Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Get the Best Features of Mac OS X Mountain Lion Right Now

How to Get the Best Features of Mac OS X Mountain Lion Right Now

This morning, Apple announced the next version of Mac OS X, dubbed Mountain Lion, is scheduled to be available at the end of summer. It's filled with cool new features, but who wants to wait until this summer to get them? Here's how you can get the best features of Mountain Lion right now.


Messages is a little like iChat, but it lets you send messages to iOS devices via iMessage, and if you have Mac OS X 10.7.3 on your computer, you can actually start using the Messages beta today. Just download it, install it, and start keeping your messages in sync across all your Apple devices.

Notification Center

You've probably seen Notification Center on iOS 5 as it was probably the most-desired feature lacking from Apple's mobile operating system. It provides a more subtle notification system on your mobile device and a pulldown list to see your current notification history. A similar feature will be available as part of Mac OS X Mountain Lion. Although Apple's Notification Center for the desktop is going to be a far more robust, most of us currently use Growl for notification banners. Growl will cost you a few dollars if you want the latest version, but you can download an older copy for free. The advantage of paying is that the latest version (only available for Mac OS X Lion 10.7 or later) includes a feature called Rollup, which is essentially the same as Notification Center. (See the screenshot to the right for an example.) It saves your notifications in a little window so you can see what you missed while you were away.

Growl is limited by what can send it messages, however, so you won't receive notifications for things like SMS and calls. If you're a Google Voice user you can get those notifications by installing an app like GrowlVoice ($5) or BigPhone ($5 / Free). These apps not only let you get call and text notifications on your computer, but let you respond to both as well.

AirPlay Mirroring

AirPlay Mirroring takes whatever is on your Mac's screen and wirelessly mirrors it on your television (via an Apple TV) or any other device that can receive an AirPlay transmission. You can do this right now with an app called AirParrot ($10). It provides the exact same functionality. If you want to take things a step further than Mountain Lion can offer, then you'll also want to check out AirServer. This app will let you receive AirPlay signals on your Mac so you can send video from other devices, like your iPhone or iPad, and watch them on the computer.


GateKeeper is Apple's attempt at preventing malware on your Mac, and it does this by letting you decide which kinds of apps are allowed to run and which apps are not. You can run any app you download (the way things currently work in Lion), only allow Mac App Store apps or apps signed with an official Apple developer ID to run, or just allow apps downloaded directly from the Mac App Store to run. Obviously you can currently run all apps or just Mac App Store apps right now, without any fancy features, but the developer ID check is definitely something new. While we believe that you'll be just fine if you're diligent, there is malware protection and antivirus software for your Mac should you want to play it extra safe right now.


iCloud—Apple's service that syncs all your information to the cloud and across devices—is already a part of Mac OS X, but the integration is deeper in Mountain Lion. One of the features Apple is touting in the iCloud upgrade is document sync, allowing you to access your documents across multiple computers and mobile devices. You can have that right now with InSync and a Google Docs account. InSync lets you access all your Google Docs files directly from your desktop and keeps them in sync with the online version as well as any other computers. Of course, there's also Dropbox. It's not exactly the same thing, but it will keep your documents in sync and we do love it a lot.

Share Sheets

Share Sheets is a feature that essentially places a drop-down menu in your browser (and a few other apps) so you can easily share media with others through various services. You can achieve this same effect in any web browser by creating a folder of bookmarklets—little pieces of JavaScript that perform simple functions. For example, bookmarklets exist to save an article to Instapaper or Read It Later, share on Facebook or Twitter, send an image to Flickr, send a web page as an email, and much more. There are so many bookmarklets nowadays that you really just have to search for what you want to accomplish with the word "bookmarklet" after it and you'll have it. As a result, you can build out your own Share Sheet-esque bookmarklet folder with more functionality than Mountain Lion will be able to provide.


Notes is Apple's addition of a syncing notes application to Mac OS X, but there's absolutely no reason to wait for Mountain Lion to get this functionality when Notational Velocity, using the Simplenote service, already provides this exact functionality. In fact, Simplenote is so well done that you'll probably continue to use it after you get your hands on Apple's official syncing notes application. Simplenote has apps for iOS, Android, and Windows so you have the additional advantage of using any platform you want. If you want to use rich text and images, try Evernote instead.


