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Limitations drive hip-hop producer RJD2’s creativity

“Basically, I’m here to make records.” For a musician who has access to any piece of kit under the sun, producer RJD2 prefers limits to keep him on task musically. Anything else — restoring old synthesizers or building new ones — is just a distraction from his actual job. With hard rules in place for what you can or cannot do, ingenuity comes easier. “There’s something to be said for an idea that’s well discussed in jazz… oftentimes, for me, creativity exists in a threshold you pass where you stop thinking about what you’re doing and you just start doing,” he said in a fireside chat at Expand New York. “When you work in an environment with limitations, you can reach that creativity faster.”

It’s an idea stemming from paralysis of choice. Anyone who’s scrubbed through their Netflix account is probably familiar with it: looking for something new to watch only to settle on an old favorite instead. That isn’t just limited to movies, either — when there’s too much of any one thing it’s nigh impossible to do anything. It’s these types of limits that’ve shaped Ramble John Krohn’s 15 year career as a producer.

After his first album, 2002’s Dead Ringer, was released Krohn knew that the options for making music using bits of other people’s tunes would put him in a tight box creatively. “I realized relying on samples to feed the machine wasn’t a sustainable way to build a career,” he said. That led him down the dark path of gear lust and building a studio full of amps, keyboards and synthesizers to create the types of sounds he’d sample anyway. Which is why 2007’s The Third Hand sounds so different from his prior work.

The itch for custom samples can lead one astray, though. Khron said that some DIY synthesizer kits are nothing but a circuit board and bill of materials, leading to experimentation and time-investment that may or may not result in actual sounds or music. “Usually it doesn’t and you spend a few days troubleshooting,” he said, adding that tinkering with a wonky synth can interfere with actually making music.

Creating something out of nothing has always enchanted him, he said — but he has to keep that in check as well. “In many ways, it’s its own self-contained process and endeavor in the same way that making music is,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a welcome distraction, others it’s not.”

Steve Dent contributed to this post



60 seconds with the kit that makes everyone their own ‘mini EPA’

Sure, there’s plenty of consumer-focused gadgets in our Insert Coin competition. But at least one group has a much more altruistic vision. Public Lab wants everyone to have a spectrometer in their home that allows people to detect pollutants in their environment. The heart of the Homebrew Oil Testing kit is simple enough: a refractor that attaches to the camera on your phone. The cheapo version can be made from a DVD and a folded up piece of cardboard, but there’s also a heavier duty plastic model in the works. The other hardware component is a simple light source. In this case a Blu-ray laser. If you want to know what sort of foreign substances are floating around in your water, you shine the light through a sample of it and into the spectrometer strapped to your phone.

Of course, most people have no idea how to read the raw data from a spectrometer. So a big part of the project is an open-source database of contaminants, chemicals and other substances. isn’t exactly a brand new tool, but it’s one that still needs considerable work. While there are plenty of other uses for spectrometers, Public Lab is focusing on oil first, which was inspired by the disaster at the Deepwater Horizon rig run by BP. The hope is that this will raise awareness of the pollutants that are everywhere, and enable the citizens to hold businesses more accountable for the damage they do to our environment. Check out the video below where Jeffrey Warren gives you the 60 second pitch.

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60 seconds with the world’s first Bluetooth padlock

In just a matter of three months, the Noke smart padlock managed to make its way from Kickstarter to our Expand event as an Insert Coin contender, so of course it’s rather special. First of all, it’s a Bluetooth 4.0-enabled steel bolt that can be unlocked with a click on the shackle when your iPhone or Android phone is nearby. Secondly, the companion app lets you share your Noke locks with family and friends, thus saving you the hassle of passing on a physical key. You can even set the repetition and security level for the authorization, as well as tracking history by users or by locks.

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Engadget Expand: 60 Seconds with Noke

The CR2032 battery (no longer the less common CR3032) claims to last over a year with normal use, but if a Noke does run out of juice, you can simply tap a new battery onto the bottom contact points — a newly added feature since the Kickstarter campaign — for about three seconds, in order to give it enough power to unlock. After which, you can replace the battery inside. But what if your phone runs out of battery or is out of range? This is where the “Quick-Click code” comes in: Just tap in your pre-defined pattern of long and short pulses, and the Noke will unlock itself.

