My collection of rants and raves about technology, my kids and family, social/cultural phenomena, and inconsistencies in the media and politics.



More stuff that is just so cool, you can't help but want it. At least, if you're me.

Rechargeable AA batteries, each with their own built-in recharger. They're NiMH, not those old tired NiCads (does anybody actually sell those anymore?) The coolest part is how they charge - pop off the top, they'll charge off the USB port of your desktop or laptop. This is ideal for my portable cordless mouse, which takes two AAs. For the AAA batteries used by my MP3 player, I guess I'll need one of these instead. For the opposite conversion (batteries used to power USB devices), check out these.

The Bioloid robot has to be seen to be believed, and ThinkGeek obliges with a video (same page). It starts off simple, showing how the robot can back up after meeting up with an obstacle, then goes to more complex examples: laying down and standing up again, and even a "self defense" mode, where the robot gracefully moves to block anything approaching its head from the front or either side. Very cool. As it should be, for a mere $899.99, assembly required. Bioloid is more of a kit than a prebuilt robot, but it comes with 18 servo motors, IR sensors, proximity sensors, a microphone and speaker. It also comes with three different software packages to program and control the robot, described in 77MB of PDFs.

Thomas Edison "talking tapes", Valentines edition. This is a truly geeky gift, with enough history to make you think it's educational, not just fun.

Hold the pointy end in your mouth, pull taut, and run a fingernail down the grooves. It might take a few tries to get the speed right, but you'll hear a voice in your head. Hold or tape the pointy end to a cup, balloon, empty box, or any other resonator and you can share the message with your friends and loved ones. You get 5 different messages per pack - 4 messages of love ("Be My Valentine," "I Love You," "Hello Sweetheart," and "You Turn Me On") and 1 message if you screw things up ("I'm a Jackass"). Hopefully, you'll only need the "I'm a Jackass" strip to make your Valentine's Day sweetie laugh. Hopefully.

Think of it as a linear version of a vinyl record player where your fingernail is the needle and you've got the general idea. The ThinkGeek page has another video demonstrating how it sounds.

No well-equipped desk can ever be considered complete again without a USB Laser Guided Missile Launcher. No, this is not a joke, but it does sound incredibly fun. The launcher has a real laser, and shoots three foam missiles. The package includes both Lite and 3-D software, and both versions are able to control as many launchers as you have USB ports on your computer. The 3-D software will even sound a countdown for each launch. Unlike the Cube Defender I wrote about previously, this one doesn't have an autonomous mode. I guess you can't have everything.

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