Pick up these 8 acclaimed Mac apps for Black Friday pricing

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Macs are pretty usable out of the box without any extra software. But the bundled stock apps don’t cover every use case, and don’t always provide the most configurable experience. To give your desktop some helpful new powers, we’ve collected some of our favorite apps in the Black Friday Mac Bundle. It’s available in the Boing Boing Store now for $39, and you can save additional 15% off with coupon code GIFTSHOP15.

Here’s what’s included:

PDF Expert 2.2 for Mac

Making changes to a PDF typically requires that you have access to the original source file, as well as the software that generated it. PDF Expert eliminates needless dance by letting you edit text, swap out images, and update links inside the PDF itself. It’s also optimized to read large files, and provides a host of helpful annotation tools.

Roxio Toast 16 Titanium

Aside from offering a dead-simple solution for DVD burning, Roxio Toast 16 lets you easily create password-protected USB sticks, as well as capture media from multiple simultaneous sources like mobile devices, desktop screens, and external microphones. And once you’ve captured something, you can even edit and convert to different file types within the same environment. 

Default Folder X 5

Sometimes the macOS open and save dialogs can seem to have a mind of their own — defaulting to illogical locations on your drive can quickly throw a wrench in your productivity. Default Folder X 5 modifies these system windows to give you a handful pre-selected places to save your stuff, no matter what app you’re using. 

WALTR 2 for Mac

Apple’s AirDrop usually works great between iOS devices, but moving things from your Mac desktop to your mobile device usually means digging through the less-friendly parts of iTunes. To perform file transfers in a much more sensible way, check out WALTR 2. It handles all the metadata and conversion necessary for music files, ebooks, and ringtones, and even works with older iPods.

Flux 7

If you just need to throw together a quick website for a portfolio or side business, spending countless hours learning web development is definitely overkill. With Flux 7, you can design pages in a fully WYSIWYG environment. And if you already know basic HTML/CSS, it lets you modify the generated source code directly to provide as much customization as you want.

Stylizer 7

Stylizer 7 is another beginner-friendly website editor, but this one is has a greater focus on CSS. You just enter any valid URL to get powerful GUI controls for every style property on the page. To ensure that your edits work everywhere, you can view pages in three different browser engines at the same time.

Art Text 3

There’s no need to hire a professional designer if all you need is a simple word mark. Art Text 3 provides a huge selection of ready-to-use templates for logos, flyers, and other promotional materials. You can mix and match hundreds of textures, typefaces, and icons to create unique assets in no time.

MacReviver

When your Mac starts to run slow, it can be tough to determine the culprit. MacReviver helps you reclaim space on your disk, as well as optimize your system for faster startups and increased battery life. In the event that your computer is stolen, MacReviver also tracks its location and takes photos of the thief.

When Bob Odenkirk perfectly played Charles Manson

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Well before Breaking Bad, and Better Call Saul (and even Mr. Show), Bob Odenkirk showed his comedic chops by playing Charles Manson on the short-lived 1990s TV sketch series The Ben Stiller Show.

In two of the skits, he plays the madman as a sort of incarcerated “Heloise” in “Ask Manson.” In them, he answers questions on stain removal and car troubles.

The third one takes a different, and completely inspired, turn. It’s Manson as Lassie and it’s one of my all-time favorites.

I won’t say anymore, just watch:

This Amazing Crazy “Tiny” Drink is a Meal for Two @nerdvana

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My mother used to make an incredible grilled cheese sandwich. It was neither greasy nor too buttery, but simultaneously buttery and toasty. The bread was pan fried golden brown with a nice crunch on the exterior, and it was evenly cooked all the way around and all the way through. I’ve never seen another one like it until last week, when I happened to be in Frisco, Texas, eating at the one-year old restaurant @nerdvana.


I had not ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, nor had anyone at my table. But someone had ordered a drink by the name of Tiny Tina’s TKO, which appears on the brunch menu.

The first thing you should know is that Tiny Tina’s TKO costs 20 bucks. If that sounds expensive for a drink, you should also know that it will feed two people. That’s brunch for two, with alcoholic beverage, for $20 (plus tax and tip). That’s about what you’d pay to eat at McD’s, but instead you will find yourself in @nerdvana, which is heaven for nerds, gamers, and folks who just like good food and spirits.

The portion in Tiny Tina’s glass is a killer Bloody Mary, while the skewers towering from the glass include two hard-boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, bacon, celery, a big-ass Jalapeño pepper, and an entire grilled cheese sandwich cut into quarters. The only thing I ate was the grilled cheese sandwich, and it was mighty fine. My mama would have been proud.

