Unsecured Internet of Things gadgets get hacked within 40 minutes of being connected to the net

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The Atlantic's Andrew McGill set up a virtual server on Amazon's cloud that presented to the internet as a crappy, insecure Internet of Things toaster; 41 minutes later, a hacked IoT device connected to it and tried to hack it. Within a day, the "toaster" had been hacked more than 300 times. Read the rest

e-ink keyboard changes for every purpose

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I've been into old-fashioned mechanical keyboards lately; Sonder's e-ink model promises to bring the fetish into the 21st century. Each key is both mechanical and a tiny e-Ink display that can change on a per-application basis.

The Sonder Keyboard combines a sleek new design with a built-in rechargeable battery and enhanced key features. With an improved mechanical mechanism beneath each key for increased stability, as well as optimized key travel and a lower profile, the Sonder Keyboard provides a remarkably comfortable and precise typing experience. It pairs automatically with your Mac, so you can get to work right away. And the battery is incredibly long-lasting — it will power your keyboard for about a month or more between charges.

The styling is minimal and Apple-oriented. Sonder's keyboard uses Bluetooth, but comes with USB and a lightning port too. It's $200, which seems reasonable for such a specialized device: compare to Art Lebedev's Optimus Popularis color LED model, still a pricey curiosity at $1500. Read the rest

Benjamin Button reviews the new MacBook Pro

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Apple's just-announced 2016 MacBook Pro hasn't gone down well, particularly among developers. Maciej Ceglowski's review of the previous model, from the perspective of a man traveling backwards through time, is the best of the complaints. Read the rest

Teasmade: the classic British bedside tea-brewing alarm-clock, now available in the USA

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A decade ago, I made note of the fact that the iconic UK Teasmade alarm-clocks (which automatically brew a cup of tea using an improbable, Wallace-and-Grommity/Heath Robinson set of mechanical actions) were to be reissued, and today I come to find that they now exist and can be purchased in a model that runs on US electrical current. Read the rest

Insecure internet-connected "honeypot" toaster hacked within an hour

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Andrew McGill's internet-connected toaster isn't really a toaster: it's a "honeypot" designed to resemble the insecure "internet of things" gadgets— cameras, LED lightbulbs, fridges, etc—that make up the vast botnets behind recent internet attacks. The honeypot was hacked within an hour.

I switched on the server at 1:12 p.m. Wednesday, fully expecting to wait days—or weeks—to see a hack attempt.

Wrong! The first one came at 1:53 p.m.

Lots of the hacking attempts use the password xc3511, the factory default of many old webcams. Amazing. I love the little bot's eye view of the toaster! Read the rest

Kickstarting awesomely nerdy pie-guides

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All through 2016, Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) has sent us a stream howtos for of amazing, artistic pies -- an HR Giger pie, a James Bond pie, and a Predator pie. Now she's kickstarting a set of pie templates to help you make perfect pop-culture pastry in your own kitchen. Read the rest

History of Mechanical Keyboards

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Andrew Lekashman offers a brief pictorial a history of mechanical keyboards, from adding machines to dumb terminals to Symbolics monstrosities to modern blank-key hacker totems. There was a lot of ingenious tech left by the wayside on the way to finding the perfect click.

Pictured above is one not included in the roundup, a particularly beautiful Raytheon(!) model that can be bought on eBay for $300, then sent to me.

Lekashman's tastes are grittier:

Ultrasonic I Plus

This keyboard is acoustic and operates entirely by vibration. This makes it more like a musical instrument than a workplace device. This is something that hasn’t been replicated in the keyboard market since 1982. The specific principle that allows it to work is called Time Difference Of Arrival (TDOA). This is like a form of echo-location to measure which key hits the acoustic transfer bar. Whenever a switch is pressed, a metal “slapper” strikes the bar, and transducers measure the sound wave produced, which differs based on the distance of the slapper from the transducer. Typing on the keyboard is delightfully clicky and pleasantly tactile.

Read the rest

Why The NYT buying The Wirecutter is such a big deal

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Yesterday, we learned The Wirecutter (with sister site The Sweethome) was headed to New York City. It's the sort of good ending that's also a good beginning: they succeeded in their mission and have bright prospects for further growth. But Matt Haughey points out how much of the story everyone's missing: the entire site is a mere 1,000 posts.

I don’t think anyone gives Brian the credit he deserves

1. He single-handedly built his own empire without having to cater to advertisers or investors. 2. He built a site that made revenue in a way that was previously uncharted. 3. He built it according to his own rules, without needing to pressure writers and editors to publish as often as possible. 4. He built a brand and a site that launched many copycats but no one ever matched it. 5. His sites work thanks to trust built up between readers and writers, and it works because editors help maintain integrity since the day it launched. 6. He did it all in a place far, far from the tech hubs of SF and NYC, in Honolulu. Where he gets to surf almost daily.

