Geek News: Latest Technology, Product Reviews, Gadgets and Tech Podcast News for Geeks


angry birds

Last week Rovio released its Angry Birds Friends tournament -style game to the mobile world, making the popular bird-slinging, pig-killing game available to a wider audience. The Friends version had previously only been available on Facebook, but has now moved to both iOS and Android.

Today, the first full tournament gets underway — new ones will begin each Monday. Today though, something special is involved in the game. According to Rovio “if you play today you’ll see the incredible in-game marriage proposal made by one of our biggest fans”. The Finnish game maker goes on to explain that “a while ago a guy named Ben got in touch with an unusual request. He wanted to pop the big question to his long-term girlfriend Mel through Angry Birds! We jumped at the chance to bring these lovebirds together, and started building a custom-made level that featured Ben’s marriage proposal”.

While there have been no download statistics released for this latest Rovio game, it does appear as a featured app on the Google Play store. Combining the popular mobile game with the Facebook name should bode well for both companies.

Updated Facebook app coming to Windows Phone

Posted by Alan at 11:26 AM on April 30, 2013

Microsoft is now seeking beta testers for a new and updated version of the Facebook app for Windows Phone. Version 4.2.1 is still the current iteration on the mobile platform, but a new one is on the way. “Today we’re launching a new program designed to help speed up delivery of new features in the official Facebook app for Windows Phone and need sharp-eyed, energetic volunteers to download a beta version of our next release and tell us how to make it better” announces Microsoft’s Michael Stroh.

Users will find that the app is undergoing a major redesign and now includes several much-requested features, including new support for high-res photos, post sharing, and Facebook Timeline.

facebook beta for windows phone

Before you get too excited, Stroh cautions that if you “don’t like it when apps crash? This probably isn’t the program for you”. The good news is that you do not lose the current Facebook app if you decide to take the plunge then the beta will not replace the existing Facebook app, but instead run side-by-side with it.

Running Multiple GPS on the Road

Posted by tomwiles at 9:58 AM on April 8, 2013

As an over-the-road truck driver, I’ve been playing around with GPS various devices and mapping software for several years. Maps and GPS’s have radically improved over the years. Does the perfect GPS exist? Not yet. So what is the solution? The solution I’m currently using is multiple GPS’s running at once. “Isn’t that a bit extreme?” you ask. Not really. Let me explain my current setup. I have a special Garmin GPS that is aimed at commercial truck drivers as well as those driving around in large motorhomes and other recreational vehicles. It differs from a standard Garmin or other stand-alone GPS unit in at least a couple of important ways. First, the user inputs the overall dimensions of his or her vehicle. The Garmin attempts to calculate routes based on known truck routes. It attempts to calculate routes based on keeping to known truck routes, and avoiding roads and routes that trucks and large vehicles are prohibited from. Secondly the Garmin has a database of truck stops, truck washes, scales, rest areas, etc. These two elements are theoretically updated with each new periodic map update. The Garmin does a decent job, but it has its quirks. I also have a Google Nexus 7 which has the excellent built-in Google Maps and Google Navigation, which are actually two separate apps that are tied closely together. I have found the Google satellite view and Google Street View to be invaluable aids on a daily basis as I am constantly having to find and go to places such as warehouses I’ve never been before. I can usually get a great idea of the size of the place, how it is laid out, if there is truck parking either on the property or nearby, etc. I also have the TomTom for Android GPS app along with a subscription to TomTom’s excellent HD Traffic service. Since I have a full-time data connection via a WiFi hotspot, I often run the TomTom software in parallel with the Garmin since TomTom’s HD Traffic service is generally pretty accurate when it comes to major traffic tie-ups and slow-downs. But wait, there’s more. Let’s say I’ve got the same destination programmed in to both the Garmin and the TomTom software, but I want to know how far it is to a particular point of interest along the route, for example a particular truck stop. The TomTom software continues to run in the background as I go to the Nexus 7′s menu and start Google Maps and/or Google Navigation. Yes, it is easily possible to have TWO completely separate navigation programs running on the Nexus 7 at the same time, even in the background. Of course if one runs any GPS program it’s a good idea to have the Nexus 7 plugged in since it will drain the battery in just a few hours’ time especially if one keeps the screen turned on. Also, with both the TomTom app as well as the included Google Navigation app running simultaneously in the background, it is still possible to open the regular Google Maps app and search and browse the satellite views as normal. As an extra aside, I frequently also have an app such as Audible or DoubleTwist running in the background attached via Bluetooth to a Bluetooth stereo speaker setup. The Nexus 7 is easily able to handle all of these tasks in stride with no slowdowns or stutters. So I find that having multiple GPS apps available in front of me (stuck to my windshield on the Nexus 7 via an inexpensive windshield mount I found on Amazon) to be an invaluable extra navigational aid. I personally believe one of the Nexus 7′s biggest strengths to be the built-in GPS chip, a feature that the Amazon Kindle HD’s lack, as well as all iPads that lack a built-in data connection. A built-in GPS chip really adds tremendous amount of value to any tablet, regardless of what the intended use might be.

