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July 15, 2009

Bleeding Billboard: Road safety, New Zealand-style

"Commissioned by the local government in Papakura, New Zealand to warn drivers of the hazards of driving on wet roads."

[via Gizmodo and Vanessa Ruiz/Street Anatomy]

July 15, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Chronotherapy Clock

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From the website:

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Color-Changing LED Clock

Tap on the clock and the illuminated LED backlight changes colors (7 in all) for easy reading 24/7.

Stylish desktop digital timepiece displays time, date and temperature in Fahrenheit or Celsius.

Color-changing LED clock performs multiple functions in a rainbow of colors.

Also serves as a countdown timer and alarm clock.

Requires 3 AAA batteries (not included).

5"W x 4"H x 3"D.

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$12.98.

July 15, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blast from the past: The best things in life aren't free*

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This post originally appeared on September 6, 2005.

I used to be pretty smart, I wonder what happened.

Oh, well.

Here's the post.

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The best things in life aren't free

That's the take–home message I got from a very interesting piece in last week's (September 5) New Yorker "Talk of the Town" section by Michael Agger.

It's entitled "Car Seat Lady" and profiles Ms. Alisa Baer, a 25–year–old medical student in New York City who is an expert on car seat installation. (She's installed an estimated 5,000 in her career to date.)

She comes from a family of safety obsessives: her grandfather was a stickler for fire prevention and her mother, who began installing car seats in Baltimore in 1984, was the original Car Seat Lady.

The story is interesting and all but what stopped me in my tracks were these two sentences: "She used to make free house calls, but now she asks that people bring their seats to her. She's also begun charging forty–five dollars per seat, because New Yorkers told her they didn't trust something they didn't have to pay for."

Well.

That cuts right to the heart of the matter as far as I'm concerned.

I believe that in most cases price is proportional to quality and value.

Not all — but most.

And offering bookofjoe gratis strikes me as probably rendering it far less credible than if I charged.

Peter Drucker once observed that, as a consultant, the only way companies ever listened was if he charged so much money that it hurt.

Similarly, companies who enter the Japanese market sometimes find that dismal sales are a result of their goods being priced too low: the Japanese are great believers in paying exorbitant prices for what they perceive to be of the highest quality.

I recall one product, the specifics of which are lost in the haze of time past, that only started selling in Japan after the manufacturer quadrupled the price.

So after much thought and consideration, I have decided to emulate that company and henceforth will be charging four times what I do currently.

Hurts so good, doesn't it?

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*They cost 30 cents in April, 1968 (see graphic at top)


July 15, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Desktop Miniature Golf

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Ok, I know there some of you who work in places where you can't check in here whenever you're bored or otherwise engaged in doing something close 2 nothing (but different than the day before).

For you, there's this nifty stealth miniature golf set that looks to anyone passing by like a book about miniature golf.

Only you will know that it's much more than that.

From the website:

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The Miniature Book of Miniature Golf

A nine hole golf course right on your desk or table top.

True to the best miniature golf courses, each hole has a silly theme and tricky traps, but with a little practice you'll wield that 2.5" putter and play through like a master.

Great detail: sink a ball and it's teed up and waiting on the next page.

Includes two balls.

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$14.95.

July 15, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thomas Meyerhoffer's Rad Board

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Long story short: The 43-year-old surfin' Swede (above) quit his job as a designer at Apple in 1998 to pursue the perfect wave.

In the course of his search he went back to to first principles and rethought the very nature of the surfboard, in the process creating a radically different [sic] board (above and below) which, after its debut this spring, sold out its first production run of 1,000.

Global Surf Industries, which makes the Meyerhoffer board, is backlogged until next February.

Here's Joshua Robinson's July 14, 2009 New York Times story with the details.

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Going Beyond the Waves to Reshape an Experience

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Somewhere over the course of five years and seven prototypes, Thomas Meyerhoffer found that his experimental surfboards no longer looked like surfboards. The pointed nose had faded away. The wide waist had melted inward. And the back stretched into a long, slender tail.

The prototypes were not even close to the conventional boards he had been riding each day since 1998, when he left his job as a designer at Apple. But Meyerhoffer tired of those boards anyway, and he sought a new surfing experience. So, from his home office and a tiny backyard shed here, Meyerhoffer took what was considered the most radical leap in board design in 50 years.

“It’s about creating a different feeling,” Meyerhoffer said recently. “Like the difference between playing tennis with a wooden racket and a metal racket. Or playing golf with wooden drivers.”

Surfers had never heard of Meyerhoffer, who does play golf with wooden drivers. It was hard to blame them. Meyerhoffer, a 43-year-old Swede, has spent a lifetime as a designer. He includes Porsche and Apple on his résumé and has made everything from translucent computers to Cappellini chairs, wraparound ski goggles to paper-towel dispensers.

To the surfing world, Meyerhoffer was a voice in the wilderness.