@nerdvana is one year old and owned and run by Kristy Junio-Pitchford. (Full disclosure: I’m the editor and publisher of Genii, The Conjurors’ Magazine, which is owned by Randy Pitchford, husband of Mrs. Pitchford. If the food sucked, I would not be writing this piece.)

The menu was created by Mike Junio, while Kristy created the idea of having a Bloody Mary with “ridiculous shit on top” and the restaurant’s manager Cathy Brown developed the final product. Kristy calls her a “baller mixologist.” People are blown away by it and it’s one of the most instagrammable menu items.

Also really good is the French Toast, Randy’s concoction the Boss Monster Shake (skewers of chocolate covered strawberries and bananas growing out of a chocolate shake piled with whipped cream and chocolate bits), and at dinner the perfectly cooked and seasoned ribeye steak is as good as any steakhouse but at half the price.


@nerdvana is a fun restaurant for people to pig out and hang out. The place is a celebration of video games, with games available for customers to play and live simulcasts to watch of great gamers in competitions.

Me, I’m still dreaming of that grilled cheese, the steak, and that chocolate shake.

Visit @nerdvana

I got a shirt that is supposed to stay clean for months without washing it

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Today a high-tech shirt came into my life. The shirt is made by Ably, and you can supposedly wear it for months on end and it will stay clean. Ably’s garments are made with something called Filium, a non-toxic product that makes the material resistant to liquid and odor. I wore the shirt for the first time today, and the way it interacts with water is pretty cool. I purposely flicked a little water on the shirt’s sleeve, and the water just beaded up into droplets and slid right off the shirt at high speed.

I played with the shirt in my sink for a while, watching water droplets roll around the fabric before sliding off. I swear, it’s as fun to play with as it is to wear. But I got a little over-zealous and found that it does get wet if you submerge it into water.

I also experimented with ketchup, squirting a couple of drops onto the shirt. Unbelievably, the ketchup drops, like the water, rolled off the shirt. There was no trace of ketchup to be seen. Unfortunately I then tried Tabasco sauce, and used my finger to help push the tiny drops off of it, which caused the sauce to sink into the material. It took a bit of scrubbing with soap and water to clean off the stain. I wondered if touching the beaded sauce had something to do with it staining the shirt, so I hesitantly sprinkled more Tobasco sauce on the fabric, this time keeping my hands far away from the beaded liquid. This time the sauce rolled off the shirt just like the ketchup and water did. Lesson learned: don’t use your fingers to nudge off a spill – just let it do its thing.

When I first heard about this shirt I was a bit skeptical about its comfort, thinking it would feel too synthetic, but it’s surprisingly very soft and feels like a regular cotton tee. It’s a great shirt to have for travelers or people who are sloppy.

Review: 8bitdo’s Zero is the little bluetooth gamepad that could

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8bitdo’s Zero is a wee, well-made and thoroughly wonderful bluetooth game controller. I bought it by accident, thinking I’d found a surprisingly cheap wireless pad, only to learn (to my shrieking amusement) that its low price is caused by its low volume.

It really is tiny, at about 2.75″ long and 1.5″ high. It comes with a keychain ring and is by no means unreasonably large for this purpose:

There’s a D-pad, four buttons under the right thumb, two trigger buttons and, in the middle, a start and select button. A short USB cable is provided for recharging, but it doesn’t function as a USB controller. Just wireless.

It comes in white with a blue or red back; the red one has a vaguely Nintendo-esque stripe across the front, too.

That is not only works but is well-made and durable makes it an absolutely fabulous stocking stuffer for people who play games — especially given that it’s compatible with virtually everything that hosts bluetooth, including Android, iOS, Windows and MacOS, and Linux/RetroPi. There’s even a remote shutter mode for cameras, though I didn’t test it.

It’s not plain sailing all the way, though. Pairing it with my MacBook was easy, but it took a couple of attempts on my Windows 10 Zotac ZBox. Moreover, it lost its connection twice in a month, requiring unpairing and re-pairing to get working again.

Part of the problem is the inadequate instructions for shifting it between compatibility modes that apply to each system. Use the wrong sequence of presses and it’ll show up as a keyboard instead of a joypad, or as some random zalgo gadget that does nothing except stay rudely paired with your PC.

Oddly, there’s no button 3 in Windows joystick mode. It jumps from 2 to 4. So anything that expects it (e.g. MAME) will need to be configured likewise.

Finally, it is perhaps too small, at least for twitchy arcade play. I tended to find myself holding it like a harmonica to get precise control — but in that position, the triggers are much harder to hit.

At about $17, though, who’s complaining?

