DuoLingo promotes free language training with new Youtube video

duolingo online free language education somegadgetguy promo videoOpen sourcing education with services like the Khan Academy might just be our future, providing free access to high quality materials, easily accessible via any data connection (more pressure to keep the web Net Neutral, but I digress).

Now online language educators DuoLingo are looking to increase their visibility by releasing this online promo. DuoLingo offers completely free courses for folks looking to learn Spanish, German, Italian, French, and Portuguese. Having just signed up myself, it looks like a well structured way to learn another language, and the price is certianly right.

You can find more info at DuoLingo.com.

Valve announces SteamOS – Linux-based, gaming-focused operating system for our living room

steamos gaming screenshotYup we know XBox, Playstation, and Nintendo. Between those three, you’d think the console market is all locked up. Steam hopes that assumption is wrong, and they’ll be launching a new Linux based operating system built entirely around the Steam gaming service.

SteamOS aims to pair a Linux kernel around a “Big Screen” gaming experience, and it’ll be launched soon as a stand alone piece of software for living room computing hardware. The idea isn’t without merit. Traditional computers running Windows for example need to use some of their hardware power to run the OS. Now that overhead is gone as all the computer will have to do is keep Steam running. With optimization, We could see performance gains in similar hardware simply by removing the traditional OS relationship.

SteamOS also looks to be focused on in home streaming. While hundreds of game titles will be available at launch, it’ll take a while before the entire Steam library will be ported over. Playing local music and video files over your home network is a given, but SteamOS will also allow you to play games on your PC over a local network connection on your TV. We’re also seeing user profiles, keeping adult game libraries separate from kids collections for example, and the recently announced Friends and Family game sharing will come built in.

Steam is a remarkably popular service. Currently 50 million people currently have accounts in over 180 countries. Leveraging just a small percentage of this user base could make SteamOS a serious player in the console market.

No word yet on supported SteamOS hardware, but manufacturers of shiny plastic discs probably aren’t looking forward to this console launch…

More details at SteamOS

Linkin Park’s Joe Hahn takes us for a tour of Microsoft’s Surface Remix Project

joe hahn linkin park microsoft surface pro 2 touch cover remix project xbox musicShown off during the MS keynote unveiling Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 was a new touch cover for the little slates. Instead of sporting a keyboard, it offers a series of custom built controls for remixing music through XBox Music. Hopefully this will be the beginning of custom built hardware for a variety of different creative solutions.

Joe Hahn from Linkin Park takes us for a quick spin around the Surface Remix Project.

Juan’s Fall Kingston Techonology Giveaway! USB Flash Drives, SD Cards, and a 240GB HyperX Solid State Drive!

kingston technology giveaway contest usb flash ssd solidstatedrive 240gb hyperx somegadgetguyKingston Technology is hooking us up with an incredible prize pack to give away for Fall!

SD cards, USB flash drives, MobileLite wireless card readers, and a big daddy 240GB HyperX solid state drive! Some amazing gear to up your flash storage game!

I know you folks want to be on board, so here are the details:

I can’t thank Kingston tech enough for supporting SomeGadgetGuy with this amazing prize pack. For more info on Kingston products, please check out:  http://www.kingston.com/

Good luck!

Full rules and regulations after the jump.

Continue reading “Juan’s Fall Kingston Techonology Giveaway! USB Flash Drives, SD Cards, and a 240GB HyperX Solid State Drive!”

Breaking: BlackBerry to be acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion – UPDATED!

Not a lot of news on this one yet, and I’m building it off of a tweet here, so I’ll update when we have more info.

Looks like BB is going to be acquired:

Pretty much all we know right now.

blackberry os 10 handsets z10 q10 smartphones***UPDATE!***

It’s official. Blackberry is going private.

Prem Watsa, Chairman and CEO of Fairfax, said:

“We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for BlackBerry, its customers, carriers and employees. We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to BlackBerry customers around the world.”

Fairfax Financials has 6 weeks to conduct due diligence. Stock holders would receive $9 per share in cash (stock currently trading at 8 points).

Official Blackberry press release after the jump.

Continue reading “Breaking: BlackBerry to be acquired by Fairfax Financial Holdings for $4.7 billion – UPDATED!”

