Archive for July, 2005

Easiest wristwatch I’ve seen (yet)

Monday, July 11th, 2005

If we can put men on the moon, why is it still fiddly to get watch batteries replaced and keep synced to the current time? There is lots of technology in this new watch mechanism, since it is solar powered and automatically sets its time from radio signals in three different countries. With technology, less is often more – getting the latest gadgets doesn’t always simplify our lives. But when done correctly, more can be less – with more technology, we can (sometimes) have less to fiddle with and worry about. This is a good thing – but when will it work on a Mars base? What time is it there anyway?

Via I4U.

30 Days: Sounds like an interesting series

Monday, July 11th, 2005

The 30 Days TV series sounds really interesting – Morgan Sperlock (the Super Size Me guy) has people doing Super Size Me type things for 30 days. Two of the episodes should be of particular interest to minimalists – “Off The Grid” and “Minimum Wage.” Now only if we hadn’t minimized away cable TV in our household. But I’m sure it’ll be out on DVD soon enough.

Via Treehugger.

LED light goes for a year on one battery

Friday, July 8th, 2005

The Pak-Lite is a LED light that simply clips on to the top of a 9V battery. They claim that in low power mode, it lasted for a year continuously on a lithium 9V battery. Pretty impressive. 9V batteries may be less convenient than the more standard AA size, but in addition to being able to give your tongue a good jolt, they are conveniently shaped to form a flashlight handle. They suggest using your old smoke detector batteries, which probably have some juice left in them.

Now I’m waiting for a good LED light for my home that charges via solar during the day, and gives off light like a candle at night. Nothing to plug in, no cables, no chargers…cool.

RVs & Walmart

Friday, July 8th, 2005

MSNBC talks about RVers using Walmart parking lots instead of RV parks in order to save a few bucks. (Well, they claim it isn’t a money issue, but come on – why else would you go without electricity and water to save $25?) The article mentions the film This is Nowhere, which might get added to my movie list. The question is, is RVing minimalist or not? On the one hand, these things are gas guzzling, road-hogging monsters. On the other, living in one certainly forces you to pare down belongings. Thoughts?

The fingernail flash drive

Thursday, July 7th, 2005

No, not fingernail-sized, but writing data on your actual fingernail. Flash drives have let us carry lots of data around easily, but now the problem is that they can easily be lost since they are the size of loose change. This is just about the lower limit of minimalism for carrying data around. The information is written to the fingernail, and can be read back off later. It sounds like it isn’t visible under normal light, so it won’t look like you have a barcode manicure. Data life is 6 months…unless it is the data at the tip of the fingernail, I guess, since 6 months is how long it takes for the nail to completely grow out. Probably doesn’t work too well if you wear nail polish.

Via Slashdot. (site was down yesterday, but seems ok now)

Since two wheels is too many on a Segway…

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

Now this is minimalism. Obviously the big problem with the Segway is that it has too many wheels. Fortunately, Trevor Blackwell has solved this by creating a unicycle version. Whee!

Via LifeHacker.

12,500 mpg car

Wednesday, July 6th, 2005

OK, this “car” is really small, and it may or may not handle hills. There is no cargo space – in fact, I don’t think you can carry anything in your pockets, and you have to be a 13 year-old or horse jockey to fit into it. But it apparently really does get 12,500 mpg. Wow.

Source: TreeHugger.

Small house movement

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

I love small houses. We live in an apartment, and I don’t think I want anything bigger – we have enough trouble keeping this small space neat and uncluttered. I also love the cleverness of having to live in a small space – you are forced to consider what you own, since you don’t have a big garage, basement or spare rooms to stash stuff.

Apparently I’m not alone. The Small House Society has a bunch of good resources for small house living. Apartment Therapy had a contest for the smallest, coolest apartment, and the results were pretty amazing. Of course, space-constrained Japan is a hotspot for living small – I gotta visit sometime.

Internet phone (VOIP) service review

Friday, July 1st, 2005

Slate has a decent review of various VOIP services. They like AT&T CallVantage, but it sounds like you may want to wait a bit yet based on this opinion of VOIP as a whole:

Reliability also is not always up to land-line snuff. Sometimes there’s no dial tone, your outgoing calls don’t go through, or the other party can’t hear you. I also have a nagging suspicion that I am missing important calls, a fear stoked by scattered complaints like, “Your Internet phone sucks” and, “Why does your damned phone never pick up?”

Sounds like our cellphone now, so we’ll just stick with that.

Vibrating wristwatch

Friday, July 1st, 2005

How many times have you been at a movie, in a lecture, or on the train and heard someone’s watch beeping? And have them not even notice? Grrrrr. This Casio GW-400J vibrating watch (covered at Watch Report) makes too much sense – you feel it vibrate, and nobody else knows. My wife’s analog/digital combo watch once started beeping and wouldn’t stop. I had to get out tools and pry the back off and remove the battery to get it to stop. I now have a watch that has no beeping capability at all, to make SURE that never happens to me.

Maybe if they make this thing smaller and less dorky, my next watch will vibrate.