Bipartisan bill would end warrantless border searches of US persons' data

Under the Protecting Data at the Border Act, devices "belonging to or in the possession of a United States person" (a citizen or Green Card holder) could no longer be searched at the border without a warrant. Agents would no longer be able to deny US persons entry or exit on the basis of a refusal to allow such a search (but they could seize the equipment). Read the rest

Camera-equipped sex toy manufacturer ignores multiple warnings about horrible, gaping security vulnerability

The uniquely horribly named Svakom Siime Eye is an Internet of Things sex-toy with a wireless camera that allows you to stream video of the insides of your orifices as they are penetrated by it; researchers at the UK's Pen Test Partners discovered that once you login to it via the wifi network (default password "88888888"), you can root it and control it from anywhere in the world. Read the rest

Chimeric china: plates, cups, dishes and vases that mashup Chinese and European bone china

Seletti's Hybrid Collection "reflects on the historical production of Chinese and European Bone China and its influences between Western and Eastern aesthetics" -- they're made in Italy and they ain't cheap, but they really tickle my aesthetic sense. Read the rest

The giant ships that ship other ships through the shipping lanes

Behold, the Blue Marlin, a "semi-submersible heavy lift ship" that is capable of hoisting and transplanting other, full-sized ships (that is ships as big or bigger than a US Destroyer-class vessel) all around the oceans. Read the rest

A doll designed to bend into the whole alphabet

Mister Alphabet is an action-figure designed to cleverly bend and contort into every letter of the Latin alphabet; the website is long on trademark warnings and arty Instagram photos, but short on details, like, "Is this an object of commerce?" and "If so, where does one buy it?" (via Kottke) Read the rest

Man dies after bathtub phone charger shock

Phone chargers usually only deliver a few volts of juice at a feeble amperage, but they'll deliver a lot more if you give them the chance. The BBC writes that a UK man died in the bathtub after being shocked by a charger connected to an extension cord.

Richard Bull, 32, died when his iPhone charger made contact with the water at his home in Ealing, west London. A coroner ruled his death was accidental and plans to send a report to Apple about taking action to prevent future deaths. Safety campaigners have warned about the dangers of charging mobiles near water following the inquest. Mr Bull is believed to have plugged his charger into an extension cord from the hallway and rested it on his chest while using the phone, the Sun reports.

Those little switching power supplies won't save you when wet. The bottom line, from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents: "any appliance attached to the mains electricity circuit is dangerous near water." Read the rest

Unusual computer ad from Japan

Mouse is a middling Japanese laptop brand (Engadget stayed on top of it for a while) with an excellent ad agency. Read the rest

Behold the Trommelwähler!

From the Herbert H. Warrick, Jr. Museum of Communications, who note: "I've seen this style of dial illustrated in early human-factors study reports. I didn't know they actually made them! Read the rest

Kickstarting modern hobo coins

Artist Chris Ovdiyenko has created a series of modern hobo nickels based on "some of the most iconic coins," imagining what they would look like if they were overengraved by someone with a delightfully morbid sensibility. Read the rest

Gorgeous and expensive wooden wireless keyboards, touchpads and mini-speakers

Oree makes wooden computer peripherals, and not just the usual keyboard and iPhone cases: also offered are matching touchpads (with optional numpad engraving) and "pebbles"--a gadget that combines a speaker and a wireless phone charger. Everything's offered in maple and walnut, with various engraving options.

The keyboard alone isn't unreasonable at $150, but a set seems terribly expensive: you're looking at $500 shipped! Read the rest

"Roaming in Wonderland with Ears": the elf ear headphones reviewed

Mad props to whoever at the elf ear earbuds factory figured out exactly which western gadget blogger to send them to.

First spotted on the Chinese-language Taobao shopping portal last year, the Spirit E666 earbuds are now easily found in the US, sold under various names but most conveniently at Amazon for $20. The ones I received were labeled "ROAMING IN WONDERLAND WITH EARS."

They're made of silicone, come with three sets of in-ear cushions, a four-foot cable in the same color, and have a microphone with playback controls and a modern 3.5mm TRRS connector.

PROS

The first surprise is that they're easy to put on, and they stay on. Anyone who's ever fooled around with cosplay prosthetics (with the latex and spirit gum and whatnot) knows what a hassle it can be. You won't be playing rugby in these, but I found them comfortable and well-designed. And they pop right off too.

The second surprise is they don't sound awful. They aren't the market-stall tat you might expect in a weird fashion design like this, but are on a par with what's bundled with cellphones and iPods or found on the bargain rack at Best Buy. They sound rather sharp and lacking in mid-range definition, for sure, but have enough bass to satisfy.

CONS

They're too small for proper elfage. Dainty little anime tips, really. They just disappear inside fluffy or shaggy hair. They're also one-size fits all, so if your ears are particularly small or large, the ear ridge might not align well with your own. Read the rest

Fireproof human skulls for your gas fireplace, barbeque or fire-pit

They're $65 each, handmade from "lava granules plus significant heat ceramic refractory," available in black and white. (via Geekologie) Read the rest

A bluetooth speaker that keeps your drinks cold. Yeah, yeah, just go with it.

Like an app-controlled faucet or a WiFi-enabled fire extinguisher, the words “Bluetooth Cooler” might make you think of a rejected internet-of-things concept. But trust us, adding wireless technology to products isn’t always "innovation for the sake of innovation."

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Why aren't there screw-threads inside the Aeropress sleeve?

I'm staying in a hotel with nothing but paper cups in the room, and I'm not travelling with my usual suitcase in which I stash my emergency polypropelene folding cup, so I'm reduced to making my hotel coffee using the awkward hold-the-sleeve method, in which you grip the sleeve as hard as you can with your left hand while pushing down on the piston with your right, supporting the press so you don't crush the paper cup beneath. Read the rest

Interlocking wood "bricks" that can assemble into a nail-and-glue-free house

In 1987, Skid Roper and Mojo Nixon posed the musical question: What happened to my Lincoln Logs? At last: an answer! Read the rest

Why choose between Nixie and Edge-Lit, when you can have a LED Lixie?

Lixie is an open-source hardware, LED-based edge-lit display that combines the look of Nixie tubes with the techniques invented for their distant ancestors, the edge-lit display. Read the rest

Pre-Nixie digital: the amazing world of edge-lit displays

Before there were Nixie tubes, there were edge-lit displays: "Each digit panel has a tiny incandescent lamp associated with it that lights when that the numeral on the panel is to be displayed. When the tiny lamp corresponding to a given digit panel lights, the light is injected into the edge of the plastic panel. The engraved area in the plastic causes interference with the light as it travels through the plastic, and some light is refracted out through the plane of the panel, causing the engraved dots making up the digit to light up with a white glow. The resulting digits look much like the fully formed numerals in a Nixie tube, except rather than an orange glow, the Canon display digits give off a cool white glow like that of an incandescent light bulb." Read the rest

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