Archive for December, 2006|Monthly archive page

Nissin Instant Noodle “Cooker”

Nissin Instant Noodle timer

Wait a minute – did Nissin come up with heat-tolerant plastic for you to cook your 3-minute dinnner? Nah – that black platform, masquerading as a legitimate stove, is actually just a simple timer so that you can simmer your processed noodles into just the right softness, while pretending that it’s actually well-cooked goodness.

Another one of those “WTF moments” from Japan.

[via TokyoMango]


Last Daily Foxtrot

Foxtrot 061230

I have taken a particular liking for Foxtrot comics by Bill Amend (which started to appear on the newspaper just a few years ago) – it has precisely blend of humour and geekness – you may not understand some of his strips if you are insulated from online happenings – for example, you might not get World of Warquest. Some of the references in the strip are also slightly obscure – but it’s truly a great feeling to get the “AHA” moment as he parodies some events in the strips, when it seemed like being able to understand the references from his strip meant you’re perhaps more tuned than the rest.

The one above for example – you’d have to understand the context of the strip.  This is the last daily strip to appear on newspapers (I cut only the last two of the three frames to fit into this blog) –  he would switch to drawing only on weekends from now on. I guess 19 years of daily humor does take its toll. And the character’s conversation were simply a final tribute to his fans and readers. And if you didn’t know what “fourth wall” means, you might not get it completely either.

So, this is a tribute to Bill and Foxtrot – the strip will appear only on weekends – and that perhaps would again reduce the incentive to drop my eighty cents for a daily newspaper on the other days.

Jumping over 14 people

With all due respect to the incredibly athletic people in the video,  this short clip made me chuckle as it reminded me of performing animals like those you’d find in Underwater World or something – where the stunt would eventually be greeted by polite applause and a little treat from the trainer.

But 14 people is really quite a long distance.

Gems Sty on 9rules


On 21 Dec 2006 (which coincidentally, happened to be yours truly’s birthday), a email from 9Rules came in, informing me that Gems Sty is now part of the 9Rules web community. For those of you who might not have heard of it before:

9rules is a community of the best weblogs in the world on a variety of topics. We started 9rules to give passionate writers more exposure and to help readers find great blogs on their favorite subjects. It’s difficult to find sites worth returning to, so 9rules brings together the very best of the independent web all under one roof.

Well and wow then! I’m not quite sure if this is “the very best” stuff online just yet – but it’s pretty cool to have it recognised by a community where its editors do actually go through some sort of curation – selecting and sifting among blog submissions – traditionally about 8-15% of the submissions are accepted.

And it is this very thing about human selection that draws me too – many blog aggregation sites are either incarnations of the “Blogring” concept – whereby a central place links to any website that was submitted, or the “Digg” mode, where popular posts are voted and moved to a prominent front page.

“Blogring” style aggregators can quickly get boring as quality and appeal varies – how many of you really do click on the “Next Blog” button on top of Blogger pages? The “Digg” style requires popular topics with wide audiences, sometimes those that appeals to the common denominators of a broad audience.  Human-intervened selection process, on the other hand, has the gift of judgement, and it can pick up stuff that may have been left behind because of its quirkiness, niche content, etc. And that’s where 9Rules come in – picking the best content on the web, regardless of a blog’s popularity or links.

So there! Another little milestone for Gems Sty! 🙂

Talking Tapes and Inkless Pen

Talking Tapes

In the early days, LP records work by having a needle tracing the microscopic grooves on the underside of a record. As the needle traces the contour, the vibration is amplified, broadcasting the music content. Later, CDs were developed in the same principle, but instead of a needle, an optical laser is used to read even finer grooves on the disc.

The red talking tape above works in a similar manner. According to the website selling it, it is:

A long thin plastic strip, about 60cm long. It doesn’t look like much, but it talks! Along the length of the strip is a pattern of fine ridges or lines. Run your thumb nail along the ridges, and the tape speaks. However the sound needs to be magnified, so that you can hear it. One method is to hold one end of the strip between your teeth. Then, when you run your nail along the strip you hear it talk, but no-one else does. Or you can stick one end of the strip to an inflated balloon or a paper cup using sticky tape. The balloon or cup acts as an amplifier, and you can then demonstrate it to anyone nearby. Never heard a balloon talk? You have now!