Reminders is just a simple to-do app, and there are plenty of those to go around on Mac OS X already. Our favorite is Wunderlist, which is a slightly more robust task management app that works on multiple platforms so you're not syncing your to-dos with just your Mac. You can have them on your iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows computer as well. It also works in your web browser, providing access just about anywhere.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Tim Cook: Apple to Bring iPhone, iPad Features to Mac with Mountain Lion -

Apple's Mac Makeover


CUPERTINO, Calif.—Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook wants to make its Mac more like an iPhone.


In an interview at the company's headquarters here, Mr. Cook unveiled a new version of the company's Mac operating system that incorporates several features from the software that powers Apple's hit mobile devices.

Named "Mountain Lion," the new version of OS X is the clearest sign yet of Apple's belief that the mobile, laptop and desktop world are destined to converge—and that Apple wants to be a catalyst.

"We see that people are in love with a lot of the apps and functionality here," said Mr. Cook, 51 years old, pointing at his iPhone. "So, anywhere where it makes sense, we are going to move that over to Mac."

Apple's moves come as fiercer competition among hardware makers is leading them to compete over software and giving consumers a familiar experience across various devices. That is leading to a convergence between different categories of devices that could have wide ramifications across the technology industry.

Apple also hopes to add luster to a business line that has momentum but little market share. Apple sold a record 5.2 million Macs in the quarter ended in December, up 26% from the same quarter in 2010. But Macs represented 5.4% of global PC shipments in the fourth quarter, according to IDC, up from 4.5% a year earlier.

By comparison, Apple's iPad leads the tablet industry in market share, and its iPhones frequently command the biggest slice of quarterly smartphone shipments.

Apple will start selling the new Mac software to customers in late summer. It made an early version of the software available to developers Thursday.

The updates will include Apple's messaging service, notifications app, gaming center, sharing features and integration with the company's online service iCloud—all pioneered for the iPad and iPhone, which use software known as iOS.

Mr. Cook said he already thinks of Apple's iOS and OS X operating systems "as one with incremental functionality." He said both laptops and tablets will continue to coexist, but he didn't rule out that the technologies could converge further.

When asked if Apple's iPhones, iPads and Macs might run the same microprocessor chips, he said: "We think about everything. We don't close things off."

Apple's OS X team had already started borrowing from iOS, last July releasing the "Lion" version of its operating system that adopted iOS features like advanced gesture controls—by touching the Mac's track pad, rather than a display screen—and the ability to view desktop apps as icons in an iPhone-like grid.

Now, Apple is going further, even changing the names of internally developed Mac apps to those of iPhone counterparts. The Mac's Address Book, for example, will become Contacts. iCal will become Calendar.

"We went through and just took a logical pass at what the user is going to experience using these products to make it all make more sense together," said Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of world-wide marketing, in a separate interview. "This is more than people expect."

With Mountain Lion, users will see the same notification screen that scrolls down on the iPhone by swiping their touchpads. The new software has deeper ties to other Apple products, such as iCloud, which Apple is integrating into applications and into the experience of registering a new Mac. A new security feature called Gatekeeper allows users to specify what kinds of apps can be installed on their computers, including an option to only install apps from Apple's Mac App store.

The Apple Evolution

Associated Press

Power Macintosh 6500, 1997

The new Mac software will also support a feature called AirPlay Mirroring that allows users to view what is on the screen of their iPhone or iPad and a television screen connected to a $99 Apple TV device. The technology is highly strategic for Apple, as it contemplates new video technologies for the living room. AirPlay, already available for the iPhone and iPad, has run into opposition from media companies worried about cannibalizing of traditional TV. Mr. Schiller said he doesn't believe media companies will have any issue with customers using it from their Macs.

Not all mobile features will make it to the Mac. Messrs. Cook and Schiller both said important differences remain, including the need for different touch interfaces on mobile devices, as well as more robust location services. When asked if the Mac would get Siri, Apple's voice-activated virtual assistant available on the iPhone, Mr. Cook smiled and said he would leave the question to Mr. Schiller.

