Editor’s Picks: What We Like

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Answering Life’s Queries

It may not be equipped to resolve age-old philosophical debates, but Wolfram Alpha — a relatively new search site — can almost instantaneously fire off accurate responses to innumerable questions.

Say, for instance, you were typing up a report and needed to know the number of Internet users in a particular country. All you’d have to do is type in “Internet users in [country X],” and Wolfram Alpha will spit out numbers and informational graphs.

Or in another instance cited by the company’s founder, even seemingly narrow searches, such as the amount of fish produced in Italy vs. France, will turn up valuable, targeted information with even more details and specifics.

Moreover, the site offers indescribable assistance to the mathematically challenged with its ability to crunch numbers and solve equations — while displaying the series of steps, to boot!

So whether it’s a term paper, a work-related assignment or merely curiosity that drives the query, Wolfram Alpha aims to answer some of life’s burning questions.

Being Iron Man

Have you always dreamed of flying like Robert Downey Jr. in “Iron Man?” Well, your chances for doing that are improving — or doing something close to it, at least.

The geniuses at Martin Aircraft Co. have been plugging away for the past 30 years on the Martin Jetpack. The device impressed attendees at a demo last year and continues to set records. Among its accomplishments: the world’s longest flight time of more than eight hours, heaviest jetpack pilot at 240 pounds and youngest jetpack pilot at age 11. Further, the jetpack can reach speeds of up to 63 mph, and it can hover at 8,000 feet.

And if you’ve got some extra cash sitting around — about $100,000 worth — you can have a jetpack of your own to play with.

The company is now taking refundable deposits of $10,000 until it can manufacture each jetpack. After your deposit, the company provides flight training and certification, which is a condition of the eventual jetpack sale. When the machine is ready and you pay in full, the suit is yours for high-flying Iron Man fun.

Kindle My Fire

You’ve seen the ads. You’ve heard the hype. And we’re here to tell you that yes, the Kindle Reader — Amazon’s wireless reading device — really is fabulous. Especially for techies, who likely are used to reading on a screen.

With the Kindle, books, magazines and newspapers are available on-demand, sans paper. Amazon’s latest version is 6 inches long, just more than a third of an inch thick and weighs 10.2 ounces — which, the site points out, is lighter than a typical paperback book.

With a price tag of $359, the Kindle has no monthly fees or required service plans. Readers can get books delivered in less than 60 seconds without PC intervention, and the device’s battery can read for days without recharging.

Each Kindle Reader holds more than 1,500 books and can read aloud all content, including newspapers, magazines, blogs and books — of which there are more than 285,000 U.S. and international options available — unless otherwise disabled by the rights holder. And in keeping with our love for extras, Amazon offers a leather cover, a clip-on light and an anti-glare screen protector.

Now techies everywhere can be “new school” when it comes to “old school” activities such as reading a book.


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