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Design Job: Sketch Your Way to a Job as an Industrial Design Intern at Dolmen Design in Dublin, Ireland


Dolmen Design & Innovation, in Dublin, is always looking for good interns with great portfolios and a passion for design. They will want to see sketching skills and and documentation on your process and thinking. All of their internships are paid. And, as with all roles, please just apply (this is a diversity plea!). We want a good mix of men, women, nationalities etc.

View the full design job here

"UX Design Principles for AR & VR:" Online Certificate Course Offered by NYU


"What are the design rules in [the] new frontier of extended reality?" asks NYU's Tandon School of Engineering. They aim to answer that with UX Design Principles for AR & VR, a certificate course created by Todd Bryant, Director of Technology at research center Rlab and Regine Gilbert, UX designer at Gilbert Consulting Group and educator at NYU.

You'll need your own VR headset to participate, as it's online. (If you don't want to pony up $8 for a Google Cardboard set, they'll give you instructions for how to make your own.) Over the two-month course, which carries a reported workload of 2-4 hours per week, students "will learn how the UX is different with extended reality (XR) technologies like AR and VR than with a digital screen, and the key points to consider when designing UX for these new formats." Concretely, you'll get elbows-deep in human-computer interaction, learn about best UX design practices, identify opportunities in XR and learn about the tools used for prototyping XR apps.

The course is broken down into six modules, which combine video lectures and demonstrations with discussions and hands-on projects:

The tuition is $1,400 and it starts on December 10th. Here's the pitch video:

If you'd like to learn more, you can download both a brochure and the syllabus here.

An Eco-Friendly, Plastics-Free Way for Supermarkets to Package Vegetables


Vietnam was one of the most pristine places I'd even seen--in the 1990s. Today the country, once renowned for its pristine beaches and waterways, has suffered heavily from the plastics explosion of the past few decades. Take a look at this photo of a beach in Nam Dinh:

Photo by Nguyen Viet Hung, via VN Express

Or this one in Binh Thuan:

Photo by Nguyen Viet Hung, via VN Express

Incredibly, the plastic waste reportedly grows by 2,500 tons a day.

Thankfully, a handful of supermarkets in Vietnam are attempting to move away from plastic. One of the most-pernicious, least-recycled/recyclable forms is the plastic film that food is often wrapped in. So supermarket chains including Lotte Mart, Saigon Co.op and Big C, following a trend taking root in neighboring Thailand according to NextShark, have started wrapping produce in banana leaves rather than plastic.

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Image via Facebook/perfecthomes

Impressively, Lotte Mart is reportedly working on how to use the banana leaves to wrap meat as well.

VN Express reports that the banana-leaf-wrapping is seen by the supermarkets as experimental, so there's no word if it will stick. With any luck it will take root. I'd imagine most people would rather rinse a little road dust off of a vegetable than attempt to clean one of those beaches in the future.

Reader Submitted: EVO - Kitesurfing helmet


Kitesurfing takes aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, paragliding, surfing, etc. and fuses them together to create one incredible extreme sport. So, it's only appropriate for the participant to have an equally exciting helmet, right?!

Jakob Tiefenbacher also thought this, and thus the EVO Kitesurfing Helmet was born! Made up of two layers, the form is distinctive and unique. The bottom layer provides stability as well as allowing airflow and ventilation, while also being the part that secures it to the user. The top layer is designed to break surface tension, while simultaneously adding another layer of protection.

Designed to be replaceable, the top layer features an oversized pull-tab which releases it for quick, simple removal. The brightly colored, orange touch points stand out from the translucent pale, blue finish of the top layer, enhancing both the ease of use and extreme aesthetic.

View the full project here

Hoverflies Have Needs Too, You Know


The cities most of us occupy today, have required the demise of countless species, and the conditions from which the sixth extinction has emerged. So what does urban development, that preserves the little we have left, look like? Designers so often like to cite their devotion to Maslowe's hierarchy of needs, but what did Maslowe ever do for the Hover-Fly? For some centuries, there's been a common and highly desctructive rumor going around that suggests we live in a reality occupied only by humans, where only human needs matter and largely, this is the reality we see design working for. Rather than fueling the redundancy of designers who are out seeking to further satiate our humanly-needs, Matilde Boelhouwer, asked, 'what does the Hover-Fly need? What does the Bumblebee need?'

