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565. HumBugg: Fireplace DVD January 3, 2008

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Product.
3 comments

My in-laws have birds residing in their chimney, so they never use their fireplace. So as a holiday gift, I purchased for them Brookstone’s Fireplace DVD: 50 minutes of high-definition film of a crackling fire (with or without holiday music). Instantly my father-in-law realized that there was a problem: like with most plasma TV screens, a constant image will burn pixels after about 30 minutes. On the DVD, the fire itself moves, of course, but the rest of the image was static. I guess I didn’t find the fine print that indicated that this DVD was only for LCD and old-school TVs.

Since it was a Christmas gift, this was truly a bah HumBugg.

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538. HumBugg: Non-working Bathroom stall locks September 24, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg.
2 comments

Don’t you hate it when you find a bathroom stall with a clean toilet (flushed, with no urine on the seat), but the door won’t lock? So you have to do your business holding the door closed with your foot or arm to prevent two people from being embarassed. Really…how hard is it to make a lock that works all the time, even if the door sags or the alignment is slightly off?

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533. HumBugg: No Shoehorns September 21, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Product.
1 comment so far

Traveling through airports yesterday reminded me of one of my biggest pet-peeves: no shoehorns available in the security lines. OK, I can appreciate having to take our shoes off, but please make it simple and easy for me to slip them back on. With security lines stretching on for miles, wouldn’t you think that airports would want to reduce traveler stress and save time, all by simply providing a couple of cheap shoehorns? This wouldn’t even be a Bright Idea, it would be a BASIC one. Having the long shoehorns available wouldn’t even require sitting down. Mind-boggling.

While I am venting here: how about shoehorns in dressing rooms (especially ones for men)? Am I the only guy who is too lazy to untie my shoes, then have to retie them?

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496. HumBugg: Wide Collars September 7, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Product, Video.
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This guy may be studly, but I really don’t like the look of his collar: too wide.

When I wore ties with my dress shirts, the collar looked fine. Once I stopped wearing ties with those same shirts, they all looked like this clown’s shirt. So I frequently wore shirts with the button-down collars only.

I tried to ideate something to keep the collar down: tape, putty, but nothing moved me. Some guy invented these Magnetic Collar Stays (video clip below; via The Big Idea), but they only work with shirts that have the slit to insert the stays, and it turns out most of my shirts don’t. So I continue to wear my shirts with button-down collars. Grump.

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217. HumBugg?: Laser Scissors March 13, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Product.
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Laser
Perhaps this product is a Bright Idea, but I am not going to spend the $20 to try to find out. But it does seem to me that the angle of the laser line will move as soon as you adjust your wrist in the slightest. So you can cut completely along the laser-lit line, but unless you have a wrist-locking brace, what guarantees that your cut will be straight? Buy one (or not) HERE, via Crave.

Sure, it may be better than nothing, but I doubt the laser beats a pencil and straight-edge (under $1).

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198. HumBugg: Sleepy Driving March 6, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Product.
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Falling asleep at the wheel causes so many road accidents. That is why I carry Vivarin in my glove compartment, and thought my IdeaSpark* (#66: The Random Shocker) could save some lives.

Look at (and read about, for some) this gadget being sold in Japan:

Sleepingly tilt your head 10 degrees, and get buzzed. Problem (1): As others have mentioned, tilt your head for any reason (e.g. look at the radio, admire your pants) and you get buzzed. Problem (2): When I get drowsy when driving, my eyes begin to close, with my head still staying upright. I say that this device could give folks a false sense of security.

I have a much better IdeaSpark*: an electronic device that you clip to your eyelids, and when your eyelids stay closed for longer than a blink, you get poked in the cornea by an acid-tipped shard. That is sure to keep you awake!

Manufacturer’s website HERE (in Japanese); via OhGizmo!.

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155. HumBugg: MiniBar Reservations February 4, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Experience, Food and Drink, HumBugg, Service.
1 comment so far

Cafe Atlantico’s Minibar was just voted the 5th best restaurant in Washington, DC, by Washingtonian Magazine (review here). With only 12 seats available a night, each bar-front seating of 6 has a chef preparing 30 different morsels in front the patrons.

You can only make reservations exactly one month in advance, starting at 9 AM that morning. This morning, I called the Minibar at 8:56 AM to try to reserve seats to celebrate my wife’s birthday next month, and a kind lady answered and told me to call back at 9:00. At 8:59, I called back, only to get a busy signal. Over 50 calls with busy signals (literally, from my phone alone, not counting the calls from my wife’s cell phone) and 13 minutes later, I finally got the same lady, who stated that, sorry, they were all booked up.

Bright Idea: As a restaurant, come up with a dining experience where reservations are booked instantly.

HumBugg: Making me speed dial my phone like I am trying to be the 9th caller to a radio station giving away tickets to see ‘N Sync, Elvis, and the Pope open for the premiere screening of Star Wars Episode 7.

Almost makes me want to pay the $40 fee to Primetabletables.com, a service which provides reservations to “the most sought after and exclusive restaurants in the US.” (via Springwise.com)

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144. HumBugg: Elevator Shaft Slits January 25, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg.
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ElevatorSlit
Two months ago, I almost dropped my keys down an elevator shaft slit. Tonight, while talking to my brother on the phone, that is exactly what he did. I told him that it is probably pretty common since folks in buildings
(especially residential ones) are usually handling their keys as they are coming or going through the elevator doors.

