Ben Heck’s Secret Commercial Product is…

…headphones? You may have heard that hardware hacker Big God Ben Heck(endorn) was hard at work on a commercial product. Everyone suspected it’d be some sort of retro-gaming player or otherwise related to his old school game console hacking. So, it’s a bit of a surprise that the product turns out to be a gaming headset for PC. The ‘set definitely looks ’70s geek chic and sports force feedback motors, 5.1 surround sound emulation, in-line control module w/mute, and cool LED read-outs on the cans. A retro feature you won’t likely welcome is that these are corded USB-based phones, not wireless. But true to Hecky’s (and they call him on Engadget) prediction, the Audio FX Pros are under US$100, at $80.


Spinal Tap Smells the Planet

When my wife and I first saw Spinal Tap, we laughed so hard, several people around us got up and moved. We laughed pretty much from the moment that Marty DeBergi entered the first scene, in his USS Ooral Sea cap, till the credits rolled. We’d both been involved in rock and roll and it was just too spot on for its own good. So, seeing that there was a new Spinal Tap short, a sort of “where are they now?,” in advance of their reunion at the Live Earth Concerts, I was hoping for similar dumb-funny fits of giddiness.

It didn’t disappoint. The vid opens on the set of Marty DeBergi’s new film, “The Hills Have Eyes with Macular Degeneration.” Hoping to get the band back together for Live Earth, Marty seeks out the members, now not talking to each other. Nigel is a ranch hand on a miniature horse farm, David runs a hip-hop production company, called Back Alley, in a former colonic irrigation clinic. Derek talks to Marty from a rehab center, via webcam, where he’s being treated for Internet addiction. Marty, the affable lunk, manages to get the band talking again and to agree to reunite for the benefit.

If you’re a Tap fan, you’ll likely get as big a kick out of this as I did. Wonder who the drummer will be at Live Earth? Too bad Mick Fleetwood has thus far defied the band’s drummer curse. He’s still with us (as far as anyone can tell), but no word if he’ll mount the exploding drum stool for the upcoming shows.


DOOM on an iPod using an NES Controller

Oh those crazy kidz with their hardware mash-ups. This one comes to use via veteran Street Techie Craniac. It details how a gamer got doom.wads to run on his old iPod Photo using an even older NES Controller as his game controls.

A How-To can be found here.
See it in action here.

Thanks, Mark!


Infinite Solutions: Hysterical, Evil

A few weeks ago, I saw an intriguing item on a hardware hacks site (which shall remain nameless) about greatly improving your WiFi network range by using your cell phone as an antenna. Whah? I took the link, began watching the how-to video, a show called “Infinite Solutions,” and hilarity quickly ensued.

At first, I thought it was real — goofy looking and sounding — but real. But by the time the host started wrapping Ethernet cable around a cellie to achieve “Ethernet induction,” I knew something was horribly, horribly wrong (not the least of which was the fact that the linking site hadn’t figured out that this was a put-on). I went to the Infinite Solutions page on YouTube and watched some of their other episodes. They’re genius, a hysterical mix of cheezoid production values, just enough real information and hand-holding to suck in the ill-informed, plenty of impenetrable geekspeak, and lots and lots of good ol’ Blarney.


MacBreak Discusses the EMI/iTunes Deal

Leo, Merlin, and the boys at MacBreak do a excellent job of quoting from and discussing the EMI/iTunes announcement this week.

If you’ve been living under a rock: EMI is releasing its entire catalog on iTunes (minus The Beatles, at least for now), all DRM-free, at twice the audio quality (for .30 more than the DRM’d tracks, which will still be available for .99). Full albums will get the higher audio quality and DRM-free for the current full album price. Yay! I might actually start buying music on iTunes now.


What’s on the Other Side of Will Wright’s Spore?

Next Generation has piece on Will Wright and his talk at South by Southwest Interactive. In it, he talks about the nature of storytelling in games and where he sees it going:

“Wright went on to describe his vision of a simulation that could actually execute dramatic aspects of a game. In other words, a computer that could learn what kind of story a player is creating (a teen slasher, a drama) in an open world, and then figure out the ultimate epic struggle of the player’s storyline as he or she plays.

“In simpler terms, the computer would be like the in-movie director of The Truman Show, Wright said. Stories stemming from such an interactive experience, he believes, would be truly powerful.”


Robosapien to Star on the Silver Screen

Is it just me, or does this look like a tremendous stinker waiting to happen?:

Wowwee Ltd. announces that they have joined forces with Arad Productions to bring Robosapien to the big screen. Production has already begun on a feature film, which will combine live-action and CGI, is targeted for release in 2009, and will be based on our favorite WowWee robot, Robosapien.

More info.


Stephen Colbert Trashed My Robot!

I just watched The Colbert Report with Mark Frauenfelder as the guest and was stunned and delighted to discover that Mark had brought a Mousey the Junkbot to show off. It felt like a little piece of me was on the show too (sniff, sniff). And then Colbert ran Mousey off the table and it broke into many pieces. He seemed genuinely embarrassed. It was funny. Mark and Stephen battled each other with marshmallow cannons, too. It’ll run several times today (Wed), so you should definitely try to catch the segment.

Here’s a link to the video and some additional coverage on MAKE.

Chad Vader, Town Drunk?

Blame Society promised Chad Vader Episode 5 by Christmas and they made good on that. No. 5 got loaded onto YouTube a few hours ago. Still funny, cute, but the joke may be wearing a little thin. Speaking of wearing, Chad has switched “costumes” by the end of the episode. A new job, perhaps? Chad Vader, Branch Bank Manager?

While you’re on YouTube, be sure to check out Blame Society’s Holiday Greeting, which is really adorable; Chad kickin’ it Hef-style.