Sunday, December 8, 2019

Utensil Rest want's a place at every elegant table

Emily Post was the recognized expert on etiquette and manners through the 1940s and 50s and she would have gotten along well with my grandmother.

Grandma came from old English stock, with ancestors who arrived on the Mayflower and fought in the Revolutionary War. She was a bit of a stickler for manners, and she believed there was a proper way of doing things like setting the table for a dinner party.

Grandma knew exactly where every knife, fork and spoon should be placed before and during a meal. That's information that her grandchildren, including this one, never managed to file away in an easily-accessible part of their brains.

And that's why I was intrigued to come across Utensil Rest. It's a simple but elegant invention
that creates a convenient resting place for eating utensils in a well-appointed table setting.

The Utensil Rest was also designed to counter the messiness and disorder that naturally comes with meal time. I can remember grandma wincing slightly when an especially sloppy uncle would take his butter-laden knife or gravy-drenched fork and place it on her embroidered linen tablecloth.   

And then there's the germs. Researchers at the University of Georgia found that kitchen utensils can assist in spreading bacteria to different types of produce.

Here's what the creators of Utensil Rest say on their website:

Despite some of the best efforts, germs still find their way to the dinner table. Using Utensil Rest is one of the most effective ways to prevent contamination from the table to your spoon, fork, or knife.

The Utensil Rest provides a place above the table surface to park eating utensils.

The Utensil Rest is produced in a variety of colors and materials, including marble, granite and hardwood. Each one has a spot for knife, fork and spoon and some include a space for sushi sticks.

To see the full collection, visit the Utensil Rest website. You can also check out Utensil Rest on Facebook, where you can see a slideshow video, and on Instagram.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Source Rabbit launches desktop CNC milling machine

The development of 3D printers has made it easy to create prototype products, custom prosthetics and architectural models. But what if you need a replacement part of an antique motorcycle or a replacement for a metal item that is no longer manufactured?

Computer-controlled milling machines are also moving to the desktop with a new generation of devices that can quickly transform a computer design into a fully-finished item.

The new Micro Mill CNC milling machine from Source Rabbit can function as a router, lathe, drill or grinder. And it works with a wide variety of materials, including aluminum, wood, plastics and PCB boards. It also works with all major computer design computer software.

The Source Rabbit website says the Micro Mill has the kind of high-precision specs that make it a good choice for lab technicians, jewelers, electricians, model makers and precision opticals.

Here are some of those specs:
  • A cutting area of 300x200x180 mm
  • A Z-Αxis column that is exactly 90° with its table  
  • A bed travel area of 300x200 mm
  • All axes are running on hardened 15mm linear rails
  • A waterproof terminal switch on each axes.
To get a closer look at the Micro Mill, visit the Source Rabbit website.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

AstraChat offers secure group chat

Every time I hear a report about someone's private chats getting hacked or snooped I wonder why some talented programmers haven't created a secure alternative to the common chat programs we all use.

It turns out that the coders at Rockliffe Systems have done just that. Their product is called AstraChat. It lets users communicate securely in real time using almost any platform, from iOS an Android mobiles to Windows, Mac and even Linux desktops.

With AstraChat, users can communicate one-to-one or in groups both small and large. In addition to sending and receiving text messages, they also can exchange photos and conduct VoIP conference calls.

A key element in the AstraChat structure is its use of its own enterprise server instead of using a commercial chat platform with a cloud installation or a proxy server.  AstraChat clients support SSL and TLS encryption and optional encryption using OTR (Off the Record).

The AstraChat client software is always connected to an XMPP server running in the background to provide immediate push notifications of new messages. And the elimination of a proxy server add enhanced security.

Client apps are available for free from the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store and the Amazon App Store.  The apps connect directly to the AstraChat server and do not require users to sign up or create an account.

For a closer look, check out the video below and for more details, visit the AstraChat website.




Monday, November 11, 2019

Inventor wants to put a wind turbine in your yard

Which renewable energy source contributes the most to US energy production? Here's a hint: It's not the sun.

According to Enerdata's statistical yearbook for 2018, solar energy accounted for 2 percent of electricity production compared to 7 percent for wind power.

Electricity output from wind turbines keeps growing every year. Most of that power comes from sprawling wind farms like the ones in Northwestern Indiana. There, hundreds hundreds of giant turbines have sprouted across three counties where they produce enough electricity to power more than 270,000 homes.

But Roger Phillips, an inventor and entrepreneur, thinks wind power can contribute even more if it's deployed on a smaller scale. Instead of hundreds of massive propellers generating power for thousands of homes, Phillips envisions small generators that could power a single home or a small business.

Here's how Phillips laid out his vision on his website:

What if people could power their homes for free?
What if they could drive their cars for free?
Would they buy an electric car?
What if companies could eliminate their power bills?
Would this change the economy?

Phillips is the brains behind Mighty Watts, a wind turbine small enough to be installed next to a residence or commercial building. The electricity generated by the device would be integrated into the local electrical grid the way solar panels now reduce or eliminate electric utility bills.

Phillips is a Navy veteran who ran two businesses in Minnesota before retiring to life on the road in an RV. About 10 years ago, he began exploring ways to reduce the $1,700 electricity bill he was pay for a commercial building.

Over the past decade the idea evolved into the Mighty Watts turbine. Instead of huge blades mounted on a skyscraping pole, Mighty Watts uses small blades housed in a circular casing that could turn out to be about 13 feet wide.

