My first Enigma machine: Mattel once sold a Barbie typewriter with built-in crypto capabilities

Slovenia's Maheno corporation manufactured a series of Barbie-branded and white label typewriters for kids, with a hidden feature that allowed their owners to use them to produce messages encrypted with a simple substitution cipher. Read the rest

Kickstarting a lamp controlled by a lovely set of magnetic balls on strings

Li Zan Wen's Heng Balance Lamp uses powerful tethered magnets as an on/off switch: bring them together to turn the lamp on and break them apart to turn it off. Read the rest

FBI arrest the VW executive who stonewalled on the first Dieselgate reports for defrauding the US Government

Oliver Schmidt led Volkswagen regulatory compliance office from 2014 to Mar 2015, and it was he who issued statements dismissing the initial West Virginia University reports of cheating in the emissions control systems of the company's cars, lying to US regulators and insisting that the systems were merely buggy, and not deliberately designed to get around emissions testing; after the company admitted to the fraud, he appeared before the British Parliament and insisted that the fraud didn't violate EU law. Read the rest

Lovely cast aluminum and brass science fiction sculptures

Scott Nelles is a Wisconsin sculptor who works in cast brass and aluminum, making beautiful, whimsical pieces with a strong science fictional flare tinged with strealined dieselpunk. Read the rest

This NES Classic jailbreak is a perfect parable of our feudal future of disobedient dishwashers

Nintendo's nostalgic instant sellout NES Classic (still available from scalpers) only comes with 30 games and no way to add more: but it only took two months from the announcement date for intrepid hackers to jailbreak the device and come up with a way to load your favorite ROMs, using a USB cable and a PC.

Laser-cut, wall-mounted Millennium Falcon clock

The $38 Millennium Falcon wall clock is handmade to order from plywood, birch and MDF by Hamstercheeks in Nottingham, UK, who uses a laser-cutter to turn orders around in 2-5 business days (the clock itself is an AA-powered quartz sweep movement). (via Geekymerch) Read the rest

Company announces phone based on crowdsourced feature requests: eye-tracking and a sticky case

Last August, ZTE used Kickstarter to poll internet users for their wish-lists for an Android handset, and now they're taking pre-orders for Hawkeye, a $200 phone whose interface is controlled by gaze-tracking using the front-facing camera, and whose case will allow users to stick the phone to various surfaces for easy use. Read the rest

How to upgrade your old MacBook Pro to be just like the new one

Adapters for everything!

Previously: Already regretting assigning the new MacBook Pro review to Borges Read the rest

If MacOS is a path through the gloomy forest, Windows 10 is a carnival in an open field

Joel Johnson reviews the MacOS vs Windows situation as it stands after Apple's disappointing new MacBook Pro. Like a lot of people needing capable laptops, he's switched back to Windows, and finds himself torn between two startlingly opposite visions of the computing experience.

Whereas MacOS is simple and powerful, "a path through a gloomy forest" hand-in-hand with a mentoring but controlling Apple...

Windows is a carnival in an open field staffed by drunk orphans. You can approach it from any direction, pulling a cart you first loaded up in 1998. There are signs posted everywhere, telling you a dozen ways to move forward. “TOUCH THE AMAZING SCREEN!” “BEND THE HINGES … ON A LAPTOP!” “SEE THE PEN! IT WORKS NOW!” “DARE YOU SAMPLE THE DELIGHTS OF THE CLOUD?”

I suspect this article was actually supposed to be a review of Microsoft's Surface Book but it's all like that. Read the rest

Small, sharp knife disguised as a housekey

SOG make excellent knives: I know because I had many of them confiscated by the nascent TSA in the early days of the Global War on Terror, that liminal moment when I was still kidding myself that I would remember to empty my pockets of useful tools before boarding a flight. Read the rest

Creative Prodikeys combined both types of keyboard in one

In the ingenious world of consumer electronics, we often have the thought "why didn't anyone think of that?" The Creative Prodikeys instead leads to the thought "why did someone think of that?" A MIDI controller keyboard and a typing keyboard all-in-one, it appears to have enjoyed several generations in the 1990s and 2000s. [via r/MechanicalKeyboards]

I covet this, and they're cheap on Amazon and eBay. Read the rest

Kissenger "simulates" kissing loved ones

Touted as Earth's "first mobile kiss messenger," Kissenger is a rubbery-looking dock that humans put their phones in. It has a tactile surface they depress with their meat. The movements are then transmitted in realtime over the internet, so that a replica of them may be experienced by another human.

