A 1990s "talking paper" technology that didn't catch on

Talking Paper was oddly similar to CueCat. A recorded message up to 50 seconds long is printed onto a photo or postcard as matrix barcode. The recipient runs a handheld reader gadget over it, which plays the message.

There doesn't seem to be much information to be found about it; the video was uploaded to Mimo's 808Crate on YouTube and shared on social media. Read the rest

iPad Pro an excellent if rather large fridge magnet

This is just a glimpse of a photo Charlie Sorrel took of a new iPad Pro affixed, by no greater power than that of magnetism, to his fridge. Read the rest

Possibly NSFW: A gadget that injects bananas with syrup

I might be 12, but my brain went straight to the gutter when I saw this weird banana-filling gadget. This thing is marketed to kids, even though it seems rather inappropriate!

So, this is how the $27 "Banana Surprise" works. You cut off the tip, just the tip. Then, you rest the fruit in the "Yumstation." Now, this is where the fun begins. You get out the tool and jam it into the end and then quickly pull out. And now, according to the directions, it's time to fill that hole with some sweet syrup, fruit puree, or cream.

Surprise, you have an oozing, dripping piece of phallic fruit!

It's just a banana. It's just a banana. It's just a banana.

Related: The phallic pop-up egg-on-a-stick cooker gadget

(Geekologie) Read the rest

Gorgeous, stylized portraits of vintage computing hardware

Docubyte's Visual History of Computing 1945-1979 is a mix of superb staging, outstanding photography, and intense nostalgia, and it just made my day. Read the rest

New iPad Pro amazing for work, but iOS not up to the job

I want the new iPad Pro, which is in a league of its own but for one thing: iOS still can't be used for work unless your job has no workflow. Nilay Patel's review sums up why it remains a poor tool for professionals who have to deal with files.

...either you have to understand the limitations of iOS so well you can make use of these little hacks all over the place to get things done, or you just deal with it and accept that you have to go back to a real computer from time to time because it’s just easier. And in that case, you might as well just use a real computer.

I had the last-gen iPad Pro and spent a lot of time trying to make it work for me, and eventually gave up.

All the workflow problems seem to result from iOS's security model, where apps live in their own sandboxes and can't access the file system or other apps' boxes. The "Files" app acts as a bridge between apps but doesn't provide access to a shared set of genuinely-accessible local files and therefore leads inexorably to headaches. For me, this situation only got worse when I started adding third-party file system apps, because they were really just complicated clones of the "Files" app or cloud/network synching services masquerading as file systems. The more I squirmed, the more annoying and frustrating it got.

If you want an iPad Pro, the sad fact is you probably need a Microsoft Surface, with its own mirror-world of compromises: complexity, slowness, pen latency, bloated OS features and general lack of fun. Read the rest

iPhones hate helium

The bad news is that, due to the sheer tininess of certain components, iPhones are particularly vulnerable to going haywire in the presence of helium. The good news is that helium just isn't a problem you run into often.

Sure enough, Apple’s user guide for the iPhone and Apple watch admits this is a problem:

“Exposing iPhone to environments having high concentrations of industrial chemicals, including near evaporating liquified gasses such as helium, may damage or impair iPhone functionality. … If your device has been affected and shows signs of not powering on, the device can typically be recovered. Leave the unit unconnected from a charging cable and let it air out for approximately one week. The helium must fully dissipate from the device, and the device battery should fully discharge in the process. After a week, plug your device directly into a power adapter and let it charge for up to one hour. Then the device can be turned on again.” (Emphasis added.)

Read the rest

Is the Holy Stone HS100 the best drone money can buy?

The Holy Stone HS100 is a drone on Amazon that has two interesting qualities. First, it's one of those undesigned generic gadgets resold by numerous brands with SEO-stuffed and bizarre product names (e.g. "Holy Stone GPS FPV RC Drone HS100 Camera Live Video GPS Return Home Quadcopter Adjustable Wide-Angle 720P HD WiFi Camera- Follow Me, Altitude Hold, Intelligent Battery Long Control Range")

Second, it has thousands of glowing reviews. Thousands. Are they real? Are the Holy Stones any good? DroneDJ checks it out.

The Holy Stone HS100 and HS100G are both rebranded versions of the SJRC S70W. The only places to buy the Holy Stone versions of these drones is on Amazon and on Holy Stone’s website. SJRC (also SJ R/C) is the brand of the original manufacturer. According to my source, the manufacturer is a Chinese factory called Apex.

You might think that I am going to totally trash the HS100 as a terrible drone. I’m not going to do that. I have tested 100s of drones, many of which are pretty bad. For the most part, the HS100 (SJRC S70W) does what it is supposed to do. That’s more than can be said for many of the cheap toys you can find on Amazon and elsewhere online.

Surprise! It's ok. But the reviews, it must be said, are definitely fake. Read the rest

Apple to release iOS 12.1 on October 30 with Group FaceTime, new emoji, more 🍎

Apple is holding a launch event on Tuesday, October 30, and the image shown on invitations is above. Here's what the smart guesses are on what they're going to announce. Read the rest

Audio represetation of Bitcoin's price history

As the price goes up and down, the generated audio tone changes in this interesting and insightful audio piece!

I'd been looking for a used video card over the last couple of weeks, but gave up despite the amazing prices being listed. The eBayers are unresponsive to questions and the Craigslist sellers talk like drug dealers. That $225 GTX 1070 you have your eye on is being pulled from a mining rig where it's spent months running 24/7, accumulating all the grease, fur and pain that will be its only friends in the bubble mailer it will be sent to you in.

I ended up ordering this from Amazon despite the still-outrageous price of new video cards. Read the rest

Genius Bar says it'll cost $1200 to fix MacBook. Third-party repairman replaces worn $35 cable.

This kid took his MacBook Air into the Apple store to find out why the screen wouldn't work. The Genius Bar told him it needed to have its graphics chip, logic board and screen replaced at a cost of $1200. But being smart, he knew the MacBook Air didn't have a discrete graphics chip, so he took it to a professional repairman, Louis Rossmann. It turns out the laptop had two worn pins on a $35 sensor cable.

"You now understand more than a Genius," Rossmann tells him. "If they replaced your logic board and your screen, they would never have replaced this cable, and it would still have not worked."

Apple's laptops get a lot of criticism of late, but those are mostly matters of taste. These reports of crazy prices for repairs are anothing thing entirely. It sounds like a maliciously-compliant way of refusing to repair something in order to generate a new purchase. But we're attached to our possessions, so I don't doubt that plenty of folks end up paying outrageous prices for minor and unnecessary repairs.

Get yourself a TS-100 [Amazon] and get to work! Read the rest

You can buy used voting machines on eBay, complete with election data

$100 or so a pop. Here's a nice up-to-date Diebold machine. And here's a stack of the voter access cards that go with them. Brian Varner reports on how much can be learned from such items.

The hard drives had not been wiped. The information I found on the drives, including candidates, precincts, and the number of votes cast on the machine, were not encrypted. Worse, the “Property Of” government labels were still attached, meaning someone had sold government property filled with voter information and location data online, at a low cost, with no consequences. It would be the equivalent of buying a surplus police car with the logos still on it.

Even current models are shot through with comically obvious vulnerabilities--exposed USB ports, insecure smart card readers, operating systems that haven't been updated in 5 years--that aren't present in, say, ATMs made by the same companies. Sadly, the circles in the venn diagram marked "people with the power to fix this" and "people who want to fix this" do not overlap. Read the rest

An extinct dog breed once labored in our kitchens, running on spit-turning wheels

The Vernepator Cur was once a ubiquitous dog breed in the UK and the American colonies, and it had a job: for six days a week, it ran tirelessly in a wheel in the kitchen that was geared to turn a meat-spit over the fire (on Sundays it went to church with its owners and served as their foot-warmer). Read the rest

The new Pixel phone has a bizarre, obscure "opt out" arbitration waiver

Binding arbitration is corporate America's favorite dirty trick: to use a product, you are forced to give up your right to sue if the company hurts you, cheats you, or even kills you. Read the rest

Security researchers identify "fingerprints" in 3D printed objects that can be used to trace their manufacturing

In PrinTracker: Fingerprinting 3D Printers using Commodity Scanners (Scihub mirror), a paper to be presented at the ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security conference in Toronto this month, a group of U Buffalo and Northeastern researchers present a model for uniquely identifying which 3D printer produced a given manufactured object, which may allow for forensic investigators to associate counterfeit goods, illegal guns, and other printed objects with the device that manufactured them. Read the rest

Kickstarting the Makerphone: an open-source hardware phone kit, programmable with python and Scratch

Circuitmess's fully funded Makerphone kickstarter is raising money to produce open source hardware smartphone kits to teach kids (and grownups) everything from soldering to programming. Read the rest

Apple invites press to New York for Oct. 30 event, here's what's predicted...

Apple invited consumer technology reporters to an event scheduled for next Tuesday, October 30, at New York's Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gilman Opera House. The late-October event will presumably feature something different from the September iPhone-centered event. Read the rest

Helm: A home network email server appliance to redecentralize the web

Helm is a startup making a $500 home gadget that replaces Gmail and Google Calendar, letting you control your own email and coordination; its founders have deep information security backgrounds, and plan to make money by charging an annual $100 management fee. Read the rest

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