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PROJECTIONS, Episode 26: Oculus Connect 4, Santa Cruz Prototype Hands-On

Lots to talk about this week as Norm and Jeremy head to Oculus Connect 4! At this year's annual VR conference, Facebook announces two new standalone headsets and big updates to the Rift interface. We go hands-on with the Santa Cruz prototype and share our impressions, along with things we learned in an interview with Oculus' Nate Mitchell. (Apologies, we were not given permission to film our demo and interview.)

Adam Savage Incognito as 2001: A Space Odyssey's Moonwatcher!

Adam goes incognito at this year's New York Comic Con as Moonwatcher, the lead ape in 2001: A Space Oyssey! This character is special because the mask was originally designed by make-up artist Stuart Freeborn, who also created Chewbacca's costume. And in a first for Adam Incognito, he was able to walk the floor and explore the convention without being detected! (Check out the work of Steve Neill, who made this Moonwatcher mask for Adam!)

Episode 419 - Quadcast - 10/12/17
Will joins us this week for a special quadcast! Because we missed recording last week, there's lots to catch up on, including Google's Pixel 2 announcement event, New York Comic Con, Elon's Mars colony dreams, and the release of the SNES Classic. Plus, Norm talks about the Westworld experience he went to in New York. (Recorded Tuesdsay so Oculus Connect 4 news will be discussed next week!)
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Building a Retro RC Racer: The Kyosho Optima

It's a little funny to think that there are such things as "classic" RC cars, but it's true. Off-road RC racing really blossomed during the 1980s. Many of the popular designs from that era are now sought after by collectors. These enthusiasts restore their machines with the same attention to detail that one might dote on a numbers-matching 1969 Charger Daytona.

You don't have to scour thrift stores or eBay to own a retro RC racer. Several companies have re-opened the production lines for a selection of 80s-era kits. You can find classics from Tamiya, Associated Electrics, Schumacher, and others. Kyosho has actually reintroduced several of their legacy off-roaders. There is the Scorpion, Turbo Scorpion, Tomahawk, Beetle, and the low-slung model you see here: the Optima. I always wanted an Optima as a kid. It just took me a few decades to get my hands on one!

About the Optima

The Optima was introduced in 1985. At the time, it was a revolutionary design for 4-wheel-drive racing. It spawned a long line of descendants that remained popular and competitive for many years.

Kyosho's re-release of the Optima ($300) is not a carbon copy of the original. It's mostly the same, but a few concessions have been made to reflect modern RC norms. For instance, ball bearings were an upgrade on the original Optima, but they now come as standard equipment.

The Kyosho Optima represented cutting-edge racing technology when it was first introduced in 1985. The modern re-release has only a few minor changes.

There were certainly powerful motors back in the day, but modern systems kick the horsepower potential up a few notches. Kyosho implemented a couple of changes to accommodate monster set-ups. The transmission now includes a slipper clutch that protects the driveline from heavy power surges. The clutch also helps to improve traction. Additionally, the kit includes both the original chain drive system and an upgraded belt drive.

There are no factory-assembled components here. The Optima is packaged today just as it was 30+ years ago. You get a box full of aluminum and nylon components that you put together piece by piece. It also comes with a clear Lexan body that must be painted. Don't look at the assembly process as a chore. Take your time and enjoy the experience. It's all part of the fun.

Boba Fett's Slave I Studio Scale Model Replica

Studio scale replica builders are a special breed of modelmakers, painstaking recreating the models using the exact materials, parts, and paint as the original filming miniatures. Steve Neisen and Mike Salzo are such builders, and they share with us their studio scale Slave I that's constructed using rare model kits that would've been on ILM's modelmaking shelves. The back of the ship alone is hundreds of parts!

Eaglemoss' Star Trek Starships Collection at NYCC 2017

At this year's New York Comic Con, we meet up with Ben Robinson, longtime writer and editor of Star Trek publications. He's now the project manager of Eaglemoss' official Star Trek Starships collection, a series of over 150 miniatures representing the pantheon of starships, space stations, and shuttles seen across Star Trek. We geek out a bit over the collection and see some Discovery model prototypes up close.

Google Play App Roundup: Microsoft Launcher, Stranger Things, and Modern Combat Versus

It's time again for us to dive into the Google Play Store and see what treasures we can dredge up. The Google Play App Roundup brings you the best new and newly updated Android apps and games each week. Just click on the links to head right to the Play Store.

Microsoft Launcher

When gave up on keeping its software and services exclusive to Windows Phone some years ago. It even started an incubator called Microsoft Garage to come up with new apps for iOS and Android. One of the products that came out of the Garage was Arrow Launcher for Android. Now, this alternative home screen has graduated to being a full-fledged Microsoft product called Microsoft Launcher. It's not just a name change—the new update includes new features, a new look, and more.

It should come as no surprise, but Microsoft Launcher works best if you log in with a Microsoft account. That's technically optional, but many of the included widgets and features will be inert without that connection. There's also a folder of Microsoft apps on the home screen, even if you don't have them installed. In that case, they're links to download the apps.

Getting started with Microsoft Launcher is quick, and users of Arrow Launcher will notice many of the old features have remained in the new version. There's nothing particularly wacky about Microsoft's approach to the Android home screen. You can place apps and widgets on the home panels wherever you like, add new panels, and your apps are accessible in a vertically scrollable app drawer. There's a search bar at the top of the screen that, no surprise, goes to Bing. I also like the nifty swipe up system info bar at the bottom of the screen.

To the left of the main home screen panel is Microsoft's customizable feed. Several of the included widgets here won't do anything without a Microsoft account login, so feel free to remove them. If you do log in, you get things like weather and integration with news. The feed also has widgets for your calendar, recent contacts, recent apps, and recent actions (photos, app installs, and so on).

You do have to grant a lot of permissions for all these features to work, so that's up to you. However, using Microsoft's included widgets makes the themes look very nice. You can pick from several styles and accent colors to make the home screen and feed look just how you want.

Microsoft Launcher is free, and there are no in-app upgrades. It should come through as a regular update to Arrow Launcher, but you can install the new version directly by joining Microsoft's testing group in the Play Store.