Critter Catcher: grab and evict spiders without killing them or getting close to them

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The Critter Catcher is a long rubbery picker-upper gadget, enabling the user to easily pick up and evict spiders without harming them or having to get too close. You can buy one for $17 (a generic clone is $20 on Amazon). I'm buying one to serve hors d'oeuvres at an unpleasant party I intend to host. Read the rest

Hammock-headrest, with blinders, for aviation

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Dutch designer Manon Kühne won a Crystal Cabin Award for her "Headrest," which was her Delft University of Technology thesis project, created with Zodiac Aerospace’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Lab. Read the rest

Smart radiator covers let New Yorkers keep their windows closed

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Becky Stern writes, "I recently investigated my building's new smart radiator cover installation and found a company bringing steam heat into the 21st century and allowing residents to keep their windows closed when the heat is on!" Read the rest

Fun "perpetual motion" gizmo made from office supplies

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I was wondering how this "swing thing" kept going. I had to make the video full screen to see the power source. Very cool! Read the rest

The worst gadget ever supplies mains power over USB

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We've written often about how dreadful and dangerous cheapo third-party power supplies and adapters get, but the Swees QY08-05010 hub takes the cake: it supplies full mains power over USB. Clive Mitchell writes:

"Although I've come across some really dodgy power supplies with poor insulation between the mains and low voltage sides, this is the first one where the USB ports have carried full mains current. (via a rectifier)

It's a Swees QY08-05010 with this model and style carrying various other branding as well. Oddly it does appear to be relatively sensibly designed inside, but this one has a serious manufacturing fault that suggests others from the same run may also pose a risk of serious electric shock."

In the UK, that's what, 240 volts at 900 milliamps, if you fancy yer chances? Come for the horror, stay for Mitchell's wonderful technical review! Sadly, the Amazon product page for the Swees 5-port model has been taken down. If you're feeling lucky, though, you can always see how quickly their portable battery pack charges your fingers. (Update: don't) Read the rest

R2-D2 anglepoise lamp

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They're $60 at Thinkgeek. (via Geeky Merch) Read the rest

Emergency room doctors used a patient's FitBit to determine how to save his life

The same Fitbit model reported to have saved a man's life in the emergency room. [photo: fitbit.com]

Many of us wear fitness trackers to motivate ourselves to be more active. But after a 42-year-old man in New Jersey had a seizure at work, some very smart emergency room doctors used data they saw on his Fitbit Charge HR to decide on the best way to treat him. They decided to reset his heart rate with electrical cardioversion. His Fitbit may have saved his life.

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The best online gadget teardown guides

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iFixit is the gold standard, with vast numbers of how-to guides on taking apart the stuff you only think you own. Take it Apart is a new challenger encouraging you to "void your warranty." It's not just cellphones and laptops, either, but oddities such as credit card swipe machines and greasy old drills. [via] Read the rest

Crowdfunding OMATA, a gorgeous analog GPS Speedometer for bicycling

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My artist/serial entrepreneur friend Julian Bleecker's new labor of love is OMATA. The company and gadget that he and co-founder Rhys Newman have been working on intensely for the last year or so today officially launched on Kickstarter.

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LUCY is a magical drawing tool based on the classic camera lucida

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The LUCY is a drawing tool I wish I had in art school. The device has been around for 500 years and though it uses no electricity, it's able to project images from your environment onto your drawing pad. The LUCY will make you feel like you have special abilities by letting you look at two things at once – and have them converge in the same spot for you to draw on top of.

Essentially, the LUCY is an improved, simplified version of a camera lucida – below is a sketch and an explanation of how it works.

First - the object you want to draw sits anywhere in your environment with the LUCY angled toward it. The image of the object passes through a one-way mirror and reflects into a second mirror and then back again onto the first mirror.

When you look through the top of the device, you see not only straight through to the paper you’re drawing on, but you’ll also see the reflection of the object you want to draw.

The brighter the environment around the object, the brighter the object will be on the paper. Then it’s up to you to trace what you see.

Here’s a video that shows the LUCY in action.

By helping you quickly block in shapes for layout and proportion, your final drawings will naturally be improved - how many times have you sketched only to find your subject's body parts cut off because you miscalculated your starting position?   Read the rest

HP's laptop is world's thinnest

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HP's Spectre is thinner than all the others, and the company says that it is "more artisan than manufactured" in a promo video that touts its slim, jewelry-like design. The $1,170 laptop has an Intel Core i7 processor, 8 GB of memory and a 13" display. It's 2.5 pounds: heavier than the 12" MacBook and Lenovo Yoga, but lighter than pretty much anything else and much more powerful than those machines. Read the rest

Stroller folds up small enough to fit in a shopping bag

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The Pockit Stroller claims the Guinness World Record for the smallest-folding umbrella stroller ever -- it folds down so small you can put it under your airplane seat or into a shopping bag. Read the rest

Finger Ease is guitar string lubricant that smells nice

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I really like Finger Ease guitar string lubricant. While I doubt the spray does a thing for the sound of my strings, I find it allows me to play for quite a bit longer.

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Automated drug cabinets have 1400+ critical vulns that will never be patched

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The Pyxis Supplystation from Carefusion is an automated pharmaceutical drug cabinet system that's still widely used despite being end-of-lifed by its manufacturer -- a new report from CERT discloses that independent researchers Billy Rios and Mike Ahmadi have found over 1,400 critical remote-attack vulnerabilities. Read the rest

Playable records laser-etched in cheese, eggplant and ham

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Artist Matthew Herbert has successfully created edible record albums that he laser-etched into a variety of foodstuffs, then played and displayed at London's Science Gallery.

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Powersquid turns one outlet out into five with no wall-wart interference

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The problem with power strips is that chunky adapters will cover some of the outlets. I keep a Powersquid outlet multiplier under my desk and never have to worry about that problem. It's a 1-to-5 splitter with a built-in 15 AMP circuit breaker. At $13 on Amazon, it's the same price or less than power strips. There's also a $13 miniSquid travel charger with surge protection and 2 USB charging ports, but I haven't tried it.

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$9 scale makes weighing luggage easy

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A Southwest Airlines passenger is allowed to check two pieces of luggage weighing up to 50lbs each for free. It's a generous allowance. But if one bag weighs 55 lbs and the other weighs 45 lbs, you'll get charged $75 for the heavier bag.

Other airlines have similar pricing arrangement. I bought this illuminated $9 luggage scale last year to weigh checked and carry-on luggage and it's really easy to use -- much easier than standing on a bathroom scale while holding the luggage and subtracting my weight. You just loop the strap around the luggage handle and lift it. It has a built in digital thermometer (because why?). You can switch between pounds and kilograms, too. Read the rest

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