USB Monster Hub

If you want to keep some annoying kid away from your computer, you could always try and build a DIY USB monster hub, like the creator of the USB hub in the picture. This “monster” is basically a USB hub with some tape and cloth jumbled with some (rather cool looking) red LED lights as eyes. If you’re into monsters, you're welcome to try building one of your own.

Gran Turismo: PSP In The Works

Four years have passed since whispers of Gran Turismo: PSP were bandied about, and there is still not such game in sight to date. In an interview with IGN, Kazunori Yamauchi, Polyphony Digital CEO, tells otherwise as he insisted that GT: PSP is in the pipeline. Perhaps this could mean a title for the next generation PSP? After all, Gran Turismo titles have long been associated with flagship titles on different PlayStation consoles in the past, so to do so for the PSP so late into its life cycle doesn't seem to make much sense. Ah well, weirder things have happened in the past, but it would be interesting to see whether Sony will roll out a next-gen PSP soon.

Wall-E Learning Laptop

The laptop has five modes--letters, words, math, logic, and games--and each mode has three activities. The different modes teach language and cognitive development skills, basic math skills, and independent play.
The keyboard has a flip-down QWERTY keyboard, which in itself can be useful in helping kids become familiar with keyboards. You can use the arrow buttons on the keyboard to move through selections, or you can use the moving arm controllers to scroll through options. The screen is a basic LCD screen, and isn't anything special, but the images are pretty clear.
And, just like in the movie, Wall-E's right eye opens and closes. His eye blinks each time you answer a right question. The toy is made for kids ages four and up, but I could see kids a few years older than that getting bored quickly with the limited activities.
The biggest issue I have with the toy is that there's no headphone jack. I know a lot of toys don't have it, but if I were a parent and had to listen to various toy noise every day, I might get a little sick of it. Thankfully, there is a volume control that lets you choose between three options (none of which are "mute").
The Wall-E Learning Laptop is pretty simple, but can act as a very important educational tool in your child's early learning.

HTC Touch Cloned With HB 778

Guess the HB 778 is yet another cloning effort from China, land of melamine-tainted milk and biscuits. Resembling a HTC Touch Diamond or Touch Pro, the HB 778 aims to fool the less informed with its close resemblance to HTC's celebrated smartphones. Features of the HB 778 include :-

  • 2.8" touchscreen display
  • Dual slider design
  • QWERTY keyboard
  • TV functionality
  • Integrated FM radio
  • Haptic feedback
  • 1 megapixel camera
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Dual SIM slot
  • microSD memory card slot
A one megapixel camera? That's totally lame, dude. You can be sure you get what you pay for, since the HB 778 retails for just $151 - a far cry from HTC's souped up handsets.

Tectoy Zeebo Gaming Console

While this generation's game consoles in the living room are able to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection, Tectoy's Zeebo takes a different route by relying on 3G instead. This is weird, since 3G networks aren't exactly widespread and they are also infamous for the lack of coverage. Still, the Zeebo will be released in Brazil later next July before making its way to other markets in the following months. Being connected to a 3G network, you will be able to pay and download games as well as content from the said network, helping (in theory, at least) cut down on piracy while lowering costs for consumers (no manuals to print, no shipping costs, etc). The Zeebo is meant to compete in emerging gaming markets and not mature ones that are saturated with the Wii, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Hopefully the games will be engaging enough to warrant a purchase. Word has it that the Zeebo will cost $258 in Brazil when released.

