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30
Apr

After Math: Keeping it 100


As America’s least likeable plutocrat rounds out his first 100 days in office, we’re taking a look at other centennial achievements from the world of technology. Google and Facebook were named as victims in $100 million scam, Instagram now boasts 700 million users and a drunk guy in California pulled a Florida Man after being arrested for brawling with 300-pounds of security robot. Numbers, because how else will we know how long we have until the midterms?

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30
Apr

The best rice cooker


By Karen Solomon & Tim Barribeau

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After more than 100 hours of research and testing, cooking more than 200 pounds of rice, and talking with rice experts specializing in Japanese, Thai, and Chinese cuisine, we recommend the Hamilton Beach 37549 2-to-14-cup Digital Simplicity Rice Cooker and Steamer for most people. It’s an outstanding value that’s well-suited to most households that want the ease and convenience of no-fuss, no-burning cooked rice.

Who should buy this

Though rice cookers have their roots in Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and other Asian cuisines, they’ve become a frequently used tool for many international cooks, including those preparing Latin American dishes. Here in the US, rice cookers are essential to Hawaiian cookery and Cajun cuisine.

Rice cookers can dramatically improve the quality, flavor, and texture of rice. Great rice-cooker rice is really, really delicious—aromatic, nutty, earthen, and with a broad depth of flavor—and quite easy to make. If you want the ease of one-step cooking with delicious results while you put together the rest of dinner, it may be time to buy one. Another bonus for many cooks: Rice-cooker cooking is unburnable. It’s much easier to clean a rice cooker insert than burnt-on rice in a cooking pot.

How we picked and tested

A good rice cooker should cook delicious, fluffy, flavorful Japanese-style rice (meaning short-grain or medium-grain white rice) evenly throughout the pot every time. The machine should be sturdy and built of quality materials to stand up over time. The lid should have a tight seal to maintain steam and temperature. It should also cook consistently: One cup of rice should taste as good as cooking rice to maximum capacity. Though rice cookers aren’t known for being faster than cooking rice in a pot, they shouldn’t be painfully slow, either. A good appliance should also have some convenient features, such as delayed start, keep warm, and quick-cook settings. And ideally, a good rice cooker should be easy to clean and easy to use.

Rice cookers come in a range of prices, and if you want to cook grains like millet, quinoa, brown rice, or more, be prepared to spend $150 or more for a model that can accomplish these tasks. A variety of issues haunt cheaper rice cookers. For more on the relationship between price and quality of rice cookers, see our full guide.

Any rice cooker insert worth its salt is going to be nonstick; most have nonstick aluminum inserts. Thinner pots tend to wear out more quickly and lose some protective coating.

We looked for cookers with solid, tightly sealed lids and heavy, quality cooking pots. We also selected models with a minimum five-cup cooking capacity; many users report that they make extra rice, and 5 to 10 cups seems like the right amount for two to four people with leftovers. We also chose to look only at models that have a brown-rice option and—to help save time for busy cooks—a quick-cook setting for speed and convenience.

For our original 2013 review, we first tested the cookers informally with some home cooks. Then we conducted a formal group taste test with the chefs from Japanese restaurant Ken Ken Ramen in San Francisco.

For this update we didn’t perform a panel testing, but in each of the 10 cookers we made a batch of Japanese white rice—likely the most critical and the most-used skill for a rice cooker. If they performed well for rice flavor, texture, and cooking speed in this test, they moved on to three other tests (see below). For the Japanese rice tests, we washed the rice of its exterior starch for one full minute and then drained for one full minute before cooking (we didn’t wash the brown or long-grain white rice). See our full guide for details of our tests.

Our pick

The Hamilton Beach 37549 2-to-14-cup Digital Simplicity Rice Cooker and Steamer is the best value for most people because it offers tremendous functionality for the price. Above all, it makes short-grain or medium-grain white rice as delicious as that of models that cost four times as much. The construction feels solid, and it cooks more quickly when compared with most of the competition (it was the second fastest cooker we tested). With a 14-cup capacity, the Hamilton Beach is much larger than many other machines at this price. Additionally, it’s a pleasure to house on almost any kitchen countertop: its sleek stainless and black design makes it look like a more expensive model, and it’s more well-contained in a small footprint than most. It delivers on features that we thought a great rice cooker should have: a timer, stay-warm functions, a tight lid, and a heavy, quality cooking pot. For the majority of home cooks seeking a useful, manageable tool to make delicious white rice at a great price, it will be tough to beat this Hamilton Beach machine.

