When I win the lottery I will own several of these workstations

They will be the makings of my Ultimate LAN Party Lair and it will be glorious. #seb #DoWant #Gadgets #drool

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The Coolest Gaming Station I’ve Ever Seen [PC]
The MWE Emperor 200 may be labelled a “workstation”, but don’t let that fool you. It’s being demoed using video games for a reason: this is not for work. It’s for playing video games. In the future.
Note I did not say it was practical. Where you can put a desk and a chair you can do all of what the Emperor 200 is doing for a fraction of the cost (it goes for $45,000).
But chances are your humble desk and chair setup does not have an “ergonomic leather seating unit”, three touch-screen monitor…

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Sony kills off the Walkman.

Pic of a Sony Walkman

And another fond childhood memory bites the dust.

Sony just announced the other day that they have ceased production of the cassette tape playing Sony Walkman in Japan. The last shipment was sent out this past April and there will be no more. Well, no more from Sony. Apparently some Chinese company has the rights to keep making them under the Sony name for sale outside of Japan.

It’s hard to believe that these devices are over 30 years old — the first was sold in 1979 — and I can clearly remember how it wasn’t long before everyone was producing portable tape players that were quite similar. I don’t think I ever actually owned a Sony Walkman, but I did own several of the imitators and I burned through more than my fair share of AA batteries listening to tapes until they wore out from overuse. In high school the trading of mix-tapes was a big activity for a lot of kids, myself included.

Of course these days the lowly Walkman has been supplanted by the plethora of MP3 players capable of storing months of music in them as opposed to 60 to 80 minutes. Looking back on it now it seems almost paleolithic in comparison, but even though I’ve not owned one for years it still feels like it wasn’t that long ago.

I suppose it’s a sign that I’m getting old that announcements like this make me feel a bit sad. I felt the same way when Sony announced they were dropping production of Floppy Disks earlier this year as well. Now that I think about it I wasn’t even aware that Sony was still making cassette tape Walkmans so I’m not sure why I should be disappointed to hear that they’ve stopped.

And yet I am. I had a lot of quality time with my imitation Walkman back in the day. Good times when there was less to worry about and more time to get things done.

Yeah, I’m a sentimental fool about some things.

Looking for your input on GPS navigation systems.

OK gang I need your help again. Anne and I will be taking a trip to Iowa over Memorial Day Weekend in May in the Civic we just bought to hang out with one of her best friends. In preparation for that trip one of the things we’re looking at buying is a GPS Navigation system for use in the car. I’ve been seeing all manner of deals on DealNews.com for new and refurbished systems from various manufacturers, but I’m not overly familiar with which features and whatnot we should be looking for. The big three appear to be Garmin, TomTom, and Magellan and prices seem to range from $65 all the way up to almost $400. I’m sure some of you out there in SEB Land have a GPS system or two so I’d love to hear from you on what you think are the absolute must-have features, any favorite models you’ve owned, and what we should plan on spending to get a decent system.

If I’d had my way we’d have bought a 2009 Civic with the GPS Navigation built-in, but this’ll have to do instead so I’m looking to you guys to help me get educated on this stuff.

Say hello to your future Light Bulb.

Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs are currently the best way to save money while lighting your home thanks to their low power consumption and long life, but they also require careful handling and disposal due to the mercury they contain. That’s why the next best thing just over the horizon will be LED based lighting. You can already buy some LED bulbs for use in your home, but it’s largely limited to spot lights and other highly directional lighting. What we need is a configuration that includes some sort of diffuser to spread out the light and the folks at Philips now have something that fits the bill:

Philips’ Master LED bulb has the same form factor as the old-fashioned kind, making it “simple for people to use and feel good about using.” The bulb draws just 7 watts but gives off light equivalent to 40 watts’ worth, and lasts 45,000 hours, as opposed to the 1,500 of its incandescent predecessors. Already available in Europe, the Master LED should make its way to North American shores sometime before July.

The good news is that it’s form factor mimics a traditional bulb so it should fit into any lamp/fixture designed for incandescents. The bad news is that initially these things will set you back somewhere between $50 and $70 making outfitting your entire home an expensive proposition. With any luck, however, we’ll see some competition in the market bringing the price down relatively quickly just as it has with the CFLs.

As far as I’m concerned these can’t get here soon enough. The lower energy use and longer life of these bulbs will make having at least a couple in your most-used lamps worthwhile.

I gave in to gadget lust yesterday…

… and bought a RCA EZ205 Small Wonder Digital Camcorder. You may recall back in 2007 I wanted one of the earlier models of these for the purpose of trying to do some video blogs. It didn’t happen due to a push back on the release date putting it too close to Krismas—I usually don’t buy anything for a couple of months before Krismas on the off-chance that someone might get it as a gift—and I never got around to ordering it afterward.

