I’ve been a long-time cheerleader for Brenthaven bags**, so much so that, years ago, they put one of my breathless reviews on their hangtags. (At least I think they did. They asked permission. I never saw one.) Anyhoo… as our President likes to remind us: 9/11 changed everything. Traveling has become a hassle at best and air travel frequently veers into something out of a dystopian novel. Planes are getting crammed with more seats and more passengers, the aisles growing so narrow, soon you’ll have to grease your luggage to get it through. My beloved Brenthaven Expandable Topload and my old small suitcase just didn’t fly in a 21st century world. I’d replaced the suitcase a few trips back, and needed to get the right gadget bag to go with it. I found it in the Belkin Sling Bag ($49).
If you’re looking to give your favorite aetherweb navigator something truly unique and beautiful for the holidays, how about a custom-made steampunk keyboard? You can have a one-of-a-kind board made that is surprisingly functional and work-a-day, while looking like an elegant antique from some alternate retro-future.
Unless you’ve been living under a stump, you’ve likely noticed a significant 2007 spike of blog and mainstream media interest in all things steampunk/Victorian tech. Computer modders, cosplayers (costume players), artists, and others, have all become enamored with Jules Verne-scented anything.
I am contributing to Federated Media’s Holiday Gadget Guide. It features an awesome line-up of gadget reviewers, including Mark Frauenfelder and Joel Johnson of Boing Boing, Phil Torrone of MAKE, David Ponce of Oh Gizmo!, John Biggs of CrunchGear, and many more. My reviews go live every Tuesday. The Guide is already up and running and will go well into January. Last year, the FM Gadget Guide was one of the most popular such guides in cyberspace. So far this year, it’s the number one holiday gadget guide on Google. This year’s festivities are sponsored by Microsoft Mobile. Check it out.
*Finally* somebody has come up with an app which allows you to “jailbreak” the most recent iPhone (and iTouch) software which knocked out third-party apps. Now you can upgrade to 1.1.1, install AppSnapp, and then re-install your third-party apps. I haven’t tried it yet, but if I have any trouble, I’ll update this item.
Holy patchbays, Bob! If I didn’t want to take up analog synth building before, I sure as hell do now! Check out this amazing rack of 12 Serge modular analog synth units manufactured by Sound Transform Systems. The rack itself was custom designed by Mike Adjellian, the same guy who brought us the Lil Sucker. This synth unit lives at Twelfth Root Studios in Ottawa. It’s The Jetsons meets Invader Zim!
If you want to learn more about Serge synths, here’s an unofficial site. Check out the gallery there for some other crazy-cool custom builds.
Danny Mavromatis, of Marvromatic, has a review of The Energy Detective, a.k.a. TED 1000. It’s a 21st energy meter that “Displays current voltage, current wattage (KWH), peak for month, peak day, KWH today, KWH month, KWH Month To Date, KWH Projected. It also has the ability to show real-time cost (you program the rates into the TED).” It costs US$175, but Danny says he saved $50 in the first month of usage. And he writes: “This gadget becomes a game, where you try to see how low you can get your KWH. Before TED… I was running at 1.500KWH, now I’m at .980!!” Cool. I want!
It’s easy to send pics from your iPhone to your Flickr account. You just hit this link and you’re assigned a unique address to mail pics to. Do so, and they’re posted to your account. Unfortunately, they’re also automatically scaled during the mailing process, which can be a problem if you want full-grown images on the other end. Erica Sadun, of TUAW, has written a handy utility that maintains the full image resolution. You can get it here, or via your iPhone’s third-party Installer.app.
I wouldn’t want to be a drive manufacturer these days. With drive prices at all-time lows, low-cost or free remote storage caches available to users, it must be tough to make a buck. Iomega is attempting to reclaim some drive space with the introduction of their Home Network Drive line, affordable drives designed to sit on your home net, serving the computers on it. It offers Ethernet connectivity at a price competitive with USB-only external drives. A 320GB drive is available for $150, a 500GB drive for $200.
While this is a good concept in theory, and the prices aren’t half bad, the success of this line likely rests on the software. To work, it should be *very* plug n’ play and work with everything (these drives allegedly work with PC, Mac, and Linux). I’ve never been very happy with Iomega’s ease of use software overall. I think the whole area of backup software sucks. Even Apple makes backup software that befuddles the average user. If Iomega (or anyone) could make backup and share tools that are truly easy to use and hardware that talks to everything (e.g. my TiVo’s on my home network, why can’t I use my Home Network Drive to stash TV programming there?), they might have something.
Read details of the 500GB drive here.
Jason Striegel over at Hackszine explains how to get H.264-encoded MP4s (a.k.a. “iPod and PSP movies”) to play on a Windows Mobile Pocket PC or Smartphone.