Logic inspired reviews, smart talk and advice from a "Tech" Dads point of view

CES 2014: Makerbot announces 5th Generation Printers

It was good timing (2nd year running) that I was in Las Vegas for CES 2014.  While I did have business reasons to attend CES , I had to make sure I made it over to the 3D Printing TechZoneMy 3D PLA printing dreams were realized with the purchase of a Makerbot Replicator 2 just before the New Year, so visiting Makerbot’s booth just after they announced their new line of  three printers and a 3D Digitizer was a must.  I didn’t get time to see the digitizer in action but I hope to in the near future for a hands on review.

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My Replicator 2 is less than a month old as I was worried about Makerbot pulling an Apple on me by replacing my brand new printer with a better, faster and cheaper version than the one I JUST bought. They almost did all three, pricing the Replicator 2’s eventual replacement (now simply ‘The Replicator’) at $2799.00.  Add on “Makercare” for $245.00 and your just north of $3000.00.  While The Replicator may indeed be better and faster, it’s also almost $1000 more than what I paid for the Replicator 2 during their recent $1899.00 holiday promotion. I did ok.  So what’s new?

Makerbot Replicator Mini

At $1375.00, the Makerbot mini certainly isn’t cheap but it does get you into the game.  The mini features a self-leveling platform, a fully enclosed build surface and wifi connectivity.  Take notice of its small 3.9 L x 3.9 W x 4.9 H inch build platform – at that size I wouldn’t be able to print that game-changing iPhone 5s case I’ve had in the works.  For me, this one is just too small but you might have smaller ambitions, eh?  Also, and most importantly, the Mini prints at 200 microns resolution.  I almost missed that in the specs which won’t give you the same quality of print as Makerbot’s other printers.

Cost: $1375 USD | Shipping: Spring 2014 | Link: Makerbot Store

Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation

For $2899, the new Replicator 5th gen has both USB and ethernet connections (wifi listed as coming soon), assisted build platform leveling, a 3.5 inch full color LCD display (NICE!) with a retro knob controller and  a very large 20.8 L X 17.4 W X 16.2 H inch build area (11% bigger then the Replicator 2) and a glass platform.  It should be noted that the build platform remains unheated just like the Replicator 2.  I will assume that this will be their best seller going forward, eventually retiring the Replicator 2 which I can see lasting into 2014.

Cost: $2899 USD | Shipping: NOW !!! | Link: Makerbot Store

Makerbot Replicator z18

Makerbot Z18 a.k.a. “The Monolith”

So this one is the big daddy of the Makerbot line. With a HUGE 12.0 L x 12.0 W x 18.0 H inch build capacity, I see many plastic Eiffel Towers in your future.  Of course, at $6,499 you may have to put off that Paris vacation to afford this one.  Features include 100 micron resolution, a 3.5 inch full color LCD display with a retro knob controller, a heated build chamber and “Super Flat Build Plate.”  I was told by a representative at the booth that the Z18’s build plate should only need to be leveled once.  You can connect the Z18 to a Mac/PC via a USB cable, USB stick, ethernet cable or wireless.

Cost: $6,499 USD | Shipping: Spring 2014 | Link: Makerbot Store

CAMERA AND SMART EXTRUDER

The Mini, Replicator and the Z18 all feature a built in camera so that you can remotely monitor the build with an iPhone.  There’s also a smart extruder that detects filament breaks and sends notifications to your computer or mobile device when it detects a problem.  So one may consider these features more fluff than function, but they do have their uses.  I think the possibility of live streaming of a build (people are really fascinated to see any 3D printer operate) and the ease of social sharing make the camera a potentially valued addition.  As for the smart extruder, anything done in this area to make what are essentially glue guns more capable is worthwhile.  I don’t know if it’s possible, but down the road, I would also like to see Makerbot selling upgraded extruders for their current Makerbots.

FINISHING UP

Makerbot made a strong push to stay current and hip in the 3D printing wars.  Just next to their booth was the 3D SYSTEMS which was showing off CubePro that prints up to 3 simultaneous colors (at 75 microns) for around $5000.  I won’t get into the ceramic and sugar/chocolate (yes, chocolate!) printers they had.  It’s a race on price, features and flexibility.  Makebot seems well positioned to be the go to company for small businesses, schools, designers and tinkerers who want to realize their designs TODAY because tomorrow is just too long to wait!

