Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Origami Paper for Star Wars Origami

 Earlier today I was wondering about the difference between "to" and "too", so I had to take an extra minute to look that up just to make sure I don't abuse it too badly.  Here is the hard and fast rule; you can almost always replace "too" with "excessively" or "also", if those replacements don't make any sense then you need to use "to".  If you don't believe me, then go look it up in your Mirriam-Webster Dicitonary.

Completely unrelated, but it also happened today, visions of origami flashed before my eyes and I was intrigued.  If you weren't aware of the situation, origami is where you take a piece of paper and fold it and contort it on all manners of manipulation (without cutting or gluing or taping anything) and create a new object.

I found a pretty cool site of Star Wars Origami that would be a perfect jumping off point for kids that are interested in making something a little more exciting than the standard cup, boat, or crane.  So go ahead and knock yourself making yourself an origami fleet of A-Wings.  Unfortunately, most of the people working on origami these days are also trying to publish or sell a book so you can't expect them to give you all the goods for free.

Pacon primarily sells two different sets of origami paper and the pricing seems odd to me.  40 sheets of 9 x 9 bright colored lightweight paper will cost around $7, but 55 sheets of 9-3/4 x 9-3/4 bright colored lightweight paper will cost around $6.  I don't know why anybody would pay more money for less paper, but maybe 9 inch origami paper is just that awesome.  Now please go and purchase some origami paper and build a origami Gamera for me (Gamera explained).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pushpin Pixels Produce Plumber

I ran across this series of photos on flickr that a group of students created back in 2008.  They had a bulletin board and took the time to fill it up with pushpins to create an iconic Super Mario Brothers scene.  The flickr posting claims that over 17,000 pins were used in the creation here, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that it probably took a long long time to get this finished.  So maybe some video game sprites aren't as artsy as photo-realistic replications in pushpins, but it does appeal to a fair number of people.

As you can see from the above images there are clearly blue pushpins, green pushpins, black pushpins and white pushpins.  There are red pushpins, a few orange pushpins and even fewer yellow pushpins, with a smattering of peach colored pins.  It is most probable that they just repainted a number of pins to get the custom coloring they needed.  I can tell from another photos on flickr that they did have a number of clear pushpins as well as a freakish variety of skin-toned pins.

If you were going to attempt to reconstruct this on your own I'd recommend you find the cheapest multicolor pushpins that you can (these Universal Rainbow Pushpins are under a dollar) and buy enough to fill your wall.  You could save a couple more cents by buying these OIC Pushpins in Bulk if you wanted.  Any set of pins will supply you with the basic red, blue, yellow, and green, and finding any specialized colors will be very difficult so you would be better off picking up a can of spray-paint designed for plastic and making sure you get a perfect orange, and a perfect skin tone.  Oddly enough Universal does sell a pack of all red pushpins, but any other color you'll have to risk a variety pack.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pilot G2 vs. Zebra Sarasa

I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the pens I use from day to day.  Sometimes I grab for a FriXion pen if I think I'll be making mistakes, or a cheap ballpoint if I think I'm prone to forgetting it.  I use a pencil on occasion, but more often than not I'll grab for my Sharpie pen.  Today, on a lark, I grabbed a random pen from the back and wrote my notes with that, nothing special, just your standard Gel pen.  I read the clip: "Zebra Sarasa 0.7" and thought to myself, that sounds cool, but isn't very memorable.

Of course the next thing I needed to do was open the pen up and see what format the ink refill was and what kind of spring it used, and was shocked to see it reminded me an awful lot of the Pilot G2 that everybody loves.  So I dug up a couple Pilot G2s from around the office (what office doesn't have them running around these days) and was surprised to see that the Sarasa refill would fit perfectly in the Pilot G2, but the G2 refill doesn't quite work in the Zebra Sarasa.  I checked some prices and it turns out that the Sarasa refill actually costs slightly more than G2 refill, so it doesn't work as an economical replacement.  The Sarasa Refill doesn't have that funky yellow/orange waxy/pus thing, so that's a bonus.  The Zebra Sarasa Pen is actually a little cheaper than Pilot G2 Pen so given the lifetime cost of either pen, they probably even out.

