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iPad mini: Price, Release Date, Features and New Apple iMac


Apple introduced the world to its new iPad mini, the miniature-sized version of the best-selling iPad tablet computer. Apple unveiled the 7.9-inch tablet at a San Jose press event, telling the crowd that the new device is featherweight—tipping the scales at only 0.68 pounds.


According to Apple’s marketing chief, Phil Schiller, the iPad mini weighs about as much as a pad of paper.

The iPad mini will compete with other small tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Nobles’ Nook and Google’s Nexus 7.

Less is More
The iPad mini’s sleek aluminum-and-glass design (which is 23 percent thinner than the previous iPad) makes it only as thick as a pencil. In addition to being 53 percent lighter than the iPad 3, the iPad mini features 10-hour battery life power.

The iPad mini has an A5 chip “under the hood,” and features a FaceTime HD camera and a 5-MegaPixel iSight camera. Wi-Fi models go on sale on November 2, with the cellular versions appearing two weeks afterward.

iPad mini Pricing
$329 – 16GB wi-fi
$429 – 32GB wi-fi
$529 – 64GB wi-fi
$459 – 16GB wi-fi, cellular
$559 – 32GB wi-fi, cellular
$659 – 64GB wi-fi, cellular


An iPad mini in comparison to the original, larger iPad.

Industry analysts have figured that Apple would try to find a way to court the smaller tablet market, which supports smaller, less functional tablets offered at a lower price. Apple already securely owns the larger tablet marketplace, with its powerhouse iPad dominating the niche with sales topping 84 million units.

Those iPad sales have taken place within less than three years, too – the first iPad introduced until April 2010. With the iPad mini’s heritage, it’s extremely well positioned to take on the Kindle’s of the world this holiday shopping season.

More than the Mini
But Apple was only getting warmed up with the iPad mini. The company also announced the rollouts of several other Apple products, including a beautiful new update to the iMac.


Also announced…A new iMac, which is drastically thinner and faster than previous iMac’s.

  • A new 4G iPad that boasts a 9.7-inch Retina™ display, a newly designed A6 chip and a FaceTime HD camera. This iPad will be equipped with iOS 6. On sale Nov. 2, the 4G iPad will also be available in a Wi-Fi and Cellular version. The Wi-Fi version is available in 16 GB ($499), 32 GB ($599) and 64 GB ($699) formats. The Cellular version is available in 16 GB ($629), 32 GB ($729) and 64 GB ($829) formats.
  • A sleek new 13-inch MacBook Pro that’s 20 percent thinner and a full pound lighter than previous MacBook Pros. Tricked out with a 2.5 GHz Intel processor, this new model features a Hi-Res Retina™ display with 4 million pixels. The new 13-inch MacBook starts at $1,700.
  • A new iMac, which will also start shipping in November. The new razor-thin model will start at $1,299.

 

Online ordering for several of the announced products will begin Friday, October 26th at the Apple Store.

Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced that Apple had recently reached an amazing milestone related to why you should become an app developer, with Apple stating that it had delivered more than 35 billion app downloads.

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posted by Phill Powell in News Blog and have No Comments

“Walking Dead” Season 3 Premiere: Review


It’s the creepiest show on television – and one of the highest-rated – “The Walking Dead” kicked off its third season by consuming the ratings and becoming the highest-rated television series premiere this fall.


Andrew Lincoln as Sheriff Rick Grimes in a scene from “The Walking Dead” season 3 premiere.  

The Season 3 premiere walked away with over 10.9 million total viewers (a 50% increase over last seasons “Walking Dead” premiere) and is now ranked in the basic-cable history books as the biggest telecast of any drama series.

For fans of the show, the stats shouldn’t be a surprise, for viewers new to the show however, a Walking Dead Episode Guide will come in handy. But if you’re like us, you glued yourself to your television screen for possibly the best hour of scripted television currently on air.

Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The Season 3 opener (titled “Seed”) is set a few months ahead of Season 2 and starts as our band of human survivors are scavenging an abandoned house for supplies. As faithful viewers recall, Season 2 abruptly ended with their former sanctuary, going up in flames when it was overrun with zombies. The group is again on the move, critically low on ammunition as well other supplies.

Eventually, their quest rewards them, when they find a maximum-security prison nestled in the woods. The prison’s heavily fortified walls could give the group all the protection it needs. But there’s one problem: The place is crawling with the undead. Zombie prisoners lumber alongside still-uniformed prison guards in riot gear. Rick and team make quick work of the walkers, then find a part (C Block) of the massive prison complex they can seal and guard effectively.


What’s scarier than a zombie? A zombie wearing riot gear.

Search and Destroy
The next day, Rick leads part of the group on an exploratory mission to find the prison commissary and armory. This goes about as well as you’d think it would considering the surprises that lurk around every corner – and to save you the grief of us spoiling too much – a few of those surprises include an team member amputation and zombies, who aren’t quite zombies…

Like every episode of “The Walking Dead” the writing is exceptionally sharp, plus the actors are in their third season stride and have long settled into character. Speaking of characters, “Seeds,” introduces the cloaked figure we got a glance of last season: Michonne is a female warrior whose preferred method of zombie killing is lopping the heads off with her katana. Michonne makes for a very interesting survivor, especially since she always got two zombies in tow, courtesy of a chain around their necks.

