It was on the photography-based PetaPixel website that I first heard of what are called cinemagraphs. While cinemagraphs are uploaded as GIFs, in essence a cinemagraph is to a standard GIF what color footage is to black-and-white. With a cinemagraph, a photographer uses photo compositing techniques to animate only selective elements of a photograph, while the rest of it remains still.
In the hands of a master photographer like Julien Douvier, who produced the three shots below, the effect is simply stunning.
We've periodically covered Big Ass Fans (here and here), the Kentucky-based company that shrewdly changed their name from High Volume Low Speed Fan Company. Due to their no-nonsense marketing approach, the efficient, sturdy design of their product and periodic design refreshes, they've grown into something like the Dyson of overhead air movement systems. And now they've moved into a new product category, with another line of overhead-mounted objects: Big Ass Lights.
So here we see how selling directly to customers can help a company develop new products: Direct feedback, which would likely get lost or mangled if filtered through a distributor middleman. By interacting directly with customers and visiting their facilities, the company is in a position to overhear their needs—and gripes. "One we heard over and over again: employers' once-bright lights now glowed a dim yellow, making it difficult for workers to do their jobs and forcing maintenance teams to constantly replace bulbs," the company writes. "Those inefficient bulbs also kept energy costs high."
Seeing an opportunity, they then hired new talent, adding lighting experts to their stable of engineers. The resultant design of their LED-sporting Big Ass Light isn't actually that physically big—the smaller model's a little over three feet in length, and the larger model just under four—but the company reckons they've created "The last light you'll buy," as it's energy-efficient, well-designed and durable.
The main body of the light is an aluminum extrusion, finned to serve as a heat sink:
I'm cheap, so I save all hardware and fasteners that aren't bent out of shape or stripped. As I disassemble one DIY project and prepare to move on to the next, all of the old screws and such go into the sad "system" you see below, a collection of plastic containers. When they're full I dump them out onto a tray and sort more precisely.
It's a lame system, I know. And I became aware of just how lame when I saw this killer idea from "Wulf" over on the Craftster community:
At the shop where I work we just toss loose screws, bolts, nails and other bits and pieces of hardware from the workbenches and the floor into a bucket and, every couple of years when the bucket gets too full, somebody has to dump the whole mess out and sort everything back to where it belongs. When that job fell to me this Spring, I decided there had to be a better solution. So I designed a bin that would help to at least divide things by type to make the final sorting easier. Though built for an industrial situation, it would work equally well in the home craft room for jewellery findings, sewing notions, etc.
I once got stabbed in the head with a wooden knife. It was an accident that occurred during a martial arts training exercise. I'd heard that head wounds bleed badly, but as I waited for the taxi to take me to the hospital (an ambulance is not what you take in NYC if speed is a priority) I was shocked at the amount of blood that came out of my head.
While head wounds are bad, severing a femoral or carotid artery is way worse in terms of blood loss. If you slice one of these open and can't stop the bleeding, that's basically the last selfie you'll ever take. But now a tiny biotech company in Brooklyn can change that equation, having developed a product that stops bleeding, whether pinprick or grievous wound, almost instantly.
Called VetiGel, the material is a plant-based polymer. It requires no training to use and can be loaded into an ordinary plastic syringe; rather than needing to learn how to prepare a field dressing, someone providing aid can simply aim and squirt it like toothpaste onto a brush. Watch how it works in this video:
The leftover material, by the way, can be safely resorbed into the body or removed.
As for why it's called VetiGel, the material is first being marketed towards veterinarians, with approval for human use planned for further down the line.
Should the product pass human trials and prove affordable enough to manufacture, it could be a real game changer: Simple syringes loaded up with the stuff and placed into every ambulance, soldier's pack and first aid kit around the world could mean the difference between life and death for countless people, particularly those for whom a hospital is more than a cab ride away.
When children fall victim to a gunman, that generates press interest. But the media being what it is, eleven children dying because of a toy does not get much ink. Eleven is the number of children that died "toy-related deaths" in North America in 2012, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. That number may not sound high to you, but it's still eleven families having eleven funerals with eleven small coffins. The number ought to be zero. And the same year, by the way, there were an estimated 265,000 trips to the emergency room following toy-related injuries.
Choking, strangulation, electrocution, falling, slicing, piercing, these are all things that can happen to a child in the average home filled with average grown-up things. Toy design, at least, should avoid replicating these hazards, yet the field still occasionally falls short. In the past twelve months the CPSC has recalled some 17 toy designs totaling just under five million units. But "Recalls are reactive, not proactive," writes W.A.T.C.H. (World Against Toys Causing Harm), a watchdog organization dedicated to calling out dangerous toys.
"Safe design and manufacture," the organization reckons, is the "first line of defense."
Consumers have a right to expect the toys they select for their children are designed with safety as a priority. While proper labeling, regulations and recalls are important for toy safety, toy manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure safe products reach the marketplace.
Some toys that are in compliance with current industry or regulatory standards have proven to be hazardous, proving the inadequacy of existing standards. It is unbelievable that toys with parts that can detach and become lodged in a child's throat are often not considered "small parts" by the industry...