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November 30, 2004

Yesterday we pointed you to a site that explored the depths of the oceans. Today, we'll take you to a site that has a collection of images of the heavens.

This collection of deep space images from the Hubble Telescope is perfect as wallpaper for your computer. Just follow their directions if you don't already know how to setup your computer's background image.

The site also has some cool Rainy Day Projects... like making your own Hubble Telescope model :-)

They have step by step instructions WITH the .pdf of decals you can print on your printer. How fun is that! After you're done... send them a picture and they'll post it on the NASA site!


November 29, 2004

Everybody was out shopping this weekend... which meant the Holiday Season has officially started. At some point you are going to need a drink :-)

A vodka martini... no problem if you are a Jame Bond fan. How about a Mojito? Or a Grasshopper? What about a Long Island Ice Tea? If you don't know... get your liver ready and point your browser to CocktailDB.

Talk about your "Rainy Day" project! Check out the OBIS Portal. It is a network of researchers in more than 45 countries uploading info onto a portal that is trying to catalog all that we know about the oceans...which is preciously little.

I like the thought that the average person can still make significant discoveries both in astronomy and marine biology because the physical size of both of these areas of studies are so enormous!

So get out there and find something new... and if you can't, at least now you can find out about it on OBIS:-) [More...]


November 27, 2004

Japan... home of some of the more elaborate "Rainy Day" projects! A reader sent this to us chronicling an extreme makeover of an Acura NSX into a Ferrari F50... as close as can be on the outside anyway :-)

You don't need to be able to read Japanese to follow this story along... lots of photos on the project's progress. See the gory details here.

A less ambitious "Rainy Day" project is to convert your MagLite flashlight to use LED bulbs instead of the standard incandescent ones. Just replace the bulbs with these from TerraLux. They have ones for AA as well as C and D size flashlights.

It'll give you a brighter whiter light. More importantly, it will increase the battery life by 600%!!!! We hope to bring you a first hand review of these bulbs in the near future. [More...]

Olympus just released a new 4 MegaPixel digital camera (i:robe IR-500) with an interesting design feature. This camera is part of Olympus' "Dock & Done" series which let users print directly without having to first download to a computer.

The LCD viewfinder display serves as a lens cover when the camera is not in use, but can be flipped to allow self portraits as well as for normal viewfinder use. [More...]


November 26, 2004

I came across an interesting book titled "In Praise of Slow" by Carl Honore. It contrasted sharply with this morning's images on TV of the start of the holiday shopping frenzy.

Sometimes, a change of pace can be much better than a change of scenery... Carl's book is timely for those finding themselves constantly out of time. [More...]

As we mentioned yesterday, we are creating a version of Rainy Day Magazine for the handheld devices (PDAs, cellphones, etc...). The first issue is now available for those of you that want to read Rainy Day Magazine (RDM) on your PDAs.

It is properly sized for a handheld screen. The navigation buttons have been moved to the top of the page. Currently, selecting the proper page for the browser (regular or handheld) is dependent on you, the user. In the future, you will not have to select which version you need (regular or handheld)... the "appropriate" version will be automatically detected :-)

So now you can have Rainy Day Magazine with you wherever you are! Let us know how you like it and what we can change to make it better!


November 25, 2004...THANKSGIVING DAY

We hope everyone got to where they are going...it was a tough travel day yesterday (snow in the Midwest, rain in the South). We decided not to get on the road this year, but instead will be heading to our friends in town for an early dinner.

We are thankful to you, our readers, for your constant encouragements and suggestions! We are hopeful that we'll continue to bring fun and interesting stuff to you in the coming years!

Some of you have suggested that Rainy Day Magazine would be great read while on the go. We AGREE!!!

In the coming weeks, look for versions of Rainy Day Magazine that will be specifically sized and crafted for the small PDA and cell phone screens. The pages will be designed to load fast and will not need horizontal scrolling on those devices. We are excited about this new project ... check it out and let us know how you like it!


November 24, 2004

We are big potato chips fans...Lays, Pringles, Cape Cod...we eat them all. Lately, we have been addicted to the Terra brand of chips. These are not your average BBQ, salt & vinegar, or pizza flavored chips that crumble in your hands. Terra brand chips are thick. They also have a dizzying varieties of flavors AND potato types (red, blue, sweet, etc...)

