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– Looks may not be for everyone – 9V battery power seems a bit old-fashioned in such a modern instrument – Unplugged sound a little lacking in volume and punch

Cons: – Looks may not be for everyone – 9V battery power seems a bit old-fashioned in such a modern instrument – Unplugged sound a little lacking in volume and punch

It’s fair to say that we guitarists can be a bit of an old-fashioned bunch. The three most popular electric guitars currently on the market – Fender’s Telecaster and Stratocaster, and Gibson’s Les Paul – were all designed in the early fifties and have gone through very few changes since. And as beautifully designed and iconic as they are, they are still essentially just lumps of wood embedded with magnetic pickups with some strings stretched over them.


But there was just one slight issue: the price tag. Getting your hands on one in the UK will set you back £1749 if you pay full retail price. That’s a fair old chunk of change to stump up for any guitar, even one as versatile as the Acoustasonic.

That’s where the newly launched Acoustasonic Player Telecaster, or APT, comes in. It’s a stripped-down Mexican-made version of its older American-made sibling with a significantly less wallet-walloping retail price of £1049.

Design and build

The APT is built in Fender’s cutting-edge facility in Ensenada, Mexico, and straight out of the gigbag it smacks of quality. The mahogany neck, back and sides are smooth and well finished, the lightly applied satin matte finish leaves the attractive grain of the solid sitka spruce top just visible, and the acoustic-style rosewood bridge and string pegs are a tasteful nod to the guitar’s hybrid identity.

Moving up to the other end of the 22-fret neck, we have a rosewood fingerboard, a set of narrow but tallish frets, a GraphTech Tusq nut, and a set of reassuringly smooth and solid Fender-branded tuners.

But of course, most of the innovation going on in the APT is hidden under the bonnet. As mentioned previously, the APT is a stripped-down version of the American Acoustasonic, and the key way in which the two instruments differ is in their pickup setups.

The APT model has a three-way voice selector, as opposed to the American Acoustasonic’s five-way, and two pickups, as opposed to the American model’s three. The designers chose to forgo the Fishman Acoustasonic enhancer designed to pick up the vibrations of the guitar’s top – presumably to bring the cost down. This leaves the APT with a Fishman under-saddle transducer piezo and a specially designed Fender noiseless single coil.

In each of the positions a blend control allows you to select between two of six voicings that Fender have tuned specifically for the APT using digital signal processing tech they call the Acoustic Engine.

With the voice selector in position one we have the classic Telecaster bridge pickup tone when the blend knob is rolled all the way back and a fat Telecaster bridge pickup tone when it is rolled all of the way forward. In between these are a countless number of blends as you roll the knob back and forth.

Position two gives us the so-called ‘Lo-Fi clean’ tone on one side, which is essentially the straight up sound of the piezo, and ‘Lo-Fi crunch’ on the other, which is a crunchy beefed-up version of the same thing.

Finally, position three gives us the ‘acoustic’ sounds. We have a tone modelled on a small-bodied mahogany acoustic on one side and one modelled on a rosewood dreadnought on the other.

All of the tech going on inside the APT means it needs its own power source. This comes by way of a 9V battery tucked into a compartment on the instrument’s back. The more expensive American model has a built-in rechargeable battery that can be easily re-juiced via a micro-USB socket. It’s a minor quibble but what with the ubiquity of USB charging nowadays it does seem a bit old-fashioned to go the 9V battery route.

Playability and sound

Thanks to its light weight and ergonomic heel contour, the APT is incredibly comfortable to hold whether seated or standing. The ‘deep C’ profile neck is welcoming and sits easily in the hand and the 25.5” scale length will no doubt feel like home for any devoted Fender player. Along with the low action of our review model, the playing experience feel-wise was definitely more akin to a solid body electric guitar than a fully acoustic guitar.

Ours came strung with bronze acoustic guitar strings, which took a bit of getting used to. The guys at Fender say there’s no reason why you couldn’t string it up with the regular nickel set that you’d use on an electric, and I think this would be something worth experimenting with.

