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Monthly Archives: March 2008

Power Assist Wagon Is Perfect For Overweight Kids

Power Assist Wagon (Image courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer)By Andrew Liszewski

Little kids can tire pretty quickly, so it’s not uncommon to see a toddler or two being pulled around in a Radio Flyer wagon. But I’ll admit, I do feel a bit sorry for the parents when it’s obvious the kid has been over-indulging in the food department. (Baby fat or not, it’s still extra weight to drag around.) That’s where this Power Assist Wagon comes to the rescue since it uses two 30-watt motors to make it easier to pull on inclines or rugged terrain.

The power assist controls are located in the handle, so all you need to is select forwards or backwards, and then squeeze the handle’s accelerator. The wagon has a top speed of 2 1/2 mph so it should be pretty safe, and simply releasing the accelerator kills the power to the motors, bringing it to a stop. The 12-volt rechargeable lead acid battery is sealed in plastic along with the motors and gear box to keep out water, sand and other debris. On an 8-hour charge you can expect to get about 60 minutes of run time, so you’d better save the power assist for when you really need it.

It’s available from Hammacher Schlemmer for $179.95.

[ Power Assist Wagon ]

New Kyocera Printhead Technology Promises 1,000 Sheets Per Minute

Kyocera KJ4 Series Printhead (Image courtesy 7Gadgets)
By Andrew Liszewski

The Kyocera Corporation recently announced that it has developed the world’s fastest high-resolution inkjet printhead for commercial applications. In fact the KJ4 Series achieved a print speed of 150 meters per minute on a Miyakoshi MJP600 commercial printer, at a resolution of 600×600 dpi. That translates to about 1,000 A4-sized pages a minute, or an even more impressive 16 pages a second.

To pull off this feat, the company applied its proprietary piezoelectric ceramics technology to create a compact piezo actuator that controls the ink flow. And its this component that makes the high-speed, high-resolution printing possible. While the KJ4 series was tested in a commercial printer, I’m not entirely sure if it will ever be available in consumer level inkjet printers. At least not one that’s capable of spitting out 1,000 pages a minute.

[ KYOCERA Introduces World’s Fastest Drop-on-Demand Inkjet Printhead ] VIA [ 7Gadgets ]

Al Jaffee’s Mad Fold-Ins In Interactive Form

Al Jaffee's Mad Fold-Ins (Images courtesy The New York Times)
By Andrew Liszewski

I can remember reading my dad’s stacks of Mad magazine as a kid. But except for the occasional 80’s sitcom parody, most of the humor went well over my head. However, even if I didn’t understand the joke or scathing political satire, I still thoroughly enjoyed the fold-ins appearing on the inside of the back cover.

The New York Times website, of all places, now has an interactive gallery of cartoonist Al Jaffee’s Mad fold-ins, from the 1960’s to the present. They cover everything from US Presidents, to war, to pop culture and now that I’m technically a grown-up, it’s nice to actually ‘get’ the satire. But more importantly the gallery is also interactive, allowing you to actually fold and unfold the fold-ins, without ever making an unsightly crease on the page.

[ Al Jaffee’s Fold-Ins, Past and Present ] VIA [ Fazed ]

Bangai-O Spirits For The Nintendo DS Allows You To Share Your Custom Levels As Sound Files

Nintendo DS Bangai-O Spirits (Image courtesy GameSpot)By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re old enough to remember the cassette drive for the Commodore 64, you might find this interesting. Bangai-O Spirits for the Nintendo DS is a mix between a Nanostray-like shooter, and a 2D platformer. The game includes a robust level editor that not only allows you to modify the included levels, but also make your own from scratch.

But what’s the fun of making your own levels if you can’t share them with other players? D3, who developed the game, obviously agrees. But instead of using the Nintendo DS’s wifi connection to share level data, the game actually saves them as sound files. So to share a level with a friend you simply need to hold the DS’s mic to the speakers on the other DS and play back the file. But what if none of your local friends have the game? Well that’s where this gets even more interesting, since players have been posting YouTube videos of their save game sound files. So to download the level to your own DS, you simply need to hold the mic near your computer’s speakers. I’ve included a video sample of someone downloading a level to their DS, and it pretty much sounds like what you’d expect.

Unfortunately the game is only available in Japan, and as far as I know there are no plans to bring it to North America. However you can import it from online stores like Play-Asia for about $50.