It’s a friggin’ black hole of inconvenience, I tell you. OTIS or someone needs to come up with a solution to this annoyance. How hard would it be to design and install a couple of rubber or brush strips to act as blockers? Probably not hard at all.

While they are at it, why don’t they design fold-down ledges to sit on or rest your groceries on, and an extremely easy to see and use “hold door open button” at eye level. And if they are feeling really creative, how about coming up with a way I can choose my floor without touching the same buttons Johnny-nose-picker just pushed (via, say, voice commands, or extra large buttons or switches).

And while we are on the topic, consider checking out this intelligent elevator dispatching system (longish article).

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125. HumBugg: Reunion.com January 9, 2007

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Service, Website.
1 comment so far

I recently got a mass email from an estranged old friend, via Reunion.com (apparently, a social networking site), asking me to update my contact info for her. Feeling generous, I quickly did so. I then I wanted to see my friend’s profile to see what she has been up to lately.

But, to do so, I was required to register first, so I did. After filling out my info, I was then asked to pay a registration fee (an entire 1 or 3 year plan; non-refundable; averaging about $4/month). This annoying and audacious technique is known as “foot-in-the-door.” Or, I could get a 3 day trial if I invited 20 of my eligible contacts. This reminded me of pimping. I declined, and was denied access to my friend’s full profile.

Then I get an email from Reunion.com yesterday, letting me know that three people searched for my name on the site that day. I followed a link to see who they were. But, you guessed it, I had to pay first (this is similar to the “bait-and-switch“).

Unless you are satellite radio, don’t charge me for something I am used to getting for free (like refills). What a waste of a solid domain name. Allegedly, 25 million users have signed up so far. I am astonished.

105. HumBugg: Triaminic Thin Strips December 26, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Product.
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I have been sick for the past 4 days, with a cough. So I came across this product, and thought it sounded like a Bright Idea: strips that I can put in the back of my throat, right where it itches. Makes sense, right?

Well, it tastes like crap. I would rather be coughing then have the bitter taste of aspirin lingering in my gullet.

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Gas for a trip to Target = $ 2.36

Triaminic Thin Strips = $ 4.34

The taste of ass in your throat = Worthless

101. HumBugg: No Free Refills December 21, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in Food and Drink, HumBugg, Service.
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I was eating lunch out today, and came across another bad idea: no free refills. I have come to expect free refills, especially when I am paying over a dollar for what is costing them 4 cents.

Mr. Eating Establishment, you may get your extra $.50 for a refill, or make me order a whole other drink, but you have probably lost me as a customer (unless your food is damn good, in which case I may return one day, but will only drink water).

HumBugg, and Not So Bright Idea.

98. HumBugg: Clanging Clothes in the Dryer December 18, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg.
2 comments

I am doing my laundry tonight, and a large zipper, clanging away as it tumbles in the dryer, is irking the crap out of me.

I doubt this idea would make millions, but I wish someone would manufacture silicone clips that would muffle big zippers and buttons in the dryer.

For those who have large houses and specialized laundry rooms, closing the door and some distance will do the trick. However, some of us live in small condos/apartments/flats.

And while I am on the topic, how about designing more dryers that play a nice little tune or call my cell phone when its done drying? My dryer startles me everytime with a loud and obnoxious buzz.

80. HumBugg: Four-footed tables December 9, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg.
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My wife and I ate lunch at the Stray Cat Cafe today. As it tends to happen at restaurants, our table wobbled. This time I didn’t bother trying to shimmy a sugar packet or folded napkin under the loose foot. Rather, I thought I would post this HumBugg.

Why do these type of tables still exist? Simply make all restaurant tables have three feet/legs, and then there will be no more wobbling. This is a simple solution to a very common and annoying problem.

73. HumBugg: Door Knobs December 5, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Product.
2 comments

 Can anyone tell me why door knobs still exist? Door handles are far superior. You can open a door with a handle with one finger, or even a butt cheek (when hands and arms are full), which is easier and more sanitary for you. Handles also allow for a larger range of aesthetic design options.

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Anyway, my question still stands: shouldn’t door knobs be permanently retired? Then we won’t need inventions like the one in this picture to compensate for poor design. Please let me know if I am missing something, here.

Until then, long live the door handle!

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67. HumBugg: Tiny Tag December 1, 2006

Posted by Matt Fleming, PsyD in HumBugg, Plaything, Product.
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Great Idea, poor execution: Miniature laser-tag. Ah…so much potential. I bought this as soon as I saw it, they came in the mail today, and I was disappointed. Wonk. At $12 a pair, I got what I paid for: cheap, inconsistently performing, barely-audible trinkets. Wait for version 2.0.

Potential: if this was well made, there could be cool applications:

(1) Use these all day long at the office, playing against your coworkers. You can only be tagged by another if you don’t see them first (if you see them, they can’t tag you for the next 15 min or something). The person who is “IT” by the end of the workday buys the others the first round of beer at happy hour.

(2) Great to use in games like Killer.

(3) There could probably be a fast-paced chase version with players on bikes in a city.

I came across this at OhGizmo!