Our current favorite amongst their offerings are the Red Bliss flavor (Olive Oil, Roasted Garlic, and Parmesan)...with a claim of 30% less fat than comparable brands. You should do your own test...NOW :-) [More...]


November 23, 2004

There's getting away and then there is GETTING AWAY...going to Tahiti is the latter.

Air Tahiti Nui flights from L.A. to Papeete, Tahiti, inter-island flights, nine nights at the Club Bali Hai on Moorea, and welcome and farewell leis. Friday departures until Dec. 12 ($1,189), Jan. 25– March 25 ($1,249). Contact Tahiti Legends, 800/200-1213, tahitilegends.com.

Before you go ...check out the "Deals of the Day" and "Bargains" sections in the categories on the left (Gear & Gadgets, Destinations, Specials...etc). There are ONLINE ONLY savings and they change everyday!!!

"To see the world in a grain of sand..." If Blake is alive, he would have found this watch just as inspiring.

A rotating blue globe surrounded by a ring of titanium...you can put this Earth on your wrist for 10 years before having to change the batteries. Experience time on a planetary scale. To firgure out how to tell the time ...you'll have to go to their site :-) [More...]

Hydrogen may be the fuel fo the future for our cars, but Estes has produced a model rocket that actually generates hydrogen fuel from water, meaning all you do is put tap water in the rocket's generator and hydrogen fuel is produced.

The reaction chamber electrolyze the water into fuel for a launch that sends your rocket up to 250 feet in the air. Sounds a lot more exciting than the solid propellants of the past...doesn't it? And hey...if it wasn't safe, would they be able to sell it :-) [More...]

November 22, 2004

Headphones made music a private experience. The Walkman, portable CD players, and iPods made music available on the go. The current crop of portable DVD movie players and Photo iPods are screaming for their equivalent of the "headphones". These glasses from Eyetop may do just that...

They will feed a video signal to your eye while letting you see what's going on around you. There have been eyeglass size video displays from Sony and Olympus, but they were in the $1000+ range. You can pick up one of these for around $350. [More...]

You don't need any high tech head gear to find your way to your favorite Dogfish beer. My friend Jeremy dropped me a line about some upcoming Dogfish events in Boston.


November 20, 2004

Today we spent a couple of hours strolling around the Paradise City Arts Festival.  This show is NOT the "pot holder, tin can windchime" holiday arts & crafts show.  It IS a gathering of several hundred top quality artists and artisans exhibiting their work. 

If you have time tomorrow, get out to Marlboro and immerse yourself in the creative energies at the show... if you are fortunate, you may even bring home a fine work of art. [More...]


November 19, 2004

London... land of Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and Westminster Bridge.  Now it has another claim to fame, a flagship Apple Store on Regent Street.  The photo by Gary Allen shows the front of the store at night... note the blue & red tent in front :-)

Folks (Shippy, Gary Allen) have set up camp so they would be the first to enter the store when it open on Saturday Nov 20.  [More...]

Perception is often colored by preconception.  Sometimes this makes it hard to see what is there or to cause us to see something where none exists. 

Here is a site with images that have other images embedded within.  Look pass the obvious to see the hidden! [More...]

Cell phones, PDAs, and laptops all make our life easier... mostly because they free us from having to be at a specific place in order to do a specific thing.  The price for that freedom is we have to power all these devices... which means we have to, at some point, recharge them.

If you are like me... you sometimes push the limit on "empty", especially with cell phone :-) The folks on Charge2Go have created a solution that is useful, elegant, and affordable. [More...]


November 18, 2004

Some of you have noted there are more advertising and offers on the main page in November. This is both a good and bad thing :-) Good that the magazine is attracting more interests from folks that want to sell you stuff...because more of you are reading the magazine! Bad that it can take away from clean uncluttered lfeel that may have attracted you in the first place.

In a effort to strike a balance between enterprise and entertainment, we'll be experimenting with some new layout ideas in the next couple of weeks. Let us know what you like and what you don't so we can continue to make this a place you enjoy visiting every day!

One idea we have is to add a new section in each of the categories accessible on the left (Gear&Gadgets, Destinations, Cruises, etc...). This "Bargains" section is where we'll highlight special time limited deals from our advertisers! You won't see these mentioned on the front page, so be sure to check out these sections for money saving bargains specific to those areas.


