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In restoring this archive from a WordPress backup, some image links were broken. This may be fixed in the future, but, as noted, this is not a live website per se, but an archive and inactive one.

Also please note that most, if not all, external links will be broken.

WordPress for iPhone

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If I hadn’t already taken the plunge and joined the iPhone cult, the news of this app would driven me over the edge. WordPress + iPhone = true convenient mobile blogging.

Obviously I am writing this using the software. One thing it will lead to is much shorter posts.

WordPress for the iPhone is hereby officially proclaimed Groovy.

Google Chrome

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I’m testing out Google’s new browser, which is now in open beta (available here) and so far I’m impressed.

My initial reaction was, “WTF?  Why another freaking browser?”  But then I read the story behind it, about why the decided to create a new browser from the ground up, and … wow.  It made complete sense.

Who knows if it will catch on or not, but it has the potential to change everything.

Here’s the main advantage and why I’m at least partially sold on it:  They designed it from scratch for how we use the Internet now, as opposed to the other browsers which all struggle to accommodate what they were never designed to do in the first place.

Think of it.  We now use the browser as the universal application.  We use it for everything.  It was never designed to do that — it was supposed to display passive HTML.  Everything else the browsers do now is because of add-ons to the original design and concept.

The Google browser is designed from the ground up to be the universal application, almost — if you will — an operating system for the “Cloud.”  They designed it with the features of an operating system.  It’s built to run programs.

This is what I expect to happen:  Mozilla will adopt it as the new core for Firefox and this will be the basis for Firefox 4.  Microsoft will also adopt it and make it Internet Explorer 9.

If they don’t, they’re doomed, and they’d be stupid not to because the code is all open source.

Muwi Robotic Mower

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Goodness gracious, great balls of grass!

This robotic mower concept called “Muwi” is featured over at Yanko Design.  It not only mows the lawn automatically, but instead of just leaving a trail of mulched grass, it forms the cuttings into compacted disks and balls that make it easier to pick up, or, perhaps, play with.

I have to ask you, though.  Who in the hell wants to play with balls of grass?

Still, I think it’s a fun and cool concept and hereby proclaim it to be a Groovy Gizmo.

Turbine Jet Pack

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They call it a jet pack, but, when people think of jet packs they actually think rocket engines.  These are two tiny, extremely efficient turbo props that spew out jets of air, so in that way, it’s a jet pack like those little one man boats are called Jet Skies.  In other words, the word “jet” is in there for marketing.

None the less, it’s a strap on flying machine for one person, and it works.

The inventor, Glenn Martin, trusts the safety of the device so much that he lets his wife fly it.

Wait, that sounds wrong.  I mean that in the sense that he trusts it not to kill his wife.

They even let a New York Times reporter give it a try, but of course the guy promptly flew it into a tree.

Video here.  NYT Article here.

Gizmodo is impressed by several mundane objects

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silver-nyccondom-web.jpgI was surprised by the choices that Gizmodo made as their “Weirdest and Most Wonderful Gadget Designs of 2008.”

Yes, some of them are kinda cool, but none of them especially fires my rockets, and if those are the most wonderful gadgets of 2008 then this has been a boring year for gizmos.

Old Fashion Camera Phone

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Old Fashion Camera Phone
Snagged from

Evil Alarm Clock

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tyrant.jpgMeet “Tyrant.”

This is designer Alice Wang’s evil alarm clock that works through peer pressure, intimidation and humiliation.

It apparently connects to your cell phone via bluetooth, and if you don’t wake up at the appointed time, it begins dialing people at random on your cell phone every three minutes so that your friends, family, acquaintances, business contacts, ex-lovers, and probably even your annoyed in-laws will tell you to wake up so that your alarm clock will stop pestering them.

This is pure evil genius.  Two thumbs way up for Alice Wang.  But I would never, never get one for myself.  Ever.

Mad Scientists, Take Note…

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I would have given an arm and a leg for one of these when I was a science nerd in high school.

Talking Plastic Jesus

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Plastic Talking JesusI came upon this at Wal-Mart yesterday.

It’s a Barbie sized Jesus doll that quotes scripture, tells bible stories, and gives sermons.

It’s also long-winded, because after I pushed the button on His back, Jesus went on and on, and kept going long after I put Him back on the shelf and wandered away.

This toy is surreal in a way that the late Philip K. Dick would have either absolutely loved, or been terrified by.

Combine this with the AI of the various robotic toys that are coming out now, and by Christmas 2010 we’ll have little Jesus dolls that follow you around the house, quoting scripture and asking you to accept Him into your heart, until you’ve been completely saved.

God be praised.  And keep plenty of batteries on hand.

Xobni: The Best Thing To Happen To Outlook

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For years and years, and years, I would prefer to use anything but Outlook as my email client.  When Google came out with Gmail, I was hooked on that.  Still am, actually.

