Hashtag 'scalpel': Hospital to live-tweet ear surgery

If you're on Twitter, you've probably followed a live-tweeted gadget reveal or political convention or Olympics event or Mars rover landing in your day. You probably have not, however, followed a live-tweeted surgery. That could change tomorrow.

As Dr. Douglas Backous performs a cochlear implant operation at Seattle's Swedish Medical Center, his moves will be tweeted live, with still photos from inside the operating room posted to Instagram (presumably not by Backous himself). … Read more

Jays headphones bring Scandinavian 'lagom' design to your ears

If you're in the market for a new set of premium headphones, consider picking up one or both sets of earphones we reviewed this week from a Swedish company called Jays.

The C-Jays are a set of on-ear cans that give you three foam ear cup options, and the A-Jays Four earbuds include an in-line remote to control tracks on your smartphone music player.

Jays headphones maintain the Swedish design concept of high function, minimalist practicality, and the Swedish word lagom, which refers to the idea of "not too much, not too little."

The company shares a … Read more

Wacky story of Pirate Bay acquirer may end soon

Global Gaming Factory X, a Swedish company that operates Internet cafes but became far more noteworthy for attempting to acquire The Pirate Bay last year, is facing possible bankruptcy. In addition, the company is the subject of a police investigation in Sweden.

Two of GGF's creditors claim the company owes them the combined equivalent of $220,000 and want authorities to put the company into bankruptcy, according to reports in numerous Swedish newspapers. A bankruptcy isn't very exciting, but GGF's owner-operator, the mercurial Hans Pandeya, has a long track record of generating controversy--so things may perk up. … Read more

The 404 541: Where we put Sweden on the map (podcast)

Longtime 404 listener Ammi took some time out of her busy vacation from Sweden to drop by our studios this morning, so we invite her on the show to tell us about her first trip to the United States...and also to help us locate Sweden on the map, because we're geographically hopeless. Ammi's only been here a few days so far, but her observations on the chaos and consumerism of American culture are on point. Like many foreigners that visit our country, she can't help but notice the obesity epidemic that we can easily trace back to the cupcake stores on every block in the city.

To Jeff's delight, Ammi also tells us that hockey gets much more attention in Sweden than it does in the US, although I'm pretty sure Swedish cable subscribers can't watch their games in 3D. On March 24, Cablevision will be broadcasting the New York Rangers vs. New York Islanders game in 3D, the first live 3D sports broadcast to hit the network. Don't worry if you're not one of the 11 people that actually own a 3D TV; Madison Square Garden will also host a viewing party on a big-screen 3D projection TV for 2,500 guests on the night of the big game. Hockey fans that can handle the real dimension can also just buy tickets to the live game.

We're all fans of old-school Pinball games, but we never thought we'd see a Bill Paxton Pinball Machine! Ben Heckendorn just put the finishing touches on a custom Paxton Pinball game that he's been working on since 2005. He even lists out the exact parts you need to make your own in a detailed "making-of" story and demonstration video. Nice work, Ben!

We've also got another story from the book of wacky DIY projects: the "Carpuccino," a converted Volkswagon powered by the carbon in loose coffee grounds. To prove its worth, the team responsible for building the Carpuccino is driving the car from London to Manchester using grounds collected from Costa Coffee. The adventure will take time and plenty of cash--the top speed is 60 miles per hour and costs a ridiculous 25-50 times more than using gasoline. Odds of seeing an official Ford/Honda/Toyota Carpuccino: zero.

Thanks again to Ammi, Samri, Sarah, and the rest of our Swedish listeners for supporting the show from abroad. We gave Ammi plenty of stickers to plaster all over the country, so expect to see some pictures of 404-branded Swedish Fish soon!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

EPISODE 541 Subscribe in iTunes audio | Suscribe to iTunes (video) | Subscribe in RSS Audio | Subscribe in RSS VideoRead more

Word processing tool

Write Source provides users with a word processor for .txt documents that successfully imitates Word. In addition, the program offers an added feature that will help users search for words.

We felt instantly comfortable with this program's interface since it smoothly mimics Microsoft Word all the way down to its layout. The Help file's instructions were necessary to master some of the more complicated features, but basic writing was a snap. Our previous experience with word processors that save as .txt files had been disappointing since they always seemed to fall short of Word with their clumsy layouts … Read more

Swedish vocabulary help

WordBanker English-Swedish allows users to practice their Swedish vocabulary using several different formats. Although the program is not the most intuitive we've ever seen, it's fairly easy to use and is a great way to improve your Swedish vocabulary.

The program's interface is not particularly attractive and can sometimes be hard to navigate. Each function opens a separate window within the program, and it's hard to know at first if closing the window is going to take you back to the main menu or close the program completely. Continued use of the program helps with this. … Read more

Lamps look like speakers but stay quiet

Well here's twist we didn't see coming. Just the other day we were talking about the curious trend toward combination speaker lamps as companies build MP3 players into lighting appliances. What we didn't realize, however, is that the trend goes both ways.

Lyx, a home furnishings company based in Sweden, is listing a "Lightspeaker Lamp" that's designed specifically to look like an acoustic device but doesn't actually function as one. Much attention has been paid to detail, as Technabob notes, including a "volume" knob that's really a dimmer. Why? Because, … Read more

Robot assisted prostate surgery? Uhh--you first.

Surgeons are using a four armed robot to perform prostate surgery.

The procedure is called the da Vinci Prostatectomy, "a new, less-invasive approach to prostate removal," according to the Swedish Medical Center.

Actually, it's no joke; an estimated 230,000 men in the US are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and the da Vinci Surgical System promises to help surgeons perform the surgery with greater precision while speeding patient recovery.

Interested? Call 1-800-SWEDISH and let us know how it goes.

Start-up touts safer, fast-charging notebook battery

Boston-Power says its new battery for laptops comes with three distinct advantages over conventional ones: It recharges in about half the time, it provides about the same amount of power, and it won't blow up.

The Sonata battery, which Hewlett-Packard has been tinkering with, can be charged to 80 percent capacity in about 30 minutes, CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud says. Conventional notebook batteries take one to two hours to get to 90 percent capacity.

"We picked 30 minutes and drove development to that," she said. Lampe-Onnerud will show off the Sonata for the first time publicly during a … Read more