Many rice cookers under $50 leave a lot to be desired. Rare is the well-priced cooker with an insulated lid to hold in steam and keep food warm for hours, but the Hamilton Beach does both with alacrity. Low-priced cookers are often single-switch on-off affairs, whereas the Hamilton Beach has multiple advanced functions, such as settings for brown rice and quick-cooked rice. Few at this price have its delayed-start-time capability or its ability to slow cook or steam cook vegetables, meat, beans, soups, and stews.

Also great for frequent cooking and brown rice

The Cuckoo CRP-G1015F 10-cup Electric Pressure Rice Cooker. Photo: Michael Hession

For those seeking a great machine beyond the basics, we highly recommend the Cuckoo CRP-G1015F 10-cup Electric Pressure Rice Cooker. Although it’s fairly expensive, in our testing we found this made some of the most delicious rice we’ve ever made at home: flavorful, aromatic, and with a texture that preserves the integrity of every grain. What really sets this cooker apart is how fast it cooks a variety of rices. Short-grain or medium-grain white rice cooked wickedly fast—just 29 minutes, which is faster than the quick-cook setting on any of the other machines that we tested. Brown rice cooks almost twice as fast as in the Zojirushi (our former pick for frequent cooking), and almost a half-hour faster than the Tiger.

Runner-up for frequent cooking

The Zojirushi NS-TSC10. Photo: Michael Hession

If the Cuckoo is too expensive for you but you’d like a sturdier and more versatile cooker than the Hamilton Beach, the Zojirushi NS-TSC10, our upgrade pick from the 2013 review, is still a great buy.

The rice it makes is delicious, and the machine is easy to use and easy to clean. The big downside is speed: It was the slowest of the lot when it came to cooking white rice, clocking in at 46 minutes for a 3-cup batch, compared with 34 minutes for the Hamilton Beach and 29 minutes for the Cuckoo. And it was the slowest for brown rice by a landslide, taking an hour and 52 minutes, almost twice as long as the Hamilton Beach and the Cuckoo.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

30
Apr

A DIYer’s guide to changing a car’s spark plugs


Changing your own spark plugs is a rite of passage among gearheads. It shows you’re fully aware that your car needs basic maintenance to stay in tip-top shape, and that you’re ready to tackle it yourself. Congratulations if you’ve gotten this far.

The most common reason to remove spark plugs is to replace them with a new set. However, you might want to simply check what shape they’re in before doing so, or you might need to test for spark to rule out an ignition issue. Regardless, the process isn’t as daunting as it sounds, and it’s well within the reach of a skilled DIYer. After all, a spark plug is just a big bolt that shoots out electricity.

First things first

Spark plugs
sima/123RF

How often you need to change your spark plugs largely depends on the kind of car you drive, and the type of plugs currently installed in your engine. Typically, replacement intervals vary between 30,000 and 100,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual if you’re not sure.

Worn spark plugs can cause poor performance (notably an engine misfire, a rough idle, and hesitation under acceleration) and poor gas mileage. Ultimately, your engine will refuse to start if the plugs are too worn out.

The first step is to make sure your car actually has spark plugs. An overwhelming majority of them do, regardless of whether you drive a Toyota Tercel or a Porsche 918 Spyder. However, if your ride runs on diesel, it’s not equipped with spark plugs because it has a compression-ignition engine, meaning the fuel-air mixture in the combustion chamber ignites without spark.

Once you’ve confirmed the presence of spark plugs, you need to find them. In most modern cars, the spark plugs are located near the top of the engine, firmly bolted into the cylinder head. Note that they might be buried under a mess of wires, or hidden by a plastic cover. Subaru owners need to look for the plugs on the side of their engine, as do owners of Porsche models powered by a flat-four or a flat-six.

You also need to check what kind of spark plugs your engine uses, and how many it needs. Usually, the number of spark plugs is equal to the number of cylinders. If you’re driving a humble four-banger, you’ll need four spark plugs. If you’re rolling around with a V12 under the hood, you’ll need 12. However, that’s not always the case. Some engines — such as a few Mercedes V6s — use two spark plugs per cylinder. Again, consult your owner’s manual or web browser to be sure.

The dirty work

Spark plug socket
sima/123RF

Found ’em? Good, let’s get started.

You’ll need a spark plug socket and either a spark plug gauge or a feeler gauge to ensure you have the proper gap. A ratchet is optional, and we highly recommend you either buy or borrow a torque wrench for reassembly.

