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Monthly Archives: February 2008

Crane Operator Playset – What’s Happened To Children’s Toys?

Haba - Shovelling Set (Image courtesy Baudino Maukilo)By Andrew Liszewski

I definitely feel that developing a healthy imagination is important for kids, and what better way to do so than by playing make-believe? When I was a kid we ran around pretending we were spies, ninjas, astronauts and even transforming robots. You know, things that were fun. But it seems today’s kids are being forced to pretend they’re stuck in a crappy 9 to 5 job.

First there was this ludicrous X-Ray Machine Playset which has kids spending their days looking for dangerous items that might make it onto a plane, and now there’s this crane operator playset that comes with a fake remote control you wear around your waist and a hard hat. Now I’ll agree it takes a whole lot of imagination to pretend you’re controlling a crane that isn’t there, but I don’t think any kind can ever muster enough imagination to pretend that playing crane operator is actually fun. I mean look at that kid’s face, he’s not enjoying this, he looks worried that he’ll be written up by the union for being late for work again. (His cartoons ran long.)

You can find it at Baudin Maukilo for $21.59.

[ Haba – Shovelling Set ] VIA [ YoKiddo! ]

Privacy Mouse Makes You Look Busy With A Single Click

Privacy MouseBy Luke Anderson

I’m fortunate to work in an environment where I don’t have anyone looking over my shoulder, making sure that I’m staying on-task. I’ve had those jobs in the past, and I’ve discovered that I am less productive when my work is constantly monitored. In those days I would have loved for a mouse such as this one, which will bring up a specific program with the click of a button.

This of course would be useful in a situation when one is surfing the net or brushing up on their solitaire skills. Just click the side button and it’ll pull up Excel or whatever important-looking program you choose. You can pick one up for just $19.99.

[ USBFever ] VIA [ RedFerret ]

Beanie features built-in headphones for rocking out in the cold

Took Beanie

By Luke Anderson

Are you one of those people that must always be listening to your iPod? I’m horrible about using mine, I always think that I’ll use it, but I rarely find the need. I’m usually in my car or at my desk, both of which have an ample supply of music. However, for those that are outdoors a lot, possibly walking or jogging, you’ll love this Tooks Beanie which features a built-in headset.

The beanie looks rather normal, except for the two circles for the speakers, and the cord running down the back. I probably wouldn’t wear this if I were just going out somewhere, but those that like to exercise in the cold might get some use out of it. The Took Beanie comes in six different colors and will set you back $25.

[ EpicOutfit ] VIA [ ChipChick ]

Glam It Up With The Glitter Gun

Glitter Gun

By Evan Ackerman

This, right here, is the solution to all violent conflicts everywhere. When real weapons eventually, inevitably, are replaced by glitter guns, peace will reign and 70s pop icons will once again roam the earth. Each cartridge contains 6 shots of glitter; $8 gets you the gun and 3 cartridges. So far all that seems to be available is this small revolver version… I’m going to hold out for a glitter sniper rifle, myself.

[ Glitter Gun ] VIA [ Nerd Approved ]

Surveillance Lamp Keeps Your Ducks In A Row

Surveillance Lamp

By Evan Ackerman

Have you ever noticed that there are surveillance cameras everywhere nowadays? Doesn’t it make you feel all warm and fuzzy and safe in the knowledge that our little sisterish government is looking out for us 24/7/365.25? If you’re still not quite feeling safe enough, now you can get your own surveillance camera light fixture to remind you that someone is always watching. Always. Even you. Yes, you. Right now. Put your pants back on, geez.

If you think I’m kidding, check out this screensaver, which shows live images from over 400 network surveillance cameras worldwide whenever your computer goes idle. Buy this lamp, and your bedroom could be image #401. $75 not including security cameras; those will be installed separately by some guy in black sunglasses claiming to be an electrical inspector.

And as for what’s up with the ducks (or is it geese?) in the bottom of that pic… I think if I knew the answer to that, it might somehow make me feel more at home in the universe.

[ Surveillance Light ] VIA [ Dezeen ]

Roland FR-2b Digital Button-Type V-Accordion

Roland FR-2b Accordion (Image courtesy Roland)
By Andrew Liszewski

In an effort to improve the nerdy image of the accordion Roland has added a few high-tech upgrades and improvements to their FR-2b model. Unfortunately though the only thing I know about accordions is what I’ve seen in Weird Al videos, so here’s a list of some of the improvements as taken from the Roland website:

Performance Parameters
The FR-2b has five pads for adding percussive excitement to your performance. Use them as drum pads or to trigger rhythms via Loop Playback Mode. There’s also a Song function for “minus one” play-along fun. The FR-2b contains eight user programs for instant storage and recall of your favorite settings.

