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Friday, September 4, 2009

How to Build a Hackintosh with Snow Leopard, Start to Finish


Two years ago, I detailed how to build a Hackintosh for under $800—then covered how to do the same with less hacking. Now that Snow Leopard's out, we're revisiting the Hackintosh, building a Hack Pro from scratch for roughly $900.

For folks eager to try a Mac but never wanted to plunk down the high price tag to get it, the Hackintosh—that is, a regular PC tweaked to run OS X—has always been an attractive option. That said, it's not something you should take on lightly unless you're willing—even enthusiastic—to build and maintain a PC entirely from scratch. I can't guarantee it'll be easy, but if you follow this guide step-for-step (it's exhaustive) and stick with the same (or at least roughly the same) hardware as I am, I can vouch for a rock solid system that also happens to cost a good deal less than you'd pay for a comparable Mac.

Price Comparisons

Most Hackintosh enthusiasts will say you shouldn't build a Hackintosh primarily to save money, as it's more than just an insert-disc-and-click install. Still, I always enjoy looking at the price differences between my Hackintosh and Apple's current offerings. At the moment, the cheapest Mac in the Apple store is a Mac mini sporting a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 1GB of RAM, and a 120GB hard drive. For $300 more, I'm running a 3.0GHz Quad-Core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB hard drive, and a damn saucy video card. I could have made this build much cheaper by skimping on hardware and still ended up with a great little machine, but I liked aiming for around the $800 price point from my last build—plus I really wanted to make it fly.


The most expensive iMac, by comparison, has only a 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo with 4GB of memory for $2,200 ($1,300 more than my build, but it is built into a monitor), while the cheapest Mac Pro has a single 2.66GHz Quad-Core processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 640GB hard drive—and it costs $2,500 ($1,600 more than mine, though it's a different and better processor and DDR3 rather than DDR2 RAM). In short, my $900 "Hack Pro" sports nearly as good or better hardware than any Mac that Apple sells short of the $3,300 8-Core Mac Pro (which can, incidentally, get more expensive, but it won't get much better).

The Hardware

You can find plenty of hardware capable of supporting OS X on a Hackintosh—there's no definitive build—but we're not going to go into that here. I've put together a list of hardware that I'm using and that I can guarantee will (or at least has) run Snow Leopard like a dream.

To make it easy, I've created my entire build as a wishlist over at Newegg. Unfortunately, Newegg's not cooperating with me when I try to make it public right now, so here's a link to everything I bought:

The Build

Rather than detail every step necessary to put the actual pieces of your new computer together (this guide already reads like the Bible as is), I'm just going to point you to our first-timer's guide to building a PC from scratch. Do your building, make sure everything's booting up as it should be (i.e., you can boot the computer to the point where it does nothing, because you have nothing installed on it), then let's move on.

What Else You'll Need

Assuming you've purchased all the necessary parts for your build (linked above), you'll still need a few other things before you get started:

  • A USB thumb drive that's at least 8GB in size (I'm using this 16GB Corsair drive, but obviously any sufficiently sized thumb drive should do just fine.)
  • A copy of the Snow Leopard Install DVD. You can use the $29 "Upgrade" disc to install, even though this is a fresh installation. Note: If you feel like being completely honest, go ahead and buy the Mac Box Set—though, honestly, Apple's practically made it hard *not* to buy the fully functional install disc.
  • Another Mac to do some Terminal work on. (You'll only need this other Mac for a few steps. I used my MacBook Pro, but you could also borrow a friends for an hour or so, too.)

Step One: Prepare Your Thumb Drive

We're going to be installing Snow Leopard to your Hackintosh from your thumb drive rather than from the Snow Leopard install DVD, since in order to run the installer on your PC to begin with, you'll need to slightly customize the way the installer is loaded. (More specifically, we'll be loading a custom bootloader onto the thumb drive that will make booting into the install work like a charm.*)

So first things first: You need to format your thumb drive and then turn your Snow Leopard install disc into a disk image on your desktop. Here's how to do it:

