RAY: the smartest remote on Earth

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Boing Boing is proudly sponsored by Ray, the super remote!

Walk into almost any room with a television set, and you’re bound to come across an unseemly pile of remote controls. The more game consoles and streaming media players we collect, the more plastic remotes we accumulate, and after 50 years of TV remote technology, controlling what you want to watch on your television set is more confusing than ever. Not even the traditional universal remotes have helped much. Why? Because most universal remotes are designed to function the same way as the remotes they’re trying to replace!

The only way to fix the remote control madness is to erase our notion of what a remote control is and how we interact with them. Start from scratch and reinvent one. Be less about how we control things and more about how we enjoy them. And that’s exactly what Ray Super Remote has done. Unlike any other remote control, the Ray recommends what you want to watch based on what you like to watch. It learns and improves the more you use it, tapping into various video sources like content from your cable provider, movies on Roku and other streaming services, making the TV experience less about searching through guides and more about sitting back and watching old favorites or new discoveries.

Founded by CEO David Skokna and created by a team of engineers and designers who come from innovative companies like Apple, MakerBot, Amazon, and Nokia, Ray could easily be mistaken for a smart phone. Read the rest

J. Herbin fountain pen cleaning solution

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I far too frequently let ink dry inside one of my treasured pens. When simply flushing with hot water won't clear them, I use this cleaning solution.

Simply draw some solution into the pen as you normally would ink. Shake it around and then let sit for 5-10 minutes. Flush the pen out several times with warm water, and you are back to an evenly flowing pen.

A good practice is to run warm water through the pen between fill ups. I often forget.

J. Herbin Fountain Pen Cleaning Solution 15Ml via Amazon Read the rest

'Wizard in a Witchy World' is an urban fantasy love story

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Jamie McFarlane's Wizard in a Witchy World tells the tale of lost in love, current-era wizard Felix Slade.

Slade has a tough name, but thats about it. Generally having spent his life not in love, suddenly Felix is. Naturally, he falls in love with a witch, and they are hard to love. It doesn't help simplify matters that Slade has had a vision of the object of his desire dying, and must save her.

This cute, fast paced adventure includes a lot of strong world building. The lead character is not a big action seeking hero, and the story reflects that. It will be interesting to see where McFarlane takes this next.

Wizard in a Witchy World by Jamie McFarlane via Amazon Read the rest

A cordless circuit tester can be extremely helpful

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I am constantly plagued by electrical gremlins. This Read the rest

Another great Z-Burbia novel: 'Sisters of the Apocalypse'

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Jake Bible's Z-Burbia series has come a long way from its start in the suburbs of Whispering Pines. Sisters of the Apocalypse is the seventh installment, and focuses on Elsbeth, his ass-kicking female protagonist, and her lethal sisters.

Z-burbia started out as the story of a small gated community, just trying to get by in the zombie apocalypse. Terrible, and often hilarious things happen, in this slapstick horror. The community has destroyed the presumptive new government of the United States, survived cannibal hoards, and made their way to a new refuge in Colorado. This seventh novel in Bible's series focuses on Elsbeth Stanford, the daughter of one of the richest women in America before the zombies, and the rest of her very odd private school class.

Elsbeth is one of the most interesting characters in this series. She is tough, slightly brain damaged from a fall, and fiercely loyal. Bible has certainly found a way to keep this series pumping along.

Z-Burbia 7: Sisters of the Apocalypse via Amazon

Previously on Boing Boing:

Z Burbia, a novel by Jake Bible Read the rest

Explore a life without consequences in 'My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday'

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Jason Ayres' My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is a unique time travel novel that spun my head! Ayres' lead, Thomas Scott, lives his life backwards and experiences no consequences for his actions.

Waking up on his death bed with no memories, Thomas Scott expects to be ending his life. The next day, however, he wakes again! Only to find out that he's now living the day previous to his last, things start to get interesting. Scott discovers he is living life backwards, and hopes the actions he is taking lead to a better future for his friends and family, but he'll never find out. Scott never experiences the consequences for his actions, which leads him down paths one might not anticipate.

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is certainly a unique and fun approach to time. This is a fresh take on the genre.

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday by Jason Ayres via Amazon Read the rest

A guitarist's guide to melodic improvising in any style

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Improvising on guitar has long been a challenge of mine. Chord Tone Soloing by Brett Tagliarino has helped a lot!

