Vibrating rings to guide those with no sense of direction

Let your fingers do the vibrating
I believe it was Brian Wilson who penned the words “Good Vibrations,” meaning positive feelings and all things groovy (not going stark-raving nuts and spending a decade in bed as befell Mr. Wilson). But maybe it was this device he was actually referring to. A set of vibrating rings (mind out of the gutter, please) guide the wearer in the right direction: left ring for turn left, right ring for turn right, both rings for you’re going the wrong way, dumbass.

Based on GPS technology, they steer the wearer in the right direction until they reach their ultimate destination. It sounds clever, but I don’t really see this catching on too well. Most GPS technology commonly found in cars tends to send people on wild goose chases. That can be phenomenally irritating when you’re driving around the same block three times, but imagine how annoyed you’ll be on foot. What would be much cooler is if you could program the rings to find the nearest bar – one buzz for you’re hammer, two for you’ve lost all motor control, three for your wife’s going to kill you if you ever get home.

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Cheap software, orange juice and a side of ham
British grocery chain Tesco’s is selling low-end office suite applications for the equivalent of about $40. Included in the line-up is a photo-editing tool and anti-virus software. Insider is trying to remember the last time he shelled out $40 for a piece of software, but it certainly wasn’t for a cheap graphics utility I can download for free. Still, I can certainly see the advantage of selling software in grocery stores. When I go shopping for kippers and porridge (a traditional English breakfast), desktop software is usually somewhere on that same list. What might be more useful than these Tesco tools is software that incorporates my security and nutritional requirements. Maybe something that keeps spam out of my inbox and Twinkies out of my stomach.

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I’m old, don’t excite me
In one Australian retirement home, the elderly are wearing RFID jewellery that can be used to locate them if they’ve fallen down or simply as a panic-alert device. That sounds fairly sensible to me, but what I can’t understand is why these devices are being called “exciters.” Surely that’s the opposite of what you need if you’re an octogenarian who’s hoping to fill his days with canasta, generous helpings of rice pudding and marathon afternoon sessions of Deal or No Deal. For some reason, I just can’t get the image of Grandpa Simpson out of my head.

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Wacky Iraqi Attack
In a slightly bizarre twist on most conventional video games (shoot anyone who isn’t obviously Caucasian), an Iranian video game developer has launched his own game where the bad guys are – yup – Americans. The game is dedicated to “defence, sacrifice and martyrdom” which is roughly the opposite of most American games where offence, heroism and blowing the living crap out of anything that looks like it might still be breathing is prized. However, this game called, interestingly enough, “Rescue the Nuke Scientist” encourages the player to kill Americans and Israelis that abducted the game’s eponymous scientist. Fair’s fair, I suppose.
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Hello, pink piece of crap
In the second of our entries featuring oddities from outside our borders, Insider presents the Hello Kitty emergency kit. This monstrosity from Sanrio will charge your cell phone, shed light on a situation with its flashlight and let you know just how dire things are with an AM/FM radio. Personally, I’m holding out for a Hong Kong Phooey emergency kit with karate-chopping action. (If you don’t know who Hong Kong Phooey is, you didn’t grow up in the 70s.)

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Luddite phone targeted towards oldsters
Finally, U.K. retailers are refusing to carry an Austrian phone designed for the elderly that because its missing their target market. The phone, according to this BBC article, costs £170 and “features easy-to-use buttons, a simple display and a large red panic switch on its back.” Retailers argue that not enough people want to buy the thing. Organizations representing the elderly are fighting back and accusing them of ageism.

Let’s face it: Any phone that is targeted towards the geriatric set isn’t going to win over too many iPhone worshippers. Personally, I’d like a phone with a single button on it: one that calls my girlfriend telling her I’m going to be late for dinner and will probably just grab a burger on the way home.