Well Amazon had it on sale yesterday for $69.99 with free super saver shipping and I hemmed and hawed over it for half the day and then broke down and bought it. Turns out that was only about $10 cheaper than they usually sell it, but that’s still $10 I didn’t spend. It’s not the worlds greatest digital camcorder, but it should be sufficient for dicking around with. It’ll do 30 minutes of recording at high resolution and 2 hours at “web” resolution (whatever that is). It accepts micoSD flash memory cards and can take up to I believe 8GB for up to 16 hours of recording. For what I’ll be using it for I’m sure the default memory will be fine. It handles low light pretty well, but has problems with bright light.

I’ve wanted a camcorder of my own for ages and while I don’t know if I’d use this for really important special family moments, it should be fun to have it for random nonsense that might make for interesting YouTube posts. Of course it could also make for really boringly bad YouTube videos, but I don’t see why everyone else should be having all the fun in that regard and not me.

The Onion on Sony’s latest Stupid Piece of Shit.

I love Sony products, but this had me in tears laughing. Lots of NSFW language so put some headphones on or wait till you get home:

I so gots to get me one of those.

Wired’s Mathew Honan experiments with Location-Aware software.

One of the features of the newer iPhone’s and Google Android based cellphones allow the phone, and any applications you’re running on it, to determine where you are to varying degrees of precision. Using a combination of cell towers (500 meters), Wi-Fi (30 meters), and GPS (10 meters) and various software packages that make use of that info you can literally broadcast your whereabouts to the whole world pretty much continuously. 

This opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities, both good and bad, and has attracted a growing group of people practicing a Location-Aware Lifestyle. Wired magazine’s Mathew Honan decided to try spending a few weeks living the lifestyle to see what it was like:

The location-aware future—good, bad, and sleazy—is here. Thanks to the iPhone 3G and, to a lesser extent, Google’s Android phone, millions of people are now walking around with a gizmo in their pocket that not only knows where they are but also plugs into the Internet to share that info, merge it with online databases, and find out what—and who—is in the immediate vicinity. That old saw about how someday you’ll walk past a Starbucks and your phone will receive a digital coupon for half off on a Frappuccino? Yeah, that can happen now.

Simply put, location changes everything. This one input—our coordinates—has the potential to change all the outputs. Where we shop, who we talk to, what we read, what we search for, where we go—they all change once we merge location and the Web.

I wanted to know more about this new frontier, so I became a geo-guinea pig. My plan: Load every cool and interesting location-aware program I could find onto my iPhone and use them as often as possible. For a few weeks, whenever I arrived at a new place, I would announce it through multiple social geoapps. When going for a run, bike ride, or drive, I would record my trajectory and publish it online. I would let digital applications help me decide where to work, play, and eat. And I would seek out new people based on nothing but their proximity to me at any given moment. I would be totally open, exposing my location to the world just to see where it took me. I even added an Eye-Fi Wi-Fi card to my PowerShot digital camera so that all my photos could be geotagged and uploaded to the Web. I would become the most location-aware person on the Internets!

People, particularly younger folks, already put out a lot of information about themselves on the Internet. I’m guilty of this myself with this blog. Not only do I have my real name on it, but there’s a fairly detailed history of the major ups and downs of my life over the past seven years in the archives. Everything from my best friend being needlessly killed by a traffic cop and how I dealt with the loss to my eventual downsizing from Ford Motor Company and the long struggle to get back on my feet. My politics and religious outlook are extensively documented as is the general area that I live in. SEB is the number one search result on Google when you type in “Les Jenkins” followed by some poor bastard who shares my name that works at Colorado One Mortgage.

For all that I put on SEB there are some folks who put me to shame particularly on sites like Facebook and MySpace. You may recall a few months back an entry I wrote about a woman who had been emailing me about her “psychic visions” of my future. I mentioned in a comment that I was able to track down where she lives (to a specific street address), how big a house she owns, how much she bought it for, how many pets she has, what musical instrument she’s trying to teach herself to play, what books shes been reading, her daughter and son-in-law’s name, where they lived, when their wedding was supposed to happen, and a whole host of other personal info with nothing more than her email and IP address. That’s pretty impressive, but even that pales to what some folks make available and then when you add location-awareness into the mix you make it all that much more immediate. Which could have its downside:

The trouble started right away. While my wife and I were sipping stouts at our neighborhood pub in San Francisco (37.770401 °N, 122.445154 °W), I casually mentioned my plan. Her eyes narrowed. “You’re not going to announce to everyone that you’re leaving town without me, are you? A lot of weirdos follow you online.”

Sorry, weirdos—I love you, but she has a point. Because of my work, many people—most of them strangers—track my various Flickr, Twitter, Tumblr, and blog feeds. And it’s true; I was going to be gone for a week on business. Did I really want to tell the world that I was out of town? It wasn’t just leaving my wife home alone that concerned me. Because the card in my camera automatically added location data to my photos, anyone who cared to look at my Flickr page could see my computers, my spendy bicycle, and my large flatscreen TV all pinpointed on an online photo map. Hell, with a few clicks you could get driving directions right to my place—and with a few more you could get black gloves and a lock pick delivered to your home.

