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July 31,2006 (PhoneMazeMonday) 

Ordering DSL service from a major (or so we thought) player such as Verizon should NOT be this difficult. We are in NY today so we thought we would just call them directly. After 15 minutes of Verizon's electronic phone maze, we finally managed to talk to a live Verizon representative, who informed us that the price advertised on Verizon's site ($14.95/mo) can only be honored if we placed the order via the Verizon website...which of course we have been unsuccesful in do since last Wednesday. She can place the order for us, but it will cost more ($17.95/mo )...how retarded is this?

Our question to Verizon is this...why bother with a promo if you don't have an easy way for people to sign up? I guess we'll have to go with a real cable company or just piggy back on some unsecured line:-)

OK, enough time wasted with the phone companies...let's get back to playing with gadgets :-) First one to tell us the title of today's track and what this funtion does gets something!

Send you answer with the subject line "No Time To Waste" to the usual place. Our wireless access is spotty since we are dependent on the success of our wardriving efforts.

UPDATE: Taylor M apparently got one of these watches from his girlfriend and is WAY familiar with how the Zulu works...his explanation was much more detailed than we needed :-) If you want to know, check out tomorrow's YES Zulu review update.

We got these two tripods just as we were packing for our trip this weekend. We tossed them into the pile of goodies we were bringing to the NY office.

The digital camera tripod on the left is a standard lightweight (plastic) tripod with push-button quick open mechanism. It's pretty handy and worth having in the camera bag for night shots or a group photo.

The other item (we call it the BottlePod) is more interesting. It is a clamp which fits over a standard size bottle cap, converting any bottle into a tripod for small digital cameras.

There is also a slot which will allow it to be used on a car window. THIS item will definitely go into our RainyDayGadget bag! Someday we'll have to show you the contents of this bag :-)

This clamp fit perfectly on the liter bottle we had on hand. In an emergency, it should work with a broom handle or even a large stick. This gadget could be all the difference between a shaky unusable shot or a sharply focused once in a lifetime shot of the Cruise baby for the Enquirer. Oh, don't you think we know it!!!


July 29,2006 (ServiceSaturday) 

A few readers had sent us emails complaining about Verizon's DSL sign up service.  We normally wouldn't care since we are loyal Comcast Cable customers, but just so happens, we have been trying to order DSL for our site on Long Island and have been similarly frustrated by their convoluted signup process.

One would think that a large company such as Verizon would be a 24/7 operation...not so.  Just try calling 888-339-4333 to order DSL.  Amazingly enough, the Verizon call center is only Monday-Friday!  Next we tried their website...they will verify the number and then try to upsell you on their FIOS service, but there is NO way to actually order DSL from their site, they refer you back to the number!!!! 

We finally found a Verizon link (www.verizon.com/dslpromo) which does allow us to sign up online.  However, we were thwarted at the very last step...for some bizarre reason, Verizon could not see that the box has been checked and repeatedly pops up the idiot dialog window telling us we need to agree to their "terms".

We know it can be trying for POTS companies making the transition into the brave new world of the Internet, but it doesn't seem Verizon does quite "get it" yet.  Hey, Verizon, can you hear us now?

What about a new upstart such as Vonage?  We have Vonage here at the RainyDayMagazine office for a few years now and have been happy with their service...but then again, we have not actually had to call Vonage to solve a problem with the service.

One of our readers, Bill Coady, did not have such good luck when he signed up for his service.  Here is a little excerpt from Bill's email to us...

" On May 9, 2006 I established Vonage internet service for my telephone.  From the start the service did not work properly.  With incoming calls callers were  intermittently unable to hear me.  I repeatedly reported this to the Vonage representatives and had them attempt to correct the service.  The problem was never corrected though they continued to charge me.

... I complained in detail about the problem that was rendering the service virtually useless and that I would be canceling the service as a result of their inability to correct the situation....

I was informed that my service had been “disconnected” but not “cancelled” so I was therefore still being billed.  In order to cancel the service, I needed to pay a cancellation fee and chages through the date of my phone call. They refused to allow me to speak to a supervisor saying that there was no one above a customer service representative in the office. "

It seems some of the newer entrants to the world of telecom doesn't quite "get it" neither!  Maybe there is a reason why Vonage's current stock price is a tad lower than its IPO price.

If your overseas friends and family have an Internet connection, then Skype may be a better option then anything else...why, because it is totally FREE!

