Meet the mustachioed, Danish father of room temperature.

This smilling, Danish scholar is professor Ole Fanger, whose 1970 book “Thermal Comfort” is the rock on which the whole edifice of modern HVAC is built:


Over on the coworkout blog, you can read more about:

  • The “Predicted Percentage of People Dissatisfied” (PPD) index,
  • The fct ratio, which takes into account the percentage of skin covered by clothing
  • The Sandex, which is an index that Randy and I are working on to measure the relative awesomeness of your local weather when compared to the weather in San Diego, CA.
  • The Sandex, automatically calculated from NOAA forecasts, will be used to answer the question: “Should we work outside tomorrow?”

Anyhow, if you’re interested in working outside this spring and summer — Fridays, generally, or whenever the Sandex tops 90%, then check out the coworkout blog, and follow @coworkout on Twitter!

Meet the mustachioed, Danish father of room temperature.

Green2Steam: Like a tea party. With fire. For MANS.

I keep writing and rewriting this blog post about how Eric Lewis, Harold Ross, Randy Schmidt and I met at Harold’s studio last weekend to see what coffee tastes like when you start with green beans, roast the beans, grind the beans, then brew them up in a fire-powered siphon brewer. All outdoors, because coffee-roasting makes a lot of smoke.

No matter how many times I rewrite the blog post — talking about how we want to have a full-stack “green2steam” coffee operation mounted on my sidecar — somehow this picture that Harold took of me and Randy, gawping at coffee master Eric roasting the beans in a hacked popcorn popper, says much more than I could:

Eric Wows the Yokels

There are plenty of pictures at the “Green2Steam” photoset on Flickr. Harold took almost all the photos. Most surprising to me was the way the hull chaff from the expanding beans covered the table. And MAN, does just-roasted coffee smell good.

Randy’s job was to stir the coffee, using a bamboo stirrer never before touched by human hands. Japanese siphon-bar attendants carve the bamboo stirrer to fit their palm, and stir exactly four times, without touching the sides of the pot. No pressure!

Click any of the photos to go to the photoset on Flickr:

The Green Coffee Beans 
Beans Mid-Roast 
Roasted Beans 
Watching the Temperature 
Getting his Stirrer Wet 
Kickdown Beginning

I think the next time we do the full-stack coffee-preparation exercise will be for the 2009 Polar Plunge, February 7th at Brandywine Picnic Park. We’ll have to roast the beans using propane, since there won’t be any electricity. Hey ho, more FIRE! Is anyone interested in coming out to help make the most complicated cup of coffee possible?

Green2Steam: Like a tea party. With fire. For MANS.

The first batch of Nerd Merit Badges arrived!

The first batch of Nerd Merit Badges arrived! The little inch-and-a-half embroidered patches are backed with “hook-side” velcro. They came from the embroiderer in a small plastic tube, the patches back to back, like a little stick of candy. Here they are, decanted into Ikea bins:

Open Source "Octocat" Nerd Merit BadgeThe little Tikaro gearxels aren’t merit badges; I’m not sure what I’ll do with them, but I couldn’t resist having them made. If I ever have a squad of turtlenecked heavies, I suppose the pattches will go on their berets.

Our first Nerd Merit Badge is pictured at the right, it’s the logo for GitHub, one of the newest and shiniest hosts of open-source software. There are lot of important, thriving, and storied open-source hosts out there, but Simon Oxley‘s Octocat is our very favorite OSS-associated logo.

Randy and I printed up a bunch of cards, then put velcro dots on the cards. The result actually looks like a, you know, product!

First batch of Nerd Merit Badges!

Randy twittering the Nerd Merit Badges
Randy and I ran down to the West Chester Post Office and put a few of the first badges into the mail for the folks at GitHub. That’s Randy on the right, taking a picture of the first batch going out. He microblogged the picture, and now of course I’m blogging that microblogging.

Which is appropriate, since the next badge we’re working on is the all-important Regular Expressions merit badge. There’s nothing closer to a geek’s heart than regular expressions. When I met Kate, she was doing regular expressions to clean up museum’s collection listings. That is such an awesome nerd job that it doesn’t seem real; like maybe the heroine’s job in a romantic movie. Oh, Regular Expressions, you make everything good better, and you make everything wonderful EVEN MORE AWESOME.

Right now, we can’t decide whether we want to use a superhero-type shield on it with the motto similar to “s//*/g (substitute nothing with everything!)” or a mailed fist clutching the symbols to build the Regular Expression THAT ENDS THE WORLD: “s/*//g (substitute everything with nothing!)”

Or Will suggested the uber-regular-expression’s uber-regular-expression: “s/s/*//g/s//*/g/g “Substitute (substitute everything with nothing, globally) with (substitute nothing with everything, globally), globally”

How do you fit both CREATION and DESTRUCTION onto 1.5″ of embroidered cotton twill? I’m not sure, but I think it will involve some Perl.

