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.
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 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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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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.
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
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
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.Read the rest