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MakerBot Mystery Build: Something Isn't Quite Right Here

It's Friday, so that means it's time for another MakerBot mystery build! Something went slightly awry in this week's print, but you'll have to watch and see to find out what exactly went wrong. Place your best guess as to what's being printed in the comments below!

10 Smart Lifehacks for Your Kitchen

If you cook a lot (and you should), you’re probably always looking for ways to make your kitchen more efficient. We can help. Here are ten outside-the-box tricks that will help you save time and money in your culinary pursuits from the comfort of home.

Behind the Scenes at Kernerworks' Workshop

What do special effects veterans do when Hollywood relies increasingly less on practical effects and more on computer generated imagery? The effects experts at Kernerworks (who have worked with Jamie and Adam in the past) turned their fabrication experience into developing and building realistic trauma mannequins the military to train field medics. These robots not only behave realistically to simulate injuries, they look incredibly lifelike as well--some even have the capability to spurt blood from their wounds. Here are some photos of our visit to Kernerworks' workshop earlier this year.

Almost Human: Trauma Mannequins for Medic Training

They breathe and they bleed, but they're not real human beings. These robots, built by the especial effects and fabrication experts at Kernerworks, are incredibly lifelike trauma mannequins used by the military to train field medics. We visit Kernerworks' workshop to learn how these robots are built and get a demo of their trauma simulation capabilities. See photos from our visit here.

10 Uniquely Interesting Places To Mount A GoPro Camera

As human progress marches on, things that were once enormous and expensive get tiny and cheap. Case in point: cameras. What used to be a family heirloom that would break if you looked at it funny is now a powerful, essentially disposable recording device like the GoPro camera. People do all kinds of things with these little buggers – here are ten of the most interesting.

How To Get Into Hobby RC: Car Basics and Monster Truckin'

After a few months of lightly tapping, it’s finally time to pound the drum about RC cars. Of course, there are countless styles of cars that you can get into. For now, I will focus on the type of cars that I recommended for beginners in the first article of this series: 2-wheel-drive, electric-powered, monster trucks.

Just like every other facet of RC, cars have benefited from recent advancements in radio, motor and battery technology. As I looked over my aging collection of well-used cars, I realized that none in my fleet reflected any of these modern advancements. So I took a two-pronged approach. I procured a new monster truck and I also modernized one of my older cars. Between this guide and a follow-up next week, I will cover my experiences with both projects.

The Case for RC Cars

I received my first RC car, a Kyosho Ultima, when I was in middle school. I really just wanted something to play with, but the Ultima turned out to be much more than a toy. Hobby-grade cars like the Ultima are meant to be worked on, and actually require some maintenance. As time went on, I found that I enjoyed wrenching on the car as much as driving it. It was also fascinating to make adjustments to the car and see how they affected its performance. That poor car endured countless modifications at my hand. Some ideas worked, but many didn’t. The Ultima always emerged relatively unscathed, and I got a little smarter each time. More than 25 years later, I still have most of the parts for that Ultima (in working order).

If a chemistry set is an ideal toy for aspiring chemists, then RC cars will cultivate the minds budding engineers.

If a chemistry set is an ideal toy for aspiring chemists, then RC cars will cultivate the minds budding engineers. Sure, they can teach you many lessons that carry over to full-size cars, but there is so much more. I learned about 2-stroke engines, electric motors, batteries, gearing, torque, and above all: the value of working with my hands. Countless times while working on space hardware in my professional career, I was able to apply a lesson learned from that Ultima. If, like me, you have a young tinkerer in your house, RC cars may be just the thing to let them explore relatively risk free.

How Scientists Visualize Sound with a Photography Trick

You can actually see sound waves as they travel through the air thanks to a clever photographic trick. NPR's Adam Cole, who runs the the Skunkbear science Tumblr, produced this video explaining how scientists use a technique called Schlieren Flow Visualization--the combining of two mirrors, a barrier, and a high-speed camera--to visualize the effect of sound waves through space. It's the same technique used to visualize other "invisible" processes, like the turbulence around an airplane wing or rising heat from a hot surface.

In Brief: Diagnosing iOS Battery Drain

Scotty Loveless, an ex-Genius Bar employee, recently posted this comprehensive guide to diagnosing and solving iOS battery issues, based on his two years working for Apple and hundreds of Genius Bar appointments with users complaining about their iPhone's battery. There's a lot of practical advice here, such as how to test your iOS battery drain rate by noting down usage and standby times, but Loveless also offers some very specific tips that he claims make a big difference. Disabling Location and Background App Refresh for the Facebook app tops his list, but the most useful recommendation may be to stop manually quitting apps in the multi-tasking view. Apps that don't use Background App Refresh don't actually pull power when they're in the background, and quitting them just means that your iPhone will have to use more power to relaunch them the next time. There's also the tip to turn off battery percentage to stop getting freaked out about battery, but I don't think that's a tip that's going to stick. Regardless, the guide is well worth reading and bookmarking.

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The Low-Budget Movie Gimmicks of Cinema Past

With so many people watching movies at home with Blu-ray or through streaming services, Hollywood has been desperate to bring people back to theaters. This is why we’ve had the big 3D revival. With the success of films like Gravity, IMAX has also been a hot ticket. And overseas, 4D cinema has been very successful as well.

4D is a cinema technology that can encompass many different experiences, and one that used to be most associated with the gimmick of Smell-O-Vision. In Asia, there are theaters that pump scents into the theater, providing the audience with the extra "dimension" of smell. There has been some effort to try and have theaters like this in the States, and Robert Rodriguez tried a similar version with scratch-and-sniff cards, unsuccessfully, for Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. (Perhaps he shouldn’t have made a soiled diaper one of the scents.)

As silly as this gimmick may sound, when you look back in cinema history, it was something that was attempted way back in 1960. In fact, there have been many gimmicks that tried to give audiences much more than a regular movie could provide, often with a much smaller budget and less resources than the major studios had to play with.

As we’ve previously reported, the first 3D feature film, Bwana Devil, was an attempt to get people into theaters again, because a brand new technological innovation, television, was keeping a lot of people at home. In fact, the ads for Bwana Devil promised you would be seeing something “Newer than television!”

And even in the case of 3D, it was a cheaper technology because it was trying to give audiences something spectacular that was much less expensive than Cinerama widescreen, which required major reworking of theaters to support. With other gimmicks that followed, a lot of filmmakers have tried to bring audiences into theaters for cut-rate prices, and many of these innovations are amusing to look back on today. Here are some of my favorites.