I have played guitar for several decades, but I never really understood how a guitar worked. Chord Tone Soloing helps explain the music theory behind improvising solos. Adding riffs and melody lines to chords, becomes quite easy, as you work through quizzes and exercises.

The CD book of examples is easy to work with, and play along to. You'll need a good foundation in guitar skills, and chord building, but once you are past the basics, Tagliarino will give you the tools to start working on your own!

I still need a metronome to keep a beat.

Chord Tone Soloing: A Guitarist's Guide to Melodic Improvising in Any Style via Amazon Read the rest

Playing cards for marijuana enthusiasts

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Neither of these decks are smokable, but they bring two of my favorite things together: weed and magic! For sleigh of hand, and other tricks, I always prefer the Bicycle brand cards, but the rolling paper inspired cards are fun as well.

Bicycle's Hemp Deck has a hemp leaf on the back, but the cards are made of your typical US Playing Cards stock and finish.

RAW rolling papers aren't as iconic as Zig-Zag, but if you want to tell a joint rolling story to accompany a magic trick, this deck'll help convince people they are looking at something special. They also come with a bracelet.

RAW Rolling Paper Playing Cards via Amazon

Bicycle Hemp Deck Playing Cards via Amazon Read the rest

Lovely quad ruled paper in a notebook

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If you like to write with fountain pens, sketch with colored pencils or otherwise enjoy the physical art of writing, Maruman's Mnemosyne is my notebook favorite paper to write on. Quad ruling on paper just makes me feel good, a throw back to college I guess. This fantastic, top-bound and slightly smaller than B5 size notebook has both!

Fountain pen inks dry fast, don't bleed through, and all of my pens glide over this paper. The slightly warm, off-white of this paper is also super pleasing to the eye, and is wonderful to work on.

Maruman Mnemosyne Inspiration 5 mm Grid 6.3 x 8.3" via Amazon Read the rest

Disposable Pilot Varsity fountain pens

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I love fountain pens, but handing one to a kid seemed like a bad idea. These simple, disposable Pilot Varsity pens are a pleasure.

I bought this pack of five Pilot pens to let my kid see what writing with a fountain pen was like. I was surprised with how nice they write, and have ended up carrying them around as a daily use pen I won't mind losing. Losing an expensive fountain pen is a nightmare. The time spent searching in the car, under seats, in my pockets, and backpacks for a missing pen drives me batty.

The line is very fine, and there is little to no flex in the nib. The ink flows well, and dries fast. Neither I nor my daughter have ink all over our hands.

I still write with pens from my "permanent collection," but these disposables make life a bit easier.

Pack of 5 Pilot Varsity Fountain pens via Amazon Read the rest

I can't stop playing with this cheap, no-contact, IR thermometer

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How hot is that steak? How hot is the grill it is sitting on? Is my bedroom heater vent actually warmer than the bathroom, just one a few feet away? These and many, many more mundane questions are being answered by this $12 IR thermometer.

What started out as an easy way to deal with a stuck thermometer on my grill has become an addiction. How warm is Nemo's nose? Is that mug of tea across the room still warm enough to drink? Does my Kindle get warm if left on? Does raccoon in the driveway have a fever?

Point the red dot at something, the read out on the back of this AAA powered, pistol inspired thermometer tells you how hot, or not, something is. You can turn that laser pointer on or off. You can also switch the readout from Fahrenheit to Celsius, and back, with the touch of a button. It does exactly what I needed, and has become a fun toy.

My cat, Heart, also enjoys the laser pointer. Thermometer says the spot he just vacated, seconds ago, on my chair is around 101F.

FOSHAN MINGZE Digital IR Infrared Thermometer,Non-contact LCD Instant Read Thermometer via Amazon Read the rest

Gus Harper and Isaac Rodriquez collaborate on 'Soft Against the Ages'

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Artist, and Boing Boing pal, Gus Harper continues to create beautiful things. This collaboration with videographer Isaac Rodriquez is lovely. Gus has been experimenting with body painting.

Gus had this to say about the project:

It's a collaborative piece with me as the artist and professional cameraman Isaac Rodriquez as the videographer. We had this as a video installation at the last show. It was a big hit. The models are mostly body painted in front of my backdrops. It was just a way of documenting my body painting by capturing the ephemeral body art on film. The title comes from the fact that there is a lot of copper in the imagery. It made a port friend of my think about the iron age, the Stone Age, the Bronze Age… How through all this roughness there is always been the soft beauty of femininity.

