Posts Tagged ‘books’

Architectural Columns at the Palais de Tokyo


Through a kind of architectural anthropomorphism, Henrique Oliveira reveals the building’s structure. At Palais de Tokyo, he plays on the space’s existing and structuring features, prolonging and multiplying pillars in order to endow them with a vegetable and organic dimension, as though the building were coming alive. The artistdraws inspiration from medical textbooks, amongst others, and particularly from studies of physical pathologies such as tumors. Through a formal analogy, these outgrowths evoke the outermost layers of the bark of a common tree.

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Is 2014 the year that 4K goes mainstream?

We’ve been lucky enough to have a resident 4K monitor here at bit-tech for a while and I’ve written about the so-called Ultra HD experience elsewhere too. It is, for the most part, mightily impressive and not just in games either.

Anything that benefits from a higher pixel density is markedly improved, from viewing images and movies, to simple content creation. The sharpness on offer compared to current 30in 2,560 x 1,600 displays that boast some of the highest pixel densities is palpable, even staring at the desktop.

Of course most operating systems are still yet to catchup with the high-resolution revolution but especially for desktop computers the benefits still outweigh the downsides.

However, resolutions have otherwise stagnated, especially in the more mainstream 20in-24in market. 2,560 x 1,600 is still one of the highest resolutions you can buy on a standard monitor aside from the small selection of 4K displays available. 1,920 x 1,200 and 1,920 x 1,080 have been the customary resolutions for most of us and for some considerable time too.

With larger monitors, higher resolutions are the logical step forward – especially so with PC’s as opposed to TV screens as you sit much closer. However, having seen numerous laptops and MacBooks with pixel per inch counts approaching 300ppi (a 2,560 x 1,600 30in display only has 140ppi) I was staggered by how good they look too. The additional pixels on offer compared to your average 1080p 13.3in laptop screen were instantly noticeable in a similar way to the larger 4K desktop screen, despite the laptop screens themselves being so small.

Is 2014 the year that 4K goes mainstream? Is it just me that pines for higher resolutions on standard displays?
Thankfully, we are seeing plenty of truth to rumours we heard at the end of last year that 4K screens would see a hefty price drop in 2014 and perhaps even more interestingly that 24in screens for the first time in nearly a decade were getting a significant pixel count increase. Dell’s UP2414Q is one of the first 24in 4K displays and offers a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution IPS panel.

Best of all, it costs less than £900 and is readily available, which for a decidedly premium first-out-of-the-traps product is actually very interesting given it’s only four times as much as Dell’s U2412M, which sports a 1,920 x 1,200 IPS display. For me 27in is the limit I find comfortable for every day viewing, but if you’re prepared to let that slip a little to 28in then as we reported in January, Lenovo has an even better value offering in the form of its ThinkVision Pro2840m – a 28in 4K monitor for a price of just $799 – no UK price yet but it looks sure to be even cheaper than the £860 Dell UP2414Q.

Is 2014 the year that 4K goes mainstream? Is it just me that pines for higher resolutions on standard displays?
It still seems strange that sub 27in PC monitors have been languishing in the 1080p area for so long, especially as many laptops have been getting significant boosts for over a year. It’s one area, that could be a real selling point too when monitors only have refresh rates and panel technology to otherwise shout about. I’d also say it’s worth boosting the resolution on smaller displays too – maybe not to 4K but somewhere in between. It’s possibly unlikely due to the way panels are mass manufactured but I for one would snap up a 24in monitor with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600.

In any event, even if the industry settles on strict 4K resolution boundaries, I for one will jump on one once they’re a bit cheaper and I’m guessing that the thought of 4K gaming, movie and photo viewing on something like a £500-600 24in monitor is pretty appealing to other people too. Maybe some time later this year or in 2015, 4K might break into mainstream PC gaming. Then we’ll all need more powerful graphics cards to cope with all the extra pixels of course. And so the upgrade cycle continues…

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Texas man and his dogs go after Ellen’s selfie retweet record

Terry Shipman selfie

Terry Shipman’s dogs are viral Twitter stars.

Terry Shipman)

Ellen DeGeneres had the power of the Oscars and a score of celebrities rocketing her now-famous Academy Awards selfie into the record books with more than 3 million retweets. Texas engineer Terry Shipman is hoping the power of his two scruffy little dogs can help him catch up.

