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November 30,2008 (WeekendEdition)

One of the many assignments our visiting intern/art student had to complete by Monday was a series of charcoal drawings.  It meant we had to clear off a corner in the office and gave her some space to work, but she was quiet as a mouse all weekend. 

It's messy work, but our girl was up to the challenge.  The exercise was to do the pieces quickly, to learn to see the essence of the shape, and to develop the technical skills to... [More]- Charcoal Teapots


November 29,2008 (WeekendEdition)

Many of you expressed interest in the quality of the video coming from the Wild Planet ATV-360.  So today, we loaded the batteries (6AA in the vehicle, 6AA in the remote controller) and let Sarah take it for a spin.

There are a lot things to power: video display eyepiece, external mic, video camera, and remote controller.  The camera on the vehicle is not remotely controlled.  Its desired angle must be manually adjusted.  Being able to control the angle remotely would be very helpful, but for cost reasons, we can understand why they left it out.

Getting accustomed to driving the vehicle by looking through the eye piece was not as hard as we first thought.  It took no time for Sarah to get comfortable in... [More]- Video ATV FirstUse


November 28,2008 (ForgetAboutItFriday)

Today is of course the biggest shopping day of the year.  It is called "Black Friday" because retailers hope to be "in the black" with the money they make in sales from this one day regardless of how business was all year.  In exchange for fire sale prices, bargain hunting shoppers have been trained to wait in line for the stores to open and to tolerate large crowds.  We have realized it is best to just say "forget about it" and avoid participating in this frenzy all together.  If you must go, stay clear of the crazy ones or risk being trampled.

The best deals are often not the least expensive, the best products are likely not the cheapest, and the best stores are definitely not always physical.  We are going to take the next few days off and relax.  Have a great weekend and don't eat too much pie!  [Permalink] - Black Friday


November 27,2008 (TofurkyThanksgiving)

Roasting a Tofurky may not be the first thing most people think of when preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  However, the cooks in the RainyDayKitchen are nothing if not non-traditional.  This year they decided it would be a good opportunity try preparing a Tofurky in addition to the traditional turkey.

Tofurky is made from, among other things, soy protein.  It is low in fat, nutritious, cholesterol free, and entirely without stupor-inducing triptophan. Properly prepared, it is both great tasting and good for you. And it comes stuffed! 

We purchased one of the newer pre-stuffed Tofurkies.   It will stay fresh, uncooked, in the fridge for 30 days.  Prepping the Tofurky was... [More]- Tofurky Thanksgiving


November 26,2008 (WTFAWWednesday)

If you are always saying "where the f' are we?"  May we suggest that you drop some not so subtle hints this Holiday Season for a decent GPS unit?  There are quite a few good ones on the market these days.  We have reviewed quite a few of them (NavMan, US GlobaSat, CoPilot, HK Guide+Play, Magellan, Navigon, etc...) over the years. 

The Navigon units (7100, 2100Max) are our current favorites.  The latest in the Navigon line is the 7200T.  Here is a quick FirstLook at the unit and what comes in the box.  The GPS unit comes with a car charger, pouch, and a suction cup mount.  The maps are pre-loaded but can be updated via the microSD card.

Each generation is a bit better than the last.  The improvements are features which are more than just bells & tweaks.  They make the device more functional and easier to use.  The highlights of the 7200T are... [More]- Navigon 7200T


November 25,2008 (TelepresenseTuesday)

Every so often we get something in the office that looks like so much fun that we would rather play with it than do the photo shoot.  Then someone reminds us we are grownups and need to set an example for the interns.

A box with the label Spy Video ATV-360 showed up on our desk yesterday.  At first we thought the folks at DARPA had inadvertently sent us something from their lab, but the Wild Planet logo on the packaging clued us in... [More]- Video ATV 360


November 24,2008 (MeteorMonday)

Those in Alberta Canada who looked up at the right time were treated to a fantastic sight this weekend.  One lucky police cruiser had its eyes on and captured the streaking fireball as it made its way across the sky.


