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Last Build Date: Sat, 21 Oct 2017 00:35:11 +0000

 



Take a look at the Gonzo Gizmo author's favorite tools

Sat, 21 Oct 2017 00:31:17 +0000

My guest on the Cool Tools Show podcast this week is Simon Quellen Field. Simon is a chemist and former Google software engineer and is the author of over a dozen books, including Gonzo Gizmos, Return of Gonzo Gizmos, Culinary Reactions, Why is Milk White, Elements Vault, Why There's Antifreeze In Your Toothpaste, Electronics for Artists and, most recently, Boom!: The Chemistry and History of Explosives. He's the author of the science toy website SciToys.com and several novels. width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/347840767&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true"> Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page Show notes: Taylor Wharton LD10 Aluminum Liquid Dewar ($638) “I’m often asked to demonstrate scientific toys and things at different science conventions, like the Google Science Fair … and one of the things that they love when I show off is all of these fun things that you can do with liquid nitrogen. And, of course, it lasts a lot longer if you keep it in a big Dewar. So, I’ve got this thing, it’s about 2 feet tall, about 10 inches in diameter, And holds 10 liters of liquid nitrogen, which I get locally from a place called Nitroderm. And we do all kinds of fun things with it. Put some liquid nitrogen in a bowl and squirt some whipped cream out of a spray can into it, freeze it really hard. Kids pop it into their mouth and crunch on it and fog comes out their nose like a dragon.” Mastercool 90066-B Vacuum Pump ($130) "I have a vacuum chamber, and this vacuum pump, this one does six cubic feet per minute, which is pretty good. It used to be that vacuum pumps were really expensive, but once the smog dealers needed them in order to take the Freon out of your air conditioner for environmental reasons, everybody needed one and they got cheap. But, with this vacuum pump, I can put some liquid nitrogen into a small thermos and put it in my vacuum chamber and start sucking the air and the nitrogen vapor out of that chamber. And after about a minute or so, you get solid nitrogen … and then you disconnect it and let the air rush in and in about 3 seconds, it’s liquid again.” Tekpower TP3005T Variable Linear DC Power Supply ($80) "It's got a nice LCD display on it and you can set the current or the voltage to be constant. And what I use it for is electroforming. You take a solution of copper salts and a few other magic ingredients. Usually, it's a proprietary mix, they don't tell you exactly what's in it. But you can start electroplating something and if you let it go, it will make a thicker plating … So, for example, suppose I took an egg. I could paint conductive paint in a pattern on the egg, like a filigree or a tree or whatever. And then I could submerge that in the plating bath and plate it for 20 minutes or so and get a thick enough copper plating that I can dissolve the egg away and now I can hold this filigreed Fabergé egg-like thing in my hand.” Baofeng Ham Two-way Radio ($35) “I picked this up recently, when I was going up to see the eclipse up in Oregon, and we knew that there would be so many people in these little towns that only had cell phone bandwidth for a tenth as many people as were going to be there and so, we wanted to stay in touch and be able to chat with other HAMs on the road about traffic conditions, which we also expected to be a nightmare. … And this little gadget … It’s got 128 memories that you can easily program with all of the repeaters for all of the HAM radio repeaters on the mountains and stuff and it just works … It does everything you want and it’s tiny. … It’s probably good for anywhere, 5 to 20 miles. But once you hit the repeater, now the repeaters are networked, so I can talk to people in Portland, Oregon or in San Di[...]



A new IoT botnet called Reaper could be far more virulent than Mirai

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 23:11:52 +0000

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In 2016, an Internet of Things worm called Mirai tore through the internet, building botnets of millions of badly designed CCTVs, PVRs, routers and other gadgets, sending unstoppable floods of traffic that took down major internet services from Paypal to Reddit to Dyn. (more…)




There's nothing like relaxing at home with your dog

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:24:56 +0000

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"Petting your dog," writes Blake Boege, "is the most relaxing thing you can possibly do."




A motion detecting light for your mailbox

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 19:04:23 +0000

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Last year I bought this mailbox light. You stick it inside your mailbox (it's got peel-off sticky tape). Two sensors - light and motion - sense what's happening. If they sense darkness and no motion (door closed) nothing happens. If they sense light and motion (opening the box in the day) nothing happens. If they sense darkness and motion (opening the box at night) the light goes on for a couple of minutes, allowing you to see the mail.

It runs on 3 AAA batteries, which last months. When it is time to change the batteries, just pull on the case to release it from the magnetic back cover (which is attached to the mailbox with the sticky tape).

At 2 for $15 (give one to a friend or install in a cabinet) this is worthwhile convenience.




Another truck rips its roof off on the infamous 11foot8bridge

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 18:36:02 +0000

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A train trestle in Gregson St. in Durham, NC has a clearance of 11' 8". Despite the warning signs and flashing lights advertising the lower-than-normal clearance, trucks collide with the trestle often enough that an enterprising person has set up a video camera to catch every spectacular collision. The latest incident, which happened on 10/14/2017, is a doozy.




