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The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Last week, we published a piece on the Bottlass packaging design in which I was critical of the concept. We were since contacted by Kyung Kook, the Vice President of Bellevue-based Innovative Design Service Inc., the company that produced the design. In his response, Kyung rebutts several of the points made in the original entry, and has included photographs showing that the Bottlass is, in fact, in production. Kyung's response is printed below.

Frankly, I was very excited to see the [Core77] post about our design, "Bottlass" and am pleased that someone was interested enough to share his take on our design. I believe this is a valuable opportunity to look at our design from a different perspective.

First and foremost, the design phase I of Bottlass is actually being manufactured and sold in South Korea at this moment.

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The product based on our design was made available to the public in Korea since April of this year. The material used is called eco-zen, a type of enhanced plastic.

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Secondly, I am aware that opening the container may cause a bit of hassle. But this can be easily fixed. If we print instructions on the container, informing the drinker to set up the container before holding it in place and pulling off the seal, this should bypass the inconvenience. It may take a bit more steps than the conventional bottles or cans, but the excitement and satisfaction gained from Bottlass's unique design will do more than justice.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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From Australia comes this clever re-think of the common butter knife. Sydney-based industrial designers Sacha Pantschenko, Norman Oliveria and Craig Andrews put their heads together and came up with the ButterUp, which adds a row of precisely-shaped holes to the blunt edge of the blade. This enables one to "grate" a cold stick of butter, creating easier-to-spread ribbons:

It's not surprising that the ButterUp quickly reached (and tripled) its Kickstarter funding target, garnering AUD $126,213 at press time over a $38,000 goal; what is surprising is how badly, and quickly, people want this design. Rather than opt for the least-expensive, $12-per-unit buy-in with a March 2015 delivery date, nearly a hundred backers opted to pay $60 to have a single unit delivered by this September! These people take their toast seriously.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  15 Aug 2014  |  Comments (6)

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Here's one of those design concepts sure to make the blog rounds, even though it's more neat-looking than practical. The "Bottlass"—meant to be a portmanteau of "bottle" and "glass," but perhaps they ought have gone with the less titillating "Glottle"—in essence turns beverage packaging design on its head. The idea is that a glass container shaped like an inverted wine glass, minus the base, is sealed and shipped with an aluminum base nested into the bottom. After purchase, the consumer is meant to remove the base, flip the container, open the top via a pull-tab, and insert the glass stem into the base, via "screw tab joining," as per the description—can anyone tell me what that means?—or "forced insertion."

While other websites have claimed these designs are "manufactured in Korea," this is clearly a concept that isn't in production. And here's why I don't think it's practical.

User Experience: Opening the Thing

Imagine holding any of these shapes in your hand, and trying to pull the seal off of that wide mouth without spilling any of the contents. Think you could do it? How much concentration and time would it require versus opening a bottle top or popping a tab on a can?

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User Experience: Drinking From It

Looking at the renderings above, I'm not convinced that the hole in the base—whether threaded or press-fit—is deep enough to provide the stability necessary to securely support the stem.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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John Cain lives a life many of us would envy: For the past two years he's been a "modern vagabond," backpacking around the world not as a single epic trip, but as an apparently permanent lifestyle. So how does he afford it? Cain doesn't mention, but it's possible that Vinjabond, his gear-based website and online retail outfit, supports him.

Cain describes himself as a "former covert operator"—we're guessing that means ex-Special-Forces—which makes sense given the curation of Vinjabond's wares. The selection hits that odd Venn diagram overlap between survival nuts, ex-military guys and MoMA-going product design fans. With an emphasis on minimalism, durability and functionality, the lineup features everything from travel standbys like mini LED flashlights, Space Pens and collapsible microbags; to design blog material like Humangear's GoTubbs, the Vapur collapsible water bottle and a hooded travel pillow; to keychain multitools, knives and shockproof iPhone cases.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  11 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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For charting a career path in industrial design, Chris Miksovsky could have done a lot worse: After scooping up a Masters from the Stanford Design Program, he did a multi-year stint at IDEO before branching off to start his own company. Humangear, as Miksovsky's operation is called, is a San-Francisco-based product development firm "with a mission to develop real gear for real humans."

The company's primary line of products are small, simple, cleverly-designed containers, created with durability in mind (they all have lifetime warranties). I like them because they're subtle re-designs of existing objects that add a little design oomph. The GoTubb, for instance, is a small, circular hard container, but unlike your average pill container, it can be squeezed open (and snapped shut) with one hand. And the same groove that circumnavigates the body also provides a recessed area for labeling that won't get rubbed off.

