Fran Molloy

Aug 082009
 

If you’ve watched any late-night television at all in the last year, you’ve probably heard of a dodgy beauty device for feet called the Ped Egg, courtesy of the shudderingly awful commercial that, according to CNN, is currently the subject of a lawsuit by Kelly Parks-Corso and Jonathan Corso, the married Florida foot models starring in the ad.
PedEgg
(How does one become a Foot Model? Do Foot Models always marry other Foot Models? And is this lawsuit partly inspired by concerns these two Foot Models have about the viability of their careers, now that PedEgg is marketing Foot Beauty to the masses? Will there be a veritable flood of Foot Models storming the Foot Model market and driving Foot Model fees through the floor?)

The two Florida foot models (only in America!) claim to have been duped by Telebrands, the manufacturer of PedEgg, who applied ‘horror makeup’ to the before shots of their feet – and to top it off, didn’t pay for all the broadcast rights due to any self-respecting high-profile Foot Model.

I have deliberately digressed from describing the PedEgg in detail, dear Reader, because quite frankly the ad gave me the heebie-jeebies.

The gadget itself is essentially a cheese grater for your foot. For foot-cheese. And it collects the foot-gratings in a little container. It’s truly revolting.

The egg-shaped foot file has over 100 “stainless steel micro files” stuck to the grating side of the “convenient storage compartment.” And that’s it, that’s all it does.

To get your hands on this little beauty involves three payments of $19.95 plus postage plus handing your credit card number over to a late-night phone sales assistant. Me, I’m wearing closed-in shoes instead.

Bottom line: Foot scrapings, eeeuw!
Where: www.pedegg.com
How much : about Au $ 60

Jul 182009
 

If you have a special collection for your accountant of yellowing receipts collected in a shoebox, or you have an in-tray overflowing with bits of paper that you really must do something with sometime – you will love this gadget.

neatreceiptsThe Neat Receipts Scanner promises to “organise life’s paper trail.”

Simply fork over US $200 (or US $100 for the business card version) and you’ll be managing your paperwork with ease, apparently.

Slip each of those receipts through the Neat scanner and the software will extract the key information, plonk it into a spreadsheet and let you analyse your spending by date, amount, client, or whatever else you’d like to report on.

From a harassed messy-desk person to an obsessive bean-counter with just one small gadget? Hooray.

Let’s hope it comes with a matching plastic shirt-pocket protector!

The same company offers a sister product (not a Brother) which will extract details from the business cards you have haphazardly filed in a dusty box in the corner (or is that just me?) and enter them into your Outlook Contacts.

Future versions may even update your Facebook account, send a twitter to your family about what you’ve been buying lately and alert the ATO to any unusual activity. Who knows.

Though I do want to say “get a life,” a small part of me looks at this little scanner with lust born of repressed tidy-desk envy …

Where: www.neatreceipts.com
How much: About Au $210

Jun 122009
 

Heatable Ugg

Heatable Ugg

There’s nothing that says winter in Australia more than the wonderful sheepskin-lined footwear fondly known as the Ugg Boot.

Despite rumours that crass mag-fodder celebs like the trashy Paris Hilton have adopted our National Boot, the ugg-boot remains so practical and – let’s face it – downright ugly, that it has mostly avoided all fashion trends apart from the perpetual ‘Bogan Oz’ look.

Wikipedia calls them a ‘casual unisex boot’ and claims that sheepskin boots have featured throughout history with sixties Aussie surfer culture the latest in a string of ancient cultures to adopt the ugg.

Some ugg fanciers reckon that the ‘ugg’ title originates from the well-known feature of those uggs worn for more than one or two winters – usually, they will develop a pungent odour that quickly overpowers all other scents and those nearby may be heard to utter ‘Ugh!’ as the smell reaches them.

Whatever, there’s not been much ugg improvement since the earliest days of uggdom, apart from minor changes like mini-ugg boots to fit baby feet, short ugg-slippers for the indoor types, and pink-dyed ugg boots for chicks.

But now, gadget retailer Latest Buy is offering a heatable ugg boot. Whether you’re so  wimpy that you can’t be satisfied with the snuggly warmth of bare sheepskin or you live in one of this nation’s most chilly regions, if ugg is not enough, this gadget might just do the trick.

The heatable ugg boot is not, actually, a real ugg, made as it is from polar fleece dyed a blinding pink. (Nothing natural there, though I did wonder at first whether it might involve polar-bear fur.)

The high-tech component is the nifty inclusion of a hidden cache of wheat grains and lavender which, when heated in a microwave for two minutes, produce a toasty warm sensation which will last for hours. And no more stinky feet!

Go wild – but remember, only the original sheepskin boots will truly bring out your inner Bogan.

Bottom line: Warm your feet in these microwaveable slippers

Where:  www.latestbuy.com.au/heatable-ugg-boots.html

How much : Au $ 35

May 222009
 

The disposable razor varies in size from one blade to to six these days, the size of your razor depending on how much you’ve been sucked in by the sales departments at Gillette and Schick who are involved in an ongoing and pointless quest for world domination of the disposable razor market.

uvrazorsanitizerDo you get a closer shave with six blades than two? Dude, who cares! Grow a beard!

In fact, growing a beard may be the safest option – who knew that the humble razor could be so deadly? Apparently even the single blade numbers harbor huge quantities of Germs and Bacteria (these are indeed different things, according to the experts at gift retailer Brookstone.com.)

Yep, the good ole’ razor is most unsafe and might give you anything from minor skin bumps and irritations through to Staph. (I shudder to think what could happen if you nicked yourself with an Unclean Razor.)

But fear not, oh clean-shaven one, there is a solution. Shake your wallet out to the tune of around $30 US and you too can be the proud owner of The Razor Sanitiser, which promises to eliminate 99.9% of “germs and bacteria” in just minutes, thanks to its long-life germicidal UV bulbs.

Razor Sanitizer will suit the travelling shaver too, with its portable cordless AA-battery powered design. Until it arrives, though, I guess you could try leaving your razor on the windowsill in the sun for a bit of UV-disinfecting.

Yep, you can’t go past UV light for fast, easy, effective razor cleaning. It says so on the box.

Bottom line: Zap razor germs with hi-tech UV light (from batteries, not the sun)
Where: www.brookstone.com
How much : US $30

May 122009
 

There’s nothing that says winter in Australia more than the wonderful sheepskin-lined footwear fondly known as the Ugg Boot.

heatableUggDespite rumours that crass mag-fodder celebs (like the trashy Paris Hilton) have adopted our National Boot, the ugg-boot remains so practical and – let’s face it – downright ugly, that it has mostly avoided all fashion trends apart from the perpetual ‘Bogan Oz’ look.

Wikipedia calls them a ‘casual unisex boot’ and claims that sheepskin boots have featured throughout history with sixties Aussie surfer culture the latest in a string of ancient cultures to adopt the ugg.

Some ugg fanciers reckon that the ‘ugg’ title originates from the well-known feature of those uggs worn for more than one or two winters – usually, they will develop a pungent odour that quickly overpowers all other scents and those nearby may be heard to utter ‘Ugh!’ as the smell reaches them.

Whatever, there’s not been much ugg improvement since the earliest days of uggdom, apart from minor changes like mini-ugg boots to fit baby feet, short ugg-slippers for the indoor types, and pink-dyed ugg boots for chicks.

But now, gadget retailer Latest Buy is offering a heatable ugg boot. Whether you’re so wimpy that you can’t be satisfied with the snuggly warmth of bare sheepskin or you live in one of this nation’s most chilly regions, if ugg is not enough, this gadget might just do the trick.

The heatable ugg boot is not, actually, a real ugg, made as it is from polar fleece dyed a blinding pink. (Nothing natural there, though I did wonder at first whether it might involve polar-bear fur.)

The high-tech component is the nifty inclusion of a hidden cache of wheat grains and lavender which, when heated in a microwave for two minutes, produce a toasty warm sensation which will last for hours. And no more stinky feet!

Go wild – but remember, only the original sheepskin boots will truly bring out your inner Bogan.

Bottom line: Warm your feet in these microwaveable slippers
Where: www.latestbuy.com.au/heatable-ugg-boots.html
How much : Au $ 35

Jul 152008
 

If you’re a born luddite – or just a little on the tight-fisted side – and you’ve been lost any time in the last year, then you’ll be sick of being asked “When are you getting a GPS for the car?”
satnag
Or perhaps you’re sick of your other half constantly banging on about the dulcet tones of the ever-patient, wise and understanding Jane, who talks him through the directions to some place he’s probably been to dozens of times already.

For anyone, whatever the reason, who has resisted the exhortations of friends, family and colleagues to fork out hundreds of dollars for an irritatingly calmly-speaking electronic street directory, here’s the ultimate gadget.

The distributors promise that the Sat-Nag is a “joke that just keeps on giving.”

The Sat-Nag doesn’t perform any useful directional function, has no on-board map and doesn’t connect to anything at all.

The holographic screen glued to the front of the plastic gadget points to roads named Whiny Lane, Backseat Drive and Earache Avenue.

And press the button on the front and the random-nag generator will deliver a fabulous gem that can only have been written by someone who has been married a long, long time.

The rather well-spoken and ever-so patronising woman’s voice issuing from the Sat-Nag has a host of driving direction one-liners like: “I know you’re a man, but it’s been 35 minutes now, so can you please admit you’re lost and ask someone the way.”

Other gems include “In 100 metres turn left. No right, err, no left. Sorry, I never can tell my left from my right,” or even “In 50 meters I’m going to put on my most annoying voice and say ‘Is your short cut really faster when we get stuck in traffic like this, well, is it darling?”

You can only buy it online from the UK, so order now for the perfect Christmas gag gift.

Where: www.iwantoneofthose.com/gadgets-gizmos/sat-nag
How much : About Au $16.50 plus freight

Jul 012008
 

Despite my family suspecting me of early-onset dementia, I do have some remnants of working memory and, like most people over the age of about ten, once I have read a book, I’ll only read it again if it was a jolly good read and some time has passed.
leapfrogTag
But as any parent knows, once your pre-schooler has decided a particular book is a favourite, you’ll be up for a recital several times a day for the next six months or until you hide it somewhere they would never look (like their wardrobe).

US-based toy company Leapfrog scored a winner with their LeapPad kids own laptop reading system, launched a few years back, which appealed to a broad range of parents: the pushy parent wanting genius advantage before little Johnny got to kindergarten; the time-stretched parent whose kids had learned the alphabet from Sesame Street; and the desperate parent who had to buy themselves a new laptop following a trip to the sandpit.

The LeapPad’s successor is destined to be an even bigger winner, apparently; called The Tag Reading system, it is based on a chunky plastic pen-like stylus, in green or pink, that will read a paper-based book aloud and never has to do the washing-up first.

The Tag stylus contains an infrared camera that scans dot patterns on the books and then reads out the appropriate text to the child. Magic, I told my two-year old (though it probably uses an inbuilt MP3-like audio file.)

A USB connection allows you to plug the stylus into your PC to track your child’s progress and additional phonics-based activities at the back of the book can be useful to promote reading. Or you may have the kind of child who just wants to make chicken noises hundreds of times in a row. (Maybe that’s just my offspring!)

At least there’s a range of books to choose from – 18 books have been rolled out with the initial launch with the promise of more to come. And though aimed at 4-8 year olds, this would make a great present for stressed-out parents of 2-6 year olds. Just add batteries.

Where: http://www.leapfrog.com/tag
How much : Basic tag and book kit from Au $99, with extra books starting at around $22

Jun 012007
 

Pegasus Mobile NoteTakerpegasus

www.mobilenotetaker.com.au

They call it the Ultimate Handwriting Capture device – I call it a nifty little number that will fit in my smallest handbag and save me a truckload of typing.

The Mobile NoteTaker is basically an electronic pen that wirelessly communicates with a tiny base station about the size of my hand.

The base station works well when clipped to a notebook or clipboard, where it will capture handwritten drawings, sketches, notes, memos and even customized forms.

It has a small LCD panel that displays the notes as you go – and stores about 50 A4 pages in flash memory.

The device hooks up to your computer via USB and images and text are transferred across.

The software that comes with the NoteTaker allows for optical character recognition (OCR) which means that hand-written notes can be transferred into text – with the device hooked up, you can even write directly into Word or Outlook.

Here’s the catch, though – the OCR software is dependant on the quality of the handwriting.

The resulting translations can be hilarious – and confusing, if you’ve got the kind of handwriting that would really interest cryptologists.

Price: about Au $250

Purchase from: www.mobilenotetaker.com.au

May 192006
 

As the Blackberry craze grows and mobile phones have become more and more feature-rich, millions of fully–grown adults can be found hunched over miniscule screens tapping tiny keys in a frustratingly slow attempt to keep their mobile organisers up to date.

Most people over 25 have never developed a cracking thumb-speed from years of SMS use and so, they give up pretty quickly, using a computer keyboard and then Bluetooth or USB transfer to input anything more than a quick diary entry.

But imagine a fully-portable full-sized keyboard for your phone or PDA – wouldn’t it be useful for whipping off a few quick emails in the airport lounge or in a café between meetings!

The Virtual Laser Keyboard could well be the answer to every thumb-challenged exec’s prayers.  Using a combination of infrared and laser technology, it projects a full-size keyboard onto any surface which employs optical recognition so that when you tap the images of the keys, (making a “realistic tapping sound”) the characters appear on your PDA, mobile phone or laptop.

Weighing less than 60 grams, it’s about half the size of a standard pack of cards (90 x 34 x 24 mm) and is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery which will run for between 2 and 3 hours.

The keyboard links to your PDA or phone using Bluetooth – so you must have a Bluetooth-compatible device – and a list of supported models appears on the manufacturers website.  Available in Australia through iTech for $170.

Bottom Line: So much more sensible than air guitar
Where: http://www.virtual-laser-keyboard.com
How much: Au $170

May 122006
 

Have you morphed from a jovial party-animal to a cranky old party-pooper? Was it you that called the police at 2am to complain about the noise from your neighbour’s kid’s 18th? Or are you just tired of gangs of pimply youths hanging around outside your shop, wrestling and blocking the footpath?

Here’s a gadget to warm the hearts of the anti-teen brigade everywhere.

Welsh inventor and cranky old party-pooper Howard Stapleton solved the problem of rowdy teenagers for a local shopkeeper in 2005 with a device called The Mosquito which sends out a high-frequency sound that can be heard within a range of about 15 to 20 metres by most people under 20 and hardly anyone over 30.

Stapleton tested the device on his children before coming up with the perfect pitch – a pulsing tone broadcast at 75 decibels designed to irritate young people so much that they move away from the area after a few minutes.

The shopkeeper was delighted with the results on local troublesome teens and was quoted saying – “It’s very difficult to shoplift when you have your fingers in your ears.”

Now marketed by UK company Compound Security Devices, the device takes advantage of a phenomenon called ‘presbycusis’ – age related hearing loss. From the age of about 18, all humans slowly lose their ability to hear upper-frequency sounds.

Unfortunately the spread of the iPod may render the Mosquito ineffective – studies have shown that some 18 year olds have hearing loss equivalent to that of the average 60 year old following years of listening to personal stereos at too-high volumes.

Bottom Line: Unleash your inner party-pooper
Where: http://www.compoundsecurity.co.uk/teenage_control_products.html
Price: about Au $1350