iPad looks great in an SE/30 case

At Reddit, mtietje posted this remarkable photo of their lockdown project: an iPad stand made using an old Macintosh SE/30. The display size is perfect for the 9.7" iPad, and now that iPadOS can use mice they work much better as "normal" computers.

Se/30 shells turn up on eBay now and again. One's there now with bidding at $15. Shipping tends to really bloat the price of even a broken model with the bits still inside. I doubt you could reasonably shave down the SE/30 display housing to fit an iPad Pro, unfortunately: you'd lose all the beveling.

Now, the iMac G4 (below) came with a 15" screen that a 12.7" iPad Pro might hack into without looking too small. Maybe you could even just remove the display entirely and magnet the iPad on the arm?

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$350 USB stick claiming to block 5G is just a cheap thumbdrive

A $350 USB device claiming to block 5G radio signals is just a cheap unbranded thumbdrive, report security researchers.

The makers of the “5GBioShield” claim their USB stick can block electrical waves through a “proprietary holographic nano-layer catalyst” technology. It purportedly does this by “balancing” all the existing radiations around you to create a protective bubble 8 meters in diameter, even when the USB drive is unplugged.

The website for the product goes on to make dubious references to “quantum oscillation,” “life force frequencies,” and “cardiac coherence” in an attempt to convince consumers the science behind the 5GBioShield is legit. But you’ll be pretty disappointed if you actually buy the product, according to Pen Test Partners.

The device (sold as the 5GBioShield) is aimed at people who believe conspiracy theories about 5G radio waves—a market whose credulity and susceptibility to unproven or pseudoscientific products is already guaranteed.

That it's something you can buy on Amazon for a fraction of the price[Amazon link] just shows how little work went into the wheeze.

The website selling the thumbdrives is based in the UK. Local regulators and fraud police are on the case: "We consider it to be a scam," Stephen Knight, operations director for London Trading Standards, told the BBC. Read the rest

Smartphone video rigs made from random junk

COOPH put together a video featuring DIY smartphone video rigs put together with stuff lying around the house.

Want to make your smartphone footage more creative than ever? In our latest video the COOPH photographers share some of their best hacks on how to create stunning images and videos with your smartphone and everyday tools, no expensive gear required! From smooth time lapses and steady shots to an easy DIY gimbal – this video has it all!

Disposable DIY rigs and jigs are essential for learning what works and what's possible creatively. If I spend money on something I'll be less likely to push it, to risk sacrificing the investment for self-improvement's sake. But if I'm already familiar with what a tool actually gets me, I won't be intimidated or disappointed when I buy a decent one. Read the rest

Design for a portable Commodore 64

There have been modern designs for portable Commodore 64s, and the official portable Commodore 64 you perhaps didn't even know about, but none of them are as handsome as Cem Tezcan's.

The Adafruit Blog:

As a part of my monthly product design practice, I decided to make an handheld Commodore 64 that uses “mini cassettes” to load programs or games.

I inspired by most of the old Commodore electronic products to create this dream device

All it needs is a giant leather holster. Read the rest

The widest screen

LG makes a 86-inch 3840 x 600 display—that's a 58:9 aspect ratio—and you can buy it for abour four grand [Amazon]. I was thinking of having them send one over to do a deadpan serious Gamer Review of it. Imagine this 7ft monster vesa-mounted on a 5ft desk, with little computer speakers stuck awkwardly on arms out to the side. Would many games even run at that resolution? It was suggested to me further that I review it in portrait orientation.

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Rave reviews for $280 Lenovo Chromebook Duet

Lenovo's new Chromebook Duet is only $2801, but it's getting excellent reviews from sources that are usually lukewarm on low-end gadgets running Google's operating system. The 10" convertible tablet isn't going to muscle out a Surface Pro or iPad Pro, but it doesn't feel cheap.

The Verge's Monica Chin: "It feels much more like a Surface Go with some concessions than it does an ultra-budget PC. ... Another area where the Duet is punching above its weight class: battery life. Lenovo claims 10 hours; I got close to 11 and a half, running the device through my typical workload of Chrome tabs and apps including Gmail, Twitter, Slack, Asana, Facebook, Docs, and Sheets."

Wired's Scott Gilbertson: "It's plenty fast enough for getting work done in the browser, sending emails, and other communications—even light photo editing (in Gimp, running via the Linux support) and document editing. I only started to see some slowdowns after having 15 to 20 Chrome tabs open with half a dozen Android apps running simultaneously alongside some Linux for Chrome OS apps."