Makerbot Industries can unlock the inner designer/product engineer in all of us.  As these devices drop below $1000, the barrier of entry costs are less than a 60″ LCD TV at Walmart.  It is my goal to use these devices to turn my now 5 year old into a young engineer, giving her the ability to design whatever comes to mind.  Looking at her face as she watches the printer operate, I can see the gears turning.  I intend to get one of his printers into my daughters school at some point in the future.  Even if I have to buy one myself and donate it, it’s that important.  These are exciting times.

As I left the floor at the end of day one I ran across Bre who was kind enough chat for a minute and pose for a photo.

As I left the floor at the end of day one I ran across Bre Pettis (CEO of Makerbot Industries) who was kind enough to chat for a minute and pose for a photo.  I told him I appreciate his work and where his company is heading.  I intend to get one of his printers into my daughters school at some point in the future, even if I have to buy one myself and donate it. I believe it’s that important.

Oblivion – Review

OblivionAs other reviewers are mentioning – being a sci-fi fan isn’t an advantage while viewing Oblivion. In fact, it’s a downer as you can almost say some of the lines with the main actors. If one can forget their degree in sci-fi  ( with a minor in post-apocalyptic survival flicks ) you’ll just marvel at the stunning visuals Oblivion has to offer. Tom Cruise is his regular haptic self with plenty of meat to deal with but you can see around corners in this movie.

Oblivion starts with a narrative of how the Earth was decimated in a “we won the battle but lost the planet” ( and the moon)  type of way. Mankind has shifted to Titan – leaving behind a mop-up crew to service killer drones that apparently kill off the remnants of the moon killing alien invasion force that want to sabotage the salt-water sucking Dyson vacuum cleaner energy harvesters. Breath.  Speaking of Titan, I’m not sure I’d want to leave a floating condo in the clouds ( Lando Calrissian would be proud ) and miss my midnight swims with Andrea Riseborough for soothing methan winds of Titan . Still, this duo has just two weeks to go before they return to Titan “with the others” and then Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) has to screw it all up. Typical ‘me me me’ post-apocalyptic thinking!

It’s hard to mention even the smallest plot points past the opening without giving everything away but I’ll say this – Morgan Freeman and The King Slayer have tiny parts that should have / could have been expanded on. Once you start asking too many questions of Oblivion it starts to fall apart … so just don’t ask those questions. Enjoy the Drones, Andrea Riseborough’s awesome post-moon business attire ( with 4 inch heals) and eat your popcorn. You’ll really enjoy Oblivion if you come at it straight on.

All in all, for a sci-fi movie, I give Oblivion a 3/4 rating if your not sci-fi fan. If you are, it’s a 2/4 split. The production value and Cruise’s strong acting are enough to carry the day if you just accept some things in advance.

 

Iron Man 3 – New Theatrical Trailer

“There’s my boys …”

Iron Man 3 Poster - The Mandarin

Mailbox App for iOS – Initial Review

Sad face!

Mailbox settings

Mailbox App

I’ve used the much anticipated Mailbox App for a few days now with an ‘everything else’ GMAIL account. I have to say, I’m disappointed but first the positive.

The app seems to be well thought out in almost every way. It’s polished and responsive on my iPhone 4s but to use Mailbox you REALLY have to change the way you (conceptually) view email. To say the developers are attempting to move your cheese is a serious understatement … they want you to start hating ‘cheese’ altogether. With the goal of ‘Inbox Zero‘, the app seeks to whisk away all your troublesome email into GMAIL’S much misunderstood ‘ALL MAIL’ folder while ignoring your existing GMAIL labels. NO LABELS !?! Yeah, no labels. Deal with it Mr. Organized.

[Read more…]

CES 2013 Whirlwind Walkthrough

I walked through CES – almost all of it as the audio sections didn’t really interest me. Understand, I did this in about 5 hours and I’m really feeling it now. Undeniably, TV’s are the stars of CES 2012. LG is leading the charge with it’s stunning new 4K OLED panels. They have even display the promise of the future – curved displays. While these $12,000+ pixel magic babies won’t be adorning many homes in the near term, the price will come down and it’s only a matter of time before Vizio has 5 types hanging in Walmart.

Right now, I’m beat so I’m going to get a few hours sleep before catching a plane in the morning.

Spartan Race PA 2012 Review

Brain and I after the racePHYSICALLY – THE HARDEST FOUR HOURS OF MY EXISTENCE

It’s been about 10 days since my brother Brian and I both participated in our first Spartan Sprint. A 5 mile grueling test of stamina and mental fortitude – I like saying it that way because it makes what we did sound cooler!

 

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Foursquare Update

A Foursquare FaceliftFoursquare updated today. While no game changing features were added … the app did get a much nicer GUI.

Some new features include a shift to suggested venues, the ability to ‘Like’ others check-ins, venues, and posts. Images are also more prominent in this release. The application seems to be taking on a Gowalla/Path type of feel.

 

 

Why 5K Obstacle Racing ?

As an father of a 16 year old and a 3 year old – I have a ways to go in the 24/7 parenting department. When I’m 50 I need to feel 35 and still have the physical presence to scare the boys away from my two little girls. I needed to make a change and get in shape.

Enter “Obstacle Racing” – A New Beginning

Somewhere on Facebook I ran across an ad for The Spartan Race. Being a huge fan of  “The 300” I think a little targeted marketing was happening – I checked out their site and event dates – low and behold  they were going to be in Miami in just two months! Sure I could get ready ( I really couldn’t) in just two months. It looked like a lot of fun and it was much more then just running.

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Men In Black 3 – Back in Time Review

It’s be 10 years (REALLY! TEN YEARS! GETTING OLD, I AM) since we last saw Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) and Agent J (Will Smith) slugging it out with aliens – the prize being Earth’s continued existence – the Men in Black haven’t lost a step. The franchise is a little rough though.

SPOILERS AHEAD

The story starts with a prison break by assassin Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement, Flight of the Concords) – a one armed spike shooting blast from K’s past – 1969 to be exact. Boris REALLY doesn’t like the reality of living on a moon based prison and he’s a little perturbed about K shooting off his arm during their last encounter 60 years prior. Oh, and K then launched a protective shield around the planet which thwarted Boris The Animal’s brethren ( it’s just Boris if you know whats good for you) from destroying the planet. As a result, Boris’ race dies out since they can’t feed on us humans. You know, that old chestnut!

Understandably, Boris is out for some payback and decides to time travel back to 1969 (awesome year BTW!) to kill his captor before he’s K takes his arm. J follows to stop the aforementioned from happening.

We learn that K wasn’t always so gruff  and one particular event changed his outlook on life. A scene between the younger Agent K and a young child version of  Agent J really tugs at the heart strings. Very unusual for a Men in Black movie which brings us to younger K played by Josh Brolin. I can imagine Brolin, who easily upstages everyone else, sitting in his living room for months just watching the first two MIB movies in an attempt to channel the essence that is Agent K. It is really well done. The mannerisms alone are worth the price of admission.

The movie has some fun with 1969 while making a few poignant comments on the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. As Jeffery Price (Michael Chernus) observes just before Will Smith “time-jumps” off a building “it wasn’t exactly a good time for your people.” Indeed.

Also of note is the performance of Michael Stuhlbarg as “Griffin”. His ability to see the future (not just a single future but all possible futures) is lighthearted and reminded me of the type of characters in the first Men in Black film.

If your a MIB fan, your going to see this movie anyway. It’s not the best film out there at the moment so I’ll put it like this. If your one of the few who hasen’t seen The Avengers yet, go see The Avengers first. It’s then a toss up between Battleship and MIB 3 for your weekend dollars.

Men in Black III / Men in Black III 3D is currently playing nationwide and is rated PG-13.

Rating: C+

How Marvel’s Avengers sunk Hasbro’s Battleship Deep

… like Laurentian Abyss deep.

This isn’t so much a review on the Avengers as it is a commentary on the future of comic book spiced movies. There are plenty of great reviews out there like as THIS  one, THAT one and ONE MORE over there. You’ll even find some negative nellies but the numbers speak all that needs to be spoken. The Avengers / Marvel / Disney have more money than Greece, more money than Zuckerberg (if that stock keeps fallin’ – puny GODS!) [Read more…]