Ingenuity, defined

Never let it be said that the crapgadget factories of the Pearl River Delta don't know how to recycle surplus/rejected material.

Review: generic USB-C power-through adapter

They're terrible, don't buy them.

If you own the new 12" Macbook, you have one USB-C port. It's also the power port, which means if you have anything plugged into that port, you're losing battery charge. To both stay plugged-in and operate a USB peripheral—a backup drive, say—you have two choices: an $80 AV adapter from Apple that does things you don't need, or an enticingly cheap $20 third-party dongle that supposedly does. — Read the rest

Help me pick a dumbphone


My anti-boredom lightbox has become a psychic vampire. So I'm going back to a plain "feature" phone for a while, just to see what life is like outside of cyberspace. Help me pick the right one!

Now, there are a few approaches to the peak of dumbphone mountain. — Read the rest

Disneyvision: strobing zoetrope holotank filled with glitchy rubber characters

I scored the damndest crapgadget yesterday: Disney's Disneyvision is a little box styled like a vintage TV. Where the tube would go is a flexible plastic wand attached to a variable motor, lit by a strobing white LED. You put a wiggly rubber 2" characters on the wand (effectively sticking the wand up its butt), turn on the motor and the light, and the strobe creates a zoetrope effect that makes it seem like the characters are energetically dancing. — Read the rest

For sale: no-name Chinese attack drones

Jeffrey sez,

The algorithmic overlords of Alibaba are sending me astonishing stuff via their "suggested crapgadgets you might be interested in" hourly email. Wireless car key duplicators and GPS jammers came first. But today they have truly outdone themselves, suggesting that I might be interested in a "small attack UAV".

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12-port USB strip

This 12-port USB power-strip looks like just the thing for people like me, who have three or four USB switches daisy-chained behind our desks (in fact, I could use a 24-port model). I have no idea if this is a crapgadget or not, but I like the underlying notion. — Read the rest

US census infographics from 1870

The census is one of America's great institutions, the way the country knows itself. Here then is the 1870 statistical atlas of the ninth census, scanned at high rez. Your one-stop shop for 1870's best infographics: "Presented here are all of the maps and charts from the first statistical atlas of the US Census, widely praised in its time and still a wonderful example of sophisticated graphics, the out-of-date racial/psychological nomenclature notwithstanding. — Read the rest