Laptop thief doesn’t steal data

Laptop with a thumb drive.If you’ve ever had a laptop stolen or watched a hard drive melt, you know how devastating a data loss can be. A Swedish professor almost had the displeasure of discovering that feeling when his laptop was stolen. Then, a week later, he got a thumb drive in the mail, containing all of his data.

Yes, the laptop thief loaded all of the stolen data onto a drive and sent it to the victim. On the day of the theft, the thief also left behind the professor’s credit cards and some cash, all of which was in the laptop bag from which the computer was taken.

When asked about the incident, the professor simply told Swedish press, “this story makes me feel hope for humanity.”

Building lego creations with a 3D printer

I can’t count the number of hours I spent playing with Legos as a child. Hell, just last year my girlfriend’s parents got me a Lego set as a joke because I reference my favorite formative past time so often. You can imagine, then, why I think this is so damn cool. It’s a printer made of legos, but it doesn’t print using ink. It prints using Legos.

Source: Battlebricks

Those other two consoles can stream Netflix sans disc

Wii Netflix.Late last week, news broke that PS3 users could finally do what Xbox 360 users had been doing for some time: stream movies without the help of a pesky disc. Now the same is true for Wii users. So long as you have an $8.99 or higher Netflix plan, you can enjoy unlimited streaming without a disc in the drive.

From the Wii press release:

Beginning today, Netflix members in the United States and Canada can stream content through their Wii™ consoles with Netflix installed on their Wii Menu. The Netflix disc that was used for instant streaming on the Wii console will no longer be required. Netflix members who have a plan starting at $8.99 a month ($7.99 in Canada), a Wii console and a broadband Internet connection can now instantly watch movies and TV shows streamed directly to their TVs by simply downloading Netflix from the Wii Shop Channel. This new channel is available at no extra cost. The new disc-free option installs Netflix on the Wii Menu, making it convenient for Wii owners to quickly access streaming movies and TV shows.

I don’t really know why this took so long, or why PS3 and Wii users needed a disc in the first place, but it’s nice to see that it has finally been fixed.

Will apologies get Digg out of its hole?

Digg Down.The recent Digg redesign was controversial to say the least. The site’s new CEO, Matt Williams, hit the ground running his mouth with apologies for removing features, promises to restore those features, and a “please-won’t-you-take-us-back” attitude that frankly, surprised me.

Now I know the redesign scared off a lot of the site’s most loyal fans, but the whole point was to make Digg more appealing to people who had never used it. How frustrating would it be to submit links just to have them downvoted into oblivion by the “bury brigades?” Burying is one of the features the redesign did away with that users most bemoaned, but why give it back? The feature flies in the face of the whole purpose behind Digg – to give airtime to news stories that we otherwise might miss.

As Matthew Ingram points out over at GigaOM, “[Changing the fundamental function of a social site] only works, however, if enough new users arrive to justify the loss of that traditional fan base. By apologizing for and unwinding most of its recent changes, Digg appears to be admitting that it backed the wrong horse.” That’s where the apology comes in. As much as Digg needs to appeal to new audiences, the fact remains that Digg is heavily dependent on the power users that balked at the redesign. Twitter and Facebook have most of the market for this sort of thing locked up, and trying to snatch people away from those services by heavily reworking your own just isn’t a winning strat.

White iPhone delay may be purely cosmetic

White iPhone 4.

It had been a long time since I heard any word about the white iPhone 4; in all honesty, I had forgotten about it. A story popped up at Pocket Lint that not only reminded me of the other model’s existence, but shed some light on the delay.

Apparently, the guys at Pocket Lint were at a press event in NYC and noticed an attendee carrying the much-coveted white iPhone 4. After snapping a few discrete photos, PL asked how he got it.

As it turns out, the guy has a friend at Infinite Loop, which is reportedly loaded with white models of the latest iPhone. They aren’t shipping, though, because the home button doesn’t match the white of the case. Apple is waiting until manufacturers can match the white button to the case.

If anything, I’m only surprised that the process is taking so long. Then again, Apple may be focused on some other hardware issues. Verizon iPhone, anyone?

Will Amazon Singles survive the deluge of crap it’s sure to elicit?

Graphite Kindle.

Yesterday Amazon announced a new category of products for its Kindle store. Dubbed Amazon Singles, the new category is aimed at getting consumers to pay for written works that fall somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 words, or 30 to 90 pages.

There are a few problems with this strategy. First, there’s no market for that kind of content. That sounds like a good thing, but in my mind there is no market for a reason. Works of that length tend to be either too much or too little, rarely just right. More importantly, though, is that they aren’t published anywhere else. Though Amazon wants you to believe that great ideas will surface as a part of the Singles program, the reality is that the fairly small Kindle-using population will have access to these things and only a percentage of those users will actually read what’s inside.

More likely is that Amazon will see a surge of submissions to its digital publications service, submissions that are, as we should expect, too much or too little on a given subject. Plenty of would-be authors have a 60 to 90-page project attracting silverfish on a floor somewhere, but how many of them would we actually want to read through?

The one thing Amazon got right is lower prices. There will be people attracted to those lower prices, but it will be solely for price. Several authors have already set a precedent for free content on the Kindle, a practice that has yielded some decent exposure. Will the same be true for shorter works that come with a fee? I doubt it.

iPhone to get new SMS ringtones

New iPhone SMS ringtones.If you’re even marginally creative, you know how easy it is to create your own ringtones for the iPhone. My own phone currently has a few custom ringers in it, including short clips from songs like “Consolers of the Lonely” by The Raconteurs and “Telephone Line” by ELO (it’s corny, I know). But there is no solace for those of us who are sick of the Tri-Tone SMS alert. Not yet, anyway.

It looks like iOS 4.2 should bring more options for your SMS alerts. Unfortunately, they are both long and horribly annoying. As the video at Gizmodo shows, they have names like “Calypso” and “Noir” and tend to be little mini songs. Keep in mind, this is for a text message, not your ringer. I don’t even text that much, but when I do it’s usually a back and forth of about four messages. Having one of those go off more than once in a five minute period would be enough to make me scream.

How your food rots

I know there’s been a dearth of activity here but I promise it will pick back up very soon. In the meantime, here’s an incredible video I stumbled on that details the rotting process for various types of foods. This is rotting with exposure to flies, and damn good incentive to keep your food away from the bastards. Don’t watch this is if you have insect issues. Let me tell you, watching meat virtually explode with maggots is disgusting stuff.

Google adds Goggles to its mobile iPhone app

Google Goggles for the iPhone.

Google is about the only company that can make me sad to be an iPhone owner. Any time Google rolls out a spiffy new app for the mobile market, I die a little inside, knowing I probably won’t get to use it any time soon. Take Google Goggles, the service that allows you to search by what the camera on your phone can see. It debuted last December for Android users, and it has just now made its way to the iPhone.

Despite the long wait, the app is as cool as ever. Google built the new function into the standard Google Mobile app, which already allows you to search by text and voice. Here’s the official word from the Google blog:

In the new version of Google Mobile App just tap on the camera button to search using Goggles. Goggles will analyze the image and highlight the objects it recognizes — just click on them to find out more.

Though Goggles is still technically a “Labs” feature, Google says it works well for things like landmarks and logos, and that it will continue to improve for objects like animals and food.