Letting people on the Internet control your dating experience

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Like Cyrano giving advice to Christian from underneath Roxanne’s balcony, now you too can can advise young suitors trying to win the heart of the object of their affection.

[Lauren] had the idea of using objective, third-party observers checking in on her dating activities and giving advice as to what she should do next. Yes, she’s streaming her dates over the Internet and asking for advice from Mechanical Turk workers.

The idea behind this project isn’t that [Lauren] isn’t looking for advice from her own Cyrano, but rather to open up new, previously unexpected possibilities. Turk workers will watch the stream while [Lauren] presents them with options telling her to smile more, laugh, change the subject, or ask a question. [Lauren] receives these results as a text message, where she’ll comply with the Internet’s wishes and hope her date doesn’t go horribly awry.

It’s an interesting project to say the least, but we’ve got to wonder about the quality of the advice given from her online advisers. Turk workers do take their jobs more seriously than random people on the Internet, so barring an invasion from /b/, [Lauren]‘s night might just go alright.

Magnets keep the shower curtain from groping you

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We guess we’re glad to hear that other also suffer from the phantom shower curtain liner. On occasion the shower curtain will start closing in on us around the bottom of the shower. We’re not certain of the phenomenon that causes it. Perhaps it’s static electricity like when a comb repels a stream of water. It could be an issue with rising air though… who know. But [Sk84life0129] has had enough of it. He figured out a magnet-based solution to stop the shower curtain from groping him.

You can buy curtain liners that have magnets in the bottom of them to help prevent this. But this is an acrylic tub — not one that’s porcelain-coated cast iron like they used to be — so that’s not going to do any good. Instead, a pair of magnets from an old hard drive were glued to the shower surround. A couple of galvanized bolts had their heads sawn off, and were sewn into pockets in the shower curtain. These hold it taught while you scrub your body, preventing it from reaching out for a close encounter.

[via Reddit]

Adding task lighting inside a desk

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[Mahesh Venkitachalam] wanted to light up the dark recesses of his desk. What good is all that storage if you can’t see a darn thing in there? His solution was to add LED strips which turn on automatically when the door is opened.

The design is quite simple. A 2N2222 NPN transistor is responsible for connecting the ground rail of the LED strips mounted under each shelf. The base of that transistor is held high with a pull-up resistor. But a reed switch always connects the base to ground when the door is shut. Opening the door removes the magnet that keeps that reed switch closed. This allows current to flow from the pull-up to the base, connecting the ground rail to the LED strips and turning them on. You can see the video demo after the break.

One problem that we see with the design is that these are driven by a 9V battery. Over a long period of time that pull-up resistor will drain the cell. You can pick up a magnetic reed switch at the hardware or electronics store that is rated for 500 mA. If you can stay under that with the LED strips, and get one that is open when the magnet is present you will have zero power drain when the lights aren’t being used.

[Read more...]

Printing press made from Ikea furniture

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Those planning to get married take note: real hackers print their own invitations on a press which they built. [Jenny] and [Charles] actually did this for printing the cover pages of their ceremony programs. They built their press using a chest of drawers from Ikea.

If you look closely you’ll see the printing plate is mounted on the back wall of the chest behind the drawer. This back wall has been reinforced with some plywood, and a second piece of plywood has been attached to the back side of the drawer. This second piece is actually hinged using steel pipe and a collection of fittings. When the six-foot tall hoop of pipe is drawn down it closes the drawer, hinging the piece of plywood holding the paper until it comes in contact with the printing plate. The size of the lever ensures the press will have enough force to produce a quality print.

They didn’t make a video of this process but after the break we have embedded a clip of the press on which this one was modeled.

[Read more...]

Personal cooling using a closed loop water system

That’s not a colostomy bag, it’s the first prototype of [Stephen's] scratch-built closed loop personal cooling system. He must be living in an uncomfortably hot apartment as this is the second cooling system we’ve seen from him in as many weeks. The previous offering was an evaporative system. This time around he’s pumping chilled water to bring some relief.

The image on the left shows the first iteration of the system which pumped cool water from a large jug through a loop of plastic tubing which he wears around his neck. To refine the design he build the version on the right. As a reservoir he grabbed a water-proof ID container meant to keep your valuables dry in the pool or ocean. Inside there’s a pump which he runs off of a 5V battery supply. It circulates water through the neck strap which is a piece of plastic tubing.

This will work for a time, but as the cold water picks up your body’s heat the effect will be lost. We think he needs to add a Peltier cooler to the reservoir in the next iteration. It might help to refine the loop to increase its ability to transfer heat where it touches your skin.

There’s demo of the most recent version embedded after the break.

[Read more...]

Soap, candles, and toiletries from deer fat

Here’s a hack with more of a survivalist flair to it. [Ligament] and some friends used the fat from butchering a deer to make soap, candles, and toiletries.

It’s hunting season and [Ligament's] dad is processing the deer which he harvested. Wild game doesn’t have the amount of fat you’d find on a domesticated animal, but there is still a fair amount. The group cut off as much as they could before cutting up the rest of the meat. The trimmings are put in a pot with water and boiled until the fat starts to rise. It is ladled off and strained through some cheese cloth. The fat hardens overnight and can be picked up out of the container as a big disk. It is reheated and strained through a mesh coffee filter to achieve the final product. From there the fat was used as an ingredient in the recipes for candles, soap, and things like lip balm. For details on that heck out the comments for each image in the gallery linked above.

It’s a good thing to waste as little as possible. But this skill will be indispensable once the Zombie Apocalypse comes. You might also want to know how to chlorinate your own water.

[via Reddit]

Quick and easy personal evaporative cooler

This quick and easy evaporative cooler might be just the thing the next time the air conditioning goes on the fritz. [Stephen] saw an eBay listing for a personal air conditioner that used a moist sponge and fan to send some cool relief your way. But he wanted to run his own test to see if it really did anything before laying down the cash.

The idea is to run air past a moisture source. Some of the heat energy in the air is reduced through evaporation resulting in the exhaust air feeling a bit cooler. It’s the same concept used in swamp coolers (an evaporative type of air conditioning). To build his device [Stephen] grabbed a refrigerator deodorizer which uses a hinged plastic cage to hold a packet of baking soda. He attached a small PC fan to the cage, then inserted a damp sponge. This is so easy to put together you could hit the dollar store on your lunch break and have some relief for the second half of the work day.

If you’re looking for a technique that cools just a bit better consider leveraging a beer fridge as a personal cooler.

[Read more...]