Tag Archives: gadgets

Straighten Up and Fly Light: Tips for Easier Airline Travel

Los Angeles World Airports by Jay Berkowitz(Photo Jay Berkowitz, Los Angeles World Airports )

By the time you read this post I will be on a plane, half-way to Los Angeles. And as much as I love to explore new places and return to old favourites, I truly hate to fly. This feeling has only increased as security measures have gotten stricter and airlines have become stingier with what they include in their fares. While there isn’t much we can do about this, savvy travelers know that what and how they pack can help to reduce the hassle. Here are just a few ways to make your flight go a little smoother:

Bag with text printed "This bag contains a gun, a bomb, a very large knife, and loads of drugs."Not Recommended For Airline Travel! (Photo: Whimsybags via Etsy)

Pick the Right Luggage

As much as you love your hip vintage suitcase, it is time to put it away (or check out Mandy’s suggestions on how to repurpose it) and buy a bag that meets the size and weight limitations imposed by most carriers. If, like me, you tend to bring back more than you left with, chose a soft-sided bag that can be stuffed to its limits. Crumpler’s Spring Peeper duffle is an excellent option. Weighing only 6.5 lbs., it is as easy to carry as it is to pull along on its wheels and the durable canvas construction ensures that it will hold up to rough treatment if you do end up checking it.

Crumbler trolley bag(Photo: Crumpler)

If you are packing more fragile items, a hard-sided case is the better option. Heys makes the lightest carry-ons in the world, weighing slightly more than 5 lbs. Retailing for less than $100, the xcase is an affordable and fashionable option- there are dozens of colours and patterns to chose from, including their latest Exotic Collection.

Luggage in a variety of designs(Photo: Google Images)

Lock your suitcase with TSA-approved locks if you are going to check it. And don’t forget to label your luggage with a sturdy tag on the outside and a card with your destination information tucked into an outside pocket as a backup.

Bag tag with a book cover design(Photo: Swiss Miss)

Pack Light

Unless you are going away for months and require a great mix of formal and casual clothes there is no reason that you can’t pack what you need in a carry-on. Pick a base wardrobe of neutral colours (black, grey, or tan are good choices) and add a few colourful accent pieces; this way you will be able to mix and match several outfits. Shoe addicts be warned, you should limit your selections to three pairs: a casual and a dressy pair to pack and another, the bulkiest, to wear when you travel.

Suggested wardrobe fro travel(Photo: Travelista)

There is a heated debate amongst travelers on the best way to pack clothes so that they arrive as crease-free as possible. Some like to roll their clothes but I think this takes up too much space and prefer to “bundle” pack.  This video explains the technique and includes some extra helpful hints to ensure your clothes arrive in wearable condition.

Pack Valuable Items in a Second, Smaller Bag

Most airlines allow one personal item in addition to your carry-on bag, such as a purse or a laptop bag. I choose one that is large enough to carry my wallet, travel documents, electronic items and their chargers, valuables, medications, reading material, and travel-sized toiletries. If you have to check your main bag, you will still have these important items with you. It is also easier to pull out these items for screening at the x-ray machine if they are together in one bag.

Make the most of the piece you take with you on the plane(Photo: Orla Kiely)

I also include a change of socks and underwear, in case my bag does get lost. To cut down on this list, remember that most hotels provide shampoo and condition and many will have other products such as toothpaste and deodorant on request at no extra charge. And if you travel with a lot of gadgets, consider buying a universal USB power charging cable, which will cut down on the number of cords you need to pack.

Packing a universal USB is a great travel tip(Photo: Deal Extreme)

Know Your Airport

Have a tight connection but need to grab some refreshments? Or have a long layover and looking for a way to spend the time? Do a little research before you go or download an app like Gate Guru that helps you determine which options are closest to your gate. And don’t forget that many airports have replaced the mundane food courts with more upscale options, including wine bars and spas, to help you pass the time.

Airport wine bar(Photo: Vino Volo)

While it is impossible to guarantee a stress-free flight, hopefully these tips will help to make the journey almost as enjoyable as the destination.

