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Monthly Archives: August 2008

GM To Offer A Reconfigurable Performance Display In Select Vehicles Come 2009

GM's Reconfigurable Performance Display (Image courtesy GM Tuner Source)
By Andrew Liszewski

Starting in 2009, General Motors will be offering an optional ‘reconfigurable performance display’ that will allow drivers, particularly those concerned with their vehicle’s performance, to monitor everything from engine torque to horsepower to the G-forces they pulled in that last corner. The display accesses data from the car’s OBD II on-board vehicle diagnostics system which is typically used by mechanics for troubleshooting or tuning the vehicle’s performance. And while this data has already been available to drivers via third-party systems and software, the reconfigurable performance display will be an official GM dealer installed option with a price tag of $295.

In addition to providing feedback on the vehicle’s performance, the display can also be used to enable/disable traction control, provide shift lights for individual gears and gives the driver easy access to other options. While there’s no word on which vehicles in GM’s lineup will be eligible for the upgrade, it’s safe to say those brandishing the SS moniker will be some of the first.

[ GM Tuner Source – Reconfigurable Performance Display Available for 2009 ] VIA [ Autoblog ]

USB Mini Controller With Detachable Micro Steering Wheel

USB Mini Controller (Image courtesy Dream Cheeky)
By Andrew Liszewski

I’m not so sure that the detachable micro steering wheel on this USB M.A.D. Gamepad will give you the most realistic driving experience, but if you’re looking to kill some time on a long flight where personal space is at a premium, it’s at least better than relying on a 4-way directional pad. Of course if it gets in the way when it comes to playing other games the micro wheel can be easily removed which leaves you with a pretty standard looking gamepad with 8 buttons (including the shoulders) an 8-way directional controller and a lengthy 6 foot USB cable. It only comes with Windows-friendly drivers and for some reason they require a whopping 50MB of free space on your drive, but you can order one from Dream Cheeky for an undisclosed price.

[ USB Mini Controller ]

The Games We Played – Tiger Electronics Hang-On

Tiger Electronics Hang-On (Image property of OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

What a difference a year can make. Last week I wrote about Tiger’s Electronic Baseball which was one of the company’s first handheld LCD games. It featured simple graphics, basic controls and lame sound effects, and like any kid, I eventually got bored of the game. So when the time came to find a replacement, Electronic Hang-On seemed to offer so much more. The game is dated 1988 on the back, and it’s interesting to see how Tiger advanced the ‘platform’ in just a year’s time. The obvious improvement is the use of a licensed and already popular video game property. While Baseball was rather generic, Hang-On was a well-known SEGA title, and Tiger realized that players already familiar with the console version of the game would no doubt embrace a portable version as well. Clearly, the strategy worked on me.

Tiger Electronics Hang-On (Image property of OhGizmo!)

The Tiger handheld games themselves also saw some much needed improvement. The lame two button controls of Baseball were replaced with a 4-way directional pad on one side (admittedly ‘down’ doesn’t actually do anything) and a set of accelerate and brake buttons on the other. While Hang-On’s gameplay featured the popular and somewhat overused ‘dodge the oncoming traffic’ approach, thanks to twisty roads and a turbo mode it could be quite challenging, and helped to pass many hours in the back of our minivan. I’d have to say the game’s sound effects saw the most improvement, and come pretty close to recreating the actual whine you’d get from a racing bike tearing down the highway. Even playing it now I’m somewhat impressed by how it sounds.

Unfortunately even with these improvements and a few other clever gimmicks the company created for later titles, the Tiger handhelds didn’t stand a chance against Nintendo’s Game Boy which was released in North America in August of 1989. And even though I was quick to embrace the Game Boy when it was released, I still had a soft spot for Hang-On and Baseball which is probably why they’re still in my collection so many years later.

[ Wikipedia – Tiger Electronics ]

PC Toaster Bay Is Too Good To Be True

By Luke Anderson

Toast is one of those foods that’s so easy to make that anyone can do it. But can you do it from the comfort of your computer? Yes, you can in fact make toast while sitting at your desk. How you ask? With this simple PC Toaster Bay, you can pop in a slice of white (or wheat, if that’s your thing) and have it heated to perfection.

Honestly, if it weren’t the end of August, I’d think that this were some kind of April Fool’s gag. Well, despite the late month, it is indeed a springtime prank. The product listing seems legit, however, the thought of installing something in my desktop whose sole purpose is to generate heat just didn’t sit well. Upon clicking the button to order it, I was informed that I was had, and the product is a phony. Oh well, looks like I’m still going to have to walk all the way to the kitchen. And here I’d already stocked my mini-fridge with butter and jam.