Microsoft made significant improvements with Outlook with version 2003, to the point where I grudgingly liked it, but still only used it when I had to.  With version 2007 it actually started growing on me, but still.  Why bother?  I have Gmail.

Then two things happened.  One, Google opened up Gmail to IMAP Access, and two, I stumbled upon Xobni.

Xobni is a Outlook add-in that even Bill Gates loves.  What it does is comb through all the emails you have ever sent and received, and puts the pertinent information into a relational database that shows you, in an incredibly useful way, all the vital facts about your day-to-day communications, who is linked with who, who has sent you what, and when, etc.  The way they describe it, it turns your own email into a virtual social networking site.

I take a step back from that statement, because I feel they’re just using “social networking” as a buzz term.  I can see what they mean, but, no — it’s still just email.  But it’s email where it is very easy to find exactly who it was that Bob was talking about when someone needed to modify widget X, or who was it that sent you that invitation to the Shpongle concert two years ago.  Or what was the name of that science fiction writer who, uh, so-and-so was talking about… something Ledbetter?

When you have Xobni loaded, you’re three clicks away from the answer.

It is so useful, that I fully expect Microsoft to buy it and make it part of Outlook.  Because when you add Xobni to Outlook, it makes Outlook kick email ass, and I have never used any email client that has been such a pleasure to work with.

UPDATE:  As of May 5, 2008, it has gone into open public beta and can be downloaded without an invitation here:

Wi-Fi Detecting Tee Shirt

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Wi-Fi TeeOh my God they didn’t.

Yes, they did.

This is a real, working Wi-Fi detector on the front of this tee shirt.

From ThinkGeek, masters of this kind of brainiac fun, you can get this for less than $30 and be the King Hell Ubergeek of the party. But, only if there’s Wi-Fi around.  Which, if you are a King Hell Ubergeek, there will be. Or you wouldn’t be there.

Product Features

  • Glowing animated shirt dynamically displays the current wi-fi signal strength.
  • Shows signal strength for 802.11b or 802.11g
  • Black 100% Cotton T-Shirt
  • Animated Decal is Removable (with hook and loop fasteners) for Easy Washing
  • Battery Pack is Concealed in a Small Pocket Sewn Inside the Shirt
  • Runs for hours off three AAA Batteries (not included)

The Ultimate Machine

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Is that a keyboard on your pocket, or…?

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Yes, this is exactly what it looks like.  A pair of pants with a keyboard built into the front of it and a mouse hanging from a strap.  If you look closely you’ll even see a pair of speakers built into the knees.  More pictures on the link below.

from Vous Pensez

Mario Brothers Theme with Bottles

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Way fun!  I wish I had this much time on my hands…

Ford, Powered by Microsoft

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image My current rental car is powered by Microsoft.

If that isn’t enough to strike fear into a mortal heart, I don’t know what is.

The first thing I noticed at the airport last week, climbing into this ugly dark gray Ford Fusion, is a big reset button on the dashboard.  My eyes trailed down to a logo next to the gearshift, and they immediately bugged out.  "Powered by Microsoft."  WTF?

I looked at the reset button.  I looked back at the logo.  I kept thinking, "So, what, does this car ‘crash’ and give you the Blue Screen of Death?"  I could imagine driving down the highway and having the engine, brakes and steering suddenly lock up for no reason, and me desperately jabbing at the reset button and waiting for the car to reboot as it spins out of control and tumbles off the pavement.

Fortunately, the only thing Microsoft powers is the voice activated sync between the car stereo and your Bluetooth enabled phone, and your iPod (or whatever) plugged into a USB port in the center console.

I’d been playing with it all weekend, and this morning was driving to work and decided I wanted to listen to Bat Out Of Hell by Meatloaf.  So I said, per the Microsoft instructions, "Play artist Meatloaf."

The car made a pleasant tone and a female computer voice responded, "Playing artist Vivaldi."

What the Hell?  How did it get ‘Vivaldi’ out of ‘Meatloaf’?  Did it misunderstand me, or did it make a decision?

Do I really want a car that has better musical tastes than I do?

As The Four Seasons began playing, I eyed the reset button, ready to push it.  Just in case.

Wind Powered Artificial Life

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This is very groovy!  Theo Jansen designs walking machines with sensors and binary brains out of electrical tubing, hoses, and plastic bottles, all powered by the wind.


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A little version of the "Big Dog" robot featured a couple days ago…

I like the handle on the back.  Makes it look like a four-legged appliance.

Boston Dynamics Big Dog

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A loud, buzzing version of a pack mule, but at least one that doesn’t leave piles of donkey poo for you to step in.

Check out when they try to kick it off it’s feet.  That’s groovy!

The Java Wand

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You’re looking at the Java Wand.

It’s simple, clever, and definitely a groovy little gizmo.

Invented by Nancy Raimondo and marketed via Wisdom Wands, this is — literally — a tiny coffee maker at the end of a glass straw. And before you scoff, trust me, I had some doubts as well. The first thing I thought was that sucking hot coffee through a straw would lead directly to a seared tongue and a ruined day. So I want to state right up front that this is not the case.

