Danglin’ it Old School: Handsets on Mobiles

This apparently is not a joke. According to a piece on Phonedaily, a Taiwanese phone site (via Akihabara), it looks as though young phone users in Japan are trying to achieve that sexy phone lineman look by attaching landline phone handsets to their cellies and then dangling the sets from their belt loops. The site also shows the handsets being customized with paint, glitter, decals, and the like. Personally, we’re waiting for those gigantic first-gen cellphones to make a comeback.

Update: Mark blogged this on Boing Boing and a reader wrote:

Just the other day i came across a website that happens to sell these very items. They can be found at Fred Flare.” $20.

Cthulhuian Power Supply?

Here’s a gadget the Old Ones could get behind: the PowerSquid, a power strip with short lengths of cable running to each outlet, as opposed to the typical slab strip, which never seems to have enough outlets with spaces to accomodate power adapters. Unfortunately, this year’s model only offers power, no surge protection, but next year, the maker, powersentry.com, promises a protected version.

[Via Business Week]

New Threat to AOL Chat: Turing Worm

C|Net is reporting that there’s a new worm going ’round the Net, but this one’s got a clever twist: it’s actually an AOL chatbot that sweet talks people into downloading the worm. Like most of these scams, the bot lacks proper grammar and syntax, but that’s not exactly symptomatic of just the worm… it applies to most people I talk to on IM.


It seems as though every day brings some new announcement related to “post-broadcast TV,” “IPTV,” or whatever we’re going to end up calling it: the rapidly smudging margins between broadcast/cable television and Internet-delivered video content. TiVo has recently started offering TV content delivered to your TV/TiVo over broadband (i.e. to TiVo boxes connected to a LAN and the Net). Today’s offering is a free subscription to Rocketboom, a daily NY videoblog of weird and wacky happenings on the Net and off of it. Think: video BoingBoing. No, really. Like a lot of the news content on Attack of the Show, we get the stinking feeling that Rocketboom deeply datamines our BB pals for copy. Why is it that it’s common etiquette to give credit where credit is due in the text blog world, but no such transparency extends to the video blogging world?

So, is Rocketboom any good? Worth subscribing to? Um…it’s got a fetching host, does that count?

Anyway, the news here isn’t about this particular show, but the beginnings of this sort of content delivery over broadband to your TV set.

[Via Make]

Sharpie Pens: RIAA Conspiracy?

We love the Sharpies here at Street Tech Labs; black Sharpies that make us hallucinate on the fumes every time we use them to label our CDs, DVDs, and our interns (it’s so hard to keep them all straight). But that permanent jet-black ink and head-lightening marker aroma may come at a price: the long-term survivability of your disc-based media (oh, and maybe blood poisoning of the interns).

According to a piece on the Media Sciences website, solvent-based markers (like our beloved Sharpies) are the riskiest to use, as the solvent can lead to data degradation. Water-based markers are better. The best thing to do is to write on the plastic center ring of the disc. While some discs are designed to protect the readout surface from marker solvents, others aren’t, and it’s not always clear what kind of discs you have. Of course, we’re talking about long-term degradation, so this is only an issue if you’re looking at long-term storage. For most of us, just using water-based markers is good enough. Dang, we’re going to miss our Sharpie high. I think one of our interns needs a new “tattoo.”

Update to Street Tech’s Robot Project Pages

Years in the making, but I have FINALLY updated the support site for my Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Building Robots. I’ve corrected mistakes from the book, added a few hacks and clarifications, and provided links to things like the PDF instructions for making “Mousey the Junkbot: (as it appeared in Make vol. 2) and to a video clip from a guy who made of a version of the DiscRover with added edge-detection capability.

It is still highly recommended that anyone building the projects in the book read through the “Building Robots” conference on Shop Talk for current info, but most of the critical problems/changes to-date have now been added to the robot pages.

Suunto Updates Sports Watches

Suunto’s watches are top-notch outdoor equipment, having pioneered the whole “wrist-top” computer thing with watches that have digital compass, barometer, altimeter, and most recently, GPS functions. Being designed for outdoor use, most of their watches aren’t always that good looking. But when it comes to sailing and golfing, apparently style is a little more important, so Suunto is putting out at least two new models in January – the M3 and G6. Both get a slicker look closer to the Observer model, and some updated features like USB interface (for the G6 Pro model). Each has features specific to the sport: for instance, the G6 golf watch keeps track of the locations and distances to the holes, and keeps track of your strokes as well. The M3 has multiple race timers so you don’t have to bother to keep time while you’re trimming the jibbits or furling the hibbits and whatnot. If you can afford the green fees or you race sailboats, you won’t likely blink at the estimated US$300 pricetags.

Personal Electronics Chain Stores: Which Level of Hell?

A friend and I went to BestBuy yesterday to get a cheap digital camera for a project. We knew we were stepping into it, but had no choice. It was as…ah… impressive as we’d feared. Insanity to the n-th degree. The place was choked with rabid shoppers reaching over each other for expensive blinking baubles from Far East silicon sweatshops. When we finally asked a salesperson whether the camera we were interested in was available, he looked taken by surprise. He went away for a while, came back, and said: “It probably is…” PROBABLY is? “We want to buy it,” we replied, “so we need to know.” “Oh, well I represent Canon, you’ll have to ask somebody else.” He was in an official BestBuy get-up but he’s a shill for Canon? Imagine a future in which all of the salespeople in a store can only talk to you about/sell you products that they represent.

This is just one Kodak Moment (from hell) of the afternoon. The parking lot was particularly entertaining. Each time we saw a near-accident or bone-headed manuever, we’d break into: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Indeed.

For more electronics store funtimes, check out this entry on Boekhoff.org about a nightmarish Circuit City encounter.

Another Geektastic Watch

TokyoFlash has done it again, creating a retro-futuristic watch that is as geeky as it is cool. This one shows the time using rows of diodes (of the light-emitting variety) to display hours and minutes — very Forbin Project.

The guy who reviews it on OhGizmo claims that it’s a real conversation starter with people… “And yes, that does include a few from the opposite sex.” Yes, and we’re sure the conversation lasted only long enough for the…ah… entity FROM the opposite sex to verify that you ARE as big of a nerd as you first appeared. But hey, wear the watch — keep hope alive.