A bluetooth speaker that keeps your drinks cold. Yeah, yeah, just go with it.

Like an app-controlled faucet or a WiFi-enabled fire extinguisher, the words “Bluetooth Cooler” might make you think of a rejected internet-of-things concept. But trust us, adding wireless technology to products isn’t always "innovation for the sake of innovation."

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Why aren't there screw-threads inside the Aeropress sleeve?

I'm staying in a hotel with nothing but paper cups in the room, and I'm not travelling with my usual suitcase in which I stash my emergency polypropelene folding cup, so I'm reduced to making my hotel coffee using the awkward hold-the-sleeve method, in which you grip the sleeve as hard as you can with your left hand while pushing down on the piston with your right, supporting the press so you don't crush the paper cup beneath. Read the rest

Interlocking wood "bricks" that can assemble into a nail-and-glue-free house

In 1987, Skid Roper and Mojo Nixon posed the musical question: What happened to my Lincoln Logs? At last: an answer! Read the rest

Why choose between Nixie and Edge-Lit, when you can have a LED Lixie?

Lixie is an open-source hardware, LED-based edge-lit display that combines the look of Nixie tubes with the techniques invented for their distant ancestors, the edge-lit display. Read the rest

Pre-Nixie digital: the amazing world of edge-lit displays

Before there were Nixie tubes, there were edge-lit displays: "Each digit panel has a tiny incandescent lamp associated with it that lights when that the numeral on the panel is to be displayed. When the tiny lamp corresponding to a given digit panel lights, the light is injected into the edge of the plastic panel. The engraved area in the plastic causes interference with the light as it travels through the plastic, and some light is refracted out through the plane of the panel, causing the engraved dots making up the digit to light up with a white glow. The resulting digits look much like the fully formed numerals in a Nixie tube, except rather than an orange glow, the Canon display digits give off a cool white glow like that of an incandescent light bulb." Read the rest

Pre-order my novel Walkaway and get a pocket multitool

Tor has produced a multitool to commemorate my forthcoming novel Walkaway, and if you pre-order the book, they'll send you one! Protip: pre-order from Barnes and Noble and you'll get a signed copy!

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Japan's "Weird Hotel," staffed by robots, in a Japanese theme-park

The Henn Na Hotel ("weird hotel") is staffed by robots: the Japanese-speaking check-in clerk is a vicious robot dinosaur, while the English-speaking one is humanoid; a robot arm stores and retrieves personal items from the guest lockers, and a chatbot serves as concierge. Read the rest

Maker of internet-connected vibrator must pay $4m for secretly tracking users' sexual activity

We-Vibe agreed to pay up to $10,000 each to customers after tracking use of their "smart vibrators" without permission. The total hit is for $4m.

The We-Vibe 4 Plus is a £90 bluetooth connected vibrator, which can be controlled through an app. It is marketed as a way to “allow couples to keep their flame ignited – together or apart”. Its app-enabled controls can be activated remotely, allowing, for instance, a partner on the other end of a video call to interact. But the app came with a number of security and privacy vulnerabilities, which added up to produce something that many would feel uncomfortable about using.

They sold people on "control a vibrator with your phone" but the reality was "we build a data graph of your sexual habits." Read the rest

An anti-eavesdropping hands-free headset/muzzle that looks like Bane's mask and changes your voice to Vader's

Hushme is an electronic muzzle that you strap around your face, talking into its built-in mic in order to prevent people from eavesdropping on your calls; you can also use it to change your voice so you sound like a howler monkey or Darth Vader. If this isn't a hoax, its so deep into Poe's Law territory that it might as well be one. Read the rest

$20 for one of the best laptops money could buy 20 years ago: is it worth it?

"It was a little worse for wear... but I wanted to nurse it back to health."

An interesting video for people who like vintage computers: the mid to late 1990s is not only a hinterland of general boringness between "vintage" and "modern", but the high point of Microsoft domination, when Windows was so crummy that to try and put it to use invites an instant headache. As a $20 thrift store find, though, a mid-1990s IBM Thinkpad seems a good find.

It was infested with malware, needed a new battery, couldn't even run Windows XP, and the hard drive sounded like "marbles rolling around in a teacup." Ah, but what wonders lurk in the back of the desk drawer!

Spoiler: You can play old DOS games or fool around with Linux.

(I found one on eBay, but will pass on it, as it's $200!)

P.S. I know many will disagree, but I found those old Thinkpads perfectly portable: imagine the battery life you'd get these days from a laptop nearly two inches thick! Read the rest

Clock presents the time as math problems

MNTNT's Albert Clock is a clock that presents the hours and minutes as simple math problems. Is it annoying or engaging? Or.... both!

In standard mode, the queries change every minute. They are completely random, so even the query for the hours change, even if the result stays the same.

You can speed up this challenge so the queries change in the fastest mode every 10 seconds.

You can also download the Albert Clock as a free mobile app.

(via Uncrate) Read the rest

X-ray of the RFID and coil inside a US passport

Alan writes, "For a while, I wondered what the RFID chip looked like inside the front cover of a US passport. Yesterday, I had an x-ray image of my passport taken. Looks pretty cool. Chip is in the left upper front of the book, connected coiled wire (high-rez)." Read the rest

Panasonic's new Indian washing machine has a curry-stains mode

The new Panasonic Stain Master machines have an intensive stain-removal mode which is being marketed in India as a curry-stain removal button; it also has other Indian-focused modes, such as one for removing hair oil. They are planning other Stain Masters customized for other Asian markets with stain-removal buttons tailored to their national cuisines and stubbourn stains. Read the rest

Five tips to kick your smartphone habit

Alex Wood is an addict but won't give up his smartphone. But he has five strategies for limiting its control over him: "I used to wake up tired. My body would ache and my head felt sore, like waking up with a hangover. Finally, I took control, like attending an AA class for addicts, I faced my tech demons. Now I wake up refreshed and realise how much it was a ‘real’ addiction that affects your health."

tldr:

1) Don't charge it by your bed. 2) Kill all notifications. 3) Delete Facebook, Twitter, Insta and other "attention loop" apps. 4) Switch to Android, because it has the good self-control enforcement apps. 5) Stop checking email/turn off Push email.

All obviated by 1) throw it in a lake and get a dumbphone. Read the rest

In video, Alexa goes strangely quiet when asked if it's connected to the CIA

An amusing, slightly unsettling video. Just a glitch, right? Read the rest

Testing products for data privacy and security

It’s an exciting and treacherous time to be a consumer. The benefits of new digital products and services are well documented, but the new risks they introduce are not. Basic security precautions are ignored to hasten time to market. Biased algorithms govern access to fair pricing. And four of the five most valuable companies in the world earn their revenue through products that mine vast quantities of consumer data, creating an unprecedented concentration of corporate power. A recent survey at Consumer Reports showed that 65% of Americans lack confidence their data is private or secure, with most consumers feeling powerless to do anything about it.

Terms and Conditions: the bloviating cruft of the iTunes EULA combined with extraordinary comic book mashups

Back in 2015, cartoonist Robert Sikoryak started publishing single pages from his upcoming graphic novel Terms and Conditions, in which he would recount every word of the current Apple iTunes Terms and Conditions as a series of mashup pages from various comics old and new, in which Steve Jobsean characters stalked across the panels, declaiming the weird, stilted legalese that "everyone agrees to and no one reads."

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