“Oblique” Goes OSX

If you’re a fan of Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt’s Oblique Strategies cards, as we are here at Street Tech Labs, AND you’re a Mac user, you’ll be thrilled to know that CurvedSpace has released an OSX app for the cards. We’ve used these whack-on-the-side-of-the-head maxims for years to get us out of many a creative jam. They’re surprisingly effective.

Since people have started offering computer-based versions of the cards, I’ve been thinking if there’s some way that the strategies could go "open source," and that somehow, you could add strategies to your own "deck," rate their effectiveness (reinforce it if it proves useful to you again and again), and then, at a certain "weight" of usefulness, it would get sent to other’s decks. People would then rate the effectiveness of these communally-added cards, and at a certain collective weight, they’d be permanently added to the deck. I know all this flies in the face of the Zen-like minimalism of the current decks, both off and online, but I think this could be done in an unobtrusive way.

[UPDATE: Turns out, there IS such an online collaborative strategies project, called Acute Strategies.]

High Tech on Two Wheels

If you’re sick of seeing more of your elbows than the traffic behind you when you’re riding around on your vintage Lambretta or brand new 999R, or if you’re just the kind of gadget-head who wants the latest tech on your ride, you might try the MotoCam. It’s a rear-view video system designed for motorcycles, with camera and 2.5″ to 4″ TFT screen. The unit comes with mounting hardware and is fully waterproofed. The camera is “high-resolution” and “side-angle viewing” for good visibility. An optional infrared camera is available for riding at night, with the images displayed in b/w. Prices range from $300 for the basic camera system without display (?) to $650 for the chromed 4″ TFT with IR camera. Units are also available for RVs and boats. Of course, if you want to DIY you could always get a TFT and an x-10 camera…

Update: I just spoke to the mfr, who gave me some more details. First, the TFT is not transflective, but is viewable in daylight though best with the sun shield (inlcuded). Second, the camera-only module is designed for recording rides on a camcorder. Third, the camera has a 75 degree viewing angle, which is significantly better than any x-10 camera you can get. Finally, the IR camera is both a normal color camera and an IR cam, and switched automatically when in low-light conditions.

60 gig Creative Nomad Zen Jukebox

Creative has reportedly announced that a new Nomad Zen Jukebox MP3 player will be released this month with a capacity of 60 gigs for a price of just $400. On paper the Zen is a great MP3 player — it has USB 2.0 or USB 1.1 and Firewire connectivity, 12 hours of playback on the li-ion battery, charging from the USB cable, and an optional FM tuner that plugs in and serves as a wired remote as well. Unfortunately, the Zen has received lackluster reviews because of its software and the way it handles file transfers. Hopefully the software will get an update as well with this new upgraded hardware.

Update: According to a review at CNet, the new Zen still requires the use of the Creative Playcenter software to transfer songs. This is a problem; because the Zen does not show up as an external harddrive on the system, users cannot rip straight to the Zen, users must install the software on every system they use with the Zen (home, work, mobile) and it slows transfers. Keep this in mind when shopping for an HD-MP3.

Asimo: Can I Get a Woot-Woot?

Okay, so the story on the Honda / CarMax deal was an April Fool’s joke, but it wasn’t totally out of the realm of possibility, as shown recently in Japan, where little Asimo got a gig as a $5.25/hr wage earner in a Tokyo department store. According to Reuters, the Asimo started off last week as a store clerk apprentice for customer services, showing people to the elevator and helping promote products. Apparently even a machine worth at least $50,000 has to work hyr* way up to full store clerk.

* hyr is my new gender neutral 3rd-person possessive pronoun for animate objects. Other suggestions are welcome.

Color Sidekick Sneaks Out

C|NET has a review of the new color Sidekick phone/pda hybrid from Danger, soon to be available for T-Mobile customers. The new Sidekick keeps pretty much all the same features of the old one, but bumps the RAM to 32 megs, and adds a transflective color screen with 240×160 resolution capable of 65,000 colors. Nice! The added features apparently come with no size or weight increase, and the new Sidekick has even better battery life than the old. Price and release date unknown, but I expect availablility by the end of the month at $400 base price.

Incidently, we missed an announcement by Danger that they’d released a free beta version SDK last month. You can get the download at developer.danger.com. This is good news for Sidekick owners as more programmers are likely to develop nifty programs to fill the gaps of the Sidekick’s software.

Dynamism Goodies; Nexio S160 PPC and Sony Mini-Laptop

Dynamism, importer of fine electronics from Japan and points around the globe, has made available two choice goodies; the Samsung Nexio S160 (pictured top) and the Sony U101. The Nexio is the second in the line of Windows CE powered palmtops from Samsung. It has a 400MHz PXA250 processor (not as good as the higher-bus PXA255) and has a 5″ landscape-oriented transflective screen, integrated Wi-Fi, 128 megs of RAM, CF and SD slots, and a removable keyboard. Price is a staggering $1300.

The Sony U101 is a full XP powered system, running on a 600MHz Mobile Celeron chip with 256 megs of RAM, a 30 gig HD, and a miniscule 7.1″ TFT screen. The screen also can be oriented in landscape or portrait mode for reading. Weighs just under 2 lbs and has a 3-5 hour battery life. Price starts at $2000.