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09.13.2006

DigiScrapZ

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Scrapbooking is the biggest hobby in America right now, even surpassing golf in popularity among American households. It’s a $3.3 billion industry. So it's only natural that it would migrate to the web with digital scrapbooking.

For those of us who aren't Martha Stewart, DigiScrapZ creates pre-made digi designs that you just buy for a pittance and can use over and over again. All you need is a hard drive and a design-friendly program such as Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop.

Run by three talented women, all scrapbookers and designers in their own right (and in the interest of full disclosure, one of them -- Krista Mettler -- is a friend of mine), they consistently come up with original, fresh looking designs. New packages include School RuleZ, which is handy for those scary first day of school photos. So there's no excuse for us creatively challenged Moms anymore. Drat.

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Prices range from $3.00 for embellishment packs, paper packs, etc. Most “regular” kits (including matching papers and embellishments) are $4 to $7. At the top of the price range, they have ENORMOUS mega kits for $12 to $15 apiece that include tons of papers, embellishments and alphas and are created by multiple designers.

DigiScapZ

Posted by Evan    Category: design
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09.13.2006

An Eastpak backpack with laptop compartment

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You know, there was a time when I loved Eastpak backpacks. After all, they are the quintessential college accessory, functional yet unassuming, perfect for fitting in when you don't look your best. Let all the other fashionistas parade around with their newest 'it' bag and fancy duds, but on exam days it's cooler to be rocking jeans and sweats and the ultimate timeless carryall for the eighteen to twenty-two set.

And now, since Eastpak has the Freeway with built-in laptop sleeve, you can relive your college days while keeping your little machine secure and safe. The thing I love the most about this bag is that it looks exactly like a normal Eastpak. Nothing fancy, nothing special, just plain old classic styling that doesn't look dated. But, with the added functionality of extra pockets and holders, keeping things organized and in place is a snap. Makes total sense for today's student, who probably lugs a laptop and a dozen other personal electronics around with them on a daily basis.

Posted by Katherine    Category: accessories
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09.12.2006

Apple News : iTV, new Nano, Shuffle

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To no one's surprise, Steve Jobs announced today at Apple's "Showtime" media event that they are getting into the soon-to-be crowded online movie service business, demonstrating a new device for watching videos on television.

Dubbed iTV, the device will allow consumers to watch movies purchased online -- as well as other digital content stored on a computer -- on a connected television set. It will sell for $299 but won't be available until early next year.

Unlike Amazon, which debuted their online movie service last week with seven movie studios already signed up, Apple only has the rights to Walt Disney films.

"Mr. Apple" said more than 75 films will be available from Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar, Touchstone Pictures and Miramax. New releases will be priced at $12.99, when pre-ordered and during the first week of sale, or $14.99 afterward. Library titles will be sold for $9.99 each.

Perhaps more importantly, Apple announced the "fifth-generation iPod." Now available in two capacities - a standard 30GB model for $249 and a super 80GB version for $349 -- they are the same size as the prior versions but with superior battery life (3.5 hours of video on 30GB, 6.5 hours on 80GB) and brighter screens with brightness controls. (Apple apparently heard their customers' complaints about the batteries.) Jobs also showed off a new Nano with a 24-hour battery life that will come in 5 (count 'em) colors and will retail between $149 and $249.

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The company also took the opportunity to boast about their new mini Shuffle, the world’s smallest digital music player, which is nearly half the size of the original, weighs half an ounce and features a new aluminum design with built-in clip. The new shuffle offers 1GB of music storage, features up to 12 hours of battery life, and includes earbud headphones and an iPod shuffle dock. The new iPod shuffle is expected to be available worldwide in October for $79.

Jobs also announced games for iPods, available for just $4.99 in the iTunes Store, but they only work on 5th generation iPods.(See, now you have to buy one.)

While Jobs was making his address, the iTunes store was down and refreshed as totally new, reflecting the new movie service on the left-hand side of the design.

I'd just like to know where my iMixes have gone.

Posted by Evan    Category: current affairs | devices
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09.12.2006

Retro modern kitchens with Elmira's Northstar

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It's no secret that I'm a sucker for insanely fun design around the home. Goofy kitchens are my favorite pet projects since most residential kitchens are designed not by visionary architects, but by beer swilling contractors only trying to ensure a quick sale.

Once upon a time a crazy cat named Tom Hendrick owned a hardware store frequented by Mennonite farmers that didn't believe in fancy things like gas ranges and electric cook tops. When it became difficult to find new wood burning ranges for his customers Tom bought the rights to an antique model and started making his own. Eventually the Elvira Stove Works started producing their antique-esque cook stoves with modern features for those of us not belonging to the Old Order.

The company eventually expanded their product offerings to include the Northstar line of fridges, stoves and range hoods inspired by iconic 1950's automobiles. All the modern conveniences are available, but with style that will stop traffic. The boss likes to joke, “We’ve updated our product line by 50 or a 100 years and we’re still 50 years out-of-date!"

