Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'gadgets'

A Wonder This Didn’t Catch On

March 1st, 2013 · 4 Comments

In an attempt to flesh out the nascent The Skies Belong to Us mood board, I have been combing through reams of patents for anti-hijacking devices. Most are deliciously zany, such as this capture chamber or this trick chair. The hijacking epidemic of the late 1960s and early 1970s certainly seems to have fired up […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Knife Tricks

January 25th, 2013 · 2 Comments

The effervescent young lady above worked for an early manufacturer of handheld metal detectors. Here she shows a Congressional panel how the skyjackers of the the late 1960s managed to sneak knives aboard planes, even when selected for manual frisking by airline employees. From my very nascent collection of skyjacking-related images, tied into the forthcoming […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The Simple Can Be So Difficult

December 27th, 2012 · No Comments

A few days before Christmas, a milestone of sorts was reached at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology: for the first time ever, a few eggs were cooked on a kerosene stove. This was significant not because of the quality of the meal produced, but rather because the stove generated eight watts of electricity […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

The Garments of Egg Smugglers

October 22nd, 2012 · No Comments

The fear of detection begets some of the most admirable innovation around, a technological truism proved by the photographic records of Australian Customs. These galleries are chock full of devices that smugglers have used to route around law enforcement, mostly in order to convey drugs from Southeast Asia. But there are also several wearable inventions […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

A Matlock Moment

February 28th, 2012 · 2 Comments

I’m a sucker for a tale in which the American legal system is asked to rule on the legitimacy of a medical treatment. No matter how dubious a quack’s product, he or she can always scrounge up satisfied customers to attest to its power, as well as a few expert witnesses who will say almost […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

What Would Buddha Do?

August 24th, 2011 · 1 Comment

I do not believe the prince who renounced the world in order to attain Enlightenment would approve of these copyright shenanigans in Taiwan: The funeral industry has been rocked by a lawsuit filed by a music company that accuses funeral homes of intellectual property right (IPR) infringement for playing Buddhist chants and pop music during […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·······

That Revelatory Moment

June 8th, 2011 · 4 Comments

In studying various classic works of non-fiction, I’ve noticed that many do an excellent job of setting up a character’s epiphany. This is no mean feat, as it is quite easy to make those sudden revelations come off as artificial. The key is to make us understand the logical trail that led someone to realize […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

The Patron Saint of Chi-Chi’s

April 13th, 2011 · No Comments

I’m working on a Wired piece that’s requiring some deep-diving into Patent Office history, and so I’ve recently been losing myself in Google’s nifty patents database (which is far more user-friendly than Uncle Sam’s). For some odd reason, I’ve found myself gravitating toward food-technology patents, since engineering innovation has obviously remade the American diet—and, by […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

The Importance of Good Design

January 13th, 2011 · No Comments

A salient reminder that engineering details really matter, from the august (and 141-year-old) pages of The Field Quarterly Magazine and Review: The Hindustani howdah often requires six men to place it on the elephant’s padded back. The Siamese “shing kha” can be easily lifted by two persons, and this while the elephant is standing—a great […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·········

Death to Acer

September 10th, 2010 · 14 Comments

I’m writing this post while recovering from a bout of Hulk-like rage, brought about by the sudden death of my Acer Aspire 3810T’s screen. I should’ve known this would happen when I first removed the laptop from the box—the cover instantly struck me as having the strength of tin foil. Thankfully, I had a D-sub […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The Father of Boom

July 27th, 2010 · 2 Comments

During my guest stint over at Ta-Nehisi’s place last week, a commenter reminded me of my all-time favorite Otto von Bismarck quote: “Politics is the art of the possible.” The unsmiling German statesman may have meant that all successful negotiations must end in compromise, but I’d like to think he also had faith in politics’ […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:········