And Mighty Watts might also work well in areas that aren't especially windy. The device makes use of the Venturi effect to increase the velocity of the ambient wind. Phillips explains the process this way:

The Venturi takes the outside wind traveling at its normal speed, forcing it through a smaller area where it speeds the wind up behind the blades, eliminating the resistance to the incoming wind.

Phillips believes the widespread use of Might Watts devices could eliminate the need for fossil fuels and reduce the threat posed by global warming.

To get his invention rolling, he launched a campaign on Go Fund Me where he hopes to raise $350,000. The money would be used to hire engineers, conduct a computer fluid dynamics analysis and build a 9- to 13-foot prototype for real-life testing.

Once the prototype is built, tested and perfected, Mighty Watts could move on to manufacturing. With funding, Phillips says the engineering phase could be completed in less than six months and the test device built within another three months.

For a closer look at at the ideas behind Might Watts, watch the video below and check out the Mighty Watts website.

Mighty Watts it also on Twitter @mightywattswind and on Facebook and Instagram.




Monday, October 14, 2019

loveBuds let you share music, movies and video calls

When my wife and I travel together we often share a movie on my computer or tablet. But that only happens when I remember to bring along two sets of earbuds and a little splitter cable so we can both plug into the same headphone jack.

Then there are times when I want to share a song with her. What do I do - offer her one earbud and half of the the stereo?

Those are the times when I wondered why no one had created dual earbuds with two sets built into one plug.

It turns out someone has. They're called loveBuds and they're much more practical than a couple of standard earbuds plugged into a splitter.

For example, loveBuds have separate microphones and volume controls. Dual mics mean my wife and I can both participate in a Skype or Facetime video call. And the volume control lets me crank up the movie sound without blasting her.

The buds are colored black and pink, so users will always know which pair are his and which are hers.

And the cables are long enough to let us use them if we were sitting across from each other at a dining table, for example, or strolling through a museum.

The loveBuds have a standard audio pin plug so they would work fine with my laptop computer and with many mobile phones and tablets. Users who have newer Apple phones or tablets will need to have their own adapter.

You can get more details at the loveBuds website or order a set for $34.99 from Amazon.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

SEO expert has a plan for small businesses

Almost every day, I get emails from companies and individuals offering their expertise in search engine optimization to boost my website's online visibility.

The message I got from Colin Hamilton was different. He sent a link to a video of a presentation in which he shares his "9 Growth Hacking Tips For Top Rankings."

I clicked to the video but I was skeptical. I have written about SEO techniques and attended presentation much like Hamilton's. I didn't think I would learn anything new.

I was wrong. His best tips told me something I should have known, like using the social media icon links attached to a business listing in Google Maps, or something I had never thought of. A good example of the latter is his email trick. Instead of adding a business's website address to email correspondence, use a URLs based on a general Google search and Google Maps search.  Google will reward you for routing your potential customers through its pipelines.

Hamilton, the owner of iimhub Technologies in the Vancouver area. He focuses on techniques for generating sales leads. He is currently developing a collection of online hubs that would help companies and service providers enhance their Internet visibility by teaming up with others in the same line of work. Each member would have a website under the hub umbrella and would regularly contribute articles and other original content.

"We want to create a social media platform within an industry," Hamilton said in his presentation. His targets are "niche communities" such drywall installers, caterers or periodontists.

To get a closer look at Hamilton's ideas, check out the iimhub website

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Why do programmers love Python?

When my corporate job involved working with programmers to support the company’s website, the coders tended to favor using PHP to build our digital projects.

PHP, a general-purpose programming language that was designed for web development work, produced code that was easy to integrate into our HTML pages. If we needed a registration form or an interface to a simple database, PHP would deliver.

For today’s far more complex websites, developers are more likely to work Python, a programming language built around the concept of "pluggability" and reusable components. Developers can work faster because they can reuse components that have already been created and tested.

Because of its reliability, scalability and flexibility, Python has been used to create some of the biggest giants in the web including the Google search engine, YouTube, Yahoo!, Dropbox, Quora, and Reddit.

The software development house RED uses Python and especially the Django web framework for many of its development projects.

Recent surveys of developers show Python rising in popularity among while languages such as PHP and C++ are waning. In one survey, Python ranked as the 4th most popular language globally.   

One more thing to know about Python: the name has nothing to do with snakes. Rather it's a tribute to the British comedy troupe Monty Python.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

A telescope for your pocket phone

This is the type of scope that is typically used for target shooting or spotting wild game to hunt. I was hoping to spot bald eagle that has been known to visit the bare treetops in the woods around my neighborhood.

The scope has 20x-to-60x magnification, which suits my situation, and it’s waterproof, so our frequent hazy, humid weather wouldn’t fog the lens.

But what really drew me to the Creative XP GlassHawk were the accessories. It comes with a clip-on adapter that holds a mobile phone snug against the viewing tube.

The adapter was easier to use than I expected and after just a couple of tries, I have a bright, full-screen image on my iPhone camera.

With the phone camera, I could zoom in even more and shoot sills, video and time-lapse. It also allowed my grandchildren to enjoy the views, especially the full moon ascent that you’ll see in my video.

The GlassHawk also comes with a remote shutter release that works with both Apple and Android phone cameras.

I was also very happy with the price, which is significantly lower than other brands that have comparable features. 

The GlassHawk sells for $189 at Amazon.




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