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January 23, 2011


From the latest issue of The Economist: "Quintessentially, a firm founded by Ben Elliot, a nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall, specialises in giving the rich whatever they want, wherever they are. Some requests—tea with Britain’s queen, for example—can be a bit difficult, says Mr Elliot. But if a client needs a life-size edible cake costume for a birthday bash, or wants to fly along the Great Wall of China, his global network of fixers will fix it."

January 23, 2011 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

SnoBoss Ergonomic 4-Way Shovel


Featured in the current issue of Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools, edited by Oliver Hulland.

Andy  Bajorinas's review follows.


This new-fangled snow shovel is sometimes referred to as a four-way  shovel. It is a true innovation in the area of  manual snow removal. This may be the first significant improvement in snow shovels since the back-saver designs.

The curved shaft offers the advantages of a regular "back saver"  shovel. The broad top handle allows for easy 2-handed use when using it as a snow pusher. When using your foot to cut through packed snow you can place your foot in the center of the shovel. This prevents the flexing and possible breakage of normal snow shovels.

But perhaps the best feature is the addition of two forward grips. These grips, being parallel to the top handle, are more comfortable to use than twisting your hand 90 degrees to grasp the shovel shaft.
In the end it is still just a shovel and you will be  tired from shoveling  snow. But this shovel offers some ergonomic improvements that really help. The  unusual design is also very flexible and lets you adapt to the conditions. For light/shallow snow it functions as a  large pusher. For heavy, deep snow the ergonomic design makes  throwing snow more comfortable. The large scoop will move a LOT of  snow. If the  snow is heavy, just scoop less at a time.


In a nice demonstration of synchronicity, on the very same day (January 19, 2011) the Cool Tools review above appeared in my email box, Gwendolyn Bounds of the Wall Street Journal wrote an extensive piece about what's new in the personal snow removal space.

Among the tools she featured was this same shovel, about which she wrote:

"Even the humble snow shovel has evolved. Today, many models are designed with deep scoops crafted from light polyethylene and curved handles for less back strain. Also popular: snow sleighs or 'pushers' that can move large amounts of light, fluffy snow without lifting and tossing.

"Take Ames True Temper's SnoBoss shovel, a deep dish, dual-handled device designed to push or shovel snow with less exertion. While the company has been making shovels, scoops and ice scrapers for the past century, the SnoBoss is its 'most successful snow tool, period,' says Joe Saffron, director of marketing and product development.

"Barbara Krashnak of Mountain Top, Pa., recently bought seven $35 SnoBoss shovels—three for herself and four to give as gifts. The 68-year-old, who lives alone, says she has a gas-powered snowblower but finds it to be a 'big pain in the neck' to operate. With a regular shovel, it took hours to clear her 200-foot long driveway. The SnoBoss, she says, accomplished the same task in 30 minutes. 'I like to shovel, but as you get older, you get tireder.'"




January 23, 2011 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The smartest site on the internet


From Technology Review: "The internet used to be full of highbrow reading material, until broadband penetration exploded and everyone with a credit card managed to find his or her way onto the Web. Finding your way back to the rarefied air that used to suffuse the 'net can be a slog, so Google has a new way to help you out: You can now sort sites by reading level."

"For those of you following along at home, under Google's 'advanced' search, simply switch on this option by hitting the dropdown next to "Reading level."

Any idea what the smartest site might be?

The answer appears at the end of this post.

Here's a hint: it's not the one you're on.

And I can prove it.

Back in 2007 I posted about a site which graded readability level.

My results then are displayed below.


[via Sara Gould, CEO of In a Flash Laser]

The smartest site on the internet:


January 23, 2011 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Forged Steel Knife


Hand-forged from one piece of steel.




[via mappeal]

January 23, 2011 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Helpful Hints from joeeze: Gain control of your Mac's menu bar


Since forever I've stared at the icons in the upper right corner of the menu bar of my various Mac computers, wondering why I couldn't easily delete those that had nothing to do with anything I did on the computer.

For example, even after I cancelled my dial-up internet, the icon of a [landline] phone's handpiece with little radiating dots remained, immovable.

Until I read the following post in Mac Tricks and Tips.


For a really long time I couldn't for the life of me find out how to move Menu Bar items around. As a result I found the items that I wanted to use disappearing since I have so many and the ones I use getting hidden by application menus such as Help, etc.

Solution: If you want to move items around, hold Shift + Command and then click and hold on the menu item. It will go a light grey and enable you to move items around.

If Shift + Command doesn't work, especially on Tiger, try using just Command. If that doesn’t work, try Control, Option and Command.

Another cool feature is dragging an item off the menu bar. This works exactly the same as an icon in the dock. It makes that cool "whoosh" sound with the supporting animation, it is then gone. This is a lot quicker than finding the System Preference item and removing it from there.

The only menu items that don't want to move are the Spotlight icon and some third party apps. If that happens, you can just rearrange icons so they move along the list. Other than that, you can rearrange the icons to your heart's content. Pretty cool.

January 23, 2011 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Hard Drive Silencer


Here's Alan W. Smith's March 31, 2006 Cool Tools review of the device.


Outside of music, I prefer my working environment to be as quite as possible. One thing I've found which helps is a hard drive enclosure called Smart Drive 2002.

The enclosure itself fits inside a 5-1/4" drive bay and houses a 3-1/2" drive. It is basically one big heat sink that completely encloses a hard drive with a combination of dampening foam and metal contact to reduce noise emissions as much as possible.

The hard drive inside will run a little hotter, but as long as the ambient temperature isn't too high and your machine has a base level of air flow this should not be an issue. (I've run a 150GB and a 120GB in a pair of enclosures stacked on top of each other for a year now and have had no issue with overheating).

The enclosure comes in a standard version and a copper version, the latter providing more efficient heat transfer, marketed as being suitable for the hottest drives and possibly even lowering their operating temperature.



Note: Since 2006 the manufacturer has improved and refined the original Smart Drive 2002.

The current iteration is called the Smart Drive NEO (above) and costs $74.95.

January 23, 2011 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Color and the Brain: Beau Lotto's Optical Illusions

[via Brain Pickings]

January 23, 2011 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Money Cologne — The sweet smell of success


In the immortal words of Alfred E. Neuman: "Our price: $35. Cheap."

[via @GreatDismal]

January 23, 2011 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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