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Posted by Kat Bauman  |   8 Aug 2014  |  Comments (2)

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In these days of Google and Wikipedian certainty, it may seem like our world has few mysteries left. We know how henges were built and there aren't many Aztec ruins being discovered in forgotten forests, but today we got word of at least one slightly mysterious find. Carved into the hot, calm Nazca desert of Peru are hundreds of enormous, ancient drawings without a clear purpose. Among them is a 300 foot hummingbird. These geoglyphs date from between 500 BCE to 500 CE and have been studied for nearly a century. This week, the world learned that several new forms, never seen before, have been unearthed by a sandstorm.

The early Nazca people created these odd single-line drawings by removing the thin layer of dark red pebbles and rock that covers the desert plain, exposing pale contrasting clay underneath. The lime filled clay hardens with a day's cycle through cool mist and hot sun, and the desert site is reliably hot and windless, leaving the drawings baked into the landscape for hundreds of years without disruption.

nazca1.jpgSpiral Jetty? Never heard of her

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

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While this informercial below cracked me up...

...I can't deny that I hate pulling the bags out of the large garbage can I keep in my studio. To conserve bags, I wait until they're fully laden, and the suction effect seems to add 20 pounds to the already-heavy load.

I probably wouldn't buy the "Can-Air" solution, partly because I hate the commercial, and partly because I assume one could easily build whatever their device is made out of. (Notice they're careful not to mention what it actually is, which makes me think it's a rebranded piece of something you find in a hardware store.) Meanwhile, a common hack is to drill holes in the bottom of your garbage can for airflow, but since people in the studio are fond of throwing full cups of coffee and sharp, broken plastic hangers in there, I'll forgo that solution too.

There's got to be a better way!

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Usually when you pull something out of your bag that deploys two prongs, you're about to tase somebody. But this here is a smartphone case, and one of the cooler ideas I've seen in that arena.

The PocketPlug smartphone case not only contains a battery, but features two flip-out prongs that can go right into an outlet, no cables necessary. You can leave the phone in the case while it charges, or pull it out to continue using it; either way juice is flowing into the case's battery.

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If this project sounds familiar to you...maybe it is. The JuiceTank, as it was initially called, was successfully Kickstarted—back in May of 2012, when it was designed for the iPhone 4. Now it's 5s-compatible, or at least will be when you get it; it's currently up for pre-orders, at $64 a pop versus the $80 projected retail.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

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When you picture an ordinary filmmaker's workspace, you picture piles of camera and grip gear alongside coffee-table tomes on the French New Wave. But Casey Neistat is no ordinary filmmaker, and his lower Manhattan workspace looks more than a little like the Industrial Design studio spaces you remember from design school. Part art supply store and part hardware store, Neistat's workshop allows him to quickly cobble together everything from iPhone docks to camera fixes to marker-scrawled animation slides.

Neistat's just launched his Studio Series, where he's going to presumably show us the inner workings of this amazing makerspace. First up: His red-box organization system and the thinking behind it, presented in his signature explanatory style:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Jul 2014  |  Comments (4)

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I've got a friend from Alabama who told me that growing up, most families she knew kept shotguns in the house. When you heard a noise in the middle of the night, the shotgun was the go-to item, and she explained that the CHIK-CHIK sound of "racking" it carried across the porch and was enough to discourage the casual burglar.

Another sound shotguns make is the actual blast, and I'm told it's deafening. Twelve-gauges reportedly top out around 150 to 165 decibels, and inside a house, where there are walls to bounce the sound around in, likely more. That's enough to cause permanent hearing damage. "Shotgun owners have been without a real solution for ear protection," says a Utah-based company called SilencerCo. "Some choose hearing preservation in the form of earmuffs or plugs for relief in controlled environments, but spurn their use in the field or in a home protection scenario, where the ability to detect other sounds is critical."

With that in mind the company has invented the Salvo 12, "the first and only commercially-viable shotgun suppressor on earth." Interestingly enough it's modular, made up of little Lego-like sections of roughly two inches in length that the user can add or subtract to hit their preferred balance of length, weight and noise level.

The noise reduction is pretty nuts:

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Posted by Ray  |  31 Jul 2014  |  Comments (15)

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Bike Grouch Alert: So it's come to this.

