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Video Games

Webgame Wednesday: Looming

Looming transports you to a whole other world. In this mysterious and moody puzzle/exploration game, you must traverse the simple, black-and-white terrain of an alien planet. By gathering archeological remnants, you piece together the story of what happened to this once peaceful realm. The game is arty and contemplative, and you can drop in and out using the glowing portals on the playing field. So you don't have to solve it all at once. Bonus points for the old-school graphics, which look like they were programmed on an Apple IIe. (All that's missing is the sickly green hue.)

tech

The iPhone/iPod Touch Apps Announced At WWDC

Although eclipsed by the understandable hoopla over iPhone 4, three high profile applications were also announced for the iPhone/iPod Touch during the WWDC keynote this week.

The iPhone/iPod Touch Netflix player that was revealed in April headlined the software demonstrations, and now has a semi-solid release date of "this Summer." It looks to boast the same functionality you get with both the home and iPad versions; you'll be able to see your instant queue, browse for titles, pick up movies where you left off etc. It works on both Wi-Fi and 3G, though now that ATT has removed the option of an unlimited data plan, that could be a bit of trouble.

The Facebook phenom Farmville is coming at the end of June. The integration with Facebook is all there, so you'll have the same farm, same friends, etc. Is this exciting? If you play it, you already know what it is. If you don't play it, you still know what it is from getting spammed in Facebook about it. Also, I'm not sure if it's such a great idea to have bent-necked Farmville junkies out wandering the streets, though that touch control tractor does look pretty awesome! Yikes.

Finally, the Guitar Hero iPhone was announced during the WWDC keynote for immediate release that same day. To my untrained eyes, it looks nearly impossible, though seeing the Activision guy 5 star "Death By Diamonds and Pearls" by Band of Skulls was completely impressive. The packed in track list includes: Queen - "We Are The Champions", Rise Against - "Savior", The Rolling Stones - "Paint it Black", The White Stripes - "Seven Nation Army", Weezer - "Say It Ain’t So", and Vampire Weekend - "Cousins". Currently, 15 more tracks are available from the in-game store.

tech

iPhone 4 Announced

oooooooh
oooooooh

Apple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicked off yesterday with the traditional packed-to-the-rafters Steve Jobs keynote. Beyond the expected self-congratulation over the iPad's phenomenal success, the big news was (despite the Gizmodo spoilarz in April) the iPhone 4.

Here's the rundown:

The shell is a complete redesign, and now acts as part of the antenna to improve reception. The newer, faster, and substantially smaller A4 chip leaves room for a much needed larger battery.

The new camera is 5 megapixels, and now sports an LED flash. HD (720p) video recording is available, as well as the ability to edit the video directly on the iPhone. At 960 by 640 pixels, the Retina Display is double the resolution of previous iPhones. This won't, of course, make the most of your 720p video, but the iPhone can display 720p via the dock with VGA adapter (not included).

A forward-facing camera allows for true face to face chat, and Apple has packed in their own video chat application (kind of nauseatingly) dubbed FaceTime. One wonders how this will compare to Skype? The iPhone 4 hasn't forgotten gaming, and significant improvements have been made to the motion-sensing/tilt control as well.

As usual, Apple never reveals something until they're ready to sell it, so pre-ordering through ATT begins in about a week.

News

The Daily Word 5.03.10: Time Travel, Skunk Ape, Taliban.

Stephen Hawking predicts time travel.

A Taliban leader, presumed dead, is now threatening U.S. cities.

The latest Noah’s Ark claim was a hoax.

There are good leads in investigating the failed Times Square car bomb.

The Enquirer reports on an alleged Obama affair.

The Skunk Ape has been spotted in South Georgia.

Apple sold a million iPads in one month.

Polanski insinuates that his 1977 guilty plea was coerced through judicial impropriety.

Spiderman and Jedi foiled the heist of a valuable X-Men comic.

Nkazi Sinandile’s hunger strike has ended!