How the Java Wand works is simple. It’s a straw with a French press type filter at the end. You put coffee in your mug, add hot water (and whatever else you’d like), put the straw in and stir for a bit, then let it set a few minutes.

Letting it set does two things. One, it lets the coffee seep, and two, it lets it cool a bit.

Here’s a good place to mention that, even when making coffee the normal way, you don’t want to use boiling water. You want it hot, and perhaps close to boiling, but not actually bubbling. With the Java Wand this is doubly true.

So you let the coffee seep a bit, and then you take a careful, experimental sip from the Java Wand. Keep in mind this is exactly how you’d approach a hot cup of coffee. Sip carefully until it cools. The Java Wand works the same way.

That’s all there is to it. You’re drinking coffee.

Take a moment to think about that. What does a coffee maker do, anyway? It mixes hot water with coffee then filters the grounds.

It’s not complicated. It’s not rocket science. The Java Wand is a wonderful reminder of this fact — a return to the basics. People spend hundreds of dollars for machines that do nothing more, really, than this little filtered straw does.

Like I said, even I was skeptical at first. I thought I’d burn my tongue right up front. But no, this is thick quality glass, and it has the same heat-handling properties as a coffee mug. I made my first cup using Dark Costa Rican (as pictured above — that’s the actual first cup I made) and was able to sip on it without any burning of lips or tongue at all. It was delicious, but I’d ground it too fine. So I had to try again.

Wisdom Wands recommends medium ground coffee, about two tablespoons per cup. For the second try that’s what I used.

The next cup turned out perfect. I was impressed and happy with it, and even though it seemed odd to be drinking hot coffee through a straw it didn’t take long to adjust. Especially after cooling a few minutes, you’ll be sucking coffee down without even thinking about it.

Here’s an unexpected side effect, though. I’m one of those people who can drink two large strong cups of coffee and still go to sleep. I have over the years developed a high caffeine tolerance.

But two cups of coffee sucked through the Java Wand had me so wired I was bouncing around like the Energizer Bunny. It took me by surprise. What I figure is that since you’re drinking the whole cup of coffee through the grounds, you must end up with an extra dose of caffeine. In effect, the Java Wand becomes a coffee supercharger.

The next day I took the Java Wand down to the corporate offices to see if it could be used in the fight against horrible office coffee. It seemed perfect for this because you make your own coffee one cup at a time, and it’s so quick it’s like you’re making instant coffee. Also — and this is the key point — you’re free to make your coffee however you like. Stronger, bolder, with your own coffee or theirs. It puts you in control.

I gave it the ultimate test: could it, in fact, improve the taste of plain old Folgers pre-ground canned coffee?

It did! I can’t say it was good, but it was better than before. It was significantly better than the Folgers made in the old rusty Bunn office machine, especially considering most other office denizens think it only takes two tablespoons to produce 12 cups of coffee.

This morning I’m using it as I write this, having made a delicious cup of’s New York New York. This afternoon I plan on trying it with some loose tea leaves. (Yes, tea lovers can use this too.)

I’m thoroughly charmed with this little gizmo. It’s not going to replace my little one cup filter maker at home, but it will be something I use every day at the office. In its own little way, I can honestly say the Java Wand has improved the quality of my life.

Bulldog Shredder

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Bulldog ShredderAt my company chili cook-off yesterday, I won a door prize.  A Fellows™ “Bulldog” shredder.  Last night I hooked it up and terrorized every piece of paper that had ever caused me grief.  “Aha!  YOU!  YOU GAVE ME A PAPER CUT!  Mwahahahaha!  Into the shredder with you!  INTO ZEE SHREDDER!  Mwa-hahahahahahaha!”

Knock on the door.  Instant silence in my room.  “Dad, are you being an evil mad scientist again?” comes a little voice.


“Oh, okay.  Just making sure.”

My eyes roam around the room for another doomed piece of paper…

Planned Obsolescence

Before you right now is one of the prettiest, and most glaring, examples of planned obsolescence.

This is the iPod Touch.

Apple released it without a hard drive, so that you only have up to 16 GB of memory on it. Meanwhile they also released an iPod Classic that costs less but features ten times that amount of memory storage.

Why did they do this? Because they’re dumb?

No, because they’re very smart, and they think you are dumb. They know they’ve sold so many iPods that they’ll soon reach the point of saturating the market. Only a while ago their iPod Video with the 80 GB hard drive was the ultimate iPod, and anyone who owned that — they had the ultimate, so why should they ever buy another one?

Think about that. If Apple truly released the ultimate iPod, everyone would buy it, they would own it, the demand would be satisfied … and Apple’s sales would flatline.

In order to keep up their outrageously successful sales, they need you to always want the bigger, better iPod. And so, they design them with outrageously effective planned obsolescence.