Mountain Lion comes as Mac has been a relatively small contributor to the company's record financial performance. As the company's revenue jumped 73% in the quarter ending in December, the percentage of its revenue from Macs fell to 14.2% from 20.3%.


Mr. Cook said the Mac remains an "incredibly important" part of the company and that it is already benefiting from the success of the iPhone, particularly in China, where Mac sales doubled last year. "They love the iPhone and so they then search out and look for the Mac."


Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, shown in October, unveiled a new version of the company's Macintosh operating system.

While Apple banks on that halo effect, its competitors are trying to follow its approach. Microsoft Corp. plans to release a new version of its Windows operating system that has a new interface that supports touch-based commands and resembles its mobile-phone software.

"I don't really think anything Microsoft does puts pressure on Apple," said Mr. Cook, who said Apple is focused on building the best product and the pressure on the company is "self-induced."

Mr. Cook declined to comment on future plans for Mac hardware, calling the company "secretive" about such things. But he expressed pride in the company's MacBook Air laptop. "Now, you see the industry at large trying to copy it in some way, but they'll find that it is not so easy," he said.

Write to Jessica E. Vascellaro at

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Good Samaritan finds lost purse, returns it to owner | The Newark Advocate |

Good Samaritan finds lost purse, returns it to owner


PATASKALA — A stranger recently came to the aid of an area woman, proving good Samaritans still are alive and well.

Charity Henschen, of Pataskala, had stepped away from work on Valentine’s Day to buy snacks for a meeting at her Etna workplace, Menlo Logistics. Henschen bought the snacks at the Kroger in Pataskala, and she returned to work thinking nothing was amiss.

That quickly changed.

“I was in a mad rush to get the snacks for the meeting, and when I got back to give my boss her (debit) card and receipt, I realized I had lost (my purse),” said Henschen, who has lived in Pataskala for three years.

Not only had she lost her purse, but she had lost the $400 that was in it, in addition to her debit card and her boss’ debit card.

Henschen returned to Kroger, but there was no sign of her purse.

“I was devastated,” Henschen said. “(I was) in tears, pacing through Kroger, looking for any sign of it.”

Aside from being gripped by fear for potentially losing her boss’ debit card, Henschen was worried because she just had cashed her paycheck. The $400 was supposed to go toward groceries, gasoline and other needs.

After having no luck searching for her purse at the grocery store, Henschen left her contact information with an employee and returned to work.

“I had pretty much given up all hope I was going to get it,” said Henschen, adding both she and her boss canceled their debit cards soon after she returned to work for the second time.

Henschen had lost her purse around 12:45 p.m., and she was sitting at her desk around 4 p.m. when her mother called her out of the blue.

“She said, ‘Did you lose your purse?’ and I said, ‘Mom, how did you know that?’” Henschen said.

Her mother, who lives in Indiana, said a stranger had called her and said he had found a purse near the sliding doors inside Kroger. He was trying to track down the owner.

Henschen kept a planner filled with contacts in her purse, and she later found out the stranger had started calling the numbers in it until he reached her mother’s former employer in Indiana. Someone there called her mother, and her mother called Henschen.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

I used Shazam to discover Light My Fire by The Doors

I just used Shazam to discover Light My Fire by The Doors and thought I'd share it with you.
Buy on iTunes

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

DNA samples lead to 132 arrests

DNA samples lead to 132 arrests

By Jessica Heffner, Staff Writer 11:18 PM Wednesday, February 15, 2012

LONDON — A controversial program requiring DNA samples from anyone arrested in Ohio for a felony has led to 132 prime suspects in cold cases, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.

Since Senate Bill 77 went into effect July 1, the Bureau of Criminal Investigation has processed 4,500 DNA samples monthly. To date, 132 people involved in cold cases have been arrested using the collected DNA. The cases include rapes, murders, robberies and burglaries, the state said.

Attorney General Mike DeWine highlighted the success of the legislation Wednesday at the BCI crime lab in London. Since the program’s start July 1, 2011, the lab is processing 63 percent more DNA, and connects those samples to an average of 127 cases per month, DeWine said.