chainless bicycles

Pedalers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains
If you've ever been riding down the street and had your pants cuff ripped asunder, there may be a revolution at hand.
Trek Bicycle is part of a movement to bury the finger-pinching, pants-munching, rust-prone sprocket and chain, and usher in an era of belt-driven bikes that might have the inventors of the self-propelled transportation Schwinning in their graves.
Wisconsin-based Trek is introducing two models this holiday season that are chainless, instead using technology most often found in things like motorcycles and snowmobiles. While some smaller custom bike makers have used them before, Trek is the first to use the technology for mass-produced bicycles.
The largest U.S. domestic bike manufacturer is hoping to capitalize on a new group of urban pedal-pushers who are trading their cars for a more low-tech way to get around because of gas prices as well as health and environmental concerns.
The U.S. bicycle industry was a $5.4 billion industry in 2007, including the retail value of bicycles, related parts, and accessories through all channels of distribution, according to research funded by the National Sporting Goods Association. More than 43 million Americans age 7 and older were estimated to have ridden a bike six times or more in 2005, the industry group said.
"People are really finding bicycles to be a very simple solution to some very complex problems that they face every day," said Eric Bjorling, Trek's lifestyle brand manager. "Anything we can do in our design to really help them and help them live that lifestyle is probably better for both the consumers and us."
Bjorling said the new belts are a low-maintenance solution to a chain, which has roughly 3,000 parts including all the links and connectors.
side from the whisper-quiet ride, the lighter and longer-lasting carbon-fiber composite belts won't rust, can't be cut, won't stretch or slip and won't leave grease marks around your ankles. A guard over the belt-drive and the construction of the system makes getting your pants stuck an unlikely scenario, Bjorling said.
One version of the chainless bike, called the District ($930), is a single-speed, complete with a silver body, orange accents and brown leather seat and handles. The other, called the Soho ($990), is an eight-speed bike that uses an internal hub to adjust the speed rather than gears.
Bicycles have come a long way from the "boneshakers back in the 19th century," said Orin Starn, a professor at Duke University who teaches a course on the anthropology of sports. Some companies have used direct drive or drive shaft bikes that provide some of the same benefits as Trek's chainless bikes, but those models have yet to replace the age-old chain.
"Certainly for the last 40 or 50 years we have this iconic image of the traditional bicycle that includes the chain," Starn said. "We've seen this evolution in different styles and stuff, but the chain has been a cultural constant."
Bjorling admits chain-driven bikes are still efficient, but said an urban rider won't have to worry about greasing or cleaning the chain. The belt can be cleaned with a normal cleaning agent and rag, and the bike sprocket is designed to push through any snow, dirt or grime. And one belt will typically last three years -- the life span of three chains.
How riders will take to the new bikes remains to be seen, since they are not out for sale yet. The District model will go on sale in December, followed the next month by the Soho. There may be those in the biking community that may take issue with swapping bike chains with newer technology.
"Bike purists are going to take a look at it and say 'oh, you know it's another option to a chain,"' Bjorling said. "Are we going to see a ton of people switching from a chain to a belt drive? I think in some urban environments yes, but it's definitely not the coffin that's gonna bury the chain."
Over the years there have been many changes in the bike industry, specifically materials that have made products lighter and stronger, said David Oakley, a manager at Agee's Bicycles, which has been in business in Richmond since 1910.
While some may question the chainless bikes, Oakley pointed to the initial skepticism, and eventual success, of mountain bikes.
"We all know that putting gears on a beach cruiser to be able to ride back up the hill turned out to be a pretty good thing," Oakley joked of the bike industry's most popular segment.
Oakley said there's a general excitement behind the new technology, but cautioned that the notion may not ring everyone's bell.
"From a maintenance standpoint, it's huge," he said. "If this really, completely takes off, the lubricant industry is probably not going to be excited."


Full-length MGM films on YouTube

Google, which bought YouTube two years ago for $1.65bn, has been searching for ways to make money out of the site without driving away its huge fan base.

The site has been facing competition from other video-sharing services such as Hulu, which offers programming from NBC Universal and News Corp's Fox as well as MGM.

Cast of Star Trek
Star Trek was first broadcast in 1966

Under an agreement YouTube has already signed with CBS, users can download classic TV shows such as Star Trek, MacGyver, and Beverly Hills 90210.

It has other arrangements in place with companies like the BBC, Sony, Lionsgate and Oprah.

YouTube said that striking a deal with MGM made sense given their commitment to deliver premium content online.

"YouTube is committed to helping our community of fans discover new content and reconnect with their all time favourite TV shows and movies," said Jordan Hoffner, director of content partnerships for the company.

"By partnering with MGM, YouTube is strengthening its position as an entertainment destination where Hollywood studios can reach a global audience."

'Growing forum'

The YouTube Impact channel will feature clips from MGM classics such as Rocky, Ronin, Legally Blonde, and The Magnificent Seven.

The films on show include Lone Wolfe McQuade and Bulletproof Monk, as well as those starring the actor Chuck Norris.
Daniel Craig
The Bond movies represent a major franchise for MGM

"It's safe to say you won't see those blockbuster theatricals shortly after their release or after their TV window," admitted Mr Packer.

Neither will users see any of the James Bond films playing on YouTube.

"They do very nicely on their own under existing licences and we are very protective of that content," Mr Packer said, adding: "There are plenty of other films we would like to expose."

He told the BBC that he did not expect to be the only studio to make these kinds of deals.

Mr Packer also said there were plans to launch another five to 10 channels.

One would be aimed at female viewers.

"We are in the process of figuring out a female-skewed brand," explained Mr Packer.

"We could put up a number of say romantic clips from shows like Moonstruck and put up a number of key feature films and create a female targeted site that would get a much higher advertising rate."

MGM said it hoped new channels would be launched within the next 18 months.


Microsoft refreshes Windows Live Hotmail

Microsoft is adding improvements to Windows Live Hotmail that should, among other things, make it easer for users to access their contacts.
A new feature called Contact Picker is designed to make it easier for users to look up contacts when writing an email. And, similar to Google’s Gmail, Hotmail now uses predictive text when a user starts typing in an email address.

“No big changes – more like a repainted room than a remodelled house,” said the Hotmail update notice. “We’ve just made a few improvements to Hotmail based on feedback from customers like you.”

Microsoft said the update will also provide users with 70 per cent faster access to email.

New display settings will give users a reading pane to preview messages on the right side of their inbox or at the bottom, similar to the pane in IBM’s Lotus Notes and Microsoft’s Outlook.

A choice of design themes also lets users dress up Hotmail in different colours and patterns.

According to Microsoft, more updates will follow in the coming months, including more storage space and the ability to send instant messages from the Hotmail inbox.