Carry your music, literally, with the Bag of Riddim Audio System by House of Marley. Great for parties, festivals, and more, this ultra portable system is Bluetooth enabled and comes with handy straps for easy carrying. The Bag of Riddim looks like a real bag as it even has pockets for your necessities, But, inside are 4.5-inch high-output woofers, 1-inch high definition tweeters, and an incredible amplifier all to pump out life-like tunes with rich bass. Working with a wall… Continue Reading
You’ll just end up bricking your phone.
The flyover was the first of its kind.
Show off your musical style and finesse with the Kameleon Series Pink Bluetooth Earbuds by NOIZY BRANDS. Designed to move with you, these earbuds are connected to each other by a single cable that rests behind your neck. Connecting to your device via Bluetooth, the cable also has buttons to control the track and adjust the volume. With such convenience and control, the Kameleon Series Pink Bluetooth Earbuds are ideal for workouts, your commute, or any time you don’t want… Continue Reading
Augmented reality artist Marty Cooper is back with his always fun Aug(de)mented Reality series that splices imaginative little drawings of cute monsters into real life. Read More >>
This article was originally published on October 23, 2015.
The best moments in XCOM: Enemy Unknown happen on the ground, at the squad level. It’s where you hope all your base building, troop training, and bizarre government research will pay off. With soldiers hunkered down behind a broken piece of debris or scanning for alien activity from a rooftop, you have to hope the team you’ve assembled is made of the right stuff. Or they’ll soon be the dead stuff.
But being prepared in XCOM will only get you halfway. As Evan noted in his 2012 review, the turn-based strategy game has a way of vaporizing your best-laid plans and best-trained soldiers. And this core appeal–the constantly-evolving tension between planning and execution–is what has always drawn me back.
With XCOM 2 having just arrived, I’m focusing this edition of ‘If you like…’ on the serious and satirical side of close-quarter, squad-based combat and the government agencies that try to help win the war from a different kind of battlefield. Among the two films and an underappreciated TV series you’ll find there’s a lot of XCOM’s underdog spirit to go around. I’m also including, unusually
Three Kings, directed by David O. Russell
A rare movie that deals with the first Gulf War, Three Kings is memorable for its gritty, in-the-sand depiction of a relatively short conflict that most people remember from cable television. While the film deals with the very last days of the 1991 war, it weaves its strange story through the lives of multiple stakeholders–ordinary soldiers, Iraqi civilians, and ambitious news media personalities.
Three Kings is on one level a humorous heist movie about a group of American military men who want to take a little something back for themselves. But it also makes an argument for the way the unpredictable nature of war can change those who see it up close. As well-trained (or not so well-trained) as the movie’s soldiers are, the randomness of the conflict they’re caught in can’t help but change them. It’s up to them to decide who’ll they will be if they make it home.
Area 51: The Graphic History of America’s Most Secret Military Installation
Written by Dwight Zimmerman, illustrated by Greg Scott
From the development of the SR-71 Blackbird to killer satellites shooting tungsten bolts from outer space, this story of the notorious Area 51 research base is filled with fascinating insights. While it’s long, Cold War narrative saw it often associated with alien visitors and conspiracy theorists, Zimmerman and Scott’s presentation makes a strong case for Area 51 as the unsung hero of late 20th-century defense research. Just because no one wanted to acknowledge its existence doesn’t mean its labs weren’t turning out some brilliant, game-changing designs.
The spectre at play in this graphic-novel treatment of Cold War history is, of course, the Soviet Union and the USA’s post-Cold War enemies. The book doesn’t attempt to take an authentic political stance on these events, which is refreshing. Instead it offers a clear look into the development of the technologies that scientists, and the politicians who funded them, felt might turn the tide of war in favor of the United States. It’s a history told from a particular point of view, but one that’s both informative and entertaining in its style and attitude. In its own way Area 51 tells the story of an XCOM many of us lived through but didn’t even know it.
Now two episodes into its second season, Manhattan’s take on the development of the world’s first atomic weapons at Los Alamos is a compelling watch. Although it’s clear throughout that we’re not watching a purely historical look at the top-secret Manhattan Project, the show’s commitment to recreating the claustrophobic atmosphere of the period is well-executed and thrilling. Like the bases you dig into the ground in XCOM, we see how scientists, soldiers, and bureaucrats converge to try and win a war using untested technology against a seemingly unbeatable enemy.
