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

Star Apps: Julie Benz of 'Defiance'

Picture it: The town of Defiance, 2047, seven years after war between humans and aliens has destroyed the planet. Both groups have formed a fragile peace as they work to rebuild, but that peace is threatened once more in Season 2 of the Emmy-nominated Syfy series. Julie Benz, perhaps best known as Darla on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and as Dexter's wife Rita, plays former mayor Amanda Rosewater on "Defiance." She chatted with me about figure skating, playing characters that defy social mores, the Defiance video game, and her favorite apps.

After an injury, you … Read more

GitHub puts co-founder on leave after harassment claims

GitHub is the latest tech company to be accused of turning a blind eye to ongoing gender discrimination in the workplace.

After last week's departure of engineer Julie Ann Horvath, who detailed the sexism she said she experienced at GitHub in an interview with TechCrunch, the company has put the alleged offenders on leave.

"This weekend, GitHub employee Julie Horvath spoke publicly about negative experiences she had at GitHub that contributed to her resignation," GitHub CEO and co-founder Chris Wanstrath wrote in a blog post on Sunday. "I would like to personally apologize to Julie. It'… Read more

Sensaphonics ER earplugs, a better way to hush the noise

Earplugs are the best way to protect your hearing in loud environments, but sometimes they do their job too well. They muddle the sound, so music sounds dull, or you can't understand people talking around you. I've used earplugs for decades; my first set was custom-molded to my ears, and while they were highly effective, the hard plastic plugs were uncomfortable to wear for extended periods of time. So I moved onto inexpensive, but comfy foam plugs that quelled the noise almost as well, but they totally muffled the sound. Foam earplugs can be frustrating to use at … Read more

CNET's Next Big Thing: What's next for hardware?

While the features and services offered by wearables and home tech are certainly abundant, hardware makers say the next big challenge for these products is an age-old one: getting people to actually use them.

This means making products that look good and are ridiculously easy to use, according to a panel of industry folks from Misfit Wearables, Intel, Ford, and Microsoft at CNET's Next Big Thing presentation on Tuesday.

A visually-pleasing design is the only way these types of products can go mainstream because people won't just use wearables simply because they perform well, said Sonny Vu, CEO … Read more

CNET's Next Big Thing: The new hardware

While the smartphone and tablet markets seem to have devolved into a somewhat-predictable battle of bigger displays and faster processors, we're seeing some amazing innovation in a flotilla of other devices with more specific intents. These things use sensors and other smarts to provide solutions to problems we didn't know we had.

At last year's Next Big Thing SuperSession, we talked about how connecting all your many and myriad gadgets helps to make them all smarter than they would be on their own. This year we discuss how those individual devices are becoming more aware of their … Read more

Ouya changes the rules for its Free the Games Fund

Ever since Ouya launched its Free the Games Fund, gamers and developers have wondered whether some people were taking short cuts to get funding for their projects -- namely getting friends and family to donate a high amount of money to meet the project minimum on Kickstarter.

It may be because of this speculation that the gaming company announced Wednesday it was changing the rules of the fund. Now, the project minimum has been lowered to $10,000, but projects must have at least 100 backers for every $10,000 raised.

"You need to play by the spirit of … Read more

Artist Miranda July lets you spy on celebrity e-mails

Ever wish you could peek inside someone else's e-mail inbox? Say, your boss'? Your girlfriend's? Lena Dunham's?

Actually, you can (well, Dunham's, at least).

For the next several months, performance artist, actor, and director Miranda July is giving the world a look at private e-mails written by celebrities, including the star of "Girls"; NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; actress Kirsten Dunst; and Israeli writer Etgar Keret.

The project, called "We Think Alone," aims to explore the way people present themselves in online communication and how that may or may not differ from their non-digital personae. … Read more

The July 9 management shake-up that proved to be Apple's salvation

With the dog days of summer upon us, the tech world could use a diversion beyond the seemingly endless PRISM story and the accompanying saga of one Edward Snowden. So it is that one popular parlor game within some segments of the chattering class is to pose the seemingly provocative question of whether Apple's best days are behind it.

Everything is relative and the same might also be asked of Apple rival Samsung, which just this week revealed that it will finish up its second quarter way short of analyst projections. Truth be told, this is all part of … 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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