Google's aborted Ara phone was supposed to launch with an aquarium module full of wriggling tardigrades

Back in 2014, Google announced Project Ara, a click-in/click-out modular concept-phone that you could customize by adding or removing modules as you saw fit. Read the rest

Federal magistrate judge in Illinois rules that being forced to unlock your phone with a fingerprint could violate your rights

M. David Weisman, a magistrate judge in Illinois's Eastern Division, denied a federal warrant application that would have allowed law enforcement officers to force suspects to unlock their mobile devices with a fingerprint, ruling that the suspects' Fourth Amendment (undue search and seizure) and Fifth Amendment (self-incrimination) rights protected them from being forced to unlock their devices. Read the rest

Mechanical spinning globe that shows the night/day terminator

Elenco's Night 'n Day Mechanical Globe uses a system of translucent, exposed gears to rotate an internally illuminated globe that displays the seasonally adjusted, real-time night/day terminator as it spins. Read the rest

Review: Punkt's MP01 is the ultimate minimalist dumbphone

Punkt's MP01 is a minimal treat for people wanting a simple but flawless phone—and willing to pay top dollar for a few details done very well. Read the rest

Germans warned to DESTROY Cayla, network-connected doll that spies on children

It's called Cayla, it's about a foot tall, and it can be used to listen to and talk to the child playing with it. But who is doing the listening? Anyone in Bluetooth range, reports Germany's Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur).

An official watchdog in Germany has told parents to destroy a talking doll called Cayla because its smart technology can reveal personal data. ... The Vivid Toy group, which distributes My Friend Cayla, has previously said that examples of hacking were isolated and carried out by specialists. However, it said the company would take the information on board as it was able to upgrade the app used with the doll.

But experts have warned that the problem has not been fixed.

The Cayla doll can respond to a user's question by accessing the internet. For example, if a child asks the doll "what is a little horse called?" the doll can reply "it's called a foal".

Watch the BBC's video of Cayla, in its squeaky, sinister voice, say "I've been hacked to say all sorts of scary things."

Cayla was on Boing Boing last year when the FCC received complaints about it. Cayla is on Amazon for $45.

It's so easy to hack that everyday YouTubers are at it! Read the rest

Candle-powered phone charger

The Stower Candle Charger, in addition to being a basic emergency stove, powers USB gadgets with fire: put a fuel canister under it and it'll transmute heatrons into juicetrons as described in the Codex Ifritanimus. One canister will charge a smartphone twice; actual wax candles will presumably not stretch so far.

When power outages hit, staying connected to family, friends, and emergency services is critical. But how to keep charged? - Batteries store power - they don't make it - We love solar, but it doesn't work at night or indoors - Hand cranks produce minimal power. 10 hours cranking to charge a phone? That's tough. We want a reliable solution, and the Candle Charger is the first indoor generator designed to charge smartphones and keep them charged.

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The world's littlest laptop is yours for $399, but is it the ultimate writers' gadget?

The GPD Pocket is a wee laptop with a 7" high-dpi touchscreen display and an enticing $399 price tag. It'll be light on power, with an Intel Atom CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD, but promises about 12 hours on a charge and two USB ports, one of them type C.

There's a ThinkBook-style tracknipple in lieu of a trackpad. It'll run Ubuntu or Windows 10 and, somehow, they managed to sneak a headphone jack on there. Read the rest

Source tells Motherboard that Apple will testify against Nebraska's "Right to Repair" law

Motherboard says a source told them that "an Apple representative, staffer, or lobbyist will testify" against the state's Right to Repair bill, which requires companies to make it easy for their customers to choose from a variety of repair options, from official channels to third parties to DIY. Read the rest

Nokia to resurrect classic dumbphone

Nokia's 3310 is said to be the most reliable phone ever made. It's a classic plastic-and-silicon brick from the turn of the century, long consigned to the recycling bin in the age of smartphones and tablets. But because people actually like and appreciate technology that works, as opposed to all the modern internet-of-shit frippery that doesn't, they're bringing it back. Read the rest

Seafood-related queries from own internet-connected vending machines brought college network to its knees

A university, mercifully left unnamed, blew off complaints from students about its slow network. When the problem became too bad to ignore, their IT team found the culprit thanks to a "sudden big interest in seafood-related domains."