Vandals tagged several Bank of America locations with the Number of the Beast.

The Astorga trial begins today.

Nakeisha Barnes hit a pedestrian at Menaul and San Mateo.

Oh, dear. It’s Christopher Cross’ birthday.

Tech

Leaked: Gizmodo Gleefully Exploits Unreleased Next-Generation iPhone Found in Bar Near Apple Headquarters

On the outside, the device was “camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS.” So Gizmodo disassembled it.
gizmodo.com
On the outside, the device was “camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS.” So Gizmodo disassembled it.

Technology blog Gizmodo published photos and a video of the unreleased next-generation iPhone, exposing new features and a new design for one of Apple’s signature products.

The phone now boasts two camera lenses, and the presence of a front-facing camera indicates that video calling will be a feature on upcoming iPhones. Gizmodo wrote that other new features include a higher-resolution screen, a larger battery and a glass back that should improve cellular reception. In early April, Apple demonstrated the upcoming version of its iPhone OS, announcing that it will include sought-after features like the ability to run multiple applications at the same time. With the hardware and software of the new iPhone now public knowledge, a clear picture of the upcoming device is beginning to form.

The iPhone was given to Gizmodo by a man who found the device in a Redwood City, Calif. bar close to Apple headquarters The blog’s editors thoroughly examined the phone, pointing out on video that it now has not one, but two volume buttons. Trivial details aside, they also cracked open the case to uncover several “Apple”-labeled parts, and essentially proved the legitimacy of the device when Apple sent a letter requesting that the blog return “a device that belongs to Apple.”

For those seeking more information, Gizmodo is treating this leak as the biggest tech story in history and has published multiple features about the new iPhone, ranging from a play-by-play account of how the Apple employee in charge of the phone lost it and how it ended up at Gizmodo to a rebuttal of “conspiracy theorists” who alleged that Apple had staged the leak to ensure that the phone received plenty of pre-release hype and media coverage.

Video Games

Steam Your Apples

Any PC gamer who's been around the block lately knows at least two things about Valve's digital distribution service, Steam: 1) it's awesome, and 2) Apple users who want it are dual booting into Windows. Well, the awesome part is about to get awesomer, because the Apple barrier is about to fall. Valve recently announced it would extend the Steam platform and the Source engine to Intel based Apple OS X systems starting in April of this year. Even better, games purchased on one platform can be downloaded/played for free on the other, and save games for those titles will persist across environments. At the time of the announcement only Valve titles (Left 4 Dead 2, Portal, Half-Life 2, etc.) were included in the games list, but since Steam is such a large distribution channel we should see other publishers begin to follow suit in the near future.

blog

The iPad is Here

Look! No buttons!
Look! No buttons!

Hey look! It's some gadget my husband will insist he needs!

The iPad, unveiled today (read a live blog here) is apparently like a giant iPhone, for old people, I'm guessing. Those little numbers are hard to push.

Also, this is a terrible name. Like Apple just came out with its own line of sanitary napkins. Which makes me wonder what kind of apps would come with that.

News

The Daily Word 11.19.09: Breast checks, hair pulling, sexy men

Ladies aren't loving new mammogram guidelines.

One West Mesa victim was 15-year-old from Denver.

Afghanistan's Karzai sworn in again. Hmm.

UNM hair puller says she's not an animal.

Irish kept out of World Cup by cheating French.

The myth of the Apple tablet.

Is a line-cutting incident at Wal-Mart about race? Sure.

A People Sexiest Men list without "Mad Men" star Jon Hamm? Here's a list rating those men according to how many Jon Hamms they're worth.

Texas AG candidate says a law passed to ban gay marriage may have banned all marriage.

McDonald's gets a new look. An IKEA disco look.