The show contains as many soap-opera elements as zombie themes, so the Season 3 opener also had to deal with Rick’s killing of Shane—his former best friend—which was a huge plot development in the series’ history. In “Seeds,” Rick tells Lori (who had a brief affair with Shane in Season 1, when she presumed Rick had died) about what happened and how Shane was about to kill Rick before Rick beat him to the punch. Lori pulls away from Rick in shock and disbelief. This underscores the growing tension between Rick and Lori, which remains a constant drumbeat in the Season Three opener.

Another complication is revealed when Lori confesses to Hershel (who has been the closest thing to a group medic, based on his previous occupation as a veterinarian) that she has grave fears about the health of the baby she’s carrying, including the possibility that the child might be born as a zombie, or could transform into one over time.


Michionne played by actress Danai Gurira will have a major role in season 3.

“Walking” Tall
What’s next for “The Walking Dead”? Tune in each Sunday night at 9pm EST to find out. The show’s third season will be split into two batches. The first eight episodes began with last night’s installment. Afterward, the program will go on hiatus until the spring, when the remaining eight episodes will be presented.

“The Walking Dead” is only beginning its third season but it’s already made TV history. It’s easy to see why; “The Walking Dead” is a gripping story of group survival punctuated with gruesome moments of pure horror. The story is compelling and its often nauseating special effects rival anything put on film. No wonder it’s a hit both with horror fans as well as those interested in learning how to create special effects.


“Walking Dead” Special FX Makeup Designer Greg Nicotero digitally zombified celebrities…such as “Lord of the Rings”/“The Hobbit” director Peter Jackson. (See the rest of the zombie celebrities at AMC’s “The Walking Dead” web site.)

If you haven’t gotten bitten by “The Walking Dead” yet, there’s still plenty of time and opportunities to get up to speed on TV’s greatest thrill-machine. In fact, you can start watching the show from the beginning: NetFlix has each episode from the first two seasons online and available as instant (and commercial-free) streaming video. (And for a brief time, the “Walking Dead” web site has the Season 3 opener online for free viewing whenever you want.)

Check in with us for future updates about “The Walking Dead.” We’re eagerly watching each Sunday night. And just like the zombies, we’re always hungry for more.

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

Best Bond Trivia: Celebrating 50 Years of 007


This summer marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond, the cinema’s all-time action star. To celebrate the series we’re taking a closer look at all things Bond. Recently, we selected the five best James Bond movies and now we’re finishing our tribute with a collection of the most amazing Bond trivia we could find.


Nobody wanted him—neither the character’s creator nor film producers. But Scottish actor Sean Connery went on to leave an unforgettable impression as the first Agent 007. 

1. The Birth of “Bond…James Bond.” Created by English author Ian Fleming in 1953, Bond made his first appearance in the novel “Casino Royale.” Before his days as an author, Fleming served in Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division. One day he told a friend: “I am going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.” Fleming eventually penned 14 James Bond books, all of which were written at Fleming’s Jamaican estate—named “GoldenEye.”

2. There are 24 “James Bond” Films. “Dr. No” (1962); “From Russia With Love” (1963); “Goldfinger” (1964); “Thunderball” (1965); “You Only Live Twice” (1967); “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969); “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971); “Live and Let Die” (1973); “The Man With the Golden Gun” (1974); “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977); “Moonraker” (1979); “For Your Eyes Only” (1981); “Octopussy” (1983); “Never Say Never Again” (1983); “A View to a Kill” (1985); “The Living Daylights” (1987); “License to Kill” (1989); “GoldenEye” (1995); “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997); “The World is Not Enough” (1999); “Die Another Day” (2002); “Casino Royale” (2006); “Quantum of Solace” (2008); and “Skyfall” (2012).

3. How he Got his Name. The name “James Bond” belonged to a real person—an American ornithologist and author named James Bond who was a published expert on the subject of birds found in the Caribbean. Fleming wanted a plain, simple name for the agent, who he envisioned as “an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.” The character was based on different intelligence agents Fleming had known during WWII, when he himself was an intelligence agent.

4. The Longest and Shortest James Bond Film. The average length of a Bond movie is approximately 125 minutes, 25 seconds. The shortest film in the series: 2008’s “Quantum of Solace” (106 minutes). The longest James Bond movie: 2006’s “Casino Royale” (144 minutes).

5. The Very First James Bond. Sean Connery was not the first actor to play the secret agent. American actor Barry Nelson portrayed 007 in a television adaptation of “Casino Royale,” back in 1954. Connery was also not the first choice of Bond creator Ian Fleming – who originally envisioned dapper and witty English actor David Niven playing 007. (Fleming said that Bond might have looked like Hoagy Carmichael, a popular American singer.) Connery was not even the first choice of film producers, who originally wanted actor Peter Anthony. When Connery was allowed to meet with producers, he showed up looking unshaven and acting as if he couldn’t care less if he got the role. The attitude he displayed won him the part of a lifetime.

6. The Men Who Would be Bond, Pt. 1. Some of the actors originally considered for the part of James Bond included front-runner Cary Grant, James Mason, Patrick McGoohan and Rex Harrison.


Who’s this guy? Wearing a suit that would make Austin Powers proud, George Lazenby stunned film producers when he announced he would leave the Bond series after only one film…the movie he was still shooting (1969′s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”).

7. Most Successful Bond Film: 1965’s “Thunderball.” When adjusting its revenues for inflation, “Thunderball” has earned slightly more than a billion dollars ($1.04 billion), making it the series box-office champ.