Matilde Boelhouwer, answers with her project Insectology: Food For Buzz, which places artificial flowers in the urban environment. As steel, concrete, and glass proliferates, pesticides and other chemical agents flourish, and the climate changes, plant life becomes less diverse and thus there is less plant life to support the many insects, which inevitably leads to less pollination and thus the cycle of life is stifled. Less for all. By working with scientists, Boelhouwer was able design a system that uses rainwater to create an auxiliary supply of food for insects that find themselves in the city, with no flowers to feed from.

The petals of the flowers are laser-cut polyester, and screen printed with color designs that can attract bees from a distance. The food-container which is at the center of the flower, is 3D printed and is connected to a tube through which rainwater flows down, mixes with a sugar supply, then flows back up into the container for insects to access. Obviously different insects have different tastes, so Boelhouwer designed a range of flowers that cater to the different pallets of flying insects. For the bees and hoverflies, the flowers are equipped with Asteraceae. While the moths and butterflies prefer Fabaceae. And for the bumblebees, Lamiaceae. Like a traveler in the desert, the insects can stop by these vibrant oases in the hostile environment of concrete and glass.

Which is precisely how it might appear to a bee or moth. Especially in European countries, like the Netherlands, but it is equally true in many regions of the US and elsewhere, land development has made rural spaces ecologically barren. Wild ecosystems, untouched by agriculture or sprawling urbanization have become few and far between. "When you would now fly over the Netherlands as a bee, it already looks like a desert even though there's still a lot of green space, because of the lack of wildflowers in those green areas" says Boelhower. As recent UN IPCC reports have detailed, land-use is one of the biggest factors in the loss of global biodiversity and inevitably urban areas will have to help facilitate ecology and develop in such a way that necessitates it. Enter designers.

For Boelhower, the designer is well-suited to bring other species into the urban space. "As a designer you're more likely to look outside of the box than for example a scientist." Yet she notes that collaboration is key to making a project functional in the way Insectology is.

When thinking about a project that provides natural services for other species, one must be careful not to think of this as a charitable act. What Insectology: Food for Buzz offers is an attempt to bring the ecological scales slightly back into balance. "Helping those species automatically helps other species eating those species." says Boelhower. Urban development and industrialization has robbed these insects of the capacity to exist, and thus guaranteed extinction if urban development is not reevaluated in such a way that it considers other species. Rather than thinking of this support system as an accessory of urbanization we must imminently realize that infrastructure that supports insect species is a necessity of urbanization. The sixth extinction accelerates everyday, and maybe what other species need most right now, is for us to recognize that they have needs too.

Yea or Nay? Non-Red, "Stylish" Fire Extinguishers from Japan


On the face of it, I think this may be the dumbest idea I've seen this year. Japan's Morita Miyata Corporation, which has been making firefighting equipment for over a century, has designed this set of fire extinguishers:

So why aren't they red? Because the designers have opted for "refined monotone colors that harmonize with the interior and softly fit into your daily life." Furthermore, "That it can be placed in full view without any sense of incongruity is the most special feature of the design of this fire extinguisher."

Isn't visual incongruity, not harmony, the entire point of a fire extinguisher's color? If there's a grease fire in the kitchen or an overburdened octopus plug bursts into flame, don't you want to be able to locate the damn thing right away? Below is one of the company's actual press photos, which resembles my vision after I first wake up: How easy do you find it to spot the extinguisher?

And how confident are you that you could quickly locate either of these if a fire broke out?

High visibility for this object was apparently not important to the judges of the Good Design Awards. They gave one to these extinguishers, with what I think is an idiotic evaluation: "There has been a preconceived notion that fire extinguishers must be red in order to grab visual attention," they wrote. (Yes, that's exactly why they're red.) "I feel like we have just accepted fire extinguishers to be red because that is the way they are." Right, and maybe we've also "just accepted" that firefighting foam extinguishes fires because that's what it actually does.

The only thing that prevents me from giving this a resounding "Nay" is this consideration: The designers are attempting to make the object more stylish because "disaster preparedness continues to be removed from everyday life in Japan," according to Spoon + Tamago. In their estimation, the company "designed a minimal set of fire extinguishers to encourage people to keep one in their home."

