#MashTag beer crafted from social-media input

Go ahead, pour yourself a cold frosty glass full of Twitter. Mmm, that's good stuff. Scottish craft brewery BrewDog turned over the reins of its latest creation to fans on Twitter and Facebook. The resulting brew, #MashTag, came about after several rounds of voting on the various elements that make it up, from the type of brew to the label design.

Over the course of several days, BrewDog offered up three options at a time to a vote. For example, the "#MashTag" name won out over its competition of "CrewDog" and "Crowd Control." Fans also chose to make it an American Brown Ale, rather than an Imperial or Session Brown Ale.… Read more

Top holiday cooking apps on iOS

Are you hosting Thanksgiving or bringing a dish to a potluck? If so, plans are probably already in place for the turkey, side dishes, and desserts, but there might be a chance to take your recipes to the next level -- if you have the right apps.

There are several cooking apps for both iPhone and Android that are great year-round, but they also often have special featured recipe collections around the holidays. If you want to kick your green-bean casserole (or any other holiday dish) up a notch, I suggest you take a look at what these apps have to offer.… Read more

Hands-on with DJ Hero

As the music games genre overflows with add-on packs for Guitar Hero and Rock Band (and too many plastic guitar variations to count), consumers might be feeling a little gun-shy about adding a turntable to the mix. Smartly, however, Activision has countered the skepticism by adding what might be the best video game soundtrack of all time to DJ Hero.

Ninety-three tracks (double the amount on The Beatles: Rock Band) of unique mashups and remixes from some of the world's most renowned DJs are not only great listening, but each one takes two excellent source songs to make music with. That's actually 186 songs floating around somewhere in this game.

Scott: The turntable in DJ Hero almost feels like an afterthought compared with the track selection, but it's solid and thankfully compact, with a free-spinning platter that's extremely smooth. The plastic buttons, crossfader, and other knobs feel a little jiggly, but the rubber feet beneath will make sure the controller stays put on a table.

To make music in DJ Hero, a very similar-looking "notes approaching" interface is repurposed to resemble a spinning record. Three different note-tracks are controlled by pressing colored buttons on the plastic turntable, just like Guitar Hero or Rock Band. You can also scratch the notes by pressing and turning at the same time.

On the left side of the controller, the crossfader is activated during certain zig-zaggy cues in the track, and alternates the two tracks. Above that is a "euphoria" button that is DJ Hero's version of "star power." Beside that is also a knob that either controls pitch effects during some sections, or selects sound effects in another portion of gameplay. As you can imagine, it starts to get complicated. DJ Hero might have one knob too many, but it adds to the feel of deck manipulation, and keeps your hands pretty busy. The end result--awesome hip-hop--is worth the effort.

Months ago, we were skeptical about DJ Hero--we worried that it was shameless music game exploitation. We were wrong. The effort has been exceptional, and that level of incredible musical talent should earn DJ Hero serious consideration this fall, perhaps even over the latest Rock Band and Guitar Hero entries.

Jeff: The real star of DJ Hero is without a doubt the music. The game boasts 93 mashup tracks that are sure to appeal to music tastes of all kinds with some of the most renowned DJs in the business lending their talents to the game.

So how does it play? DJ Hero is an interesting beast as its wireless turntable controller must be played on flat surface. We found success laying it on an ottoman while sitting on a couch behind it. For the most part, the tapping, crossfading, and scratching works, but you may have a problem with the button closest to the center of the faux record. Since it's anchored so closely to the center, it's tougher to scratch than the outer buttons. Regardless of how you orientate the controller, that last button may give you a problem.

The crossfader is also tough to master as its center position is not as easy to detect as you might think. During songs you'll have to switch it left and right, but we wish the center was more noticeable just by feeling its position--a definitive notch here would have helped.

DJ Hero may have less of an appeal to the more mainstream Guitar Hero franchise fan; it's a different demographic that this game is trying to reach. That combined with the intimidation of finding room for yet another plastic accessory and its $120 price tag may turn off prospective buyers.

Dan: We've spoken before about the threat of guitar game fatigue, with semiannual installments of music games vying for consumer's increasingly stretched dollars. Successfully injecting a little new life into the genre, DJ Hero is the biggest sea change in music games since the addition of drum kits. … Read more

Yahoo 360 to close on July 13

After almost two years without providing any support, Yahoo has finally decided to shut down its blog-centric social Web site Yahoo 360 Degrees completely on July 13. During its more than four years of existence, the site has never actually been out of the beta stage.