Android Authority's Eric Zeman: "It's practically a steal ... Lenovo's little Chromebook isn't perfect, and in fact has a few significant drawbacks, but almost nothing else competes on value. With a price starting at just $279, few Chromebooks or tablets offer as much flexibility out of the box as the Lenovo Chromebook Duet."

PC Mag's Eric Grevstad: "The Chromebook Duet earns an honorable mention among Chromebooks for consumers and captures our Editors' Choice among Chromebooks for students. Read the rest

A very useful illuminated hand held magnifier for $3

This $3 handheld magnifying glass has two bright LEDs and is powered by 3 AAA cells (not included). The manufacturer says the magnification is 40X. I think it is less than that, but it is still plenty powerful for my needs - mainly, reading the markings on tiny electrical components and checking the layer fusion on 3D printed parts. I have a few different magnifiers, and this one has quickly become my favorite.

It's not like a regular magnifying glass. It's more like a jeweler's loupe. To use it, you hold it up to your eye and move close to the thing you want to look at.

It even comes with a fake leather pouch.

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Boston Dynamics robot dog enforces lockdown in Singapore

We used to joke about Boston Dynamics' robot dogs being used to control humans, and now they are: Singapore has deployed one to Bishan-Ang Moh Kio Park to monitor social distancing and blare warnings during the coronavirus pandemic.

South China Morning Post:

"Singapore has unveiled a four-legged robot programmed to keep park visitors tuned in to rules about safe social-distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Developed by Boston Dynamics, the robot has been busy during a two-week test run during off peak hours at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park."

The robot dog is aware that it cannot contract biological viruses. The robot dog is aware of the inherent mutability of animalian life. The robot dog is eager to please.

PREVIOUSLY: Already regretting assigning Cormac McCarthy to report on the video of an entire pack of Boston Dynamics robot dogs Read the rest

19th century mousetrap not messing around

Mouse trap expert Shawn Woods writes that this device is known as "the 1862 Mouse Killer". It is an uncompromising example of the genre. [via Brian Ashcraft] Read the rest

Custom keyboard replicates Photoshop toolbar

Input Magazine's Mehreen Kasana reports on a Ukrainian designer's custom keyboard, which turns Photoshop's toolbar into a mechanical masterpiece of bland yet slightly weird design.
Playing around with brightness, contrast or any other function is a breeze when you don't have to mess about with on-screen icons. And undoing things with a single button press certainly beats having to hit CTRL + Z. You can also use the number pad to open or save files.Whichever keyboard you choose, you can get it in one of three colors: black, white, or metallic. You'll just need to wait around three weeks for delivery. But considering how much time you'll save in the long-run, that's a small price to pay. Besides, we hear that patience is a virtue.
Yours for $200 at Etsy. Read the rest

New iPhone SE, finally

I still have an iPhone SE, replaced twice in the last four years because I don't fancy any of the gigantic modern models from Apple or leading Android brands. (Anything less is, frankly, impractical1.) While the new iPhone SE is superficially a warmed-over iPhone 8, and so still too big, it is at least smaller than other models and comes with the latest CPU and camera. Best of all, it's cheap for what it is, at $400. It'll do. It comes in black, white and red and preorders start Friday.

1. The 2G networks used by older dumbphones are being turned off and don't carry modern MMS-format text messages. Recent 4G dumbphones generally have poor compatibility with U.S. LTE bands and come with hinky, bloatware-infested KaiOS installations I don't have time to root and santize. Read the rest

Open design for an e-ink typewriter

The Ultimate Writer is a hardware and software plan to make your own digital typewriter with an e-ink display. All you need are a keyboard, a Raspberry Pi, an e-ink display, wood and words. The plans are open-source on Github.

Ultimate writer is an attempt to create the perfect digital writing device; it may also be a clickbaity name, who knows.

It was built upon the following principles:

Easily readable e-ink screen. You can read it effortlessly even in sunlight. Long lasting battery life. You can have a 3 days writing retreat (~20 hours) without recharging it. Easily serviceable design. Your typewriter is 40 years old and works just fine. You don't want to change your writing device every 5 years. You want to be able to easily change the computer parts easily; and who knows, use something else than a raspberry pi. Standard OS. You want to use your favorite console-based text editor. You also want a shell access to tweak your setup without reprogramming the device. Nice full-size mechanical keyboard.

