USB: Portal to a Psychotic Breakdown?

Alright, it’s official, the USB port has finally and completely lost its way, or at least, gadget designers have loosened too many of their screws over USB. Meet the latest evidence of widespread serial port psychosis: the USB Hamster Wheel. As you type, the wheel spins faster and faster. Which would be entertaining for what… maybe 2 or 3 minutes, tops?

Gizmodo concludes their item on it with: “Available for £24.99 ($44.98), which is a bargain compared to prescription anti-depressants.” I don’t know. I think you’d need heavy psychiatric drugs after a few minutes alone with this thing. Gives me the willies just lookin’ at it.

EFF Alert: 24 Hours to Stop Wiretapping Bills Before the Election

Derek Slater from the EFF (via Boing Boing):

“We’ve got 24 hours to stop the NSA wiretapping bills in the Senate and let cases like EFF’s lawsuit against AT&T proceed in the traditional court system. Worse still, now some of your Congressional representatives are trying to sneak a dangerous surveillance proposal into the Port Security Bill. If your representative is on the list in this post, call them IMMEDIATELY to oppose the NSA spying program.

“The amendment is so bad, I’ll let it speak for itself: “no action, claim, or proceeding shall lie or be maintained in any court … against any person for an activity arising from or relating to the provision to an element of the intelligence community of any information … in connection with any alleged communications intelligence program that the Attorney General or a designee of the Attorney General certifies, in a manner consistent with the protection of State secrets, is, was, or would be intended to protect the United States from a terrorist attack. This section shall apply to all actions, claims, or proceedings pending on or after the effective date of this Act.”

Creepy USB Kitty “Sentinel”

In the interest of completeness and our ongoing coverage of goofball USB gadgets, we bring you the USB Kitty Sentinel. It may look like a cute cookie jar on grandma’s kitchen counter, but USB Kitty Sentinel is SO much more unsettling than that. Armed with several infrared motion sensors, it can detect when an “intruder” has entered your geekosphere. Once its sensors are tripped, USB Kitty goes on the feline warpath, shaking its shiny little faux ceramic head, and hissing and sputtering, scaring off whoever’s been pokin’ around your stuff. Of course, if they run away screaming, it’s probably because they think you’ve finally gone off the deep end and they’re rushing off to alert building security (or the company nurse).

Car Keypad Master Unlock

Check this out. A wiley hacker has figured out a way to gain entry into any car that uses a keypad door lock. The hitch is that the sequence one needs to enter is 3129 keypresses long. He claims it takes about 20 minutes to enter. Not exactly a snatch and grab. How long before someone develops a set of robotic fingers that can enter it at lightning speed?

Is This the Next Hardware Recall?

Some dude is claiming that his Maxtor DiamondMax 200GB hard drive went kablooey (“The flames were a good three inches high…”). He thinks one of the chips on the drive controller (see pic) may have gotten nuked (“one of the chips on the bottom of the HDD is burned badly, it actually looks like it exploded, some of the legs came de-soldered and are actually bent outwards like they blew out…”). He had it out of the case when it happened, so maybe he shorted something.

Here’s a link to the item and more pics (currently getting slash-dotted).

Are Strategy Guides Actually Making Games Harder?

Over at 2Old2Game, Snakemeister has an interesting piece on the growing popularity, and indespensibility, of official game strategy guides. Have these guides led to games becoming more complex, possibly to warrant the purchasing of such guides, which has led to games getting even more complex, which means you can never actually fully explore a game world without a guide, and on and on you go, down the rabbit hole? In part, he concludes:

“I like to think that developers and publishers realised that their customers were looking for more content, more depth to their games, more ‘bang for their buck’ if you will. They needed the maximum return on their investment (that phrase again). As the games became more complex, the need for strategy guides, official and unofficial, became greater. The moment that strategy guides started to become official, developers were able to place secrets into their games that would guarantee the need for a guide. It’s unavoidable that these secrets would eventually be passed around online for free, but there will always be gamers, who will be seduced by the lure of a glossy 200 page strategy guide, shrink wrapped to protect its secrets, every inch of it screaming quality. And yes, I do count myself among those gamers.”

MySpace: The Magazine?

So, now that Fox is all down with the iGeneration after buying MySpace, what new media trails do they want to blaze next? How about the one paved with plenty of dead trees? According to a piece in Advertising Age (and reported by our confederates, TechDirt), they’re “modeling” it now. Modeling it? I thought you wrote and then published a magazine, but I guess when you’re just shooting for style over substance you “model” it, kind of like this fall’s must-have fashions. I can see the pitch meetings now: “Look, Rupe, it’s like Us or People, only with tattoos, piercings and lots of crazy page designs. The kids love the insane backgrounds” “No, listen, how about: It’s FHM or Maxim, only we won’t pay up and coming writers to dream up the frat house boob and fart jokes, we datamine this stuff from pages on the site, for free! This make the kids feel all interactive. They eat this stuff up. ”

Personally, I’m holding out for the YouTube print mag. Now *that* promises to be a page-turner.

The Beef Bowl PC

You may have already seen this on the Make blog, but in the interest of complete coverage of wacky, weird and dumbass USB devices, we had to post this here. This is a BBQ cooker built from 6 PCI USB cards on a PC with five USB ports per card. That’s right: the awesome cooking power of 24 USB ports (at least we think only 24 were used). Love the machine translation of the page:

“Taste of the just a little electronic part did. (Laughing)”

Yoda, is that you?

Microsoft: So “Multicore,” Dood!

This made me…ah… LOL (as the kids used to say back when MS was “razor-like”) :

“Not to be outdone by today’s news of Intel’s release of Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer drew a mental picture for analysts attending today’s all-day financial session. Gone were the “focus,” “laser-like focus” and, from one point in history, “razor-like focus” used to describe the company when Windows Vista looked like a done deal. Instead, Ballmer said, try to think of Microsoft as a company that does many things, that’s involved in several aspects of consumers’ lives…you could call it a “multicore” company.”

Read the rest of the piece on TG Daily.