The iPod Touch is such a obvious example of that, they should use it as a picture to illustrate the term in a dictionary.

They know they’ll sell millions of these to all the people who’s phone company can’t handle the iPhone, because everyone wants the cool new interface. But if they’d put a 160 GB hard drive in it, it would have become the Ultimate iPod. So they’ll sell as many as they can, and then, after they’ve figured out another MUST HAVE feature, they’ll come out with the 160 GB iPod Touch, but then not put in the MUST HAVE feature … and they won’t put that feature in until they’ve figured out the NEXT one.

Because, they never want to come out with the ultimate iPod, because they will always want you to buy the latest and greatest one.

You might as well have them set up a yearly service where you pay $399 a year and get the latest, greatest iPod automatically.

Call it the “iPod Subscription.”

Foot Flush

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That handle on the toilet is can be a nasty thing to touch, particularly because you have no idea what the person who used it before you was touching.

Musician and inventor Eric Herbst had this in mind while playing in bars and nightclubs, where he (and 40% of all Americans) used to use his foot instead of his hand to flush. I have to admit, I’ve done that too. And the idea that people are using their feet on it — especially after walking across a messy public restroom — makes the handle a even less attractive thing to touch.

So Eric, who plays the drums, had the idea of adapting the peddle of a high-hat as a gizmo to do the flushing, so that everyone uses their foot and you never have to touch the toilet handle with your hands. This is how the Foot Flush was born.

It’s not exactly a new idea. I’ve seen foot buttons used to flush public toilets for years. But this bathroom accessory is unique in how simple and well-thought out it’s designed. Also, it’s perfect for the home … especially a home with kids.

Installation is as easy as you can get. You open the toilet lid, put the clamp on the back of the tank, snap a tube into it, and attach the end of a cable to the flush chain with an alligator clip. Close the tank. You’re done.

That’s it.

As it states on the instructions, the hardest part of the installation is opening the packaging. For me, the hardest part was taking pictures of the little adventure. If it wasn’t for that I’d have it installed and flushing in less than one minute. Literally.

There’s nothing to it and it works great. It seems very well constructed. I expect it to last for years. Also, if you have someone in your house that doesn’t care to use it, you don’t have to — the handle still works exactly as it had before.

Kudos go out to Foot Flush International for a ingenious product that definitely earns the title of being a Groovy Gizmo!

Bryan Rawlings Booster Blades

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No, these are not roller blades. It would be more accurate to describe them as foot bicycles.

“Booster Blades” are a very groovy advancement in personal transportation technology. It’s funny to say it that way, but, again these are not roller blades. There’s a propulsion system built in, and brakes.

Yes, brakes. True brakes. The one thing that I always thought roller blades needed.

Unlike roller blades, when you want to move forward you don’t push your feet side to side to build momentum. Propulsion is produced from a regular, normal stepping action. The lifting and lowering of your feet power gears with your own weight, spinning the rear wheels and moving you forward. In a way, you’re actually peddling the blades forward. They have video of them in action on their site, and also up on YouTube.

Move your feet up and down, just like walking, and you roll forward under power. To stop, you lean your feet back, and it applies brakes.

I think they’re ingenious. And yes, you can buy them now.

Says the coffee machine: “I’m sorry Dave, I can’t brew that for you now”

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JL Hufford Coffee and Tea recently issued a press release stating they were designing coffee machines that use Artificial Intelligence to learn what people want and to make it for them before they even ask.

What will it be like to use such a machine? “For the first several weeks, the machine learns the drinking patterns of its users. Then it adapts. Every Sunday afternoon, it’s French vanilla cappuccino time. Each weekday morning, it starts brewing a triple espresso at 7:00 am. After dinner, it does up a creamy decaf café au lait.” How does it know where you are or at exactly which moment you’ll be ready for your drink? Product Manager James Pappas is tight-lipped about this aspect, but he hints at GPS tracking or existing RFID technology. What is certain is that some machines, like the Jura-Capresso Impressa F9 already have ports which could be connected to a computer. Once the computer is networked, the possibilities are many.”

Okay, the science fiction reader/writer in me loves this idea. But as fun as it sounds, sorry, it’s actually ludicrous.

I probably wouldn’t have said that 5 years ago. I used to be one of those people who went by the saying, “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” A divorce, the liquidation of nearly all my worldly possessions, and a bit of philosophical and spiritual learning have taught me otherwise.

Hand brewing coffee with a little 49¢ maker is very Zen. Having a computer controlled machine make it for you … even decide what it is you want … is not.

The pleasure in life is in the things you do. I’m sorry if I’m coming off preachy here, but I believe this with all my heart. The more we relegate our thinking and decision making to machines, the less human we become ourselves. Sure, a coffee maker that decides what and when to make something for us is in itself harmless … and in fact, probably fun … but it’s another step down that path that will eventually lead to a dark place.

Or hasn’t anyone remembered lessons we’ve learned from John Conner?