PROS: Tiny but well-made; Cheap; Works on everything. Tiny USB cable.
CONS: Too tiny. Finicky Blueooth. Crap instructions. Bluetooth only.

8BITDO Zero Wireless Game Controller for Android/ iOS/ Windows [Amazon]

Review: No Man’s Sky

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Overtaking the sunset, I glide into the mesosphere hours ahead of darkness. Scattered islands beckon under shifting banks of white stratus. I veer toward one but lose sight of it in the clouds, emerging over an isthmus broad and gray in the oceans of Lahellt II. Knuckertail soars down and I land her upon a grass-topped arch, coiled slender and ominous over the shallows like an immense fossil.

After visiting a hundred vicious worlds, frozen or burning, gassing me with oxides or crackling with radioactive menace, I think I’ve found home. Dropping from the canopy to make footfall, I look at the glittering sea. A world warm and quiet and mine declares itself to the exosuit’s sensors.

Something’s not right.

No Man’s Sky is a spectacular toy for exploring 18 quintillion uncannily similar worlds. Released a year ago to astronomical hype and sour reviews, it’s since become a decent (and improving) game as its creators bolt on base-building, factions, planetside vehicles, narrative threads and evocative if slight multiplayer elements.

As of the Atlas Rising update, it’s widely hailed as a much more involving journey. But for me, it’s neither one thing nor the other. The procedurally-generated worlds still lack depth and intrigue, limiting the appeal of exploration, while the gamery additions call for endless self-directed fetchquesting to make progress. Tweet-length nibbles of story string one instantly-forgotten Mr. Potato Head alien to the next, all immobile but for their looping busywork animations.

But the weird dream at the heart of it — jumping to distant solar systems, visiting fabulous unchartered worlds, coasting over psychedelic meadows where bizarre and ungainly alien fauna swarm — sticks with me. Get a glimpse of what we hope our descendants will spiritualize on other worlds, knowing we’ll never experience it.

Sixty dollars, though!

See, then there’s the fiddly travel, maddening inventory management, and grinding repetitions. The generated worlds are smoothed noise with no suggestion of geology, nothing hot under the surface. Everything has a meaningless alphabetti-spaghetti name. Though every world is flavored with local color, all have the topology of a lightly whipped frosted cake, uniformly sprinkled with candy bits from the same jar. There are no cities or civilizations, no gas giants, no balls of boiling lead, no forests or fens. Just lots of porta-potties, abandoned prefabs, and glowing relics.

What’s the point of going anywhere I want if the same things are everywhere?

This problem afflicts the flora and fauna too. Though adorable and strange, they’re a roll of the dice with no suggestion of ecology, adaptation or habitation. Nothing connects to anything. Darwin would return to England certain both of God’s hand and His zero fucks given.

Sentient aliens are, like the dumb ones, a hodgepodge of parts with no personality and nothing to remember them by. There are three species, hints of political backdrop, and actions and events described in dialog, but nothing is seen to happen or change.

More interesting are the tech tree and trade elements, especially the elaborate bases you can build and the ships you can buy, should you have the determination to earn them. Making a home, a career and a pile of money kept me going for twenty or so hours after I bored of visiting new planets — the key difference between No Man’s Sky in late 2017 and last year — until I realized the next objective on my list might take twenty more.

The ships are the coolest thing about No Man’s Sky, the hard steel heart of its splendid late-seventies aesthetic.

Space battles are dumb fun, especially once you have some power-ups. The pleasure of flight is occasionally marred by shifting and glitching in the middle distance, things popping into view and landforms deforming at different levels of detail. This becomes particlarly annoying when cruising low in search of specific things of interest, a constant reminder that No Man’s Sky is random noise posing as empty space.

I slip down to a sloping meadow shadowed by the rock arch where Knuckertail perches. Off in the distance, a carved menhir rests at an odd angle and I skip toward it though platinum blooms and crystal hedges. Communion teaches me the Korvax word for sleep. I look back at the ship, a tiny shadow against the sun. The exosuit says it’s 19? and balmy. As I entertain the idea of this being my avatar’s homeworld, I realize that for me, it’s perfect point to stop playing. Another step, and I’ll just be shooting rocks again.

Besides, I see what was bothering me: there’s no fauna. But for the grasses and wildflowers on this perfect world, I’m the only thing alive.

I rechristen the planet, instantly forgetting its original name, and upload the new one to No Man’s Sky’s mapping server so that other players may one day benefit from my discovery: “Lovely But Devoid of Life.”

Rob Beschizza is on Twitter and the e-mail.

DevOps and cloud computing are two skills in huge demand

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The Ultimate DevOps and Cloud Computing Bundle will familiarize you with Amazon Web Services infrastructure management, as well as continuous integration and delivery practices. It’s being offered in the Boing Boing Store now for $49.