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Digg users dig Digg
It turns out that the most popular topic on article finder Digg is . . . Digg. According to this article, a full 20 per cent of articles found on the site are about the site itself. It’s kind of antithetical, but the one thing I’ve learned about online communities is that they can’t be controlled. MySpace is learning this the hard way, and I imagine it’s only a matter of time before it completely implodes. Digg, at least, has a structure (whereas MySpace, IMHO, is turning into freeform uselessness), and if people want to use that structure to promote the site itself, then that’s just peachy. I admit, some of what’s featured in Insider comes from Digg (including this entry), and that, to me, proves that Digg is working the way its supposed to. However, if Digg articles top the 50 per cent mark (i.e. half of Digg’s content is devoted to itself) then it’s game over. Thoughts?
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Update: Paul McNamara, the author of the post Insider linked to, wrote in with a small correction.
“Thanks for the link. One correction to note. The article says that 20% of Digg’s Top 100 stories for the past 365 days were about Digg, not that “a full 20 per cent of articles found on the site are about the site itself.” Thought you might want to clarify.”

Can you hear me now?
Insider owns a cell phone, but I tend to use it sparingly. Others use their cell phones as their main means of communicating with the outside world. That’s fine too. Where I tend to draw a line is when people feel the need to use cell phones under water. It’s bad enough when people take their phones into the toilet with them but there are some places where phones really don’t belong. But, unsurprisingly, that hasn’t stopped a Japanese firm, in this case its Fujitsu, from making a waterproof phone. I’m not 100 per cent sure where these devices will get the most use – in the shower? – but I’d say a good rule of thumb is, if you’re not a lifeguard, a Navy Seal or a hot tub salesman, you probably don’t need one. I’ll also accept swimsuit model, septic tank repairman or if you work at SeaWorld. I’d say that just about covers it.

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Vixens from the great beyond
I’m sure many of you have seen Barberella – a svelt Jane Fonda mooning around in a silly space costume – or perhaps green-skinned alien femme fatales wearing silver bikinis from the Shatner-era Star Trek. Well, science has finally brought us closer to fantasy. A professor of aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a “skin-tight” space suit that can withstand the inky black vacuum outside our atmosphere. It’s not as sexy as one might hope, but whoever wrote the headline for this article is clearly hoping Angelina Jolie will be on the next Mars Mission. Nice try, but it’ll probably be a balding 45-year-old with a Tang fetish. Dude, just rent Tomb Raider already.

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Laptop in limbo
You’d think with all the negativity around Best Buy’s Geek Squad lately, they’d be a bit more forthcoming with this woman’s laptop. She sent it to the lads at Geek Squad who then forwarded it over to HP who then presumably lost it. Understandably upset, the women wrote to consumer advocate site The Consumerist with her tale. The site’s advice? Call Mark Hurd. That’s not bad. Really, the best thing to do is generate as much negative publicity for Best Buy as possible and shame them into replacing the laptop. But a company that’s already survived employees spying on clients in the shower is probably impervious to the steely eye of the mighty media. Insider believes the best way to go here is avoid Best Buy altogether for your repair needs and support your local reseller. (This message brought to you by Computer Dealer News where our motto is: If you can’t buy it through the channel, you shouldn’t be buying it at all.)
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Finally, a good use for the Zune
An entrepreneur has found a great way to prevent iPods from getting stolen: hide it in a Zune. It’s hard to say whether this product is legit or not, but it appears to be a fake Zune shell that can be used to hide an iPod. In some ways, I feel sorry for the Zune, but then I come to my senses and realize there’s nothing to be sorry about. Microsoft is attempting to cash in on a market that was kick-started by Apple and they’re finding it harder than they thought. But the brilliant thing about the “Hide-a-Pod” is the simplicity of its design. After all, teenagers have been sneaking porn into high schools for decades by tucking magazines into text books. Why mess with the classics?

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A really, really old fish
In Insider’s ongoing efforts to keep his readers up to date with extinct species, I present to you one that defies attempts to wipe it out. This species of fish, the coelacanth, was thought to have been wiped out eons ago, yet the darn things keep popping up. It’s the only type of animal to have a joint that separates its brain and ears from its eyes and nose. I’ll admit, I have no idea what that means, but I can only assume that summer allergies are less of a pain in the ass. I’ve been sneezing my face off lately and I’m sick of it. Where was I? Oh yes. The coelacanth is still alive, despite the fact that people keep fishing for it. It’s like trying to prove that people actually still drink Kool-Aid by pouring a couple of pitchers down the sink.

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