Bartender trick of the trade

In the sci-fi film Passengers, Chris Pratt is the perpetual lone customer of an android bartender played by Michael Sheen. Pratt's character astutely observes (paraphrasing): "I'm your only customer, so why are you always polishing a glass?" Sheen's droid responds, "Old bartender trick of the trade. People are uncomfortable if you just stand there." So it turns out that the bartender/customer interaction is a designed product, too - whether in the brains of present-day flesh-and-blood sudslingers or the algorithms of future android drink jockeys - and it's designed to accommodate all of our irrational human idiosyncrasies. Good to know.

The Lyft/Uber Option We Really Want

Make it happen. I know a lot of people (myself included) who'd pay the premium.

Swanky Floating Ladle

It might look unstable floating there in that soup, but apparently the Swanky floating ladle from OTOTO will indeed stay upright. Not sure about the one sitting on the counter, though (what black magic is at work there?). Anyway, a ladle that doesn't sink and doesn't melt from leaning against a hot pot edge sounds like a decent improvement - and the swan neck is fairly elegant. Overall, a design that brings a smile to one's face, and that's value in itself!
[via Gizmodo]

Artificial Intelligence: Not quite there yet.


I've generally been impressed with the abilities of virtual assistants in recent years - Siri, Alexa, Cortana, "Okay Google" - to come up with the right answer to real, factual questions asked verbally in natural language by flesh-and-blood humans. However, it turns out we shouldn't trust those answers quite yet. Tom Scocca writes an account of his misadventures regarding an article he wrote, correcting a widespread falsehood about the time required to caramelize onions. He found that Google was extracting a quote his article specifically identified as false, using that as the "correct" answer, and crediting Tom for it. A convoluted path, and it'd require impressive artificial intelligence to parse the correct context - but that's what's needed if an AI assistant is to be truly trusted. It's since been corrected - possibly manually? - and the right answer is shown in the image above. But be warned: AI just isn't quite there yet.
[Gizmodo]

Knife + Fork = Knork

Sure, everyone loves a plastic spork when you need one, but what about the knork? I've frequently used a fork edge to cut through food, with varying success; imagine if the utensil had been designed with that in mind? As Dave Cortright explains on Cool Tools, the knork has an outside edge sharp enough for food but not so sharp as to cut your cheek, and a handle shaped for the application of lateral force. However, would it work as a disposable plastic utensil, reducing waste as the spork does? If not, it may be destined to languish as a sideshow, no matter how many stars it garners on Amazon...
[Cool Tools]

ACLU Dash Button

Amazon Dash buttons are kinda stupid. Trump is really stupid. But hey, can one stupid thing cancel out another? Thanks to intrepid hacker Nathan Pryor, they can! He customized a Dash button so that each press donates $5 to the ACLU. Pressing a button is a satisfying alternative to throwing something across the room or screaming into a pillow - and with this button, it might actually do some good!
[via Engadget & TechCrunch]

Kwik Sip: A drinking fountain in every faucet!

I kind of wish I that I lived in an alternate universe where the Kwik Sip faucet attachment was the ubiquitous norm instead of a weird, geeky outlier. Every faucet magically turns into a drinking fountain anytime you want it? Count me in.
[via Cool Tools]