Diabolical technology

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August: it’s not just a month, it’s an adjective . Really, I’m not sure I could pick a less august month if I tried. For one thing, it’s hot. Wrapped in fleece blankets at a tanning salon while drinking hot-chocolate hot. And it’s quiet, like the calm before a world-shaking storm. Students are preparing to go back to school, parents are praying for the kids to go back to school, and all of us are looking glumly ahead to September. Which is not an adjective. Or at least, not yet.

So perhaps we can brighten our days with promises of gizmos and gadgetry to come. In this week’s installment of Gadgetbox, we’ve got a diabolical trio of technology: weapons from the future past, a pair of educated rodents, and a flightless bird that makes a heck of a cup of tea.

Tag, you’re vaporized

When I was a wee lad, back in the ancient yesteryear of the 1980s, I dreamed of building a futuristic laser tag arena where my friends and I could engage in massive battles. With skateboards and bikes. Derailed by a lack of funding, I’ve kept this life’s desire to myself until this very moment.

What pulled that memory from the deepest recesses of my mind? Nothing less than the announcement of a laser tag game whose weapons are based on the popular series of Halo video games . Halo Laser Pursuit will feature detailed replicas of the Covenant Plasma Rifle and Plasma Pistol created by Jasman Toys. The game itself will mimic the mechanics of the Halo universe: the pistol allows for a super-shot, and the guns will overheat if you use them for too long. And instead of merely recording hits, the sensors will work like the shields in the game: take a bunch of hits and your shield will drop, but if you manage to escape, they’ll have a chance to recharge.

You’ll be able to snag Halo Laser Pursuit at Hot Topic and other retailers in October, and look out for the Covenant Energy Sword (only used by lamers ) sometime next year. We here at Gadgetbox consider it our solemn, patriotic duty to give these toys the thorough evaluation that they so richly deserve. Which involves the construction of a giant laser tag stadium.

[via Crunch Gear ]

Convergence mice, twice as nice

Convergence is everywhere. In fact it’s coming to this very blog entry . In close proximity I’ve come across two attempts at combining the same pair of seemingly disparate functions.

Taiwan-based EzKEY, maker of fine keyboards and mice, apparently left the blender in their experimental products lab on, accidentally yielding the 2-in-1 keypad mouse (pictured, left). This two-button optical mouse, complete with scroll wheel, has a secret under its shell. Flip up the transparent plastic cover and you’ve got yourself a full numeric keypad, with all of the keys of your dreams: er, numbers, +, -, /, *, Enter, and the ever-useful “000” key (when one zero just isn’t enough).

But despite their claims of “patent-pending” technology, EzKEY isn’t alone in this market. France-based Lexibook has countered with the world’s first USB Mouse Calculator (though not, as you might first think, for calculating mice ). Featuring two buttons and a scroll wheel, the Mouse Calculator one-ups EzKEY’s offering by being a self-sufficient calculator in addition to working as your numeric keypad, with a twelve-digit LCD display and memory functionality. But it does fall behind in one critical area, offering only a two zero “00” key. And thus, the zero key arms race continues unabated.

Whichever way you go, you’ll be glad that you no longer have to find room in your cramped laptop bag for both a mouse and a numeric keypad. Remember, technology convergence is here to help you. By adding buttons. Lots of buttons.

[via Ubergizmo: 2-in-1 keypad mouse; Mouse Calculator ]

Always insist on genuine penguin-brewed tea

Brewing the perfect cup of tea is not a science: it’s a fine art. Being a tea drinker in America can be difficult, where consumption of the beverage is often considered a bare step above eating paste. If you can, follow Douglas Adams’s advice on preparation. If not, get yourself a penguin.

Yes, a penguin.

Penguins, you see, are well known for the ability to concoct a perfect cup of tea. They possess an innate sense of timing that allows them to brew a tea which is strong and yet not overpowering. If possible, get one with a top hat. Like this fellow here.

Okay, he’s not a real penguin, so you can’t expect traditional penguin-based results. But he can still help you with your tea preparation. Hook your tea bag onto his beak (warning: do not try with an actual penguin, as this is considered a gross insult). On his side, you’ll find a timer that you can set to your desired brewing time (again, do not attempt with a live penguin, who will probably try to peck your eyes out). Once the desired time is reached, the penguin will remove your tea bag from the cup, leaving you with a well-steeped cuppa.

The Penguin Teaboy will cost you about $19. For comparison’s sake, importing a genuine tea-brewing Antarctic penguin can easily run you into the thousands of dollars. This ersatz penguin may not make as good a cup of tea, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made.

[via Red Ferret ]

And now I find myself fancying a cup of tea prepared by my own incomparable penguin valet, Ernesto. We’ll see you back here next week.

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