Toaster Typewriter puts a humorous and literal spin on how words can burn you

We live in an “instant” civilization where we can get what we want almost instantly. Words appear on the screen as fast as our fingers can fly, cup noodles can be done and ready for consumption in less than five minutes, and bread jumps out of the toaster just a few seconds after simply pressing down on a switch. Can you imagine, then, the frustration of having to slowly type out each letter, or manually turning a loaf of bread every minute to make sure it’s properly toasted without burning to a crisp? Of course, no one will want to go back to those not-so-good old days, at least no one in their right mind. That said, such an unimaginable situation could also be an opportunity for a ridiculous invention, which is what this seemingly antiquated typewriter does, making you slowly type each and every letter to adequately toast a bread loaf.

Designer: Ritika Kedia

The idea of typing on an old-school typewriter to toast bread is beyond absurd. The two have almost nothing in common, except perhaps the starting letter of each word. It’s definitely an exercise in patience and futility, one that could make you lose your appetite even before you get a single word out. But like what happens in real life, some ridiculous and frustrating situations can become comic relief if done right, which is exactly what the Toaster Typewriter represents.

The design is practically a Frankenstein of two very mechanical products, a classical typewriter and a bread toaster with much of its outer shell stripped off. Certain letters on the typebar are covered with food-grade clay and have wires coiled around them. The cobbled machine uses multiple transformers to not only power the toaster but also generate heat for the keys, resulting in a composition that looks more like a prop from a sci-fi flick from the 50s or 60s.

The idea is to simply slide in a loaf of bread like you would on a regular toaster, and then slide the toaster box across the typewriter as if it were a piece of paper. Once the letters are sufficiently hot, you press hard on a key and then wait for that letter to be burned onto the bread’s surface. Rinse and repeat until you finally have your desired toast, unless you lose your sanity first.

As you can probably tell, the Toaster Typewriter technically works but it’s impractical and pretty much useless. That’s exactly the point of the design, however, as a paradigm shift toward more entertaining, even comical, designs. The design space has become too serious for its own good. While product designs definitely need to address certain needs and requirements, there is also room for some more entertaining and humorous designs that bring delight in one way or another. Of course, such designs shouldn’t frustrate people the way this Toaster Typewriter does, but good designs need to be able to include more human elements, including human expressions of joy and laughter.

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Razer Cthulhu gaming chair is something you might wish wasn’t just a joke

Forget about those invisible and impersonal AIs that are supposed to help you at work by composing e-mails, generating images, or even drafting a whole document for you. What you really need is an AI that will take care of your bodily needs while using the computer, whether it’s for crunch time in the office or, more likely, grinding experience points in games. At least that’s the foundation of Razer’s latest genius gaming accessory, a chair that knows your needs and literally gives you a hand, or a claw rather, so you don’t have to stand up for a bite or a drink or even a shave. Yes, this mythical chair is obviously an April Fool’s joke, but it’s an idea that could very well foreshadow the future that is both exciting and terrifying as its name suggests.

Designer: Razer

Named after the eldritch god but looking more like a Doctor Octopus arsenal, the Razer Cthulhu is a gaming chair that literally has a mind of its own, in addition to its six flexible tentacle-like arms each with a three-finger claw for the hand. The idea is pretty simple, really, and is exactly what it looks like. Just like the robotic appendages of the comic book villain, these arms act as an extension of the user’s own arms, performing extra work that frees up the person to do what they enjoy and do best: play a game.

What this “work” entails really depends on what the chair’s AI would learn from your habits and needs. It could be as simple as holding your drink or assisting you with eating, or it could be as complicated as giving you a massage or even shaving your facial hair. At some point, it could even start playing your game for you, allowing you to play a second game on a different device, like a phone or handheld console, without missing a beat.

Of course, it’s literally impossible to accomplish all these today even with the most advanced AI, especially actions that require precision and dexterity. You could even say it’s a tongue-in-cheek commentary on how we’re becoming too dependent on AI, putting our eggs, and our livelihood, all in one basket. That’s not to say it’s not a tempting idea for the future, at least within moderation. With human life and work becoming more complex, it’s not surprising that people will start wanting to offload some of the more mundane tasks to robots and AI.

Computer chairs are becoming more sophisticated, offering features that span ergonomics and convenience from different angles. There are even some that are like a whole encapsulated space for gaming and entertainment, so a chair with AI features won’t be that far from reality. We can only hope that designs will be more on the conservative and reasonable side rather than outfitting the chair with everything, including a kitchen sink, that would make use feel less human and more like cogs in a machine instead.

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Microsoft Windows Ugly Sweater arrives in time to bring holiday jeer

The Christmas season is often associated with staying warm (if you’re living in the northern hemisphere) and having fun, and there’s a rather recent tradition that combines those with tongue-in-cheek humor. Ugly sweaters are exactly what their names imply, intentionally designed to be ridiculously laughable so that there’s really no room for misinterpretation. Making a pun on being a “soft wear” company, Microsoft has been releasing such unfashionable wearables for half a decade now, poking good-natured fun at its own products. This year’s design is an ode to the early 2000s, bringing back fond and not-so-fond memories of one of the longest-lived Windows versions of all: Windows XP.