If the choice is between people refusing to keep fire extinguishers in their homes because they find red ugly, or keeping difficult-to-spot extinguishers in their homes, then I concede that the latter is the better option. However: Shouldn't they at least experiment with other bright colors that pop first, before going Muji monotone?

Also, I have my doubts that the Japanese are not a disaster-prep-minded people. When I first moved there, I discovered that every apartment in my building had a prominent switch on the wall to turn off gas to the entire apartment. I was told you're meant to switch it off every time you leave, so there's no "live gas" running to your apartment in case there's an earthquake. A friend who lived nearby shut his gas off every night, even in the dead of winter, in case there was an overnight earthquake; the first time I crashed there, in the morning I observed his ritual of starting up the water heater while we froze our asses off in the well-chilled home.

Despite that, I cannot remember if people's houses all had fire extinguishers in them or not. Any readers who live in Japan: Can you confirm whether the objects are common or not?

Lastly, whether you live in Japan or not: Yea or Nay to these?

Festool CXS Competitor? Milwaukee's M12 is a Compact and Versatile 4-Head Drill/Driver


It used to be that if you wanted a tracksaw, you had to pony up for a high-priced Festool--if there was even a dealer in your area. Nowadays DeWalt, Grizzly, Kreg, Makita and more all make them, and they're sold at local big box stores.

Are there other once-unique tools in Festool's line-up that are vulnerable to duplication? It looks as if Festool's incredibly handy and dimunitive drill/driver, the 10.8-volt CXS, now has a direct competitor.

Festool CXS

Milwaukee M12 Fuel

Milwaukee is now offering the M12 FUEL Installation Drill/Driver, which features the same D-handle form factor as the CXS and the same interchangeable system of multiple heads--plus an offset-bit head that Festool only offers on their larger drills.

Here's what the M12 can do:

Despite their similarities, one huge difference that's bound to be noticed by the price-conscious is the differential: $300 for the CXS with all of the heads, vs. $179 for Milwaukee's offering. As a proud owner and frequent user of the CXS, I have to say, ouch.

Facebook App Can Secretly Turn Your iPhone's Camera On and Watch You as You Scroll Through Your Feed


Another reason to go Android? Web strategist Joshua Maddux discovered that when he opened the Facebook app on his iPhone and swiped down to scroll his feed, the user-facing camera turned on. The giveaway was apparently a bug in the code that showed the footage the camera was recording in a sliver of screen off to the left of his feed:

The Next Web was able to duplicate the results--as was Maddux when he tried the app on five other iPhones (all running iOS 13.2.2).

The fix is pretty simple: Go into Settings, and make sure to check off the option that allows the Facebook app access to your phone's camera. Heck, while you're there, do that for the rest of your apps.

Interestingly enough, TNW points out that Mark Zuckerberg himself covers up the camera on his phone, as does former FBI Director James Comey. What do these men know that we don't....

Design Job: Glass Is Life - Work as a Concept Designer at Owens Illinois in Perrysburg, OH


As a Concept Designer for O-I, you will be tasked with working in a team environment to develop innovative and aesthetically pleasing concept designs supporting the specific brand positioning of our customers. The work you generate will be used to gain new business and support existing business for O-I. You will also support exciting initiatives being developed in our Packaging Technology Group focused on maintaining O-I’s leadership in glass packaging through the exploration and implementation of new technologies.

View the full design job here

You Won't Believe How Much Data This New Device Reports is Being Collected From Us


Scout is a Runner Up in the Home & Living Award category of the 2019 Core77 Design Awards.

The world is conditioned to rely on constant exchange: money, communication, and services flow between people on an instantaneous basis, from a transcontinental to a hyper-localized network and everywhere/-one in between.

Inside our homes, increasing amounts of electronic exchanges exist within a concise footprint. And the exchanges that we actively deploy – ride hails, bank payments, text messages, sharing and playing music – are rivaled if not dwarfed by the ones being deployed with our data, to "invisible" external parties.

This is the new element of the conditioning of exchange that we're necessarily privy to by inhabiting our home spaces with smart objects: With connected devices, we're constantly required to give away privacy in exchange for convenience. And as these connected devices become part of our routine home lives, we are prone to forgetting about their insensitivity to our privacy. A new product named Scout, however, has been designed to save the day(-ta).

