Bright Idea of The Day: Tangle-Proof Ziploc Earbuds

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Design student Lee Washington wants to make earbuds tangle proof by zippong them together like the seal of a sandwich bag.

Here’s a great idea for making tangle-proof earbuds. It’s so simple, I’m surprised no one has thought of it before.

To prevent your earbud wires from tangling when not in use, join them together using a Ziploc-like zipper.

By pinching the two wires together into a single wire, they become tangle-proof, like a piece of thick, rubbery string. The two wires are simply unzipped when you want to use them.

The idea was dreamed up by London design student Lee Washington, who has made a short video to demonstrate them in action — see below.

“The prototype was made very basically with a sandwich bag seal,” says Washington. “It was just designed to demonstrate the concept.”

As yet, Washington doesn’t have a manufacturer. He’s talking to his professors this week about patenting the idea. He now regrets making the video, which is fast becoming popular. He’s afraid his idea will be ripped off.

“This could go either way,” he says. “Either the video will get very popular and someone at Apple will eventually see it or someone will do the idea themselves. That would be a pity.”

Indeed. We wish Washington the best finding someone to market his brilliantly simple idea.

‘Welcome to Mac’ edges to DVD

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A film that looks at the evolution and culture surrounding the Macintosh has been selected to the shortlist of the 2008 Naperville Independent Film Festival which takes place next week.

This is the first time the film, a documentary called, ‘Welcome to Machintosh’, has been screened in the US since new interview footage with original Apple co-founder Ron Wayne was added to the movie. Click here to watch the trailer on YouTube.

That exclusive interview was added just before the movie’s European premiere at the Globians Documentary Film Festival in August. The documentary mixes history, criticism and Apple idolatory into an exploration of the early years of Apple as seen through the eyes of Apple employees, engineers, resellers and supporters.

Inside the iPhone thrill cult

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Photography, magic and music-making. Like the iPod before it, iPhone is becoming a cultural icon with creative innovators exploring unusual diversions for the device.

Magic master

Multimedia magician Marco Tempest (he’s on TV with his ‘Virtual Magician’ series in 52 countries) was an early mover. He created a video which appeared to be software running on an iPhone and queued for ten hours to buy one the day it launched in the US. Within ten minutes he’d installed the clip, which he used to entertain the crowd with a series of illusions.

Among other visual tricks, this made it appear the device was being used as an X-ray machine and an electric razor. Watch the amazing video:

More about Marco, after the jump.

Consumers: Apple’s secret plan for the enterprise

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The cult of Mac is growing as Apple emerges as the key computer for US consumers, amongst which it is now the fourth-ranked computer manufacturer, according to new research from MetaFacts.

Brand loyalty, the report claims, is at an all-time high with Apple’s chain of retail stores pulling customers through the doors – and selling Macs, MacBooks, MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros in particular, the researchers claim in their latest Apple Profile Report 2008.

It gets better, “Like the camel slipping its nose under the tent, Apple is reaching into American households as the second or third Home PC,” said Dan Ness, Principal Analyst at MetaFacts. “Where Apple shines is
as the third PC, ranking fifth with 8 per cent of third Home PCs, and ranking fourth in notebook PCs, also at 8 per cent of the installed base.”

And whether that Mac is a first, second or third home computer, what households do with their machine is very different. They’re used to make websites, create graphics and “personal activities”, the report explains – probably while the Windows box gets used for checking email, playing games, and cranking up peoples scores in MMORPG games online. Or something.

Mac users are public, too, this report explains. Seems 21 per cent of Macs are used in public – double the public usage of your WIndows machine – and potentially marking Apple’s ascendancy as a laptop maker.

“If you look around at a Starbucks or cybercafé, you might think the whole world’s gone to Apple,”  said Ness, “Mac users are very active and use their notebooks in more locations than Windows notebook users.”

Wait, there’s more – brand loyalty, “More than four in five (81%) of households with  Apple as their primary Home PC plan to buy the same brand – Apple – for their next Home PC,” said Ness.

All this action in the consumer market, is it any surprise that the long tail effect Apple executives hoped for four or five years ago when they began visualising it has now begun taking place?

The company gets put down a lot for not focusing sufficient attention on the enterprise markets. Perhaps it didn’t – once – but for the last few years of Apple market expansion, the company’s executives have known that consumer demand would eventually become an enterprise market driver.

Think about it – do you recall when you moved jobs and were once excited about the technology you got to use because it would be better than what you could afford at home? Nowadays when you start a new job its not uncommon to live in abject fear (OK, slight trepidation) of the dated system you’ll end up working with…it’s not at all uncommon for workplace technology to be less advanced than the tech company workers have at home.

And as Apple’s consumer market share grows, so too does the demand made on enterprises to offer workers the equipment they are already familiar with.

And that’s the long tail Apple execs set in motion with the iMac in 1998.

‘Let’s Rock’: get your pre-event predictions here

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Speculation surrounding this morning’s ‘Let’s Rock’ Apple special event remains intense, with Digg’s Kevin Rose at the center of the vortex of leaked data, or so it seems.

Overnight we’ve picked up a few more details on what to expect, thanks to MacRumors, who tell us that not only will the iPod nano see a shape-shift, returning to the long and thin look of the first two generations, capacity will rise to 16GB.

Apple’s also expected to introduce nine different colours for the nano, adding purple, yellow and orange to the existing pink, silver, black, blue, green and Product (RED).

Less is known of the iPod touch, which is expected to see a price cut to bring it into line with the cost of an iPhone—and seems unlikely to see a capacity increase, MacRumors also claimed – though far less is known of the iPod touch than of the iPod nano upgrade, other than some suspicions that new features could be enabled in future generation devices, cameras or a microphone, for example.

To recap Rose’s claims, Tunes 8 is expected to offer a Grid View, Genius Playlist recommendations, a new Visualizer (based on the Magentosphere visualiser) and support for HD TV show downloads from iTunes, a feature currently only available to the Apple TV.

iPhone and iPod touch users are also hoping for iPhone Firmare 2.1, which it is hoped will introduce true push support for MobileMe, more stability in 3G connectivity and an end to widely-reported cases in which iPhone user’s applications and iPod features become unavailable. iPods of all stripes are anticipated to see price reductions, as Apple grapples to deal with an increasingly saturated music player market.

Analysts, soothsayers and philosophers of all stripes seem to have achieved a consensus decision in recent days that new MacBooks are unlikely to make an appearance at this event. However, Apple’s publicity people have been urging media to attend the show, which implies that all Apple’s secrets aren’t yet out in the open…that the company has also organized a European media event in London boosts such expectation.

Perhaps that one more thing could turn out to be an all-new version of the Apple TV, now equipped with a digital TV receiver, DVD player and larger hard drive? At least one report speculates on such a possibility.