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Businesses

Worst Design Ever? Plastic Clamshell Packaging 398

Hugh Pickens writes "Rebecca Rosen writes that if you've recently opened up — or, more specifically, tried to open up — a CFL light bulb, you can sympathize with the question posted on Quora last year, 'What is the worst piece of design ever done?' The site's users have given resounding support to one answer: plastic clamshell packaging. 'Design should help solve problems' — clamshells are supposed to make it harder to steal small products and easier for employees to arrange on display — but this packaging, says Anita Schillhorn, makes new ones, such as time wasted, frustration, and the little nicks and scrapes people incur as they just try to get their damn lightbulb out. The problem is so pervasive there is even a Wikipedia page devoted to 'wrap rage,' 'the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-remove packaging.' Amazon and Wal-Mart are prodding more manufacturers to change their packaging to cut waste. 'We've gotten e-mails from customers who've purchased scissors in a clamshell, which would require another pair of scissors to open the package,' says Nadia Shouraboura, Amazon's vice president of global fulfillment. Other worthy answers to the Quora question include the interfaces on most microwaves, TV remotes, New York City's parking signs, and pull-handles on push-only doors, but none gained even close to the level of popular repudiation that clamshells received."
Hardware Hacking

DIY Augmented Reality Heads-Up Display 39

mkwan writes "A PhD student in Melbourne, Australia, has built an augmented reality head-up display using a baseball cap, an Android smartphone, and off-the-shelf optics. It won't win any awards for style or practicality, but it's a fun way to use Wikitude. All we need now is a Terminator-vision smartphone app." Not nearly as modern, but vaguely related: the Private Eye P4.
Robotics

Rise of the Ping Pong Robots 50

mikejuk writes with this excerpt: "Meet Wu and Kong — the latest in ping pong playing robots. They may not achieve exciting matches at the moment, but the fact that they can do the job at all is an indication of how fast things are moving. Unlike many other game-playing robots these two players are humanoid and are kitted out in old style Chinese jackets. They are about 1.6 meters tall and weigh in at 55 kilos. They track the ball with video cameras situated in their heads and then play a variety of strokes. They were developed by Zhejiang University and are currently turning up on the Chinese media as a novelty item. ... The current record for a rally is 144 rounds between robots. Humans can compete against them, but the robots lack the variety of shots that makes table tennis a game of strategy as well as accuracy."
NASA

NASA Game Lets You Build Complex Space Networks 47

gregg writes "According to this article, a new game called NetworKing, developed at NASA's Ames Research Center, 'lets players build fast and efficient communication networks by first setting up command stations around the world and then linking them to orbiting satellites and space telescopes. Resources are earned throughout the game as players continue to acquire more clients.' The game is available for play through an internet browser, and also has downloadable versions for Windows and OS X."

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