Releasing a Cthulhoid podcast on wax cylinders

Paul from Yog Soggoth Dot Com writes, "To celebrate 19 years of the YSDC web site we've released a Limited Edition Wax Cylinder recording of one of our podcast shows on 19 cylinders. Yes, there really is a podcast on it. Fewer than 19 cylinders are available from the set as some people already have them." Read the rest

Make: a gorgeous, dramatic Internet Kill Switch

Want to be really sure that your Internet of Things gadgets and laptops aren't being remotely controlled by malware? Read the rest

The Commute Deck: a homebrew Unix terminal for tight places

Kerry Scharfglass designed his "Commute Deck" as a laptop alternative for his morning commute: it combines a mechanical keyboard (running the TMK open keyboard firmware), a 7", 720p display from Adafruit, a long-life USB battery, and a Raspberry Pi 2 with USB, wifi and Bluetooth dongles, and a little USB hub, all mounted on a laser-cut 1/4" plywood chassis. Read the rest

Arduino's "arm's-length" foundation is being run by CEO who lied about his degrees from MIT and NYU

When Federico Musto engineered a takeover of Arduino, open source hardware fans were nonplussed, and not least because Musto was caught lying about having received advanced degrees from MIT and NYU. Read the rest

Star Wars-themed Billy Bass with Admiral Ackbar's head shouts "It's a trap"

Thinkgeek's $40 Star Wars Admiral Ackbar Singing Bass plays the Cantina theme and wiggles its tail, then turns to face you and shouts, "It's a trap!" Comes with wall-mount or desk-stand, runs on C batteries or AC adapter, and operates on button-push or motion sensor (prediction: you will not leave it in motion-sensing mode for very long). Order today for Father's Day shipping. Read the rest

Will a raindrop cake protect a smartphone from a 100-foot drop?

The YouTube channel GizmoSlip puts a Galaxy S8 to a rather unusual “drop test.” Read the rest

Clever snap-on USB charger faceplate for normal US/Canadian power receptacles

I'm intrigued by this cleverly designed USB charger faceplate for US/Canadian power receptacles: you unscrew your existing faceplate, insert this one into the receptable so that its USB charger leads make contact with the screws on the sides of the receptacle, and screw it back in, and in theory, you now have two power outlets and two USB charger outlets. Read the rest

iMac Pro starts at $5000

After a year or two of Windows 10, I'm ready to go back to a computer that doesn't hate me. I'd been hoping the iMac Pro, announced today, would come in a relatively affordable form—competitive with the $2700 Microsoft Surface Studio, for example. But no! It doesn't! At $5000 to start, this total monster of an all-in-one is most certainly for professionals: you can have 18 cores, 128GB of DDR4 RAM, 4TB SSD, a 16GB Radeon Vega video card, a 30-bit 5k display and even a headphone jack.

To make sure you know it means business, it comes in black and ships December. I'll be sticking with the standard iMac Amateur, I think, which received significant spec bumps: 4.2 GHz Kaby Lake processors, "50% faster" SSD drives, Thunderbolt 3, and Radeon Pro 500 graphics (can't find benchmarks, but isn't this the same as Polaris?) Read the rest

Apple caught up in Australian sting operation

Australian regulators are taking legal action against Apple after investigators posing as customers claim that the company wrongly refused to repair devices that had been serviced by third-party providers.

Australian authorities lodged a high-profile case against Apple this year, after iPhone and iPad customers experienced a malfunction that rendered phones useless if it detects that a repair has been carried out by a non-Apple technician. The fault occurred between late 2014 until early last year.

The case, set to go to trial in mid-December, accuses Apple of wrongly telling customers they were not entitled to free replacements or repair if they had taken their devices to an unauthorised third-party repairer... That advice was allegedly given even where the repair – a screen replacement, for example – was not related to the fault.

This is fallout from the legendary Error 53 kiln. Read the rest

Twisty Vase, meet Useless Machine

What's better than a Useless Machine? One that is built on a clever, threaded "twisty vase" whose lid twirls open and shut! Read the rest

Ejector seat button for your car, just $14

Here's a very clever eject button that fits into most automobile cigarette lighter sockets. Unfortunately, the product listing clearly states that it's "designed for show only." It is a functional cigarette lighter though so I guess they mean it won't actually trigger your ejector seat.

"Kei Project Red Eject Ejection Seat Push Button Car Power Plug Cigerette Lighter 12-volt Accessory Fits Most Vehicles" (Amazon via Dangerous Minds)

Read the rest

A multitool that's also a belt-buckle

SOG's $60 Sync II "wearable belt buckle" multitool isn't the only multitool/buckle on the market, but it does add a couple very sensible innovations, like a clip-on/clip-off base that lets you use your tool without taking off your belt, and a squared-off form factor (like a pair of folding travel sewing scissors) that adapts the folded tool for the buckle form-factor. Read the rest

A beer cooler that follows you around

This week on Cool Tools' Maker Update: Kitty Grabs Gold, a beer cooler that follows you, the Circuit Playground Express, Adafruit and Microsoft, Other Machine Co. and Bre Pettis, Tinkercad Lego export, a great kit for gadget and toy hacking, and Maker Faires. Our featured Cool Tool is the iFixit Electronics Tool Kit.

Check out the show notes. Read the rest

Inexpensive keyboard has two settings: “OFF” and “NO”

The mechanical Royal Kludge keyboard (Update: in stock here) seems to do well with Amazon reviewers, but there are no guarantees you'll receive one with the coveted OFF/NO switch. Read the rest

Don't call Microsoft's upgraded tablet PC the Surface Pro 5

Microsoft announced Tuesday a long-awaited upgrade to its Surface Pro series of high-end tablet PCs, dropping the number from the name and adding Kaby Lake processors, more minutes on a charge and a few dollars to the price tag.

Here's Mark Hachman, Senior Editor at PCWorld:

For Surface Pro 4 owners, the new Surface Pro is a tablet that’s 20 percent faster, with 50 percent more battery life, all for roughly the same price. If you're wondering how Microsoft eked out more battery life, executives said it was a combination of an increased battery capacity as well as efficiencies in both the new Core chip and the Creators Update of Windows 10.

The new low-end fanless model will be good stuff for everyday Windows users wanting a does-it-all gadget.

Tom Warren at The Verge reports that the pen is being significantly upgraded, too, getting tilt detection, 4096 levels of sensitivity and a reduction in activation force: "Inking now feels a lot less laggy and way more responsive on the Surface Pro."

This is key for me. I couldn't quite get used to even the highest-end models in the past because the pen latency was so much worse than Wacom gear or the iPad Pro. I'll check in on the fifth Surface Pro and report back. Read the rest

Kickstarting a replica of the original Pioneer Plaque, manufactured by the original craftsman

You know what would go great with your Voyager Golden Record? A replica of the "galactic greeting card" plaque that rode along with the Pioneer 10 and 11 probes, designed by Frank Drake and Carl Sagan with artwork prepared by Linda Salzman Sagan. Read the rest

Powerful Russian Orthodox cleric summoned to spritz computers with holy water to fight ransomware

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is a powerful reactionary figure in the country's toxic political scene, which has welded a tale of thwarted imperial destiny to a thin-skinned fundamentalist theology that can't bear the slightest sign of mockery; he's blamed ISIS on secularism and Pride parades and says that marriage equality literally heralds the imminent apocalypse. Read the rest

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