When you first see the Zebra Sarasa next to the Pilot G2 it does look like Zebra was trying to imitate Pilot and did a poor job.  The G2's clip is a little more organic, and the finger padding looks, but isn't actually, thicker.  When you take each pen and actually write with them, they make almost exactly the same lines with the same thickness and same fluidity.

The one thing I noticed was that the G2 has, for lack of a better term, amplified Desk Noise.  When people test-drive cars they always talk about Road Noise (the unintentional noise that the wheels on the road make and how well you can hear it) and the pen-to-desk noise seems like a fair comparison.  There must be something about the way that the G2 is constructed that allows the refill to rattle just enough in the casing that creates this, while the Sarasa must be built with just a fraction less space that doesn't allow as much rattle.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Girly Office Supplies

I've been married long enough to know that I don't know a whole lot about what kind of things the fairer sex are interested in.  Sex and the CitySex and the City The MovieSex and the City The Movie Part 2?  I'll never understand the appeal.  I tried to watch part of an episode once, to try to keep up with the pop culture and see what the kids were watching.  After a couple minutes of them making baby noises at shoes and talking about something else boring I changed the channel to watch some robots kill people.  I accept that my tastes are not universal (see Lifetime Movie Network as evidence) and in the interest of fairness I present these Office Supplies for people like Sex and the City.

If you watch Sex and the City you might know enough about shoes to say that this was styled after such and such a shoe from such and such a season, but the only thing I know about high heeled shoes is they come with in varieties, expensive and uncomfortable (sometimes both).  This shoe shaped tape dispenser is made by 3M and since they are the Scotch tape people you know that they make a good dispenser.  It comes with one roll, and of course tape refills are easy to come by.

Those marketing geniuses know that females are tempted by more than just shoes, some of them love purses too.  So they have created a Post-it dispenser that is shaped like a purse complete with pseudo-crocodile-skin-textured plastic.  It  comes with a special pad of Pop-Up Post-it Pads that are unavailable anywhere else (they alternate between hot-pink and bright-green).  You can buy plain-Jane pop-up refill pads, but if you want the special ones you can just buy another purse shaped dispenser.

Sadly, 3M stopped innovating on their Sex in the City themed office supplies and doesn't have a lipstick shaped pencil sharpener for us, but those guys over at PaperPro have created a great pink stapler that will look great on your desk next to your shoe and purse shaped dispensers.  This stapler does more than just proclaim to the world that you are a proud carrier of two X chromosomes, it helps raise some funds for Cancer research.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

B2P Pen: Made from a Bottle

Have you seen these B2P pens that Pilot makes?  You can read about them on the official Pilot B2P pen site and see a number of thier youtube commercials already available.  Sure lots of people have already talked a lot about them, but that doesn't mean I can't continue to talk about them.  Sure you already know that clear blueish plastic pen body is made from recycled plastic bottles, but there is more than meets the eye.

The people at Pilot always want to show off their pen with the label in place because it allows you to easily identify the pen, but that label is a sticker that is pretty easy to remove.  Then you get a pen that is unlabeled and looks cool.  It hearkens back to the days of semi-translucent electronics.  Of course once you remove those few stickers you can easily see your G2 ink cartridge which means you can see how much ink is available until you need to refill it.  All the standard G2 ink refills and G2 compatible work flawlessly in this pen.

One thing that isn't always advertised is that this pen is completely manufactured and assembled in France.  This means that you can rest assured that the people building this pen were paid a fair wage and that is is really 89% recycled and not just a counterfeit.  Before you blow your nose at the French as a bunch of frog-leg eating surrender-monkeys, remember that they totally save our collective American bacon in the Revolutionary War, and they still make some fantastic food.

