May 8, 2012

The Future of Grocery Bags Is Here and It Involves Pockets

They might be helping the environment, but with everything banging around in that large re-usable shopping bag, your fresh fruits and vegetables don't always get from the store to the stove unscathed.

Made with a strategic combination of cotton, canvas, and nylon mesh, the Mercado bag's got six interior pockets and three large compartments so you can separate softer delicate items like produce, from harder items like cans and bottles. It's probably also the perfect bag for the obsessively organized, since you can spend hours at the checkout resorting your groceries until you find the perfect arrangement to get everything home safely.

But the best feature of the $25 bag is the adjustable over-the-shoulder strap that lets you carry everything home while keeping your hands free to answer the phone or fumble with keys. Why do most re-usable bags assume that everyone only has to carry them from the driveway to the kitchen? More here.

Fuel Cell USB Charger Resurrects Your Dead Phone Up To Fourteen Times

Unlike backup batteries which have to occasionally be plugged into a wall for hours like your various devices, the fuel cell charger uses small cartridges—about the size of a cigarette lighter—filled with butane to generate power. Pricing for the charger hasn't been revealed just yet, but the replacement fuel cartridges are expected to sell for roughly the same price as a Starbucks coffee. Possibly forcing you to choose between your addictions: caffeine, or browsing Facebook.

Each cartridge is able to fully recharge a dead iPhone from ten to fourteen times, which helps make the cost of the replacements more reasonable when you break the down the per-charge price. The charger should particularly appeal to those who travel a lot, since the fuel cartridges are allowed on planes just like cigarette lighters. And a few dollars to recharge your phone again and again is a far better solution than scouring airport lounges looking for an available outlet. More here.

Is Telephobia Really a Thing?

It's no secret that people are talking on the phone less. We're texting, we're emailing, we're Gchatting, we're Facebooking. There have been many articles bemoaning the death of the phone call in recent months, and Nielsen said in a December report that voice calls have dropped by 12 percent since 2009, while text messaging has absolutely blown up.

With no dearth of mediums on which to communicate, our attentions are divided. But is it possible that we've developed an actual fear of talking on the phone?

Salon's Sarah Hepola argues that this so-called Telephobia is a very real thing.
It's just plain scary to talk to other people. We avoid it not because people don't matter—but because they do. And each of us brings emotional baggage to to these interactions. when my phone rings, and I don't recognize that number—forget it. I'm too scarred by the years I spent dodging credit card companies to take that kind of dare. I also don't jump off cliffs, or do cartwheels on the highway. In fact, it's amazing to me that there was a time when the phone rang, and someone just answered it. Who could it be? Could it be the guy who was currently making your heart pound? Oooh, let's pick it up and find out! Now, when I see an unfamiliar number, I feel nothing but outrage.
A good portion of that is, in fact, crazy talk. We are constantly inundated with information about other people. Pictures from their vacations, posts about their ailing grandmothers, rants about their horrible bosses. Sometimes you just want to flip off the noise. Are we over-saturated? Yes. But are we actually so scared of human contact that we can't stomach a phone call?

Telephobia is hogwash. The truth is, it's an excuse for the fact that communicating has gotten easier, and a by-product of that is we've gotten lazier. More here.

May 7, 2012

The Real Reason the Avengers Assembled Was To Help Back Up Your Files

In The Avengers movie, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a hell of a time assembling the superheroes to battle an alien army attacking the planet. But convincing them would have been far easier for Nick Fury had they all known that joining forces would have spawned these awesome flash drives.

Available in four different versions including Thor's hammer, Captain America's shield, Iron Man's helmet, and the Hulk's decapitated fist, the 8GB flash drives include retractable USB connectors and can be yours for $40 a pop. Sadly, both Hawkeye and Black Widow are once again left out of the party, proving that unless you've got super powers or billions of dollars, you're just too hard to market to the masses. Get them here.

11 Other Uses for Toothpaste

Besides keeping your teeth sparkly, toothpaste offers a wide range of cleaning, cosmetic—even healing abilities around the house. Just be sure to use the white pasty stuff, not gel. And for any of these tips that call for an actual toothbrush, just consider that tool off-limits for the mouth from here on out.

1. Perfume your palms

Cutting onions, cleaning fish, or handling garlic can leave a strong odor on your hands. Wash them with toothpaste to remove the smell.