It's Jodie Foster's birthday.

blog

Maple Bacon Cider

It’s not just for breakfast

Note the maple sugar rim on the tasting cup (we weren’t the only team with a serving gimmick)
Todd Coffey
Note the maple sugar rim on the tasting cup (we weren’t the only team with a serving gimmick)

Late at night, at last year's New Mexico Brewer's campout in the Pecos, a legendary cider-maker voiced an opinion that I think most people share, deep down: everything is better with bacon.

Everything.

Would even apple cider benefit from bacon? And if you're going to do that, why not make it a full breakfast drink? That exquisite essence of pancakes, maple, could play a part as well.

Thus was born the Maple Bacon Cider competition.

A year has passed, and last weekend the entrants reunited to submit their entries for judgment. I am pleased to announce that my sweetie and I won in the categories of Best Appearance and Presentation, Best Bacon Expression, and Best Overall. We didn't win the Best Maple Expression or Best Apple Cider, but I think we did fairly well in those aspects too.

Would you like to recreate our winning Maple Bacon Cider? Well, you can't. Even I can't, because I didn't take good notes on the final ratios of everything. But here's how to go about it.

You’ll need a hard cider as your foundation. Cider making is a whole topic on its own, so I'm not going to go into depth on that here. Look around. Apple harvest time is coming up in a few weeks, so now's a good time to think about sources. We used a blend, approximately a third consisting of store-bought Scrumpy's, a little over half being my 2008 cider (which I think isn't all that great, but I sure drain those bottles quickly whenever I open one), and the balance being my 2008 cyser (which is very sweet, suffering from a stuck fermentation at about 1.050 -- dunno what I'm going to do about that, yet) plus the bacon extract (see below). Really, any good cider base will do, although its dryness or sweetness might be influenced by your maple tactic.

For maple, there are a few approaches. I can tell you the one that does not work: putting maple syrup in your cider prior to fermentation. Oh, the sugar will ferment, but for some reason, the maple flavor doesn't really come through. You'll want to add maple syrup after fermentation, which means you're going to be sweetening, so means you might want to have a pretty dry cider to start with. Or save yourself some trouble and just use maple extract. I believe that the Best Maple Expression winner used an extract.

The hard part is the bacon. This is the true challenge and the real reason the competition happened. The president of the Dukes of Ale is going to blackmail me with a video of me drunkenly expounding my team's "two pronged approach" to baconating our cider, but really, it was a three pronged approach.

First, make a bacon extract. Fry up some bacon and eat it. Pour the grease into a jar, and add a distilled spirit. We used vodka, but bourbon is a great choice too. Swirl the grease and vodka together every once in a while for a few days. Then put it into the refrigerator. The fat will congeal, and you can skim most of it off. Pour the vodka through a coffee filter to separate the rest. Your vodka ought to now have some bacon aroma and flavor. Don’t bother trying to extract flavor from the meaty, non-fat part of the bacon. That doesn’t work.

Second, liquid smoke. Part of what we think of as bacon flavor, is really just the curing. If you smell hickory smoke, you can't help but think you smell bacon. (Go easy with the stuff, though. In a half-gallon batch, half a teaspoon is enough, possibly even too much.)

Third, and this is part of why we also won Best Presentation and Appearance, is to fry up some bacon immediately prior to serving. Each taster gets a stick of bacon dropped right into their glass. C'mon, you're looking at a piece of bacon, and it's putting a grease slick on top of your cider. Don't tell me you don't taste bacon, even if it's just psychological.

I was surprised and almost disappointed that all entries were drinkable. None of the submissions were gross. Fortunately, next year’s competition raises the difficulty and is more open to interpretation, so maybe some adventurous soul will go too far: barbecue beer.

Today's Events

AZ/NM Connection at El Chante: Casa de Cultura

AZ/NM poster art by Jeremy “Eyerock” Arviso (detail)

Multi-site event showcases art in all genres from both states, featuring 60 artists, 8 musical groups, muralists and more.

The 90th Burning of Zozobra at Fort Marcy Park

Black Cobra • doom, sludge metal • Lo-Pan • Car Thief • The Please Help at Sister

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