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Feb 28, 2011- Rockwell BladeRunner...

The Rockwell BladeRunner arrived at the RainyDayMagazine office at the end of 2010. We have finally had a chance to take a FirstLook at the machine. The BladeRunner is a new kind of saw: it combines the features of a jig saw, scroll saw, and band saw. For DIY-ers with limited workshop space, this Rockwell BladeRunner may be the perfect solution.

The first thing we noticed was the weight of the machine. The saw is surprisingly light for its size. One of the reasons is that the base is made of a synthetic material. The other is that the platform, normally made of steel, is instead made of a lightweight alloy. To make the surface more durable, it is covered with... [more]- Rockwell BladeRunner FirstLook


Feb 25, 2011- RockyNook books...

We have been using Photoshop since version 1.0 came out. Photoshop is the image-manipulation application of choice, used by the majority of photographers. The software is very powerful, feature-rich, and expensive. For photographers on a budget, GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) is a less costly alternative. In fact, GIMP is free.

GIMP is an image processing application developed using public domain code. It was first released in 1996 and has seen a few major updates since. After over a decade of enhancements, it can now be a considered a viable subsitute for Photoshop, provided one is willing to invest the time in... [more]- RockyNook books


Feb 24, 2011- Cuisinart Waffle Iron Insert...

There's nothing more enticing than the scent of freshly made waffles waft through the house in the morning. The problem with home-made waffles is that one needs a waffle iron to make them. And unless one REALLY loves waffles a dedicated waffle iron is not something most people are willing to purchase. Fortunately for RainyDayMagazine readers (and staff), we have found an alternative.

A while back, we posted FirstLook and FirstUse reviews of a fantastic panini maker/grilling machine from Cuisinart called the Griddler. This machine has proven itself to be a true workhorse in the RainyDayKitchen. Now, Cuisinart has made the machine even more versatile by... [more]- Waffle Iron insert FirstLook


Feb 23, 2011- Delta at the scrap yard...

The more we recycle, the less demand we put on our environment. Scrap metal has been one of the biggest exports out of North America in recent years, mainly because of the increase in demand for base metals (it's far less expensive to recycle metal than it is to create from new). Scrap copper prices are an indicator of the general rise in scrap prices: current pricing is around $3.90/pound, in 2006 it was around $2.80/pound. The price of commodities are continuing to go up and the demand from the rest of the world is not showing any signs of slowing down.

Run intelligently, a recycling business can be quite profitable. The key is to be able to accurately grade the incoming materials so they can be properly sorted and processed. The Olympus Innov-X XRF Delta we looked at yesterday is the perfect tool for the... [more]- Delta at the scrap yard


Feb 22, 2011- XRF DELTA...

There are a LOT of cool, cutting-edge high-tech companies in Massachusetts, so many that we tend to take them for granted. Some of them, like Genzyme, are public, high profile, and very well known. Genzyme was in the news recently because of the sale to Sanofi-Aventis SA for $20.1 billion plus. Others are relatively small, private, but very well known to those in their area of expertise. Olympus Innov-X is of the latter. Olympus Innov-X has been around since 2001. Olympus Innov-X Systems manufactures and sells portable x-ray based analytical instruments for non-destructive analysis. Last Summer, Olympus Innov-X was acquired by Olympus NDT, a subsidiary of global company Olympus Corporation of Japan.

A few days ago, we had an opportunity to take a look at one of Olympus Innov-X's handheld analytical analyzers called the DELTA Classic. The DELTA is a tube-based portable X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer. This handheld analyzer enables non-destructive, laboratory-grade, on-site testing and analysis of samples. The Olympus Innov-X analyzers provide analysis of elements such as... [more]- XRF DELTA FirstLook


Feb 21, 2011- Boxster Projects...

When the near-60º temperature wafted through Boston last week, those of us with convertibles started to think about the day it will be warm enough to take off the hard top and snow tires (it will be soon). Such enthusiasm may be dampened (a little) by yet another snow storm hitting the area. However, our spirits were lifted today when a copy of 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster showed up at the office.

The book was written by Porsche expert Wayne Dempsey. Wayne co-founded Pelican Parts, an Internet-based automotive parts company which has been a go-to source for Porsche DIY-enthusiasts for more than a decade. 101 Projects for Your Porsche Boxster is a result of the author's... [more]- 101 Boxster Projects


Feb 16, 2011- Caboodle...

Most cat owners know cats LOVE cardboard boxes, paper bags, and other confined spaces. Leave a cardboard box on the floor and the cat will find a way to squeeze into it. So when we saw that a company had created a "corrugated habitat" for cats, we knew we had to check it out.

Caboodle is made with 350 lb double-wall corrugated cardboard. It is more than twice as thick as the average shipping box and should be extremely durable. The product is made in the USA in the San Francisco Bay Area. The cardboard is made from 40% recycled material and is 100% recyclable. Non-toxic soy-based inks are used for printing. Caboodle is manufactured, assembled, and packaged all in the same location, significantly reducing its carbon foot print.

