Monday, February 25, 2008

Force Feedback Gaming Vest Uses Compressed Air to Mimic Pain

If I had one of these, maybe I'd be more of a gamer!

Also known as the 3rd Space Vest, the Force Feedback gaming vest from TMgames is filled with compressed air pouches in order for you to feel the pain when you're hooked up to your console and having your butt kicked by scary aliens. Compatible with around a dozen games, including Call of Duty, Doom 3, Quake 4 and Medal Of Honor, so if you want to feel what it's like to be knifed, shot, blown up or merely punched in the kidneys, you might think about shelling out $169 for this.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Fontogenic Candidate Selection

Following up on our recent post about comparing the Democratic candidates with their corresponding computer platforms, today we introduce political analysis based on typography. Really, could this blog be any more geeky?

Gruber sets the stage (in a way sure to please Jackson): "If you’re going to cast your vote based on the candidates’ choice of fonts, it’s Obama all the way."

A Font We Can Believe In

I think it’s interesting that the design of Gotham was influenced by early Modernism, another movement that was about change and social idealism. And I like that the design aesthetic that may help move Obama into the White House was inspired by the humble NY Port Authority Bus Terminal sign. -Helvetica film director Gary Hustwit
[Yes, someone made a film about the font Helvetica. Seriously.]

McCain After Shave Balm
Hillary's snooze of a serif might have come off a heart-healthy cereal box, or a mildly embarrassing over-the-counter ointment; if you're feeling generous you might associate it with a Board of Ed circular, or an obscure academic journal. But Senator McCain's typeface is positively mystifying: after three decades signifying a very down-market notion of luxe, this particular sans serif has settled into being the font of choice for the hygiene aisle. -H&FJ
You've really got to see the mock-ups with this one.


Monday, February 18, 2008

John Gruber: A Mix of the Technical, the Artful, the Thoughtful, and the Absurd

If you love John Gruber and Daring Fireball as much as I do, well, you should be arrested for stalking. And then you should read this man-behind-the-legend interview by Shawn Blanc.

SHAWN: Do you have any advice for writers who are struggling to find their voice?

JOHN: I honestly don’t know what works for others. The act of writing, like any art, defies description. Some of the best advice I’ve seen regarding how to write essays is from Paul Graham. He says writing is thinking, and, insightfully, that writing forces you think better. He wrote, “Just as inviting people over forces you to clean up your apartment, writing something that other people will read forces you to think well.”


Drobo is da Bomb

Apparently, it's gadget lust week at fishwreck. Here's the latest entry.

You pop the front off of the box to reveal four empty drive bays. Each one can hold a SATA-standard hard drive mechanism (which are as cheap and plentiful as greed and avarice). Just buy some and slide them right in. Installing drives in the Drobo is no more complicated than inserting a frozen waffle into a toaster. No screws, no mounting brackets…just push it into the slot until the bay’s retaining clip clicks into it.

You can mix and match capacities, leave some of the drive bays empty…it doesn’t matter. Dump the storage in and close the door. Drobo figures everything out all out on its own. Plug it into your computer and it appears as a standard, single USB storage device ready for formatting.
The feature list goes on and on -- it's redundant, you can hot-swap drives, and upgrade capacity on the fly, and hang it on your network -- and yet it remains simple to use. Read on to get the full grok.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chumby hands-on: What fun

Or maybe I just need to get one of these. I know Down By Design wants one!

It's a little touch-screen Web appliance that can display a changing lineup of personalized widgets for you: Clocks, photo galleries, Twitter feeds, and so on. The Chumby gets its data over WiFi, and you control what widgets it displays on the site


How to make a Physical Gmail Notifier

I was given a lovely glowing cube by the generous people at Linden Labs as a freebie at a job fair yesterday, and I decided that it was far too attractive to simply sit there on a shelf, pulsating forlornly until its batteries went flat. How about making it useful, while maintaining its visual appeal?
I gotta get me one of these cubes! Anyone know where to get one? (And, no, I do not want one of those not-nearly-as-cool units from IKEA.) [via Gizmodo]


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Apple TV Take 2, Now with AirTunes, Soon with Airfoil

On Tuesday, Apple released version 2 of the Apple TV software, a free update dubbed "Take 2." You've likely heard about the major changes like buying from the iTunes store directly from the device, the more refined user interface, support for movie rentals and web-based photo slide shows.

What you might not have heard is that the new software also allows the Apple TV to act as an AirTunes device. This means you can stream audio from iTunes on your computer through your Apple TV to your sound system, just like you can with an AirPort Express. You can even control iTunes on your computer using the Apple TV remote control. Nice.

But what if you want to play audio from some other source on your computer? Or synchronize your audio stream to multiple AirTunes devices or even to other local Macs? Enter Airfoil, a $25 application from Rogue Amoeba that allows you to do just that. Except that it's not quite compatible with Apple TV just yet, but they're working furiously on an update that will deliver that capability. Double nice.


The Appeal of the MacBook Air

Somebody finally gets the idea of the MacBook Air. And, of course, it's Gruber.

It certainly is a compelling secondary machine for anyone whose primary machine is an iMac or Mac Pro, but for many people, the MacBook Air will serve just fine as their one and only computer. (Again, consider an analogy to a convertible coupe — for many, yes, it’s a secondary car, but for anyone without kids and with no need for significant storage space, it works just fine as their only car.)


