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Monthly Archives: July 2008

Homer Simpson USB Monitor Lights Are Just Plain Tacky

By Luke Anderson

I like The Simpsons, I’ve been watching it pretty regularly for years. Despite my love for the Springfield family, there is no way you would every find these Homer Simpson USB Monitor Lights anywhere near my desk.

Yes, Homer is funny and he does a lot of crazy stuff. But just the thought of trying to do anything on a computer monitor covered in these things makes my eye twitch. If you don’t mind not being able to see things like your tool bars and address bars, then by all means grab this USB lights for around $32.

[ DrinkStuff ] VIA [ GeekAlerts ]

The Games We Played – Mario Paint (SNES)

Mario Paint (SNES) (Images courtesy Wikipedia, Press The Buttons, The Mushroom Kingdom)
By Andrew Liszewski

With titles like Nintendogs, Elektroplankton or the upcoming Wii Music, Nintendo has shown that they’re a big advocate of casual or ‘non-game’ games. (Or whatever you want to call them.) And while you might think this is a recent trend, from what I can recall, their first venture away from traditional games was a title called Mario Paint for the Super Nintendo. While it did include a couple of simple games that were basically there to teach you how to use the included mouse, Mario Paint was more focused on creative activities like drawing, painting or even animation. I definitely enjoyed Mario Paint as a kid, particularly when I needed a break from Super Mario World, and in my later years (high school-ish) it even came in handy for creating animated titles for a handful of video projects.

But what really made Mario Paint fun (for me at least), and what seems to have given the game a new life on YouTube, was the built-in song composer where you could lay out various classic Nintendo sound effects on a virtual piece of sheet music and then play back your musical creations. When I first got the game I actually wasn’t that interested in the song composer (the songs I made were usually pretty crappy) until I found a book that showed you how to use it to recreate actual songs like the Star Wars theme. After that I spent countless hours painstakingly laying out the sound effects while I tried to figure out what notes came next in a particular song. By the time the N64 came along, Mario Paint was all but forgotten, but last month I was surprised to find there was still a thriving community of people creating (and re-creating) music using the Mario Paint composer. To give you an idea of what it was capable of, and how awesome it really was, here’s a video of Michael Jackson’s Thriller as re-created in the MP composer.

And if you’re looking to kill some more time, here’s a few other impressive Mario Paint creations I found on YouTube:

Mario Paint – Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Mario Paint – Portal – Still Alive
Mario Paint – The Office Theme
Mario Paint – Gary Jules – Mad World
Mario Paint – The Beatles – Blackbird
Mario Paint – Haddaway – What Is Love?

And if this post has inspired you to make your own Mario Paint musical masterpiece, but you don’t have an SNES or a copy of the game, there’s actually a PC version (Windows or OSX) of the song composer called Mario Paint Composer which features all of the samples from the original game.

[ Wikipedia – Mario Paint ]

Hitachi Announces New CinemaStar DVR Hard Drives

This post is syndicated with permission from

I am a DVR nut and record everything — even if I plan to watch it right then. I like to let the show get about 15 minutes ahead of live TV so I can skip all of the commercials. I also have kids so we tend to collect gobs of Dora episodes as well. When we start running out of space on the DVR, everyone gets nervous that their programs will be deleted.

Hitachi has announced some new hard drives that are aimed at the DVR user in its CinemaStar line. The more interesting of the two new drives is the CinemaStar 7K1000.B. This drive has a massive 1TB storage capacity and can hold 247 hours of MPEG-4 encoded HD video and support ten simultaneous data streams. My pathetic DVR drive can only hold 30 hours of HD programs.

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Meridian’s 4096 x 2400 Pixel Projector – I Guess That’s Impressive

Meridian 810 Projector (Image courtesy Gizmodo)
By Andrew Liszewski

Tiny, ultra-portable projectors might be grabbing most of the attention these days, but what you gain in portability, you lose in image quality and brightness. So if you’re instead looking for a top-of-the-line model for your dream home theater, you can go ahead and add the Meridian 810 to your wish list. It’s the type of projector you need to plan and make room for, but with a resolution of 4096 x 2400 (or 10 megapixels) I think it’s definitely worth converting that spare bedroom into a dedicated projector room. The 810 uses specially calibrated light engine panels from JVC along with a 4000 lumen lamp to project an image on a screen up to 25 feet wide without any visible pixelation. And since most home theater enthusiasts only have access to 1920 x 1080 HD source material, the Meridian 810 uses four 1080p scalers working together to up-res anything from 480i to 1080p up to its full 10MP resolution. In fact I can’t really see a downside to Meridian’s latest offering, unless you have a problem dropping $185,000 on a projector. (Hmm… new house or new projector… new house or new projector…)

