Ex-IBM engineer builds innovative phono cartridges

Peter Ledermann is one of just a handful of highly skilled people on the planet who designs and hand-builds phono cartridges. These tiny electro-mechanical devices are usually machine made, but Ledermann builds world-class cartridges with his hands and a microscope. His company, Soundsmith, also manufactures speakers and amplifiers, and services vintage Bang & Olufsen and Tandberg products.

Ledermann's resume is impressive: He was the director of Engineering for Bozak, one of America's leading speaker manufacturers in the 1960s. And for 10 years, starting in 1980, he was an IBM senior research engineer and is credited as the primary … Read more

Google Doodle honors pioneer programmer Grace Hopper

The latest Google Doodle celebrates the birthday of a woman who helped make computer programming more user friendly.

The late Grace Hopper is credited with several achievements that marked the computer era. As a naval officer during World War II, she was one of the first programmers to tap into Harvard's Mark I computer. After the war, she worked on the UNIVAC, one of the first commercial computers.

But "Grandma COBOL" may best be known for her role in creating the Common Business Oriented Language, which allowed computers to handle words instead of just numbers, creating a … Read more

The 404 1,347: Where we can't just be the two stooges (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- How "The Simpsons" fixed Apple's iPhone keyboard.

- "The Simpsons" parodies the Apple Newton.

- People are now crowdfunding their funerals online.

- Creative Coffins saves you money with a cardboard resting place.

- Slate: Best Buy is an awful store and deserves to die.

- This video is really motivating me to play Grand Theft Auto V for the first time.

- You only have three more days to enter CNET en Español's "Mucho Dinero" contest for a chance to win $5,000!… Read more

Cute 4-year-old Marvel trivia whiz shows off her skills

You might think you're a Marvel super-fan, but little 4-year-old Mia Grace will crush you. She shows no mercy as she deftly handles Marvel trivia questions from her parents, all while calmly riding in a car seat on the way to the store.

Mia's dad posted a video of his daughter tossing off answers like "Loki" and "vibranium" as if they were answers to questions about her favorite color or what she likes to eat. The young comic book fan has managed to build up quite a store of superhero knowledge, no doubt thanks to some quality geek parenting.… Read more

Crave giveaway: Grace Digital Ecoxbt waterproof Bluetooth speaker

With the weather warming up, there's a good chance you'll start spending more time at the pool, river, lake, or whatever body of water you like to head to for sun and fun when you're not indoors staging a Zerg rush. This week's prize would like to tag along.

Grace Digital's portable Ecoxbt stereo Bluetooth speaker is not just water resistant, but 100 percent waterproof. Not only that, it floats. Just jump right in and play your music from any Bluetooth-enabled device. You can also answer incoming calls over the built-in speakerphone.

Part of Grace Digital's Ecoxgear line of outdoor-friendly gadgets, the device measures 4 inches high by 9 inches wide by 2.8 inches deep and weighs 1.5 pounds. The rechargeable battery yields 10-plus hours of play or talk time, plenty for a good run in your kayak or canoe. (See a video of the speaker in action here, complete with sexy "From Here to Eternity"-style beach product shot.) … Read more

Jodi Arias dictating Twitter feed from jail

When a murder trial becomes a televisual happening, somehow the public aspects become almost as significant as the legal ones.

We're always told the jurors don't know what's happening in the media, but we wonder that they may have known more than they let on before being selected.

Then there are the defendants and the prosecutors. Each tries to gain some sort of sway in the public eye -- perhaps on a just-in-case basis.

There now, though, seems to be an usual twist in the trial that is currently capturing popular eyes -- that of Jodi Arias.… Read more

The 404 1,160: Where we turn over a new leaf (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Beyonce reacts to President Obama's re-election.

- Marijuana now legal for recreational use in Colorado and Washington.

- I'm joining the rest of the world and getting cable TV; which Time Warner package is the best deal, and are there any pro tips out there to get more for my dollar?

- Measure B in California requires L.A. porn stars to wear condoms.

- Don't forget to enter our Halloween Samsung Galaxy S3 Giveaway contest!

Bathroom break video: Horse crashes Huffington Post's election night coverage.

Episode 1,160 … Read more

Crave giveaway: Ecoxpro waterproof phone/MP3 player case

First off, congrats to Tim B. of Hilliard, Ohio, for winning a Dell Alienware Orion M17x Tactical Backpack in last week's giveaway. Summer's here, and that means sun, swimming pools, and beaches (except here in San Francisco, of course, where it means fog and layers, but that's another story). This week's prize, Grace Digital's new Ecoxpro waterproof smartphone/MP3 player case, is great for toting your tunes along on those sun-and-fun getaways.

Part of Grace Digital's Ecoxgear line of rugged waterproof products, the Ecoxpro has a built-in speaker and waterproof headphone jack. It also has room to store need-to-be-dry necessities like a driver's license, credit card, keys, and cash. It's submersible up to 10 feet, and it floats -- good news if you happen to get caught in an MP3-overboard situation. It fits any MP3 player or smartphone, including iPhone, Android, and others.

Normally, the Grace Digital Ecoxpro would cost you $79.99, but you have the chance to score one free. How do you go about doing that? There are a few rules, so please read carefully. … Read more

Crave giveaway: Grace Digital Mondo Wi-Fi music player

Congrats to Ning Z. of Elmhurst, N.Y., for winning a Samsung LN40D550 in last week's giveaway. Ning beat out more than 2,900 other entrants to score the 40-inch flat-panel TV.

This week, we have another great prize, a portable Internet radio from Grace Digital Audio. The Mondo Wi-Fi music player features a 3.5-inch color LCD display and comes equipped with more than 18,000 Internet radio stations and endless on-demand content from providers including NPR, BBC, iHeartRadio, and CBS (disclosure: CBS is the parent company of CNET).

You'll also get access to premium free music services such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, and, as well as premium pay services such as SiriusXM Internet Radio and Live365 VIP. Basically, you'll have loads to listen to--and wake up to (the radio also functions as an alarm clock).

The Mondo measures 3.5 inches by 9.75 inches by 5.75 inches, weighs 6 pounds, and works with any 802.11b/g/n wireless router with an Internet connection. The product can be powered by an AC adaptor or rechargeable battery that promises up to 13 hours of play at average volume levels. … Read more

NASA mission calculates global ice melt and rising sea levels

From 2003 to 2010, NASA satellites systematically measured all of Earth's melting glacial ice--the results added up to 4.3 trillion tons of water and a global sea level rise of half an inch.

Put in perspective, that's enough ice to bury the entire U.S. 1.5-feet deep.

These calculations are detailed in a new study released today by a team of scientists at the University of Colorado. The scientists used satellite measurements from the NASA Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), which launched in 2002 and focused on how melting ice from glaciers and ice caps … Read more