Online Insights on fiveAA, Sunday, November 04, 2007

November 4, 2007

Wired Test edition
Wired magazine has been an online icon for geeks for a few years now, and each year they produce their TEST edition. There are 300+ items tested, reviewed and rated in the 2007 edition, which covers just about every gadget imaginable in every category imaginable.
I have linked to a page on the Cool Tools website, where there is a link to a PDF of the issue. (The link has been up and down a bit, if it is not there, click on the link to Wired Magazine and that will take you to an online version of the edition.) What you get is 125 pages of reviews broken down into sections like office, kitchen, automotive, garden, gaming, etc. Then, in these categories you can drill down straight into what you are looking for: flatscreens, laptops, lawnmowers, headphones, pocket cams, DV cams, blenders, cell phones, wine openers, strollers, and more; all rated out of 10. You also get “Editor’s Picks”, and specs-comparison “Scorecards” which give you a quick overview of comparable items. The reviews cover warts and all issues of each product. Well worth a read before you buy a new gadget. Even if some items are US-released only, it can give you a useful insight into the flaws and strengths of particular items like portable media players or washing machines.

No Impact Man
This is how Colin Beavman describes the premise for his blog, No Impact Man: “A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop, and, while living in New York City, generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and prada-wearing, four seasons-loving wife along for the ride.”
The project ends in 3 weeks. Colin is confident that his family will now consume about 15-25% of the energy that typical New Yorkers consume.
One of the big things his missed was electric lighting. “Some of the adaptations of the No Impact project made me happier and some made life too hard. That can be a guide moving forward in terms of what adaptations people might realistically be asked to make. If we’re not realistic, we’ll be laughed out of court.
So concrete result number one: Moving forward, I’m willing to live without A/C, the TV, a freezer, incandescent lights, probably the clothes dryer, and hot water in the laundry machine. I’m not willing to live without CFL lights in winter, the laundry machine using cold water, the fridge set at 45 degrees or so, once a week use of a vacuum cleaner.”
He argues that finding the right balance will help him promote this lifestyle to others.

Percentage Change calculator
This is a nifty little tool to help people work out what the percentage change is between two number. If I have 100 apples this year, and 400 apples next year, what increase does that represent as a percentage? Most newspaper reporters would say 400 percent. But in fact, it is 300% This tool was created for journalists by a company that makes news room software, but if you bookmark the page it is sure to come in handy every now and then.

Future Me
This is an interesting concept. FutureMe.Org is a simple  website that lets you email reminders, notes, events, and other data to your “future self”. It’s easy to send a time-traveling note to the future; simply enter your email address, write a note, and then select the date that you want to receive it.  The current format lets you send an email up to thirty years into the future, so go ahead and wish yourself a happy 60th Birthday at Future Me.
The idea for the site came from those time capsules we all did during primary school. While you can use the site for pragmatic purposes, about 15% of users have been uploading letters to themselves and allowing them to be made public (although anonymous) in the letters gallery.
“I really hope you’re still the girl you are. Usually not caring what anyone thinks. Smart. But mostly I hope you have what you needed. Happiness. I hope you don’t numb yourself as you did when you were 14. Being numb to every feeling was easier than feeling the pain. I really hope when you read this you will smile and it will be a real smile. You will look back to the day you wrote this (February 27, 2004) and laugh about how stupid you were writing this. I hope you decided to believe in God. I hope you’ve decided you want to get married and have kids. To take the chance that it may not last forever. If it doesn’t, don’t freak out like Mommy did. Take it as it is, and live for the moment. This applies to everything. Youre whole life.”

Charlie Chaplin blog
If you like Charlie Chaplin movies, you’ll love this site. It is a collection of many of his movies from the silent era. They are all there on screen ready for you to click and watch online. The New Janitor is particularly fun – especially his simple slapstick with a rubbish bin and the early camera trickery of having him partly in and partly out a window at the top of a tall skyscraper.