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

Sequencing "Sweet Child O' Mine" on a phone

iSongs is a YouTube channel that shows popular songs being recreated from scratch with the music-making app that comes with the iPhone. It's an excellent and incredibly dense tutorial, too, for those with the "observe and copy" learning style. Read the rest

Consumer Reports Labs is hiring 8 staffers: technologists, journalists and wonks

Consumer Reports' Digital Lab does groundbreaking privacy research: they're hiring for eight positions including technologists ("resident hacker," "digital standard manager," "information security researcher," "program manager, security and testing," and "privacy testing project leader"); journalists ("digital content manager"); policy and comms ("senior researcher, digital competition" and "associate director, strategic communications — technology and privacy"). Most of the positions are NYC or SF or DC based, several allow for remote workers. (Thanks, Ben)!) Read the rest

Ultra-thin USB powered light box

A light box is an excellent tool for illustrators. It allows you to place a sheet of paper with a sketch on it, then place another piece of paper on top of it, and trace the original drawing. A lot of artists do a pencil sketch on a sheet of paper, then use a nicer piece of paper to trace the sketch in ink.

Andreas Ekberg, a wonderful illustrator who makes beautiful stenciled skateboards (like this Jackhammer Jill deck) and other things, told me about this USB light board. I already have a light board, and I've used it for over 30 years. It's a clunky metal box with fluorescent tubes and I used it draw illustrations for the early issues of the bOING bOING zine.

I ended up buying a 5mm-thick USB powered light box for my daughter for Christmas a few years back. It works so much better than my old-school light box. The brightness level is adjustable, the LEDs will last much longer than the bulbs (mine currently has one burnt out bulb and I've been using it that way for years), and best of all, it is much more portable. Read the rest

New Moto Razr is a foldable flip smartphone that costs $1500

The new Moto Razr is a handsome retro thing. At $1500, though, who wants a 6.2-inch foldable smartphone designed to resemble a classic flip-phone?

The hinge design of the Moto Razr is probably the most interesting thing about it. The best Samsung can currently do in the foldables space is the Galaxy Fold, which, thanks to folding the display nearly completely flat, develops a permanent crease in the display after the first fold. Motorola's display doesn't fold completely flat, though—there is a large void space around the display hinge, so when the phone folds in half, the display has room to move around. Since it's not being sandwiched between two solid plates, the display collapses into a gentle curve instead of a hard crease. Imagine bending a piece of paper in half just by pinching the top and bottom together versus pressing the fold into a crease. Since the display only ever forms a loop, rather than a crease, it never gains a distracting, light-distorting crease down the middle the way the Galaxy Fold does.

There's a fair likelihood this will establish itself as a genuine "luxury" smartphone where other efforts have failed. It's a classic, upgraded with cutting-edge display technology, but with a clever design feature (the hinge loop) that lets it avoid the visible crease (and stink of failure) associated with other expensive foldable smartphones.

Read the rest

16" MacBook Pro announced, and it has a proper escape key

After years of poorly-received MacBook Pro models, Apple's new sixteen-inch model has a lot riding on it. Read the rest

Ethnicity detection camera

Here's an ad from Hikvision, the worlds' largest security camera company, boasting of its products' utility in detecting people's ethnicity. James Vincent writes that it "speaks volumes about the brutal simplicity of the techno-surveillance state." [via @CharlesRollet1, who points to an archived webpage that details the "Uyghur detection" feature] Read the rest

Microsoft's ARM laptop is slim but not so fast

The Verge's Dieter Bohn reviews Microsoft's Surface Pro X laptop. It's pretty and it's small, but it's slow.

... the core of Windows 10 runs just fine for me [but] there are still occasional, confounding slowdowns, especially when waking from sleep. In general, I just didn’t have as strong a feel for what would and would not bog down this computer — with an Intel chip, I know what to expect.

But it wasn’t fast, certainly not as fast as an equivalently priced Intel device would be. Still, the main problem with this ARM chip doesn’t come from slowness with Windows itself, but with many of the apps.

Here's a serious problem for anyone doing anything more than basic productivity: "64-bit x86 apps won’t run at all on the Surface Pro X. ... even Microsoft’s own app store doesn’t properly filter out incompatible apps when you visit it from this computer. You can (and I did!) buy apps in the Microsoft Store and only find out after the fact that they’re incompatible."

The Verge also notes that setting it up presents the user with a baker's dozen of clickwrap contracts, including Windows itself, "Activity History", OneDrive, Office 365, Cortana, and a Microsoft account that can only be skipped if you remember not to connect it to the internet. You apparently cannot get into this laptop without allowing "Microsoft to access your location, location history, contacts, voice input, speech and handwriting patterns, typing history, search history, calendar details, messages, apps, and Edge browsing history." Read the rest

Report from a massive Chinese surveillance tech expo, where junk-science "emotion recognition" rules

Sue-Lin Wong is the Financial Times's South China reporter; this week, she attended the China Public Security expo, the country's largest surveillance tech show, held biannually in Shenzhen. Read the rest

Wearable pop-up personal tent

A few years back, my older brother Rick Pescovitz invented the "Under the Weather Pod," a single-person pop-up shelter to sit inside. It's designed for spectator sports, fishing, and other outdoor events where it's raining but you are either obligated to watch or having so much fun you don't want to leave. Most recently, he came up with the WalkingPod, a wearable version of the tent. Yes, it looks ridiculous, but it's actually now being used by delivery people, police officers, and various other folks who have to move around in the rain. The Washington Post has a feature about the popularity of "pod" products, from laundry detergent pods to AirPods to whisky pods to, yes, my brother's WalkingPod. From the Washington Post:

“When I think of a pod, I think of personal space,” said Rick Pescovitz, the CEO of Under the Weather, the sporting-goods company responsible for this particular pod. “With outdoor and even indoor living, younger people want to have a smaller footprint and help the environment.”

