Would you like fries with that?

One of the funniest animations I’ve seen has recently come along to help us have a wacky day.

A voice very much like Jack Nicholson’s provides the audio track for a Jack-in-the-Box talking head in this clever claymation video. The dialog that results is hilarious but in no way kid stuff, although it’s fairly clean (a couple of minor exceptions are bleeped out). You may wish to turn your PC speakers down so the whole office doesn’t get the drift.

The production is by Jamie Clay, a compositor who uses Discreet.com’s 3D Studio Max rendering software. His home page explains that he temporarily had to stop hostingthis .wmv file, not because the hamburger chain complained, but because he’d used someone’s toy car in the stop-action animation without their approval! The 1:20 video, entitled “Fry Day (Out)” is now hosted by Daryl Dulong, a staff member of the University of Rochester whose site has lots of other cool parodies as well. Fry Day page

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My thanks to reader Herb Hizer for this multimedia tip.

click to open description page Geek-proof cup warmer turns itself on and off
I don’t know what it is about cup warmers, but my Sept. 18 review of them has generated more reader e-mails than almost any other subject that’s ever been featured in Brian’s Buzz.

For that issue, I tried my darndest to find a warming pad that would keep coffee or tea piping hot and then automatically shut off so the remaining liquid wouldn’t turn into brown tar by the end of the day. My searching was all to no avail. But then reader Steven Buschman pointed me to the Mr. Coffee Mug Warmer (above right). This $15.60 item not only turns itself off after 30 minutes, but the weight of the cup turns the warming element on and off when your drink is put down and picked up. Buschman says:

  • “I can’t vouch for the store, but what I can say is that I’ve been using the Mr. Coffee warmer for about 10 years. The single most important attribute is auto-shutoff. This is a must for clueless software guys (like myself).

    click to open description page “However, for coffee, I must tell you that my mug warmer has fallen out of favor.

    “For the past few years I’ve been using a dual-use insulated mug [pictured at right, about $24.99] – the Avantro One Mug 2.0. (Yes, there is a release 3.0 [and 4.0] – I haven’t upgraded yet.) Its advantage are myriad:

    “1. For a coffee purist, keeping your coffee hot with a mug warmer is somewhat of a faux pas – it tends to burn the coffee.

    “2. A mug warmer is useless if you forget to put your coffee cup on it. Do not underestimate the failure rate here. And once coffee gets cold, you need to toss it – nuking coffee is a mortal sin. (I’m not so dogmatic about nuking tea.)

    “3. The Avantro mug can be used at home with its removable base (less likely to spill, also a high failure rate) and in the car on the way to the office. It really does keep coffee hot for two to three hours.

    “4. An insulated mug doesn’t need to be put in the dishwasher each day – fewer dishes to wash.”
There you have it – the last word on the subject. Cup warmers are out, energy-efficient mugs are in. And who has time to put things in a dishwasher with all these Windows patches we need to install lately?

See you next issue.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2003-10-02: