boston.com Business your connection to The Boston Globe
Personal Tech

NekFit, for the Running Man

A new iPod Nano accessory, called nekFit, places your iPod Nano or Shuffle on the back of your neck. The idea is to keep your cables away from your arms and chest.

But unless you want to look like one of the enslaved Enterprise crew in "The Gamesters of Triskelion" episode of "Star Trek" or a prisoner in "Running Man," I'd stick with the traditional armband from Apple.

NekFit really does look like a sci-fi shock collar. But the nuttiest thing about it is that it places your iPod controls behind your head, where most humanoids don't keep their eyes.

Woburn-based NekFit Inc. (nekfit.com) has fitted the device with large, tactile buttons which help a bit, but controls take some getting used to. NekFit does a good job of tidying-up those cables along its frame, which resembles an eyewear frame you put on backwards.

NekFit is available for about $34 at the Athlete's Corner in Swampscott, the Cycle Loft in Burlington, and at other retailers throughout Massachusetts. You can also find it at Amazon.com.

Mobile Computing

Wee Asus Eee PC can make Linux easy

The new Asus Eee PC (starting at about $300) is one of the cheapest, easiest ways for you to begin shrugging off your dependence on Windows and the Mac OS.

Asus is calling the 2-pound Linux Eee PC an appliance, but the device is much more capable than a net-connected toaster. It has a full keyboard and trackpad, three USB ports, a 7-inch display, and dozens of built-in applications. Some models also have built-in webcams.

The Eee PC comes loaded with Open Office, the open source suite of business productivity tools that is (somewhat) compatible with Microsoft Office, and a clean, graphical OS interface. Asus is promoting the device as a fun gaming and learning tool for kids, and as a handy, Wi-Fi device for making Internet VoIP calls.

If you find that Linux is not working out for you (if you are dissatisfied with the range of applications you are finding out there, for example), Asus notes that the Eee PC is also Windows compatible.

Boomer tech

Nintendo's eyeball fixer-upper

I tossed my contact lenses years ago, when my vanity finally gave way to common sense. I just found myself a girl with glasses, and together we graze the Internet for vintage frames.

But lately I've been squinting at bulletin boards, and at the whiteboard in my classroom, like Mr. Magoo. And since I am a sucker for any relatively quick and easy fix, I am now engaged in a peeper-improvement program, courtesy of Nintendo's latest good-for-you game, Flash Focus: Vision training in minutes a day (flashfocus.net).

Flash Focus is based on the tracking programs pilots and athletes use to stay sharp. Many neuroscientists and doctors subscribe to the "use it or lose it" philosophy when it comes to our faculties.

Flash Focus includes a series of games designed to sharpen your eyes' tracking ability, such as a bland-looking version of a sidewalk shell game and a more colorful and fun baseball game. In the first-person baseball game, you tap on a ball with your stylus, as the ball approaches you from the pitcher's mound. Flash Focus also has a table tennis game that works in much the same way.

I am enjoying the Flash Focus games. They don't require you to create a silly avatar with a King Richard's Faire costume and complex personality traits. The games are as easy and gratifying to play as Pong.

Still, my vanity persists. If you see me on the street, please do not ask me my "Eye Age," as determined by Flash Focus - at least until I get more practice in. Let's just say it is more embarrassing to admit than my Brain Age score.

Innovative last week

Barry B. - the face of aerial surveillance?

Since protesters find the sight of aerial spycams so menacing, perhaps domestic snoops should switch to something cuter. Imagine an antigovernment agitator's feelings melting before FlyTech Barry B. Benson, the radio-controlled bee from WowWee.

Barry B. is merely a toy, made of plastic, foam, and carbon fiber. No spy camera or less-than-lethal weapons are attached, so Homeland Security scientists will need to attempt their own retrofitting. WowWee, which makes the Robosapien toy that often lurks outside electronics stores at the mall, will release Barry B. this month ahead of the animated Jerry Seinfeld flick, "Bee Movie."

TECH LAB Watch Mark Baard demonstrate some of the technology he reviews at boston.com/business.

More from Boston.com

SEARCH THE ARCHIVES