8. Who Played 007? In the James Bond film series, the character has been played by: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.

9. The Theme. Written by English composer Monty Norman and arranged by film composer John Barry, the twangy “James Bond Theme” is one of the most universally known pieces of music ever recorded. The signature electric guitar part, laden with echo, was played by studio ace Vic Flick. (His instrument was a Clifford Essex Paragon Cello-Bodied electric guitar, fitted with a DeAmond volume pedal and played through a 15-watt Vox amplifier. That guitar is now on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.)

10. An Evil Monkey Could Have Been Bond’s Nemesis. An early draft of the “Dr. No” script was rejected because the title villain had been written as a monkey (presumably an evil monkey with a scheme to take over the world).

11. Bond Makes Bank. In today’s dollars, the Bond series of films has grossed more than $12 billion worldwide, which makes it the second-highest-grossing film series of all time, right behind the “Harry Potter” series. It has been estimated that a full quarter of the world’s population has seen at least one James Bond film.

12. Most Appearances as James Bond. Roger Moore stayed on the job longer than any other Bond actor—twelve years to be exact. Moore is also tied for the most performances as James Bond. Both he and Sean Connery have each appeared seven times as Agent 007.


The Aston Martin DB5 featured in “Goldfinger” became a celebrity itself. The Corgi miniature model of it became the best-selling toy of 1964.

13. Most Memorable Movie Line. Bond’s signature phrase, “Bond…James Bond” has been praised as one of the greatest catch phrases in all of movies. The American Film Institute named it the 22nd greatest quotation in film history and in 2001, British movie fans voted it the best-loved one-liner in cinema history.

14. Biggest Opening for Bond. When “Quantum of Solace” opened in the United Kingdom in 2008, it set the opening-weekend record. It also scored the highest-grossing opening weekend Bond film in the U.S., raking in $67.5 million for the weekend.

15. Rejected Title Song. Country music giant Johnny Cash submitted a potential “Thunderball” theme song to the film’s producers, but it was rejected by the film’s producers.

16. Bond’s Most Famous Ride. Bond’s most famous vehicle was a slate gray Aston Martin DB5 first introduced in “Goldfinger.” The car’s famous accessories included hidden machine guns, a metal plate for deflecting gunfire, revolving license plates (good in all countries), and the piece de resistance, a passenger ejector seat that fired undesirable henchmen out the top of the vehicle.

17. Age of the Actors. The youngest actor to portray James Bond was George Lazenby (age 30), who starred in only one Bond movie, 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” The oldest actor to star as Bond was Roger Moore, who was a ripe old 57 during shooting of 1985’s “A View to a Kill.”

18. Bond’s Favorite Casino Game is called Chemin de Fer, a French version of the card game Baccarat. Agent 007 plays the classy game in “Dr. No,” “Thunderball,” the 1967 version of “Casino Royale,” “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” “For Your Eyes Only” and “GoldenEye.”


Suave Roger Moore kept the Bond role for a record twelve years. His Bond was as quick with witty banter as he was with a gun.

19. Fleming’s Thoughts on the Big Screen Bond. When Bond author Ian Fleming saw the preview screening for the first Bond film, “Dr. No,” his initial response was “Dreadful. Simply dreadful.”

20. Weapons of Choice. The Walther PPN is Bond’s current sidearm. For years, however, he carried the Walther PPK, although he used a Beretta 418 during the first five novels. When Fleming heard from a Bond fan and gun enthusiast, who called the Beretta “a lady’s gun” and that “Bond should instead use a Walther PPK 7.65mm.” At various times Bond has used other weapons, including rifles and other handguns. The most unique gun he ever carried may have been the tricked-out attaché case from “From Russia with Love,” which contained an assault rifle built right into the briefcase…which could also shoot daggers and emit teargas.

21. Casino Royale(s). The film with the greatest number of actors portraying James Bond was (undoubtedly) 1967’s “Casino Royale,” which differs significantly from the 2006 movie with Daniel Craig. The first “Casino Royale” was a broad spy spoof which featured six actors each portraying James Bond, including Woody Allen as “Jimmy Bond.”

22. Balding Bond. Connery was already starting to go bald when he won the part of James Bond. In each of his films as Agent 007, he sported a toupee.

23. The Only Actor Asked Back. British actor Timothy Dalton was originally approached to possibly play James Bond in 1969. Dalton tested for the role, but took himself out of the running, saying he felt he was too young to play the part. George Lazenby would step into the role instead, although Dalton would get his chance again years later in 1987 when he played Bond in “The Living Daylights.”

24. Biggest Bond Explosion. The ending of “Thunderball” shows villain Emilio Largo’s souped-up power yacht (named “The Disco Volante,” or flying saucer) running aground on a Bahamas island and exploding in a gi-normous fireball. To produce a sufficiently powerful explosion, the effects coordinator used an experimental rocket fuel. However, not knowing how much of the fuel to use, he doused the entire yacht with the stuff. The massive resulting explosion actually blew out windows in Nassau—more than 30 miles away.


Timothy Dalton (seen here in “License to Kill”) was first approached to play Bond in 1969. He turned down the role then, but didn’t make the same mistake in 1987.

25. Bond Breaks Character. There has only been one time during the entire history of the James Bond film franchise when the actor portraying the Bond character makes a reference to existing within a film series. This occurs during “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” when George Lazenby quips “This never happened to the other fellow,” making a reference to the freshly departed Sean Connery. The incident has not happened since.

