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November 6, 2004

Solar Powered Backpack


For the high-tech hiker, the Voltaic backpack ($229).

Charges your cellphone in 5-6 hours even if you've got no bars.

As long as you've got rays.

Embedded in the back of the pack are three waterproof solar panels, which generate up to 4 watts of power.

Inside the bag is a Li-Ion battery pack, which - just like a solar powered house - stores energy so it's available after sunset.

You can also charge the battery using an AC travel charger or car charger.

The website says the backpack is powerful enough to charge most portable electronics (other than laptops) including cellphones, cameras, two-way radios, GPSs, PDAs, and iPods.

It's specifically designed for electronics, with pockets for a cellphone and MP3 player on the shoulder strap and a second MP3 pouch inside the bag.

Wires run through hidden channels inside the bag to take power to the various pockets and devices, even the pouch on the shoulder strap.


Headphones can also use these channels to the shoulder strap.

The bag's made of UV-resistant, 840D nylon and padded with high-density foam.

It weighs only 3.5 lbs. with solar panels and battery pack.

A light on the side of the bag, visible when wearing the bag, indicates when the panels are generating a charge.

The panels, built on a strong, lightweight aluminum/plastic composite,


are integrated into the back of the pack such that they articulate, so the bag doesn't feel stiff or restrictive.

The battery pack includes a voltage converter


with three settings (5, 6, and 7.2 volts), a charge indicator, and a built-in LED flashlight.

Comes with a set of 4 standard adapters for different cellphone brands,


a set of 7 universal adapters, AC travel charger, car charger, and cigarette lighter socket.

Set to ship later this month, but they're taking preorders.

I predict they sell out the first production run really fast.

[via ubergizmo]

November 6, 2004 at 04:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

We get email: 'Your blog... has changed my life'


I have only been aware of your blog for a few days now, but it has changed my life!!

I am hooked. I've spent the last few minutes looking up the violations of my utility district, and plan on getting a report on the quality of the water... why did I not think about this on my own?

I turned down a flu shot yesterday, citing your reasons, and was called a wimp. I don't want the flu, but I don't want to be hooked to a respirator either!

I'm rambling here... I need to get some sleep... I'm going out tomorrow to try and find one of those drain opening gadgets... should I try Lowe's?

Your newest fan :-)


Well, thank you, Lisa.

It's so nice to get one of these for a change; most of my emails are angry, mean, or accusatory.

I am too full of myself, a jerk, an idiot, a total moron, an egotistical megalomaniac, an elitist, et al.

And you know what?

They're all correct.

So what?

Who cares what anyone thinks?

I like that old Arab proverb, the one that goes,

"The dogs bark - but the caravan moves on."


And so, joeheads, we do move on, bag and baggage or, as Cicero would put it were he still among us, "Impedimentum impedimenti."

November 6, 2004 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

bookofjoe Iceland correspondent Martin Sammtleben with yet another exclusive: this just in


You will recall Martin joined my team last week with this sensational post.

Here's the latest from his home turf/lava field:

Well, today I'm pleased to announce the birth of a new lake (sort of) on the eruption site, featuring its very own crater island.


The canned news clip can be viewed here for the next two weeks.

[bookofjoe aside: by spending a little time every day watching these Icelandic TV clips, I should be able to pick up enough of the language to make small - well, perhaps minuscule - talk with the natives, whom I like to think of as "The Ice"]

With decreasing volcanic activity the lake might become a popular natural spa in the months to come - you never know!

By the way, the craniotomy DVD should be on its way soon!



bookofjoe aside: the "craniotomy DVD" is a tribute of sorts being made for me by the Icelandic girl who directed Martin - who until then was stumbling blindly in the snowdrifts of cyberspace - to his oasis at bookofjoe.

Turns out she's a producer of TV crime dramas in Iceland.

She's going to film the Icelandic segment of my upcoming World Tour.


Can't hardly wait!

November 6, 2004 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Live satellite TV in your car - at 65 mph


No joke.

