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

Rhasspy: a free/open voice assistant toolkit that's fully offline

US Air Force research scientist Michael Hansen created Rhasspy as a privacy-oriented alternative to surveilling "voice assistant" products like Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri; the free/open project supports dozens of languages from German, French and English to Mandarin, Vietnamese and Russian, and is designed to run on Raspberry Pi-based devices. Read the rest

Man videos postal worker abusing box full of delicate computer components

Nick Verzilli is surely furious: he muted the audio on the video he recorded of a USPS driver abusing his 40lb package of fancy computer bits. Read the rest

JBL's Go 2 pocket bluetooth speaker is the perfect last-minute stocking stuffer

Though I keep buying the damned things, I've never liked any of the portable bluetooth (or airplay) speakers I've gotten: they're all too large, too daft, too boofy or too tinny, too fancy, too hinky. So when I was handed the JBL Go 2, my mind immediately turned to regifting it. I'm glad I didn't, though, because it's perfect. It's the right size, it's cheap, it works, it's waterproof, it can survive a drop, it doesn't look stupid, and it sounds good.

That something with such basic and useful function hits all these notes makes it a perfect last-minute stocking stuffer. It's straightforward enough for technophobes, but even hard-to-shop-for gadget lovers will dig it as a no-nonsense EDC sidearm. If you order it today, it'll arrive before Christmas, at least on Amazon Prime. They're at Best Buy too, but only in black.

The power switch, volume and pairing controls are embossed on the metallic rubbery finish, while the the non-waterproof AUX and USB ports are hidden under a flap. I got about 5 hours of playback on a charge. The box is about three inches square and an inch deep. It fits in my jean pockets but packed a good, bassy punch.

The only thing I don't like is the big white JBL logo painted all over it. Annoyingly, while it comes in white, the logo is then dark gray.

JBL Go 2 [Amazon]

JBL Go 2 [Best Buy] Read the rest

Abbott Labs kills free tool that lets you own the blood-sugar data from your glucose monitor, saying it violates copyright law

Abbott Labs makes a continuous glucose monitor -- used by people with diabetes to monitor their blood-sugar levels -- called (ironically, as you'll see below) the Freestyle Libre. Read the rest

Family puts Ring camera in children's room, discovers that hacker is watching their kids 24/7, taunting them through the speaker

A family in DeSoto County, Mississippi, bought a Ring security camera so they could keep an eye on their three young girls in their bedroom. Four days later, they learned that a hacker had broken into the camera and subjected their children to continuous bedroom surveillance, taunting the children through the camera's built-in speaker. Read the rest

Sweet stocking-stuffer: an LED flashlight that clips onto a 9V battery

The Lixada LED Handheld Flashlight is a $9 stocking-stuffer ($29 for 4): a six-LED/36 lumen flashlight that clips directly over the terminals of a 9V battery, forming an easy flashlight rated for up to 10,000 hours (battery life depends on whether you're switched to 6, 4 or 2 LEDs). One reviewer uses 9V batteries swapped out of smoke detectors as power-sources for these. (via Kottke) Read the rest

Are electronic toothbrushes worth it?

Wired takes a long look at the rapid progress in oral health in the 20th century from this:

In 1899, the British Army was recruiting troops to fight in the Boer War and recruiters were appalled at the health of the men who were turning up. They were stunted, malnourished and had appalling teeth. “It became a national scandal,” Bairsto says. “No one was cleaning their teeth. Many couldn’t chew their food.”

to Philips selling a $270 electronic toothbrush (pictured above). Are electronic toothbrushes any better than a mundane brush? Put away your skepticism, Wired says:

All that said, the Cochrane reviews are pretty clear. They looked at plaque buildup and gingivitis (gum disease), finding that electric toothbrushes were, on average, more effective than manual ones. The effects were real. An average 11 per cent reduction in the degree of plaque buildup, in the short term, and a 21 per cent over three months term; a six per cent or 11 per cent reduction in gingivitis, depending on how you measure it.

Refreshing news! But there's still cause to be skeptical:

The question is where to go next. Apps that track behaviour and sensors that check you’ve brushed every tooth are already in place; how much more high-tech can toothbrushes get? How much more advantage can be squeezed from them?

One possibility is raising the stakes. There have been hints that periodontal disease is linked to wider health problems – sufferers are more susceptible to stroke, to heart attacks, to blocked arteries, to high blood pressure, and to cancer.

Read the rest

Japanese overdesign fetish: Beetle 3-Way Highlighter

The business end of KOKUYO Beetle Tips highlighter looks a bit like a rhinoceros beetle's horns, hence the name. Three-way refers to the fun you'll have with the highlighter when you make three different kinds of marks with it.

Amazon sells a colorful 5-pack for .

[via] Read the rest

Debullshitifying the Right to Repair excuses Apple sent to Congress

Apple's response to the Congressional committee investigating monopolistic behavior by tech giants contains a chapter on Right to Repair, whose greatest enemy is Apple -- the company led successful campaigns to kill 20 state level Right to Repair bills last year. Read the rest

Mozilla updates its "Privacy Not Included" gift guide for 2019

As with last year, the Mozilla Foundation's privacy researchers have produced a guide to electronic gifts called "Privacy Not Included," which rates gadgets on a "creepiness" scale, with devices like the Sonos One SL dumb "smart speaker" (Sonos ripped out all the junk that isn't about playing music) getting top marks, and Ring Security Cams, Nest Cams, Amazon Echos, and other cam/mic-equipped gadgets coming in as "Super Creepy!" (the exclamation point is part of the rating). Read the rest

The Challenge Vault: a locksport training tool and mechanical puzzle that teaches you to be a safecracker

Every year around this time, our friends at Sparrow Lockpicks (previously) come out with a incredibly clever, giftable addition to your locksport arsenal; I always buy a few of these for Christmas gifts (often for younger people on my list) and they're universally well received. Read the rest

Tesla just announced a... DeLorean Monster Truck?

The Tesla truck is here. Its stainless steel hide can withstand sledgehammer blows, but its windows are not quite so impervious to enemy action. It's not clear how long it takes to go from 0-88 MPH, but I'm certain we'll find out. Jalopnik:

Tesla chose to unveil this here and now because Musk loves Blade Runner. And to date, he’s made some wild claims about what it can do: out-truck a Ford F-150, outperform a Porsche 911, be “literally bulletproof” and ideally start under $50,000. It’s also “the official truck of Mars.”

The man’s a lot of things, but modest isn’t one of them. ...

a 14,000-pound tow claim, a 3,500-pound payload claim, three ranges (200 miles, 300 miles and 500 miles), adaptive air suspension and a base price of $39,900 for the rear-wheel drive single-motor version. The max range version, with all-wheel drive and three electric motors, is said to be $69,900.

Production is said to be coming in late 2021, and the tri-motor version is happening in 2022, Musk said.

This is absolutely a survivalist fantasy vehicle. Magical. Read the rest

Buy your own nail printer: put your finger in and it'll dye art on it

Meet the Claire's Accessories gom jabbar! Insert a finger into the box and it will print the image of your choice on the nail. Though intended for use by professionals, you can get them on Amazon for just shy of a grand and a few consumer reviews have turned up.

It takes just 30 seconds to print a design, according to this reviewer ?

It's the "hottest trend" in nail salons this year, reports Art Insider ?

Here a nail artist jokingly complains of being replaced by robots ?

In this video, Natalie of Natalie's Outlet explains how it works: by "going left and right and bbrrbrbrbrbrbrbrbrb!" ?

O'2nails Digital Mobile Nail Art Printer [Amazon] Read the rest

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