Gadget Watch: Cameras, colanders, clackety keyboards and cufflinks

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Gadget Watch: Aug. 16, 2014

Cooking, charging, carrying and, uh, cufflinking. Yes, this week’s Gadget Watch is all about the c-word. We even have a cubic camera, a keyboard with a nipple (which doesn’t start with "C" but it’s close -- and clicky).

OXO Goodgrips Silicone Collapsible Colander

Tiny kitchen? Hatred of unitaskers? Try the OXO Goodgrips Silicone Collapsible Colander, a fold-flat colander that can be used to wash and drain food, and also to cook it – heat-resistant to 600˚F, it can be dropped in boiling water to quickly boil veggies, then dish-washed, collapsed and filed back on your shelf. $30

LIFT standing desk

Who needs a standing desk when you can just drop the LIFT on top of the desk you already own? Sure, it might look a little like a crappy TV stand flipped upside-down, but it is in fact a smart desk with cable routing, a drink holder, a mousemat (!), tablet and phone docking slots, and even a dry-erase whiteboard. Plus the height can be configured to suit you. It’s also a lot cheaper than a standing desk, although not cheaper than my repurposed €40 workbench with sawn-off legs. From $248

Waterfield Vertigo bag

Waterfield is on a roll this summer, and the Vertigo is the latest bag I want to sling over my shoulder. It’s a vertical notebook bag that looks and works a lot like Waterfield’s Franklin Tote. Inside the main zip-open chamber are pockets set into a golden lining, with a magazine pocket on the outside for even more gear. Hand and shoulder straps are made from soft-an-strong seat belt webbing, and you can choose from black ballistic nylon or waxed canvas, in two colors and three sizes (from iPad Air to MacBook Pro). From $129.

Bike chain cufflinks

These bike-chain cufflinks are frikkin awesome. They’re also probably a little too heavy for anything other than the most stiffly starched of double-folding shirt cuffs, but who really cares? They’re also pretty easy to make if you have access to an old chain and a chain splitter – and if you’re even reading this it’s pretty certain that you do. Thankfully they’re not too pricey, although the shipping from Australia might be. $50

Endurapro buckling spring keyboard with nipple

It’s hard to express how much I love my clicky Filco Majestouch keyboard, but I’ll give it a go. “Nyyyyhhhhaaah!” That’s the sound of a man’s “exit push,” as it were. But I’m willing to forego my Cherry MX Blue key switches for a while in order to try out the awesome Endurapro, which uses buckling spring switches (like the old IBM Model M keyboard). Not only that, but it even has a red nipple and mouse buttons, so you don’t need to reach out like 5 feet to the right, over the cursor block and number pad, just to reach your mouse. £99

Vier Compact Collapsible Lock

I’m skeptical of buying a bike lock off Kickstarter, but I appreciate clever new design, and the Vier is certainly clever. It’s like two U-locks combined, with twin locking bars and dual side shafts. This lets it collapse down into a small package, but it also means you have to fasten two separate locks, one on each cylinder. $80

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Biolite KettleCharge

The Biolite KettleCharge was invented when somebody put a TV remote on top of a giant pub ashtray and something clicked in their brain. The result is a kettle that boils water and simultaneously charges your USB device (the 10-watt output will even fast-charge iPads). The kettle has a thermoelectric generator in its base, which uses the difference in temperature between the hot fire/stove beneath and the cold water above to create a current. But all you need to know is that you can make you morning coffee and charge your iPhone at the same time. $150

Polaroid Cube camera

This cute cubic camera is a lifelogger with a Polaroid label. The 1080p, 6MP camera shoots wide (124-degree) stills or video and has a built-in mounting magnet in the base. It can also connect to various mounts (tripod, bike) and even slide into an equally cute waterproof case. When I see a lifelogger camera I just quail at the responsibility of organizing all those hours of footage, but a stronger person might enjoy the fact that they can gather hours of boring video for just $100.

