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JUST for Geeks

The $300 Photo Book of Apple Products

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The $300 Photo Book of Apple Products

Apple announces what is possibly the ultimate collectible for its most ardent of fans-- "Designed by Apple in California," a 300-page photo book detailing 20 years of Apple products and the design behind them.

Available in 26 x 32cm or 33 x 41cm sizes, the book features 450 photos taken by photographers Andrew Zuckerman. It chronicles the 20-year period between the launch of the original iMac and the Apple Pencil, and is reportedly the result of 8 years of work. As such, it comes printed on "specially milled German paper with gilded matte silver edges, using eight color separations and low-ghost inks" and is "both a testament and a tribute to the meticulous design, engineering, and manufacturing methods that are singularly Apple." Or so the company puts it, at any rate.

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MIT Sets to Cut VR's Cable Problem

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MIT Sets to Cut VR's Cable Problem

Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) claim to have a solution for the cables holding VR headset users down-- MoVR, a system using high-frequency radio signals to turn any headset wireless.

But how can wireless technology replace the HDMI cables streaming data to VR headsets? After all, VR platforms work in real-time, meaning one cannot use compression to allow for lower data rates. According to MIT the key lies in "millimeter waves" (mmWaves), high-frequency signals many experts believe will be behind the super-fast 5G connectivity of the near future. Such signals handle the 6Gbps data rates required by VR visuals.

However mmWaves come with a hitch, as they are affected by obstacles and reflections-- even briefly moving a hand between a transmitter and receiver blocks the signal-- and require constant line of sight. This is where the MoVR system comes in. A programmable "mirror" detects the direction of the incoming mmWave signal and reflects it towards the receiver on the headset. MIT says the MoVR can "learn" correct signal direction to within 2 degrees, meaning it can correctly configure its angles.

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How to Keep (Connected) Track of One's Cigars

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How to Keep (Connected) Track of One's Cigars

Another day, another connected gadget with a use as specific as it is unusual-- the Blume is a device able to update users on the status of their cigar collection via companion smartphone app.

For those not in the know, the best way to keep cigars fresh is inside a container with a constant humidity, or humidor. Maintaining said constant humidity depends varies, but either way if the humidor gets dry the cigars inside are essentially ruined. Which is where the Blume enters the frame. The device monitors the air inside the humidor, and releases water vapour to maintain required levels.

A companion app allows users to set a preferred humidity, and also lets one know when the built-in 250ml water supply is running out, something maker Cigar Zen says is required around once a month. The Blume runs on a rechargeable battery, and a backup is included to keep the device running during recharges.

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Happy 15th Birthday, Apple iPod!

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Happy 15th Birthday, Apple iPod!

Tech industry followers with longer memories should remember a rather special 23 October 2001 Apple event-- the launch of the iPod, arguably the device that moved Apple away from PCs ahead of the smartphone era.

The iPod was the device that helped Apple regain its fortunes, even if its first appearance was not too impressive. It was a Mac-only portable media player with all of 5GB of storage and a $399 price tag. And the first couple of years validated the sceptics, since the device failed to find an audience aside from the true Apple faithful.

As such, the iPod's true watershed moment happened with the 2003 release of an iPod designed for Windows users-- not to mention the launch of iTunes for Windows and the iTunes Music Store. The result was not only a simple means for the syncing of the music player with PCs (especially when compared with the clunky interfaces employed by Creative and Rio devices of the time), but a secure means for the online purchase of music, no CD ripping or piracy required.

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An OmniWear Arc Necklace for Wearable Gaming Feedback

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An OmniWear Arc Necklace for Wearable Gaming Feedback

Wearable device startup OmniWear suggests a wearable device to give gamers a touch-based edge over opponents-- the Arc, a necklace that vibrates when opponents are in the vicinity.

Of course, the addition of haptic feedback is nothing new in game accessories, what with vibration motors being a standard in joypads and controllers. However the majority of games use haptics to simply make impacts feel "real" or add intensity to specific sequences, other than giving actual information to the gamer.

OmniWear claims the Arc provides 360-degree location tracking through 8 vibration motors placed around it. This, if an enemy approaches from behind, the motor at the back should start buzzing, and the buzzing gets more intense the closer the enemy is. To do so the necklace pairs with an OmniWear mobile app via Bluetooth, and in turn the app keeps track of what is taking place in the game.

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The Wifi Kettle Saga, Or When The IoT Goes Wrong

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The Wifi Kettle Saga, Or When The IoT Goes Wrong

Smart devices promise to make life easier by automating previously laborious tasks. But British data specialist Mark Rittman got exactly the opposite with his Smarter iKettle, a wifi-enabled take on the humble kettle that turned boiling water for a cup of tea into an 11 hour saga.

Told through a series of tweets, Rittman's tale of a smart kettle failing to be, well, smart, started at around 9am. All Rittman wanted was command the kettle to boil water via companion app, only he ended up receiving messages to "connect to kettle network before proceeding." Being a man with some knowledge of coding Rittman proceeded to investigate the code powering the iKettle, and discovered the base station was actually failing to communicate with the kettle itself!

Three hours into the investigation failed to produce any results-- if anything the situation got arguably worse, as popular Twitter account Internet of Shit discovered Rittman's story, slowing down Rittman's progress. An hour later Rittman revealed how the iKettle was insisting for more network calibration, and further digging into the code revealed how the kettle lacks software allowing integration with a number of smart home control platforms, including SmartThings, IFTTT and HomeKit.

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The Foldable DJI Mavic Pro Drone

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The Foldable DJI Mavic Pro Drone

GoPro is not the only company selling a foldable drone-- DJI has a similar product, the Mavic Pro, a small and slim drone promising many of the advanced features from the larger DJI Phantom drones.

The Mavic Pro does not exactly qualify as palm-size, but is small enough to fit in a backpack or purse when folded. Sensors on the front and bottom provide obstacle avoidance, subject tracking, autonomous landing and indoor stability, while a 12MP camera sensor shoots 4K video at 30fps and HD video at 96fps.

DJI claims the battery allows for 27 minutes of flight on a single charge, and the drone's top speed is around 65km per hour (in comparison the top speed of the larger Phantom 4 is 72km/h).

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Connected Smarts Reach the... Candle

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Connected Smarts Reach the... Candle

Is anything safe from the power of app-powered smarts? Probably not, as revealed with the LuDela-- a real candle with a real flame inside a sensor-packed shell.

The actual candle is a refillable wax insert (promises up to 30 hours of flames) users place inside a battery-powered exterior shell. The shell connects to smartphones and an obligatory companion app via Bluetooth, and allows one to remotely light and extinguish the candle, all without need to bother with matches and the like.

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Apple Watch Reaches Series 2

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Apple Watch Reaches Series 2

Apple claims the Apple Watch is the currently the second best selling watch (just after Rolex) before it announces the next generation of the smartwatch-- the Apple Watch Series 2.

The Series 2 is, essentially, an incremental upgrade over the original model. As many expected it is water resistant up to 50m, and is powered by an S2 dual-core processor and new GPU promising twice the graphical performance of the first model. The display is brighter (1000 nits) while GPS comes built-in.

Construction is in stainless steel, aluminium or, in an Apple first, ceramic with a "gorgeous pearl-white shine." Launching together with Series 2 are new Hermes bands. Nike also gets in the Watch action with Watch Nike Plus-- a version designed for athletes featuring a perforated rubber band and lighter aluminium construction for "the best running experience out there.

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