Archive for the 'gadget' Category

We are the Borg. Resistance is futile.

Saturday, July 12th, 2008


How I know I’m not *really* serious about kayaking…

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

If I was, there’s no way in Hell that I’d have gone in to work today – I’d’ve spent it on the water instead. Today was simply glorious… and the extended forecast? Rain. Straight through the weekend. Temps in the 50s, but still. Lotsa lotsa rain.

Eh. Oh well. Spring is well underway, even if the water is still really bloody cold. I managed to pick up some secondhand semi-dry gear in great condition this past winter (w00t! Craigslist!); now’s as good a time as any to see how well it works, right? That and some Capilene long johns and I should be fine.

On a semi-related note, I’ve recently learned about this new boat:
[thumbnails link to full-size image; images originally from here]

Current Designs’ 2007 Raven

Big deal, a red boat; so what. Okay, so look at it here:


Gosh, it’s like a kayak, only smaller!

Yup. It’s scaled to kid size, with all the features you’d expect of a serious adult hybrid/light touring kayak. Current Designs has been offering this new Raven model in limited production for a few months; according to a factory sales rep I emailed, they’re just now gearing up for full-scale production.

In addition to this new model from Current Designs, Wilderness Systems is also introducing a kid-sized sea kayak. WS’ boat is plastic, unlike the CD boat which is composite; there’s about a 4kg difference in weight, but there is a fairly substantial price difference. The WS boat is also scaled for a slightly larger child, with a bottom weight of 28kg or so; the Raven starts at 23kg (23kg or so is where The Boy should be by the end of summer – that’s also the lower bound of most of the adult-styled floatation vests).

There’ve been a couple of niche builders out there for a while who make ‘yaks for kids, but this looks like the first time that any of the major manufacturers has decided to build a full-featured kayak for kids instead of offering a glorified recreational boat. I don’t know if this is a cyclical trend or not, but I hope it lasts a few years – the niche builders’ boats are competitive in price, but not once you add shipping…

So… Bet you can’t guess what we’ve got The Boy signed up for this summer (among other things).

Really? What gave it away?

30-second science blogging: Wow, thing

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

As the song goes, “You make my heart sing./You make everything…”

Well, okay – this thing doesn’t make everything – but still… If you’ve got US$2400 lying around, maybe you could make your own desktop fabricator:

Rapid prototyping machines are already used by designers, engineers and scientists to create one-off mechanical parts and models. These create objects by depositing layer upon layer of liquid or powdered material.
These machines typically cost from $20,000 to $1.5 million, says Hod Lipson from Cornell University, US, who launched the Fab@Home project with PhD student Evan Malone in October 2006.
The standard version of their Freeform fabricator – or “fabber” – is about the size of a microwave oven and can be assembled for around $2400 (£1200). It can generate 3D objects from plastic and various other materials. Full documentation on how to build and operate the machine, along with all the software required, are available on the Fab@Home website, and all designs, documents and software have been released for free.

A desktop fabricator – how cool is that? Then you could sing your own version of the song – You make everything? Groovy.

(Oh yeah, the article mentions a similar project at Bath University in the UK, but their website doesn’t appear to have survived being slashdotted a couple of days ago…)

Crack that whip phone

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

For a while now, I’ve wanted a ruggedized cell phone. Motorola makes some good ones, including some that are JIS7 compliant, ie. you can submerge it under 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and it’ll still work. Drop it from 2 meters onto concrete repeatedly, and it’ll still work. And, I’ll admit, I like the way they look… Screw that svelte Razr – gimme something that looks like it comes from the set of Aliens.

The problem has been that Motorola has only produced these phones for one carrier (and only that one carrier) while our household happens to use another. You can crack the software that locks you in to one carrier; you can then plop your SIM card in and use it without skipping a beat on your existing contract. As you might have guessed from the use of the term ‘crack’, this is in a legal grey area, particularly with the advent of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) which prohibited the circumvention of any kind of software protection.

