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Monthly Archives: June 2013

How To Get Electricity From An Elephant’s Butt

By Evan Ackerman

Elephant

It’s simple: just plug right in. These custom vinyl wall decals from Adrien Gardere surround your wall outlets, giving them some (rather strange) animal personalities. At least the elephant isn’t (like the cow) giving you a dirty look or (like the pig) plotting your doom. Unfortunately, the design of these decals looks to be optimized for European single outlets, while the most common form here in the states is two outlets. I guess you’ll just have to get used to your elephant having two butts… On the bright side, double the butts, double the… ah never mind.

Available now for €33 ($44) each.

[ Zoo Vinyl Surfaces ] VIA [ Crave ]

USB Squid LIVE From LAS VEGAS!

By Evan Ackerman

That’s right, we’re coming at you LIVE from… Gate B23 at McCarran Airport where I’m waiting for the continuation of my flight which has been delayed until like 3am. If I press my nose against the glass of the waiting area, I can catch a tantalizing glimpse of the strip off in the distance. Sigh. Seeing as I have a whoooole bunch of time on my hands, I thought I’d take this opportunity to introduce a USB drive in the shape of a squid.

USB Squid

The Mimi-Ika drive from SolidAlliance (makers of the delicious spaghetti USB port, among other bizarre USB accessories) has 512MB packed into it’s betentacled body, with the head separating to reveal a USB 2.0 connector. Some diligent readers may have noticed that the source article calls this a “cuttlefish drive,” so after the jump, I will spend my layover explaining the difference between squid and cuttlefish and why various anatomic features confirm that this is indeed a squid drive.

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Major League Baseball Themed Funerary Urns

MLB Funerary Urns (Image courtesy Eternal Image) By Andrew Liszewski

The phrase ‘die-hard fan’ kind of takes on a whole new meaning with these funerary urns that are designed with the colors and logos from any of the major league baseball teams. Each urn is made from die-cast aluminum with a clear coat finish and sits on a wooden base shaped like home plate. The top of the urn even includes a clear dome where a favorite collectible baseball from the deceased can be displayed.

While it was great seeing the Tigers defeat the Yankees in the playoffs last year (and then sadly lose the World Series) I don’t think I’d consider myself a big enough fan to warrant one of these. But clearly there is a market for them. The urns are currently available in eight different team designs including the Tigers, the Cardinals, the Braves, the Red Sox, the Cubs, the Dodgers, the Yankees and the Phillies but eventually all the teams in the league will be represented.

The urns will only be available for purchase through a funeral home and cost $699 each. And if cremation doesn’t appeal to you then Eternal Image (the company who makes the urns) will also be selling full-size MLB-themed coffins this fall.

[ MLB Funerary Urns ] VIA [ bookofjoe ]

Tech News – The Return Of CBS Records

By Andrew Liszewski

CBS Logo (Image courtesy CBS) Even though the record industry claims to be in a slump as a result of ‘rampant piracy’ it looks like an old player is returning to the game but with some new tricks. For those who don’t remember in 1938 the Columbia Broadcasting System or CBS had bought Columbia Records but ended up selling it years later (in 1988) to Sony for about $2 billion. This sale also included CBS’ own label, CBS Records.

However Sony’s license to CBS Records has since expired and in December of last year the network announced that they’d be relaunching their label. But in order to be competitive they decided to embrace modern digital distribution methods instead of fighting them tooth and nail. In fact the label doesn’t even plan to press a physical CD for an album unless the digital sales indicate there’s a market for it. This is no doubt far cheaper than producing millions of albums that could end up being a flop and not selling.

The reborn label has also committed themselves to be extremely artist friendly. In fact they just signed their first four acts including the power-pop band ‘Señor Happy’ who recently told the Boston Globe the contract they signed with CBS was “…very, very fair. Far better than a standard major label deal.” They also said their share of the profits from digital downloads were equivalent to what a band might get from an independent label and lacked many of the ‘strings’ usually required from the other major music companies.

The new label will of course also benefit CBS who currently licenses a lot of popular music for use in their TV shows. With their own roster of bands and talent signed under CBS Records the network will have greater flexibility and access to that music. But that synergy will also benefit the artists with more publicity since these shows typically draw in millions of viewers. I sincerely hope that these new tactics work well for CBS Records since it will show all the other labels that these new methods of distribution aren’t something to fear.

