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In August '06, I received a birthday card that sang to me "The Age of Aquarius" by the Fifth Dimension. The dang thing's still singing. Since then I've talked to friends whose singing cards have lasted three years. What powers these things, nuclear energy?

-- M. Schimming, Oceanside

Scary little critters, those cards. Do kind of have a life of their own. They're powered by teensy three-volt lithium ion batteries stuck away in the fold of the card, along with the analog recording chip, amplifier, and flyspeck speakers. The whole Rube Goldberg device is activated when you open the card. When the card's closed, a tab slides between two contacts. When opened, the tab slides away and the juice flows. Since the device is analog, not digital, it draws very little power, so you might have to beat it to death with a stick when you just can't stand it anymore.

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