Kickstarter Project: Stackerware

I stumbled across this great project on  KickStarter tonight, and they are in need in help to get their project off the ground.

The idea is fairly simple:  easily stackable food storage containers in three sizes (16, 24, and 32oz) with interchangeable lids.  A couple of things set this project apart from others on the market:  first is a patent pending storage system with hooks that allows for a wide range of storage options, and second is the materials used.  The containers are microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe as well as certified BPA free.  What this means is that they can be easily organized and kept track of so gone are the days of cluttered drawers and cabinets of mismatched lids and containers, as are the frustrations of lids shrinking or containers warping and no longer being usable.

You can find more info on the project here .



Teknoholics Project: Mobile File sharing with PirateBox/LibraryBox









Last summer an interesting Kickstarter project launched, and was quickly funded at more than ten times it's requested ammount.  The project was LibraryBox 2.0, a fork of the GNU GPLv3 licensed PirateBox art project by Dr. David Darts.  The initial concept was to transform any space into a temporary communication and wireless file sharing network. When users join the PirateBox wireless network and open a web browser, they are automatically redirected to the PirateBox welcome page. Users can then immediately begin chatting and/or uploading or downloading files.

LibraryBox takes PirateBox to a little safer ground by sharing a library of files but no longer allowing people who connect to it the ability to upload potentially copywritten materials.  The idea was the brain child of Jason Griffey an associate professor and head of Library Information Technology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  His thought was that taking such a system into areas with limited or no internet access with a library of books, learning materials, disaster survival materials etc. could be of great assistance in disaster recovery areas, or foreign countries where access to the internet is severely regulated.

The project was featured in this months issue of MAKE: magazine, and since I already had the materials needed on hand I decided to play around with it to see how easy it was to get up and running.

The foundation that the project is built on is a small wireless router from TP-Link, the MR3020.  This small portable router is desgned to be used with 3G USB modems to share cellular data connections via wi-fi.  The software of the router is overwritten with a program called OpenWRT, which for all intents and purposes turns the router into a web server.

The next thing that is needed is USB storage to house the files that are going to be shared.  I used the Leef Fuse 2.0 32GB High-speed USB Flash Drive with Magnet Cap and PrimeGrade Memory (Charcoal/Black).  I had other USB flash drives around, but this was the smallest with a decent capacity to be able to store data.

While that is all that is needed, to make my setup a little more portable and easier to deploy, I added a 12000mAh portable power bank that I had laying around.

So for you to build the exact setup I have put together would be less than $100.  For that money you get a completely mobile filesharing device with 8-12 hours of uptime before it needs to be plugged in!  Not a bad setup.  You can use it to share files at a LAN Party, to share information at an outdoor event, or even as a kind of Digital GeoCache, where people can check-in on the wall to prove that they found it, and download a file or upload a file as well.  The options are endless, and changes are relatively easy to make.

You can find the original project and instructions for the PirateBox here.  Information on Jason Griffey's LibraryBox fork is available here, or in MAKE Volume 37, page 74.

This is what you see in Terminal once you have connected to your MR3020 for the first time after it has been modified

Uploading files and leaving notes on the chat board are easy tasks to accomplish

The main page information link takes you to this captive page with more details about the PirateBox concept

Kickstarter Project: Dustcloud

Dustcloud is an interesting new Kickstarter project that has me intrigued.  The idea and proof of concept evolved in Prague during 2012, while the people involved worked together in a bar in the old city.  They came up with a spy game, and started brainstorming how they could make it work online.  The result took them to China to design hardware, and resulted in an ambitious project.  Their goal is to build a combination social network and online role playing game based on cold-war era espionage and assassination.


The only issue is that it's ultimate success will depend greatly on rapid adoption.  In Europe it would be easier, as travel between countries is much more common, but in the USA unless a large number of players in major cities are involved it would become boring pretty quickly.  It is definitely an interesting idea, and one that I plan to keep an eye on though.

You can find more details here.

Kickstarter Project: Geek A Week Year Five Two

For several years artist Len Peralta has been drawing Geek trading cards in his "Geek-A-Week" series.  It started as paintings which were published on his website, and then ThinkGeek actually printed up and sold the first series.  Since then he has relied on KickStarter to fund additional expansion, and he is getting ready to start on his 4th set, titled Year Five Two.  I've long been a fan of Peralta's work, and have all of the cards printed so far, so when I got an email from him today announcing this project's release I had to get it out to all of you.  Follow the link below and take a look at his work, the new designs, and the rewards available.  Len is a very talented artist who has done a lot to help further the advancement of Geek culture with the campy style of this painting series.

Geek A Week: Year Five Two by Len Peralta — Kickstarter:

Help artist Len Peralta create 52 brand new Geek A Week cards! Another full year! New design, new geeks!

Review: SkyDog Smart Family Wi-Fi Router

When SkyDog launched a KickStarter campaign in April, it struck a cord with families.  A Web-controlled router giving you very targeted control of al devices and people accessing your wireless network.  They raised 162% of their requested funding in just over a month, and their product just released to the public this week.  I got a-hold of their Skydog Web App and Smart Family Wi-Fi Router to try in out house, and I'm not ever going back to a normal router.

Powercloud Systems, the company behind SkyDog has built a very well thought out and functional product.  I get a text alert and email any time an unknown device connects to the router.  I can then ban it if it is unknown, leave it with the default security access on the router, or assign it to a known user so that it receives the limits I have set for that person.  

While that may not make sense to all of you, here is an example that will:  My son connects to the wireless network with his Xbox to play a game.  I have already set his access to limit use to certain times of day, and to further limit his access to appropriate sites during the time he has access.  As soon as the xbox connects it gets the default access level (family safe browsing/streaming) for the network he is attached to, and as soon as I tell the router it is the boy, his access increases during allowed hours, and is turned off during limited time slots.  If he wants to stay up a little later than usual because there is no school tomorrow, I can override his turnoff time for just tonight by hitting the override button and setting a time limit.  Here is what his access profile looks like:

What makes this even better is that I can set up multiple virtual networks and limit the ammount of our internet bandwidth each network can access.  In real world application the network is set up like this:

So my wife and I connect to the main network with 75% of the bandwidth.  All of the streaming boxes except for the sons XBox connect to the main network as well.  The kids are sequestered to their own virtual network, where I can make sure that their usage doesn't interfere with anyone's TV watching.

In all there is much more control than this, and we may dial things down even more in time.  The big thing is how easy it is to use this system, and being able to put so much control into anyone's hands to limit access to their home networks.

I highly recomend this router to anyone wanting to make sure they know what and when their kids are on the internet.

Things they sent me to review

OK, this has been a crazy summer filled with construction dust and contractors while we remodeled our kitchen.  normally each of these products would have their own post, but I am buried under review units and need to catch up, so we will do quick hits on everything.

Atari Arcade Duo

The Atari Arcade for iPad

The Atari Arcade is very cool if you love classic gaming and still have an iPad 2/3 laying around.  It is powered by the 30-pin connector on your iPad, so no batteries are wasted.  Would have been better if they had added a USB or 30-pin port to the back to charge through though.  In all it works nicely and gives you that satisfying arcade joystick feel to bring games like Pac-Man back to their visceral glory.  Can be found cheap online.


HP X2 Windows 8 Convertable Tablet/Laptop
The HP X2 windows 8 Tablet with Laptop Dock

The X2 is the first Windows laptop/tablet I have liked in a long time.  Light weight and sturdy, the X2 is decently powered and makes great use of the Windows 8 Modern UI with it's responsive touchscreen and above average spec sheet.  I love that the keyboard dock doubles battery life (up to 16 hours of moderate use) without adding too much weight.  If I wanted to go back to windows, this would get me there.

Rymdkapsel - iOS Game

Rymdkapsel, an interesting new iOS RTS game

Rymdkapsel is short on graphics, but long on re-play ability and challenging.  You need to manage resources and workers to defend your outpost while trying to complete various missions and defending yourself against waves of attacking enemies.  This game has me turning my back on casual games for hours at a time.

Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8" Tablet

The Samsung Galaxy Note has done the is an Android device I could see myself using every day.  I haven't had a lot of love for Android in the past, but this combination of form factor and the pressure-sensitive stylus has me warming to the idea.  The Galaxy Tab 8.0 has 1.5GB RAM, 16GB Storage, and a SnapDragon 800 1.5Ghz processor, giving it plenty of power to run any application.  When combined with the ChromeCast it becomes an easy home entertainment center as well.  The thing that I love the most is the stylus and how easily it adapts to drawing and note taking.  If you miss the days of your Palm Pilot and decent handwriting recognition, but want a display large enough to comfortably read book and watch video, this is the tablet to get for now.

Sega Genesis Ultimate Portable Game Center

The Sega Genesis Ultimate Portable Game Player

A handheld that knows what it is and does itself proud, I love having 80 Genesis classics at my finger tips for some retro gaming on demand.  It's downfall is that it doesn't save game progress, so RPG mainstays like Phantasy Star would be pointless. If you are looking to re-gain some of your youth and are OK with only having the platform and arcade titles to draw from, you can do a lot worse than this $59 wonder.

Sega Genesis Arcade Nano - Virtua Fighter Edition

The Sega Genesis Arcade Nano

This little wonder serves to illustrate just how far computing and video games have come in my lifetime.  This little keychain has as much computing power as the Sega Genesis console, and includes the contents of 10 game cartidges besides.  Easily hooks up to any TV and provides quick easy gaming fun for you or your kids.  For $19.99 you can't go wrong.  Also available in a puzzle games version with Columns and 9 other titles.

Credit Card Lightbulb

The Credit Card Light Bulb

Not much surprise here.  Flip up the bulb and it turns on.  Fairly bright and super reliable.  Would be great for emergency kits and cars, or to carry in your gear bag just in case.


Impossible Instant Lab

The Impossible Instant Lab

 This was one of the first really big KickStarter campaigns to draw wide-spread attention, and there is good reason.  With photo applications like Instagram and Hipstamatic taking over the camera phone market with their oddly retro photo effects, bringing back physical old school poloroids isn't a huge jump.  Being able to attach your iPhone to the device and transfer your instagram greatness in physical form is pretty cool, but can get expensive due to hard-to-find film cartidges.  Impossible thought this through though, and they have supplies available to keep you in instamatic film for as long as you would like.  The film is still a bit pricey (a 10 shot cartridge still runs about $25), but the novelty makes it a huge hit.  Available from Impossible for $299.00


Kickstarter Project: Sound Band

A new company named Hybra Advance Technology, Inc. from Traverse City, MI has launched an interesting KickStarter project called Sound Band.  It is a wireless headset that uses sound surface technology instead of speakers for better sound without negatively impacting your ability to hear sounds around you.

They have already completed three design revisions, and are looking for funding to enter production with the fourth design, and have already reached their funding goal in one week.  This is a great project and an interesting new move in wireless portable sound.  Take a look and consider backing them!