2. Clean your Jewelry

Use a soft toothbrush with a tiny amount of toothpaste to brush dull metal jewelry, then rinse and polish it to a shine with a soft cloth. Soak seriously grungy metal in a cup of water with dissolved toothpaste. Don't use it to get a pearly white finish on actual pearls—toothpaste damages the surface.

3. Put paste on a damp sponge to wipe crayon off painted walls

4. Defog goggles

The mild abrasive in toothpaste is perfect for removing the crud that causes your sporty eyewear to fog up. As a preventative measure, just lightly rub toothpaste inside a diving mask, motorcycle goggles, or on a hockey helmet face guard. Wipe and rinse the surface clean. (Note: YMMV—toothpaste can remove special coatings like anti-glare treatments.)

5. Clear zits

Cover pimples with a dab of toothpaste before you hit the sack, then wash your face clean in the morning. This works for bug bites and bee stings too—just remove the stinger first. The paste will dry out and shrink your offending blemishes.

6. Do your nails

Toothpaste works on toenails and fingernails like it does on teeth. Clean your nails with a toothbrush and paste to make them strong and shiny.

7. De-funk a bottle

Wash baby bottles with toothpaste and a bottle scrubber, making sure to rinse them very well with water. The paste will get rid of that nauseating sour milk smell.

8. Remove soap scum

Rub a glass shower door with a damp sponge and a squirt of toothpaste. For heavy scum and soap stains, let the toothpaste sit on the door for several minutes before rinsing it off.

9. Polish chrome faucet fixtures

10. Hide drink rings

If you aren't fanatical about putting coasters under your drinks, then you probably have water rings on your wooden furniture. Rub them off with toothpaste and a soft cloth.

11. Remove stains

Scrub a carpet stain with toothpaste on an abrasive brush, then rinse with water. Tough stains require a couple of scrubbings. Toothpaste can also remove stains in cotton clothes, but it doesn't work for all types of fabric.

BlackBerry 10 Will Reportedly Include Screen Sharing

Now that RIM has shown a preview of BlackBerry 10, more rumors are surfacing about the updated OS.

The latest, from CrackBerry, claims that the platform will have a new screen sharing feature, which means you could show someone what's on your phone's display during a video call or while you're messaging. It's something you can already do on the desktop, as with Skype, for example, and it would be a very useful addition for mobile. Images of the OS also show that it will finally get a native Twitter app, something it desperately needs.

There are a few other tidbits that popped up on the forum, one being that the plug has been pulled on a 10-inch PlayBook. RIM has decided to focus its efforts on the existing 7-inch model. Additionally, a 4G version of the tablet should be released next month, as possibly well as updated Wi-Fi models, in order to support BBM.

And what about the first BlackBerry 10 phone? CrackBerry says it will be the BlackBerry Colt 2. The only problem is, there's no release date for the sleek new OS yet. More here.

May 6, 2012

Simple Paper Flashlight Folds As Flat As a Bookmark

LEDs are not only incredibly energy-efficient, but they're also small enough to be squeezed into the tiniest of gadgets. Or in the case of the Lite Lite, a simple piece of paper that folds into a working flashlight.

There is some assembly required, of course, but it's as simple as folding a piece of paper into a long square tube and slipping an elastic band around one end to hold it together. That's it. The$13 flashlight is powered by a single cell-sized battery which should actually keep it shining for a while, and turns on automatically whenever you grasp it. More here.

HTC Launches Kickstand-tastic One S Cases

Kickstand lovers rejoice! These come in four colors -- gray, granita (red), navy blue and black -- the latter featuring a tweaked design with an integrated kickstand. Unlike most third-party products, build quality is top-notch -- the accessories use a precision-molded flexible plastic shell covered in a soft touch finish. 

The kickstand is made of a metal alloy and is spring-loaded, but blocks access to the micro-USB port when in use. While the cases protect the back and sides of the One S, the front remains exposed to potential damage. Availability is slated as "soon", but pricing is $24.99 for the plain model and $39.99 for the kickstand version.  

May 5, 2012

Change the Shape of This Lamp With the Pull of a String

Overhead lighting is possibly the least flexible way to illuminate a room. Flip a switch, the bulb goes on, and light shines down. End of story. It you want to switch up the lighting for, say, a little more mood, you're out of luck. Unless you've chosen the impossibly clever Greta pendant lamp, which can throw light onto your ceiling with the pull of a drawstring.

