Someday, in the probably-too-distant future, our kitchens will be completely automated above and beyond anything we can now imagine. Our meals will be prepared at the press of a button, and instead of passable microwaveable food, the meals will actually be nutritious and delicious. While whatever magical all-in-one unit that would create these meals out of thin air might not yet exist, appliance makers are doing all they can, now, to cram every conceivable appliance into one unit.
GoNaomi aims to provide a multilanguage dictionary with which users can look up words in different languages and compare them side-by-side within the program's interface. Unfortunately, its slow performance and lack of translation options left little to be desired.
From the get-go, GoNaomi functioned slowly. The program indicated that there was a "fatal SQL" error, which led us to believe that there could be a problem with the program's database. Since the program is essentially a database, this is a very large problem indeed. We tried the program by selecting English as the language to which … Read more
Microwave ovens are overrated. Oh, sure, they can do some things really well, but for other tasks, they fall quite short. Personally, I like an appliance that is capable of doing more than softening butter and popping popcorn. (OK, I know that's an understatement, but bear with me.) Considering how manufacturers love to integrate several appliances into one (usually with toasters, it would seem), it should come as no surprise that the ubiquitous microwave oven is finally starting to diversify.
The Y Combinator incubator hosted its ninth open demo meet-up today. Fifteen companies presented, most showing off not just strong technologies and concepts, but realistic business models. Here are the highlights of the six best companies (in my opinion), as well as two with good technologies but troubling business models.
Probably the most popular demo company at the event was Wattvision (site not live yet), which is making a whole-house real-time energy-monitoring system. The key is its hardware: a gizmo you literally stick on to your electricity meter that watches the little wheel turn around. The data is transmitted to a computer in your home, or via Wi-Fi to your router and then back to the Wattvision servers, where it's then packaged and delivered to you every 15 seconds, via a Web page or iPhone app. You can see your momentary energy cost with this service, and that's cool. Wattvision doesn't give you granular data: it's whole-house only. There are other issues with this service, but it looks like something that people will instantly understand and want--because you can see in a heartbeat that it will help you save money.
Foodoro is launching an "Etsy of food:" a marketplace that helps consumers and boutique food sellers connect to each other. The market for food and for food gifts is strong, and supports a large community of small specialty food manufacturers. However, the traditional multi-tier distribution channels absorb a lot of the manufacturers' revenues, as well as separating them from their end consumers. Foodoro, while it's a middleman for the transaction part of the sale, does not ship food itself nor hide the customer from the vendor, enabling, the founders believe, better relationships where they count. The company also has a smart widget strategy: There are affiliate widgets that bloggers can put on their sites to promote the food items they like. They get a cut of the sales that Foodoro then manages, but again, Foodoro connects the manufacturer and the consumer directly for delivery of the items. Foodoro could potentially impact the traditional food catalog businesses.
Voxli is a super-simple voice chat product for games that works via a browser plug-in (with a push-to-talk hot key that punches through to whatever game you're using). If you want to set up a team chat room, you just go to the site, name your room, get a URL, and send it to your teammates. Pricing will be $60 per account per year, and an account holder will be able to invite up to 200 people into a room. It's in free beta right now. I think the proposed price is a bit high, but the potential market is very large. … Read more
Sometimes the kitchen can be really far away. Say you're hanging out in the garage playing poker, working on the car, or some other garage-related activity. Suddenly the need hits for a microwaveable treat and a cold brew. The warmth of the microwave and the chill of the refrigerator may not be too far away, but it sure is convenient to have them closer. No need to journey to the kitchen when you can stock up on the essentials in the comfort of your own garage. (Also applies to attics and basements).
Y Combinator on Monday announced that it has raised a $2 million venture fund with the aid of Sequoia Capital and angel investors.
In making the announcement, Y Combinator noted that it plans to increase the number of start-ups it funds to 60 a year, up from 40.
For Web services and software start-ups, that may bode well. Y Combinator focuses its investments on those two sectors and funds companies that are in their early stages.
As it notes, one unusual twist to this venture firm is its reliance on the strength of entrepreneurs' ideas, rather than on their business … Read more
There are a lot of toasters out there. For every personal aesthetic, there seems to be a corresponding toaster. Toasters range from the bright and shiny to gimmicky multitaskers made out of plastic. Machines are available for those that prefer design, and there are toasters out there that tout convenience. Combination appliances are great fun, and at times actually do save time and money (consider the toaster oven, for example). But sometimes you just want a toaster that toasts.
I honestly have no idea why this is called the Light My Fire Spork, but the concept is certainly one that makes sense to those who pay attention to kitchen appliances. Combine this with that, and there you go. That is, of course, unless you choose to combine this with that, along with some other thing. It seems to be true that most combination appliances prefer to combine only two things. (Which for some strange reason, most tend to include toasters into the mix). This crazy gizmo merges three, and not a one of them requires a power outlet.
The … Read more
Combination appliances always freak me out. I can't help but imagine someday everything will be fused into one gigantic (I suppose I should say ginormous) monstrosity that can cook, clean, and even eat all of our meals for us. Little did we know that when manufactures first started putting seemingly innocuous little clocks into their devices that we were paving the way for our eventual robot overlords.
Appliance paranoia aside, this particular device does seem like a mostly good idea. The microwave has long been heralded as the go-to cooking device for heating up food in a flash, but … Read more
If you have ever needed to combine different PDFs into one larger PDF document, you need Combine PDFs. Combine PDFs is an excellent freeware application for the Mac that does exactly what it says: it helps you to combine different PDFs into one file. It doesn't do anything else. Just combine PDFs.
Why would you use it? Let me count the ways.… Read more