Scout omnisciently communicates to users (via a stationary, interactive display screen) when and by which smart devices our data is being monitored, and with whom it's being shared.

"By the time we placed our [Amazon] Echo Show on our bedside table, or our daughter unwrapped her new Hello Barbie connected doll, we've already forgotten about their implications," say Michael Shorter and Leonardo Amico, creative technologists at brand design company Uniform. They created Scout (a router-like device) to reciprocally monitor what other devices are doing with our data. In real-time, Scout's screen reports on the engagement of our in-home smart products, and follows any odd exchanges, wayward data-shares, or suspected privacy encroachments with a legal request for an explanation – which the device's company is then prompted to share with the user.

"Scout is our solution to bring back trust in the smart home," the designers say. To be clear, this trust is not in place to rid our lives of behavioral reporting-upon. Instead, Scout was created to re-establish our control over our user information. That is, Scout offers us the ability to track the behaviors of the devices we bring into our homes, to solicit reasoning from the company's themselves when we want it, and to provide the option to disconnect completely if something surfaces that we're uncomfortable with.

A Samsung smart TV sends user data to about 700 different recipients every 15 minutes. The extent of that data sharing seems exorbitant, but it has become a standard and relatively inevitable byproduct of incorporating truly productive technologies into our lives and homes. Scout offers autonomy to users, so that we can continue to enjoy the benefits of the smart home without the discomfort of opaque surveillance; and forces accountability upon the companies behind the smart homes we've built for ourselves. Scout is fostering a new type of exchange with our devices, one that primes reciprocity in monitorship, and elevates consumer protection and privacy to the same tier of value as the behaviors that translate to data for the device-based services we consume.

In essence, Scout lets us keep an eye on those keeping eyes on us.

Learn more about Scout on our Core77 Design Awards site of 2019 honorees

Hyperactive Dog vs. Parked $200,000 Porsche Does Not End Well for the Porsche


The internet being what it is, I was not able to track down the original source of this image; it's been Tweeted, Instagrammed and Facebooked by many.

One person said it was taken by musician Don Omar (it wasn't, unless the Redditor who posted it one year before Omar Instagrammed it has a time machine).

Another, on Facebook, claimed the picture came from a Porsche owner who also owns a Belgian Malinois--an expensive and hyperactive German-Shepherd-on-meth type of dog who should never not be chasing very fast fugitives--and that he stupidly locked the underexercised Malinois in the garage with this Porsche 911 Turbo S, which runs upwards of $200,000.

When my wife saw the photo, she declared (while openly admitting that she's paraphrasing a Hannibal Burress joke): "Looks like his money is destroying his other money."

Production Methods: How Complicated Radiating Patterns are Engraved in Metal


Check out these patterns cut into metal, and ask yourself: How the heck did they do that?

The process has long been known to master watchmakers from the Continent, and in English it's called rose engine turning, done with a rose engine lathe. (The French call it Guilloché, with there being some debate as to whether it was invented by a guy named Guillot or not.)

A rose engine lathe

The rose engine lathe is sprung; that is to say, the entire rotating part of the lathe rides on springs, like a car suspension, except the range of movement is side-to-side rather than up-down. Large pattern wheels (the titular "roses") are loaded onto the lathe.

The stack of discs that look like gears with the teeth shaved off are the "roses," or patterns

Next a finger-like rubber--as in "thing that rubs," not the stretchy material--is placed against the edge of the desired rose.

The two rods protruding from the block under the wingnut are the "rubbers." Here he's advancing one of them towards the edge of the "rose."

Because the rubber is fixed and the lathe is sprung, when the lathe rotates, it moves in accordance with the pattern.

Close-up of the tip of the "rubber." It rides along the ridges on the edge of the "rose" as the lathe rotates, which produces a repetitive side-to-side oscillation.

Then a cutting tool is brought into contact with the object chucked up in the lathe.

Confused yet? Watch this short clip and all will be clear:

To give you some idea of how long a machine like this takes to set up, consider that the video above is Part 5 in the series. The first four parts were just the watchmaker, Roger Smith, getting the machine and material dialed in. (If you want to see the whole thing to better understand the machine, Part 1 is here.)