The connection options of the FR-2b allow you to perform in any situation. A headphone output is provided for private practice. The Line output lets you plug into amplifiers and mixers onstage or in the studio. MIDI output allows you to play external keyboards and other MIDI-compatible instruments from your V-Accordion.

Adjustable Bellows Pressure
The improved Bellows Resistance Regulator on the FR-2b V-Accordion allows you to fine-tune the bellows pressure according to your strength, ability, and personal style — another FR-2b advantage for comfort and playability.

The FR-2b runs on 8 AA batteries, but even with them installed it still weighs almost half as much as a traditional accordion model. So if you spend your weekends rocking out at polka concerts or Polish weddings it might be able to improve both your image and your sore back. But if you’re looking to buy the Roland FR-2b you might want to book paying gigs all week long since it has a list price of $3,999.

[ Roland FR-2b Accordion ] VIA [ PaulTech Network ]

UCCTOP XENO Laptop For Internet Broadcasters

UCCTOP XENO Laptop (Image courtesy Akihabara News)
By Andrew Liszewski

While thin and highly compact laptops have become very popular these days, the UCCTOP XENO is bucking that trend by being a monstrous, briefcase sized system. But what it lacks in portability it more than makes up for in terms of functionality, particularly if you’re in the business of streaming broadcasts to the web.

While editors will love the built in jog/shuttle wheel, the UCCTOP XENO seems more tailored for running live productions since it has a built-in 4 channel video switcher and a 6 channel audio mixer with actual faders. It’s also capable of inserting subtitles and corporate logos during live broadcasts, and can be used to remotely control video cameras or other playback devices like VTRs and DVD players. And even with a price tag of around $10,000, it’s probably still cheaper than buying a standalone video switcher and audio mixer.

[ UCCTOP XENO Broadcast Laptop ] VIA [ Akihabara News ]

Custom Installed Residential Bowling Alleys

United Bowling Installation (Image courtesy United Bowling)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’m not thrilled with the idea of owning a house, mostly because of all the added responsibilities like cutting the lawn, shoveling snow and having to be that mean neighbor who always confiscates baseballs and Frisbees that land in my yard. But on the other hand a house allows you to do things like install a dedicated home theater or even cooler, your own bowling alley.

United Bowling Installation (Image courtesy United Bowling)

United Bowling, a Florida based company will install a 2 lane, full regulation length bowling alley in your home complete with genuine AMF and Brunswick equipment like pin stackers and ball returns. You’ll need a minimal area that’s 88 feet long, 12 feet wide with a 10 foot ceiling, but if the kids have moved out there’s no reason not to demolish their bedrooms in order to make room for such an awesome upgrade. Of course at $88,000 it’s not a cheap upgrade, but if it was worth it to Daniel Plainview, then it’s worth it to me.

[ United Bowling – Custom & Residential Packages ] VIA [ Baller House ]

RESPeRATE – Lower Your Blood Pressure Through Breathing Exercises

RESPeRATE (Images courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

High blood pressure is no laughing matter. Unless of course it happens in the cartoons where the character becomes beet red and steam blasts out of their ears, then it’s hilarious. But for real people, not so funny. So if you suffer from high blood pressure the RESPeRATE is an interactive breathing device that will supposedly lower your blood pressure when used for just 15 minutes, a few times a week.

Using a breathing sensor, RESPeRATE automatically analyzes your individual breathing pattern and creates a personalized melody composed of two distinct inhale and exhale guiding tones, delivered through comfortable earphones.

Simply listen to the melody through the headphones and synchronize your breathing to the tones. By prolonging the exhalation tone RESPeRATE guides you to slow your breathing and reach the “therapeutic zone” of less than 10 breaths per minute.

The physiological result? The muscles surrounding the small blood vessels in your body dilate, and relax. Blood is allowed to flow more freely, and pressure is directly, significantly lowered.

With a price tag of $290 the RESPeRATE is probably not only a cheaper alternative to medication, but in some studies (as published in American Journal of Hypertension) it has even been found to be more effective for certain patients.

[ RESPeRATE ] VIA [ The Red Ferret Journal ]