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January 31,2007(WowUsWednesday)

Just a little reminder...today is the last day to send in your entry if you want to win this awesome Neuros MPEG-4 Video recorder.  We told you about this cool little device exactly a year ago.

We have made some fun gear using this recorder as part of a larger setup.  No doubt you will too once you get your hands on a unit and see all the things it can do.

Just tell us what we want to know.  We'll do the drawing this weekend.  The winner will get the MPEG-4 Recorder sent directly from Neuros if you are in the US.   Good luck!!! - Wan Chi Lau


January 30,2007(TechTuesday)

The personal version of Microsoft's new Vista OS was release today.  RainyDayMagazine was invited to the launch in NYC, but we couldn't get our butts out of Boston in time for the event...so no Microsoft swag for us :-(

We don't know much about Vista yet, but we'll be getting a copy soon for the new Intel Mac mini we picked up a few weeks ago.  The goal will be to get OS X and Vista running on the little box and bounce back and forth as appropriate :-)  We'll have more soon. - Wan Chi Lau


January 29,2007(MoreMultiTouchMonday)

Folks here at RainyDayMagazine have been pouring over the stack of published papers on MultiTouch displays and Multi-user interfaces.  Many readers have written to us for copies of the papers.  All we can say is the best source for the papers is from the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM).  They have a wonderfully organized digital library.  If you are an ACM member, all of the papers are available for download.  If you are not a member, you may purchase individual papers for a nominal fee.

To effectively learn more about the published works in this field, you must get an ACM membership.  All of the references in ACM published papers are immediately accessible via links.  With direct access, we are able to explore all of the references without the need to wander around in the library stacks!

We also started gathering the physical materials needed for building our own Multi-Touch display.  It will take us a few weeks to get all the pieces (panel, IR LEDs, projector, etc...) we need to built the touch panel.  It will probably take a few months to get the whole project up and running. 

The first item we picked up was a sheet of Lucite for the project at the local Home Depot.  The sheets comes in various sizes.  The one we purchased was 18"x24"x3/16" and costed less than $15.

The next step is to find a good source of IR LEDs for the project.  We have a few potential options.  We'll share them with you once we decided on what we'll be using. - Wan Chi Lau


January 26,2007(FunFriday)

CubeWorld blocks are inhabited by stick people.  When the cubes are placed next to each other, the stick figures can "interact".  They all have their own particular personality.  Some even have pets!

We showed you Series One last year.  We even took one apart to show you the insides.  Series Two and Series Three are now available. The kids here have not had a chance to play with them yet, but we don't expect too much work out of our interns on Fridays... so there is a good chance we'll get some feedback on these new cubes today. - Wan Chi Lau

Tops are amazing toys.  They are simple, entertaining, and have remained virtually unchanged for hundreds of years...until now.

Grand Illusions, the same folks who sell the Metal Pen, also has this "perpetual top" in their toy collection.  The top is powered by batteries.  Just a little spin will get it going. The top lights up in different colors when spinning and will keep spinning... until something stops it.  - Wan Chi Lau


January 25,2007(PetTechThursday)

We receive a lot of emails from readers with links to products they would like see reviewed.  Once in a while, we get a link to a video that is worth sharing (Buffy and Eliot's objections notwithstanding).  Thank you to Elaine V for sharing this with us.

Cats are clean creatures by nature, but sometimes they can get themselves so dirty and smelly that a good washing is the only solution.  If you have ever tried giving a cat a bath, then you will appreciate this device... No, this is no laughing matter.  BTW, our interns think this machine should be for "dogs only." - Wan Chi Lau


January 24,2007(WowUsWednesday)

There are just so many cool projects to do and way too little time to do them.  We came across the Steampunk Workshop a while back and had meant to try some of Jake's projects.  

Unfortunately, we'll probably not get to it for a while now that we got totally obsessed with building the Multi-Touch display.  Go check out Jake's site and see if his projects would inspire you to give it a go. - Wan Chi Lau


January 23,2007(TechTuesday)

Apple had a deal where if you purchased a Mac, they would give you a free printer ($100 rebate).  We needed a few more Macs for the New York office so we went and picked some up.