Design Job: Think, Sketch, Design, Visualize and Help Bring Your Work to Life as a Senior 3D Designer for Impact XM


Impact XM is looking for Senior 3D Designer to join their Creative team. However, not just any designer will do. You have to be part architect, part environmental designer, part visualizer and a savvy marketer with some problem solving and people skills. Their ideal candidate is someone who can generate compelling ideas and transform them into immersive brand environments and experiences. Can you think it, sketch it, design it, visualize it and collaborate with others to bring it to life in the real world to be experienced by real people? They are currently seeking three candidates in locations in New Jersey, Virginia and California.

View the full design job here

Clever Trick for Neatly Pouring Oil Into an Engine, Without Using a Funnel


Writes Kenna from New Mexico: "I was at my parent's ranch and didn't have a funnel. The nearest store was an hour away so I just did the old trick I learned when I was little. I decided to record it and share with my friends and it blew their minds."

With Climate Neutral Certified, Companies Take Leaps and Bounds Toward Lighter Footprints


Carbon offsets looked, at first, like an easy way to atone for our environmental sins—an indulgence payment for the climate crisis. But they're not so simple. It has historically been hard to measure and verify their restorative impact; that impact isn't necessarily maintained long-term; and they haven't pushed offset customers to reduce their original pollution output.

Peak Design founder Peter Dering and BioLite founder Jonathan Cedar were frustrated by those limitations—and hearing from other frustrated, environment-minded founders—when they got the idea for Climate Neutral Certified. Like organic and Fair Trade labels, it helps creators show they're taking verified steps toward making their products in a more conscious way. And with the experienced leadership of their executive director Austin Whitman, a veteran of climate-conscious enterprises, their initiative is pushing carbon offsetting into what looks like a more sustainable future. After launching on Kickstarter hoping to sign on a few dozen companies, they've been heartened to exceed that goal with several weeks left to go in their campaign.

The lost decade of carbon offsets

Dering and Cedar tapped Whitman to run Climate Neutral Certified because he's been working in or adjacent to the carbon offset market for nearly 15 years.

He first bought carbon credits in 2005, when he launched a program to offset his grad school classmates' airline travel for study-abroad programs. In 2009 he went on to work for a London-based asset manager that invested in carbon development projects around the world.

Then he noticed an eerie cooling of interest. "There's sort of a lost decade between 2009 and 2019 in terms of carbon offsetting and carbon markets development," Whitman says. "The total voluntary market demand stayed relatively flat—it's felt locked in time."

He saw the cause as twofold: Early carbon offset models were failing to deliver the results they promised, and politicians were shrugging off responsibility for moving climate conversations forward.

"The U.S. was obviously an incredibly large missing player at the table in global climate negotiations," Whitman says. "The Waxman-Markey bill in the House and the Kerry-Boxer bill in the Senate essentially would have set up a national carbon policy for the U.S.—it would have made us the largest carbon market in the world. So there was a lot of disappointment when the talks broke down and political priorities shifted.

"The Clean Power Plan under Obama would not have produced a carbon market in the way we [typically] think about it, but it would have made meaningful progress on climate change," he says. "The current administration has reversed all that, most notably promising to pull out of our commitment to the Paris Agreement. So I guess if you chart the course, there were tremendously high hopes that fell apart."

Disappointed, Whitman spent 2011 to 2019 working in cleantech and environmental consulting, not seeing much opportunity for carbon offset credits.

What's changed since that lost decade

The market dissatisfaction with carbon credits didn't fall on deaf ears. The technology plodded along over that decade of low adoption rates, and by the time Whitman became involved with Climate Neutral, he saw technical filters becoming more robust and rules more rigorous. Carbon offsetting projects now needed to go through multiple verification cycles and validate the promised amount of carbon offset over time.

"These days, forestry projects, for example, use a lot of remote sensing technology—satellites that can count individual trees," Whitman says. "Whereas 10 years ago it would have been impossible to count every single tree in a forest, you can actually do that pretty quickly now with a satellite. We've also learned [many] more practical, on-the-ground lessons, like that if you decide you're going to protect an acre of forest, you'll have a real problem if that displaces an indigenous community or interferes with local ways of life."

