Posts filed under ‘DIY’
Ever since I got the iPod Touch I find myself mapping the city in terms of WiFi-happy areas. I don’t mean which cafes have unlocked wifi, but which street corners, which tram stops, which apartment doorways. It’s also been fun to follow what the various hotspots are called in different areas, where I find large concentrations, and which areas are dominated by a handful of pay-per hour corporate hotspots. (The hotspots causing the most rage are the ones that show up as unlocked, but then open a webpage requiring you to log in.)
But the interesting part is that I feel like I’ve been literally surfing in this extra ocean-like dimension of the city, looking for good, strong waves. I mean literal surfing, not “browsing”. Kind of a neat feeling, though not particularly practical, and I assume it will wear off once my signal-map gets more familiar.
It gets me thinking about wifi-enabled jewelry again. What would it be like to feel the signals around you, instead of reading them off a list? How could one translate a locked signal vs. an unlocked one (into, say, vibration), or a favorite, trusted signal vs. an uncertain one? And what about those names? Could corporate/Wippies/FON/private signals also have a different “flavor”? I’d love to just be able to “feel” that I just walked into a happy grade-A wifi zone.
Stocks widget on the iPod Touch? Oh la la how 90’s! What will those of us not addicted to the stock ticker to do with this app, then?
Enter magic Yahoo Finance codes to turn Stocks into Currency Exchange watch.
Type “EURUSD=X” as a stock code to get the neatly updated EUR to USD exchange rate. You can guess the rest from there. Travelers rejoice!
One less thing to lug around! My father came up with this on his last trip to the US, with his Nokia. Beautifully simple.
Remember though that it only works with chargers that can take 110 volts. (it will say so on the charger) Otherwise your fancy bit of electronics will pop, melt and die before you can unplug it.
DISCLAIMER: Not a hack for idiots. Don’t touch the metal bits while it’s plugged in. Watch out for arcing, especially if it’s a crappy non-grounded outlet. Little kids are curious, gleefully suicidal at a certain age, and have teeny tiny fingers. If you try this and get hurt or hurt someone else, it’s your own damn fault.
The first thing I was struck by when getting on my little skateboard project board (see previous post) was this “clicky” feeling I was getting from the trucks when turning. I had a closer look and noticed it’s the kingpin clicking back and forth just a little when the bushing squishes. My machinist/jeweler background leaves me unimpressed by this much play in what are supposed to be pretty good trucks. The engineering of this part requires, it, though. Of course I started looking to see if this part had been updated, since this was the same construction I had seen used since the 80’s. Sure enough, I found a very promising new development:
Uptrucks: “one-piece elastrometric trucks”. In other words, the whole thing is the bushing, sort-of. They’re lighter, no speed wobble, no kingpin, better dampening, and they’ve built-in something else I was thinking about, ie a wheel-bite stop. If the truck is about to bend too far, it stops it before the wheel hits the deck. Not rocket science, but hey. Think I’ll get a pair if I can and play around with them. They’re not too expensive, either.
Seismic Trucks look interesting too, but they seem like a good new modification of an old idea, not an old idea turned on its head. When presented with a choice, I tend to always like the new weird idea better than the new old idea. Wonder what else is out there…
Well. There’s always this:
BMW’s $500 Street Carver, with trucks made from the BMW 5 Series running gear. Needless to say, they’re not made anymore. But it would be fascinating to get to play with one for a day…
Note: This post has, bizarrely, gotten a lot of search engine hits from terms like “gay and want to kill myself”. To those of you who found this post that way: Hang on for a second! Email me through the Contact form above if you want to tell me what’s going on–I’ll respond.
I used to have no balance whatsoever as a kid. Suddenly, as an adult, I’ve learned some, probably from using my K2 “kick two” kickboard for a while (can’t give you a link, K2 has sold them to Micro or something, and the Micro site seems to only have the old version; if you’re lucky you can find one on eBay). The kickboard is great and I adore it, but I’m fascinated by the idea that I could do without that pole, that I’ve somehow mastered something sports-like. So now I’m looking at boards. Freaky boards. Because I won’t be doing tricks, but I want a compact way to move around on sidewalks. Bikes are out because my reaction time is so slow I’ll be flat under a truck in a week. Here are some likely candidates:
Stowboard: Looks like fun because you can fold it up, or use it as a mini hand-truck for heavy luggage. Unfortunately, it apparently weighs a decent amount all by itself. Still, tempting for its compactness, and surprisingly, “a smooth ride” according to one review.
LoadedBoards: Squishy, bouncy ride, interesting shapes and wheel formations. Very pretty and well-engineered. You can choose from different stiffnesses to find the right one for your bodyweight. One of them is half Flowboard, half “fish”. However, they are long, and I hate to lug something big around that’s supposed to make transportation easier. I should be able to carry it in one hand, or even better, attached to a backpack? Apparently the Fish model would suit city transportation best. Wheels are not covered by the deck, though, which means nasty catching on foot while kicking could result.
Waveboard: I think this is pretty wishful thinking for me. This thing’s only got two wheels, and they move independently of each other. You sort of wiggle/ski/surf around to move, and apparently it’s quite a workout. Death awaits. In style.
Arbor Bamboo Pocket Rocket: Longboard features, pocket-sized. Might be fantastic, might be like trying to skate with a bar of soap attached to one foot. Physics does limit my quest for compactness–if the thing is TOO small, it might be too little to balance on. Very pretty though…can’t really pull off the whole skull-and-monster graphics until I can move on these things without looking like I’m constipated.
I’ve also started experimenting with building my own, using longboard wheels and trucks on a short board. At the moment, it’s got 80mm wheels, Randall trucks, and 1/2″ risers, which makes for a very high deck, but wheel bite is a problem. The deck is as wide as the trucks + the wheels, but quite short (28.5″ x 10.0″). I’m tempted to get rid of the risers, maybe get lower trucks, and make cut-outs in the deck for the wheels. Maybe “wheel covers” hammered out of copper to prevent my foot from hitting the wheels through the cut-outs. I’m sure that sounds insane, but this is my jeweler’s backround coming in. I’ve got the workshop and the tools, so why not? More after the link.
One of these days I will build a swarm of these to crawl all over my apartment and tease the cat. They’re self-sufficient, powered by a solar cell, and do nothing but run around looking for more light and avoiding shadows. I suppose in Finland they might end up hibernating under closets in winter, or perhaps attacking you en masse when you return home and turn on the light. Here’s where you can buy kits, if you’re not feeling all hardcore.
People have been implanting magnets into their ring fingers, to get a kind of sixth sense. I’ve had something like this thanks to my steel engagement ring–I can tell where the security magnets are in shops, etc. I was thinking of making a magnet ring, problem might be keeping it clean and unspiky, considering all the metal filings that would leap up and stick to it? Might work as an emergency compass, though.
Here’s the link to the story: Wired News: A Sixth Sense for a Wired World