I have nothing against a well designed tool that does a good job. However, I am critical of a tool — no matter how well designed and built — that over-complicates a simple job.

So you want to built a autonomous device? Build something that will disarm a bomb, or explore the oceans of Europa looking for extraterrestrial life. Don’t waste your time and talent designing a machine that does a simple job already done perfectly well by an ordinary person.

It doesn’t take a computer scientist to make a good cup of coffee. Nor does it take a very expensive piece of hardware controlled by an Artificial Intelligence. So if on Sunday afternoon you really do want a French vanilla cappuccino, go make yourself one. A little $30 machine available at your local big box store does a perfectly fine job.

iRobot CoWorker

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It appears the HeadThere Giraffe has some competition from iRobot.

While this telepresence robot lacks the screen to display the controller’s face, it appears to be designed to take more abuse … which it will undoubtedly receive.

The purpose of the robot is so that a company expert can tour a factory or job site and get a first-hand view of a project without having to board a plane and fly halfway around the world. So you can think of this as more a robotic project manager, whereas the Giraffe is more like your robotic CEO.

If one of these were running around my company … people would glue spring-ball bug antenna to the top, and tape a sign to the back that says “Kick me.”

I love the idea of the thing, but I also loved the idea of talking computers — that is, until I actually had to talk to them. Now there is nothing I hate more than a talking computer.

So it will be with these.

Transparent Aluminum

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Clear CanWe all know Scotty brought transparent aluminum to our century from the future. You remember, when they saved the whales in Star Trek IV?

Well now, finally, someone has found a use for it besides making a giant aquarium for space-faring Cetaceans.

It’s about time, too!

Transparent aluminum is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen, and it’s really wild drinking from a can that you can see through. It has practical uses, too, because now you can see what is really in the can. As in, no more surprises! Not that things normally spoil inside the can, but, how many times have you bought what you thought was a dark beer only to find out it’s a light?

No? No one? Am I the only one?

That’s what I get for buying beer while already inebriated.

Anyway, it’s awesome that the cost of producing transparent aluminum has fallen to the point where they can now use it in the beverage industry. No doubt we’ll start seeing it everywhere.

Too bad it’s actually plastic. April fools everyone! However, this is a real transparent “can” — my kids and I found it at the local Asian shopping center.

I like the packaging! Didn’t care too much for what was inside it. Yuck.

Bracelet Mobile Phone

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Here’s a groovy one for the girls!

It’s a phone. No, wait…

It’s stylish jewelry. No, wait…

It’s a unique combination of both.

From Yanko Design. Designer: Tao Ma

The Most Elaborate Rube Goldberg

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This is the most elaborate Rube Goldberg I’ve ever seen:

Most Elaborate Rube Goldberg
(Click Picture to View Video)

Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto

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It’s like someone put legs on the captain’s chair from the starship Enterprise.

Click the picture for YouTube footage

Why do I have a feeling that Andy Warhol would have loved this thing?

You’re gawking at the the Hubo FX-1 by Hubo Lab (the Humanoid Robot Research Center). It’s, um, well … silly looking, so much so that this is my second attempt to properly document it here.

If you can’t get to YouTube, the video depicts someone sitting in the chair as the machine takes slow baby steps across a room.

Definitely a work-in-progress. I’d hate to be sitting in it when the thing trips and falls on someone’s banana peel.

Stumbled upon via, who in turn found it via Technovelgy

Suck Your Food Fresh

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This is none other than a vacuum chamber for your fruits, veggies, etc.

Place your bread and other yummies into the Auto Vacuum FoodFresh, close the lid, and this gizmo sucks all the air out of the chamber, thus making your food last longer and stay fresher.

I think it’s great!  It’s a true kitchen-geek toy if I’ve ever seen one!  I think I’ll vacuum everything I can stick into it.

Fantasyware of the Week…

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This groovy gizmo doesn’t yet exist, but it will. It will.

Career in Computer Science - MS Research

Please ignore the fact that it’s a Microsoft propaganda film, and just go with it.

The Amazing Fish ‘n Flush

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So, really, how many fish have you ended up flushing down the toilet?

Here’s an idea: save yourself some trouble by keeping them in the toilet. AquaOne Technologies has made it possible with their amazing Fish ‘n Flush.

No, I am not kidding you.

Imagine how unnerved your PETA-associated friends will be upon seeing this in the bathroom at your next party. I hesitate to say, but it would be almost worth hiding a video camera to capture that initial expression of shock and disbelief.

The secret to this is, though, that there are actually two tanks of water involved. One for the flushing, and one for the fish — and nary the two shall meet. The fish tank itself is actually removable so you can clean it out, etc.

The idea is so silly it’s cool.

And yes, in a way, the fish are living right at the doorstep — so to speak — of the fish cemetery. So when little Goldie is found floating upside-down at the top…

Yeah. She can quickly be flushed laid to rest in the great fishpond in the sky.

