New Stuff – Don’t Blink and They’re So Yesterday

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Tech Items

You Need To

Know About

We often check out sci-fi movies and books for ideas on what future tech could look like – anything from Marty McFly’s hoverboard to Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber – but what we don’t realize is that there are so many amazing gadgets and gizmos already around us. Every year, genius minds come up with fantastic ideas that have the potential to be game-changers. Sure, some ideas may fall flat, but for every weird and wacky item, there is a genuinely cool piece of technology that we humans could be using for many years into the future. Let’s take a look at 10 items that seem from the year 3017, but are actually coming very soon or available now.

10. PowerRay underwater drone by PowerVision

Sure, drones can record incredible footage from the sky, but what if you want to explore another vast and open area: the ocean. That’s why the Powerway underwater drone looks to be hugely popular, as it will be able to be controlled underwater to depths of 98 feet (30 meters). The little submarine-esque item can record 4K video and stream it to your phone, which is not only fascinating to the average seagoer, but also useful for fishermen. A sonar function is available which can apparently detect fish from up to 131 feet away (40 meters) and baits them with the help of a blue light. This makes us think that fishing doesn’t sound so hard after all!

9. Spectacles by Snap Inc.

Snapchat is already one of the most popular apps in the world, and now the company behind it all, Snap Inc., has now released their very own physical product: Spectacles. These record 10-second clips at the press of a button, which can then be uploaded to your Snapchat account. These sound useful, as you can have your phone in your pocket but still be able to record things from your POV, and they are stylish enough to be worn outside (unlike Google Glasses, RIP). However, there has been some discussion about privacy concerns regarding the Spectacles, as the thought that someone could be taking a video without your knowledge or approval is a real issue among people today.

8. Smart bikes by LeEco

LeEco has created smart bikes that contain some very useful improvements to your regular bike. There is a 4-inch touchscreen attached to the frame, which can provide you with on-screen directions and riding stats, as well as a compass, speedometer and barometer. There’s also some lasers attached to the handlebars, which create a virtual lane in front of you, which is kind of cool. There will be two types available for LeEco’s smart bikes: a road version and an all-terrain version. What’s great is that the smart bike doesn’t look so much different from the bikes of today, thereby reducing the risk of theft as it’s not over-the-top and ostentatious.

7. 360 smart bed by Sleep Number

This is perhaps the most high-tech bed on the market. The 360 smart bed is said to adjust to your ideal level of firmness and support, as you can control all settings relating to comfort. What’s really fun is that if the bed senses you snoring, it will gently raise the head section to (hopefully) prevent it for the rest of the night. Sleep Number’s bed can also warm your feet, which is said to help induce sleep much faster. In the morning, you’ll get sleep statistics sent to your phone, which means getting good sleep is now training of sorts.

6. The Core by Norton

The Core is not only a modern router for the home, but also a very stylish and futuristic-looking item – exactly what we want! But it’s more than a pretty sight, as the router contains security features that are said to prevent hackers, malware, and viruses from ever getting into any item with an Internet connection. As we have smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even fridges connected to the web, this is a big advantage in a world where cybercrime is a prevalent threat.

5. U connected shower system by Moen

This is something we’re really excited about, as getting the perfect shower temperature every morning seems to take way longer than we’d like. From your smartphone, you’ll be able to pre-heat the water temperature before you even get in, as well as setting a time limit to turn off the shower so you don’t spend ages in there and end up late for work (easy to do on a Monday morning). This device could also help in drought areas, as there’s no need to waste water as you wait for the perfect temperature – it happens instantly.

4. Moxi stroller and phone charger by 4moms

Everyone loves to get two things done at once, so that’s why 4moms made the moxi. The stroller doesn’t just get your child from A to B, but can charge your phone whilst doing so. Using kinetic energy, you can ditch regular old electricity to keep your phone from running low. There are additional great features of the stroller too, like an LCD dashboard that shows various data, headlights and taillights, and a fully adjustable seat and handlebars.

3. Pop instaprint camera by Polaroid

Not a company to dwell in the past, Polaroid has gone full 21st century by creating their Pop instaprint camera. Able to print 3″ x 4″ prints on-the-go, the camera gives you those instant memories but in a much more modern and sleeker design. The Pop from Polaroid can also shoot 1080p HD videos, making it the ultimate party or travel item. The notion of printing out photos has died somewhat, as most of our pictures tend to stay on our phones or computers, but the Pop camera bridges the gap between digital image and handheld phone.

2. Touchscreen by Tanvas

Have you ever wanted to feel what the material is like of a shirt when shopping online? Well, Tanvas can make that possible with their touchscreen technology. Tanvas has partnered with apparel company Bonobos, so you can know how smooth or rough those pants are before purchasing. It remains to be seen about what other applications this technology from Tanvas can be used for, but for the meantime, this could be very useful for online shoppers who want to go that extra mile.

1. Kitchen assistant by Hello Egg

Move over Alexa, there’s a new voice-operated home gizmo in town. Hello Egg’s device is specifically made for the kitchen, where it will assist you in planning meal ideas for the week, as well as keeping your shopping list organized and shouting out instructions for when you eventually start cooking. We really love this idea, as it can be often confusing to cook a new meal with only written instructions, but thankfully Hello Egg’s assistant has the option to show videos too, in addition to voice directions. No more burnt meals!


New Stuff –

Don’t Blink and They’re So Yesterday

Unusual Pirated Products – WIF Consumer Corner

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5 Unusual

Pirated Products

As a wise man once said, piracy is often a pricing issue, not a servicing issue. In short, people pirate things not because they don’t want to pay for them, but because the legal avenue to obtain them is unnecessarily obtuse or customer unfriendly. With that in mind, here are five amusing stories about lesser known, but oddly popular items that have found themselves being pirated over the last few years.