26. Oscar Winning Bond. The first Bond film to win an Academy Award was 1964’s “Goldfinger,” it captured the Oscars for Best Effects and Sound Effects.

27. SPECTRE Defined. While the U.S. was engaged in a Cold War with Russia, Bond doggedly fought against the forces of evil organization SPECTRE. Here’s what SPECTRE stands for: SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

28. Before They Were Famous. The Russian-trained assassin Bond faces in 1963’s “From Russia With Love” was played by Robert Shaw—who played Quint, the salty fisherman in 1974’s mega-hit “Jaws.”

29. An English Record Holder. “Live and Let Die” drew the biggest British television audience for a film broadcast on TV. The 1973 adventure was seen by 23.5 million viewers, a record that still stands.

30. Best Bond Babe? The first “Bond girl” was Ursula Andress, who played Honey Rider in “Dr. No.” “Entertainment Weekly” ranked her tops among “Bond Babes.” Her iconic white bikini—which helped popularize the swimsuit—sold at a 2001 auction for $61,000. (Halle Berry’s outfit in “Die Another Day” was based on Ursula’s iconic outfit.)


Ian Fleming wrote 14 James Bond novels and created one of the biggest film franchises of all time. Like his most famous character, Fleming enjoyed the finer things while having a definite taste for danger.

31. AFI Hero. In 2005, the American Film Institute hailed James Bond as the third-greatest film hero of all time. “Premiere” magazine listed Bond as the fifth-greatest movie character.

32. First Bond Movie. The films’ producers wanted “Thunderball” to be the first film, but due to a legal wrangle involving the screenplay, “Dr. No” became the first James Bond movie.

33. The Bond Theme Song. The most successful songs from James Bond movies were also big hits on the pop charts. The most popular have been “Goldfinger” (sung by Shirley Bassey), “Live and Let Die” (Paul McCartney & Wings), “Nobody Does it Better” (Carly Simon), “Thunderball” (Tom Jones) and “For Your Eyes Only” (Sheena Easton).

34. The Last Movie President Kennedy Ever Saw. President John F. Kennedy was a big fan of the Bond spy novels, and the movies made from them. In a “Look” magazine interview he included “From Russia With Love” in his list of ten favorite books, and held a private White House screening of “Dr. No.” In fact, Kennedy showed “From Russia With Love” at the White House on November 20, 1963…just days before his assassination in Dallas—making it the last motion picture he ever saw.

35. Bond Sets Records. At one time, “The Guinness Book of World Records” listed “Goldfinger” as the fastest-grossing film of all time. To meet the insane demand for the film, New York City theaters started running the movie around the clock.

36. Saint Roger Moore. During casting for “Dr. No,” Roger Moore had been considered for the part but rejected, partly because he was in the process of signing to star in a new TV detective show. Roger Moore’s “The Saint,” which made him an international star, premiered exactly one day before “Dr. No” opened in theaters.


James Bond No. 5, smooth Pierce Brosnan, came to the role after playing the title role of TV detective “Remington Steele.”

37. Worst Bond Film? Perhaps the least successful film of the series was 1974’s “The Man With the Golden Gun,” a film that failed with audiences and critics alike.

38. Breathtaking Performance. Singer Tom Jones belted out the title song to “Thunderball” with such leather-lunged gusto that he literally fainted while singing the tune’s ending. “I closed my eyes,” Jones later recalled, “And I held the note for so long that when I opened my eyes the room was spinning.”

39. License to Fail. The Bond picture with the weakest box office performance was 1989’s “License to Kill.”

40. Never Say Never. Perhaps the oddest Bond flick is 1983’s “Never Say Never Again,” in which hard-charging Sean Connery returned to the role he made famous in the early sixties. It was strange enough that one year would produce both a Roger Moore Bond film (“Octopussy”) as well as a Sean Connery Bond film, as if the two were competing. There was also the fact that “Never” is almost an exact duplicate of “Thunderball.” The plot is the same and many of the other details are lifted exactly from the earlier classic. To see Connery eighteen years older hustling through the same plot is like a weird funhouse trick.

41. Bring in the Helicopters. Bond movies must have helicopters, as they have done since the second Bond flick, “From Russia With Love.” The only movie of the series that lacked a helicopter sequence was “The Man With the Golden Gun,” which fizzled at the box office.

42. Bond’s Connection to Willie Wonka and Austin Powers. “You Only Live Twice” featured a screenplay by noted writer Roald Dahl, who would be better known for writing “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and creating the character of Willy Wonka. (In the film, villainous mastermind Ernst Blofeld wears the same type of Nehru jacket that Mike Meyers would sport as Dr. Evil in “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.”)


Daniel Craig returns to movie screens as James Bond in “Skyfall.”

43. Evil Genius. Orson Welles (“Citizen Kane,” “Touch of Evil”) was considered for the title role of “Goldfinger,” but he reportedly wanted too much gold for his performance.

44. Bond Pays for Protection. During the 1972 shooting of “Live and Let Die,” portions of the story had to be filmed in New York’s notoriously dangerous Harlem area. Producers paid protection money to a local gang. As legend tells it, when the cash had been spent, the film crew was “encouraged” to leave the area immediately.

45. Bond Babies. The James Bond series spawned an endless number of imitators. For the coolest TV version, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” the show’s producers sought and received guidance from Ian Fleming himself. The Bond creator even named one of the show’s characters, dreaming up one of the all-time great spy names: Napoleon Solo.

