The puzzle game Chocolate Fix has been a family favorite around our house for years. The puzzle consists of 9 plastic chocolate candies (in three colors and shapes), a tray that holds the candies in a 3 x 3 grid, and a spiral-bound book with various challenges to solve. The challenges offer clues on how to arrange the candies in the tray. The hints sometimes show just the shape but not the color, the color but not the shape, or the shape and the color of a candy that belongs to a particular spot, column, or row in the grid. It's your job to figure out the single solution to correctly arrange the candies.
Earlier this month, the Minneapolis College of Art and Design kindly brought me out to meet with grad students and attend the annual MCAD Art Sale where I was happily overwhelmed with a fantastic collection of student and recent graduates' work at affordable prices. Within minutes of walking in, I was drawn to two pieces at opposite ends of the building. The first was a painting created by a CNC milling machine outfitted with a pen. (That painting and its brethren in the series will be the subject of a later post here.) The second piece is what you can see above, the Shellphone Loudspeaker. Amazingly, it turned out that both the CNC painting and the Shellphone were created by the same young artist/designer/maker, Andrew Vomhof. The Shellphone Loudspeaker, made by Andrew with collaborator Karl Zinsmaster, is absolutely wonderful and I purchased one immediately. It's a real Whelk shell hand-carved to perfectly sit an iPhone (4 or 5). The shell acts as a natural amplifier for the iPhone's speakers.
Now, this thing doesn't come close to the output of powered speakers. Duh. But it does increase the volume quite a bit and layers the sound with a subtly echoey and organic vibe. But that isn't really the point. It's a wonderful curiosity at the intersection of nature, art, and technology. And it's beautiful to boot. Vomhof and Zinsmaster have launched a Kickstarter to bring their prototype design into full production. Pledge $60 and, if they hit their goal of $10,000, you'll receive your own Shellphone Loudspeaker early next year.
On Saturday night my 15-year-old daughter texted me that her iPhone was broken. Her friend had spilled salad dressing on it while they were at dinner. The speakers and microphone no longer worked. No phone calls, no music. I thought that the phone would have to be replaced. When I got home I googled iPhone water damage speaker not working. The first result was a page on Saw Tun's blog called "How to fix the iPhone speaker problem (water damage)." He wrote:
Problem: The iPhone speaker works fine when headphones are plugged into it. However, as soon as the headphones are removed, there is no sound emitted from the iPhone. In other words, the iPhone speaker doesn’t work. My phone wouldn’t ring and I couldn’t hear any sound from the iPhone. This happened to my phone after it was water damaged.
Solution: Find a q-tip. Insert the q-tip into the headphone jack of the iPhone. Swivel the q-tip around for a bit and clean the inside of the headphone jack. Once I did this, the problem was magically fixed!
I had my doubts, but I tried it. It didn't work. I used another Q-tip. Still didn't work. But, the Q-tips smelled like oil and vinegar salad dressing. So I kept on sticking them into the jack. After the fifth or sixth Q-tip, Lana Del Rey started singing through the phone.
Here's a handy device to cut older SIM cards to fit newer phones, like the iPhone 5.
The Nano SIM Cutter takes any regular or micro size and trims the excess off to provide you a precision cut nano SIM. It's simple, you insert your SIM card with the contacts facing downwards, push the SIM card all the way in, and push down on the lever. The cutter will provide you with a perfectly cut nano SIM card every time! These Nano SIM Cutters are built from hi-quality stainless steel to ensure high precision cutting.
For the last year or two I have been using a free location–sharing app on my iPhone called Glympse. It's purpose is simple: when you are driving somewhere to meet someone, the app generates a URL so they can see where you are on a map and track your progress as you are driving.
Today, Glympse introduced a new version of the application, and it has interesting improvements.
Glympse Groups allows users to share and interact via common activities, such as sporting or industry events, meetings or social gatherings. Glympse reveals group members’ real-time locations on a map for a set amount of time, encouraging local interaction and social discovery.
Glympse allows users to automatically schedule location updates to everyone associated with a specific calendar event, virtually replacing the need for “Running Late” or “On my way” emails, texts or phone calls.
When Glympse first debuted, it made it fast and easy for users to “Share Your Where” with others, for a specified period of time without creating yet another network. Now, the new Glympse turns the tables and makes it just as easy to ask your friends, family, and colleagues, “Where are you?” With the new “Request a Glympse” feature, users simply send a request via text or email and recipients can instantly accept and start broadcasting their location for the given time period.
Here's a $149 gadget that you can mount over a door's deadbolt so you can turn the knob via your iphone.
Lockitron is an attachment you can place on the back of any deadbolt lock in your house that allows you to lock and unlock it remotely via your smartphone. Better than that, if you have your iPhone 5 in your pocket when you approach a Lockitron deadbolt, you don’t have to even have to use your iPhone because it will detect you via Bluetooth 4.0 and unlock automatically.
You can share access to your lock with friends and family so that if you’re not at your house and want to let them in you don’t have to worry about getting them an extra key. The sharing access feature makes it perfect for Airbnb customers.
I hardly know anyone who still smokes and pretty much everyone I know has a little computer in the form of an iPhone or Android phone that's always with them. That means I should really think about some of the vestigial parts of my dashboard. Like the ashtray. Let's change the ashtray's function from supporting the disgusting habit of the 1970s (smoking) to the disgusting habit of the 2010s (constant smartphone use). Here's how to do it.
Oh, and since this will get pointed out, I may as well say this. After I came up with the ashtray-to-iPhone dock idea, I was feeling so smug I was having some shirts ordered that said "ME ARE A GENIUS." Then I decided to Google the smartphone dock/old ashtray idea. I'm not the first. I'm not even close. I cancelled the shirt order, but this just proves it's a solid idea. So, onward.
[Video Link] Burner is an iPhone application that lets you generate temporary phone numbers. This would come in handy, for example, if you are selling something on Craigslist, and you don't want to give out your permanent telephone number. The app costs $1.99, which gives you a "burner" number that's valid for 7 days, 20 talk minutes, or 60 texts, whichever comes first. You can buy additional credits in the app.
I recently had a chance to visit NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory with Miles O'Brien. At the NASA center in Pasadena, engineers are readying for the long-anticipated landing of the Mars Curiosity rover on Aug. 5. During our visit, we met with the team behind a cool new iOS app from JPL: NASA's Spacecraft 3D, an augmented reality application that allows users to "learn about and interact with a variety of spacecraft that are used to explore our solar system, study Earth, and observe the universe."
Using a printed AR Target and the camera on your mobile device, you can get up close with these robotic explorers, see how they move, and learn about the the engineering feats used to expand our knowledge and understanding of space. Spacecraft 3D will be updated over time to include more of the amazing spacecraft that act as our robotic eyes on the earth, the solar system and beyond!