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JBL's Go 2 pocket bluetooth speaker is the perfect last-minute stocking stuffer

Though I keep buying the damned things, I've never liked any of the portable bluetooth (or airplay) speakers I've gotten: they're all too large, too daft, too boofy or too tinny, too fancy, too hinky. So when I was handed the JBL Go 2, my mind immediately turned to regifting it. I'm glad I didn't, though, because it's perfect. It's the right size, it's cheap, it works, it's waterproof, it can survive a drop, it doesn't look stupid, and it sounds good. That something with such basic and useful function hits all these notes makes it a perfect last-minute stocking stuffer. It's straightforward enough for technophobes, but even hard-to-shop-for gadget lovers will dig it as a no-nonsense EDC sidearm. If you order it today, it'll arrive before Christmas, at least on Amazon Prime. They're at Best Buy too, but only in black. The power switch, volume and pairing controls are embossed on the metallic rubbery finish, while the the non-waterproof AUX and USB ports are hidden under a flap. I got about 5 hours of playback on a charge. The box is about three inches square and an inch deep. It fits in my jean pockets but packed a good, bassy punch. The only thing I don't like is the big white JBL logo painted all over it. Annoyingly, while it comes in white, the logo is then dark gray. JBL Go 2 [Amazon] JBL Go 2 [Best Buy] Read the rest

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PlayStation 5 announced and detailed

PlayStation 5 is coming for winterval 2020, and will have ... drum roll ... USB-C. Also some other features. ray-tracing acceleration in the GPU hardware ... solid-state drive ... 4K Bluray ... an unlabeled matte-black doohickey that looks an awful lot like the PS4's DualShock 4 ... an improved speaker on the controller, the haptics ... me really excited We don't know what it'll look like; the image going around (above) is an (accurate) mockup of the NDA-covered dev kit, as commissioned by LetsGoDigital. Read the rest

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How turn your Mac Mini into a heat tomb that looks like an unappetizing Walmart cake

The Elago Mac Mini Silicone Case [Amazon] is a remarkable entry in the annals of "advertising vs. reality". Above, the product shot. Below, the Elago IRL. Read the rest

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What it was like to actually use the TRS-80 Model 100 as a journalist on the go

1983's TRS-80 Model 100 is often hailed as the first portable computer, or at least the first laptop, and retains a cultish following, especially among the journalists who depended on it. Wayne Lorentz was there, and still has the ancient Associated Press terminal software to prove it! Is the TRS-80 Model 100 a good computer for a reporter to use? Today, absolutely not. But for its time, it was a revolutionary tool, and the best available for its intended uses. It is the Volkswagen Beetle of computing. I’ve owned close to a dozen laptops from the GRiD Compass to the IBM PC Convertible to any number of Apple portables. I use my eight-year-old MacBook Air daily, and enjoy working on it. But there’s a lot of be said for a unitasker. The Model 100 allows a writer to just write. To focus on the words and the story they’re trying to tell without pop-ups, instant notifications, and the temptation to connect to the internet and get lost down a mental rabbit hole. And for that reason, when I want to write for the pure pleasure of writing, I take my Model 100 to a coffee shop, put in my earphones, and just get stuff done. Those are his conclusions, but the historical anecdotes are most interesting. It is a pain in the keister to get a worthwhile workflow out of one of these now. You'll end up with bulky RS-232 dongles for it and whatever you're plugging it into, and may well end up trying to wire a Pi Zero or something inside it and becoming lost to the void for weeks, not writing. Read the rest

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$5000 gadget for cheating at poker

In a 2016 article, Elie Bursztein collects and describes a gadget used to cheat at the card table. In 2015, I stumbled upon a post in an underground forum, discussing how someone was ripped off at a poker table by a very advanced poker cheating device. From what I understood at that time, the post being in Chinese, the device was able to remotely read card markings to inform the cheater who will win the next hand. Intrigued, I decided to follow the trail of this fabled device to see if people were indeed cheating at poker using devices that would fit naturally into a James Bond movie. Without spoiling too much of the rest of this post, let’s just say that the high-end cheating device that I was able to get my hands on far exceeded my expectations and it really is an outstanding piece of technology. I've watched the video demo of one of the gadgets (embedded above) and didn't figure the trick out. I won't spoil it for you, but for saying it's a $5000 fully functional Android smartphone with extra hardware: "Note that taking a screenshot of the cheating app turned out to be more difficult than expected because the ROM is hardened against analysis" Previously: HOWTO cheat your friends at poker Read the rest

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Amazon unveils a new Echo Dot surveillance device for children

The latest addition to Amazon's line of always-on, ever-listening, networked, insecure (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) snitchy smart speakers is the new rev of the Echo Dot Kids Edition, whose "kid-friendly" Alexa is like surveillance Barbie without the pretense of being a toy. This All-New release is based on the latest Echo Dot hardware iteration (third-generation), but is 70 percent louder than the old kids model. It also costs $69.99 compared to the standard Echo Dot's $49.99 price tag, however, right now both prices have been reduced by $20. All-New Echo Dot Kids Edition Launches June 26 [Matthew Humphries/PC Mag] (Image: Cryteria, CC-BY) (Thanks, Tommy!) Read the rest

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Swidl: robot picks up gooey spills without losing their shapes

Swidl is a robot that can quickly slide its thin flat tongue underneath gooey spills without disrupting their shapes. I can't begin to imagine a purpose for it other than forensic-grade vomit archiving (the given example is ... meat towels?) but it's amazing to watch in action. Thluuuuuuuup! Read the rest

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