Thursday, February 14, 2008

“Natural Born Clickers”? Who are these people?

Just 6 percent of the online population (dubbed “Natural Born Clickers”) are responsible for more than 50 percent of display ad clicks.
Online advertisers aren't going to like this at all. Not only do these heavy clickers account for the majority of ad clicks, they also behave differently than average Internet users in lots of other ways -- like spending four times as much time online but not spending more money than the average. So much for effective advertising online -- it's now a much more complex environment. Or maybe it's just back to the old 50% adage and same as it ever was. New media advertising is old media advertising.


Starbucks Deal Brewed with AT&T Has Hints of Apple

AT&T and Apple clearly cut a deal where Starbucks benefits from becoming a digital media hub: It's going to be the place where people congregate to use Wi-Fi as part of the monthly service fee that they already pay AT&T - this wasn't announced yesterday, but it's absolutely coming - and where they download media from Apple....

It's not a leap at all that Starbucks, already a big music producer and seller, and one interested in revitalizing its business after a few years of drifting from its core coffee mission, would embrace the idea of being the place people who don't even like their coffee come to fill up on media, use the network, and hang out.
I was thinking the same thing. Apple and Starbucks are partners for free Wi-Fi access to the iTunes store for iPhones and iPod Touches. Apple and AT&T are partners for the iPhone. Not a big leap to see Apple as the common element linking AT&T and Starbucks.

How nice of Glenn Fleishman to spell out all the details for me. In fact, he provides lots of additional details about the Apple-Starbucks relationship. This looks to be a much larger initiative than any of them are letting on. Get ready to spend a lot more time at Starbucks.


Be a Qwitter: Quit Smoking with Twitter

Well, this is about awesome. Apply a social tool to help reduce a social problem. Clever implementation, too.

You can easily keep track of how many cigarettes you smoke each day.
You can keep a journal of your thoughts & feelings as you strive to smoke less.
You can view your progress over time.
You can share this information with others who can support you.
[via Dave Delaney]


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bluetooth to Piggyback on Wi-Fi

The popular wireless technology known as Bluetooth could get a lot faster next year by taking advantage of Wi-Fi technology already built into many gadgets.

Linking Bluetooth and Wi-Fi may make it easier and faster to transfer large amounts of music between computers and cell phones, or send pictures from a camera phone to a printer, or video from a camcorder to a TV.

The combination devices will use the regular low-power Bluetooth radios to recognize each other and establish connections. If they need to transfer a large file, they will be able to turn on their Wi-Fi radios, then turn them off to save power after finishing the transfer
Devices won't be available until the middle of next year, but with ultra-wideband falling ever behind schedule, this looks like a great interim plan to boost transfer rates and hold down power consumption.


Sony Ericsson to make Windows Mobile phones

Sony Ericsson and Microsoft will cooperate in making smartphones, with the first Sony Ericsson handset based on the Windows Mobile operating system on sale by the end of the year.... The Microsoft deal means all the world's top handset makers apart from Nokia will now have Windows Mobile versions.
What the hell is wrong with Sony these days? Are they completely devoid of leadership and risk-taking and even decent decision-making? Next they'll be adopting Palm OS or whatever it's called this month.

If they don't have faith in their own ability to execute a smartphone operating system, why go with Windows Mobile when they could choose market leader Symbian or mind-share leader Android? Choosing Windows Mobile seems all too ho-hum and also-ran. "Hey, we've got Windows Mobile just like everyone else." How are they going to differentiate their products based on that?

Today's Sony is so far from yesterday's Walkman.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

SuperDuper Now Leopard-Ready

"Now fully compatible with Leopard; makes a great companion to Time Machine. One of the best Mac utilities ever made." -Gruber


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Is Obama a Mac and Clinton a PC?

"On one thing, the experts seem to agree. The differences between and can be summed up this way: Barack Obama is a Mac, and Hillary Clinton is a PC."

Well, this is certainly a new way to analyze the candidates. Beats the heck out of talking about what they wear, as at least there is some substance involved. I'm not sure it's the best guide to selecting the candidate you will support, though.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Brace for It: Switch to Digital Broadcasting Misunderstood by Most

"Much of what consumers are learning about the looming shift to digital broadcasting is just plain wrong and could end up costing them money."

More than that, they're going to be looking to you, their nearest tech geek, to help them figure it out. Probably after they've already wasted money buying some equipment they won't need. Think not? Consider this:

"Among those consumers who are aware of the transition [64 percent according to a Consumers Union survey], 58 percent believe all televisions will need a converter box to function. Forty-eight percent believe that only digital televisions will work after 2009, and 24 percent believe they will need to throw away all of their analog television sets."

See how you've got your work cut out for you? So, in anticipation of the coming onslaught of questions and requests for help before the February 18, 2009, end of analog broadcasts, here are your talking points, neatly condensed:

  • If your television is hooked up to a cable or satellite service, you will NOT be affected; you will NOT need a separate converter box (that's almost everybody; see how easy this will be).
  • If you own an older television that gets its signal via antenna (aka rabbit ears), you will need a converter box (that's about 13.5 million television households, or about 12 percent, according to Nielson).
  • If you want to get a converter box, each household is eligible for two $40 coupons to help offset the cost, regardless of whether you have a pay-television service or not. To request a coupon, you can apply online at or call the 24-hour hotline, 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009).
There you go.