Boing Boing 

Ad-hoc museums of a failing utopia

Photographer David Hlynsky took more than 8,000 street photos in the Eastern Bloc, documenting the last days of ideological anti-consumer shopping before the end of the USSR

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Cuddly log-pillows

Just in time for the Twin Peaks revival, a microbead-filled, photorealistic plush log pillow, which comes in "birch," "log" and "platanus" (and is glowingly reviewed by hundreds of satisfied customers).

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Tactical cutlery


The Buck 941 Travelmate Kit Chocolate Paperstone Knife is a tactical spreading knife with a clip-on multispork.

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Kickstarting Keybiner: a multitool caribiner that also holds your keys


It's a bottle opener, multidriver, wrench-set, and comes in brass, stainless, blackened or anodized aluminum, and it holds up to 14 keys, as well as a USB stick.

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The dystopian future of quantified babies

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A group of design students from a Swedish university published an insightful academic paper last year spoofing all the baby health trackers now pitched to parents. The trackers measure things like a baby's breathing rate, heart rate, and sleep, and are made by startups including Mimo Baby, Owlet, Sproutling, and Monbaby.

Is this fear mongering for new moms? Or will these devices actually offer valuable data on infants? I think it's too early to tell. But the paper does a good job of critiquing the design pitfalls of the user experience. It argues such devices could needlessly raise anxiety and remove intuition from parenting.

There's a cool hand-drawn storyboard of a new mom deciding not to go the park with Johnny after she binges on biometric data:

babies3 copy

 

Also, a good rendering of an epidemiological map overlay that would show all the kids in your neighborhood suffering from excessive booger:

baby

The beauty of an energy-free treadmill

treadmill copy

I've been coveting the world’s best manual treadmill, the EcoMill ($7,000). But until I have a spare seven grand, I have to run with conventional electric mills. Most use a lot of juice -- between 800 and 1800 watts continuously -- because they have ot lock down a consistent pace with a low-cost mechanism.

At a sleepy little gym and pool complex here in Vermont, on a conventional electric machine this week, the current was so high it overloaded a nearby stereo receiver playing upbeat pop music for a water aerobics class. All of a sudden, seven wet, angry seniors swarmed from the pool. Encircled by bright floaties, they demanded I quit running so the music would come back on. I tried to explain the concept of a blown fuse and how treadmills use high wattage because they can’t rely on the friction like spin bikes and how the world really should invent a cheap electricity free mill. But at that only enraged them, and they gripped the handrails and rocked the machine side to side.

I really want my own EcoMill for the house. Or maybe a human-sized hamster wheel.

 

Pedal Genie stomp box

Caroline Cannonball

Pedal Genie is a Netflix-like service for guitar pedals. It's great. But my first experience was offputting. A strange generic metal box arrived in the mail with a lot of unidentified knobs. It made sort-of-distorted sounds when plugged into a guitar and amp. I wasn't sure how to use it! So I immediately issued a complaint to Pedal Genie. An email came back in response saying it was actually a “one-off,” “hand-wired” “work of art,” implying that I didn’t appreciate such a fine custom pedal. They were right. I plugged it back in and indeed learned to like the Caroline Guitar Company Cannonball that they had sent.

File alongside other consumer complaints: “My caviar tastes salty” and “My Harley is too conspicuous, loud.”

Padded messenger bag disguised as a huge leatherbound hardcover


It's from Thinkgeek, and includes a removable internal pad/divider/organizer, fits 15" laptops, and has an internal zippered compartment, $50.

Battery with AC outlet charges laptops

Like all portable chargers, the ChargeTech charges USB devices, but it also has an AC outlet to charge laptops (and other AC devices under 65W). Amazon sells the 12,000 mAH model for $270, but StackSocial has it for $185. The 18,000 mAh model is $205.

Kickstarting a next-gen steampunk nixie clock


Kyle writes, "The first clock in my series of Steampunk Nixie timepieces was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year, and I've just released the next design! Sleeker, smaller, and at a lower price point, the clock is available in black walnut or purpleheart. 700+ backlight colours, and a ton of other features, each unit is handmade by me."

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Solar-charging battery for USB devices with massive 20000mAh

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The ZeroLemon SolarJuice 20000mAh Battery, which sells on Amazon for $80, is on sale for the next five days at Stacksocial for $50. I'm getting it for an upcoming trip with the family.

Toast handwarmers


Helps soothe your RSI and fights off cold offices: the soft "toast" heaters charge via USB.

