Austin Liu

Omninerd
San Francisco, CA, USA

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  • 2 Favorited Articles

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  • 89 Comments
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  • "This is exactly what I was thinking. I remember that post as well."
    on: This Plunger Fills a Tall Order for Bathroom Mess
  • "I have an observation on how well the "gator" finish holds up.A restaurant near where I live has this gator-finished shou sugi ban paneling on the outside. It hasn't held up well; the individual "scales" of the gator finish are starting to separate from the underlying wood and break off. Charring the wood more is not always better.If the wood were entirely charred all the way through, and held at high temperature long enough to turn roughly into metal-like graphite, it might be much more durable (but brittle). The Japanese "white charcoal" binchotan is processed such that it has this effect. But it is also not in the right dimensions for any sort of construction applications. See this video to see what I mean about the charcoal turning graphitic:Binchotan, metallic sound samples...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTWKV6bynuATankin (binchotan charcoal xylophone) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u00ZRvQv7vY"
    on: A Chemical-Free Way to Preserve, and Beautify, Wood: Set It on Fire
  • "This design still puts far too much weight on the human pulling it. This is a reverse wester-style wheelbarrow.The ancient Chinese style wheelbarrow has the wheel under the center of gravity, such that the human using it doesn't bear any of the weight, and only provides traction. As a result of this design, the Chinese wheelbarrow permits individuals to move over a ton.We shouldn't be surprised by the notion of a person rolling around loads that heavy; pallet jacks work the same way, and are regularly used to move loads far too heavy to move with a wheelbarrow. When the user only needs to steer and provide traction rather than bearing the load, the whole arrangement is simply more ergonomic. I contend that if they redesigned this with this wheel-under-center-of-gravity principle, it would be even better.See this article from Lowtech Magazine on the Chinese Wheelbarrow. In ancient times, they even put sails on these wheelbarrows, so the human only needed to steer, and didn't even need to provide traction.https://www.lowtechmagazine.com/2011/12/the-chinese-wheelbarrow.html The modern incarnation of this invention is the Honey Badger Wheel:https://www.notechmagazine.com/2016/03/chinese-wheelbarrow-meet-the-honey-badger-wheel.html If you turn this honey badger wheel thing around and pull it, you have what I'm proposing above. The only thing about this honey badger wheel design is that the load has to be balanced on both sides of the wheel, If a smaller wheel were used, and the load were placed over it, that problem would go away."
    on: An Innovative Way to Carry Heavy Items: The Monowalker Fatmate
  • "This might work for posts, but this is not going to result in strong concrete. Concrete doesn't just dry; it requires a specific ratio of water to cure. Water doesn't percolate through concrete mix in a way that gives the whole mixture the optimal ratio of water to cement.And for those who don't know, let me reiterate: concrete is not the same as cement. Concrete is cement + aggregate. For details of what could go wrong from not understanding how concrete works, see the book (or listen to the audiobook) Stuff Matters by Mark Miadownik."
    on: I Learned This Labor-Saving Trick for Installing Fence Posts in Concrete—Without Having to Use Water
  • "I haven't seen this much bamboo homeware since watching reruns of Gilligan's Island."
    on: Woman Builds a Bamboo Furniture Set from Scratch
  • "She seems to do everything with that cleaver/spade thing. That same tool she uses to chop down bamboo shows up when she cooks."
    on: Woman Builds a Bamboo Furniture Set from Scratch
  • "I supported them on Kickstarter well over a year ago. They've run into trouble launching. Still waiting for mine."
    on: Magical German-Designed Micro Vacuum Attachment
  • "Whatever the design is, it ought to be pest-proof. I have a nagging suspicion that if the trash cans in NYC were harder for rats and mice to get into, there might be fewer pests."
    on: The "BetterBin" Competition is Your Chance to Redesign NYC's Iconic Green Wire-Mesh Trash Bins 
  • "Japan is the most conscientious society on earth. We can barely get people to put recyclables into the correct bin when the bins are right next to the trash cans. I wish we could get everyone to care here, but alas, it would be easier to develop a robot with AI powered machine vision to pick out the boxes and to flatten them than to get people to bother to do the right thing in the US."
    on: Urban Design Observations: The Functional Volume vs. Actual Mass of Trash
  • "The last photo, right above the video, shows evidence for what I was trying to point out in my prior comment. You can see how weak the wetted bagged concrete is; its surface is flaking off. This is evidence of the concrete not curing correctly due to an incortect ratio of water to cement and lack of mixing. As I said before, you can't just hope that the water will wick through the cement correctly. The cement actually needs to be mixed thoroughly so that all of the minerals that need to be hydrated get properly hydrated at the correct level.This is one of those practices that seems clever, but is actually foolish because of ignorance of how crucial the correct ratio of water is for concrete to cure correctly.If concrete were properly mixed with the correct ratio of water and then bagged for placement like this, that would be the proper way to do such a practice. Wetting bags of dry cement is not the right way to do this."
    on: An Easy Way to Build Retaining Walls: Leave the Concrete in the Bag, Stack Like Legos, Wet With a Hose
  • "This is method is ignorant of how cement works. I just listened to an audiobook called "Stuff Matters" by Mark Miadownik, about the material science behind all the common materials that make our modern world—paper, concrete, steel, etc. and in it, the author explained that concrete doesn't dry when it hardens; it actually cures in a reaction with water such that it incorporates water at a precise ratio in order to become strong concrete. An incorrect ratio of water, whether too much or toot little, results in weak concrete. The water needs to be mixed into the concrete; you can't just hope for it to percolate through, otherwise you get the worst of both—too much water on the outside, insufficient water on the inside.He recounted a story where one construction site consistently got good concrete in the morning, but the concrete made with the afternoon shipment was consistently weak. It turned out that the cement truck guy was hosing down the concrete with extra water thinking that it would prevent it from drying while he took his lunch break. He managed to do nothing but ruin the concrete by giving it the wrong water to cement ratio, permanently weakening the foundations of whatever building they were casting the concrete into.You are also making a huge error in conflating cement with concrete. Concrete is cement + aggregate. Cement itself is not concrete. In these photos, it appears that bags of cement are being wetted down. Even the bags labeled concrete are suspect unless you can be sure that it does not require additional added ingredients, akin to boxes of pancake mix requiring added eggs. "
    on: An Easy Way to Build Retaining Walls: Leave the Concrete in the Bag, Stack Like Legos, Wet With a Hose
  • "Wow. Why was this not invented a thousand years ago? I need this."
    on: Adding a Simple Design Improvement to Chopsticks
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