Free Web Service for Verizon Phones!

Gear Live has a simple hack for how to legally gain Web access on your Web-enabled Verizon phone simply by changing the server adress from the official Verizon server (which costs you US$5/month) to a free public server. Links fron Gear Live to instructions on how to do this for each Verizon phone and to a database of public servers. Nifty!

Back-Up Power Supply for US$10!

CompUSA is selling a 500V/275W Belkin UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) for $9.99! Okay, so that’s after a $70 rebate, but as we detailed in an earlier posting, if you’re good about mailing in these rebates (and who wouldn’t be for seventy bucks?), this is a great way to get some sweet deals.

And this unit is no low-end, low-featured piece o’ crud. It offers up to 25 minutes of backup time, as well as serial and USB ports, RJ11 (phone) and RJ45 (Ethernet) protection and has a three year warranty. Also has control software for both Mac and Windows. The only significant negative is that it only has four outlets (three with batt backup, one with surge protection-only). Oh, and there’s only one rebate per household.

Evidence of Life on Mars?

We’re still feelin’ spacey this week. is running an exclusive piece about several NASA researchers who claim they have found “strong evidence” of microbial life on the Red Planet. Their full findings will appear in the May issue of the journal Nature. Their evidence is indirect, in the form of methane signatures, similar to those found on Earth and remarkably similar to recent findings of such signatures as they appear in caves. They believe that’s where this life might be found on Mars, in caves and in small pockets of water.

Incredible Soviet Space Program Archive

Continuing with our sci-tech history lessons, here’s an amazing site of Soviet space history, specifically, their Venus explorations. It’s amazing to realize just how little media coverage all of these missions received in the US, with three atmospheric probes, TEN(!) landings, four orbiters, eleven flybys or impacts, and two balloon probes. That’s a lot of mission success, in fact, the Soviet Venus missions constituted the largest effort to date to study a single planet. I love the images on this site. The look of Soviet space hardware is so unique and so different from ours. Retro-futurism, dude!

Video of Mouse Debut

Stanford has put online the video of Doug Engelbart’s 1968 live presentation of the work he and his collegues at the Augmentation Research Center had been working on since 1962. Besides showing off the computer mouse (seen here on the right) for the first time, an amazing array of technologies are demo’d, including hyperlinking and shared-screen network collaboration with audio and video. A tech demo’d that didn’t catch on (widely, anyway) is the Chord Key Set (seen on the left), a input device that used combinations of five keys to send commands to the computer.

Email Productivity Tips

43 Folders has a nice set of tips for improved email productivity. I’ve been applying a similar approach to my own inbox recently, and I’ve gone from dozens of unresponded to, unread, unfiled messages to an almost always-empty inbox. Definitely makes you feel more on top of things.

Suggestion to iPod Shuffle Engineers

On sci-tech author Steven Berlin Jognson’s blog, he makes a cool suggestion to Apple engineers about a future feature he’d like to see for the Shuffle. We’d like to second that emotion:

Here’s my idea: double-clicking on the forward or rewind button takes you to the next album when you’re in linear mode (not shuffle.) Because the shuffle doesn’t have that much music on it, given the small FlashRAM size, you might only have about 20-30 albums worth of material on the device. So finding a specific track on a specific album wouldn’t be all that difficult if you could double-click ahead. You’d double click through a few albums, find the one you were looking for, and then single-click to the track you wanted to hear. Sure, the scroll wheel/display approach is faster, but you could navigate through the Shuffle’s albums without actually looking at the device, which is nice when you’re driving or walking, etc. The other fringe benefit of this approach is that it would let you do something that’s strangely difficult to do with the regular iPod. When I’m listening in Shuffle mode, I often find myself hearing a song I’ve long forgotten about, and I suddenly want to hear the entire album that the song originated from. Getting to that album takes about four steps on a regular iPod. But with the shuffle it would be a two step process: flip the back switch out of shuffle mode, and then double click backwards to the beginning of the album. Neat, huh?

Build Your Own Espresso Machine

It’s not pretty — okay, it’s beyond not pretty, it looks like something you’d use to free hairballs from the bathroom sink drain — but the latest Engadget HOWTO shows you how to create your own portable espresso machine using little more than some PVC pipe and a caulking gun. You wouldn’t want your guests to see you brandishing this thing in the kitchen at parties, but if the results are decent, it might be worth a try.