The hunt is now on for finding any of the pieces which may have survived the flight through the Earth's atmosphere and reached the ground.  If you are in the area, get out there and join the search!  [Permalink] - Meteor Over Alberta


November 22-23,2008 (WeekendEdition)

The Bubble Tree was easy to unpack, set up, and shape.  All that was left to do was fill the trunk with water and flip a switch.  It took about 8 liters of water to fill. 

As the tree is over 6' tall, in order to fill the trunk with water a small ladder was needed to get to the top.  Our recommendation is to leave about 3" of space if you want to use the max "bubbling" setting.

Since the lights have been pre-strung, the interns just had to plug it in, choose a color, and adjust the rate of the bubbles.   Getting the lights to work was even easier than putting up the tree. 

The "bubbling" effect is REALLY REALLY cool.  We flipped through the colors, checked out the effect at different bubbling rates, and settled on a combination... [More]- Bubble Tree FirstLight


November 21,2008 (PhysicsFriday)

We wish we were better at explaning physics to our friends and family because we LOVE physics.  A lot of our attempts at explaining physics involve too much talking and too many analogies that don't make sense to the explainee (most specifically, according to our highly esteemed English-major copywriter, "It's like water flowing through a pipe" which now makes her run from the room upon hearing those words).  This is why we were so excited when we heard about O'Reilly's Head First series of books. 

The Head First approach to teaching is to use what is known about how people learn and to leverage that knowledge.  Learning is a multi-sensory experience.  The more those various senses are engaged, the better we... [More]- Head First Physics


November 20,2008 (MakeATreeThursday)

The interns were in early today and got to work assembling the Bubble Tree.  The basic steps were pretty simple: connect the tubes for the trunk, put the trunk into the base, unfurl the branches, insert starting from the top and work your way to the bottom.  The assembly process was actually that simple, but we thought some photos would make things even clearer. 

The tree's "branches" is actually one long garland, and came rolled up in a bundle.  The trunk is a clear plexiglass column with small tubes on the outside that the garland hooks into.  Unfurling the garland is best done when the trunk and base have been assembled.  The lights are already pre-threaded into the branches, a HUGE time saver. 

The bottom of the plexiglass column has two small outlets which get connected to the water pump housed in the base.  Contained in the base are also... [More]- Bubble Tree Assembly


November 19,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

Some of us here were alive in the 60's.  A few of us can even remember what happened in the 60's.  When a reader sent us a link to NASA's newly re-digitized version of the EarthRise photo,  one recognized it as the iconic image from the Apollo 8 mission. 

However, our resident philatelist was not too sure.  He claimed it was different than the stamp which was released in 1969.  The next day, he brought in... [More] - Earth Rise


November 18,2008 (BubbleTreeTuesday)

Every Holiday Season, readers have asked us to review artificial Christmas trees.  We have resisted because we have always had live trees in the reception area at RainyDayMagazine.  However, when we got talking about it this year, we realized that many of us grew up with artifical Christmas trees.  So this year and for the next few years, we WILL be doing selective reviews of artificial trees. 

Our first tree is a hot new product called the Bubble Tree, available from Season Dreams.  We were intrigued by this tree because it's description was so... [More]- Bubble Tree


November 17,2008 (MoreMagnetsMonday)

There are two popular suppliers of these spherical magnets on the Web.  The small one is from NeoCube.  The larger one from CyberCube.  While they look similar, the "play" quality of the two sizes are distinct.  We would not characterize one as better than the other, just different. 

The larger one is easier to hold, and its magnetic fields are stronger.  The stronger force makes certain shapes harder to create.  The smaller one makes some shapes more easily, but its weaker magnetic field doesn't hold as well, so unless... [More]- More Magnets


November 16,2008 (WeekendEdition)

On Friday we did a quick mention of the Skeleflex "creatures" from Wild Planet.  Today we'll take a closer look the contents of the three Skeleflex construction kits.

The smaller kits come with their own carrying case.  The pieces are color-coded to the case.  As all of the pieces are inter-connectable, the color-coding helps make it easier to know what pieces came from which kit if mixed to create a "new" monster.