Roll up your sleeves, pop your head under the hood, and you’ll notice there’s either a thick wire or a coil feeding electricity to each spark plug. Many modern cars use one coil pack per cylinder, while older cars typically rely on a single coil for the entire engine. Unbolt the coil pack (or carefully pull the wire) to reveal the top end of the plug.

Remove miscellaneous debris from the area around the spark plug using a clean rag or compressed air to ensure nothing falls in the cylinder when the spark plug is out. Trust us, you don’t want that. Once the well is clean, loosen the plug using the socket. Odds are it’s tight, so getting it out might require some elbow grease. This is where a ratchet will make your life easier. Remember: righty tighty, lefty loosey.

Before you attempt a three-pointer into the nearest garbage can, take a minute to inspect the business end of the spark plug; it tells you a lot about what’s going on inside your engine, especially if you’re working on an older car. If the electrode (that’s the very tip of the plug) is coated with a black substance, your engine is running too rich: That means the ratio of gasoline to air is too high. If the electrode is coated with a white substance, your engine is running too lean: The gasoline-to-air ratio is too low, in that case.

Use the gauge to gap the new spark plug correctly before you install it. The gap specification refers to the space between the two electrodes. It varies from car to car, but it usually falls between 0.02 and 0.06 inches. Getting the gap right the first time saves you a tremendous amount of trouble, so ask a dealer, your local auto parts store, or Google for the correct measurement if you’re not absolutely certain.

You’re ready to install the spark plug once the gap is set. Assembly is the reverse of disassembly, but we recommend using a torque wrench to ensure the plug is tightened properly. Tightening it by feel is best left to the pros, because a plug that’s too tight or too loose will inevitably cause damage.

Pop the coil (or the spark plug wire) back into place, put back any part you had to remove to access the spark plugs, and you’re done. Fire up the engine to make sure everything works the way it was designed to.




30
Apr

Sorry kid, access denied: Our favorite, free parental control software


Proper parenting isn’t easy in the digital age. There was once a time, prior to the internet, when a social network strictly referred to you and your band of cohorts, when the Silk Road was merely a cross-continent trade route, when “following” someone was considered illegal, and when the only pornographic images available lined the glossy interior of publications like Hustler and Penthouse.

Most kids these days are well versed in the tech-savvy art of computing. Many of us wouldn’t mind a little assistance when it comes to curtailing cyber bullying, blocking inappropriate websites, or simply limiting our children’s computer usage to something far less than the norm — which now hovers around eight hours a day. Thankfully, there is plenty of free software available to help.

Built-in OS features

Your computer is seemingly connected to everything, and that being the case, it’s not a bad place to begin exercising a little parental caution on behalf of your kids. The parental controls for both Windows and MacOS are built directly into each operating system’s innate preferences, providing a convenient and acceptable means for restricting Web access and chat functionality, along with viewing detailed logs and monitoring email exchanges.

Windows Family Safety

Asus Tai Chi T300 laptop

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

For Windows 10, you need to sign up for a Family Safety account. You can then add a specific child account (or more) to your family account that your kids can use.

This approach may be a little complicated, but it comes with a variety of benefits. You get activity reports for all online activity from the child accounts, and can block any apps, games or sites that you want. You can limit how much time they spend on the account, and strictly control their purchasing activity. There’s also some real-world safety features. You are able to track your kids’ location as long as you use Windows mobile devices.

MacOS

MacOS-Sierra-features
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

MacOS touts more than a few options when it comes to parental controls, each of which is accessible via the Parental Controls pane housed within the main System Preferences panel. The software includes options for blocking specified applications and websites. You can also block messaging with particular people you deem unworthy or inappropriate. Parental controls must be set individually for each person, but once done, users can also set time limits.

There are other options, such as the ability to hide profanity in most source content, and users can additionally prohibit the computer’s built-in camera and disc-burning utilities. If there’s more than one Mac on a single network, users can even remotely manage said parental controls from a different computer entirely. It’s a fairly comprehensive solution if you don’t mind spending some time in Mac settings making sure everything is set up correctly. The catch is that you can only manage parental controls by user, so you’ll need to set up separate accounts for each child.

30
Apr

BlackBerry KeyOne vs. iPhone 7: Which is best for you?