The Northstar retro pieces come in seven classic auto paint colors, but sadly these are not the appliances that you'll be installing if the only goal is to cook on the cheap. Ranges and refrigerators start at $4,000, and the matching range hood is a cool $1,100. They've always priced themselves out of reach of most DIY renovators, but there's a price premium for boutique style, whether the object is a t-shirt or a cook stove.

(And on an extremely personal note...) Hey Developers, stainless appliances are only impressive status symbols if they're commercial grade equipment. Quit trying to trick the public into believing that a cheap silver veneer equals quality. Now that they've been installed in every new condo around the country, stainless steel appliances are on the way out, and it's time to look for unique designs to set new developments apart.

Posted by Johnny    Category: home
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09.12.2006

Sony and Microsoft making Europe wait

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Sony announced that it will be delaying shipping its new PS3 system in Europe and other countries that use the PAL format. These countries will not get the highly anticipated system until March 2007, while the US and Japan are still on track for a November release. Citing problems with components for the Blu-Ray drive that the PS3 uses, Sony is catering to their largest markets. These delays could brew trouble for the PS3, because the Nintendo's Wii is coming out this autumn. (World wide release dates and price points may be finalized this week.)

Although Microsoft's XBox 360 has a year head start on both Nintendo and Sony, they have their own difficulties with Europe and its long overdue release of Vista, the follow up to Windows XP. Shortly after the Sony announcement, Microsoft said that due to anti-trust problems it may push back the European release of its new operating system. This notion of Vista being held up by the EU executive commission was quickly rejected by an EU spokesperson. Microsoft made similar comments eight years ago concerning the US launch of Windows XP when it faced a similar anti-trust suit from the US government. After all the rhetoric has died down, the bottom line is that it looks like European consumers will have to sit and watch as the other parts of the world get first dibs.

Posted by Ray    Category: current affairs
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09.12.2006

Babylon and on with Babble

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Ever try to have a confidential conversation working in an open environment or behind the thin walls of a cubicle? It’s downright impossible. Whether filling in a confidante on your extra-marital affair or discussing actual business that is of a sensitive nature, there’s always the chance that your neighbor has overheard something they shouldn’t have.

Get Babble and let it all pour out. After recording your typical voice patterns into its memory, Babble plugs into nearly any phone and projects an unintelligible scramble of your current conversation and your pre-recorded voice to the surrounding area. Paralyzes eavesdroppers without interfering with the person on the other end of the phone – the one your conversation is actually intended for!

Babble lets you babble on and on and feel secure that your secrets are safe.

Posted by Brian    Category: devices
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09.12.2006

Chiller by Dr. Feelgood?

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Actually, the company is called "Feelgood," and it's a home and garden products company out of the Netherlands.

They make this ice chiller which comes with 20 pre-programable light programs so you can change the ambience with a touch of the remote. Since LED’s do not produce external heat and the Chiller has two walls, your bottle will stay delightfully chilled.

The built-in rechargeable battery gives you about 8 hours of service, which should last the length of your party. If your raves generally last longer than that, add me to the invite list next time.

Posted by Evan    Category: home
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09.12.2006

Binvention eco-friendly recycling bins

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These colorful recycling bins from UK company Sprout blend attractive design with simplicity.

Before I saw these, I thought the best you could do with indoor recycling was to get a white bin with a lid that blends into the wall and at least hides the contents. The minimalist design of the Sprout bins, combined with the bright colors they come in, somehow makes it alright that the contents show. You simply take your plastic grocery shopping bags and hang them within the bin to create four separate compartments.

Unfortunately, these appear to be available only in the UK for the time being (for £59). Worse yet, these are limited edition; as of the time I looked, there were only 25 available in red, 25 in green, 25 in turquoise, and 50 in aluminum. I have to assume there are plans to produce more of these.

Posted by Hoyun    Category: eco
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09.12.2006

Kidsmart Vocal Smoke Alarm

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We've all heard parents complain that nothing gets their kids up in the morning, so none of us were surprised by the report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission which reports that regular smoke alarms do not always wake kids under the age of 16. Sleep specialists say that 19 out of 20 children will actually sleep through a fire alarm of 120 decibels. Figure that's like being in the front row of a Metallica concert.

But the good news is that they did discover that children in a deep sleep are far more apt to wake -up if they hear a familiar voice, i.e., that of a parent. Hence, the development of the Vocal Smoke Alarm from KidSmart. A built-in microphone means you can record a personalized message which can be used to wake kids but also provide them other information, for instance: "Johnny, get your butt out of bed and meet us outside, by the oak tree!"

On sale at for $29.90 at Solutions.

Posted by Evan    Category: home
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09.12.2006

Fit&fresh Salad Shaker

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I love making my own salads - they make simple, healthy meals, and are so easy to do. Packing one for lunch is a bit tricky, but fit&fresh has a great solution: the Salad Shaker. The ice pack keeps your veggies nice and crisp, while the dressing cup keeps the dressing from getting your salad soggy. Your fork goes into the utensil box. Fit&fresh also makes a Soup & Salad set for those who like to have something hot for lunch.

Posted by saresha    Category: home
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