When they introduced the “Universal” Serial Bus in 1996, man, they weren’t kidding. You can stick so many things into the socket it’s only a matter of time before somebody electrocutes himself with the most erotically inappropriate “I/O Error” of all time. Hell, there’s probably already a forum for that. To help you forget that horrific image, have a look at these instead:
1. Your Car
Way back in 2005, a Mazda took the phrase memory “key” literally, building a concept car whose ignition was triggered by a memory stick. The car could also suck driving directions into the navigation computer and even load the radio with MP3s from the versatile starter switch. Unfortunately the concept hasn’t been seen since the Mazda Sassou was shown at the Frankfurt Motor Show – perhaps Mazda realised that making people think of their PC (and their games) before sitting behind the wheel of a real car wasn’t such a good idea.
2. USB Eye Warmer
In an innovation that apparently escaped from a horror movie, you can now heat your eyeballs by connecting them to your PC. Listen, Japan, if you expect people to stick electrodes over their eyes it had better be in order to render 3D images of the competitive Cheerleading Trampoline Championships. Which is what the guy in that photo seems to be seeing.
Worse, the ability to electrocute your own eyeballs is advertised as “relaxing”, thereby proving that hentai isn’t the worst thing Japanese people can do with their spare time.
3. USB Pole Dancer
Some point to the Nuremburg rallies as the worst use of words by mankind. Others to the misuse of religious texts to justify hatred and war. But no, the words that show the absolute worst in human nature are on this website, where it tells us that the USB Pole Dancer is back “By Popular Demand”.
A sixty dollar gyrating barbie is back BY POPULAR DEMAND! This thing existed, then stopped, then enough people requested them for them to start making more. We can only imagine that the factory owner wept, took the money, and is spending every cent educating his children to get into the space program because this planet right here is fucked.
4. Steampunk Mouse
Not everything you can plug into your computer is an offense against taste and style. A man know only as “Unklian”, which we presume is l33t speak for “awesomely cool guy” crafted a wood and brass steampunk mouse that actually works. It’s the ultimate accessory for a steam-processor (we hear you can run flux capacitors on the stuff too), and if you think the construction takes dedication, imagine what it’s like to use it. Steam technology may have had many awesome mechanical properties, but ergonomy wasn’t one of them.
5. The Littlest Flash Drive
ATP Electronics thought they’d reached the ultimate point of in tiny USB drives years ago, building a 1GB so tiny that if it got any smaller it would fall out of the socket. Doubtless triggering embarrassing flashbacks in the kind of customer who gets excited about this kind of thing.
But if there’s one thing computer technologists excel at, it’s pushing the envelope way past where there’s any postal service, sanity or any reason to be there: step forward the KingMax Super Stick. The Super Stick broke the size barrier by realising “Hell, they don’t need the whole USB port.” Psychiatric counselling after the realisation that your entire life’s knowledge can be stored an a device smaller than your fingernail not included.
6. The USB Bowling Ball
At the opposite end of the size, sense and sanity spectra is the USB Bowling Ball drive. It weighs seven kilograms, meaning that to stay proportional with the Super Stick it would have to store more data than a library the size of the universe. And the instant you connect it to your computer it will break your motherboard in half before falling on your toe. Big AND secure!
7. Universal Swiss Army Knife
You knew it had to happen – the big red knife that has everything you need, and several odd looking things you don’t, has upgraded electronically to include a 2 GB memory stick. Tuned for the modern office survivor, it also includes a laser pointer, a ballpoint pen and several cutting blades. Clearly, board meetings in the Swiss Army are significantly more exciting than ours.
But if you can’t see the problem with jamming an object composed of 50% cutting edges through the coils of cyber-spaghetti that lurk behind a modern desktop, then wiggling it around to find an untaken socket, then we recommend you read the rest of this article quickly before you break your computer.
8. USB Web Server
It does exactly what the title says – a tiny memory stick which can launch a web-serving system from a USB port, and the only reason you haven’t seen this used in the movies is even Hollywood doesn’t think computers can do that. Exactly why you need to set up a site viewable by the world with only sixty seconds warning and no heavy equipment is unclear, but could involve:
a) Being on the run from the RIAA
b) Running a guerilla porn site from historic public buildings
c) Turning boring access-limited “courtesy computers” into a global network sharing Battlestar Galactica episodes.
Whichever it is, keep it up!
9. Brewster’s Millions (of kilobytes)
If the USB Server is a little too “actually practical” for you, then behold!
Compelling evidence that money should just be confiscated from some people for the public good. Memory manufacturer White Lake have built a three and a half thousand dollar gold and diamond memory key, and if anybody sees a problem with coating the single most losable piece of electronics in existence with four-figures worth of jewelry, White Lake sure didn’t hire them. Other entrance requirements for the WL Design Team include an absolute lack of taste, an inability to be disgusted with profligate waste, and an IQ lower than your tax rate.
Never mind the fact that you could pay a procession of people to carry a 3.5″ floppy each for less.
10. USB Hamster Wheel
If your cubicle and keyboard don’t make you feel enough like an animal in a pointless wheel, raise the parallel to horrifying proportions with a USB hamster mocking every second of your pointless existence – paid for and powered by your own fruitless efforts! The hamster is connected to your keyboard, runs faster the quicker you flail at the keyboard, and is the sort of thing Kafka would invent after a particularly depressing night on the absinthe.
