Robotic Tendencies
The personal blog of Robert McQueen

April 18, 2008

Lazyweb request: gadgets I would like to have

Last night I thought of a few gadgets which I’d like to have, and although I’m pretty sure you should be able to get hold of them, I had trouble finding anything that looked quite right:

  • Alarm clock which makes coffee: I can’t be the only one who finds it hard to bootstrap my days because I have to get out of bed and make the first coffee of the day before I’ve had any coffee. My parents had a machine which was an alarm clock which made tea (very noisily) at the appropriate time in the morning. Surely there should be a similar device which can display the time and make (at least passable) coffee instead? Be it an alarm clock with a sideline in making coffee, or a coffee machine with a built in timer. I’ve noticed some of Gaggia’s bean-to-cup machines claim to have 24-hour clocks, but does that mean they have a timer function? We just don’t know.
  • Decent watch with USB storage: I found some watches online last night which had USB storage built in, some with a little USB connector that folded out, some with a mini/micro USB connector on the side, with the idea I could store (maybe parts of) my GPG and SSH keys on it, and maybe a bootable Debian installer/rescue system. The thing is, I have a reasonably nice Timex Expedition watch at the moment which I quite like: it has an electro-luminescent analog display for the middle of the night, and a digital bit for the date, alarms and multiple time-zones. The USB-enabled watches I saw didn’t look that great as watches, but I might be wrong. Does anyone have a watch that features USB storage that doesn’t compromise too much on the watch functionality? Maybe I should just give up on this one and go for the rugged USB stick on the keyring approach.
  • Video output over USB: I have a reasonably new HP 2510P laptop which I also use as my main machine at work with a docking station, TFT, keyboard, mouse, etc. However, as a machine for watching DVDs or other videos on at home, it’s a bit on the small side. I have an olde-worlde big flatscreen TV at home (which is not as good as Christian‘s flat-screen blueray surround sound movie set-up, but I think I retain the moral high ground on taste in films), but my laptop doesn’t have any video out. Is there a USB 2.0 widget which produces composite or S-Video output which I can feed to my TV, that will work with Linux, or should I just get a scan converter of some sort so I can use the VGA output?

So, answers on a postcard…

posted by ramcq @ 11:42 am
Comments (19) .:. Trackback .:. Permalink

19 responses to “Lazyweb request: gadgets I would like to have”

  1. Bertrand says:

    I have a Kenwood BrewMaster that does exactly what you want : integrated clock with the possibility to set an “autostart” time.
    I got got it a few years ago in France, don’t know where you can gt it now.

  2. Vax says:

    Are you kidding about the programmable coffee machine?

  3. robot101 says:

    Kidding? No. I can genuinely now turn off a mobile phone alarm, or press snooze on my clock radio every 7 minutes for an hour or two, without really waking up or remembering it when I am actually awake. Something that ground coffee beans in my ear and gave me a mug of coffee would be far more effective I suspect.

  4. for #1 in your wishlist: what about “alicia de longhi” ??? Here in Italy exists since 2000 ๐Ÿ™‚ here on amazon:

    For the other ones … I don’t know ๐Ÿ˜€


  5. Vax says:

    Oh. So you have to have the grinder attached… I get it. I was confused because there are probably thousands of coffee machines that will brew a pot of preground coffee at a programmable time

  6. Tester says:

    Why don’t you use a VGA-to-S-video adapter like this one?

  7. NJ Hewitt says:

    Robert, have you considered using a grinder/etc you already have with a timer plug? Perhaps you’d need to tape down a switch to activate it with the plug.

    I’ve found a timer plug on for ยฃ5 which can be programmed for different times for each day of the week.

  8. pretty simple #1, eBay โ€˜teasmaidโ€™ ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. davide says:

    Hi, I’ve a machine as in your dream. It’s a “moka” (the italian coffee machine).
    It’s sold for a good price and it makes a real good coffee.

    When I come back I’ll send you the name (if I’ll forget ping me by email)

  10. Janne says:

    You could put a normal grinder on a wall outlet timer in your bedroom, with the coffee machine right next to it. If your grinder is anything like ours it’ll wake up any dead people in the room, to say nothing about yourself.

    For bonus points, remove the bottom of the grinder receiver box and grinder itself, mount right over the filter in the coffee machine, then have both on wall timers, with the grinder one minute ahead. With any luck it’ll actually brew fresh ground coffee for you – or get you wide awake trying to clean up the disaster.

    Or, get a coffee maker with a grinder and put the whole thing on a wall timer. That’s cheating, though.

  11. Drew says:

    I just do the coffee alarm with a power outlet timer. Switch coffee machine on, set timer, machine turns on at set time, you are woken by a glorious smell. Simple.

  12. Rusty says:

    Regarding watch/usb storage, if you’re looking for just enough storage to keep a gpg/pgp and ssh key’s on, you might check to see if one of the really old/small usb keys with a 64 meg capacity could be moulded into the clasp of the watch band. I know that within the clasp of the watch I’m wearing there would be sufficient space, though I’m not sure it would be the best place.

    Alternatively you may be able to find a replacement watch band that fits your idea of style for that watch, that has usb storage built into it. does have a variety of flash drives, and you might talk to them about the storage options.

    Worst case on the coffee system would be something like an X10 alarm clock and plug-n-power pair, with the alarm clock across the room, and the coffee machine setup in the kitchen. If you need it to grind the coffee as well, that’s a bit more work… I don’t know of anyone off hand.

    Theory has it that you can stream video over Firewire, but I don’t know if your TV supports it. Also not sure if Linux will give that as an option.


  13. Albert Lash says:

    How about a wristwatch that makes coffee? THAT would be nice.

  14. mr muggles says:

    1. A kind wife/girlfriend.

    2. flash voyager ‘ruggerised’ on keyring. Cheap and seems pretty ok.

    3. Treat yourself to a new modern TV with VGA in/HDMI etc- most seem to have nowadays. Better in the long run and less messing around.

  15. davide says:

    this is my machine:

    sorry for the link in italian but I didn’t find nothing in english.
    Anyway it works very very well.

  16. davide says:

    and I forgot to say that there is a very good option:
    it can keep your coffee warm for 30 minutes.

  17. sdf says:

    (didn’t bother to read the other comments, so might be redundant)

  18. behdad says:

    Dude, please blog your coffee-machine decision. I so need the same gadget…

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