Weirdly cute, but is it practical?

A photograph over at Daily Timewaster led me to investigate this strange-looking knife.  It’s the Daktyl model from CRKT. I understand it’s not the first side-opening knife CRKT has produced.  I couldn’t help but wonder why.  I mean, apart from the cuteness factor, why not use a traditional knife body, one that protects the blade against other debris in one’s pocket?  I can see a receipt, or something like that, slipping between the outer wire frame and the edge of the blade, and getting cut when you pull one or the other out of your pocket. However, the reviews on Amazon are sometimes fun.  Examples:

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The “California Tax” on all US motorists

Eric Peters points out the effect of California’s ecological dictates about vehicles on the rest of the country – particularly our wallets. California regulators have acquired de facto control over the cars you’re allowed to buy – even if you don’t live in California – by decreeing their own California-specific mileage and emissions standards. These end up having the force of national standards because the car industry – which wants to sell cars in California – can’t afford to build cars for just California and then another set of cars for the rest of the country. So they build all their cars to meet

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Apple Mac versus Windows 10 – the verdict

Last year I mentioned that I was going to buy a refurbished Apple Mac Mini (the 2014 model) to run Vellum (publishing software that would help me produce cleaner, better-formatted manuscripts).  In that article, I concluded: It’s too early to say yet, but I might be tempted in due course to transition entirely to Apple hardware and software, and move away from the PC altogether.  Being my own boss as a writer and not having to run an employer’s PC-specific software, I have that flexibility.  I never thought I’d say that (yes, I’ve joked about Apples and their fanbois for many years, along with the rest of the computer world), but

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The devil’s in the details – naval edition

The old idiom “The devil’s in the details” has, in my experience, been proven true time and time again.  The “big picture” may look fine and dandy, but there’s always something, some little detail that’s escaped attention, that can screw it up to a fare-thee-well. The Norwegian Navy learned that the hard way last year, when its frigate Helge Ingstad collided with another vessel, and subsequently sank.   (Above image courtesy of Wikipedia)   The subsequent inquiry revealed that after the collision, the watertight compartments of the frigate functioned as intended . . . except for one crucial detail. While there was some uncertainty as to

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The Holy Grail of the nuclear industry

I note with interest that Lockheed Martin’s experiments with nuclear fusion technology are moving right along. Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works is building a new, more capable test reactor as it continues to move ahead with its ambitious Compact Fusion Reactor program, or CFR. Despite slower than expected progress, the company remains confident the project can produce practical results, which would completely transform how power gets generated for both military and civilian purposes. . . . “The work we have done today verifies our models and shows that the physics we are talking about – the basis of what we are trying to do – is sound,”

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That’s the strangest airliner I’ve ever seen

. . but I’m sure Klingon passengers would be happy!  It’s a conceptual aircraft in art and model form, presented by Airbus at this week’s Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in England.  They’ve dubbed it the Airbus Bird Of Prey, although it’s not armed, unlike its fictional namesake.  (In fairness, Airbus specifically links the name to birds of prey here on earth, but given the number of Trekkies out there, it’s inevitable that the science fiction association will be made, too.) According to the company’s press release: Airbus has unveiled a bird-like conceptual airliner design with the goal of motivating the next generation of aeronautical engineers, underscoring

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A voyage in a vacuum produces a different sort of vacuum

I didn’t know that the Dustbuster was the fruit of the Apollo moon landing program, but it seems it is, along with several other iconic products. The Dustbuster was only made possible thanks to Black & Decker’s work with NASA on developing a lightweight and power-efficient tool for the Apollo Lunar Surface Drill. The same motor design used on the 1969 moon landing was then used to create the Dustbuster. There’s more at the link. There’s a certain wacky circular logic to that.  Design a motor that will work in a vacuum – then use the same motor to power a vacuum-cleaner in atmosphere. 

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But . . . WHY???

It seems that a Chinese inventor has come up with a hair washing machine.  Looking at it in action, all I can think is that a conventional shower would be a whole lot less fuss and bother, and much more efficient! Also, the opportunities for mischief by naughty friends or family members are almost endless.  Think of tying the user’s victim’s shoelaces to the retaining device while he’s upside down, or dripping something unpleasant into his breathing tube while he’s inverted.  This has the potential to make washing one’s hair a survival experience! Peter

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Nifty, but what would you use this for?

I was interested to see this video of a new jumping robot.  The blurb reads: Salto-1P is a small monopedal jumping robot capable of continuous high-power hopping.  We demonstrate a new control algorithm that can land Salto-1P’s foot at particular spots on the ground like jumping on stepping stones or playing one-leg hopscotch.  We call this “deadbeat foot placement hopping control”.  Precise foot placement enables Salto-1P to jump on surfaces like furniture.  This work will be presented at the 2018 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. Here’s the video. What I want to know is, what’s it for?  If

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Poetry in motion – frozen variety

Here’s a time-lapse video of two Russian nuclear-powered icebreakers of the Arktika class, maneuvering in the Arctic Ocean.  The main “actor” is Yamal, with her distinctive shark’s mouth painted on her bow.  She meets up with 50 Let Pobedy (literally, “50 Years of Victory) along the way, and escorts an unnamed merchant vessel through the ice. The video blurb is in Russian, but I fed it through Google Translate and got this: This video was shot in the Arctic Ocean in March 2018. For 7 days the film crew passed through the Barents Sea to Karsky around the Novaya Zemlya archipelago on the nuclear icebreaker Yamal –

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