Good design doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t have to be hard to make, or use difficult to come by materials. I hope this video is a design inspiration to all of you, even those of you who never fold your shirts. I don’t see much to be improved in this device. It is inexpensive, easily manufactured, recycled and recyclable, functional, does its job easily and well, and takes up very little space.
Some inventions are only around to fill a temporary void. Think of the Brother-P-Touch, that digital typewriter that was so popular in the 80’s, or that machine that converts your VHS Tapes to DVD. But sometimes, a machine that has reached something approaching design perfection, a machine that is as much art as function, lives on and becomes an antique, and object of historical exhibition. I think this automatic book scanner may be such an item. There are only so many old books in need of scanning, and new books will start in digital format, but if we were going to keep a few book scanners around after the demand were gone, I would want this to be one of them. It is a pleasure to watch, a whispered intake of breath gently lifting each page while it scans both sides, an exhale letting go and moving on.
Hans Rosling is a credit to geeks everywhere. He has a great data visualization product, and gives one hell of a speech. Our world currently suffers from being bigger than we can easily visualize, and a simple graph just doesn’t cut it for complex data. Google has bought the trendalyzer software and is in the process of integrating it into the reports on their Analytics service. You can use the motion chart software here.
Update: In order to use this software in Google Analytics, look for the Visualize button above many of the graphs.
The three fingered wood shop teacher may be stereotype of the past. The SawStop table saw blade has a small current running through it. Whenever an unfortunate finger or wiener comes in contact with the whirling blade, it changes the electrical resistance enough to cause a sensor to trip a spring loaded aluminum brake, which stops the blade and uses the blades momentum to carry it back and down out of harms way so fast you would barely need a band-aid (1/200th of a second).
Erika from Hot For Tools will run you through a demonstration. So far the feature isn’t available in existing brands, so you have to buy the Sawstop saw. The stop mechanisms aren’t cheap enough to make you want to show off the feature in action to your friends, but they are a whole lot cheaper than an emergency room visit, regret, or for you employers out there, workers comp adjustments. As Erika showed us, this saw is sold by ToolKing here:
SawStop Table Saws at ToolKing
There are a lot of specialized sharpening devices out there. everything from that big glorified rat tail file you see cooks often using as a knife sharpener, to flat stones, to contraptions with guides and ceramic wheels. I was recently given a Speedy Sharp tool sharpener, by the best landscape designer I know, and I think it is enough of an improvement over the others in a general purpose sense to have achieved design perfection.
The Speedy Sharp isn’t much more complicated than it looks, just a well shaped chunk of carbide with a rubberized grip, but it works better than you would imagine. I don’t think I’ve ever needed more than a few swipes to sharpen anything and it doesn’t chatter or leave rough spots, and it is small enough to not take up a noticeable amount of room wherever you may keep or carry it. It is great for tools or sharpening knives.
I’ve been using my Speedy sharp for six years now and it looks like it did the day I got it.
Don’t you hate it when you are out for a swim and you get swallowed by a whale? WASP Injection Systems has the product for you: A hollow knife with a CO2 cartridge in the handle. Just jab it into the offending predator and push the button. Not only will you have an instant balloon animal, but it will be rapidly carried toward the surface with the marine equivalent of cement galoshes.
This video shows a new interface for sketching on a touch screen called ILoveSketch. The software looks somewhat limited, but the interface is very well thought out and lends itself to quick intuitive sketching of three dimensional objects. I give it extra credit for being an innovative design for making innovative designs.