End the Tyrannous Reign of Wet Socks…For a Price

There is nothing worse in the world than wet socks.

Well except for genocide, starvation, holocaust, nuclear warfare, poverty, orphaned children, animal abuse…

Actually, properly put into perspective, there are quite a few things worse than wet socks. But they’re still pretty horrible, and with slush season creeping up on the north (when it can still snow, but quickly melt creating an inhospitable mess), and water park and swimming trips on the horizon, the peak of wet sock fear is upon us.

While you can write this off as an inevitable nuisance of the season, if you truly dread the feeling of wet socks and want to proactively handle the issue, there do exist commercially available military grade waterproof socks, that not only prevent against leaks, and soaking up liquid, but can keep your feet comfortably warm in temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit. This is achieved through a mix of nylon and lycra, along with additional layers of double velour fleece, that combine to create the toughest, most versatile socks available.

As with a lot of must have technology though, there is a catch and once again it’s the price. A pair of these socks will run you $54.95, which would buy you roughly a ton of otherwise perfectly good socks. Alas then, but these are going to have to go into my ever growing unreasonable wants wishlist, along with a 3D printer, and a fully decked out Alienware M18x laptop. But for serious outdoorsmen, or anyone consistently active in bad weather conditions, you might be able to write off the Superman of socks as an actual investment.

Oh and the filthy rich. The filthy rich will probably eat these up.

Because They’ve Got to Do Something With the Money Besides Money Fights

A Soap That, as Rocky Balboa Promised, Will Make You “Smeel Mainly”

If you’re like me, the rare occasion you have to buy bar soap is met without much enthusiasm or an extended thought process. Usually it’s the first one you see that says soap or, in a moment of misunderstood hesitation, the one I relate with the most recent/most humorous commercial I saw.

There’s at least one soap out there though that wants to remove the image of femininity from hand soap and make it a more exciting buying process for the average man.

That soap is called Man Hands, and they have a variety of uniquely scented soap bars available aimed at the average red-blooded male, offering a testosterone influenced alternative from the coconut and ocean breeze flooded market. While some scents are just bewildering (Republican and Democrat? Cash? Urinal Mint?), some are potentially appealing to more markets (Cannabis, Buttered Popcorn, and Incense), some are indeed right on target (Muscle Rub, Cedar Log Cabin, Topsoil, Baseball Glove, and of course Bacon). Each bar retails for $6.95 and can be found here.

Is this just a really stupid idea? Probably, yeah. But it’s pretty obvious by the product, and their descriptions, that this is an idea having a lot of fun with itself and asking the same of its consumers. Plus, who knows? In the mix might just be one or two winning scents that beat the hell out of Lavender,and you can never be in short supply of novelty gift ideas, which might just be the best use of this product.

In the Game of Phones, You Dock, or You Die

There can never be enough “Game of Thrones” in the world (or “Song of Ice and Fire” if you’re a purist), but with the HBO show on hiatus until its third season debut, and author George RR Martin taking his usual sweet time in finishing the 6th novel in the series, fans have had to look from the top of The Wall to the bottom of the Sea of Dorne (that’s high and low for you normal folk) to find ways to fill the widening void in their hearts for more of that wonderful world.

But even outside of that spirit of desperation, this “Game of Thrones” inspired phone dock would still be pretty cool.

It was created with a 3D printer by Instructables user mstyle183, who modeled it after the much sought after Iron Throne of Westeros that half the characters in the source material kill each other for the chance to sit on (as if you didn’t already know). The dock itself is sure to be equally sought after by iPhone 5 users, who rely on a third party docks since Apple doesn’t have an official one for the iPhone 5 available yet, and this one is slightly more bad ass than the rest. The dock also works for android phones, and the instructions for its creation can be found via the inventor’s Instructables page, or it can be pre-ordered commercially here for $69.99. It is compatible with most charging connections.

The world of geek inspired tech is a tricky one as something that looks cool at first can lose its novelty, and value, later on. Have no such fear with this dock though, as it is a genuine piece of inspired nerdery that given both the continuing excellence of the source material, and basic cool design of a throne shaped dock, isn’t likely to wear out its welcome anytime soon.

Unlike the Throne’s Current Occupant Of Course…

This Quick Draw iPhone Device is inspired by “Taxi Driver”, Designed by Insanity

When I saw “Taxi Driver” for the first time, I was too young to fully comprehend, and appreciate, the incredible characters, biting social commentary, or tightly structured plot. What I did take away from Scorsese’s second best movie (first is “Goodfellas”, naturally) is the sheer coolness of those spring loaded, sleeve hidden gun launchers that main character Travis Bickle wielded.

Of course, like all great over the top movie inventions, someone will eventually find a way to incorporate them into our everyday lives. Those hidden gun launchers are no exception, but even still I found the manner in which inventor Showta Mori worked that technology into the real world to be…a bit odd, as he demonstrates in this gut bustlingly hilarious video.

Not only is that device that can shoot your phone, via forearm pressure, into your hands from your sleeve stupendously moronic, entirely superfluous, and even irresponsibly hazardous, it’s also completely awesome and on sale via the inventor’s Etsy shop, where it retails for about $80 and is compatible with the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5.