The firewall analysis identified over 5,000 discrete systems making hundreds of DNS lookups every 15 minutes. Of these, nearly all systems were found to be living on the segment of the network dedicated to our IoT infrastructure. With a massive campus to monitor and manage, everything from light bulbs to vending machines had been connected to the network for ease of management and improved efficiencies. While these IoT systems were supposed to be isolated from the rest of the network, it was clear that they were all configured to use DNS servers in a different subnet. ... botnet spread from device to device by brute forcing default and weak passwords. Once the password was known, the malware had full control of the device and would check in with command infrastructure for updates and change the device’s password – locking us out of the 5,000 systems.

The Internet of Hacked Things strikes again! I'm sure some content filtering and updating passwords will do the trick. Read the rest

Review: Lenovo Yoga Book

Lenovo's Yoga Book is the most striking personal computer I've seen in years. More than the original iPhone, or Sony's X505, or the Messagepad, here's technology that seems a few years ahead of schedule. It's compact, attractive and thinner than anything else that might be called a laptop. Imagine two hinged pieces of black glass, one of which glows with the internet and the other with Okudagrams, and you have the Yoga Book. Read the rest

Laptop has fake subwoofer

In this video, a mini subwoofer on the bottom of a laptop turns out to be a cosmetic divot impressed into the casing of a removable optical drive. The "subwoofer" is just a grill with a hole looking into the divot. Fans of the manufacturer have a range of superb excuses, such as it being a cleverly-disguised airflow structure. [via] Read the rest

The Bathgate Artifact Spinner: a beautiful, hand-machined fidget toy

Machinist/sculptor Chris Bathgate (previously) continues his foray into collaborations to make gorgeous, hand-machined fidget today (see: the slider; spinning tops, slider mark II): his latest is a "spinner," made in collaboration with Mike Hogarty and Callye Keen from Revolvemakers. Read the rest

Pre-order a festishistically detailed 1:26 replica of Seinfeld's apartment 5a set

It's $400 to pre-order these 1:26 replicas of the set from Sienfeld, created by the show's production designer Tho. E. Azzari and miniaturist Alan Wolfson (they're $500 retail). Read the rest

Autonomous bat bot weighs 93g, flies like a bat

A team of roboticists from Caltech and Urbana-Champaign have built a biomimetic "bat bot" that uses nine joints to deform a foot-wide wing membrane to achieve breathtaking aerial maneuvers. Read the rest

Korean fitness device inspired by riding a horse

Do you like the idea of riding horses? Do you want to get fit? If so, check out "Horse Riding Fitness Ace Power!," a portable, flexible A-frame on wheels with a seat to allow the operator to sit on it like a horse—then perform squats, thrusts and pelvic oscillations, to whatever ends or purposes the operator intends. Read the rest

Tandy-brand computer products are back

Tandy was once a major brand in personal computing, with its TRS-80 among the early 8-bit era's most magnificent and successful machines. By the 1990s, though, the salad days were gone and the bizarre nest of acquisitions behind the company—it started out as a leather supplies retailer, which shares the name to this day—saw the brand fade into that of subsidiary RadioShack until that, too, died in bankruptcy.

Whoever inherited the retail chain evidently inherited rights to the Tandy name with it: lo and behold, you may now buy a Tandy Wireless Keyboard and Mouse!

"Too bad they suck," reports Lazy Game Reviews. [Thanks, Andrew Singleton!]

For your evening listening pleasure, here is Kompressor with the Tandy-referencing classic Kompressor Does Not Dance.

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