Designer: Microsoft

Parts of the Windows XP design have perhaps forever been engraved in people’s memories, at least for those old enough to be using computers by 2001 onward. The candy-like “Luna” theme, the familiar login sound, and, of course, the iconic wallpaper that’s actually a photo of a landscape in Sonoma County, California. It’s this wallpaper, named “Bliss,” that Microsoft is bringing in somewhat low-res quality to this year’s Ugly Sweater, taking wearers and onlookers for a trip down memory lane, whether they like to or not.

Bliss is simple yet captivating, basically a picture of a green hill against the backdrop of a blue sky and white clouds. As its name suggests, it evokes a sense of serenity and calm, which is hardly the emotions you’d associate with using Windows XP, especially when the dreaded BSOD or Blue Screen of Death rears its ugly head. Nonetheless, it’s a powerful and admittedly warm image, just the perfect match for a warm piece of clothing.

That is, of course, if you’d be fine wearing what is practically the Windows XP wallpaper, letting everyone see your loyalty to the operating system or to the company. It’s not a perfect recreation of the wallpaper, though, and is more pixelated than what you’d see on a screen. It’s almost as if someone booted the sweater in Safe Mode, and there’s probably some underlying message there that we missed. And yes, there’s a very large mouse cursor there, fortunately pointing nowhere embarrassing.

This year’s Windows Ugly Sweater does have some hidden beauty, at least in how it is trying hard to save the environment. Specifically, Microsoft has partnered with The Nature Conservancy for this project, though exact details haven’t been laid out. At least you’ll be feeling a little good about yourself every time you intentionally put a large target on your back by wearing such an incredibly comical sweater this holiday season.

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Google Gboard Bar is a ridiculous keyboard that you can actually build yourself

The computer keyboard hasn’t changed its design significantly ever since it was first invented. Its layout, in particular, has remained the same typewriter arrangement with just a few variations. It’s definitely not the most ergonomic, nor is it the most efficient. Fortunately, there have been a few attempts to substantially reinvent the keyboard, though they remain niche and, at times, a bit expensive. With today’s technologies, however, it is certainly easier to create your own keyboard, which is what a few lovely Googlers in Japan have attempted to do. But rather than a simple reorganization of the keys, this Gboard Bar, named after the virtual keyboard on Android and iOS, reimagines the venerable keyboard from the ground up, leading to a design that’s just out of this world and, perhaps, even out of your desk.

Designer: Google

If you haven’t caught on to it yet, we’ll save you the trouble of figuring out that this Gboard Bar is pretty much an April Fools’ joke out of time. It’s sort of a pun that plays on how “bar” is the next syllable in the Japanese word for “keyboard.” So rather than focusing on the “key” part as they’ve always done for years, Google designers and engineers opted to move on to the next level. The result is a keyboard that’s 1650mm long or just under 65 inches or 5 feet 5 inches.

Of course, they have reasonable justifications for such an absurdly long keyboard. It saves you time from having to search for the right key in two dimensions (up and down) like on a traditional keyboard. With the Gboard Bar, you only need to search sideways to hit the right key. As long as you have a desk that’s wide enough, which most office workers have, you can save space by having a keyboard that sits neatly below stacks of papers and folders littering your desk. Pair programming, where two programmers share a single computer, becomes even easier with this keyboard. Who says only pianists can do a duet on keyboards?

There are also practical benefits to this design outside of actual typing, according to its designers. No longer will you have to fight with your cat over the keyboard because there’s nothing for it to lie on. The keyboard can also be a practical tool to reach for a distant switch or push items from underneath a couch. With the proper add-on, the keyboard can be used to catch real bugs rather than just programming bugs.

It’s definitely a ludicrous idea that will never work in real life, but that’s not going to stop anyone from having fun with it. These Googlers have even generously made the schematics and even the firmware for the Gboard Bar available for everyone to use in case they want to recreate this absurd device to their hearts’ delight. Who knows, maybe someone will actually find it more usable and invent new keyboard designs that will really turn the computing world upside-down.

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Stool with an accordion-shaped seat plays a musical note when you sit on it!

The Xia Stool, or as I call it, the Philharmonic Whoopie Cushion Chair, is a fun little seat that uses an accordion-shaped cushion to turn the act of sitting down into something rather surprising and entertaining. Seat yourself down on the Xia Stool and it instantly emits a note, concertina in an allusion to traditional Portuguese music.

Designed by Soraia Gomes Teixeira, a Portuguese designer from Oporto, the Xia Stool aims at revitalizing the common seating object through the power of sound. The accordion-shaped cushion provides an ample visual warning to the user, priming them to expect a sound as they sit, so they’re never caught unawares. Even though the accordion-shaped cushion acts as a visual indication, it’s still incredibly fun and entertaining to actually have the seat meet your expectations, letting out a friendly honk as you sit down! Soraia mentions, “[The] Xia Stool is a fun object that makes people smile and unleashes their imagination.”