Robotic Giraffe

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This interesting contraption is a remote controlled robot called the Giraffe, made by HeadThere Inc. of San Francisco. It connects via Wi-Fi or G3 to the net and you control it from anywhere in the world, sending it rolling through your office, home, whatever. Via camera and microphone you see everything it sees, and via speaker and video screen people see and hear you as well.

That’s right, your very own roving telepresence! No longer is this technology only the plaything of NASA and big city bomb squads. Just like it says on the HeadThere website, you can be in two places at one time.

I can see people buying this. Really. Unlike many, I think there is a huge market out there for this device. In my mind’s eye, in fact, I can see these things wandering all over the Google office complex, dodging Segues and Aibos. I also see paranoid parents forcing teens to take it along on dates. I can see it rolling into university classes while the students remain in the dorm nursing a hangover.

Also, mark my words, it will end up one of the most abused and vandalized pieces of technology since the payphone. In an office environment, indignant workers will cover it with plastic bags, kick it over, and throw it down stairs. At home, being used as a baby sitter, the kids will plot evil against the poor thing and blame it on the dog.

Oh, woe is the Giraffe. It will be a hard life, to be sure. I think it’s a cool, smart, and well-meaning gizmo, but really … I feel very sad for it.

It’s doomed.

UPDATE: I just had an interesting email exchange with Roy Sandberg, the founder of HeadThere Inc. He pointed out an important fact: The Giraffe does have an off switch.

After another conversation about it, this time with my girlfriend, she and I decided the attitude toward the Giraffe would depend completely upon its use … if it’s used as a communications device, then it should be relatively innocuous. If it’s being used to check up on you, that is where the animosity comes into play.

It’s an interesting subject because as we go from here, mobile telepresence will become more and more common.


USB Powered Dog Collar

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This is interesting and … I’m sorry, it just made me laugh.

So you lose your dog, Spot. Some Good Samaritan finds Spot and takes him home.

See Spot’s intriguing looking collar! The Good Samaritan finds a tag on it that reads, “This is a USB device.” Unfortunately the Good Samaritan turns out to be computer illiterate and has no idea what that means.

Meanwhile you know Spot is safe because you paid good money for this high tech PetSafe Micro I.D. Rescue Collar, used their software, spent a good part of the evening doing data entry into the embedded chip, and have faith that whoever finds Spot will have all the information they need to bring your beloved pet home.

Unfortunately the Good Samaritan is still scratching his head at the meaning of “USB” device. He takes it to his friend, also a Luddite, and says, “What does this mean?”

They both look at the tag. “I dunno,” says the friend. “UltraSonic Barking Device?”

“You think?”

“For the love of God, I have no idea!”

So the Good Samaritan, who’s grown rather fond of Spot, throws the collar away and puts on a new one. The new one has a tag on it which reads, “If lost please call (973) 555-1212.” It doesn’t require a USB port and contains all the information that is actually required to return Spot should he stray again.

Never forget: Keep It Simple. I love gadgets as much as anyone, but this is so silly I had to create an entirely new category for it: A Goldberg Gizmo.

Thought Control

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The funniest part of the recent movie Accepted is where this odd looking kid blows up the snobby Dean’s car with his mind. Soon you’ll be able to do that too.

In a video game, at least.

Emotive Systems is one of a number of companies today working on a mind-computer interface — the stuff of science fiction — and claim they’ll be coming out with a Wi-Fi headset soon that will allow you to control computer games with your thoughts.

While it’s great that video game money is paying for development, I can’t help but think of all the practical uses for such a device. Obviously it will be a boon to those who are physically handicapped. I mean, just imagine. Slip the cap on, it controls your wheelchair, the robotic arms on your wheel chair, the interface for the computer controlled car, and all the automated systems in your smart house… Yes, develop one for the video games, by all means, but the implications of the interface itself are amazing.

Another company, CyberKinetics, is working on a product to do this for the medical field, but it appears to be some sort of implant. NeuroSky is making a headset version that doesn’t look quite so scientific — it’s more a stereo headphone type accessory, and at least according to the one picture I’ve found, seems to look good on pretty girls.

So get ready world. Thought control is set to be released to the general populace later this year, and one can only imagine what will follow. First video games, next computer peripherals, then robotic control. One of these will probably end up replacing all the remote controls in your house, including the one for the TV.

This is all fine and dandy until the thing becomes a two-way device, and you come to realize the TV is in fact controlling you.

…you will buy this product … you WILL buy this product…

VentureOne = Wicked Road Fun!

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Just watching the video on the website for this little vehicle makes my heart race. Available in hybrid or all-electric, both zoom down the road like a little space fighter, mixing the fun and economy of a motorcycle with the comfort and safety of a car.

Well, relatively speaking.

The front pivots during a turn like a motorcycle, making this — by all accounts — a remarkably fun vehicle to drive. The back end with the two wheels and the engine remain firmly on the ground. Inside you find all the safety features of a car, including airbags, etc., which you won’t find on a motorcycle. Yet something tells me, some deep-down gut feeling, that this is not something in which I would want to be involved in an accident. Especially if I were trapped between two SUV’s.

