SNL Sketch Spoofs Ever-Shrinking iPods

SNL had a hysterical sketch last night where Steve Jobs (played by Chris Parnell) announces a series of iPods, each smaller and more powerful than the last, until he gets to the “invisia” (unseen in his hand) which can hold “eight million songs and every photo ever taken.”

You can see video of the skit here.

Che Doctorow T-Shirt for Copyfighters

Giant Robot, known for their zuparcuul Creative Communist T-shirts, has introduced a new version: the Che Doctorow.

The “Che Guevara-inspired shirt, featuring BoingBoing editor and EFF people’s hero Cory Doctorow,” is available in classic copyleftist olive-drab, though kids will have to settle for ‘prairie dust,’ ’cause apparently, there’s been a run on freedom-fighter tees for the kids.

Price is US$8, with a buck from each purchase going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

[Editorial Disclosure: The designer of this shirt works for Street Tech, but isn’t making a dime.]

iTunesCool Album Art Grabber

Now that I have pearlLyrics automating my lyric look-ups in iTunes, I was hoping for the same sort of thing for album art. My wish is some geek’s command. iTunesCool (is that caveman speak?) is an AppleScript that fetches cover art from Amazon, based on iTunes database info (the Album field, I’d imagine). iTunesCool cool! Unfortunately not cool is the fact that the server for the program has been hosed by all of the attention, so check back later, or look for it elsewhere.

[Via iPodHacks]

DIY Hard Disk Data Recovery

I had a hard disk die recently, and yes, after preaching to the masses the maxim: “If you can’t afford to lose it, back it up!,” I had months worth of at-risk data.

Looking at going to a data recovery center is not an inexpensive proposition. So I’m intrigued by this piece on Hack-a-Day on how to remove the platters from a dead drive and install them in an identical working drive (bought on the cheap via eBay). It doesn’t look that hard. Don’t know that I’ll do it — the data is too precious to risk — but it is tempting — especially since I’m looking at hundreds of dollars to have somebody else do it.

ColdHeat Sucks More?

I’ve come really close to picking up a ColdHeat soldering iron several times, seeing them at my local Radio Crap and on ThinkGeek. A review of the iron on NewTech has me thinking better of it. According to the reviewer, and most everyone else chiming in via comments, it is not a worthwhile product and no substitute for a good ol’ iron ore fire stick.

DIY Roomba Battery Replacement

I love my Roomba, but one of the places where it could be improved is the battery. Mine has already given up the ghost and it’s only a couple of years old. I didn’t want to spend US$50 on a replacement battery, and I knew that lots of people had hacked their Roombas, so I figured they’d played with the batteries as well. I was right! hosts a little tutorial on how to take apart your Roomba’s battery and replace its innards with NiMH C-cells intended for R/C cars.

Little Robot, Big-Ass Pricetag

“Cute Cool Wild Smart” They forgot “Obscenely Expensive.” It’s true that this awesome-looking bot can do more than the WowWee Robosapien right out of the box (like talk to your LAN and send pictures to your desktop and respond to commands from your PC over its WiFi link). But these who-cares capabilities will cost you US$7000!

A Robosapien (Version 2, US$250) can do many of nuvo’s tricks as-is, and using the many online hacks and Robosapien hacks books, you can add most of nuvo’s bells and whistles yourself (at a fraction of the cost).

BTW: Check out the upcoming Robosapien V2 commercials here.

More images of the nuvo and Tech Specs after the jump.

Dog-Simple Motor Controller

Here’s one for you deep geeks in the hiz-ouse (you of fainter heads can turn away now).

Rick Bickle, of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, has posted an awesomely simple circuit that turns a ubiquitous 555 Timer integrated circuit into a Pulse-Width Modulator that can be used to control DC motors.

Pulse-Width Modulation (or PWM) is a common way of controlling the speed of a motor (where pulses are sent to the motor at a given rate, turning the power on and off, which is used as a method of speed control). PWM is usually handled with a microcontroller chip and module, but this little circuit uses an el cheapo 8-pin 555 IC chip (which even Radio Shack still carries and they don’t carry much of anything anymore) and other common analog components. This would be a great way to control a BEAM or other type of robot where you were trying to reduce or eliminate reliance on computer control.