Slightly disturbing typewriter auction photos on ebay

Here's just a few from my searches—in pursuit of the elusive red Canon Typemate—but there are many like them.

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Big Bang: the "stupid patent" on teledildonics has expired

Twenty years ago, the US Patent and Trademark Office granted patent number 6,368,268: "Method and device for interactive virtual control of sexual aids using digital computer networks," a minor classic of a majorly fucked-up genre, the bullshit tech patent that simply adds "with a computer" to some absolutely obvious and existing technology or technique. Read the rest

Watch this elegant desktop Stirling engine go over 2000 RPM

YouTuber IAA015 likes to demonstrate fun decorative gadgets for the home and office, like this nicely designed Stirling engine that can reach speeds of over 2,000 revolutions per minute. Read the rest

What should go in an IoT safety-rating sticker?

Now that Consumer Reports is explicitly factoring privacy and security into its tech reviews, we're making some progress to calling out the terrible state of affairs that turned the strange dream of an Internet of Things into a nightmare we call the Internet of Shit. Read the rest

Japanese self-sharpening mechanical pencils give the lead a tiny turn every time you lift the tip

Uni's Kuru Toga Roulettes are mechanical pencils that solve a problem I've never had, which is that the tip wears differentially, eventually creating a blunt instrument (I am a clod whose draftsmanship looks like I tried writing in a zeppelin caught in a tornado, so this is not a problem for me) -- the Roulette contains a tiny gearing mechanism that rotates the lead by a quarter-turn every time you lift the tip (e.g. between words); this creates an even wear around the lead's tip, keeping it sharp and reducing the likelihood that it will snap. (via Core 77) Read the rest

The Strandbeests of 2018 are from the very greatest of timelines

For more than 15 years, we've been writing about the strandbeests, Theo Jansen's incredibly, multilegged windwalking machines that clatter their way along in eerily lifelike fashion (I even wrote them into my fiction). Read the rest

Review: Bose's Noise-Masking Sleepbuds would be great if my brain would let me enjoy them

Even with the drugs I take for my PTSD, I'm still hyper alert than the average person--the car is always kept running, just in case I need it. This makes it hard for me to get to sleep, most nights. Small noises, like our home contracting as the night draws colder, animals outside and passing cars, all conspire to keep me awake. To get around this, I've been using a noise app called Rain Rain on my Android handset and iPhone, for years. But there's nights where even that doesn't work to drown out the aural stimulation keeping me awake. Things like my wife's snoring or my dog getting up for a drink of water are present enough that they cut through the noise. Next thing you know, I'm up until dawn, reading a book or playing video games.

Enter Bose's noise-masking Sleepbuds.

A few months back, Bose brought me to New York to check them out. During their PR team's presentation, it was explained to me that they had a hell of a time trying to figure out how to make an appliance that'd help people to get a good night's sleep. The Sleepbuds use a combination of passive noise cancellation (the block up your ear canals) and a selection of noise loops to block out sounds that might keep someone like me, awake. It was explained to me that the Sleepbuds can't be used for listening to music--they're not designed for that. Sending music to a set of cans, via Bluetooth, uses up a lot of battery power. Read the rest

Adorable 3D-printed C64 keychain

Another delight from Retro Pi Cases, albeit one you won't yet be stuffing a computer in. [Previously] Read the rest

Basic Engine: $10 open-source gadget designed to be the best game machine of the 1980s

The Basic Engine is a tiny but intentionally limited computer platform designed to be like a late-1980s game console or home computer, but with some useful modern benefits. In effect, it's like Pico-8, but hardware instead of a set of abstract and arbitrary design limitations on software.

The BASIC Engine is a very low-cost single-board home computer with advanced 2D color graphics and sound capabilities, roughly comparable to late-1980s or early-1990s computers and video game consoles. It can be built at home without special skills or tools and using readily available components for under 10 Euros in parts, or mass-produced for even less.

Graphics and sound · 256-color text and graphics at resolutions from 160x200 up to 460x224 (PAL: 508x240) pixels · Software sprites (up to 32 sprites sized up to 32x32 pixels). · Scrollable tiled background graphics engine with up to four layers. · Wavetable synthesizer and PLAY command that renders music in MML format. · Loading and saving of PCX image files to and from video memory. · Various text fonts built-in, including an ATI 6x8 font (for up to 76 (PAL: 84) characters per line) and PETSCII. · Direct manipulation of video memory and controller registers possible, permitting higher-color screen modes, custom resolutions and other video effects.

"Why not just use a Rasberry Pi?" is a common question but the answer should be obvious: it's about a nostalgic idea of the perfect thing that never existed, a technological hiraeth, forbidden to exceed the place and time the yearning was born. Read the rest

Great deal on Nintendo "SNES edition" 3DS XL

Nintendo's retro-themed 3DS XL is rarely marked down, but is currently $150 at Amazon, which is $50 off the normal price.

By far the weirdest and most portable of the company's growing rack of retro-fueled gear, it's also one that has a serious library of modern games to play too, in addition to the oldschool cool that comes with it—in this case, Super Mario Cart.

Nintendo's classic consoles, dating to decades-old designs, now regularly top the hardware charts, driven by cheap prices and an endless reservoir of nostalgia.

SNES edition 3DS XL [Amazon link] Read the rest

NES Classic is America's best-selling game console

Returning to the stores in June, Nintendo's NES Classic game console—a miniaturized version of the 1985 original—outsold the PlayStation, XBox One and its own Switch to rule the hardware charts.