“With seven months of data, we now see how Senate Bill 77 is helping us identify more bad guys, who just might have gotten away with their crimes had it not been for the new law,” DeWine said.

While some have raised concerns that the new law infringes on civil liberties because samples are taken before people are convicted of a felony crime, DeWine said the “safety of the community certainly outweighs that arrestee(’s) ... rights at that moment.”

He cited a 2001 rape involving a 14-year-old girl in Englewood. One day after the program’s launch, Robert Bernardi was arrested in Miami County on an abduction charge. A DNA swab was taken and found to match up with evidence collected from the decade-old case. He is now being held in the Montgomery County Jail on $1 million bond and is facing additional charges of aggravated robbery, kidnapping and gross sexual imposition.

“This case was a cold case for more than 10 years, and a scientific swab cracked the case,” DeWine said.

Samples that are collected are processed into profiles that are then entered into a state and national database. Combined DNA Index System software, or CODIS, searches for matches among unsolved crimes where DNA has also been collected and entered.

Ohio’s database holds 421,584 DNA records.

There are more than 10 million samples in the nationwide database, according to DeWine’s office.

A new state bill would further expand law enforcement’s ability to collect DNA samples.

Ohio Senate Bill 268 will allow genetic material to be collected from those charged with a felony, but not arrested. This includes those summoned to court rather than held in jail. It would also allow the state to retroactively collect DNA from people arrested for a felony prior to July 1, 2011, according to the legislation.

In addition, the legislation also stipulates that those whose DNA was taken but were not convicted of the felony can petition judges to seal those records and/or remove the sample from the database.

The Ohio Senate unanimously passed the bill and it is now being considered by the state House of Representatives.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera S Review: A Magnificent First Stab | Rumble Seat by Dan Neil -

Porsche's Magnificent First Stab at the New 911

[porsche.od] Dan Neil/The Wall Street Journal

The 2012 911 Carrera S is a significant step forward for the breed, but it's not nearly the car it is going to be.

Porsche's approach to the 911 is "perfect, rinse, repeat"—which is to say, introduce a new edition of its famous sports car, and over the years of the product cycle squeeze more and more bloody glamouring intoxicants out of it until there's no more to be had, and then start over with a new-generation 911.

This strategy is not without its downsides. Consider our test car, a 2012 911 Carrera S, the first year of the code-named 991 generation. How are we to receive this car? As a quantum improvement over the previous generation, the code-named 997? It is roomier, quieter, faster and more summarily athletic, which one would expect. This car is nearly 14 seconds faster around the Nürburgring than the outgoing model, which is seriously more than one would expect. The redesign of the cockpit has scourged the 911 of the stubborn cheapness that affected the previous cars. The new cockpit, with its banked and switch-laden central console like the Panamera, is futuristic, sternly elegant and purposeful, limned in rich alloys of aluminum and wrapped in more taut, tanned hide than a Miss Hawaiian Tropic pageant.

And there are now back seats, of a sort. The 991's wheelbase is 3.9 inches longer, while overall length is up 2.2 inches (track is up, too, marginally). The added Y-axis is largely devoted to making the rear seats more habitable for vertebrate life-forms.

So, yes, the new car is a significant step forward for the breed. However, because we've sat through the "Neue" Porsche 911 movie six times since 1963, we also know that the new car is not nearly the car it is going to be. Porsche first presents a new-edition 911 as a sort of baseline—indeed, deliberately un-optimized in terms of performance—with room for improvement pre-engineered in, if you will.

Photos: A Work in Progress?

Dan Neil/The Wall Street Journal

If I had 100 grand burning a hole in my sports-car pocket, this might give me pause. We know the folks in Weissach have left themselves development space (literally, as in cubic centimeters around the chassis) to add more power—a 4.0-liter engine, perhaps, a freer-breathing exhaust, certainly, and maybe even the rumored triple-turbo induction (is there a German word for "Boo-yah"?). There will be in due course an all-wheel-drive 4S, Turbo S, GTS, and the lightweight GT2 and GT3 club racer versions, with even more enormous brakes, more wretchedly gluey tires, and ever-angrier computer programming. And we know for sure there will be a full-hybrid 911 coming in this product cycle, perhaps as soon as 2014. Indeed, conjecture has it the 991's additional length and wheelbase is there primarily to accommodate the hybrid hardware, still in development.

