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Gadgets & Gizmos

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Roundup: Shake yourself awake, Apple iWatch success, new gadget buy-back site, more

Trouble waking up in the morning? Shake yourself awake with the Wake N Shake Alarm Clock app, where you have to shake your mobile device to get it to stop.  USA Today

Apple agreement over apps purchased by kids: Apple has agreed to reimburse parents for the in-app purchases – virtual goods their kids bought in mobile apps – without their knowledge.  New York Times

Secret of success: Apple is purportedly developing a smart watch with a curved display that wraps around your wrist. But its success will depend on how durable it will be.   Wired

New buy-back source: Here's a new service you can use to sell your used iPhones, iPads and video game consoles. At, users can compare prices from several buy-back vendors instantly, and click to complete the sale on the buyer's website. It also shows you trade-in value compared with selling to a private party market value. Payments are by check, PayPal or store credit.

Finding the best cellphone plan: Can't decide which mobile phone service provider is the best for you? Here's a quick breakdown of the major carriers.   Christian Science Monitor

Unleash the fox: Mozilla announced it will launch its own mobile phones running its new Firefox mobile operating system.

Apps for the news junkie:
Love to be in the know? Here are the best apps for following breaking news.   Wired

Measuring rain with your cell phone?
Scientists in the Netherlands have discovered a way to measure the amount of rain using cellphone signals.

Knee protector for air travelers: Don't want the passenger in front of you to lean the seats back and kill your knee? You can ask them to stay upright, but if that doesn't work, try the Knee Defender and lock it down.   Business Insider

Blast from the past:
From an Etch-a-Sketch to the original Nintendo Game Boy, here are some nostalgia-inducing gadgets from our childhood.

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Enjoy the Oscars with the help of these apps

Are you ready for the Academy Awards on Sunday? Movie fans have a lot to look forward to: the red carpet, the actual awards, or the parties afterward. To make your Oscar viewing more complete, AT&T has some apps suggestions:

Oscars App (Apple iOS, Android and Kindle. Free)
The official app from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and ABC offers fans an inside look before, during and after Hollywood’s biggest night, and includes Facebook integration. Users can check the app to find out the latest Oscar news, watch interviews with insiders, access Oscar trivia, browse past winners and red carpet fashions, view famous Oscar video clips, and even create their own Oscar ballot. On the day of the Oscars, the app turns into a second screen companion with the Backstage Pass, which lets users access over a dozen live cameras placed throughout the Red Carpet and inside the Dolby Theatre. Fans can also access the press room and see interviews with stars after they win.

The Oscars Trivia Challenge
(Android – $2.99)
Hollywood Trivia: the Oscar Quiz (Apple iOS – $0.99)
These apps let you test your knowledge about movies and the people who starred in and directed them. Both let you keep track of your scores so you can challenge a competing movie aficionado. The makers of the Oscars Trivia Challenge also offer the Oscar Trivia Lite app for Free.

Live from the Red Carpet App (Apple iOS, Android, Windows – Free)
This app from E! lets you experience VIP access to Hollywood’s hottest events, such as the Academy Awards. The app brings you celebrity news, A-list fashion photos and interview videos from awards season’s marquee events. It also includes the GlamCam 360, a futuristic Matrix-like fashion cam.
Epicurious Recipes & Shopping List App
(Apple iOS, Android, Windows, Nook, Kindle – Free)
Planning an Oscars party? With this app from, you can search more than 30,000 recipes from Bon Appetit, Gourmet Self and renowned chefs and cookbooks. You can also create shopping lists and e-mail recipes and shopping lists to yourself and friends. Plus, you can get recipe reviews from Epicurious members.

Mixology Drink Recipes App
(Apple iOS, Android – FREE)
Looking to toast the winners on Oscars night? This app gives you access to nearly 8,000 drink and cocktail recipes and 1,300 ingredients. The “Liquor Cabinet” tab lets you enter all the liquor and mixer types you have on hand and search the entire database for all the cocktails you can make. Featuring drink recipe categories such as Cocktails, Martinis, Shooters, Jello Shots, Hot Drinks, Punches, Non-Alcoholic, and Favorites, the app also provides a “Bartending” tab that supplies info on glassware, terminology, bartending tips and tricks, and more. You can also locate nearby liquor stores with the app.

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Coming next holiday season: Sony's PlayStation 4

Sony showed off the new PlayStation 4 and its capabilities, but without showing off the actual box. "I don't know that the box is going to be something that's going to have a dramatic impact on people's feelings about the game. It will be a color and a size fairly comparable to previous consoles," said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment of America, the U.S.-based arm of the PlayStation business.

New features include:

Also introduced were the new DualShock 4 with a touchpad and a "share" button,  and the PlayStation Eye camera.

The new console is expected to go on sale by the 2013 holiday season.

Ironically, Sony's announcement appears to have helped its competitor, Nintendo. As Sony's stocks nudged downward Wednesday, Nintendo went up by a tick. Go figure.

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Roundup: Slacker service revamped, Apple's smart watch, $10K smartphone

FuelBand on Android? Not yet. Nike is focusing on iOS and the web interface, not an Android app that syncs with the fitness gadget.   Gizmodo

Let the music flow: eMusic, a download-to-own music retailer, is getting rid of the monthly subscription requirement. Now, anyone can go to to buy dogs or albums at retail price.