"The NES Classic was June 2018's highest unit-selling hardware platform, while the PlayStation 4 led the market in dollar sales," wrote Mat Piscatella, an analyst with the NPD Group. "This is the first time a Nintendo Entertainment System console has led in monthly unit sales since NPD tracking began in 1995."

Granted, it's only $60 (at least when you can find it) with dozens of free games, but that's not bad for a 33-year design. Now, about that credit-card sized Gameboy Classic everyone's dreaming of...

NES Classic [Amazon link] Read the rest

Microsoft Surface Go gets rave reviews

Microsoft's compact Surface Go is a low-end 2-in-1 laptop, but it's getting rave reviews from sites such as Gizmodo and The Verge thanks to excellent design and balance of price—just $400, but see below—and capability.

Giz:

Beyond its underwhelming performance, the Surface Go is a winner. ... The Surface Go feels like a smaller version of the premium Surface Pro. It’s a damn nice looking device—the kind people will note with admiration when you’re at a coffee shop or sitting in a crowded meeting. It’s proof that cheap laptops don’t have to feel or look cheap, and I can only hope that it inspires other computer makers to start seriously considering the build quality of their budget devices.

Verge:

It’s $680 to get the version that I think would work best for most people, which is significantly more than the $330 base iPad but significantly less than an iPad Pro with a keyboard. It’s about what you’d pay for a pretty decent middle-of-the-road Windows Laptop or maybe even a used Surface Pro. Comparing the Surface Go to any of those devices quickly leads you to build a big pro-con list, one that is very personalized to your particular software needs.

It gets terrible benchmarks, but only when running games or making Photoshop work hard. It sounds to me that it's the gadget for people who really want to work on mainstream tablets such as the iPad or Galaxy Tab but find themselves needing the trappings of a normal laptop when they try. Read the rest

Apple is world's first publicly traded company worth $1tn

A 3 percent climb in share price made Apple the world's first trillion-dollar publicly-traded company.

Apple’s ascent from the brink of bankruptcy to the world’s most valuable public company has been a business tour de force, marked by rapid innovation, a series of smash-hit products and the creation of a sophisticated, globe-spanning supply chain that keeps costs down while producing enormous volumes of cutting-edge devices.

That ascent has also been marked by controversy, tragedy and challenges. Apple’s aggressive use of outside manufacturers in China, for example, has led to criticism that it is taking advantage of poorly paid workers in other countries and robbing Americans of good manufacturing jobs. The company faces numerous questions about how it can continue to grow.

Gas giant Saudi Aramco has twice Apple's revenues and is valued at up to $2tn. But you can't buy yourself a chunk of it—not yet, anyway. Read the rest

Article about legendary keyboard maker Cherry's 50-year-history

Nowadays, chances are you associate Cherry with the clickety switches on fancy keyboards. But it's been a global company for decades: if it's boring business-to-business hardware and it clicks, it might well be a Cherry.

With an assist from computing legend and junk mail collector Ted Nelson, the Internet Archive has collected a wide array of catalogs featuring some of Cherry Electronics’ Snap-Action switches from the 1960s. One such circular described Cherry’s appeal to manufacturers as such: “An entire company devoted entirely to one product—switches. This specialization means thorough application analysis … efficient, reliable assembly of switches … automated testing techniques … faster service.” And while the firm is best known for its keyboards today, these switches look nothing like the perfectly clicky mechanisms that Massdrop fans and heavy writers have been fawning over for years.

So where were they used? A notable example of a place where you’ve probably unknowingly used a Cherry microswitch is an arcade.

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Guide for buying a cheap game-ready laptop

$1000 is a lot of money; too much for a new laptop if all you want to do is play games on the go. At Laptop Mag, Rami Tabari wrote a guide on how to hunt for a good one.

4. Whether you're going cheap or all out, avoid touch screens. All they do is hike up the price.

It's a good guide with all the necessary caveats; the most important one is that the GPU is by far the most important factor. The entry-level GPU is the Nvidia MX150, which gets you playing older and casual titles easily and fancy new games with the settings all on low. But if you're gonna bother, you may as well fork a little to get to a 10xx-series chip so you know it'll handle the hits of 2020.

Here's my one-sentence guide: go on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace or OfferUp or whatever, search for "1060 laptop", and buy the cheapest on offer that looks kosher to you. If you don't want to risk used, but want something good under a grand, this Dell is about $950 [Amazon link] and won't mark you as one of The Gamers, with only 2 (two) red LEDs and no leprechaun swastika logos. Read the rest

Samsung's "invisible TV" uses a hi-rez picture of the wall behind it as wallpaper

Samsung's new QLED TV comes with configuration option: take a picture of the wall behind it before you hang it up and it will use it as a background wallpaper, drawing UI widgets (like weather display, etc) overtop of it, creating the hi-rez illusion that your TV has disappeared, leaving nothing behind but the bezel. Hard to get it aligned properly, and probably a config option on most TVs (but buried 11 menus deep and just advertised as "set wallpaper" rather than "make TV vanish"). (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

A giant, novelty on/off switch...with a tiny, functional on/off switch

Redditor cobalt_brightside posted this giant, novelty on/off switch lamp that has a hilarious, tiny, functional on/off switch to control the lamp. Read the rest

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