A ripping, scalping, torque-wrenching, swivel-hipped snake of a car—and that's just so far.

I put it to you: Are you buying the latest and greatest when you buy this car, or are you buying a dialed-back, choked-down version of the glorious car that the 991-series Porsche will become in the fullness of time? When do you pull the money trigger? As a corollary, is it ultimately better to buy the last year of a previous-series 911—see my review of the outgoing and fully optimized GTS from a few weeks ago—or the new car?

Such questions vex the gods.

And the weirdest part for me is that this 911 is actually going to get better, when it is already such a ripping, scalping, torque-wrenching, swivel-hipped snake of a car. Start with the fact that it is 88 pounds lighter (figure 3,250 pounds) than the smaller, outgoing model, and substantially stiffer, thanks to Porsche's profligate use of high-strength steel and aluminum. Tito Puente never knew a drumhead so tight.

Dynamically, the biggest single improvement with the 991 comes with the optional active antiroll feature, which uses hydraulic actuators at each corner to correct for changes in camber. This system, which is undetectable to the driver, helps keep the big 20-inch Pirellis fully planted in corners, adding another dimension to the 911's asphalt-fanging, corner-carving agility. Theoretically, a longer wheelbase should have made the 991 less responsive. So much for theory.

You like to go fast, do you, missy? Here's an off-the-rack sports car with lateral adhesion in the range of 1 g, a car that hits 60 mph in 4 seconds (the 394-horsepower Carrera S with the dual-clutch PDK gearbox), a car that trips the trap lights in about 12 seconds and decelerates from 60 mph to 0 in about 100 feet. These numbers reflect the enormous electromechanical leverage the computers hold over the road—particularly the active antiroll hydraulics—but the experience behind the wheel is decidedly untechnical, a kind of sinister and primal euphoria. I get out of this car very much inclined to bite the head off a pigeon or something.

This is important. A lot of fast street cars feel slightly damp from all the dynamics software onboard. The Nissan GT-R, for instance, is a hellacious piece of machinery and, by the numbers, quite a bit faster than even the new 911. But the GT-R doesn't make you oath and curse like a Viking as the 911 does. If anything, Porsche has managed to dial up the immediacy of the 911, with quicker reflexes—the electrical steering is first-rate—a more emotional exhaust note and, at full throttle, the capacity for real, edgy violence. You need only drop the Porsche into second gear and nail the throttle. The car will swat you like you have "Titleist" on your backside.

Above 4,000 rpm the max torque (325 pound-feet) comes on and stays on until 5,600 rpm, supplying big whoops with each dab of throttle. Lovely.

All this torque barks through one of two transmissions: the first, a seven-speed double-clutch automated manual, the PDK, now with proper paddle shifters available as an alternative to the Tiptronic-style two-way buttons on the steering wheel, which I loathe. The second, for those who really have it bad, is Porsche's new, weirdly retro seven-speed manual, with the seventh-gear gate to the far right, somewhere near the glovebox. The manual is much slower than the double-clutch gearbox but it's a nice, irrational touch for irrational people.

The car's performance envelope opens from the bottom, too. With the active exhaust system turned off (muting the mighty tailpipes) and the car's fuel-saving stop-start system engaged, the Carrera S is notably servile around town. The naturally aspirated, direct-injection 3.8-liter flat six mutters quietly, awaiting its chance. The suspension compliance is velvety, the throttle response relaxed. Porsche's product planners would like the new 911 to appeal to more women. Just call me Nancy.

This car is a work in progress? More like an unfinished masterpiece.

[MINI] Dan Neil/The Wall Street Journal

The Coupe throws away the Cooper Hardtop's two fold-down back seats and versatile hatch for what, exactly? The roof? That is crazy.

BMW's Mini division is the goose that laid the golden egg, and since that glorious day in 2001 when the first Mini Cooper debuted, the Bavarians have been force-feeding the goose farm hormones. Mini Convertible, Mini Clubman, Mini Countryman, the forthcoming Mini Paceman (think Countryman with three side doors and the wraparound visor of a Range Rover Evoque) and even a rumored panel van, the Mini Cargo.