Posted in Fashion, Travel | Tagged , ,

Tech Beautiful

photograph by Todd Mclellan

In his new series “disassembly” Canadian photographer Todd Mclellan takes retro technology apart so he can photograph every screw, spring and wire. The images are beautiful and frenetic, capturing the complexity of the technological objects that surround us and showing the beauty of human ingenuity.  Check out the video below that shows him at work.

Technology and design go hand-in-hand because both are about ideas and innovation. Today’s post features a collection of objects that feature both smart design and smart tech. You’ll notice many of these objects combine old and new technologies in surprising ways, proving that designers and engineers are often looking back on the past just as they are propelling us forward.

john’s phone from a+r store

Meet the world’s simplest cell phone. This friendly looking phone doesn’t text, take photos, play music, or check email; it’s designed solely for making phone calls (all some of us really need a phone to do).  Using SIM cards you can call almost anywhere in the world, and it comes with a quaint pen and notebook that stores in the back of the phone.

wooden radio at general store

This wooden radio is reminiscent of the old transistor radios. However, unlike an old-school radio, this one is mp3 compatible, but you can also get AM and FM signals. The curves in the two-tone wood are incredibly inviting, and it’s refreshing to see knobs in the place of buttons or touch screens.

Tracks Headphones by KiBiSi via designindaba

KiBiSi headphones may not be stretching the boundaries when it comes to headphone technology, but they are quite eye-catching, and are designed to ensure the perfect fit. Designer Jens Martin Skibsted was inspired by the iconic Walkman headphones, but Tracks offer a more streamlined and modernized shape.

QLOCKTWO by Biegert & Funk

The QCLOCKTWO is for typography enthusiasts and gadget fans. It’s a digital clock that uses text rather than numbers to display the time. This slick design comes in both a wall model and a desktop model, and comes in a variety of colours.

iVictrola designed by Matt Richmond via made-craft

The iVictrola provides acoustic sound for your iPad. How it works is you dock your tablet in the base and a Magnavox horn amplifies the sound.  Each device is unique because each one is made from an antique phonograph.


Can you guess what this gadget is? Did you guess it was a camera? More specifically, it’s a light field camera that, according to their website, captures the colour, intensity and vector direction of the rays of light. I’m not sure how it works, but what make the pictures this camera takes truly remarkable is that they can be re-focused after the picture has been taken.  Apparently, you can also switch between viewing the pictures as 2D images or 3D images.

I never thought I would develop a crush on a printer, but that day has come. The Little Printer is simply the most personable device I have come across since Apple’s iconic iMac. It lets you make a daily, personalized carbon print-out of puzzles, lists, newsfeeds etc. and can be programmed from your phone. If you want to snag one you’ll have to wait until 2012, but in the meantime you can watch it in action in the video above.

Happy Friday Everyone!

Posted in Design | Tagged ,

Climate Control

Image via Santa Barbara Wedding Style

What’s the weather like?

This time of year we tend to really engage in conversations about the weather, because it increasingly encroaches on our lives. We become more concerned about precipitation and temperature as these dictate more and more our leisure activities, our outfits, and even time (haven’t clocks just been readjusted in some parts of the world?).

However since we just can’t help but want to exercise some measure of control over our surroundings, we like to engage in “climate control” — a misnomer, for sure, as we can’t really control climate nor weather, but we use the term because we like to think we can. Heaters become cherished friends for many, except for those of us who live near the equator, in which case air conditioners are our friends all year round.

And now with the sheer number of brands, models, and configurations of these appliances, we get to control how they look in our homes! No more do we have to put up with bulky unsightly contraptions ruining the look and feel of our rooms! There are some heaters and AC’s out there with great powers of efficiency and invisibility, and some that are really sleek, stylish, and meant to be seen.

Air Conditioners

Trox Technik's Smart Beam by Hadi Teherani

These beams are have a simple, streamlined look that can really look as if they “belong” in a room.

LG ArtCool Gallery

Who’d guess that this is an airconditioner? This unit by LG allows you to display your favorite print, family photo, or kiddie drawing.


Dyson heater fan

“Look Ma! No blades!” By some marvel of science and technology, this space age-y fan gadget circulates warm air without the rotating blades.

Adax Syklus' Huggable Heater. Image via Unpluggd

Image via Unpluggd

Love the concept of a heater that you can actually cozy up to! Adax Syklus’ Huggable Heater is genius!