The Caboodle is shipped in as a flat-pack and assembly is required. The designer of the Caboodle has made the assmbly as simple as possible. Each panel has a symbol next to the where they connect. Just match up and slide the appropriate pieces together. The interns had no problem understanding how the Caboodle was to be assembled. Anyone with... [more]- Caboodle FirstLook


Feb 15, 2011- Visionary Lenses...

The X-Men movies made the Oakley Juliet with the ruby red lenses into an icon. Deep ruby-red lenses are very difficult to find. Most of the aftermarket lenses are yellow with hints of red at certain angles. Visionary Lenses have come the closest in achieving the the deep red many have sought for the Oakley sunglasses. We looked at a set from them last September.

Last week, we received some new lenses from the folks at VL. Included was a set of lenses with a MUCH deeper red color. There is still a little hint of gold at the edges, but these are the darkest and richest ruby-red lenses we have seen from any vendor. Along with the ruby-red lenses were a set of... [more]- Visionary Lenses: Red and Purple


Feb 14, 2011- Valentine's Day...

How better to demonstrate your love for your honey-bunny, pookie-bear, or snugglie-poo than by mathematically plotting a heart in three-dimensional space? The best part? It is actually really simple!

There is a lot of scientific and visualization software which can do a fine job of plotting out some simple (love) equations. If you have a Mac running OSX, though, you already have everything you need. In the Utilities folder, there is a little application called Grapher, which is a... [more]- Heart Equations


Feb 11, 2011- iPad Keyboard Cases...

When the iPad first came out, Apple released a tablet version of their wireless Bluetooth that came with a dedicated dock. We thought it was a pretty useless accessory. Ten months later, we still are of the same mind. A keyboard with a dedicated dock for the iPad is just a waste of money. However, having written a few RainyDay articles using the iPad with the virtual keyboard, we are willing to concede that a physical keyboard could be a useful accessory for some situations. After receiving a bunch of emails from readers asking for recommendations, we realized we are not the only ones. There are many physical keyboard options for the iPad and we have looked at a few (Stowaway, Azio) already. So, after some discussion, we have decided it was time for another Best-Of-Breed (BOB) series. Today is a preview.

The iPad is all about portability. The problem with a separate keyboard is that they are not convenient to take along. For readers who are seriously considering a keyboard for their iPad, a case with an... [more]- iPad Keyboard Cases


Feb 10, 2011- MOS Planetarium FirstLook...

For the past year, the Museum of Science has been busy renovating the Hayden Planetarium. This Sunday, the Planetarium will reopen it doors and unveil to the public the most technologically advanced digital theater in New England. The yearlong $9 million renovation was funded through private donations and the Charles Hayden Foundation. The RainyDayMagazine crew was on hand for the preview of both the new theater and a new original astronomy show, Undiscovered Worlds: The Search Beyond Our Sun, last night.

In the center of the newly renovated dome-shaped, 209 seat, theater is the state-of-the-art Zeiss StarMaster projector. Supporting the Zeiss StarMaster are immersive full-dome video projectors and an upgraded audio system. The video projectors are the Sony SXRD 4K Digital units. They have a resolution that is 4x higher than the HDTV screen in most homes. Besides flying viewers around the universe, the ultra-HD projection and animation system can be used to... [more]- Hayden Planetarium FirstLook


Feb 9, 2011- Shun Knives...

There is no kitchen equipment more important than a good knife. A good knife can make cutting, slicing, and chopping tasks precise, effortless, and even pleasurable. It may seem counterintuitive, but a keen edge is much safer than a dull one. A sharp blade will cut without slipping, slice without tearing, and chop without crushing. At the end of 2010, we told you that Ginsu has upped their game in kitchen knives with the Chikara and Hanaita lines. Today, we want to give readers a FirstLook at the 21-piece block set from Shun Cutlery.

Shun knives are convex ground for a long-lasting edge that also helps move food away from the blade quickly. Sharpened to a 16° angle on each side, Shun's "extreme edges" ensure that foods will not be bruised or torn during preparation. The traditional Japanese D-shaped handle offers the perfect grip and balance. The PakkaWood® used in the handles is beautiful, durable, and comfortable. PakkaWood is resin-impregnated natural hardwood designed for... [more]- Shun Knives FirstLook


Feb 8, 2011- Pelican Case Retrofit...

We posted a FirstLook of a telecope transport case yesterday. The case was originally designed for the military to protect and ship electronic equipment. It happens to also be perfectly sized for transporting a Meade 10" LX200 telescope. We also mentioned we will be retrofiting our Pelican 1650 case to carry the NexStar C6 optical tube assembler (OTA).

