Now that USB flash drives are cheap and common producers clearly need to get creative to compete. Here are a couple great ideas for storage with a more personal touch:

USB Bear


Stuff this cuddly USB bear with 1GB of photos, music or documents.

Blue USB fortune cookie


I have to admit this is the first blue fortune cookie I’ve ever seen, but imagine how many fortunes you could fit in this USB fortune cookie

USB Hamburger


Also from the freshly baked line the USB Hamburger may not be a half-pound burger, but it is a 2GB drive!

Of course none of these beat the USB Humping Dog but you can’t store files on that (and let’s face it, it might not quite be appropriate for that executive board meeting.)

Thanks to Don for the USB bear.

There’s a lot of buzz around smartphones right now. With falling prices and service improvements it’s becoming clear that cellular providers will beat municipal Wi-Fi in all but a few areas.

That’s the idea I explored in my recent article for Internet Evolution.

At the same time, smart phones like the iPhone have crossed over from being business tools to consumer products. Indeed, they are quickly becoming the mobile device of choice.

And why not? More than just phones with PDA functionality, these devices have now become full-fledged platforms. Web browsing, chat, email, and games are their core competencies, and applications for them are just getting more interesting from there.

Read my full article for more of my thoughts on how these new devices and services will shape our lives in the near future.

Modern electronic locks are getting more complicated but it’s amazing how vulnerable they can be. The video below shows how a high end electronic lock can be bypassed with a combination of induction and magnetic force.

If you’re not familiar with this type of locks it may not be clear, but the lock is actually being unlocked by spinning a disc with embedded magnets near the motor that actuates the lock. Barry at blackbag offers a far more detailed explanation of the device.

This is a good reminder that if a lock can be opened then it can be picked. The manufacturer will undoubtedly correct this vulnerability but there will always be another way to get in.

via Zach

Belkin surge protector with USB chargerFinally, the solution to my mobile charging needs: the Belkin Mini Surge Protector with USB Charger.

Coming soon from Belkin this small device offers surge protection for your laptop and devices when you travel and also has two USB charging ports! You should be able to charge many cell phones (like the Razr or Blackberry) and devices like iPods right off the USB ports eliminating the need to keep your computer awake while your devices charge. This should also be nice if you want to leave the computer behind but still need a way to charge your iPod (it’s been a long time since iPods came with 110 volt chargers.)

Belkin is listing the surge protector with a modest $25 price on their site and list it as “Coming soon”. As soon as this becomes available I’ll grab one and post a review here.

via the Daily Giz Wiz podcast

Sanyo Eneloop AA BatteriesRecently when listening to the Daily Giz Wiz netcast (easily the most jingle-laden netcast ever to grace my iPod) Leo and Dick got into a discussion about rechargeable batteries and their typical shortcomings like the need to charge them before use and their tendency to loose their charge over time. Recently Sanyo has released a new battery called Eneloop which does not suffer from these problems.

Sanyo eneloop batteries are a rechargeable NiMH battery which claim to only loose 15% of their charge in a year. That means you can charge them and use them when you need them. Like other NiMH batteries they can be recharged hundreds of times, but one of the big advantages is that they come pre-charged! You could buy a set in a drug store, use them that day, then take them home and recharge them.

I’ve only seen these on Amazon so far, but I’m using them in just about everything I have that takes AA batteries, especially my Wii remotes. At first I was disappointed that the Wii remote didn’t come with a rechargeable battery but now it seems much more clever that they went with an industry standard (AA size) battery which can be easily replaced without having to look up a model number.

Eneloop batteries are available in four packs of AA and AAA and 8 packs of AA, but I recommend starting off with the charging kit which comes with the charger and four AAs. The charger will charge AA and AAA sizes and can charge one, two, three or four batteries at a time.

I have been using these rechargeable batteries for over a year now in my Wii controllers, talkabout radios, remotes, wireless computer accessories and more. They have cut my AA consumption down considerably, and when they do eventually die they are recyclable like other NiMH batteries. While there are AA rechargeables which have a higher capacity the low self-discharge of the Eneloop batteries makes them last longer in all but the highest current applications.

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