In what appears to have been a throwaway joke, Shipman shared a selfie of himself on the couch with his two pups out to his handful of followers along with the message, “Let’s see if we can beat the Oscar re-tweets!” Somehow, the word got out and, almost a day later, Shipman’s followers had ballooned to more than 2,800 and the tweet got retweeted over 75,000 times.

Those 75,000 retweets are a drop in a very big bucket compared with DeGeneres’ millions, but it’s still an impressive amount, and the retweeting isn’t over yet.

Shipman’s secret weapons in the retweet war are definitely the dogs seen chilling out around his head. The poodle is Oreo, and the Yorkie is Max. Everyone knows the Internet loves cute furry things, though Bradley Cooper’s beard in the Oscars selfie is certainly a strong contender.

Ellen Oscars selfie

This is the selfie Shipman is chasing.

Bradley Cooper)

(Via Yahoo)

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Gotham-inspired garb puts Catwoman on the catwalk

The famous Catwoman-inspired catsuit was the main attraction of The Blonds show at New York Fashion Week.

The famous Catwoman-inspired catsuit was the main attraction of The Blonds’ show at New York Fashion Week.

The Blonds)

New York-based fashion duo The Blonds — David Blond and Phillipe Blond — strutted their fall and winter 2014 collection at New York Fashion Week with Selina Kyle-meets-Bettie Page punk-glam outfits that would make even Catwoman purr.

Inspired by costumes donned by Catwoman in comics, movies, and the iconic TV show “Batman,” The Blonds’ upcoming line of dresses, coats, and leggings looks like it would befit a life of crime and passion in Gotham City.

“This is a collection we wanted to do for some time now,” designer David Blond told Billboard. “Selina Kyle (Catwoman) is a strong powerful woman who was both sexy and smart.”

The Blonds are famous for outfitting some of the most fashion-fearless performers in the music industry, from Lady Gaga to Miley Cyrus. The black slinky dresses complete with cathead shoulder pads were the highlight of The Blonds’ fashion show at Milk Studios. Even the whip-adorned strapless dress and Gotham-print leggings and jackets look like they clawed their way straight out of a Catwoman comic book.

This geektastic Gotham outfit by The Blonds is perfect for a big, bad night out in the city.

This geektastic Gotham outfit by The Blonds is perfect for a big, bad night out in the city.

The Blonds)

Other “Batman” villains were also represented on the catwalk. A white gown with a giant bedazzled grin represented The Joker. A metallic purple and green corset gave glimpses of Poison Ivy. Purple jumpsuit with a green furry jacket would make even the Riddler second-guess his own costume designer.

This isn’t the first time fashion designers have found inspiration from comic books and sci-fi movies. The latest runway shows from Rodarte and Preen channeled the Force with gowns featuring images of Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and other characters from “Star Wars.” If this year’s New York and London Fashion Week are any indication, comic book couture is finally chic.

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What makes ‘Caper’ fly? Secrets from the superhero show’s creator

February 26th, 2014 No comments

Beth Riesgraf

Actress Beth Riesgraf plays Amazonian assassin Alexia in the superhero action-comedy series “Caper.”

Amy Berg)

There’s more to being a great superhero than a crazy costume and an impressive lair. The hero needs to fight not just bad guys, but internal battles. But telling a superhero story without a big special-effects budget in less than 10 minutes per episode? That can prove a bigger struggle than grappling between good and evil.

Veteran TV writer and producer Amy Berg co-created the superhero comedy “Caper” as an online series on the Geek Sundry Channel — on both YouTube and Hulu — to show that not only can superheroes be shown as more than just comic book stereotypes, but the show itself could break the rules set by big networks.

“Caper” tells the story of four disenchanted superheroes who must turn to a life of crime just to pay the bills. It’s a show about heists and hijinks with superheroes who don’t have the luxury of a Justice League expense account.

“For me, it’s all about character,” Berg told Crave. “I’m not interested in spectacle. I need something more than visuals to grab onto, which is why I adored ‘Iron Man 3.’ That movie made me realize that I love alter egos more than I love superheroes. They’re the ones keeping secrets and carrying burdens. And that’s where juicy character goodness comes from. There’s something about the duality of these people that fascinates me. It’s the same reason I gravitate to shows and movies about con men.”

