Behold: The Tick Terminator!

Street Tech pal J. Wolfgang Goerlich has a little piece on GoRobotics about some students at Virginia Military Institute who came up with a novel way of destroying ticks. A robotic rover (made from a hacked R/C monster truck toy) drives around dragging a “skirt” behind it that’s been treated with a pesticide. The ticks hop onto the skirt and are exposed to the deadly chemical, killing them without having to expose the entire area to the harmful chems. As Mr. Spock might say: “Fascinating.”

Wired also has a piece on the project.

Apple’s New Product Announcements

Well, the jitterati came, they saw, they blogged in real-time till their servers got hosed. The Apple New Products Press Event is wrapping up as we speak at Apple’s Cupertino Campus. Here’s what Chairman Jobs had to hawk:

* New Mac Mini with a Single Core Intel Processor, Gigabyte Ethernet, four USB 2 ports, analog and SPDIF input and output. Added FrontRow and Remote Control. 1.5GHz Intel Core Solo, 512MB RAM, 60GB hard drive, Combo Drive. US$599.

* New Mac Mini with Dual Core Processor. 1.67GHz Core Duo, 512MB RAM, 80GB drive Super Drive. Same other specs. $799

* “Bonjour” (revamped, renamed “Rendezvous” networking software) for streaming iTunes app — allows you to stream iTunes content over local network via FrontRow.

* Hook the Mac Mini to your TV and you can listen to and view all of the media stored on your home network. The beginnings of a move toward a home entertainment computer, but still no resident TV card.

* O-fficial iPod Leather cases (for US$100!). Yawn.

* iPod Boombox (iPod HiFi). Whatever.

And, that’s that. All the wild speculation, about an touchscreen iPod, Apple TV, 17″ MacBook Pro, etc. will remain in the wild, at least for now.

[Info swipped from real-time feeds on Engadget, TUAW, and CNet]

How-To: Make a Stash Book, D00d!

Back in the early ’90s, when I was doing a zine called “Going Gaga,” I did an issue on drug experiences called “The Poison is in the Dosage.” It was an audiozine that came inside of a hollowed out paperback book inside of a ziplock bag. It seemed like a cool idea at the time, but we ended up having to hollow out over 100 paperbacks. It was a freakin’ nightmare. I did nothing but hack n’ slash yellowing pulp fiction for days on end. I cajoled my housemates into slicing up books, anyone who came over was pressed into service. The sight of X-Acto knives in my hand made everyone remember they suddenly had something really pressing to do.

This “Secret Hollow Book” project on How To Do Stuff brings back memories, horrible, bleeding-papercut memories. Probably not so bad if you just do ONE book. And the gluing of the pages together first is a good idea. I guess I learned that the poison IS in the dosage and I WAY over-imbibed.

[Via LifeHacker]

My, Your USB Port Smells Divine!

Yeah, yeah, I know, enough with the wacky USB devices, already! We can’t help it. We have an unhealthy fascination with this product category: coffee warmers, hands and feet warmers, ah…personal massagers, night lights — all things that are perfectly happy in an AC socket or battery-charged — somehow take on a shiny allure when powered by your computer’s USB port. The feeling that you’re getting the power for free — I guess that’s the attraction.

The latest USB-powered widget is an essential oil pot. Put your favorite fragrance in it and try to mask the fact that your cubicle stinks of day-old pizza, late-night coding sessions, and online dating desperation.

DIY Geek Graffiti

In the early ’90s, I had a column in Mondo 2000 magazine (called “Street Tech,” BTW) covering DIY high-tech. I profiled a guy — I forget his name — who was doing “electronic graffiti” in NYC. He was building simple LED flasher circuits into little RadioCrap project boxes, and attaching them to lamp posts, street signs, the sides of buildings, etc. He would even set up timed events between a string of these boxes (e.g. a series of boxes on Stop signs would flash in sequence down the road). I thought it was tres street tech/cyberpunk for its time.

Over a decade later, and the idea lives again, this time, under the auspices of The Grafitti Research Lab. They’ve published instructions online for making “LED Throwies,” simple LEDs bundled with a battery and a rare earth magnet so the Throwie will stick to street signs, mail boxes, and any other “ferromagnetic” surface. These are nifty. I’m definitely going to make some.

On the Instructables project page, a reader has a great tip. If you use conductive epoxy or solder to attach the LEDs (instead of tape) you’ll get more power from the magnet, and if you use flashing LEDs, you’ll get MUCH longer battery life.

YouTube: The MTV That Never Happened

I may be late to the party, but I haven’t spent much time on any of the video services that seem to be cropping up like mushrooms in fresh cow patties. This weekend, through a “serendipity search,” I ended up taking a link to a Kate Bush video on YouTube. Several days later, I peeled my eyeballs off of the monitor, having delved deeply into the thousands of music videos archived there. I went bananas. I tried searching on nearly every band/artist I’ve ever been in love with, and found something almost every time: music videos, snips from rockumentaries, concert footage, TV appearances, mash-ups, YouTube members croaking through their own covers, and on and on. It’s heaven in there! I’m sure a lot of this stuff has been available on P2P for a while now, but frequently, when I’ve done searches, I’ve ended up downloading crap and just given up after a while. This is a far more satisfying (and addictive) experience.

WMDs for Dummies

If ever there was a blog item worthy of our “Sign of the Apocalypse” shingle, it may be this one.

Paul Boutin has a very unsettling piece on his blog about DIY bioweaponry. As you’re likely aware, the common punditary wisdom is that “A significant bioterror attack today would require the support of a national program to succeed” (quoth the NYTimes in 2002).

Paul’s article paints a very different picture of the relative ease involved in creating such weapons and quotes a current researcher, Rob Carlson, as saying: (if biotech development proceeds apace, within a decade) “…cooking up a lethal bug will be as easy and cheap as building a Web site.”

[Via O’Reilly Radar]

90s Cyperpunk Comic to Finish on Web?

One of the cool things about putting Beyond Cyberpunk! on the Web has been that its content is now getting linked to far and wide. It has triggered fond memories of the bad ol’ days of early cyberculture for some, and its reviews and essays are being pointed to by others. Following these links back has led to some fun discoveries. One recent example is a LiveJournal entry where ComicBookLovers linked to my BCP! review of the comic book “The Blue Lily” and wondered whatever happened to books 3 and 4 (only 1 and 2 ever saw print). Author and artist of the book wrote the poster back and updates fans on Blue Lily’s possible-future. His email, after the jump.

[And yes, I know I misspelled “Lily” in the review. Hey, at least I was consistent. What can I say, we were young and stupid. Now we’re old and careful — and much less fun to be around at parties.]

More Mac Unpacking Porn

Here’s a Flickr set showing a MacBook Pro being slowly, lovingly removed from its pretty box and tight, foam protection. Oh yeah. That’s right.

[And if you don’t think this is a geek’s idea of pr0n, look at the comments, like: “So slim!,” “Drool,” “HOT!”]