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February 12, 2013

SeeKey: Find your key — and the keyhole

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From the website:

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The SeeKey is the perfect combination of two things every Dick and Jane need: a sturdy ring to carry keys, and a good light so you can see the handles, knobs, and ignitions they unlock when it's dark outside.

Attached to a heavy duty nickel-plated split ring that's durable, secure, and corrosion-resistant, the bright, battery-powered white LED has two functions:

1. Press once for steady glow (to illuminate your path, find keyholes, and read in the dark)

2. Press twice for continuous flash (to signal your location to others)

Water-resistant, durable, and long-lasting, the SeeKey is powered by two included replaceable lithium batteries. 

Features and Details:

• Battery run time: Glow mode: 20 hours | Flash mode: 25 hours

• 4.05" x 1.33" x 0.86"; weighs 0.63oz

• Weather-resistant

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Green or Clear.

$7.99.

February 12, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: Quick & dirty cable/cord control that WON'T set you back $39.99*

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Bonus: Not only is my hack pretty much free as well as capable of being assembled from stuff lying around your office or home but it also works about 100x better than the tricked-out, fancy-pants Kickstarter-funded designer-esque iteration I wasted my *$39.99 on last week after I wrote about it with much delight and anticipation.

Long story short: to make you own bookofjoe-esque system you will need the following materials:

1. Binder clips

2. Fridge magnets (obviously any magnets will do, I happen to be sitting at a table near my fridge)

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Look at the pictures above, pretty much self-explanatory to anyone over the age of 6 — a majority of my readership.

Why did I go all wild over the MOS system (below)?

TME (too much enthusiasm) is my considered medical opinion as I look at what I wrote last week and my recent credit card statement.

No matter, let's not dwell on the negative but instead focus on the good.

The good news here is that you don't have to waste your money on a failed product.

What's wrong with the MOS system —

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besides its expense?

1. The colorful little rubber-covered magnets that are supposed to keep your cables organized are far too weak to be useful, and as a result they fly off the Apple-esque aluminium [sic] central docking station if you so much as breathe too hard on a cord.

2. The little rubber thingies are very hard to manipulate and open and close around a cable or cord.

3. The fact there's only one docking station means you're constantly messing around with your cables and cords, trying to keep them attached to the dock. Wasn't this invention supposed to solve — not exacerbate — the problem of cord control?

On the brighter side, my friend Natalia gets to keep her hard-won pennies and spend them on more promising kit.

FunFact: I initially intended to use my digital camera to photograph all my devices hooked up to my setup but couldn't figure out how to use the camera — with all its buttons and settings and on-screen commands and icons — so instead grabbed the iPhone and did the job.

The tool you use is not necessarily the best one but the best one is always the tool you use.

Think like an anesthesiologist.

February 12, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sand Stools

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Wrote Alix Browne in the New York Times,

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"Last year, on a residency in Jaipur, India, the Swiss designers Lovis Caputo and Sarah Kueng began experimenting with sand and pigment on a small scale, making objects and baking them in a microwave. Back in Zurich, they perfected a no-bake recipe. Their Sand Series is a collection of unique stools that can be used indoors or out."

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Wrote the designers,

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"These pieces are made from a pigment-colored mixture of sand and mortar. Layer upon layer is poured in a casting mold. Then the massive object is worked into a stool with a hammer and chisel. Every piece is unique. They can be kept outside like real stone."

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Apply within.

February 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Silent Circle — Snapchat for grownups

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Nicole Perlroth's February 5 New York Times story about a new encryption service for big girls and boys noted that it costs $20 a month — and that the company is so confident about its impenetrability that it's already "published its source code for review to prove that its encryption is secure and that there are no back doors."

Has your supposedly bomb-proof software undergone that test?

Didn't think so.

Below, excerpts from the article.

Phil Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy, is widely considered the godfather of encryption software. After making his software available for download in the 1990s, he was the subject of a criminal investigation that was eventually dropped in 1996. Today, his P.G.P. software is the most widely used e-mail encryption software in the world.

