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November 30, 2005 (WowUsWednesday)

Most of us are familiar with things that rhythmic, oscillates, or are periodic... things like heart beats, ocean waves, electronic circuits, and pendulums.  But chemical reactions?  We always thought chemicals interact, something happens, and the reaction goes to completion... at least that what we remembered from classes :-)

Well, one of our readers (Nick... who is neuroscientist) clued us into a class of reactions called Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reactions that actually oscillates between different chemical states while reacting.  If that was all, it would not have made it on WowUsWednesday.  In the late 50's, Anatol Zhabotinsky (the Z in BZ reactions) replaced one of the reactant and was able to get the oscillation to generate repeating patterns!

Thus, the BZ reactions not only oscillates temporally, but spacially as well!  By changing the different acids, different patterns emerges.  Now how cool is that!!!

If you want to make your own patterns, hop on over to TileToy and see if these fun looking open source blocks are your kind of thing.

There recently was a workshop in Huddersfield UK on how to make these blocks.  Looked like they had a great time!  If you are interested in future workshops, keep you eye out for it here.


November 29, 2005 (TechTuesday)

Al pulls in more than 5000 (yes...thousands) of channels with his 12 satellite dishes.  Apparently there are a lot of "free stuff" out there up in the sky :-) This guy definitely needs the Logitech Harmony 880 remote control! 

Sometimes a pad of paper and a pen is just what we want... especially for those quick notes that will be tossed in a few minutes or hours.  Everyday Innovations Inc. has developed a great little business card sized item called the PicoPad just for this purpose.

They are handy, inexpensive, and make a perfect stocking stuffer!  We are buying a few boxes of this great little gem and tossing one into every card we send this holiday season!  Go here for a closer look.


November 28 2005 (MinorMonday)

The holiday shopping season officially started last Friday.  As such, we wanted to point out RainyDayMagazine's "Unaccompanied Minor" section for those who want to check out the latest digital gear for the younger set.

We would like to direct our readers to a company call KidzGear. Their main focus is adult gadgets for kids.  We took a look at the KidzGear headphones and found them to be both well made and extremely affordable.  Go get a closer FirstLook here.

We have also completed our FirstUse review of Digital Blue's QX5 Digital Microscope.  The QX5 is the updated version of the discontinued IntelPlay QX3. 

For our FirstUse review we picked a test we thought most folks would probably do themselves if they got one of these 'scopes as a prezzie: examining the One Dollar bill. The Dollar bill test is actually quite a difficult test, what with all the micro-engraving, color shifting inks, and embedded tracking/tracing threads to deal with. We could tell you more, but then we'd have to...well, you know how the saying goes :-)

We found this QX5 microscope to be a fascinating and extremely fun piece of gear!  Read the full FirstUse Review here!


November 24,25 2005 (Out Shopping)

The only thing we would recommend for our shoppers this holiday season is to stay away from trying to save money via "rebates". The statistics on rebates are 40% of them never get redeemed. This means shoppers are NOT saving the kind of money they think they are saving!  It is not just that buyers are "lazy", it is more that some companies are making the rules so complicated that many people just don't bother when they finally get around to reading the steps required to get the rebates.


November 21,22,23 2005 (Vacation)

The staff at RainyDay wishes all its readers a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving Day and weekend. And may your turkey leftovers be gone by Saturday. Click here for someone's take on the first Thanksgiving...


November 20, 2005 (TechTuesday)

AZIO has developed a product which, at first glance, looks just like any other cell phone car charger on the market. 

After using it for a week, we've realized it is much more than that. This item has freed us from our cell phone wall charger, lightened our load on long trips, and made it easier to keep our cell phones charged when we are at our desks.  Go read all about it here.

Yesterday we told you about the StealthSurfer so you can surf the web safely from any WiFi hotspot.  Today we'll show you a device called the FlashPhone F2K which will allow you to make free VOIP phone calls to anywhere in the world.

With the Mplat FlashPhone, a user can plug it into the USB port of any Windows computer, make VOIP calls, and leave no traces... just like the StealthSurfer, but with voice calls.  Take a RainyDayMagazine FirstLook here.


November 20, 2005 (MaskedIPMonday)

Since WiFi hotspots are now everywhere, surfing from one's own laptop can create a false sense of security.  Using your own laptop does NOT mean you are safe. You must take proper identity-theft precautions when you're "out there" zooming around.

The folks at Stealth Ideas, Inc. had a good idea.  Why not take some of the bulletproof open source software, add some data encryption, and put the entire bundle on a USB key?  That way, a user can plug it into any computer, surf safely, and leave no trace...