Berg and co-writer Mike Sizemore met up last year and started talking about strengths and weaknesses of superhero movies. They came up with a comedy that mocks such popular superhero myths as Superman’s alien heritage, Thor’s king-size ego, and villains gone good. The show also addresses real-life problems many of us face, like making ends meet and getting over power-hungry exes.

“Genre-wise, crime and science fiction are my bread and butter and it’s the same with Mike,” Berg said. “When he and I started tossing ideas around, he brought up the title for a show called ‘Caper.’ All he had was the name. Superheroes who commit crimes is a cool concept, but it doesn’t grab me. But that’s where my love of alter egos comes into play. Desperate people committing crimes because they have no other choice is relatable. And if they just happen to save the world as their day job, that’s really cool.”

Actors Beth Riesgraf (Leverage), Harry Shum Jr. (Glee), Abby Miller (Justified), and Hartley Sawyer (The Young and The Restless) star in Caper on Geek and Sundry.

Actors, from left, Beth Riesgraf (“Leverage”), Harry Shum Jr. (“Glee”), Abby Miller (“Justified”), and Hartley Sawyer (“The Young and The Restless”) star in “Caper” on Geek Sundry.


The first episode of “Caper” debuted on February 12, and three episodes out of nine have run so far, with new ones debuting on Wednesdays. Creating an original show that can compete with big-budget programming isn’t easy, but the benefits soon outweighed any obstacles Berg and her team faced.

“I got stuck in television development hell for a while, so it was nice to actually make something again,” Berg said. “To do it without a dozen other cooks in the kitchen telling you what to do was beyond refreshing. Lack of funds is an issue, obviously. But the biggest hurdle isn’t the budget. It’s the limited time you have to tell a story. It’s difficult to create compelling characters, relationships, and story arcs when you only have a half-season of 8-10 minute episodes. You have to use every trick in the toolbox to pull it off.”

One trick that has served “Caper” well is replacing the need for expensive special effects with cheaper motion comic imagery during superhero fight scenes. “Superheroes were created for comic books, and embracing that also helped us cut corners,” Berg said. “From the beginning, I wanted to include animation as a way of bringing that side of things to life. You can’t do superheroes on a budget unless you’re going for camp or crap, and I wasn’t interested in doing either of those things.”

Berg didn’t divulge a number for the show’s budget, but called it “miniscule,” and “after acquiring production insurance and paying location fees, most of it was already eaten away,” she added. “Fortunately, I’ve been working in the industry long enough to acquire a lot of friends who are very good at their jobs, both in front of and behind the camera.”

Airing “Caper” on actress and new-media mogul Felicia Day’s Geek Sundry YouTube channel was the next step in distributing the online series.

“When Felicia expressed interest, it was the perfect marriage,” Berg said. “She had a successful distribution model already in place and, as a showrunner, I know the ins and outs of putting a series together. All the pieces fell into place perfectly. Geek Sundry gave us a budget and I produced the show through my company alongside one of my best friends, Pete Dress. Hulu came to the table after the fact. Geek Sundry’s excitement about the cuts they were seeing must’ve rubbed off on them because they wanted ‘Caper’ on their platform too.”

Leverage actors Aldis Hodge and Beth Riesgraf reunite with show co-creator Amy Berg for the premiere episode of Caper.

“Leverage” actors Aldis Hodge and Beth Riesgraf reunite with show co-creator Amy Berg for the premiere episode of “Caper.”

Amy Berg)

Like other digital programming such as Netflix’s hit shows “House of Cards” and “Hemlock Grove,” Berg’s “Caper” bypassed traditional network and cable TV models and went straight to online venues. Berg hopes to send a strong message that digital programming is quickly becoming the new entertainment model.

“The success and quality of shows on digital platforms like Netflix has been a real eye-opener for the industry,” Berg told Crave. “The traditional studio-network model isn’t obsolete, but it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant. There are a lot of avenues out there now for people who want to make things; all you really need is to catch the attention of those who can afford to make it happen. And the talent to back it up, of course.”

