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Monthly Archives: January 2009

Limited Edition NES Controller Varsity Jacket Is Pretty Terrible

Limited Edition NES Controller Varsity Jacket (Images courtesy 80sTees)
By Andrew Liszewski

Normally I’m all over any type of clothing that features retro 1980’s Nintendo styling, but there’s just something about this NES controller varsity jacket that isn’t doing it for me. Not even the small controller applique on the front left chest or the fact that it’s only available in a limited edition run of 1,000 jackets could get me to walk down the street wearing this thing. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of those obnoxious leather 8-Ball jackets from a bygone era I choose not to remember.

But if you disagree, the NES Controller Varsity Jacket can be yours from for $200, and is available in sizes up to 4XL.

[ Limited Edition NES Controller Varsity Jacket ] VIA [ Geekologie ]

‘Starry Sky Navigator’ To Use The New DS Direction Sensing Card

Starry Sky Navigator (Image courtesy AstroArts Inc.)
By Andrew Liszewski

Last week it was discovered that Nintendo had registered a trademark in Japan for a “DS Houi Sensor Card” that could be used to detect the direction in which a DS user was pointing. Since that time there’s been a lot of speculation as to which games would take advantage of this card, and how they’d use it. Well it turns out the first game to use the new technology is actually a stargazing app called Hoshizora Navi (aka Starry Night Navigator) from a Japanese developer called AstroArts.

The ‘game’ includes data for 9,300 stars, planets, suns and moons from as far back as 1900 to as far ahead as 2099, allowing you to see what the sky looked like while your parents and even grandparents were using boring old telescopes. The direction sensing card will be used to automatically orient the game’s star charts so what you see in the sky matches what you see on-screen, allowing you to click on various constellations or celestial objects for more detailed information. Hoshizora Navi will go on sale in Japan on March 26 for a rather steep $90.

[ AstroArts – Starry Sky Navigator ] VIA [ Siliconera ]

Motion Tracking Web Camera

The Motion Tracking Web Camera (Image courtesy Hammacher Schlemmer)
By Andrew Liszewski

Under the right circumstances, I’m sure this motion tracking web camera could be handy for catching something in the act, but if you’re buying one with the hopes of foiling a burglary attempt or some other nefarious crime, you’ll probably be out of luck. It’s capable of capturing 640×480 videos at 30 frames per second which can be streamed and monitored remotely over the internet, and when motion is detected, the camera is able to pan 180° and tilt up to 60° in order to automatically track the moving object. And in the event something is detected, the included software can be set to send you a notification email allowing you to immediately check the video feed and even take manual control of the camera.

But in order for it to work you’ll need to leave your PC or laptop running with the camera connected, and odds are that’ll be the first target a would-be thief would go for. So unless you’re lucky enough to see the perp before they grab your hardware, your $89.95 investment might not be so worthwhile.

[ The Motion Tracking Web Camera ] VIA [ Gear Live ]

AT&T Announces First Femtocell For 3G Users


By Luke Anderson

Last year I found the perfect new apartment to move into. It was much larger than my previous abode, had a two-car garage, a pond view and the price was right. Unfortunately after I moved in I found that it wasn’t quite perfect. Despite the fact that AT&T had great coverage in the entire city, I was lucky to manage a single bar of service. I live in something of a valley surrounded by trees, which means I’m probably never going to get great service. They added a new tower and upgraded to 3G, but I’m still rarely able to get a decent signal. So do I move? Do I switch carriers and hope that I get a better signal (and give up my iPhone)? No, it looks like I’ll be able to (hopefully) get my hands on a femtocell and get a better signal.

If you’re not familiar with the term femtocell, it’s basically a small device that hooks into your router (or it is built into your router in some cases) and uses your internet to boost the wireless signal. AT&T has finally jumped on this bandwagon and announced the AT&T 3G MicroCell. Hook one of these up to a broadband connection and it will provide up to 10 phones a strong 3G signal. Of course only 4 of these 10 registered devices can actually be used concurrently. Pricing and availability have not yet been disclosed, but you can bet that I’ll be first in line to get one. I’ve been forced to pay Comcast a hefty fee for their crappy VoIP service, and I can’t wait to ditch it.

[ AT&T ] VIA [ SlipperyBrick ]

US Senate Delays Digital TV Transition By Four Months


By Luke Anderson

I’m not yet a parent, but there are a few things that I’ve learned about human behavior that makes me thing that I’ll do alright. One major thing that I’ve observed is that if you tell a child that a specific action will result in a punishment, you’d better keep your word. Otherwise they will eventually learn that you are simply making empty threats, and that they can go on doing whatever they please without consequence. Believe it or not, the same thing applies with adults. If you tell them that their TV will stop working after February 17th unless they get a new TV or a converter, don’t go extending that deadline.

