Unboxing the ETCH, an axe designed for back-country self-rescue

Peter Biddle writes, "I get I myself into trouble. I don't claim that bad stuff happens to me more often than others - it's more that I find more ways to happen to bad stuff. I actually found a way to get severe hypothermia in 105°F heat." Read the rest

Compare tiny PC cases with this useful online spreadsheet

Looking for a tiny PC that still has space for a gaming-quality video card? SFF PC Cases is a remarkably detailed spreadsheet listing dozens of models, complete with cost, dimensions, volume and even important build tips. The very smallest are not practical for powerful builds, but the critical "Maximum GPU length" field is right there to help you out.

The gold-standard NCase M1 turns out to be only the 27th smallest case that can accommodate a GPU, and even the ultrawee Dan Case A4 doesn't hit the top ten! But it's also true that many on the list require fat external power bricks (if you're happy with that, the Custom Mod and S4 Mini models are astoundingly tiny, though good luck finding them for sale) or impose other brutal compromises, such as proprietary power supplies, too-severe limitations on GPU size, or plain goofy design.

The smallest case that's widely-available, attractive, and (relatively) inexpensive? And not so small that assembly will be a nightmare? Probably the Fractal Node 202. Read the rest

Preserving electronics: vermin, leaky batteries, melting rubber, brittle plastics, dribbly capacitors, fungus and dust

Benji Edwards's guide to preserving vintage electronics is a fascinating look into all the ways that even solid-state gear can go off in long-term storage: a lot of stuff (batteries, capacitors and even rubber) can leak viscous, electronics-destroying liquids; plastics break down in UV light; mold and corrosion eat your gear from within; spiders, crickets and roaches make their nests in old gear; and of course, dust gets everywhere. Read the rest

For sale: giant lab "gantries," slightly used, FOB Indiana

Indiana U is selling off a huge lot of lab equipment, including these space-pod-looking gantries. Winning bidder is responsible for dismantling and shipping. "To give someone an idea of how large these are, there are two pits that they sit in. Each of the pits are 28'x35'x10' deep." Read the rest

Vertu, luxury phone maker, bites the dust

Vertu, the "luxury" cellphone maker whose handsets look like drug cartel handguns and are always comically obsolete, went out of business last month, reports the BBC. It is to auction off its inventory. Bids start at $26,000.

Thuy Ong:

The auctioneer, G J Wisdom & Co, says the phones are a mix of concept models to fully functional ones, so some are not operational. The owner of Vertu failed to rescue the company from bankruptcy after offering to pay creditors just £1.9 million ($2.4 million) of the firm’s £128 million debt. Some handsets were sold for $30,000 in the company’s heyday, and offered 24/7 concierge services as part of the handset’s price. Just a year ago, the phone maker released its “cheapest” trio of handsets at $4,200 a pop — though they ran on two-year-old chips.

Vertu was founded as Nokia's prestige marque, sold off by its parent, and is now remembered as a "UK tech jewel." Golden pocket Deloreans with $200 usb cables and no-where to stash the coke.

If you want an example of the delusional esteem in which some British pundits held the company, read The Financial Times' corporate obituary for it. They think they've just witnessed the death of the Leica of cellphones. Read the rest

Why we openly hate our cords

Why we secretly love our cords. Tamara Warren:

There’s a certain security in the cord. It’s the idea of connection, perhaps even dating back to our days in the womb. ... A battery, no matter how sophisticated, is fleeting. When we have our cords with us, we are in constant pursuit of power, even when we are fully charged, as a form of security. We often discover our misfortune — the loss of power — when it’s too late. The opposite of being fully charged is dead. Cords, and our attachment to them, have taken on a metaphor weighted in existentialism. There is anxiety in being too far removed. We are in a relationship with our cords.

Allow me to retort!

The cord is a chain. It's the imposition of place, perhaps even dating back to our days in the mire. ... A cord, no matter how comforting, is invariable. When we wander, we are in pursuit of freedom; we often discover our misfortune — the tether — too late. The opposite of mobility is stasis.

