the frankenstein of beverage containers

When one purchases a soft drink from a convenience store, one frequently has the choice to buy one in a bottle or in a can.

An ordinary-looking drink can.

An ordinary-looking drink bottle.

What’s this?

I don’t understand this confusing world anymore!

When my cousin and I visited Beijing a couple years ago, we came across this monstrous hybrid of a beverage container while going about our business. Naturally, we were compelled to buy one, and try it out. It turns out that Glinter, the soft drink that comes in the bottle-can/can-bottle (cottle? ban? bancottle? cottleban? Dear-god-what-is-this-world-coming-to-container?) is a fairly ordinary-tasting concoction. I say “ordinary-tasting” because I don’t much remember what it tasted like, though probably something much like Sprite or 7-up, but perhaps (judging by the image on the…packaging) more orangey. (A web search tells me that this soft drink is from Malaysia. I won’t link to it, since it plays music, and I hate when websites play music. But feel free to google it. If you dare.)

This week’s friday foto finder theme is “novelty.” My kids end up getting all sorts of cheap novelties from birthday parties and things, but mostly they are pretty uninteresting. (Can novelties get old? Yup, I think so.) But rather than dig out some plastic doodads, I thought I’d share these photos I had of something I found to be pretty novel.

Speaking of novel, when I asked John what the phrase “the frankenstein of beverage containers” evoked for him, he replied, “you’re talking about the Vessyl, right?” Of course, not knowing what the hell he was talking about, I thought he said “vessel.” But it turns out that the Vessyl is a weird cyber-monstrosity of a beverage holder. It’s a cup that, using advanced technology, tells you what beverage is in it. Or, as ValleyWag puts it, it is “the $200 smart cup that helps dummies remember what they’re drinking.” That is certainly…novel. (I wonder why they didn’t call it the iCup?)

And speaking of novel gadgets that actually are a bit more appealing (at least to me, seeing as I can usually remember what drink I’ve poured), have you seen this pen that can scan objects for color and mix inks to match them? I don’t really have a use for such a thing, but it does sound like it would be fun to play with.

To see what other novelties have been shared this week, or to share photos of your own novelties, pay a visit to the fff blog.
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Pulling the plug.

No, I’m not pulling the plug on the blog. It’s this little guy whose days are over:

Yes, my sad, tired little Motorola flip phone is finally getting retired.

I remember well the day I got this phone. Not so much because it was an exciting phone, but because I got it at the same time as John got his first iPhone. As in the day the *first* iPhones came out. I wasn’t ready yet to commit to such an expensive phone, but since we were getting a new plan, I got my new phone.

That was a little more than 5 years ago. I know this because I posted this on that day:

original iPhone

So, 5 years old. The phone is a good year older than my second born, who is just starting pre-K. If my phone were a human, it would be getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. It might be learning to read and write its name.

As a gadget, though, it is ancient. Its memory is failing. (It can’t always find its sim card.) It tires easily. (It won’t hold a charge.) It’s looking dated and is showing its years. (The case is frayed and they don’t even make accessories for it anymore.) And I’m pretty sure the thing is on a daily regimen of metamucil. (Really, I have no phone-related analogy for that one.)

Yesterday, John brought me home a shiny new iPhone. I used it to take the photo above of my old phone. Of course, then I thought I should have a photo of the new phone, so I used my old phone to take a photo of the new phone.

Naturally, I thought I should get another shot with my new phone of the old phone with the photo of the new phone with the photo of the old phone.

How could I then resist taking a photo with the new phone of the old phone showing a photo of the new phone with a photo of the old phone?

And yet another photo with the new phone, showing the old phone with a photo of the new phone with the photo of the old phone with the photo of the new phone showing that first photo of the old phone.

It’s really not clear to me how long I would have continued in this vein if Phoebe had not pointed out to me that it was well past lunch time, and that she was hungry.

So now it’s time to let the phone run out of battery one last time, and pack up the old phone and its less-than-fully-functional accessories.

Rest in peace, once trusty flip phone. May you forever hold your charge in the afterworld. (Send me a text when you get there.)

a few recording tech relics (photohunt)

This week’s PhotoHunt theme is “technology.” After my recent rush of breadrelated posts, some of you might be expecting me to post a bread machine. (Clearly, the thought did cross my mind.) Instead, I’ll take the opportunity to post a few photos of some fairly old-school recording equipment.