Somebody call the Humane Society. This is goose-ploitation.

And now we have the Mini Coupe, a Mini Cooper de minimis with two seats, a slicked-back windshield and a radically chopped roof, a Mini with male-pattern baldness. The Coupe will in due course be followed by the Mini Roadster this summer.

Here's the part where I bemoan Mini's mission creep, but I won't, for three reasons: First, because I rather admire the gall it takes to build a full-line car company off one design. In terms of single-issue politics, this is like being elected president as the legal-weed candidate. Second, as a matter of history, the British Motor Corporation offered the Austin/Morris Mini in a confounding variety of body styles: pickup, three-box sedan, panel van and the tiny and weird Jeep-ette, the Mini Moke, without which Shriner parades would be a lot less fun.

Third, and most important: While each of the previous variations of the BMW Mini got bigger, gradually moving away from the Mini godhead, the Coupe is actually a tiny bit smaller. Well, an inch lower, anyway. The weight of the speed-activated air spoiler and various reinforcements actually make the car 3½ stone heavier. The Coupe is also a wee bit quicker and faster, says the company. The high-performance John Cooper Works version of the car reaches 60 miles per hour in 6.1 seconds (as compared with the Hardtop's 6.3) and can eke out another 2 mph of top speed, hitting 150 mph.

A tick quicker, a tad lower, a new Mini that is actually more "mini." That's worth celebrating.

And the truth is, it almost doesn't matter how Mini refracts its own celestial light. Even the Countryman, overfed elf that it is, is a hoot to drive. And the 2,700-pound Coupe, with the billowing torque (192 pound-feet) and 208 horsepower coming from the JCW's turbocharged 1.6-liter, offers pleasures so intense they're practically conjugal. The steering is whip quick; the road-holding and out-of-corner acceleration (with electronic limited-slip differential between the front wheels) are excellent; the chassis is tighter than Mitt Romney's pores. Everything about this car is snubbed-down, torqued to spec, frictionless, flickable, ardent.

I suppose there are more-fun ways to move—the Bell jet pack, a trampoline made of La Perla garter belts—but really, if you don't dig the way this car drives, you are a bitter and miserable person and I am done with you.

A few months ago, writing about the BMW 1 series, I lamented that BMW fans no longer had the option of a truly small car with the brand's magical handling. Not so. That car is the Mini JCW Hardtop. If only it were rear-wheel drive.

Photos: A Mini That's 'Mini'

Dan Neil/The Wall Street Journal

The Mini Coupe is a Mini Cooper de minimis with two seats, a slicked-back windshield and a radically chopped roof.

The word "coupe" comes from the French phrase carrosse coupé, which is to say, "chopped carriage," and sure enough, the Mini Coupe is just that. But for the haircut, the car is mechanically identical to the JCW Hardtop, right down to the spring rates and damping of its front-strut, rear-multilink suspension. The deletion of the rear seats and the addition of a rear deck, of sorts, means the car has a proper boot, and on a recent trip to Virginia International Raceway my buddy and I managed to get a day's worth of photo gear, helmets and extra clothes stowed, no problem.

Surprisingly, given that the car seems to be under a mushroom cap, the headroom is compromised by a mere half-inch compared with the Hardtop. Alas, the three-quarter and rear visibility gets crunched pretty good, and when the rear spoiler comes up you can dispense with the rearview mirror entirely (a rear-parking sensor comes bundled in the Technology package). Otherwise, the ergonometrics are the same as in other Coopers: the same upright seating position, the same secure bucket seats (Recaro seats with color-coordinated piping are available), the same nap-of-the-earth ride height.