We also picked up a Western Digital 2.5" laptop drive for the Sony Picturebook upgrade project.  Surgery on the Vaio Picturebook will be delicate work, but the 12GB drive which came with the Vaio is really not big enough for all of the apps now running on this little laptop.

Actually, what was amazing was we managed to packed all of the new gear purchased at the Apple Store into the Boxster.  One printer was in the front trunk and the other was in the rear trunk.  The Mac mini and 80GB drives were tucked into some odd spaces in the Boxster.  The iMac sat with Carolyn in the front seat.  Good thing we decided against the 30" Cinema display :-) - Wan Chi Lau


January 22,2007(MultiTouchMonday)

Jeff Han has started a company called Perceptive Pixel to commercialize the amazing Multi-Touch technology.  There is not much on the Perceptive Pixel website yet, but if you want to see where the technology is now, click on the video below and get blown away!  We hope to bring you more about the company in the near future. 

We did a bit more digging around on the technology behind the multi-touch interface demonstrated by Jeff Han and found that it actually may be something we can build as a RainyDayProject!  There are bits of information from various sources (papers, links), but no step by step How-To available.  We are going to try to put a detailed one together.  Feel free to send us technical info if you come across any!

The idea of using Frustrated Total Internal Reflection for touch recognition has been around for a while.  Some of the early touch sensors (1970s) and robotic grips were based on this concept, as are some fingerprint imaging technologies.

BTW, if you don't hear from us for a few months, it is because we are busy trying to convert the basement into a wall sized rear-projected display cave... :-) - Wan Chi Lau


January 19,2007(InterfaceFriday)

The iPhone's touch interface has been getting a lot of press since it's introduction at MacWorld. 

A few of you noted we had mentioned something way cooler back in March from Jeff Han, a researcher at NYU, working on an interface called Multi-Touch.  Some of you have pointed us to videos of a few other similar interfaces floating around on YouTube.

We love the idea of turning our giant whiteboard into a multi-touch display screen...now THAT would be a RainyDayProject :-) - Wan Chi Lau


January 18,2007(TimepieceThursday)

Most RainyDayMagazine readers know of our passion for unique quality timepieces.  Many also know about a watch company called Yes.  We took a close look at Yes' Zulu and Cozmo watches last Summer.  Bjorn Kartomten has now created a smaller version based on the same base technology.

This new addition to the Yes line is called "Tati." There are a few differences compared to the Zulu and Cozmo.  Some are obvious, others are subtle.

We'll be taking a more detailed look at these two next weekend.  Until then, click on the images for an up close look :-)  It's a beauty! - Wan Chi Lau


January 17,2007(WowUsWednesday)

Write it in ink or write in in metal?  Writing with metal?  Yes...if you have a metal pen.  We got ours from the folks at Grand Illusions across the pond.  We have no idea how this thing works, but it is REALLY cool that it does.  Click on the images to get a closer look.

Apparently, this technology is really old... masters such as Leonardo da Vinci had used it in making some of his drawings.  The pen writes smoothly and the "ink" appears more like that of a lead pencil.  The only difference is the marks are permanent and does not smudge.

If you really want to know how this works... check out this site on Silverpoint drawing.  We just think it is cool to have a pen that will last and last. - Wan Chi Lau


January 16,2007(TubeTechTuesday)

New ideas often don't really know how they will end up when they are released into the wild.  Such was the case with Napster, YouTube, and MySpace.  A local MA company has released a Beta version of an idea called Tubes into the wild. 

Remember those pneumatic tubes that used be take money from the cashiers and shuttle them off somewhere?  This is kind of like that... except it is for shuttling large files around on the Web.  Think of it as file transfer that even our mothers could use:-)  Go check it out here.

A little while ago we asked for suggestions on how to get 2-D slices of a 3D object for use in a WishBlade project.  Our reader Jim W. sent this suggestion to us last week.  We thought it was a really cool idea and we'll definitely put it on our project list.  We, however, came up with a much lower tech way of perhaps achieving the same thing. 

The idea is to use the contour copying tool from our shop to trace the outline of the model, scan those in, and cut the outlines using the WishBlade.  Yes...it is pretty labor intensive, but what else are we going to do when it is 20º outside :-) - Wan Chi Lau


January 15,2007(MartinLutherKingMonday)

Today is a day we use to contemplate and to take inspiration from a man willing to stand up to injustice...not with the brute force of a gun, but with the far greater power of a dream.  