Before you completely dismiss the validity of this device, be sure to consider that in an increasingly pop culture obsessed world that is already way too in love with their smartphones, and value any device that will allow them to use them with minimal physical effort, this device could, against all odds, actually make a sale or two.

Of course, if you do buy one, you are required to occasionally pop your phone into your hands and answer it by saying, “Are you talking to me?

Because I Don’t See Anyone Else Around

Video conferencing: what it is and how it works

The business world is slowly waking up to the fact that video conferencing such as that featured on conferencegenie.co.uk could help to improve their operations in so many ways. You may wonder what video conferencing is, and what makes it so good, but there are reasons why your business should use it.

As with Conference Calling at conferencegenie.co.uk, it’s designed to make meeting with clients a breeze. It allows those with the technology to talk to people from different locations worldwide, meaning that a meeting can be arranged and held almost straight away, which takes the traveling and expense previously involved in meetings out of the equation.

Video Conferencing is a must for any company looking to save money, save time and boost levels of productivity. However, you may wonder how it works, and whether it requires a lot of work to set up.

To get started, you need the following equipment:

• Two or more webcams or video cameras
• The same amount of microphones
• A large monitor or projector, but a TV will work just as well
• A strong internet connection
• Speakers
• A data compressor
• Video conferencing software

Once you have all the right equipment, you need to decide whether you want to just do point-to-point or multi-point video conferencing. The former is for one-to-one meetings between two different locations. Meanwhile, multi-point video conferencing is for three or more locations.

Multi-point video conferencing is very useful, not least because it makes potentially complicated meetings easy. It requires a multi-point bridge to help make it possible, as this will ensure that real-time conversation can go ahead as planned. Usually, connection to a server is the way to go about it.

As soon as everything’s in place for you to make full use of video conferencing, you’ll be free to enjoy its many benefits.
Your business could save money and time by not traveling to meetings. Also, workers who get tired from traveling will be less prone to tiredness during working hours, while communication with clients will be streamlined and much easier to keep going over long periods of time.

Keep in Touch, Without Needing Much, Thanks to the Good Night Lamp

With…well…every single bit of technology available to us, more than ever it is easier to stay in contact with one another, and know exactly what another person is up to. However, at times it’s a power that’s almost too great, as it feels like you can constantly be in touch with someone, and in their lives, to an intrusive degree, removing a great deal of charm from the entire idea.

Maybe that’s why I’m taken by an idea like the good night lamp. A new Kickstarter project, it’s a set of houses (big ones and small ones) that light up, and use WiFi connections to allow the user of the big house to turn their light on and off, causing the same action to the paired up smaller house. The idea is to provide a simple way for a user to alert a group of others as to their availability and location via the status of the light, and is marketed towards homesick family members, couples living apart, household members wanting a simple communication method for certain events (say dinner or bedtime), or really any situation where a people want an easy, fun way to keep in touch over any distance. There are even color coded housing options to know which of multiple users is making an interaction.

There are a million other ways to provide the same basic information that these houses do with tech most likely on your person right now. However, few of those devices are likely to do so with the personality of the good night lamp, and as Samuel L. Jackson mused in “Pulp Fiction”, personality goes a long way.

Though we Greatly Disagree on the Scenarios in Which to Eat a Pig

Drexel University is Providing Free MacBooks to its Students

I never owned a laptop in college, mostly due to my preference for a powerful, desktop PC gaming rig. Of course, I realized the error of my decision fairly quickly, as a laptop was, and still is, the most valuable tool available to the modern college student.

Drexel University in Philadelphia realizes this as well, and have set up a vending machine in its library that provides free MaBooks for its students. It’s an addition spawned in part by the suggestion of a student who was tired of lugging his computer all around campus, for both the physical burden it posed, and the security risks.

The deal is this. Students use their ID’s on the machine to rent a MacBook for five hours. They must keep the MacBook in the library (the computers have attached security sensors to be sure), and should they exceed the five hour time limit, a $5 per hour fee is assessed. Once the student returns the laptop to the machine, it wipes all personal data, and starts recharging the battery.

Drexel staff are apparently considering expanding this initiative to include dispensable iPads, and while that would be a first, the use of this laptop machine is actually being employed in a couple of other east coast school and seems to slowly be developing into a trend for universities that is sure to be very welcome to the always tightly budgeted college student.

You know, between this and that mandatory “Minecraft” class in Sweeden, I think I might have picked the wrong era to attend school.

Wouldn’t Be the First Time that Crossed My Mind…

And the Dumbest Gadget at CES 2013 Is…

Trying to nitpick, analyze, highlight, and discuss the Consumer Electronics Show with any kind of totality is a maddening proposition, unless you’re willing to devote a significant amount of research time and several posts to doing so. I considered doing just that briefly, before I decided to step back and remember that the CES is really supposed to be fun. And while part of that fun is seeing what we’ll be able to buy in the coming year (and what we’ll never, ever afford), another, more entertaining, part is mocking the most absurd inventions that had no business on the show floor in the first place.