The show’s first season deals mostly with the struggles of physicist Frank Winter as he tries to perfect his bomb design with an understaffed and undervalued team considered second-rate on the classified Los Alamos base. A rival scientist leads the much larger and better-funded team developing what the US military hopes will be an atomic bomb it can drop on Germany to end the war. The tension between these scientists, and the way politics often interferes with scientific reality, creates a fascinating story arc demonstrating the effect of total war on the homefront.
Restrepo, directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger
Directed by the late, great photojournalist Tim Hetherington and Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger, Restrepo documents a year in the life of 2nd Platoon, Battle Company during its deployment in the Korengal Valley of northeast Afghanistan. While there are moments of levity and humor to be found in the soldiers’ daily lives, the documentary film’s release in 2010 was notable for its transparent look at the successes and failure of the American mission in Afghanistan.
Hetherington and Junger embedded themselves in the military unit for 15 months as they filmed and gathered footage that is often breathtaking and sometimes disturbing in its honesty. If war is hell, then we also have to say it’s also a place where ordinary people–civilian and military grunt alike–still find ways to live and survive. This film is worthy testament to that reality.
Patrick currently works as web editor for Hinterland Studios, which is making The Long Dark. For more installments of ‘If you like…‘, check out the other games he’s covered in this series below:
Sony today launched an entirely new brand of interchangeable lenses: the G Master. This line will represent the best of what Sony has to offer in terms of optics.
The brand will launch with 3 new E-mount lenses: the 24-70mm f/2.8, 85mm f/1.4, and 70-200mm f/2.8.
“The new G Master brand represents the finest and most impressive group of lenses that Sony has ever brought to market,” says Sony VP Neal Manowitz. “With our knowledge of what the future will bring for digital imaging, we have designed these lenses and can ensure that the G Master brand will inspire and ‘wow’ photographers and videographers for years to come.”
The 24-70mm f/2.8 features special elements for reducing aberrations and increasing resolution, a 9-bladed aperture, special coatings for reduced reflections, a direct drive SSM (Super Sonic Wave Motor) for fast and quiet focusing, dust and moisture resistance, and a compact design.
The 85mm f/1.4 lens has an 11 blade circular aperture (the most offered in an ? lens) for smooth bokeh, Nano AR coating for reducing flare and ghosting, a ring drive SSM motor, dust and moisture resistance, and an aperture ring with on/off switchable click stops (for smooth adjustments during video recording).
The new 70-200mm f/2.8 features special coatings (Nano AR and fluorine), a floating focusing system (the first in an ? zoom lens) for improved AF performance, a minimum focusing distance of just 0.96m (~3.15ft), a SSM and dual linear motors, Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, dust and moisture resistance, a focus hold button, and a focal range limiter.
Finally, Sony has also announced 1.4x and 2x teleconverters as part of the new lineup.
The 24-70mm and 85mm will be available in March 2016 for $2,200 and $1,800, respectively. The 70-200mm and the teleconverters will be available in May 2016, but pricing has yet to be announced.
The new update to the years-old A6000 brings a lot to the table.
Batman: Arkham Knight was a decent game, but on PC it was an abominable port. It was so bad that publisher Warner Bros. was compelled to remove it from sale weeks after its release, offering refunds to anyone unfortunate enough to buy in early. Nowadays it runs a lot better, but it’s fair to say the whole situation was quite traumatic. As of December it was still being patched up, following its October re-release.
Whether that trauma has anything to do with the Mac and Linux versions of Arkham Knight being canceled, I don’t know. The cancellation was announced on Steam today in as blunt a manner as possible.
“We are very sorry to confirm that Batman: Arkham Knight will no longer be coming to Mac and Linux,” the post reads. “If you have pre-ordered Batman: Arkham Knight for Mac or Linux, please apply for a refund via Steam.”
Despite the game still being a bit rough around the edges on PC, Warner Bros. started selling DLC for it back in December. It’s a shame the launch was so poor, because beneath the technical shortcomings there’s an okay game, hampered somewhat by annoying Batmobile sequences. In his review, Andy Kelly wrote that it’s “an entertaining superhero power fantasy, let down by awful Batmobile combat, a laughable villain, and serious performance issues.”
On the topic of bad ports, this recent Durante rundown of the disastrous Tales of Symphonia release is well worth ten minutes.
Canon’s new 1D X Mark II flagship DSLR can shoot at a staggering 16 frames per second in Live View mode with the mirror locked up. Here’s a hands-on video by e PHOTOzine that shows just how fast this rate of fire is.
When shooting standard (i.e. not in Live View), the camera can still do 14FPS. Here’s what that looks and sounds like:
This continuous shooting speed bests the new Nikon D5, which can do “just” 12FPS normally and 14FPS with the mirror locked up: