Open-source rotary cellphone

Justine Haupt made this handsome and completely functional rotary cellphone. Her design is open-source and you can even buy a case kit from her company, Sky's Edge Robotics. You have to find and carefully modify your own rotary dial, though -- they're apparently no longer made -- as well as a few other components.

Why a rotary cellphone? Because in a finicky, annoying, touchscreen world of hyperconnected people using phones they have no control over or understanding of, I wanted something that would be entirely mine, personal, and absolutely tactile, while also giving me an excuse for not texting.

The point isn't to be anachronistic. It's to show that it's possible to have a perfectly usable phone that goes as far from having a touchscreen as I can imagine, and which in some ways may actually be more functional.

I feel this is what crowdfunding was made for! [via JWZ]

Previously: Rotary Cellphone Read the rest

"Glass" on Samsung's foldable phone no more scratch-resistant than plastic

Samsung claims to have developed an "Ultra Thin Glass" for its new Galaxy Z Flip foldable smartphone, signalling scratch resistance and durability beyond that of similar products. But tests conducted by Zack Nelson using a Mohs Hardness Testkit [Amazon] -- a set of styluses made of different materials -- show that it is no more resistant to scuffs than plastic. In fact, he didn't even need the kit: his fingernail was sharp enough to leave marks. The "glass" scores 2-3 on the Mohs scale, compared to 6-7 for Gorilla Glass: "I don't know what material this is, but Samsung should definitely not be calling it glass."

Samsung has pitched this phone as a folding glass phone that ‘bends the laws of physics’ But… is folding glass actually possible? The only way to find out is with a scratch test. Overall I’m impressed with the Galaxy Z Flip. If they change the name of their screen material to something besides glass I would give it a 10/10 as far as folding phones go. The only physical characteristic this screen material shares with actual glass is the clarity. And I dont think thats fair to consumers. At all.

The Verge's Chris Welch got Samsung on the record to say there'll be a glass replacement service.

We asked Samsung if it planned to offer a screen replacement service for the Z Flip as it did with the Galaxy Fold. It will. Z Flip buyers can get a one-time screen replacement for $119, Samsung says.

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Ring does not fight crime, say cops in 8 states whose PDs partnered with Amazon-owned home surveillance

There is very little evidence that Ring reduces crime. Hundreds of police departments have signed agreements with Amazon-owned Ring to obtain access to the home surveillance camera footage. Interviews with many of them, in 8 different states, show little to no evidence that Ring actually deters criminal activity. Read the rest

Reviewers say new Motorola Razr not great

The new Motorola Razr looks like a perfect wedding of old and new: a cutting-edge (and very expensive) foldable smartphone reviving the sleek flip-phone designs of a more civilized age. The clever hinge even avoids creasing the display, a problem with other first-gen foldables. Alas, it's not very good, reports Joshua Topolsky.

The prevailing reason I could see for having a phone that folds in half in this way is that it makes the phone smaller and easier to carry. That's nice, but a somewhat inessential problem for most people. Furthermore, the folding nature of the device and difficulty of opening it quickly and with a single hand made some things I normally do with my phone more difficult. To quickly reply to a message took more time. Glancing at Twitter became a two-handed affair. Taking a picture of something besides my own face couldn't be done single-handedly.

CNET's Patrick Holland has concerns.

Is the Razr durable? This one's tricky. Motorola released a video on how to care for the Razr that claims the "screen is made to bend; bumps and lumps are normal." I haven't encountered any bumps or lumps on the screen, but bumps and lumps are not normal. If you have a bump or lump on your body you should see a doctor.

What could be a better example of show-off feature that will be obsolete if not broken in months than a rumply bumpy foldable phone screen? Read the rest

Fancy banana lamp

Would you just look at the $295 Seletti Banana Lamp [Bergdorf Goodman]. Read the rest

Trump's immigration enforcement agents use cellphone location data to track individuals for detention - WSJ

A commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones is being used by immigration and border authorities to round up undesirable immigrants for detention and deportation. Read the rest

Find the USB-C hub of your dreams

As the technical garbage fire that is USB-C burns merrily along, efforts continue to help us connect one gadget to another with reliable outcomes. is a website that compares the myriad of superfically identical but differently-capable USB hubs currently available, so you can decide which $20 piece of junk at least has the holes, slots and dangly bits you require.

I scrolled down and spotted the Chotech model that I recommend [Amazon], so I know the page's creator has done the work on power delivery and Thunderbolt/DP. But it's expensive, designed exclusively for current-issue MacBooks, and lacks other essential features like VGA, so it isn't perfect! Read the rest

Sonos warns customers that their older speakers will shortly be e-waste

Sonos has warned customers who bought speakers five or more years ago that it will no longer provide software updates to their property, and that they will cease to operate in systems that include newer equipment, and will have to be separated on its own subnet. Read the rest

iPad stand for digital artists

The Sketchboard Pro wouldn't look like much if you didn't know what it was: a stand for the iPad Pro designed for digital artists, holding it at a perfect angle and providing more ample arm-resting space around the display. It's fifty dollars on Indiegogo and ships in March. [via Digital Arts]

The Sketchboard Pro features strong legs that easily fold out to create a comfortable 20-degree angled drawing surface. This allows you to have a drawing desk experience virtually anywhere in landscape or portrait orientation. ... Sketchboard Pro combines what you love about drawing on iPad with the traditional physical experience of making art. You are now able to use your full arm while drawing to achieve a more elegant, flowing look to your lines and bring your drawings to life.

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Akai's MPC One is a backpack beatmaker

Akai's MPC One is a beat-making box that fits in a backpack (unlike the MPC X) and costs less than a grand (unlike the MPC Live), has a 7-inch touchscreen display, and offers a full bank of pads, knobs and dials for standalone action, and outputs and ports for hooking it up to other audio gear, synths and computers.

Dani Deahl:

For those unaware of the history of Akai’s MPC, the Japanese electronics company’s signature item first debuted over 30 years ago and changed music-making forever with its intuitive interface and all-in-one approach. It’s been a staple tool for tons of artists like Dr. Dre and Om’Mas Keith (Frank Ocean’s producer), and there’s even one in the Smithsonian. ... Akai says it packed a “remarkably comprehensive feature set” into the MPC One. Along with the standard 16 pads, it sports a seven-inch multitouch display and four touch-sensitive rotaries for manipulating sounds. On the back is a single set of MIDI I/O ports, four CV / Gate jacks (for controlling connected gear), and eight outputs total. There are 2GB of RAM, and USB flash and SD card storage can expand the unit’s 4GB capacity (which could easily top out since it’s preloaded with 2GB of drum samples and loops). The MPC One also ships with several soft synths and Air FX plug-ins for mixing and mastering. Akai tells The Verge that it focused on smaller size, added CV functionality, and a cheaper price to make the MPC One “the center of a ‘DAW-less jam’ style studio.”

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Apple Rac: rack-mounted Mac Pros now on offer

The rack-mounted version of the expensive and handsome new Mac Pro is now available, starting at $6499. You can configure yourself a model up to $54,547.98, rack not included. Read the rest

Lil Dumpster Fire vinyl figurine

Celebrate the new decade with a $22 Lil Dumpster Fire figurine so that you can gaze upon your immortal petrochemical chum and recall fondly the days when the dumpster fire was merely figurative. (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Contemporary Dublin on 16mm film

The Upland Film Co. took a walk around Dublin with an old-timey cine camera loaded with Kodak film: "Shot a few rolls of 16mm in Dublin on the trusty ol' Bolex." The results are comforting yet uncanny, the new and the old in harmony and tension. Read the rest

Kindle Paperwhite just $85 today

The Kindle Oasis is lovely, but $200 is too pricey for an e-reader. The Kindle Paperwhite is the one I recommend and 35% off today at Amazon, bringing the price down to $85. This is a great deal and maybe signals imminent new products, but it's not as if "basic decent e-reader" is a category vulnerable to disruptive innovation in 2020. The Paperwhite has high-dpi text, subtle backlighting and weeks of battery life, and that's probably all you need.

35% off Kindle Paperwhite [Amazon] Read the rest

A company that makes spy-tech for cops threatened to sue Vice for publishing its sales literature (because Iran!)

Special Services Group makes surveillance crapgadgets for cops and spies: cameras and mics hidden in tombstones, vacuum cleaners, children's car-seats, and other everyday items. Muckrock's Beryl Lipton used a Freedom of Information Act request to get a copy of "Black Book," SSG's massive sales brochure out of the Irvine police department, with minimal redactions. Read the rest

Review: Aeropress Go, the best travel coffee you'll ever brew

I've been writing about the Aeropress coffee maker for years, an ingenious, compact, low-cost way of brewing outstanding coffee with vastly less fuss and variation than any other method. For a decade, I've kept an Aeropress in my travel bag, even adding a collapsible silicone kettle for those hotel rooms lacking even a standard coffee-maker to heat water with.

After random surveillance images started to show up on users' devices, Google blocked Xiaomi from running Assistant or Google Home

Last week, a redditor posted that "When I load the Xiaomi camera in my Google home hub I get stills from other people's homes!!" The post included video of the user's tablet showing stills of strangers in their homes, including some of strangers asleep in their bedrooms. Read the rest

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