How do you recharge your phone’s battery when on the move?

Posted by Alan at 3:20 PM on April 3, 2013

Just a quick question for all of the GNC audience out there, because I want a true geek opinion on this and we have a web site full of them here. You see, I was thinking of ways to charge my smartphone while on the go — hiking and camping and the like. I am looking for the best solution and am curious what others use.

I had originally planned on grabbing something solar, thanks to the fact that we spend considerable time in the back country. But recently I came across a battery backup with 11,000 mAh of power and feel it may have the juice I need to at least get between hiking destinations — my son and I have aspirations to hike the AT in the near future and we could be spending days at a time out of range from both coverage and locations with power.

battery charger

So what is your go-to solution? What is best for someone heading to the middle of nowhere for days? Is solar or a battery pack the best option? Or should I consider taking both along? Perhaps the latter would be best for fail-safe purposes. I am also interested in knowing recommended brands and real-life usage by some of you. Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Words With Friends

Posted by tomwiles at 6:52 PM on March 21, 2013

image

I have been a heavy player of Words With Friends for the past couple of years. Once in awhile I would notice that my opponent would play seemingly from a different set of letters then what I had been presented with.

For some reason I assumed that both players were playing from the same set of letters, thus fairly matching wits.

I wonder how many people are really familiar with Words With Friends rules, or the Scrabble game that it is based on for that matter? Do you know the rules?

As it turns out, the rules for Scrabble as well as Words With Friends state that each opponent pulls from a random set of letters. Knowing this changes the game strategy somewhat, and it explains why games often seen a bit unfair. There are times when games seems stacked toward one opponent or the other.

Something tells me that I’m not the only Words With Friends or online Scrabble player to make a wrong assumption of the rules of these games.

I will still continue to play both games but not quite in the same way as before.

Striker’s Simple Sucker is a cheap, universal phone mount

Posted by Alan at 8:56 AM on March 21, 2013

StrikerA couple of weeks back I took a look at one of two Striker products that I had recently ordered. The Light Mine turned out to be a great little tool for around the house, as I used it during a power outage yesterday, but I primarily intend to use it hiking and camping. The other product I picked up was called the Simple Sucker, which is a universal phone mount.

I had been in the market for a universal car mount ever since I purchased my Galaxy Nexus last year. My previous mount was built exclusively for the Motorola Droid X and is now obsolete. I didn’t want to invest in one like that again, plus my wife sometimes has a need for these things and she has a Nokia Lumia 822.

For $6.99 Striker sold me what may be the simplest solution of all — a two-way suction cup mount. The product is small and simple and initially I was worried that such a device could not hold onto my 4.7-inch screen phone. Those worries were, thankfully, unfounded.

