9 apps for the 4th of July

We celebrate the Fourth of July with backyard BBQ and "Independence Day" reruns. But the holiday's about honoring America's fiercely independent spirit and the patriots who fought for our enduring political freedoms. Nothing symbolizes the spirit of independence better than fireworks, which have been part of Fourth of July festivities since 1777. To find, photograph, or even play with fireworks, check out our picks for the best fireworks-themed apps.


Not sure where to go for the best view of the fireworks? Eventful (iOS) is like Yelp for local activities. Get alerts and search for nearby … Read more

The 404 1,298: Where we're the last to leave (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- From Usher to jellyfish: What was new at this year's Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular.

- Social etiquette do or don't?: The ol' Irish farewell.

- Is this the first arrest filmed on Google Glass?

- Speaking of citizen journalism: you'll never eat at Golden Corral again.

- RadioShack tries out new concept store.

Episode 1,298


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High-tech listening lets police crack down on 4th of July gunfire

We're all excited that the United States of America is finally turning 237 years old this Fourth of July, but it's highly advisable that you keep your gun in your holster and all bullets out of the air when celebrating this week.

Celebratory Independence Day gunfire is a bad idea, and not just because of the potential of, you know, killing someone. This week, police departments in many cities are also armed -- with technology that can pinpoint the location of such well-meaning but ultimately dangerous gunshots.… Read more

Haswell chip primer: How Intel pinches power

How serious is Intel about battery life on its next processor? Very.

On Thursday, the world's largest chipmaker hauled out two chip experts to brief journalists on the ways Intel's fourth-generation core processor, aka Haswell, reduces power consumption and boosts battery life.

Intel is claiming a 50 percent improvement in battery life for devices using Haswell compared to the current Ivy Bridge silicon.

The chip will be officially introduced on June 3 and is expected to power future Windows, Apple, and Chrome OS computers.

The information below was provided by Rani N. Borkar, general manager, Intel Architecture Development … Read more

NEC laptop is one of the first with Intel's 'Haswell' chip

NEC has apparently jumped the gun, releasing the full specs of a laptop based on Intel's 4th Generation Core processor, aka, Haswell.

That processor, along with a crush of new systems, is slated for rollout on June 3 at Computex in Taiwan.

But NEC is talking specs already in Japan.

In addition to the Haswell chip (about which NEC provided little additional data), the LaVie L will sport a 15.6-inch IPS touch screen (1,920x1,080 resolution), 8GB of memory, 1TB hard drive with a 32GB solid-state drive cache, Windows 8, and Microsoft Office Home and Business.

The … Read more

Helping 'Star Wars' newbies finally embrace the Force

SAN FRANCISCO--What I'm about to tell you is 100 percent true, no matter how much you will want to tell me I'm full of it: there are American adults who have never seen "Star Wars."

The 1977 George Lucas film is a timeless global phenomenon and may be one of the most embedded of all our cultural artifacts. It spawned an empire that Disney ended up buying for $4 billion, in large part because of the passion and commitment of its worldwide audience. But still some people, even those who watch other movies, and are part of mainstream society, managed to make it to 2013 without ever seeing it.

For one group of "Star Wars" newbies, though, their lifelong exclusion from one of the biggest clubs on Earth is over. … Read more

Intel describes next-gen 'Iris' graphics chips

Intel has released details on the next-generation graphics chips that will appear in upcoming laptops, hybrids, and desktops.

Iris graphics will be integrated into the 4th Gen Intel Core, aka, Haswell processors, the chip giant announced Wednesday.

"Iris graphics brings [an] eye-popping visual experience -- no extra graphics card required," Intel said in a statement.

There will be a 2X (two-fold) 3D performance increase over the 3rd Gen Intel Core "Ivy Bridge" chips for both the U- and Mobile H-series processors designed for ultrabooks and higher-performance laptops, respectively, Intel said.

For desktop R series processors, there … Read more

Toledo Mud Hens mark May the 4th with Chewbacca uniforms

The Toledo Mud Hens, a minor league baseball team in Ohio, are about to become the Toledo Wookiees for a weekend. Unfortunately, the team isn't going so far as to all dress up in big, brown fur suits, but they will be wearing some pretty special duds. The uniforms have an exaggerated Chewbacca-hair pattern all over them. Talk about sci-fi stylin'.

The "Star Wars" outfits are just the beginning for May the 4th celebrations at Fifth Third Field. The first 3,000 fans will get a free kazoo to participate in a massive post-game kazoo band version of the "Star Wars" theme song. There will be "Star Wars" face painting for the kids, too.… Read more

Intel confirms USB bug in 'Haswell' chipset

Intel confirmed a USB bug in its next-generation "Haswell" chipset.

The bug can cause USB (Universal Serial Bus) 3.0 devices, like thumb drives, to disappear after entering standby. In some cases, removable devices have to be reconnected again, according to a report at BSN.

The company issued the following statement this afternoon. The bug, in Intel parlance, is referred to as an "errata." The chipset is silicon that accompanies the main Haswell processor:

4th gen Core is on track for a midyear launch. Intel issued a PCN (Product Change Notification) documenting a chipset USB errata … Read more

Intel's upcoming 'Haswell' chip primed for gaming

Intel wants to make its future "Haswell" chip better than past generations of silicon at gaming and announced tools to make this happen at the Game Developers Conference today.

The world's largest chipmaker announced tools, known as extensions, for software developers that allow Intel's 4th generation Intel Core, aka Haswell, to process demanding special effects.

The first of these extensions, called PixelSync, allows programmers to more realistically render smoke, hair, windows, foliage, fences, and other complex geometry and natural phenomena, according to Intel.

"The artists working on Grid2 have been requesting this type of effect … Read more