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Monthly Archives: February 2007

Wonder Pizza Vending Machine

Wonder Pizza Vending Machine (Image courtesy Wonder Pizza USA)
By Andrew Liszewski

If the 20-minute wait for a pizza delivery seems like an excruciatingly long time then you might want to think about installing a pizza vending machine at home instead. The ‘Wonder Pizza’ cooks and serves 9-inch whole pizzas in only 2 minutes and each machine can hold up to 3 different flavors. The pizza itself apparently comes from Chicago-based ‘Connie’s Pizza’ so there might be hope that the final product is actually edible.

The machine took 5 years and some 6 million dollars of R&D to develop and the final version can hold 102 pizzas. It has both a refrigeration unit to keep the uncooked pie fresh and an electrical oven (no microwaves) that ensures the final product has a crisp crust. The amount of crispness can even be set by the customer during the ordering process.

The ‘Wonder Pizza’ machines are already being distributed worldwide and the cost for a 9-inch pizza is about $5-6.

[ Wonder Pizza Vending Machine ] VIA [ Crave ]

Prison Pen – Useful For Writing, Not For Shivving

Prison Pen (Image courtesy Spycatcher)By Andrew Liszewski

When you think about it guards in a jail or prison go to great lengths to ensure any potential weapons are confiscated from an inmate. But then later on when it comes to the interview or interrogation rooms they gladly hand over a Bic pen for writing a confession. According to the movies I’ve seen that pen can be used as a lethal first step to a grand escape plan.

The Prison Pen makes this pretty much impossible though since it’s made from a soft rubber material that bends under even the slightest pressure. As a result it can’t be used to stab, shiv or injure guards or other inmates. Of course it still has a ball point metal tip which could result in some nasty scratches if used correctly, but something tells me that’s not exactly going to incapacitate your cell mate when that time comes.

The Prison Pen is available at Spycatcher for around $10 and even though it uses a small ink cartridge it will still write for over 1000 meters.

[ Prison Pen ]

Grapples – Bio Engineering Gone Right

Grapples (Image courtesy C&O Nursery)By Andrew Liszewski

First off if you’re wondering, ‘Grapple’ is actually pronounced ‘Grape-L’ so the next time you bring it up at a party you won’t sound like an idiot. Secondly, while these apples have been modified to taste like grapes in reality there was no genetics or gene-splicing involved. Nope, the patent-pending process whereby regular apples take on the flavor of grapes simply involves the fruit being infused with a whole lot of concentrated grape flavoring.

The benefit to this method is that the apple still maintains all its vitamins and other goodness without any extra sugars or calories being added. The idea is to give kids yet another reason to reach for a piece of fruit when they need a snack rather than a candy bar in hopes of reducing childhood obesity. Now I don’t know what’s wrong with the taste of regular apples or why grapes are considered to be the superior flavor here but I also haven’t been a kid for 2 or 3 years now so I’m not the best person to ask.

The only problem I see with the Grapple is that a 12-pack gift box from their website will set you back $37.95. That’s $3.16 per apple! However they should also be available in stores in smaller quantities very soon.

*Update: So it seems these have been available in grocery stores across the US for a few years now. Unfortunately they haven’t made it to my neck of the woods yet meaning we’re stuck with plain old apple-flavored apples.

[ Grapples ] VIA [ Coolest Gadgets ]

Radio Lovers Rejoice, Olympus VJ-10 Can Record Up To 2,500 Hours Of RF Goodness

olympus vj-10

By David Ponce

It’s not everyday you see a device with a 37GB hard drive. 37 is just so random, yet that’s how many gigabytes the VJ-10 Radio Server from Olympus can store. The device is basically just a basic AM/FM radio, with a hard drive embedded right in. Even in “high quality” mode (128 kbps) the device can still hold 1,250 hours of your favorite talk radio show. It features a large 3.9 inch (128 x 400) monochrome STN display, USB 2.0, amplifier and stereo speakers which allegedly sound decent thanks to SRS and WOW XT.

Think of it like a TiVo for the radio, except exponentially less exciting. I mean, hey, other than when you’re stuck in traffic, when do people ever really listen to the radio anymore? Still, if you’re into that sort of thing, you should know the device is expected to cost 40,000 Yen ($ 335) and be available in Japan starting March 16th.