The keyboard-toting BlackBerry KeyOne runs Android and could hardly be more different from the iPhone 7. It can be tricky comparing apples and oranges, or in this case, blackberries, but we’re here to delve into the major differences in specs and try to explain what they might mean for you.

If you’re agonizing over whether to pull the trigger on a new iPhone, or get your fingers on a shiny new BlackBerry keyboard, we’ve got the answers you need in this BlackBerry KeyOne vs. iPhone 7 comparison.

Specs

BlackBerry KeyOne

BlackBerry KeyOne

Apple iPhone 7

iphone-7-plus-thumb-2333-123x250.png

Size
149.1 x 72.4 x 9.4 mm (5.87 x 2.85 x 0.37 inches)
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm (5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 in)
Weight
180g (6.35oz)
138g (4.87oz)
Screen
4.5-inch IPS LCD
4.7-inch Retina HD LED-backlit widescreen
Resolution
1,080 x 1,620 pixels (433 pixels per inch)
1,334 x 750 pixels (326 ppi)
OS
Android 7.1.1 Nougat
iOS 10
Storage
32GB
32, 128, 256GB
MicroSD card slot
Yes
No
NFC support
Yes
Yes
Processor
Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
A10 Fusion with 64-bit architecture, M10 motion coprocessor
RAM
3GB
2GB
Connectivity
GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
GSM / CDMA / HSPA / LTE
Camera
12MP rear, 8MP front
12MP rear, 7MP front
Video
2,160p at 30fps
2,160p at 30fps
Bluetooth
Yes, version 4.2
Yes, version 4.2
Fingerprint sensor
Yes
Yes
Other sensors
Accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass
Barometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor
Water resistant
No
IP67
Battery
3,505mAh
1,960mAh
Quick Charging
Yes
No
Wireless Charging
No
No
Ports
USB-C, headphone jack
Lightning
Marketplace
Google Play Store
Apple App Store
Color offerings
Black
Gold, rose gold, silver, black, jet black
Availability
May 31, carrier support to come in the summer
AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile
Price
Starts at $550
Starts at $650
DT review
First Take
3.5 out of 5 stars

The BlackBerry KeyOne has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, which is capable, but hardly top-of-the-line — you’ll find the same processor in Lenovo’s budget Moto G5 Plus, for example. The iPhone 7 sports Apple’s own A10 Fusion chip. All you really need to know is that the iPhone 7 is more powerful, faster, and smoother in general navigation or when playing games and loading apps. With 3GB of RAM, the KeyOne actually bests the iPhone 7, which only has 2GB, on paper, but Apple squeezes better performance out of its hardware, so there’s no real advantage here.

Winner: iPhone 7

Design, display, and durability


Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

With a curved, aluminum body, recessed glass fingerprint sensor, and a 4.7-inch display the iPhone 7 is an attractive phone that’s comfortable to handle. The build quality is excellent, but the lack of a headphone port will be an annoyance for some. The KeyOne is all about the full QWERTY keyboard on the front, but it still sports a Full HD 4.5-inch screen. It is thick and heavy by comparison, with a rounded aluminum body, a rubberized coating on the back, and a flat, angular top that might just remind you of Frankenstein’s monster.

Apple has been trailing the competition for quite some time when it comes to display technology and the iPhone 7 didn’t buck that trend. The 4.7-inch screen looks good, with realistic colors and decent brightness, but it’s not as sharp as many competitors with a resolution that translates to 326 pixels per inch. However, it does support 3D Touch, which allows you to press down for further options and handy shortcuts. The KeyOne’s 4.5-inch display is cut short by the keyboard which gives it a slightly odd resolution, but it’s sharp at 433 ppi. The keyboard can also be used to swipe around, which helps make the most of the limited screen real estate.

In terms of durability, the iPhone 7 scores an IP67 rating, which means it can withstand short spells in water without sustaining long term damage. The BlackBerry KeyOne doesn’t have the same level of water resistance, but it does have a tough frame that can withstand accidental drops.

Winner: iPhone 7

Battery life and charging

As the biggest bugbear for most smartphone owners, battery life is an important factor for any phone and the BlackBerry KeyOne boasts an unusually big, 3,505mAh battery. It also has a USB Type-C port that supports quick charging. The iPhone 7 has a 1,960mAh battery, which we found is generally enough to see you through the day, but offers little better than average battery life. You’re also stuck with the Lightning port for charging the iPhone and there’s no quick charging capability.