“He’s coming at it from a really innocent design perspective, and that’s what makes this significant,” said Sam George, the former editor of Surfer Magazine and a daily surfer since the 1960s. “The outline of the surfboard has remained remarkably static over the decades. So when a guy like Thomas comes along and fundamentally changes the look, the whole outline, it’s startling.”

The idea behind the shape, reminiscent of an hourglass, is to emphasize noseriding and tailriding for recreational surfers. In the simplest terms, it is supposed to be a longboard that rides like a quicker, more maneuverable shortboard. When Meyerhoffer describes it, however, he cannot help but lapse into design-speak about removing mass, redistributing volume and continuous organic shapes.

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He insisted that the crazy lines were not just different for the sake of being different. It was a painstaking process of trial and error.

“I never designed the board to look this way,” Meyerhoffer said. “It became this way.”

The big-wave rider Peter Mel, who also operates a surf shop in nearby Santa Cruz, was stunned when he took Meyerhoffer’s board out for a ride.

“Initially, I thought, What the heck is this thing?” Mel said. “We’re so used to seeing surfboards a certain way that we all get caught in a little box. But when I rode it, I was really surprised.”

Mel was not the only apprehensive surfer. When Meyerhoffer took the board down to the beach two blocks from his house, people took him for a kook with a wipeout waiting to happen. Still, it was more respect than he received with his first experiments: conventionally shaped boards with a colorful translucent section filling up the back.

“You show up with something like that on the beach, and people just shake their heads,” he said.

But Meyerhoffer has been validated by the growing legion of fans from California to Australia who have written to him pledging allegiance to the board. The first run of about 1,000 boards, which began trickling into stores this spring, has sold out. The manufacturing company Global Surf Industries has a backlog of orders that will carry it to February.

“It’s unusually polarizing,” Meyerhoffer said.

Meyerhoffer undertook the project after growing frustrated with the 40 or so boards he kept around the minimalist house he designed for himself a decade ago. He had toyed with shaping boards for windsurfing as a teenager — he even submitted one in his application portfolio for art school — but had not tried again in more than 20 years.

He approached the problem by falling back on his design training and design software. Hand-drawn sketches became three-dimensional digital models before he sent them to be translated into foam by a computerized cutting machine. Most mainstream surfboards go through the same process — the art of hand-shaping foam inside the board is dying — before being coated in epoxy.

But Meyerhoffer quickly discovered that the device was not sensitive enough to meet his specifications. So in that tiny shed next to his son’s jungle gym, Meyerhoffer taught himself the esoteric craft of shaping surfboard foam. Every prototype cut by a machine had to be refined by hand.

“Everybody can design on a computer today,” he said, “but to go from your computer screen to a board that really works is like cooking food. Anyone can read a recipe, but the master chef will always be much better.”

And just as a chef’s reward is sitting down and eating his own creation, Meyerhoffer said that taking the board out on the ocean made the sleepless nights and endless glitches worth it.

“It’s so much more satisfying than when you design a mobile phone,” he said. “Then you just make a call. Here, you get to surf.”

July 15, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Easy Fit Extenders — 'Button, button, who's got the [extra] button?'

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You know who you are.

From the website:

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Easy Fit Extenders

Easy Fit buttons and hooks give you extra room in the mid-section.

If the waistband of your trousers or skirt is too tight, just attach these adjustable extenders to gain an extra 1/2" to 2".

Each set of buttons includes five different colors (black, charcoal, gray, beige and navy).

Brass hooks.

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Set of Buttons or Hooks: $10.98.

July 15, 2009 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: Getting your SAT scores — 40 years later

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Wall Street Journal columnist Sue Shellenbarger, in her July 8, 2009 column (which follows) tells you how.

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Getting Your SAT Scores — 40 Years Later

Past scores for both college-entrance exams, the SAT and ACT, can be obtained from the test publishers for a fee. SAT scores from October 2002 or earlier are archived by the College Board and can be ordered by mail, a spokeswoman says. For instructions, see collegeboard.com and search for “archived scores.” The fee ranges from $21 for tests taken between 1991 and 2002, to $33 for scores from 1975 or earlier. For an added fee, you can order scores by phone at 866-756-7346.

ACT has archived score reports dating back to 1966, a spokesman says. You can access them online by creating an account at actstudent.org and clicking on “your test dates and scores.” You can also request scores by mail, based on instructions on the Web site, or by calling ACT at 319-337-1313. Archived score reports cost $26, plus an additional $12 for phone requests.

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FunFact: The SAT was recalibrated in 1995 to correct for five decades of declining scores.

"The recalibration was intended to add about 100 points to the typical test taker's score, 80 on the verbal and 20 on the math," wrote James Barron in a July 26, 1995 New York Times story.

July 15, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Giant Delete Eraser

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"Palm-size Deletus eraser is shaped like the well-known key on a computer keyboard."

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$15.38.

July 15, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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