That there is Lucid Design's "Kit Bike," which, like an IKEA shelving unit, can be assembled from and disassembled into 21 parts for ease of transport. I didn't mind Paolo de Giusti's asymmetrical concept bike and I can appreciate the over-the-top hipster chic of Van Hulsteijns, but this is exactly the kind of thing that the general public will eat up with nary a thought about whether it would actually work. After all, it turned up in a couple of reputable design blogs, one of which notes that:

The bike frame is made from hollow aluminum tubes that twist together and can be secured with a key. Since the frame attaches only on one side of the wheels, the bike can be assembled and disassembled while it leans against a wall. When it's not in use, the parts and wheels can each be stowed in sections in a custom-designed bag.

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, that's because it is.

Don't get me wrong—I personally would love to have a bicycle that I could snap together like a tent (a well-designed one, of course), but then again, I don't know if I would trust the contraption to hold up on the road. I'm no engineer, but the very thought of applying torque to that rear wheel—note that the hub is connected only at a single, non-driveside dropout—makes me feel like I'm breaking something. Meanwhile, if the grossly oversimplified componentry and lack of brakes can be written off, the fact that the drivetrain is on the wrong side suggests that the Bangalore, India-based firm lacks a basic understanding of a bicycle in itself.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  30 Jul 2014  |  Comments (4)

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I'm a heavy Apple user and I love their products, but I'm bewildered by some of their design decisions. The one that drives me the most nuts is that my Thunderbolt Display's USB ports are on the back. As someone who is frequently connecting and disconnecting things, this gets super-annoying.

So I was excited when I saw this little gizmo by BlueLounge, the Jimi USB extension:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

0lg34UM95-001.jpgImages via Robbie Khan / PetaPixel

While I'd previously caught wind of LG's new 34" monitor, the company's hero shots showed little more than a rectangle covered in Photoshopped fake screens and devoid of local scale. But I just came across photographer Robbie Khan's write-up on his, and seeing it with actual work on it drives home how gi-normous this thing is.

Like many of us creatives Khan spends long stretches in front of a monitor, and the 34UM95's 21:9 aspect ration and 3440x1440 resolution would go to good use in his work editing panoramic photos.

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LG's product copy points out that they've included a "Screen Splitter" feature (both Windows and Mac compatible) that automatically tiles out four screens with a single click...

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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One of the first things you learn in the ID shop at design school: Wood glue is for joining wood, welding is great for joining metal, acetone is the thing for fusing plastics together. But when you need to attach one of these materials to another, you've got to switch over to hard fasteners or something more clever, since wood glue won't stick to plastics, et cetera.

While that's occasionally a hassle for building multimaterial objects, record lovers have figured out that wood glue not sticking to plastic provides a huge benefit: You can use wood glue to clean LPs. Because Titebond won't stick to vinyl, but will stick to all the microscopic specks of dust hanging out in the grooves, a layer of wood glue will become like a Biore strip for records. Observe, and be sure to listen to the before and after—the amount of snaps, crackles and pops the glue removes from the audio is astonishing:

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  21 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I hate shaving, and have always viewed it as a bothersome to-do item rather than a pleasurable manscaping ritual. To some extent this is probably because of the shaving objects I use. Gilette's Mach3 Turbo blades produce a good shave but cost an obscene three-dollars-plus per cartridge, and the Dollar Shave Club two-blade cartridges I recently switched to are affordable, but totally suck. I have half a mind to switch to a straight razor.

That would probably be more time-consuming, maintenance-heavy and bloody than I'd like, but if I were to do it, I'd go totally old school and also buy a badger brush and lathering bowl. Most of the ones I've seen are ugly, needlessly elaborate or just plain chintzy looking, but recent ID grad Flyn O'Brien has designed a pretty sweet, minimalist set called the Lathr.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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This week social media has been flooded with the following vid, featuring twentysomething athlete Kacy Catanzaro. On Monday night's episode of American Ninja Warrior, the gymnast from Jersey became the first woman in history to clear the obstacle course and qualify for the final round, performing seemingly impossible tasks: The 5’0”, 100-pound Catanzaro doesn't have the height and wingspan to easily reach from one obstacle to the next, so she compensated by swinging back and forth, then tossing herself through the air on sheer arm strength and momentum.

Training for a competition like ANW is an unusual affair. If you're training for a marathon you can hit a treadmill or the road, if you're prepping for a run on Jeopardy you can hit the books. But obstacle courses, particularly ones filled with the fiendishly unusual challenges first devised on Japan's ANW progenitor program Sasuke, aren't exactly on every corner. And even Parkour experts can find themselves stymied on the ANW obstacles, which shift, rotate, tilt and sway it ways that static objects like mailboxes and bannisters do not.

