Latest Blog

October 1, 2010

As I continue my tour through the blog industry, this time I’ve been assigned the opportunity to look into the world of agriculture. Most specifically, the meat industry. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think…

The Meaty Matters


Current Work

May 24, 2010

Click on the links to check out what I’m doing this summer. (in the bottom right corner)


May 3, 2010

In the somewhat technology related category, here is an observational documentary for a film production class about the Madison, WI Home Products Show at the Alliant Energy Center that occurred in February. One of the items featured, the Ladder Giant, is a classic infomercial product and the best in ladder technology. This also goes through the process of what it takes to put together a show of this magnitude and then take it down.

Unique Food Technology

May 2, 2010

Keepin' you and the beer cool

Ever wonder how far we’ve come in how to keep a pizza warm on delivery?  How bout all these special beer cans and bottles commercials always tout?  Well, I’m here to try to answer those questions and maybe discover some other technologies along the way. Why does this stuff matter? Because nobody would be happy drinking warm beer with a cold pizza that was just delivered.  I understand some people like cold pizza and some can tolerate warm beer (I never understood either), but I’d be shocked to learn of a person who wouldn’t make a comment if a cool pizza arrived on their doorstep or they had an alternative to a warm beer available.

So first pizza, what are in these bags?  Here is a site that gives tons of options for you to purchase for yourself. I can only think the value of buying actual pizza bags without owning a restaurant is to set someone up for a burglary because you aren’t carrying 12 pizzas to your kitchen table! Each are filled with different paddings for protection and warmth.  You have the foam option with some heat reflecting mylar or polyester insulation, maybe some polyfoam or steam vents to keep out the sogginess.  But for a pizza place, these just shouldn’t be good enough.  Dominos Pizza had the right idea years ago when they stepped into the next generation with the “Heat Wave” years ago.  You can charge these brilliants bags up electrically connecting with what is known as “phase-change material.” Once heated and unplugged this helps disperse 170 degrees of heat throughout this bag and has extra materials to make sure those crusts stay crisp.  The company Cooktek offers up chargeable bags to keep the heat in as well. And if you’re wondering, yes there is a Wikipedia page on Pizza Delivery.

Go ahead, order some!

So now that we’ve gotten our warm pizza (hopefully from a place better than Dominos, kidding, but respect yourself when you order pizza) and have a slight idea how it was kept warm and crisp, lets grab our beer that has been sitting on our counter.  In front of us is the now popular aluminum bottle, plastic bottle, some of the crazy keep cold cans, and how bout one of those vortex glass bottles.  First, the aluminium (as it was originally called) truly does keep the beverage cooler.  It was the 2006 World Series and I had never met Mr. Aluminum Bottle until a pre-game world series party.  I’m still convinced the only reason the Cardinals won the World Series that year was not because they were the better team, but by catching the Tigers off guard with this brilliant technology going national. Originating out of Pittsburgh, the bottles were tested and said to keep the beer cooler both at Loyola (Maryland) and Bucknell. Thanks to some basic chemistry, I’m sure it’s right.  Now here is a can, used by Miller products that keep the beer cool throughout by vacuuming in the heat and use a cool evaporation system. As for the Miller “Vortex” bottle this is a bottle that umm pours the (already poor tasting beer) differently to give you more flavor, nice try, but most people don’t actually want to taste the beer.  Now the plastic beer bottle, well the benefits are obvious.  For those who like to get drunk and throw things, these won’t break. They also offer a bit of heat resistance with the plastic helping the bottles stay slightly cooler for a tad bit longer, but I say stick with the aluminum bottles on that one.

Thanks for stopping by and letting me successfully enlighten (or waste) some of your time.  But doesn’t this all sound great? So go ahead look at that pizza and beer can pictured above and give your local delivery man a call.  And don’t forget to order toppings, you’re insulting the pizza if you go plain cheese!  And of course, tip the delivery man.

And if you’re interested in some cheese information, check out this published story and multimedia by myself and Will Mueller about the World Championship Cheese Contest

Motion Technology

April 25, 2010

The ultimate Motion sensitive bathroom

It’s always amazed me that as technology increases the less people truly have to do without any assistance. Motion technologies are the prime example of this. They’ve both been around for quite a while, but more and more have found themselves in our daily lives. First it started with outdoor security lights and basic motion cameras and detectors. Smart security for homes and business. Then it slowly began to trickle into the mainstream world of public restrooms… go into the bathroom and let the toilet flush itself, go to wash your hands the soap and water figure out a way to make it on your hands. Need to dry your hands? How about super vacuum hand-dryers or at least give yourself some old fashioned exercise and rip off a sheet of paper towel that conveniently (or sometimes inconveniently) presented itself to you. There are even the motion detector bathroom fans for those of you who don’t want to admit you are about to or did just stink it up by flipping the fan switch. Of course, this is all basic every day stuff and for people who actually have a necessity for motion sensing, this stuff helps. If you’re wondering how all certain motion things work like lights or cameras click here. Soon even the simple act of hitting the remote control may be gone as Toshiba debuted an early look into motion sensitive  TV.

Of course not all motion technology takes away from truly using basic human functions.  After going to the bathroom, washing your hands, and drying them without ever really doing anything there are some forms of motion technology that require more work than the norm.The video game world of Wii, the Playstation 3 and their “Move” technology, and the soon to come full body motion system for the Xbox presents a more active experience than the previous video game world of sitting and tapping buttons. While the Wii has been around for a while, the other two video game companies are looking to take everything to the next level.  Microsoft’s full body motion system looks to truly involve the player in every aspect of the game and increase the amount of movement one gets in a typical video gaming experience.

