Distributing a website over a content delivery network is typically an expensive proposition, but since the release of the Google App Engine beta program, there’s an option for small to medium sized sites to easily distribute content on Google’s infrastructure. Putting the application SDK aside, Matt Riggott wrote a decent howto on using the service simply as a free CDN:
A content delivery network, or CDN, is a system of servers spread around the world, serving files from the nearest physical location. Instead of waiting for a file to find its way from a server farm in Silicon Valley 8,000 kilometres away, I can receive it from London, Dublin, or Paris, cutting down the time I wait. The big names — Google, Yahoo, Amazon, et al — use CDNs for their sites, but they’ve always been far too expensive for us mere mortals. Until now.
There’s a service out there ready for you to use as your very own CDN. You have the company’s blessing, you won’t need to write a line of code, and — best of all — it’s free.
There are limitations to the service, of course. You can’t host any files larger than 1MB, and you’re limited to 650,000 requests a day and 10GB of downloads. That said, there are a lot of sites that fit within these parameters and could offload the static portion of their content to see a large reduction in bandwidth and provide faster load times to end users.
Disposable battery/charger for cellphones.
At two dollars (frugal Santa), if this is what it might be, it could be really awesome. What I am hoping to find in here is a case that can be cracked open, batteries replaced and if I am really lucky a voltage regulator. Sort of like a Minty Boost, but cheaper. Will it work? Maybe. The fitting to the charge booster is proprietary, aimed at a Samsung phone user, but with a cut off a USB mini B cable fitting, it should fit most of the rechargeable devices in my life.
Kingston 8 Gig micro SD mobility kit
8 gigs will make my phone have pretty much unlimited storage (for now). It would also more than double one of my mp3 players’ capacity. Probably the most happy thing about this kit is that it comes with a host of micro SD adapters. As more things move towards the Micro SD format, lots of adapters will be handy. They never seem to be around when things need to be uploaded. Between that and really high capacity cards, too many pictures are staying on the camera too long.
Sandisk M2 2 Gig adapter
Sony annoys me how they make everybody bend to their proprietary flash card format. If you want to jack up your PSP’s storage, you have to do something like this. Video, audio, lots of applications, home brew apps, gotta have a memory card for the PSP.
Adhesive copper sheet
This stuff is neat for making circuits on the fly. Basically, it is wire with glue on the back. It can be cut with scissors, torn, scored with a knife and other wires can be taped to it or soldered into place. If you have access to a vinyl cutter, you can make a design in Gimp, open office or whatever and cut it mechanically. It seems like an easy, almost magical way of making circuits. No soldering if you don’t want to. This may be a good way of getting kids into circuits without the safety issues of soldering.
12 volt to USB Mini B
Everything seems to run on Mini B lately. Now I can charge on the road. What I have been using is totally inefficient, 12 volt DC to AC 10 year old inverter to ac power adapter to DC. Too much conversion.
Little audio speakers
Frugal Santa does it again. $2 usd bought a pair of speakers with a little amplifier. It runs on 6 volts DC, and can be used with a battery pack or included AC to DC wall inverter. Certainly the speakers will be easy to use, with a stereo headphone jack, and they fold up nice.
Flashlight with a zillion white LEDs
Remember when white LEDs were like gold? Not anymore. Cheap enough at $15 usd, maybe this could be repurposed for photography lighting. maybe it could just be a big huge white light. It uses 3 D cell batteries, so at 4.5 volts, certainly something clever could be done with it. Underwater ROV lighting? Hmmmm.
Well there is certainly more to mess with under the tree and in the closets, but this is a start. What goodies are under your tree? If you aren’t doing the Christmas thing, then how are you celebrating the hacking spirit lately? How could you use any of these materials and gadgets as classroom/school projects? What sneaky uses can you find for cheap stuff? What possibilities do you see in your holiday schwag? Add to the conversation in the comments and post your photos and video to the Make Flickr pool.