Microsoft unveils Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 in NYC

LB_8705Before I even get into this announcement, can I just say it’s starting to become a real bummer when companies release these new products at swanky events but don’t do a live stream. I digress.

At a swanky un-watchable event in NYC this morning the Redmond Surface team officially took the wraps off of the new Surface Pro 2. A substantial update to the progressive little Windows 8 tablet released in February of this year. This was a necessary release time table for Microsoft as the OG Surface came out right before a new generation of lower power processors from Intel.

LB_8749The design and dimensions remain largely unchanged from the original. There weren’t many criticisms about the form factor or build quality. One of the few exterior updates is a change to the angle of the kickstand allowing for improved lap usability.

Continue reading “Microsoft unveils Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 in NYC”

Review: Focal Camera App (Beta) for Android

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (4)I wont get into all the drama surrounding this app. For those curious, there’s a third party ROM team called CyanogeMod which just went corporate and is looking to improve how people might load the CyanogenMod custom ROM onto various smartphones. For a brief time, the Focal camera app BETA was baked into CyanogenMod, but was removed for stability reasons and issues with licensing. Focal Developer Guillaume Lesniak shared his perspective on his G+ page.

Anywho, now Focal is its own standalone app on Google Play, and while we’re definitely talking BETA here, it’s got serious potential to offer a unified high quality camera experience to all users regardless of what phone they might be using.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (1)Focal borrows some of the aesthetic of the stock Android Nexus app. Your shutter control floats on top of the viewfinder, and menus are hidden by swiping gestures. A slide up from the left side of the screen (in portrait) brings up a scrolling menu where you can find a huge number of photographic controls. Sliding across the shutter button allows you to change between photos, videos, panorama, photoshere, and switching between the front and rear cameras.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (3)The number of options at your command is pretty formidable. The basics are up front, toggling the flash, adjusting white balance, “Scene Mode” options (auto by default), and activating HDR options. Exposure controls and metering options help dial in brighter or darker pics, and in camera filters allow you to see what your shots will look like in black and white, sepia, and negative color space. Lastly color saturation and JPEG quality settings can help your shots retain more detail or achieve smaller file sizes.

What’s ingenious is how well laid out these options are. They aren’t anything you wont find on another manufacturer camera app, like on the HTC One or GS4 for example. They are laid out in a very straightforward way here however. Tapping on one category provides the user a pop up with icons and text to explain what options they have for controls. That pop up remains until the user taps on the category again to collapse the options. Every control is found in this interface. Not like on other apps where some options are found on screen and some are buried under a separate menu. It really is the most intuitive layout I’ve seen on a camera app featuring this much control.

focal beta camera app screenshot android cyanogenmod somegadgetguy (5)The interface is smooth, but performance is very shaky on several phones. Taking a pic froze my HTC One. The GS4 was able to utilize most features, but rendering a PhotoSphere locked it up. The LG Optimus G Pro was the most stable, but would default to the lowest resolution output for pics.

As for output, it’s hard to see much difference between the various phone apps and Focal. Using Focal’s quality settings, you can dial up jpegs almost twice as large as what you would normally see out of a phone app. The biggest I saw was a 5MB image off the LG. Usually your phone’s camera app will pump out around a 2MB pic.

So the verdict? Not read for your main driver. It is called a BETA, and that label is accurate. What we see is some pretty terrific potential though. For the number of phones I get to play with, there’s something nice about some consistency. For my personal phones now I tend to fall back on the same apps and launchers so I know where everything is by muscle memory regardless of what phone or tablet I use.

Adding a consistent camera experience would be a nice addition to the list.

Focal BETA on Google Play

Interview: Talking External Hard Drives with ioSafe CEO Rob Moore – Waterproof & Fireproof Drives

iosafe_solopro_2tb_with_3year_drsdata_recovery_serviceThe phrase “data security” can mean a couple different things. Is your data safe from hackers? Is your data backed up? Would your data survive a flood or a fire?

Rob Moore, the CEO of ioSafe, joins me to chat about some of their solutions which should help answer ALL THREE of those questions about your data and how secure it might be!

Shop ioSafe on Amazon.
More info on ioSafe.