For $2,229, you can buy the KVH TracVision A5, put in on the roof of your car, and enjoy your favorite DirecTV shows no matter where you are or where you're going.

You get the cartop dish, a compact receiver, and a wireless remote.

The dish mounts to the roof rack - either car factory-installed or aftermarket.


It has tamper-resistant mounting hardware, and the rugged plastic housing withstands wind, debris, rain, snow, and trips through the car wash.

What I want to know is, what do they do about local channels?

Oh, yeah, before you order one: no service in Alaska or Hawaii.


Sorry, wahines.

November 6, 2004 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

'The Good Thief'


I watched this on DVD last night.

Extremely entertaining.

Nick Nolte plays a heroin-addicted former master thief who, in a previous life, was a mathematician.

Then he decides to return to the game for one last big score: a trove of priceless French impressionist paintings at a Japanese-owned casino in Monte Carlo.

Yeah, you've heard it before, but is there really anything new under the sun?

I mean, two millennia ago in the Bible they said no, there wasn't, so how much can have changed since then?

Anyhow, the cast consists of a slew of superb character actors.

The romantic interest is Nutsa Kukhianidze (below).


She plays a teen-aged prostitute who falls for Nick's battered old character, even though Nick's young protégé is madly in love with her.

Neil Jordan ("The Crying Game") directed this 2002 film, which didn't do very well when it played in theaters.

Great, ironically dry and funny script.

As always, Paris looks wonderful, even the down-and-out parts, no doubt in large measure because of master cinematographer Chris Menges.

November 6, 2004 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



This cool place - "a literary website, sort of" - has tons of interesting stuff on it.

For me the best part is the author interviews.

Among others: Susan Orlean, Martin Amis, Louis Begley, Vendela Vida, Susannah Breslin, T.C. Boyle, Richard Price, Frederick Busch, Jane Smiley, Michael Lewis, Robert Stone, April Smith, Joseph Epstein, Alan Lightman, Will Self, Ethan Canin, Gretel Ehrlich, Anthony Lane, Donna Tartt, Jim Crace, and many, more more.

November 6, 2004 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saran Wrap Version 2.0 - updating an classic


This product has been around, more or less in its same, useful-yet-annoying form, forever.

Annoying because once you lose the end, well, game over.

You can spend the rest of the day trying to find the cut edge, then carefully get it so it unrolls properly.

I've thrown away more than a few rolls which drove me insane with failure and frustration at being unable to restore the original function.

For years I've suggested that an absolutely great invention would be making the cut edge change color on contact with air.

But no one's been clever enough to figure out how - yet.

In the meantime, S.C. Johnson has brought out Saran Wrap Version 2.0.

Hey, that's catchy, what?

Version 2.0.

Maybe I should consider that. But I digress.

I noticed something was different this morning when I went and got a new roll from my laundry/storage room.

Where was the sharp edge on the box?

Not there.

Did I have a collector's item, worth thousands, maybe millions of dollars on eBay?

Then I opened the box, and saw the roll was deformed.

It had ends sticking out beyond the Saran Wrap borders.

What's this?

Then I looked at the box, and saw this was a whole new Saran Wrap for the 21st century.

Inside the hollow roll is a cutter, sort of like a document trimmer.

You peel off the waxy paper backing and press the cutter against the box where it says.

Then you bring the Saran Wrap out and put it down over the cutter guide.

Slide the cutting edge across, from either direction, and voila, a nice piece of Saran Wrap.

Even more important: the next piece is easy to get at.


A bookofjoe Design Award 2004 winner.

It could be improved, however; the consumer shouldn't have to set up the cutter.

But I'm sure they'll solve this problem shortly.

Very well done.

November 6, 2004 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Height-adjustable shoes


Wei-Chieh Tu designed these.

You simply push a button and they elevate up to 38º, then lock in place.

It's a flat when you're running for the subway, a half-way height for work, and a glammed-up, max-ed out heel for being out and about.

[via Engadget and Popgadget]

November 6, 2004 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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