If you are willing to pay, then you can even call folks who are still connected via a landline using regular phones.  The boundaries are blurring quickly.  Companies which can provide both the latest technologies AND good customer service will profit, those who do not will disappear.  We look forward to the day when the dust settles and everything works seamlessly :-)


July 28,2006 (FotoFriday) 

Naneu Pro may not yet be a the first name to pop into your head when asked about photographer's gear bags.  However, if they continue to innovate as they have done these past few year, we bet they will soon be at the top of the list!

The Goombah has all one would expect from a photographer's gear bag.  It has a tough outer shell, lots of padding, reconfigurable dividers, etc...  There are lots of zippered internal pockets to keep all of the accessories (filters, cables, connectors, batteries, etc...) well organized.

The designer of the Goombah has also incorporated modern necessities such as a padded laptop compartment.  The Goombah's padded pocket was large enough to accommodate our Apple G3.

There is a lot more to this piece of gear. In our next segment, we'll show you how quickly this bag can go from carring camera gear to clothing.  We also took this bag with us to NYC on our last trip and dragged it for 20 blocks for its FirstUse test.  You will just have to wait for our review to see it all :-)

StickyPod has released a heavy duty update to their incredible videocam mount for directors looking to shoot their own version of Fast&Furious: Tokyo Drift.  BTW...major points if you can spot our girl Junko in the movie.

The StickyPod Director is composed of three StickyPod platforms, legs, and all necessary accessories to securely mount a professional video camera on a moving vehicle... all at a price that is about a third of the competition.  We have been using our StickPod for all kinds of stuff here at the magazine.  If you need to shoot from an odd angle or from high up looking down, the StickyPod is SO much easier to use than a traditional tripod.  


July 27,2006 (ToysThursday) 

Play...we do a LOT of that here at the RainyDayMagazine office.  Mostly we play with gadgets, but sometimes we get a chance to play with actual toys :-)

These little creatures have been in the office since the beginning of the Summer.  We had been so busy playing with the other stuff that we didn't get around to them until today.  If you are the first to tell us how to play with these things...we'll make sure you get a reward for your efforts.  Send your answer to us with today's Napster tune as the subject line.

UPDATE: Kevin Y was the one with the most complete answer... "Subject: Playtime by Lazytown...They are Radica Thumb Warriors (I think that's the name) and they are for a super-exciting round of Extreme Thumb Wars.

You start by locking hands, just like a normal thumb war, then you try to knock the armor off of your opponent, then pin their "Trigger of Doom" for 3 seconds to hear his agonizing cries of defeat...."

Play time is more fun when you can get the entire family involved. iPlayMusic's PlayMusicTogether software is designed to encourage the family to learn how to play the guitar.

The software takes advantage of the Apple's GarageBand and iTunes software for learning, recording, and sharing your performances with friends and family.

One simple way to share the music is with the B-Bop from Radica's GirlTech line.  The B-Bop can record and playback audio from any source.

Just plug the B-Bop into the headphone jack of an iPod, CD, or MP3 player, push the "Play" button, and it'll record up to 30 minutes of audio.  Come to think of it, this gadget is a pretty handy device for grabbing audio from a lot of places :-)

RainyDayMagazine has learned Mattel (MAT) just announced it will purchase Radica Games (RADA), maker of the toys shown above.   Radica Games also make the hit games 20Q and CubeWorld.   We had reviewed both 20Q and CubeWorld a while back.  The games are still a favorite around the office.  We wonder who is next on Mattel's list?


July 26,2006 (WowUsWednesday) 

We are sure this high-fashion body armor works as advertised, but the incentives would have to be REALLY good to convince us to test one out :-)

Caballero's line of "fashionable" body armor is pretty impressive.  Gone is the bulky look of the kevlar protective gear.  The special materials used weigh in at just 2.6 pounds compared to the 11 pounds of kevlar needed to offer the same protection!  Just be sure you grab the right jacket when going out the door...you don't want to find out the hard way that you've grabbed the wrong one.

There have been many different records set for crossing the English Channel.  Rinspeed just did it today with a bit more flair...in an experimental amphibious vehicle appropriately called the "Splash".  Check out the complete story here on the Rinspeed site!

Portable drives have been around for a while, but the DiskGo Mini from EdgeTechCorp is the most convenient one we have ever used. 

