Wizards of Oz

"Life is fraughtless ... when you're thoughtless."

23.5.08

WIRED: Survival Gear

While John Robb pens his next book on Resilient Communities, and Mother Penguin & my fellow Eagles at the National Institute of Urban Search and Rescue plan for GOLDEN PHOENIX this summer in the Southwest, WIRED magazine offers a dozen pieces of survival gear "just crazy enough to work".

As expected, WIRED's piece is two parts serious, one part sarcastic. The most uniquely inventive item on the list? The "HYDRA Collapsible Micro-Wind Turbine System" that uses electricity (converted from wind) to thaw snow, creating 750ml of water per hour:



As I prepare for a weekend camp-out with rising 2nd grade Cub Scouts (who recently received their Tiger Badges and are now "Wolf Cubs"), some of these items look particularly useful... :-)

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24.7.07

Tools for Search, Fun

Zenpundit is test-driving a cool new visual search tool called searchCrystal. This tool allows you to visually compare, remix and mash hits from a variety of feeds in one simple interface. To wit:



Although this is a neat GUI for quickly comparing multiple search engines, even allowing the user to manually adjust the radius of the concentric circles, I found myself wondering "what's missing?" from the display. As one who frequently tailors and refines my Boolean searches until I get a good sense of what's available, I found the "top ten" default display deck for each engine on searchCrystal too constraining.

But rather than do a true in-depth review of searchCrystal, I decided to help the kids make our own "The Simpsons" avatars:


Matt Groening has come a long way from the Life in Hell comics I enjoyed in college! If you want to make your own avatars, go to The Simpsons Movie. H/T to Younghusband of Coming Anarchy (whose own avatars are uploaded to flickr).

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