Still, there is no denying this is one groovy gizmo, and the fact that you can zip along over a hundred miles an hour with a range of over 350 miles … on 4 gallons of gas … I can’t help but love it.

New SeaBreacher Dolphin

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Okay, let me just let this sink in for a few seconds…

Your very own uber-cool private two-seater sports submarine…

…that jumps out of the water like a submersible jet ski.

Um… I think I need some smelling salts. I’m so dizzy. Am I dreaming? Is this thing real?

Go to and see for yourself. There’s even videos.

I think … I think I’m hyperventilating…


Power Cost Display in Real Time

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Here’s a handy device from Blue Line Innovations called the PowerCost Monitor that monitors your electric costs as you’re using it, displaying in real time your ever escalating energy bill.

I see a bright side, and a dark side to this.

The bright side is you can see how much money you’re spending on energy as you use it. The dark side is that you can see how much money you’re spending on energy as you use it.

It’s a glass half-full or half-empty type thing.

The bright side is you can adjust your power usage as you see the dollar amount surging upward, and you’ll never be surprised by a big energy bill again. The dark side is you may be crying as you feel the money being ripped out of your wallet in real time, and may find yourself heating your apartment with a single light bulb, and eating more raw food as you hesitate to turn on that ghastly inefficient electric stove.

Either way, it’s a smart thing to have. The moment I move from an apartment and into a house, you can bet I’m getting one.

Whacked by the Snooping Stick

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Billed as “the ultimate tool for monitoring Internet activity” this groovy spy gizmo called the SnoopStick appears to be the voyeur’s total schiznitz.

According to the company, Solid Oak Software, all you have to do is plug it into an Internet-connected computer. It takes 60 seconds or less to load its program, and then this program is tied specifically to that — and only that — SnoopStick. You then plug the SnoopStick into any other Internet connected computer, anywhere in the world, and monitor everything the original computer is doing, no matter who is logged onto it.

Just a guess, but they must be using a variant of WinVNC or similar remote control software. Regardless, tying it to a USB stick like this and marketing it as a tool for spying on your children and employees is pure genius. It’s a very clever idea and I’m sure the gizmo itself works great, and no doubt they’ll sell as many of these as they can manufacture.

But… should you use it?


Just like you shouldn’t be peeking into your best friend’s sister’s window with binoculars while she’s undressing. Rationalize it all you want, but it’s still wrong.

Daylight Savings Time Updates

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Oh great, they’ve gone and changed time again. Someone needs to take the flux capacitor and Mr. Fusion away from Congress!

Whether you like it or not, Daylight Saving Time now begins on March 11 and goes all the way through November 4th. Now there’s more of the year in DST than in standard time. Wouldn’t that make DST standard, now? And standard time will become known as Darkness Saving Time?

Confusing to us, yes, but it’s even more confusing to our gizmos with built-in computerized clocks. Automatic patching should take care of the PC’s and Macs, and your cell phone gets the time from your provider anyway. Usually, that is. But what about your PDA?

Well, you’re going to have to install a patch.

For Palm OS devices, your link is here: Palm Support Daylight Saving Time Update

For Microsoft Pocket PC devices, your link is here: Windows Mobile Updates for Daylight Saving Time

I’ve got one of each, so I’m going through it too. Simply follow their instructions and everything should be okay. But, as always, make sure you back up all the data from your PDA before you attempt this.

Happy time changing!

Captain to away team: Set your Coke bottles to “Stun”

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Sad news for owners of this genuinely groovy gizmo, the Coca-Cola ElectroPlasma Lamp: it’s been recalled.

What could be more perfect than a gas plasma lamp inside a Coke bottle? One that doesn’t have a metal cap. It seems this is a major design flaw, especially considering that metal conducts electricity. Hmmm… isn’t the whole point of encasing a plasma lamp inside glass to keep the electricity INSIDE?

Unfortunately people are being burned by electric arcs zapping curious fingers because of this lack of foresight.

Ouch. Burnt fingers. Lawsuits. Recall the product. Sadness. Especially for Emess Design Group of Ellwood City, PA

Personally, and I’m not suggesting any of you do this, but I’d just put it up where no one would be touching it, and simply keep the lamp. I mean, look at it. That is one cool lamp. And after the recall it’s also going to be one really rare lamp as well.

Again, I’m not suggesting anyone do this. No way, no how. Not me.

Meet the WAM-V

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Being that I practically grew up on a boat, my heart skipped several beats when I saw this wonderfully bizarre craft: the Proteus, a “WAM-V” which stands for Wave Adaptive Modular Vessel. Looking like something right out of a science fiction movie, Marine Advanced Research, Inc. has developed what they tout as a completely new type of water vessel. That may be so, but I could swear … though I have no proof … that I had a toy that looked almost exactly like this back in the 1970’s.