Apple seems busy: The latest Apple-related rumor is the Dick Tracy-like smart watch you can wear on your wrist. Here's a roundup of all the possible projects Apple has on the table.   Gizmodo

Bite me! 3-D printing is all the rage lately. A lucky few in Japan had a chance to create chocolate with the image of that person's head using the technology. Lollipop version, with the head on a stick, was also available.  CNet

Talk to your photo: Photo editing is getting a lot easier lately with innovative software. Adobe wants to step it up a notch with an you can talk to for improving your photos.   Gizmodo …

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It's a whole new world for Slacker digital music service


Anytime, anywhere. Slacker has launched what they call "the world's most complete music service" for the Web, mobile devices and other automotive and consumer electronics. The new Slacker gives listeners access to millions of songs and programmed stations for free on any device. 

Slacker works with record labels to compile a music library of more than 13 million songs plus more than 200 stations. It has three tiers of service.

To use Slacker for free, you'll have to put up with some advertisements.

Enjoy music commercial-free with offline listening and unlimited song skips with the Slacker Radio Plus ($3.99 a month).

The Slacker Premium service ($9.99 a month) has on-demand listening, and the ability to create custom playlists.

You can get Slacker at, or download the app for iOS, Android, Windows Phones and Blackberry devices. 

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More apps to express your feelings to your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is probably one of the most stressful days of the year for men. The pressure to come up with an over-the-top idea to woo their Valentine can be a daunting task.  But there’s no need to for the men to go it alone. Below are some helpful apps compiled by AT&T to take the stress out of Valentine’s Day and put the “man” back in romantic!

Helpful Romantic – This app provides great romantic ideas for Valentine’s Day which are specifically generated for your significant other based on her personality.  (Apple iOS - $.99)


1800Flowers – Find the perfect floral gift for your Valentine with this FREE app. It features a selection of best-selling flowers, as well as exclusive offers for app users.  (Apple iOS and Android)


Movies by Flixster - Going to the movies is the quintessential date event. Valentine's Day is a great reason to take that special someone out to the film that everyone's talking about. This FREE app uses your location to find the closest theaters and easily lets you see all movies now playing.
(Apple iOS)


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Send yourself for a Valentine's Day gift


Valentine's Day is just a couple of days away. Are you still looking for a perfect gift for your sweetheart? No worries. Here's an app that can make a unique gift: a collage of photos of YOU that depicts a heart.  

Here's how it works. The smartphone app shows you how to pose using your arms, hands, fingers and body for each "tile." Take a photo of each pose with the automatic timer. Then stitch the shots together into a heart mosaic. Print out the photo and voila!  

But the best and funniest part might be watching you twist and turn to pose for the photos. 

The Heart Collage app is 99 cents, and is available for iOS or Android

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Can a camera phone be as good as a digital SLR camera?

Has your camera phone changed the way you take photos? Do you even have a real camera any more? More and more folks are relying on their smartphones to capture special moments. Sure the multitaskers are convenient. But it's not for everyone. Camera phones just don't have the quality of digital SLR (single-lens reflex) cameras. (Have you ever tried to shoot an evening sporting event with a smartphone? Blah.) 

Gizmodo looks at seven lessons you can learn from shooting with a camera phone.  

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Apple marks 25 billionth iTunes music download

Apple's iTunes music store sold its 25 billionth song to a music lover in Germany. The song Monkey Drums, (Goksel Vancin Remix) by Chase Buch, was purchased by Pullip Lupke. His prize was an iTunes gift card worth 10,000 Euros. 

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Online site helps open doors for high school athletes

There's no substitute for seeing a player in person, but technology can help open tightly shut doors for some high school athletes. Take, for instance, Robinson High outside linebacker Justin Madison, who had only one scholarship offer. That changed when he posted his athlete profile on Hudl, an online recruitment source, and caught the attention of more scouts, including from Miami, Wake Forest and Iowa State. Times sports reporter Joey Knight take a look at how techology is changing the recruiting process. 


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Roundup: WP8 photo app, BlackBerry Z10 on eBay, more


Blink photo app: Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 app called Blink takes multiple photos in quick succession to make sure you don't miss capturing the moment.   The Next Web

fbcard.jpgFacebook in your wallet: Facebook announces a reusable gift card you can send to your friends to stores like Sephora, Target and Olive Garden.  Christian Science Monitor

Z10 on sale? Can't wait to get your hands on the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone coming out in March? There are a few listings on eBay, that likely came from the launch event where the manufacturer gave out the new model to some in attendance.  Business Insider

Go where no app has gone before: If you're a Star Trek fan, you're probably looking forward to the release of the new movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, coming in May. Until then, delve into the Trek world with the new free app for iOS and Android, which includes news, content, and exclusive offers including getting movie tickets for early showings of the film.  Mashable

Best seller: Research Firm Strategy Analytics says the launch of iPhone 5 and the declining popularity of non-smartphones have made Apple the biggest seller of phones in the United States for the first time.  Macworld …

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