[ Product Page (translated from Japanese) ] VIA [ Gizmologia ]

Pietroguerra’s FLeX 4.2 Performs Media Center Origami

Pietroguerra's FLeX 4.2

By David Ponce

We could go on about how the PC will be integrated into the living room and all that, but you don’t really care. Instead, let us just tell you that the FLeX 4.2 is a Media Center PC with one pretty cool design feature: it folds in half. Doesn’t seem like much, but this opens the door to a couple extra configurations, which can make your life easier when trying to find a nice spot for it somewhere in your living room or entertainment room, or wherever it is your watch your movies.

That’s not the only cool thing about it though, “Pietroguerra’s DynaLight technology analyses the ambient light conditions hundreds of times per second, dynamically modifying the tonal range of your screen ensuring the best picture regardless of room lighting.” It’s no slouch under the hood either, featuring 512MB to 2GB of DDR2 SDRAM, 250GB to 750GB SATA II Hard Drive and a Dual Layer DVD±R±RW Drive.

The thing is built to order, but unlike Dell, the pricetag will make your heart skip a beat or two: £1,450.00 (or $2,720US). Full specs and links after the jump.

Continue Reading


By Evan Ackerman


RFID sure seems like it would be a cool thing to play with, right? Now you can, without being a technical genius. ThinkGeek is offering a RFID experimentation kit, which features a USB RFID reader and 15ish read-only RFID tags of various shapes and sizes, including an implantable one which you should not not not try to implant unless you think you know what you’re doing (instead, just swallow some of these).

Details on the actual software are scanty, but one simple use might be for your computer to launch some applications when you sit down, and close them when you leave via an RFID tag on your person. If you’ve hooked up a USB power strip, the RFID tag could even instruct your computer to turn on speakers, lights, and peripherals. The possibilities are limitless, since RFID enables your computer to know who and what is around it.

Let’s not get in to all of the potential sinister uses at this point and just be happy that we can play with RFID tags. The price is a penny under $100, with availability in late March.

[ RFID Experimentation Kit ] VIA [ Coolest Gadgets ]

Meade RCX400 Telescope With Robotic MAX Mount

Meade RCX400 With MAX Mount (Image courtesy Popular Science)By Andrew Liszewski

I’m not gonna lie to you people. This latest telescope from Meade is really only designed for people who are very interested in astronomy. The RCX400 comes in either a 20-inch aperture model or a 16-inch model and attaches to a special robotic stand called the MAX Mount. All in all you’re looking at about 500 lbs. of equipment that ensures some of the steadiest star watching you’ve ever enjoyed.

You see one of the problems with watching the stars which becomes especially apparent when you photograph them is the rotation of the Earth. To get a well exposed shot of the night sky you typically need a long exposure and if you combine that with the spinning of the planet you end up with a blurred photo. The solution is to use a robotic telescope mount like this that will ‘track’ the celestial object you’re trying to photograph which basically cancels out the planet’s rotation. Now unfortunately my knowledge of telescopes ends there but I’m pretty sure the RCX400 will appeal to anyone with even the slightest interest in astronomy. That is of course if they can afford it.

If you think one of these would look great on your back porch then that’s an important first step because it means you already have a house you can mortgage. The Meade RCX400 20-inch telescope sells for $39,999 and the MAX Mount is an extra $19,999. (Though you can save a few bucks by going with the 16-inch RCX400 model that’s only $29,999.)

[ Meade RCX400 with MAX Mount ] VIA [ Popular Science ]

Hard Drive Hard Drive Case

2.5 Inch Hard Case Disk Case (Image courtesy Andrew Liszewski

Since most computer users have probably never actually seen what a hard drive looks like this one is definitely reserved for impressing your geek friends. Instead of buying an external drive enclosure with a sleek, compact design why not get this one that appears to be made from or at least made to look like an actual hard drive.

Since it’s roughly the same size as a 3.5-inch drive on the outside it will only hold a 2.5-inch notebook drive inside and supports USB 1.1 and 2.0 only, no firewire here. It also appears to have a jack for a power adapter but that doesn’t seem to be included with the enclosure.

The Hard Drive Case is currently available at for $25.03. (The actual hard drive is also not included.)

[ 2.5″ Hard Case Disk Case ] VIA [ Akihabara News ]

Chicago Area Adobe Giveaway

By David Ponce

Hey Q101 Chicago listeners and readers, it’s time for your Geek Treat! Thanks for listening to me on the Fook show this afternoon (every Tuesday at 4:35p); as a bonus you can get yourselves a copy of Photoshop Elements 5.0 & Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0 (a $300 value)! Send us an email to the following address: [email protected]. Put “I want the programs!” in the subject line, and you’re all set. We’ll randomly pick one winner per week. Courtesy of Q101 and