November 17, 2004

Some items become icons because of their distinctive forms. Some forms achieve iconic status due to their function.

The Rollei medium format camera became a favorite because it did not come between the artist and their subjects and quickly became an icon associated with master photographers. That same form factor is now available in a digital version. Its specs will not knock you over, but its size and charming heritage might just make you want one anyway. [More...]

There is probably no higher expression of form following function than the Japanese katana. Its simple form is the results of hundreds of years of brutal refinement forged from the success in battle. While the blade of the katana is never adorned so as not to interfere with its primary purpose, the rest of the sword's fitting is another matter. In fact, the adornment of these supporting components is its own art form.

The "Lethal Elegance" exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is a celebration of this art. Every Wednesday the Museum opens its galleries to the public for free. We took advantage of the offer and went to see the exhibit in the Asian wing today.

The exhibit showcased some of the finer components of the Samurai's sword in the Museum's collection. It also followed the transition of this art into other forms when the wearing of the Samurai swords were outlawed in Japan. [More...]


November 16, 2004

Josh Caldwell and a few of his friends set out from Seattle WA a hundred days ago to travel across America... on a Segway (max speed - 10 mph)! 

TODAY, they will be celebrating the conclusion of their journey at 6-9PM at the Sail Loft in Kendall Square Boston.  Check out this amazing journey! [More...]

Yesterday we showed you a project to supersize your TV.  Today we'll show you someone who has supersized photography!

It's called the "Gigapxl Project" and its goal is to capture on film images that are equivalent in the digital world of a 1000 Megapixel... or a GigaPixel!  The resolution of the "GigaPxl" image on the left can only be fully appreciated by looking at the detail of the image on the right.  The two people on the right is the "zoomed in" version of the speck at the end of the two red lines in the image on the left!  That is the level of detail captured in a GigaPxl image!!!

The idea was the brainchild of Grant Flint and Catherine Aves.  They bring a multi-disciplinary approach to the project that has managed to pushed the technological envelops of large format film photography, digital imaging, and inkjet printing.  [More...]


November 15, 2004

Since the start of my sabbatical, I've been taking afternoon naps.  I was well aware of its rejuvenating qualities well before it was confirmed by scientific studies :-)

Now there is a new startup in NYC called MetroNaps that is actually going to try to make a business of it... something I might actually have thought of if I wasn't so busy napping!  So, if you are in their neighborhood...check 'em out and drop me a line and let me know how it was.   [More...]

Projection TV, LCD projectors, home theater... for under $350?  It can be so IF you have some free time on a rainy day, can follow directions, and don't mind some wires hanging out after the project is done.

Frank Voikel has written an article on how to "Supersize Your TV for $300".  The instructions looked excellent ... lots of pictures at various stage throughout the project.  Definitely a "Rainy Day Project"!


November 14, 2004

I was looking around at all the gear and technology in my office and it hit me... some of the stuff that I use every day are more than 3 years old.  That's ancient measured in "tech time".  However, most of it is still quite useful and really not old enough to warrant replacing. 

I thought it might be interesting to start a series of articles to highlight some of the more noteworthy examples of discontinued but still useful tech.  I will be posting the articles in the Gear & Gadgets section under the heading "Good Enough Gear". 

The first of this series is an article on the iPaq PDA/Navman GPS combo.  Both of these items have been discontinued for a few years now, but this set is still viable.

Send me a link or drop me a note if you have examples of "Good Enough Gear" you think others would like to know about.

Some of you were quick to point out that there ARE alternatives to the traditional turkey just as exotic as the Turducken... the free ranging Tofurky!

The nice folks of Turtle Island Foods out in Oregon has created a vegetarian version of the turkey out of soy.  Carolyn is a vegetarian and is constantly looking for interesting meat substitues.  I'm always gamed to try something new... as long as there is a backup meat product close by.  So, if you are adventurous, you now have two alternatives to your traditional holiday turkey!


November 13, 2004

An early snow storm turned Boston into a winter wonderland overnight. 

Our cat woke up to a beautiful sight and went out to inspect the "white stuff".  I, on the other hand, went back to bed and let the snow plows do their thing before venturing out for coffee.

The snow tires installed just a few days ago proved to be just in time! I'm sure there will be more days like these in the next few months.