2012 Mini John Cooper Works Coupe

  • Base price: $31,900
  • Price as tested: $36,000 (est.)
  • Powertrain: Turbocharged 1.6-liter OHC in-line four-cylinder engine with variable valve timing; six-speed manual transmission; front-wheel drive with electronic limited-slip differential
  • Horsepower/torque: 208 hp at 6,000 rpm/192 pound-feet at 1,850-6,000 rpm
  • Length/weight: 148 inches/2,700 pounds
  • Wheelbase: 97.1 inches
  • 0-60 mph: 6.1 seconds
  • EPA fuel economy: 33/25/28 mpg, city/highway/combined
  • Cargo capacity: 9.8 cubic feet

One of the charms of Mini is the brand's high-key interior design, from the aeronautic-style toggle switches overhead to the wacky, dinner-plate-size speedometer, situated dead center of the dash. Our loaded test car was equipped with the company's excellent color navigation/media display built into the speedo, controlled with the Mini's new and strangely erogenous nub of a controller.

As for the exterior styling: I think it just rips—unhinged, subversive, undomesticated, and not at all pretty. Yes, of course, Mini's designer thought hard about this roof. Note the perfect bow of brightwork around the base of the windows and the matching cut lines, rising at the side marker and descending at the C-pillar. And still, it looks rash and impulsive, something a sleep-deprived Sam Barris might do with a Sawzall. Why? Because you have this completely unmolested lower half of the JCW Hardtop, topped with this utterly mad, finished-last-night roof. It's practically punk rock. A lot of people will hate the looks of the Coupe and not know why. One looks for the Hardtop's missing roof like one might scratch the itch of a missing limb.

But after a few days, the car's design starts to make sense. This is a sawed-off derringer, a pint of bile, the angriest man in Munchkinland.

All that's worth celebrating, as I said. Worth buying? Let's not get carried away. For one thing, the Coupe throws away the Cooper Hardtop's two fold-down back seats and versatile hatch for what, exactly? The roof? That is crazy. For another, the Coupe is just barely sportier than the JCW Hardtop. This car absolutely needs another 50 hp to argue its case. And lastly, it's $1,300 more expensive than the JCW Hardtop.

In the words of John Cooper himself: Blimey.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Here Are 5 Resources For Royalty Free Music By Joshua Lockhart at

Here Are 5 Resources For Royalty Free Music

royalty free musicA while back, we received a question on MakeUseOf Answers asking where in the world one can get royalty free music. Naturally, as someone who is constantly searching for this Holy Grail, I jumped on it.

So, dear MakeUseOf readers, I felt that this is a question worthy enough to expand upon. I’m quite sure that some of you out there are wondering where to find royalty free music whether you’re a videomaker, a game developer, or one of those neo-artist stage performance poets that uses a combination of visual imagery, weird music, and the occasional bit of innocent nudity. So with that being said, I’m here to bring you some quality royalty free music.

Vimeo Music Store

royalty free music

The Vimeo Music Store is a brilliant tool to use when in search for music for your videos. Although there are several free items available via the Creative Commons, there are actually a few songs that you can pay for either personal use ($1.99) or for commercial use ($98). The Vimeo Music Store is a nice consolidated catalog of music from all genres, and the best part about it is that each song on the store is available to use for your videos. This way, you do not have to do as much digging. However, you will have to lurk around if you want to find free royalty free songs, and it’s a little harder if you want to use them commercially without paying a dime.


free music downloads

I recently discovered the beauty of SoundCloud, and the fact is this – they have an entire section of their site devoted to the Creative Commons. What does that mean for you? Well, my friend, it means there is a ton of music out there waiting on you to use it in a personal project. SoundCloud also offers quite a bit of search classifications, so you can find songs with CC licenses that allow for commercial use or without the share alike option. It seems like a good deal to me, and I’ve been using their music for quite a few projects lately.

Free Music Archive

free music downloads

The Vimeo Music Store pulls some of their music from the Free Music Archive, but I decided to go ahead and throw it in as a separate entity for a couple of reasons. One, it seems like the Vimeo Music Store doesn’t include all of the songs on here, for it constantly updates. Two, it also seems like there is some differing information between the sites.