Even worse, the site lists the item as “sold out”. People are buying these, and if you need to take a minute to lose faith in the species, we understand. Anyone who can spend fifty dollars on this testament to their own worthlessness shouldn’t have one. They should have some kind of USB leash to keep them tethered to their desk and out of the way of the real humans.
11. Laser Guided Rocket Launcher
You know how the Terminators got started? It’s because of stuff like this. “Hey guys, let’s build a missile launcher! Then connect it to a computer! Then arm it with a laser targeting system! Then put it in a regular civilian office where it’ll be trained to shoot at fleshy humans!” It’s the awesome but short-sighted urge to keep adding more features, whether they make any sense under the original plan or not. In this case, the original plan being “Let’s build a fun and light hearted toy for the office that CAN”T be used to blind people!” We love it nevertheless…
12. Barbie USB Drive
Do you want to permanently scar children for life? Look like a creepy pervert in the office? Or maybe just think David Lynch hasn’t affected your daily computing tasks as much as he could have? Whichever it is you’ll want one of these Barbie USB drives – and thanks to the miracles of capitalism you can get what you want instead of what you need (therapy, and some kind of state-sponsored refresher course like “Horrific Decapitation – it’s actually a BAD thing”)
13. Smokeless Ashtray
In one of the most optimistic examples of advertising we’ve ever seen, this site claims that your USB ashtray will “Make Secret Smoking Easier!” Because nothing says secrecy than a large whining fan armed with blinking LEDs hooked up to your computer and stinking of smoke. They say it’ll be great around the office, which is technically true if you buy one and then make the adapters you’ll need to plug it in after returning to 1950, the last time you were actually allowed to smoke in an office. But may we suggest bringing back a copy of Grey’s Sports Almanac instead – after all, what’s the worst that could happen?
14. USB Aquarium
Are you easily entranced by vaguely moving objects? Do you have money? Then congratulations, you’re either a cat with a credit card or the target market for the USB Mini Aquarium. This device poses a puzzle – how could the designers build and market a product explicitly intended to be connected to a computer without ever hearing of “screensavers”. It’s like trying to sell a clockwork phonogram powered by an iPod connection – sort of endearingly retarded, but more retarded than endearing. Should you know anyone with one of these, government-approved procedure is to back away slowly without using any big words which may drive them to confusion and rage.
15. Number Locked USB Drive
More and more people are
a) aware of the need for security for important data
b) under the cruel illusion that their data is important
Unless you work for Social Security or something with credit card information, the average cyber-crook has about as much interest in your directory of family photos as, well, everyone else you force to look at them. Sorry about that. Capitalizing on this misplaced ego is the wildly misnamed “Morse Code flash drive“, which doesn’t have a drip of dots or dashes. It’s just a numeric keypad which prevents your drive from being read until the correct code is entered – though how long it would take a real crook to bypass this hassle-only measure could likely be measured in seconds. If he was blindfolded. And drunk.
If you want real security, we recommend carrying around the KingMax super stick under your tongue, using the USB bowling ball (utterly unpickpocketable!), or relying on the sheer horror of the USB Barbie to deter thieves.
16. The Real Thumb Drive
The thumb drive makes it official: there is some kind of dare in Japan to build a USB stick into every singe noun in existence. We can’t say the USB thumb is a good deal: the humor value lasts approximately one second (maybe one hour if you’re a later-season Friends fan), while a personal USB drive is used daily. Unless you’re way, way too into the Saw movies we can’t see you enjoying this that much.
17. Flower Pot Speakers
We told you there was a dare. This is a true pinnacle of Japanese computer crappery – utterly pointless, only three words of english on the entire product page, and one of them is wrong. We’re assuming they were going for “pot” there, though assuming anything about the thought processes of people who’ll build electrified fake-flower noisemakers is a risky proposition.
The stupid fake flower doesn’t even dance annoyingly to our music or anything. Sorry, Japan, but we have STANDARDS for our horrific wastes of resources, money and technology in this country!
18. Ghost Radar
Step 1: Find a market sector of extremely gullible people
Step 2: Take their money
Once somebody has convinced themselves that undead spirits are flitting invisibly through the room and watching them type, getting them to believe fifty cents of LEDs agrees with them is embarrassingly easy. We’d like to mock this device harder, but we’re genuinely upset we didn’t think of it first.
19. Mini Fridge
Have you ever complained about actually having to walk from your computer to the fridge to get more million calorie sugar water? If so we shouldn’t be making it easier for you to avoid exercise as there’s a fifty per cent chance you’re spherical already. But we’ve got gadget-reporting duty to do, dammit, and we won’t let anything as inconsequential as your imminent heart attack get in our way!
The Brando mini fridge will keep one can cool for you at all times. When things are heating up in Molten Core, don’t worry about AFKing or leaving your group unbuffed – your computer will have cold refreshment ready. (WARNING: USB toilets are not yet possible, so using this fridge only guarantees you’ll have to get up eventually)
20. USB Air Mask
You might know some people who couldn’t live without their computer, but we doubt any of them have connected the air supply to the damn things. This USB-powered anti-pollen mask is designed for the allergy season – you might recognise it from similar, non-electrical masks that don’t keep you leashed to your desktop like some kind of fleshy pet of the machines. The system even has a throttle, for when you need to breathe extra-heavily at your computer. Just remember to clear the browser history afterwards.
For a refresher course on why entrusting your oxygen supply to a machine is a bad idea, we recommend watching 2001 or just thinking for a couple of seconds.