“Caper” isn’t a typical project for Berg, who has written and produced for such hit shows as “4440,” “Eureka,” and “Leverage,” among others. “It’s the definition of a passion project, and the best excuse ever to bring my favorite people together so I can hang out with them all at once,” Berg said. “We pooled our talents and created something from scratch with sheer grit and determination. As a bonus, the show turned out really great. It’s something that we’re all proud of.”

Haven’t watched “Caper”? Be sure to read Crave contributor Kelsey Adams’ take on why you should. You can catch up on “Caper” on the Geek Sundry channels on both YouTube and Hulu.

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Flaunt Magazine: If You Think This Universe Is Bad, You Should See Some Of The Others

February 25th, 2014 No comments


“This is where my place is on the world.”

And he can’t get inside of it. Jared Leto is juggling the contents of his pockets along with a conversation about the universe, lingering in a London hotel hallway, denied entry to his place in the world—albeit a temporary one, for a handful of evenings, until an airplane pulls him back up off the grid and the phone in his pocket is as hidden from the satellites as much as the lint.

“Fuck. Do you have the key?”


Leto has endured multiple 15-hour days, ambling the gloom of British pavements, temporarily red-carpeted for the premiere of Dallas Buyers Club (a film for which he has rightfully been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and likely will have won it by the time you read this). His ability to not blink when a flashbulb shrinks his retinas to pinpoints, is not entirely an instinct, but likely mastered on stages throughout the globe, fronting his wildly popular rock outfit Thirty Seconds to Mars. Here is a man drenched more often than not in luminous floodlight. The lower-lumen sidewalk bulbs for film events are dim to him. One can imagine more evolved future ancestors of Leto’s marveling at how this creature managed to never blink in the face of a bright bulb, or the sun. Or, a challenge, for that matter.

Put another way: the muscles in his eyelids are barely used. Leto always appears aware. His eyes like cavernous wells of clear cerulean through which he can perceive his path; pre-destined and carved onto the parchment of an ancient scroll, the ink dripping down the quill barrel of a coal-black raven’s wing, staining the page like the tattoos that crawl up both Leto’s arms, ending at his neck. He has a map only he can see.

Certainly, this is a bit much. But we stand in the company of an individual entirely inhabiting his moment, and all evidence points to his luxuriating in it. This is a thankful and aware kind of pleasure, though, as a note of gratitude colors his every comment. It is interesting to listen to the soft-spoken Leto casually discuss being awarded over 30 prizes (so far) for his role as Rayon, the transgender AIDS patient who forms a business relationship (and unlikely friendship) with the homophobic and rodeo-rough Ron Woodroof (played by the also-nominated Matthew McConaughey). Leto did not cower recently, in Santa Barbara, when a film-festival attendee spoke out of turn, loudly from the throng, accusing him of  “trans-misogyny.” (Leto responded with his own question: “Because I am a man, I don’t deserve to play that part? So you would hold a role against someone who happened to be gay or lesbian—they can’t play a straight part?”) Again, Leto does not blink, inviting the heckler backstage to continue their conversation in private.

So, among the things that have converged upon this place in the world—where Leto now stands, on the wrong side of a locked door in London—also include his recent music video for “Up in the Air” surpassing 17 million views (and counting), his entirely self-made documentary about battling the music industry (Artifact) climbing into the top ten most-watched documentary list on iTunes, and learning there are as many as 30 accolades to collect for a single supporting role, with more to come.

Something is clearly happening. Getting inside of this room is not it.


“The way that we think about our position in the world, in relationship to the planet, has changed because of the way we travel from place to place,” Leto says, plunging his thin hands into the pockets of his fur-lined, hooded parka. “We now look down on the planet rather than looking across. I met with the creator of Google Earth and he asked me, ‘What have you learned from using Google Earth?’ And, you know, I gave him some bullshit answer. But, actually, the thing that I learned is that we all see the planet differently now. We look down on ourselves. We used to look across the horizon. Now, we look down. We all have a map in our mind of where we may be and the ability to access that.”

And everyone else knows where he is, precisely, thanks to the phone in his hand. Jared Leto, like the rest of us, is but a pixel on a circuit board created by wealthy pale people in Silicon Valley.

“Exactly!” he exclaims, wide eyes widening more. “Your perspective changes because of location-based applications. Your perspective has now become, ‘This is where my place is on the world.’ Which is interesting. It’s from the top looking down. Which is kind of strange and interesting, that our perspective is from above. From space.”


