An anti-eavesdropping hands-free headset/muzzle that looks like Bane's mask and changes your voice to Vader's

Hushme is an electronic muzzle that you strap around your face, talking into its built-in mic in order to prevent people from eavesdropping on your calls; you can also use it to change your voice so you sound like a howler monkey or Darth Vader. If this isn't a hoax, its so deep into Poe's Law territory that it might as well be one. Read the rest

$20 for one of the best laptops money could buy 20 years ago: is it worth it?

"It was a little worse for wear... but I wanted to nurse it back to health."

An interesting video for people who like vintage computers: the mid to late 1990s is not only a hinterland of general boringness between "vintage" and "modern", but the high point of Microsoft domination, when Windows was so crummy that to try and put it to use invites an instant headache. As a $20 thrift store find, though, a mid-1990s IBM Thinkpad seems a good find.

It was infested with malware, needed a new battery, couldn't even run Windows XP, and the hard drive sounded like "marbles rolling around in a teacup." Ah, but what wonders lurk in the back of the desk drawer!

Spoiler: You can play old DOS games or fool around with Linux.

(I found one on eBay, but will pass on it, as it's $200!)

P.S. I know many will disagree, but I found those old Thinkpads perfectly portable: imagine the battery life you'd get these days from a laptop nearly two inches thick! Read the rest

Clock presents the time as math problems

MNTNT's Albert Clock is a clock that presents the hours and minutes as simple math problems. Is it annoying or engaging? Or.... both!

In standard mode, the queries change every minute. They are completely random, so even the query for the hours change, even if the result stays the same.

You can speed up this challenge so the queries change in the fastest mode every 10 seconds.

You can also download the Albert Clock as a free mobile app.

(via Uncrate) Read the rest

X-ray of the RFID and coil inside a US passport

Alan writes, "For a while, I wondered what the RFID chip looked like inside the front cover of a US passport. Yesterday, I had an x-ray image of my passport taken. Looks pretty cool. Chip is in the left upper front of the book, connected coiled wire (high-rez)." Read the rest

Panasonic's new Indian washing machine has a curry-stains mode

The new Panasonic Stain Master machines have an intensive stain-removal mode which is being marketed in India as a curry-stain removal button; it also has other Indian-focused modes, such as one for removing hair oil. They are planning other Stain Masters customized for other Asian markets with stain-removal buttons tailored to their national cuisines and stubbourn stains. Read the rest

Five tips to kick your smartphone habit

Alex Wood is an addict but won't give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: "I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I faced my tech demons. Now I wake up refreshed and realise how much it was a ‘real’ addiction that affects your health."

tldr:

1) Don't charge it by your bed. 2) Kill all notifications. 3) Delete Facebook, Twitter, Insta and other "attention loop" apps. 4) Switch to Android, because it has the good self-control enforcement apps. 5) Stop checking email/turn off Push email.

All obviated by 1) throw it in a lake and get a dumbphone. Read the rest

In video, Alexa goes strangely quiet when asked if it's connected to the CIA

An amusing, slightly unsettling video. Just a glitch, right? Read the rest

Testing products for data privacy and security

It’s an exciting and treacherous time to be a consumer. The benefits of new digital products and services are well documented, but the new risks they introduce are not. Basic security precautions are ignored to hasten time to market. Biased algorithms govern access to fair pricing. And four of the five most valuable companies in the world earn their revenue through products that mine vast quantities of consumer data, creating an unprecedented concentration of corporate power. A recent survey at Consumer Reports showed that 65% of Americans lack confidence their data is private or secure, with most consumers feeling powerless to do anything about it.

Terms and Conditions: the bloviating cruft of the iTunes EULA combined with extraordinary comic book mashups

Back in 2015, cartoonist Robert Sikoryak started publishing single pages from his upcoming graphic novel Terms and Conditions, in which he would recount every word of the current Apple iTunes Terms and Conditions as a series of mashup pages from various comics old and new, in which Steve Jobsean characters stalked across the panels, declaiming the weird, stilted legalese that "everyone agrees to and no one reads."

Xenomorph tiki mugs

Mondo Tees has announced a line of Aliens xenomorph tiki mugs, ("in space, no one can hear you drink"), available for pre-order now with ship dates this summer (some glazes only available at Alamo Drafthouses). Read the rest

Taser ships a pistol-holster sensor that triggers record mode in all nearby bodycams when cops draw their guns

The Signal Sidearm is a sensor designed to be fitted to a police pistol holster: when triggered, it wirelessly signals all nearby police bodycams to go into record-and-archive mode. It's made by Axon, the bodycam division of Taser International. Read the rest

Collapsing "connected toy" company did nothing while hackers stole millions of voice recordings of kids and parents

Spiral Toys -- a division of Mready, a Romanian electronics company that lost more than 99% of its market-cap in 2015 -- makes a line of toys called "Cloudpets," that use an app to allow parents and children to exchange voice-messages with one another. They exposed a database of millions of these messages, along with sensitive private information about children and parents, for years, without even the most basic password protections -- and as the company imploded, they ignored both security researchers and blackmailers who repeatedly contacted them to let them know that all this data was being stolen. Read the rest

Wonderful 30-second Rube Goldberg videos from Japanese children's TV

NHK's children's show Pythagora Switch features fiendishly clever, astoundingly amusing interstitial segments with beautiful little Rube Goldberg machines, possessed of a Miyazakiesque whimsy and a Mujiesque minimalism. These are wonderful -- and at 30 seconds each, you can watch a whole ton of 'em. Read the rest

The Body Orifice Security Scanner is why the rectally smuggled phone is called "Beat the BOSS"

When I saw that the cell phone designed for rectal smuggling was called "Beat the Boss," I assumed "The Boss" was a synonym for "The Man," but it turns out it's a reference to a specific product: Xeku's Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS), a "hygienic cavity search" chair that scans prisoners for rectal contraband. Read the rest

The Amazon reviews for a phone designed for rectal smuggling are pretty interesting reading

The "Beat the Boss phone" is an £27 micro-telephone built into a Bluetooth headset with only trace amounts of metal in its construction; it is lozenge-shaped and is designed to be rectally smuggled into prisons, jails and courtrooms. Read the rest

Will the new Nokia 3310 be the Nokia 3310-killer?

As warned last week, Nokia has relaunched its classic 3310 model candybar phone. The good news: it's a pretty little burner that honors and updates the original's design. The bad news: that's the only connection, and it's otherwise a modern dumbphone with no clear picture yet on how well-designed the interface and hardware is. It's not even made by Nokia, but under license. [via Daneel]

The new device is very cute and looks like a sleeker, updated version of the original. HMD Global retained the keypad buttons and the general shape of the old device. On the back, we see a camera. The new phone also has a color display.

As for details about the phone’s specifications and what HMD has done to update a very rudimentary device for the modern world, we didn’t get much. The company spent less than five minutes on the new device, and only rattled off some battery life details: The new 3310 is going to have 22 hours of talk-time (LOL), and one month of standby battery life. But hey, it has Snake and the classic Nokia ringtone. Take my money!

One worriome portent: you can apparently go diagonally in the new version of Snake.

UPDATE: Reader Brian_McNett writes in to point out that the licencee, despite having the banktastic name HMD Global, is stocked to the gills with former Nokia executives and based in Finland. A good sign! Read the rest

Kickstarting a car-hacking tool that lets you take control of your own vehicle

The fully-funded Macchina project on Kickstarter is an Arduino-based, "open, versatile" gadget that bypasses the DRM in your car's network, allowing you to configure it to work the way you want it to, so you can customize your car in all kinds of cool ways. Read the rest

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