Today is a holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King


January 14,2007(ScrewPullSunday)

Le Creuset started a revolution in corkscrew technology when they introduced the Self-Pulling Corkscrew, called the Screwpull. It's lever action design allows for easy cork removal without the usual twisting and pulling.

Screwpull's latest addition is the satin finish LM-400.  It was designed to make cork removal even more foolproof, especially when used with the newer synthetic corks.

The LM-400 comes in a beautiful leather presentation box.  Included with the ScrewPull is a clear foil cutter, all held in place by form fitting foam. 

What is new with the LM-400 is the single "up and over" motion Screwpull calls "Rotation Technology."  The first motion injects the screw into the cork, the reverse motion extracts the cork.

The LM-400 is made of a heavy metal alloy.  The outer surface has a nice satin finish and looks great in or out of the presentation case.  The unit stands on its own.  The shape of the lever feels great in the hand and the action is silky smooth. 

Chinese New Year is on February 18 this year.  We have a few different wine openers which we'll put out for use.  We'll let our guests check them out and see which they prefer. - Wan Chi Lau

BTW... the Pats won 24-21!


January 12,2007(FreeFallFriday)

Going over a guard rail would ruin anyone's day.  Some might see this and think...boy, what a crappy way to start the day.

Click on the image to get a better perspective of how much uglier this could have been.  Stepping back always helps in seeing the whole picture.  Drive safely and have a great weekend!


January 11,2007(TinyTechThursday)

OQO Model 2 is the second generation UMPC.  Don't let the M2's size fool you.  It is not a souped up PDA or PocketPC.  It is a desktop PC that fits in your pocket and spec'ed to run the new Windows Vista OS!

We have played with Model 1.  While we loved the form factor, as with any ground-breaking product, there were a lot of room for improvements.  One major area was connectivity.  Model 2 now has built-in wireless WAN capabilities...making it a true mobile tool.  We hope to bring a RainyDayMagazine FirstLook as soon as possible. - Wan Chi Lau


January 10,2007(WowUsWednesday)

It is great when a company can continue to "Wow" us with each product introduction...and Apple's new iPhone is no exception.  This new widescreen iPod/phone will further extend Apple's reach into our daily life (and at $500...our wallet).

You can be sure we'll be one of the first in line to pick up an iPhone (guess we'll have to switch from our T-Mobile network) when it is available.  Readers can look for the usual RainyDayMagazine review when that exciting day arrives :-)  Also, we are going to start calling this device "Newton 3.0"....and we are saving up all the money from our paper route to buy it! - Wan Chi Lau


January 9,2007(ToolsTuesday)

A few months back, we had a brief preview of the Immix from Loggerhead Tools.  The Immix is a great little multi-function gadget and a nice complement to our standard pocket multi-tool.

The Immix is a smaller version of the LoggerHeadTool BionicGrip.  It has the same patented mechanism which allows the head to tighten around different size nuts and bolts.  The Immix now has the added ability to fasten screws (phillips, slotted, hex).  The various bits are cleverly attached to the inner part of the handle. 

The Gerber Multi-tool also has similar capbilities...just not as many size options as the Immix.  Each units came with a sturdy pouch made of cordura nylon with velcro closure and integrated belt loop. 

The Gerber multi-tool and the LoggerHead Immix both fit well in the hand.  They are bigger than typical pocket knifes, but are small and light enough to be looped on to the belt.  Still, we usually just toss them into the backpack.

In the next installment of this series, we'll take a look how the two tools compare on different everyday tasks.  Who knows, maybe you will also end up deciding that you need both :-) - Wan Chi Lau


January 8,2007(MindHackingMonday)

We spend a lot of time upgrading our computer hardware and storage systems here at RainyDayMagazine.  We do this so we can do things better and faster, and also because it is fun to do.  The computer system we most love to hack is our brain :-)

In the past, we have talked about things like MindMapping, brain wave stimulations, and books to tell you how the brain works.  However, we have recently come upon a book by Ron Hale-Evans which teaches how to "overclock your brain!"