So how does it sound? Maybe I was expecting too much, perhaps due to the instrument’s high-tech, precision-engineered look, but I found the APT’s unplugged sound a bit underwhelming. Even when really digging in with a pick I think you’d struggle to get heard over all but the quietest of singers.

Although the APT’s unplugged sound doesn’t come close to the volume and projection of a fully acoustic guitar, you can still hear what you are playing comfortably enough to get in a bit of quiet practice, sketch out some song ideas, or, as I often found myself doing, plonk yourself on the sofa for a bit of evening noodling.

Plug the guitar into an amp, however, and it’s a whole different story. Starting with the pickup selector in position one you can instantly hear the classic Telecaster twang. Rolling the blend knob towards the fat setting gradually adds more oomph and grit until we find ourselves in overdrive territory.

Position two was my least favourite of the bunch. It just seems a bit plain and lacks the identity of the other settings. Having said that, I could perhaps see it being loved by a more ambient-style player that likes to layer pristine clean sounds with multiple effects. Maybe. Fender coyly describe the sound as ‘unique’ in the instruction manual, so it can’t just be me that finds this setting a touch difficult to get my head around.

Then finally, when we make our way to position three we have the acoustic modelling sounds. As you would expect, rolling the blend towards the small-bodied mahogany side gives a tighter, sweeter sound, while going the other way, towards the dreadnought side, adds space and low-end boom.

For my money both were a good deal more acoustic-sounding than any more ‘traditional’ electro-acoustic guitar I’ve played – those with bridge-mounted piezo transducers sound especially plasticky to my ear. I also found myself using the blend knob a lot more in this position than the others and was really quite surprised with some of the warm, natural-sounding tones I was able to dial in.


The Acoustasonic series occupies a genuinely unique place on the guitar store shop floor. To this end Fender market them as ‘true electric-acoustic hybrid guitars’. It’s difficult to argue with them, but seeing the Acoustasonics as a ’Jack-of-all trades’ type instrument isn’t really doing them justice in my opinion. They have their own feel, sound and identity.

At £1049 the APT is far from being cheap. But there’s no denying that it’s a well-made, great-sounding guitar that’s fun to play. Thanks to that I can definitely see it making its way into the hands of many guitarists looking for something a little bit different.

Other options Fender American Acoustasonic Telecaster

The obvious other option, if you’re not short of money, is to go for the APT’s older sibling. There isn’t much difference in the build quality and playability but you do have a good few more extra tonal options. Plus you’re also paying extra for the street cred of owning a genuine American-made Fender guitar.

Squier Paranormal Cabronita Telecaster Thinline

For a cheaper, more old-school option you could do a lot worse than this Squier Cabronita Thinline. It has a similar look and feel but its fitted with a pair of Fender-designed Alnico Jazzmaster single-coil pickups giving it a more electric-focused sound.


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Building The Future Of Education: The Biggest Trends For The Future Decade

Modern student learning is constantly changing dramatically. The process of change itself is aimed at obtaining high-quality knowledge by students. It is done so that they help in the future to fulfill labor duties. Businesses and organizations require competent employees. The world needs people who can make the right decisions.

The education system now concerns almost every person. Lifelong learning is becoming more and more popular in today’s world. Many processes are now being automated. As a result, the demand for technical specialties is growing. People need new skills, in particular, to meet the requirements.

Changes That are Already Building The Future of Education

The future of education is constantly being transformed by innovation. People are increasingly beginning to use technology every year in all learning processes. All this will be used to ensure that students can learn faster. People are actively trying to integrate technology into all areas of life and have already introduced online learning into students’ lives.

Despite the rapid evolution of instruction with an attempt to integrate new technologies, routine tasks have not disappeared anywhere. And very often, a student is asked to write an essay on human rights. It is not a problem in the modern world, and you can turn to specialists who will help. You can find more human rights essays and ask for help. Also, by reading samples of essays, every student can develop writing skills and learn new information about human rights.

