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December 6, 2007

Electronic Bubble Wrap Keychain

From the website:

Electronic Bubble Wrap Keychain — Future of OCD

One of the single greatest gifts (and curses) to anyone who is a little anal retentive is bubble wrap. Sure it's good for protecting packages but the real joy is popping each and every bubble. You can't let even one survive or your mission as bubble popper has failed. But what happens when you desire the joy of popping bubble wrap but don't have the time to invest in popping a full 60-foot roll? Welcome to the future, my friends: electronic bubble wrap is here.


Each keychain device has 8 rubbery little "bubble" buttons. They have a pretty close tactile feel to actual bubble wrap. Guess what happens when you push one? That's right, you hear a little pop. In a nutshell, that is the simple beauty of the electronic bubble wrap keychain. But there is one bonus, and here's where the OCD can kick in a little. Every 100th "pop" is not a pop at all, but a silly sound: a boing, a bark, a rude noise, etc. And since you can easily pop (pun intended) the keychain in your pocket, you'll always have bubble wrap when you need it most (you know, like when your boss starts talking).

Dimensions: 1.75" x 1.5" x 0.5"



December 6, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wikipedia: Bag the articles — read it for the discussions


That was the advice of Wall Street Journal "Portals" columnist Lee Gomes in an informative piece that appeared on August 15, 2007, and follows.

    Forget the Articles, Best Wikipedia Read Is Its Discussions

    You already know about Wikipedia — or think you do. It's the online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, the one that by dint of its 1.9 million English-language entries has become the Internet's main information source and the 17th busiest U.S. Web site.

    But that's just the half of it.

    Most people are familiar with Wikipedia's collection of articles. Less well-known, unfortunately, are the discussions about these articles. You can find these at the top of a Wikipedia page under a separate tab for "Discussion."

    Reading these discussion pages is a vastly rewarding, slightly addictive, experience — so much so that it has become my habit to first check out the discussion before going to the article proper.

    At Wikipedia, anyone can be an editor and all but 600 or so articles can be freely altered. The discussion pages exist so the people working on an article can talk about what they're doing to it. Part of the discussion pages, the least interesting part, involves simple housekeeping — editors noting how they moved around the sections of an article or eliminated duplications. And sometimes readers seek answers to homework-style questions, though that practice is discouraged.

    But discussion pages are also where Wikipedians discuss and debate what an article should or shouldn't say.

    This is where the fun begins. You'd be astonished at the sorts of things editors argue about, and the prolix vehemence they bring to stating their cases. The 9,500-word article "Ireland," for example, spawned a 10,000-word discussion about whether "Republic of Ireland" would be a better name for the piece. "I know full well that many Unionist editors would object completely to my stance on this subject," wrote one person.

    A ferocious back and forth ensued over whether Antonio Meucci or Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. One person from the Meucci camp taunted the Bell side by saying, "'Nationalistic pride' stop you and people like you to accept the truth. Bell was a liar and thief. He invented nothing."

    As for the age-old philosophical question, "What is truth," it's an issue Wikipedia editors have spent 242,000 words trying to settle, an impressive feat considering how Plato needed only 118,000 words to write "The Republic."

    These debates extend to topics most people wouldn't consider remotely controversial. The article on calculus, for instance, was host to some sparring over whether the concept of "limit," central to calculus, should be better explained as an "average."

    Wikipedia editors are always on the prowl for passages in articles that violate Wikipedia policy, such as its ban on bias. Editors use the discussion pages to report these sightings, and reading the back and forth makes it clear that editors take this task very seriously.

    On one discussion page is the comment: "I am not sure that it does not present an entirely Eurocentric view, nor can I see that it is sourced sufficiently well so as to be reliable."

    Does it address a polarizing topic from politics or religion? Hardly. The article was about kittens. The editor was objecting to the statement that most people think kittens are cute.

    These debates are not the only treasures in the discussion pages. You can learn a lot of stray facts, facts that an editor didn't think were important enough for the main article. For example, in the discussion accompanying the article about diets, it's noted that potatoes, eaten raw, can be poisonous. The National Potato Council didn't believe this when asked about it last week, but later called back to say that it was true, on account of the solanine in potatoes. Of course, you'd have to eat many sackfuls of raw potatoes to be done in by them.

    The discussion about "biography" included random facts from sundry biographies, including that Marshall McLuhan believed his ideas about mass media and the rest to have been inspired by the Virgin Mary. This is true, said McLuhan biographer Philip Marchand. (Mr. Marchand also said McLuhan believed that a global conspiracy of Freemasons was seeking to hinder his career.)