No more – the Copyright Office has cleared such behavior as legal. w00t!

Oh yeah, and it is also legal to crack ‘abandonware’ games, ie. games that lack hardware, or where the publisher is no longer around, but only for ‘archival’ purposes. Still, a not entirely unreasonable turn of events. The Copyright Office could have issued a broader decision, but they could have definitively shut the door on such practices as well…

Well… When you put it *that* way…

Saturday, September 16th, 2006

No secret: I like gadgets. I like simple gadgets best, but I do like me some gadgety-goodness. And so it was that when I went to our local MegaBigBoxHomeSupplyStore to return a light fixture we weren’t going to need, I found myself wandering around in the hand tool section and I discovered a cell phone belt pouch that I had to have.

Woo-hoo! I escaped with less than $10 in damage! w00t!


You see, I hate carrying my phone in my pocket, but I’m really hard on your typical belt cases. But one? I don’t think I could break this puppy without tools. It’s high-density ballistic nylon, with a seriously strong belt clip, and it’s got elasticized loops for holding additional stuff as well as inside pockets that could hold credit cards or whatever. If you wanted to ditch the wallet, this pouch could easily do double duty.

Yeah, it’s on the big side, but I’m not going for fashion points here… I’ve stashed a $20 in it, and it holds some of the other stuff I like to carry perfectly – I carry a Spyderco folding knife, along with a ballpoint-sized version of the Fisher Space Pen, and I can put both of these in the pouch. In fact, I find the pouch preferable to my pocket for carrying the knife: even though WA law permits me to carry a knife on my person, I like having it out in the open. It’s far more obvious on the outside of the pouch than the belt clip is peeking out over my pants pocket…

Well, The Boy likes gadgets too, so I wasn’t surprised when I found him looking at the pouch coveteously a couple of mornings ago.

“Dad, is that yours.”
“That’s pretty cool how it holds all your stuff like that.”
“Yeah, and it’s got this loop on the other side where I’m thinking of adding a small flashlight.” (One of those micro-MagLights would fit perfectly… but I digress.)
“Ooh, then you’d be ready for anything.” (pause) “Well, not anything. Anything where you needed to cut something or talk to someone or write something or see in the dark.”


I still say size doesn’t matter…

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

So, is that a USB drive in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? Meet Toshiba’s limited-edition 16GB flash memory USB drive:

Despite some uncertainty that people would want large-size portable USB drives, an explosion in memory dongles and a quick shift up the scale from the early 256MB to 1GB models has demonstrated that the gadget has niche appeal. Quite what use someone would have for 16GB version is uncertain as yet, but it may be one of the occasional cases of: who cares? It’s a 16GB USB drive that fits in your pocket and weighs 12 grams!

Who cares, indeed… Toshiba’s official press release may be found here.

[via /., of course]

Sweet! Slick new Sony VAIO laptop

Wednesday, October 19th, 2005

Sony Korea just announced the release of 2 new VAIO models that have cases made from carbon fiber. In addition to being very thin and light, they look amazingly cool.

Sony has not announced any plans to introduce these to the North American market. Hey, is there an Drat, guess not…

Update: PEZ MP3 player goes live!

Thursday, October 13th, 2005

About six months ago, I wrote about this dude in Springfield, MO who was trying to bring a PEZ-licensed MP3 player to fruition. Guess what?

He’s done it.

iPod Shuffle: Eat’cher heart out!

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

For those of you who object to the, well, sterile[*] qualities of Apple’s iPod designs, take heart: the PEZ(r) MP3 player is on it’s way! I’m feeling compelled to buy one of his earlier products – I hope this takes off for him.

I’m torn between this one:

and this one:

* Yeah, yeah, I know: clean lines, quality engineering, blah, blah, blah, wank, wank, wank… I love the UI on the iPod: that all-in-one controller is a beautiful thing. They’re still boring to look at. ;-) [back]

Catgories: ; ;