 5. The Green Lantern movie was searched for more in 2011 than “porn”

If there’s one thing it’s not hard to find on the internet, it’s images and video of people doing the horizontal hug. Pornography is ubiquitous online and remains one of the internet’s most traded and oft-pirated forms of media… except for in 2011, when more people wanted to watch that terrible live-action Green Lantern movie.

To explain, according to collated list of the 100 most searched for terms on a popular torrent site throughout all of 2011, more users searched the words “green lantern” that year than they did the word “porn”. Along with apparently being more popular than the most generic search term to find pictures of boobs online we can think of, “green lantern” was sought out by pirates more often than even objectively better content that came out that same year, like Captain America: The First Avenger or Breaking Bad. Then again, maybe the reason pirates torrented the Green Lantern movies so much is because they didn’t feel it was worth paying for it. Hell, we wouldn’t blame them, we paid to see that movie and wish we could have that money back every time we don’t have enough change to buy a soda.

4. The most commonly pirated eBooks are about being better at sex, Photoshop, and math

Thanks to the rise of electronic reading devices like the Kindle, it’s possible to download and, perhaps more pertinently to this article, pirate your favorite books. Meaning that yes, we live in an age where it’s possible to illegally download 18,000 copies of the Bible if you really felt like it.

Like most things online, sites on which it’s possible to illegally download eBooks meticulously track what users are doing and the results are actually kind of fascinating. For example, in 2011 it was found that the 10 most torrented ebooks by users of the PirateBay included two books about using Photoshop, and three books detailing how to be better at sex, neither of which seems all that surprising at first. However, inexplicably sandwiched between both these things on the list is a book titled 101 Short Cuts in Maths Anyone Can Do. A book that, as far as we can tell, detailed neither how to blow a woman’s mind in bed or better use radial gradients. Meaning maybe, just maybe, it was torrented purely for the benefit of learning something interesting, but ultimately useless in real life. Speaking of which…

3. People love pirating college textbooks

There are hundreds of horror stories about the ever rising cost of college textbooks floating around the internet, from students having to pay hundreds of dollars to buy a book their professor wrote, to textbooks being reprinted every year just to force students to buy them again. Most sources are in agreement that college textbooks simply cost too much, but few offer a solution to the problem. Or, should we say, few offer a legal solution to the problem… because many students have found that pirating a textbook they’re going to use for one class is a preferable alternative to eating nothing but ramen for a semester.

Along with uploading PDFs of popular course books, more enterprising students have skirted around the soaring price of college reading material by doing things like pooling their cash buy a single copy and photocopying every page. To make this fact even more hilarious, the Washington Post has found that some students have even been found pirating textbooks for ethics classes. Meaning there’s a student out there somewhere writing an essay about the ethics of digital piracy, while referencing a pirated copy of their course textbook. The only way to make submitting that essay a bigger slap in the face for the professor would be to position the printer over their sleeping face, and replace the paper in it with slices of wet ham.

2. Pirated cable boxes offer better service than actual cable companies

Online streaming services have been collectively kicking the cable industry in its aging, greying sack for a while now, and for the most part cable companies have done nothing to try and compete with the superior service they provide. For example, a common complaint about cable companies is that they refuse to offer a la carte programming (basically the option to pick and pay for only one or two channels), and have repeatedly insisted that this isn’t possible. Which is weird, because the people pirating their service can do exactly that.

Yes, there are unscrupulous folks out there who will sell you a pirated cable box or Android device with any channel you want unlocked. The difference being that, unlike cable companies (who will slap on a bunch of stuff you don’t want and charge you $80 dollars every month for the privilege), the people those same cable companies call thieves, will charge you once and only give you exactly what you feel is worth paying for, with regard to channels. For example, in Canada some people were caught buying a one for a one off fee of about $100, purely so that they could watch Game of Thrones on HBO, a move that saw HBO send pissy letters to customers reminding them that “it’s never been easier to legally watch HBO shows in Canada.” A sentence that’s technically correct, if you’re willing to pay about $100 per month for a top tier cable package. In other words, the pirates are offering customers a better deal than cable companies, and the reaction from those companies is to do absolutely nothing to make their service better.

1. Keurig has spent years having an amazing pissing match about their coffee maker

Keurig is a company best known for making single cup coffee machines that use those weird little pods. They’re also known for being huge, whiney babies about people who don’t specifically use their coffee pods. The company maintains that only official Keurig brand coffee pods should be used with their machines, despite most generic coffee pods working just fine.

Keurig, rather than trying to compete with these rival companies by offering a better selection of products, lowering their prices, or producing higher quality coffee, have opted to instead design ever more sophisticated machines that refuse to accept anything but official Keurig pods. Keurig is so gung-ho about this that they released a new machine that didn’t even work with old Keurig podsleading to a massive public outcry when customers who bought one realized they had to buy the newer, more expensive pods compatible with the machine. An endeavor that proved to be ultimately fruitless, because every time Keurig does this, generic brand coffee pod makers always find a way to circumvent it either by pirating the technology in the pods or figuring out how to mimic it. Still, it’s kind of nice to know that right now, there’s a company getting rich selling pirated pods of coffee. If only because that sentence sounds hilarious.


Unusual Pirated Products

wif-consumer-corner-001

WIF Consumer Corner

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 126

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 126

…“No, my mom was a big fan of that newest cleanser at the time, AJAX…

“And how about that girl of yours, she has been a real treat!” Willard Libby is a big fan.

“Like cotton candy in a cavity,” Ace attempts to head off her reaction to the scientist’s use of a possessive pronoun.

Too late, “I belong to no one, certainly not to someone who pretends I don’t exist for years at a time and then compares me to tooth decay.”

“Hey kids, it is my fault for making a false assumption,” intellectually speaking, “but I would be thrilled for you Connie, if it were true.”

She softens her knee-jerk reaction, “Ace and I have had some good times.”

“Then let’s raise a toast to more good times,” the sound of clinking glasses to the brim with Italian Nebbiolo fills the university basement hideaway.

“To good times,” Martin, Constance and Ace respond in unison. The newcomer is blending in quite well; the men are taken by his dynamic presence.

“Ace: That is quite a name. Is that your given name?” helplessly inquiring minds need to know.

“No my mother named me Ajax Aidan Bannion. Can you blame me for changing it?”

“Did she name you after the muscular mythical hero of the Trojan war?” educated people ask smart questions.

“No, mom was a big fan of that new cleaner AJAX.” He was kidding.

“STRONGER THAN DIRT!!!!!!” Constance makes an arm muscle, while singing the familiar advertising slogan. “Hey buddy, you really did need another syllable anyway; ‘Ajax Bannion, he can clean up the mess you make’.”

“Boy, I am going to regret letting that cat out of the bag,” he takes it like a man. “But can we not use that name in public?”

“Sure, but if you’re late for dinner I’m going to say, ‘Ajax Aidan Bannion, you better stop what you are doing and come inside’.”

His secret is safe… maybe.


 Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 111

Ancient Tools and Toys – Real Old

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Oldest Known Objects

Made by Man

(and his Ancestors)

Whenever something incredibly ancient and incredibly cool turns up, there’s always someone on hand to shout that it’s evidence of aliens. Awesome as it would be to know ET was hanging out here in 10,000 B.C. (or whenever), the truth is both much simpler and much more interesting. See, you don’t need aliens to explain away intricate ancient objects. We humans have been capable of creating incredible stuff since before there were even humans.

 The following objects are all man made in the sense that ‘a proto-human intelligence was responsible for their creation’. But not all of them came from the mind of homo sapiens. Instead, some come courtesy of our distant ancestors, the thinking apes who preceded us and helped us on our journey. Think the prehistoric world is dull? Think again.

10. Ice Age “Batons” (Approx. 28,000 years old)

Yes, we know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of: “Gee, these ice age batons sure look like a certain part of the male anatomy.” So before we go any further, let us just categorically state that, yes, these batons do indeed look like a bunch of comedy-sized wangs. And there’s a good reason for that. Wanna guess what it is? That’s right, far from being immature, you’ve hit on what these probably were. You’re looking at an image of a stone age sex toy.

Known euphemistically as ‘batons’, these proto-Ann Summers toys have been found in a number of Ice Age sites, no doubt leading to many awkward conversations among archeologists. The oldest of all is from Germany, specifically a place known as Hohle Fels Cave. Now, pay attention, because you’re gonna be hearing that name again and again in this article. Hohle Fels contains one of our best-preserved collections of Ice Age artifacts anywhere in the world. In 2003, it also turned out to contain the oldest baton yet found. The one you see above dates from around 28,000-30,000 B.C.

Just think about that, for a second. This ancient – ahem – toy is older than Stonehenge, Machu Picchu and yo momma combined. Not that it was all dirty. According to those who found it, the tool was also used for “knapping flints” (whatever the heck that is).

9. Animal Figurines (30,000-40,000 years old)

Sometimes, the world just likes to drop something incredible in our laps, presumably just for the fun of watching us collectively freak out. The ancient figurines found at Hohle Fels (that place again) are one of those somethings. Among the oldest sculptures ever found, they depict miniture birds, horses’ heads, and half-animal humans in jaw-dropping detail. Did we mention the detail? When they were made public, in late 2003, archeology expert Dr Anthony Sinclair declared: “They are as good as anything you will see thousands of years later – from 3-4,000 BC.” Suck it, Ancient Greece.

But even these works of genius have nothing on the oldest figurine we’ve yet found. Discovered in the same cave of wonders as the figurines was the Venus of Hohle Fels. A tiny carving of a woman, the Venus may also be the earliest extant work of erotica. The carving has improbably large breasts, a big backside, and exaggerated genitals. She’s also a lot fatter than we’re guessing any Ice Age human ever was, unless there’s a prehistoric McDonalds waiting to be found in Hohle Fels somewhere. This suggests she may have been a fantasy, an example of Ice Age man’s longing for a well-stacked, fleshy woman. Nice to see some things never change.

8. Neanderthal Cave Art (40,800 years ago)

Yeah, Neanderthals aren’t human. Well, get used to it. We’re gonna be leaving homo sapiens for good in a little while to go gallivanting around the world of Homo erectus and all his extinct pals. But first, let’s just pause and take a breather, and admire the view of one of the oldest expressions of abstract art ever found. Discovered in a Spanish cave in 2012, this image dates back a staggering 40,800 years in time.

Imagine the incredible amount of time that exists between you and Julius Caesar or Jesus Christ. Now times that unimaginable distance by ten. Now double it, and then give up and throw the whole concept of picturing this away, because you’re never gonna be able to really grasp just how stupidly long ago this was. Back then, ‘popping out for a bite’ meant stepping outside and being swallowed by a sabretooth tiger. It was a world so unimaginably different from ours as to be… well, unimaginable. Yet the not-quite-humans who inhabited this space still felt moved to do something uniquely human. They created art, using the only things they had: their hands and some plant pigment. And we think that’s just swell.