These are odd thoughts coming from a star. A star is a dying thing. When someone is deemed a rising star, they are in fact dying at a faster rate than the ones merely flickering shyly in the deepest black. Where does that leave Leto?

He appears to be both rising and hovering, a kind of firefly that won’t be shooed. His mettle proven by just about every film he makes, primarily because of the great sacrifice—the risk—involved in every cherry-picked role. He knows when a film works or does not. Dallas Buyers Club works. The magical things aligned, fell into place, created a celestial pattern—if you will follow this thought through with us—a solar system, organized, with orbits, nothing colliding but a great story and its two lead actors at the peak of their all-or-nothing, take-me-as-I-am-or-not-at-all mid-career leaps into the wincing face of expectation. Leto once gained over 60 pounds and made a film we all forgot to go see (Chapter 27). He, as much as anyone else, is fine with that aspect of chance too: a risk without dividend.

“I’ve made a lot of films that have fallen short,” he admits. “Films where we had the right intentions. Independent art house films that we all had high hopes for, but fell short. Gaining sixty-seven pounds for Chapter 27. Yeah, I think I’m willing to risk everything. I don’t say that with any conceits. I say that as a fact. I don’t see there being reward in another way. At least any worthy one. So when they connect with people and the films resonate, or the performance resonates—it’s a really wonderful thing to celebrate that.”


You can see the risk in Artifact. In it, Leto betrays a particular brand of frustration that never crosses over into tantrum. He absorbs information, lays it all out, and determines exactly how he can manage to continue pursuing the things he desires most in his heart. He expects nothing, but appears willing to lose everything. Artifact is a film he edited himself, so without seeing what bits were cut to create this impression, a leap of faith might be necessary. But it’s a simple story that anyone could learn from, and aptly named, because it will likely be studied in the future by anyone left in the music business who cares to know what went wrong in this overlap between the old way and the new.

The film tells the story of how Thirty Seconds to Mars went to battle with EMI over an unfair contract and how the “tiny” band beat the giant corporation. (Sort of. They end up re-signing a contract with the very beast they sought to topple, albeit on somewhat better terms.) The film has the potential for catharsis, but falls short. The beast has been merely wounded. It can still crawl. And, it is still hungry. Which is why it’s worrisome that Leto has chosen the likes of Daniel Ek (aka, the Thom Yorke-battered CEO of the streaming music service Spotify) to appear in his film to discuss possibilities of future fairness.

“Daniel Ek’s participation is really to talk about some of the possibilities in the future and some of the opportunities that are out there,” he says. “I think it’s all one great debate to have. Everyone has a voice. And artists should have more of an opinion and a voice and participate in the digital architecture of tomorrow. So I think it’s great that Thom [Yorke] is speaking up and speaking his mind. I’m all for that debate. I think the biggest issue is probably that Spotify is paying labels and then the labels are not paying artists. It’s back to that same old issue of corruption. Treating artists unfairly. The funny thing is, there’s enough to go around. They could make fair, transparent deals. They could treat artists like partners. And they’d still make plenty of money. But, for some reason, they don’t. Maybe they will. Not everyone is bad.”


David Bowie has been able to do both, with varying levels of success. Prince can only play himself. Bruce Willis is a terrible harmonica player and Mick Jagger was only good in the 1970 film Performance (as himself). In this regard, you might have to look no further than Dallas Buyers Club to debunk the actor-musician curse. If not for Leto, then for his lover Sunny, portrayed by Deerhunter and Atlas Sound frontman Bradford Cox. The leap from rock stardom to screen stardom would appear, on the surface, to be effortless. They both demand a kind of theatricality, with each profession building up songs and stories as real places to inhabit. (Watch that Thirty Seconds to Mars video for “Up in the Air,” where the crossover is blissfully explicit.) Of course, there is also rock’s long legacy of androgyny for Leto to lean on too.

In the case of Rayon—as played by Leto—she memorably chides Woodroof for not recognizing a photograph of Marc Bolan of T. Rex. If you imagine that Leto might be reluctant to explore this particular area where the seams of his self-tailored suit (of music and film) are most tightly hemmed, you’ve forgotten (again) that Leto does not blink. He addresses the idea head on.

