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Packaging powered by magic mushrooms

Remember those annoying and environmentally incorrect Styrofoam peanuts that would messily tumble out of gadget-packed boxes? It was only a matter of time before packing material got less annoying as well as more sustainable. And while you won’t find packaging made from actual peanuts, what would you say to mushroom roots? That’s one of the key ingredients behind EcoCradle. Well, mushroom root is the layperson’s term – it’s fungal mycelium, actually, that’s allowed to grow for about 5-10 days among agricultural waste products like rice hulls and cotton gin trash. The end result, according to Ecocradle inventors Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre is “all-natural, rigid material…with similar material properties and cost as synthetic foams like expanded polystyrene,” better known as our old friend Styrofoam. Like many inventions, EcoCradle came about somewhat serendipitously. Bayer and McIntyre were “fascinated by mushrooms growing on wood chips, and observing how the fungal mycelium strongly bonded the wood chips together” […]

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ÜberTwitter doesn’t suck

There was a time not long ago when you could Google the name of any product plus the word “sucks” and get a search result yielding a fairly clear and passionate taste of what Internet users thought of the said product and how it stacked up against other products. Try that trick today, however, and you’re likely to find that according to the results returned by a Google search, pretty much everything sucks. For example, take the two popular Blackberry Twitter apps, ÜberTwitter and Open Beak (formerly Twitterberry). Popular opinion is split: Internet users enjoy both, and likewise feel both suck. And that makes it a bit harder to decide which of the two a Blackberry user ought to download. So we asked withbeans.com’s technology correspondent to load both apps on his Blackberry and report back. Some observations: — ÜberTwitter is pretty. Its balloons are easier on the eyes than Open Beak’s interface. — ÜberTwitter […]

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Why you need to install Google Analytics right now

If you’re just starting up your blog or Web site and you’re not sure if you want to monetize it or if you don’t know if how well it’s trafficked even matters to you, you may not see the immediate need for installing and using Google Analytics. And that would be short-sighted. Let’s start with the fact that Analytics is fiendishly easy to install – a withbeans.com correspondent added the tracking code to his Web site within a few minutes and was also pleased to discover that when he moved his site pages over to WordPress, Analytics continued analyzing without interruption (by the way, WordPress users running analytics would also do well to install this plugin that tracks lots of links from within posts). But the main reason to install Analytics right away isn’t just because it’s there, or its ease of installation or use. The first day you install this program is akin to […]

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“Greentooth” speakerphone harnesses sun’s rays

Bluetooth speakerphones that do double duty as a hands-free car kit and conference speaker are not so common that they’ve become passé but enough have come to market that it’s already a struggle to figure out which of these gadgets is ahead of the pack. Well, if having your Bluetooth go green packs appeal, Scosche Industries unveiled a solar Bluetooth speakerphone at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show that also ended up in a CES travel gadget round-up by Travel & Leisure. Like most Bluetooth speakers designed with motorists in mind, the solChat, as it’s called, will take a charge from an old-school USB hookup or car adapter, but thereafter can be clipped to the windshield visor or can be suctioned directly to the windshield to soak up the sun’s rays; according to the manufacturer the “integrated solar panel continuously re-charges the lithium ion battery.” In all other respects the unit functions like most other similar […]

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It’s a notebook – no wait, it’s a tablet

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) still generates enough buzz that CNET’s into its fifth year of nominating products for its Best of CES Awards, and among the gadgets that made the cut for its Best of CES 2010 round-up is the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid. Hearing the word “hybrid” associated with a car may not immediately generate skepticism about whether and how well it works, but when it comes to smaller gadgets it’s a natural reaction, and CNET raises good questions about this notebook whose screen undocks from the keyboard “to become its own handheld Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered tablet.” CNET makes the point that a Lenovo rep demonstrated the undocking at the show, which makes the reviewers “curious as to how delicate the procedure is and whether the laptop might accidentally disconnect under casual use” and also wonder “will both devices sync well with each other? Will the battery life be suitable? None of these could […]

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