The progress in carbon offsets is exciting, but what will really move the needle is scaling it. "We'll only continue to get more quality in the market as more and more corporate buyers realize that carbon offsetting really does need to be part of any kind of responsible carbon management strategy," Whitman says.

Keeping the momentum going

That's what he's doing with Climate Neutral: funneling more money toward a larger range of offsetting projects, diversifying decarbonization.

Companies from Allbirds to Klean Kanteen have signed on to open up their operations to climate assessments, commit to paying for carbon offsets, and display the Climate Neutral Certified label on their packaging.

Some, like Klean Kanteen, "had basically felt like they had already exhausted everything that they could possibly do" for operational sustainability, Whitman says; buying offsets was the last step. Others are signing on because they see competitors doing it. And some are using it as a way to commit to sustainability before their operations are even up and running. There are more than 60 committed so far, including Kickstarter.

"In the past 18 months, the public discourse has turned to climate in the loudest and clearest way I've ever seen working on these issues for 15-plus years," Whitman says. "The climate is a real problem, and we've got to do something about it. The U.S. federal government isn't doing anything about it. There's no conceivable path to an effective global policy on carbon. And at the same time, we're being told that we have 12 years to enact any meaningful changes, [and] 30 years to get to a net-zero global economy if we actually want to maintain a livable climate. And that's one of the things that many of the companies we work with actually recognize—that now it's their turn."

Climate Neutral Certified is live on Kickstarter through December 13, 2019.

A Production Design Review of "The Mandalorian"


The Disney+ streaming service is finally here, and yesterday they premiered the much-anticipated show The Mandalorian. For the next month and a half, Star Wars fans will get to tune in to the eight-episode show, which follows the titular bounty hunter around the edges of the galaxy.

This isn't the kind of blog where I can review the show, but I can certainly go over some of the production design details with you. (Warning: Mild spoilers ahead.)

The show opens with a cantina barfight that ends with grisly results. As evinced by the design of this door, building safety codes are not very strict on this planet.

The starport where the Mandalorian parked his ride doesn't offer shuttle service, so he calls for an Uber. The first option presented is an autonomous (okay, droid-driven) model.

No one in any universe thinks autonomous cars are totally safe, so he gets a second Uber that appears to be driven by Louis C.K. in exile.

I find it hard to believe that the Speeder dealerships on this frigid snow planet sell the same roadster models they sell on hot desert planets. No canopy, not even a windscreen!

Let's talk about the Mandalorian's ship. While it looks cool from the three-quarters angle you see above…

…I can guarantee it was not presented at the pitch meeting in orthographic views. Because from the front, it looks like R2-D2 lifting weights.

We can see, however, that he's got some pretty sweet options on it. Panoramic sunroof, check.

And the interior's pretty dope, he's got perforated leatherette seats.

And finally, finally! We get to see what a spaceship toilet looks like. I believe this is the first time they've ever shown one in the Star Wars universe. It's not very clear to me how this thing is meant to be used, and I don't see any toilet paper nor a handle to flush with.

Inside a closet we get to see the Mandalorian's Vision Wall. It appears he's, like, a total gun nut.

We also get to see that he's frozen multiple perps in carbonite, and stores them on board. This Rodian captive is hardcore--he's flashing gang signs even as he's frozen.

There's also a female captive. If sexism exists in a galaxy far, far away, I'm guessing her bounty is 77 space-cents on the space-dollar.

Here we see something interesting: This guy started to cry when he got frozen, and his tears have streamed out and frozen solid. I'm going to say this guy was in touch with his feelings and not a proponent of toxic masculinity.

This Darth-Maul-lookin' dude was obviously a problem, as he was frozen while still wearing cuffs. If the Mandalorian was wearing a body-cam, I guarantee he turned it off before dealing with this guy.

I know it's super-blurry in this shot, but that little wand that you use to scan carbonite-frozen quarry looks like it was designed by the same people who did the Nintendo NES controller.

This was the coolest design I found all episode: When the hatch on his ship opens, it's supported by hydraulic arms. But those arms might be obtrusive for loading and unloading, so they slide up and out of the way on little tracks. Props to the designer for sweating the details on this one.

