Geeks are no fools: techie pranks for everyone

tv_b_goneNeed a good April fools’ joke? Technology comes to the rescue once again…

TV-B-Gone” has been around for a while, but it’s still a classic. Press the button and nearly any TV will turn itself off within a matter of seconds. shocking_penSpouse won’t pay attention to you? TV-B-Gone. Sports bar getting too rowdy? TV-B-Gone. Any time you want a little peace and quiet, TV-B-Gone is there for you.

You can also try the “shocking pen” which is not a pen at all, it’s simply a pen-look-alike that shocks the unwitting victim when they hit the button at the top. Eeek!

annoyatronFor more stealth pranks, check out the “Annoy-a-tron 2.0,” which puts out your choice of annoying sounds. This tiny device can be hidden nearly anywhere and programmed to randomly emit beeps, buzzes, chirps, and more. Because of the random timing, it can be very hard to pinpoint the source of the noise, and the geeky folks at ThinkGeek assure us the noise truly lives up to its name.

phantom-keystrokerThis tiny little device looks like a regular flash drive, but it’s actually a “phantom keystroker” which will randomly move your mouse and type garbled phrases. For someone unaware of its presence, it will seem like the computer has gone crazy.

airzookaLastly, who could pass up the “airzooka“? This baby blows a ball of air up to 30 feet. Really. Recommended applications for this device: ruffle a co-workers’ hair, blow papers off their desk, or startle the office dog.

Need more? Check out all the geekie toys at ThinkGeek. I always find things there I never knew I wanted.

The trouble with assumptions: the new ExpressCard

Mogo family of miceI bought the coolest gadget last week. At least, I thought so at the time. I bought that little tee-tiny thing at the bottom left in the photo, a MoGo presenter mouse. It’s really cool because it stores in that slot on the side of your laptop, which means it’s perfect for a traveling road warrior and gadget-fiend like me. It’s also wireless (Bluetooth) and doubles as a sleek handheld pointer perfect for presenting PowerPoint slides.

When it arrived, I ripped open the package, stuck it in the slot, and waited for the charge light to come on. It didn’t, so I looked at the instructions and saw there was a switch to flip. No problem, right?

I started to sense a problem when I tried to pull out the mouse. Usually the button for the card slot depresses, then shoves the card out. I couldn’t get it to work. I used a pen to push it harder, and that got it out. Nonetheless I flipped the charge switch and tried again…then I shoved it in harder…then I tried it upside down. No go for the MoGo.

PC card vs ExpressCardCome to find, in my haste to get the latest greatest, I managed to find a gadget that was incompatible with my 6-month-old Lenovo X61 tablet laptop. Turns out that reliable PC card slot I’ve been used to for so many years is evolving. Many new laptops now contain an ExpressCard slot, which is a much faster connection. Adding to the confusion, there are two sizes of Express cards (34mm and 54mm) and the specs on my particular laptop made it unclear whether I had support for either, both, or neither. Some slots handle more than one type and I’d never seen the newer ones so I couldn’t tell by physical inspection.

Further Googling helped me uncover the bottom line: all I have is the now-old-fashioned PC card slot. MoGo makes a mouse for this, the MoGo Mouse BT (the one on the bottom right in the picture at the top). Of course I stubbornly wanted the presentation features. Fortunately, for poor out-dated geeks like me, they make a workaround: a USB charger. It’s not quite as road-warrior friendly now, with the extra cable, but as you can see it’s not that big a deal.

X54 ChargerIt’s not the gadget’s fault that it didn’t work for me. I wasn’t careful when I placed my order, and I didn’t know what I didn’t know–technology caught me by surprise. At any rate, in a few more days, once I’ve got all the right pieces, maybe I’ll actually be able to proclaim this the coolest gadget ever, just like I expected when I first made my purchase.