“The Marc Bolan element and the glam rock element of the film was the director’s contribution. I actually opposed that,” Leto says, matter-of-factly, absent any malice or ill will. “There was more of that in the film originally. And I think that for the director [Jean-Marc Vallée], that was his throughway. That was his kind of guidepost into the world that Rayon lives. It was a way for him to understand her. I think it probably made a really interesting aspect of the film, to have that connection and to have Rayon have one of his heroes be Marc Bolan. That’s great. Marc Bolan was an awesome person. But, for me, I made it very clear early on that I saw Rayon as a man who wanted to live his life as a woman, not someone who enjoyed putting on women’s clothing. If they wanted that kind of performance—or anything glam, or anything drag queen-y—I wasn’t the person for the part.”

When Leto speaks of Rayon, you hear the sound of someone recalling time spent with a loved one. Rayon is a person. She is a friend. Herein is what might make him the actor that he is. That Leto can long for a person who exists but cannot be pinpointed, never tied to a coordinate, but living on inside of him, as strong as the memory of a mate whose address has long ago been misplaced, back when people saved envelopes and tucked them in between the pages of overstuffed address books. What an old, cluttered, faraway analog world that seems to us now. A wonderful place, in other words.

“She’s an incredible, empathetic, beautiful dreamer,” Leto says of Rayon. “A heart the size of an ocean. She’s an absolutely one-of-a-kind creature. So, a lot of love and support for her as well. I feel like she became a person, a real person. Especially because I was so deep inside of her. I really feel like I got to know this person. It became like a living, breathing life. It was a once-in-a-lifetime role.”


Door unlocked, Jared Leto is reclining inside his hotel room above the streets of London. It is dark. He has fielded questions from strangers and answered each one, from the banal to the belligerent, with nary a blink. Eyes wide, errant locks of long hair occasionally pushed behind an ear to get a better look, angling beneath the floodlights to get a good glimpse of his interlocutor. The fact is: Jared Leto doesn’t do what you are supposed to do and he gets away with it. Makes films when he wants to. Records when the time is right. It might be luck, it might be talent, it could be hard work, or it could just be fueled by the naïve optimism that comes from a once-broke Louisiana kid who was told early on that being creative might not make you any less broke, but it might make being broke a little less shitty. It’s why his eyes are wide and blinking them is a waste of precious time. There’s too much to take in, too much to see. Fuck Google Earth. Technology is a weed. It blocks pathways.

“This is a crazy time in my life, but it’s a focused time,” he says. “It’s not like it’s out of control. You only get to do this once and in this case once may be the only time you get to do it. It’s a funny way to say it, but it’s kind of true. I’m acutely aware of that and very respectful of the path I’m walking down. I’m glad that this happened to me now and not when I first started. It’s a really good thing.”

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Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review

February 18th, 2014 No comments

Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review

Manufacturer: Nvidia
UK price (as reviewed):
MSRP £114.99
US price (as reviewed): MSRP $149.99

Instead of starting with a top end product launch and working its way down, Nvidia is launching its new GPU architecture, Maxwell, directly into the mainstream segment of its product stack, going straight for the big-money mass market.

The £90 Nvidia GTX 750 1GB and £115 Nvidia GTX 750 Ti 2GB are the first Maxwell GPUs and both should be available now. It’s the latter we’re looking at today, and its price sees it slot nicely into the market between the £100 AMD R7 260X 2GB and the £135 AMD R9 270 2GB. Nvidia is currently being very tight-lipped as to how and when the rest of the Maxwell range will play out. It’s specifically calling this the ‘first generation’ Maxwell architecture, and saying only that the second generation will target the performance and enthusiast segments at a later date.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review
Click to enlarge
Before we delve into Maxwell, it’s worth discussing and attempting to clarify Nvidia’s naming strategy. As the above image indicates, both new cards are effectively billed as replacements for the GTX 650 Ti (with the GTX 650 Ti Boost seemingly forgotten about). You might have expected Maxwell to have launched as the GTX 800 series (e.g. GTX 850 Ti). However, while the rest of the GTX 600 series is now considered end of life, Nvidia is keeping both the GTX 660 and GTX 650 in the current GeForce product stack, and felt it would be too confusing to have two 800 series products sandwiched between two 600 series products. Nvidia is aware that the present solution still isn’t ideal, but then again the hardware industry is hardly known for its commitment to logical product names.

