"I'm Jewish," a friend told F. J. van Wingerde, "but I'd convert to Christianity for one of those." She was joking about Fujitsu's Hello Kitty laptop—the kitschiest incarnation ever of the world's kitschiest cat. Van Wingerde, a software engineer at Nokia, decided to play a joke on his friend. With spray paint, decals, a yo-yo, and a feather boa, he and his pal created an even more garish laptop, which they sent to her.
Van Wingerde was so proud of his work, he posted a how-to Web page, which was featured on slashdot.org, a Web site for computer professionals. As a result, van Wingerde got so much traffic on his site, his Internet service provider actually cut him off.
Van Wingerde's laptop impressed us—until we learned it didn't work. So we sent him an old Thinkpad and challenged him to make something more high-tech and less frilly. The result: The lid is a miniature Moonbase Alpha, the setting for the old TV show Space: 1999. It boots up, runs Windows 95—and establishes van Wingerde as the Martha Stewart of information technology.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.