Winner: BlackBerry KeyOne

Camera

Apple iPhone 7
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends

Both these phones have a 12-megapixel main camera, while the KeyOne has an 8-megapixel front-facing camera and the iPhone 7’s selfie cam is packed with 7-megapixels. They can also both record 4K video. It may look as though the KeyOne has a slight edge here, but there’s a lot more to cameras than megapixels. In the real world, the iPhone 7 camera is faster, more accurate, and boasts a better app. It sadly doesn’t have the dual camera you’ll find in its bigger sibling, the iPhone 7 Plus, but the iPhone 7 camera still comfortably beats the BlackBerry KeyOne.

Winner: iPhone 7

Software

In truth, there are a lot more similarities between Android and iOS than differences, but the software experience on these two phones is quite different. The BlackBerry KeyOne has the very latest Android 7.1.1 Nougat, while the iPhone 7 is currently on iOS 10.3. BlackBerry is committed to regular updates, which will encompass Google’s monthly security patches, so the KeyOne is a good choice for security-conscious Android fans. But fast updates are nothing new for iPhone owners.

We hope Android version updates will also be timely for KeyOne owners, but we’ll have to wait and see. For now, this is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Price and availability

The iPhone 7 starts at $650, so the BlackBerry KeyOne is $100 cheaper. You can pick up an iPhone 7 for no money down as cheap as $21.67 per month, but you will have to lock yourself into a two and half year contract to get that price. We’re still waiting for confirmation on which carriers other than Sprint will be offering the KeyOne, and what the contract prices will be, but we expect it to be cheaper than the iPhone 7.

Apple iPhone 7
BlackBerry KeyOne
AT&T
$650 or $21.67 per month for 30 months
$550
Sprint
$650 or $27.09 per month for 24 months
$550
T-Mobile
$650 or $27.09 per month for 24 months
$550
Verizon
$650 or $27.08 per month for 24 months
$550

The BlackBerry KeyOne was set for an April release, but that has been pushed back to May 31 in the U.S.

Winner: BlackBerry KeyOne

Overall winner: Apple iPhone 7

If you’re struggling to choose between these two phones, then the chances are good that you miss the old physical, BlackBerry keyboard. If that’s the case, then you aren’t going to find a better choice than the KeyOne. It also has good battery life and the latest flavor of Android, with a solid commitment to regular updates. If you can live without the keyboard, then the iPhone 7 is a better phone in almost every other respect. The faster performance, better camera, and slim design are enough to justify the extra $100 you’ll need to spend.




30
Apr

Season 5 of ‘Orange is the New Black’ has been hacked and released


Why it matters to you

Orange is the New Black fans may have been hoping for an earlier release, but probably not in this way.

Nothing kills the excitement of good television quite like a hacker. After eagerly anticipating the release of Netflix’s hit Orange is the New Black for months, our waiting has come to a rather anticlimactic end — that is, if you’re a torrenting fan. A hacker who goes by the name The Dark Overlord claims to have stolen unreleased content from Netflix, ABC, Fox, National Geographic, and the IFC. Apparently, the hacker managed to breach security at Larson Studios, a popular post-production company responsible for a number of hit Hollywood series.

Initially, The Dark Overlord demanded ransom from Netflix for the return (or at least, the continued suspense) of OITNB, but when the streaming service refused to comply, the hacker released the fifth season via an illegal file-sharing link on Twitter.

“Who is next on the list? FOX, IFC, NAT GEO, and ABC. Oh, what fun we’re all going to have,” The Dark Overlord tweeted. “We’re not playing any games anymore.”

Initially, Season 5 of Netflix’s hit series was meant to be released on June 9, and it’s not immediately clear whether this hack will affect the service’s plans. “We are aware of the situation. A production vendor used by several major TV studios had its security compromised and the appropriate law enforcement authorities are involved,” Netflix said in a statement.

The hacker has actually been releasing content since Friday, when it tweeted to Netflix, “Let’s try to be a bit more direct.” A day later, The Dark Overlord posted again, “It didn’t have to be this way, Netflix. You’re going to lose a lot more money in all of this than what our modest offer was,” as it released the remaining nine episodes.

The hacker continued, “We’re quite ashamed to breathe the same air as you. We figured a pragmatic business such as yourselves would see and understand the benefits of cooperating with a reasonable and merciful entity like ourselves.”

This isn’t the first time The Dark Overlord has claimed responsibility for a breach. Last summer, a hacker by the same name claimed to be responsible for hacks of at least three health care companies, as well as an insurance company. We’ll just have to hope the authorities catch this ne’er-do-well’er soon.