Even with Amazon’s developer-friendly tools, rolling out changes to thousands (or millions) of users is no easy task. That’s why DevOps engineers are so valuable — they make software updates happen, and ensure that added features won’t sink the ship. To teach you the tricks of this essential tech trade, this collection includes the following seven courses:

  • DevOps with AWS CodePipeline, Jenkins and AWS CodeDeploy
  • Jenkins: Continuous Integration & DevOps with Java and .NET
  • TeamCity: Continuous Integration & DevOps with Java and .NET
  • AWS MasterClass: Storage & CDN
  • AWS MasterClass: Monitoring and DevOps with AWS CloudWatch
  • AWS MasterClass: DevOps with AWS Command Line Interface
  • DevOps: CI/CD with Jenkins Pipelines, Maven, Gradle

Aside from advanced AWS administration, you’ll learn how to build and deploy apps automatically, and scale services to meet user demand. This bundle comprises 7 courses and 20 hours of content, and you can get it all in the Boing Boing Store for $49.

Whole Earth contributor Lloyd Kahn walks us through a rare first edition of the iconic catalog

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https://youtu.be/LI87E9m4YoQ

When I was a teen, I traded the first nickle ($5) bag of weed I’d ever acquired for a friend’s copy of the 1971 Whole Earth Catalog. I traded intoxication for knowledge, for “access to tools,” and I have never looked back. That 1971 catalog set me onto the DIY path and I have never wavered from it.

In this wonderful video, by way of Kevin Kelly’s Facebook feed, another hero of mine from that era, Lloyd Kahn (of the amazing Shelter books) thumbs through his copy of the very first Whole Earth Catalog, the 64-page, fall of 1968 edition. Lloyd claims in the video that not even Stewart Brand has a copy of this edition.

I love how Lloyd’s copy is all marked up. I recently found my 1971 edition in the attic. I too had marked, circled, checked, and made notes to the entries where I’d sent off for books, magazines, and other resources. It’s so surreal to be able to lay my eyes upon the moment I discovered books, tools, places, and people that would go on to become hugely important in my life.

BTW: If you want to learn more about the history of the Catalog and read some of its seminal essays, check out The Whole Earth Field Guide from MIT which I reviewed here on Boing Boing earlier this year.

Earth & Moon: surreal, vaguely sexual experimental 3D animation

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https://youtu.be/ar2UyGn27RU

Cool 3D World’s “Earth and Moon” is just over 2 minutes’ worth of goopy, poopy, sexy, planetary, grotesque and wonderful experimental 3D animation; it’s like a hand-turned, grownup version of those super-weird algorithmically generated Youtube Kids spam videos, but in a really, really good way. (via JWZ)

Actor on Transparent says Jeffrey Tambor sexually assualted her

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Trace Lysette plays Shea on Amazon Studios’ Transparent, one of my favorite shows. Lysette says the star of the show, Jeffrey Tambor, sexually harassed and assaulted her during the second season.

From The Hollywood Reporter:

According to Lysette, when she emerged from wardrobe in her costume — a salmon-colored lingerie top and matching short-shorts — Tambor remarked, “My God, Trace. I want to attack you sexually.” Alexandra Billings, the third actor in the scene, was present to hear the remark, she confirms. Both “laughed it off because it was so absurd,” Lysette says.

A few minutes later, while waiting for a camera setup between takes, Lysette was standing in a corner of the soundstage set. That’s when she says Tambor, dressed as Maura, wearing a green satin kimono and gray wig, approached her.

“He came in close, put his bare feet on top of mine so I could not move, leaned his body against me, and began quick, discreet thrust back and forth against my body. I felt his penis on my hip through his thin pajamas,” Lysette says.

Lysette pushed Tambor away and “rolled my eyes.” Billings was not present for this alleged incident, and several crewmembers were nearby “but they were focused on their jobs. It was discreet. If you were behind Jeffrey you might have thought he was giving me a hug.”

This is the second woman who has accused Tambor of sexually harassing him. Amazon Studios has opened an investigation into Tambor’s conduct.

Image: Trace Lysette as Shea on Transparent

The Revolver: locksport practice gadget that makes four locks out a single core

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TawqlKebBOs

Sparrows Lockpicks (previously) has just released an extremely clever practice lock called “The Revolver” that makes four locks out of a single core: “Pinning configuration starts with Standard pins at 12 o’clock (Marked with a small arrow) and then moves clockwise to Spool, Serrated and finally Mushroom pins. The end result is a lock that gets progressively harder to pick open.”
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