While all these systems are intriguing and currently happening, the thoughts that soon most everything around you will know each movement you make from your television, public areas, and even private places has to be a bit unnerving.  As the movie Minority Report displayed do you really want to be walking around, spotted by something and have a bunch of advertising and questions flying at you asking if you’re interested? We already get that enough on the internet (with more to come, thanks Facebook, glad you want to know every move a person makes).

The technology of infomercial products

April 13, 2010

As I sit here realizing in a few hours I will be getting ready to give up attempting sleep and head to my couch to engage in endless informercial watching, I thought it was time to step my game up and do myself one better. I decided it’s time to research these amazing products. I do have a secret dream of one day selling products (free preview at the bottom of my audition to be the next star of the infomercial).  I can’t deny I come from a family who embraces the infomercial product… magic bullet- check, george foreman grill- you helped push this revolution in the right direction, big city slider- thanks for coming to school with me, perfect pancake- you never really were that perfect, and the list goes on.  But many of these products are so amazing and in large part due to the technology that they entail.  First I’ll start you out with a solid site for a list of every product and some reviews of products you’ve probably come across at some point in your life. For products here I’m going to stick with seemingly technological or scientific breakthroughs because lets face it a Snuggie doesn’t have a lot of tech design that goes into it (okay I’ll be honest, most don’t have true technical appeal… see also windshield wonder).

First let’s start with one of my favorites that is clearly a design beyond all possibilities from the past, that is… the Tiddy Bear.

Now I’ll admit, this was a brilliant idea. I often times find myself very irritated by what the seat belt is doing, but we know safety comes first.  So using a material that is comfortable is the first key for a product like this. Next is how something like that can actually hold correctly, the reason the bear design works is because the legs can really help grab on to the part of body that real needs the comfort and it’s much better than the material used for a seatbelt.  Sure, you can go to build-a-bear make something similar on your own or even use household products, but it can’t be denied when this product originally hit the market, there was no way you were insane enough to think of it for yourself.

Next up on the list of greatness I will go with a product I’ve seen firsthand, the always strong Magic Bullet.  The bullet is okay, but it’s the technology of the speed at which it does things that makes it great.  I mean how is it possible to either chop vegetables or turn it completely into a paste within 10 seconds of each other? It’s a good product, it’ll get the job done, but definitely hit or miss in the final product you are hoping to deliver.  Of course there is now the Magic Bullet Express giving new options for the same great product and showing how you can condense many products into a single one.

I’ll finish with my favorite, and I think you may be familiar with it yourself…

One of the original and best creators of all that is an infomercial product, Ron Popeil, has brought brilliance over the years with his rotisseries. These are usually highly rated and with the spinning system usually times out pretty well for the final product.  The compact nature of such a device helps make it portable, easy to use, easy to clean, and adds an additional entertainment opportunity of watching your chicken, burgers, or random meat circle over and over while delicious juices drip down.

Alright so, I didn’t talk about a ton of technology involved in them, but they all have it and keep evolving year after year into upgraded models of the same product, computers do it why can’t infomercials!?

And as promised, I present to you my infomercial attempt (a couple excuses, I once got a complaint for being too loud by “walking too much” so I had to contain some volume within and lack of a good location and simple webcam)…


April 4, 2010

As I sit here playing around with the new iPad I felt what better time to become acquainted with the keyboard than now with a quick review. I often get made fun of for my ferocious iPhone typing skills by both friends and strangers mocking my skill, but instead of shying away I look to accomplish similar jealousy with my iPad capabilities.

So far I have felt pretty comfortable with the screen keyboard, especially when looking at the wide angle. It does become slightly more uncomfortable with the tall look with the letters a bit smaller and fingers having to be more precise, but not awful. The screen itself is an incredible display. When watching test HD trailers, looking at photos and books the picture is extremely clear even as the screen gets dirty with constant touching. I would recommend the Marvel Comics app, even if you have no interest in a comic book the graphics and breakdown of each scene is magnificent. The free Winnie the Pooh book with the bookstore isn’t a bad thing to browse through either. I do enjoy the dictionary feature in books as well, don’t know a word just highlight and look it right up.

Other apps with great visual qualities include NPR and the Thomson Reuters news app. I was slightly disappointed that Wired magazine won’t be available until their next issue in another month, but I’m hoping they sneak something out sooner. USA Today had a pretty good newspaper setup, while The New York Times app is a bit constrained until I presume a fully interactive pay app comes out.

Apps are definitely a bit more expensive, but seem to be worth it. For games to be played on this size screen a $10-15 price isn’t terrible. Book prices vary and some of the real cool looking books may be worth it if you need them for school or work such as “The Elements” which seems to have visual displays that could be great for kids. And beyond that the Dr. Suess books and all kids entertainment is going to change with this thing, 4 year olds will know how to use an iPad and better than many real soon with these features.

While I still think a camera would have been great and acknowledge it was a semi-greedy move by Apple because when the camera version comes out next year they will sell even more, I understand it. This is a raw product, especially with apps just starting to trickle out and many of the small developers just getting their hands on the iPad itself I expect a bigger app boom in a month. The lack of multitasking doesn’t bother me except for apps like Pandora, which would be nice to keep in the background, but I’ll settle for my own music as I type for now.

If you are looking for more reviews of the product, every website from CNN to Wired to the NYTimes has multiple, but I suggest going to the Apple store to check it out for yourself, this item is still difficult to describe in words, just something that has to be seen in person. All pictures are screenshots from the iPad itself, I didn’t cheat all. Now if only this wordpress app had better picture placement abilities.