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

Counterfeit laptop chargers are bad for your box

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Ken Shirriff embarked upon a teardown of counterfeit Apple laptop chargers. On the outside, they're typo-free and very convincing. Inside, though, they're a dangerous mangle of cheap parts and inexplicably bad decisions.

The most important feature of a charger is the isolation between the potentially-dangerous AC input and the low-voltage output… The counterfeit MagSafe charger has a dangerously small distance between the low voltage side (top) and the high voltage side (bottom). This is why you shouldn't buy counterfeit chargers.

I'm puzzled as to why counterfeit chargers never manage to have sufficient clearance distances. They use simple, low-complexity circuits so the circuit board layout should be straightforward. Except in the smallest cube phone chargers, they aren't fighting for every millimeter of space. It shouldn't take much additional effort to make the boards safer.

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Echo Observatory: beautiful, tactile fractal explorer with knobs on

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Love Hulten writes, "The Echo Observatory is a handcrafted tribute to fractals and self-similar patterns. It's a mysterious artifact that both generates and visualizes complex mathematical formations, in real-time." Read the rest

Sturdy adjustable kickstand for phones and tablets

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I wanted a stand for my iPhone 6 Plus, and after looking around, I took a chance on this $5 TaoTronics adjustable kickstand. I wasn't disappointed. The body is made of anodized aluminum, and the kickstand is made from some kind of black plastic. To adjust the angle, you press a button near the hinge. Once its set, it won't budge. The body has rubber feet to keep it from sliding around. I'm very happy with it. For $5, it's a great deal. Read the rest

$160 dock makes 12" MacBook more usable (but maybe just wait for a more usable MacBook)

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I've owned a 12" Retina MacBook for about nine months and feel rather ambivalent about it. It's surprisingly powerful and effective for work, but Apple seems to have given up on the USB-C ecosystem at launch. The single power/USB port severely hobbles it, Apple's only made a couple of comically inappropriate adapters, and the third-party options are outright trash that doesn't even work. Enter OWC's USB-C Dock—loads of useful ports!—which Glenn Fleishman says is the first thing worth buying. But you'll have to pay $160 to get it.

If you haven’t purchased a MacBook yet and can wait, it’s worth looking at Apple’s next laptop releases. Thunderbolt 3, which will use USB-C as its connector type, is due out later this year and is already announced for a special Dell developer edition laptop model. Apple’s roadmap is unclear, but it’s likely we’ll see a revised MacBook at the March 21 event or in April, as the first model appeared just over a year ago; it’s just possible it’ll have Thunderbolt 3 included. Other MacBook models will likely see updates this year, too, and Thunderbolt 3 is a natural for the Pro.
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Junkbots from Madrid, recycled from iconic Spanish packaging

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Javier Arcos lives in Madrid, where he scouts junk to turn into some of the sweetest, snazziest junkbots I've ever seen (and I've seen a few). Read the rest

WiFi ResetPlug power cycles router whenever Wifi fails

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Plug your router into it, and the WiFi Reset Plug does just one job: it monitors your Wifi network and resets your router whenever it loses its connection. If you're thinking it's a great idea, maybe… you need a better router? It's $60! [via The Internet of Shit] Read the rest

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