Feb 28

MegaPenny Project

Large numbers are hard to comprehend. It helps to visualize them in terms of a familiar, everyday object, like a U.S. penny. That’s what the MegaPenny Project does. It starts with a single penny and shows you visual representations of increasingly large numbers of pennies. For example, how big is a hundred thousand pennies? (It’s about two cubic feet.) What does a billion pennies look like? How many would it take to fill up the Sears Tower? If you could collect all the pennies that actually exist, how large a stack would that make?
For each big number, the MegaPenny project not only shows you a picture, but also lists statistics like the monetary value, the total weight, the height (if you stacked them in a single column, one penny on another), and the area covered (if you laid the pennies out edge-to-edge). The site takes you all the way to one quintillion pennies (a cube about five miles on a side).

Feb 24


My children are all grown up now, but I still remember what it’s like to have a baby as a part of your everyday life. And mainly what it means is that there’s a lot of stuff to carry around. Back when I was changing diapers, that meant carrying a diaper bag everywhere. But today’s new parents have other options. A company called DadGear offers some interesting alternatives to the traditional rectangular shoulder bag. You can buy diaper bags shaped like sport bags, backpacks, or messenger bags (including Collegiate Series bags with university logos). My favorite DadGear item is the Diaper Vest, a fleece vest with pockets designed for diapers, wipes, bottles, and even a built-in changing pad. There’s also a Cargo Jacket with the same features. Why wasn’t this stuff available two decades ago when I could have used it?

Feb 23

Real Alternative

RealPlayer has made a lot of enemies. It’s a free media player, which is nice. But RealPlayer likes to display pop-up advertisements, and it has a history of collecting information about the media files you play with it, leading some critics to classify it as both adware and spyware. When PC World compiled a list of “The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time” last year, RealPlayer was number 2. (The top offender was AOL.)
But occasionally, you may need to play a file that uses one of the proprietary RealMedia formats, such as .rm or .ra. In that situation, are you forced to use RealPlayer? Not necessarily. On a Windows system, you can use Real Alternative instead. Real Alternative is a codec pack that enables you to play RealMedia formats with Media Player Classic. You can download both Real Alternative and Media Player Classic from the Real Alternative page of freecodecs.com.

Feb 20

Wheel of Food

Want to go out for lunch, but can’t decide where? Let the Wheel of Food decide for you! (Or maybe it’s the Wheel of Lunch; the site uses both names in different places.) How does it work? Simple. Enter your ZIP code, then click Proceed. The Wheel is automatically populated with restaurants in your neighborhood and given an initial spin. When it stops, you have a randomly-chosen lunch location, complete with street address (and maybe even a rating from previous diners). If that location doesn’t appeal to you, just grab the Wheel and spin it again.
Source: CNET’s Buzz Out Loud podcast