So we return again with a new dose of the weird and the whacky of the gadget world!
Otarky Chair: Ever come home tired, dying to relax only to realise the electricity had taken its hourly break? Who am I kidding; you are probably sitting in the dark right now! Surprisingly, design students in Israel felt our problems and came up with a solution. The Otarky chair is basically a rocking chair with a built-in electricity generator, and whenever someone sits on the chair and rocks back and forth, the internal magnets slide along a coil to produce electricity. Finally a gadget for Bangladesh!
Magic Clock: Remember Mrs. Weasley's magical clock that let her know where all the Weasleys were? Well, now you can have them at your living room! The Harry Potter world magic clock is built around a microcontroller and wifi-controller, letting you know where your friends and families are through a web server via an app. Each hand is for each person you are keeping tabs on and one minor glitch is that the android version sometimes needs manual cooperation from the people, but that is small compared to seeing the hands changing from 'school' to 'party' or 'prison'.
TshirtOS: T-shirts were people's status updates long before Facebook was invented and TshirtOS wants to take us there again with their pioneering programmable t-shirts. With a little chip that is embedded in the cotton shirts, you can change what your t-shirts say, from twitter updates, to nyan cat to Bieber videos anytime you wish. The prototypes should cost a bit more than your average t-shirt, but you also can't expect your average t-shirt to break into songs.
Super Angry Birds slingshot controller: In case you haven't had enough of the game, they have now made a slingshot controller. The hardware is programmed in Max/MSP and Arduino, with a "Music and Motors" microcontroller that gives you a more realistic experience of the Angry Birds world (well as realistic as it gets with a metal sling with no elastic connected to a USB port).
iShower: Yes, you read it right. For the times when you want jazz music or The Beatles to play while you stand under the drizzle, you can get iShower, the portable water-resistant music system for $100 and listen to anything your heart desires. Despite the name it is compatible with up to five devices at a time with Bluetooth connectivity and can provide music backup for 15 hours with its AA batteries, should you need that kind of time.
MANOWAR THE LORD OF STEEL
By Shaer Reaz
"In the nights; we take flights; witness the sites; the power and glory of steel.”
Manowar is one of the most influential heavy metal bands in the world, but whatever success they have achieved so far has been marred by a little too much experimentation in their albums. With The Lord of Steel, Manowar returned to what can be called the classic Manowar heavy metal formula: all out, aggressive, power metal style music with typical Manowar chanting backup vocals. It's good to be back.
The opening track, “Lord of Steel”, also the title track, sets up the whole album for the listener, for disappointment or not, you decide. Personally I loved the Judas Priest-esque song, Eric Adams on vocals and Donnie Hamzik on drums making the song surge forward at an incredible pace. There are also a few tasty solos by guitarists Karl Logan and Joey DeMaio.
The second song is a massive disappointment, sounding utterly generic,bland and very self-serving. “Manowarriors” may be a tribute to Manowar's quite established fan-base, but to be brutally honest it sucks. Period.
“Born in a Grave” has an extremely promising opening riff and is followed by an ominously hushed vocal. The song slowly builds to a crescendo, and then settles into a slightly generic beat as Eric does his howling thing. There are a couple of decent guitar solos thrown in for good measure. Overall, the song is quite a bit better than the mess that was the previous track.
“Righteous Glory” is one of those songs that you can't help but repeat over and over in your head or on your playlist. It carries a lot of the epic-feel of Manowar's previous album. The Manowar magic is clearly evident throughout this song: add a little melody to a hard edged song and you have the perfect power ballad. This is clearly one of the best songs in the album.
The next song, “Touch the Sky”, besides a catchy chorus, is mostly forgettable. That doesn't mean it's a bad song, in fact, the riffs and slightly restrained drumming makes it a technically sound track.
“Black List” is another brilliant song that has an overload of the “fuzzy bass” sound that can be found elsewhere on this album. The drums, the punchy guitar riffs and the fuzzy bass coupled with a barking Eric Adams, all come together to make a dark, heavy sound. One can almost imagine the band walking away from a blown up house, all black leather clad and shades on their eyes. It's that badass.
“Expendable” has that proper heavy metal feel, with its aggressive shredding guitars and thumping drums. Eric finally lets his vocal range loose on this one, and it sounds amazing.
“El Gringo” is a bit confusing song, because it doesn't feel very Manowar-ish. Great guitar solos towards the end though.
“Annihilation” starts off a bit slow with simple riffs backing up the vocal, but then builds to a powerful chorus that remains quite memorable.
A possible fan favourite from the album would be “Hail Kill and Die”, the last track. Similar to other Manowar classics like Brothers of Metal, the lyrics, the main vocal, the backup vocals and the music itself shouts out the glory of metal, death and destruction.
It's pretty hard to imagine Manowar going down anytime soon. If this album is any indication, they are ever improving, and as long as there are metal fans, heavy metal will survive and thrive.
Album rating (overall): 8.5/10
MUST WATCH TV
By Shaer Reaz
There's a 3 minute 42 second clip from HBO's new drama series The Newsroom that is floating around YouTube and Facebook, with many applauding it as the most honest scene in television today. The video itself has 3,415,347 views (last checked) and it's about a news anchor who boldly declares America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.