I work in a phonetics lab, and these days, most of our recording is done using a laptop, a microphone, and a fairly compact pre-amplifier. However, it wasn’t so long ago that people used a more elaborate (and bulky) set-up to make high-quality recordings. For a variety of reasons, part of the lab was dismantled last month, including a recording room that had been in use for decades. While I still had the chance, I felt compelled to bring in my camera and get a few photos of the fairly vintage equipment. (I think many of these pieces are a good 30 or more years old.)

For more people’s photographic interpretations of the theme, pop over to tnchick.

happy, sad, happy, sad… (ad nauseam)

It’s a bright, beautiful sunny day here. John, Phoebe and I got to spend some time together this morning hanging out and playing with toys. This had not actually been the plan for the day.

In spite of me joking around yesterday about sleep deprivation from goofing off online, what I’ve actually been busy with is work. I have a conference next week, and there is still lots to be done. (Admittedly, I did also spend some time socializing this weekend, with live-bodied people, a rare treat that perhaps used up more time than I had.)

Yesterday, I had a very productive day while Phoebe was off at daycare. I even managed to do a bit of work after Phoebe got home, while she played, which I don’t often manage. Then once she was in bed, I settled in for a long evening of more work, with big plans of productivity for the evening. I smugly sent off a report to the professors I work with, listing my accomplishments and my goals for the night, and offering to send spreadsheets and poster drafts.

Then some time around 10:00 p.m., my hard drive failed.

  • Happily, I live with an expert on disaster recovery, who knows his way around a Mac.
  • Sadly, the diagnosis was the dreaded Click of Death. (I’ll let you guess the prognosis.)
  • Happily, I had backed up only yesterday morning.
  • Sadly, I had largely lost my whole day of work, with less than a week before we’ll need to print a poster.
  • Happily, John was able to set aside his own work to try to recover and restore my data.
  • Sadly, John got no sleep, after only getting 4 hours the night before.
  • Happily, I did get some sleep, if fitful and haunted by dreams of lost data.
  • Sadly, Phoebe had a fever when she woke up, so couldn’t go to daycare, and leading to me cancelling my meeting with my advisor.
  • Happily, Phoebe seems generally okay, if a bit listless.
  • Sadly, it may turn out to be a stomach bug that was going around daycare.
  • Happily, John is also an expert at functioning without sleep, and could stay with Phoebe while I went out to get a new hard drive.
  • Sadly, the people at Best Buy were incompetent (not to mention rude), and gave me the wrong drive when I went to pick up what we’d ordered online for in-store pick-up.
  • Happily, after John made another trip, we now have the right drive, and the restore process is going on now.
  • Sadly, I still have a lot of work to do once I can get back to it. I not only lost most of yesterday’s progress, but today’s work time. And what feels worse, I’ve lost my momentum.

Hopefully, in the next hour or so, I’ll have enough of the data and software at my fingertips to get back to work. And hopefully, John will be able to get some good sleep, as he’s now been up for 32 hours. And hopefully this queasiness I’m feeling is just due to stress, tiredness and pregnancy…

iPhone: good features, but falls short of design expectations

As some of you know, we are very much a pro-Mac household. Also, John is more than a bit of a technophile. So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that John wanted to get one of the new Apple iPhones as soon as possible. John camped out for most of the afternoon today outside a nearby phone store, and we were lucky enough to get our hands on one of the coveted, ultra-cool, ultra-sleek iPhones.

The iPhone has been awaited with great anticipation for years, long before it was officially announced by Apple. But since Apple released details and images of the iPhone, with its large high-res LCD and touch-pad with multi-touch operating, and versatile phone + camera + video player + music player + internet ready identities, it has been creating quite the buzz.

We were, naturally, quite eager to see whether the iPhone could live up to the hype. Since some of you may not have had a chance to see the iPhone in action yet, aside from in the commercials, we thought we’d share our own experiences and impressions.

When we got ours home, John opened up the box.


As advertised, all he needed to do was plug it into the computer, and go through iTunes in order to activate it.


Also as advertised, the iPhone not only shows images, but it can also function as a music player:


The iPhone is easy to navigate, with handy built-in scrolling features:


While much of the functionality has been very cool, the design of the phone itself is surprisingly clunky: with big plastic buttons, and a screen that’s a bit smaller than we’d hoped. The sound quality of the music is a bit tinny, and somewhat annoying with various boingy and chirping sounds jumping in unexpectedly, and the selection of songs you can listen to is quite limited. While I do like the way the brightly colored lights flash when I push the buttons, I haven’t yet figured out how to dial the phone, as there are only buttons for 1 through 4. Most distressingly, we have already encountered at least three bugs with the iPhone, which are obvious in the image below.¹


Has Apple fallen down in its standards?


¹ And not just bugs: a frog, a bird and a duck, too.

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