January 10, 2007

the get it
Bring all of your important files with you. Heck, with this unit, some of us could take all of our files! From Western Digital comes the 120GB Passport Portable. It’s a USB 2.0 portable hard drive that spins at 5400RPM, is plug and play, measures a tiny 5.11″ x 3.14″ x .59″ and weighs only 3.6 ounces. More importantly, it requires no external power supply. It draws power directly from your USB connection. As a bonus it also includes synchronization & encryption software. Get it now from Buy.com for $99 with free shipping!
the gizmo
Stereo systems are just the opposite of children; they should be heard and not seen. Unless of course you’re sporting some classic system from McIntosh. Then I don’t mind seeing it. However, when it comes to speakers, there is no exception. They always seem terribly out of place and take up way too much room. In my opinion, VAF Research is definitely moving in the right direction with their new SoundWall. These new panel speakers measure 2 feet on a side, are only 5 inches deep and are meant to hang on the wall. Although they come in standard colors of black and white, the modules can be removed and have any image or color printed on them. The system is comprised of three individual module types: a Speaker module, an Acoustic Treatment module, and a Bass module. VAF claims that these can be used in varying combinations to accommodate any type of room application. More importantly, VAF has been receiving all sorts of accolades from audio mags for their sound quality.
the gorgeous
Finally, all those rumors, fake photos and alleged functionality can be put to rest. Yesterday at the Macworld Conference & Expo 2007 the much awaited iPhone from Apple was unveiled and it is a doozy. In fact, I think if Elvis, Jimmy Hoffa and Amelia Earhart would have shown up, nobody would have cared. I must admit, it has truly lived up to the hype and has every geek peeing in their pants. The new iPhone has been built as a combination device that combines a phone, iPod and internet device all navigated by an incredibly simple and intuitive user interface all wrapped in a super slim slab of shiny goodness. Some of the highlights include a 3.5 inch touchscreen, Quad-band coverage, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, EDGE and a 2 megapixel camera. More amazingly is a sensor that autorotates the screen from portrait to landscape depending upon the orientation of the device. It also features a very cool way to browse through your albums called Cover Flow. It basically flips through your albums visually in the same way as a jukebox. Honestly, there is too much to list here. Click on the link and enjoy.
the green

Nanogadgets? Who knew? Arsenic laden water is a huge problem for places such as Argentina, Chile, India, Mexico, Thailand and many other developing nations. This type of contamination is linked to all types of cancer including bladder, skin, lung and kidney cancer. It has also been tied to immunological disorders, diabetes, reproductive and developmental problems. So you can imagine the challenge of developing a system for these poorer nations that is both effective and affordable. Scientists at Rice University in Houston, Texas may have the solution. You see they have discovered that rust particles, on a nanoscale, attract the arsenic molecules which can then be literally drawn out with a magnet. The key here is that they must be first treated with oleic acid to stop the nano particles from clumping. How do they do that? With ordinary olive oil of course! Right now the method is still in the developmental stage but the team is currently working on a solution that would require mixing rust with olive or coconut oil and utilizing an ordinary handheld magnet! Just amazing.

the gossip
Yikes, this makes the Johnstown Flood Tax look reasonable! You know what the Johnstown Flood Tax is, right? Well if not, it is the 10% (now 18%) “temporary” tax that has been levied for the last 70 years by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania on the sale of alcohol to pay the $41 million necessary to rebuild the community of Johnstown after the flood of 1936. It was only supposed to last a few years, but I guess the commonwealth would miss the $200 million it currently collects annually. Are you upset yet? Only us Pennsylvanians, right? Wrong, long before Johnstown, the federal government had been collecting a tax on telephone usage in order to help fund the Spanish-American War. That’s right, you heard right, the Spanish-American War. For those of you that didn’t pay attention in history, that was back in 1898. Well, as you can imagine we have paid off that $400 million tab and then some. How much do you ask? How about $93.9 billion so far! Don’t fret; the government is going to make nice this year at tax time. They are graciously going to refund up to $60 to anyone that has paid taxes on a telephone. Sounds fair, doesn’t it, 60 bucks each for 108 years of unnecessary taxation? Click here for the official Telephone Tax Refund Q&A.