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Month: July 2021

Alarm Clocks Before Clocks

Alarm Clocks Before Clocks

How did people wake up before reliable clocks? As the Industrial age kicked up, shift work and getting up at a specific time became important. However, clocks of that era were very unreliable and beyond the means of most workers. What were the alternatives?

Well, first off, there were people called ‘Knocker-uppers’. They would go around and use a long pole to tap on your window. They were often night owls that slept during the day, or were people that owned a reliable clock. Believe it or not, England had these until as late as the 1970’s.

The other option was candle clocks. One would light a candle that burned at a relatively known rate. The markings on/beside the candle would indicate the time it would take to burn to that point. The user would put nails or pins into the candle at the time when they wanted to wake up. When the candle burned to that point, the metal pins would fall out into a metal catching pan. The clanking of the pins falling into the catch pan would (hopefully) wake the sleeper.

Candle and Oil Alarm Clocks as Historic Way of TellingTime

Read more about the various inventions used to wake and tell time here.

Old Technology as art

Old Technology as art

Feippo is an Etsy shop that has a clever little product. They have disassembled some of the most popular cell phones and mounted them in display cases:

They have various iPhones, iPads, Nokias, Blackberry’s, Huawei, etc. The framed versions run about $150-250, while they also have do-it-yourself kits where you can dissassemble your own phones and mount them for about $60.

Considering these are coming from China, I’m thinking someone came up with a clever way to sell our own e-waste back to ourselves.

Valve Steam Deck

Valve Steam Deck

Coming in Dec 2021, the Steam Deck. You can use it as a handheld or plug in any standard external display, keyboard, mouse – and use it almost as a full desktop.


  • Custom AMD based APU
    • CPU: Zen 2 4c/8t, 2.4-3.5GHz (up to 448 GFlops FP32)
    • GPU: 8 RDNA 2 CUs, 1.0-1.6GHz (up to 1.6 TFlops FP32)
    • APU power: 4-15W
  • Display:
    • 7″ 1280×800 (16:10 aspect ratio) 60Hz 400 nits Touchscreen IPS
  • 16 GB LPDDR5 on-board RAM (5500 MT/s dual-channel)
  • Storage (varies by model purchased):
    • 64 GB eMMC (PCIe Gen 2 x1) – $399
    • 256 GB NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4) – $529
    • 512 GB high-speed NVMe SSD (PCIe Gen 3 x4) – $649
    • All models use socketed 2230 m.2 modules (not intended for end-user replacement)
    • All models include high-speed microSD card slot
  • Interface controls
    • Gamepad Controls:
      • A B X Y buttons
      • D-pad
      • L & R analog triggers
      • L & R bumpers
      • View & Menu buttons
      • 4x assignable grip buttons
    • Thumbsticks: 2x full-size analog sticks with capacitive touch
    • HD Haptics
    • Trackpads:
      • 2x 32.5mm square trackpads with haptic feedback
      • 55% better latency compared to Steam Controller
      • Pressure-sensitivity for configurable click strength
    • Gyro: 6-Axis IMU
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi radio, 2.4GHz and 5GHz, 2×2 MIMO, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Ports/expansion:
    • UHS-I supports SD, SDXC and SDHC
    • USB-C with DisplayPort 1.4 Alt-mode support; up to 8K @60Hz or 4K @120Hz, USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • 40Whr battery + 45W USB Type-C PD3.0 power supply
  • Weight: Approx. 669 grams


  • Steam OS – customized for platform, but you can even load other game stores or even wipe the device and install another OS like Windows.
  • Cloudsaves work – so you can play on pc, save, load on the Steam Deck and pick right up where you left off.
  • Suspend and resume a game – but only 1 at a time
Fix for your pasta box being half full of air

Fix for your pasta box being half full of air

Bulky pasta types (such as farfalle and fusilli) require more packaging which means they are trickier to transport and lead to more waste (and boxes that seem to be half full of air). Scientists tackled the problem by designing flat pastas that can transform into 3D shapes when cooked. They do this by simply scoring the flat dough with specific grooved patterns, whose depth and spacing determine how the pasta will form when boiled. They can not only create classic pasta shapes (even spirals/etc), but new shapes as well.

They fed their data into computer models, which they hope will allow them to automate the technique and make it easier for food manufacturers to produce and deliver a loaded menu of morphing pastas.