46. James Bond’s Favorite Bond. Although somewhat ignored over the years, “From Russia With Love” is seeing its reputation grow among critics and fans. And this is reportedly the favorite Bond movie among Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig.

47. The Men Who Would Be Bond, Pt. 2. Actors later considered as candidates to play Bond included Burt Reynolds, Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The role was actually offered to Clint Eastwood, who respectfully declined, saying he thought the part should be played by a British actor.

48. Bond Almost Dies. Sean Connery narrowly avoided disaster during “Thunderball” when he agreed to enter a swimming pool filled with Golden Grotto sharks. Although he was given a clear plexiglass shield of sorts, the device malfunctioned, leaving Connery face to face with sharks. Connery, an expert swimmer beat a hasty retreat away from the sharks.

49. Big Bald Blofeld. The character of SPECTRE overlord Blofeld was first played by actor Donald Pleasance, who would later be identified with another successful film franchise, as the psychiatrist in the “Halloween” series of slasher movies. In “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” Blofeld was played by Telly Savalas, better known as TV’s favorite bald detective, “Kojack.”

50. Coming Attractions. It has been confirmed that a 24th James Bond film will be made. There is some speculation that it could be helmed by “Dark Knight” and “Inception” director Christopher Nolan.

His Name Means Excitement
James Bond endures as a movie mainstay because he always delivers screen excitement. For anyone interested in learning movie making and special effects, Bond movies are text-book examples of how big action movies were meant to be made. Coming up later this summer: James Bond returns in “Skyfall.”

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Space Shuttle Endeavour Takes Final Journey


On Thursday, Space Shuttle Endeavour will embark on its very last journey. After an amazing twenty years in space, Endeavour is headed toward its final home on earth.


Space Shuttle Endeavor being detached from the Boeing 747 carrier jet it hitched a final ride on. (Click image for a larger view.)

Space Shuttle Endeavour flew 25 missions, including 12 missions to help construct and outfit the International Space Station. But now the traveling days of this “frequent flyer” are over. The space shuttle is now earthbound.

Endeavour’s “Victory Lap”
The fifth and final NASA space shuttle built as a replacement for Challenger (which was destroyed 73 seconds after launch on January 28, 1986), Space Shuttle Endeavour first flew way back in May 1992, as part of the STS-49 mission.


The Los Angeles Times 360 degree view of the shuttle Endeavour: bringing you the shuttle up close and personal.

The craft remained in service through its last trip into space, during the STS-134 mission of May 2011. The final landing of Endeavour also marks the end of America’s space shuttle program. With the last outfitting of the International Space Station (a permanently staffed floating space laboratory located 250 miles above Earth) completed, the shuttle program was seen as no longer being essential and NASA retired the shuttle fleet.

Space Shuttle Endeavour made a slow journey from its previous home in Florida to its final location in California. Ironically, Endeavour was constructed in California (following the Challenger tragedy) and its trip home on the back of a specially built 747 was a nostalgic one for Californians.

Grounded in Los Angeles 
The process of getting Endeavour to its final resting place at the California Science Center was a challenging one. It all started when the space shuttle was flown piggy-back style on a NASA Boeing 747 aircraft from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center to Los Angeles International Airport. It took landing crews 12 hours to detach the Endeavour from the 747 that had carried it on its last flight.

Once safely on the ground, those crews used giant cranes to raise the aircraft enough to be maneuvered into a special hangar at the airport.


Los Angeles locals will experience the worst traffic jam since Carmageddon when the Endeavour rolls through town.

Endeavour is perched atop a special transporter vehicle designed to safely haul the 78-ton aircraft through the streets of Los Angeles. When it eventually find its new home at the Science Center’s Samuel Oschin Display Pavilion, Endeavour will take up residence as the most famous exhibit there. It will go on public display on Oct. 30, when the Endeavour exhibit opens to the public.

Shuttle Stats:

  • Endeavour racked up nearly 123 million miles (198 million km) of space travel during 4,671 flights.
  • Endeavour made some twenty low-altitude fly-bys over noted California landmarks like San Francisco and Disneyland on its last flight.
  • The transporter that will carry the shuttle to the California Science Center will take two-days to cover the twelve miles journey.
  • Named after a ship chartered to traverse the South Pacific in 1768 and captained by 18th century British explorer James Cook, an experienced seaman, navigator and amateur astronomer. Cook commanded a crew of 93 men, including 11 scientists and artists.
  • During an Endeavour mission the longest in space walk in history was recorded; the stroll lasted more than eight hours.
  • Endeavour’s STS-118 mission flight was the first launch for the orbiter in more than four years.

 


The spaceship in its prime; here 400 miles above Earth and waiting to dock with the International Space Station.

So as Endeavour takes a well-deserved final bow, we think about how its cargo transport enabled the establishment of the International Space Station and the tremendous amount of knowledge that we’ve subsequently gained in our understanding of the universe we all share.

For kids interested in becoming astronauts, they shouldn’t worry: Space travel will continue without Endeavour. And ultra-modern space camps will keep inspiring future generations of explorers.

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posted by Vince Matthews in News Blog,Science & Engineering and have No Comments

Remembering Steve Jobs


It’s been exactly one year since the brilliant founder and CEO of Apple Computer passed away. For not only the tech community, but for the world as a whole, the death of Steve Jobs has left a void that won’t soon be filled.