November 12, 2004

Last Thanksgiving we ordered the entire dinner for 8 from the Ritz Carlton.  It came with a turkey, all the trimmings, salad, and 2 different pies for dessert.  It saved me hours of shopping and in the kitchen ...definitely the way to go!

Next year we may try serving a Cajun Fried Turkey or a Turducken.  Don't know what a Turducken is?  Neither did we until today's article in the Weekend section of the Wall Street Journal. 

Apparently, a Turducken is a Cajun specialty which consist of a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken.  A kind of a recursively stuffed bird.  For us Yankees, we can go online and get it from the Cajun-Shop or the Cajun Grocer!


November 11, 2004

Today is Veteran's Day (formerly Armistice Day).  It is the anniversary of the Armistice which was signed in the Forest of Compiegne by the Allies and the Germans in 1918, ending World War I, after four years of conflict.

The name was changed to Veterans' Day by Act of Congress on May 24, 1954 by President Eisenhower.  President Eisenhower called on all citizens to observe the day by remembering the sacrifices of America's servicemen.

Visiting the auto show reminded me of some technology I saw from Cadillac a few years back.  It was called the Night Vision System and it was an option on the DeVille line.

I thought there would be a lot more of these systems available now, but I didn't see any at the show.  A quick google search turned up an article from BusinessWeek asking the same question.  [More...]

A little more digging turned up a local Boston company (SMal Technologies) that is doing some pretty interesting work in the automotive vision space. 

This same company was mentioned a while back on an article about an inexpensive digital camera from Raido Shack.


November 10, 2004

I went to the New England International Auto Show today...because I had a discount coupon and because my 1988 Pathfinder is starting to show its age.

The H2 by Hummer is a possible replacement... but do I really need the machine gun turret option?  [More...]

Some of us grew up making stuff with Tinker Toys, some with Legos... now there is Zome.  With Zome, you can make cool structures, have fun with bubbles, or learn quite a bit about 3 D geometry!

You don't have to care about spheroid carbon molecules, double helix, or any of the structural principles of geodesic to have tons of fun with Zome... but your geeky uncle might :-)  So get yourself (or him) a couple of kits for those Rainy Days and make something! [More...]


November 9, 2004

The virtual world inside your computer display just took a small step into the physcial world with this little item from Media Lab Europe.

The "flower" in the pot can be programmed to "blooms" in reaction to things like an Instant Message or Email in your inbox, someone you want to talk to is online, or a host of other virtual world events.  The "pot" communicates with the computer wirelessly...so you can take it from room to room. [More..]


November 8, 2004

Non-polluting, renewable, free energy...the holy grail of energy researchers everywhere took a step closer to their goal on this announcement.

All of the current solar cell requires a battery to store the converted energy.  The new "photocapacitor" can store the electricity right in the cell.  Why is that good? Since solar conversion is not very efficient, anything that makes the total package smaller and lighter is critical ...especially for applications in cell phones, PDAs, and laptops.

In the spirit of renewable energy...how about "zero energy"?  Zero Energy homes is a project sponsored by the Dept of Energy.  It turns out there are a lot of things that can be done NOW to cut your energy use...tankless water heaters, special window glass, and geothermal heat pumps.

If you don't want to roll your own... check out these EnviroHomes from Clarum Homes...where energy use from the grid is about 90% less than the similar units not using "zero energy" techniques.


November 7, 2004

I'm fascinated by time series photos ...especially ones that reveals everyday changes.  This beautiful maple is right outside.  Every fall I see it change, this year it finally dawned on me that I should capture that in a series.

The plan is to take a photo once a day for the next year.  I hope you check back once in awhile and share in the progress.  If you are interested in doing the same, let me know...perhaps we can point to some interesting ones! [More...]


November 5, 2004

Cell phone with cameras...a lot of us have them.  Some of us even use them.  Most of us HOPE that someday they will replace our "real" digital camera.

Here is somewhat of a head to head comparison of three megapixel camera phones.  It was surprising the difference in the quality of the images.  [More...]

If you had no trouble with folding those Japanese Peace Cranes and want to move up to some more challenging origami projects...

you might want to surf over to Design in Origami and try your hands on some of the ones there.  They made it easy for you by showing the crease patterns. [More...]

Apparently 3 inches is too small and 5 inches is too big ... 4 inches is just right.

This display from Samsung is for their next generation of personal video players: 16 million colors, 16:9 ratio, and visible in daylight.