Some good tips in the Hacker News thread, where it is also noted that the parts to make this are about a third of the price of a Freewrite [Amazon], a more polished but functionally similar device. Read the rest

Galaxy Chromebook reviews

Samsung's Galaxy Chromebook is unusually fancy and handsome for a platform usually associated with cheap, low-end machines, at least outside of Google's own flag-carrier devices. How does it stack up?

The Verge says its no good because despite the pretty case, high-end hardware and 4k screen, it's unreliable and has poor battery life. Engadget thinks it's likeable enough, but also complains of the poor power management. Wired, however, gives it 8/10, describing it as "everything you could ever want in a laptop based on the Chrome browser."

This is unquestionably a nice laptop. You are paying for what you get though. At $999 the Galaxy Chromebook is an expensive piece of kit, and one that's never going to run, for instance, Adobe Photoshop, videogames like Overwatch, or other popular desktop applications.

If that's not a requirement for you, there's much here to love. An example of the refinement and integration in this laptop is when you press in on the spring-release pen to pull it out; the Galaxy Chromebook will automatically open Google Keep, and be ready for your handwritten notes or sketches (which are easier to make when you take advantage of the 360-degree convertible design). It's a small thing, but a lot of these great, small things are what add up to make this the smoothest, nicest ChromeOS experience I've ever had.

I can't imagine using something this fancy without wiping out the toy OS and installing Ubuntu Linux instead.

One thing that struck me is that The Verge's full-column warning (partially embedded below) about the clickwrap contracts the user must agree to just to start the machine. Read the rest

Turn a plastic bottle into a bidet

CuloClean is a portable gadget that turns a plastic bottle into a bidet. I can't vouch for its efficacy but it seems like a useful alternative to wiping your bum, especially as toilet paper has become a high-value currency. Apparently CuloClean supplies are also running low but it seems like you could make one yourself that would at least approximate this $9 gadget's utility. From CuloClean:

You can easily regulate water intensity by exerting more or less pressure to the bottle. This way you will get perfect results, better than using toilet paper or wipes.

(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)

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Everything's going to be fine, there's a new iPad Pro

Today apple announced a new MacBook Air (faster, cheaper) and an upgraded iPad Pro with LiDAR, "studio-quality" microphones and the full array of ultrawide and telephoto lenses as sported on recent top-of-the-line iPhones. But the thing that sells it to me is the new keyboard, which includes a trackpad (at last!) and fancy hinge that will hold the device above the keys rather than on them like a tiny bad laptop.

*homer drooling noise* ↓

*homer screaming noise* ↓

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Coronavirus a perfect excuse for shady crowdfunded gadgets

A tiny, bargain-priced drone that delivers cinematic HD footage? Full speed ahead, backers! But alas, there's a problem: coronavirus. The BBC reports on backers who pledged nearly $2m and are about to experience disappointment.

Ash Hall, who reviews drones, published a damning video opinion piece on YouTube. He was fiercely critical not just of the MicroDrone's video quality but of alleged broken promises about its battery life, camera and weight. Hall's video unleashed another wave of furious comments from disappointed backers, many of them demanding refunds. But when I spoke to Mr Kerswell, he was defiant, insisting unhappy backers were a small minority. His explanation for the delay was long and complex, involving various production challenges.

The obvious risk of crowdfunding creates moral hazard: people who suspect or know they'll fail to deliver have a bookful of excuses from the outset. Coronavirus, and its effect on the Chinese supply chain, is God's gift to all currently-outstanding scams and follies. Read the rest

Internet of Starving Pets: animals go hungry after "smart feeder" fails

Petnet is a $300 internet-of-things pet food bowl. Its network went down and stayed down for a week, leaving some pets to go hungry. The BBC reports that owners are livid and that it's not the first trouble Petnet's had maintaining service.

Petnet has two Twitter accounts. The official one has not tweeted since 30 August 2019 but the support account issued four tweets between 14 and 21 February about the problems experienced. In its first tweet it said a "system outage" was affecting second generation devices and asked customers not to switch off their feeder even if it appeared to be offline. ... On 21 February it said smartfeeders were "returning online" and a "system reset" was in progress.

The Petnet has dismal reviews on Amazon, where the Wopet is the clear favorite: a plain old automatic feeder, no internet required.

PREVIOUSLY: Smart pet food bowl closes when pets overeat. Read the rest

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