David Blaine’s failed attempt at breaking the world record for holding his breath underwater for longer than 8 minutes, 58 seconds has not deterred him from trying again. That’s right, according to People Magazine, Blaine wants to try the stunt once more, but without being immersed in a tank for a week. He was released from the hospital on Tuesday and is feeling fine.Unless you’ve been locked up in a 2,000-gallon tank of water yourself, then you’ve probably already heard about David Blaine’s latest stunt: to hold his breath underwater longer than 8 minutes, 58 seconds, which is currently the world record. Blaine has trained for the event with an elite free-diving team led by trainer Kirk Krack.
He has been immersed in an 8-foot acrylic sphere full of 2,000 gallons of 98.6-degree F water for seven days and nights in front of the Lincoln Center in NYC. Drowned Alive will appear tonight at 8pm on ABC where he will hold his breath in hopes of a victory.Rather than watching him on TV, fellow GearLogger PJ Jacobowitz and I decided to venture to Lincoln Center for a hands-on look at the daredevil himself. We didn’t arrive empty-handed though. We decided to bring along a new product we’ve received in the PC Magazine Labs: SKB’s DryPod: a protective, waterproof plastic casing, currently available for the 4Gen iPod and iPod with video. Luckily, PJ felt brave enough to use his iPod with video for the test. Our plan was to put the case on the iPod, immerse it in a vase full of water, then bring it to Blaine to show him the fun he could be having while underwater.When we arrived, there he was: looking like a big fish, waving to everyone, probably bored out of his mind, with an oxygen mask and liquid nutrition being fed to him through a tube. Nuts I tell ya! Still, you couldn’t help but be fascinated.After being interviewed by Telemundo, we were able to get up close and personal with Blaine, by walking right up to the sphere and taking a picture while listening to some Weezer. He gave us a thumbs-up. So far, the DryPod has held its breath for 3 hours and 46 minutes.
It works very well underwater, and Weezer sounded great.The DryPod comes with a stainless steel belt clip, arm band, lanyard with clip, and adapter for other headphones with different angle plugs. Both the SKB-9000 for the color iPod and the SKB-9001 DryPod for the video iPod sell for $44.95.SKB plans on releasing a DryPod for the iPod nano near the end of June or July.Want to see more pics of David Blaine and the DryPod?
Big props to Engadget for getting a Helio Kickflip before I did – word on the street is they actually shelled out some cash to buy one, as opposed to waiting for the loaners that most tech journalism runs on. But there seems to be a lot of UD (uncertainty and doubt, without fear) about Helio both on the Engadget Mobile comments thread and on the Howard Forums discussion board, so I thought I’d clear some things up with 10 answers.1.
Helio, as it’s shipping now, is not a power user carrier or an Internet focused carrier. It is a carrier targeted at young people with relatively deep pockets and a love for social networking. Keep that in mind when you look at their services. Yes, this approach makes me sad, as you know; I’ve been told it may change in the future, and I hope it does.2. No, you cannot connect your Helio phone to your PC as a modem so your PC can access the Internets.3. No, it doesn’t have a Web browser. Only WAP. I’m not sure whether you’ll be able to load the third-party Opera Mini browser, though — that’s something I aim to check out.4. No, it doesn’t have Bluetooth.5. No, it doesn’t have a native email client. You access email through WAP.(If answers 2-5 concern you, look again at answer #1. This is not a power user service right now. It’s for people who want a great-looking cell phone with a good camera and lots of games that posts to MySpace.)6. No, you can’t use the Helio phones on Verizon or Sprint or any other carrier, and you can’t use Verizon or Sprint phones on Helio. If you like the phones, subscribe to the carrier.7. No, it’s not going to be sold in any countries other than the US for now. While I could imagine them expanding into Canada in theory, they’re definitely not going to Europe or any other continents. With a US-based subscription, the Helio phones can roam in 36 countries including China, India, and South Korea (if they have roaming agreements) — but they’re doorstops in western Europe.8. Yes, all of this may change, and soon.
Helio has said they’ll be releasing more power-user devices in the future. Sky Dayton ruled out PC-modem tethering in an interview with Gizmodo recently, but he’s changed his mind about things before.9. Yes, you can put your own media on the device, as long as it isn’t DRMed. The phones come with a Windows (not Mac) app called Media Mover that will supposedly reformat videos for the phone. I’m still not sure whether you can use your own media as ringtones, though. I’ll have to check that out.10. Yes, Helio’s primary network for now is Sprint. They’re using Sprint’s network for EV-DO coverage, their coverage map is identical to the one on the Sprint Web site, and the data services will work when you’re in a Sprint EV-DO city. But they have deals with Verizon as well, so their coverage may improve/expand.More soon, when I get the phone. I promise.
Do you mock the peons who merely read the Robb Report, as opposed to living it? Then you’re ready for Voce, the new wireless carrier targeted at the super-high-end customer. Voce (pronounced “voh-chay”) is launching very quietly (ssh) with 500 hand-picked users in the LA area later this month; it will spread to upscale department stores and boutique retailers in New York, San Francisco and LA in September.
Voce plans come with unlimited minutes, directory assistance and messaging (that’s “messaging,” not “massaging”), handset insurance, a starter phone and annual free replacement phones, three phone chargers, a Bluetooth headset, a 24-hour concierge service, and on site tech support. Yes, a guy will come to your office to show you how to use your phone. High quality customer support is basically what you’re paying for here.If you want to travel internationally with a Voce phone — and oh, you will — Voce’s customer service team will match you with the “ideal wireless solution” for your roaming needs, even supplying you with special handsets for those thorny Japanese and Korean networks. You also get discounts on various high-end travel services, like luggage shipping.
Voce’s four launch phones (at right) include the Nokia 8801 and three custom-colored versions of the Motorola RAZR V3, in black leather, “camel” and white. None of these phones are particularly exciting feature-wise, but that’s fine because Voce is a voice-focused carrier. Still, though, I’d imagine Voce’s target market would like them to throw in a Blackberry or two. (When I spoke to Voce CEO Steve Stanford last December, he mentioned the 3-megapixel camera smartphone Nokia N80 as an example of a more technology-focused handset they might release.) All the phones will be unlocked, so you can use your French SIM card when you’re at your chateau.When I spoke to Stanford, he said the service will initially use Cingular’s network and that they’re looking into some sort of high-speed data solution, possibly using Cingular’s HSDPA system once it’s built out beyond the 16 cities it’s currently in. The key is for service to appear seamless, high-quality, and easy, Stanford said.How much does this cost? Back in December, they wanted to charge $500/month. Now, they say they’ve changed the pricing, but they won’t tell me what it is. Clearly, if you have to ask, daaaaaaaahling, it’s too much for you.Find out more at Voce’s Web site. Daaaaaaaaahling.
These are scary statistics: over 1 million children in the U.S. are reported missing each year. What’s even scarier is that 270,000 are abducted by their own family members*. As a society, we realize that we can’t keep an eye on our children every second of the day, but there are ways to keep track of their whereabouts and alert them if they are in danger.Thanks to CATS Communication and Wonder Boy Foundation, now you can help keep your family safe with just a computer and a GPS phone. Dubbed CATTrax, the technology is a location based service that allows parents to keep track of children through a GPS cell phone and alerts them when their child is in a sexual predator zone. Parents can view their children’s whereabouts on a map on a computer by logging in to their CATTrax account.
Then they can see how fast their children are traveling and even their approximate location.I’m no parent, so we asked Lance Ulanoff, Editor of Reviews of PC Magazine, to weigh in his thoughts on this family protection system:I love the idea of being able to know where my kids are at all times. My wife and I are already incredibly paranoid parents. We always know where our kids are—because we never let them out of our sights. Yes, they go to school and an occasional play date. But neither my 7 year old nor my 11 year old has gone to the store on their own or even around the block. Okay, there was that one time that my son took off around the block and we cornered him by my wife going one way and I the other.CATTrax is, of course, a great idea for tween and teen parents. It’s probably the only good reason to give any child or teen a cell phone: to track their whereabouts via GPS. I can imagine my wife sitting at her laptop with CATTrax, calling out my son’s position as he goes from street to street: “He’s on Oak…Okay he’s turning left. Now he’s on Smith..wait. he’s turning back, now he’s going forward again—I bet he picked up a something off the street..he’s on Sunrise. Wait, I’ve lost him. He must be in the mall…”The concept of adding predator zone is intriguing, but I’m not buying it. Of course the press release doesn’t really flesh out how this will work.
But I have an idea. We already get notifications in the mail every time a “predator” has moved into our neighborhood. This is a convicted sex offender who is now out of jail and living near us. He isn’t identified by name, but we know he’s nearby. I guess the Cattrax people get those pieces of info and the general location of the convict and overlay that on the GPS.Still how accurate or useful will this be? If it’s by zip then one bad guy living 10 blocks from me and Cattrax would have my entire neighborhood lit up as a predator zone. And, of course, Cattrax is useless if the predator is new and unknown to authorities. In the end, any place can be a predator zone. My plan for keeping my kids safe is to tell them—as I have been for years:Do not talk to strangers. Do not talk to people who pull up along side you in their car.
Do not go into strange homes.And, for as long as they’ll let me: Do not leave my sight.Currently, CATTrax works on the Sprint IDEN network only, on the following cell phone models: Nextel i275, Nextel i760, and Nextel i850. The company is working on providing the service on additional carriers. Call 1.877.229.CATS to activate the service.
The Brenthaven Edge bag (right) is so edgy that it’s not even on Brenthaven’s Web site yet; but it will be available in a few weeks for $49.95. My kinda price. I can tell you that Blogging Molly loved it. I tried it for a day on my treacherous smooth daily commute and no one got hurt. It served as a great “table” while I sat on the subway balancing a book, a yoga mat, and a bag lunch. I’m sure my fellow passengers were totally jealous. (That’s why they were staring at me, right?)The Edge is nice and slim with just room enough for your laptop, power supply, and important papers. It’s nice and light–only 1.6 lbs–with an adjustable shoulder strap, which, like all shoulder straps digs in a bit. And, like the Shling bag that my co-worker Laarni tried out, it can cause some awkwardness if you’re well-endowed.
You can also carry it like a briefcase, but when not in use, that strap is recessed, so it’s out of the way and retains the bag’s sleek look.What would The Edge think of it?I especially liked the light blue color and the orange lining inside. Go Mets! (The bag is also available in black, in case you’re a Yankees fan. Shudder.) And you can even use your laptop right inside the bag–great for planes, trains, and even automobiles, although the thought of that last option makes me a wee bit carsick. If you’ve got more to carry, the Metro bag (left) is light, as well, but with a lot more pockets. You can stow all your gadgets and other stuff–books, papers, your teddy bear–in addition to your notebook. The bag’s got lots of padding, which is conveniently removable. The Metro has an adjustable shoulder strap with a lot more padding than the Edge, which is great for sore shoulders. I usually prefer backpacks, like the Mobile Edge Komen Paris Computer Backpack, but the Metro is a great non-backpack option. And it sells for $69.95. Not bad!
Jen DeLeo, Ben Gottesman, and I got a preview demo of an app that will be bundled with Lexar Media’s high-end, high-speed USB drives starting in July. PowerToGo, announced at CES this past January and developed by Ceedo Technologies, lets you carry your apps with you and use them on any PC, but also saves your preferences, bookmarks, cookies, history, and even temp files. When you unplug it from the host machine, it leaves nothing behind. It sounds a lot like U3, but PowerToGo differs in numerous ways, and generally looks like a more flexible platform. First, you can load and use nearly any app you want; you’re not limited to those that come loaded on the drive, as you are with U3 drives. Both platforms let you access a continually updated list of “preapproved” apps (Lexar already has about 100), which will load with a click, but you can also load your own apps as long as they are capable of being made portable; some won’t be, because they are tied too closely to the host machine.
Ceedo appears to be redirecting registry entries and the file system for PowerToGo apps, but we’ll have to wait until we’ve had more time with the drives to see exactly what they’re doing. Lexar left us with a Lightning drive loaded with PowerToGo; it’s a preproduction unit but very close to final. When you plug in the drive, an accessible, Windows-like interface opens up. To add Lexar-approved apps, just go to Add Programs and install them. FireFox and Opera browsers are available, as are AIM, Skype, RoboForm (for password management), Picasa (for image management), and lots more. Adding your own app (one that isn’t already approved by Lexar) isn’t a very intuitive process, but Lexar said that by launch time, it would be bundling a program to assist users in that. If you already own a Lexar JumpDrive you’ll be able to download PowerToGo in July. The basic program with a 90-day trial of Windows standard apps is free; an upgrade to PowerToGo Plus with unlimited use of Windows standard apps will run you $29.99. If you don’t have a Lexar drive but still want to try out PowerToGo, you can download Ceedo’s version from their web site. Or you can try building a USB key with portable apps from scratch. Check out PC Magazine’s article, the Ultimate USB Key.
We got an advance look at an interesting new laptop-bag concept from OGIO. Thanks to PC Magazine reviews editor Laarni Almendrala Ragaza, a petite female, and senior editor Sean Carroll, a strapping male, for field testing and reportage! Laarni: The idea seemed logical to OGIO: Take the innovative Shling strap from its line of golf bags and put it on a messenger-style laptop bag. But what is probably a great carrying solution on the greens doesn’t translate all that well to a day-to-day bag.
The Shling laptop bag weighs a little over 5 and a half pounds, empty; with my laptop and other neccessities, it was a bit over 14 pounds. Inside are a padded laptop pocket, 2 sleeves for papers, and some smaller pockets; outside are two bottle compartments. The most notable feature of the bag, of course, is the strap: a hard piece of plastic with padding where strap meets shoulder. The way the strap would distribute a large, unwieldy golf bag’s weight makes sense to me. In a laptop bag, not so much. I beaned myself several times before I mastered the technique of swinging the bag onto my shoulders. When I tried it on the train, I nearly knocked a fellow passenger unconscious.
The strap is designed to distribute the bag’s weight evenly and let you stand upright easily. But I found myself tilting forward anyway. And it wasn’t comfortable on my shoulders, though I tried adjusting the strap to fit my 5’1″ frame. I felt like a yoked ox. (As a woman, I felt a tad self-conscious about the way the left side of the Shling pointed directly at my cleavage.) Sean: I was painfully conscious of how ridiculous I looked in this harness. I felt the same sort of fashion shame I imagine you’d suffer if you had to wear a posture brace in high school. Finally, even though I lack Laarni’s curves, I found that the left side of the yoke dug into my chest in such way that it felt as uncomfortable on me as it looked on her.
Socknacki take: The Shling bag and its patented strap has potential, particularly if OGIO finds a way to make the strap more comfortable. And if the company bundles instructions on how to take it on and off without hurting oneself or others in the process.OGIO expects the Shling to be available in or around October, for an estimated $199; check later this year on the company’s site for details.
Today, David Soknacki released his latest policy paper on gridlock. His second paper – entitled Building Transit for the Future, Now – focuses on long-range transit issues. It builds on Soknacki’s earlier plan to use “Early Bird” free fares and other strategies to make better use of existing transit capacity.
“To get more transit now, the fastest, cheapest route is to stick to the designed, engineered and assessed plans we had before October, 2013,” he said. Soknacki outlined a “transit prime directive,” arguing that politicians shouldn’t interfere with plans that are already designed, funded and environmentally assessed, except to address residential or business concerns on a particular corridor.
With that standard in place, Soknacki supports completion of the Scarborough LRT – “the agreement for which is still in place,” the Finch West LRT, the Sheppard LRT, and the ongoing Eglinton / Eglinton Connects projects as the fastest strategy to spread rapid transit throughout Toronto. “The fastest path to new transit across Toronto is found in the plans we’ve already paid for,” he said.
On top of Soknacki’s priority list for new work: a Commuter Relief Line. “I would support funding the City’s contribution to a Relief Line with property taxes backing subway debt if necessary. However, I’m the only candidate who’s vocally honest about the need for dedicated taxes to fund new transit and transportation infrastructure, and I believe further negotiation with the province could identify funding sources that are more progressive than property taxes.”
Soknacki also had three proposals to attack other long-term TTC challenges:
- Transportation Committee / Chief Transportation Officer. Soknacki said that Toronto needs to unify transportation planning – not just at the public service level, but also at Council, “where most of the real indecision and confusion lies.” Soknacki would reorganize Council committees to create a unified transportation committee. For “legal and sentimental” reasons, councillors on the committee would still meet as the Toronto Transit Commission when conducting TTC business. Soknacki would also hire a Chief Transportation Officer, a variation on Stintz’s vague plan for a “so-called transportation ‘czar.’”
- Accessibility Improvements. Soknacki offered full support to fund backlogged access improvements to TTC stations, using debt if necessary. “Yes, the province downloaded these costs onto the TTC, but their failure to do the right thing shouldn’t stop us from doing the right thing ourselves. Our transit system must be accessible, with or without provincial funding.”
- Rights-of-Way. Finally, Soknacki proposed a long-range review of all existing rights-of-way to identify best uses for each, be they cycle routes, greenways or potential bus rapid transit routes.
Soknacki’s third paper – Transportation Choice – will speak to issues facing the majority of Toronto commuters who do not use public transit.
Toronto Mayoral candidate David Soknacki urged caution on the Chair of the Toronto Police Services Board today, arguing that it was “premature” for the Board to begin a selection process for a new Chief of Police only eighty-eight days before a citywide general election.
“The Board has full jurisdiction over the selection of a Chief, and Chair Alok Mukherjee has full jurisdiction to lead the selection process,” Soknacki said, “but that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate to exercise that authority without sensitivity to the situation at City Hall,” he said.
Soknacki raised three points to explain the need for the Board to hold off until November:
- Political figures who are briefed on aspects of the process – like, for example, Mayor Rob Ford – could use their influence to “turn every step in the selection process into a circus for political advantage,” he said.
- Soknacki noted almost half (3 of 7) of the Board’s active membership is made up of sitting councillors, two of whom are running for re-election. “I can’t imagine a productive hiring process where almost half of your Board’s leadership could turn over in less than three months.”
- While Soknacki is the only major candidate to have called for police budget and operations reforms, “the Board should allow for the possibility that the election debate could still influence the criteria they set for hiring a new Chief.” For example, if winning candidates supported policy changes to limit growth of the police budget, a chief with operational reform experience could be more appropriate than candidates with other skills or strengths.
Soknacki noted that the Chair of the Guelph Police Services Board explicitly cited the ongoing election as a factor in their decision to go slowly on replacing Chief Bryan Larkin, who announced he was leaving Guelph just days ago. “If that logic applies in a smaller city with less political controversy, it’s certainly prudent for Rob Ford’s Toronto in 2014.”
Soknacki also reaffirmed his statement yesterday that regardless of any controversies or differences of opinion, he was thankful for outgoing Chief Bill Blair’s many years of tireless public service.
For more information, please call Senior Communications Advisor Jonathan Scott* at 647-998-8461 or contact him by email at email@example.com.
*Soknacki 2014 spokesperson Supriya Dwivedi is absent today.