Changes in Education in The Next Decade

The rapid development of technology in the next decade will completely reformat the study system. There will be mass online learning where you do not need to be present in the audience. It is enough to have a gadget and access to the World Wide Web. In this regard, there will be no need for human teachers. Works that will follow a given system will come to replace them.

Scientists also talk about an individual education system. It is challenging for teachers to give equal attention to each student. After all, everyone is entirely different, and this is physically impossible. Therefore, researchers suggest using computer technology during classes. It will allow the building of an education system individually for each student.

What is The Importance of Education in The Future?

What are The Latest Trends in Education?

Since the role in human life and society is always increasing. At the moment, the main trends and vectors to look to the future are changing. The main trends and directions of development of modern education include the following:







The world is changing, and learning must change with it. The paper routine is leaving colleges, giving way to electronic means of working with data. Universities have realized that technology can improve the learning process.

The Duration of Training is Growing, and Education is Becoming More Humane

Knowledge becomes more complex, and the requirements for professional skills are higher. All this increases the overall duration of the study. Today the focus is not on the curriculum. The personality of the students themselves plays an important role. The student builds training by taking into account his interests and requests.

Increasing The Humanities Disciplines and Acquiring an International Character

In modern society, social skills are becoming more important. Therefore, the role of humanitarian areas is growing. The educational systems of different countries are looking for common ground. They develop uniform models and student exchange programs. It once again proves the high role of education in the life of society.

Education Becomes Technological

Every school already has computer labs. Many Universities offer full-distance learning. Adaptive education is being introduced. The development of technological progress actively influences understanding. Thanks to modern technology, the learning process has become easier and faster.

The Contribution of Education to The Growth and Development of Society


Education does not stand still and is constantly evolving. Learning will change in the future. Its social role in society will increase. Thanks to modern technology, people are moving to a new learning format. Most of the learning processes are already automated. Humanity is constantly evolving and adapting to current standards of learning.

The Future Of The Pc Looks Cloudy

The PC of the future is on your desk. It’s also in your pocket. It’s inside your TV, your car and your refrigerator. The PC of your future doesn’t exist as one discrete tool; instead, it’s a personal network of devices that share data and collectively represent you to the rest of the Internet. By the year 2023, we will abandon our bulky desktops in favor of remote storage, lashing together our favorite music, movies and games with a web of internet-connected devices to build a digital raft of data that will buoy us through the ebb and flow of our daily lives.

In the future you can still build a powerful desktop PC with three monitors and a 10 petabyte hard drive, but you might find it more convenient to subscribe to Google Cloud and link all your devices and digital download accounts together under a single cloud computing service.

Of course in the future, major service providers will gobble up smaller services to become the digital megacorps we’ve always been secretly dreaming of. Only now are we beginning to see the balkanization of virtual services among different mobile phone providers; platform-agnostic cloud computing services like MobileMe, Google Apps and Microsoft’s Windows Azure are just the beginning. As much as I would like to predict a warm and loving future in which we all unite beneath one free and open Internet, I think it’s far more likely that in the future you will pick one corporate camp that best matches your computing needs and stick within it.

But how do I keep my data private?

In the far-flung future of 2023, you shouldn’t have any secrets from Big Brother Google. As ex-CEO Eric Schmidt once said, “if you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

If you think otherwise, make sure to shop around and find a cloud computing company that offers the best privacy guarantee; in the future, there will be enough competition among providers that you should have no trouble finding an encrypted cloud computing service that suits your unique needs. Accessing the Google file-sharing servers via GMail and Google Docs is already encrypted via SSL, and by 2023 we’ll see a whole host of competitors spring up as broadband internet access becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous in the global market.

What if I need to make movies, play games or perform other demanding computational tasks?

You’ll likely have to work under a bandwidth cap, but for a flat monthly fee you’ll be able to crunch numbers, play games and edit media from a netbook, tablet or even your TV. The success or failure of the OnLive game service will be our bellwether; if contemporary cloud gaming services like Gaikai and OnLive thrive, we can expect to see similar services spring up for any task that requires a high-end PC.

