Going back to a mechanical keyboard turned me into a butterfingered idiot

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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. Read the rest

SpareOne: emergency cellphone powered by AA batteries

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SpareOne Emergency Phone is a basic cellphone powered by AA batteries. This gives it a relatively short time on a charge, but means that it will have a charge after being stuffed in a drawer or glove box for months.

I came across this during my search for the perfect basic phone, but be warned: it has no display, and therefore no text messaging. It has a glow-in-the-dark keypad, a 10-number phonebook, and an "SOS" button that sends texts to 5 contacts with your location.

The AT&T GoPhone model is 3G and costs $60 at Target stores, or $50 at Amazon. Some users report that AT&T doesn't really understand the gadget; be sure to activate it according to the handset instructions, not AT&T's instructions, which require you to receive a text message.

A 2G GSM model, requiring only a single AA battery, is officially available only in the UK, for some reason. Perhaps because it's a pain to activate on an off-brand carrier and US carriers periodically expire your minutes on SIM-only plans. But it's offered in the US for $30 on Amazon if you fancy your chances.

Something tickles me about the first-aid medical design. Read the rest

Haptic sneakers give you turn-by-turn directions through vibrations in your feet

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Low-cost carrier Easyjet has prototyped "Sneakairs," a pair of shoes that have small vibrating motors and Bluetooth links; they work in concert with your mobile phone's mapping app, buzzing left or right when it's time to turn, and twice if you've gone the wrong way. Read the rest

Brainjacking: the future of software security for neural implants

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In a new scientific review paper published in World Neurosurgery, a group of Oxford neurosurgeons and scientists round up a set of dire, terrifying warnings about the way that neural implants are vulnerable to networked attacks. Read the rest

Putting two elevators in one shaft

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As high rises replace their elevator up/down buttons with panels that you enter a floor into, which then direct you to a specific elevator, they create the possibility of adding more cars to each shaft, radically increasing the efficiency and throughput of a building's lifts. Read the rest

The Homer: now a real(ish) car from Hot Wheels

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In 1991, The Simpsons episode called Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? aired, in which Homer becomes an auto-executive and designs a car that is used to show why American auto-manufacturing had failed: now you can own that car. Read the rest

What's the best way to distribute numbers on the faces of a D120?

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Exotic polyhedron purveyor Dice Lab's crowning randomizer is its monstrous, $12 120-sided die. Read the rest

Deep Insert skimmers: undetectable, disposable short-lived ATM skimmers

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NCR reports in-the-wild sightings of "deep skimmers" (tiny, disposable card-skimmers that run on watch batteries and use crude radios to transmit to a nearby base-station) on ATMs around the world: "Greece, Ireland, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States." Read the rest

Tiny, 8-bit console designed for hackability and homebrew game development

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Pocket CHIP is a tiny, $50, ARM-based pocket games console with a full keyboard and a Bluetooth interface. Read the rest

Man selling $100,000 collection of 600 vintage Smith-Corona typewriters

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Craiglist has something wonderful on it: a vast collection of more than 600 vintage Smith-Corona typewriters, including accessories and marketing literature. Yours for a hundred grand.

My collection consists of over 600 typewriter items including the company's first typewriter in the 1880's to one of the company's last typewriters in 2000's and all models in between, along with all types of items that correspond to the typewriters, including ads, accessories, displays, documents, manuals, photos, shipping crates, etc. Smith Corona's products are beautiful, interesting, unique, colorful, and when displayed, fun to look at.

I collected the typewriters and related items from 44 of the 50 United States, Washington DC, four Canadian provinces and three foreign countries. I only purchased museum quality items, so the collection would make an instant museum. The collection includes many rare and valuable items.

I have decided it is time to sell the collection.

The collection is a nice financial investment that consistently increases in value over time due to a large international typewriter collectors market. The collection will only increase in value over time.

More pics at the listing!

Read the rest

Anker's PowerHouse is the biggest "portable" power pack yet

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We're huge fans of portable power gadgets, but this one isn't going in my pocket to help me keep my phone topped up after lunch. Anker's Powerhouse is the size and weight of a concrete construction brick, and at $500 and 120,000mAh, by far their largest power pack yet. It'll charge your laptop 15 times over, power CPAP machines and broadcast video cameras, and double as a bear club should a camping trip go awry. There's multiple USB ports, a 12v car socket and mains power.

Jeff Beck already got one and quite likes it.

I'm very impressed with this device. It is extremely well-built, functions just as advertised, and is quite good-looking on top of all that. It worked to recharge every phone and tablet I threw at it, in addition to a lot of the smaller electronic items in my home. While the USB ports are not QC compatible, they still delivered a fairly quick charge to my wife's Sony Z3. Besides, if I wanted a faster charge I only needed to plug in a QC car charger into the 12V outlet and I'd be in business.

I had a lot of fun trying the Powerhouse out with a variety of household electronics. It did just fine powering a small stereo, my bedside lamp, and even my 50 inch Sony TV. Higher voltage appliances, like our toaster and blender, or my wife's blow dryer (she was hoping to be able to use it while camping) were too much for the little guy.

Read the rest

Dyson's hair dryer is tiny, quiet and pricey

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Dyson, makers of high-end vacuum cleaners and other gadgets that do clever things with air, is moving into beauty products. The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer promises a premium model's power in a smaller, quieter package, and was built around the company's smallest motor yet.

It's priced at $400, too — apparently not unreasonable for salon gear, if an unlikely option for consumers — and will be available in white and fuscia. Here's the ad they've just put out:

Dyson's first beauty product is a hair dryer [Engadget] Read the rest

The NES Paul: a guitar made from a Nintendo

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Doniguitar -- makers of the Rebel Bass Millennium Falcon bass guitar -- also make the NES Paul, a guitar whose body is made from hollowed out, vintage Nintendo Entertainment Systems. Read the rest

A Burglar's Guide to the City: burglary as architectural criticism

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For years, Geoff Manaugh has entertained and fascinated us with his BLDGBLOG, and now he's even better at full-length, with A Burglar's Guide to the City (previously), a multidisciplinary, eclectic, voraciously readable book that views architecture, built environments, and cities themselves through the lens of breaking-and-entering.

EFF to FDA: the DMCA turns medical implants into time-bombs

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation just filed comments with the FDA in its embedded device cybersecurity docket, warning the agency that manufacturers have abused the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, threatening security researchers with lawsuits if they came forward with embarrassing news about defects in the manufacturers' products. Read the rest

Hackers take $81 million from Bangladesh's central bank by pwning its $10 second-hand routers

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The central bank of Bangladesh lost $81M in a digital heist whose perpetrators have not been caught, thanks in large part to the bank's decision to run its computers without a firewall, and to run networking with second-hand cheapie routers it sourced for $10 each. Read the rest

Musical salute to mechanical keyboards

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The latest Pseudorandom installment features Limor "Lady Ada" Fried and Collin Cunningham extolling the virtues of mechanical keyboards for 40 fascinating minutes:

The climax of this is the video at the top of this post in which a musical number is backed with an all-mechanical-keyboard rhythm section. Read the rest

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