Here we see some Star Wars EveryDay Carry items we've not seen before: fugitive-tracking key fobs and Imperial money, which looks like you unwrap them and there's delicious chocolate inside.

More EveryDay Carry items: The iPhone XX…

…which has a holographic display.

Here's an alleyway junkie with an Oculus Rift.

I can't decide if this guy is a wok chef who brings it home with him every night, an inventor of a hands-free umbrella, or half-human and half-mushroom.

The Hello Nest doorbell that emerges from the wall looks like it's still on Halloween mode: It's filled with some kind of creepy, gummy treats.

Here we see some seriously crusty Stormtroopers. These guys haven't washed their armor since Return of the Jedi. Each one of them probably smells like an entire locker room.

The Mandalorian's armor is pretty banged-up too. I guarantee you when he's off-shift, he wears Carhartt.

At one point he goes to visit a Bunsen burner saleswoman who moonlights as a blacksmith.

She's got a Limited Edition golden helmet with little horns.

Back on another desert planet, we see a great shot of his rifle, which doubles as a tuning fork.

He stops off at a town that looks like Burning Man when they're first setting it up.

I wasn't crazy about the character design for this creature, called a Blurrg. What was the brief? "Make it look like a cross between Don Rickles and a deep-sea fish."

I know the Blurrg is a carryover from one of the sequels, but they didn't have to put it in. It looks like one of the drawings your kid did that didn't score high enough to make it onto the refrigerator.

The IG-11 droid he meets has seen a lot of John Woo movies. He can also shoot both forwards and backwards at the same time, which is pretty bad-ass.

IG-11 also walks exactly like he was created by Boston Dynamics.

Don't worry, I won't spoil the final scene. And in all seriousness, what did the designers among you think of the show's production value? And will you watch more?

Portable, Lightweight, Magnetic Cutlery as an Alternative to Using Plastic Utensils


The convenience of using plastic utensils is what makes them so pernicious. We know they're bad for the planet, yet most folks are not willing to carry their own utensils around.

Perhaps a better tack than trying to guilt people into quitting plastic utensils is to exploit desirability instead. The idea behind Magware is that if you design an attractive and useful alternative, people will want to carry them around, and plastic consumption will drop.

Created by L.A.-based outdoor accessories brand Full Windsor, the magnetic Magware utensils, which neatly snap together, are good for more than just camping:

The utensils are also quite light, so you'll hardly notice them in your bag.

Full Windsor's funding goal was a modest $10,000, and they've already more than doubled that. There's still 36 days left in the campaign if you'd like to pledge.

Yeti Designers Figure Out How to Make a Vacuum-Insulated Cooler


Texas-based Yeti, with their highly-coveted, rotomolded and insulation filled coolers, already owns the elite cooler market. But for the past few years they've been secretly working on a way to make a cooler that's even, well, elite-r.

Now, 100-something prototypes later, they're ready to roll it out. Their soon-to-launch V series is the result of their designers cracking a difficult problem: How could they take the vacuum technology from their drinkware, and apply that to the much-larger cooler form factor? According to Popular Mechanics,

Every time the designers tried to retrofit a rotomolded cooler with vacuum panels, the panels got damaged. Instead, the team created an injection-molded plastic shell that was strong enough to protect the vacuum technology inside the 1.5-inch thick walls.

They then added a layer of their signature polyurethane foam for extra insulation and wrapped the exterior in stainless steel. The resultant model has some 50% better ice retention over the incumbent Tundra.

The rubber latches from the rotomolded Tundra have been replaced on the V Series with cast-aluminum hardware, stainless steel handles and a single stainless steel center-mounted latch.

The sleek-looking V Series features walls just 1.5 inches thick (versus the Tundra models' 2-3 inches) and will debut with a 55-quart model to be launched on December 5th. This is not a model for the faint of heart, muscle or wallet: The thing weighs 35 pounds and will cost a whopping $800.

Turns Out, Sir Rod Stewart is an Incredible Modelmaker


Singer-songwriter Sir Rod Stewart is one of the bestselling musicians in history. Over the course of his 57-year career, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has sold some 120 million records worldwide; in his native UK, he's had nine #1 albums and 62 hit singles. And now he's on the cover of…Railway Modeller magazine?

