Everyone Loves Furniture With Visible Teeth Marks 

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Artist Nikolas Bentel made a wooden stool using only his own body, and it is really something.


Rustic

45 Is Less Than 44 (or 43, or 42, or…)

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

After Trump’s deeply disturbing press conference in Helsinki on Monday, this has been kicking around my head.

You CAN spell Tre45on with 45.

And yes, yes, I know.

And Then There Was One 

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Back in April, I wrote about Blockbuster’s last outposts in America. Just three months later, that number has dwindled to one single location in Bend, Oregon.


A once common sign, now exceedingly uncommon
[Photo credit: Friend-of-the-site Jessie E., a former Bend resident
who went to this very store throughout high school
]

An Apple Watch Makes a Great Gift for the Nerdy Cokehead in Your Life 

Monday, July 16th, 2018

I suppose using a smartwatch or other gadget to monitor the results of your drug usage does meet the literal definition of “activity tracking”.

Build-A-Fiasco 

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Build-A-Bear is a fairly expensive store, where customers can design their own stuffed animal. Designing a bear, with accessories, can easily run to $50 and more. So, when they announced a “Pay Your Age” promo, people were excited.

Pay Your Age Day Urgent Update
Build-A-Bear Workshop should really never need to send an urgent update.

As a loyal reader and intelligent person, you can probably guess that things did not go well.

Poor, Put-Upon John Schnatter 

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

After foolishly wading in to the controversy surrounding the national anthem at NFL games, Papa John’s founder John Schnatter realized he needed to improve his public image. It did not go well.

John Schnatter—the founder, chairman and public face of pizza chain Papa John’s—used the N-word on a conference call in May. Schnatter confirmed the incident in an emailed statement to Forbes on Wednesday.

The call was arranged between Papa John’s executives and marketing agency Laundry Service. It was designed as a role-playing exercise for Schnatter in an effort to prevent future public-relations snafus…On the May call, Schnatter was asked how he would distance himself from racist groups online. He responded by downplaying the significance of his NFL statement. “Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,” Schnatter said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.

I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that someone who’s whining out a “But Colonel Sanders did it!” defense is also oblivious enough to not just say “the N-word”.

You Had One Job, Hot Dog Counter! 

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Even if my time as a chronicler of the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest has come to a close, I would be remiss if I didn’t link to a story about last week’s awful hot dog judging flub.

Like It’s Never Been Used 

Tuesday, July 10th, 2018

Japanese culture is strange and often wonderful.

iWalks, Real and Fake

Monday, July 9th, 2018

Back in May, I broke my foot. Massachusetts potholes are no joke, and when I landed in one awkwardly while on a run, it managed to snap my left fifth metatarsal. This was, to put it mildly, not a lot of fun.

During my recovery, I needed to keep off the foot entirely for several weeks. I was initially given crutches, but I knew I would want more mobility. When I got home, I started looking at knee scooters online. You know the type:

A woman using a knee scooterShe seems excessively pleased, given her condition.

I didn’t particularly want one of these, but it seemed likely to be better than crutches. However, while looking at these that I came across something else entirely: The iWalk.

The iWalk crutch
This is not my body.

The iWalk is a different kind of crutch alternative, essentially a high-tech peg leg. With it, you can walk fairly normally, if not as quickly as usual. After reading a stellar review in Wired, I clicked the buy button. Two days later, following a successful surgery, I strapped in.

Your humble author standing with his iWalk
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

Here the iWalk is in action:


[Video courtesy of P. Kafasis]

The contraption is admittedly somewhat comical, but it’s also incredibly effective. Shortly after the initial injury, I had to travel to the Bay Area for work. While there, I walked 34 miles over 7 days, something which would have been impossible with crutches. If you ever find yourself in a position where the iWalk could help you, know that I give it a full nine thumbs up.

However, beyond its effectiveness, the iWalk also appealed to me for a reason some longtime Mac nerds may recall. Now we take an abrupt and sharp turn from assistive medical devices into rather ancient Apple lore. In late 2001, a now-defunct Mac rumor site called SpyMac claimed that Apple was working on a personal digital assistant by this very same name, “iWalk”. Long before the real iPhone was introduced to the world, SpyMac showed off what they claimed was Apple’s new personal digital assistant. It seemed unlikely to be real, but like Fox Mulder, people wanted to believe.

Rather impressively, the site offered both pictures and video of the purported device. I downloaded these files, and since the early days of the George W. Bush administration, they’ve followed me from one hard drive to another. Now, I finally have a use for them. Here’s a sample of the images:

A picture of the supposed iWalk device
An excess of Apple logos

And here’s a compilation of the three videos they posted, which initially lent a lot of weight to the :


Video quality was not high in the early aughts

Of course, the entire thing was a sham. I don’t know if the exact nature of the fake was ever revealed, but it’s clear now that it was nothing but a publicity stunt for SpyMac. While reminiscing about this iWalk of old, I stumbled upon a second Wired article, a 2002-era piece entitled “iWalk Looks More Like iWish”. Re-reading it 16+ years on provided a good laugh about the whole thing. Quickly, however, I was taken aback. As I read, I realized that my 19-year-old self had been quoted in this article, under an ancient username I once used, “PunkXRock”.

In a post entitled “Bullet Points on What’s Wrong,” one Mac fan called PunkXRock took issue with several details of each of the pictures — and although none of his points are damning by themselves, taken together they do cast doubt on SpyMac’s story.

PunkXRock’s conclusion is that the videos are more likely the product of image-editing skills than spying skills. “Why make a hoax?” he asks. “Like I said, this feeds egos. Look, we’re all idiots, talking about their fake Apple product. Maybe they’ll make Slashdot again. In addition, they want ads. Visitors attract advertisers.”

And here I am, talking about this hoax yet again in 2018. The fraudsters at SpyMac may no longer be reaping any monetary rewards at this point, but they can continue to have a good laugh at how well their fake device has spread into the future. At this point, I can only tip my cap to them, and hobble off into the sunset.

Sexier? 

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Seven years ago, the US Postal Service issued a stamp featuring the wrong Statue of Liberty. At the time, I noted a rather ridiculous quote from a USPS spokesman:

“We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway,” said Roy Betts, a spokesman.

One has to wonder if Mr. Betts still feels that way, because this story has gone from bad to worse. As a result of a lawsuit brought by Robert Davidson, the sculptor who created the Vegas statue, the US Postal Service now owes $3.5 million for copyright infringement.