7. Ancient Flutes (42,000 years old)

The Aurignacian culture is the coolest thing you’ve probably never heard of. A bunch of early humans who started doing their thing in the Upper Paleolithic era, the Aurignacians mark the point where art and music and specialized tools began to emerge. So, yeah, pretty much everything you take for granted today started here. At one point, scientists thought this period of intense change started no earlier than 40,000 years ago. Then someone stumbled across a 42,000 year old bone flute in yetanother German cave and the dates had to be revised upwards.

 If the thought of an ancient flute doesn’t send a chill down your spine, you may want to quickly double check and make sure you’re not in traction. These finds mean the earliest European humans were creating music from almost the moment they arrived on the continent. Just imagine. It’s dark. You’ve just come back from a long day’s woolly mammoth punching, or whatever the heck Stone Age man used to do. The only light in your cave is from the flickering of the fire. You sit around, staring into its shifting flames. And then, slowly, someone pulls out a flute and starts to play…

See what we mean? Magical. This is the dawn of human emotion we’re witnessing here, and we’ve still got well over a million years of history left to go.

6. Aterian Beads (110,000 years old)

Grotte des Pigeons is a cave in Eastern Morocco that for ages wanted nothing more than for people to forget it had such a stupid name. Then, sometime in the mid-20thCentury, some archeology guys came along and decided, hey, this looks like a pretty good spot to dig. So they dug and they dug and they dug until suddenly everyone was too busy exclaiming over all the crazy awesomeness in Grotte des Pigeons to concentrate on its stupid name. There were ashes and tools and carved rocks and all sorts of treasures. But the biggest treasure of all may have been the beads.

 Made of shells with perforated holes, some still with traces of red ochre on them, the beads were likely the earliest examples of jewelry we have. The researchers dated them to an impossibly-distant 110,000 years ago, a time when the wheel was a far-off dream, and the concept of agriculture was like witchcraft. Yet our ancestors were still making jewelry. Even in a world of unrelenting danger, bear attacks and lifespans of under 30 years, we still just wanted to look good. We can’t tell if that’s shameful or the coolest thing ever.

5. Bone Awls (200,000-400,000 years old)

OK, from here on in, the dates get vague and the periods of time involved become utterly incomprehensible. If you’re cool with that then stick with us, because this is also where we’re gonna find the coolest stuff. For this entry, that means bone awls. A feature of the Middle Stone Age (MSA), bone awls were little sharpened bits of bone, probably used for piercing holes in hide and making clothes. As such, they show our ancestors moving on from just wrapping themselves in the skin of a dead zebra to actually creating their own garments.

Like most of the stuff in the MSA, bone awls were likely invented in Africa and then taken to Europe along with the first early humans. Good job, too, as Europe back then was likely freezing. Honestly, we complain if we get stuck without heating for half a day during a mild winter. Imagine having to huddle round a fire in a cave for warmth AND design your own clothes using only sharpened bits of bone and the flesh of whatever you’d killed. There are residents of Jersey Shore who live more-fulfilling lives than that (kidding. No they don’t).

4. Projectile Points (200,000-400,000 years old)

This is where the MSA really hit its stride. Before early humans perfected projectile points, killing an animal meant charging at it with a kamikaze yell, waving an axe above your head and hoping it didn’t eat you (it frequently did). With the advent of sharpenedprojectile points, the equation changed dramatically. Now you didn’t have to get within eating-distance to kill your dinner. Humanity’s time at the top of the food chain had survived.

Stop and think about this for a second, about all the stuff we take for granted. Before projectile points were invented, the only time you got to eat a fast moving animal like a bird was when it dropped dead of kidney failure right in front of you. Suddenly having spears and arrows allowed humans to expand their diets. It allowed them to create small stockpiles of food and defend themselves from a distance. Some have even suggested formulating complicated hunting plans using these tools helped us develop modern human intelligence.

Of course, our ancestors did plenty of hunting before the invention of spears and arrows. But, still. Their coming was a gamechanger that reorganized our entire species.

3. Hand Axe (1.76m years old)

Long before the Aurignacian came along with their music and painting and liberal hippy art stuff, the hottest culture in human history was the Acheulian. Occurring sometime around 1.76 million years ago, this stone age revolution saw our ancestors discard the simplistic tools they’d been using up until then, and start crafting complex weapons unlike anything ever seen before. Stones with specially-sharpened ends that were wielded by hand, these ‘hand axes’ saw early humans able to easily kill other animals for the first time in history.

For a long time, scientists thought the Acheulian revolution started around 1.4 million years ago, the period a number of hand axes found in Ethiopia dated from. Then 2011 came along and turned all that on its head. That was the year that archeologists digging on the muddy banks of Lake Turkana in Kenya uncovered hand axes dating from 1.76 million years ago. That’s a difference of 360,000 years; equivalent to the distance in time between you reading this on your tablet and our ancestors’ creation of stone projectile points.

Those who created and used these hand axes, by the way, definitely weren’t human. They were probably Homo Erectus, the guys who decided walking on two legs was the way to go.

2. Oldowan Tools (Around 2.5m years ago)

Unlike the hand axes of the Acheulian revolution, no non-experts today would be able to recognize Oldowan Tools as even being tools. They were pebbles and rocks that had been crudely chipped to give one serrated edge, likely for cutting, chopping and scraping. We’re talking the absolute most basic of basic implements, here. This was the dawn of the Paleolithic era, the point in time when hominids realized you could get more done with implements than you could with your teeth. It sounds simple to us now, but back then no-one had ever even thought of it. How could they? They were little more than apes at this point.

Despite the mind-blowing chasms of time between us and the first Oldowan tools, they’ve been found all over the world. At least, all over the world as it would have been back then, which basically means ‘Africa’. At this point, Europe and Asia were as alien to these tool makers as planet Weezigg-Cloop is to you (we’re gonna discover it in about 4,000 years. It’s gonna be awesome).