Detailed anatomy of Wisconsin's election-rigging, racist voter suppression

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:57:14 +0000

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In 2008 and 2012, Wisconsin ranked second in the USA for voter turnout; in 2016, following the enactment of a series of racist voter-suppression tactics, the voter turnout was the worst it had been since 2000. (more…)




Viral Chinese mobile game requires players to "applaud" a speech by President Xi Jinping

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:46:46 +0000

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Such a Great Speech: Applaud Xi Jinping has been played 860 million times; players score points by button-mashing an "applause" button while watching outtakes from President Xi Jinping's 3.5 hour speech to the Communist Party Congress last week. (more…)




New gamblers who see a short video about slot-machine psychology don't get tricked

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:40:33 +0000

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Video slot machines pull a lot of tricks to make it hard to tell how fair the game is; one of them is to ring up "wins" that are actually losses (you put in $1 and get $0.75 back, say), with a lot of fanfare and hoo-rah. These tricks are calculated to hook players into the game by stimulating their reward centers with intermittent stimulus, a powerfully addictive combination. (more…)




Plants are monsters

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:25:57 +0000

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Cat Whitney's thread of her favorite spooky plants includes some of the plant kingdom's most horrifying denizens: Aristolochia Salvadorensis..."looks like a flayed skull, and reminds some of Darth Vader"; Hydnellum peckii..."The infamous bleeding tooth or Devil's tooth fungus"; Antirrhinum seed pods..."the seedpods of some species resemble human skulls"; Tacca chantrieri..."the Black Bat Flower"; Monkey Orchids..."as I'm personally terrified of primates & apes, I'm putting them on here". (via JWZ) (more…)




Jonathan Mann sings a song about the MacBooks' dodgy keyboards

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:20:24 +0000

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The Outline's Casey Johnson rages at the design of Apple's recent laptop keyboards, where the pursuit of thinness has resulted in keyboards that fail at the sight of a speck of dust, and where the said speck demands complete replacement of the keyboard assembly. Jonathan Mann (previously) turned it into a song!

I’m pressing the space bar
I’m pressing the space bar
I’m pressing the space bar
I’m pressing the space bar
And nothing is happening




Quaker Apples & Cinnamon has "35% less sugar" because they've cut the portion size by 35%, while the price remains 100%

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:16:53 +0000

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Ever since I read Michael Pollan's advice to avoid any food whose packaging makes any nutritional claims, I've been a happy man -- but never so much so as I realize that this rule means I would never fall prey to the latest shitty scam from the Quaker oats people.




Gorgeous, grotesque animations from Esteban Diacono

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 17:08:47 +0000

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Argentinian motion graphics designer Esteban Diacono produces the most amazing, surreal little animations for his social media, especially the weird, motion-deforming humaniform figures. (more…)




Apple brought back Braun design, but Google is bringing back Olivetti

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:58:42 +0000

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1960s/70s Italian industrial design was led by Olivetti, featuring products with "touches of joy that enliven everyday tasks" featuring bright color and playful forms, very different from the Braun look of minimalist, "Snow White" gadgets that are the precursor to Apple's design language. (more…)




Three of Spencer's neo-Nazi supporters arrested after shooting wildly at bus-goers

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:55:52 +0000

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Prominent American neo-Nazi Richard Spencer held a failed rally in Florida yesterday. Three enthusiasts, of the dozen or so who apparently showed up, were arrested after firing into a crowd of folks waiting for the bus. To ensure their intentions were well understood the trio yelled epithets at the folks waiting for the bus, and gave them the Nazi salute.

Local police took the three shameful failures of our education system into custody.

Via NBC-2 Gainesville:

Police say three men were arrested after a shot was fired at a group of people following the appearance of white nationalist Richard Spencer at the University of Florida.

The Gainesville Police Department said in a news release Friday that 28-year-old Tyler Tenbrink, 30-year-old William Fears and 28-year-old Colton Fears, all from Texas, were arrested on attempted homicide charges.

Police say the three were in a vehicle Thursday after Spencer's speech and began making Nazi salutes and shouting Hitler chants at a group of people at a bus stop.

Police say Tenbrink showed a handgun while the Fears brothers encouraged him to shoot.

He fired a single shot, police say, missing the group and striking a nearby building.

Police say two of the three have connections to "extremist groups."




Garfield cartoonist denies Jon drinks a cup of dog semen in comic strip

Fri, 20 Oct 2017 16:33:04 +0000

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Jim Davis, creator of the lasagna-living Garfield, has finally commented on his infamous May 30, 1990 comic strip in which Garfield's owner, Jon, appears to guzzle a cup a dog semen at a veterinarian's office.

From AV Club:

The “Jon drinks dog semen” theory has been floating around since May 30, 1990, ever since eagle-eyed fans noticed that—at the conclusion of a strip where Jon once again futilely flirts with Garfield’s veterinarian, Liz—Jon drinks dog semen. After all, it’s telegraphed right there in the punchline, where, after Jon helps himself to an ostensible cup of coffee, Liz drolly responds, “Congratulations, Mr. Arbuckle. You are going to give birth to a fine, healthy litter of puppies.”

Ignoring the fact that Liz has some pretty mixed-up ideas about the mechanics of animal husbandry for a licensed veterinarian, the intent here seems fairly obvious. What else could possibly be the joke, if not the idea that hundreds of tiny dog sperm are now worming their way through Jon’s digestive tract? Clearly, Liz had just finished jerking a dog off into a coffee cup, and consummate goofball Jon accidentally drank it.

Here's Jim Davis' explanation:

“On the farm, we used to give first-calf heifers a high protein supplement to help them deliver healthier calves. The supplement was provided by our vet... I assumed that there would be a similar supplement for dogs. So Jon is drinking a protein-enriched drink formulated for a pregnant dog.

There you have it!”