Ostrichcopters, unflattering glamor shots, and more in this week’s Staff Picks

ostrichcopters unflattering glamor shots and more in this weeks staff picks 08 03 2013 header

jennifer-bergenJen Bergen: Cassettes aren’t dead yet

In a recent conversation with the DT editors, I argued that cassette tapes are not dead. After all, the popular yearly Record Store Day event has inspired the first ever Cassette Store Day. Though I won’t argue in defense of the cassette in terms of quality, tone, depth, and ability to be well preserved, I will argue that cassettes are still around, and people, often in the more indie/DIY scenes, are buying them up. Some contemporary bands, like Dirty Beaches, are even releasing their albums on cassette. But besides the cool retro-factor of it, there is one advantage of cassettes: demagnetizing.

In a 15-minute long documentary, a Stockholm-based guy named Micke, also known as “The Magnetist,” talks about his obsession with cassettes. “There’s something about the creation of a mix tape that you can’t compare to making a playlist on Spotify,” Micke says in the documentary. “Something gets lost … some kind of magic disappears.” Micke plays with the cassette’s sound by pulling out the magnetic tape, using a magnet to demagnetize certain parts, spooling it back with a pencil (you know, like you did in the old days when your tape got stuck in the player), and seeing how it transforms the sound. Check out the video below to hear the fascinating story of a guy who still uses a Walkman.

Adam RosenbergAdam Rosenberg: It’s alive! (again)

Common knowledge tells us that ostriches can’t fly. They can run really fast and they lay gargantuan eggs, but the miracle of flight forever eludes them. In life, at any rate. Dead ostriches can fly, and they do fly… but only after they’ve been stuffed by a taxidermist and converted into a remote control quadcopter. DUH.

natt garunNatt Garun: Corruption of the cowbell

Is there anything better than Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”? If Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel awkwardly dancing to it in public doesn’t do it for you, then try this rendition on Jimmy Fallon where members of The Roots and Mr. Thicke himself perform the song using classroom instruments. Inappropriate lyrics meet the innocence of child toys equals wildly hot but a little messed-up entertainment. My favorite is obviously the guy in the lower right corner shaking a banana. Subtle sexiness in its purest form! You guys, this is why I moved to America. Now if only there was more cowbell…

amir iliafarAmir Iliaifar: The camera doesn’t love you

Every week I scour the Internet hoping for something interesting to present for my staff pick, and every week I am amazed at how generous the Web is when it comes to random, stupid, yet oh-so-mesmerizing crap that for all intents and purposes cause me to question how the human race manages to still live on.

This week I present this awesome – a very loose definition of awesome, mind you – collection of 28 glamor shots (glamour if you’re fancy – or British) that prove not all people are destined for greatness in front of a lens. These shots will likely cause you to laugh, cry, but mostly just cringe.

I can’t attest to how real these are (a lot of them look like they have been given the old Photoshop treatment) but they’re still pretty amazing.

As a side note: My lawyer advises me to warn you that I absolve myself from any nightmares or mental scarring that may occur from viewing this list.

Check out the full list here as well as my top five picks below.

  1. 15 (I just really don’t want to know who or what prompted this one)
  2. 7 (Hipster glasses: check. Mutton chops: check. Serial killer smirk: check)
  3. 9 (These two are actually brother and sister. True story)
  4. 11 (Just. Wow. Why?)
  5. 18 (What Obi-Wan Kenobi was doing prior to meeting up with Luke Skywalker in Episode IV)

ryan-fleming-6-94x94Ryan Fleming: Spellcheck for your pen

I have a confession to make: I am not the best spellr – speller. It is a curse, but thanks to the miracle that is spellcheck, I manage to muddle through the best I can, constantly afraid of those dreaded red, squiggly lines. Now and again I even manage to catch spellcheck in an error, perhaps when I deliberately write a word that is not in English. Those are good days. I silently laugh, vindicated by the knowledge that even machines make mistakes. Of course, when I write by hand, things are a bit different – and infinitely sadder when I scan over my work and realize my litany of errors.

But no more!

No longer will I be a slave to proper spellin’ when I put pen to paper, thanks to the new Learnstift Smartpen, which checks your spelling as you write. The German startup up Lernstift (“Learn stift” is German for “learning pen”) features a AAA battery-powered Linux computer capable of analyzing your words as you write them down, and vibrating to signify that you messed up.

The pen recognizes the movement used to make letters, and through that can tell if you are correct. It also has an interesting secondary function. It connects to a tablet or smartphone via Wi-Fi, and can translate your handwriting into text via an app. Learnstift claims that it’s primarily meant to be a learning tool for children and people with certain educational issues like dyslexia, and to help students improve their penmanship.

The project is still very much a prototype, and is currently in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign. Learnstift is seeking £120,000 to make a production model. The campaign ends on August 9. Tak that, fancy book learnin’!

Smart Home

Drinkworks and Keurig have created a pod-based cocktail machine

HomeBar, a collaboration between Drinkworks and Keurig, creates cocktails the easy way. The machine creates mixed drinks of all kinds. All you have to do is insert in the pod for the drink you want.

From Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini, these are the most expensive cars in the world

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These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

How to change your Gmail password in just a few quick steps

Regularly updating your passwords is a good way to stay secure online, but each site and service has their own way of doing it. Here's a quick guide on how to change your Gmail password in a few short steps.

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

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Google honors Veterans Day by highlighting military service stories

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Edit, sign, append, and save with 12 of the best PDF editors

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Emerging Tech

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sale smashes online shopping records

The annual online shopping frenzy that is Singles' Day this year raked in $30.8 billion, up from $25 billion last time around. The Alibaba-organized event generates more in sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Apple to boost its Amazon presence with listings for iPhones, iPads, and more

Apple is about to start offering more of its kit on Amazon. The tech giant currently only has very limited listings on the shopping site, but the deal will see the arrival of the latest iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and more.

If you've lost a software key, these handy tools can find it for you

Missing product keys getting you down? We've chosen some of the best software license and product key finders in existence, so you can locate and document your precious keys on your Windows or MacOS machine.

Will Chrome remain our favorite web browser with the arrival of newest version?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.

Zoom in on famous works through the Art Institute of Chicago’s new website

Art lovers, listen up. The Art Institute of Chicago has given its website a serious makeover with new features that let you get up close and personal with more than 50,000 artworks by famous (and not so famous) artists.

Over a million veterans now eligible for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program

Comcast's low-cost Internet Essentials program, which provides internet access for just $10 per month, has expanded to include U.S. veterans. One million veterans now qualify for the service.