  1. Launch the Disk Utility application on your borrowed Mac (located at /Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility)
  2. Format and partition your thumb drive: Insert your thumb drive; after a second, it should show up in the Disk Utility Sidebar. When it does, (1) click on it, then (2) click on Partition. (3) Choose 1 Partition from the Volume Scheme, (4) give it a name (I called my HackintoshInstall) and select Mac OS Extended (Case-sensitive, Journaled) from the Format drop-down. Now—and this is important—(5) hit the Options button and make sure GUID Partition Table is selected as the partition scheme. Once you've made sure to set all the appropriate settings, just (6) click Apply and Disk Utility will get to partitioning your thumb drive.
  3. Copy the Snow Leopard Install DVD image to your hard drive: In the following step we'll be turning your thumb drive into a Snow Leopard Install drive, but before we do that, we need to get the installer off your DVD and onto your hard drive. To achieve this, insert the Snow Leopard DVD. When it shows up in the Disk Utility sidebar, (1) click on it, then (2) click New Image in the Disk Utility toolbar. Choose where you want to save it (for the sake of convenience, I put it on my Desktop), then click the Save button. Now go grab yourself a cold drink. This will take some time. When it finishes, move on to the next step.
  4. Restore the Snow Leopard Install disk image to your thumb drive: Now, in Disk Utility, (1) click on HackintoshInstall (or whatever you called your partitioned thumb drive) and (2) click on Restore. (3) Drag and drop Mac OS X Install DVD.dmg from the sidebar to the Source field, then (4) drag and drop your thumb drive from the sidebar to the Destination field. Now simply (5) click on Restore and enter your password when prompted. Disk Utility will take everything on the Snow Leopard Install DVD and restore that image to your thumb drive—since, like I said above, we'll be installing Snow Leopard from our thumb drive instead of the DVD. Again, go grab yourself another drink; this will take a few minutes. When it finishes, your thumb drive has basically been turned into a Snow Leopard installation drive.

As I said earlier, the thumb drive needs a little finesse before you can boot the Snow Leopard installer on your PC hardware; let's apply that finesse now.

Warning: Semi-heavy Terminal work ahead. It's not that difficult, and I've gone into a lot of detail to make it as easy to follow along as possible, but if you're not at least a little comfortable with the command line, it may make you pretty uncomfortable. Beg or borrow a command line geek for an afternoon, if needed.

  1. Make sure your thumb drive is still plugged in, open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal) and type in:
    diskutil list


    We're interested in two pieces of information here. The first is the root identifier for your thumb drive (mine looks like disk2, as you can see in the screenshot). The second is the specific identifier for the portion of the thumb drive that contains the Snow Leopard installer. (Again, see the screenshot.) In my case, the first is disk2 and the second is disk2s2. Yours may vary depending on how many disks are on your system. Copy your identifiers down somewhere. We'll need them later.

  2. Head to the Chameleon homepage, find the Latest Releases section of the site's sidebar, and download the latest version of Chameleon. (As of this writing, it's Chameleon-2.0-RC2-r640.) Uncompress the download and move the Chameleon folder to someplace that's easy to access. I'm putting it on my Desktop.
  3. Now, in Terminal, cd to the i386 folder of the Chameleon folder. On my Mac, the command looks like this:


    (1)

    cd /Users/adam/Desktop/Chameleon-2.0-RC2-r640-bin/i386/

    Yours should look similar if the Chameleon folder is on your Desktop, except your username should replace mine. (Quick shortcut: In Terminal, type cd , then drag and drop i386 folder inside Chameleon-2.0-RC2-r640 to Terminal.) Hit Enter.

  4. You're going to be running a couple of Terminal commands that will use Chameleon to make your thumb drive friendly to booting up the OS X installer. They are, as follows:

    (2)

    sudo fdisk -f boot0 -u -y /dev/rdisk2

    IMPORTANT: On your computer, replace rdisk2 with whatever you copied down above. In my case, the thumb drive's root identifier was disk2, so /dev/rdisk2 is as it should be.

    After you type in that command and hit Enter, you'll need to enter your user password to execute it. Do so, then execute the following command, again paying special attention to the disk identifier we took note of above:

    (3)

    sudo dd if=boot1h of=/dev/rdisk2s2

    IMPORTANT: As I noted, my Snow Leopard partition was disk2s2, so that command is right for me. You should replace the disk2s2 portion of the command with whatever you noted as the portion of your thumb drive that contains the Snow Leopard installer.