In an e-mail to its members, the company said, "We will be officially closing Yahoo 360 on July 13, 2009, to focus our efforts on making your new profile on Yahoo the place where you connect with the people who matter to you most. As a result, you will need to move your … Read more

Princess Zelda spits hot fire in debut album, 'Ocarina of Rhyme'

If you enjoyed Eric Franklin's post on 8-bit NES-style hip-hop, you'll definitely enjoy Team Teamwork's "The Ocarina of Rhyme." It's a mix tape of mashups that combines hip-hop tracks with the score to the Zelda game Ocarina of Time.

Team Teamwork produced the mix, which features unique tracks by Spank Rock, Common, Aesop Rock, Clipse, and my personal pick: MF Doom. Most of the songs fit well with the background score; for example, in "Fumbling Over Words," artist Edan Portnoy's intensity melds seamlessly into the rumblings of the "Battle" … Read more

Battery-operated potato peeling with the Rotato Express

Whoever came up with this idea must really hate potato skins. To create a device so committed to the removal of skins from potatoes, one must truly hold a disdain for them. Perhaps that person would also be a fan of this dedicated apple peeler.

As a fan of a more rustic style of cooking, I personally opt to leave the potatoes in their jackets when boiling up a batch of mashed. It's not just the fact that I don't have to deal with the dreaded potato peeler, but the flavor and texture of potato skins is something … Read more

You can mash potato and do the twist

Don't tell my kids, but it turns out that some people make mashed potatoes by actually mashing potatoes. My children, like all good children, have been brought up to believe that mashed potatoes come from flakes in a box. Add water, and like magic, they grow up to be a beautiful (if a bit bland) "close approximation of mashed potatoes."

Right. So, anyway, if your children have learned that there is another way, you may want to look into spudnik, an innovative masher from ?utensil, a brand created by high-tech design studio And Design to bring to … Read more

Mashface lets you do Conan-style visual voice-overs

One of the things that put late night talk show host Conan O'Brien on the map was a segment where he'd take a picture of someone's face and superimpose another person's talking mouth over it. It was creepy, it was awkward, and now you can do it too with a service called Mashface.

To make your own horrific creation, you pick from one of the ready-made photos of celebrities and politicians. For now you're limited to just these photos, but I'm assuming users will be able to upload and mark up their own photos … Read more

How do you replicate big-box retailers online? Mashery has an answer

Offline, vendors recognize the importance of moving products as close to the would-be consumer as possible. Retailers, fast food chains, and other vendors therefore build physical locations all over the world, seeking to be physically proximate to potential customers.

Online, we still somehow believe that it's acceptable to build one store (e.g., and expect the world to beat a path to the vendor's door.

Best Buy doesn't think so, and is doing some exceptionally interesting work with San Francisco-based Mashery to effectively replicate and extend the local shopping experience online.

The key to it all is the API (application programming interface), as The New York Times describes, which "lets Web sites make their content easily available to other Web developers, who can import it, display it on their own sites and mash it up with other material."

In Best Buy's case, this means making its product catalog available to the world. No big deal? Consider that this essentially opens up a Best Buy store on every niche Web site on the planet (that chooses to use the Best Buy Remix API, of course). Perhaps I'd like to provide detailed information about scanners that I want to sell. Best Buy's Remix lets me leverage its catalog (along with product reviews and more).

The next phase for Best Buy? Open up its shopping cart, as well, so that each of these corner stores becomes not only a place to browse but also a place to buy Best Buy products, taking a share of the sale in the process. Best Buy everywhere...even more than it could hope to achieve offline.

Best Buy, however, isn't alone in this. Mashery is also working with MTV, which suggests the following services with its API as a starting point:… Read more

Sushezi shoots out tubes of sushi

I can't tell if I like this idea or not. I suppose since it involves the making of sushi, I'll just have to give it a thumbs up. However, I don't think it's quite sushi-sushi, if you don't have to roll it up.

Usually sushi is formed in a bamboo mat covered with plastic wrap. You place the vinegared rice--with or without sugar--and fish in a sheet of nori, add some vegetables if you like, then roll it up. And there you have sushi. I'm not sure why you need a device for handling … Read more