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August 2008 Archives

I was the lucky code monkey who got to go to OSCON this year, and I saw some pretty cool things there. The singlemost awesome-matic of which was the replicating rapid-prototyper, or RepRap, machine. You probably understood right away that this is a machine that makes parts for copies of itself. It'll also make nice things like sandals and shot glasses, but only to gain our favor before it hatches its plan to use humans for raw material.

Thumbnail image for reprap.jpg At this point you're unlikely to be digested by ravenous wild RepRaps, because they only eat several types of plastic, including one made from milk proteins. As a small crowd looked on, Vik Olliver from RepRap.org adjusted the size of a 3d model of a ring to fit a friend's finger, pressed "Print" and the machine went to work making it, layer by layer, from a type of plastic developed for dental molds.

The next step toward world domination? Fabricating the circuit boards by layering insulative plastic and a conductor. I, for one, look forward to my new job assembling the children of our new RepRap overlords.

We went. We walked. We watched. We took notes. Some of our favorite parts include: Fraize almost getting trampled by Samuel L. Jackson; getting together with some of our product suppliers; seeing and interacting with our customers in their natural habitat; and meeting David Gerrold. It seems like it's a joke in the video, but for us, meeting David was hands down the coolest part of the con. Not only did the man create Tribbles, but he's also a fantastic sci-fi author and a great guy. Got waved to by Mick Foley, but that's only because he was bored and we pointed a camera at him. We picked up a few exclusive toys...and that's about it. At least the stuff we can print.

We know, it's not something you expect to hear... Mmmm, this lime is SO sweet... this mustard is delicious! But we heard it today. We got a sample of an upcoming product - Miracle Fruit Tablets. If you haven't heard of Miracle Fruit, it's supposed to change the taste of sour or bitter foods change to something much sweeter. When we got the shipment, we naturally had to try it out.

First, let a half a tablet dissolve on the tongue. It should really be your own tongue though. Dissolving it on this guy's tongue won't help you any.

miraclefruit_tongue.jpgNext, eat weird food and see how the taste changes. If we had planned better, we would have gotten more vegetables like brussels sprouts and other bitter or sour stuff, but we had to make do with what we had around the office including limes, oranges, cherries, apples, soy sauce and duck sauce, as well as ketchup and mustard. We also tried coffee and hummus. 

miraclefruit_tastingplate.jpgThe consensus? "Weird!" "Cool" and "OMG That tastes sweet!" was heard by most of our taste testers. The mustard was a surprise hit - it tasted more like honey mustard sauce than plain yellow mustard. Limes were sweet like candy, and strong black coffee lost its bitterness. Now that the experiment is over, we're all experiencing an odd aftertaste, and a strange craving for mustard sandwiches.  Looking for Miracle Fruit for yourself? We'll have it available very soon, keep your eyes peeled.

Update: Yay, the Miracle Fruit is now available - Go Get Some!
A while back, we had the fine folks from the History Channel come by the glorious ThinkGeek Megaplex to film an episode of Modern Marvels. It was really cool to be part of such a great show, and the crew were a friendly bunch who were not at all afraid of our pack of dogs. We demoed all kinds of gadgets from helicopters to the Bluetooth Laser Keyboard and the Wifi Detector Shirt. We were geeking out pretty severly, but it was all in the name of entertainment, and as you may know, geeks are nothing if not entertaining!

Here's a shot of the setup to film one of the segments of the show. They had a lot of stuff, and oh boy is it intimidating to be shot up close in HD. Aiee! Watch for us in reruns of Modern Marvels - Episode 506 - Gadgets 3!