  5. Now we're going to place an awesome, custom EFI bootloader on your thumb drive that lets us load into the installer (and into Snow Leopard in general). So first, head over to netkas.org and download the bootloader from the bootloader link. Make sure you download it somewhere convenient. (Again, I've just downloaded it to my Desktop.)

    Now head back into Terminal, where we're going to copy the boot file to your thumb drive. (One might think that you could just do this using Finder via drag-and-drop, but in this case, doing it via Terminal is necessary.) So, in Terminal, your command should look similar to this:

    sudo cp /Users/adam/Desktop/boot /Volumes/HackintoshInstall

    The easiest way to do this is simply type in sudo cp , (1) drag and drop the boot file into Terminal, then (2) drag and drop your mounted thumb drive from the desktop into Terminal. (The drag-and-drop method is a quick Terminal trick that pastes the full path to each file or directory.) After that, simply hit Enter. (Enter your password if necessary.)

  6. I know it seems like we've already run a marathon, but you've got one last step and then it's relatively smooth sailing from here on. Download Extra.zip, unzip the file, and then drag and drop the Extra folder into your thumb drive. Nothing fancy, a simple drag and drop with your trusty old mouse will do. Once you've done that, open up your thumb drive and verify that it looks something like the screenshot below. (Notice the Extra folder, the boot file, and the OS X installer.)

Take a deep breath. By this time, you've completed all the hard work. Now it's time to boot up your machine, tweak your BIOS settings so they're ready for your OS X install, and then it's smooth sailing.

Step 2: Set Your BIOS

Before you can boot into or install OS X on your Hackintosh, you've got to make some small adjustments to your BIOS. Rather than taking you step by step through every change you need to make, I've simply snapped a picture of the relevant BIOS screens and added some notes. Just click through these images and make sure your BIOS settings match up.

Step 3: Install Snow Leopard

If you've made it this far, the hard part is over. Now it's time to install Snow Leopard, which—unlike what we've done so far—is extremely easy.

Make sure you've set the boot priority in your BIOS to boot from your thumb drive (you can see how in this pic), then simply plug your prepared thumb drive into your Hackintosh and power it up. Since screenshots aren't really an option—and since it's a fairly easy process—my install instructions come in video format:

The quick version goes like this: Boot into the Snow Leopard installer, format the hard drive you want to install Snow Leopard to (go to Utilities -> Disk Utility, then click on the drive, select 1 Partition, Mac OS X Journaled (Case-Sensitive), give it a name, and make sure GUID Partition Table is set in the Options. After you Apply the new partition, go back to the installer and install like normal to that drive. When you reboot after the install completes, press the arrow keys at the graphical boot menu and select the drive you just installed Snow Leopard to.

A Few Final Tweaks

You'll notice that, the first time Snow Leopard boots up, you're not enjoying any sound along with that snazzy intro video. We've got one small, but very simple tweak to make to get sound up and running. Here's how it works:

  1. Download the Kext Utility, then download this audio kext (a kext is kind of the Mac equivalent of a driver) and unzip it to your Desktop. Once you've got both in front of you, drag and drop the ALC889.Fix.kext file onto the Kext Utility. You'll be prompted to enter your password, so go ahead and do that when you're prompted.
  2. Once the Kext Utility finishes running, open up Disk Utility (/Applications/Utilities/Disk Utility.app). Once it loads up, (1) click on your Snow Leopard drive (mine's called Hack Leopard), then (2) click Repair Disk Permissions.
  3. Once Disk Utility finishes repairing your disk permissions, just restart. After your computer reboots, your audio should be working like a charm. (If not, open up Sound in your System Preferences and try changing the Output device.)

As things stand on your system right now, you need to have your thumb drive plugged in every time you reboot in order to load the bootloader that allows your Hackintosh to load OS X. There are certain benefits to this (for example, right now you could quite likely unplug this hard drive from your Hackintosh, plug it into a Mac Pro, and it would work just fine), but it can also be a bit of a hassle. At this point, though, you can load the bootloader and other necessary components onto the Snow Leopard hard drive and change that drive to your primary boot drive in your BIOS. All you've got to do is head back to the step-by-step bootloader guide above and repeat every step, except this time you're applying each step to your hard drive rather than your thumb drive.

