Meshing, rugged, free/open wifi routers for refugee camps

Meshpoint is a Croatian open source hardware company that turns out rugged, meshing, battery-powered wifi hotspots that get their backhaul from cellular networks; they're based on the widely used Open WRT free/open wifi routing software, and use open source hardware designs that are intended to stand up to punishing field conditions like those found in refugee camps. Read the rest

Bathroom hand-dryers suck in poo-particles and aerosolize them all over you and everything else

A new study in Applied and Environmental Microbiology (Sci-Hub mirror) conducted microbial surveys of the bathrooms at the University of Connecticut (where the study's lead authors are based) to investigate whether hand-dryers were sucking in potentially infectious microbes and then spraying them all over everything, as had been observed in earlier studies. Read the rest

Flying Spaghetti Monster pasta strainer

Ototo's Flying Spaghetti Monster pasta strainer is a houseware, a religious artefact and a novelty item, all rolled into one $17 package! (via Geeks Are Sexy) Read the rest

Reel to reel tape in a standard mini-cassette

Teac briefly sold a standard tape cassette that opened to allow the listener to swap out its tiny little reels. This made for an ultracompact music collection--dozens of albums in a pocketable pouch--but it didn't take off.

A look at an unusual cross between an open reel tape and the compact cassette. As far as I know the O'Casse was only available in Japan. - you can usually them on ebay http://goo.gl/XW6kx8 (at great expense) alongside the brilliant Sony WM-D6C Walkman

It's interesting just how many ways they tried to get performance and professional-grade utility out of this trash-ass media format and I'm so glad it's back in fashion. Read the rest

A ball that inverts and changes color when it is midair, and the scientific literature that explains it

The Hoberman Switch Pitch Throwing Ball is a $12 toy that instantiates a dual polyhedron: every time you throw it, it turns inside-out; there's a wealth of scientific literature that explains how this works, including this open-access paper from the Journal of the International Association for Shell and Spatial Structures. Here's JWZ's summary: "The curved body panels that make it look like a sphere hide an internal structure that is a cube; or really, two tetrahedrons embedded in a cube; and when it its its activation energy, the tetrahedron becomes its dual, swapping faces and vertices." Read the rest

The business-logic of Silicon Valley means that it can only make creepy, surveillant, pointless "smart" sex toys

People who buy sex toys generally want "high-quality, ergonomically designed toys that are intuitive to use," but Silicon Valley keeps delivering "innovative" and commercially unsuccessful sex toys whose selling-points are their "flashy apps and connectivity." Read the rest

Gorgeous scrap-electronics wearable cyberpunk assemblages from Hiroto Ikeuchi

Tokyo designer Hiroto Ikeuchi creates amazing wearable cyberpunk assemblages out of scrap electronics and other odds and sods. Read the rest

$1 piano vs $1000 piano

I enjoyed the recently-viral comparison of a $600 craiglist piano with Yamaha concert grands, but was disappointed with the lack of experimental rigor. Thankfully, a more scientific comparison is now available: $1 piano vs $1000 piano, embedded here for your critical listening pleasure. Read the rest

Die With Me: a chat app that only works when you have 5% battery life remaining or less

Dries Depoorter & David Surprenant's Die With Me is a chat app available for iOS and Android, but only if your device is on its last legs: "The chat app you can only use when you have less than 5% battery. Die together in a chatroom on your way to offline peace." Read the rest

Crowdfunding an official, licensed Scrabble mechanical keyboard

On the crowdfunding site Massdrop, board-game fan Cassidy Williams is taking preorders for a $160 Scrabble-themed mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches (if you've got a mechanical keyboard kicking around that you'd like to convert, you can get the $47 keycap set instead). Read the rest

Revisiting the Mavica, Sony's 1997 floppy disk digital camera

Sony's Digital Mavica FD was a digital camera that saved pictures directly onto floppy disk: a wonderful convenience in an age when flash cards (and their readers) were expensive and rare. Images were saved at up to 1280x960 (1.2 megapixels!) and "not that bad", and it takes up to 6 seconds to save them to disk. Quality wasn't the point: this gadget captured 40 percent of the consumer digital camera market. Looking back, the Mavica FD was probably a key solvent in the unexpectedly fast transition from analog to digital photography.

Thrifting notes: third-party batteries won't work in some models, the FD75 and especially the FD87 are the best models, but the FD5 is simplest and easiest to just lug around. Read the rest

Beautiful photos of beautiful vintage computers

I think all modern computers should look like these vintage ones photographed by James Ball a couple of years ago. [via Wired] Read the rest

Enhance your ZX Spectrum with this glorious backlit keyboard

ZNRenew enhances your old Sinclair personal computer with beautiful colored cases and, soon, a striking backlit version of its infamous rubber chicklet keyboard.

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Apple prototypes hit eBay

A museum's worth of prototype Apple devices--computers, ipods and more--is being auctioned on eBay.

Plain, who spends his days working at a Lexus dealership in Monterey, California, is part of the vintage Apple collector community. But where most collectors are trying to accrue a wishlist of machines sold to the public, Plain prefers the prototypes. ...Now Plain has more 48 different devices in his collection, including two different Mac clones, the Outbound 125 and the Dynamac. And that Cinema Display that was probably used by one of the founders of Apple. But Plain doesn’t plan on keeping all of it. When he gets extras, or stuff that doesn’t really jibe with his personal preference for G4 Cubes, 20th Anniversary Macs and Macintosh Portables, they go up on eBay

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Juicero spotted on slightly dirty thrift shore shelf

Photo: anfael_

Juicero was a fantastically over-engineered $400 juicing machine whose key innovation was DRM fruit slime that you can just squeeze out the bag anyway. The company went out of business six months ago, and Juiceros are now turning up in thrift stores, as observed by anfael_ on Twitter. Even so, there's no point buying one: they're useless without the no-longer-available DRM packets and are too complex to bother hacking.

"oh wow it's finally here," wrote anfael_, "in the goodwill with the busted keyboards and crusty printers"

The genius behind Juicero is now selling "'raw water' packed with all the microbes and amoebas you can stomach". Read the rest

Retro 1980s brickphone with 2000s technology

AliExpress has this and various other cellphones designed to resemble ancient first-gen mobiles of yore. This one can also be used as a battery pack for another phone. All the models are 2G GSM and will therefore only work in the US on T-Mobile, at your own risk. [Thanks, Greg!]

Here's video: Read the rest

What to do in an emergency

Hey, at least now you know. Buy yourself a coke to celebrate:

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