Interestingly, some scholars think those using these tools may have been vegetarian, hence their being content with not developing better tools for like 700,000 years. Who needs an animal-killing hand axe when you don’t eat animals?

1. Contents of the Lake Turkana Toolbox (3.3m years old)

And then we have the Lake Turkana Toolbox.

To be clear, the Lake Turkana Toolbox shouldn’t exist. Digging it up and dating it to 3.3m years ago is like opening Tutankhamun’s Tomb to find a Boeing 747 inside. In fact, scratch that. The distance of time is so vast that it would be like opening Tutankhamun’s Tomb to find a Sci-fi device that won’t be invented for another 796,000 years. One that does stuff we in backward old 2017 can’t even imagine. 3.3m years ago is meant to be a time when no species existed that was capable of making tools. And yet, in 2015, scientists discovered that this was exactly what the apes hanging around Lake Turkanahad been doing.

 To be sure, they don’t look like tools. They look like sharp rocks. But, like the Oldowan Tools above, the point is that someone – or something – made them sharp. Whatever that pre-human creature was, it was starting Earth’s sentient species down a path that would eventually lead to hand axes, then projectile points, then beads, then art, then music, then sculpture… and so-on right the way up to the tablets and spacecraft and 3D printers of today. When you look at it like that, you gotta admit these dull old rocks are secretly kinda cool.

Ancient Tools and Toys

– Real Old

Indestructible Products – Try as You Might

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Amazing Indestructible

Products

You Can Buy

Today

If only we could bid for a Clark Kent-esque supersuit on eBay — life would be pretty awesome if we were invincible. Ridiculous daydreams aside, some people are hard at working developing indestructible materials. No one has succeeded yet,  but while we’re waiting there are a few things you can get your hands on today that come pretty close.

1. Embassy Tactical Pen

2. Kaventsmann Triggerfish Watch

3. Tungsten Ring

4. Yachiyo Metal Rug

5. Hurricane Proof Monolithic Dome Home

6. Bulletproof Suit

7. Bulletproof Public Toilet

8. ioSafe N2 Indestructible Hard Dive

9. Toyota Hilux

10. Indestructible Tires

This video was written by Mike Brown for TopTenz.net and reproduced by Writing Is Fun-damental


Indestructible Products

– Try as You Might

 

The NULL Solution = Episode 26

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The NULL Solution = Episode 26

…In the earnestness of the moment, Skaldic inadvertently runs his hand across one of the instrument panels…

Instrument Panels

“That’s it!”

The timestem on the replay screen then advances in increment of cycles, while Skaldic considers the possibilities. In a short while, he glances back at the monitor, where he witnesses the cinematic version of Defender’s previous escape from this very Expository.

He turns to his 2nd, his most trusted compatriot, Offingga, who for better or worse happens to be a female of the Null variety. “Did you see that, Offingga?”

“It appears that one of these ships has gone off-world.” None Null has ever gotten a close look at this spaceship museum of sort.

Skaldic has studied all he could about it. He has also paid attention to the rumor that some aliens had stowed away on that fifth starship on the right. The legend of the Explorer {NEWFOUNDLANDER} bounces off the lofty towers of Eridanus. It has always fascinated him, yet the facts are illusive.

“It may take one-quarter of a cycle, but I think we should do a census of the Gifted. Perhaps one or more of them may be on the ship they call Defender.”

“They will not be going anywhere,” Offingga fails to connect the dots.

“If there is a Gifted who was spared the light, we must know. If it is the strangers of which I have heard, we should know that as well. It would take me one hundred cycles to learn how to make one of these ships fly.” Skaldic is seriously solemn in resolve. “We are currently the hope for all of Eridanus.”

In his earnestness, he inadvertently runs his hand across one of the instrument panels.

“I’m receiving a signal from home,” Sampson formerly of Earth, must be confused. Home is where your heart resides. “I mean Eridanus guys… don’t mean to confuse anyone.”

The collection of explorers from Eridanus has decided to stay aboard what they know {Defender} as opposed to what they do not {Seljuk home world}, for now.

Cerella is the one with the most at stake on this mission: Ekcello is her father. Her father, her people are out-of-order. If they have snapped out of their funk, that would be the best news. She rushes to the communication area to lend her translation skill. #njfurhwwgqfqloda#

She is disappointed and shows it.

“This comes from the Spaceflight Expository. It looks like device-to-device nonsense.”

“Wait a minute Cerella. It may be garbled, but wouldn’t someone have had to initiate it?” Celeste asks a pertinent question.

Cerella goes to doing what she does best – she thinks.

“On the off-chance that it’s intergalactic crapola, why not return the signal, just in case.” Sampson is an expert in dispensing crapola. “And why not make it an audio daily-double?”

“I will do that Sammy Mac.” She is fond of the Earthiest man she knows. She has even learned the subtlety of his euphemisms.

In a fashion all her own, she fires back the following: DEFENDER RESPONDING ERIDANUS#

It is all Greek to Sam. After several minutes, “It must have been nothing after all.”


The NULL Solution =

Episode 26


page 30

Velcro, Aspirin, Frisbees and Dumpster – WIF Trademark Search

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“Generic” Product Names

You Didn’t Realize

Were Trademarks

A trademark usually presents itself in the form of a name, a logo, a design, or a phrase, with the purpose of distinguishing one manufacturer’s products from another. Sometimes, however, when business is really good for a particular brand, or it has a head start over the competition, then that particular brand might just become a proprietary eponym, or generic trademark. This means that if a product develops a substantial market share over the other manufacturers, or it becomes well ingrained into the public consciousness, then its brand could replace the name for the entire industry.