Congratulations! You've Got a Fully Functional Hackintosh

"But for realz," you ask, "does it actually work well?"

I've been using one or another Hackintosh as my main computer for two years now, and while I've run into the occasional bump in the road, they've generally run extremely well. In fact, things just seem to keep on getting better and better, and the current build I'm running (the one I walked you through above) feels like the fastest, most stable build to date.

That's not to say that you won't experience an occasional kernel panic—you may very well. But I get crashes on my MacBook Pro, too, and I've never felt that my current Hack Pro has any more problems than any other proper Mac I've used on a regular basis. That may seem a bit crazy, but it's true.

As for upgrading—often, you'll be able to upgrade your Hack Pro without any problems. That said, it's something you normally need to check on beforehand, and you should take all of the upgrade precautions before giving it a go.

I'm planning on letting readers know how my Hack Pro handles various 10.6.x updates shortly after they happen, though, and if it requires a little extra work, I'll show you how to handle it.


Let's hear your thoughts—whether you've dabbled in the world of Hackintosh, are interested in doing so, or just think it's plain crazy—in the comments.

Adam Pash is the editor of Lifehacker; he loves a good hack, cherishes his Macintosh, and craves a Mac Pro, so building a Hack Pro was a perfect fit. His special feature Hack Attack appears on Lifehacker. Subscribe to the Hack Attack RSS feed to get new installments in your newsreader.

* OS X boots in a different way than, say, Windows, using a boot tool called EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface). On store-bought Macs, EFI is loaded on the hardware by default (in fact, in place of the standard BIOS most of us are used to). In order to boot OS X on our non-factory Macs, we need to create our own custom path to EFI.

Huge thanks to stellarola, Onetrack, and weaksauce12 for all their help in getting me up to speed on installing Snow Leopard on a Hackintosh PC. The Hackintosh community is large and active, and they are awesome.

A MiG-35 jet performs a low pass at an air show in Zhukovsky

Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day Trailer


youtube.com Nearly a decade later, writer and director Troy Duffy is back with Boondock Saints 2. The MacManus brothers have been in deep hiding in the quiet valleys of Ireland, far removed from their former lives. When Word comes that a priest has been killed by sinister forces in Boston, they return to mount a violent and bloody crusade of justice.

Ancient wall found in Jerusalem

Handout picture released by Israel's Antiquity Authority of wall uncovered in Jerusalem, 2 September 2009
Archaeologists say the wall formed part of the region's first fortifications

A 3,700-year-old wall has been discovered in east Jerusalem, Israeli archaeologists say.

The structure was built to protect the city's water supply as part of what dig director Ronny Reich described as the region's earliest fortifications.

The 26-ft (8-m) high wall showed the Canaanite people who built it were a sophisticated civilisation, he said.

Critics say Israel uses such projects as a political tool to bolster Jewish claims to occupied Palestinian land.

Excavations at the site, known as the City of David, are in a Palestinian neighbourhood just outside the walls of Jerusalem's old city.

It is partly funded by Elad, a Jewish settler organisation that also works to settle Jews in that area.

Open to the public

The wall dates from a time in the Middle Bronze Age when Jerusalem was a small, fortified enclave controlled by the Canaanites, before they were conquered by the Israelites.

Its discovery demonstrated Jerusalem's inhabitants were sophisticated enough to undertake major building projects, said Mr Reich.

"The wall is enormous, and that it survived 3,700 years - this is, even for us, a long time," said Mr Reich, an archaeology professor at the University of Haifa.

The excavation team said the wall formed part of a structure that protected a passage from a hilltop fortress to a nearby spring - the area's only water source.

Israel's Antiquities Authority said the site would be open to the public on Thursday.

50 Amazing Travel Gadgets You Gotta Have

Technology.am — There are many gadgets that may be considered by you. It is obvious; you don’t forget your laptop or cell phone while traveling, whether for business or leisure. But here we are collecting some of the less-obvious gadgets that you may want to consider when traveling.

Apple Nike+ Armband:

Apple Nike+ Armband

The water-resistant Apple Nike+ Armband for the iPod Nano will do the trick and then some. Once fastened to your arm underneath a coat or jacket, its wide Velcro clasp makes it virtually impossible to steal, at least without you noticing.

