BoomCase transforms classic old luggage (and lunch boxes) into one-of-a-kind, er, artisanal amps/speakers that run on batteries and accept any audio input. The BoomCase (Thanks, Patrick!)
Many of you were intrigued by the $50 Ion IT34 portable USB turntable/cassette deck that I posted about a couple weeks ago. If you don't care about USB and have $700 or so to spend on your mobile vinyl needs, might I suggest you seek out the legendary Sharp VZ-2000 boombox from 1982. It features a linear tracking vertical turntable that plays both sides of a record without having to flip it.
Griffin Technology, makers of a slew of iPhone accessories and other gear, just announced the Mouthstick, a capacitive touchscreen stylus for people who can't use their hands. It's $29.99.
I can't vouch for the sound quality of the Ion IT34 Duo Deck USB turntable/cassette deck but I sure dig the design. It runs on four AA batteries, fits in a backpack,
and plays 78s -- perfect for a real old timey picnic. Would also be fun to build it into your auto's dash, like this fine car audio system of yesteryear! $50 from Amazon. "Ion IT34 Duo Deck Ultra-Portable USB Turntable with Cassette Deck"
I've carried a Fisher Space Pen Bullet on and off since I was a kid. ("Write underwater and upside down!") I usually lose them in a matter of weeks, but while I can manage to hold on to one I do appreciate its minimalist design, small size, and great "fiddleability." Of course, the Space Pen is surrounded by some epic marketing and myth. Did NASA really invest millions to develop a perfect pen for astronauts? No, apparently, Fisher had developed the pen technology and later brought it to NASA. Following two years of testing, the space agency bought 400 of the pens at a 40 percent discount. And on October 11, 1968, Apollo 7 astronauts carried Fisher Space Pens, model AG7, into orbit.
Fisher Space Pen AG7 (Amazon)
On Monday, I posted about FM3's latest Buddha Machine, their wonderful music loop player. The FM3 Buddha Machine was inspired by the cheap electronic Buddhist chant boxes sold in China and India that play infinite prayer loops. The video above is an ambient "jam session" between three of those chant boxes and a Raagini Electronic Digital Tanpura laying down the drone. The result is a kind of "generative art," unique work created by computers from fixed parameters defined by a human artist -- a concept I wrote about in Wired back in 1998.
FM3 has released the fourth (ahem) incarnation of its wonderful Buddha Machine, the classic ambient music generator loaded with loops by Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian. Above, listen to the lovely "hao" loop from Buddha Machine 4. I've gifted many previous models of Buddha Machines and they are always happily received. You can get the device in green, red (pink?), yellow, or orange from Forced Exposure.
In other Buddha Machine news, Virant's "Fistful of Buddha" album is now available too! Here's a taste:
- Free Buddha Machine iPad app - Boing Boing
- Buddha Machine 2: revenge of the ambient music transistor radio ...
- Buddha Machine: spiritual, generative transistor radio - Boing Boing
- GRISTLEISM: Throbbing Gristle's unusual new "box set" - Boing Boing
- If You Meet the Buddha Machine on the Road, Hack It - Boing Boing
- Musician releases songs in a $23 electronic gizmo - Boing Boing
The MirrorCase for the iPhone lets you take photos while holding the phone flat, like an old-timey camera. It seems like a good way to shoot video of yourself, too - just set it on a table and do your thing. At $50, it's a bit pricey. I wonder if there's a DIY version? (I think this is the gizmo used to secretly tape Mitt Romney declaring that 47% of Americans suck.)
1. No buttons - knobs only.
2. Two knobs preferred. A maximum of three.
4. Easy to use.
I immediately thought of the Tivoli Audio Model One, but the $150 price tag kept me from getting it. Then I saw the wood-cased Sangean WR-11 for $85. Not quite as good looking as the Tivoli, but almost. Certainly attractive enough to be called pretty. No buttons: check. Three knobs: check (the third knob turns it on and selects AM or FM). Easy to use: It sure seemed like it would be. I bought it.
It arrived yesterday. The sound is rich and deep, even when the volume is turned up, and the tuning and volume knobs are pleasantly viscous when you turn them. Not much more to say about it -- my wife likes it, and so do I.
The McIntosh McAire is a standalone stereo system designed for Apple AirPlay. It also is a fine hardware complement for the McIntosh AP1 Music Player app, digitizing those iconic blue meters (although these sadly don't actually respond to the music). The app is free but the McAire is $3,000 -- real blue meters are expensive!