Don't this pen is 100% sunshine and rainbows just because it is 89% recycled though.  That means there is a full 11% of this pen comes from some other sources.  To make matters worse, the G2 ink cartridge isn't even included in that 11% of unrecycled materials (they don't count it because it is replaceable).  Using some very unscientific science I'd say it is closer to 50% recycled content.  I'm not really sure what you can do with the refuse from the pen after it breaks on you.  I don't think any of it recyclable, and I know the ink refills are just supposed to be disposed with the rest of your trash.  Sure there are bigger fish to fry (like my neighbors who put all manner of recyclables in their trash cans), but this in the Internet so I'm allowed to gripe about any small thing I want.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Evil Mad Scientists Prefer Sharpie

I stumbled across a kit from Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories that they put together to draw on eggs (or other spherical surfaces) that they cleverly call The Egg-Bot Kit. Now I don't know many people who have many reasons to make sure that their Easter Eggs are this perfectly printed on, but I dig where they are going. You can probably think of it as somewhere between a funky CNC and a mutant plotter. Evil Mad Scientist does tend toward those amongst the internet that prefer Arduinos to Articulating Keyboard Trays, but this kit seems like a pretty straight forward take it out of the box, build it, plug it in and draw on eggs style kit. There are of course going to be some hardware hackers out there who are going to take this kit and turn it into some pretty amazing stuff.

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories does show a few cool designs they drew on eggs and Christmas ornaments and Light bulbs and their marker of choice is (and you can't blame them) Sharpie. Seeing as how they have done a number of demos at different gatherings I can only assume they have tried a number of different markers and decided that Sharpies are the best option in permanent marking on whatever odd spherical surface you have. Weather it is glass or egg shell you know that your thin tipped Sharpie will do the job.

The completed "eggssortment" shows a wide variety of colors, and it looks like they not only used the common Sharpie colors but went above and beyond the call of duty and started mixing colors as well.  You can tell from the photos that the Markers are Sharpie Ultra Fine Point Permanent Markers, but sadly they didn't try the Extra Fine Industrial Sharpies just to see how well they'd hold up.

Sharpie does of course make a some metallic extra fine markers if you want a bolder metallic stroke.  So if you are lucky enough to be picking up an Egg-Bot why not pick up a variety pack of Ultra Fine Point Sharpies to go with it.  It is the egg drawing marker of choice for mad scientists.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Office Supply Detective investigates The Chive White Board Girl

I probably spend to much time reading blogs when I should be doing important family things but I didn't catch The Chive's Girl quits job using white board bit until it was on the rebound of it officially bieng a hoax.  I guess I never found it particularly interesting when there were rumors about new iPods to watch for (I do have priorities).  In hind sight I don't know why I didn't think to ask myself a little about this hoax and just for the sake of curiosity take a look at the office supplies at stake here.

First you've got a white board.  Looks pretty nice, a fairly thick border and for some reason she left the two magnets attached even though she doesn't use them (obviously they came with the board).  I can't gaurantee that this Quartet Dry-Erase Board is the same one as used in The Chive hoax, but it looks pretty close.  It includes a thin point marker and two magnetic circles.  My guess is that the manufacturer may have changed thier product slightly over time and just never gave thier supplies a proper updated product image.

Assuming that used the included fine-tip black marker for most of the production and just for the sake of my sanity that they were doing it on the cheap AND wanted to continue using Quartet brand products the best option for them to draw the flames is with this red low-oder dry erase marker.  There are literally thousands of dry erase markers available, so there is no gaurantee it is even close, but I think it is good enough.  A chisel tip would allow them to vary between thick and thin lines as you see in the photos.

So why don't you grab your own white board and take a series of pictures of yourself with messages you wrote and send them to us.  I'll make a random guess as to what kind of supplies you used to create your photos.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top 10 Green Office Supplies

Because the internet loves lists and more office supply manufacturers are heading down the route of eco-friendly products I present you with the Top 10 Green Office Supplies.

10.  GreenSorb

I've blogged about GreenSorb before and it's an all natural, non-toxic absorbent material that will absorb 6 times more liquid than the traditional clay used in most buisness places these days.  Available in 2.4 pound and 4 pound shakers.