AquaSkipper:

AquaSkipper

AquaSkipper is a new 6-foot-long Jet Ski that makes you hop on water instead of walking or surfing on it. The device relies on the hopping motion to propel the ski forward. It is made from aircraft grade aluminum and has a wingspan of seven feet. For the propulsion the device relies on a fiberglass spring.

Biometric Card:

Biometric Card

The Fly Clear card is like an EZPass/FastLane card for airline travelers. Currently available at select airports – with more added regularly – it allows you quick and easy access through obscenely long security lines. Tim Ferriss – author of The 4 Hour Work Week – claims it “cuts down my airport wait time about 95%”. I’m sold.

Bottle Opener Sandals:

Bottle Opener Sandals

Fancy yourself more of a hops fellah than a wino? The aforementioned Reef has outdone themselves by combining the classic staple of beach life – the sandal – with the classic staple of the beach life boozer – the bottle opener.

CompuTrekker Plus AW Camera Backpack:

CompuTrekker Plus AW Camera Backpack

And, of course, we have to wrap this up with one kick ass backpack in which to store all of this great gear. This incredible bag – available for less than $150US – packs enough space for a 17″ laptop; pro digital SLR camera; 35 mm or compact medium format system; 4-5 lenses (up to 400mm f/2.8); camera flash and virtually all of your accessories.

Credit Card-Sized 8GB Storage Device:

Credit Card-Sized 8GB Storage Device

A flashpacker’s delight. It’s lame name aside, the PQI U510 manages to cram 8GB of storage into a slick, aluminum credit card-sized unit.

De-Pooify Your Water Supply:

De-Pooify Your Water Supply

If you’re not a big fan of drinking animal droppings with your river water while hiking or on the go, the MSR Miox water filter is all you need to de-pooify a steady, virtually unlimited, potable water supply.

Foldable Bike:

Foldable Bike

We’ve seen some odd bicycle designs before, but none were as collapsible as this folding bike concept by British designer Thomas Owen, called “One.” Look how it folds into that nicely portable rounded shape, resembling a hatbox with an easy carrying handle.

Foldable cloth oven:

foldable cloth oven

All those who love outdoors might well know the food problems you’ve to face. Need not face them anymore! Next time you go out for camping, take the foldable oven with you. Researchers in Taiwan Textile Institute have developed a cloth that can take high temperatures (over 300 degrees) making it hot enough to roast chicken or bake cookies.

FreeAgent GO:

FreeAgent GO

Of course, if the miniscule capacity restrictions of a USB Drive are too small for you, you can always opt for the Seagate FreeAgent GO. It’s available in up to 160GB capacity and it’s about the size of a deck of cards making it extremely portable. The kicker is that you can hook this bad boy up to any computer (think: internet cafe in Bangkok) and run all of your own software, web settings, etc. off of it.

Front Runner boat:

Front Runner boat

This machine looks to be inspired from Star Wars, but actually is a boat dubbed Front Runner. The boat has an all-aluminum body that makes it light and gives it the ability to fly across smooth water. Front Runner is powered by a 215HP engine and uses ‘win forward-mounted jet-drive motors’ to propel it forward. The machine is designed in such a manner that it skims on top of very shallow water, such as your bathtub.

Gorillapod:

Gorillapod

The Gorillapod. Tripods are so last month. And who wants to actually hold their digital camera, like with their hands, when they can mount it virtually anywhere and to anything with this beast?

GPS Photo Tagger:

GPS Photo Tagger

Serious traveler/photographers know what a pain in the ass it can be to keep track of where each and every one of their photos were taken. You could keep a running diary of every shot, but who needs that hassle? Enter the Sony GPSCS1KA GPS Unit Kit. All you need to do to use it is turn it on and carry it with you. It takes a snapshot of your location at fifteen second intervals. Back home, the included software checks the EXIF data from each photo and matches it to where you were at that point in time.

Hammock:

Hammock

It’s tough to tell from their German language website, but this 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque device is, as Gadling puts it, “a hammock to keep your small electronics from falling to their death while hanging from oddly-placed outlets.” I can honestly say I’ve never been in such a situation, but I like to be prepared.