New or not, it ranks high up on my neat-o-meter…

Now, is it me, or does the way the main arms come down to connect to the pontoons remind you of an automobile windshield wiper? That’s the whole point of this vessel, though. The pontoons inflate, are flexible, and adapt to the waves instead of forcing their way through them. The articulations of the arms facilitate this. WAM-V glides over the water, the pontoons snaking over the waves, zooming along at a good clip while barely making a wake.

The whole craft is modular, and can be made to take apart and fit into standard shipping containers. But also it boasts up to a 5000 mile range so you could conceivably fill it up with gas and just drive it across the ocean.

Another cool feature is that the modular back end can lift and lower to the surface between the pontoons. Which means you can drop a standard boat, or a scientific payload, or a pod of Navy Seals … or James Bond and his latest underwater car … with nary a splash. This makes the WAM-V attractive to both marine researchers and the military. Not to mention Hollywood, because the first thing I thought of was: Movie Prop!

I had two questions about the WAM-V, which Isabella Conti of Marine Advanced Research, Inc. was happy to answer:

GG: Are the inflatable pontoons bullet proof?

Isabella: Proteus’ pontoons are not bullet proof. However, they could be; there is bullet proof material currently available.

GG: What happens if the WAM-V capsizes? Would it continue to float (albeit upside-down)?

Isabella: We don’t believe that this type of craft would capsize. Catamarans capsize when the bow of one of the hulls “catches” under a wave while the rest of the boat continues to move forward. The submersed bow then becomes a “pivot” point that forces the craft to flip on itself. Inflatable pontoons do not “catch”. Have you ever tried to flip over a small inflatable dinghy? You have to literally lift it out of the water and it usually takes two people.  WAM-Vs™ are ultralight so they tend to slide on the back of a wave, just like a small inflatable dinghy would. And yes, assuming that it would capsize in extreme circumstances, it would continue to float.

One thing I forgot to ask, but I’m still pondering … if they call a HUM-V a Hummer, would the WAM-V be a Wammer?

Auto Fold and Wipe

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A project built by UC Berkeley students for class, this gizmo for folding and dispensing toilet paper is made of Legos and scrap metal.

Very clever! The most complex thing I ever built with Legos was a model space ship. Now all they need to do is add a little spray of air freshener at the end, and the project would be complete.

Cold Beer Flying At Your Head

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You just have to love innovation, though this is not something you’ll find hitting the mass market anytime soon.

Tired of having to get up to get a beer in the middle of an important sporting event on TV? Well, a very clever engineer named John W. Cornwell devised a refrigerator that brings it to you … via special air delivery, no less.

Inside, a can is brought up and out of the fridge by an elevator, where it’s then transferred into the business end of a catapult. The catapult swivels around and tosses with amazing accuracy to where ever you’ve aimed it.

Don’t take my word for it, watch the video.

This groovy piece of homemade hardware is controlled by a car’s remote. Pressing the “unlock” button starts the catapult and it spins around until you press unlock again. Press “lock” and the beer is in the air.

If you think about it, the gizmo not only makes it effortless to get a beer, it also limits how many you can have. When you’ve passed the point of drunkenness where you can no longer operate it properly, or lack the eye-hand coordination to catch the flying can, the beer hits you in the face, knocking you out, and thus preventing you from imbibing further.

The only thing I’d do differently is fill it with a different type of beer.

Jet Powered Strap-on Wing

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Now this is a groovy gizmo, though not one you’ll likely keep in your garage. Daredevil Yves Rossi has created a jet-powered set of wings that he straps to his back and uses to outrace airplanes. It’s quite a ways along it the development, as it actually flies (see the video on his website or on YouTube), but to take off he still has to jump out of an airplane.

While watching the video I found myself both envious of the way he flies around like a genuine superhero, and terrified that the video would end with a Steve Austin we-can-rebuild-you type of crash. How in the world, I wondered, is he going to land? Sliding on his knees? Ouch!

Never fear, he simply powers down and pops a parachute.


Open For Business!

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Okay, it’s the year 2007. Where’s my flying car? Where’s the instant matter transporter? Where’s my mail-order factory-created baby?

Um, never mind about the baby part, but I could really use the other two. My girlfriend lives 800 miles away. Instant transport would be handy!

This is the future, though. We’re living it. So, what do we have that was science fiction a mere 30 years ago? Well, for one thing, the Star Trek tricorder is a reality, as is their flip-open communicator. We have a space station, but not the large graceful toroid promised to us. And we have robotic servants and even maids, which are just in their infancy and not quite ready to take over the world. I mean, I don’t see anyone besides the household cat running in terror from an errant Roomba.

Reading science fiction to me is no longer as exciting as reading about real science. The breakthroughs being made today boggle my mind. The gadgets and gizmos being cranked out during the next 5-10 years … wow.

It’s a good time for us gadget freaks to be alive.