So how do you get the obstacle course experience to train for a show like this? Here are six ways:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  14 Jul 2014  |  Comments (5)

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In recent years we've seen some neat re-thinks of basic cookware, from a self-stirring pot to Mike Whitehead's CNC-milled cast iron skillet. Now a rocket scientist from the UK, Dr. Tom Povey, has designed a line of pots and saucepans that boast astonishing efficiency.

Oxford professor Povey knows all about influencing temperature changes, as his day job in the Osney Thermo-Fluids Laboratory involves thermodynamics and jet engines. And whilst engaged in his hobby of mountain climbing, Povey ran into the problem of trying to boil water at high altitude, which takes longer than it does at sea level, burning more of the precious fuel you've hauled up the mountain. After realizing that much of the heat in conventional cooking is wasted, he set about designing a more efficient pot with this assistance of some fellow lab brainiacs.

"The problem with the current shape of [existing cookware] means a lot of the heat is dissipated into the air," Povey told The Telegraph. "So, it is an aerodynamic and heat transfer problem and we applied the science used in rocket and jet engines to create a shape of a pan that is more energy efficient."

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Povey's radical-looking cast-aluminum Flare line, which UK kitchenware brand Lakeland began selling last week, employs something you see on turbines: Fins. These carry the heat from the base to the sides more efficiently, reportedly cooking food some 44% faster than a conventional pan. And a conventional pan requires 40% more energy to achieve the same results as you'd get with a Flare pan, making it ideal both for camping—less gas to carry—as well as appealing to kitchenbound consumers for both the energy savings and the evenness of the cooking.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)

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A harpoon gun, hand grenades, Bat-a-rangs (twice!), a "morning star" spiked flail, a 60mm mortar round, and of course handguns: These are all things you can't carry onto an airplane. Ditto with these weird circular multi-bladed things, labeled "Fantasy throwing stars:"

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But that doesn't stop the millions of folks going through airport checkpoints each year from trying to smuggle these things through—often in carry-on luggage. With firearms alone, there were 1,477 discovered instances in 2013 alone, which is about four per day.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Happy Fourth of July! We know that our non-Yank readership doesn't care about our special day, especially you Brits. In fact, Stephen Merchant has explained why our holiday of independence rankles his British self—and how things would be better had Britain won. (If you're in the UK, the language is NSFW; if you're in America, crank the volume up all you want—those silly British curse words don't mean anything over here.)

But since the UK came up second best in that particular contest, we are free to launch fireworks on this special day. Unfortunately there's no prerequisite for intelligence when doing so. For one thing, my fellow countrymen, please don't launch fireworks while your dog is off-leash. In the following video this dog appears to have been trained by Al-Qaeda, though thankfully things do not end badly:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   4 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Tom Mabe is a comedian and sort of professional prankster, with a YouTube channel documenting his feats of fooled-ya. While I'm generally not a fan of deceiving people and videotaping it to entertain others, Mabe's most famous video has a a social-minded bent: He fooled a perennial drunk driver into thinking he'd just woken from a ten-year coma, in an effort to scare him straight.

But it's a more viscerally frightening prank of his that really got our attention. Last Halloween, Mabe mated an RC hexcopter with a Grim Reaper costume, and the results were pretty terrifying:

I don't know how, in litigious America, Mabe has avoided being sued. In any case, here's how he pulled off the Reaper stunt:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Jul 2014  |  Comments (4)

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I never thought anything could be done to speed up bathroom lines. But a company called Tooshlights is claiming that their product can speed the process of getting people into stalls by up to 50%. The product, an overhead light that turns either red or green, does not cause one to pee or poop faster, but simply lets those waiting know when a stall is available.

"Currently, over 66% of the time there are vacant stalls in public restrooms that guests are not aware of," the company claims. "Patrons would have to look under the door, peek through the cracks or even trying opening the door just to see if it was in use or not." (When in doubt, I prefer to just kick the door in and apologize if it turns out to be occupied, but to each his own.)

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"Can you describe what just happened in there? Take us through the second half: What was going through your head?"

What's not clear is how the sensor works. If a stall is empty but the door is closed, will that provide a false positive? Toilet sensors frequently misfire, and I wonder if Tooshlights can be similarly inaccurate.

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Posted by erika rae  |  27 Jun 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Bootlegged jazz records might be one of the last things that comes to mind when you think about Soviet Russia. But decades before the tape recorder made its groundbreaking debut, oppressed Russian music fans found a way to listen to their tunes using discarded X-ray films from the dumpsters and archives of hospitals.

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The music was pressed onto the discarded films using phonographs converted into very primitive CD burners for vinyl. (There's not a whole lot of information out there on how these hacked phonographs work, so we welcome any insight in the comments.) The copies were then cut into discs and a cigarette was used to burn a hole in the middle of the disc. Featuring the skeletal remains of the original substrate, the handmade discs were appropriately known as "bone music."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  26 Jun 2014  |  Comments (2)

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The easiest thing in the world is to be a critic on the internet. But the hardest is to be an internet critic who's funny. Internet personality Maddox, who first cracked me up with his brutally honest criticisms of children's drawings in the early days of the internet, is one of the few who's got the harder category locked down.

While the children's drawing series sparked painful memories in anyone who's sat through a design school crit (and has since been turned into a book), Maddox takes on far broader targets with his "The Best Show in the Universe" YouTube program. This week's topic: Pushed over the edge by inane living tips, Maddox takes on the recent glut of lifehacks that no one asked for. (Be warned: The language is NSFW!)

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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[Images by Fiddler49]

By mastering the assembly of compound materials, the Mongols had created an incredibly powerful bow, as we saw in the previous entry. But the way that they used it, which differed from the European method, necessitated a secondary support object that was the result of early ergonomic observation.

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The Europeans used what is known as the "Mediterranean draw" to pull their bowstrings back. This uses the first three fingers of the hand. However, the Mongols used their thumbs to pull the string back, and curled their index and middle fingers over the thumb to support it. This, they reckoned, was stronger and allowed for a cleaner release. Whether you're an archer or not, if you use your own hand to mimic the release of either pull, you can clearly see it's easier to instantly spread your thumb, forefinger and middle finger than it is to release the first three fingers of your hand; that's because the thumb and fingers oppose, and thus balance, each other.

But concentrating over 100 pounds of force against the thumb would damage that thumb. So to protect them, the Mongols had to create yet another object: The thumb ring. This hand-carved object could be made from wood, bone, horn or antler. Here's a shot of a modern-day one owned by this Hong-Kong-based archery enthusiast:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The hard part about killing people is that sometimes they kill you back. (Just ask Prince Oberyn.) So at some point, some primitive pugilist concluded it would be better if one was not within arm's reach of the person one was trying to kill.

One way you can do this is to kill your opponent with kindness. But this can take an unsatisfyingly long time. A more immediate way to kill someone from afar is with a ranged weapon.

Spears and slings were relatively simple to make, but no civilization could gain an enduring military advantage with such basic and duplicable weapons. The earliest example of an object that required both design and manufacturing know-how, and which led to a tremendously decisive advantage, was probably the 13th Century Mongol bow.

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Bows and arrows have been around for tens of thousands of years—depending on who you listen to, we may have had them 64,000 freaking years ago—but the Mongol bow was a standout. First off, it was made out of something like the carbon fiber of that era, a complicated-to-make sandwich of horn, wood or bamboo, and strands of animal sinew all laminated together with animal glue. The horn provided the rigidity, the wood or bamboo provided the flex, and the elastic sinew laminated to the wood helped store potential energy as the string was drawn.

The traditional problem with composite bows was that they tended to delaminate when wet, as water dissolved the animal glue holding them together. Since the Mongols didn't like the idea that they would have to surrender if it was raining out, and throwing arrows by hand didn't seem terribly practical, they either developed or stole the technology to produce a waterproof lacquer. By coating their bows with this stuff, they effectively made them all-weather. And the results were simply devastating.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Jun 2014  |  Comments (11)

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I've always bought my soap pump bottles from a company I used to work for, because I remember doing the renderings and CAD drawings for the dispenser head. As ID'ers, we don't get a lot of compensation or credit, so little, quiet ego boosts like this go a long way. But several years ago I started feeding my dogs raw meat, and because I was handling it so frequently, I realized the design of soap pump I'd worked on would no longer cut it.

When your hands are covered in raw meat juice that you're trying to wash off, obviously you don't want to touch the soap dispenser with them. I tried using my elbow in the beginning but it was unworkable. So I switched over to Simplehuman's touchless Sensor Pump—but it's turned out to be a pain in the ass.

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The sensor gets triggered every time I turn the lights on in the kitchen, squirting soap onto the counter, so I have to leave a sponge under it to catch it. I've tried cleaning the sensor to no avail. I hate the amount of soap this thing wastes, and because it goes off so frequently I have to change the batteries out often.

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