Fuz Designs is now taking pre-orders ahead of a February 2015 delivery. It’s $59.99 each or $54.99 each if you buy two.

Noke is something I will…

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Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

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Source: Fuz Designs


60 seconds with Hemingwrite, an E Ink typewriter

Between social networks, video games and the endless void of procrastination we call “the internet,” computers can make pretty poor writing devices. Isn’t there something better? Insert Coin contenders Adam Leeb and Patrick Paul think so — they’ve created the Hemingwrite: a minimalist, E Ink typewriter that does almost nothing, save text entry. It’s a minimalist writing machine that features a machine-tooled aluminum chassis, a satisfying mechanical keyboard and a six-week battery life. It’s not completely devoid of modern faculties, however: it also automatically uploads your prose to a cloud storage system as you type it.

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Engadget Expand: 60 Seconds with Hemingwrite


Everything about the Hemingwrite is designed to reduce distraction — it doesn’t even have a menu. Instead, writers use distinctive, manual switches to change folders or manage WiFi settings, and these toggles are artfully integrated into the machine’s typewriter-inspired design. The machine’s simplicity is core to its design and appeal, but it’s also simplistic to a fault: right now, it only outputs text via the cloud (leaving users no way to back up data without an internet connection). The lack of an on-screen menu introduces other limits, too: the Hemingwrite can easily store a million pages of plaintext writing across its three folders, but if you open a new document within one of those folders, you can’t recall (or delete) and old one without going to the cloud on a PC.

The device’s E Ink display offers beautiful, simple and easily readable text. It’s also a large contributor to the typewriters stellar six-week battery life, but it comes with a minor compromise as well: we found the e-paper screen’s refresh rate a bit slower than the average Engadget writer’s typing speed. This means the display can lag behind your writing, making on-the-fly edits difficult. These limitations seem a little frustrating, but Hemingwrite told us that it’s still experimenting with the device’s firmware, and will be able to introduce new features and possibly adjust the screens refresh rate if needed.

The Hemingwrite is just a prototype for now — a rough draft, if you will — but it has the potential to be the go-to word processor for writers who want something that feels like a traditional typewriter, but with the convenience of editing, cloud synchronization and a near-endless storage capacity. Sound like your kind of writing device? Let us know what you think in the poll below.

Hemingwrite is something I will…

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OnePlus One update now live with Wi-Fi fixes and more


OnePlus has today published details of an update it’s in the process of rolling out to all variants of its flagship smartphone, the One, currently situated in the United States. Unfortunately, the upgrade doesn’t bring much to the table with regards to new features, but it does include a handful of bug fixes, stability improvements, speed optimizations and an important security patch.

Hit the break for the full changelog.

  • Fixed an issue with memory causing screen artifacts
  • Fixed the “black bar” issue
  • Fixed persist partition corruption
  • Fixed Filesystem
  • Fixed WiFi and modem crashes
  • Fixed for random reboots and instability
  • Fixed issue with AT&T VoLTE

As is customary, the update is being dished out in stages, but if you don’t feel like waiting for a notification confirming that it’s ready for your device, you can search for the upgrade manually. To do this simply head into “Settings,” then “About Device,” and select “Check for Updates.’

Source: OnePlus

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10 of the hottest new Android apps this week (November 8)


Welcome back to the regular series aimed at helping Android users get more from their devices. If you’re looking for some new Android apps or games check out we have a handful of popular new titles to get you started. What you’ll find below are some of the hottest trending apps of the last seven days. We’re certain you will find something fun to play with this weekend. Let’s get to it!


calll of duty advanced warfareCall of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Play Store Description: “The Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare App gives fans the amazing tools they need to create and manage their clan, produce in game player and clan emblems, and participate in Clan Wars on the go from their tablet or mobile device. The new Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare App takes the Clan experience to a whole new level.”