The DiskGo Mini is a matchbook size USB 2.0 drive.  It is both Mac and PC compatible, requires no cables, power supply, or drivers (OSX or XP). 

Just plug it into any USB 2.0 port and it'll show up on the desktop.  The 4 GB (smallest capacity) is plenty of room for most folks, but if you need more there is a 6 and 8 GB version for a little bit more.  The drive is NOT based on Flash Memory, so you do have to be a little more "gentle" with it...there are things spinning and moving around inside :-)  The big advantage is the cost per megabyte.  A 4GB drive is only about $100 bucks!

Quite a few of you have been asking when you will get a closer look at the Lumaray FL6 2006.  Well, your wait is over!  We have been playing with this cool flashlight for a week and we love it.

The FL6 2006 is a refinement on the original. The basics are the same, but now the FL6 2006 puts out more light, it is easier to grip, and is even more water resistant than before.  Go check out the update here.

Also, based on reader requests, we have linked full size images with most of the pics in the review so you can get a much closer look!  BTW, there is a rumor that Eliot had hidden a secret messages somewhere in one of the large pics...we are not sure, but he is tricky that way.

UPDATE: Steve E. from Syracuse found the secret message.  Steve will be getting a little something from Eliot's pile of contest goodies.


July 25,2006 (TennisTuesday) 

Boston has a professional tennis team? YES!!!  They are called the Boston Lobsters. Oh, one of the players for the Boston Lobsters is Martina Navratilova.  RainyDayMagazine was at the Bright Arena last night making noise and watching the Lobsters win their final home match of the season.

TeamTennis is fast pace, entertaining, and exciting right up to the end.  To get a sense of the action, click on the any of the clips (Ace, Action, Winner) from last night's match.


WTT events are very family oriented.  There are pre-match activities and post match autograph signing...and yes, that is Bud Collins getting some lobster at last night's event.

The venue is intimate and every seat in the house is in the middle of the action.  During the match, kids can run around the arena chasing after out of bound tennis balls...can't do THAT at Wimbledon.

We had a wonderful time at our first WTT event.  If you love tennis and want to see players such as Navratilova, Agassi, and Kournikova up close and personal, then get your 2007 seasons tickets now.  We will definitely be adding Boston Lobster coverage to RainyDaySports for next season!

Haven't played tennis in a while?  Thinking of getting back into the sport? CardioTennis may be just the thing to get the swing and the body into shape.

Kathleen, one of our RainyDaySports reviewer, will be giving this workout a try soon.  If you can't wait that long or are tired of just running in place at the gym, go check out this new aerobic workout.  CardioTennis locations are springing up all over the US. 


July 24,2006 (MakerMonday) 

Sometimes reading about projects is not enough, you have to build one to understand what they are talking about.  That was the case when we saw the Tensegrity article in MAKE magazine.  We had to build one.  We started the project a few weeks ago, but it has been a busy month and we didn't get to finish it until this weekend.

Build the Tensegrity structure was educational from many different perspectives.  It gave us a chance to build something...always fun.  It also gave us an excuse to buy a rivet gun...even more fun.  However, the most amazing thing was it allowed us an opportunity to see math in action...incredibly fun.

When we were building the structure, it was hard to see how this thing could stand on its own without the tubes touching.  We are so used to joints, connectors, and angle brackets in our everyday things that making something held together by "tension" is very non-intuitive.

At first we thought we could solder the cables in place, but riveting them into place was much quicker.  The steel cables do not compress much.  We drilled the holes to be a little bigger than 1/8" (size of the rivets).  In order to get everything to fit, we cut the cables to the proper length and spread the ends before riveting them in place.

Even before all the cables were tighten, the structure could support a surprising amount of weight.  The spool of steel cable is about 15 lbs.  The structure became very rigid once all the opposing cables were connected.

This small model is much stronger than the wooden model we made last month.  We are thinking it would make a pretty interesting frame for a stained glass project.  Hmmm.


July 21,2006 (HandsFreeFriday) 

We don't really like to speak on the phone when we are driving, but sometimes we do.  In those instances, we still like to keep both hands on the wheel.  It is just crazy to try to drive with one hand on the wheel and the other holding the phone.

