Robot Underpants: 01.27.15 (186) “Who Ya Gonna Call?”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, “Starman” Michael Gaines, and Kathy Hopkins have everything you need to know about everything that possibly happened (of interest) this week, including: Ghostbusters news, Indiana Jones news, Apple news, Fantastic Four news, Super Bowl news, Stormageddon and more!

* Female Ghostbusters
* Indiana Jones
* Apple Earnings
* Seattle Seahawks

Robot Underpants: 01.14.15 (184) “Escape From CES”

Baron Mat “Langley” Luschek, “Starman” Michael Gaines and Kathy Hopkins bring you the latest in this week’s mind-blowing geek news, including: Kathy’s CES recap, Escape from NY news, Star Wars news, and more!

* CES Stuff
* Avatar news
* Star Wars Comic #1
* ‘Community’ to return to Yahoo Screen
* ’28 Months Later’
* Escape From NY reboot

Modern Retro

plastic seat coversHaving been born in 1955 I grew up through the plastic craze of the 1960’s. Plastic was new and fascinating. Plastic designer products of the 1960’s helped us believe that we were living in the future.

And so that brings us to products such as the Fingerhut plastic seat covers as well as plastic furniture covers. At the height of the plastic craze, it was popular to cover car seats with mail ordered plastic seat covers. They were constructed of clear plastic, and came in two designs – flat or a sort of raised diamond plate bubble design. For whatever reason, the diamond plate bubble design seemed to be the most popular, and that is what my parents had.

sofa-plastic-coverWhen my younger brothers and I would sleep while riding in the car with our faces lying against the seat, we would wake up, with the imprint of the diamond plate pattern on the sides of our faces. The plastic seat covers grew very hot and pliable in the summer and cold and stiff in the winter. Inevitably the plastic would become brittle, crack and tear at certain stress points, often remaining partially intact.

At the very height of the plastic craze some people also covered living room furniture with form fitting clear plastic covers. Somehow some people were convinced that the plastic cover would prevent the new furniture from becoming worn out, despite the fact that the plastic was cold and uninviting.

plastic1It’s a wonder that this plastic craze didn’t result in plastic cosmetics to help “protect” skin. I can imagine children with shining plastic covered faces.

Plastic is certainly still around, though the craze has long since dissipated. Plastic has faded into the background of our consumer lives, quietly weaved into the majority of products around us.

Fortunately the plastic seat cover idea went away. However, like a reconstituted T-2 Terminator the plastic cover is back and lives on department store shelves near you.

plastic screen protectorThe modern idea of plastic covers lurks in the 21st century in the form of useless plastic screen protectors for mobile devices. Screen protectors are a 1960’s fantastic plastic product just waiting to be applied to the screens of beloved mobile devices. And just like those plastic seat covers of the 1960’s, plastic screen protectors are of dubious value.

32 Panel Photovoltaic Installation

In Hawaii we pay the some of the highest electricity costs in the nation. My average electricity bill for the past 4 years has been around $400 a month at .36 cents per Kilowatt with a monthly usage of about 1100 Kilowatts.

Today we had 32 photovoltaic panels installed that will zero my electricity bill minus a $19.95 monthly connections fee. The Electrician comes Monday to finish it but I thought I would share what it looks like to have the equivalent of a brand new car on your roof. My total install cost was $32,387 my tax credit Federal/State will equal to $19,851.

My net investment after “tax credit” will be $12,986 with a system payback of around 32 months. If I do not factor in the tax credit my payback would be 6 years 8 months.. Considering that the system is warranted to last 25 years. My minimum 25 year savings will be $120,000 if power prices do not go up a penny.

With Federal Tax credits expiring at the end of 2016 you need to move now if you are considering solar. I really got tired of being robbed by the local utility each month.

I will follow up with some pictures after the electrician finishes and show you the meter running backwards.

IMG_4707

IMG_4711

IMG_4709

IMG_4713

IMG_4722

IMG_4724

Anglepoise Type 75 Mini Desk Lamp

Anglepoise LogoThere are many products and brands that claim to be iconic but there aren’t that many with the design credentials to back up the claim. The British lighting design company Anglepoise easily falls into the iconic category with the smooth multi-angle balance mechanism from the 1930s embodied in the 1227. I’ve always wanted an Anglepoise lamp and when a Type 75 mini desk lamp appeared in Amazon’s Black Friday deals, I clicked on “Buy”. Here’s the unboxing.

Anglepoise Type 75 Box

Anglepoise Type 75 Top Box

Contrary to what the label says, there was a bulb in the box – it’s in the bubble wrap at the top right.

Type 75 Open Box

Type 75 Unassembled

Assembly is easy – pop the spigot into the base and secure with a grub screw, then hook the springs over the bars.

Type 75 Assembled

I guess these are the money shots – the balance mechanism.

Type 75 Mechanism

Anglepoise mechanism with base

Overall, I’m delighted and loving it on my desk at work. So much so, I’ve put a 1228 with a mid green shade on my wishlist but Santa will need to be especially generous this year.

December Wallpaper Calendars

Smashing Magazine LogoContinuing the Christmas theme, Smashing Magazine have a bunch of unique festive wallpapers for your desktop and other backgrounds needs. Part of their regular monthly programme, the December wallpapers function as calendars too, with dates embedded in the wallpaper, which is pretty handy anyway – no need to start up an app to check the date.

All the heavy lifting has been done too with a range of resolutions for different monitors and desktop sizes – I use them as backgrounds on my tablet and smartphone. The only difficulty is choosing the best. I’ve included a few below but check out over 20 others at Smashing Magazine.

dec-14-xmas-time-cal-1024x768
dec-14-a-sleigh-with-gifts-is-coming-to-town-cal-1024x768
dec-14-snow-globe-cal-1024x768
dec-14-gifts-lover-cal-1024x1024

Flowering Lamp

Science MuseumThe in-house inventor at London’s Science Museum, Mark Champkins, has created this fantastic lampshade that opens like a flower when the light is turned on. The lampshade is made of polypropylene petals and six bi-metallic strips which open up the flower when heated by the light bulb. The flower shade takes about 5 minutes to open up from closed. It’s an ingenious design which doesn’t rely on a complicated motorised mechanism to open the shade.

The photo below shows the lamp from closed to fully open. A cluster of these flower lamps would look great as the they open up.

White Flower Lamps

Manufactured in the UK by a precision sheet metal works, the lamp is exclusive to the Science Museum shop and costs GB£60. Pricey enough if you want four of them, but it would be pretty unique.

Christmas Icons from Smashing Magazine

Smashing MagazineThe Christmas season is officially underway with today’s opening of the first door on the Advent calendar. To help get festive, Manuela Langella and Smashing Magazine have produced a great set of Christmas-themed icons for holiday projects. They’ll look fantastic on desktops, websites, cards and invites, and are great fun for children too – your creative ability is the only limit!

Smashing Magazine Xmas Icon Set

Icon contact sheet courtesy of Smashing Magazine

The icon set  is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported licence and is free for private and commercial projects. It’s a 20-odd MB download and the icons come in AI, EPS, PDF, PNG, PSD and SVG formats which covers most needs. Stop making excuses and get making.