 Take Xerox, for instance. When it comes proprietary eponyms, Xerox may be the one most often given as an example. Xerox is actually a corporation that sells a variety of things, among which are photocopiers. But that ‘Xerox machine’ from your work may not, in fact, be a Xerox after all. And Xerox is not alone; Google, Pampers, and Tupperware are just a few other similar brands that have become proprietary eponyms. But while these are fairly well known as actual trademarks, there are a lot of others out there – so common and so widespread – that chances are that you might have never guessed them to be brand names in the first place. To be fair, though, some have since lost their legal protection as trademarks and are now considered to be part of the public domain.

10. Dry Ice

If you’re not familiar with the term, or even with what dry ice actually is, you may not be alone. Nevertheless, if you’ve ever been to a Halloween party, a nightclub, or a theatrical play, and there was some sort of ground-level mist involved, then there’s a chance you were close by to where dry ice was being submerged in hot water. There are several other means of producing that sort of fog (like liquid nitrogen, for example) but dry ice works almost equally as well. It’s cheaper, too, so there’s that. In any case, the entertainment industry isn’t the main business for dry ice – it’s refrigeration.

Sometimes known as Cardice, especially by the British, dry ice is actually solid CO2. Because it’s much cooler than regular ice, dry ice makes for a great refrigerant, especially when mechanical cooling isn’t possible or required. This means that you’ll oftentimes come across it when dealing with ice cream street vendors, or people carrying around organs or other biological samples. Because it doesn’t alter quality or taste, dry ice is frequently used to instantly freeze various foods and oils. Firefighters sometimes use it to extinguish fires and plumbers utilize it to flash freeze some water pipes. You’ll find some in school labs on occasion, or when people try to preserve ice sculptures. You can also use it as bait for mosquitoes and bedbugs, since these insects are drawn to CO2. Just sayin’.

Dry ice was discovered back in 1835 by the French inventor Adrien-Jean-Pierre Thilorier, who described it in one of his works. In 1897, an Englishman by the name of Herbert Samuel Elworthy received a patent for solid CO2 and used it to create soda water for his whiskey. But the device he invented was so big and cumbersome that people rarely used it. It was Thomas Benton Slate, an American businessman, who really took advantage and in 1924 applied for a patent in the US. One year later, he founded the DryIce Corporation of America and began selling solid CO2 under the trademark of “Dry Ice.” The other name,Cardice, short for carbon dioxide ice (the one the British are more familiar with) is also a registered trademark of Air Liquide Ltd. in the UK.

9. Band-Aid

By the 1920s, Johnson & Johnson was already a well-established company that manufactured ready-to-use surgical dressings. They made large, sterile gauzes that were sealed against germs and sold in various hospitals. The fabric itself originated in Palestine, and the name gauze is said to derive from the city of Gaza, an important center of weaving in the region back in medieval times. Nevertheless, Johnson & Johnson’s gauzes, which were used solely as dressings, were the first of their kind. An employee by the name of Earl Dickson, who was a cotton buyer at the company, was also recently married to a woman by the name of Josephine. And as it turns out, Josephine was a bit of a klutz, constantly getting burnt or injured around the house – nothing serious, mind you, but enough to become a constant nuisance for the newlyweds. Her husband, being in the industry, decided to help, but the surgical dressings Johnson & Johnson were providing were too big for the minor injuries Josephine was suffering on an almost daily basis.

In a moment of pure inspiration, Earl Dickson cut out a small square from one of the gauzes and stuck it to one of his wife’s fingers with a piece of adhesive tape. Knowing full well that this would not be a one-time thing, he began his own small-scale production of these… well, “Band-Aids”… to have ready around the house whenever his wife needed one. In order to keep the two adhesive parts from sticking together, as well as to keep the dressing sterile, Earl lined them with some crinoline fabric. The two soon realized that their invention had a potentially huge market, and Earl presented his idea to his boss, James Johnson. In 1924, Johnson & Johnson introduced their adhesive bandages under the Band-Aid trademark. After several more improvements, and after a genius marketing campaign of giving out an unlimited supply of free Band-Aids to all the Boy Scouts in the country, the adhesive bandage became a common household item across America. To date, Johnson & Johnson estimates that they’ve sold over 100 billion around the globe. And as thanks for his invention, Earl Dickson was given the position of Vice President at the company until his retirement in 1957.

8. Frisbee

Who would’ve guessed that the 1970s Frisbee craze began with apple pies? Well, not just apple pies, but pies in general. The story begins in 1871 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, when a man by the name of William Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company. His pies became an instant hit with the students from all the universities nearby. These pies came in tin plates which the students then began flinging at each other while yelling “Frisbie!” Fast forward to 1948 and we have the “Flying Saucer,” a plastic version of those tin plates, reinvented by Walter Frederick Morrison and Warren Franscioni. The new name was aptly chosen as it was less than one year after the famed Roswell UFO incident. After the two parted ways in 1955, Morrison sold the renamed “Pluto Platter” to the Wham-O toy company. Wham-O, the company behind another well-known trademark, the Hula-Hoop, changed the flying disc’s name once again, this time to Frisbee – misspelling its original name in the process.

Then in 1967, Ed Headrick, the company’s designer, added a series of raised, concentric rings on its surface, along with several other features, in order to stabilize its flight, and the modern Frisbee was born. Thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign during the late ’60s and early ’70s, when the company advertised disc-throwing as a sport, Frisbees began flying off the shelves, and Wham-O sold over 100 million units by 1977. Headrick himself came up with Frisbee Golf, while some high school students from Maplewood, New Jersey, invented Ultimate Frisbee. Today, millions of people worldwide throw flying discs around – not all of them being original Frisbees, of course. As of 1994, Mattel Toy Manufacturers are the owners of the trademark, after buying it from Wham-O.