Grovemade walnut keyboard tray

Grovemade’s beautiful tray not only holds your Apple aluminum wireless keyboard, it also converts the useless gap underneath into a handy storage space. Better still, that space is sculpted into compartments, with space for spare AA batteries (three of ‘em), paperclips (a piece of stationery that is now only used for ejecting SIM trays and resetting routers) and – LOL – business cards. Price? $59

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

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Dream your way into space with the new IFTTT NASA channel, put notifications and widgets on your desktop with Übersicht and make the perfect cup of coffee with the latest AeroPress timer. This week we even have an app just for processing B&W photos.

Listary 2

Listary, my favorite iPhone list app, now syncs with Dropbox instead of Simplenote (which in turn means no easy nvALT syncing), adds smart lists, a URL scheme that lets you ad tasks from apps like Drafts, icon badges and sharing. It’s also free, with an in-app purchase to unlock advanced features. $Free

IFTTT Space Channel

Now you can get an iPhone notification eery time an astronaut enters space. This radness is thanks to the new NASA IFTTT channel, which offers seven triggers that can feed their info into other IFFFT actions. Want to flash the Wi-Fi-controlled lights in your house every time the International Space Station passes overhead? No problem! And best of all it’s free – you just need an IFTTT account. $Free

Vox

Now Vox, the Mac app that streams music from internet radio along with pretty much any music format stored on your Mac (it integrates with your iTunes library too), now works with SoundCloud, which is the place all the cool kids publish their music these days. It supports SoundCloud queues and Collections, and grabs the highest-quality stream available. It’s free, with an in-app purchase to unlock the good stuff. $Free/$3

Übersicht

Übersicht displays javascript widgets on your Mac desktop, kind of like a cross between Dashboard and GeekTool. Widgets are written in JavaScript or CoffeeScript, and because they use CSS you can place them where you like, and make them look as pretty as can be. You can pipe in the weather, show your to-do list, or pretty much anything else in the world, ever. $Free

MediaFire for iOS

MediaFire, the service that forces you to click and load way too many web pages just to get an image from your email, has relaunched its iOS app as a photo-sharing, media-streaming powerhouse. v2.0 now auto-syncs your iPhone and iPad photos to its servers, along with improved streaming of audio and video. The service also adds a new pricing plan, starting at $25 per year for a terabyte of storage. Take that, Dropbox! $Free

JoliDrive

JoliCloud’s Drive is both a front-end for the privacy-focussed Norwegian cloud storage service (which I use and love), as well as a place to combine all your other cloud accounts. You can access Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, MediaFire and more, plus the amazing cloud torrent service Put.io. You can also use it to view and edit photos, watch movies, edit photos, listen to music and even read ebooks. Now the web app is even better thanks to a new large-icon grid view for your files. How much? Amazingly, it’s $Free.

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Tonality

Tonality takes your boring old color photos and turns then into amazing B&W images. It works with most images, RAW and JPG included, and does most of what Adobe’s Lightroom does, only it’s focussed on monochrome images and doesn’t do anything for color. You can tweak the color channels to really play with the B&W result, and there’s even gimmicky a one-touch-HDR feature. But the best part is layers, letting you save yourself to a bigger app like photoshop. I like it quite a lot, but I miss Lightroom’s built-in cataloging features. Regular or Pro for $20/$60

Learnist for iPad

You know how cool the TED talks are, where super-smart folks tell you about awesome things? Well Learnist is kind of like that, only instead of lectures it curates lessons, and now it comes on the iPad too. People like Gus Van Sant add lessons, along with qualified teachers concentrating on specific subjects. It’s also free to download and browse. $Free

AeroPress Timer

If you don’t have an AeroPress then go out and buy one right now. Pick up a burr grinder while you’re at it, and some delicious, freshly-roasted beans. Got it? Good. Now you can enjoy the free AeroPress Timer app, new and improved and at version 2. The app provides a whole slew of recipes, with extra recipe packs for $2, available as in-app purchases. Choose a recipe, get your gear set, your water hot and your coffee ground, and hit Go. The timer will count you down to the perfect cup. $Free.