It appears that my words are too late, as those who have either been living under a rock, or just didn’t bother to get with the program are getting a four month reprieve. The senate has decided to postpone the digital TV transition until June 12th. They’ve been talking about this switch for years now, and I’ve been hearing about the coupon program on the very stations that will be lost for months. If you decided to wait until January to pick up a coupon (or let the one you received expire as many people have), then I have little sympathy for you. Sure, if you’ve genuinely been trying to get one for months but have run into issues, then I understand. The word is that there are currently 20 million Americans who are unprepared for the switch. If the number were down to 15 million by June I’d be shocked.

VIA [ Reuters ]

Toaster Tuesday: Toast Launcher


By Evan Ackerman

This conceptual toaster, designed by Ivo Vos, is a self-styled “post-functional product.” I don’t know exactly what that means, but I do know that this toaster actually fires toast. No pun intended. You can adjust the launch angle and initial velocity of the toast in order to compensate for variables like humidity or white versus wheat bread, the goal being to have it end up on your plate, perfectly toasted.

The big secret to catching the toast is, of course, to first spread butter on your plate. Since bread always lands butter side down, the toast will be unfailingly attracted right to you. Sure, it’ll be upside down, but just go right ahead and butter that side too and make yourself a toast ‘n butter sandwich. Mmmmmm.

By the way, I would just like to point out that some people are incorrectly calling this a toaster trebuchet. Trebuchets are gravity driven, lever based throwing arms, whereas this toaster is more like a ballista, which uses torsion (in this case, a spring) to launch projectiles. The more you know!

[ Ivo Vos ] VIA [ Trend Hunter ]

Mouse Netbook Includes Optical Drive


By Evan Ackerman

It’s unclear where exactly the line between netbook and small laptop is, but the Mouse computer LB-F1500W certainly blurs it by including an optical drive. Not just a CD drive, either… They’ve crammed a DVD burner in there. The rest of the specs are fairly bland, including a 1.6 GHz Atom, a gig of ram, a 160 gig HD, 10.2″ 1024 x 600 display, and Windows XP Home.

Is this a useful feature to have on a netbook? I have my doubts. There are certainly specific instances where having an optical drive comes in handy, but is it something that’s necessary to a computer that’s designed to be (generally) minimalist and efficient? It would be nice for, say, being able to watch a DVD while on the plane or something. But I’m sure battery life takes a pretty significant hit and the computer has got to weigh more and have a larger case, all things that netbooks were designed specifically to avoid. A much better solution would be to just get a little external USB powered DVD drive to have when you want it… And even with that, you’ll still probably be saving money over the $729 price of the LB-F1500W if you get yourself something better. Like, oh, I don’t know, maybe an MSI Wind?

VIA [ CrunchGear ]

Fast Finger Keyboards For You Hunt & Peck Types

Fast Finger Keyboard (Image courtesy Fast Finger Keyboards)
By Andrew Liszewski

How many times have you snatched a keyboard away from a non-typist friend or family member because you couldn’t stand the agonizing wait while they sat there and searched for the next letter? Well Faith Quintavell experienced a similar thing while waiting for a mechanic to type in the details for a long line of “impatient clients.” But instead of flipping out and just doing it herself, the experience inspired her to create the Fast Finger Keyboard which features the keys laid out alphabetically, making them easier to find. And as an added bonus, the function keys across the top of the keyboard also double as shortcuts for common prefixes like ‘www’ or the ‘@’ symbol, as well as common IM abbreviations.

Normally I’d recommend that everyone should invest the time to become a touch typist as it’s most definitely a useful skill these days, but I’ve come to realize that isn’t going to happen. So for just $27.95, this is at least an affordable alternative.

[ Fast Finger Keyboard ] VIA [ Chip Chick ]

Shark Fin Ice Tray

Shark Fin Ice Tray (Image courtesy
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a clever ice cube mold that truly brings something new and unique to your next party. And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing quite as refreshing as sipping a drink that’s been chilled by a LEGO minifig or Han Solo frozen in carbonite, but these shark fin ice cubes are pretty great. They’re engineered like an iceberg so that the fin part always stays upright in your glass, just visible above the beverage line, while the rest of the ice cube remains submerged. And for just over $8 from, how can you go wrong?

[ Shark Fin Ice Tray ] VIA [ Nerd Approved ]