If you are thinking of purchasing a USB key, this StealthSurfer II may be a great unit to consider.  If you travel and use machines or WiFi networks while on the road, this little device could potentially save you alot of headaches!  If you are a secret agent and you need to leave no footprint of your digital incursions, then this is a MUST HAVE in your equipment kit...so go requisition one from Q Branch right now if one has not already been issued to you.  Go here for more on the SteathSurfer II.


November 19, 2005 (GadgetFest 2005)

This weekend was RainyDayMagazine's first Annual GadgetFest.  Our guests were invited to come and get some "hands-on" time with the various gear and gadgets we have reviewed this past year.  At last count, over 80 companies had gadgets represented!  Click here for the complete list of vendors present at GadgetFest 2005.

Congratulations to the nine special GadgetFest 2005 Winners, participating vendors, and to LumaRay for being selected BEST of RainyDay Magazine GadgetFest 2005!


November 18, 2005(OutdoorTechWeek)

Snowshoes like those from Tubbs are great for when we are in the outback, but maybe a bit much for city walking.

Sometimes it not convenient to wear the heavy boots and have to change to our dress shoes when we arrive at work.

For those situations, YakTrax has a solution that will get you there without you falling on your...whatever.  Go check out our FirstLook review here.


November 17, 2005(OutdoorTechWeek)

When we are out in the wild, even in the wilds of Boston, we always bring along some water.  If we think we may be out for awhile, we bring along a CamelBak hydration system.

The CamelBak may be a good idea if you were planning on going to visit an IKEA store.  One just opened in MA last week.

RainyDayMagazine didn't have solid plans to visit the Ikea store in Stoughton on opening day... why, maybe because the Managing Editor thought that traffic could be an issue????

But once it sunk in that the store was less than 15 miles from the office, some of us became quite persistent in our, um, adamantations that we go.  Go read all about RainyDayMagazine's  IKEA adventure on Carolyn's World!


November 16, 2005(OutdoorTechWeek)

Winter will be here soon and we will be ready.  This year we are going to go outside and do stuff every chance we get!

One of the things we will be doing is snowshoeing.  Why? Because it is something everybody here can do.  Some of us love to ski, others snowboard, but everyone here can walk :-)  There are different types of snowshoe activities... racing, hiking, and trail breaking.  We'll be mostly doing the latter two.

We got a couple pairs of Adventure 25 snowshoes from Tubbs for the RainyDaySports folks here at the magazine.  These snowshoes were designed for hiking and backcountry adventures.  Go here to see if they will be just what you'll need to get you up the hills this winter.


November 15, 2005(OutdoorTechWeek)

Trail running as a sport has really taken off. Not only is it a great way to get into shape, it is also a wonderful way to get out in the wild... if you are outside the city limits :-)

Adidas made a pair of cross country running shoes back in the 1970s called "Country."  It had white leather uppers with the trademarked green triple stripe on the side and a gum rubber sole.  There wasn't much padding in running shoes back then, but everyone on the track team worn them for distance running.

Today, the story is much different.  Adidas' shoes have gone high tech and are extremely sophisticated piece of running gear.  We just replaced our worn Nike ACG trail shoes with a pair of the regular Adidas Kumasi and a pair of the Kumasi XCR.   Go here to check out RainyDaySports' FirstLook Review to why these are not your father's running shoes.  Get yourselves a pair and get out there!


November 14, 2005(OutdoorTechWeek)

Many of our readers have sent us comments and questions regarding the recent reviews on the various outdoor and winter gear... keep those emails coming!

As per our RainyDayMagazine reader's requests, we'll be reviewing stuff that will get us outside this winter... gear like CamelBak hydration systems, Adidas trail running shoes, and Tubbs snowshoes!  Of course, getting out there is good, but getting back is even better :-)  So today, we are going to take a look at handheld GPS receivers...specifically, the Magellan eXplorist 500.

GPS receivers are amazing devices.  We have had one in our car for many years and have found them to be extremely useful but frustrating at the same time.

The technolgy is fine, but most of the older units had some pretty awful user interfaces.  We were wondering if the handheld unit designed specifically for outdoor activities were any better.  We got the Magellan eXplorist 500 unit as our first test subject.  Go check out the FirstLook review here.

To protect the LCD screen from scratches, we decided to use the InvisibleShield.  We have had good experiences with the InvisibleShield for our iPod nano.  The folks at InvisibleShield have a large collection of shields for various GPS.  They had one sized exactly to fit this unit.  If they didn't they would have made a custom one for us at no extra charge... now we couldn't have ask for much more than that!  Go check out the install here.


