Amazon Does Togs

Amazon started with books, moved into electronics and videos, and then into everything else. The name has been associated with every possible retail item…except clothes. Until now. “Jeff” wrote me an email this morning to tell me that Amazon has started a new project, still in “beta” (that’s probably just a gimmick) to retail clothing of every sort, from Old Navy to New Balance, from Kate Spade to Jack Spade. The new collection of stores is code-named “ruby” (more gimmickry) and can be accessed at Here’s one bit that’s not gimmick; spend $50 in the clothing section, and you’ll get $30 gift certificate for anything at Amazon, even books, if Amazon still sells those…

There’s a Virus Goin’ On

Heads up on a Greeting Card worm that’s makin’ the rounds. If you get a message from somebody that normally doesn’t send virtual greeting cards (and who does, BTW?), be suspicious. I got it this morning (from a PR guy we deal with here at Street Tech), but luckily I didn’t click on it before I received his warning follow-up (see, sometimes being backed up with email is a good thing). More info

MP3 Goes “Retro”

If you couldn’t tell what’s on my X-mas wishlist, here’s another hint. This is the new Archos hard-drive-based MP3 player. Sporting a new look much like their new Multimedia player (except with a monochrome screen rather than a color one), this 20 gig MP3-only player, imaginatively called the Jukebox FM Recorder 20 is sleeker than previous units at only 4.45″ x 3.11″ x 1.18.” That’s not iPod size, but not too bad, either. Price is only $300, significantly less than the iPod.

More than just the shape has changed from the old Archos Jukebox — it now uses USB 2.0 for fast transfering of MP3s from PC, and it also records MP3s from any source including the built-in FM tuner. It also has this very cool feature called “retro-recording” which means that if you’re listening to the radio and decide after the song starts that you want to record it, you press record and the unit will record from 30 seconds before you hit the button! I think this must work through some faster-than-light technology, but the company’s keeping mum about any violation of the laws of physics. Actually, it sort of reminds me of an idea I had a few years ago about a device that would constantly record the last 30 seconds of your own conversations, so that if somebody said something you thought you might want to remember later, you’d just press a button to save that part, effectively creating a retro-voice reminder. I should have patented the concept….

New Palms, But Will They Be Enough?

Palm has officially announced two new high-end devices — the Tungsten T, available now, and the Tungsten W, available after X-mas. The Tungsten T is the unit that we’ve posted pics of here before, with a sliding keyboard, etc. The T is the first unit available with Palm OS5, running on a 144 MHz processor with 16 megs of RAM (14 available) and a 320×320 screen, as predicted. In a first for Palm, it has a stereo headphone jack, microphone and high quality speaker, so it can do voice memos (though no native MP3 capablility). It also has built-in wireless communication via Bluetooth. Go to Palm for the full specs. Price is US$500.

The Tungsten W (pictured) will run OS4.1 on the old DragonBall 33 MHz chip, but will add GSM/GPRS capabilities, allowing users to make phone calls (via headset) and have access to the Web. The W will also have a built-in keyboard rather than the usual Graffiti. Price is $550. Specs at Palm.

That’s Not A Pile of Junk, That’s My Pet Robot!

I’ve just finished reading the best damn robot book I’ve ever read (and I’ve read plenty!). The book, called Junkbots, Bugbots & Bots on Wheels, is by Dave Hrynkiw. Street Tech old timers will remember Dave from when he was a “Geek in Residence” here years ago. The president of robot parts and kit company, Solarbotics, Dave has been a tireless champion of BEAM robotics for years. BEAM (which stands for “Biology, Electronics, Aesthetics, Mechanics”) is a fascinating bottom-up approach to robot building. Taking cues from biology, BEAM-makers mainly use analog electronics to create surprisingly lifelike behaviors in (usually) solar-powered, autonomous, bug-brained bots.

Warren Ellis Gets Mindjacked

Mindjack, the digital culture zine honchoed by Street Tech Irregular Donald Melanson, has an excellent interview with comic book mastermind Warren Ellis (Transmet, Planetary).

If you don’t make regular browser stops at Mindjack already, you really should. It just keeps on getting better — and I’m not JUST saying that ’cause I’m on the Mindjack Board of Advisors, and so far, I’ve been utterly shiftless and non-responsive in that role. Please make a point of going there and participating, so I can feel worthy and wholesome (right now, I feel DIRTY).

Gar’s Sucks-Less Writing Tips

After four years of “growing” a list of writing tips that I wanted to share with Street Tech writers, I’ve decided to post it as a work-in-progress (i.e., it probably sucks-More than it needs to, but I just got tired of picking away at it and not posting it). I figured, with ST 4.0, where we’re opening the writing pool up to a wider group, some of these tips might help us get stronger submissions (and maybe save me some time as an editor). Please let me know what you think.

Gar’s Tips on Sucks-Less Writing

[Here’s something I’ve been working on, in dribs and drabs (mostly drabs), for the past four years. The idea was to share a few tricks of the writer’s trade with Street Tech writers, many of whom were then new to the biz. I violate some of my own “rules” here. It’s a bit…ah…windy and even more than a bit redundant, but I decided that, in this context, it was OK. For instance: “Garage Band Writing Style,” “Shitty First Drafts,” “For God’s Sake, Have Fun!,” and “Writers Write” are all saying basically the same concept, only expressed in slightly different ways. One may speak to you where another doesn’t. Anyway, consider it a work in progress, one that I didn’t feel like keeping to myself anymore.

I thought toilet paper was “DIY”

Tired of that oh-so-20th century approach to post-“download” clean up: toilet paper? A Hong Kong company is circulating a piece of spam posing the musical question: “Are you still wiping with toilet paper?” Why, yes I am. Thanks for asking. For those of us Loteks still doing our own dirty work, the company promises the ultimate ablution (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). Their “Auto-Wiping DIY Ablution System” (a bidet by any other name) attaches to an existing toilet and blasts your backside with warm water after you’ve done your business. Wait, wouldn’t you still need to use TP to dry yourself off, Mr. Embarrassing Wetspot?

I guess they mean the installation is DIY (“suitable for any style stools”), but it still made me do a snickering double take. This is one piece of “lifestyle technology” I think I’ll…ah…pass.

[Thanks to Sean Carton!]

ZOE: Google for your Inbox

ZOE (as reviewed by O’Reilly’s Jon Udell) is a cool Java Web service that treats your Inbox as if it were Google. I can’t *quite* get it to work for me, but the problem may be with my provider. Anyway, check it out. It’s free and cool.