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Tag Archives: General

Rubber Band Machine Gun Will Make You Feel Like ‘Rambo’


I still remember the rubber band wars during my school years. It was pretty annoying when you get hit by one, but shooting them at others appeared to be the best feeling. Keeping that feeling in mind, Alex Shpetniy and Brian Dinh have created a Rubber Band Machine Gun, yes, you’re reading it right. The Rubber Band Machine Gun consists of 672 rubber bands, with a firing speed of 14 shots per second. The machine gun comes with 700 spare rubber bands and will be available in three different colors.

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Consumer Reports: When To Repair, When To Replace


By Evan Ackerman

Being the frustratingly indecisive and demanding consumer that I am, I find Consumer Reports to be an invaluable resource for major purchases. Their winter 2010 electronics buying guide has hit the shelves, chock full of handy and ad free advice on what to buy and where. One of the more helpful tidbits is this chart, which tells you when to repair stuff and when to replace stuff based on the advice of market analysts and engineering experts and taking into account improvements in new models.

Of course, much of this information depends on what kind of user you are… If you’re a hardcore gamer, you might not be able to survive for more than a year or two without upgrading your system. It’s also worth mentioning that for computers (both desktops and laptops), upgrading while repairing (or just upgrading) is often a viable option. It’s a slightly easier process with desktops than with laptops, of course, but even with laptops, it’s often possible to upgrade hard drives (to improve the speed or capacity) and RAM. And you can do it yourself, for pretty cheap… Usually, all it takes is a screwdriver and a little perseverance.

If nothing else, this chart is a handy way to justify upgrading some of your gear. Hey, if Consumer Reports says I should replace my plasma TV with something new after I accidentally smash my crappy old one with a hammer, who am I to argue? Not that I actually own a plasma TV, of course. Or, for that matter, a hammer.

[ Consumer Reports Blog ] VIA [ Consumerist ]

Maker Faire 2009 Gallery


By Evan Ackerman

There was a lot of cool stuff at Maker Faire this year. Like, seriously, a lot. I was there for both days and I didn’t feel like I managed to see everything, although my sore feet and full memory cards would beg to differ. Gallery of pics, after the jump.Continue Reading

Maker Faire 2009: Tesla Coils

By Evan Ackerman

One of the most popular attractions at Maker Faire are the Tesla coils. There were several scattered around, although the most prominent are the twin 10-foot coils constructed by Nevada Lightning Lab. The coils have no problem bridging a 25 foot gap with several million volt discharges, and they can wirelessly power nearby electronics as well as cook hot dogs.


There was also a somewhat smaller (okay, WAY smaller) coil from the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics. It was a sparky little guy, though, and a brave grad student (or a not-so-brave one who knows how electricity works) donned a suit of metal armor and did battle with the electrons.


More pics, including a lovely closeup of a discharge and a long exposure of a three phase Jacob’s ladder, after the jump.Continue Reading

Time Warner Attempts To Outlaw Faster, Cheaper Community Broadband


By Evan Ackerman

You may not realize it, but here in the US, our internet kinda sucks. We pay more money for less speed than just about everyone else in Europe and Asia. The town of Wilson, in North Carolina, got fed up with this and decided to form their own community ISP, called Greenlight, which was unsurprisingly able to compete so effectively with more traditional companies like Time Warner that you can’t even really call it competition:

For example, the city offers an expanded basic cable (81 channels), 10 Mbps (download and upload), and a digital phone plan with unlimited long distance to the U.S. and Canada, all for $99.95. A comparable plan from Time Warner Inc., with six fewer channels (no Cartoon Network, Disney, The Science Channel, ESPNU, ESPN News, or ESPN Classic) and lower upload speeds costs $137.95, for an introductory rate, which lasts a few months and then will likely be ratcheted up.

Greenlight also offers every single cable channel plus premium channels, unlimited phone service, and 20mbps internet for $170 (Time Warner’s fastest available service is 15mbps). And as if that wasn’t enough, Greenlight even has a 100 mbps service. Oh, and you know what else? They have 24/7 local phone support and actually respond to feedback from their community. See? It’s so much better, it’s not even funny. So, you’d think that in light of this, Time Warner would realize that their overpriced and underperforming services would need an overhaul to remain competitive in a world that depends so heavily on internet.

