Software and games

Star Apps: Michael Franti

Singer and musician Michael Franti's activism is a mainstay. What's changed over his almost 30-year career is his perspective on how best to effect change. "As I've grown, I want to be part of the solution, and I want to be not just pointing the finger at things that are wrong but saying how we can be part of fixing it," he says. I chatted with Franti about his tour, how he creates change at home, how we can be part of the solution, and the app that's become a positive force in his … Read more

Star Apps: 'The Theory of Everything'

Stephen Hawking is famous for his research in general relativity and quantum gravity, but also well known because of his near-total paralysis from ALS. Before taking on the role of the acclaimed scientist, that's what actor Eddie Redmayne knew about Hawking: "I knew he was a physicist, but I didn't know about astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics. But when I read this script, I just couldn't believe how much there was behind the icon." Based on Jane Hawking's memoir, "Traveling to Infinity: My Life With Stephen," "The Theory of Everything" delivers … Read more

Star Apps: Paul Budnitz

A year ago, Ello founder Paul Budnitz was frustrated with all the ad-driven, privacy-compromising social networks, so the established entrepreneur (Budnitz Bicycles, Kidrobot) decided to form his own. For a year, the site was limited to Budnitz and his 100 closest friends, but as demand to join increased, he opened it up to the public. Initially Ello saw a healthy 10 to 15 percent growth rate -- until a combination of dissatisfaction with Facebook's name policy, media attention, and word of mouth thrust Ello into the spotlight. I chatted with Paul Budnitz about Ello's explosive growth, what it … Read more

Star Apps: Kat Candler and Josh Wiggins of 'Hellion'

The Wilsons are the family Norman Rockwell forgot to paint. Hollis (Aaron Paul) is an alcohol-addicted, emotionally withdrawn widower. His delinquent son, Jacob (newcomer Josh Wiggins), is on a collision course with the law. Younger son Wes (Deke Garner), who is following in his brother's missteps, is ordered by Child Protective Services to live with his aunt Pam (Juliette Lewis). Writer-director Kat Candler doesn't shy away from this dissolving Texas family's struggles in her gripping new film, "Hellion." I chatted with Kat Candler and Josh Wiggins about this edgy indie and their favorite apps.

Kat … Read more

Star Apps: Body Count Featuring Ice-T

Rapper-actor Ice-T is a true original gangster. Best known to a younger generation as Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," Ice-T originally felt more at home on the other side of the law, committing crimes and later writing lyrics about them. His most controversial song, recorded with with his band Body Count, is "Cop Killer," a polarizing track released between the Rodney King beating and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Body Count's latest album, "Manslaughter," came out earlier this month, and the band will promote it … Read more

Star Apps: Frameline 38

Gay adoption, helicopter moms, and a pioneering gay athlete are just three of the stories at this year's Frameline 38: San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, taking place June 19-29. Actor Alec Mapa ("Switched at Birth," "Desperate Housewives," and "Ugly Betty") talked to me about what he wants gays and allies to take away from his new documentary, "Baby Daddy." I also spoke with songwriter-actress Lisa Loeb, singer of "Stay (I Missed You)," about co-starring in the hilarious coming-of-age comedy, "Helicopter Mom." And four-time Olympic medalist Greg LouganisRead more

Star Apps: Lumosity's Michael Scanlon

Michael Scanlon is the science behind Lumosity. The co-founder and chief scientific officer is an expert in cognitive training and neuroplasticity. He created the Human Cognition Project, which enables large-scale study of cognitive training in humans and oversees research collaborations in over 150 labs at prestigious universities, including Stanford and Harvard. I chatted with the Princeton and Stanford alum and researcher about the family health crisis that inspired his work, the science behind the "gym for your brain," his favorite mental exercise, the long-awaited Android version of Lumosity, and his favorite apps.

Would you tell us about your … Read more

Star Apps: Linkin Park

Linkin Park is always looking for innovative ways to deliver visuals to fans, whether through apps, online gaming, or Facebook Kinect video. The musicians -- who are also avid gamers -- met software developers Team Dakota at E3 and learned about Project Spark, a game-maker video game (for Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Windows 8). Linkin Park saw the potential for a unique collaboration, and the result is the first fully interactive, remixable music video within a video game for the band's latest single, "Guilty All the Same."

Now the band is inviting fans to put their … Read more

Star Apps: Orgy

Synth-rock band Orgy first gained fame with a cover of New Order's "Blue Monday." The single sold 1 million copies, catapulted the band to the top of the modern rock and dance charts, and introduced New Order to a new generation of fans. Orgy singer Jay Gordon hopes the group's new EDM-tinged rock single "Wide Awake and Dead" and forthcoming EP have similar success.

You reformed Orgy in 2012 and released "Grime of the Century." Why is now the right time to bring Orgy back? Well, why not? And I just didn'… Read more

Star Apps: Gary Numan

Gary Numan is well aware that most Americans know him only for his "Cars" single. It's his only US hit, charting at No. 9 back in 1980. But when people call the electro pioneer a one-hit wonder, it drives me crazy. If "Down in the Park," "Are 'Friends' Electric?" "Me! I Disconnect From You," and "You Are in My Vision" (with Tubeway Army), "I Die: You Die," and "We Take Mystery (To Bed)" didn't chart in the US, it's not for lack of … Read more