AmtrakConnect free WiFi added to 12 East Coast routes, snack car will still cost ya

Remember when we noted the existence of AmtrakConnect WiFi on the Adirondack train (number 69) about two weeks ago? Although it wasn’t official at the time, it is now — and it turns out that was just a sliver of what to expect. Amtrak recently announced that the free service is currently available on twelve of its East Coast routes, which should please many a railway commuter accustomed to WiFi deprivation. Eight of those routes (Northeast Regional, Keystone and Empire services, Carolinian, Downeaster, Ethan Allen Express, New Haven – Springfield Shuttle and Vermonter) feature full wireless connectivity from head to caboose, while the others (Adirondack, Maple Leaf, Palmetto and Pennsylvanian) have designated cars that allow for internet access. Factor in its Acela and Northwest Regional lines, and Amtrak says 60 percent of its fleet is now WiFi-capable with more additions due in California before the year’s out. Better yet, “4G speeds” are also in the cards for the future, but we won’t hold our breath waiting for an equally swift rollout. Full press release after the break.

Continue reading AmtrakConnect free WiFi added to 12 East Coast routes, snack car will still cost ya

AmtrakConnect free WiFi added to 12 East Coast routes, snack car will still cost ya originally appeared on Engadget on Tue, 01 Nov 2011 12:56:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Rest Modules Let Flight Crews Sleep in Cargo Hold

Flight crews will finally be able to join the mile-high club in peace with this Crew Rest Module

You know those battered aluminum cargo containers you see stacked up at the airport? Well, those might soon contain people, and not just stuff.

TIMCO, manufacturer of all kinds of airplane interiors, built these Crew Rest Modules units for Austrian Airlines. They’re the same size and shape as cargo containers, and can be loaded and hooked up to power in half an hour. The idea is that on long-haul flights lasting more than 11 hours, the crew can take a break and sleep in the six-bed, soundproofed chamber.

It seems like a great idea, allowing flight attendants to escape the constant demands of over-entitled business-class passengers, or the moronic bleatings of the cattle class out back.

I have a question for any flight crew out there. How do you get into the hold when the plane is in flight? The product specs say that there is a ladder assembly, so I assume that there is some kind of secret hatch somewhere on the 767s they’re built for.

Crew Rest Module [TIMCO via Andrew Liszewski]

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‘Track’ Bike With Coaster-Brake Actually Looks Like Fun

SE Bikes’ Draft Coaster offers fixed-gear style with beach-cruiser control

The coaster brake, found on beach cruisers and Dutch-style city bikes, has come to the track bike in the form of the Draft Coaster from SE bikes.

Or should I say “track bike style“? For the Draft Coaster is anything but track ready. It is heavy (26 pounds or 12 kilos), has a hi-ten steel frame and comes with a riser bar, not drops. But no matter, as this is really about having a simple, clean looking bike to get around town.

When thought about like this, the design makes more sense. There are no visible brakes, and no cables, but there are fender mounts and platform pedals (or “peddles” as it says in the product blurb). The crankset is steel, the seat has a built-in bottle opener, and with the coaster brake you just push back on the pedals to stop.

At just $330, it’s hard to argue with this as a cheap beater for city riding. And despite that hi-ten frame, its still a lot lighter than a fully-specced commuter bike.

Draft Coaster product page [SE Bikes via Urban Velo]

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Lean Mean Green Machine, a Titanic, Terrifying Toddler’s Trike

The Lean Mean Green Machine turns tough adults into teeny-tiny children. In a good way

This behemoth is called the Lean Mean Green Machine, and just about the only green thing about this oversized big-wheel copy is its color — it’s powered by a Harley Davidson Evolution V-twin engine, for instance, and not burning the energy of a child hopped up on sugar.

But that doesn’t stop it being all kinds of awesome.

The hulking 450-pound monster puts out 60 horsepower, can reach 50mph and run for 400 miles on a full 8.5 gallon tank. The front wheel measures 45-inches in diameter (1.14 meters) and steering is done with two levers, just like the original kids toy.

You change gears with foot pedals, the brakes are on those levers, and the giant front wheel is driven by a chain inside the fairing. It’s one of the most terrifying vehicles I have ever seen, and I want to ride it.

In fact, the only thing I don’t like about it is the paint-job. It looks too much like a toy. If I was going to drop the $75,000 that this trike costs, I’d demand it at least have the front wheel repainted to look like a buzz-saw.

But just about the funniest thing is how amazingly well it makes the burly chaps in the photograph look like tiny children. The Machine looks so tiny, shiny and toy-like that the men looked like they have photoshopped into the picture.

Available now.

Lean Mean Green Machine [Hammacher Schlemmer via the Giz]

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Amazon Rolling Out Robotic Delivery Lockers

An Amazon delivery locker in Bellevue College, Seattle. Photo Todd Bishop

If you’re a gadget blogger who works from home, the hardest part of receiving deliveries from Amazon is dragging on your pants before you answer the door to the delivery guy. But for regular people with proper jobs, taking time off to wait for UPS isn’t practical. Which is why Amazon is trialling deliveries to public lockers.

The tests are ongoing in Seattle and parts of New York, in Rite Aid and 7-Eleven stores, among others.

Todd Bishop, a writer for GeekWire, found an option in his Amazon address book to “search for a locker location” and add it as a destination. When he placed his order, Amazon also sent him a six-digit code, and when he reached the locker machine he entered that code on a touch screen. The screen then displayed a diagram showing which locker would open. He touched the screen again, a door clicked open and there was his package.