Gadget Watch Aug 02 2014 — From Super 8 to super fake

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Yet more traveling gear this week with a super-stylish camera bag, fake backgrounds to make your photos look like they came from a better camera, an all-in-one iPhone case and bike toolkit, plus an all-new old-school Super 8 film (yes, film) camera. Delightful.

Bluelounge Kickflip

This might sound like a skateboard trick done in Johnny Rad’s place, but it is in fact a clever little widget that adds a permanent kickstand to your MacBook. The Kickflip sticks to the bottom of the Mac with an adhesive strip and stays out of the way until you need it. Then it flips (folds) open to lift the rear end up a few centimeters. This promotes air flow and raises the screen. Available in two sizes for 13 and 15-inch MacBooks. €18

Logmar Super 8 camera

Ever use a Super 8? It’s simultaneously amazing (great retro-style footage!) and terrifying (only a few minutes per reel!). And it’s also back, in the form of the Logmar, a modern-day take on old-school home video. The film itself is stabilized in the camera, and can be shot at anywhere from 18-54fps. It also has a flip-out LCD viewfinder screen, and records sync sound onto an SD card. How much? $5,000, once the initial run of 20 has been delivered.

Cycling Ride Pouch

This pouch carries everything you need on a ride. It’s a toolkit holder that fits in your jersey pocket, and has its own pockets for cash, cards and your iPhone. The phone is coddled in an ultrasuede-lined slot, and there’s a window on the outside so you can see and view the iPhone without taking it out first. In short, this is the perfect pouch for traveling light. $69

Lastolite Out of Focus Backgrounds

I love this low-tech solution to a high-tech problem. Instead of using a proper camera with a fast lens to achieve out of focus backgrounds, you can just buy a background that’s already out of focus. These folding, portable screens from Lastolite unfurl to give the out-of-focus highlights and blur you’d get if you used a wide aperture over a largish sensor – two things the iPhone doesn’t have.

The price? Well, you might think about buying that camera after all, because they’re $205.59 each.

Kelly Moore Kate Shoulder Bag

Kelly Moore’s Kate shoulder bag is a leather and canvas camera bag designed for men or women. The padded satchel has plenty of pockets, and also features a removable padded insert so you can safely stow lenses and cameras, or just use the thing as a big one-chamber sack when you’re not shooting. Yes, this is a camera bag so stylish that you will want to use it all the time. The price isn’t bad either, as these things go – $200

OptiKlip

It’s no Opti-Grab, but then OptiKlip does look pretty useful. It clips to the collar of any shirt, or to the button strip if you like, and gives you somewhere to hang your specs. In the summer I’m forever swapping between my regular glasses and my prescription shades, so I’m totally behind this little widget. If it ever makes it to market that is – currently the OptiKlip is not even a Kickstarter

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Catalyst waterproof case

Catalyst has ditched Griffin and is going it alone with its v2.0 iPhone case. Waterproof down to 5 meters (16.4 feet), dustproof, drop resistant and with a hard plastic lens cover to let the light get through to the camera without too much interference, it sounds like they improved on everything I didn’t like in our review of the original. $65

Drobo mini

All the power of a Drobo, in a little portable package. The new Drobo mini takes 4 2.5-inch drives (SSDs recommended), and connects to your Mac using Thunderbolt. This makes it blistering fast, and also lets you daisy-chain it to other Thunderbolt devices with the second port. Now you can take your redundant backup with your on the road – it even has a carrying case.$650

Tall Boy Pint Cup

Do you love craft beers and home-made cordials, but hate to drink out of anything that isn’t a soft-drinks can? Then you need to Tall Boy Pint Cup, an 18/8 stainless steel vessel in the shape of a can of Coke. It holds a U.S. pint, which is 16 ounces and not the 20 ounces in Great British pint (which is the reason and Englishman can out-drink any U.S person), and costs just $12

Analog photo technique brings Bambi to life

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Look who decided to wake up!

My new pet...

Get down you naughty deer!

Bambi is not so good at fetch!

Bambi is not so good at fetch!

He always makes such funny faces! So cute!

Always up to no good!

Bambi dreams of Tad...

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My little prancing man!

Hide and go seek! LOL!