30
Apr

Learn to code in 2017 with this amazing bundle of courses!


You have decided to embark on a new career in web development, but the problem is you don’t know where to start. You could go to a four-year college and get a degree in computer science; but that means spending four years of your life as a student — you don’t have time for that!

Get 80+ hours of multi-faceted programming education for $49! Learn more

You could also attend a short intensive boot camp program, but once again, moving your life to a new city for several weeks, spending several thousand dollars, and coding every day all day is not ideal for everyone either. There is a third option — learn to code from the comfort of your own home and at a pace that fits your busy lifestyle.

But where do you start? There are so many online courses to pick from, it can be a little daunting, but Windows Central Digital Offers is here to help!

stack-social-coding-bundle.jpg?itok=9qkJ

Skip the debt, and jump on this great deal. The Ultimate Learn to Code 2017 Bundle includes 10 courses that will help you build important skills to be successful in the industry. Learn and explore the fundamentals of JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS, and then move up the ladder to more advanced concepts with languages like Ruby, Python, and learn to create real-world cross-platform apps. You can get unlimited access to all these courses for just $59, that’s a saving of 95%!

Here’s a breakdown of the courses you get in this great bundle:

  • The Professional Ruby on Rails Developer with Rails 5
  • Javascript Specialist Designation
  • Python for Beginners 2017
  • Java from Beginner to Expert
  • The Complete HTML5 & CSS3 Course: Build Professional Websites
  • Angular 2 with TypeScript for Beginners: The Pragmatic Guide
  • Learn Xamarin by Creating Real World Cross-Platform Apps
  • iOS 10 & Objective-C: Complete Developer Course
  • Learn Fundamental SQL Programming With SQL Server
  • Practical Web Programming 101

Get 80+ hours of multi-faceted programming education for $49! Learn more

Whether you need to learn a new coding language, or want to improve the skills you already have, The Ultimate Learn to Code 2017 Bundle is sure to help you be more successful in your career.

30
Apr

Ben Heck’s logic gate board game: Fun with LCD displays


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With Karen’s laser cutting design skills and Felix’s soldering, the team has created a prototype of the logic board game using Karen’s magnetic clasp design. Now it’s time to give the concept a test run with help from The Game Craft proprietor JT Smith, whose experience with game design includes The Captain is Dead. JT says creating a game that’s both educational and fun is one of the hardest concepts to pull off, and usually the design includes some compromises — but where? While Karen contemplates JT’s input, Ben and Felix hack an LCD display with the Pic32 Microcontroller and a DE0-Nano FPGA. Hopefully this will lead to a design that doesn’t rely solely on LEDs! What do you think the team can compromise on? Or do you have experience driving an LCD screen with a microcontroller? Weigh in on build design over at the element14 Community.

30
Apr

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Toilet bowl lights, Tyvek watches, tiny firestarters


awesome-tech-you-cant-buy-yet-280x75.png

At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Ilumibowl Anti-Germ disinfecting toilet light

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Waking up in the middle of night to pee is never a fun activity. When nature calls, you have to choose between flipping on the lights and blinding yourself, or skipping the switch and using the john in complete darkness. Or you could, you know, buy some nightlights.

If none of those options sound appealing to you, don’t worry — there’s an awesome alternative up on Kickstarter right now. It’s called the Illumibowl.

The company is back with a version that uses UV light.

You may have seen it on SharkTank. Rather than putting lights in your walls, IlumiBowl puts a light where you need it most: the toilet bowl. Using a set of motion-activated LEDs mounted just above the bowl, the contraption illuminates the toilet without actually being inside of it. This way, the gentlemen of the house have enough light to adjust their aim, and the ladies needn’t worry about falling in because the seat isn’t down.

The product has actually been on the market for over a year now, but now the company is back with a version that uses UV light to scramble the DNA of any bacteria living in your commode, and prevent them from reproducing.

Read more here

Longrunner — affordable electric skateboard

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Electric longboards are one of the best new forms of urban transport. They’re low maintenance, lightweight, easy to take on public transit, and great for getting around town. Over the past few years, as electric motors and lithium-ion batteries have steadily become cheaper and more powerful, electric skateboards have become highly sophisticated — but unfortunately most still suffer from one key drawback: an outrageously high price tag.

