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

Two interesting articles about bad habits some bloggers seem to have. Of course me, I just post an article without finishing my sentences.

Andy C points out 7 habits of highly ineffectual bloggers including (automatically) playing music, crazy Flash animation (let’s face it folks, Flash animation is just animated GIFs grown up) and pleading for comments.

Rod Boothby of Innovation Creators points out an interesting survey asking What’s the Biggest Lie About Blogging? The most interesting response, as Rod points out, comes from Seth Godin:

Oh for sure, it’s this: That people care what you say. They don’t. They care what they get.

I think both articles bring up good points for aspiring bloggers. Don’t think they’re right? Take a look at the most popular stories and the most popular blogs. Do what you want with your blog, but both these posts point out some of the pitfalls best avoided, or at least used sparingly if you’re trying to build traffic to a blog.

blog, blogging

Bulb photo by Knu†.  Click for larger image and license info.Update: The winner has been anounced. Click here to find out who won!

As the first season of ABC’s American Inventor approaches it’s close many are wondering about its future.

Despite my initial disappointment after the premier I have to say it’s been enjoyable watching the inventors grow. That’s the bright side, but after suffering through the laborious and repetitive rehashing of some of the inventions that didn’t make it and back-story of the ones that did I still maintain they could do better.

A different format

Imagine this for a moment. Season 2 begins like season 1. The format for the search is the same and I’m sure more, better, and worse inventions will show up. Yes, the search should be a freak show that even your local RadioShack would be proud of. Riding the wave of the first season we should be able to get something on the order of a ham radio club to the power of a Star Trek convention on the sketch-o-meter.

Week 1: Those chosen in the initial search will refine their pitches and products within their own means and present again. Cut several.

Week 2: Continuing competitors will be given a modest sum and/or the availability of some professional help to improve their products or, in the case of more elaborate products show how the product could be improved and taken to market. Cut several more.

Week 3: A change of pace. Small teams are formed, given a modest budget, and each team must improve an existing product for, say, the kitchen. Cut the weakest team.

Week 4: Again, improve an existing invention. Now individuals compete to improve an existing product for the office. Cut several.

Week 5: High speed invention. Individuals must invent and present a brand new product, including researching the market space and confirming that the invention does not already exist.

Week 6: Advance new inventions. Groups are formed and must choose one of their individual inventions from the previous week to improve.

Week 7: Create a commercial for your initial invention.

And so on… You get the idea. This combination would not only highlight the American inventor’s ideas, but also their skills and teamwork. Yes, there is great value to fully developing an invention, but a professional inventor must be able to work individually or on a team. They must be able to step back from one task to tackle another.

So will there be a season 2? Hard to tell. ABC has a little blurb about casting for next season, but interestingly it links to americaninventor.tv. I wonder if ABC is trying to decouple the American Inventor web content from their network site with the idea of unloading the show on another network.

Americaninventor.tv has the following, very tentative announcement regarding auditions for season 2:

DID YOU MISS YOUR CHANCE TO AUDITION FOR THE FIRST SEASON?

If we head out on a second search, we want to make sure you don’t miss out. Sign up now and we’ll contact you when we’re getting ready to hit the road again.

The competition is open individuals or teams of inventors.

The product must be something that can be mass produced and sold in a retail outlet.

You can come with a sketch, a prototype or even just an idea.

Meanwhile all we can do is hope season 2 is more content than recap.

entertainment, innovation, inventing, invention, inventor, reality television, reality tv, television, tv, american inventor, abc

As I am looking into a couple electronics projects I have turned up a handful of fantastic resources on the web. Here they are in no particular order.

Suppliers:

    Jameco – Broad selection of electronic supplies. Good service, includes pictures, great prices. These guys are my current favorite.
    Digi-Key – Has some stuff Jameco doesn’t. Prices are a bit higher in general, but good service. No pictures. Poorly organized site.

Reference:

    The Hardware Book – A great reference for cable and adapter pinouts. Some common, most hard to find.

Projects:

    Play-Hookey – Fantastic, step-by-step instructions on a logical series of electronics experiments. Includes great information and instructionals on logic, electricity, analog circuits, and even optics. This site is definitely a great starting point!
    Bowden’s Hobby Circuit – A wide variety of projects. Great schematics, nice explainations, but not much for step-by-step.

electric, electronic, circuit, electronic suppliers, electronic projects, schematics

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