I scored the damndest crapgadget yesterday: Disney's Disneyvision is a little box styled like a vintage TV. Where the tube would go is a flexible plastic wand attached to a variable motor, lit by a strobing white LED. You put a wiggly rubber 2" characters on the wand (effectively sticking the wand up its butt), turn on the motor and the light, and the strobe creates a zoetrope effect that makes it seem like the characters are energetically dancing.
But the damned thing is the variability -- the resonant frequencies of the characters' appendages kick in at different motor-intensities and the strobe-frequency produces even more surprising choices. There's a sweet spot where the characters appear to be in a kind of holo-tank, dancing or fluttering, but there's also a whole range of totally glitched-out possibilities in which the character flicker through what appears to be a kind of hilariously horrible video malfunctions.
There's not much about this toy online, and I think the main reason is that it's practically impossible to video-record. Getting phase-lock between the strobe and the camera requires a lot more video-kit than I have to hand, and otherwise, the video comes out pretty disappointingly (see this review for a valiant try, and here are a couple I made).
The toy is sold in Disneyland (and possibly other Disney parks) for $30. It's worth a look just for the sheer imaginative, improbable weirdness of it. I'm going to use mine for a night-light.
If you think that your phone may have been hacked so that your adversaries can watch you through the cameras and listen through the mics, one way to solve the problem is to remove the cameras and microphones, and only use the phone with a headset that you unplug when it’s not in use.
Lured by the internet’s pervasive insistence that it represents a superior, more comfortable typing experience, I recently went back to an old-timey mechanical keyboard. This was a mistake. I am now a hamfisted ASCII jazz disaster.
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