Tag Archives: Toys

The Crovel: A crowbar that shovels sand

Gear Up Center)

Ever been in a situation where you desperately needed a shovel but only remembered to pack a crowbar? Nope? Well somebody else has and figured that a multipurpose 13-in-one tool would do some good.

The Crovel combines two major tools–a crowbar and shovel–into a single 5.5-pound contraption. While the immediate crowbar-ey and shovel-ey uses of this multipurpose tool are apparent, the Crovel actually performs the functions of 11 other tools. Being writers (read: indoorsy types), we were only able to identify a couple. The shovel head, for example, has something that looks like a hand-saw built-in, while the cube-like protrusion next to the crowbar end might make a good hammer.

Although we’d probably never find a use for the Crovel ourselves, the sheer practicality of a relatively lightweight tool replacing several heavier ones is something that MacGyver types should appreciate.

If you find the $85 price too steep, there may be a cheaper alternative in China. A popular YouTube video from a year ago showed some Chinese soldiers using a similar device.

(Crave Asia via Uncrate)

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/the-crovel-a-crowbar-that-shovels-sand/8301-17938_105-20059369-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Trendnet ships first 450Mbps wireless N adapter

The 450Mbps Dual Band Wireless N USB Adapter (model TEW-684UB) from TrendNet

The 450Mbps Dual Band Wireless N USB Adapter (model TEW-684UB) from TrendNet.


Three-stream (3×3) wireless N routers capable of offering the new 450Mbps speed (as opposed to the 300Mbps of most N routers) have been available for a while (examples: the Linksys E4200 or the Trendnet TEW-691GR ). But unless you have a laptop with a built-in Intel 6300/5300 Ultimate N adapter, you can’t take advantage of this faster speed. Until now.

Trendnet announced today that it’s shipping what it calls the first USB 3×3 wireless N adapter on the market–the 450 Mbps Dual Band Wireless N USB Adapter (model TEW-684UB). The device lets you upgrade your computer to support the faster wireless speed.

Like most recent N devices, the adapter features advanced Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna technology. Its antennae, however, can handle three streams, instead of two, and therefore generate a maximum wireless throughput of 450Mbps. The device is dual-band, meaning it can work with both 2.4GHz or 5GHz wireless networks, and incorporates Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) that allows for connecting to wireless networks with the touch of a button.

Unlike most wireless adapters, which are shaped like a thumbdrive, the Trendnet TEW-684UB is much larger, about the size of a mini router and requires a separate USB cable to connect to a computer. This design means it’s better suited for desktop computers than laptops. Apart from 450Mbps wireless networks, it’s also compatible with existing regular 300Mbps and lower speed wireless N routers.

The 450 Mbps Dual Band Wireless N USB Adapter TEW-684UB adapter comes with a three-year warranty. It’s avaialble now and esmiated to cost aruond $80.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/trendnet-ships-first-450mbps-wireless-n-adapter/8301-17938_105-20058883-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

‘Clippy’ alive? Sighting raises questions, fears

If Clippy isn’t buried here, who–or what–is?

Screenshot of Microsoft promo video by Edward Moyer/CNET Center for Investigative Reporting)

In a mysterious turn of events worthy of Elvis Presley, “Clippy,” everyone’s least favorite talking paper clip cum animated software assistant, appears to be the star of a new Microsoft initiative–despite the fact that he’s supposedly been dead since 2004.

GeekWire’s Todd Bishop spied the fastener in what he reports is–gasp!–Microsoft’s new training tool for Office, a game called Ribbon Hero 2. Clippy even appears to get top billing–the game’s official name, Bishop reports, is Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy’s Second Chance (a title that’s sure to send shivers down the spine of many an Office user).

It’s not the first time the aroma of conspiracy has wafted around the cloying length of wire. A month after Clippy’s supposed 2001 ousting from Microsoft’s flagship software suite (and his supposed move to jobs as a cab driver and a UPS deliveryman), a duo of crack CNET investigative journalists revealed that the fastener had somehow made his way into Office XP.

Just last year, a promotional video for Office 2010 showed what appeared to be Clippy’s grave site, replete with a deceased date of 2004.