The Xia Stool is made from wood, Burel fabric, and 100% Pure Sheep Wool. Each stool emits a high-pitched ‘A’ note, although it would be fun if different stools played different notes, creating chords as multiple people sit down together!

Designer: Soraia Gomes Teixeira

Super Mario Bob-omb Toilet Paper Holder Is Ready to Blow

If there’s something you never want to happen in your bathroom, it’s an explosion, except maybe one of those fizzy bath bombs in the tub. But if you’ve played enough Super Mario games, you know how to deal with a bomb, as long as it’s Bob-omb. Assuming you know how to keep this anthropomorphic explosive from blowing up, you might be comfortable with Bob hanging out in your bathroom.

This Bob-omb toilet paper cozy would look great in any Nintendo-themed bathroom, and I know that’s a really common bathroom decor theme. Simply load it up with a roll of your favorite toilet paper, and pull to expose the fuse of your bathroom bomb. As long as you don’t light the paper fuse or turn Bob-omb’s key, I think you’ll be okay.

This thing is awfully cute, but the idea of touching something made out of fabric while you’re on the toilet pooping makes me question whether this is really a practical bathroom accessory. I think I’d just use it to store a spare roll rather than use it as a dispenser.

An AI Bot Wrote an X-Men Script

Artificial intelligence keeps getting better and better, especially with the advent of technologies like machine learning artificial neural networks. Such tech is being used for everything from improving vehicle safety to searching for cures to diseases. However, not all AI tech is used for such noble or important causes. Take, for example, this AI that was trained on to write an X-Men script.

Writer, comedian, and occasional tech geek Keaton Patti decided to feed a deep learning algorithm with dialogue from 1000 hours of X-Men movies, and then asked it to produce its own movie based on its newly-formed knowledge base. Keaton was kind enough to post the first page of the script on his Twitter feed the other day, and the results are pretty hilarious:

Yes, they are a team of friendly freaks for sure, Storm is bossing around the weather as usual, and Magneto sure loves to play with his magnets. I really hope that Keaton lets his bot finish writing the whole movie, and then makes a low budget live-action version. What other movies would you want to let an AI bot write?

[via GeekTyrant]

The Office Possum Will Keep Unwanted People out of Your Cubicle

I’d prefer that companies let people continue to work from home until we have an effective COVID-19 vaccine, but some people are having to go into their offices already. While I hope that people are following social distancing and mask rules, some people will always be scofflaws. If you want to make sure no unmasked sickies poke their heads into your cubicle, then you need an effective deterrent. The Office Possum should do the trick quite nicely.

Made by purveyors of weird and wacky stuff Archie McPhee, the Office Possum is a 15″ tall latex replica of a possum that’s perfect for scaring people away from your stuff. With its beady eyes, lanky pink tail, gnarly teeth, and scratchy claws, it’s a great impediment to those who try and enter your personal space.

This guy even has bendable paws and tail, so you can pose it just how you like. Whether you poke its head out of a garbage can or leave it on its back on the floor like roadkill, it’s sure to disgust and freak out all who dare to cross its path.

Best of all, this thing doesn’t smell or spread rabies, so you can keep it in your office all year long. You can get your own Office Possum over at Archie McPhee for just $23.95. I think you should buy a bunch and block the entire entrance to your space with them.

Grow Your Own Brain in a Jar

Do you fancy yourself a modern day Dr. Frankenstein? Well then, you need a laboratory with lots of tubes and wires, some tesla coils, and of course some brains in jars. While I recommend American Science & Surplus for the lab gadgets, Copernicus Toys & Games has got you covered with the brains.

Yes, for just $10 a pop, you can grow your own detailed brain that you can stuff into a jar. Simply place the Swell Polymers Extra Large brain into water, and it’ll expand in size dramatically, growing from a tiny palm-sized brain to a bigger, yet still-smaller-than-human-sized one. Now before you go performing any screw-top brain swaps on patients, be sure to check to see if your freshly grown mind isn’t Abby Normal.

I’m not sure what would happen if you left one of these soaking in a jar of formaldehyde, but whatever happens to it, I’m sure the effect would be nice and creepy.

Spit Shine Mitt: Save Your Dust Drama for This Llama

It seems as if no matter how hard I try, there’s always dust on every smooth surface in my house. Perhaps it’s all the dander that my two dogs kick up, or maybe the same thing happens to everyone, pets or no pets. I usually use a Swiffer duster to keep things clean, but I think this llama dust mitt looks like much more fun.

Fred calls their dust mitt the “Spit Shine,” which is only appropriate because of llamas’ tendency to spit when they’re riled up. That said, I don’t recommend actually spitting on this before you wipe down your countertops unless you want a sticky, germ-filled mess. Also, don’t try an use an actual llama to do your cleaning. It’ll only make matters much, much worse.

You can clean up your dusty old house for just under 15 bucks. The Spit Shine Llama Mitt is available now from Amazon. Spit sold separately.