The largest kit is the T-Rex PowerFlex Lab.  It contains a motorized core, all the pieces to construct a T-Rex, and a... [More]- Skeleflex Creatures


November 15,2008 (WeekendEdition)

We apologize for the teaser from yesterday. Some of you, apparently, would have immediately ripped open the boxes and played with all the pieces.  Many of you were not shy about letting us know that that was what you would have done.  Hey, "grown ups" work here at RainyDayMagazine and we are MUCH more restrained!  We don't run with scissors and we always/most of the time eat our vegetables.

The truth is packages have been arriving steadily for review and it has been keeping everyone going full throttle.  This time of the year, the overflow sometimes goes all the way out to the main reception area.  We'll be playing catch-up from here on out.  Our goal is to complete the FirstLook/FirstUse writeups of all new items which arrive before Thanksgiving.  Getting those done will allow us to focus on the 2008 RainyDayMagazine Holiday Gift Guide.  Just like last year, there will be plenty of hidden contests and give-aways.  So if you see something you want in the Gift Guide, you may actually have an opportunity to win it.  Just click around! [Permalink] - Hints


November 14,2008 (FierceFriday)

Yesterday, Carolyn and Bill reported on the MOS unveiling of Triceratops Cliff.  Today something a lot smaller, but equally cool was "unboxed" at RainyDayMagazine.

Our friends at Wild Planet always have new toys for the Holiday Season.  Last year, it was a collection of SpyGear.  This year, they have a line of toys for all who crave to "create" in addition to "play."

Judging from the packaging, Skeleflex is an "erector set" of inter-connecting bones for building a... [More]- Skeleflex


November 13,2008 (TriceratopsThursday)

Who cost a million dollars, came in ten crates without assembly instructions, and is 65-and-a-half million years old? Cliff, the new, actual, triceratops at Boston's Museum of Science, that's who.

The cool thing about Cliff is that those bones (and all those teeth) really are his; this ain't no model, and all those bones came from the one guy (assuming at this point we can tell the difference between the Tri-sexes).  Cliff might be surprised to realize that he is one of only four near-complete examples of his kind in the world, and the only one in the northeastern United States.  All the skeletons that you see in museums are made up of bones from various finds.

Cliff was discovered in 2004 in North Dakota in the Hell Creek Formation by a rancher.  It was put up for auction in April of this year by... [More]- Triceratops Cliff


November 12,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

Cats can see really well in the dark.  Everyone knows this.  Seeing a cat in the dark would be a lot easier if they were all like Mr. Green Genes.

Mr. Green Genes is a cloned cat whose DNA was manipulated during his creation.  We are guessing that the fluorescence gene, probably from a... [More]- Mr. Green Genes


November 11,2008 (BatteryTesterTuesday)

This past weekend we switched out the Summer tires for our Winter Blizzaks.  In the collection was a new piece of gear still in its plastic packaging.  Readers who were curious and clicked on the image of the item (Clore Automotive's Solar Battery Tester - BA7) found the hidden link to this month's RainyDayContest.  We have reviewed some Clore Automotive gears (JNC Air, Pro-Logix Battery Charger) in the past and are always eager to check out their new offerings.

The new item is the Solar Battery and Systerm Tester.  This handy little device is designed for testing a wide variety of... [More] -Solar Battery Tester


November 10,2008 (LeafModelMonday)

The large maple in the RainyDayGarden dropped all its yellow leaves this weekend.  It made for some interesting Fall photos.  However, it was a bit bland so we asked one of our interns to come out and be a model.

Buffy kindly agreed to pose in exchange for some tasty treats.  The best thing about working with a cat is they take directions really really well.  Unlike dogs, a cat will sit motionless... [More] - Buffy in Leaves


November 9,2008(WeekendEdition)

The weather was nice this weekend, but we know that the colder temperatures are on their way. A surprise snow storm is always just around the corner.  Summer tires get pretty hard and do not function optimally when the temperature drops below 45º.  Brakes and tires are two things we don't take for granted.

Frequent readers already know about the virtues of many of the items in the collection.  Sharp eye readers will notice something new which we have not yet reviewed.   We'll get to... [More] - Snow Tire installation


November 8,2008(WeekendEdition)

A few hundred miles ago, our brake-wear sensor light went on.  Since we had just changed the front pads, we knew it was time to replace the rear ones.  It has been a while since we replaced the rear brake pads.  Our ratio over the years has been about 3:1 front/rear in terms of frequency of replacement.

