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

USB hub for laptops includes Ethernet port

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This handy USB gadget has three USB 3.0 ports and a RJ45 Gigabit ethernet port. It's regularly $25, but if you use code VK5JTT8L you can get it for $20. Read the rest

Tailender

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A short story about self-satisfaction, nerdcrime, and the 2008 economic meltdown. [5 min read]

How to make a tiffin lunch pail from used tuna fish cans

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Tiffin pails are the ubiquitous, ingenious and practical lunchpails of Indian workers, delivered daily by an army of spectacularly well-coordinated "dabba wallahs." Read the rest

Dip pens made of copper piping

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Martin Bolton made these gorgeous copper dip pens with lengths of copper pipe, standard nibs and thermoplastic adhesive. He doesn't seem to have any for sale, but I bet they're pretty easy to make with one of those wee copper pipe-cutting gadgets.

Although there are many types of pens like this available, I decided to design and manufacture my own around an existing nib. The design incorporates a standard available component (the nib) and the re-implementation of waste material (copper tubing) in its assembly. The nib was manufactured in England and purchased locally in South Africa from a stationary supplier. The bodies of the pens are cut from copper tubing from the refrigeration industry (presumably). The copper is then polished to luster, which also removes any edge burrs. The design is straight forward - the nib fits into the copper tube, and gets bonded in place with a suitable thermoplastic adhesive. A test prototype has been in use for several months and proves successful. The copper will tarnish, which can be brought back to luster if desired, with a suitable brass/copper polishing compound.
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How Biolite designed its tiny LED lantern

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The folks at Biolite sent me a PowerLight Mini. It's a rechargeable LED lantern with a 1350 mAh battery. It has a burn time of over 50 hours in low light mode, and 5 hours in high mode. It can also be used to charge your phone.

My favorite thing about it is the design. It's very cute - it has a retro feel that reminds me of a Japanese transistor radio and a Star Trek communicator. The body is stainless steel and it feels solid. I've been using it to read books at night. In the video above, the Biolite team shows how they designed the PowerLight Mini. Read the rest

Ditch your overpriced Sodastream canisters in favor of refillable CO2 tanks

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Buying a Sodastream helped our family save big on soda water, reduce our plastic waste-stream, and resulted in us providing a steady revenue stream to a sleazy company that used to run a factory in the Occupied Territories whose business model relies on patent abuse in order to sell you compressed CO2 at a markup of several thousand percent.

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Human traffickers implant their slaves with RFID chips

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An anonymous ER doctor treated a woman who claimed she had a tracking chip embedded in her body. At first he disbelieved her -- lots of people suffer from delusions that they have implanted microchips -- but then she showed him the suture.

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Xenomorph cookie-jar

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This Gigeresque biscuit barrel, sculpted by Paul Harding, stands 12" tall, and it'll run you $45 at Thinkgeek. (via Geeky Merch) Read the rest

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