Have you ever seen a video of something called “The Most Useless Machine Ever”? Actually, this is really rather cool. I would love something like this on my desk with a big red switch and a sign saying “Do NOT press this switch!”
The idea is to have a box with a toggle switch on top (I prefer the ones that also have a light-emitting diode). When someone flips the switch, part of the box lid opens and something comes out to flip the switch off again.
On the one hand this is a trivial application of technology. On the other hand it’s strangely compelling.
Below please find a few (just a few) of the myriad devices and videos that are out there. First, we have a classic version hand-crafted out of mahogany. This does look tasty, and the creator does offer a kit, but the kit isn’t cheap and it would require a lot of time and effort (and tools) to pull it together.
There’s also a rather tasty Japanese version, which has pretty translucent side panels and a nice little delay on the turn-off cycle.
Of course there’s always someone who wants to take things to the next level, which is how we come to find “Dueling Useless Machines” (as if one wasn’t enough).
Classic hand-crafted version
Dueling useless machines
Or how about the “Ultimate Useless Machine”? This one starts off like the others in that you flick the switch and the machine turns itself off again… but if you keep on flipping the switch, the machine “throws a wobbly” as it were … Click Here to see an article and watch the associated video (it’s well worth watching the video right to the end).
Now, if you want to make your own useless machine, there’s a cheap-and-cheerful kit available from SolarBotics.com (Click Here to see this kit). On the one hand this is very reasonably priced … and I must admit that I was tempted … but then I saw how much they wanted to charge for postage and I thought “Pull the other one… it has bells on it!”
But wait, there’s more, because I also ran across the following “One-Time-Use” machine. I didn’t know what to expect when I started this video … but I certainly didn’t expect what happened…
One-time use machine
Last but not least, I just ran across another very cool magic trick. I built the disappearing coin trick I mentioned in a Previous Blog and it worked really well on my 16-year old son, so I think I will try this new trick this evening.
Another cool coin trick
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I´m really impressed with this new concept. Well, new at least for me.
The "Useless machine!" indeed version 2.0 is impressive! making a swirl so fast! and at the end... it wins the match by simply hiding down the switch lever. Where´s the reset button. please tell! :-)
What a staggering coincidence!
That such a serendipitous combination of topics, comments, and responses ( speaking of gadgets that function only to turn themselves off, coin tricks, and hands ) should unite so as to bring back the memory of an old bit of childhood-toy-Americana...
"The Thing" Coin Bank!:
I remember it well... an endless source of amusement!... that is, until it sadly fell prey to my greater preoccupation with taking my toys apart to see how they worked.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.