It’s those that I wanted to focus on, and specifically I wanted to find the most ridiculous of them all. For a moment, I thought it would be the iPad training toilet (not only because it teaches kids they don’t need to stop using their gadgets, even while on the toilet, but makes me realize there are kids who can’t even stop pooping their pants that somehow have iPad access and knowledge), or the Motorhead sponsored headphones designed to more or less be dangerously, annoyingly loud.

In the end though, there was only one clear winner.

A fork? Yeah, but of course it’s a smart fork. How can a fork be smart? When it’s designed for stupid people of course.

In this case, the Hapifork (as its known) measures your eating habits (particularly how fast you are eating) and through an app (of course it has an app) allows you to monitor statistics like how long your meal was, how many fork servings you had per minute, and the time between bites. The data is then analyzed to help you find ways to become a healthier eater. It can also provide visual cues while eating to let you know when things are getting out of hand.

Now, I am aware that obesity and over eating are huge problems, particularly in America. However so is stupidity, and it’s frightening to believe there are people speaking of this fork like it is somehow a good idea, or noble weapon on the war against not eating so damn much. It’s neither. It’s a device that attempts to eliminate common sense and reduce personal responsibility in a field (dieting) that requires a great deal of both to be successful.

So instead of considering spending the $99 on the Hapifork when it is released (or put on Kickstarter), allow me to present an alternative. Hire me. Seriously, if you must have an eating tattler, rent me for $5 during your meal, and when I see you attacking a plate of pasta like it violated a peace treaty I’ll say “Dude”. You’ll say “Oh, right” ,slow down, and hopefully, neither you, me, or any of us will have to hear about this smart fork again.

Are Interactive Restaurant Tables the Wave of the Future?

I’m constantly torn between my love of technology, and of the more classic ideas. I couldn’t live without my Galaxy SIII, but refuse to use an e-reader over print books, for instance. I’m particularly adamant about limiting technology when it comes to the kitchen, restaurants, and food in general, where I just think that containing the number of technological advances produces a better atmosphere.

But even I’m finding it hard to not love the e-table designs currently employed in a few restaurants across the world. The most interesting of which belongs to an Asian-Fusion restaurant in the SoHo district of London called Inamo. It looks like a touch screen table, but actually works off of an interactive projection concept that would allow for diners to, among other things, view menus, access a live camera in the kitchen (a somewhat pervy extension of the open kitchen philosophy), play games, change the digital tablecloth, and even project an image of the food onto their plates.

A similar idea from designer Clint Rule places a greater emphasis on social features that would aim to turn the café environment to a much more integrated place with options like voting on music, or sharing what you are reading with others around you and elsewhere.

Neither of these are entirely unique, as this idea has been a popular science fiction mainstay for decades and restaurants here and there for years have employed similar designs. But I believe that one of, or more realistically a combination of, these two ideas represent a real trend that could be seen soon in many more restaurants. Worldwide, eating out is becoming more of a cultural phenomenon than it has ever been as chefs become rockstars, and dishes become worthy of pilgrimage. In that growing environment a certain amount of technological expansion is almost inevitable just as it has been everywhere else. As long as the food remains the draw though, and waiters and waitresses keep their jobs, I see no harm in exploring the benefits and uses of this idea, if for no other reason than it looks pretty damn cool.

The Game Stick: A Small Console that is Part of A Big Movement

One of the bigger stories of 2012 in gadgets was the success of the Ouya. The Ouya promises gamers a new type of game console that will be powered off the Android OS, and will retail for under $100 with free to play games, which could include thousands of titles, and serve as a  highly accessible development platform for small game developers everywhere.  It sparked a sizable wave of hype, and destroyed Kisckstarter records, as the idea of such a fresh game console took the public by storm, and had them throwing money at their computers to support it.

And now, not long after the release of the initial Ouya development kits, it appears the Ouya’s triumphant burst onto the gaming scene has left a gaping hole for other companies to join the party through. The latest, and most intriguing, is the Game Stick, a project of PlayJam. It’s intriguing, because it’s a console that is essentially just a controller and a USB stick that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. From that simple set up, you have access to a substantial number of high profile Android based games available through the PlayJam Games Network service, as well as a host of additional titles the company are hoping to acquire from major Android developers.

Currently the creators of the Game Stick are looking for $100,000 on Kickstarter to start production, and are over halfway to their goal with 29 days to go.

2013 is set to be a huge, huge year in gaming, and you can’t belittle the Ouya’s role in that. Even if it achieves nothing greater than its current role as Kicstarter darling, the little system that could is proving that there is a market out there for a cheaper, simpler, open sourced gaming platform. While the Game Stick doesn’t appear to be quite on the same level of the Ouya as far as depth or available titles, it does offer further evidence that the indie and mobile markets are looking for a traditional platform that will allow them to stand shoulder to shoulder with the big boys to see how they measure up. At an expected $75 price point, the Game Stick may not prove to make that impact, but it could be a great way to get Android games on TV’s on a budget, and with minimal set up.