Awesome Stuff: Tinkerer Tech

For this week’s awesome stuff, we’ve got an assortment of technological tidbits for folks who like the customizable, the utilitarian, and the scientific.

Trickey: Any Key, Anwhere

For all the huge variety of input devices on the market, there is a surprising dearth of truly customizable ones. Some gamer’s keyboards have settings and configurations and maybe a few modular pieces, but Trickey takes things to new level with a very simple idea: building the function for each key into the key itself, rather than into the board it connects to. This way, rearranging your input is as simple as popping out keys and plugging them in where you want them. It’s a great idea that definitely has applications for gaming and a wide variety of design and creative tasks that use special software, but its one big drawback is the expense: unless the relatively small modular units can be brought down in price, building anything more than a simple four- or five-key custom interface is probably more than most people will want to shell out for.

The PocketLab

Smartphones have put a wide variety of advanced sensors into everyone’s pocket, but as useful as this is, there are limits based on the fact that you usually want to keep your phone close and not put it in a great deal of danger. The PocketLab offloads these sensors — a barometer, accelerometer, thermometer, magnetometer and gyroscope — into a rugged standalone unit that communicates with your phone and the cloud. Now the readings-curious can strap it to a rocket, toss it off a cliff or subject it to whatever other abuse seems likely to produce some interesting data.

VIS: Useful Power

USB power banks are everywhere these days, with little to distinguish them other than price and capacity. But the creators of VIS realized that a portable battery can have all sorts of additional uses beyond charging your devices, and built them into a slick-looking unit. The VIS serves as a flashlight, and emergency lantern and — in an inspired bit of design that suddenly feels obvious — a jumpstarter for your car with the included jumper-cable attachment.

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Comments on “Awesome Stuff: Tinkerer Tech”

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16 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Trickey reminds me

of a low tech version of Ergodex. Unfortunately, it seems that Ergodex hasn’t created any drivers since Windows XP. But there does seem to be some community supported drivers for current versions of Windows.
In any case, imaging a flat tablet that up to 50 keys can be stuck on with any rotation or location. The Trickey systems seems to only allow placement in a rectangular grid.

Anonymous Coward says:

And for making a web-site, Kickstarter rakes off TEN PERCENT!

While taking ZERO responsibility for even outright scams. Honest people expect Kickstarter to do minimal checking and provide some insurance — due diligence as any business is required — but no. So far Kickstarter is getting away with the fiction that it’s just a platform. Hasn’t been sued only because lawyers cost far more than each individual loses, but that’s why class-action lawsuits exist.

1-percenter Masnick wrote two weeks ago that he’s not upset at being ripped off for twenty bucks, even implying that you should expect it! You’re certainly getting nothing for the TEN PERCENT Kickstarter takes off the top.

>>> “The VIS serves as a flashlight, and emergency lantern and — in an inspired bit of design that suddenly feels obvious — a jumpstarter for your car with the included jumper-cable attachment.” — You clearly don’t drift through the auto / camping / gadget section of Harbor Freight or Wal-Mart often: those are routine. A jumpstart from small gadgets, however, relies mostly on well-known fact of car battery recovering after a first attempt.

Max (profile) says:

Re: Re: And for making a web-site, Kickstarter rakes off TEN PERCENT!

Ehh, well, yes and no. On the one hand, there’s not much that a disgruntled backer presently can do other that not using the service, and Kickstarter’s rather infuriating “all we care about is us getting our cut (for running a bloody webserver – exceedingly poorly) and absolutely nothing else: pay up and shut up or go away” current attitude really doesn’t help things.

On the other hand, Kickstarter really is the only place where anything non-mainstream can hope to come into existence, so once one experienced the thrill of assisting to the birth of something that one wants but could otherwise not hope to get, it’s rather hard to just turn your back to it on principle. That, however does not mean one is looking to get ripped off – and not every scam is obviously detectable.

Ultimately, it’s still early days for crowd-funding, but more accountability in some form is definitely needed. I don’t know what the future of crowdfunding is, but I do know one thing with 100% certainty: Kickstarter IN ITS CURRENT FORM ISN’T IT. Perhaps they can ponder that for a while, or see someone else eat their lunch, soon enough.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: And for making a web-site, Kickstarter rakes off TEN PERCENT!

Do you not see the contradiction inherent in what you say?

In one breath, you say that Kickstarter basically does nothing, is useless, is bad at its job, requires no work, etc. In the next, you say that it’s the only way for small creators to get funding and make something a reality.

So, if Kickstarter sucks so much, why is it the only way? Why are there not lots and lots of equally popular alternatives? Why is it so advantageous and unique for creators? If Kickstarter’s cut is so ridiculous and unfair, why aren’t there a bunch of other sites offering the same service without taking a cut?

Like it or not, Kickstarter provides a really good platform that a lot of people find great to use. I don’t see what it is that you think is so poor about what they do. And honestly, it does not seem to be overrun with “scams” — anyone who says that is, at best, lumping together a couple genuine (and rarely successful) attempts at scams with a bunch of other projects that simply failed or didn’t go according to plan.

It has been my experience — and it’s my guess with the people who immediately start complaining about KS in these comments, including you — that they are primarily motivated by one or two personal disappointments. I’ve seen the rage that Kickstarter failures bring (I’ve even succumbed to it on a couple of occasions) but translating it into accusing the whole operation of being a complicit den of thieves seems counterproductive.

Max (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 And for making a web-site, Kickstarter rakes off TEN PERCENT!

No, I do not see the contradiction you purport to have found.

See, I could take a long piece of marking tape, wrap it around four trees, declare the land inside a marketplace and start charging for admittance – if I’m yelling loud enough about it and I’m lucky enough, the place may well become a meeting place providing value to sellers and buyers (and more importantly, a steady income to me) without that ever implying I do any kind of honest work to deserve that once that tape is in place and the place has some fame. And if my “marketplace” ever ends up crawling with pick-pockets and thieves, a “middle finger” attitude from me the owner instead of hiring some security would be rather inappropriate and rightly infuriating.

I could go on – and on – and on all day about the piss-poor job KS does (entirely beyond their cavalier attitude towards other people’s money), but I have better things to do today than trying to change the mind of someone obviously not arguing in good faith. KS provides value IN SPITE of all their long list of shortcomings, not BECAUSE of it – but it would be so easy to come up with a superior service it’s not even funny. That’s about all I wish to say here on this – have a nice day…

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 And for making a web-site, Kickstarter rakes off TEN PERCENT!

How am I not “arguing in good faith”?

Let’s make this simple: if you’re going to suggest KS is “crawling with thieves” then you need to provide some evidence of that. I just don’t see it. I’ve backed lots of projects, and perused & followed many more, and I don’t see this infestation you’re talking about.

And if it’s so easy to come up with a superior service, then why don’t you or someone else just do that right now? A moment ago, you said KS was “the only place” — that seems to me like proof that creating a superior service isn’t so easy.

Anon says:

Trickey and Pocket Lab ...

are both something I would buy, depending on ease-of-use details. Unlike many efforts, for some reason I find both of these extremely appealing.

Trickey could solve the problem of playing PC games in front of a TV, where holding a large keyboard is clumsy. Integrating it as a wireless “keyboard” would help here. But details matter.

Pocket lab, if easy to use, is so appealing that it would be worth also buying a small tablet just to play with it in different situations. The accumulated learning experience could be terrific. Again, details of interface/display ease matter.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

As a left-hander who uses my mouse and keyboard left-handed

…that is, my mouse (Trackball) is on the left side. I’ve been quite frustrated with all the gaming keypad designs that are right-handed when they could easily be made to be ambidextrous. Then again, there are very few hand-neutral mice, none that are gaming mice.

This is partially alleviated given that the number pad and directional / control islands on the keyboard are pretty good layouts. Certainly better than the WASD layout on the left side, and with Autohotkey, I’ve been able to create control schemes even when games don’t allow for customizable key layouts, or arbitrarily block out certain sets of keys from use or reassignment.

Ninja (profile) says:

That custom keys seems awesome but… The price is simply too high. Still, here’s hoping it gets cheaper when they start producing it seriously.

That multipurpose power bank (VIS) is insanely useful for plenty of reasons. In a single relatively small pack you have 3-4 charges to your phone, easy to use lights, dead battery starter and more. That’s definitely something I’d buy and it’s not that expensive. And with the careful, planed presentation of the product it seems we’ll see it in the market soon enough.

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