The BBC offers an interesting look at the history of technology

A brief history of telephones

It’s hard to be surprised when people talk about the rapid growth of various sectors of the tech industry. It’s hard for me, anyway. That’s probably due to the fact that most of the crazy booms have been an integral part of my life – I was born after the “good old days,” when phones were tethered to the wall. The rate of innovation will always be interesting to me, even if I’ve missed some of it. To think about the difference between cell phones a decade ago and cell phones today is to see, in some small way, the crazy pace of development humanity has witnessed over the last half-century or so.

As is often the case, the BBC covers things best. Michael Blastland (awesome name) put together ‘A Brief History of Gadgets,’ complete with graphs like the one you see above. It’s definitely worth reading through, especially at a time of year when we’re wrapping and unwrapping some of the best technology our species has to offer. As Blastland says it, “For a while, the home phone will be part and parcel of many an internet connection. But will we, one day soon, watch the Christmas comedy repeats and, in a scene when the phone rings – Ha! It’s stuck to the wall by a wire. Hilarious! – wonder how those pre-mobile primitives managed?”

A solar charger powerful enough to run devices directly

Suntactics PC5.Solar charging has been a bit of a novelty for some time now. It can be nice on a bright day, but you need long hours in the sun to really see the benefit from most chargers. A company called Suntactics is hoping to change that with the release of its PC5 unit, a charger the company claims is strong enough to run devices directly.

Suntactics says the difference is that the PC5 pumps higher wattage than competitors, which function more like a battery charging a battery. At five watts, the company says the PC5 doesn’t just charge, it can actually run a device that has no independent battery life left.

I’d really love to see this in action. It could be a very cool breakthrough in solar charging technology.

Photo and Source: Earthtechling

Top 50 Gawker passwords are comically bad

Gawker password length.

Every time a prominent site gets hacked, someone always goes through the trouble to analyze the passwords contained in the data leak, usually to my own comic amusement. With sites from the Gawker network, especially sites like Gizmodo and Lifehacker, where users commonly claim to be among the web’s most savvy users, you would expect the passwords to be a little better.

Numbers one, two, and three? 123456, password, and 12345678. The full list is even funnier, though, and contains things like “letmein,” “princess,” and “starwars.” Well done, nerds of the internet.

You can find more entries, along with some graphical analysis of the passwords included at the Wall Street Journal.

Samsung announces the $1,000 luxury Galaxy tablet

Galaxy Tablet.I spent a solid 18 or so of my last 72 hours traveling and I was shocked to see how many tablets are out there. I knew that tablets were likely doing well, but in every airport it seemed there was always one in my field of vision. Tablets, for the most part, are fairly affordable devices, but Samsung wants to offer something for the people with deeper pockets.

At the Millionaire Fair (a concept so deplorable I could puke), Samsung announced that it would offer a Luxury Edition of its Galaxy tablet that would run roughly $1,000. Now, a grand isn’t all that bad for a piece of tech, but it is still a tablet, and it’s still running Android, which doesn’t charge for licensure. I suppose if you have piles of money to swim in, a $1,000 tablet doesn’t seem so bad. The Luxury Edition will be limited, available only until the end of January.

The device is expected to launch on Wednesday.

Chrome CR-48 unboxing videos are out

The Chrome OS notebook pilot program is in full swing, to the point that several applicants have received their laptop. I’ve looked through a bunch of the application videos, but this unboxing by Ed Albro from PC World seems to be the most thorough and clear so far. Check it out.

Nexus S drops December 16th

We’ve been waiting a long time to actually get a look at the Nexus One successor, and it’s finally here. The Nexus S, yes, based on Samsung’s Galaxy S, will on December 16th. The phone will be available unlocked for $529 or attached to a T-Mobile contract for $199. From what early reports are saying, this is the Android device to have.

The phone sports all the usual hardware – 1GHz processor, 5MP camera (720p capable), front-facing camera, hi-res display – but the real ‘Google experience’ is in the software. As with the Nexus One, the Nexus S comes with a ‘clean’ Android install (Gingerbread 2.3 on this one), meaning it’s unadulterated by the manufacturer or third-party vendors.

The Nexus S is also the first phone to market with built-in NFC support. Near-field communication isn’t such a big deal now, but it could easily become the way we handle quick transactions in the near future. It’s also a nice, fast way to send information between two NFC-enabled devices.

Radio Shack knocks $50 off its iPhones

Radio Shack.

Radio Shack made an announcement this weekend that it would sell the Apple line of iPhone for $50 off the retail price, the only condition being that you’re eligible for a two-year commitment. The discount applies to all current iPhone models, so you can get the 3GS for $49.99, the 16GB iPhone 4 for $149.99, and the 32GB iPhone 4 for $249.99.

On top of that discount, Radio Shack runs a Trade & Save program that allows you to trade in 3G and 3GS models for an additional discount. The phones have to be in good working condition and can’t be unlocked.

As far as I know, this about the best deal you can manage on a new iPhone.

Source: BGR

Angry Birds on Android to reach $1 million in monthly ad revenue

No doubt you know that Angry Birds is a bit of a sensation. The mobile game has been downloaded more than 30 million times across different platforms, some 12 million of which were paid downloads from iOS devices. The game is also on Android, but the game is free there, supported by ad revenue. Rovio Mobile, the game’s developer, says it expects to see monthly ad revenue of a million bucks by the end of the year.

Check the video from Google’s new admob mobile success stories:

I’ve heard of mobile developers doing well – just look at Tapulous – but Rovio and Angry Birds might be the first instance we’ve seen of a developer monetizing its product so well. Rovio is turning huge profit from the game, but also turning around and merchandising the product into plush toys and soon, a kids television series.

Droid 2 allegedly explodes in owner’s ear

Droid 2 explosion.

Switched has a strange little story about the Motorola Droid 2. A guy named Aron Embry from Cedar Hill, Texas claims his Droid 2 exploded in his ear, leaving him with a wound that required four stitches.

The story’s a little fishy. When cell phones explode, which is already a sort of rare occurrence, it’s usually the battery. As you can see from the image, Embry’s phone apparently exploded at the speaker, not exactly a volatile part of the phone. Also strange is that any part of the phone would blow up when it’s in open air. Again, when phones typically pop it’s at the battery, and in a pocket or bag, some sort of enclosed space where heat gets trapped around the device.

Embry says he didn’t feel any pain and it wasn’t until he realized he was bleeding that he went to meet his wife Kara, who photographed the damage. I don’t know about you, but my own ears are pretty sensitive, and I’d definitely wonder if I heard a popping noise and looked down to see that my phone had shattered next to my ear.

Limewire implodes, shuts everything down

Limewire logo.Limewire shutdown its popular file-sharing software in October after a federal court ruled against it for copyright violation. The company continued to run a legitimate digital music store, selling music from small, independent labels. It has decided to shut that service down as well, though the reasons are unclear.

Peter Kafka at MediaMemo thinks the decision is an attempt to shore up some cash against the impending January court ruling to determine how much Limewire owes the record labels listed in the October suit. It’s strange though, since Limewire had been talking up its service just months ago.

In any case, it’s a bummer. I’m sure a lot of people will be sad to see Limewire, both legitimate and otherwise, go.