Read the rest

Lodge's single burner, reversible cast iron griddle

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In my kitchen, or in my camper, this single burner cast iron griddle is a huge boon. Recommended by a friend when I complained about clean up when cooking for one, this griddle is pretty sweet.

The things I love about cast iron are many, and easy of clean up is probably at the very top of the list. I have quite a few cleaning tools for my collection of cast iron cookware, but none are as simple as using rock salt. This pre-seasoned griddle has rounded corners and the area between the bars on the grill side leave plenty of room rub the pan down with a simple paper towel and salt.

Not only is this griddle easy to clean, its pretty easy to cook on. The size of the platter roughly covers one burner perfectly on my home stove. It is a little larger than the burner in my VW Westy. The grill side is excellent for burgers and steaks, and with the use of a simple pot holder can be easily transferred into a pre-heated oven for finishing. The griddle side is a griddle, and simply will allow me to carry one less frying pan in my camping kit.

I've only had this griddle/grill for a week or two, but the pre-seasoning the Lodge applied works pretty well. It isn't as great as a well used pan, but it'll get there. The surface is fairly non-stick, right out of the box.

Lodge LSRG3 Single-Burner Reversible Grill/Griddle, 10.5-inch via Amazon

Previously on Boing Boing:

Is antique cast iron cookware really better than new? Read the rest

A collection of James P. Blaylock's short stories

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I love reading James Blaylock's novels. His take on humanity, and the super natural, always thrill me. This collection of short stories made my rainy weekend.

This collection of 16 stories is wonderful. Blaylock often tells tales where hope is covered in a dark sheen of barely contained evil, hiding in everyday California. I'm addicted!

Included in this, his only collection of shorts, is Blaylock's award winning 13 Phantasms, the story of a man who follows an ad back into the golden age of science fiction. Steampunk, classic sci-fi, and a few new Langdon St. Ives adventures (one of Blaylock's best known characters,) are gripping!

Thirteen Phantasms and Other Stories by James P. Blaylock via Amazon Read the rest

Nathan Lowell's "Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper"

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I wanted a Space Opera, and found Nathan Lowell's series Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. I've spent 2 weeks reading through the series, and am worried about what I'll do when I reach the end!

Lowell's space trading epic follows the career of Ishmael Horatio Wang, cast adrift by the untimely death of his Mother and meal-ticket, in the apparently trade focused Confederation. Wang finds a berth on a solar clipper, and joins the spacer culture. As he rises through the ranks we meet a cast of colorful characters, and watch as Ish, and his various crews, solve the problems one may encounter in the Deep Dark.

I'm nearly done with the final book in the series. I've found each book to be a perfect distraction for the things that have plagued my last few weeks, and I have hardly wanted to put my Kindle down. Highly reminiscent of a less bawdy/abuse focused Bio of a Space Tyrant, by Piers Anthony, Lowell's first book Quarter Share rapidly sets up a world that is easy to understand and fun to predict where things are going next.

Lowell's novels follow our hero Wang through each pay-grade in the life of a crewman, officer, and finally owner. I'll be looking for other stories by this author. The entire series was free, with my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Quarter Share (Trader's Tales From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper) (Volume 1) via Amazon Read the rest

Magnificent unter-wasser tea-infuser fur der masses

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This tea diver is as heavy as a cauliflower and as transcendent as a monkey. You need splendiferous aquatic infusion like a minute flute on the winds of the sea!

ASTONISHING! Hoopy froods and slovenly nudes will delight! Herbal? Caffeinated? YOU WILL SEE STARS!

Fred & Friends DEEP TEA DIVER Silicone Tea Infuser via Amazon Read the rest

One Breath, a tragic tale of free diving by Adam Skolnick

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Free diving holds a special terror for me. I've lost two friends to abalone diving, here in Northern California, and while strenuous and dangerous, it doesn't hold a candle to competitive free diving. Adam Skolnick's One Breath tells the tale of Nick Mevoli, a superstar whose death put the sport on trial.

Mevoli in 2013 was a rising star in the world of competitive free diving. His entrance in Vertical Blue, free divings version of Mavericks, was highly anticipated. Mevoli was expected to shatter records, instead he died. Skolnick does an amazing job of showing you the forces, internally and externally, that drove Mevoli to his tragic end.

One Breath: Freediving, Death, and the Quest to Shatter Human Limits by Adam Skolnick via Amazon Read the rest

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