MIND PERFORMANCE HACKS is a collection of proven tips and tools designed to help us improve our memory, think more clearly, and generally better use that 3lb bowl of jelly between our ears.  We'll let you know in a year if it has made a difference :-)  If you don't want to wait for our report, get yourself a copy and start overclocking your own brain! - Wan Chi Lau


January 7,2007(WeekendEdition)

The ColdHeat Constant Companion Pet Bed is a comfy place for your cat or small dog to curl up in and relax.  You pets will like the soft micro-suede covering and the supportive foam.  You will like the quality construction and the great looks!

We like the choices ColdHeat made for this product.  The colors are warm and materials soft to the touch. The suede cover is not just a durable surface, it also serves to further even out the heat from super thin thermal coils underneath.

The controls are in the back of the removeable cushion.  There is a handle on the side of the cushion for ease of transport when used outside of the padded frame.

The rechargeable battery pack is housed on the side of the cushion.  BTW, some of you may recognize this power pack as the same as that from another ColdHeat product.  For heating up the bed, there are three power options available: regular AC, battery, Auto. 

We made a spot for the Constant Companion in one of the offices.   Buffy found it and has moved herself in there as well.  As we had said on Friday, the only rating our "reviewers" give for a product such as this one is either "paws up" or "paws down" :-)  Judging from Buffy's reaction...it appears to be a strong "paws up" endorsement! - Wan Chi Lau


January 5,2007(FurryFriday)

Our girl Buffy has been taking her naps on the Constant Companions Heated Pet Bed by ColdHeat.  That's right...ColdHeat.  The same folks that created the cordless soldering gun, the cool looking FreeStyle glue gun, and the cordless Heated Seat.  

The one thing about our feline interns, you just can't get them to do things they don't want.  So when you seen our interns actually using the products shown here on RainyDayMagazine...you know the products have passed the test :-)

There is a lot more to this pet bed then just comfy cushions.  We'll have more this weekend...assuming we can get Buffy off the bed so we can get some shots.  For now, feel free to check the specs out here. - Wan Chi Lau


January 4,2007(TechThursday)

Based on the number of suggestions sent in by our readers, it appears that quite a few of you are interested in building RAID systems.  We are happy to say that our project was a LOT simpler than we expected it to be...even with it being made to run on the Mac.  Below is a pic of the finished system sitting next to one of our Macs.

If you have been following our RAID project, you know that we finally got the two 500GB Seagate drives in December.  When we sat down to build the system, we realized that the case was sized for 5.25" drives...which made sense since the case had to be large enough to accommodate CD/DVD burners.

In order to mount the 3.5" drives into the Addonics case, we had to get some adapters at the local Micro Center.  There are two types of adapters, a side adapter and a shelf adapter.  We opted for the side adapter since they were cheaper...$2.50 a pair!

Mounting the adapter and the drives were pretty straightforward.  The adapters attach to the side of the drives.  The entire unit is then attached to the internal housing of the case.  Lining up the mounting holes to the cutouts on the side were pretty easy since everything was precisely cut to line up.

The interface and power cables inside the Addonics case plugged into the mounted drives without any problems.

OS X came with formatting and partitioning software that can create various types of RAID configurations.  We created a "mirrored RAID set" for our terabyte of storage.  This portion of building the RAID system took us about 40 minutes...and that's including the software installation! 

In our next installment of this project, we'll take a look at the performance of this homemade RAID system and how we'll be using with our MediaCenter. - Wan Chi Lau


January 3,2007(WowUsWednesday)

We were surfing around trying to find some interesting 3D surfaces to use with our next Wishblade project when we came upon these creations by Paul Haeberli.

Paul's idea has now inspired us to make something similar using the Wishblade.  We have to figure out an inexpensive way to get a 3D representation of some everyday objects...any ideas??? - Wan Chi Lau


January 1,2007(Happy New Year)!

It is the start of a brand new year and Justin, one of our readers, has assembled a bunch of gear for a project.  We are going to follow Justin's progress as he puts it together and gets it up and running.

What is Justin making? If you think you know, then drop us an email with the subject line "I know what Justin is making."  We'll pick a winner at the end of January.  What's the prize?  Hint... it will be something you can use with the thing Justin's making :-) - Wan Chi Lau


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