Designed by Whatswhat, a trio of young designers who met at school, Greta began as a class project but is now a fully-realized piece which can add some personality to your living room. The 22-inch tall lamp comes in six colors and is priced like the attractive centerpiece it is. But some will find it worth it for the ability to see a room in a new light by pulling a string. More here.

Roll-Up Bottle Is Big

The Bübi Bottle may look like a normal plastic water container, but it's actually made from firm, yet supple, silicone. This means you can roll it up when you're done to save space, but we wouldn't suggest reaching for it in a bar brawl.

It's probably not going to help you win any fights, but it can certainly help you recover from one. The bottle's flexibility, combined with the insulating properties of silicone, means it can pull double duty as a hot water bottle for soothing your bruises. It's like getting two bottles for the price of one, or rather the price of two in this case seeing as it costs $30. More here.

Rovio Intros Angry Birds Facebook Share & Play

Granted it's not quite, you know, organ donation, but Rovio's offering up some Facebook magic of its own. The casual game maker has rolled out the Share & Play feature, which lets users embed their latest Angry Birds level onto their friends' Timelines for some slingshot-happy bragging rights. Sharing goes beyond just Facebook however -- you can embed the playable level on other sites as well.

May 4, 2012

PoP Video Peripheral Turns iPod Touches and iPhones Into Pico Projectors for $99

The PoP Video pairs up with iPod touches (3rd / 4th generation) and iPhones (4 / 4S) via Apple's proprietary 30-pin connector, essentially turning your device into an unorthodox pico projector. According to PoP's site, the 3.5 ounce peripheral's capable of 960 x 540 video output and can give you up to two hours of "playtime" on a single charge -- achieved by way of micro-USB. 

It all wouldn't be worth it without the free iOS app, though, which lets folks tinker with settings and do what it's intended to do: project videos, pics as well as browsing within Safari. The $99 PoP Video is up for pre-order now here.

Windows 8 Won’t Play DVDs as Standard

Microsoft has recently been dribbling out news of the media functionality of Windows 8, and little has been surprising. But here's something weird: unless you buy the Media Center version of the OS, Windows won't offer any native facility for DVD playback.

Of course, you'll be able to use a piece of free third-party software, like VLC, to watch a DVD. And to make it clear, we are only talking about video DVDs, not data DVDs. But, uh, it still seems like somewhat of a step back in time. So what gives?

The Windows developers justify the decision by explaining DVD use on computers is "in sharp decline", adding that it would have to spend "a significant amount in royalties" to offer support for optical media. Instead, online media is the focus for Windows 8: H.264, VC-1, MP4, AAC, WMA, MP3, those kinds of file types.

So, what seems like an odd decision is just a big money-saver for Microsoft. And it won't really affect end users, who can just download a piece of free software. But that doesn't stop it feeling plain weird.

May 3, 2012

Heat-Conducting Spoons Make Ice Cream Scooping Hassle-Free

There's nothing like a heaping serving of perfect, barely melted ice cream. But when you take the tub out of the freezer, it's so hard and cold, you have to use some serious elbow grease to force out a proper scoop .

You just can't wait, either. The good news is now, you don't have to. Japanese designer Naoki Terada has invented heat-conducting spoons that slice right through your rock solid ice cream, softening as it cuts through the frosty fare.

Tereada deserves some kind of medal for his innovative utensil, dubbed 15.0%, a reference to the Japanese regulation that requires ice cream to include 15 percent milk solids. With a wide handle, the spoon is designed with the shape of your hand in mind, in order to give you more power when you exert the brute force to required to extract your desert from the carton. More here.

Made out of aluminum, it comes in three styles specific to different flavor, each shaped for optimum bowl-scraping. The vanilla version has an egg-shaped tip, the chocolate model comes with an angular end, and the strawberry one is more like a spork. While the spoon is supposed to be sturdy enough to help you gorge on ice cream, you might not have the strength to resist.

Treasure Hunters Flock to California Searching For Pieces of Six-Billion-Year-Old Meteor

A stay-at-home mom was out walking her dog recently when she stumbled upon a weird, 17-gram rock. It turned out to be 4 to 6 billion years old. And from space. And it's worth $20,000. Is El Dorado County due for another gold rush?