Last week my wife had a trip to take and needed GPS for the journey. The Simple Sucker stuck to her windshield like glue and did the same with the back of her 4.3-inch Lumia, despite the phone also being in a case. She reported no problems with it on her journey.

Striker’s Simple Sucker, for only $6.99, worked every bit as well as dedicated car mounts that cost many times the price. It is also completely flexible, allowing you to angle the phone in any way you wish. It was certainly the best deal I have got in some time.

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3M MP300 Mobile MHL Projector

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 5:26 PM on February 27, 2013

3M If you are a business traveler or maybe an app developer, and you want to show off your app or device to a client. They like what they see and they want to show to their partner, pretty soon you are passing your iPad or iPhone around a circle, which can get awkward after a while. 3M is offering a new solution a mobile projector, the 3M MP300 Mobile Projector.

This mobile projector is a sixty lumens projector and can project up to eighty inches in diameter. It will mirror your device instantly. It is a plug and play projector. It will work with a regular HDMI cord and also a HD-MHL device. With the MHL cord and a MHL capable device you can project an image and charge your phone or tablet at the same time. Many Android products especially those made by Samsung are MHL enable. This 3M projector is the only mobile projector with this capability.

The 3M MP300 Mobile Projector is available for around $250 on Amazon and at various retail locations. If you need a small mobile projector to carry with you and you have MHL compatible devices then the 3M MP300 Mobile Projector maybe the device for you.

Matrix Audio

Posted by Alan at 8:23 AM on February 25, 2013

matrix audio logoRobert Daw from Matrix Audio had the chance to visit with TPN in Las Vegas and show off a few of the company’s latest products. These are some tiny mobile speakers that come in a range of prices and power.

The first is a 3-watt that can be used open or closed depending on the sound you prefer — more bass or more treble. In can also be daisy-chained with others to get more sound. There is also a Bluetooth version that looks similar to the aux-versions — it still has an auxiliary jack if you prefer that method of connection. That version is 3.5-watts. Both speakers come in a range of multiple colors.

Finally, the compnay unveiled what it termed as “the world’s smallest 3-watt speaker”. It is Aux-only at this point, but Matrix Audio plans a Bluetooth version that will launch in March. It is available in black, silver and red.

Prices for these speakers range from $30 to $80 and all are available now — except, of course, the one launching in March. You can get more information by visiting Matrix Audio.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and Scott Ertz of F5 Live

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Panavise phone and camera mounts

Posted by Alan at 9:37 AM on February 23, 2013

panavise logoPanavise has been around since 1956 and is known for circuit boards and electronics. a company representative stopped by during the Consumer Electronics Show to discuss its latest smartphone and camera mounts.

The company showed off its latest smartphone car mount with windshield mounting  and adjustable size to hold different models of phones. It also showed off a new suction cup mount for the GoPro camera that can be mounted almost anywhere. The device has been tested in extreme conditions to ensure it can continue to function. The device accepts many other brands of cameras thanks to its standard tri-pod mounting system.

The camera mount retails for $30 while the smartphone mount, known as the Porta Grip, sells for $20.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net and Daniel J Lewis of  Audacity to Podcast

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Kirk H & J shows off wireless mobile chargers

Posted by Alan at 10:38 AM on February 21, 2013

kirkhj chargerWireless charging has become a big deal lately. Being able to carry chargers around with us is a necessity in today’s battery hogging world of smartphones.

One company that is working on this task is Kirk H & J. A representative from the company stopped by TPN in Las Vegas to show off some products to Andy and Don. The chargers are super thing and come in different designs and colors. The devices do not use the expected induction, but instead rely on a proprietary method. The chargers are available for both iPhone and Samsung Galaxy devices.

To get a full explanation of how all of this works and even more details, including a prototype mobile version,  you can check out the video posted below.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and RV News Net and Don Baine, the Gadget Professor

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