Whereas a high-end traditional longboard might cost you $400 at the high end, decent electric longboards often cost well over $1,000. You’d be hard pressed to find a decent one for under $500, and anything under $300 is damn near nonexistent.

But that’s starting to change. Thanks to platforms like Kickstarter, scrappy startups regularly pop up with more affordable alternatives which, in the long run, will force the bigger companies to drop prices to stay competitive. Longrunner is a prime example of this trend. Designed by a young upstart from Berlin, the board features all the trimmings you’d expect from a motorized longboard (belt-driven wheels, rechargeable batteries, handheld speed controls, etc.), but for a fraction of the usual cost. This bad boy can be had for about $160 on Kickstarter right now.

Read more here

NanoSpark — ultracompact firestarter

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If you’re a fan of lightweight, minimalist survival gear, then this project is for you. The NanoSpark is a super rugged, ultracompact fire starting kit designed to help you start a fire no matter where you may be. The device has two main components: a waterproof tinder storage capsule and a flint wheel. To use it, you simply pull out your tinder flick the wheel until a spark lights up the tinder.

To be honest, we’re not entirely sure why you’d carry something like this instead of a regular lighter — but the best argument seems to be the size. NanoSpark is small and lightweight enough that you could presumably stick it on a keychain or zipper cord and just forget about it until you need it. It’s definitely not as convenient as a Bic when it comes to everyday use, but it’d certainly be nice to have in your gear bag if something goes awry and you find yourself stranded in the wilderness.

Read more here

Deskview — window-mounted standing desk

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Standing desks are all the rage right now, and for good reason. There’s a growing body of research that  suggests sitting all day is really bad for you. Incredibly bad, actually. Doing it for eight hours a day has been shown to cause a myriad of health problems, so over the past few years, the desk market has been flooded with a wide variety of innovative new designs that encourage you to get off your ass and onto your feet.

Staring out a window beats staring at the walls of a cubicle.

The latest addition to this growing trend is Deskview — an innovative new take on the traditional standing design. Instead of four legs, the desk employs a pair of suction cups, which allow the user to quickly affix it to a window. Really, it’s not so much a full-on “desk” as it is a suction-cup shelf for your window. It’s just big enough to fit a laptop coffee cup, and a book or two — but what it lacks in workspace real estate, it makes up for with a fantastic view.

No matter where you work, staring out a window beats staring at the walls of a cubicle any day.

Read more here

Papr Watch — ultralight digital wristwatch

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Looking for a waterproof digital watch that’s not super bulky on your wrist? Look no further than the Papr Watch. As its name helpfully suggests, the watch looks and feels like paper — but its actually extremely durable. It’s made from Tyvek, a strong spunbonded olefin sheet product that’s much tougher than paper.

The material was developed many years ago by DuPont, you’ve probably already worn a Tyvek band around your wrist at some point, perhaps at a festival or some such event. It’s outrageously durable, but also lightweight, breathable, and waterproof.

And that’s the kicker. Tyvek has some really unique properties. It’s a nonwoven fabric that has zillions of tiny little holes in it. These holes are so small that they don’t let liquid water molecules through, but vapor can pass through with relative ease. This makes the watch breathable, but also waterproof enough to protect the electronic innards.

The digital watch face sits under the paper in the usual place but is clearly visible (that’s good), and the strap clicks firmly shut using magnets. And don’t worry about having to charge it every day — the Papr Watch uses a battery that will run for up to two years before it needs changing.

Read more here




30
Apr

Awesome tech you can’t buy yet: Toilet bowl lights, Tyvek watches, tiny firestarters


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At any given moment, there are approximately a zillion crowdfunding campaigns on the web. Take a stroll through Kickstarter or Indiegogo and you’ll find no shortage of weird, useless, and downright stupid projects out there — alongside some real gems. In this column, we cut through all the worthless wearables and Oculus Rift ripoffs to round up the week’s most unusual, ambitious, and exciting projects. But don’t grab your wallet just yet. Keep in mind that any crowdfunded project can fail — even the most well-intentioned. Do your homework before cutting a check for the gadget of your dreams.

Ilumibowl Anti-Germ disinfecting toilet light

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Waking up in the middle of night to pee is never a fun activity. When nature calls, you have to choose between flipping on the lights and blinding yourself, or skipping the switch and using the john in complete darkness. Or you could, you know, buy some nightlights.

If none of those options sound appealing to you, don’t worry — there’s an awesome alternative up on Kickstarter right now. It’s called the Illumibowl.