The tools are pretty standard: racing jack, torque wrench, hammer, wheel hanger, and the boxster repair manual from Bentley Publishing.  Once we had... [More] - Rear Brake Pad Replacement


November 7,2008(FundraisingFriday)

Press passes to events are one of the benefits of working for an online magazine.  It means we don't have to pay and there are always plenty of events to choose from for any given day. 

However, the one rule we have here is that we always pay our own way at charity events.  In September, we went to the Taste Of Roslindale.  It was there where we met some of the "babes" from Babes Making Strides.  They are a group of motocycle-riding, cancer-surviving, research money-raising local women who have declared their own war against breast cancer.

This Saturday they are having a Babes Comedy Nite fundraiser in Roslindale.  If you are looking for something fun to do which will also help out a great cause, drop on by and meet some of the "babes."  [Permalink] - Babes Comedy Nite


November 6,2008(ToughToolsThursday)

When we go on location, we pack our gear in Kata bags (W-92, T-212).  In the bags, we have spare SD memory, card readers, USB cables, and extra batteries.  We also pack a few "tough tools."  Two of the toughest ones are the indestructible Surefire flashlight and the indispensible Leatherman Skeletool.

We have dropped them in steams, knocked them of ledges, and watched them tumble down the side of a trail.  We just picked them up, dusted off the dirt, and never gave them another thought.  They are low maintenance tools which have always worked when we've needed them.  The Surefire is brighter than most flashlights ten times its size, but is small enough to slip into pockets and the side of the Kata bag.  The Skeletool, like the Surefire, is always... [More] - Tough Tools


November 5,2008 (WowUsWednesday)

The RainyDayMagazine office was turned into an election night results center last night.  We were tracking results from all of the major news sites and campaign headquarters in this historic election.

The wall screen was projecting a live news feed, other machines were tracking the real-time election results as they were posted from the various states.

By 8PM, Barack Obama was projected to be the winner of Massachusetts.  Folks were cautiously celebrating all over town.  It was not yet clear how the night will eventually end, but it was starting to look like it would be a... [More] - We Have A Winner


November 4,2008 (ElectionDayTuesday)

Four years ago, the country elected a president which steered us down some pretty rough roads.  Instead of changing course and getting us out of the mess, we were driven almost off the cliff.  Today, the country will get another chance to select a new driver.  Let us hope that collective wisdom prevails this time around and we elect somebody who knows how to drive, can read a map, and knows when to stop and ask for directions.

Even though some of us here are a bit under the weather, we got up early to go vote.   We have voted in Boston for many years and we NEVER had to wait in line, until today.  The line moved quickly and we experienced no problems at our voting location.  We were done in about 20 minutes.

It was heartening to see all different kinds of people waiting in line to vote.  Judging by the number of folks in the queue by 7AM this morning, it seems like... [More] - Vote


November 3,2008 (ElectionEveMonday)

If you need to know where you should go to vote tomorrow, just click on the image below and fill in the info.  You'll get directions to the appropriate voting place for the address.

We'll be voting for change, but regardless of your particular political leanings, we hope you vote.  It does count.  [Permalink] - Vote For Change


November 2,2008 (WeekendEdition)

We arrived at Walden Pond early in the day, but since the clocks were turned back last night, it really wasn't THAT early.  Most of the trees had already changed

The colors have shifted toward a more muted set of orange and brown.  There were still clusters of reds popping up... [More]- Walden Pond Fall


November 1,2008 (WeekendEdition)

One look out the window this morning and we knew the day was going to be a nice one.  The colors in the RainyDayGarden started to turn about two weeks ago, but the Japanese Maples are now just peaking.  It was going to be one of those picture-postcard New England Fall days and we wanted to capture some of it on silicon. 

We thought since the colors were so nice in the garden, they must be peaking at the Arnold Arboretum as well.  We hopped on the Vespa and scooted down to see if... [More]- Fall Colors


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