I like this idea for a couple of reasons. First is that it makes Amazon ordering so easy: Place an order with Prime and pick it up on the way home from work the next day. Presumably a delivery confirmation will let you know that it is waiting for you, but if you chose a store in your neighborhood for delivery, it’s not really very inconvenient just to go check.

Second is the environmental and practical advantage. The delivery guy needs to visit one destination, not many. This uses less gas, puts the van on the road for less time and may even reduce shipping costs to you, the customer.

The tests seem to be rolling out rather fast in the Seattle area. Have any readers seen these in their hometowns? Let us know in the comments.

Exclusive: Hands-on with Amazon Locker, now working [GeekWire via the Giz]

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Trek Belleville Gets You Around in Style

The Belleville isn’t what you’d expect from Trek, but it’s pretty gorgeous anyway

This handsome machine is part of Trek’s 2012 lineup. It’s called the Belleville, and the bike itself is as elegant as the name when it comes to getting you and your stuff around the city.

The Belleville lands somewhere between an old-style tourer and a Dutch-style city bike, although the build itself is all modern. It has three speeds hidden inside the rear hub (Shimano Nexus), and a 6v dynamo inside the front one. Rider-friendly features include full-coverage fenders, dynamo-powered lights, a chain-guard and front-and-rear racks and a long-lasting (and very comfortable) steel frame.

In short, if you want to get around in comfort and style (but don’t need to carry the bike up five flights of stairs when you get home), this is designed for you.

The Belleville costs $720, which seems pretty good until you realize that many of the features are optional. Racks, fenders and lights will cost extra, but this price is also the MSRP, so you should check things out at your local bike shop when these start to turn up.

Belleville product page [Trek via Urban Velo]

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Electric Bamboo Scooter Perfect For The Morning Bakery Run

The T2 O concept looks great for nipping around town. Photo Antoine Fritsch

While electric bikes may or not be better than their people-powered counterparts, the push-along scooter seems like a perfect candidate for some extra electric oomph. What’s more, the lesser stresses of a scooter’s simple design looks like a better fit for bamboo, too.

So the T20 bamboo scooter from France’s Antoine Fritsch seems ideal. Scooting is a lot less efficient than pedaling, so an electrical assist is welcome and, after kicking off by yourself, the motor will cut in and carry you for around 40km (25 miles) at up to 25kph (16mph).

The brakes use disks, and there’s a seat on which you lean instead of sit, similar to those found at European bus stops. It doesn’t look very easy to lock up, but as a way to scoot across town to pick up the morning baguette and croissants, it looks ideal.

Bamboo Scooter [Fritsch Durisotti via Andrew Liszewski]

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Google Earth hits one billion downloads, those with fear of flying still getting virtual kicks

In a feat that outdoes even Dr. Evil’s vision of worldwide domination, the folks in Mountain View have reported a staggering one billion downloads of Google Earth. Over the years, the service has taken us around the world, giving us a peak into amazing and sometimes obscure places ranging from the bottom of the ocean to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s also evolved from its humble beginnings as a desktop app back in 2005 to include a mobile app and a plug-in, not to mention a 3D flight simulation used with Google Maps — all features that helped it reach the astronomical milestone. For that, we salute you Google Earth. Check out the celebratory video after the break.

Continue reading Google Earth hits one billion downloads, those with fear of flying still getting virtual kicks

Google Earth hits one billion downloads, those with fear of flying still getting virtual kicks originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 05 Oct 2011 17:15:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceOfficial Google Blog, Google Earth  | Email this | Comments

E-Bike Cruiser With Trunk, Stereo, Style

Retro looks and modern gizmos won Tony Pereira the Oregon Manifest constructors prize for the second year running

Yeah, yeah, that idiot Charlie Sorrel is writing about yet another electric bike. But wait a second: this one is actually super-cool.

Not only does Tony Pereira’s bike look like something Pee-wee Herman would ride, it also won the Best in Show prize at this year’s Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Design Challenge.

Tony works out of Portland, OR (of course), and although he styles the bike after a fifties cruiser, it is totally modern. The “gas tank” is in fact a battery pack hooked up to a 350 watt Bionx electric hub in the rear wheel, and the carbon-fiber trunk up front is lockable and houses a sound system, perfect for annoying everyone on your next critical mass. The battery is good for 60 miles.

That trunk also has a small recess for a cellphone and cycle computer, and has USB ports for charging anything else.

The final touch is a U-lock integrated into the frame. From the key (which is inserted into the head-tube), it looks like he used a Kryptonite lock. This is the same integrated lock design that won Tony the prize last year.

You won’t be able to buy the bike (yet), but if you ask nicely, and have the right money, Pereira might just build you one.

Oregon Manifest 2011 Winners [Core77 via Bicycle Design]

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Brompton H-Type For Tall Riders

The longer tube below the hinge can be seen in the Brompton on the right

Six-footers looking to buy a folding bike will be pleased with the news that Brompton is set to launch a bigger version of its famous folder. The H Type shifts the handlebar up 60mm (2.4 inches) and out 13mm (a half inch). This might not sound like much, but bike comfort is a game of millimeters, so two inches is quite a lot.

The extra height is added not just by lengthening the steerer tube (it seems wrong to call it a stem) — which would cause the tips of the bars to hit the ground when folded — but also by adding distance between the hinge and the headset. This adds 100 grams to the weight of the bike (roughly 9-12 kilos or 20-26 pounds), and the bikes can still fit into all existing bags (the saddle is the high point when folded, not the bars).

Other tweaks to the line are grippier, easier to fold pedals and — going by the photos and past history at least — new colors. The price difference for new bikes is as yet unannounced, but your own bike can be retrofitted for a painful $400.

Brompton launches new luggage and handlebars at Eurobike [BikeBiz]

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