Hot Radiator by Tomasso Colia

It’s getting a little H-O-T! These radiators by Tomasso Colia are just so quirky and fun.

Sofono 1960's heaters. Image by Stephan Welz & Co. Auctioneers.

Get a little retro kick out of these 60′s heaters.

Canoon green heater by Younes Duret. Image via Yanko Design.

Heat some pillows with this dainty Moroccan-inspired heater. It’s made of recycled plastic and can be adjusted with a touch of a hand.

Wood by iRadium. Image via Digs Digs.

When did radiators get so sculptural? This one by iRadium is awesome and makes such a gorgeous wall adornment.

Shanghai by Sirocco. Image via Digs Digs

Another gorgeous radiator cum wall art by Sirocco.


Nest, the learning thermostat

With the launch of Nest some weeks ago, we have been opened to the possibility of a climate control gadget that is sleek and sexy, and which learns our preferences and patterns, thus minimizing the need for actual handling.

Posted in Design | Tagged , ,

More Sketching – Less Kvetching

Ah the many times we have tried to explain or describe a piece or design, when a simple photo or drawing would have saved so much time and frustration. Whether going back and forth with a client or tweaking a new design, one needs an easy tool that makes those changes quickly. While autocad is unnecessarily complex for most of us, Sketchup has become our new favorite friend.

Start with individual pieces, and soon you will feel the love (or at least see it)

Free, easy to use and with a very good tutorial, you can start simply by drawing individual shapes. The shapes soon become pieces and next thing you know, you are placing them in rooms and even adding color. It gives one great confidence with design, since you now know exactly how the piece will look proportionally, and in a setting. You can of course share drawings with others that have the program so they can make their own changes, or you can simply export it as a jpeg and send.

Your pieces "in situ"

Add counters, appliances, and suddenly it’s your dream kitchen come to life!

Sketch-up also has a massive library of images which you can use to fill out the missing pieces in your decor.  http://sketchup.google.com/3dwarehouse/

Download the program and release the designer within   http://sketchup.google.com/intl/en/download/index.html

Another amazing tool is a Tablet with sketching ability. Meaning you get to draw on it, over photos, text, etc.  We especially like the new HTC with Scribe Technology. It’s as easy as taking a photo, dropping the photo in your “notes” section, and then scribbling away. Sharing is incredibly easy, as you can post it on FB or send it by email with just a touch.  Having the notes, arrows or directions right on the photo is an invaluable tool, and so much easier to comprehend then trying to synch up those attached notes.

Posted in Design | Tagged ,

Back to School: The Case for Crayons

Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.
– Mark Twain

A person is composed of mind and body — emotions and senses, muscle, bone, and brain with analytical and creative sides. Clearly, a person is a complex being to grow up to be, and becoming one takes more than just learning letters and numbers. If we are to take the advice of Mr. Clemens, there’s more to education than what schools teach.

To nudge the young ones towards the lofty goals of holistic personhood, how about showing the right side of the brain some love? You can nurture creative instincts by handing over a box of crayons — it’s very handy and fabulously versatile. You’ll  marvel at what can be done with these schoolbag staple.

Here's something that can be done with an interesting water-soluble type of crayons.

Crayons can be melted and cut out in these adorable butterfly shapes. Image from Butterfly Dreams. Click on the it for directions.

Another way to melt crayons. By Etsy user JKCreate.

Out-of-the-box thinking by Ryan Peter Miller -- using individual crayons as a pixel. Awesome!

Or you can just carve them, like Vietnamese-American artist Diem Chau does.

So stash some crayons in your child’s bag, and put a box in your own purse too. Here are a bunch of other little nifty things aside from crayons that you can pack in a backpack that’ll bring out the artist and creative thinker in anybody, whether child or adult.

Brushes Leveled Up

This is what talent can make out of the most basic materials, if it is nurtured and developed. Image created by Roz Wound Up.

Pocket-sized Music

No, we’re not talking about digital music players. But musical instruments to compose and create music with.

Image from Harmonica Songs

Young ‘uns can channel Bob Dylan or Alanis and put out some mind-blowing melodies with a harmonica in their back pockets. Or they can just take out their iPhones — if they’ve got music apps installed, like GuitarStudio or TableDrum.

TableDrum for iPhone turns tapping into drum beats.