The saga of Ian Bogost's pressure-washer

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Beginning in July 2014 and continuing to April 2015, someone (possibly Ian Bogost) maintained an obsessive Tumblr site about whether Ian Bogost, an eminent and brilliant video games critic and editor of a spectacular series on everyday objects, would buy a pressure washer, and if so, which one. Read the rest

How to make a minimalist stereo with an old phone and a $20 amp

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After a lifetime of Walkmans and iPods and computer speakers and all that, I thought: why don't I just get a standalone stereo like a normal person? To sit down and listen to music that isn't stereo-fielded inside my own head or competing with error messages on a screen.

But I didn't want to spend any money, and certainly didn't want to obey that familiar, sinister calling to begin researching things. So I got some speakers from the thift store ($5), an old iPhone at the back of a drawer (free), a basic mini-amp I had lying around ($20 for the legendary Lepai will do). Voila! Works fine: the iPhone's in its dock; the headphone-out is connected to RCA stereo inputs on the amp.

The original iPhones are slow! They play songs just fine, though, and the decent music apps will still install over wifi. But I'm really posting this because when I took a photo, it struck me that the tableaux – thrifted vintage gear, an original iphone, a cult cheapo amp, on a metal cabinet against a whitewashed brick wall – represents exactly the sort of minimalism that seems to really annoy people on the internet. So I pulled my MacBook (12-inch with Retina Display) out of my 1950s school satchel (inherited from Great Uncle Etsy) and decided to tell y'all about it.

P.S. the iPhone is currently loaded exclusively with 1970s childrens' library music, an acid house remix of Philip Glass's score for Koyaanisqatsi that no natural-born American has ever heard, and albums by The Lickets. Read the rest

The coolest vending machine in California

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The coolest vending machine I’ve ever seen is not high-tech.

It’s not the one in Japan that studies your face and decides which is the best drink for you.

It’s not the one from Coca-Cola that allows you to mix any variety of sodas and syrups together (though I have admit to a slight addiction to Raspberry Ginger Ale at my local Five Guys).

This one is decidedly retro, so take a look and tell me where you think it’s located.

Obviously it’s someplace pretending to exist in the 1920s. Here are some of the items available.

Located on Buena Vista Street in Disney California Adventure, this marvelous antique vending machine is something you would normally only see in a museum. It can be found in the store Trolley Treats at the far end of the west side of Buena Vista Street.

I have only one wish: that it actually dispensed those licorice candy tombstones, and then my momentary transition to a boy of 5 would be complete. Mmmmmmm. Read the rest

The ultimate minimalist wristwatch

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Jesper is offered as "the ultimate minimalist watch," reducing the psychological baggage of personal timekeeping to the simplest possible state by "opting out of telling time altogether."

Jesper’s perfectly-weighted 45mm plated gunmetal body, sapphire crystal glass, and lush genuine leather band create a striking affront to today’s excessive lifestyles. Changeable bands lets you easily switch between camel brown (pictured above), desert sand tan, and charcoal gray to complement any look.

It's real. It's $79. Read the rest

Crowdfunding new Commodore 64s, desktop and handheld

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The 64 is a crowdfunded rebuild of the classic Commodore 64, to ship with an as-yet-unannounced collection of games and software from the beloved gaming platform. Read the rest

Study: Dyson hand-dryers aerosolize germs on unwashed gloves, spreading them farther than other methods

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In Evaluation of the potential for virus dispersal during hand drying: a comparison of three methods, published in The Journal of Applied Microbiology, researchers from the University of Westminster showed that viruses applied to rubber gloves were aerosolized by Dyson Handblade hand-dryers and spread further than viruses and other germs would be by conventional hand-dryers or paper towels. Read the rest

Animatronic dinosaurs! A look at 'Jurassic World: The Exhibition'

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I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, an enormous continent with a small population (relative to its size) that’s mostly gathered on the coastlines. The main body of the continent is uninhabitable desert. But it’s a really long trip – at least 24 hours, including layovers and plane changes – so that’s not happening anytime soon. But if the trip wasn’t such a drag, I’d go for Jurassic World: The Exhibition, now open in Melbourne. Read the rest

Great deal on laser landscape projector ($20)

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I enjoy setting up Christmas lights outside our house during the holidays I've been wanting to get a laser landscape projector for a while. They project sparkling colored dots and your house, trees, and bushes without having to string up lights. The effect is really cool. I just found this good deal on Amazon. If you use code USSR8Q9U, you can get it for $20, instead of $40. Read the rest

Kickstarting an inflatable "hammock"

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Kozē is a giant, doubled-up parachute-nylon dry-bag that you wave around to inflate, then clip shut, turning it into an instant hammock-style sofa. Read the rest

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.

Read the rest

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

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