The sophomore Journalism Studies student from Northwestern University, who posed the question to ACN news anchor Will McAvoy, is not the only one whose jaws are hitting the floor at the end of the clip.
Right off the bat, viewers click with Will's character. Even though he is sarcastically funny, rightfully stubborn, upright about his morals, and damn-what-the-world-thinks kind of guy, the main reason they like him is because of his frustrations with the political and social mindset in his country. Most of us can't identify with the tug of war between the US Republicans and the Democrats, but we sure know a thing or two about being fed up concerning the lack of good governance and the lack of transparency in politics.
Will McAvoy used to be a viewer driven news anchor. If the audience wanted to hear about Nicki Minaj's latest crap music video in a news channel, Will would be willing. After his meltdown at Northwestern, however, his boss at ACN, Charlie Skinner, finds an opportunity to change the face of ACN's primetime news show. He brings in the best producer in the business, Mackenzie MacHale, also Will's ex, to turn the ship around and start reporting aggressively neutral news about things that matter instead of trivial things like the iPhone 5.
As he says it, Will is on a mission to “civilise”, starting with everything from US Congress elects to tabloid journalists trying to get the latest scoop of gossip from The Real Housewives of New Jersey. He dissects modern American culture, specially the corporate backing of mass media and the ties between massive corporations and politics, claiming to be an anchor that brings real news to real Americans. This doesn't sit well with people who aren't “real Americans”, and he starts to face opposition from within his own news network, the tabloid newspapers, celebrities, politicians, and his old friends.
Tie all this drama in with office romances, extremely witty and intelligent humour, more office politics than you can shake a stick at, and a sort of “behind the scenes re-creation” of major news-worthy events from the last year (the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Osama bin Laden being killed, etc. etc.) and you have a killer show that will soon become a cult hit.
Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer share an onscreen chemistry that is unbelievable, making their characters' (Will and Mackenzie) past differences and present ordeals much more believable than just reading lines.
One complaint with Aaron Sorkin's show is the apparent lack of character development. Oft times it seems the show is all about Will McAvoy instead of a team of people in a news network, with several supporting characters having no back story or development at all. It's only season one, so there are lots of time left to right that little thing.
As brilliant as the show is, it paints too pretty a picture. It's mostly wishful thinking on what the world of journalism should be like. It's not nearly as glamorous - the feeling of camaraderie and team spirit barely there - and the news being reported not exactly without certain addendums. But as Will said so eloquently at the end of his Northwestern outburst, “The first step to fixing something is admitting something is wrong.”
By Shaer Reaz
Ali G and Borat are dead. So is Bruno. Please welcome, ladies and gentlemen, Admiral General Aladeen Hafeeze.
Sacha Baron Cohen has traded in his blonde wig and tights that he wore in Bruno for a massive beard and an army uniform. He is now the dictator and “supreme oppressor” of the fictitious North African country of Wadiya, the people of which “love to be oppressed” and openly welcome his tyranny.
Because Israel and the evil Western powers of the United States are Wadiya's number one enemy, Admiral General Aladeen needs nuclear weapons (also because all his friends, like Kim Jong Il, for whom the movie is dedicated, and President Ahmadinejad have nuclear weapons, too). Because Aladeen can obliterate the West with his pointy-tipped nuclear missiles (because missiles cannot be dome tipped, ever, because Aladeen said so), the US decides to bring in military force unless the dictator addresses the UN General Assembly. He packs his all-female bodyguard squad, his adviser and his uncle Tamir (played by the ever talented Ben Kingsley), his book of medium Sudoku, and heads off to the land of the free. The uncle was deprived of his rightful inheritance of the dictatorship of Wadiya when Aladeen's dad decided to pass it on to his seven year old son instead, so you can guess the direction of the rest of the movie.
The love interest (besides Megan Fox, Lindsay Lohan, Halle Berry, Oprah Winfrey, and many more) is played by Anna Faris (who seems to be the number one choice of actress in disgustingly hilarious movies), an American feminist and human rights activist. This is a love story for the ages.
It's not all disgusting and funny and stomach pain inducing though. Through the movie we see into Aladeen's fractured soul. We see what could've possibly gone wrong to turn this sweet innocent child into a poisonous snake of a human being who executes people because they dare to find the toy in his breakfast cereal box before he could. And we see all that is wrong with the Western world and how everything is peaceful and righteous in a third world dictatorship.
If you want to find serious undertones in this movie, there is none, so don't bother. Unlike Borat and Bruno and Ali G, all of which tried to send a message to its viewers about the utterly ridiculous societies they lived in, The Dictator goes all out on the lavishly nuts lifestyle that men like Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein lived. There's no message to send here. We are not meant to feel pity for men like these, so go ahead and have a good time laughing your head off at the movie.
Oh, and you WILL be offended and grossed out. So if you are easily offended or you are a 12 year old, DO NOT watch this movie. If you aren't, make sure you bring loads of friends to watch it with you.