Not great taste in sub-cubic foot microwave ovens tho. Read the rest

Steel Star Trek salt and pepper shakers

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The stainless steel shakers are designed to have a lot of heft (the Enterprise is 7oz empty, the Bird of Prey is 5 oz): they're $60 from Thinkgeek. Read the rest

How to make a binary mechanical keyboard

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Sadly, ElectricTrousers' binary mechanical keyboard has off-brand switches, making it less useful that it might otherwise have been.

It has multiple modes and type in ones and zeroes, or in ASCII text! ... Controller is an Arduino Pro Micro powered by horribly inefficient homemade code.

The keyboard in action!
Read the rest

Crowdfunding a bike-lock that squirts vomit-inducing antipersonnel gas when cut

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The Skunklock is a $109 crowdfunded gadget that contains pressurized vomit-inducing gas the creators call "Formula D_1," and which is intended to induce immediate vomiting when inhaled, as well as difficulty breathing, "A lot of similar symptoms to pepper spray." Read the rest

Fidget toys to disperse your nervous energy

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I dote on fidget gadgets -- soothing gizmos intended to give your hands something to keep busy with, like modern worry-beads -- and while you can't buy Chris Bathgate's amazing machined sliders, and the Fidget Cube Kickstarter just closed, there's still Thinkgeek's new Jumbo Noah Fidget Toy, which looks like a lot of fun and "features two interlocking rings that are also connected together with five links on each ring. The center link is larger and has a colored rubber band that rolls back and forth like a treadmill." Read the rest

The tiniest touchscreen "phone" of them all

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VPhone is a wee "phone", surely the most wee of them all. It has a 1.54-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, FM radio, pedometer, 128MB (megabytes!) of storage, a heart rate monitor, some social network-monitoring apps, and a choice of "simple and stylish" black or silver trim. The radio's quad-band GSM, so if you can get your hands on one it should work on T-Mobile and ATT in the US.

Yes, there's also a 3.5mm phone jack. The Verge's Ashley Carman:

Some of you might read these stats and think they’re sad. I kind of agree, but I just really love how little this phone is, so it cancels out depressing spec reality. ... The S8 appears to only be available in China, so we, once again, will have to keep dreaming. I’m trying, everyone! I think if we dream hard enough we can force these cool phones to appear in front of us. Will it.

Agreed! It's a curious device that seems more a chunky call-enabled smartwatch than a fully-featured mobile--and the English is a bit ropey on the product page, so it's not really clear if it can make voice calls without a BT connection to another device. Carman points to this 2.45"-screened crapgadget as the smallest bona-fide smartphone on offer; the ancient Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, despite its age, is probably a better bet in the 2.5"-ish range. Read the rest

Galaxy Note 7 now banned from air travel

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Withdrawn by Samsung and recalled from store shelves, the explosion-prone Galaxy Note 7 is now forbidden in the skies. The Federal Aviation Administration has officially banned it, via an emergency prohibition order, making it a federal crime to take one on board an airplane.

The order restricts passengers from carrying the phone "on their person, in carry-on baggage, in checked baggage, or as cargo," and says that anyone who inadvertently brings one on a plane must power it down immediately. Carriers are also required to "deny boarding to a passenger in possession" of the phone.

Passengers who bring a Note 7 onto a plane are "subject to civil penalties of up to $179,933 for each violation for each day they are found to be in violation (49 U.S.C. 5123)," and could be prosecuted, which could "result in fines under title 18, imprisonment of up to ten years, or both (49 U.S.C. 5124)."

It is already a cult object, ready to take its place among the more dangerous inhabitants of our descendants' wunderkammers.

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Turning light-sockets into LCD projectors

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Beam is a lightbulb replacement that screws into any light-socket and turns it into a remote-controlled LCD projector. Read the rest

Leatherman MUT: great-looking successor to the Skeletool

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There was a time when I had a lot of multitools: it started innocently, with a classic Leatherman "pocket survival tool," which I carried everywhere, and because when you have a multitool, everything looks like a screw, bottlecap, thing-in-need-of-sawing/scissoring, or filing, I used it all the time. Read the rest

The FEEL FLUX grants the sense of slowing down time

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I’ve been playing with my FEEL FLUX for weeks and its hit rate in the amazement department is 100%.

Each time you drop the metal ball through the copper tube you’d expect it to zip out the other end but instead, it lazily creeps from one end to the other and dribbles out into your waiting hand.

 

SILENT CATCH

A “Silent Catch” is what happens when you toss the ball into the FF and it slowly glides down the sides without making contact with it.  I have to say that it’s satisfying and magical every time I pull off the maneuver.

As the ball glides down the tube, the magnetic field changes inside the metal wall and when this happens, a bit of voltage is created.   This reaction is not unlike a tiny, temporary battery and is called an electromotive force. The movement pattern of the voltage moves down with the ball and looks like this:

 

 

What could be simpler?

The tube’s material is an electrical conductor and drives current around in circles as the ball descends. The scientists at my laboratory tell me that when this happens, a second magnetic field is created that opposes the downward motion of the magnetic ball. The ball wants to fall through the tube at 9.8 meters per second but the field wants to halt it and of course, gravity wins in the end. And here’s the crazy part – the faster the initial downward motion, the more powerful the slowing force becomes. Read the rest

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