7. Velcro

According to a 2002 episode from the live-action TV series Star Trek: Enterprise, it was actually the Vulcans – an extraterrestrial species – who, during the 1950s, anonymously introduced humanity to the wonder of technology that is Velcro. Now, after some thorough investigation on our part, it seems that there are some inconsistencies with that particular story. As it turns out, the trademark brand ‘Velcro’, as well as the product it represents, the hook-and-loop fastener, is actually the creation of a Swiss electrical engineer by the name of George de Mestral. And apparently, Star Trek was a work of fiction. Who knew? Anyway, in 1948, while on a hike through the woods, de Mestral began wondering how and why so many burrs clung to his pants and his dog’s fur. On closer examination under the microscope, these burrs revealed their secret. As a means of dispersing their seed, they make use of many tiny hooks that get attached to all sorts of furs and fabrics belonging to unaware passersby, and hitch a ride to another place. Nature is truly amazing in its ingenuity, isn’t it?

Probably after coming to the same conclusion about nature, de Mestral began working on a fabric that would be able to mimic the same properties as burrs. Initially made from cotton, the fabric proved vastly more effective with the arrival of nylon, and de Mestral patented his invention in 1955. The word itself, Velcro, is a combination of the French “velours” and “crochet,” which in English translate to “velvet” and “hook.” He then began advertising it as the “zipperless zipper,” but his idea didn’t really catch on with the public at the time. Help finally arrived from the unlikeliest of places – NASA, to be more exact. NASA used Velcro during the 1960s as part of their space program. Thanks to the positive press it received, Velcro began being seen as the ‘space-age fabric’ and various fashion designers started using it. De Mestral sold the rights to his Velcro Company once it became successful, and even though the original patent expired in 1978, the term is still a trademark controlled by the Dutch Velcro company.

6. Aspirin

As one of the oldest and most commonly used drugs around the world, aspirin is still one of the most studied even to this day. It is estimated that between 700 and 1,000 clinical trials are performed on it every year. Aspirin is also the first ever anti-inflammatory and pain reliever mentioned in history. While not technically aspirin, its active ingredient, salicylic acid, was used as early as antiquity. Various medicines derived from willow and other salicylate-rich plants were found described on scrolls in Egypt, as well as on clay tablets in Sumer, more than 5,000 years ago. Even Hippocrates used to prescribe willow leaf tea to women undergoing childbirth. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, various chemists experiment with willow bark and other plants, slowly but surely narrowing down the active ingredient. Then in 1828, a professor of pharmacy at Munich University in Germany was successful in extracting it, and called it salicin. Over the following several decades, other chemists discovered that the Spiraea ulmaria(Meadowsweet) plant also contained salicylic acid, as well as coming up with better ways of synthesizing it.

While working at the German pharmaceutical company Bayer, chemist Felix Hoffmann added an acetyl group to salicylic acid and created acetylsalicylic acid. This addition reduced the acid’s previous irritant properties, and Bayer patented the process. The company then renamed this acetylsalicylic acid Aspirin and began selling it worldwide. Bayer later sold off or lost the trademark for Aspirin in many countries. The origin of the name Aspirin comes from the letter A, which stands for acetyl, and Spir, which comes fromSpiraea ulmaria (Meadowsweet). The in was a common suffix used at the time for medicine. In 1950, Aspirin entered the Guinness Book of World Records as the most commonly sold painkiller in the world. In the many trials it was subjected to since its invention, Aspirin was proven to be a great cancer and heart-attack prevention drug, if taken regularly.

5. Jet Ski

Do you, or someone you know, own a Jet Ski? Well, is it a Kawasaki? If it is, then yes, you have a Jet Ski. If not, then what you, or your friend, have is a personal motorized watercraft. Yes, Jet Ski is a trademark belonging to the Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. from Japan, and all other similar products are commonly known as personal watercrafts, even though most other manufacturers have their own trademark names for them. Now, the history behind these personal watercrafts goes back to Europe during the 1950s, when various motorcycle manufacturers were looking to expand their markets into other areas. The first name ever given to these vehicles was water scooters, and the British company Vincent produced roughly 2,000 Amanda water scooters. Unfortunately for them, however, the trend didn’t really catch on. Over the following two decades, other companies like Mival introduced its Nautical Pleasure Cruiser, but with a similar lack of success.

This is when an Australian motocross enthusiast by the name of Clayton Jacobsen II designed and created his own version – but a model that would require the rider to stand up. His real breakthrough here, though, was to replace the previous outboard motor with an internal pump-jet. During the mid-’60s, he sold his idea to the snowmobile manufacturer Bombardier, but after it, too, failed to gather momentum, the company gave it up. Jacobsen then sold his patent to Kawasaki, which produced its first model in 1973 and named it the Jet Ski.

But because it was a stand-up personal watercraft, the Jet Ski didn’t manage to draw in the masses since it was somewhat difficult to maneuver, especially in choppy waters. The breakthrough came several years later when newer models were designed so as to let pilots sit, thus drastically increasing its stability. Furthermore, it was now possible for two people to enjoy the ride instead of one, and thus the social element was added into the mix. Bombardier later got back into the game by creating their own line of personal watercrafts known as Sea-Doo. In fact, these Sea-Doos are the best-selling watercrafts in the world, surpassing even the Jet Ski. Yamaha is on the market with its own WaveRunners,while Honda entered the business in 2002 with the AquaTrax.