It’s not clear why Microsoft would stage the paper clip’s death, but it’s equally unclear how said clip would manage to return from the grave. As evidence of Clippy’s continued existence, Bishop points to the video below, supposedly the work of Microsoft, and to this blog item by one “Doug Thomas,” supposedly an employee of the software giant. We offer them for your own examination and speculation, while we investigate the issue further.

Another question that arises is: If Clippy is in fact alive, who–or what–was buried in his place? Most unclear of all, however, may be the question: Why on Earth would Microsoft let Clippy–let alone an undead Clippy–helm a training video for Office?

Perhaps our readers can help clear things up by offering their theories in the comments section below.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/clippy-alive-sighting-raises-questions-fears/8301-17938_105-20058732-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Obama wants you to watch his funny YouTube vid


The White House Correspondent’s Dinner, an annual tradition where the media and political elite meet to roast/congratulate each other, with mixed results, just finished up. Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live” hosted the event, and you should be able to watch replays on C-SPAN if you’re interested.

One new twist to the proceedings: The White House, which normally plays along with the event even though the chief occupant gets ribbed, has gone all in. Immediately after showing this video–a parody trailer based on “The King’s Speech”–they released it on YouTube (via Twitter, of course).

The bit isn’t LOL-worthy, IMHO. But it does contain jokes, and I think it’s noteworthy that they’re putting this out there for public consumption, at a time when much of the electorate seems particularly…susceptible to jokes. Even more so if they’re easily accessible via Google.

Also, as The Atlantic.com’s Gabe Snyder points out, the clip contains a Wu Tang Clan sample. Which is sure to upset someone (and please lots of us, too)

Meanwhile, you can see all 17 minutes of Obama’s presentation here (much sharper, I think–good Fox News dig), via The Washington Post:

Story Copyright (c) 2011 AllThingsD. All rights reserved.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-20058740-93.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

This week in Crave: The name-calling edition

Too busy pondering why anyone would name a product Cuil, iYiYi, or *ist to keep up with Crave this week? Here’s what you missed while you were adding your own picks to our list of super-sucky tech product names.

20 worst-named tech products (photos)

? Sony jumped into the tablet fray.

? Hulu Plus hit the Xbox 360.

? Scott’s wrist had a surprise for him.

? Ever wonder what caterpillars can teach robots?

? One gamer’s sad tale of life without the
PlayStation Network.

? Web speed tests: tablet tournament!

? Buyer beware of expensive HDMI cables.

HDMI cable

? T-shirt reminds you that you’re killing your lungs.

? Route 66 road trip, the redux.

? Hot tech trend: Dropping products from airplanes.

Got a story idea for us? Drop it from on high. Or just try writing to us at crave at cnet dot com.

Article source: http://news.cnet.com/this-week-in-crave-the-name-calling-edition/8301-17938_105-20058512-1.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave

Instant voice mail and online role-playing: iPhone apps of the week


Some interesting Apple news this week from AppleInsider revolves around Apple’s acquisition of the iCloud domain name. Apparently, according to sources, Apple paid Sweden-based company Xcerion an estimated $4.5 billion for the domain. It is rumored that the cloud service will be announced this summer at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference here in San Francisco.

There have already been plenty of rumors that Apple’s cloud service would enable users to stream music to iOS devices, but according to the article, it may also offer a personalized “locker” where you can keep photos and videos as well. It will be exciting to see how this all pans out at WWDC, and whether people will be more inclined to sign up with iCloud than with MobileMe, which received a somewhat lukewarm response from users.

What kind of things would you like to see offered in an Apple-based cloud service? What would be a reasonable price for such a service? Let us know in the comments.

This week’s apps are an instant voice mail messenger and a full-featured MMORPG that closely resembles one of the most popular games of all time.


HeyTell lets you send your location by hitting the crosshairs button before recording your message.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

HeyTell (Free) is a voice mail messaging app that’s been out for quite some time, but a friend told me about it recently and I thought more people should check it out. The idea with HeyTell is, instead of calling or sending a text message to a friend, you can send an instant voice mail–as long as your friend has HeyTell installed. Start by touching the green-on-white person-shaped icon to add people from your contact list. You also have the option to connect HeyTell to your FaceBook account, but I wonder whether people really want everyone they’ve ever known sending them voice mails. When selecting friends from your
iPhone contact list, HeyTell offers a premade invite you can send via text message to have your friend download the free app.