Instead, Time Warner is lobbying the North Carolina senate to pass legislation outlawing community ISPs. And it’s apparently working, too, which I can’t figure out because what could possibly be wrong with providing a better service to people at a cheaper price? Time Warner’s argument is that they can’t compete against a community-owned ISP that’s able to provide services at cost, but it seems to me that the real issue is that Time Warner’s services cost a lot, and they suck, and that’s why there’s no competition. If Time Warner wants to complain about competition, maybe they should first try to get competitive, instead of attempting to outlaw anyone who does things better than they do.

[ DailyTech ] VIA [ Engadget ]

OhGizmo Preview: Pixar’s Up


By Evan Ackerman

I’m a big fan of Pixar movies, as you may have noticed. Even so, I was a little bit, um, let’s say, skeptical when I first saw the trailer:

It wasn’t the flying house that I was worried about. It was the crotchety old man versus the slightly chubby, irrepressibly annoying little kid. What a hilaaaarious juxtaposition, as proven by myriads of mediocre sitcoms!

All I can say now is, I should have had more faith in Pixar. Over the weekend, Disney invited us to meet with director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera, followed by a screening of the first half of the movie… And at this point, the only thing I’m worried about is how I’m going to survive until May 29th a whole 45 minutes short of the entire movie. More about Up (spoiler-free except for one little tidbit), after the jump.Continue Reading

Maker’s Bill Of Rights

By Evan Ackerman

We all spend a lot of money on gadgets, and it’s really damn frustrating when electronics companies seem to do their level best to make things difficult or impossible to repair… If I own it, shouldn’t I be able to fix it? This is what the Maker’s Bill Of Rights calls for.


Some of these things are not entirely practical for some consumer electronics, sure… But come on, why can’t everyone just use USB power adapters? Seriously? The reason, of course, is that every time you buy a new gadget you have to buy a new power adapter for $15 that costs the company a dime to make. Sigh. I don’t know what it’s going to take to enforce this stuff, but if any of our readers happen to be in positions of power in major industrialized governments, you should see what you can do.


Monty Python Sells 23,000% More DVDs Thanks To Free Vids On YouTube

By Evan Ackerman

People have been posting Monty Python clips on YouTube for years… Not to put too fine a point on it but, YouTube users have been distributing copyrighted multimedia content without authorization. Shocking. Rather than go after poor college kids with lawsuits like the RIAA and MPAA have decided to do, the Pythons themselves started their own YouTube channel with this description:

For 3 years you YouTubers have been ripping us off, taking tens of thousands of our videos and putting them on YouTube. Now the tables are turned. It’s time for us to take matters into our own hands.

We know who you are, we know where you live and we could come after you in ways too horrible to tell. But being the extraordinarily nice chaps we are, we’ve figured a better way to get our own back: We’ve launched our own Monty Python channel on YouTube.

But we want something in return.

None of your driveling, mindless comments. Instead, we want you to click on the links, buy our movies & TV shows and soften our pain and disgust at being ripped off all these years.

As of yesterday, Monty Python’s DVDs are now #2 on Amazon’s Movies and TV bestsellers list, which is an increase of 23,000% (yes, thousand) over pre-YouTube sales. Okay, so this model obviously can’t work for everything, but the point is that free content can actually get people to pay for what they like. The key is to embrace new media creatively rather than try and suppress or destroy it. Easier said than done, perhaps, but if Monty Python can do it…

Latest video from the Python’s YouTube channel, after the jump.Continue Reading

US Voting Machine Vulnerabilities

By Evan Ackerman

For those of us unfortunate enough to be Americans right now, we have more to worry about than who we’re going to elect as the next president. We also have to be paranoid about whether we’ll actually be voting for who we intend to vote for at all. Our system (make that systems) for casting votes are not only notoriously confusing, but also notoriously hackable. DVICE has an interactive map of the United States, showing which states are using the less hackable but more confusing paper ballots, which states are using the more hackable but less confusing electronic voting machines, and where all of the other methods of voting fall on that spectrum. You can click on each state for more detailed information, including pros and cons on the different types of voting machines.

Of course, this doesn’t imply that voting on an electronic machine means your vote is going to get hacked, nor does it imply that you’re going to make a mistake voting on punch cards. The point of these maps is simply to make you aware of potential issues with the voting process in your state, since these things have a way of screwing themselves up. Funny, that.

There is a bright side to all this, however: when your guy loses, now you’ve got something to blame it on. Canada is starting to look pretty good now, eh?