4. Bubble Wrap

This might come as a surprise to many – it certainly did for us – but Bubble Wrap was originally invented to be some sort of high-end wallpaper. Yes, back in 1957, two New Jersey engineers by the name of Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes began by sealing two shower curtains together and trapping air bubbles inside – thus giving their new wallpaper idea its unique texture. Unfortunately (or not), their wallpaper business didn’t take off, and they began looking for other possible uses for their idea, including looking into greenhouse insulation. And while Bubble Wrap does, in fact, have some insulating properties, this new venture didn’t pan out well either. Not wanting to give up, Sealed Air Corporation’s marketer, Frederick W. Bowers, struck a deal with IBM in 1959 to package their new 1401 computers, and they’ve been making millions of dollars annually ever since.

Recently, however, in a move reminiscent of a Bond villain, the Sealed Air Corporation has decided to renounce the original Bubble Wrap and begin producing the unpoppable iBubble Wrap. But even though this move might seem like something done just for the sake of making the world a little less entertaining and fun, there’s some logic behind it. As it turns out, Bubble Wrap takes up a lot of space when it’s in storage – something that’s a big problem for many of their customers. The new iBubble Wrap is shipped and stored completely deflated, thus taking up just 1/15th the space. Companies that use it can now inflate their iBubble Wrap on their own when they need it, but because it no longer has individual air bubbles, but rather rows of bubbles connected to each other, they are no longer poppable.

3. Dumpster

Without the humble dumpster, our towns and cities would probably be a lot messier than they are today. Over the past 80 years, the dumpster has become a common sight throughout the United States, and many other designs of these frontloader containers, as they are called, have been in use throughout the world. The first time the word ‘dumpster’was used commercially was back in 1936, when the Dempster Brothers Company from Knoxville, Tennessee, trademarked the term. The word itself is a combination of those brothers’ name, Dempster, with the word ‘dump’ – being used for their most successful front-loading container.

The novelty of these garbage containers were their side arms that allowed another of this company’s inventions, the Dempster-Dumpmaster garbage truck, to lift them up and dump their contents directly inside. This streamlined the whole garbage disposal process by up to 75% of the original time, when garbage was usually being collected by horse-drawn carts. Now, even though this idea spread throughout most of the world, the actual trademark Dumpster didn’t. The British and Australians do sometimes call their ownfrontloader containers dumpsters, but the wheelie bin and skip terms are more commonly used.

2. Mace

When it comes to personal defense, pepper spray, more commonly known as Mace, is among the best weapons to have on your person. It incapacities without killing or seriously injuring someone, and its backstory is based on the same idea. Chemical Macecame into existence in 1965, after Allan Lee Litman, an inventor living in Pittsburgh, alongside his wife, Doris, came up with the chemical formula and means of dispersal. It’s important to mention that other similar pepper sprays existed before the Litmans got into it, but they oftentimes fell short, either by accidentally afflicting the sprayer, or taking too long to activate and deter the attacker. Prior to starting work on Chemical Mace, Allan Litman was working on such inventions such as the “waterless egg cooker” and the “bacon cooker,” but with very limited success. Nevertheless, after one of his wife’s friends told them about how she got mugged while coming home from work, they began discussing what self-defense weapons a woman could have at her disposal in such a situation.

The two then began experimenting around the house with various chemicals such as kerosene, Freon, and sulfuric acid as propellants for aerosol spray cans, as well as a wide array of irritants. They finally settled on chloroacetophenone – a chemical highlighted by the military as being a potent tear gas during WWII. Initially calling it Tear Gas Aerosol Spray Instrument, or TGASI, they eventually decided on Chemical Mace – in reference to the spiked club of medieval times and the effects it had on a person’s face; though without the actual physical harm and, y’know… crushed skull. The two inventors then opened a business known as the General Ordnance Equipment Corporation and began selling their Mace to the public. Now, its active ingredient wasn’t something new, but the fact that the Litmans managed to repackage a chemical weapon as a civilian product was – and its success was almost instantaneous. In 1987, Litman accepted an offer from the gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson to buy the company, and he became director of their nonlethal weaponry research. The active ingredient has since changed to oleoresin capsicum, which is less toxic and has a faster incapacitating property.  

1. Heroin

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” and this rings especially true in reference to today’s opiate epidemic and the appearance of heroin on the world stage. As most of us know, heroin is a Schedule I controlled substance, known in the pharmaceutical industry as morphine diacetate, or simply, Diamorphine. Diamorphine was first synthetized in 1874 in England, but it took another 23 years before it became popular. Chemist Felix Hoffmann, working at the pharmaceutical company Bayer and the aforementioned inventor of Aspirin, was looking for a safer and less addictive alternative to morphine in 1897. It, uh… didn’t work out like he planned. He was hoping to produce codeine by acetylating morphine, but instead ended up with diacetylmorphine, which is two times more potent. The head of Bayer’s research department reportedly came up with its name of Heroin from the German word “heroisch” – meaning ‘heroic’ in English and implying the drug’s strong effects on its user. Bayer then began sellingdiacetylmorphine under the trademark Heroin and marketing it as a safer and non-addictive substitute to morphine, as well as a cough suppressant.

Its primary consumers were middle and upper-class women, who bought it for their medicine cabinets. It took 17 years before the US government began regulating it, and yet another 10 years before people realized Heroin’s actual effects and the United States banned its sale, importation, and manufacture. One year after that, in 1925, the Health Committee of the League of Nations also banned it, but it was in 1930 when all of its other derivate analogues were also banned. After WWI, Bayer lost its trademark rights over Heroin as part of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. The US went through two major heroin epidemics after that: the first after WWII, and the second during the Vietnam War. Today, however, with various opioids being loosely prescribed by doctors around the country, heroin use has also seen a fivefold increase over the past decade.


Velcro, Aspirin, Frisbees and Dumpster –

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