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October 2007 Archives

October 26, 2007

Governor Proclaims September 28th "Gadget and Innovation Day"

New Jersey understands the value of Gadgetoff - Governor Jon Corzine signed a proclamation that declared the date of our infamous event as "Gadget and Innovation Day".  Here are some exerpts from his proclamation -

"WHEREAS, the 7th Annual Gadgetoff event, known as 'Gadget and Innovation Day,' was held on September 28, 2007 at Liberty State park and Liberty Science Center..."

"WHEREAS, the goal of the event is to celebrate scientific education and recognize technological breakthroughs that inspire future growth..."

"Now, THEREFORE, I, JON S. CORZINE, Governor of the State of New Jersey, do hereby proclaim SEPTEMBER 28, 2007 AS GADGET AND INNOVATION DAY"

October 28, 2007

HOWTOONS! The Book. Now Available!

Saul Griffith (a Gadgetoff alum) and his un-indicted co-conspirators Nick Gragotta and Joost Bonsen have just published the ultimate "science-meets-adventure-and-mischief comic book" called "HOWTOONS! The Possibilities are Endless."

You have probably seen their work in MAKE Magazine which ranges from building your own zoetrope to kids getting out of hairy situations using MacGyver-like applications of real scientific principles.

Perhaps it is because of comic books that are really fun and packed with learnin' that Saul just won a MacArthur "Genius" award.  I wish I had spent more of my youth reading  comic books instead of wasting my time just building things...

Gadgetbag 2007: Nothing Exceeds Like Excess!

A favorite tradition of the Gadgetoff is giving away great technology. Since all our friends participate, everybody carries off literally tons of loot. This year, we upped the ante with the laudatory goal of giving our friends high-tech hernias. Instead of passing out gift-wrapped cinderblocks (which was tempting) we decided to create the ultimate Gadgetbag.
The Gadgetbag actually consisted of two overstuffed bags plus a Gadgetoff  t-shirt and -- to carry with your fourth hand -- a large box with a radio-controlled Dragonfly. Here is a partial list of what was in this year’s Gadgetbag:

A Liter of LEGO, in a handy plastic martini-shaker, and information about the $5,000 annual LEGO Creativity Award competition, from LEGO Creation Nation , for those inspired by Nathan Sawaya’s life-size sculpture of Stephen Colbert at Gadgetof

Sandisk’s Cruzer Contour : 8 GB Premium USB 2.0 Flash Drive, in a stylish sliding protective case.

Griffin’s Elevator: a handsome space –saving laptop stand that raises your laptop to a more comfortable viewing level 

Griffin’s iTrip Auto: Charge and play your iPod through your car stereo in one elegant power and play cable connector. I love the backlit display screen so I can see what the heck’s going on adjusting channels while driving at night.  Special thanks to Paul Griffin who not only runs a great company but is an astonishingly decent guy.

MagicJack: A USB system that lets you “never pay a monthly phone bill again.” Plug your phone into the MagicJack which is connected to your computer and begin making and receiving local, domestic, and international calls. You get a free phone number to receive calls from anywhere in the world plus   (Comes with a free one-year subscription, but there’s a $19.95 fee each year afterwards.) 

Spore T-Shirt: “Composed of Matter , Anti-Matter, and It Doesn’t Matter” from Maxis. Love having the exclusive t-shirt… but after Will Wright’s amazing new demo, we NEED the game!

Make Magazine:  Tim O’Reilly’s amazing play-space for the rest of us… folks who like to make stuff, poke an eye out, with smart ideas from this do-it-yourself technology compendium. Special thanks to Gadgetoff pals Phil Torrone, Limor Fried, Saul Griffith and the rest of the Makezine and Makerfaire folks who share our love to Make Trouble.

Think Geek’s Annoy-a-tron: What to give someone who has everything but deserves nothing? The Annoy-a-tron is just the thing. This tiny erratic beeping, buzzing, noisy menace is a convenient gag to drive your nemesis bonkers. Three mind-numbing sound patterns and a magnet for easy hiding help make the Annoy-a-tron the perfect human “equalizer.”  We won’t reveal who donated them because he (or she) doesn’t want them back!

Steaz Energy Organic Fuel Drink: Lightly carbonated but heavily, ludicrously (80 mg worth!) caffeinated. We gave out cans of this stuff because we like watching our friends run around like hamsters in a wheel.

Lenovo Laptop Bag (plus 2 GB USB Laptop Memory Key): Celebrating the Thinkpad’s 15-th anniversary, our friends at Lenovo kindly provided the tough Messenger Max bag to protect your notebook in style.   Green and black with all kinds of pockets, straps, and places for peripherals. Love the bag… and love the added micro-mini 2-GB USB Memory Key Lenovo included just to show off.

Free Blimp Ride:  Gadgetoff attendees get to ride free on Dan Nachbar’s Airship Alberto, the first Personal Blimp, a truly unique airship design.   Hot air (not helium) is used for lift and the unique tail design offers unprecedented maneuverability. Dan Nachbar’s radical design has pumped-up the blimp world: a breed of economical airships that can turn on a dime and be deployed in many new ways.

Speed of Light Imaging:  Advanced Scientific Concepts demoed an astonishing Portable 3D Video camera that takes pictures at the speed of light. They included a marvelous lenticular postcard showing a single 6 nanosecond pulse of light travelling across an airplane in-flight. A true 3D image is derived from the light captured in real-time, showing the airplane from several different perspectives from a single snapshot. (I liked the looking-through-venetian-blinds demo but they would let us have that… )

Robert Sabuda/ Matthew Reinhart Pop-Up Books: Everyone received a copy of one of the amazing 3-D pop-up books designed and created by the astonishing team Sabuda and Reinhart. Their books are a visual tour-de-force and the discussion on how they create them is captivating (so watch it on-line). GadgetBags contained one of four different books: Mega Beasts;  Maurice Sendak’s first pop-up book Mommy?Twelve Days of Christmas; and America the Beautiful. Everyone should get  all four!

