Entertainment

Star Apps: Birdy

Birdy flew to fame with stripped-down, piano-backed interpretations of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love" and Ed Sheeran's "The A Team." But the barely 18-year-old Hampshire singer proves she can do more than parrot on "Fire Within," 13 tracks that showcase her sophisticated vocals and mature songwriting. No stranger to blockbuster soundtracks ("The Hunger Games," "Brave"), Birdy contributed three new tracks to "The Fault in Our Stars" soundtrack. Birdy told me about her first professional milestone, "Fire Within," making covers her own, taking on America, and … Read more

Star Apps: Doug Liman

"Edge of Tomorrow" director Doug Liman wanted to make a great popcorn flick -- a film that's exciting, terrifying, and funny, everything audiences want in a summer blockbuster. But for the movie to outlast the season, he knew from experience ("The Bourne Identity" series and "Mr. & Mrs. Smith") that it would need strong, relatable characters. So he relied on powerful actors Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, whose characters, Major William Cage and Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski, must count on each other to save the world from alien invasion. I chatted with … Read more

Star Apps: Taryn Manning from 'Orange Is the New Black'

Taryn Manning has been in films and on television since 1994, often in supporting roles opposite bigger names like Britney Spears in "Crossroads," Eminem in "8 Mile," Terrence Howard in "Hustle & Flow," and Charlie Hunnam on "Sons of Anarchy." The role of Tiffany "Pennsatucky" Doggett on Netflix series "Orange Is the New Black" might have been just another ancillary entry on Manning's IMDb page, except the actress has been a scene stealer as the antagonistic drug addict turned born-again Christian. Now an official series regular, Manning … Read more

Star Apps: Taylor Kitsch

For Canadian actor Taylor Kitsch, playing hockey offers a great escape, and so does playing a diverse range of characters. Kitsch is best known for his roles in "Friday Night Lights," "Savages," "John Carter," and "Battleship." In his new film, "The Grand Seduction," he plays urbane Dr. Paul Lewis, a reluctant suburbanite won over by the townsfolk of a small fishing village, who want to land a lucrative business contract.

The role of Dr. Paul Lewis, an eccentric doctor with a penchant for cricket, is not your typical action hero … Read more

Mix it up with DJ Music Mixer for 60 percent off

A full-featured DJ and beatmatching system, DJ Music Mixer is a regular favorite with our users for having a beginner-friendly interface combined with a feature-rich toolset. It's a great entry-level software for learning and DJing small get-togethers. DJ Music Mixer helps you quickly grasp the basics without paying a premium price. For one week only, you can get it for only $11.98 -- 60 percent off the regular $29.95 price. Check out the trial before you buy.

Key Features

Mixes music and songs professionally with crossfade. Powerful equalizers with predefined settings. Complete mixing control with cue and … Read more

Star Apps: Needtobreathe

When Needtobreathe recorded its latest album, "Rivers in the Wasteland," the Southern rock band grappled with which direction to take after the departure of drummer Joe Stillwell. The band members, suffering inner tensions and the pressures of fame, felt the need to make bare-bones, from-the-heart songs to satisfy their collective soul and re-energize. The 10-time Dove-winning band chose wisely: The album landed at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Album and Rock Albums charts, and No. 3 on the Billboard 200. I chatted with Needtobreathe guitarist and backing vocalist Bo Rinheart about the new album and tour, getting … Read more

Star Apps: Steve Harwell of Smash Mouth

Smash Mouth, the alternative rock band best known for such hits as 1997's "Walkin' on the Sun" and 1999's "All Star," celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, Smash Mouth will release a greatest hits package and a live album, featuring tour performances from earlier this year. The band hits the road again in June for the Under the Sun Tour, a '90s flashback outing that also featuring Blues Traveler, Uncle Kracker, and Sugar Ray.

Any special surprises for fans on tour? We're going to do something special. Me and … Read more

Get Pixar's rendering software behind 'Toy Story' absolutely free

Pixar's award-winning, in-house rendering software, RenderMan, will be free starting in August. All you have to do is sign up. The Emeryville studio has announced that it will offer the $500 rendering software for free, provided it is used for noncommercial purposes. The animation giant has also stated that the "free non-commercial RenderMan is exactly the same as the commercial version." This is pretty awesome news for aspiring digital artists.

The free version of RenderMan will be released with its commercial counterpart sometime in August. You can sign up here to get notified once it goes live. … Read more

Star Apps: Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri

Miss America 2014, Nina Davuluri -- the first winner of Indian descent -- wasn't always celebrated by her peers. In middle school, the future pageant pioneer felt misunderstood by her classmates because of her heritage. That's why her candidate platform for Miss New York (and later Miss America) was "Diversity through cultural competency." On Wednesday, she spoke about the value of social diversity at Macy's in San Francisco. I spoke to Davuluri about the event, feeling misunderstood, her proudest moment in the Miss America competition, pageant queen misconceptions, and her favorite apps.

Why is this … Read more

Star Apps: Journey

It's been 40 years since Journey formed in San Francisco, and the band seems to keep getting bigger. "Don't Stop Believin'" was used in "The Sopranos" series finale and was covered in "Glee," and it's the biggest selling song from the 20th century in iTunes history. Journey's 2011 tour was one of its best attended. Next the diamond-certified rock band will mark its anniversary with a national tour with fellow Bay Area group the Steve Miller Band (whose No. 2 album, "The Joker," turns 40 this year) and … Read more