Check out the DJI Phantom, perfect for aerial photography, general surveillance, and just generally terrorizing your neighborhood:
The Phantom has a 300 meter range, and if it loses contact with the controller, its GPS returns it to your home location, where it will automatically land itself. The Phantom includes a camera mount which accommodates GoPro and other cameras.
Here’s a brief introductory video from the manufacturer:
Lest this seem like a toy, here’s a video taken at night with the Phantom:
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A few days ago Mrs. Hacks bought some “blue cheese” in one of those nasty little plastic tubs, and when I tasted it, I decided it had been too long since we’d had Maytag Blue in the house. If you haven’t had Maytag blue cheese and like Roqueforts and blues, you definitely ought to try it. Although it’s considered a “crumbly” type of blue, I find it remarkably creamy. Regardless of texture, it’s absolutely delicious.
Here’s a video from an Iowa TV station about the company:
And Alton Brown, speaking about blue cheese in general (he mentions Maytag); this video includes a recipe for blue cheese dressing:
Made the old fashioned way in Newton, Iowa. You can learn more about Maytag and order products at the firm’s website: Maytag Dairy Farms
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If you’re tired of paying exorbitant sums for prescription eyeglasses and are looking for distinctive frames with a retro vibe, check out Warby Parker. The firm was founded by four friends with a single objective: “to create boutique-quality, classically crafted eyewear at a revolutionary price point.” The firm contends that the eyeglass industry is controlled by a few companies that keep prices artificially high, generating huge profits for themselves while depriving consumers of more cost effective options. No longer: most of Warby Parker’s designs cost $95, and that price includes anti-reflective lenses and shipping; the firm offers 30 day refunds or exchanges, as well.
Warby Parker offers eyewear for men and women, including sunglasses…
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Nearly everyone is (painfully) aware of the “razor and blades” business model – aptly nicknamed “bait and hook:” the razor is inexpensive, and the blades are anything but. I use a Gillette Fusion razor, and can only imagine the profit margins Gillette realizes from the blades – an eight pack is about $30. That’s the good news, actually; the bad news is that the blades tend to dull quickly.
About a month ago I stumbled across the Razorpit, a razor blade sharpener, and ordered one from Amazon. Although I have no definitive way of measuring the results one can obtain with it, it works. Using it is simple:
In actual use, although the manufacturer recommends you give your razor four strokes on the Razorpit’s silicone bed, I usually do more – perhaps five or six. The product is 4 star rated (out of a maximum of 5) at Amazon, and although not all reviewers are pleased with its results, the majority are.
How does it work? Here’s the description from the manufacturer:
After every shave microscopic residue, like skin cells, water, and keratin is left on the blades. That causes them to feel dull. RazorPit uses a patented friction technology to clean off the residue and thereby leaving you with a clean and sharp razor blade. We have customers saving up to 90% on razor blades – But the average saving is around 60% a year.
Over the weekend I used it on my wife’s Fusion, which was quite dull (she leaves it hanging on a shower caddy – don’t do this, by the way – blades need to be kept DRY when not in use) and it transformed the blades from dull and “grabby” to reasonably sharp in a matter of seconds; I was able to shave comfortably with it. When my Razorpit arrived, I was using the last of an eight pak of blades, and I’m still using that cartridge today. I never could have gone this long with that cartridge were it not for the Razorpit.
One Amazon user (analytical type: a math & science teacher) calculated that he’d been spending $97.50 a year on blades before using the Razorpit, and only $11.25 per year with the Razorpit. I can’t suggest that would be true in everyone’s experience, but despite my initial skepticism, the thing seems to work well. One thing to note, also pointed out by this user, is you need to apply the right amount of pressure to attain the best results. The video above should provide you a good idea of how to do it.
I have no connection to Razorpit, by the way.
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The Practical Hacks Award Committee held a special meeting last night, chaired by the Vice President of Motivational Tweets & Slogans. Following an hour long reading of the last meeting’s minutes and two fistfights, the Committee stumbled on to New Business, the first item of which was a selection of our Paperwallet winners. After a lengthy selection process debate (which included arm wrestling and several drinking contests), the Committee managed to randomly select three winners. They are:
- Richard J Laue
Congratulations to all of you, and thank you to all entrants. Winners, please contact the Award Committee by clicking on the “Contact Me” link in the masthead. Send us your mailing address, and we’ll rush your wallet off to you via the least expensive method we can identify.
All seriousness aside, thanks to everyone who commented on the paperwallet post! I hope the winners enjoy their wallets!! And thanks to paperwallet for donating them!!
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Paperwallet is a Tyvek® wallet with a twist. In a bid to make art more accessible, Paperwallet is collaborating with artists from around the world to create striking, eco-friendly wallets that not only look great, but are fully functional. Each Paperwallet has 2 credit card slots, 2 business card flaps, 2 side pockets and a cash compartment:
I have 3 Paperwallets available, and will award them to three readers who comment on this post. Just add a comment below, and I’ll select three as winners.