What if I lose network access?

Faster, cheaper broadband and the efforts of many major cities to expand municipal wireless will help, as will the spread of 4G cellular wireless networks. If nothing else works, there’s always chúng tôi the cloud!

Previously in this series…

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The Microscopic Future Of Surgical Robotics

The NeuroArm, a non-ferrous microsurgical robot—shown here with an electrified cutting tool and suction instrument—was used to remove a patient’s brain tumor in 2008, while she was being scanned with an MRI. University of Calgary

Chances are, you aren’t, and never will be, an astronaut. So the recent revelation that NASA is funding the development of a somewhat gruesome-sounding surgical bot—a fist-size contraption that would enter a patient’s gas-engorged abdomen to staunch bleeding or remove a ruptured appendix—isn’t exactly news you can use. The more relevant announcement might be from Intuitive Surgical, which announced that its newest robo-surgeon has been approved by the FDA. With thinner and more maneuverable arms, the da Vinci Xi will turn more open surgeries into minimally-invasive, robot-assisted procedures. Instead of requiring large incisions to get at various portions of a patient’s anatomy, the Xi will let surgeons reach essentially anywhere in the abdomen through smaller less traumatic punctures. With this clearance, the likelihood that you’ll one day be under the robotic knife just jumped significantly.

This is the near-term for robotic surgery, a gradual expansion of machines throughout the body, and through the full range of possible procedures. In addition to the da Vinci’s primary focus on the abdomen, bots are currently aiming drills in the brain, reshaping joints, and using lasers to correct vision. But the future of surgical bots appears be in some of the most challenging and specialized operations: microsurgery, or surgeries performed at a microscopic scale.

“Right now all of the operations we do are on the scale of human eyes and human hands,” says Catherine Mohr, director of medical research for Intuitive Surgical, referring to da Vinci-assisted procedures. “That’s because traditionally, medicine has been the laying of hands of the physician onto the patient, and trying to intervene. But we may be able to get that patient that much better an outcome because we’ve changed the scale of that interaction with robotics.”

It’s not that microsurgery is unheard of today. The issue is that, despite the fact that microscope-enabled surgery has been practiced for close to a century, it’s such a remarkably difficult and specialized skill, that the spectrum of related procedures is vanishingly narrow. And when those operations are possible, the waiting list for qualified surgeons can stretch for up to a year.

Robots, however, could turn more surgeons into microsurgeons, by translating large movements into minuscule ones. “Think about working in Photoshop, and you’re zoomed way in, working a pixel at a time on an image,” says Mohr. “Your mouse motions are still comfortable motions with your hand, but the scale that you’re working at is completely different.”

Microsurgery wouldn’t replace traditional surgeries, but could help solve specific problems. One example—though Mohr noted that it isn’t FDA approved, or backed up with overwhelming clinical data—would be treating breast cancer patients, who often suffer severe swelling and pain in their arms and hands following the removal of lymph nodes. This condition, called lymphedema, is caused by the disruption of natural drainage channels, meaning that blood isn’t flowing properly back through the patient’s system. Redirecting blood flow is theoretically possible, but incredibly challenging, as surgeons try to sew tiny vessels that are only barely visible under a microscope. “I’m excited that, if I can change that scale, for someone who’s got this terrible edema, we could start sewing their lymphatic channels onto the local veins, and drain it,” says Mohr. “So instead of spending their lives with compression stockings on their arms, we can go in and do a small intervention and fix it.”

For Intuitive Surgical, microsurgery is a target for research, but not a confirmed direction for development. But a microsurgical robot built by researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands is currently in clinical trials, with results expected by 2023. The unnamed bot is operated with dual joysticks and a foot pedal that adjusts the scale. It’s initially intended for complex reconstructive procedures in the hand and face, offering increased precision for microscopic procedures, such as connecting nerve fibers and tiny blood vessels.