The idea of a hands free speakerphone is attractive, but the ones we have used in the past just didn't work that well in the convertible.  Often we can hear the call just fine, but the party on the other end would have a difficult time due to all the wind noise.   We are hoping this new crop with noise-reduction technology will fare better.  We will be testing two Bluetooth hands free speakerphones this weekend.  We'll be comparing the Jabra SP500 and the BlueAnt SuperTooth2

The major criteria will be how well they perform in the open cockpit of the Boxster.  The Jabra have more mounting options than the SuperTooth, but we'll be comparing them first using the visor mount.  We'll then try different positions to see if we could see if we can optimize the sound quality.

The cell phone we'll be using for the test is the new Motorola PEBL.  We have been using this phone everyday for the past 2 weeks and we LOVE it.

The display is bright and crisp.  The phone can be opened using just one hand, is easy to grip, and all the corners are gently curved.  Of all the Motorola phones we have used to date, the PEBL is definitely our favorite.

Many of you have been asking about the status of the Boxster.  We picked up the car from Gerardo's this morning.  The guys at Gerardo's does great work at extremely reasonable prices.  We take all of our work there when we don't want to get our hands dirty. 

The problem was what we had thought...the water pump.  A piece of the blade had broken off and in general that is a bad thing.  There was a slight delay because the pump does not come with the gasket.  Porsche claims the gasket may be reused, but why would anyone ever do that?  Hey Porsche, it is a $7 part ... throw in the gasket with the pump and save everyone the hassle.


July 20,2006 (PreciousTimeThursday) 

Wild Seed Inc. is the company which makes the YES watches.  They have sold more than 10,000 time pieces since their inception in 1999.  While it may be a small number compared to the more established players, we have a feeling as the desire to reconnect with the natural rhythms of world becomes stronger, more and more people will discover these amazing time pieces.

A few of us have been using the Cozmo and the Zulu for the past week.  Take a closer FirstLook at the Zulu here.  We LOVE the size of these pieces.  Some may find them thicker than what they are used to, but we think that is exactly what makes them distinctive... thinner is not always more attractive.

The watches came with tools for changing the bands.  We, of course, had to give them a try :-) 

Here are the two YES watches (Zulu, Cozmo) with the diver's band installed. We think both look amazing! We'll probably leave these bands on as we do the other articles. Mostly because in this configuration we all can use them without having to worry about the fit. If you really want to see more of the metal bracelet or leather band, let us know...we are always happy to accommodate :-)

The typical customers for these watches have been men, but YES will have their first version for women near the end of the Summer.  We are eager to see the collection!


July 19,2006 (WowUsWednesday) 

If you missed the SciFi Premiere of Eureka last night, you can see the entire episode on the web.  SciFi has made it available here!

While not as cool as the stuff created by the citizens of EUREKA, this pair of DIY eyeglasses mounted display is still way cool!

There are a good series of photos on the build process.  Sometimes it was hard to tell what was going on, but still interesting.

If you don't need the display in your sunglasses, but just want to answer your phone or hear some music, then the O ROKR is what you'll need.

Although these glasses are a little bulky, they are surprisingly well balanced and do not feel heavy or awkward on the face.  The ear buds are mounted on a three-jointed arm and can be precisely positioned to fit the wearer's ear.  The lens are interchangeable (extra lens are not included) and offers 100% protection against UVA, UVB, UVC.

Ever get the urge to sell everything and go on the road?  Photographer Rob Gray did, but first he built the RV to his specs before hitting the road.  Him and his wife did sell everything because the final tab for the vehicle came to $350,000.

However, they now have a new view whenever they want, don't have to put up with noisy neighbors, or worry about mowing the lawn.  Go check out the entire construction process here.


July 18,2006 (ToolsTuesday) 

In anticipation of the premiere of the show EUREKA tonight, we thought we would give you a closer look at the BionicGrip.

This tool is just the thing for every Makers' and Tinkerers' tool chest.  The BionicGrip's construction is very similar to the BionicWrench.  Both units are based on Loggerhead Tool's patented design which increases grip force while preventing stripping.

The BionicWrench and the BionicGrip are the first tools we reach for, if they work for the job, we use them...it not, then we look for something else.


July 17,2006 (BluetoothMonday) 

Some of us were suppose to be in NYC this week to meet up with friends visiting from Bermuda, but a coolant leak on the Boxster forced us to turn back to Boston.  Not only did we not get to see our friends, we have to fix the car, and it is really HOT...hence this whole "Blue Monday" thing. 

Speaking of things "blue", in packing for the trip, we did notice a lot of the gear on the equipment shelf are now Bluetooth capable. 