[ Meridian ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

Travelmate Portable Fireplace

Travelmate Portable Fireplace (Image courtesy Unica Home)
By Andrew Liszewski

While technically you can turn anything into a ‘fireplace’ with just a pile of fuel soaked rags and a book of matches, this Travelmate portable fireplace is probably a much safer alternative. While it looks like a briefcase, it’s actually made from black powder-coated steel with glass panels on the sides and weighs about 55 lbs, so it’s not exactly the lightest thing to carry around. But it’s completely self-contained and is smokeless since it burns bio-ethanol liquid fuel instead of firewood. And as an added bonus, if you do choose to use it as a briefcase, it seems like the perfect place to permanently “file” any incriminating documents you don’t want falling into the wrong hands.

It’s available from Unica Home for $3,300, and at that price you’d think they’d at least throw in a bottle of liquid fuel, but I’m afraid it’s not included.

[ Travelmate Portable Fireplace ] VIA [ Nerd Approved ]

Put This In The Garage Next To The Lamborghini

By Jonathan Kimak

Jetpacks have always seemed extremely cool, even if the prospect of going hundreds of miles an hour with only a set of goggles protecting you from a speck of dust that could gouge your eyes out. Yesterday a real jetpack was revealed to the people at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture, a weeklong air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The Martin Jetpack, which is technically classified as an ultralight aircraft, can hover for 30 minutes and can theoretically reach 8,000 feet. So far the jetpack has only gone as high as 6 feet with someone wearing it. No one is allowed to fly this $100,000 machine without having 15 hours of training and a safety screening that presumably keeps the Bond supervillains from getting their hands on one of these.

[ MSNBC ] VIA [ Engadget ]

Video of the jetpack in action after the jump

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Pentax Launches Cheap Optio E60

This post is syndicated with permission from

Digital cameras are getting smaller, cheaper and growing megapixels all the time. It’s funny to think about how expensive digital cameras with 10-megapixels were not so long ago and now even the cheapest entry-level cameras sport 10-megapixel resolutions.

For example, Pentax announced its Optio E60 digital camera that will retail for under $140 when it launches in October. The camera has a 10.1-megapixel sensor and a 3x optical zoom lens. In addition to shooting still images, the camera can also record video.

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Microsoft Unveils Sphere Prototype

By Andrew Liszewski

It’s taken us years and years to finally shed those annoyingly-curved CRT monitors and TVs, but Microsoft apparently feels that we should not only return to curved displays, but one that features a full 360 degrees of imagery. This week they unveiled their Sphere prototype which works just like the company’s Surface technology, but applied to a spherical interface and display. The technology and hardware needed to run the Sphere is a bit more advanced than what Surface uses, since it has to warp the images and the interface so that it looks correct when projected onto a dome, and as a result Sphere won’t be moving past the research project phase anytime soon. And as gimmicky as it might seem, there are some cool applications that come to mind like an interactive globe (as demo’d in the video) or a better way to watch and interact with 360 degree videos and panoramas.

[ Seattle PI – Video: Microsoft’s Sphere display in action ] VIA [ Gizmodo ]

It’s A Box, It’s A Sofa, It’s SofaBox!

By Luke Anderson

Have you ever been somewhere and thought to yourself “man, I wish that I had a couch”? I know, I think that all the time too. Well if you need to satisfy those urges to sit with some friends, or just lie down for a bit, then you need the SofaBox.

This mystical box is more than just an ordinary box for storing things in. Open the lid and gaze in wonder at the cushions that appear, then sit upon them and rejoice. Of course you’ll need to haul this thing around whenever you might want a seat for three, and lets face it, no one wants to keep something like in their car (not that it would fit, unless you’ve got a large SUV or truck). If you’ve got $2,700 burning a hole in your pocket, and you really like having a couch with you, then by all means buy a SofaBox.

[ SofaBox ] VIA [ CrunchGear ]