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Rebel Bass: Star Wars guitars with Millennium Falcon bodies


Doni Guitars of Coventry, England, has created a pair of amazing, Star-Wars-themed guitars based around vintage model Millennium Falcons, with new blue LED lights: a six-string Strat and a "Rebel Bass -- they also make custom flight cases for them.

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My favorite battery-powered Bluetooth speaker is the Grain Audio PWS

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I've tried at least 10 different battery-powered Bluetooth speakers, and the walnut cased Grain Audio PWS is by far my favorite. At $249, it's also the most expensive. But I think it's worth it, especially since I use it almost every day.

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Samsung: watch what you say in front of our TVs, they're sending your words to third parties


Part of the Samsung Smarttv EULA: "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition."

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Why we like fried chicken and vinyl

This week Xeni, Jason, and Mark talk about the gadget approach to making good fried chicken and an affordable, retro-inspired solution to experiencing vinyl.

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A great leather case for the iPhone 6 plus

verus-closed My friend Allen (co-founder of the delicious cashew cheese company Nary Dairy) got this Verus leather case ($22) for his iPhone 6 Plus, and I liked it so much I bought one for my 6 Plus.

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Kickstarting Facets, a cool granddad's magnetic, geometric wooden building blocks


Ron Worley's nearly fully funded in his Kickstarter for Facets -- wooden, geometrical blocks with small magnets that easily lock/unlock and build amazing, gemlike geometrical forms.

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Flashing LED-equipped dice that light up on critical hits


Thinkgeek's $25 critical hit dice are a set of D10, D12, and D20 that light up when you roll their maximum values (they're all correctly weighted for fair throws).

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This week's best gadgets

This week Mark and Jason compare tea makers and Xeni talks about her Hario Japanese coffee products.

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Shuriken multitool


@fuwa has developed a shuriken multitool, to let you hack like a ninja, and has promised to start selling them once they've gotten 2,000 retweets.

Potemkin rumble: your car's muscular engine noise is an MP3


Car manufacturers admit that they fake the throaty rumble of their products' engines, using tricks like hidden amplifiers or even playing digital soundfiles when you depress the gas pedal.

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Lying down in bed desk


The kneeling desk led to the standing desk and thence to the treadmill desk, but I propose that we bring this full circle to the lying down in bed desk (instructions available in Japanese only). (via Sean Bonner)

The acrobatic Japanese maid/pancake surreal domino-run cookware ad you've been searching for

Never have empty carbs been more elegant -- and that's a catchy jingle! (via JWZ)

Marvellous rube goldberg mechanical lightswitch covers


These laser-cut rube goldberg lightswitch plates from Green Tea Jewelry turn your lights into hand-cranked, mechanical delights to rival the very best in novelty switchplates of yore.

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Gadgets 022: RGB LED Lightbulb, KontrolFreek joystick extender, Photive 5 Port Multi-USB Charger

This week Mark, Xeni and Jason recap their holidays and current favorite gadgets — a remote controlled color changing light bulb, Xbox joystick extender, and a multi-USB charger.

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Amplified speaker for smartphones doesn't need pairing

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My sister gave me the BoostPlus Near Field Audio speaker for Christmas. I was happy for the kind thought, but since I already have three or four Bluetooth speakers, I wasn't overly excited about getting another one.

But when I used it I learned that it is not like a Bluetooth speaker. It doesn't need to be paired via Bluetooth. You just set your phone on it and it starts playing. This feature makes it a great kitchen gadget. When I'm cooking or washing the dishes, I use it to listen to podcasts and to Spike Priggen's excellent Pop-Psych, Garage & Freakbeat playlist on Spotify. When it's my wife's turn for KP duty, she listens to her podcasts on her phone (she can't be bothered with Bluetooth pairing and so before we got this thing she would just crack up the volume on the phone and listen via the built-in speaker).

The downside is that the audio quality is not as good as a Bluetooth-paired amplified speaker, but for podcast and garage music, I don't care - the convenience factor makes up for the low-fi sound.

iFrogz IF-BSP-GRN BoostPlus Near Field Audio Speaker for Smartphones and Digital Music Players ($23)

Lights and chandeliers made from booze bottles and books


The Moonshine Lamp Company makes beautiful lights out of booze bottles, such as the Crystal Skull Sconce and the eight-bottle chandelier; but they also make lights out of hardcovers, including one made from Jeremy Scahill's superb investigative 2007 book Blackwater. (via Neatorama)

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Electric “supercar” coupe prototype from Renovo Motors unveiled at CES

Renovo Motors Coupe Cockpit

Looks dope.

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