The biggest theme of this launch is improved performance per watt, something that’s becoming more and more of an emphasis in major hardware launches alongside increased demand for small form factors and mobile computing. The new GM107 GPU used in both cards is specifically designed for power limited environments (including notebooks, interestingly). In fact, Nvidia boldly claims that the GM107 GPU used in both new cards is the most efficient GPU ever built.

The GTX 750 Ti has a TDP of just 60W, and since a PCI-E slot can deliver up to 75W, the card has no external power connectors. As such, Nvidia is pitching both it and the GTX 750 as ideal upgrades for basic off the shelf PCs as well as good matches for very small form factor builds. In both cases, PSU wattage and 6-pin connectors are likely to be limited – only a basic 300W PSU is required.

Despite these minimal power requirements, Nvidia claims that the GTX 750 Ti is capable of outpacing AMD’s R7 260X, a 115W TDP product with a single 6-pin connector. It also boasts that the new card offers over twice the performance of the older GTX 550 Ti (116W TDP) at almost half the power, and roughly the same performance as a GTX 480 all within the power bracket of the GTS 450.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 750 Ti Review
Click to enlarge
The GTX 550 Ti and GTS 450 are important cards to bear in mind – they’re both currently very popular according to the Steam Hardware Survey and are the types of card that people shopping in this price bracket are likely to be upgrading from. From a performance perspective, this market segment is hardly exciting – Nvidia is targeting 1080p gameplay at normal to high settings. However, it is where the majority of GPU sales are made, and it’s important for that reason alone.

As a new GeForce product, the GTX 750 Ti supports all of Nvidia’s latest gaming technologies. Through the GeForce Experience software, users can enable ShadowPlay, which utilises the onboard H.264 encoder to record gameplay, and which has recently had Twitch streaming added as a beta feature. The encoder is also what allows gameplay to be streamed to the Nvidia Shield. Finally, Nvidia’s G-Sync monitor technology is also supported by the GTX 750 Ti GPU.

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‘Goodnight Darth Vader’: Bedtime stories for Jedis-to-be

February 14th, 2014 No comments

Goodnight Darth Vader by Jeffrey Brown portrays Darth Vader as a dad who tries to get his children to fall asleep without using Jedi mind tricks.

“Goodnight Darth Vader” by Jeffrey Brown portrays Darth Vader as a dad who tries to get his children to fall asleep without using Jedi mind tricks.

Chronicle Books)

It’s bedtime in a galaxy far, far away, and Darth Vader’s parenting skills are being tested by his children, Luke and Leia, in “Goodnight Darth Vader.”

The follow-up to the best-selling books “Darth Vader and Son” and “Vader’s Little Princess” by Jeffrey Brown will be released in August. However the book from Chronicle Books will debut at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con International in July.

Darth Vader may be ready for his kids to go to sleep, but his twins, Luke and Leia, want a bedtime story first- — one that involves the aliens, heroes, villains, and monsters of their world. From Han Solo and Chewbacca to Boba Fett and baby Ewoks, from the wampa ice creature to Jawas, all of the galaxy’s denizens are getting ready for a night’s rest in this delightful story told in verse, with plenty of nods to the rich “Star Wars” narrative.

Here’s a sample verse from “Goodnight Darth Vader”:

It’s bedtime on Kashyyyk for all the Wookiees
so now they climb high to sleep up in the trees.
The bounty hunters tuck in, all ready and set
except for young Boba and his dad, Jango Fett.

“The response from kids to ‘Darth Vader and Son’ and ‘Vader’s Little Princess’ was one of the most surprising and rewarding things about drawing those books,” Brown told Crave. “Lots of parents told me their kids insisted on reading the books before bedtime, and it made me think I’d love to do a proper bedtime book for ‘Star Wars.’ It was nice to get to draw a lot of characters and scenes that didn’t fit into the first two books, and write jokes a bit differently. I’m looking forward to hearing about kids reading the new book at bedtime.”

In honor of Valentine’s Day, download these free Vader Valentines by Jeffrey Brown to share with Rebels and Sith Lords you love.


