The latest generation of chatbot toys listen to your kids 24/7 and send their speech to a military contractor

Last year's Hello Barbie chatbot toy sent all your kid's speech to cloud servers operated by Mattel and its tech partner, but only when your kid held down Barbie's listen button -- new chatbot toys like My Friend Cayla and the i-Que Intelligent Robot are in constant listening mode -- as is your "OK Google" enabled phone, your Alexa-enabled home mic, and your Siri-enabled Ios device -- and everything that is uttered in mic range is transmitted to Nuance, a company that makes text-to-speech tech (you probably know them through their Dragon-branded tools), and contracts to the US military. Read the rest

The kickstarted Pebble smartwatch is now a division of Fitbit, so they may "reduce functionality" on all the watches they ever sold

If you're one of the 60% of Pebble employees who didn't get a job offer from Fitbit, the company's new owner, you're probably not having a great Christmas season -- but that trepedation is shared by 100% of Pebble customers, who've just learned (via the fine print on an update on the Pebble Kickstarter page) that the company may soon "reduce functionality" on their watches. Read the rest

NoPhone Selfie: world's most minimal handset now reflects user

Two years ago, the NoPhone launched to rave reviews as the most minimalist yet secure handset on the market. The NoPhone Selfie is the long-awaited follow-up, adding the ability to picture the user themselves without adding significantly to the unit's price.

At $18, the NoPhone Selfie remains among the cheaper options. Mine has a problem, though: the display seems to be stuck on a hideous morph between Chucky the Killer Doll and Brad Dourif, the actor who voices him.

About the Product • The NoPhone is a fake phone for people addicted to real phones • It has no data plan, no camera, no battery and no Wi-Fi but is completely toilet-bowl resistant • It's the perfect phone for someone who uses their phone too much

The NoPhone Selfie [Amazon] Read the rest

ReMarkable e-Ink sketching slate pitched at "paper people"

reMarkable's 10.3" tablet has an e-ink display with a paper-like texture, a digital pencil with 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity, and promises to finally replace all that paper in your workspace. The pitch: read, write and sketch, all on one gadget.

Unlike traditional paper, reMarkable connects to the digital world when you need it to. Your thoughts, whether they’re words or sketches, are instantly synced to reMarkable’s cloud service and made available on all your devices. Documents and ebooks are easily transferred for reading and reviewing with pen in hand. reMarkable connects to the internet for easy sharing and collaboration across devices. You can even take notes on one device and have it appear on a second device, in real time.

It's 10.2" by 6.9" and a quarter inch thick. It weighs less than a pound, and the 1872 x 1404 pixel display works out at 225 pixels per inch. It runs Linux (not Android, though) and has an ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, 512MB of RAM and WiFi.

It claims a latency of 55ms and the demo video shows performance similar to the iPad Pro, which they say has 60ms latency. Wacom tablet hardware polls at Read the rest

Boing Boing Gift Guide 2016

Here's this year's complete Boing Boing Gift Guide: more than a hundred great ideas for prezzies: technology, toys, books and more. Scroll down and buy things, mutants! Many of the items use Amazon Affiliate links that help us make ends meet at Boing Boing, the world's greatest neurozine.

Gadgets / Books / Toys and Trivia Read the rest

LED flashlight review in abandoned mine ends on unsettling note

A flashlight review that begins with the promise "I'm about to hike through a remote canyon to an abandoned mine, and I gotta tell you there's a storm raging outside" should end on an interesting note, and this one does. [via]

Disturbing, strange sounds. That's exactly what I caught on video while filming and documenting the abandoned Waldeck Mine using the ThruNite TN12 flashlight. The Waldeck Mine is an abandoned gold mine located deep in a forested canyon in the high country. I went there on a stormy night in order to document the mine while reviewing and demonstrating ThruNite's excellent TN12 handheld flashlight. The abandoned mine itself is over 150 years old and still has a lot of awesome yet dangerous timbering in its furthest reaches. There are upper levels in the Waldeck Mine, but I only explored and documented the main haulage tunnel.

The ghostly AMSR action starts about 12:15 in.

Witchgadget.com is available! Read the rest

Reflectacles get a new feature: CCTV-blinding infrared reflectors

Reflectacles, the hyper-reflective Ray Ban-style $75 glasses frames that Scott Urban is Kickstarting have a new feature: now you can get ones doped with materials that reflect the infrared light that CCTVs kick out to let them capture images in low light, which blind cameras' sensors. Cool! Read the rest

Behold, the short-lived, wonderful 19th century Waverley Type-Writer

Typewriter historian Martin Howard (previously) writes, "I was able to pick up a rare and exquisite Waverley typewriter (1896) this summer in Scotland and have just the other day posted it to my website all cleaned and ready to show." Read the rest

Boing Boing's 2016 Gift Guide: Gadgets

A staggering array of gadgetry gets posted to Boing Boing every year, which makes picking just some of the stuff seem like a big job. But it's easy when you just ask yourself: what made our lives better? What looks fun? Here's a few dozen tech toys that generated laughs, light and lovely smoothies.