You can follow our progress at!

The first batch of Nerd Merit Badges arrived!

Crafts Involving Sterno, Wizards, and Coffee


December really has turned into Sterno craft month. It turns out that it’s easy and fun to upgrade your winter crafts with FIRE, HUMANITY’S WEAPON AGAINST THE FROZEN AND BRUTAL WILDERNESS. For instance, my brother Oliver is in town (hurrah!), and he came over to build graham-cracker gingerbread houses with us. First, we decided that we wanted to build an Awesome Wizard’s Keep, because Awesome Keeps are where Awesome Wizards hang out.

From there to the fearsome and terrible TOWER OF STERNO was just a short, logical step:

The Tower of Sterno

Oliver has been painting mandalas, and so he was able to shave the graham crackers into perfect little octagons. The crenelations are all his, too. I had planned on putting some little marshmallow heads on the little pretzel pikes, but overall the Tower of Sterno doesn’t really give off the grim, foreboding aspect that we had been shooting for. I thought maybe if we put a little marzipan wizard out in front, shooting lightning bolts at a hovering dragon, that might give the whole thing the aura of 1970s van-mural majesty I had in mind. Perhaps graham crackers and royal icing is not the medium for Heavy-Metal Awesomeness.

So we decided to just toast some marshmallows instead:

Lydia and the Tower of Sterno

Then, on Christmas, I received the long-awaited Yama 3-cup tabletop vacuum coffee brewer that I had asked Santa for. Hurrah! Oliver and I set it up, carefully replacing the included alcohol burner with the same trusty can of Sterno:

Siphon Filter!

The vacuum coffee brewer worked really great, though I was too engrossed in the bubbling and boiling and chemistry going on that I forgot to take any pictures of the actual coffee (here’s a good photoset of a vacuum brewer in action.)

Okay, so the project is all coming together really well. Today, Oliver, Matt, Randy, Lydia and I went to The Fire Store in Coatesville (here’s a photoset of my last visit.) Matt bought a Pelican case for his video camera; Randy snapped pictures of an actual fubar (I think it may have been a titanium fubar), and Oliver picked up a “Pocket Homeland Defense Operations Manual”, for which he got questioned at checkout.

I bought a foam-lined flight case for the siphon pot’s laboratory-style glassware, because EVERYTHING looks cooler in a foam-lined flight case, and so it’ll survive rough terrain in the sidecar:

Vacuum coffee pot in Pelican case

Okay, so now THAT part is complete, and I can find a suitable sidecar mounting point. On to the propane tank, the wok burner, and a brazing up a wire-mesh basket for the bean roaster. Onward and upward!

Hmm, if I’m going to mount the pots on the motorcycle, I’m going to need to replace the pot’s stand with some laboratory glassware stands. There’s a great big laboratory-supply company in West Chester, and a friendly local blogger who runs their website, so I’m going to ask him what the official name is for “a right-angled flask holder grabby thing, suitable for inserting into a countersunk galvanized pipe so you tan take it in or pull it out.” I bet there’s a name for that, like a “Hachtsenfeffer stand” or something.

Crafts Involving Sterno, Wizards, and Coffee

The New West Chester Web Development Space

Tikaro Interactive (by which I mean me, my desk, and my Lucky Dotcom Chair) has moved offices! I’ve teamed up with some really excellent Philadelphia web developers to start a shared office space. We’re at
20 North Darlington Street in West Chester, right above local ice-cream and donut shop West Chester Scoop. For those of you that know the area, that’s right behind the new justice center. It’s the brick building in the middle of this picture:

West Chester Scoop Panorama

The best thing about an office space above a donut shop, besides the constant access to fresh coffee, is the delicious smell of fresh donuts. The worst thing about an office space above a donut shop is also the delicious smell of fresh donuts. To see if it was do-able, we spent a day working in the front office (with no furniture yet):

Working above the donut shop

That’s Randy Schmidt and Chris Conley from Ümlatte, and Jason Tremblay of Alert My Banjos. These are the fellows that put together purty iPhone app iSepta. Randy just launched isFeasting, which is a microblogging service to show what you’ve been eating. Jason is the programmer behind

Here’s my side of one of the three rooms above Scoop. I’m about halfway through the pcoress of surrounding my computer with houseplants, which I’ve always wanted to do. My desk drawers are still in the old office:

West Chester Scoop office

As a part of the lease we negotiated, we get to name and design a sundae. Any suggestions?

The New West Chester Web Development Space

Oonie’s P8tch Action Photo

I asked my ex-Digitas-colleague Oonie Chase to do a p8tch action photo, and HOLY COW did she ever deliver:

Oonie's P8tch Action Photo

Oonie, this kicks HUGE amounts of ass. And takes names. And flies around the Syd Mead-designed mega-skyscrapers of New Toronto in a fusion-powered Porsche, apparently.