We got our replacement foam for the Pelican 1650 from Case2Go. There are four pieces in the set. The "egg crate" layer is for the top cover. There are two four-inch thick pick-n-pluck pieces and a 1" thick bottom layer. It is clear the Pelican case would have no trouble accommodating the 6" OTA. However, there a a few other pieces of equipment which we need along with the OTA. Each piece of gear came with its own carry case. All that protection can take up quite a bit of room. It would be great if we could arrange the layout such that... [more]- Pelican Case retrofit


Feb 7, 2011- LX200 Telescope Case...

The interns have been researching various options for transporting the two telescopes. There are few telescope case makers and their cases are typically custom-fit units and as such, quite pricey. However, as we have shown with the Celestron C8, cases such as the Pelican 1650 can be easily adapted for telescope transport. We have obtained a set of replacement foam from Case2Go for the 1650. Since the Pelican 1650 was large enough to handle the C8, it should have no problem handling the smaller NexStar C6. Case2Go is the go-to source for all kinds of pick-n-pluck foam, waterproof cases, and equipment transport solutions of all sizes.

We would have gone with Case2Go for a case for the Meade 10" LX200 scope as well had we not come across a military-surplus option. The interns stumbled upon a year-old post on an astronomy forum discussion about alternative cases for transporting a 10" LX200. One of the responders, Scott, mentioned he had a military-surplus case. As he no longer has the 10" scope, he was happy to give it away to anyone willing to pay the shipping cost. However, since the discussion was over a year-old, the case was probably... [more]- LX200 Telescope Case


Feb 4, 2011- Handpresso Outdoor Set...

Once in a while an item gets put aside and, for one reason or another, never makes it back on to the review schedule. Last March, we posted a preview of the Handpresso Outdoor Set, and promised a FirstLook of the kit in the Spring. However, we never actually followed up on that promise. Today, we aim to rectify that oversight.

We first reviewed (FirstLook/FirstUse) the Handpresso Wild in 2008. This portable espresso maker enables anyone to make rich delicious espresso and is light (476g) and compact enough (22x10x7 cm) to take anywhere. The pump itself can generate up to 16 bar of pressure. The water reservoir is large enough to hold about 50 ml of water. Along with the Handpresso Wild, we also picked up two polycarbonate cups and a thermo-formed EVA stiff case. This bundle is... [more]- Handpresso Outdoor Set FirstLook


Feb 3, 2011- Year of the Rabbit..

Lepus, the Rabbit, is chased across the February evening skies by the great hunter, Orion. The Greeks who named this constellation, envisioned the hare forever eluding Orion's hunting dog, Canis Major, as the groups makes it way toward the river Eridanus to the west. The brightest star in Lepus is Arneb, Alpha Leporis. It is a second magnitude star with a very faint companion. It may be found about ten degrees south-southeast of Rigel. Gamma Leporis is a double consisting of a yellow 4th magnitude and a red 6th magnitude star.

In Chinese Horoscopes, 2011 is the year to follow the White Rabbit. The Year of the Rabbit started today and ends on 22 January 2012. Happy New Year!!! [Permalink] - Year of the Rabbit


Feb 2, 2011- Logitech K800 keyboard...

Keyboards have been with us for a long time. If one includes typewriters, keyboards have been around for well over a 100 years. The computer keyboard came into existance with the old teletype machines. We had one in high school back in...the day. They were hard to press, uncomfortable to use, and like typewriters were physically attached to the printing mechanism. Modern keyboards, defined as a separate low-cost peripheral, came into being with the personal computer revolution of the 70's. The keyboard's shape, size, and key placement varied somewhat, but fundamentally has remained the same. In many ways, however, today's keyboards are a far cry from those of forty years ago.

Those of us who sit in front of a computer (and type) for most of the day know the importance of an ergonomic keyboard: one which is comfortable to use, full-featured, and whisper quiet. Here at RainyDayMagazine, we are in constant search of better ones. The iRocks wireless keyboard we have been using for the past two years had pretty much everything we wanted: wireless, low profile, short key travel, good feel, and works on both Mac and PC. The ONLY reason we would consider upgrading our keyboard is if we could find one with... [more]- Logitech K800 FirstLook


Feb 1, 2011- Digital Foci Moments 8...

Digital photo frames are finding their place in more and more homes. We mentioned a few of them in the 2010 Holiday Gift Guide. Both the Ceiva and Kodak frames were reviewed in detail last year. Sharp-eyed readers noticed that the Digital Foci Moments 8 was a new mention and asked for a more detailed RainyDay review. Today, we are happy to comply with a FirstLook of this full-feature photo frame.

The Digital Foci Moments 8 is a high resolution (800x600) digital photo frame which also contains a pair of quality stereo speakers. It is the stereo speakers which distinguish this photo frame from the Cieva and Kodak units. While the Digital Foci Moments 8, unlike the Ceiva and Kodak photo frames, is not email-enabled, it distinguishes itself from the others with the ability to handle more than just still images. The Moment 8 frame is able to play both... [more]- Digital Foci Moments8 FirstLook


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