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Monthly Archives: November 2009

It has just struck 12, and is now officially black friday in the eastern time zone. The saddest day of the year, as idiots fall for misleading advertising. Limited quantity sale items being used to push the regular, supposedly sale, or even inflated price merchandise. And they will kill each other to get it. A few years ago, on this very night, I ended up out with a few hundred dollars, so I figured I’d check out the hype and attempt to get the Wii I had been wanting. Within five minutes of arriving at the mall, I watched an adult woman of about 30 elbow a child who couldn’t have been older than 10 in the face, and take the box he had in his hand. Surrounding the GameStop was madness. Swarms of people reaching and rushing to get one of 20 tickets, each representing 1 Wii. Managed to get the last one, woohoo. I genuinely thought that while walking back to the car I was going to have to hurt someone attempting to steal my purchase. Not going out on black friday again. Unless maybe I get a crack at a really good deal.

-Kit

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So a few friends of mine and I were at a diner, and let’s call him P, was joining us with his girlfriend. She was sitting quietly sipping hot chocolate from a mug with a rooster printed upon it, so I pulled out my camera, snapped a picture, and leaned over to P. “If you don’t pay up, there’s going to be pictures all over the internet of your girlfriend draining hot cocks.” Wink.

-Kit

I’m getting a bit tired of the use of toothpaste tube type packaging for so many products. The issue really is how similar they are. There’s about three kinds of cap, and they are largely yellow, white, and sometimes red. I’d like to see more original packaging with the intent of not being so damned alike, and this would not only keep me from having accidents like say…nearly brushing my teeth with Preparation-H
like I nearly did today, it might also benefit the visually disabled. Cost effectiveness wouldn’t be such an issue either, because new, fresh types of packaging for tube type products might generate new revenue with a little marketing creativity. Bah, anyway.

-Kit

Specifically, their targeted advertisements. I just got one that told me that since I was someone who’d recently purchased a laptop, [My little netbook, an eeepc 1005HA, love the thing] I might like to buy another laptop because indeed, I would get a case at a discount, for $9.99.

-Kit

So I came into a little money recently, the cashier did not appreciate.

-Kit

It’s occurred to me that drawn pornography should never be done in caricature.

-Kit

So I was thinking, wouldn’t it be great if I could find out who I was just like, that, bap, I perfectly know my own identity….and then I realized that to find out who you are, you can’t just flick a switch. A lot of who you are is how you ask the question “Who am I?”

-Kit

Oft dismissed as an illegitimate bastardized form of music, rendered cheap and plastic like a great deal of today’s culture, electronica, better known as techno, seems to have almost as bad a rap as rap. Simple riffs, electric synthesizers, nearly mindless lyrics, and a throbbing bass drum that permeates every single song in nearly all of the hundreds of genres. And….I think it’s not intended to be intelligent, and witty. The everpounding kick drum, the catchy flowing riffs, and the clear lyrics suddenly seem to me as though they’re intended to be felt, not truly payed attention to, to generate an ambiance, and a feeling, to flow through the listener and influence them on an emotional level typically only touched on by some tribal people stomping around a fire. It’s an induced euphoric trance…close your eyes, be happy, and dance. Cheap and plastic can be fun, think back to the small joys of those Happy Meals as a kid…I don’t think the point is to truly think about it. And for those who do think it’s mindless, there’s a lot of formula behind it, and more music theory than you’d guess, the melodies built of carefully arpeggiated chords, the instruments chosen for harmonic richness…

-Kit

So who likes action? Adventure? Romance? The occasional PG rated appearance of victorian undergarments? Then I’ve got something for you. For a long time now I’ve been reading a comic/web comic known as Girl Genius, it’s a lot of fun, dealing with the story of protagonist Agatha Heterodyne in a world of mad science, drawn beautifully by the Foglios with such style that they indeed, will show you all who’s mad. I feel like they deserve a shoutout, so if someone actually stumbles across my little place here on the net, give girlgeniusonline.com a look. It’s a print comic, but you can read it all for free on the website where it updates monday, wednesday, and friday. For science!