Flytech’s Dragonfly: When Wow Wee toys gave us a sneak peek of the first remote controlled flying insect, the Dragonfly, we wanted one for everybody at Gadgetoff. This ultra-light dual wing design seems a tad flimsy at first, but flight after flight, the Dragonfly is a mighty craft. Even for the spatially challenged (moi), the flying bug is easy to control. We provided them in two different frequencies so friends can fly together.

iRobot Pen:  When our pals at iRobot offered us the newly redesigned floor cleaning Roomba or the floor washing Scooba, we figured everyone at Gadgetoff surely must have purchased at least one of these amazing machines already, so we insisted they give us a pen instead. It’s a cool “acrobat” pen that shoots out like rocket when the button is pushed… but it doesn’t even clean the gutters or watch my children remotely. Oh, iRobot just made robots for that as well. And to clean the pool… to Taser gunmen… to carry water to soldiers in the field… and to disarm thousands of IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) better than anybody else. But, ever shrewd, we went for the pen!

DARPA Playing Cards: Perhaps it is a sad statement of our nation’s values that in the 50 years since DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) was founded it has done more to revolutionize America’s technological leadership position than any other public or private initiative. But DARPA’s contribution has been extraordinary and many of the best innovations are detailed in this low-tech deck of playing cards.

Kaltura Wooden Puzzle: Shay David demonstrated his cool new video collaboration technology that allows collaborative video projects they call “Kalturas.” Since they couldn’t give everyone video-cameras, they gave them some painted wood blocks with elastic inside…

Piezo Popper Kit:   Easily one of the most popular display tables at Gadgetoff was the fun science projects, kits, and materials stacked a mile-high from Educational Innovations.  They provided a simple-to-assemble kit that includes a Piezo electric igniter and a simple empty plastic film canister. Simple assembly, a drop or two of alcohol, and the press of a button sends the film canister flying hundreds of feet. Oh, and the nice “BANG!” wakes up the folks at the other end of the room.

101 Outer Space Projects for the Evil Genius: Dave Prochnow : Our friend Dave is a not-so-evil but rather inspired educator and inventor. A magical book of do-it-yourself gentle mayhem you can create with a soldering iron. Thanks to McGraw- Hill, who we also must thank for the outrageously strong book bags that held much of the loot. 

The latest issues of magazines from our friends at WIRED, and SEED, plus catalogs from the amazing folks from Think Geek (who provided t-shirts and tons of other support for Gadgetoff) and Educational Innovations  (who gave us the piezo poppers and brought their wonderful science educational material to the event.) 

Milgo-Lalvani: A collectors set of “Systems” postcards of their “Morphics Projects” by our pals who created the amazing sculptural centerpiece at Gadgetoff. Milgo-Lalvani designed unique and stunning expandable and morphable surfaces made from single sheets of metal.

Radioactive Marble:  Let  “Pablos the Hacker” describe the “gift” he donated:  These marbles contain trace amounts of uranium dioxide.  Just enough radiation to get a reading off a Geiger counter like the cool yellow one I brought to Gadgetoff.  These marbles will glow green like alien eyeballs under a black light.  The radiation levels are considered "safe" - you know, like everything else at Gadgetoff.”

PoolsideMelcher Media provided the latest in their series of absolutely waterproof books. Take this book  poolside, into the bathtub,  or even scuba-diving (if you just can’t put this page-turner down.) Poolside features short stories by Ernest Hemingway, John Updike, and Joyce Carol Oates, and many others. Charlie Melcher has re-invented the entire nature of what a book can be and this is a fine example.  The patented Durabook technology contains no wood pulp or cotton fiber; comprised instead of a synthetic paper constructed of plastic resins and inorganic fillers. It is also stain and tear resistant.

Tesla pin: We tried to get our hands on the hottest 100% electric car, the Tesla roadster (accelerating zero to 60 in under 4 seconds), with a staggering 245 miles per charge. We did get Martin Eberhard , co-founder and President of Technology of Tesla Motors, to give a tremendous presentation, and they were kind enough to give us pins which I suppose can be traded in for a Roadster one day. Sadly, reservations for all the 2008 vehicles are already filled, so get on the waiting list for next year!

Gadgetoff T-Shirt:  Last, but not least, we hope you got the world’s most exclusive t-shirt (courtesy of ThinkGeek.)  Our breathtaking logo on black heavyweight cotton… with our motto “Bringing the Smart and Useless Together” on the back. 

October 30, 2007

EG 2007 - A Preview of Heaven

EG 2007 (Entertainment Gathering) is roughly a month away and if it is anything like last year, it will be an event that shouldn't be missed. EG was created and launched by Richard Saul Wurman (founder of TED and producer of more than 80 books) and is now directed by our good friend, Michael Hawley.

EG brings together interesting people from the entertainment business along with philosophers, artists, humourists and, many of the people and ideals that we, at Gadgetoff, also court - inventors, technologists and visionaries.

Last year we were delighted to participate in EG and we appreciate what Michael says - "Knowing that your most valuable idea is the one you haven't had yet.  You will probably uncover more than one at EG.  This conference is routinely life-changing."

There is still time to register and we hope to see you there this year.

About October 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Gadgetoff - Things We Like in October 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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