The company is back with a version that uses UV light.

You may have seen it on SharkTank. Rather than putting lights in your walls, IlumiBowl puts a light where you need it most: the toilet bowl. Using a set of motion-activated LEDs mounted just above the bowl, the contraption illuminates the toilet without actually being inside of it. This way, the gentlemen of the house have enough light to adjust their aim, and the ladies needn’t worry about falling in because the seat isn’t down.

The product has actually been on the market for over a year now, but now the company is back with a version that uses UV light to scramble the DNA of any bacteria living in your commode, and prevent them from reproducing.

Read more here

Longrunner — affordable electric skateboard

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Electric longboards are one of the best new forms of urban transport. They’re low maintenance, lightweight, easy to take on public transit, and great for getting around town. Over the past few years, as electric motors and lithium-ion batteries have steadily become cheaper and more powerful, electric skateboards have become highly sophisticated — but unfortunately most still suffer from one key drawback: an outrageously high price tag.

Whereas a high-end traditional longboard might cost you $400 at the high end, decent electric longboards often cost well over $1,000. You’d be hard pressed to find a decent one for under $500, and anything under $300 is damn near nonexistent.

But that’s starting to change. Thanks to platforms like Kickstarter, scrappy startups regularly pop up with more affordable alternatives which, in the long run, will force the bigger companies to drop prices to stay competitive. Longrunner is a prime example of this trend. Designed by a young upstart from Berlin, the board features all the trimmings you’d expect from a motorized longboard (belt-driven wheels, rechargeable batteries, handheld speed controls, etc.), but for a fraction of the usual cost. This bad boy can be had for about $160 on Kickstarter right now.

Read more here

NanoSpark — ultracompact firestarter

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If you’re a fan of lightweight, minimalist survival gear, then this project is for you. The NanoSpark is a super rugged, ultracompact fire starting kit designed to help you start a fire no matter where you may be. The device has two main components: a waterproof tinder storage capsule and a flint wheel. To use it, you simply pull out your tinder flick the wheel until a spark lights up the tinder.

To be honest, we’re not entirely sure why you’d carry something like this instead of a regular lighter — but the best argument seems to be the size. NanoSpark is small and lightweight enough that you could presumably stick it on a keychain or zipper cord and just forget about it until you need it. It’s definitely not as convenient as a Bic when it comes to everyday use, but it’d certainly be nice to have in your gear bag if something goes awry and you find yourself stranded in the wilderness.

Read more here

Deskview — window-mounted standing desk

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Standing desks are all the rage right now, and for good reason. There’s a growing body of research that  suggests sitting all day is really bad for you. Incredibly bad, actually. Doing it for eight hours a day has been shown to cause a myriad of health problems, so over the past few years, the desk market has been flooded with a wide variety of innovative new designs that encourage you to get off your ass and onto your feet.

Staring out a window beats staring at the walls of a cubicle.

The latest addition to this growing trend is Deskview — an innovative new take on the traditional standing design. Instead of four legs, the desk employs a pair of suction cups, which allow the user to quickly affix it to a window. Really, it’s not so much a full-on “desk” as it is a suction-cup shelf for your window. It’s just big enough to fit a laptop coffee cup, and a book or two — but what it lacks in workspace real estate, it makes up for with a fantastic view.

No matter where you work, staring out a window beats staring at the walls of a cubicle any day.

Read more here

Papr Watch — ultralight digital wristwatch

Please enable Javascript to watch this video

Looking for a waterproof digital watch that’s not super bulky on your wrist? Look no further than the Papr Watch. As its name helpfully suggests, the watch looks and feels like paper — but its actually extremely durable. It’s made from Tyvek, a strong spunbonded olefin sheet product that’s much tougher than paper.

The material was developed many years ago by DuPont, you’ve probably already worn a Tyvek band around your wrist at some point, perhaps at a festival or some such event. It’s outrageously durable, but also lightweight, breathable, and waterproof.

And that’s the kicker. Tyvek has some really unique properties. It’s a nonwoven fabric that has zillions of tiny little holes in it. These holes are so small that they don’t let liquid water molecules through, but vapor can pass through with relative ease. This makes the watch breathable, but also waterproof enough to protect the electronic innards.

The digital watch face sits under the paper in the usual place but is clearly visible (that’s good), and the strap clicks firmly shut using magnets. And don’t worry about having to charge it every day — the Papr Watch uses a battery that will run for up to two years before it needs changing.

Read more here




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