-Kit

As in the last repost of a review, this was originally at forum.multitool.org, where I am known as SteamKit if you wish to look me up.

Hello there, it’s Steamkit again. Recently I’ve been searching for a smaller multi-tool, and since I found I could get a Juice CS4 cheap, I figured I’d give it a try. It’s a smaller Leatherman for those not familiar with them, and has a fair selection of features for something so small. I lack pictures for lack of a camera, but please don’t let that stop you from hearing my opinions.

So, the Juice CS4 retails for roughly $60. Like most of Leatherman’s offerings, it’s a pliers based multitool. It measures roughly 3.25″ long, 1″ wide, and 0.5″ inches thick. Sitting in my palm it’s curved outsides fit nicely in the hand, it may be a little bit small for some one with massive hands, but I can’t say for sure. It’s just right for me, who has medium. I honestly can’t say it utterly disappears in a pair of jeans, it fits comfortably in my pants and takes up roughly the same amount of room as my cell phone.

This handsome anodized blue tool has the usual suspects when it comes to features, with a few things that really caught my eye like the leverage based corkscrew, but more on that later. On the outside it has a knife, the aforementioned corkscrew which also incorporates a bottle opener, an awl with sewing hole, a saw, and a pair of scissors. Opening it up, there’s the pliers of course, as well as a phillips head that occupies one arm beside a small fold out lanyard loop. The opposite arm contains a useful compliment of small flat head screwdrivers.

The heart and sole of the standard Leatherman is it’s pliers, probably why this style is sometimes even referred to as “Leatherman type multitools.” So let’s have a look at the pliers. The Juice opens easily, in one smooth swing for either arm with a single stop at the end where they become the handles of the pliers. The head is a smaller version of the one standard for the brand. Needlenose, with a big grippy cutout and a wire cutter with hard wire notch. New, the pliers are stiff. Enough so that I can’t use gravity to manipulate whatever arm’s on bottom, requiring a little more work for one handed work. Not much though, and like other tools I highly suspect that with time it will loosen. I hope so, for the first time I gripped something strongly the pliers seemed to come out of the ordeal tighter! I suppose that is much better than having something like play. There is none, here, the machining seems to have been done quite well. I like how small a point the pliers come to, they’ll be really handy for working with small fiddly bits. Surge and SwissTool users beware though, these are not the jaws of death you are used to. Emphasis on small and fiddly, but not so tiny as to be like those odd pliers you’ll find on the larger Swiss Army knives. The handles are very comfortable to use as they are very rounded and smooth. Be warned however, the curve on the inside has a place it touches and may pinch if too much force is applied and the jaws slip.

As someone who’s in the field of electronics engineering, I’m interested in the wire cutters, because well…I cut wire. It’s part of what I do. Tests show that these perform just fine on both hard and stranded wire, fitting together neatly to shear that copper in twain. For the hard wire cutter I tested it on a bit of small brass rod, and it gobbled it up without issue. I get the feeling that if Leatherman released this tool with a few electrically geared tools on it, like a dedicated wire stripper, it’d become fairly popular amongst technicians and the like as a pocket tool.

While we’ve got the pliers open, let’s look at the inside tools. Screwdrivers. Almost nothing but screwdrivers. On one arm we have the #1 phillips head which is about as long as can be expected from a small size tool. In use, it works. It’s not a miracle of engineering, it’s a standard phillips, and it does it’s job without complaint or particular acclaim. Beside it is the lanyard loop, which you may wish to beware of if you use the phillips head a lot because when it’s out, the screwdriver slides flush past it, and may catch on a lanyard if you don’t push the loop as far to the outside as it will go. Provided at the base of the screwdriver is a hook like nail nick to enable retrieval because the handle’s aren’t wide enough to fit a finger inside.