To test whether I was being paranoid, I ran a little experiment. On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone. Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map. At home I searched the Flickr map, and score—a shot from today. I clicked through to the user’s photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior—a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives.

Think about that for a moment. Her being in an apartment would make any attempts at larceny a bit more difficult, but what if she lived in a single family home in a suburb? Take the geo-location data on the pictures and look it up in Google Maps—yes you can use latitude and longitude in Google Maps—drop down to Street View and you could even see what the house looks like so long as Google has been through that neighborhood.  Above and beyond simply showing folks where to go to score a nice flat screen TV, this could also potentially be used to allow people to find you anywhere you happen to be making it a boon for potential rapists, stalkers, and plain old crazy people. Those, of course, are worst-case scenarios so let’s not dwell on them too much. Instead just consider how creepy it is that Honan was able to pick a perfect stranger out in a park and with just a little effort peer at the filthy living room in her apartment.

The technology is not without its upside though. Honan talks in the article about how it actually made him more social as friends who had seen he’d be in their area would turn up to hang out for a few minutes and touch base. Additionally some of the tools he was using allowed him to learn more about the area he was in, find the cheapest gas prices, and discover new places to eat he’d never realized were there before. And it’s not as though you have to make use of the tools that expose your precise location every second of the day. The whole article is worth a read if for no other reason than to educate yourself on what’s possible. Right now you have to put some work into setting yourself up to be so exposed, but developers are working to make doing stuff like that easier all the time so it may not be too long before you could set yourself up to broadcast your location constantly without realizing it.

It never hurts to be well-informed.

SEB Krismas Gift Guide: The ultra creepy “Hug Me Pillow.”

Know someone who is lonely? No one to hold them while they sleep at night? Do they long for the loving embrace of at least one quarter of a person? Are they not easily creeped out by weird design choices? Got $30 bucks? Then we have the perfect gift for them! 

It’s the Hug Me Pillow and it’s available for a mere $30 right now. Just check out this totally non-creepy shot of it in action:

But don’t take our word for it that this is the finest cure for loneliness ever invented! Just check out these testimonials:

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5
Keeps me company!,  Jun 7, 2006
By Anonymous from Alaska

I bought this pillow to keep my company on nights when my husband, a correspondent for the Trans-Alaskan News Network, was out of town. The pillow exceeded even my wildest expectations. I’m told the pillow was modeled after Brad Pitt, and I believe it! When I first nestled against the soft, but firm chest of my new “husband” I slept better than I ever had before. Now I don’t mind when my husband goes out of town!

Overall Rating:  5 out of 5
What an awesome pillow,  Jul 14, 2008
By WPCexpert from Arkansas

My husband ordered me this pillow for our two year wedding anniversary (cotton anniversary). It works for me in so many different ways, he is military so is constantly deployed so now I have a sleeping companion. It also works well for those nights when he is getting too overheated to snuggle and I can snuggle with my “man”. I absolutely love this pillow I sleep with it every night and can barely stay awake once I lay my head on this wonderful invention.

All the comforts of a fellow human being without any of those pesky adultery issues! ORDER YOURS TODAY!

Amazon.com is selling FlyJumpers Power Jumping Stilts.

If I were 20 years younger and stupider I’d so risk great bodily harm by having a pair of FlyJumpers Power Jumping Stilts on my Wish List. I’ve wanted them ever since I first saw them in action, but I’m sure I’d just kill myself with them at my current age. If you’ve not seen them in action before then check out this video clip:

How freakin’ cool is that? The video clip Amazon provides is a whole lot tamer and doesn’t show off just how cool these things are. I could’ve sworn I’d written about these before when I first saw them years ago, but all I could find in the archives was a similarly impressive suped up pogo stick. Even if I had the spare $270 these puppies cost I would be ill-advised in trying them as the X-tra large set has a maximum weight of 265 pounds which I currently exceed by 31 pounds, but boy that would be a helluva way to get some exercise in, wouldn’t it?

Though I’d probably be classified as a weapon of mass terrorism if I tried flipping my nearly 300 pound frame around out in public. And, yes, the link to the FlyJumpers page on Amazon will give me a little bit of credit if you decide to foolishly purchase a pair.

T-Mobile about to unveil new phone based on Google’s Android.

If you’re at all curious what a cellphone based on Google’s Android platform would be like then you may want to check out the live streaming T-Mobile G1 with Google Press Conference that’s due to start in a few minutes at 10:30AM EST. This is the first phone based on Google’s mobile OS and there’s been lots of speculation on how big an impact it’ll make in the market.

If you miss the live feed you’ll be able to pull the video up on demand shortly afterwards at the same site. Just thought some of you would be interested in checking it out.