Jobs in his younger years, embracing his personal Apple Macintosh computer. The Apple Macintosh would be the forerunner of all Macs to come.

A visionary on many levels, Jobs drove technological innovation at Apple for more than three decades while also inspiring others with the technology he helped create. October 5th marks the anniversary of his death.

Remembering the Man
Steve Jobs achievements and legacy are far-reaching. He pioneered the smartphone revolution. He made digital music truly portable. He challenged his colleagues and co-workers to deliver world-class products that were industry game-changers. Jobs introduced technology to every consumer demographic, by designing products virtually everyone has wanted to own.


Visitors to Apple’s web site on the one-year anniversary of Jobs’ death saw a moving video and a solemnly read note by Apple’s current CEO, Tim Cook.

In Steve Jobs own words, he believed in making progress by not following others. He believed in taking chances. “There is no reason not to follow your heart,” he told Stanford’s 2005 graduates. “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”

Sure, Jobs had his faults (as we all do), but history will remember a man that stands alongside Alexander Graham Bell, Nikola Tesla and others who have worked in different technological fields as inventors and innovators. And even though he’s gone, Jobs will remain in the public consciousness for a long time. In fact, there are several bio movies now in production, including one with Ashton Kutcher playing Steve Jobs, that are expected soon in theaters.

Looking back, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world without Apple. Life without the iPhone or minus the Mac? “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve,” Apple said shortly after Jobs’ passing and it’s still hard to disagree.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments

Behind-the-Scenes: Making “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”


As the three-part prequel to the massively popular “The Lord of the Rings” films, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” re-introduces us to Middle Earth characters like Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins. Together, the unlikely pair embark on their first brave journey…


What’s gotten under Gollum’s skin? Maybe, it’s actor Andy Serkis; he plays the character in the new film—and had the same role in previous “The Lord of the Rings” movies—using a motion capture suit. 

The Fellowship of the Hobbit
Film rights for “The Hobbit” had been tied up in bankruptcy procedures with MGM Studios. But IMAX 3D will finally bring audiences into the story when the film hits theaters just before the Christmas holiday. It’s expected to be a holiday box-office record-setter.

The cast for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is made up of great actors like Cate Blanchett, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving and Christopher Lee, and they bring the ancient world of J.R.R. Tolkien to life. Just take a look at the new trailer for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.


Gandalf is once again played by Sir Ian McKellen. 

The story is straight from the Tolkien book: a curious Hobbit (Bilbo Baggins) follows a wizard into the wild (Lonely Mountain, to be exact). The purpose of the trip, taken with a stout group of dwarves, is to recapture a grand prize from an evil dragon.

When film production finally started in March 2011, the actors and crew headed to New Zealand. That is, except for Ian Holm and Christopher Lee, who filmed their scenes at London’s Pinewood Studios, due to health reasons. But that’s not the only juicy bits of Hobbit trivia we were able to dig up:

  • The production was almost cast out of New Zealand when several unions and guilds blacklisted the production.
  • Martin Freeman (Bilbo Baggins) and Benedict Cumberbatch (Smaug/Necromancer) have acted together before—previously in the BBC production of “Sherlock” (based on Sherlock Holmes). Cumberbatch played the title role of Holmes while Freeman portrayed Dr. Watson.
  • Guillermo del Toro was originally set to direct but stepped down when MGM put the project on hold while it recovered from bankruptcy.

 


“Dragon? Did you say ‘dragon’? Nobody said anything about dragons…” Bilbo and his counterparts are greeted by a new challenge.

Production Stills: The Cast of Characters
Fans can’t get enough of the early buzz and online sneaks. With the film’s director Peter Jackson doing video blogs for “The Hobbit” production and character stills appearing, message boards and Facebook pages have lit up with anticipation about the movie. It’s easy to see why in the stunning production stills.


Actor Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins.

Bilbo Baggins is beckoned by the wizard Gandalf the Grey to join a group of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their quest is to recapture the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug…but Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Giant Spiders, Shapeshifters and Sorcerers all lie in their path.

Spoiler Alert: It’s also in this movie that Bilbo gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring. Get ready for classic Tolkien action, adventure and un-imaginable fantasy—all served up Dungeons & Dragons style.


The cast of characters in “The Hobbit” rivals “The Lord of the Rings” films—and their wardrobe and make-up are just as impressive.

Making Make-Believe
The film employed both traditional theatrical artists (like make-up) and digital ones to create the characters. For example, the 3D character creation team (of over 300 people) was using Maya to create Orcs and Goblins.

Pencil artists even took to 3D storyboarding so filmmakers could get an accurate look at what shots might look like in the third dimension. In fact, not a detail was overlooked to bring the digital re-creation of the amazing literary classic to life.


Grab a pair of old-school 3D glasses to get the full impact of this 3D scene from “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.

Add all this hard work up and you’ve got the recipe for a blockbuster. This looks to be Hollywood filmmaking at its finest and we can’t wait for one of the most anticipated films of the year to hit IMAX screens. “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” will open December 14.

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posted by Vince Matthews in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

How Do I Get the Apple iOS 6 Update?


Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod users can now rejoice…because the wait for iOS 6 is over. The update is now live and available for download.


With the new Maps app available with iOS 6, certain cities—like San Francisco—are showcased in dazzling 3D.

To get the update all you need to do is hook up your iDevice to your computer and launch iTunes. Apple will take it from there.