November 12, 2005(Weekend Edition)

Our cars are getting ever more sophisticated, especially in their ability to detect, record, and notify when something may be amiss.

However, most car manufacturers won't give the consumers any means to access the information on the status of their vehicles other than the "idiot lights" on the dash.  When a "check engine" light comes on, it usually means a trip to the dealer and a $50-$80 fee to plug in a cable and have them tell you what the problem is.  This is not only kind of annoying, it's a rip-off. 

Apparently, the good folks at DriveRight thought the same thing.  They are the makers of a product called the CarChip.  This device is like a "flight recorder" for your car. 

It will record up to 300 hours of driving information (car speed, engine performance, trouble codes, etc...) so you can finally get a better idea of WHAT is going on under the hood!  Check out RainyDayGarage's FirstLook report and their FirstUse results.   Coincidentally, the "check engine" light of our Contributing Editor's Toyota Camry recently came on. 

We gave her the CarChip and told her to report back in a few days... we suggest you do the same and see how she did with the CarChip.

Another product that caught our eye was one called SmartGlow Fuse.  This fuse has a built in LED which will light up when the fuse has blown. 

Normally, when a fuse has blown, the only way to tell is to pull out the suspected fuse and check to see if the connection has indeed broken.  The SmartGlow Fuse makes this task a breeze by lighting up instead.  Next time we blow a fuse, we are going to replace it with a SmartGlow Fuse. Once we figure out which one it is...


November 11, 2005(Veteran's Day)

Today is Veteran's Day.  It was formerly known as Armistice Day.  It marked the anniversary of the truce signed by the Allies and the Germans in 1918, ending World War I.  The name was changed to Veterans' Day by Act of Congress on May 24, 1954 to remember and honor all Americans who answered the call to serve their country whenever the need arose.

Many of us remember our past with stories and images.  Last November we did an estimate on the amount of data required to capture a lifetime digitally via images (84,096,000 pics). 

At 100kb/image, that came out to be around 8.5 terabytes of data.  With a good compression algorithm, the amount of data could easily be cut in half. 

If we were willing to settle for images smaller than 640x480, we could probably reduce the amount of data by a factor of 10...which would put it at less than a terabyte... which would bring the cost down to three of the Maxtor OneTouch II units or ONE of the Maxtor III ($800)! 

Now, if we used the Plextor burner to store them on double-sided DVDs (8 GB/DVD), a terabyte would require around 125 DVDs ($70).

What is amazing is that the cost to do this was prohibitive when I did the calculation back on 8/24/97 (I remembered the date only because it was timestamped in the note pad of the Newton MessagePad).  In less than a decade, the cost and the technology has dropped such that it is not only possible, but probable that someone born TODAY can have their entire life recorded and archived for less than the cost of a good DVD player.


November 10, 2005

On Tuesday we posted the FirstLook review on the 300GB Maxtor OneTouch II Backup system.  Today, we will walk you through our FirstUse experience of getting the unit ready for the OneTouch backup operation.

One thing was clear already, the software and the "One Touch" button combo made it simple to run a backup anytime we want.  If we forget, well...the scheduled backup will back us up anyway :-)


November 9, 2005(WowUsWednesday)

We first met the folks at Speck Products at MacWorld Boston.  They make some of the most "tactile" iPod cases on the market.  Once we picked them up, we couldn't put them down!

Speck Product's iPod nano line follows the same tradition they had for their other iPod cases... fun, protective, and ever so touchable.  Go check them out here!

The desks at the RainyDayMagazine office are getting pretty crowded with gadgets these days and there is no end in sight!

We have iPod docks, card readers, graphic tablets, speakers, PowerMate knobs, etc...all vying for connection to the available USB ports.  A company called EDGE has released an iPod dock/card reader combo that will help save some space on our desks.


November 8, 2005(CleaningTechTuesday)

The folks at RainyDayKitchen like to try recipes from different parts of the world.  Sometimes there are a lot of different, uh, aromas, competing for attention.  Some of it comes from the stove and some of it from the refrigerator.

We have a venting system to handle the stove.  With the Oreck Air Purifier, we now have something to help us eliminate the smells from the fridge.  Go see if one of these make sense for you.

Oreck is better known for their superb vacuum cleaners.  Carolyn's World had a chance to check out the Oreck XL21.

The XL21 is a heavyweight when it comes to vacuuming, but it's in the superlight category (just 8 lbs) when it comes to its actual weight!  Go and read all about it in Carolyn's World.


November 7, 2005(MaintenanceMonday)

Backing up our data is something we all know we need to, should do, and would do if the process was easier, more convenient, and more automated.

