Friday, August 23, 2013

Repurpose Old Video Game Consoles and Controllers

Now that you can build an all-in-one video game console for $35, or just use your smartphone or desktop, old school consoles like the NES or Sega Genesis end up collecting dust. You don't have to let them waste away. Instead, give their hardware new life this weekend with a few clever DIY projects.

The Nintendo Entertainment System gets more DIY love than pretty much any other system around. Due to its size and shape, it won't take up too much space but provides plenty of room to work with should you hollow out its innards. Additionally, you get a super-simple controller that can turn into all sorts of things. If you want a great system to hack, start with the NES.

Let's take a look at a few awesome things you can do with it:

If you'd rather keept your NES as a gaming system but want a little more power, you can also build a computer inside or just add a Raspberry Pi.

Although people hack the NES primarily, other systems get a little attention, too. If you've a different classic console, check out these projects instead:

As you can see, you have a lot of fun options regardless of what system you've got lying around. You also don't have to start with an existing idea. If you think of something awesome, it isn't hard to hollow out a console case and put what you want inside. If you come up with anything worth sharing, come back and post it in the discussions. Have fun, and happy modding!

The Best Comic Reader App for iOS

The Best Comic Reader App for iOS

If you've been looking to go digital with your comic book collection, you're probably overwhelmed with all the comic readers available on the iPhone and iPad. Fret no more: Comic Zeal is the app you want.

Platform: iPhone and iPad
Price: $4.99
Download Page

Automatically organizes all your comics by seriesManually organize your comics with swipe gestures and easy-to-understand optionsTrack which comics you have and haven't readSearch and find your comics by title and tagsProceeds directly to next issue when done readingZoom lock lets you fit the page to your screen however you want and remembers it between pagesTons of additional settings for brightness, navigation, and readingLoad comics over USB, Wi-Fi, or DropboxComic Zeal is, hands down, the best app on iOS for organizing your comic library. When you import new comics, it automatically detects the series name and filters them all into their own categories by series. If you want to do something different—like create a reading list for a multi-series event—you can do so by swiping individual issues into ComicZeal's "slider," then emptying them out as you see fit. It can be a little tedious to do, but it's still light years ahead of any other comic readers. Comic Zeal also has a lot of settings for reading, which means you can get everything set up just how you like it. The "smart zoom" feature is particularly awesome.

Comic Zeal does have a few annoyances, but they're minor enough to keep it in the top slot. Turning pages is a bit slower than it is in other comic readers, so going from page to page doesn't feel very smooth at all. Similarly, importing comics takes a long time, and you can't do anything while the app is importing—so if you're importing a large number of comics, be prepared to set your device down and wait awhile.

Comic Viewer is slightly cheaper at $3.99, but has enough options to keep most people happy. It has a "fit to screen" or "fit to width" mode which works flawlessly, and it has a few settings to keep the reading experience solid. It also has a silly-but-kind-of-awesome page flipping animation and sound (which you can turn off), if you want to recreate the real-life reading experience as much as possible. Its organization is nowhere near the level of ComicZeal's (though you can manually categorize things themselves), so I'd recommend spending the extra dollar on Comic Zeal. Comic Viewer is certainly a solid alternative, though.

If you want something free, ComicFlow is probably your best choice. Its "library" interface is very similar to Comic Zeal's, but with some nice filtering options (though not nearly as many good organization options). ComicFlow, as its name describes, excels at flipping between pages with fantastic smoothness (unlike Comic Zeal). However, it doesn't remember your "zoom" level on each page, which is extremely annoying for people that don't want it to fit every page to the screen. It also is pretty bare when it comes to settings (for example, it only gives you a "dim mode" rather than letting you adjust the in-app brightness). Like ComicZeal, ComicFlow can import comics over Wi-Fi, but it'll cost you $3.99 after the first 50 transfers. If ComicFlow has one incredible advantage, its that it imports comics in the background, which is really nice.

CloudReaders is another popular one, and while its interface isn't nearly as pretty as Comic Zeal or ComicFlow, the reading experience is a good one. Like ComicFlow, flipping between pages is fantastically smooth, and it has a few more settings if you don't care about looks, care about features, and want something free.

Of course, all the above apps are for reading your DRM-free CBR, CBZ, or PDF comics. If you want to read comics from the official source, you'll want something like Comics from ComiXology. ComiXology is the place to buy, download, and sync comics straight from companies like Marvel and DC (who, incidentally, have their own Marvel and DC versions of the app), as well as others like Image, IDW, and Disney. If you're looking for new comics from these companies, this is the app you'll want to download.

Lifehacker's App Directory is a new and growing directory of recommendations for the best applications and tools in a number of given categories.

What do you think about the Prism news?

What do you think about the Prism news?

Great discussions are par for the course here on Lifehacker. Each day, we highlight a discussion that is particularly helpful or insightful, along with other great discussions and reader questions you may have missed. Check out these discussions and add your own thoughts to make them even more wonderful!

For great discussions any time, be sure check out our user-run blog, Hackerspace. And today being Friday, don't forget to check out this week's Open Thread.

If you've got a cool project, inspiration, or just something fun to share, send us a message at

Happy Lifehacking, everybody!

Gizmodo What Is PRISM?

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Carpenter themed fathers day coat rack

(1) 1x12x6 piece of red oak

(2) Five  claw hammers

(3) Two quick squares

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Being a Jack of All Trades Doesn't Mean You're a Master of None

Being a Jack of All Trades Doesn't Mean You're a Master of None

You've probably heard the derogatory saying "Jack of all trades, master of none." It implies that by trying to learn many things, you give up mastery of any of them. Quora designer David Cole says this is a myth.

He talks specifically about the field of design (the myth of the "unicorn" designer who can do everything from identity design to user interface design to Javascript coding), but his arguments apply to many fields. You don't have to pick between being great at one thing or just mediocre at many things.

"Learning isn't a zero-sum activity," Cole writes:

The central counter-argument here is that any learning comes with opportunity cost. Learning Python might very well take up time that you would otherwise use for studying, say, product management. This is true, in theory. But in practice, most designers I know, including myself prior to joining Quora, are not learning at their maximum rate. I have spent much of my career solving the same design problems over and over again with no substantive personal growth to show for it. I don't think my situation is unique.

But even if you were learning at your maximum rate, the opportunity cost argument actually works in favor of the multi-disciplinary approach. Design and its component practices are like any other craft: you can always develop a deeper familiarity with the minutiae, asymptotically approaching mastery. But this is a process with diminishing returns. Would you rather carve a door 1% better than you did last year, or learn how to build the rest of the house in the same amount of time? As I argue below, the connective tissue between these skills may actually be more valuable than incremental gains in a single practice.

We've discussed previously how knowing a little of everything can often be better than having one expert skill set. If you're not convinced yet, Cole's many arguments further support the view that you can be a generalist or take a multi-disciplinary approach and still do great work.

The Myth of the Myth of the Unicorn Designer | Quora

Photo by ulegundo (Shutterstock).