TNT Newsletter for August 3, 2007
A live flight tracker, simplifying simplicity, radical muffler tape, hassle-free web registration, and a spicy organizer.
Ah, the dog days of summer...days where it truly is "dolce far niente," sweet to do nothing. I'm talking about RSS (Really Simple Stuff) here. None of these reviews are particularly dramatic or about complicated things; they're about simple stuff done well. Like a flight tracker that actually works, or a site that lets you skip out on pesky email registrations for online stores. The Simplicity Cycle, by Dan Ward, takes simplicity even more seriously; it's a whole book about elegance in design (as a result of, well, uncomplicatedness). The other reviews are about using the things around you in new ways to make your life easier (heck, you don't even have to go to the store since you probably have a spice rack and some grey tape lying around the house or garage). If cleanliness is next to godliness, then simplicity must be next to sweetness. With heat waves in most of the country, doing "nothing" seems like a pretty good idea right now.
Staff Editor, Make Magazine
MAKE: Halloween, from the editors of MAKE and CRAFT, brings you 40-plus DIY projects for the holiday thats made for makers. From the craftiest costumes to amazing animated props and the latest in computer-controlled haunted house effects, this special issue will include: headless Marie Antoinette costume, mechanical ghosts and ghouls, LED jack-o'-lanterns, creature makeup and blood-spurting wounds, DIY tombstones, kid-tested haunted house tricks, and a special "Ghoulbox" section with Halloween kits, tools, and gadgets. Plus demonic decorations, hideous party snacks, and profiles of extraordinary makers and their creepy crafts.
Reviewed by Arwen O'Reilly Griffith
A few weeks ago, I was preparing to leave a dinner party to pick up my sister at the airport, when Artur Bergman suggested I check Flight Aware rather than the airline website. JetBlue had her coming in at 10 p.m., but Flight Aware showed the flight somewhere over eastern Nevada. I took his word for it, and showed up at the airport closer to 11, just as her flight was landing. What a relief to find good flight info, instead of being condemned to what is surely an inner ring of hell, circling the airport indefinitely. (Artur has a great post on the O'Reilly radar here.)
Reviewed by Gabe Mounce
Id like to recommend for youre consideration a new book, from the author Dan Ward, on simplicity and complexity titled: The Simplicity Cycle (published under The Rogue Press at LuLu.com.)
This book fleshes out a concept that so many engineers, scientists, and designers seem to understand, but never know how to communicate: elegance in design! The premise of the book is that goodness (functionality or utility in engineering, beauty in art, understanding in science) is a result of genesis and synthesis, NOT adding layers and layers of complicated-ness. I personally think the book describes very organically how real, useful design and creation comes about. Even more so, I think the book calls into plain sight the white elephant sitting in the middle of the room .. bigheaded, complicated thought is really wrong-mindedness, and not very useful.
For me, do-it-yourself design, at its core, is elegant. Ive found that ballparking or eyeballing some aspect of a project gets me just as close to a workable solution as hours and hours spent finely tuning and laser measuring. Therefore, the idea of simplicity resonated very much with me.
The layers of understanding that flow from the concept in this book are funky-fresh, just like imaginary ogres: pungent as an onion (without all that bitterness). Your readers should really check this book out. Most will find it right in line with their do-it-yourself attitude. It will only enhance what they already do!
Reviewed by AussieJohn
This stuff is amazing and has saved my bacon a number of times. I've used it for fixing all manner of things--from its intended purpose of holding a muffler together until I reached the next town, to administering first aid to a dog that was bitten by a brown snake as a compression bandage. Here in Oz, four large rolls of the 5cm thick stuff costs $10 and I wouldn't dream of going out anywhere without it now.
Reviewed by Arwen O'Reilly Griffith
I found out about this great web service on Erin McKean's Dress a Day blog. It basically generates usernames and passwords to use to get into free "registration required" websites (like many newspapers and online vendors). It won't, of course, work for paid subscription sites, but it works like a treat for those you're not likely to use often enough to remember which email address and password you registered with. (Or if you hate giving out your email for anything that might later send you an email about Exciting New Offers!)
It's not as though registering for free sites takes that much time (you'll still have the extra step of going to Don't Bug Me), but I hate registering for something I know I'm unlikely to ever use again.
Reviewed by Aud1073cH
A simple spice rack at the workbench can organize smaller bottles of glues, solvents, lubricants, etc.
With less than a dollar's worth of hardware they'll mount to the garage wall or pegboard.
Variations can be found at most hardware stores, home improvement centers, storage retail stores (such as The Container Store and Storables), and some kitchen stores.
For online shoppers, a simple Google product search for "white wire spice rack" returns various sizes from a single shelf for less than $3, to a 4-shelf version for about $30.