Space rocks have been on the county's mind ever since a mini-van-sized meteorite exploded over it, creating a sonic boom. Tiny fragments of the rock—which predates the formation of the sun—were scattered all over the hills, setting off a red alert to fanatics of a certain stripe. the local CBS affiliate reports that thousands of geologists, scientists, and treasure hunters have descended upon the town from all over the world hoping to get their own piece of precious space rock. Brenda Salverson, the lucky local mom, isn't the first to find a chunk of the pie. At least one professional hunter found some fragments, and if people keep hitching their wagons for gold country—many other's will likely get lucky as well. More here.

Very Little Jogging Can Make Your Life Much, Much Longer

You probably go jogging because it makes you less fat and it is less humiliating than being yelled at through a 60-minute spinning class. But according to a new examination of the Copenhagen City Heart study, jogging less than two hours per week can add years to your life.

The Copenhagen City Heart study started in 1976, around the time that the jogging boom happened, and followed 20,000 men and women, aged 20 to 98. Of the group, there were 1,116 male joggers and 768 female joggers. When their mortality rates were compared with the main group, the men lived 6.2 years longer than non-joggers, and women 5.6 years longer. Even crazier? The amount of exercise needed to drastically increase your lifespan isn't much at all. Just one to two and a half hours per week, split over two or three sessions. More here.
Sure, folks who at least make the effort to run a little bit every week might also be taking care of themselves in other ways. The lesson? Stop being such a lazy turd. Or if you're already pretty active, you are probably going to live to be older than your lazy turd friends. Really, though, rippling abdominals aside, five or six years tacked on to the end of your life for a few hours' worth of effort a week is a pretty good deal.

May 2, 2012

Is This the World’s Most Expensive Bookmark?

You should never save your place in a book by laying it face down. When it's bookmarked that way, its spine breaks and the binding will never be the same again. But if you're reading next to this beautiful book table, you can probably get away with it.

Designed by German studio Voigt Dietrich, this table's design does two things very efficiently: it houses books while serving as a bookmark. Simply put the tome you're reading across its peak, and your page will be saved until the next time you want to read. The table also includes a flat surface for objects that need a level place to rest (like, almost everything.) More here.

Facebook's iPhone Messenger to get Video Chat, Enlarged Variant for iPad?

Been itching for Facebook's iPhone-dedicated Messenger app to make its way over to the iPad?  Maybe for the iPhone variant to finally reap the benefits of Skype video chat integration as well? Well, according to 9to5Mac, Camp Zuckerberg is testing both in-house, with the latter planned to hit iPhones this summer. 

According to the site, one of its trustworthy tipsters was able to grant it access to beta versions of the new apps, and it has the pictures to prove it. Unsurprisingly, the Messenger app for iPad is described as simply a sized-up port of the iPhone version, but surely the bump would be appreciated by many if it ever gets officially released. Perhaps more interesting, though, is having Skype video chat baked into the iPhone version -- tapping an arrow next to a contact initiates your video session, and9to5Mac reports that it's "smooth most of the time." More here.

This Warm-Water Shower System Will Make Camping Considerably More Comfortable

Nemo Equipment's Helio Pressure Shower just might be the gear that finally gets me to go camping. This small, freestanding pressure-pump shower derives its heat from the sun and travels light at just about 2lbs all packed up.

Helio's foot pump and spray nozzle (which comes at the end of a 7-foot hose) provide a steady stream of pressurized water for your warm outdoor rinse-off—which, if its 11-liter bag is full, will last for between 5 and 7 minutes.

Just in time for camping season, The Helio Pressure Shower will be available this June. More here.

May 1, 2012

Sticky Protective Skin Lets You Mount Your iPhone Anywhere's adhesive skins provide a more svelte alternative to bulky cases for protecting your phone. But they're also made with a special resin material that's slightly sticky to the touch. So they provide a bit of extra grip in the hand, and will actually stick to a smooth surface like a window.

Here's the kicker, though. The skin doesn't hold indefinitely. So while you could stick your phone to your car's window for some hands-free GPS navigation, it would only be a matter of time before it lost its grip and fell off. So it's best to think of these skins as a game of Cupertino Roulette that could end up costing you a lot more than just $20. More here.