mike's list











ISSUE 1 * JULY 31, 2000

Tell a Friend!

I STOPPED WRITING the Windows Magazine Win Letter more than a year ago. And since then I've received tons of mail from former subscribers urging me to write another newsletter just like it. I have to admit, I've really missed covering the bleeding edge - the crazy and funny side of technology. So I decided to go for it. And here it is: The weekly Mike's List. I've converted this small list into what I hope will be a huge, fun and exciting newsletter, unlike anything else out there. So tell a friend! Meanwhile, if you're not interested, just go to the bottom of this page to unsubscribe. If you don't like the HTML version (with all the pictures and graphics), and would like to switch to the all-text version, just send mail to: switch@mikeslist.com. Enjoy the new Mike's List!


Department of Transportation Department
Airplanes are dirty, noisy and expensive. But now, a dedicated team of experts are working around the clock to build a clean, quite and affordable alternative: The rubber band-powered airplane. Folks, I'm not making this up! When finished, the "Rubber Bandit" will be 33 feet long, with a wing span of 71 feet, and be powered by a rubber band that weighs 100 pounds. After six years of work and more than a half million dollars, the plane is ready to fly any day now. 

Miracle Car Wax Deflects Police Radar
Want to break the law without risking a ticket? A new company claims its "Stealth Guard" car wax fends off police radar. The company that makes the product, Radiant Labs, says the wax turns police radar into heat, thereby giving you a few extra seconds to slam on the brakes. The company promises a line of Stealth Guard car paint later this year. Hey, if I wax my cell phone with this stuff, can I get through the security checkpoint at JFK airport without setting off the alarm? 

The Smell of Luxury
Modern Rolls Royces, which use cheap plastic and other synthetic materials in their cars just like everybody else, started getting complaints from their well-heeled customers that the cars didn't have that certain Rolls-Royce "something" anymore. Rolls researchers studied the problem and found out that new cars didn't smell like the old ones did. See, the old Rolls Royces were luxuriously appointed with dead cow skin and dead trees, the stench of which Rolls customers came to associate with luxury. So the company formulated a spray-on liquid that brings back that old leather-and-wood Rolls Royce stink. And, reportedly, customers are happy again. 

PC Nose Candy
Speaking of products that stink, a just-outside-of-Silly-Con-Valley company is working on bringing something smelly to your computer. Oakland-based DigiScents is creating a system for delivering odors over the Internet. Here's how it works. You buy a USB peripheral device called iSmell (that's a product, not a confession). Like a printer, it contains "cartridges" of scented oils. When you launch a smell file on your computer, the iSmell heats a specific combination of oils to create the smell of bananas, rotten eggs, or even the smell of an old Rolls Royce. The product will be available by the end of this year, according to the company. (Pictured are DigiScents co-founders Joel Lloyd Bellenson and Dexster Smith.)

Phone Spam Hell
Every technology has it's upside - and it's downside. Unless you're new to the planet, you've read that the new world of net access and e-mail via mobile phone is all upside. If got bad news for you: A coming plague of phone spam threatens to ruin it for everyone. Read all about it.

Ad Creep of the Week
Deja.com, which is a web site that offers searchable archives of news groups and e-commerce, recently added a "feature" whereby whenever someone posts a message and mentions a company, the mention becomes a live link to related areas on the Deja site that sell things. Needless to say, a lot of usenet enthusiasts are honked about Deja modifying - and profiting from - their posts. 

Crackies, Not Iraqis
The Pentagon thought Iraq had launched a coordinated cyber-attack on a couple hundred military web sites during the UN conflict with Iraq in 1998. But a two-year study revealed that the attacks were really perpetrated by a bunch of American teenagers, as well as hackers from American biggest Middle Eastern ally Israel. 

Inside the Lab: Sony's Tiny Camera
Sony is working on a tiny, 330,000-pixel digital camera that's smaller than a Bic lighter. It uses Sony's "Memory Stick Duo" storage technology, which is a shorter version of it's standard "Memory Stick" technology. The camera is less than 2.5 inches long, .84 inches wide and only a half inch thick and weighs less than one ounce. It even sports a tiny LCD display, so you can view your 640 x 480-pixel pictures after taking them. The camera is a science project at this point, and the company has no plans to sell it. Sony hopes to learn how to make very small and light cameras, which can be integrated into clothing, watches, PDAs and - who knows? - maybe even your forehead. 

Dot-Com Food Hard to Swallow
A new restaurant called Venture Frogs in San Francisco dishes up food named after dot-com startups. You can order eBay Eggplant, Microsoft Minced Chicken and Yahoo Thai Beef Salad. But the most Silly Con Valley aspect of their menu is the shameless pandering to the technology-business press. Yes, you'll also find Business 2.0 Bok Choy, Internet World Beef Bowl and even Upside Strange Flavored Wings, thus guaranteeing coverage - and customers - for this otherwise ordinary restaurant. 

STEAL THIS NEWSLETTER!: You have permission to post, e-mail, copy, print or reproduce this newsletter as many times as you like, but please do not modify it. Mike's List is written and published from deep inside the black heart of Silicon Valley by Mike Elgan. The Mike's List newsletter is totally independent, and does not accept advertising, sponsorships or depraved junkets to sunny resorts. Mike writes and speaks about technology culture, smart phones, smart pagers, smart people, laptops, pocket computers, random gadgets, bad ideas, painful implants, and the Internet.