We say: Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is the most recently released title from C.O.D. on the major consoles, and it seems they want to take over your phone as well. It seems that the mobile app will interact with your console game, allowing you to win loot and experience without having to be home. It already has over 100,000 downloads with a decent 3.6 stars in the Play Store, so check it out.

disney movies anywhereDisney Movies Anywhere

Play Store Description: “With Disney Movies Anywhere, you can enjoy your Disney, Pixar and Marvel movies anywhere you go. It’s free to join — no subscription needed. And when you sign up and connect your digital movie accounts, you get a FREE movie on us! You also get exclusive videos, special offers, and earn reward points for all your eligible digital purchases. And it’s great for kids, with parental controls built right in.”

We say: The popular iOS app has made its way onto the Play Store. I believe you get Wreck-It Ralph as the free movie, which is not bad at all. The great thing about this app is if you buy a Disney movie physically, you can redeem a digital version with a code in the movie’s case. Seems to work well, as it has 4.2 Stars in the Play Store. Next thing I’ll be looking for is Chromecast support.

music maniac Music Maniac – Mp3 Downloader

Play Store Description: “Download Copyleft music legally with Music Maniac – Mp3 Downloader!
The best free and legal way to download music onto your phone. Enjoy royalty free music from royalty free search engines such as Jamendo.”

We say: This app you should use at your own digression. We don’t condone downloading music illegally, just sharing a popular new app. This app claims it only gets royalty free music, which is good. Just be aware of what you’re doing. Anyways, currently has 4.6 stars in the Play Store, so it must work well.



music download paradiseMusic Download Paradise Mp3

Play Store Description: “Music Download Paradise Mp3 is a free music LEGAL downloader
Enjoy Creative Commons and royalty free music for free with the best music downloader for Android.”

We say: Evidently this is the week for free music download apps. The same thing applies to this app as the one before. Use at your own risk. This one doesn’t mention loyalty free music, just says that it’s legal. It also has 4.6 stars in the Play Store.



hktvHKTV – TV & Shopping platform

Play Store Description: ““Always Something New”
HKTV provides a unique “Shoppertainment” experience for
Hong Kong people to enjoy TV entertainment and online shopping at same time.”

We say: This one goes out to our friends in Hong Kong! I’m going to be perfectly honest here, I’m not sure I understand this one. You can watch TV and shop at the same time. I don’t understand the draw, but it currently has 5 stars in the Play Store, so maybe it’s good. Check it out with the widget below.



The post 10 of the hottest new Android apps this week (November 8) appeared first on AndroidGuys.


60 seconds with a simple but smart home monitoring device


There are already plenty of ways to keep an eye on your abode from afar, so any new home monitoring product better have a fresh approach if it wants to stand out from the competition. For start-up Form Devices, the goal wasn’t to create an elaborate, connected home security system that did more than existing products, but to make something simple, affordable and user-friendly. And, it must’ve done something right with its Point home monitoring device, which cruised past its $50,000 Kickstarter goal just two days after the campaign went live, and is now participating in our Insert Coin competition at Engadget Expand. The plain white, palm-sized puck hosts sound, humidity, temperature, air quality and particle sensors, but no camera. This was a very intentional omission, not just because Point is supposed to be small and inconspicuous, but so users have peace of mind that nobody will ever be watching them.

Point connects to the net via WiFi, and using Android, iOS and web apps, you set up rules of when it should notify you. These notifications can obviously be delivered to your smartphone, but a speaker and multicolored LEDs on the device itself can also be triggered when appropriate. Point uses raw data from its sensors to, for example, let you know when a rebellious guest is smoking cigarettes in your apartment when they’re not meant to. What’s much cooler, however, is that it can combine information from multiple sources to make more intelligent calls. If it hears a crash that’s within a certain sound frequency, say, and then records a sharp drop in temperature, it will notify you that it thinks a window’s been broken. As this is handled by Point’s software, it can only get smarter with future updates, and its apps are compatible with IFTTT protocols and the Lockitron keyless lock.

Point is completely wireless, running on standard double AA batteries and easily mounted to a magnetic plate that, itself, is simply affixed to surfaces with double-sided tape. Under normal conditions, it’ll last a year without needing a battery transplant. Point’s Kickstarter campaign is still running, with a pledge of $79 scoring you a unit, though you may still be able to get one for $69 while early-bird stock remains. Some beta models will ship out in April 2015, with final production units expected to reach all backers by the end of next summer.