But these days, Mr. Zimmermann is busy with his new venture, Silent Circle, which provides encryption for smartphone users. At a security conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Mr. Zimmermann introduced the service, which is available for Android and iPhone. Silent Circle lets users make encrypted phone calls, send text messages,  and do  videoconferencing. Messages are scrubbed completely from the phone after a predetermined amount of time. Communications are secured using a new, peer-reviewed open-source encryption technology

Mr. Zimmermann's business partners include Jon Callas, who co-founded the PGP  Corporation, which now belongs to Symantec, and two former Navy SEALs, Mike Janke and Vic Hyder. His target market, Mr. Zimmermann said, is soldiers based overseas, business people who operate in known surveillance states, human rights activists, dissidents and (more recently) journalists. Since starting Silent Circle in October, Mr. Zimmermann, said, he has spent nearly all his time in Washington signing up government agencies and contractors.

He was adamant that the service be subscription-based. Individual users pay $20 a month, while businesses are charged per employee. He said he was often asked why people would pay to use the service when they could just as easily make free calls with Skype.

"I tell them go ahead and use Skype — I don't even want to talk to you. This is for serious people interested in serious cryptography," he said. "We are not Facebook. We are the opposite of Facebook."

Silent Circle's interface looks a lot like the native iOS and Android dialing and text messaging features, and the videoconference service closely resembles Skype. Users are given 10-digit "silent numbers" that work with other Silent Circle subscribers. For an additional $29 a month, the numbers can be used to dial outside Silent Circle. In those cases, the service encrypts phone calls between its users and its servers in Canada, so anyone looking to track users wouldn't be able to trace them beyond Canada.

The company had its reasons for locating its servers in Canada, where they fall outside United States government control. Canada also has much stricter privacy laws than the United States or even the European Union. Mr. Zimmermann noted that law enforcement would not be able to eavesdrop on Silent Circle users and, for that matter, neither would Silent Circle.

"When we say we don't have the keys, we mean that," Mr. Zimmermann said, referring to the electronic key that would be necessary to decrypt a message.

There are now a number of apps that promise to secure communications. Wickr, a mobile app, performs a similar service that encrypts video, photos and text messages. Security researchers, however, complain that not enough is known about the app's protocols.

Anticipating that criticism, Silent Circle has published its source code for review to prove that its encryption is secure and that there are no back doors.

"I've spent my whole career on the principle of no back doors," Mr. Zimmermann said. "So we're not about to start."

While they are not exactly Silent Circle's target market, teenagers are increasingly using Snapchat, a popular mobile app that allows them to take and send pictures and control how long messages are visible on the recipient's phone. Facebook recently unveiled a service called Poke that competes with Snapchat. Those services make no encryption promises, and researchers have pointed out that a security flaw makes it easy for recipients to save messages without senders knowing about it. It is also unclear whether data sent through the services is wiped completely, which would make it impossible for forensics investigators or law enforcement officials to reconstruct messages.

Asked whether Mr. Zimmermann considered Snapchat a competitor, he chuckled. "I've never heard of it."

February 12, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

4:01 a.m. Bottle Opener Series ('I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy") — Episode 24: Stainless Steel Push Down Bottle Opener

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From a website: "Can't manage twist-off bottle caps without tearing up your hands? Keep this fast-acting bottle opener handy at a party and your friends will love using something unique. Plus, it makes a great gift. To use, simply push the cylinder down quickly and firmly on any beer or soda bottle and off comes the cap — amazingly easily. Not much strength is required. The cylinder basically pops back up on its own, thanks to a metal spring device."

$14.95.

February 12, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"Bather" — Tim Hawkinson

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The artist's 2009 Venus of Willendorf was pieced together from the shells of a dozen brown eggs secured by cyanoacrylate.

Measuring 7" x 3.5" x 3.5", it appeared in his show at New York City's Pace Gallery in May of that year.

February 12, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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