This is the first of a new tech column series that I’ll be writing here in The Chanticleer.

Nintendo has announced two new models of their popular handheld gaming console, the 3DS. The “New 3DS” and “New 3DS XL” will both be the same size as the existing models, but will feature a number of improvements to the hardware. New ZL and ZR shoulder buttons have been added, as well as a C-button that will allow dual analog control. The new systems are also getting a slight bump in processor speed, improved 3D viewing angles, and integrated support for Nintendo’s upcoming line of near field communication (NFC) figures, called Amiibo. (These will be somewhat similar to Disney Infinity figures.) The new systems are slated for a release in Japan later this year, but reportedly will not come to western markets until 2015.

If you found U2’s latest album, “Songs of Innocence,” in your iTunes library in the past week—and you didn’t download it—then fear not. Bono didn’t hack your Mac to promote the band’s latest LP. As it turns out, Apple announced last Tuesday at the end of the live streamed reveal of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch that it had entered a marketing deal with the band. 500 million iTunes users would get the new album for free, and if you have your iCloud configured to automatically push new purchases to all your devices, the files were automatically downloaded.

Sure, free music is great, but many iTunes users were concerned about the fact that their music libraries were accessed without their knowledge. Especially with recent security scares affecting services such as eBay and PlayStation Network, a heads-up would be nice the next time Apple, or any other company, wants to hand out a freebie.

This week’s music recommendation is, in fact, not U2. If you haven’t heard of Switchfoot, they’re an alternative rock group made up of brothers John and Tim Foreman, as well as Drew Shirley, Chad Butler and Jerome Fontamillas. They’ve been around since the 90’s, but hit the big time when their 2003 album, “The Beautiful Letdown,” went double platinum.

There is a documentary on Netflix called “Fading West,” which explains a good bit about the band’s arrival at its new album.

Their latest effort, “Fading West,” is an eclectic compilation of songs written while the group toured such exotic locales as New Zealand, South Africa and Bali. Most of the band members are lifelong surfers and these destinations offer some of the best waves anywhere. However, the trip wasn’t just for kicks.

They were writing the songs for the new album, drawing on all they saw for inspiration. They also devoted some of their time to humanitarian efforts. While the album is a bit of a departure from the band’s usual sound, the change is welcome, and it’s still Switchfoot at its core. At once uplifting and soberly thought provoking, “Fading West” is definitely worth checking out, alt-rock fan or otherwise.

Check back here each week for reviews and news updates in the world of technology and entertainment, more music recommendations and other content. Have any questions or suggestions? Feel free to contact me at smckaychanticleer@gmail.com or on Twitter @ChantyTech.

Sawyer McKay
Staff Writer

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