[ Bangai-O Spirits uses the world’s best level-sharing network ] VIA [ ALBOTAS ]

Mini Tritium Glowing Keychain Is Good For 10 Years

Mini Tritium Glowring Keychain (Images courtesy DealExtreme)
By Andrew Liszewski

Even if you’ve never heard of tritium before, odds are you’ve already experienced it. The radioactive material is used in compasses, gun sights, watches and other items you might need to use at night. While something like LEDs actually throw off far more light, the real advantage to tritium is that it doesn’t need a power source. In fact it will glow for years and years, even in complete darkness. The tiny piece used in this keychain will glow for about 10 years, and will ensure you’ll never lose your keys if you drop them in the woods in the middle of the night while the moon’s blocked out by clouds and you don’t happen to have a flashlight.

They’re available from DealExtreme for just $9.80 and come in either a white glow or green glow version. And while the material is radioactive, it’s safe to use in consumer products since the beta particles it emits are too weak to even penetrate human skin. (Though at one point we thought radium was safe to use too.)

[ Mini Tritium Glowring Keychain ] VIA [ Gear Diary ]

Rechargeable Outdoor Candles

Rechargeable Outdoor Candles (Image courtesy Home Infatuation)By Andrew Liszewski

I’m starting to see faint signs here and there that Spring might actually make a return to my city. (There were doubts.) So it’s finally time to break out the outdoor gadgets. These semi-realistic looking outdoor candles are made from silicone and use an LED light bulb to replicate the natural flickering effect of an actual flame. On a full charge the faux candles can last for about 12 hours, though I’m not sure how long it takes to recharge them. And while they’re not 100% waterproof (i.e. don’t leave them outside in a downpour) they can withstand the occasional splash.

A set of 4 candles with charger is available from Home Infatuation for $89.95.

[ Rechargeable Outdoor Candles ] VIA [ Cribcandy ]

C-Jump Programming Board Game Is Slightly Better Than Socks


By Evan Ackerman

Okay, I know some of you probably think that this is the coolest thing ever and you wish your parents had given you a board game that teaches basic programming concepts when you were 11 years old. If they had, you’d probably be pulling down six figs by now. C-Jump uses a ski race theme to introduce kids to loops, conditional statements, variables, and syntax used in C, C++, and Java. But come on, when you were 11, what did you really want? That’s right, a Nintendo 64.

C-Jump is $24.95 with free shipping in the US; scary pic of the game board after the jump.Continue Reading

Beamz USB Laser Music System Has Cowbell

Beamz Music

By Evan Ackerman

Just over a month ago, we wrote about a homebuilt laser harp that you play by selectively blocking out laser beams to generate tones. It looked pretty complicated to construct, but now you can buy your own in a slick silvery finish that’s powered by USB. The device includes 30 songs in 19 musical genres to provide background tracks, and breaking the laser beams generates “pre-authored pulses, streams, riffs or loops of musical notes or sounds from an incredible variety of instruments from around the world — guitars, steel guitar, strings of all types, percussion, keyboards, winds, even cowbell.” Thankfully, the Beamz Music Performance System has some brains inside that do their best to prevent you from causing blood to pour out the ears of your audience:

The notes are timed to the beat of the rhythm accompaniment and that as you trigger each one, an appropriate musical sequence of notes is played depending upon the rhythm accompaniment’s current key. In short, you’re performing much like a music conductor: you’re calling upon each instrument and controlling the shape of the music, but the beamz software is taking care of making sure everything fits together seamlessly.

I just have two questions: does it have bagpipes, and can I get more cowbell with that? The Beamz Music Performance System will be available from Sharper Image for about $600 (!).

[ Beamz Music Performance System ] VIA [ Geekalerts ]

Sideshow Collectibles Life-Size R2-D2 & C-3PO

R2-D2 & C-3PO Life-Size Figures (Images courtesy Sideshow Collectibles)
By Andrew Liszewski

How do you prove you’re truly a hardcore Star Wars fan? I would say that spending $5,950 for a life-size C-3PO figure, and $5,450 for his astromech sidekick R2-D2 would be more than adequate. Sideshow Collectibles now has both of these droids available for pre-order and they’ll actually ship sometime in the third quarter of this year.

Besides being incredibly accurate reproductions, both figures are made from fiberglass and feature lights and sounds powered by a set of AA batteries. They each come with their own display base as well as a magnetically attached restraining bolt to keep them in check. I can only assume that both droids will be available in limited quantities, so if you’d like to pre-order either one you’ll need to cough up a $950, non-refundable deposit.

[ Sideshow Collectibles Life-Size R2-D2 & C-3PO ] VIA [ ]