Hand-Powered Generator:

Hand-Powered Generator

Sure it looks like a kid’s yo-yo, but I rather like it: simple, quiet, rugged, playful and, most of all, useful. According to the manufacturer’s website: A minute of pulling the PCG generates enough energy for 20 minutes of talk time on a mobile phone, 1 hour of ultrabright LED flashlight use and 3 hours play time on an iPod Shuffle.

iCache:

iCache

Imagine combining every credit and debit card in your wallet into a compact, secure device no larger than a Motorla RAZR. That’s the goal of iCache. If the biometric scanning device works nearly as well as it’s being billed, this would almost render the misfortune of losing one’s wallet moot.

Joost Travel TV:

Joost Travel TV

If you are the one who love to travel all across the globe but can’t miss watching TV on the move, you surely need to check out Joost, an easy and simple way of watching TV on the internet.

Kindle – Books to go:

Kindle

Amazon Kindle is the first-generation e-book reader certainly needs improvement — the page-turn buttons are awkwardly placed, among other things — but anyone who likes to read on the road should consider it an essential companion. That’s because you can take a veritable library with you. The 10.3-ounce device holds around 200 books; infinitely more if you load books onto external SD cards. Better yet is Whispernet, Amazon’s built-in wireless service — it piggybacks on Sprint’s EVDO network — that delivers books on demand in seconds.

Laser Virtual Keyboard:

Laser Virtual Keyboard

Relieve your hands of the stress of constantly pushing down heavy keyboard keys with a Bluetooth Laser Virtual Keyboard. This thing is Minority Report cool, but without Tom Cruise’s crazy antics and all that 1984-style big-government-gettin’-up-in-your-piece nonsense.

OHSO Pocket Toothbrush:

OHSO Pocket Toothbrush

The lowly toothbrush has seen few updates in the last century or so. The OHSO Marko Chrome Pocket Toothbrush looks to change that.

Pen Fishing Rod:

Pen Fishing Rod

This clever little gadget is about the size of a large marker pen at only eight inches long, and yet opens up to become an aluminium alloy 4ft fishing rod, complete with a left and right handed reel (packed separately), a 5lb breaking strain line, and even includes a triple hook spinner. Never again will you be caught short when you spot a fish rise, and it’s small enough to carry with you everywhere!

Pocket Cinema:

Pocket Cinema

If we told you that you could fit a 50″ television screen in your trousers you’d be perfectly justified in giving us a good slap before storming off in a rage. But slap ye not, for that’s exactly what you can do with the Pocket Cinema V10 – and without a buxom blonde asking if you’re pleased to see her or not. It’s as small as a mobile phone, has inbuilt stereo speakers and can project movies and pictures up to a staggering 50 inches wide – so no more squinting at the tiny B&B’s portable TV next time you drag the family to Skegness.

Portable Barbecue Grill:

Portable Barbecue Grill

The Grilliput is stainless steel; weighs roughly 20 ounces; folds up to about the size of a thick, round ruler; and costs less than $30. Hell, it’s small and compact enough that you could tailgate in a hostel bathroom. Not that you’d want to of course. But you could. How cool is that?

Portable Kitchen Sink:

portable Kitchen Sink

The Kitchen Sink is a great accessory for the environmentally conscious camper. Hidden snugly away in a handy carry pouch, it pops out and expands to give you a sink that will hold up to 5 litres of water. The steel rim keeps the sink upright once it’s been filled, and the reinforced carry handles will make carrying the water back from the babbling brook 200 yards away less of a chore.

Power Adapter Kit:

Power Adapter Kit

Tumi’s Ultra Slim Universal Power Adaptor Kit – “the ultimate power tool for mobile computer and electronics users.” Pricey but ridiculously thin and portable.

Quik Pod:

Quik Pod

The Quik Pod is a gadget that extends the reach of your arms and hands so you’re not restricted to taking awkward, super close-up photos of you and the strange “friend” you hazily woke up with at the hostel this morning. Sure, you’ll look like a goober using this thing, but face it: everyone knows you’re a tourist anyway (yes, unfortunately the Abercrombe + Fitch ring t-shirt and Boston Red Sox hat are dead giveaways). It’s less than $30 via the manufacturer’s website.