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Snow day chant: ‘House of Cards,’ now now now!

February 14th, 2014 No comments

House of Cards

Despite an Internet outcry, the season two premiere of House of Cards proceeded according to schedule.

Video screenshot by Michael Franco/CNET)

All the snow that’s been pounding the East Coast lately is really getting to people. Take Thursday’s Internet outburst related to the hit Netflix show “House Of Cards.”

People took to the netwaves to try to bully Netflix into releasing the show a day ahead of its scheduled 3 a.m. Friday premiere time. The reason for the outcry? Apparently, viewers felt they couldn’t survive a snow day at home without having Kevin Spacey’s warm southern drawl keeping them toasty in front of their TVs.

Seems things were started by a post on Slate’s culture blog Brow Beat, written by David Haglund, in which he penned an open letter to Netflix asking for an early release of the show.

“I know you have a whole host of viewing options, but the only thing that will keep us entertained for the amount of time we have to kill is a gripping, twisty drama ‘designed to be binge-watched,’ like, say, House of Cards,” he wrote. “And not the first season. We watched that already. It was great! Now we need Season 2. Today.”

Oddly enough, the cry was picked up by Alex Conant, press secretary for Florida Senator Marco Rubio. Florida! The only state out of all 50 that’s completely snow-free according to a map produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration! Conant Tweeted: “If/when DC shuts down for blizzard Thursday, @netflix would be smart to make new @HouseofCards available one day early.”

This led to a flurry of tweets and the creation of the Twitter hashtag #ReleaseHouseOfCards. A few of my favorites:

There was even a petition created by Philadelphian Kellan White on that got 109 signatures with people siting various reasons for signing. My favorite came from Ken Stachnik in Sunnyside, New York who said: “Because David Fincher is my spirit animal.” (Fincher is the show’s executive producer.) While it might have been a great PR move for Netflix to have caved and released “House of Cards” a day early, a company spokesman said, “Hunker down and re-watch season one so you are good and ready,” CNN reports.

This displeased at least one fan, who, clearly misunderstanding the meaning of “video on demand” tweeted:

If all this “House of Cards” talk has got you salivating for a peek at season two, here you go…

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Tales2Go 4.0 delivers unlimited audiobooks for kids

February 14th, 2014 No comments

Tales2Go 4.0 features an iOS 7 makeover and some handy new search options.

Tales2Go 4.0 features an iOS 7 makeover and some handy new search options.


There’s a Netflix for everything these days. Oyster is “Netflix for e-books.” Next Issue is “Netflix for magazines.” GameFly is “Netflix for videogames.” There’s even a Netflix for high-end wristwatches.

It may come as little surprise, then, that there’s an audiobook service that likewise emulates the Netflix all-you-can eat model: Tales2Go lets you stream unlimited selections for a flat monthly rate. But the app has a special niche: It’s all audiobooks for kids.

The name may not ring a bell, but Tales2Go actually made its debut back in 2010, then offering around 900 children’s books — for streaming only. Now, the library numbers in the thousands, and the app allows for downloads so you can listen offline.

Earlier this week, the company introduced Tales2Go 4.0, which brings a variety of updates and new features to the iOS version of the app. (Tales2Go for Android is now available as well, though it hasn’t been updated since its debut last November.) In addition to an
iOS 7-style redesign, the app now offers improved menus, multivariable search options, more book covers and information on each book, and shared bookmarks if the app is being used with a school.

Speaking of which, Tales2Go has proven very popular in schools, where an annual license buys unlimited access on all school-owned devices and a take-home license for each student and faculty member.

But if you’re simply looking for a great way to pass the time during long
car rides or you want to give the kids something to do that doesn’t involve Minecraft or Candy Crush Saga, Tales2Go offers considerable bang for the buck. The catalog includes a wealth of current and classic tales, everything from the “39 Clues” and “Junie B. Jones” series to “Encyclopedia Brown” and “Treasure Island.” Even the “Hunger Games” trilogy is here.

An individual Tales2Go subscription (which is good across five devices) costs $9.99 per month or $99.99 annually. Although my kids have just about outgrown the age bracket (3-12), I remain a huge fan of this “Netflix for children’s audiobooks” service.

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