Linux Box for $75

Wow, I might actually buy one of these. It’s a Linux desktop with Intel Celeron 500Mhz processor, 128MB memory (ugh), 4GB HD, Ethernet, 6 USB ports. There are no PCI or ISA slots and no CD drive, so this is a network drive only. Thanks to being Dugg, they’re already sold out and say they MAY have more in by the end of the month. And these are “fell off the back of the truck”/”got dinged on the shelf” specials, so buyer take heed. But again, for US$75, it may be worth the risk. You know a PC is cheap when the ad says “Limit 3 per order.”

Clue By Four Misses Patent Office Noggins Once Again

Those impetuous scamps at the US Patent Office have done it again, awarding Friendster a patent on social networking methods. From a piece on Beta News:

“Called ‘A System, Method and Apparatus for Connecting Users in an Online Computer System Based on Their Relationships within Social Networks,’ the patent seems to give the site the rights to methods used to describe degrees of separation between users.

“According to Friendster, the patent covers methods to calculate and display this separation, as well as providing a way for the user to act upon it. It claims that the invention spurred the uptick now occurring in the social networking industry.”

Does this make “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” prior art?

Belting out an iTune

We’re all for wearable computing, but there’s something a little too lo-tek about just bolting an existing piece o’ gear onto your regular wearables, don’t ya think? The nano doesn’t look half bad as a belt buckle, but we have trouble not yanking the buds out of our ears when it’s stashed in a shirt pocket. Give us a Bluetooth connection between our buds and our duds and *maybe* they’d be singin’ our song.

The TuneBelts come in three versions, one that shows off the entire face of the nano, one that leaves the click-wheel exposed (shown) and one that covers the entire player. They run from US$60 to $80 and include the belt.

Thanks, Jay!

TV over Skype

Akihabara News has an item about a USB TV tuner that allows you to watch TV over the Net from any computer through your Skype account. Apparently you install the USB TV tuner on your home PC along with special software. Then, you use your Skype account to remotely access your TV tuner and stream its content through Skype, making it a kind of low rent Slingbox. The device goes on sale in Japan this month and will retail for US$86.

The NXT Robosapien

According to a story on the gadget mag T3’s site, the next gen Robosapien, the color LCD- and SD-card-equipped Robosapien RS Media, has been designed to easily interface with the Lego Mindstorms NXT microcontroller. The NXT computer brick will allegedly fit perfectly into the backpack designed into the RS Media. While the T3 article also has some tidbits about the Robosapien AFTER the Media model (which will, according to the piece, have Segway-like legs and be Net connected), let’s hope that the addition of the NXT MCU on the RS Media means that we won’t have to wait for the 4th gen to get ol’ Robosap online.

And is it just me, or does the RS Media look a little bit like Robocop with his head on backwards? “You have the right to remain silent.” Blam!

My 2 Cents on Neal Stephenson

I’ve always been intrigued when I see the “like new” books on Amazon selling for as low as .01. The other day I was in Borders and saw that the mass market paperbacks for Neal Stephenson’s Vol. 1 and 2 of the Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver and Confusion) were out. Each volume sells for US$8. I wanted the larger trade paperback versions, but they sell for $16 each. When I saw them on Amazon, being sold by a third-party vendor, for .01 each, I decided to take a chance. Of course, the shipping is US$3.49 each, so it was $7 for the two books. They arrived yesterday and are in near perfect condition (except for a remainder mark on the bottom). This large paperback edition is really nice. 1,776 pages of Stephenson for seven bucks. Steal of a deal.

Did you know that he hand-wrote these massive and dizzyingly complex historical novels with a freakin’ fountain pen on cotton paper? Gawd I hate a show-off.

Amazing Gallery of Homebrewed Headphone Amps

If you’re a fan of creative electronics and mint tins and other cans used as project boxes, you’ve gotta take a gander at this Korean fella’s gallery of headphone amps and other DIY projects. Really cool and creative stuff. Builders will especially want to check out some of his neat and tiddy freeform circuits and some of his homemade tools and diagnostic and helper circuits. Here’s one more nifty pic from the site, a set of speakers housed in water jugs.

Universal External Hard Drive Adapter

Now this is a cool bit o’ kit: it’s a universal external hard drive adapter for connecting IDE and SATA HDs to your system via USB2.0, without the need for an enclosure. I have a bunch of old drives from spent PCs that I would love to have periodic access to their content. Works with 2.5, 3.5, 5.25 IDE and SATA drives. And at US$30 retail, the price is right.

[Via OhGizmo!]

Umbrella with a Future; Design With a Past

The good folks over at Treehugger have teamed up with I.D. magazine to create an innovative two-fold design competition called Umbrella Inside Out, subtitled: An Umbrella with a Future (that’d be competition no. 1) and Design with a Past (you guessed it: no. 2).

As you may have noticed, umbrellas don’t tend to last very long. Millions of them end up in landfills (some 33 million are sold every year). The first competition is for an umbrella design that meets the new standards of a “cradle to cradle” (C2C) product lifecycle, which basically means something that can naturally decompose, or something that can be “upcycled” into something else useful (you can read more about C2C here). The second contest is to find creative uses for the umbrella trash we’re already stuck with. Personally, I vote for more of these mini-skirts made out of umbrella vinyl. That seems like a perfectly fine and noble way of breathing new life into dead Totes.