For instance, I used a song that I got from the Vimeo Music store for free, and on their site, it said I could only use it for noncommercial purposes. However, when I saw it on the Free Music Archive, it said I could use it for commercial purposes with attribution. Either way, both are excellent sources of music, and I would recommend this site for sure. Granted, I cannot guarantee everything on this site will be available for you to use.


free music downloads

We couldn’t have this article without mentioning Kevin MacLeod, the mastermind behind Incompetech. MacLeod’s website offers quite a bit of music for your royalty free needs, and it is absolutely fantastic. He does offer a PayPal donation system (as does AudioNautix, actually), so if you feel the need to support him, you can do so. However, his music is great for whatever you need, and there is nothing else I can really say except that you should go give it a listen.


royalty free music

After submitting my answer to MUO answers (which included the Vimeo Music Store), I went back to see if anybody else had brought anything to the table. Fortunately, someone did, and that was MUO reader ha14, who suggested AudioNautix, another site for royalty free music. The site offers everything including tracks for cinematic works and documentaries, but what i really liked about it was simply how easy it was to understand the usage rights of this music. You can pretty much use it for anything, so… go do that. Right now.


These are simply my top four picks for royalty free music (with ha14′s tacked on), and each of them have quality stuff. You normally won’t see a whole lot of good music that you can use in projects, and each of these resources has a different flavor for everyone.

What other royalty free music resources do you use? What do you like or not like about the ones mentioned here?

Image Credit: imelenchon


Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Mooresville School District, a Laptop Success Story -

Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops)

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Sixty educators from across the nation roamed the halls and ringed the rooms of East Mooresville Intermediate School, searching for the secret formula. They found it in Erin Holsinger’s fifth-grade math class.

There, a boy peering into his school-issued MacBook blitzed through fractions by himself, determined to reach sixth-grade work by winter. Three desks away, a girl was struggling with basic multiplication — only 29 percent right, her screen said — and Ms. Holsinger knelt beside her to assist. Curiosity was fed and embarrassment avoided, as teacher connected with student through emotion far more than Wi-Fi.

“This is not about the technology,” Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District, would tell the visitors later over lunch. “It’s not about the box. It’s about changing the culture of instruction — preparing students for their future, not our past.”

As debate continues over whether schools invest wisely in technology — and whether it measurably improves student achievement — Mooresville, a modest community about 20 miles north of Charlotte best known as home to several Nascar teams and drivers, has quietly emerged as the de facto national model of the digital school.

Mr. Edwards spoke on a White House panel in September, and federal Department of Education officials often cite Mooresville as a symbolic success. Overwhelmed by requests to view the programs in action, the district now herds visitors into groups of 60 for monthly demonstrations; the waiting list stretches to April. What they are looking for is an explanation for the steady gains Mooresville has made since issuing laptops three years ago to the 4,400 4th through 12th graders in five schools (three K-3 schools are not part of the program).

The district’s graduation rate was 91 percent in 2011, up from 80 percent in 2008. On state tests in reading, math and science, an average of 88 percent of students across grades and subjects met proficiency standards, compared with 73 percent three years ago. Attendance is up, dropouts are down. Mooresville ranks 100th out of 115 districts in North Carolina in terms of dollars spent per student — $7,415.89 a year — but it is now third in test scores and second in graduation rates.

“Other districts are doing things, but what we see in Mooresville is the whole package: using the budget, innovating, using data, involvement with the community and leadership,” said Karen Cator, a former Apple executive who is director of educational technology for the United States Department of Education. “There are lessons to be learned.”

Start with math lessons: each student’s MacBook Air is leased from Apple for $215 a year, including warranty, for a total of $1 million; an additional $100,000 a year goes for software. Terry Haas, the district’s chief financial officer, said the money was freed up through “incredibly tough decisions.”

Sixty-five jobs were eliminated, including 37 teachers, which resulted in larger class sizes — in middle schools, it is 30 instead of 18 — but district officials say they can be more efficiently managed because of the technology. Some costly items had become obsolete (like computer labs), though getting rid of others tested the willingness of teachers to embrace the new day: who needs globes in the age of Google Earth?

Families pay $50 a year to subsidize computer repairs, though the fee is waived for those who cannot afford it, about 18 percent of them. Similarly, the district has negotiated a deal so that those without broadband Internet access can buy it for $9.99 a month. Mr. Edwards said the technology had helped close racial performance gaps in a district where 27 percent of the students are minorities and 40 percent are poor enough to receive free or reduced-price lunches.

Others see broader economic benefits.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Edible Balloon

Check out this video on YouTube:

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart