The Weirdest Hybrid Gadgets of the Last 40 Years

The Microsoft Surface arrives today. It’s been touted as the perfect compromise between laptop and tablet. (From what we can tell, that’s not quite the case.)

But hybrid gadgets have a checkered past. Most seem to fail at first, and yet some find success later. So all hope might not be lost for this quirky device. And maybe, one day, we’ll see the Surface as a pioneer, like some of these 12 other examples—all greeted as mixed-up weirdos in their time.

IBM 5120


The Mac was not the first all-in-one computer. That honor goes to the HP 9810. In 1971, it combined a computer, a keyboard, and a very rudimentary LED display capable of showing calculator-grade characters. Actually, it was a glorified calculator. Later, in 1980, the IBM 5120 was the first to combine a traditional CRT display with the guts of a PC. As for Apple, the Lisa—the company’s first all-in-one offering—arrived in 1983.


Scanntronic Scanner-E


Companies like HP may be synonymous with today’s multifunction machines that print, scan, copy and fax. But the Scanntronic, a little box that could attach to any dot matrix printer, was a single tool that could accomplish all that in the 1980s. It could scan and digitize a document with the help of a Commodore 64.


Photo: MOS6502

Boombox TV

The 12 Weirdest Hybrid Gadgets of the Last 40 YearsCombining a boombox and a TV seems like the ultimate ’80s gadget for teenagers, and certainly had to be novel for the time, but one could only imagine how bad the picture and reception had to be on that thing.

Photo: Flowizm

TV/VCR Combo


The TV/VCR combo has it’s earliest roots in the 1970s, when a ancestral technology known as cartrivision popped up in the market place. Sony would later produce a combo unit that played Betamax tapes. But it wasn’t until the mid-1980s that the TV/VCR combo would become a trend, popularized by companies like Sharp. The thing a lot people failed to realize was, when the VCR failed and had to be taken to the shop for repairs, you lost the use of the television in the process.


Photo: Brian Derksen



In the 1990s, computers were those small beige boxes you kept hidden in a home office. So a former Apple engineer had a bright idea: A device that could connect to a home TV to access the web from the comfort of a couch. Unfortunately, between a clunky remote and keyboard, the low resolution of standard-definition television, and the fact that mail was the “killer app,” it was a frustrating user experience. But, at least, it was bought by Microsoft. And, for its encryption powers, classified as a weapon by the US government.


Photo: Web Reference

Sharp J Phone


Developed in conjunction with Philippe Kahn, who happens to be the first person to ever send an image taken with a cellphone, Sharp’s J Phone was the first to reach any consumer market when it hit Japan in 2000. Capable of shooting images with 256 colors and a resolution well below VGA (110,000 pixels in all), the J Phone camera was hardly a powerhouse. But for the time, it was probably amazing. More importantly, it paved the way for the excellent camera modules we have in phones today.


Nokia NGage

The 12 Weirdest Hybrid Gadgets of the Last 40 YearsBefore Apple and Google convinced game devs there was money to be made in the smartphone market, Nokia was trying to do the same with its dumbphones. Its most aggressive attempt to takeover the portable gaming space came in 2003, the form of the NGage, a device meant as much for play as it was for communications. Unfortunately, the NGage lacked the A+ titles needed to attract buyers, and the hardware wasn’t quite good enough to dethrone the Game Boy Advance. It wouldn’t be until the iPhone arrived that gaming on the phone would be taken (almost) as seriously as gaming on a portable console.

Iomega NAS 100D


The world had already seen Network Attached Storage in 2004, but the Iomega NAS 100D was among the the first to tack wi-fi onto a 160 gigabyte drive. It allowed people to access content from a home network, sans wires and without the need of additional networking gear. Of course, devices such as Apple’s Time Capsule would go on to capitalize on this concept.


Playstation 2


Devices like the Sega CD and PS1 could play audio CDs, true. But the real hybridization of the video game console came with the PS2 and its ability to play DVD movies. Nintendo and Sega both shied away from this functionality, with Nintendo claiming it wanted to focus on being a gaming machine. But Sony fully embraced the future destiny of gaming consoles as all-around home entertainment devices. Today, the Xbox 360 is the ideal iteration of this hybrid concept.


Livescribe Pentop

The 12 Weirdest Hybrid Gadgets of the Last 40 YearsThe Livescribe is among the strangest of the hybrid beasts. It’s a pen with the power to digitize your handwritten notes. But it’s also a voice recorder capable of synchronizing audio recordings to the written word. Oh, and it has the ability to perform relatively simple calculations, such as mathematical operations and language translations. Before the rise of tablets and ultrabooks, this was coveted by copious note takers. These days, maybe less so, but surely there’s still some student, lawyer—or reporter—who prefers taking notes by hand.

Photo: Livescribe/AP

Canon 5D MK II


The Canon 5D was hardly the first device to capture photo and video. But it was the first DSLR to accomplish the feat at a level approaching professional grade. Equipped with a 21 megapixel sensor, the camera captured 1080p video at industry standards such as 24p and 30p. If you dropped the res to 720p, it could go all the way up to 60 frames per second. And because the video feature could take advantage of the powerful sensor and interchangable lenses, the camera found a role shooting several television and movie productions. Not too shabby.


Nikon CoolPix S800c

The 12 Weirdest Hybrid Gadgets of the Last 40 YearsThere have been wi-fi enabled cameras, cameras with select apps for uploading photos, and cameras with embedded software for photo fun. But none have ever come packaged with a full mobile OS like theNikon CoolPix S800c. Running a version of Android, the camera can use any photo editing app or photo upload service available on the platform without first having to connect to a computer. It’s one of the few ways the point-and-shoot camera can hope to stay relevant in the golden era of the cameraphone.

Pain or Gain: Human Behavior Motivators and Object Attributes in Marketing Business Software

My husband is doing a lecture this week in psychology on human motivation. As he was bouncing his ideas off of me, it reminded me of a Marketing Plan template I created back when I was studying Business IT and Marketing Automation software. Here is an excerpt:

People make most of their purchase decisions to either avoid pain or experience some gain. If you can tap into these emotions, you can grow your business market. When describing your ideal customer, focus on the pain they seek to avoid or the gain they seek to obtain more that trying to identify their demographic

Back in the early 2000s, there was a trend in business system modeling to refactor object models that simply described product or service attributes and attempt to match those attributes to a vertical market segment towards defining objects that describe the motivations of a consumer and their behavior in the purchasing process (marketing funnel & sales cycle). see Information Management article. As digital interactivity and social networking matured, the objects attributes of of customer motivation also branched to the object attributes of content in a customer shared thought (or known as conversation) triggered by the motivation. This leads to event driven objects that better map process objects behind what a customer wants, thinks/feels, and is primed to interact on.

So back to pain or gain and human motivation.

In our most primal brain functions, the most powerful human motivator is fear: fear of pain, disease, injury, failure, not being accepted, missing an opportunity, and being scammed to name a few. Nick-named the flight fright reactions, most fear based triggers motivate humans quite well. Our mind is set up with a nifty system to feel pain to repel us from danger to our survival in some way and to develop fear memories of that pain so as to develop behavior modification to avoid those dangers all together. So really what we are talking about in regards to PAIN based motivation, is assuaging our fears of feeling pain in the midst of danger to our survival. Gain taps into to the relief of avoiding a missed opportunity to obtain the security of “on demand” pain relief  (which is also known as pleasure). Eating yummy food, for instance, in both a pain reliever and a gain. The PAIN is hunger and fear of not having food to eat or eating food that doesn’t taste good (either somewhat a poison or unfamiliar and potentially a danger). The GAIN is the pleasure of satisfying hunger, feeling safe and secure ,that what you ate won’t hurt or kill you. GAIN in the case also refers to the relief associated with avoiding the danger of starvation or rendering oneself prey to some other organism (microbial or saber tooth tigerish) that seizes on the opportunity to feast on a weak malnourished human body. There is a lot to be discussed here on human chemical addictions and power, dependency and control, but that is for another article on ethics. There is also the topic of pain as a necessary survival mechanism and what happens to a system (living or man made) with out such a mechanism. Again, another article.

In the Psychology Today article, The Main Ingredient: Getting out of my comfort zone, Robert Wilson writes, “Marketers use fear as a motivator as often as they can.  They present a scenario they hope will invoke our sense of fear.  Then they show us a solution – a path back to our comfort zone – that entails using their product or service.  Fear is used to sell virtually everything: cars, tires, and life insurance are classics.  But, clever marketers also use it to sell breakfast cereal and deodorant. As a result we purchase all sorts of things that a generation ago were considered unnecessary: antibacterial soap, alarm systems, vitamins… the list goes on and on. WARNING: Fear can be too powerful to use as a motivator because it can also paralyze – the classic deer in the headlights syndrome.  Would you like to use fear to motivate your employees to perform better?  “If you don’t sell more widgets – you’re FIRED!”  It can work, but there are rules you must follow for it to be successful.  To use fear successfully as a motivator, a solution must be offered with it. A new path to follow. You can tell an employee he or she must sell more, but unless you show them how, fear will cause flight or worse: paralysis. Fear is a powerful motivator, but it is a negative one. I prefer to motivate someone by eliminating doubt.  Doubt destroys motivation.  If you can help a person get rid of it, you will motivate them positively. “

In psychology, there are a few strong theories regarding human motivation. These include: Incentive theoryEscape-seeking dichotomy model Drive-reduction theoryCognitive dissonance theoryNeed theoriesCognitive theoriesIntrinsic motivation and the 16 basic desires theory. When broken down to their most basic components, most of these theories describe some basic human needs to experience relief from a pain/fear or pleasure in satisfying an associated need.

Google Knowledge Graph explains related content, finds the six degrees with less Bacon


Google Knowledge Graph adds explanations for related content, finds the six degrees with less Bacon

We had a bit of a laugh with Google’s Kevin Bacon calculator. Not everyone needs to tie their searches to the star of Footloose, though, which is partly why Google is pushing out an update to its Knowledge Graph that explains how searches turn up related items. The effort is starting with actors, celebrities and their links to any movies and TV shows they’ve starred in. Looking for Orson Welles and mousing over Rita Hayworth’s portrait reminds us that the two luminaries were married for years, for example. We won’t know when the more intelligent searches will expand, but at least we won’t be quite so confused if the animated Transformers movie appears next to Citizen Kane.

Is It Possible to Be Truly Anonymous in an Online Community?

reposted from: Original Post on Lifehacker

by Thorin Klosowski
Click here to read Is It Possible to Be Truly Anonymous in an Online Community?

Being anonymous online means different things to different people. A lot of people are just worried about advertisers and other companies tracking them. Extensions like Adblock Plus(which blocks ads, but doesn’t necessarily keep them from tracking you), Ghostery, and Do Not Track Plus, can help with that. But if you’re part of an online forum, you’re facing a different kind of problem: anonymity from other users. That’s a lot harder to keep.

Go Anonymous with Secure Browsing and Fake Names

We’ve talked about creating a fake identity to stay anonymous online before and the process is pretty simple. First off, start with all the anonymous browsing tips above. You also want to use a VPN to create a private networkproxy server, or browse the internet with Tor to completely anonymize your browsing. You can also take it a step further and use an operating system specifically designed for anonymous browsing.

Once that’s set up, you need to create a fake identity for every web site you go to. If you use the same handle across multiple places, someone is bound to figure you out. To do this, create a disposable email address for every site you sign up for, and never log into those services without taking the steps mentioned above.

Being anonymous also means you can’t really share that much information about your real life. To a point, this is great—but that means you have to always watch what you’re sharing with others. Revealing your work, hometown, voice, or accomplishments means you’re opening yourself up for someone to figure out who you are. Even a simple picture might reveal where you live or work, so be careful.

What You’re Missing When You Go Anonymous in a Community

Even with fake IDs, VPNs, and disposable email addresses, there’s always the chance you’ll slip up and be found. But more so than that, going anonymous means you’re missing out on some of the best parts of online communities: actually meeting people in real life and sharing anything you’ve done.

Most major online communities have meetups of some kind (we’ve been known to do it once and a while too), and it’s part of the allure of being in an online community. At some point, you’re bound to meet someone at a convention, meetup, or even just talk on the phone. Personally, I’ve played countless games online with people from the Something Awful forums, and it’s always incredibly interesting to hear them interact with each other. They’re not even my friends and I could still recognize them on the street if I heard them talking.

Anonymity also means you miss out on some of the benefits of using your real identity. As we’ve mentioned before, writing reviews of products can net you free stuff, but you have to use your real name to benefit. Being anonymous also makes it difficult to share anything you’ve made—whether it’s a DIY project on Instructables, a video on YouTube, a song on Bandcamp, or whatever else.

It ends up boiling down to figuring out exactly what you want from an online community. If you’re simply looking for a sounding board to unleash all your thoughts without worrying about judgement, anonymous is probably the way to go, and it’s not hard to do. However, if you want to build something larger from an online community, it might be best to be somewhat transparent with your identity, and practice the same restraint for conversations as you do in real life.

That said, just because you want anonymity on one forum doesn’t mean you can’t use your real identity elsewhere. Just make sure you choose to represent yourself accordingly, and follow the precautions above every time you sign on. Photo by orangeandmilk.