Most of the links here include Amazon Affiliate codes; this helps us make ends meet at Boing Boing, the world's greatest neurozine. Don't miss our favorite books and toys from 2016, too Read the rest

Crowdfunding powerful open hardware that is truly open and respectful of your rights

Crowd Supply (previously) is an extremely effective platform for funding open source hardware development, boasting twice the success-rate of Kickstarter and Indiegogo; it is also the birthplace of the proclamation of user rights, an outstanding document that lays out the rights of users to explore their hardware, use it independent of any subscription, use it with any other service or hardware, use it indefinitely without fear of remote kill-switching, to transfer it to others, to freely discuss it, to use it privately, and to be informed of security issues. Read the rest

New MacBook Pro "great for hackers"

Adam Geitgey offers an alternative take on Apple's new MacBook Pros, which were poorly-received when announced two weeks ago. Geitgey argues that, thanks to the finally-maturing USB-C ecosystem (and there being multiple USB-C ports), it's a miniature interoperative power-toy that hackers will love. For example, you can charge it with a drugstore power adapter: no more $80 bricks to lug around.

Universal sharing of accessories between devices is a hacker’s dream. It’s the exact opposite opposite of vendor lock-in. You can just plug anything into anything and it (mostly) works. ...

If you get any of the new USB-C compatible monitors (pretty much every vendor has at least one now), you only need to plug one single cable into your MBP: You can then plug all your other devices into your monitor and everything flows over one USB-C to your laptop — power, video, data and even sound. Your monitor is now your docking station and breakout box!...

I/O-wise, the new MacBook Pro is possibly the most open device Apple has ever built. There is literally not a single proprietary port on it. You get four universal high-speed ports that can each draw or supply power, send and receive data and transfer video and audio. It’s really pretty neat.

(Odd to think, though, that none of the clever mobile tricks he lists will work with iPhones, beacause iPhones don't use USB-C.)

I finally checked out the new MacBook Pros in person over the weekend. The 13" model with a function row is an almost-perfect laptop; if you don't need a cutting-edge mobile workstation, it has a lot of juice for such a tiny machine. Read the rest

Washi masking tape in 20 colors

The MT Washi Masking Tapes come in 20 colors for $16.35, 10 meters of each color, with hundreds of positive reviews from crafters and customizers (caveat: this is "decorating" tape, and has limited use for e.g. sticking things up on walls). (via Fun Finds) Read the rest

Ceramic figurines in leather BDSM masks

Richard Ankrom's "Figurines" series mix "found ceramic objects, synthetic rubber, zipper (studs, buckles, etc.)" (via JWZ) Read the rest

A gauge to accurately measure the force profile of a keypress

Annoyed by reviews of keyboards that describe mechanical switches the way men in bow ties describe wine, HaaTa spent fabulous amounts of money constructing a custom gauge that generates meticulously accurate graphs of the pressure profile of keypresses.

I take keyboards way too seriously. However, unlike most of you, I’m an engineer. This means I need facts, data, and real evidence before I can form an opinion. And this lack of actual information has always bothered me when it comes to how the keyboard community at large tends to review switches.

Similar in function to charts of speakers' frequency response, the gauge anchors subjective experience in empirical data that can be verified independently of manufacturers' claims. There are good and bad sides to this sort of thing. On one hand, it burns off technophile mysticism and helps prevents it from being sold on to low-information consumers. On the other hand, the desire to free phenomena from human experience is futile.

Read the rest

The Gridlock: learn to pick car-locks

Michael from Sparrows Lockpicks (previously) writes, "I am releasing the Gridlock today, a automotive lock teaching tool." Read the rest

Prosthetic elf-ears with built-in earbuds

If you're heading into the Council of Elrond disguised as an elf, but you're reliant on a kind of Elvish Cyrano to whisper advice in your (lily-white) ear so you don't blow your cover, look no further than the Twisted Melon Spirit E666 Elvish Ear earbuds, which cost about $10. Now I know what to get the Beschizzas for Xmas! (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

Amazing photos from Kinshasa's scrap car-parts megamarket

The N’Djili district of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo is home to an enormous market of scrap auto-parts, carefully salvaged from Japan's waste-stream and meticulously arrayed on blankets by merchants eking out a marginal existence. Read the rest

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