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Point by Form is something I will…

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Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.

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Xbox One update arrives with customization and Twitter tie-ins

Xbox One controller and system

Have you been eager to customize your Xbox One profile, or share your gaming escapades on Twitter? Now’s your chance. Microsoft has started rolling out its promised November update for its latest console, and it includes a ton of updates that let you both personalize your system and keep tabs on tweets. You can now customize your background with colors or achievement images, and post a bio that includes your location. If you’re a social sort, you can also tweet your favorite game videos and follow the Twitter buzz surrounding live TV shows. You can finally snap Internet Explorer to a smaller view, too. Fire up your system if you’ve been waiting weeks for any of these perks.

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Source: Major Nelson


60 seconds with the tracker that proves how close you got to the edge

Sure an action camera can provide the video record of your extreme (or not so extreme) sports exploits, but what about the data? Any number of fitness and motion trackers exist, but the Push Supernova is a ruggedized device that not only captures the key metrics from your session — GPS, depth underwater, G-forces, speed, etc. — but can display them on its color screen in real-time, or feed them into an overlay to accompany video recorded by a GoPro or similar camera. The touch-controlled interface is glove-friendly and protected by Gorilla Glass, it can mount anywhere a GoPro goes, it’s waterproof to 30m with sealed expansion and USB ports, plus it can log data for days and the internal battery lasts up to 24 / 8 hours at a time (screen off / screen on). Finally, you don’t have to buy a brand new Corvette to get the videogame-style readouts of data to go along with with your highlight reel.

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Need more reasons to believe? Ok, have we mentioned that the Supernova has a modular design? If you want to pop on an even-more-precise GPS unit to match your activities, or LED indicator lights to flash based on whatever criteria you set, or something that hasn’t even been designed yet — it’s possible. To control those lights or interface with the data there’s an API, and its data exportable to tools like Strava. It’s ready to plug into a car via an OBD-II interface, and wiring adapters for motorcycles and other vehicles are planned. If you’re interested, the team plans availability by Summer 2015 for $300.

SuperNova is something I would…

Edgar Alvarez contributed this report.

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Source: Push


AT&T announces deal to acquire Mexico provider Iusacell


In an announcement made on Friday, AT&T indicated they have entered into an agreement to purchase wireless provider Iusacell for $2.5 billion from Grupo Salinas. Iusacell is a wireless provider in Mexico servicing 8.6 million customers and covering about 70% of Mexico’s population. According to AT&T CEO,

“Our acquisition of Iusacell is a direct result of the reforms put in place by President Peña Nieto to encourage more competition and more investment in Mexico. Those reforms together with the country’s strong economic outlook, growing population and growing middle class make Mexico an attractive place to invest.”

Before AT&T will be able to close the deal, Grupo Salinas must first purchase the 50 percent of Iusacell that it does not currently own. Once that is complete, AT&T expects to complete the acquisition which will include all of Iusacell’s wireless spectrum, network assets, all licenses, retail stores, and the customer base.

AT&T’s Stephenson indicated the company will invest in additional infrastructure to continue growing Iusacell’s footprint in Mexico. In addition, AT&T says “It won’t matter which country you’re in or which country you’re calling – it will all be one network, one customer experience.”

Representatives from Iusacell and AT&T believe the ability to create a single North American Mobile Service area will provide the companies with good economies of scale and efficiencies while also being attractive to customers. Although Mexico has trailed the U.S. in terms of smartphone penetration, AT&T thinks the growing young population, a growing middle class, and more urbanization, provide a good opportunity given some investment in higher speed networks.

In other news as part of their announcement, AT&T says their Project VIP network expansion plans are ahead of schedule. The 4G LTE network is essentially completed, the build-out of its wired high-speed Internet service is complete, and about 600,000 of 1,000,000 planned fiber connections to business locations have been completed. For 2015, AT&T expects capital expenditures to be in the $18 billion range.

source: AT&T

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