What do the tapes say? One says ‘Happy Birthday’ others say ‘Congratulations’ or ‘Have a Nice Day’. We have 5 different messages, and we supply 4 tapes of each message, making a pack of 20 Talking Tapes.

That sounds pretty amazing, as something that invokes an old familiar technique to create a new effect – however, I’d still have to hear it to believe it – I still can’t quite picture how this works or sounds.

Inkless Pen

On the same site, Grand Illusions, there are other rather interesting merchandise too – like the one above, an “inkless pen” – however seemingly contradictory that might seem.

The pens we sell are a modern version (and do not use silver). The solid metal ‘nib’ consists of a metal alloy, that leaves a mark on most types of paper. If you use the sort of paper typically used in printers and photocopiers, the pen leaves a mark that looks as if it was made by a pencil. However the line will not smudge, and cannot be rubbed out.

Since there is no ink, there is nothing to dry out, so the pen will work just as well in 25 years time as it does today. And of course it never needs sharpening!

For the quirky geek in you!

World Time Clock

World Time Clock

I stumbled upon this unique clock while surfing at New Urbanite (which is a very cool blog on design and lifestyle blog – in his own words “think of New Urbanite as the GQ minus the midlife crisis articles.”). The clock’s shaped like a grenade or a rugby ball – the cool thing about it is the various cities carved on the sides – to choose a time zone, simply choose the city you want and put it at the 12 o’clock position.

Definitely a much simpler solution than the cumbersome dials, or multiple faces, or other more conventional solutions. Available here for $75.

Merry Christmas!

xmas 2006

Hi all! I’d be away back home the next few days – I’d probably return to Internet somewhere next Tuesday or so – in the mean time, have a Merry Merry Christmas!  Screw “Season’s Greeting” or “Happy Holidays” – have a good ol’ Christmas of giving, sharing and joy!

Japan Love Hotels

Japan Love Hotels

For decades Japan’s love hotels have provided a place for couples to enjoy anonymous, uninterrupted sex. Politician and secretary, teacher and student, husband and hooker — all are welcome, as long as they pay in cash and leave when the time limit is up. But 2006 spawned a new type of love hotel. Decorated with theme park interiors and equipped with game consoles, karaoke boxes and sex machines — these establishments provide kinky fun for all types, from fetishists and sadomasochists to the ordinary couple seeking sexual adventure.

Wow, I must say I’m very amazed at these themed rooms – larger than life, vivid, extremely lived-out – I guess this is why the Japanese are so good in anime? The desire to imagine in fantasy, and more importantly, the audacity to create and live in and among it. They are a people of contradictions – generally perceived to be polite and reserved, they do have a wild side that has probably witnessed and spurred the growth of their arts and creative scenes.


COR – Green Building in Miami

COR Miami

A new 400-foot cheese grater is due to be up in the Miami Design District!

Designed by Miami-OPPENheim architecture + design, it will add an interesting icon in Miami’s skyline. The key merit of $40-million, 25-storey building is the emphasis on the “green” factors:

COR extracts power from its environment by utilizing the latest developments in wind turbines, photovoltaic panels, and solar hot water generation. A hyper-efficient exoskeleton shell simultaneously provides building structure, thermal mass for insulation, shading for natural cooking, enclosure for terraces, armatures for turbines, and loggias for congregating on the ground. The incorporation of all of these elements into one building represents a major breakthrough in design and engineering.

This building actually reminded me of Centre Pompidou, in the way that they showed off their design intent and utilitarian vision through explicit, external structures. Although on first sight I thought the external grater appearance was just the whim of a cheese-obsessed architect, I was pleasantly surprised when I learnt that it is a lot more, being the platform for the multitude of green architectural details to achieve their green objectives (did you notice the brilliantly integrated wind turbine on the roof?)

[via Onsite@Archiseek]

When Super Heroes get old…

Hospice for Super Heroes

I guess they just have to go somewhere…