A Notch Below the Opti-Grab

May 7th, 2010 · No Comments

While using the U.S. Patent Office’s records to try and discern what genius invented the jalapeno popper, we accidentally stumbled upon an invention for the ages: the flavored boot for eyeglasses. We’ll let the application’s description do the dirty work for us: Many individuals who wear eyeglasses frequently will remove their eyeglasses and place the […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

Essential Egg Tech

March 9th, 2010 · No Comments

Since far more learned organizations have the whole gadget scene locked down, we here at Microkhan rarely wax rhapsodic about the electronic toys that wow us. But we just couldn’t help ourselves upon coming across the Egg Shell Thickness Gauge, which now sits high atop our wish list. How many hours have we spent fraught […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

“The Mills of the Gods”

August 24th, 2009 · No Comments

With next year’s Census already sparking so much political heat, it’s worth looking back at one of Microkhan’s favorite-ever technology stories: the 1890 Census, the tabulation fiesta that have birth to (semi-)modern programming. For the hardcore geeks in the audience, this is already a well-known tale, featuring one of the true rock stars of the […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:········

Speed Climbing’s Grey Eminence

June 24th, 2009 · No Comments

Granted, in the clip above, the bloke on the right-hand tree gets smoked. But cut him some slack—when this video was shot, Guy German was 53 years old, with nothing else to prove in the world of timbersports. He is, after all, widely recognized as the greatest speed climber in history. And he’s still competing […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

The Winner in the Quagga Mess

June 10th, 2009 · No Comments

Despite mankind’s best efforts, the ultra-aggressive quagga mussel continues to spread unabated across our great land. Gorgeous Lake Tahoe is the latest victim, while the shellfish invasion’s in full swing over near Cleveland. And could the mussels even dim the Sin City lights someday? Nothing, it seems, can stop the quagga mussel, given the species […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:········

I, Milkbot

May 4th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Growing up in Los Angeles, I always idealized cow milking. It seemed like such a delightful, salt-of-the-earth activity, with just the right amount of grossness thrown in for good measure. Plus, being the curious sort of bairn, I was always fascinated by the thought of tracing my beloved Kraft Singles back to the source. Turns […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:·····

Shacked!

April 29th, 2009 · No Comments

Given that Radio Shack provides one of the least pleasant retail experiences imaginable, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. Though I wonder if the employee asked for the customer’s zip code while delivering the beatdown.

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Top-Notch Pigeon Tech

April 28th, 2009 · 2 Comments

With legit cash available on the pigeon-racing circuit, there’s huge demand for gadgets that can ensure fair play. And that’s where Germany’s Unikon comes in, offering the very best in tracking rings, loft antennas, and clocks capable of simultaneously timing 250 birds. A video review of Unikon’s latest clock, the Champ, is available here, via […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

The Decline of Braille

April 16th, 2009 · 11 Comments

Whenever I’m in an elevator, I take note of whether or not the button numbers are printed in Braille. Not entirely sure why, but I’ve always thought Braille was a brilliant invention—simple, intuitive, and oh-so-useful. And it’s got such a cool backstory, with its roots in 19th-century French spycraft. But according to a recent report […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:···

Is It Real, or Is It Moissanite?

April 9th, 2009 · 10 Comments

Even expert jewelers can mistake a well-crafted slab of paste for the genuine article. Or at least that’s the theory behind DiamondNite, a hand-held gadget that beeps when it’s placed against a diamond, yet remains silent when brought in contact with cubic zirconia or moissanite. DiamondNite’s manufacturer won’t reveal how the device works, but Microkhan […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····

The Slow Geek Movement

February 13th, 2009 · No Comments

Wired “Senior Maverick” Kevin Kelly writes a touching ode to Amish hackers. The German-speaking denizens of Lancaster County may eschew modern conveniences, but they’re still plenty tech-mad. A key passage on a jerryrigged electrical system in an Amish woodworking shop: The boss takes me around to the back where a huge dump-truck-sized diesel generator sits. […]

Share

[Read more →]

Tags:····