If you prefer to go wireless, you can download directly through your device, by opening your iDevice’s Settings, then selecting “General” and clicking on “Software Update.” Download times will vary and depend on a few things, like your connection speed and your current iOS. For example, if your iDevice OS is a few versions old, it could take significantly longer than if you’ve updated the OS regularly.

iOS 6 Features
The update (600 MB in size) is a goldmine, packed with more than 200 new features. Like Apple’s new Maps app, which replaces Google Maps as the iDevice choice for navigation assistance. In addition to offering voice-based navigation that tells you where to make each turn, “Maps” even contains a dazzling feature (“Flyover”) that uses a 3D display to showcase certain cities.


The Passbook app in iOS 6. No more fumbling for boarding passes or movie tickets.

For fans of social media, Facebook is integrated into the OS, while users familiar with Google Wallet will enjoy Passbook—which operates like a virtual wallet, storing digital items like movie tickets and airline tickets in your iDevice.

And if you’re an iPad user who’s felt jealous of your iPhone-carrying friends because they’ve gotten to know Siri, you can relax because there’s now plenty of Siri to go around. The iOS 6 update enables users of the third-generation iPad (as well as the new iPod Touch) to issue voice commands to Siri, who always responds with good advice spoken pleasantly. Plus, thanks to this update, she does even more now, including finding information about movies, restaurants and sporting news, and posting your direct comments to your Twitter or Facebook page.


Hottest new sportscaster of the year? Soon Siri will be delivering more sports news than ESPN.

It’s clear that iOS 6 represents a significant leap forward for the iOS—which is not surprising since the iOS will come standard on the iPhone 5. For programmers who are already exploiting the features of the last iOS, iOS 6 gives app developers a chance to really showcase their skills.

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posted by Phill Powell in iPhone News & Tips,News Blog and have No Comments

“Dark Knight Rises” Sequel


Okay, so it’s not actually a sequel. In fact, it’s not even a movie yet, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood voices from discussing the next Batman movie—three or four years ahead of time.


If you’re a video gamer the next Batman movie may look very familiar.

While “The Dark Knight Rises” continues to climb at the box-office (with total global earnings now officially above $1 billion), there is already lots of industry talk about what will happen next to the Caped Crusader. Christopher Nolan has already stated “DKR” will be the last film in the trilogy the director started with 2005’s “Batman Begins.” So, as massively successful as this franchise reboot has been, it’s time to start re-imagining the next series of Batman films.

Unfortunately fans eager to see a new Batman movies will have to wait – a new Batman movie isn’t expected to hit theaters until 2016.

Lunatics in the Asylum 
That main rumor circulating the fan sites is the newly rebooted franchise will be based on the “Batman: Arkham Asylum” video game produced by Eidos Interactive/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment (and developed by Rocksteady Studios on the Epic Games Unreal engine). Reportedly, Warner Bros. movie executives have been wowed by the mammoth popularity of the “Arkham Asylum” game, which spawned a sequel.

Both games received raves from game sites and top game magazines. The original dynamic, third-person action/adventure found our old friend, The Joker, running a demented asylum full of Gotham’s most diabolical and dangerous criminals.

A League of Their Own
The Batman 2016 project looks to be just one in an entire new series of blockbusters featuring the stalwart superheroes of the DC Universe. According to rumors, the Batman movie will be preceded by a Justice League film due for release in 2015, not to mention the next Superman movie—“Man of Steel,” now scheduled for 2013 release. (Also in the pipeline: films featuring Wonder Woman and The Flash.)

Guest Scars
The Joker figures prominently in “Arkham Asylum,” which has comics fans wondering if Batman’s greatest villain will return in the 2016 reboot. This could prove tricky for any actor bold enough to take on the role, which was made unforgettable by Heath Ledger in his final (and Oscar-winning) film performance in “The Dark Knight.”


Batman’s main nemesis, The Joker, is the head madman in charge of “Arkham Asylum.”

Fans are also wondering if arch-criminal Bane—who’s still battling it out with Batman in theaters, by the way—might show up in the next Batman project. Bane (played in “DKR” by Tom Hardy) appears in “Arkham Asylum,” so there could be some basis for bringing back the grate-faced villain in the next Batman blockbuster.   

Never Can Say Goodbye
Even though director Christopher Nolan has now finished his Batman trilogy, he is still being consulted by Warner Bros. concerning where and how the franchise should move forward from here. Industry people in the know expect Nolan to serve as an Executive Producer on the next Batman films. If the mortals who run the DC Universe have their way, the next few years will see an explosion of movies starring DC characters.

Reportedly, producers instructed the digital filmmakers who will bring The Justice League to the big screen that this new film should have a unique visual look…and look nothing like 2012′s “The Avengers.”

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posted by Phill Powell in Digital Filmmaking,News Blog and have No Comments

iPhone 5: New Features Announced


In what can only be called the biggest electronics industry announcement of 2012, manufacturing giant Apple Computer has shaken the street with news of its forthcoming iPhone 5—easily the most eagerly anticipated electronics product of the year.


Apple’s Phil Schiller showed off the new iPhone at the manufacturer’s press announcement event.

Industry rumors have fueled speculation about this product launch for nearly a year and some of the most obvious predictions have come true as expected. But, as usual, Apple saved a few surprises for the actual announcement at San Francisco’s Yerba Art Center.