[ Crazy PC ] VIA [ Crave ]

Teddy Bear USB Drive Now Available To The Masses

By Luke Anderson

Remember way, way back in 2006 when we showed you an awesome USB flash drive mod featuring a decapitated teddy bear? That was seriously one of my favorite mods, simply from the picture of a bear’s body sticking out of a USB port. Well, someone has done the unthinkable. They’ve decided to mass-produce a similar drive and sell it to the public.

The drive looks like an ordinary teddy bear, but simply rip off its head, and you’ve got yourself a 1GB flash drive. I have to say that I’m disappointed in the 1GB capacity, but I’m willing to overlook it due to just how awesome the drive itself is. If you have a morbid sense of humor, then by all means pick one of these up for $17.

[ USB Geek ] VIA [ GeekAlerts ]

Concept Headset Can Make You Better, Stronger, Faster And Harder!

By Jonathan Kimak

This conceptual headset, named the Nike FeelFree, uses binaural beats to stimulate the brain in a variety of ways. Binaural beats are a combination of two tones at slightly different frequencies. One tone is presented and heard by one ear while the second tone is presented and heard by the other ear. The user must have stereo headphones on for the binaural sounds to have an effect.

Depending on the frequencies, the binaural sounds emitted can help with meditation, focus, learning and sleeping. The FeelFree will have adjustable settings for each of those functions. The aim is for an individual to wear this for a period of time during their activity of choice and be able to get the maxium beneficial effect from it. The frequencies for concentration, betweeb 13 and 40Hz, are also linked to arousal, so be careful where you choose to study.

I have a CD that uses binaural sounds mixed in with relaxation sounds that is meant to stimulate the brain into a meditative mode without the need to spend 20 years sitting atop a mountain. I haven’t used it often enough to say whether it actually works or not though. The FeelFree would not use music or hamper your hearing as it would conduct the sounds through the bones in your head.

I think it would be quite cool if this ever got made.

[ The Design Blog ] VIA [ Tech Digest ]

DogPause Forces Your Pup To Slow Down When Eating

By Luke Anderson

Have you ever gone to feed your dog, only to watch them devour it in a matter of minutes? Well apparently it’s just as bad for dogs to wolf down their food as it is for humans. To slow your pooch down you could always slowly give them more food, but that’s extra work for you. A better option might be this DogPause bowl.

This bowl has “SlowZones” which are simply raised areas of the bowl that intend to slow your pup down. According to the information, it can slow down consumption by up to 50%. If you’re concerned about the way your dog eats, then this $18 investment might be what you need.

[ DogPauseBowl ] VIA [ RedFerret ]

Folderix Drives Look Like Brightly Colored Folders

By Luke Anderson

If you’re ever looking for a way to show off your individuality in the workplace, you could always redecorate your cubical in some sort of tropical theme. If you’re not that outgoing, there’s always the option of buying a fancy USB flash drive. These Folderix drives will definitely turn a head or two.

These sleek folder-themed drives come to us from the Art. Lebedev Studio, which is most noted for their extremely expensive (and awesome) Optimus Maximus keyboard. Sure, these drives aren’t as cool as a keyboard with tiny LCD screens, but they’re still not too hard on the eyes. They’re a bit pricey though, as a 4GB model will run you $55.

[ Art. Lebedev Studio ] VIA [ Dvice ]

Glow And Throw UFO Flying Disc

Glow And Throw UFO Flying Disc (Images courtesy ThinkGeek)
By Andrew Liszewski

As ThinkGeek points out, you technically can’t refer to these flying discs as ‘UFOs’ because they’re not ‘unidentified.’ But since IFOs doesn’t have the same ring to it, I’m going to cut them some slack, particularly since the Summer is soon drawing to a close, and these look like an entertaining way to spend an evening while the weather’s still nice. The Glow And Throw kit comes with a 9.25 inch flying plastic disc that features a set of symmetrically drilled holes. It also comes with 14 green, red, blue, orange and yellow glow tubes that you can thread and connect through these holes so that when the disc is thrown, persistence of vision creates some unusual looking 3D shapes.

You can get the starter kit from ThinkGeek which includes the flying disc, the glow tubes and a set of connectors for $9.99, while a set of 14 additional glow tubes and connectors is $3.99.

[ Glow And Throw UFO Flying Disc ] VIA [ Toyology ]