Stewart, as it turns out, is actually a kick-ass modelmaker. In an interview with Railway Modeller, he revealed that for the past 23 years, he's been working on a gigantic and incredibly intricate model of 1945 New-York-mixed-with-Chicago as the backdrop for a model railway set-up, housed in the attic of his home in L.A. And the level of detail is jaw-dropping.

Image credit: Steve Crise/Railway Modeller

After the story broke, BBC Radio 2 host Jeremy Vine suggested there's no way Stewart built it himself. Stewart then called in to the show: "I would say 90% of it I built myself," he asserted, pointing out that "The only thing I wasn't very good at and still am not is the electricals, so I had someone else do that."

Image credit: Steve Crise/Railway Modeller

According to the BBC, the bulk of his interest is with the cityscape, as opposed to the trains:

The scenery and structures are his forte, rather than the locomotives and tracks. "I find beauty in what everyone else sees as ugly - rugged skyscrapers, beaten-up warehouses, things that are very run down."

Image credit: Steve Crise/Railway Modeller

Photos of the layout show dozens of highly detailed buildings plus bridges, ships, vegetation and streets teeming with vintage cars and taxis.

Image credit: Steve Crise/Railway Modeller

Describing the level of detail that went into the scenery, he told Vine that even the pavements had to be suitably grimy.

"You start off with a grey. And then you add a little concrete colour, so every paving stone is slightly different," he explained. "And the cracks have to have some black chalk... and then you add a little bit of rubbish in the gutters, you add a little bit of rust here and there. I enjoyed the building more than I did the running."

Image credit: Steve Crise/Railway Modeller

Image credit: Steve Crise/Railway Modeller

Image credit: Steve Crise/Railway Modeller

The hobby was so consuming that over the past couple of decades, Stewart has brought elements of the set (like a skyscraper) with him on tour, to work on in his hotel room. Or more specifically, in the extra hotel room he'd rent next door to his, to use the space as a temporary studio. "We would tell them in advance and they were really accommodating, taking out the beds and providing fans to improve air circulation and ventilation," he said.

I'd have to think a carefully-packaged case containing a 1940s American skyscraper might be one of the more unusual things a roadie has ever carried.

Eco-Friendly Construction Breakthrough: Lego-like Hempcrete Blocks That Don't Require Framing


Starting in France just a couple of decades ago, a handful of builders began using hempcrete bricks in place of concrete cinderblocks. As we saw in this post, concrete is made by combining cement and lime. Hempcrete, as the name suggests, replaces the cement part with hemp shives. (Shives are the wood-like inner portion of hemp stalks, and they are the waste product that is discarded when turning hemp into textiles.)

Here's a hemp stalk with the useful-for-textiles fibers pulled away from the shive.

A basketful of hemp shives. This is typically considered waste. (Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported)

The benefits of the hempcrete bricks is that they're lightweight (easier to transport), fireproof, serve as natural insulators that also regulate moisture, and they're neco-friendly--hemp plants lock up C02 as they grow.

The downside of hempcrete bricks is that they were not load-bearing, and could only be installed with a framed structure, as shown below.

Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

However, Canadian company JustBioFiber has managed to eliminate that downside, while also adding an innovation that makes the bricks even easier to assemble into a structure. What they've done is to integrate a proprietary structure hidden within each brick itself, so that they can actually function as load-bearing. "We can currently build 3-4 story buildings, with each project having 3rd party structural engineering signoff," the company claims.

That internal structure protrudes from the top at intervals--which correspond with cavities in the underside of each brick. In other words, they're like giant Lego pieces that can easily be stacked.

Additionally, the struts of this internal structure are spaced such that once the bricks are put up, you can drill into them and find a "stud" every 16 inches on-center, just as you can with a standard stick-and-frame house.

The bricks can be cut with standard power tools, no masonry blades needed.

And yes, the bricks are fireproof. (I can hear the hemp jokes coming, but the bricks are not psychoactive, as they contain less than 0.3% THC.)

The company won't say what their patented internal structures are made out of, only revealing that they're made of a composite containing "anything BUT plastic!"

Perhaps most incredibly, JBF claims that their product "costs the same or less than comparable construction materials."

Check out the video demonstrating the bricks in action:

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