The NeuroArm, a robot that can perform micro-scale neurosurgery while a patient is undergoing an MRI, has already been used in Canada to remove a 21-year-old patient’s brain tumor. The bot, which uses non-ferrous materials (to avoid interacting with the MRI’s magnets), was acquired by surgical imaging firm IMRIS, and has since been rebranded as the SYMBIS Surgical System. SYMBIS isn’t available for sale yet, but IMRIS already sells specialized MRI systems, which allow for scans mid-procedure. Once it’s cleared for use, SYMBIS would allow the surgeon to image the patient’s brain without removing instruments.

There are other examples of microsurgical bots currently in development, including Johns Hopkins University’s Steady-Hand Eye Robot, which deals solely with retinal procedures, and Carnegie Mellon University’s Micron, a handheld robotic instrument that would use gyroscopes and actuators to actively boost the precision of the surgeon. All of these systems are years and possibly decades from use, if they make it to market at all. But Intuitive Surgical’s interest in microsurgery is a clear indication of what’s to come. Despite a series of lawsuits leveled at the company in 2013, and the subsequent negative media coverage and pummeling in the stock market, Intuitive is the biggest maker of surgical robots, and one of the driving forces in the entire robotics industry, with systems that routinely sell for more than $2M, and more than 200,000 da Vinci procedures conducted yearly. And according to Mohr, adding micro-scale capabilities might not require entirely new robots, but rather new instruments and other modular components that would attach to some portion of the more than 2500 da Vinci’s already installed worldwide.

For us prospective patients, it doesn’t necessarily matter who makes microsurgery more accessible. What matters is that it’s coming. “We as a medical community haven’t made a lot of therapies that require that kind of super microscopic view and manipulation, because those are at the limit of what the human hands can do at unscaled motion,” says Mohr. “But if we kind of break that barrier, I think it will unleash a lot of new therapies that will have profound effects on patients’ lives.”

Is Square The Future Of Mobile Payments?

Last week it was reported that Square, a mobile credit card reader, had opened its doors and was available for download in the app store. Square is the brainchild of Jack Dorsey, who is also co-founder of Twitter.

The app, when used in conjunction with a small card reader that plugs into the auxiliary port, allows anyone to process credit card payments. This takes “mobile payments” to a whole new level as now small businesses and vendors can process payments without the need for a wired or complex point-of-sale system.

All you need is a compatible device (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or one of select Android devices), the card reader, and a signal on your device.

So what does this mean for retailers and small businesses? Is it secure to use? And what about the cost? Will this be the new method businesses large and small use? Read more to find out…


Using Square is not terribly expensive. The mobile card reader is free when you are approved for a Square account, and the transaction fee is 2.75% + .15 to swipe. It’s slightly more if keyed in. There’s no start-up fee, monthly fee, minimum fee, early-cancellation fee, or any other bizarre and ridiculous fee. Transaction fee. That’s it!


When watching the demo video, the part I was most impressed with was the finger-based signature. Merchants can allay customer fears or hesitation by allowing them to hold the device, swipe it themselves, and then sign onscreen with their finger. They’ll see the transaction is complete, their information is secure (only the last 4 digits of the card will show), and they don’t need to worry. Receipts are sent immediately to their email.

Is it unreasonable to expect a jailbreak app designed to clone or retain the swiped info? Maybe not, but do thieves really want to go through the hassle of creating some kind of “business” with items or services to sell so they can dupe people into swiping their card on a phone? I run a small business, and honestly it sounds like a lot less work to learn how to pickpocket.


Obviously, this is Square’s strongest selling point. This is a truly wireless and simple solution to credit card processing. Further, it doesn’t just make accepting credit cards easier, in some cases it makes it possible when it wasn’t before.

Think of festivals and street fairs, places where cash-only is the norm. They can now turn a bigger profit by snagging those customers that don’t carry cash or forgot to stop by the ATM (or maybe are too cheap to pay that $3 withdraw fee!)