Most cell phones can now connect via Bluetooth.  We had several options on how to answer our calls on the road (speakers, headsets, sunglasses).  The GPS receiver uses BT to connect to the onboard computer.  There are also transmitters/receivers to upgrade our older non-BT devices.

BTW, if you think you can identified all the BT gear in the pic above, send the answer in an email with the name of today's music track in the subject line to us.  Eliot will send you a fun little something to help chase your blues away :-)

UPDATE:  There were a lot of entries for this one, but Andrew Pleus was the first one with the complete list of correct answers.  He will receive a surprise item from the box of Napster goodies we just got 3 minutes ago. Congrats!

The title of the song is "BlueMonday".  The items are:

Motorola  Pebl and Razr
Plantronics Voyager 510 and Discovery320
BlueAnt  BlueSonic

Belkin Bluetooth
CoPilot GPS
Oakley O  ROKR

Eureka is a show premiering tomorrow on the SciFi Channel.  This show is tailor-made for you RainyDayMagazine readers.  If you have not heard of it yet...go check it out here.  

One of our favorite invention from Eureka is the ThinkBack Memory Backup Drive.  Frequent RainyDayMagazine readers will remember an article we run each year in November about capturing a "digital lifetime."  With the ThinkBack drive, we'll finally be able to make it a reality...just as soon as it makes it out of beta testing:-)

Some of you may have heard that an Apple Store is coming to downtown Boston. 

Since we just got back from visiting the one in NYC, we were wondering what it would look like if that store was in the currently proposed site on Boylston Street...where the Copy Cop is now located.

This mock-up is a quick an dirty Photoshop job, but it gets the idea across :-)  We'll be there to capture the construction of the real Boston store in a series of time-lapse photos.  It should make for a fun little RainyDayProject!


July 14,2006 (FabulousFriday) 

The finest watches in the world may be made in Switzerland, but the truly fabulous ones can only be designed by people who really love watches. Bjorn Kartomten is such a watch lover...or more precisely, a lover of time.  He has created many time pieces which combined the needs of the modern (timers, time zones, digital) with rhythms of the ancient (sun rise/set, moon rise/set, moon phases).  The two pieces we'll be taking a very close look at in the next several weeks are the Zulu Black and the Cozmo Symbol .

We got interested in YES watches when readers asked us about them after reading our review of the Solunar a year ago.  The Zulu from YES is similar in functions (sunrise/sunset tracking, multiple time zones, etc...), but several orders of magnitude higher in quality (titanium bands, sapphire crystal, presentation case). 

We'll have a much more detailed look in a week or two, but there are a few quick shots of the Zulu and the Cozmos time pieces which showed up in the RainyDayMagazine office while we were gone.

The fit and finish of these watches are just incredible.  They are waterproof down to 10 atmosphere (100M/333 ft).  Both came with two other kinds of straps (leather, rubber diver) in addition to the metal link bands (titanium or stainless steel).

The watches will be in the "rotation" for all to use for the next several weeks. We hope to post a detail FirstLook before the end of July on the Zulu and by the beginning of August for the Cozmo.  Expectations are high for these YES watches.  Based on the reactions they generated today, I think they will be extremely well received!!!

If you have the time, a fabulous thing to do this weekend is to check out America's 400th Anniversary event at Boston's Fan Pier.  The event starts today and will be there until Wednesday and is TOTALLY FREE!!!.

We had a sail on the Godspeed this morning out in the harbor.  As explained during the sail, Godspeed was "one of the three original ships that in 1607 brought America's first permanent English colonists to Jamestown, our nation's birthplace." 

Visitors will have a chance to get up close and tour the Godspeed.  There will be tons of stuff for the kids to do at the various event tents.  It will be really hot this weekend, so head to the Fan Pier, cool off near the water, and help make the largest hand-made flag ever!


July 13,2006 (TunesThursday 2:09PM) 

Quite a few readers have noticed the new "Track of the Day" NapsterLink button.  Some were even adventurous enough to click on it and play a song :-)  We like it because we can preview an ENTIRE song up to 5 times before we have to buy it. 

if you want a free MP3 player, sign up!!!  We'll also be giving away Napster related prizes in the future...but as always, they will be hidden and they will be unannounced.  If you can't deal with that, well...we can't really help you :-(

The new Napster also have a subscription model where you play a flat fee and load up your player with as many songs as you want.  This model will take most buyers some getting use to since you don't actually own the song.  Some will have no problems with it, others will probably never go near it...it is lease versus own and some just want to own.