9.  Papermate Biodegradable Pen

A large portion of this Papermate pen has is made from corn derived plastics and is Biodegradable.  They do include directions on the packaging for properly disposing of the pen as some portions are not able to be reclaimed. Available with black or blue ink.
8. Acco Recycled Paper Clips

Acco has pulled out all the stops for these Recycled Paper Clips.  Made from 50% pre and 50% post consumer waste, even the box is made from recycled paper products.  They are every bit as good as standard paper clips, but eco-friendly.  Available in jumbo or regular sizes.

7. Genuine Joe Eternity Mat

These floor mats are made from 99.9% post-consumer recycled materials.  The carpeted surface is made from plastic bottles and the rubber backing is made from tires.  I assume the other 0.1% of materials is an adhesive keeping it together.  Available in 36", 60" or 72" length.

6.  Pilot B2P Gel Pen

The casing for these pens is made from recycled plastic and the ink is the now classic G2 Gel Refill so it is easily refillable.  The pen is 89.9% recycled materials, so I assume bits like the spring, and obviously the ink cartridge, are from standard manufacturing sources.  Available with Red, Blue, and Black ink.
5.  Baumgartens Conserve Disposable Cutlery

Made from corn starch, these disposable pieces of silverware are just as rugged and durable as plastic silverware, but won't sit in a landfills forever.  Spoons, Forks, and Knifes are available.
4.  Ticonderoga EnviroStik

Each pencil is made from 35% recycled post-consumer waste and any wood used is from reforested supplies.  The eraser is biodegrable.  No harsh finishes or lacquers are used and even the ferrule is recyclable.  It is one of the few products that is 100% bioderadable or recyclable.  Only available by the dozen.
3.  Henkel CareMail Greenwrap

You never have to use plastic petro-bubble wrap again.  Henkel's CareMail Greenwrap is a great substitute and is made from "renewable resources."  It is 0% recycled material and we can't be sure it comes from sustainable forests, but it is easily recycled.  Available in 26 foot and 75 foot lengths.
2.  Seventh Generation Paper Towels

Hopefully you've heard of Seventh Generation before. 100% recycled with 80% post-consumer waste.  No fragrances and whitened without chlorine.  With the amount of paper towels an office goes through, this is a must have.  Available in regular sized or smaller select-a-sheet.
1. Mohawk Recycled Paper

The most often purchased supply at any office is easily paper and when you have a paper that is 100% post-consumer waste and created using wind power it is an easy choice for the eco-friendly office.  Available in a 500 sheet ream.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Biggest Binder Around

I was recently talking to one of my co-workers and he asked me if there was any way to attempt to neatly organize 1200 pages of paper.  I happened to have just talked to a friendly Samsill representative not to long ago who was showing off his 6-inch D Ring Binder.  This monstrous binder had to be specially manufactured to maintain it's shape while securely holding an extremely large quantity of paperwork.  Sure you could buy two 3-inch binders and lash them together with rubber bands, but you don't have any guarantee that they'll stay together forever.  Your customer records for L-Z in 1992 aren't nearly as exciting as the records for A-Z.

Get a good look at this behemoth because I don't think it is physically possible to create a binder any larger.  A similar 6-inch Binder is available in white as well if that fits your color scheme a little better, but it is still the same high quality D Ring Binder you need.  Thanks to the use of the D-Ring you can store a whole lot more paper than the standard round ring.  The documentation says it'll hold 1300 sheets of paper and I'll take them at thier word, I don't have 1300 sheets to test it with.

Inside this Huge Binder

This does of course make me wonder what it takes to fill this beast and what it is like once it is full.  Assume that it is filled with 1300 pages of the fairly common 24 lb paper which should weight around 16 pounds total (don't worry the math is complicated).  16 pounds isn't to heavy, but it probably isn't something I'd trust my grandmother to carry around.  But as you lug your extra large heavy duty binder around the office you can rest assured that once upon a time that same weight in ham was worth 1.6 million dollars.