Plug in to your phone and give your loved ones a kiss over the Internet. Kissenger can sense your kiss and transmit realistic kissing sensations to your partner in real time. You can also feel the force on your lips when your partner kisses you back. Share an intimate moment with your friends and families while chatting with them on your phone.

The device comprises six sensors, corresponding actuators, and a meat-colored silicone sheath. There's an app that goes with it so the humans can interact on a audiovisual-discursive level at the same time. It's at the prototype stage with nothing to buy, yet, but obviously we should keep an eye on this. It should suffice to say that our previous recommendations with respect to establishing contact with this species have not changed.

High precision force sensors are embedded under the silicon lip to measure the dynamic forces at different parts of your lips during a kiss. The device sends this data to your phone, which transmits it to your partner over the Internet in real time. Miniature linear actuators are used to reproduce these forces on your partner's lips, creating a realistic kissing sensation. Kissenger provides a two-way interaction just like in a real kiss.
Read the rest

Nesting bowls with spill-guards and spouts obviate funnels and reduce mess

Megan McArdle's annual kitchen gift guide hipped me to these POURfect Mixing Bowls ($45/6 bowls), which have spill-guards and spouts, and of which McArdle writes, "after you’ve sifted your dry ingredients, you can pour them straight into the mixer bowl without getting a cloud of flour everywhere. Or strain your fry oil into one, then easily pour it into a container for either storage and reuse, or disposal -- I don’t even know where my funnels are, because I haven’t used one in years." Read the rest

The Hat Jack not only actually works, but you will probably make your hat too big

My enormous head is about 62 centimeters around. That's 24 inches. This has had two consequences for my life. Firstly, no matter what I do, I look vaguely like a bobblehead doll. Secondly, hat acquisition is a problem. Read the rest

Clean Slate, a modular PC that looks amazing

Jeffrey Stephenson's latest deco desktop is the Clean Slate.

The design concept is to eliminate the usual case and instead give each component its own box, each air-cooled and installed on a beautiful maple plinth. It's a beefy system, too, with a recent video card, a socket 1151 Core CPU and 8GB of RAM.

The form factor was influenced by vintage exposed-tube amplifiers like the McIntosh 225. The graphics card I/O plate is custom made from aluminum and includes the system's power switch.

See it naked at Jeffrey's tearup report.

For me it evokes a miniature model of early computing if early computing had never been miniaturized. Imagine if we had ended up with neighborhood AI substations on every street corner and a terminal in every home before the 50s were finished with us...

Teardown is easy, too. Just remove the covers and get hacking:

Read the rest

Finally, a face-slimming gadget you can leave the house in

I have a round face, like a cartoon squirrel submerged unevenly in Nair. Thanks to the "Shirinkongumu Face Slimmer" and its promise to make my skin "youthful and pliant," I can now look forward to a slimmer, prettier profile—all for only $2.29!

for three minutes during a day ..holding the mouthpiece made of the silicone in the mouth... ..large face.. refreshingly slacken

It leads to a youthful mouth that went up [kyu] and the corners of the mouth at the [heno] character entrance by strengthening muscles of facial expression not so used in daily life. " of the addition of the load Because the muscle loosens, it is effectively because of physical exercise effective in the face exercise bath.

The questions and answers at Amazon are masterpieces of succinct, forthright customer service.

Question: Does the head come with it? Answer: Only mouth.

Question: Does it have instruction in english? Answer: No.

Question: Does it look like lips? Answer: Not a fashion statement.

Ah! But as they say, the street finds its own uses for things.

Shirinkongumu Face Slimmer [Amazon] Read the rest

Door knockers shaped like giant testes

Are you meeting a romantic partner's family for the first time this Christmas and at a loss for a gift idea that will impress them with your suitability as a potential addition to the clan? Look no farther. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

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