Maxtor has put together an unbeatable system (hardware+software) for making this chore a "one button" operation.

In the FirstLook review of Maxtor's 300GB OneTouch II, we'll take a look at the drive and the various pieces that came with it.  In the FirstUse review, we'll set up the OneTouch backup system and see whether we can really automate our backup chores with just one touch.  Go check it out here.


November 6, 2005

We went to the NE Auto Show on Sunday...but due to an unfortunate event with the 2GB CompactFlash card, all the images somehow got corrupted.  The show was great, but you will just have to go see it for yourselves.

We completed the Harman Kardon Drive+Play installation of both the controller and the display over the weekend. 

With everything mounted and installed, we were ready to power up the Drive+Play for the FirstUse test!.  If we did everything right, the unit should turn on when we turn on the ignition.  Go here to see how we did.


November 5, 2005(ShoppingSaturday)

Apple opened a new store at the Burlington Mall in MA today.  In keeping with Apple's tradition, they were giving away t-shirts to the first 1000 visitors.

We drove up from Boston to see if the opening of a store deep in the heart of suburbia was any different than that of Cambridge or New York City.  We'll be reporting live at the Mall...check it out here.

It used to be that the Christmas shopping season started at the stroke of midnight on Thanksgiving night (for some, it still starts at 6 p.m on Christmas Eve). Those in the know, however, start their Christmas shopping on the Friday afternoon of the Christmas Craft Festival. It's one long craft fest weekend, and it's fabulous!

RainyDayMagazine's very own expert shopper, Carolyn, spent the entire day yesterday at the Christmas Craft Festival at Boston's World Trade Center.  Carolyn wanted get a jump on her Christmas shopping while checking out the festival for RainyDayMagazine... "I've just come back from Christmas shopping, although come to think of it, all the purchases are for me! " Go check out her report here :-)


November 4, 2005(FashionFriday)

The technology of the cuff links had not changed much since the 1800s...that is until Ivan Nogalo took some of his ideas and realized them in a line of cuff links for those looking for something a bit bolder in their sleeve accessories.

The iKuffs from Ivan Nogalo looked like they could be part of James Bond's standard-issue equipment and could emit some kind of metal cutting laser beam....you know, just in case he was somehow sealed in a metal drum and was about to be tossed into a nuclear hazardous waste pit.

Anyway, we got a pair of the iKuffs to see if they were real fashion accessories or just geeky novelty items.


November 3, 2005

Winterwear is something we take very seriously here in the Northeast.  The weather here can turn on us very quickly. 

Anyone who spends any time outdoors in the winter knows that layering is the key to proper temperature management.  Columbia understands this as well as anyone in the outdoor activewear industry, and they apply this knowledgr to all the clothing they design. 

Go check out our FirstLook at Columbia's Skier Cross Parka here.  You may want to get one before the snow season really kicks into gear :-)

Speaking of protective covering, for iPod owner that did not want to use an outer case because they wanted to preserve the original look of the iPod nano, the InvisibleShield was the only game in town.

We knew the InvsibleShield would not have the nano market to itself for long once the scratching issue made their shields famous. 

There are a few companies making similar products, but the closest (identical???) competitor we have found was from BestSkinsEver.  Some readers had mentioned the InvisibleShield material was the same stuff that 3M sells for protecting car bumper and headlight from road hazards.  The BestSkinsEver people obviously thought the same thing. 

Some readers had balked at paying what we thought was a fair price for the InvisibleShield.  The BestSkinsEver prices are much lower ($5.99 + shipping).  We will be testing these skins today.  For the price they are asking, it's pretty hard to go wrong :-)  Be sure to tell them you read about it on RainyDayMagazine!!!


November 2, 2005(WarmUsUpWednesday)

Performance undergarments have been a pretty quiet clothing category until UnderArmour entered the market.

In retrospect, the underlayer is probably the most important layer for temperature regulation, comfort, and performance of an athlete...weekend or otherwise.  Go take a FirstLook at UnderArmour's new Metal AllSeasonGear here.


November 1, 2005(TassimoTuesday)

Most of us jump start our mornings with a cup of coffee.  Some of us here at RainyDay drink it all day long.  But no matter when we drink our coffee, we love a fresh cup.

Kraft has made it easy to make the "perfect cup" of whatever we want (coffee, espresso, cappuccino, cafe crema, hot chocolate, and tea) with the Tassimo hot beverage machine. 

The system supplied by Kraft comprised of a machine made by BrAun and beverage discs from celebrated brands such as Gevalia, Suchard, and Twinings.  Go here to get a FirstLook at the Tassimo System by Kraft and here for the FirstUse review.


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