Here are some of the revelations about the iPhone 5:

Bigger is Better

With a 4-inch screen, the new iPhone 5 is giving users a bigger picture. 

iPhone rumors indicated Apple was delivering a larger display with the iPhone 5 – that turned out to be true. The familiar 3.5-inch screen that’s graced every previous iPhone is finally being updated, with an enhanced screen that now measures 4 inches diagonally.

To LTE or Not to LTE?
LTE is said to be the next wave, and U.S. phone carriers have almost been demanding that the new iPhone be LTE-enhanced. The iPhone 5 is the first Apple smartphone to feature 4G-LTE network connectivity, which offers a tenfold increase in data speed when compared to the average home broadband connection. The iPhone 5 will work with the LTE networks sponsored by Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.

Getting the Hook Up

This artist’s rendering predicted a new front end and dock connector for the iPhone 5, but the estimated pin count was incorrect.

It’s been nearly ten years since Apple made any substantial changes to the design of the iPhone dock connector. Today’s announcement of a radical improvement in the docking port was an expected and welcome change. The new dock connector is called “lightning” and the Apple connector trades in the existing 30-pin connector for an 8-pin connector. Apple will be selling adapter cables for use with older equipment.

Thinner, Sleeker
New iDevice launches are about unveiling sharp-looking products, and the iPhone 5 does offer some cosmetic changes—like a thinner body design that’s only 0.3 inches thick. The new model also features a metal or partly metallic back.

Coming to Grips with Chips

The iPhone 5 will utilize the new A6 chip in the iPhone 5—and not the A5X chip shown here. 

It was expected that Apple would follow its established release model, meaning the iPhone 5 would contain the same A5X chip featured on the most-recent iPad release, except in a specially optimized version for the iPhone 5. Instead, however, Apple announced that the new iPhone will have ramped-up processing speeds—maybe twice as fast, even—thanks to the use of the new A6 chip.

Special Delivery
Apple has traditionally followed the format of withholding some special product surprises until the actual announcement presentation. Today Apple announced an improvement to the iPhone 5’s camera. The enhanced iSight camera offers increased ability to take pictures in low-light settings, as well as a new mode for capturing panoramic shots. The camera also enables users to snap pix while shooting video.

Apple also introduced an update to iOS 6, the iPhone’s operating system. The updated software will also be available for download by owners of previous models.

Now that Apple has whipped up its iPhone consumer base to a frenzy, all that remains is for consumers to wait for September 21st, which is when the new devices become available. The 16-GB version will start at $199, with 32 GB and 64 GB models costing $299 and $399 respectively. For consumers who just cannot wait to get their hands on the new iPhone, Apple will start taking pre-orders on September 14th.

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posted by Phill Powell in Apple,News Blog and have No Comments

World’s Best Tech Camp Starts Summer at Stanford


Summer is here and if you’re like most families, summer camp will most likely be part of your summer plans. But summer camps today are way different from those your parents attended. Now instead of making leather bracelets, kids and teens are making technology.


Digital Media Academy’s classroom at Stanford—air conditioned and decked out with brand new iMacs and Mario pixel art.

“I Will Create the Next _______”
Learning app development for the Apple iPhone and Video Game Design camp is a different kind of “screen time” and can be a great way to inspire young imaginations. At DMA, campers aged 6 to 17 choose their area of interest during week-long or two-week courses. They all create technology while meeting other young people like themselves and forging lifelong friendships.

This year Digital media Academy has added exciting brand-new tech camps to all twelve university locations across the United States and Canada:

DMA’s Adventures in Science & Engineering program brings kids age 8 through 12 face to face with science and some of its coolest applications. Campers construct buildings with CAD technology, learning about concepts such as structural stress. Junior inventors also get to build water rockets and solar race cars while grasping key principles about aerodynamics and how machines work. Kids even use Scratch to make their own 2D video games. This is hands-on science coupled with the summer camp experience of a lifetime.

Meanwhile, PS3 & Xbox 360 Game Development with Unity is perfect for the youngster (age 13 to 17) who wants to design and build a next-generation game for the Xbox 360 or PS3. Campers use the industry-standard Unity game engine to help them put together a playable first- or third-person game. Topics covered include game-development work flow, asset preparation, integrating animation, controlling characters, collision detection and weapon interactions. This summer camp experience is ideal for the dedicated gamer.

Another new program debuting at DMA’s Stanford location is the Academy for 3D Modeling, Animation and Visual Effects, for ages 12 through 17. Campers in this program get to go behind the scenes of Hollywood’s coolest blockbusters and find out how special-effects artists are able to work their special visual magic. And by using cutting-edge software like Maya and After Effects, students are exposed to animation basics, motion tracking, color correction, green screen technology and 3D rendering. Learn how the pros do it…by doing it yourself.


At Digital Media Academy’s tech camp (located at Palo Alto’s scenic Stanford University) a teen learns to create a Web site.

Est. 2002
This summer DMA celebrates more than ten years of delivering the finest technology summer camp experience around. It is the only tech camp founded at Stanford University by Stanford technology educators—and it’s grown. The company now operates programs at locations across the country, hosted by some of the nation’s most prestigious college and university campuses. It’s no wonder Digital Media Academy was ranked the world’s best technology summer camp by Worth.com in 2011.

With world-class industry-based instruction and the best in today’s latest software, a DMA summer can deliver lasting benefits and inspire kids and teens to get moving on their career dreams. Make summer vacation count…with Digital Media Academy.

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posted by Phill Powell in Technology Summer Camps and have No Comments