Snowboarding Jacket GPS:

snowboarding jacket

Now this is something very much techno- savvy and rather quite innovating for all those snowboarders at the global front. This unique snowboarding jacket is not just a usual jacket, in spite of keeping you warm it also has GPS connectivity and that too through a watch. The display panel is mounted on the sleeve of the jacket which presents you with the speed, distance and time as well.

Solar Charger:

Solar Charger

I’ve been griping about the lack of killer solar chargers since last year. But Earthtech Product PowerMonkey Explorer may just be the answer to my lowly prayers.

Solar Powered Backpack:

Solar Powered Backpack

You can throw everything above into the solar-powered Voltaic Backpack. This bad boy will power every one of your gadgets (save your laptop) as long as there’s daylight. And when the sun goes down, you can always take to the streets to impress strangers with your new 8-inch tool.

Stash Sandals:

Stash Sandals

If you’d rather your hostel-mates or the hotel chambermaid not think you’re a disgusting chap with a penchant for showing off your poo-laden unmentionables, Reef’s Stash sandals are just the trick. Although they’re technically marketed towards the ladies, they are offered in jet black. So if you’re a dude, no one has to know that you like to wear women’s shoes.

Stowboard Foldable Skateboard:

Stowboard Foldable Skateboard

The Stowboard is a wild innovation – it’s something like a skateboard that folds up into a compact little unit that can be fit easily into a backpack. The board is as long as a regular skateboard. You can ride the device smoothly maintaining a perfect balance.

Storm tracker weather device:

Stromtracker weather device

If you are looking for a domestic device that can make you aware of nature’s wrath, Storm tracker weather alert device seems to be the best solution.

StuffBak Recovery Tag:

StuffBak Recovery Tag

Tagging your luggage with semi-permanent global ID tags – such as those offered by StuffBak.com or EZFind – could make finding your bags (or iPod or collapsible traveler’s sousaphone) a hell of a lot easier. Sure, they’re not foolproof and they require that whoever finds your stuff is kind-hearted and appreciates the concept of karma enough to want to return it to its rightful owner in the first place.

Swedish Fire Steel:

Swedish Fire Steel

Now you need not struggle with soggy matches or lighters in the wind when you’re out camping. Whatever be the weather, you can simply get your fire started first time. The fire starter named Swedish Firesteel developed originally by Swedish Department of Defense helps producing a powerful 3,000C spark that lasts for 3,000 – 12,000 strikes.

Swiss Army USB:

Swiss Army USB

I know, I know: how many kick ass data storage solutions can I list in one blog post? Evidently too many. The picture says it all: the Swiss Army USB is a standard pocket knife with a protected, slide-out 1GB memory stick, plus Blade, Nail file with screwdriver, Scissors, Key ring, LED mini light and Retractable ball point pen. It’s a bit pricey at $78.00 MSRP, but if you’re looking for a simple, portable data storage solution with a no-frills multi-tool, this should do the trick.

The Beerbelly:

The Beerbelly

Ask any budget traveler what their biggest money sink is/was on their way around the world and the answer is almost unanimous: booze. Enter The Beerbelly. It’s essentially a hollow prosthetic beer gut that you fill with the “adult” [wink wink] beverage of your choice.

Theft-Proof Day Pack:

Theft-Proof Day Pack

Love ‘em or hate ‘em. Traveler reviews for PacSafe products have always been a mixed bag (pun intended) to say the least. Folks either swear by them or they loathe them with a disdain that rivals their hatred for sunburns and loud cell phone talkers.

Tobacco Pipe:

Tobacco Pipe

The ingenious manufacturer describes it as a a “revolutionary self-igniting smoking apparatus that combines refillable, adjustable butane lighter with a high quality tobacco smoking pipe.”

Trackstick II:

Trackstick II

Gadling reports the Trackstick II is “designed specifically for integration with Google Earth, Trackstick II is a GPS device that lets you “keep a satellite scrapbook of all your travels and record your explorations.” It’s like having a trail of live map pushpins follow you wherever you go!

Travel Cases:

Travel Cases

Checking your crackberry or updating weekly travel expenses on your Treo while scuba diving is easier than ever before with the waterproof and crushproof Pelican Micro Case Series of cases. There’s even a purge valve to equalize the pressure!

