No self-respecting person is going to toss out their address book into the street for one and all to peruse at their leisure. It would invite too horrendous a violation of privacy. So, it is only natural that we are loathe to trust our retired “keitai” to the tender mercies of the communal trash, especially considering the bountiful quantities of personal information that we leave in our phone’s care. Getting rid of the hardware is easy enough, but how do we make sure that data kept on them disappears into oblivion, too? Exacerbating the issue is that technology and fashion attributes of mobile phones are changing at such a pace that a handset is lucky if it remains in employment after a year. This is feeding a constantly rising mountain of discarded but not disposed of phones. NTT DoCoMo as one of the chief keitai providers is naturally at the center of the dilemma. But it has burnished its credentials as a good corporate citizen by operating a recycling system for the secure disposal of no longer wanted handsets, and the erasure of the information stored on them. This recycling system has been available at DoCoMo stores for a couple of years, saving 40 tons of copper and more than 100 kg of gold in 2005. The system is now being extended with the help of the am/pm convenience store chain. The pair are teaming up to provide antitheft cell phone recycling bins in the convenience stores all over the country, providing a somewhat better option than a plastic bag on the sidewalk outside your apartment block.
Chained to the phone: Quite the opposite of the concept of disposing of keitais is a new cell phone strap from Strapya. This distinctive beastie sports a little metallic handcuff set, complete with keys, that you can use to attach you phone to your belt, preventing any accidental recycling. Those of a broader mind might see the potential for bondage sessions, at least with fingers. The dodgy items are available for 580 yen at item.rakuten.co.jp/keitai/43-904760.
Who needs Swatch?: One technology trend that shows no signs of losing steam is that of taking television on the road with an endless plethora of portable video-playing gadgets. Metallic Video is making a timely entry with its watch that can play videos and music on its 128×128 OLED screen, which is about the size of the face of a regular men’s watch, operating off its 2-gigabyte internal memory. The entertaining timepiece will soon be available at www.geekstuff4u.com.
Untethered: Electricity might well be the single greatest technological gift humanity has received since fire gave us the gift of well-done meat. But there are times I would gladly garrote Thomas Edison and his cohorts with the spider’s web of cords that electricity demands as its due. The Internet is only making the mess worse with the umpteen cables needed to hook us up to cyberspace. The original culprit is offering one solution, by using electricity power lines to connect our computers to the Internet. Since these lines are in virtually every room of our residences, or at least those where will be using computers, we no longer need to string Ethernet cables across every spare centimeter of space. Sharp is doing its bit for tidiness with the HN-VA40S and HN-VA10S network adapters, which make use of the HomePlug v1.1 standard for high-speed transmission over power lines. The HN-VA40S offers four Ethernet ports for connecting to the Net with the 10S sporting a sole port. Both can propel your data at speeds starting at a hasty 85 megabytes per second. The devices will ship from Aug. 24, with more information available at sharp-world.com/corporate/news/070625.html
Can you use chopsticks?: Internet retailer Amazon.com started out with books and now brings the world to your doorstep, or at least a lot of stuff to buy. In a decidedly low-tech vein it is now offering to help those of us who never can wean ourselves off Western dining utensils sufficiently to master the subtleties of chopsticks. The solution on offer is forkchops, a mixing of the two styles with chopsticks on one end and a fork or knife on the other. Tacky perhaps, but very likely useful.
Bubbling with mischief: Amazon and the like usually take great care in delivering merchandise to make sure that it is protected in transit. This typically means enveloping breakables in lots of plastic bubble wrap. Once our purchases are safely unwrapped, we can then indulge in what everybody enjoys — a little mindless destruction. For those who just can’t get enough of a simple, guilty pleasure Bandai Asovision has come to your aid with this innovatively bizarre product — Virtual Bubblewrap. Each piece consists of a small flat cube of colored plastic sporting eight replica plastic bubbles that you can “burst” to you heart’s content. As a bonus every 100th burst is greeted with a sound effect, including a door chime, a barking dog and one that is alarmingly like the voice of sexy woman. Only in Japan. A time killer for those dull moments is yours for just 819 yen from www.asovision.com/putiputi/
Natural substitute: Something else indelibly associated with Japan is the cherry blossom tree. Bothwin (China) has come up with a miniature LED cherry blossom tree to decorate your room, desktop or other locale calling for a little artificial ambience. Looking like a tiny version of the real thing, standing just 8 cm in height, it offers of range of colors. While red is the standard hue, it also provides yellow, green, blue and pink, as well as a multicolored version. Further Details can be found at www.bothwinchina.com/product.asp?type1=27