Paperwallets boast a greater capacity than similar wallets, and their interest in discovering and supporting new artists is certainly laudable.
You can learn more about Paperwallet, and see more of their numerous designs, by clicking here: Paperwallet – Thin. Expandable. Durable. Eco-Friendly. The designs shown here are $19.95; comment, and one could be yours FREE!
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What to make of Red Oxx? In a competitive landscape where your average $49 department store bag includes a velvet lined compartment for your Prius keys, a waterproof slot for your latte spoon, and a solar powered panini pocket, in barges Red Oxx: “Here’s a bag. It’s gonna outlast your sorry ass. Put your crap in it and shut up!”
Perhaps I embellish a bit. But you have to admire Red Oxx‘s allegiance to its tough as nails/hand crafted ethos in a world populated by offshore, mass produced bags that are often long on features and short on quality and durability. Red Oxx makes bags that are simple, über-sturdy, and functional. Fabrics are tough, heavyweight Cordura nylon; Mil Spec hardware looks as though it could survive a brush with ordnance. Zippers that could have served on latter day Elvis jumpsuits are used extensively. Everything is double stitched, the workmanship seemingly the product of an army of obsessive-compulsives. If it doesn’t add to the bag’s basic purpose – hold and transport stuff reliably, for years and years, if not decades – it just ain’t there. Frills need not apply.
I’d never taken a close look at the Sky Train, thinking it little more than an Air Boss with a pair of funky shoulder straps grafted on. Shame on me.
The Pros: Soldier of Fortune build quality, versatile design
The Cons: A Red Oxx riddle: what’s smaller than an Air Boss, and bigger than an Air Boss?
The Verdict: A great option for globe trotting leisure travelers
Far from being an Air Boss with shoulder straps, the Sky Train is instead a convertible backpack bag targeted at casual travelers. Whereas the Air Boss is a geared primarily for business travel, the Sky Train is targeted more at leisure travelers who want to enjoy the hands-free freedom a backpack offers. The Sky Train can be carried by its “Euro” style top handle, over the shoulder with a shoulder strap (a la the Air Boss), or over both shoulders as a backpack. As a result of the backpack straps and related hardware, the bag weighs 4 lbs. versus the Air Boss’s 3.4 lb. weight. Despite the two bags’ similar dimensions, the Sky Train certainly seems smaller due to its slightly shorter length. More on this later.
Before taking a closer look at the Sky Train’s features, here are the bag’s specifications from the Red Oxx site:
Sky Train Specs per Red Oxx:
- Designed & made in the USA
- Lifetime warranty
- Soft Synergy Suede padded backpack straps
- Dual claw-style 360-degree backpack straps swivel clips
- A.L.I.C.E. pack strap adjusters
- Detachable Claw nonslip adjustable shoulder strap
- Dual “Euro” clear vinyl carry handles (top and side)
- 4 lb. closed cell foam padding
- Fabric: 1000 weight urethane coated, Dupont certified Cordura Nylon
- Weather resistant
- 400 weight denier soft red nylon lining
- 4 lb. Volara closed cell foam padding on exterior back panel
- All zippers #10 YKK self-locking
- 1″ wide zipper flaps on 2 main and strap compartments
- Thread: #92 bonded SolarMax Nylon
- All seams double stitched and bound
- Monkey Fist zip knots on all zippers
- Heavy-duty vinyl luggage tag
- Includes Cable Lock
- Double box stitching on carry handles & reinforced areas
- Available in 12 colors
- US Dimensions: 20″L x 9″W x 13″H
- Metric Dimensions: 50.8cm L x 22.7cm W x 33cm H
- US Capacity: 2,340 cubic inches
- Metric Capacity: 38,054.3 cubic centimeters
- Weight: 4 lbs. / 1.8 kg
Pocket measurements per Red Oxx:
- Exterior zippered full length side flat pocket: 13″H x 19″W
- 3/4 open flat zippered side compartment: 13″W x 19″L x 1″D
- Interior side compartment zippered flat flap pocket: 11″W x 9″D
- Main compartment with adjustable twin tie downs: 19″L x 13″W x 6.5″D
- Exterior zippered full-width backpack straps flat pocket: 13″W x 19″L (Note: this pocket is for storing the straps. Since it has holes in the bottom for steel o-rings to attach the straps to the bottom of the bag, the pocket is only useful for flat magazines, newspapers and storing the straps).
Alas, this is another case where the specs provided by the manufacturer of a soft-sided bag are a bit subjective. I was perilously close to hitting the “Publish” button for this post when I began puzzling over a Sky Train oddity: how does a bag that looks smaller than the Air Boss offer 7% greater capacity than that bag? Before we try to answer this question, let’s take a closer look at the Sky Train.