November 4, 2004

Mind mapping is a pretty useful technique for taking notes and

getting an overview of the relationships amongst a group of items or ideas.  I have been using this technique for the past six or seven years. 

I found a tool called TheBrain that was especially helpful.  So much so this Mac guy was willing to purchased a PC just to use it... since it is Windows only!  It is running on a Sony Vaio PictureBook... a 2lb laptop the size of a big paperback.

When the OQO gets cheaper, it will be MY reason for purchasing one :-)  Mind Mapping is the only way I've found to take notes and still be able to make sense of them years later.  Give it try... it becomes second nature pretty quickly.

One of the fun part of driving a sports car in New England is driving in the snow.  To do it right...you need SNOW TIRES.  Not "all season" tires, but SNOW TIRES.  When the temperature drops below 50, summer tires comes off and SNOW TIRES goes on. 

Save some time and money by changing them yourself...if you do, make it easy by getting one of these hydraulic jack from Harbor Freight.  Ask for Leigh Ayn... she really helped me out when there was a problem with a part. No messing around with cranking, just pump and it'll do the heavy lifting...up to 3000 lbs.  [More...]


November 3, 2004

It is official... 274 to 252: Bush.  We wish the years ahead will always be better than the ones behind.

As we move deeper into Fall, the crisp air is perfect for stargazing... until it's time to go in for some hot chocolate, which for me is about 15 minutes!  If you rather stay inside, get Stellarium.  It is a free program available for Linux/Unix, Windows and MacOSX created by Fabien Chéreau.. It renders 3D photo-realistic skies in real time.

With Stellarium, you really see what you can see with your eyes, binoculars or a small telescope.  You can also zoom into the various stellar objects and connect the dots to see the various constellations.

If constellations are not your thing... perhaps hieroglyphics?

Type in what you want and out comes the glyphs.  The question is how does one know if the translation is right or wrong?  Web based translators are not exactly known for their syntactical accuracy!


November 2, 2004

When Apple announced the iPod Photo, it brought back memories of some doodling I did way back when. Yesterday, I went looking around the MessagePad and FOUND the note! It was a simple calculation done on 8/24/97 named : "A Digital Lifetime".

I remembered I was sitting on a hill near the harbor on Monhegan Island in Maine playing with the Newton MessagePad.

The question I asked was how many images would there be if I took 1 picture every 30 second for 80 years?

- 2 x 60 x 24 = 2880 images/day

- 2880 x 365 = 1,051,200 images/year

- 1,051,200 x 80 = 84,096,000 images/lifetime

How much data is that? Well, at 25,000 images/iPod Photo...that comes to 3,364 iPods/digital lifetime :-)

OK... a more reasonable number really is an image a day for a lifetime (80 years) : 365 x 80 = 29,200 images.

So...with an iPod Photo for $600, you can almost carry an entire lifetime of images with you in your pocket! [More...]



We voted in Boston today... no voting booths this year. It was "fill in the circle, put it in the scanner". There were lots of nice volunteers (like these two) to help folks get through the various stations. We were in and out in less than 5 minutes. It was like taking the SAT...only with just one question :-)

Our friend Gary Barsomian-Dietrich will be showing his digital art prints at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Marlborough from Nov 19 to Nov 21.

There will be 174 different artists showing and selling high quality arts and crafts... come get inspired! [More...]


November 1, 2004

Curiously Strong now has an additional meaning...

Chris Diclerico made an iPod battery pack from an Altoids tin and a pair of 9-volt batteries. The pack will deliver more than 10 hours of continuous play. [More...]

Want to bring a keyboard with you on vacation but just can't seem to find the room? Next time, consider a Yamano Hand Roll 61 key piano.

It has a built in speaker and connectors for headphones. The only down side is you can't put it on your lap...it needs a flat surface :-)


Fall colors are peaking in Boston.

The maple in the backyard is in full color...quite rich this time of the year! Looks like the weather will be clear in Boston for the 2004 Election tomorrow. If you need any voting info, you will find it here.

The New England International Auto Show is at the Bayside Expo.

There is a special discount on Wednesday....bring the $2 coupon from the Boston Globe and the NEIA show promoters will bring the admission price from $10 down to $6. We will be there on Wed, we never pass up a bargain!


[October 2004...]

[September 2004...]


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