the iMac’s screen doesn’t exactly line up with my line of sight. Over an entire day, that can result in neck pain and bad posture.

And so, over the past few years, I’ve experimented with a lot of stands to lift the iMac up a couple inches to more naturally line up with my line-of-sight. Of all the ones I have ever tried, though, the Walnut Monitor Stand by Portland’s Grovemade is my favorite. After using it for the last few months, I can comfortably say it’s a perfect fusion of design and functionality.

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5 great TV shows you should catch up on over the holidays

Prepare to meet -- and subsequently love -- Ron Swanson. Photo: NBC

Prepare to meet — and subsequently love — Ron Swanson. Photo: NBC

A lot of TV happens every day, and it’s understandable if you can’t watch all of it. Maybe you have a job or read or something. But now, the holidays have given you the gift of several days off with nothing to do but open presents, eat and watch television, so you might as well make up for lost time.

Here are five TV shows you should cram into your face like so much Christmas goose before you have to go back to work.

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5 bite-size TV series you can watch in a day

Neil de Grasse Tyson (front) and your mind in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Photo: Fox

Neil de Grasse Tyson (front) and your mind in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Photo: Fox

Now that you have some time off for the holidays, you might be looking for something to do. Sure, you could spend some time with your family, but honestly, how long can you do that before you’re trying to escape to watch something on your phone or tablet?

If you want a sense of accomplishment from your couch-potatoing, here are five TV series you can watch in their entirety between breakfast and bedtime.

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Feel better about your own relatives with these 5 dysfunctional-family films

Denis Leary is just not having it in The Ref. Photo: Touchstone Pictures

Denis Leary is just not having it in The Ref. Photo: Touchstone Pictures

The holidays are upon us, and that means you’re probably about to spend a lot of time with your family. Your family is probably great, but some people aren’t so lucky. And for those rare cases of people who dread all of the “quality time” they’re about to be exposed to, we’ve collected an assortment of movies to make them appreciate what they have a little more.

Because things could almost always be worse. For example:

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Why I love Microsoft’s fitness band, and what it means for the Apple Watch

The Microsoft Band. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The Microsoft Band is an awesome gadget. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

I’m really digging the Microsoft Band. I’ve worn various fitness trackers for a couple of years now, starting with the original Jawbone UP and most recently the new Fitbit Charge.

I’ve had mixed results with them, and none have became indispensable. The Microsoft Band, on the other hand, is rapidly becoming a fixture on my wrist. It’s a great omen for the Apple Watch, which is due in early 2015. The Apple Watch will be like the Microsoft Band on steroids, and if it works as well, it’s going to be awesome.

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The reason for the season: affordable tech gifts for kids

This little iGuy from Speck will keep your kid's expensive gift a lot safer. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

This little iGuy case from Speck will keep your kid’s expensive gift a lot safer. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Kids everywhere are looking to Santa to bring them the hottest tech toys around, including iPhones, iPads, Nintendo 3DSes and Sony PlayStations, but these types of gifts can certainly strain a lowly elf’s meager paycheck.

If you’re looking for engaging and interesting gifts that won’t burst Santa’s money sack, take a look at the list we’ve put together for you below. It’s full of fun stuff that won’t leave you unable to afford a plate of cookies for that big red jolly fellow.

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Treat your ears to the weirdest holiday songs ever

Nothing says holiday music like...wait, what? Photo: King Diamond

Nothing says holiday music like…wait, what? Photo: King Diamond

It’s easy to list off classic songs of the season, isn’t it? Even now, the hit holiday tunes we all know by heart rush up the music charts every year, gracing radio and streaming options for the happiest season of them all.

Of course Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas to You)” — written in 1944 by Mel Torme — is currently No. 5 on the Billboard charts, while “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” by Brenda Lee (1958) tops even that chestnut at No. 3 of the top hot holiday songs as well.

But what about all those other holiday songs that never had a chance to be on a chart anywhere, except perhaps the chord charts these bands use to play live gigs? How will the odd songs, the weird ones — the tunes that just “think different” — ever get heard?

That’s why we’re here, with a bunch of weird tunes you just have to hear. Happy holidays!

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Jawbone’s UP Move is the best entry-level fitness tracker yet

One of the neatest things about Jawbone's UP Move is just how versatile it is. You can clip it on anywhere. Photo: Jawbone

One of the neatest things about Jawbone’s UP Move is just how versatile it is. You can clip it anywhere. Photo: Jawbone

One of the great things about the world of fitness trackers post-Apple Watch (or, at least, post-Apple Watch announcement) is that we’re seeing how different companies are trying to insure themselves against Cupertino’s high-end luxury lifestyle tracker.

Jawbone recently answered this question by launching its UP Move: It’s an entry-level fitness wearable that may lack the bells and whistles of the Apple Watch, but is also, at $49.99, shy a couple of zeroes in the price tag department.

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Caution: Don’t miss out on the best iOS apps of 2014

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users on iOS 8.0.1 could not get a cellular connection. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Download now, thank us later. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

The word “app” has always described Apple’s executable programs, but it wasn’t until the App Store appeared in 2008 that the term really took hold as a way to describe the little programs that help make our smartphones not just smart, but also useful and totally fun.

At this point, “There’s an app for that” has become a phrase you’ll hear pretty much everywhere.

We’ve taken a look at our favorite new apps, some of which have been featured on Cult of Mac previously, and chosen the year’s best. Now get downloading!

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