Pescovitz admits the WalkingPod is “almost a joke-type item.” But he also says it’s great for sanitation workers, street vendors, ticket-takers, sports spectators, security guards, people who work on oil tankers. . . . And his company sells other pods, too — such as the StadiumPod, which is designed for bleacher-sitters.

More at Under The Weather Pods.

Read the rest

Electronic badge monitors workers' conversations, toilet usage and posture

The Economist reports that a tech startup sells a surveillance and control badge for the workforce. The device monitors workers' conversations and tracks their movements. You can even use it to make them sit straight.

The company that makes the creepy "sociometric" combadge has a creepy name — Humanyze — and its marketing is a cold wall of data jargon. The CEO and co-founder, Ben Waber, is an MIT Media Lab alumnus who boasts that he "literally wrote the book on People Analytics" and who published research on having workers take coffee breaks together to improve their productivity.

If it weren't reality, it would be too crudely dystopian to pass muster as fiction.

"I literally wrote the book on People Analytics. You're spending WAY too long on the toilet" Read the rest

Fantastic wireless thermometer for the BBQ or grill

Digital thermometers are a great tool when slow cooking meat.

It is pretty easy to under or overcook meat on the grill. Monitoring the internal temperature of your food, as you cook it, is a really good way to be sure that food is as done as you want it and no more. This affordable ThermoPen set-up does the trick for me.

I like to use one probe at the grate and one inside the item I am cooking. That way I know what is going on!

ThermoPro TP-08S Wireless Remote Digital Cooking Meat Thermometer Dual Probe for Grilling Smoker BBQ Food Thermometer - Monitors Food from 300 Feet Away via Amazon Read the rest

New Apple AirPods Pro with noise-cancelling functionality

MacRumors, which is usually correct, reports on China Economic Daily's news of the imminent launch of Apple AirPods Pro with noise-cancelling functionality and a $260 price. The new AirPods Pro won't look anything like the image above, although it'd be cool if they did. From MacRumors:

According to China Economic Daily, Apple's third-generation ‌AirPods‌ will adopt a new in-ear design to support the new noise-canceling feature and enhance the listening experience. The paper claims the "Pro" suffix, which Apple recently adopted for its most expensive iPhone 11 models, will help to differentiate the new wireless earbuds from Apple's existing ‌AirPods‌ and underscores the marketing rationale justifying the higher $260 price tag.

According to a separate report on Friday from the same Chinese-language financial media outlet, the ‌AirPods‌ Pro will also feature a new metal design that increases heat dissipation. Apple ‌AirPods‌ supplier Inventec is said to be cooperating with Chinese manufacturer Lixun to undertake the new orders...

According to industry sources previously cited by DigiTimes, Apple's suppliers are gearing up to assemble the next-generation ‌AirPods‌ as early as October, suggesting an updated version of the earphones could arrive in time for the holiday shopping season.

Read the rest

The Vatican's new electronic rosary is activated by activated by making the sign of the cross

The Vatican launched an official "eRosary":

It pairs with an app, and is activated when the user makes the sign of the cross:

When activated, the user has the possibility to choose either to pray the standard rosary, a contemplative Rosary and different kinds of thematic rosaries that will be updated every year. Once the prayer begins, the smart rosary shows the user’s progress throughout the different mysteries and keeps track of each rosary completed.

When I hear electronic cross, I think of Dan Simmons's Hyperion series, and am not enthused to hear the eRosary "records and provides your health data, so you are encouraged to have a better lifestyle."

Available for preorder in Italy for around $110. Read the rest

Analogue Pocket

Analogue Pocket is a forthcoming handheld game console that runs old Nintendo carts and offers a built-in synthesizer and sequencer.

A multi-video-game-system portable handheld. A digital audio workstation with a built-in synthesizer and sequencer. A tribute to portable gaming. Out of the box, Pocket is compatible with the 2,780+ Game Boy, Game Boy Color & Game Boy Advance game cartridge library. Pocket works with cartridge adapters for other handheld systems, too. Like Game Gear. Neo Geo Pocket Color. Atari Lynx & more. Completely engineered in *two FPGAs. ... Pocket has a digital audio workstation built in called Nanoloop. It’s a synthesizer and a sequencer. Designed for music creation and live performance. Shape, stretch and morph sounds. Capture music or play and sculpt live.

From the spec sheet, the 3.5” 1600x1440 display—615 ppi!—and a dock with USB and HDMI connections stand out. It ships "in 2020 for $199". Read the rest

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