The other side of the handle is populated by 3 small flat headed screwdrivers, with the same sort of the nail nicks as their phillips counterpart. I have trouble getting these out, and the corners are well ground and somewhat sharp. It’s tricky to pick the right nick, and then drag it from between it’s brethren which at least do the courtesy of staying in place due to the individual backsprings for each tool. Anyway, enough complaining, the drivers themselves. The shortest is also the widest, measuring in at 0.25″ wide. Stubby for sure, but it works well as a screwdriver and would make a fair double as a small scraper for things like instant lotto tickets…although you could probably commandeer about any piece of metal on this thing for that. The driver beside it is slightly longer, and personally my favorite as it’s also very tiny at the end. Good for small screws, I tested it by tightening my eyeglasses. Works quite well. The next driver is 0.125″ wide (1/8″ for people who don’t like the decimals) and strikes me as odd. I haven’t found any screws around my house at this size, it’s a bit of an inbetweener, but it’s made to the same standard as the others so I’m sure that if I found a screw I needed it for, it’d serve me well.

Now, the tool has been closed with a fairly satisfying snap, so we can examine the outside devices. For me, knife blades on a tool are somewhat secondary as I always carry a separate folding blade, which is why it doesn’t bother me that the blade on the outside of the Juice is opened with a nail nick. 2.25″ long, it’s a narrow thing that in profile doesn’t seem to have known if it wanted to be a spear point or a clip point when it grew up. The steel is decent, it came fairly sharp but I put my own personal edge on it and so far have found random bits of packaging around the house to hack open with it. Works just fine, although I must say I wish it locked, I would feel safer. This may be a plus for our friends in the UK, however.

On the same side as the knife is the awl and the saw. I list these two together because they are built in such a way that the awl curves over the top of the saw, making it impossible to open the saw without first opening the awl. So, the awl is opened, and pokes holes in things fairly well, although I must say it’s dull from the factory, and is worthless as a reamer. The sewing hole is easy to thread as the awl is curved in a way that’d guide small bits of cordage through it in a quick and easy manner. The saw is surprisingly large for a multitool of this size, with 2.5″ of aggressive teeth. It cuts well, but the teeth don’t stay to clean so gummy wood may be an issue. Closing the saw, I’m a little disappointed as the machining on the body is slightly off, so the blade must be pushed out of the way so that the awl may be closed after it without locking up.

The scissors on the Juice are important to me, as sometimes scissors are just a better cutter than the timeless knife. Folding them open, they’re large at a little over 1″, with a cammed spring that you couldn’t lose if you tried. The actual blades are quite sharp, and the scissors feel robust in the hand. It passed my paper towel and twine test, running through various doublings of both in a satisfactory manner. When closed, the spring won’t totally retract them, and must be pushed the last bit of the way. Tisk tisk, Leatherman, give me a little precision, please. It’s a little disheartening when a nicely made tool doesn’t close quite right.

And now, ladies and gentleman, I give you the corkscrew and bottle opener. On this tool, these interested me most because Leatherman offers something you just can’t get with Victorinox. A leverage based screw. For wine aficionados, it’s very similar to a sommelier knife. For the rest of you, it’s got a tab that folds out before you open the corkscrew. As you screw into the cork, you put this tab to the lip of the bottle. Screw it down a little further, and lever the cork out! Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work, I would love to test it as unlike standard Swiss Army corkscrews, there isn’t that embarrassing red faced moment where the bottle is clenched between your thighs while you yank that damned cork and probably spill something pricey. I can’t say how well it works, but I’ve got to give them credit for having a good idea. The corkscrew can’t fold out unless you unfold it’s accompanying tab, which when folded out fully doubles as a fairly standard bottle opener. It opened the bottles it was tested on, for sure. Isn’t the best opener on the market, it’s given a sever beating by a bar blade, but it’s a full lightyear ahead of hooking your brew on something and smacking your hand.

And now, before we conclude, I must say the Juice is a stylish piece of work. Mine’s got anodized blue scales, with fairly polished tools, and would be great for carrying in an office setting where some lotsa function but no form monster would be on par with carrying around a set of channel locks and a stub hammer. The steel rivets are chunky, and polished and lend a certain charm to the tool.

All in all, I like the Juice. But then again, I didn’t pay $60 for it, which I must say has probably influenced my opinion a great deal. Still, it’s a decent buy if you’re looking for a small tool that isn’t as tiny as say…the Micra. Good job, Leatherman. If only I had some wine to open in your honor.

-Kit