Bambi spies the blue mouse cat toy!

Bambi and the first hints of spring! Finally warm enough to take him outside.

Splicing a cute little animal into a photograph doesn’t take more than a few seconds for anybody with a copy of Photoshop.

But Colorado artist Janelle Pietrzak spends hours cutting light stencils with a razor blade, then uses a shoebox and long-exposure photography to bring Bambi and other cuddly creatures to life inside her home.

“If you look at my photographs there is fantasy world full of mythical creatures, floating orbs, ghosts and goddesses, all created by manipulating light,” Pietrzak tells Cult of Mac. “The catch is that I hardly use any Adobe Photoshop. What you see in the images is basically what I saw on the back of my camera.”

App Watch: An iTunes substitute, photo tools and other useful upgrades

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App Watch: July 14, 2014

Whether you're watching the weather or making music, clipping notes or snapping photos, this week's selection of new and updated apps should have something for you.

Equilibrium

Hate iTunes? Of course you do – you’re only human. Equilibrium lets you ditch it (or its interface at least) by putting a control and popover window up in your Mac’s menu bar. Control iTunes, Spotify, Rdio and Vox, scrobble to Last.FM and set custom keyboard shortcuts so your can skip and play/pause tracks even without dedicated media keys. $3

Horizon 2

Great self-leveling video app Horizon will take horizontal video however you hold your iPhone. Version 2.0 adds to the non-vertical-video action with still-image support, 2K-resolution video, 60fps (at 720p), plus updated live filters and a revamped UI. It’s my favorite video app for iOS. $2

Take Creative Vocal Recorder

Take Creative Vocal Recorder is like Drafts, only for musicians. Tap the red button and you’re recording, making an audio note. Then, you can loop that sound and add another couple of tracks alongside it, add effects and sketch out a track, right there in the app. It looks way better than the built-in Voice Memo app, and it even has processing to make your iPhone’s mic sound better. Free

Polymo

Polymo for iPhone wants to replace not just your iPhone camera but your iPhone Camera Roll. It lets you pre-tag your pictures before taking them so, say, every snap snapped at a party will be tagged on the go. This makes finding and organizing way easier.

It has a beautiful interface, plus some features that iOS should have as standard, like swiping across multiple photos to select them all. $2

Photo Book Flip

Photo Book Flip builds faux paper books on your iPad. Import pictures from your Camera Roll or Photo Stream and “curate” them into books with a 3-D flipping effect on the pages.

I like the idea of making photo books for sharing pictures with friends. It’s far better than forcing them to see every damn photo you took on your vacation. $1

Lauchbar 6.1

Hit ⌘-space on your Mac and a window pops up asking for instructions. If you don’t hate yourself, the window is from an app like Launchbar or Alfred, and not from OS X's built-in Spotlight. Launchbar does everything Spotlight does, and then some, letting you browse inside text files, mail search results and browse your iTunes.

And now it brings something called Staging Area, which is just like Quicksilver’s old “comma trick.” Search for an item, and instead of telling Launchbar to act on it right there, you hit the comma key and it is added to a buffer. Add more items every time you hit the comma, and then act on them all at once. Currently only available in a nightly build of v6.1, this should be coming soon. €24

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Everclip 2

Everclip 2 is an update to the fantastic iOS Evernote clipping app, and does more of the same, only cleaner. Like the original Everclip, Version 2 runs in the background and watches the system pasteboard. Whenever you copy a link, image, chunk of text or pretty much anything, it clips it to the app. Then, you can gather these snippets into one big document, or send them individually to Evernote. You can pre-specify a notebook and tags, edit snippets before sending and – best of all – the URL of the original webpage (if you clipped from the Web) is preserved. It’s a great research and scrapbooking app, and v2 runs way longer in the background than v1. $7

AlertsPro

My favorite weather app, WeatherPro, has gotten a new companion app that focuses on weather alerts. Appropriately, it’s called AlertsPro, and it sends push alerts for extreme weather conditions, based on location. It monitors your current location by default, and you can add others for anywhere in the world. You can also see the warnings displayed on a map. $2