Travel Tent:

MoonTent

Gone are the days of conventional camping when you used to carry just a sleeping bagbag. Camping is now much more than just planning a trip to some place. The Eureka’s new N!ergy Tent, if used with the E! Power System, aims to bring technology outdoors, featuring a trio of 12-volt outlets to keep your devices charged at all times. Moreover, the blue LED’s sparkle the outdoors and act as a portable night light. The Eureka! N!ergy tent comes for $249, with an extra $50 for the E! Power System Power Pack.

Ultraviolet Bacteria and Pathogen Killing Water Wand:

Ultraviolet Bacteria and Pathogen Killing Water Wand

Actually, it’s called the SteriPEN (good thing I’m not in their marketing department). The SteriPEN is like the MSR Miox for geeks and Star Wars fans (I know that’s a redundant redundancy). And it’s equally as effective: “it’s fast (48 seconds for 16 ounces), light (under 110g/4 oz), easy and effective, it’s perfect for hikers and campers who value powerful products in small packages with no loss of effectiveness. Adventurer is especially effective against common protozoa like Cryptosporidium.” Opt for the solar adapter and you too can live indefinitely on a compound in Montana with the tinfoil hat brigade and their anti-government assault weaponry.

Universal Power Adapter:

Universal Power Adapter

This adapter from USBGeek.com is a whole new ball game. At only $17, it’s less than half the price of H+S’s and way cooler.

USB Flash Drive Wristband:

USB Flash Drive Wristband

Nowadays, most long-term travelers will pack at least a USB thumb drive to store software applications, web settings and passwords, etc. Imation Flash Wristbands let you forget about rummaging through your pack or your pockets, or worrying about the likelihood that your standard USB drive will get lost or stolen. Now you can wear it right on your wrist. Available up to 256 MB capacity, it’s great as a backup drive.

USB Rechargeable Batteries:

USB Rechargeable Batteries

Carting a handful of rechargeable batteries and a charger around the world adds more than a bit of clutter and weight to your luggage or pack. USBCell Rechargeable Batteries solve this problem by embedding the charger into the battery itself. Available in a variety of battery sizes and types, these are pure genius for flashpackers and traveling gadget lovers.

USB Shaver:

USB Shaver

This USB powered shaver could be your perfect travel attendant since it can recharge your laptop anywhere and you will be at ease to clean your beard for the important meetings (e.g. blind dates). The compact shaver measures 4 1/2″ x 2″ and weighs a mere 13 lbs. It comes compatible with USB 1.0 and 2.0 interface. The built-in USB connection takes care of the charging of the wireless shaver. Priced at $14.40.

UV LED Goggles:

UV LED Goggles

Now these may seem a bit vague but it’s true, these goggles are a lot more than they seem to be. They have the ability to see in the dark as well as may be termed as the X-ray vision compatible. What are the army men thinking? Are they going nuts? Why have they unleashed such a gadget and that too to the civilians? Would definitely prove dangerous if some infiltrators get a hold on one of such devices.

Vibrating rings:

Vibrating rings

Gail Knight, a British designer has developed two such rings that will guide the travelers in the unfamiliar places. These rings have global positioning satellite to guide the wearer. Also, there is a device controller which one needs to wear around the neck or clip on to clothing.

This device controller has all the necessary electronics that could not be fitted in the rings. The eight digit display allows for a postcode to be entered. It also has an electronic compass and GPS system that powers the navigation of this device.

WiFi Detector:

WiFi Detector

Critical to flash packers and Location-Independent-Professionals (LIP) is the ability to grab a WiFi signal at a moment’s notice. And you don’t want to have boot up your laptop every time you need to check your Facebook account. Most WiFi detectors provide little more than a green light to indicate when a signal is present. The problem is that these devices don’t tell you if that signal is encrypted or … really anything more about the network at all. Enter ThinkGeek’s Third Generation WiFi Detector, featuring.

X-Ray Gear Bag:

X-Ray Gear Bag

How the world exactly what you’re carrying, even if what you’re showing is only a reasonable facsimile. The X-Ray tote and shoulder bags, made of a space-age woven plastic fiber, appear to have been bombarded by X-rays, and have magically made your eyes sensitive to their reflection. It appears as though your stuff has gone through the security check at the airport (although, we highly recommend AGAINST carrying these through such a checkpoint as the NTSB, as a rule, has no sense of humor.

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