If you are still listening to music on your computer with the speakers which came with your computer, then you are probably missing out on the full audio capabilities of your system.

We recently hooked up the Altec Lansing FX6021 to the Mac mini for an A/B test against the Harman Kardon Soundstick II.  Even we were surprised at how great these the FX6021 speakers sound.

The tilt angle of the flat left/right satellite speakers are not adjustable, but they are wall mountable.  Thus may actually be even more adjustable if you use the gimbals type wall mounts.  Go here to take a closer FirstLook at the Altec Lansing FX6021.  Really...listening to music on crappy speakers is like pouring good scotch over dirty ice cubes.  BTW, can anyone tell us how to solve the "dirty ice cube" problem?  If you can, drop us a note with the subject line "clean up your ice" and we'll see if we can do the same for you.

UPDATE:  Eugene D. gave us a detailed series of steps on how to actually make "clean" ice cubes...along with the winning answer of just using IceRocks!  Eugene will be getting one of the two sample pack of IceRocks we brought back from the show.

For readers who crave versatility but with more modest audio needs, the BlueAnt BlueSonic speakers may fit the bill.  These will NOT fill the room like the Altec Lansing, but they will connect to both your iPod as well as your cell phone.

Room filling sound is not always the goal.  We thought these speakers would be great to use with our Bluetooth capable cell phones for conference calls.  Take a FirstLook at the BlueSonic and see if these speakers will free you from having to keep saying "huh?" when trying to use your cell phone for conference calls :-)


July 12,2006 (WelcomeHomeWednesday) 

We didn't just stuff our faces all day yesterday.  We also stood in line for two hours to get into the day's taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart...something we definitely should have made the interns do if we had brought them with us.

It might not have been the best planning (3 hours of walking around the Jacob Javits and two hours of standing in line), but we did get in!  The show was REALLY funny.  We are going to watch the show again tonight to see if we can see ourselves...yeah, we are twelve year olds.

Of course, we couldn't trek all the way to NYC without a pilgrimage to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue.  Click on the images if you want a closer look.

The store is every bit as impressive as the location...smack in the middle of midtown Manhattan on 5th Ave.  Probably one of the most expensive pieces of real estate possible.  The store is a tourist destination...just name one other computer company that has that kind of marketing pull!

We came back on the LimoLiner.  The return trip to Boston was every bit as comfortable as the trip down to NYC.  One interesting observation was that most of the passengers were women...both on business and for leisure. LimoLiner provides a safe, comfortable, travel experience, I can see why this is catching on with women.

We left NYC about 11:20AM and were back in Boston by 3:30.  LimoLiner carefully chooses their travel windows to avoid rush hour traffic.  We were back in the office before the end of the day.   All we have to do now is to dig through all the gear which showed up while we were gone :-)


July 11,2006 (TastyTuesday) 

The Gourmet FancyFoods Show was fabulous:-) There were over 2,000 vendors at the show.  Since the show was geared toward wooing distributors and buyers, samples were freely offered. We samples delicacies from all over the world. 

We'll have a more thorough review of the show once we have had a chance to sort out the notes...and finish eating the samples :-)  A few vendors did stand out, though.  A company called IceRocks is taking water products a step further with premium sealed ice cubes. 

Their customers were initially whiskey drinkers who demanded the best...both in the liquor and the ice used to cool it!  The water is ultra-purified comes ready for freezing.  Since the cubes are sealed, they will never pick up any flavors in the freezer nor will they evaporate while waiting to be used.  We brought some samples back...now if we can just find us some 100 year old Scotch.

There was also a company called FunEnergyFoods showing a new product in the fast growing energy drink/sports bar market called KickButt Energy Ballz

Energy Ballz are a little larger than malted milk balls, a little chewy, and both flavors (cherry and carmel) were quite tasty.  We liked the convenient size and that the product provides both nutrients and caffeine...without the liquid.  We are going to have to get some more for review for our RainyDaySports section of the magazine!

We had a  very interesting chat with Valentin Humer of Food&Vine.  Valentin was extolling the virtues (high cooking temperature, lots of vitamins, and OPC) of grapeseed oil.

We will follow up with Valentin and will definitely try using some of the Salute Sante! in the RainyDayKitchen.  Look for our review toward the Fall.

