DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE VCRs aren't exactly cutting edge these days, but Sonicblue--the company that pioneered the portable MP3 player--has come up with a new twist: commercial-free taping. The GoVideo Dual-Deck VCR ($249) comes with two separate recorders: put a blank tape in one, tape your show, and when it's over the Dual-Deck will make a second recording, this time automatically editing out the ads. Find out more at www.govideo.com
BREACHING THE GREAT WALL China and the U.S. may be at peace, but all is not quiet on the Internet front. According to the New York Times, the CIA and Voice of America are working with an Emeryville, Calif., start-up called Safeweb to help Chinese Web surfers slip around government censorship. The Chinese block access to certain websites--such as those affiliated with the banned Falun Gong movement--but Safeweb's technology will help Internet users disguise their movements online.
SCHOOL MONSTER No one really looks forward to the first day of school, but at least the Fact Monster www.factmonster.com can ease the pain. It's a funky, cartoon-style website for kids, with features like the math-themed Bug Splat game, a dinosaur quiz and a learned essay on the history of the lunch box. Oh, and it also has an almanac, an atlas, a dictionary and an encyclopedia. It's so cool that kids will forget it's educational.
--By Lev Grossman