Star Apps: SoMo

SoMo, aka Joseph Somers-Morales, became a YouTube sensation covering Chris Brown and Drake. Then he became a chart sensation (No. 1 on iTunes, No. 6 on Billboard) with the release of his self-penned, self-titled debut album. Now he wants to write hits for others. I chatted with SoMo about the baby makers, his dirty thoughts in the studio, and the app that makes him feel close to his writing partners.

When did you discover that you could sing? I knew my whole life. My dad's a musician, so I grew up around it. It wasn't really ever did … Read more

Food-gnashing compost container tops Grommet awards

The Ecotonix Green Cycler is a compost container for a new age. It doesn't just sit around in your kitchen, silently holding your vegetable scraps. It takes those scraps and eats them up, grinding them into little bits for faster, more convenient composting in your compost bin. The Green Cycler was just honored as a winner of product-launch platform The Grommet's product-pitch showdown, taking top honors in the ready-for-market category.

The $99 Green Cycler first launched in 2012 and has gone through some updates since then. It features a crank-powered set of shredder blades that grind food waste down into a size that composts much more quickly than big chunks.… Read more

Tidy Dog: Smart toy bin trains pups to pick up

For most humans, having a clean house is its own reward. Dogs, however, need some convincing. The Tidy Dog toy box on Kickstarter wants to help train your pooch to pick up its toys, a feat that many children have yet to master. The bin works on a tasty treat reward system, which is a form of currency dogs understand well.

The Tidy Dog looks simple on the surface, but it actually contains sensors that detect the weight of a toy when it is placed in the bin. In exchange, the box dispenses a treat.… Read more

DreamPad pillow plays music only you can hear

Falling asleep to the sound of music or podcasts can be such an individual thing. Your partner might not want to listen to Yanni or Dan Patrick. Wearing earphones while you sleep can be very uncomfortable, or require you to try to sleep on your back, whether you want to or not. There is a new way to get your music and your zzzs without bugging anyone else. It's the DreamPad, a pillow that whispers sweet music for your ears only.

The DreamPad hooks up to your smartphone or MP3 player via a cable. It uses conductive technology to pass the sound into your head. It's a similar approach to headphones that use bone conduction.… Read more

Let them eat Yoda: A geek food feast full of fun and failure

I recently stood at the end cap of a grocery store aisle, doing a double-take at a stack of macaroni-and-cheese boxes. I rubbed my eyes. I wasn't seeing things. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kraft mac and cheese is a real thing. And it's not alone. Geek marketing of foods is a trend.

There are Angry Birds fruit gummies, Super Mario Campbell's chicken noodle soup cans, Spider-Man Cheez-It crackers, Iron Man candies, and some sort of mysterious juice beverage with the Incredible Hulk's roid-rage head on top of it. I bought them all. I poked and prodded them. I inspected Yoda's apple-flavored gummy ears. I held crackers up into the light to evaluate the artwork. I even ate them.… Read more

Transform your toilet into a 'Star Wars' sarlacc pit

When geeks discuss euphemisms for going to the bathroom, you end up with some oddball entries. One of Robbie Rane's buddies suggested "toss Boba Fett in the sarlacc" as a reference to doing your doo-duty. That was all it took to set Rane off on a quest to turn his toilet into a sarlacc pit.

In case you need a quick refresher, the sarlacc is a tentacled, spiny, burping, large-mouthed creature known to eat just about anything that gets near its pit. Bounty hunter Boba Fett once very nearly got munched to death by a sarlacc on Tatooine.… Read more

After Guidelight, night-lights may never be the same again

Plug-in night-lights have rarely been lauded for the beauty of their design. They are usually utilitarian-looking gadgets or over-the-top silly gizmos with Disney princesses on them.

The SnapRays Guidelight on Kickstarter takes a very different approach. It replaces the cover plate on an electric outlet, but adds three down-facing LEDs. It requires no batteries or wiring to install.

The Guidelight has a light sensor, so it only turns on when it's dark. It comes in two different styles to fit most outlets, though it doesn't work with outlets that have GFI buttons. Snap Power estimates that it costs less than 10 cents per year to run each Guidelight, and that the LEDs should last up to 25 years.… Read more

Crave giveaway: Philips Fidelio SoundRing wireless speaker

Editor's note: Since CNET comments were disabled for several days due to site maintenance, we have extended the deadline for this giveaway to 12 p.m. ET on Friday, March 14, 2014.

Congratulations to Kenneth T. of Coldwater, Mich., for winning an amplified HDTV antenna from Winegard in last week's giveaway. This week's prize will have you going 'round in circles -- in a good way.

We're offering up a Philips Fidelio SoundRing DS3881W portable wireless AirPlay speaker, which, as the name suggests, features a circular design. And a striking one at that.

AirPlay, in case you need a refresher, is a wireless-streaming feature found on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or any Mac or Windows PC running iTunes. The SoundRing offers what Philips calls a "360-degree surround-sound effect," and in his CNET review, David Carnoy reports that it exudes "superior sound." … Read more

AT-AT walker rocking horse built for little Sith lords

AT-AT walkers generally don't make good house guests. They're large, messy, and prone to shooting at things with their laser canons. Jen Yates, known for geeky blogs Epbot and Cake Wrecks, figured out how to tame an AT-AT by building a rocking version of the robotic creature.

The AT-AT started with a template, which was used to guide the cutting out of more than 40 pieces of medium-density fiberboard. The pieces were assembled onto a set of rockers and painted to approximate the markings of a walker. A red holographic strip makes the "eye" glint in the light.… Read more

Crave giveaway: FlatWave amplified HDTV antenna from Winegard

Congrats to Nancy H. of San Diego for winning a Kisai Rorschach wristwatch from Tokyoflash in last week's giveaway. Watch over-the-air HDTV? Then tune in. This week's prize is for you.

We've got a FlatWave Amped indoor amplified HDTV antenna from Winegard. The antenna has an embedded ultra-low-noise preamplifier that amplifies 100 percent of the signal up to 50 miles. It's dual-band, meaning you don't miss out on channels that other compact ultra-high-frequency-only antennas do.

The antenna's ultrathin design makes it much less intrusive than a traditional antenna, and at 13x12 inches and less than a pound, it can be more easily placed in unconventional areas to maximize TV reception. Yeah, we've come a long way since rabbit ears. … Read more