    Remember, though, this is Wikipedia, and while it tends to get things right in the long run, it can goof up along the way. A "tomato" article contained a lyrical description of the Carolina breed, said to be "first noted by Italian monk Giacomo Tiramisunelli" and "considered a rare delicacy amongst tomato-connoisseurs."

    That's all a complete fabrication, said Roger Chetelat, tomato expert at the University of California, Davis. While now gone from Wikipedia, the passage was there long enough for "Giacomo Tiramisunelli" to turn up now in search engines as a key figure in tomato history.

    Wikipedia is very self-aware. It has a Wikipedia article about Wikipedia. But this meta-analysis doesn't extend to "Wikipedia discussions." No article on the topic exists. Search for "discussion," and you are sent to "debate."

    But, naturally, that's controversial. The discussion page about debate includes a debate over whether "discussion" and "debate" are synonymous. Emotions run high; the inability to distinguish the two, said one participant, is "one of the problems with Western Society."

    Maybe I have been reading too many Wikipedia discussion pages, but I can see the point.

December 6, 2007 at 02:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gear Clock


What is it with clocks here?

I went back and counted: so far this year there've been 33 posts featuring various clocks.

Here's #34.

From the website:

    Gear Clock

    Give the gift of time with our wonderfully innovative gear clock.

    Watch the mesmerizing motion as the gears go around and around while displaying every hour, minute and second of the day.

    The stylish silver-toned and black colors add to the modern look and feel of this extraordinary time piece.

    An eye-catching addition to any room or office.

    Measures 7-5/8" long by 6" high x 2-1/2" deep.

    Requires 1 AA battery (not included).


December 6, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Experts' Experts: 'Getting Sprinkles to Stick'


Finally — something useful here.

But I guess even an anosmic pig finds an acorn every now and then, what?

Cook's Illustrated's "Notes From Readers" Q&A led off its September/October 2007 issue's feature with the following helpful tip.

    Getting Sprinkles to Stick

    Q. When I make butter cookies, I have the hardest time getting decorating sugar or sprinkles to stick to the tops. Can you offer some tips?

    Debbie La Rocca
    Albany, N.Y.

    A. Simply dusting decorating sugar or sprinkles on top of cookies prior to baking will not work: Most of the granules will fall off by the time the cookies are removed from the baking sheet. A moist surface is necessary to help bind the sugar to the relatively dry dough.

    We applied several different liquids — water, beaten egg, cooking spray, and corn syrup — to the tops of butter cookies before sprinkling them with an even layer of colored sugar to find out which was the best adhesive. After removing the cookies from the oven and allowing them to cool, we turned them upside down and shook them lightly to gauge how well the sugar stuck. The water, egg, and cooking spray all did an equally good job; a negligible amount of sugar fell from these cookies. The sugar also stuck to the cookies brushed with corn syrup, but the tops of these cookies became unacceptably darker, crunchier, and sweeter.

    We recommend the easiest method of all: Lightly brush the tops of unbaked butter cookies with water before applying decorations.


The photo up top shows how colored sugar failed to adhere to cookies not moistened before baking; that below


shows the result of brushing with water prior to covering with sugar and baking.

Pretty convincing, I must say.

December 6, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Infrared Trousers — And you thought hot pants were over


Shows how much you know.

From the website:

    Infrared Heated Pants

    These lined cargo pants provide up to four hours of continuous warmth using safe, low-power far-infrared energy transmitted through the lightweight, flexible carbon fiber mesh sewn into the fabric.

    Made of a 65% cotton/35% polyester blend shell with a 100% polyester fleece lining, the pant's heating elements are located in the thigh fronts and waist, yet envelop the entire lower body in radiant heat.

    The compact and unobtrusive rechargeable lithium-ion battery (located in the thigh area) requires a five-hour charge using the included AC adapter.

    Machine washable [not the battery, though, I'd guess].

    Unisex sizes S (28-30), M (31-33), L (33-34), or XL (34-36).



December 6, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack



YubNub was created by Jon Aquino, whose self-proclaimed mission is "Engineering beautiful software."

Jon Aquino Labs offers all manner of stuff for the non-TechnoDolt™.

How about a Keyboard Odometer?

December 6, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We get email: From Chris Jessee of Cardboard Safari


It came in last Sunday evening and follows.


    As someone interested in design, you might want to see our new product — laser-cut cardboard 3D animal figures, including deer, moose and rhino heads.

    They ship flat, are assembled using slot construction and are great for decorating.

    They are designed and manufactured right here in Charlottesville, VA — in fact feel free to call if you want to come see the production.

    All cardboard is locally made in Richmond.

    You can also see our products at Rock Paper Scissors off the downtown mall.


Chris is not only a reader but — bonus! — a fellow resident of my Podunk town — be still my heart.

The menagerie runs $12.42 and up, depending on size.

December 6, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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