If YOU want to look as cool as Oonie while you sternly point your finger at lawbreakers, you can get your own QRCode-ed p8tch at

Oonie’s P8tch Action Photo

P8tch Rubber Stamp (Cattle Brand?)

I took one of my p8tch project QRcodes and sent it to Simon’s Stamps to be made into a 3" square rubber stamp.

3" is a little bit bigger than I had pictured in my head; you have to kind of swab the stamp all over the pad to ink it. But the image looks cool — and it scans just fine:

p8tch rubber stamp

When you buy a p8tch with a unique, re-configurable QRcode, you also get a link to the corresponding QRcode image in several sizes. For instance, the p8tch that I used has the URL "" embedded in it. Here are the URLs that are included in the p8tch welcome message:

So you can use the .png images that come with your p8tch to make your own craft projects. You could, of course, make your own QRCodes — it’s an open standard, hurrah! — but the nice thing about the p8tch URLs is there’s a back end in place that lets you change the target. So you can make a “World’s Best Dad” mug, but instead it links to a running, daily summary of exactly WHERE dad stands in relation to a global index of other dads. And sometimes a Rick Roll.

Right now, I’m not sure what I’ll use this stamp for. It’s way too big for a party hand-stamp. Even if I put it on folks’ foreheads. Hmm, I suppose it could work on a butt cheek, like a nerdy cattle brand. Then I could link it here.

You know what would make a great early Christmas present for the nerds in your life? That’s right! A p8tch of their very own!

P8tch Rubber Stamp (Cattle Brand?)

Third Rail Design Lab’s Commando Nerd

Thom Chiaramonte from Third Rail Design Lab was one of the original p8tch customers. He was really patient while waiting the REALLY LONG TIME to get his original order, and in looking him up to get his address, I saw that he was a comic artist!

I asked him to do a "commando nerd", and left all the details up to him*. This is the result!

Third Rail Design Lab's Commando Nerd

Oddly enough, she’s wearing her p8tch in exactly the same spot that Kenn Munk, with a similar-looking harness. Kenn, you’re a trendsetter.

* Well, I did specify that the "commando nerd" must be wearing bicep-length black-and-gray Pippi Longstocking miser gloves.

You can see the other p8tch action photos (so far) at the p8tch action photo pool. I now have a matched-gender-set of cartoon nerds!

Third Rail Design Lab’s Commando Nerd

ACAC Barcode Tattoo Booth at the West Chester Chili Cookoff

One of the goals of my development shop, Tikaro Interactive, is to connect the online and offline worlds. For the past year, I’ve been especially interested in barcodes. So far, the channels I’ve been developing are needlepoint, nerd fashion accessories. And now (drum roll, please…) barcode tattoos.

Here’s the program we set up this Sunday at the West Chester Chili Cookoff:

Toren applying the ink

The Barcode Tattoo Booth
Our tattoos were sponsored by ACAC Fitness and Wellness Center: you can see I’ve got an ACAC sashimono attached to the bike (the tattoo table extends from the sidecar.) We gave free airbrush tattoos with the ACAC logo, plus a unique barcode.

Once you get the tattoo, you visit ACAC and get your tattoo scanned at the front desk. “Hi!” you’ll say, proffering your bicep. “I have a barcode tattoo here, and…” BEEP! goes the keytag scanner, and the friendly front-desk staffer tells you what you’ve won. Maybe a soft pretzel at the snack bar. Maybe a free day at the spa. Maybe a two-month membership! Every tattoo is a winner.

There’s a number of things I like about this program. For one thing, even though it’s all futuristic and high-tech, it uses the existing keytag scanners and computers. So there’s no special hardware needed. As far as the scanner at the club is concerned, your tattoo is just a regular ol’ keytag. We’ve tested the tattoos on a wide variety of skin tones, including black skin and ultra-ultra-tanned aerobics-instructor skin, and it works just fine on everyone so far.

Jason with his Barcode Tattoo
From a pure marketing standpoint, I like the tattoo because it’s a coupon with built-in urgency. Your tattoo will last two or three days before it starts looking haggard, so it’s an impetus to actually go in to the club quickly.

Plus, you know, lasers are involved. What’s not to like?

At the cookoff yesterday, Toren applied no less than seventy-eight unique barcode tattoos. I’m curious to see how many folks will show up at the club today to get scanned. There’s a pretty good chance, I think, that this will have a high response rate and will actually make sense as a marketing channel.

In which case, I’ll make my first Powerpoint presentation that incorporates tattoos and BMW motorcycles. And that’s you know, a life goal.

Got an idea where a barcode tattoo with a three-day lifespan would make sense as a marketing channel? I’d love to hear it. Drop me a comment!

ACAC Barcode Tattoo Booth at the West Chester Chili Cookoff