While most were food vendors, there were a few who were related to food, but were more "hardware" focused.  PicnicTime is a company who offer baskets and picnic/grilling accessories for those who like to enjoy their fancy foods out in the wild or just out in the backyard.

Hopefully, we'll have a chance to check out some of their gear and report back.


July 10,2006 (OnTheMoveMonday) 

The 2006 Gourmet FancyFoods Show is in NYC this week. A few of us made the trip down yesterday for it, but it is so nice out today that we may just poke around the city for the day and go to the show tomorrow :-)

Every trip is, of course, an opportunity to test some travel gear InTheWild. For this trip we brought some gear we have used before and others which we have not.

If you are the first to correctly tell us what they are, we'll see about getting you something for your travels this Summer! Just send your answer to us with the subject line "Bag It."

UPDATE: Tyler was the first one with the correct answers...Tom Bihn's Buzz bag and the Naneu Mini Goombah. Tyler will have his pick of either the Slappa FlipTopPro or the HardCase from our RainyDayTravel collection :-)

Both are great for carrying a laptop in style and comfort. We'll be using the one not chosen by Tyler in our trip out to LA in August.


July 9,2006 (WeekendEdition) 

We are reporting live from onboard the LimoLiner today! Normally we would load up the Boxster for a trip down to the big city, but we heard about this luxury bus line with it Boston/NYC route and wanted to give it a try.

What got us interested was not the Business Class comforts available on every LimoLiner--wide leather seats, comfy ride, satellite TV, food service--but the free high-speed WiFi.

We wanted to see if we could really stay connected for the four and a half hour trip. It would mean we can continue to be online while we are on the road...try that on the Shuttle! So far (60 minutes into the trip)...it is working GREAT.

We also met Mary...a frequent LimoLiner traveler. She makes the trip twice a month. Mary has her favorite seat and the crew knows her by name. Mary had nothing but compliments for the LimoLiner!

If you make frequent trips between NYC and Boston, this may be a GREAT alternative to the Shuttle or driving. We left Boston about 60 minutes ago and I'm already sold on the concept. Oh...more later, the food is coming and the movie is about to start!!!

They served some really nice sandwiches for lunch. Carolyn, our vegetarian-friendly Contributing Editor for Carolyn's World, was especially pleased with their non-meat option.

It was nice to be able to watch a movie, but the RainyDayGarage guys would have added a ground loop isolator somewhere in the audio chain to take out the high pitched whine from the alternator. There were also some minor glitches with playing the DVD...probably from the occasional bumps which managed to knock the tracking completely out of whack. We would recommend LimoLiner switch to a hard drive video server instead of relying on a DVD player. Because the audio was hard to hear, they decided to switch back to satellite TV...which worked just fine and allowed us to catch the Federer/Nadal Wimbledon update.

We got into midtown Manhattan at 4:15 PM. This had to be one of the most pleasant rides down to NYC I've had in...well, ever. I was able to work, to nap, to watch some TV, and arrive fully invigorated.

If you need to go to Manhattan from Boston and you don't want the stress of getting to the airport, getting on the plane, then getting out of the airport on the other end, then take the LimoLiner and arrive refreshed and ready for business.


July 7,2006 (FlashFriday) 

The FIRST reader to tell us what this is will get a little something in the mail.  Send your best guess to us with the subject line "I know, I know."   We will have more once a reader has correctly identified the item.

OK...Chrisjl33 correctly identified it as a LED flashlight.  Chrisjl33 will get this for the effort.  Can anyone be more specific?  We'll give out something iPod related if you can.  Send it with the subject line "I know more."

John C., of Brookline MA, did know more and correctly identified ONE of the item as a FL6.  John will be getting this for his iPod. However, that's old news.  Tell us something new about it :-)  If you do, we'll send you something for your Motorola RAZRSend it with the subject line "I know something NEW ."

The last prize goes to Chad M for the info on the FL6-2006: "New grip design.  It is shorter and cross drilled.  Submersible to 50ft, and there are new colors!"

The LumaRay LED Flashlight (FL6-2006) has been upgraded both externally and internally.  Some of the changes are obvious, others are not.  The LEDs are brighter (700 mcd vs 350k mcd), more waterproof (50' vs 10'), and smaller.

The LumaRay LED flashlight now comes in four great colors (Black, White, Yellow, Gunmetal).  We'll have our FirstLook soon.  The FL6-2006 should be available in a few weeks.  If you want one, put in your orders early...they tend to sell out very quickly!!!

Here is something from MAKE that just got us all excited...an underwater DVCam housing made from PVC pipes. 

Most readers know about our affinity for PVC pipe projects.  This project from Bobby_M is perfect one for the Summer.  The interns will be Home Depot bound shortly.


July 6,2006 (TensegrityThursday)

Melani, one of our long time supporters, commented she remembered when we used to make "real" furniture like dining room tables and bookcases instead of cellphone holders out of sticks.

We don't know about you, but that sounded like a challenge:-)  So our natural response is to make a bigger one.  Only instead of wooden sticks and fishing lines, we'll be using copper pipes and steel cables.

Now that we have had some experience with the smaller tensegrity structures, we wanted to try our hand at a life size version.  Copper is a great material to work with.  It is soft, easy to cut, and drill.  It is also still relatively inexpensive :-)

Some mistakes were clearly evident as we build the first layer.  However, the structure did have sufficient integrity to achieve stability.

We have some practical applications for these structures.  All will be revealed once we have them assembled...the interns are learning how to use a rivet gun.  Stay tuned.

Our first time-lapse movie missed capturing most of the opening of bloom (left movie).  So, as promised, we increased the capture rate to an image every 4 minutes, and this time did managed to capture the Passiflora blooming (right movie).  However, it looks like we have to work on the focus :-)


We played around a bit with our "macro" lens trying to get a good close-up.  The problem is the shallow depth-of-field with our set-up.   This flower just have too many layers.  To get everything in focus, we really need to shoot with a much smaller aperture.  We got some usable shots, but situations like this really points out the weakness of a $6 macro lens and a seven year old digital camera :-).


July 5,2006 (WowUsWednesday)

Last June a few folks from the RainyDayGarden made a trip to Logee's.  One of the plants they purchased was called a Passiflora or Passion Fruit plant.  This plant has the most amazing flowers...the bloom below opened yesterday.

We had rigged up the Apple iSight to take some time-lapse photos of the bloom.  The capture frequency still needs some adjustment.  We hope to capture a better time-lapse series today. 

Not everyone will be able to replicate our sophisticated setup, but the KEY is to put the camera/plant somewhere out of the way.  The capture software's current schedule is one image every 15 minutes.


July 4,2006 (Independence Day)

The RainyDayMagazine archives are like your grandparent's attic.  There are all kinds of cool stuff up there just waiting to be discovered. 

Today we went looking for some materials to use for the July4th Independence Day issue and what did we come up with???  Copies of the Bill of Rights, the US Constitution, AND the Declaration of Independence!

No...it wasn't like the scene from National Treasure and we didn't go off looking for lost gold. These documents are official reproductions from the Library of Congress and the Lenox Library in NY.  Why do we have them?  Not sure. Like the stuff in your grandparent's attic, they were "acquired" somewhere along the way.

The point is...seeing them close up and reading the actual words reminded us that this is a country founded on ideas and ideals.  And that it is important to cherish them, try to live up to them, and most of all...actively exercise them.  If we don't, over time they will lose their meaning, their strength, and worse of all...become just jingles used by those who would trample them for the sake of expediency.

This July 4th, we urge all who value the idea of freedom to take a look at the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.  We also ask all our readers to consider carefully before trading their freedom for the "promise" of security because there is no security without freedom, there is only obedience.

Happy Fourth of July !!!!!!!!!


July 1,2006 (RibFest Weekend)

It was a PERFECT day for a RibFest.  The temperature was a balmy 83º, the air was dry, and a light breeze kept the bugs away.  We couldn't have asked for a better day.

There were enough folks coming that we decided to fire up all three grills again.  Now that we've had some experience setting up the grills, it was a quick no-fuss task.  It also meant we had plenty of time to grab a beer before the guests start arriving.

We also had time to make some fun little parting gifts (BBQ fridge magnets, Dry Rub instructions) with our Xyron 900 laminator.  This laminator is so easy to use that the time between idea and "parting gifts" creation was about 15 minutes.

Our guests were treated to six different kinds of Dave's Gourmet flavor infused meats.  We were too busy eating and drinking to take any kind of survey, but it is safe to say that ALL the dry rubs were a HUGE hit with the crowd. 

If you want a quick and elegant way of spicing up grilling meats without having to do a lot of work, you can't go wrong with the dry rubs from Dave's Gourmet!


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