In the seminal 1989 Batman film directed by Tim Burton, the
Joker, played to smarmy perfection by Jack Nicholson, grouses about the
well-equipped Caped Crusader, “Where does he get those wonderful toys?”
Ol’ Joker was talking about the batarang or something, but in this
game, the answer is clear: The toys are LEGO. The vehicles are LEGO.
The environments are LEGO. Even the characters are LEGO.
Judging by our desk, you’d never guess that we try to be highly
organized. And we’ve tried everything, from David Allen’s nerd-famous
Getting Things Done (GTD) dogma, to complex Mac apps, endless paper
notebooks, and iCal’s built in to-do features. We have yet to find the
perfect system for managing not only our work tasks, but also all the
other stuff we have to do in the course of our daily life. But Remember
The Milk, a Web service also accessible via iPhone, is helping us
become more organized than ever.
We’re all about convergence, but sometimes gadget makers are prone to
slapping iPod docks on products that don’t really need them, like
armchairs and toilet paper holders. iHome’s iP71 isn’t one of those
head-scratchers. It’s a set of stereo desktop speakers featuring an
iPod dock, so you can play music from your iPod, your Mac, or another
audio device, plus keep your iPod charged at the same time.
In-flight movies suck. They’re usually not the greatest films to begin
with, and then anything that could possibly offend anyone--otherwise
known as “the good parts”--gets edited out. Lucky for you, all you need
is a MacBook and some headphones to stage your own film festival at
35,000 feet. But spinning a DVD takes a serious toll on battery life,
which is where DVD ripping comes in.
Filling your own inkjet printer cartridges can slash inks costs by 60
to 85 percent, save oil that’s used to transport them, and cut down on
the hundreds of millions of plastic empties that clog U.S. landfills
each year. And no, Virginia, using refillables won’t actually void your
printer’s warranty--despite what store clerks might tell you.
Amazon is positioning the Kindle DX as Newspaper 2.0. With a larger
screen, it tries its best to mimic your favorite daily read without
getting your fingers all inky. Amazon has deals with many of the big
national and international papers, but it remains to be seen if
dead-tree versions can be supplanted by expensive electronics.
We’ve seen the “just plug it in” pitches on late-night TV, the cheesy
website, and the spotty instructions, none of which exactly inspire
confidence in the magicJack. But still, the allure of nearly free phone
calls all over the country (or to Canada, Puerto Rico, and the U.S.
Virgin Islands) is strong. Plus since it’s VOIP, your number can travel
with you. Believe it or not, magicJack turns out to be pretty magical.
If BBEdit is bare bones, then Fat Albert is supermodel skinny. The
versatile text editor can do so many things, we think it may contain
some sort of alien technology. Bare Bones Software’s latest update,
BBEdit 9, may well be the ultimate toolbox for coding on a Mac.
we say text editor, of course, we are talking about a hugely different
category from the word processors that “normal people” use. You won’t
find fancy fonts, templates, or glitzy charts; instead, you will find
color-coding, line numbers, and pure, unadulterated, text (exciting
stuff, right?). Back in the olden days, programmers swore by vi or
Emacs, but GUI’d text editors have introduced so much functionality
that you wonder sometimes whether you’re writing the code or the app
is. BBEdit’s feature set is enormous, and some might call the app the
gold standard of text editing.
The Icy Dock MB662US-2S is another dual drive enclosure, and you can
get it in two flavors, depending on whether you use eSATA or FireWire
400/800 connections. Both versions also sport a USB 2.0 port. When you
plug two drives into the Icy Dock, it can treat them as two independent
drives or as either a RAID 0 or RAID 1 drive (you use a dip switch to
set the mode). In RAID 0, the two drives act as a single big, utrafast
volume—but if either drive fails, your data is toast. In RAID 1, the
two drives are automatically mirrored, meaning the Icy copies your data
to both drives. The instant, automatic backup is a protection against
either drive biting the dust. The Icy Dock keeps drives cool thanks to
a fan with selectable speeds, but the fan makes almost as much noise as
the Mac Pro we tested it with.
The Vantec NexStar can connect two 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch hard drives at
once. That’s very useful if you want to transfer files between two
external drives. However, you’ll have to connect the NexStar using only
USB 2.0 or eSATA, there’s no FireWire port. The already-slow USB
pipeline gets overloaded while simultaneously reading one drive and
writing to another, so be prepared to wait while the drives do their