Honestly, I hate cords so much! The first trillionaire will be put there by batteries. Read the rest

Rube Goldbergian clocks for your walls and mantlepieces

In an age of ubiquitous, self-synchronizing phones, timepieces are increasingly a form of kinetic sculpture. Read the rest

They'll never see this tiny camera hidden in a screw

These tiny screw cameras are about $20 on Amazon (or $15 on eBay), with versions that plug into CCTV systems, composite inputs, and USB ports. There's also the bare camera, minus the fake screwhead. [via OPSEC]

The Amazon listing includes a photo of it installed in a public toilet door. Naturally, there are some customer questions:

Question: So do you give instructions for installing in public restrooms as seen in the picture?

Answer: You are welcome to check the wires diagram as below to see if it helps: https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/71lraFgulcL._SL1000_.jpg … see more

By iSoter SELLER on August 4, 2017

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Datorbox is a luxury wood-cased gaming PC

Yours for €2099, Love Hultén's limited-edition Datorbox comes in green or orange and looks like something from another age. Well-specced and tiny, you'll have the challenge of finding pretty peripherals to go with it.

Datorbox is an extremely compact gaming desktop system, enclosed by an elegant handcrafted wooden case. Despite it's small form factor- measuring only 31x24x7cm, this small minimalistic beast delivers monster performance. To fulfill the needs of gamers further, the Datorbox is fully VR-ready and supports 4K video. The wooden casing is designed for optimized airflow and Datorbox runs very quiet, even on full load.

The top of this eye-catching artifact displays a saturn fan grille, and the front panel is adorned by a composition of six big bulb-caps completing an ambient Larson scanner effect when in use.

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Circumventing machine-gun controls with a robotic glove that automates faster-than-human trigger-pulls

Since 1934, the National Firearms Act has limited ownership of "any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger" (AKA, "machine guns"), but with the AutoGlove, a kind of exoskeletal automation system for your finger, you can get around the limits by having your roboticized hand squeeze the trigger so fast that you reach machine-gun-like rates of fire. Read the rest

Touring, complete: what gear survived four months of hard-wearing book-tour?

I had the last official stop of my book tour for my novel Walkaway on Saturday, when I gave a talk and signing at Defcon in Las Vegas. It was the conclusion of four months of near-continuous touring, starting with three weeks of pre-release events; then six weeks of one-city-per-day travel through the US, Canada and the UK, then two months of weekly or twice-weekly events at book fairs, festivals and conferences around the USA.

Kickstarting a Bondic, handheld UV-curing plastic "3D printer"

I first tried Bondic in 2015, when I ordered a tube of the UV-curing plastic and started using it to fix everything -- especially irregularly-fractured items with hard-to-fill gaps. Read the rest

First known US example of a gas-pump skimmer that uses SMS to exfiltrate data

This credit-card skimmer was removed from a New York gas pump; it uses components scavenged from a cellular phone and a T-Mobile SIM to send the credit card details it harvests to its owners, who can retrieve them from anywhere in the world. Read the rest

Crime funnies: helmeted robbers' sledgehammers can't break jewelry store glass

There's a wealth of found-comedy in watching this gang of armed, helmeted robbers try in vain to smash the glass in this Malaysian jewelry store in Jalan Besar, Sungai Buloh: the hammers bounce off the fantastically tough glass, whose resilience is positively otherworldly, while the otherwise beautifully choreographed robbery (which includes some pretty snazzy outfits!) founders. Read the rest

Lockdown tool prevents ladders from kicking out

Ladder lockdown is a metal tray with super-grippy patches on its underside; set it down on any surface (including ice!) and then set your ladder's feet in the tray and cinch it in place and the ladder won't "kick out" and injure you and your loved ones. Read the rest

Watch wireless dominoes topple without touching each other

Eser Dominoes are an interesting proof of concept that won a juried award at the 14th Japan Media Arts Festival.

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Decoder rings

Retroworks' $18 decoder rings don't have much by way of cryptographic robustness (they compare disfavorably to the cipher-wheel wedding rings my wife and I wear!), but they're not a bad way to introduce the littlies in your life to the idea of habitual secrecy. (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

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