Meet Horatio, the Old-Timey ‘Smart’ Speaker From Hendrick’s Gin

Hendrick's Gin
Hendrick's Gin

The tech news you almost definitely heard about this week was Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone 11, a characteristically sleek, user-friendly gadget meant to make your life as modern and efficient as possible. What you might not have heard about was the release of Horatio, a very genteel, relatively smart speaker from the creators of Hendrick’s Gin.

Horatio is not your father’s speaker. In fact, he’s more like your grandfather as a speaker. The tabletop device is made from brass, leather, and copper, and looks like the offspring of a phonograph and a candlestick telephone. He won’t eavesdrop on your conversations, but he also won’t necessarily answer your questions—his slightly snide, British-accented responses range from commenting on your outfit to telling you that it’s “a good day to carry an umbrella in one hand and a cocktail in the other.” If your cocktail happens to be a martini, you can rest it on Horatio’s built-in martini holder.

Hendrick's gin horatio speaker
Hendrick's Gin

The device was released by Hendrick’s new Department of Not-So-Convenient Technology, the intentional antithesis to virtually every other existing department of technology. While most people are optimizing their home offices with minimalist decor and lightweight robot assistants, Horatio is a mascot for those of us who miss the dusty, dimly lit, leather-covered comfort of Grandfather’s study.

He’s not unlike Hendrick’s Gin itself, whose manufacturing process is old-fashioned and utterly laborious. It’s made in a tiny Scottish seaside village on two types of stills, infused with 11 botanicals, and combined with rose and cucumber essences.

Hendrick's gin horatio speaker
Hendrick's Gin

To add to the intrigue, only five Horatios exist in the world. Each unique, handmade device costs $1113, and, unfortunately, they’re currently sold out. While you’re waiting for one to hit an auction block near you, kick back with a glass of gin and dive into the world of fancy Prohibition cocktails here.

Little Green Army Women Are Coming, Thanks to a 6-Year-Old Girl

tihomir_todorov/iStock via Getty Images
tihomir_todorov/iStock via Getty Images

For decades, kids have gotten a minor thrill from playing with little green plastic army men, a series of posed figures sold in bulk that can wage mass-scale operations in backyards and on bedroom floors. Recently, one 6-year-old girl from Little Rock, Arkansas wondered why there were no little green plastic army women soldiers among their ranks. So she decided to do something about it.

According to NPR, Vivian Lord wrote a letter to three different companies, including Pennsylvania’s BMC Toys, inquiring at to why there were no female versions of their Lilliputian platoon. “Some girls don’t like pink,” she wrote, “so please can you make army girls that look like women?”

It was not the first time BMC had gotten the request. In 2018, the company was contacted by JoAnn Ortloff, a retired U.S. Navy fleet master chief, who was hoping to find female soldiers for her granddaughters. After deliberation and upon receipt of the Lord letter, BMC Toys president Jeff Imel decided to move forward in contemporizing the line. Beginning in late 2020, the toys will include four female soldiers, including a captain and a woman wielding a bazooka.

A little green Army woman prototype figure is pictured
BMC Toys

Imel said the decision had to be weighed owing to the company’s small profile. He is the only full-time employee and making adjustments or additions to the toy line can potentially be prohibitively expensive. He told NPR he was encouraged after seeing the enthusiastic response Lord’s letter received in the media. BMC plans on a crowdfunding campaign in November to accept pre-orders and expand the assortment.

The little green army men date back to the 1930s, when production of the infantry moved from metal and lead to plastic. They were inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2014.

[h/t NPR]

Playing Jeopardy! While You Drive Is the Best Way to Deal With Your Boring Commute

Ben Hider, Getty Images
Ben Hider, Getty Images

More than 55 years after making its television debut, Jeopardy! continues to hold a prominent place in popular culture. Last spring, James Holzhauer went on a 32-game winning streak, coming just $58,484 short of beating all-time champion (and Mental Floss contributor) Ken Jennings' $2.52 million winnings.

If only Holzhauer had an app to practice with during the drive to the studio. Now, thanks to Drivetime, future contestants and general trivia enthusiasts have that opportunity. The service just launched a Jeopardy! add-on that allows players to answer questions from the first 35 seasons of the show using Drivetime’s voice-based, hands-free interface. A new show will be available to Drivetime users daily. If they subscribe for $9.99 monthly, they can choose any show from past seasons. Questions are read by host Alex Trebek in both archival and recently taped audio.

The game offers one tweak for civilians: As each clue is read, the app offers three possible responses, turning it into a multiple-choice quiz. Money is still accrued and you can still wager on Final Jeopardy to walk away with a victory.

[h/t Engadget]

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