Best Tech List

While we’re on the subject of lists, PCWorld has published their list of the Best Tech Products of 2006 (ah…so far?). These lists are a great way to see what products have some sort of consensus, and a great way of getting hipped to products you might not otherwise be aware (like the Canon Pixma MP950 printer/scanner or Avvenu, the free remote access service, or how about, the bargain travel site?). A lot of good stuff here. Each item is linked to an in-depth review on the mag’s site.

Back to the Future

Street Tech’s staff photographer Jay Towsend writes:

“Cue Conan O’Brien’s “In the Year 2000” … it’s Omni magazine’s 1982 predictions for the future.

“Some are pretty accurate. Others….well….um….I’m still waiting for the train that can travel from New York to Los Angeles in 21 minutes.”

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And then there are those things we can thank Gopod never came to pass like: Businessmen of the future will wear tight-fitting body suits that reveal the male body, and make-up to their meetings!

Pop Under Pressure

I love some of the installation work people are doing with iPods/MP3 players. Popgadget brings us word of this one: R. Luke DuBois’ “Billboard” at the Bit Forms Gallery in New York. The Popsters write:

“DuBois took all the songs that reached #1 and aggregated them into one “song.” Weighted by the number of weeks the song was on the top of the charts, the average song got one second in the piece. The end result is an abstracted archive of the history of popular music from August 1958, when the list got started, up to today.”

Talk about a mashup! “Billboard” is running at the Bit Forms Gallery until July 17th. What? No BitTorrent?

Pebbles, the VERY Foreign Exchange Student

It may look a little like a toilet on wheels when it’s folded up, but when deployed, it’s something far more interesting. Pebbles (which is one of those clunky acronyms for “Providing Education by Bringing Learning Environments to Students”) is a robot telepresence system for kids who have to spend a long time in the hospital. Such a lengthy stay can be a huge setback for a child, in terms of their schoolwork and maintaining ties to their school chums. Pebbles acts as a robotic proxy, with one unit in the classroom and one by the child’s hospital bed. Basically a teleconferencer on wheels, the child can see what’s going on in the classroom (and be seen in return), and s/he can move the classbot around via a game controller, and even raise the robots hand to participate in class discussions. The student can even move the robot from class to class, stopping off at the lockers to talk trash and to chase down and dispatch bullies with the onboard flamethrower (okay, I made that last part up, I got a little carried away by the whole concept).

Read an AP piece on Pebbles.
See the Pebbles page at Ryerson University in Canada.
Check out the Pebbels info at Telebotics, the bots’ maker.

Is That a Mix Tape on Your Crotch, or…

There may be a reason why the online boutique selling these recycled cassette tape belt buckles doesn’t show someone actually wearing one — we suspect they make you look more like Napoleon DynaDORK than Dynamite. We like the idea of recycled dead media as contemp couture, and it’s at least cool that you can choose the artist or type of tape (Milli Vanilli, Prince, Barbie Workout, Spanish language, blank Certron, etc.). US$15, you provide your own hand-tooled signature belt. Sveet.

[Via Gear Factor]

LadyAda’s MintyBoost!

The amazing LadyAda, hardware hacker extraordinaire, has posted an extremely detailed Instructables on her new, improved take on the ubiquitous Altoids tin USB device charger. She’s improved the circuit to make far more efficient use of the juice in two AA batts. The Instructables is far more than a how-to. She goes through the entire process of tackling an electronics problem, designing a solution, specing the parts, designing a PCB and getting it mass produced, assembling the project, testing, etc. Reading through this is quite a learning experience. She’s also making a kit available in her store. You can also just buy just the PCB, if you already have the other components. Nice job!

Moto Q Review

Sascha Segan over at PC Magazine has a full-length review of the new Motorola Q Windows smartphone. His bottom line is: “…the coolest smartphone in America. It’s a terrific voice phone, a dandy music player, and a swell email machine. Just be warned: Expensive service plans mean it isn’t as cheap as it appears.” 4-1/2 out of 5 stars. They also offer a comparison between it and the other major smartphones,

Round-up of 1GB Flash MP3 Players

Those yogis of leisure over at the DenGuru have a round-up of five 1GB Flash MP3 players. Their all-around fave, for features, price, and performance, is the Samsung YP-T7JZ. Samsung players have been faring pretty well in these round-ups lately. Asute Street Techies may recall that the YP-MT6 was the stand-out in a recent Ars Technica cheap player shout-out.

Okay Samsung, we like you products, so why don’t you go ahead and start giving them actual names and stop naming them after license plate numbers.

Free iPod Book 2.0

Last year, we were knocked out by the quality of iLounge’s iPod Book. We would have been impressed if it had been a title for sale on Amazon, but it was free to download from the Lounge. Well, they’ve done it again. The Free iPod Book 2.0 is 194 pages (some of them are ad pages) of reviews, sneak peeks, maintenance and repair info, and a guide to iTunes. Truly an impressive effort.

Roll Your Own Xbox Media Extender

Hack247, a UK hacks site, has posted a how-to on building a wireless media extender for an Xbox running XBMC. The portable media center as an LCD pinched from a Sony PSOne and it can transmit remote commands back to the Xbox for full media control.

[Via hackAday]