Using HeyTell is obviously a different way to communicate–replacing text messages with voice mails–and it is definitely fun to hear how people respond to rapid-fire voice messages. The interface plays into the fun: to send a voice mail, you simply press the big orange Hold and Speak button and HeyTell records your message until you let go, kind of like using a walkie talkie. The app keeps all of your shared replies so you can go back and listen to individual messages. You can even save favorite messages to enjoy later.

Beyond its main functions, HeyTell offers a few for-pay Extras (tab on the bottom right of the interface). For $1.99 each, you can add a Voice Changer to create silly-sounding messages; Emoji support to add fun icons to your name (seems overpriced to me); Message Wipe to have messages expire after a specified amount of time; and (for $2.99) Group Broadcast, which lets you send out voice messages to your designated groups of friends. I only downloaded the Voice Changer add-on, but was honestly not very impressed by the results. Any one of these purchases will turn off the in-app ads, but the ads are pretty easy to tune out when using HeyTell.

Overall, HeyTell is an interesting way to communicate and is definitely more efficient than sending text messages. If you like the idea of quick voice mails to get your point across, you should definitely check out this free app.

Order and Chaos Online

The resemblance to World of Warcraft is obvious, but that doesn’t make this game any less fun to play.

Screenshot by Jason Parker/CNET)

Order and Chaos Online ($6.99) is Gameloft’s answer to World of Warcraft on the iPhone, borrowing liberally from what has been called the most popular MMORPG of all time, and however you feel about Gameloft, I think it did a great job. The graphics on the iPhone 4 Retina display are as smooth as can be, and the touch-screen interface will be familiar to anyone who’s played an FPS (or other 3D RPG) on the iPhone–use the joypad on the left to move and swipe a finger on the right to control direction and to look around.

Along with basic movement, Order and Chaos does an admirable job of making all of your interface elements easy to access. A tap on your character’s avatar in the upper left brings up most of your main options, including viewing your inventory, looking at your quest log, checking out your character skills and attributes, sorting through spells, and creating groups. For actions, Order and Chaos does away with the “action bar” found in many desktop RPGs and instead uses a scrollable wheel of buttons in the lower right, which–while handy–is a little hard to navigate when in the heat of combat. You also have a chat window at the bottom and two extra hot bars at the right where you can place things like potions and food for easy access.

You start by choosing from four available races, then pick from four classes: Warrior, Mage, Monk, or Ranger. You also can pick your gender, choose from a few different hairstyles, and alter the features of your character’s face with a few different presets. Once you’ve chosen a name, you’ll be dropped into a beginner area of the world and the game does a good job of showing you the ropes for movement, obtaining quests, and engaging in combat.

As you complete quests, you’ll gain experience and be able to level up your character with new skills (or spells depending on your class) and unlock items you couldn’t use at lower levels. Each character has two skill trees that slowly unlock as you advance in levels, giving you the option to pursue specific skills to specialize your character.

Gameloft borrowed just about everything from Blizzard’s hit game: the cartoonlike artistic style, the look of the landscape, the character design, the onscreen text colors, and just about everything else. But Order and Chaos Online lacks the imagination and storyline of World of Warcraft; you end up feeling more like you’re working to advance than like you’re playing a game. Every quest has the familiar “Kill six of these monsters” or “Gather 10 of these minerals” kind of feel, with little in the way of an interesting storyline to pull you along.

Even with these issues, new skills and spells will probably be enough motivation for most players to continue grinding away. Order and Chaos Online is easily the best MMO available on the iPhone, with a very smooth RPG experience that anyone who plays games from the genre will enjoy. As with any game with this much depth, I have to wonder how much time people are willing to spend playing on the small iPhone screen (if you have an
iPad, the larger screen will definitely help), but either way, having a full-fledged MMO in your pocket is a pretty amazing thing.

It’s important to note that when you log in you are given a free three-month subscription, but after that you’ll need to subscribe for 99 cents per month, $1.99 for three months, or $2.99 for six months. While you might be put off by a subscription, my guess is that most people won’t mind paying for a few months and then canceling once the next big game comes along.

What’s your favorite iPhone app? Do you agree that HeyTell is a fun way to communicate with friends? What do you think about long and involved games on such a small device? Let me know in the comments!

Article source: http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-20058691-12.html?part=rss&tag=feed&subj=Crave