But it’s not just small businesses and vendors that could benefit, I imagine larger companies can, too. Apple stores are a great example of mobile payment, with their own card reader and device to process payments on the spot. Now other retailers can trial out this system using Square.

It may not happen in your local department stores, but perhaps seasonal retailers that set-up shop temporarily or sell door-to-door can make use of Square’s simplicity. Maybe in the future, Square will grow to include a barcode-scanning system and inventory count for retailers.

The Downsides

Square is still an app, and apps still crash or have bugs. Already Square’s pushed out an update to resolve some issues. And it might be discouraging to think of lost revenue or customers because AT&T’s network is having a grumpy day or your business is in a weak reception area.

And of course, phones are lost every day, which could compromise security. And then there’s the fact that Square is only as good as your device’s battery. Better keep that cord handy and make sure an outlet’s nearby.

But most of these downsides can be avoided or remedied easily. Find a bug? Let Square know. Bad reception? Invest in a Microcell. Lost your phone? Good thing you had a passcode that was set to erase the data after 10 failed attempts. (You did think to do that, right?) Didn’t charge your battery? Well then you shouldn’t be running a business because you don’t know how to plan! (I kid, I kid.)

Is This the Future?

Mobile payment processing is no doubt catching on and building buzz. Paypal has their options, and I think the field is bound to get more crowded. Crowded means competition, which is usually a good thing.

I own a small business that sells clothing at local festivals, and I have used the bank’s merchant payment processing system. It’s a cumbersome and expensive tool, and the cost hasn’t really been worth the benefit of being able to accept credit cards. Square is a greatly welcome alternative. I can’t wait to try it out.

The Future Of Iot: Smartifying Your Home

The vastly growing Internet of Things trend is very exciting- there are new devices announced every day that connect to the internet to control something. The world is slowly filling up with connected devices, that ultimately make our lives easier. Connected devices are electronic devices, such as appliances, that are able to connect to the Internet. Soon, everyone will have the ability to purchase a product in which they can turn off their lights and close their garage when they are not home. We will be living in a world where everything is “smart.” It may be many years until people start utilizing these types of devices, but the technology is inherently available for everyone with a smartphone in their hand.

The future of IoT is home automation. You might be thinking, “Our homes have been automated for years, we open our garages with a remote, and turn on lights by just flipping a switch!” However, over the past few years, ‘home automation’ has transformed into an increasingly prominent trend for the development of the ‘smart home’. There is nothing impressive about opening a garage with a remote anymore, but there is about double-checking that you remembered to shut your garage by simply picking up your cell-phone when you are miles and miles away from your home.

Smart home automation systems have made it possible for users to do things such as: put their shades up, turn their lights on, adjust their thermostat, unlock their door, and turn their dishwasher on, all from a voice command, or a simple tap on the phone. All this is great, but what are the benefits of having a smart home?

Having a smart home is beneficial for many reasons including: control, convenience, savings and security:

Convenience: Having a smart home is simply convenient. Having your lights turn on when you walk in the room, or having your refrigerator alert you when you are out of eggs, is a convenient way to live.

Control: Individuals have always had control over things occurring while they are in their homes, but they now have control over their home when they are away at work, or at the store shopping.

Savings: Smart homes can cut down on energy and water usage in your home, which could also save you money in the long run. Wi-fi enabled lights, smart sprinklers, and controlled thermostats are all factors in home automation that can help you save on energy usage, and put money in your wallet!

Security & Safety: Devices connected to your smartphone, such as: smart sensors to detect: carbon monoxide, motion, heat, smoke and water leaks will all keep your home secure and safe. It will not take you until a week after you come home from a vacation to realize that water has been leaking. Any emergency that occurs in your home, you can know about right away and get an immediate solution.

Building a smart home is not as much of a hassle as it used to be. Today, home-automation technologies are way more user-friendly, accessible, and most importantly, way more affordable than they used to be. Adapting to the smart-home world can change your life, and it is as easy as screwing in a lightbulb!

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