Toms Guide: Review of Pocket Drone

Just published on Toms Guide, a review of the Pocket Drone, a cute little drone that is part quadcopter, part transformer.

drone1It might look like a black box the size of an iPhone, but there’s more than meets the eye in the Odyssey Toys Pocket Drone. This neat little quadcopter folds down into a small rectangle that easily slides into a pocket. With the companion controller, which is similarly sized, you can deploy your drone anywhere the urge grabs you, and capture video at the same time.

Hacking Hacks on Hackaday

Another new client for me is Hack A Day, a web site dedicated to making technology do things it wasn’t designed to. I’ll be contributing regular posts about, well, hacking things. Here are a few of the first ones I have written…


I’ll be contributing many more on a regular basis.

CNET Appliance Science Posts on Spherification

I am quite proud of these two columns on the odd phenomenon of Spherification, where you can make edible spheres of liquids using simple chemicals. The first is about the science of Spherification, while the second is a how-to on making your own spheres.

title1I just drank a cup of water. Nothing unusual there, but this was without a cup or other container. Instead, the water was held in a clear, edible membrane that I popped into my mouth and bit down on. It tasted, well, just like water, because this clear sphere was made just from water and two tasteless chemicals.

I made this strange sphere myself, using a process called spherification. Using the reaction of these two chemicals, I created a tough membrane on the outside of the water that held it in place. In effect, the water became its own water bottle.


First Post on How We Got To Here

Very pleased to announce a new client: I will be writing regular posts for the web site How We Got To Here, which accompanies the TV Series and book of the same name. My first post there is a history of Gopher, an Internet protocol that almost beat the Web.

titleGopher, one of the early rivals of Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web for storing and indexing data, was once a legitimate competitor in the struggle toward establishing a de facto standard for using the Internet. But we don’t talk about “digging in Gopherspace” anymore — instead, we “browse the web”.

So, what happened to Gopher? How did this promising protocol become all but obsolete?


Appliance Science: Ice Makers

For my CNet column Appliance Science, I take a look at the physics of ice makers.

icemakerYou might think that making ice is a simple business: just throw water into the freezer and it turns to ice. Simple, right? That’s true if you just want to make a single tray of ice, but most of us prefer to have ice available on demand. That’s why we have ice makers, devices that can make ice consistently for the many years that you will own your fridge. That takes a bit more engineering than a simple ice tray. Let’s take a closer look at how the humble ice maker creates the ice to keep your summer drinks cool.

New 3D Printer Review: The Orion Delta

Hot off the press is a review of an interesting 3D printer: the SeeMeCNC Orion, a delta 3D Printer.

print-anim3There’s a lot to like about the SeeMeCNC Orion Delta: It offers a large print volume for the cost and size, and it usually produces fine-quality prints, especially with smooth, clean curves. This will make the Orion especially appealing to people who want to produce tall objects like statues or vases. The Orion struggled with fine details, though, and objects with very sharp edges didn’t come out as well. This would not be a printer for engineering models or small, detailed prints. For those objects, you would do better the similarly priced LulzBot Mini.

In Search of the Perfect Scrambled Eggs

How do you make the perfect scrambled eggs? For my CNet column Appliance Science, the results of my experiments with sous vide scrambles….

160FThe joy of sous vide is that you can produce this sort of differentiation. While a chef might train for years to learn how to cook like this without a precise temperature controller at his or her side, a sous vide setup puts it just a few button presses away . And it does it with the consistency that no chef can match: it doesn’t have bad days or get distracted.

3D Printer Review: Lulzbot Mini

Just published on Toms Guide, my review of the rather nice Lulzbot Mini 3D printer.

rocktopusThere is a lot to like about the LulzBot Mini. It has an attractive design and provides high-quality prints at good speed. It is flexible, handling a wide range of materials that are unknown factors with other 3D printers, and the software is mature and easy to use. The Mini costs significantly more than competitors like the Cube 3 and da Vinci AiO. However, the LulzBot Mini printer is better than both rivals’ offerings. Its extra cost is justified by its greater flexibility of printing materials and the higher quality of its prints.


Appliance Science: The High-Pressure Physics of Espresso

My latest Appliance Science column at CNet looks at the physics of espresso coffee.

EspressoAS_PARTSeditBlueThat’s because the process of making espresso is complicated and finicky: get something wrong and you’ve ruined the delicate balance.

Espresso is, to coin a phrase, what happens when engineers make coffee.

Appliance Science: The Warm Physics of Sous Vide Cooking

I wrote about sous vide cooking for my latest Appliance Science column at CNet.

SousVideIllo2Sous vide cooking is a great example of Appliance Science, of how a technique enabled by science and designed for commercial use made its way into the home. And, perhaps more importantly, the results taste really, really good.

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