[ CBS Records Returns VIA Stereophile ] – Thanks Stuart

Lamptron MITTEN – Mini FPS Keyboard/Gamepad

Lamptron MITTEN Gamepad (Image courtesy AVING USA)
By Andrew Liszewski

For those who feel that a first person shooter can only really be played with a mouse and keyboard comes this pseudo-alternative that just might sway a few gamers. First shown at CeBIT this year from a company called Lamptron (whose website seems to indicate they’re as far from a gaming peripheral company as you can get) the ‘MITTEN’ as it’s called is basically a mini keyboard containing only the keys typically used in FPS gaming.

The company claims the keys have been ‘tactically’ placed and the design and layout is based on actual feedback from military training. As to which military they’re referring to I have no idea. For added comfort during those long bouts of capture the flag there’s even a padded wrist rest. The MITTEN connects to your PC via USB and will be available in either orange or black color schemes but unfortunately at this time there’s no word on an actual release date or price.

[ Lamptron MITTEN ] VIA [ Ubergizmo ]

Stick Shift Radio

Stick Shift Radio (Image courtesy Akihabara News)
By Andrew Liszewski

In keeping with the theme of car-related gadgets today, now all you gearheads can combine your love of manual gearboxes with your love of FM radio. As you can probably tell given the lack of any other controls here in order to change the station or adjust the volume on this radio you need to shift gears up and down.

This seems like another one of those gadgets that has a great novelty factor at first but becomes increasingly tedious to use over time. And keep in mind that novices who are used to an automatic radio might be annoyed by the grinding static sound you’ll get while learning to smoothly switch stations with this manual version.

[ Stick Shift Radio VIA Akihabara News ]

82-Foot Bus Unveiled – For Cities With No Corners

China' 82-Foot Commuter Bus (Image courtesy BackChina)
By Andrew Liszewski

Once again it seems I’ve missed the Busworld Asia convention that’s held in Shanghai and wouldn’t you know it this is the year they unveiled this monstrosity. At 82 feet in length it’s probably safe to say this bus now owns the world record and will for some time. (Though I’ve heard rumors that an 83-foot model could be making an appearance at the 2008 show!) The bus uses two accordion joints and has three sections capable of holding up to 300 passengers. But there is a trade off since the bus is only capable of reaching about 51mph.

When I was lucky enough to have a bus ride as part of my daily commute the drivers could barely get those regular sized buses around most corners without clipping the curbs so I wish these guys the best. Of course that probably won’t be a problem since this bus will mainly be used for transporting commuters between Beijing and Hangzhou and will avoid the crowded downtown areas of those cities.

As for price? While a regular bus costs between $80,000 to $100,000 this version can cost as much as $258,000.

[ World's Longest Bus ] VIA [ Crave ]

Skip-Away Machine Repairs Discs By Melting Them

venmill skip away

By David Ponce

When your CDs or DVDs are all scratched up to hell, but you wanna keep’em, you got a few options. There’s the old abrasive method, where you pretty much buff and polish the plastic until the scratches have been filed away. Or the new method from company VenMill which melts the surface of the disc and allows it to be pressed smooth once more. The technique is OptoClear and will be implemented on their Skip-Away line of disc repair machines in June.

Sadly, repairing discs this way is not for the faint of wallet: one Skip-Away machine will set you back $250. At this price, you better be in love with that old Milli Vanilli CD.

[ Product Page ] VIA [ Reg Hardware ]

Tool Silverware – For That Extra Touch Of Class

Tool Silverware (Image courtesy Everythingcarz.com)
By Andrew Liszewski

Any car nut who won’t stop tinkering long enough to eat dinner will appreciate this set of double-ended tools. On one end you’ll find wrenches and a set of pliers but on the other you’ll find a knife, fork and spoon. Perfect for enjoying your steak and potatoes while changing the oil and of course avoiding your family.

The ‘tools’ are made from 18/10 polished “drop forged” stainless steel and they even come in a blow-molded heavy duty ABS plastic box that will look right at home in any garage. By the way can anyone tell me how the pliers are supposed to work?

A single set of Tool Silverware is available from Everythingcarz.com for $24.99. That is if they weren’t out of stock at the moment.

[ Tool Silverware ] VIA [ Cribcandy ]