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April 23, 2018

Swan Songs: Music For Your Final Exit

From NPR:

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Chances are your life story can be told in a series of songs — a mix of the music you heard and loved at various stages in your life, from infancy through your teen years, on into adulthood and beyond.

This is true all the way up to the final chapter of your life, after you've shuffled off this mortal coil.

As your friends and family gather somewhere to say their goodbyes, you get one last chance to memorialize yourself with a final song.

This is the song that defines who you were or how you want to be remembered.

Or it's a final, parting thought you want to plant in the hearts and minds of the people left behind.

On this edition of "All Things Considered" we share some of the songs and stories listeners told us they'd like to have played at their funeral.

Some of the songs and the thoughts behind them are heartbreaking. Some are funny. But all are heartfelt and meaningful.

You can listen to an epic Spotify playlist (below) featuring a whole bunch of the songs listeners told us they want played at their funeral.

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FunFact: André Breton specified in his will that his body be transported to the cemetery in a moving van. 

April 23, 2018 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Flat-Pack Truck — "Drive an IKEA, then decide"

Way cool.

From The Verge:

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The Ox, a slab-sided flatpack vehicle designed to bring mobility to the developing world, just took one step closer to reality.

Oil giant Shell announced recently that it would commission a pre-production prototype of the Ox that it will then bring to India to assist in outreach programs.

The Ox first came on the scene in 2016.

It was the brainchild of Torquil Norman, a philanthropist who runs the Global Vehicle Trust, and Gordon Murray, the South African engineer who helped create the McLaren F1.

The truck is absurdly simple to assemble: its designers claim that three people can break it down into 60 parts in just 12 hours.

This allows the Ox to be shipped cheaply to developing nations, where aid workers can use it to transport water, grain, fertilizer, and building materials.

The boxy truck can seat 13 people and carry up to 4,100 pounds of cargo.

Its engine is the diesel from a Ford Transit.

And thanks to Shell, the Ox may finally see the light of day.

"The Ox is one of our most important engineering designs and it is certainly the vehicle of which I am most proud of," Murray said in a statement, "as its disruptive design has the potential to change the current mobility model and with Shell's vision this vehicle could go on to improve so many people’s lives."

April 23, 2018 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Game Boy-Style iPhone Case

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For when there's nothing of interest on your phone.

From The Verge :

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Last month, we came across a new phone case which combines the style of a classic Nintendo Game Boy with actual playability. It comes with a handful of classic games like TetrisTankFrogger, and others, and it's certainly aimed at a nostalgic audience. It looks like a classic Game Boy: a D-pad, a pair of A/B buttons, and buttons to turn it on, reset the gameplay, make a selection, and turn the sound on and off. And, of course, it has a square monochrome LCD display that mimics the original Game Boy’s screen. The problem is, I can't really figure out what the point of it is, other than to play Tetris.

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The case is called the Wanle Gamers Console For iPhone, designed for everything between the iPhone 6 and X. I grew up playing a Game Boy, and I've been on a bit of a novelty-game-device kick lately and I ended up buying one for my iPhone 8 Plus.

The initial experience is... not great. A couple of the games are unplayable (push a button, and it's immediately game over), while a couple of others are indecipherable. While it's marketed as a sort of Game Boy emulator, this reminded me a bit more of the games that you might have played on a TI-83 Graphing Calculator in school, or one of those LCD handheld games. While testing this out and playing through a bunch of the games, I kept wondering why I was doing this, rather than simply downloading one of the many variations of the games from the App Store. The games here are a nostalgic gimmick, and I found myself simply flipping my phone over to go back to playing Alto’s Odysseywhich doesn't have some of the frustrating glitches or gameplay.

There are other issues as well. As a protective case, it's thin enough to be unobtrusive. I'm not sure I really trust the case to protect my phone in the event that I actually drop it, and it doesn't feel all that well-constructed. The rubber buttons caught in my pocket, and feel really slow: the D-pad is never as responsive as I remembered on my original Game Boy, and I've lost most games because they couldn't keep up with the speed of the game. The sounds are annoying, too: Tetris just isn't Tetris without that iconic soundtrack.

There is a redeeming feature for this phone, however: while it doesn't quite compare to the real thing, the case comes equipped with some neat Tetris clones. There are a bunch of variations of the game — ones that move the blocks side to side, ones that raise them up every couple of rounds, and, of course, one that emulates the classic. While it never feels quite the same as the original, the fact that the case has physical buttons to mash make it a better alternative to the various Tetris apps that I've tried out over the years. It's just not a touchscreen game for me, and in the week or so that I’ve been playing with it, it has sucked me in a bunch of times while waiting in line at the store or while hanging around the house. Given that it runs off of a watch battery, it would make a nice backup if my phone were to die while away from a charger.

At the end of the day, the case is certainly not worth the $80 that it was marked down from on Wanle Case's website, or even the $25 I spent on it. The site is currently sold out, but you can find it online at Amazon for a much more reasonable $11.55. At that price, it's a novelty worth checking out if retro games are really your thing, but I'll probably go back to my boring, protective case soon. If I really feel nostalgic, I can always dig out my old Game Boy and enjoy Tetris the way I remember it — soundtrack and all.

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$11.55.

April 23, 2018 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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