Unitasker Wednesday: Computer Rearview Mirror

computer rearview mirrorAll Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I have nothing against mirrors. They are very useful. Mirrors can be used to help you put on make-up, shave, floss your teeth, etc. Dentists use tiny mirrors to see all of our teeth. You can install large convex safety mirrors to see around blind corners and prevent accidents.

The Clip-On Cubicle Mirror/Computer Rearview Mirror was invented to help workers in open office spaces. Many open office plans have desks facing walls or have desk ‘nodes’ where workers face each other and have their backs open to the rest of the room. However, millions of years of evolution has taught humans that sitting with our backs exposed makes us vulnerable and we instinctively seek to minimize that threat. When we are in this unprotected situation, our stress levels increase. The theory is the Clip-On Cubicle Mirror/Computer Rearview Mirror is supposed to help us minimize this stress by allowing workers to see people walk up behind them.

In my opinion, this mirror will do the exact opposite. Any flicker in the mirror, would be a distraction. The worker would continually look to see if the flicker is a potential threat. Rather than improve productivity, this device may actually decrease productivity and increase employee stress levels.

Let’s solve the whole problem by redesigning office spaces so that these mirrors are not needed and workers, (especially women) feel safe, comfortable, and less stressed.

Unitasker Wednesday: Catch & Go steering wheel smartphone holder

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

The Catch & Go steering wheel smartphone holder holds smartphones from 3.5″ to 5.5″ wide. It quickly and easily attaches to your steering wheel. You can use your GPS and talk on your phone hands free. See the video here.

It is important to have a hands-free device when you are driving your car. Keeping both hands on the steering wheel is the most effective way to control a car. It is also important to keep both eyes looking out the windscreen at the road, traffic, and surroundings. I briefly considered calling the device a multi-tasker because it would allow you to watch a movie on your phone while crashing your car at the same time.

The other issue I have with Catch & Go’s steering wheel smartphone holder is charging the smartphone while it is attached. Often GPS apps can drain the phone battery significantly so the ability to charge the phone while using it would be helpful. You would have to have a longer cable to compensate for turning the steering wheel but would the cable get tangled if there was too much slack? If the steering wheel turned and the cable was too tight would it yank the phone out of the holder and cause further distraction?

The steering wheel smartphone holder just does not seem like a safe option to me. In all fairness, Catch & Go makes a couple of different phone holders that do not attach to the steering wheel. They would be a lot safer as the phone would not be in your direct line of vision nor cause the cord to get tangled in your legs while driving.

Despite all this, I really like the design — but not for driving. It would be handy to have one of these easy to install gadgets for the kitchen. Hanging the phone from a cupboard door handle would keep it off the messy counter.

Would you use it for driving? If you didn’t use it for driving, where would you use it?

Unitasker Wednesday: The unitasker debate

After so many years of Unclutterer, you might think we would run out of unitaskers to make fun of but sadly that is not the case. Our Unitasker Wednesday series is still going strong.

In our first unitasker post, we defined a unitasker as something that:

  • It takes up space in your home and your life but does not give much in return.
  • It only does one thing, and usually that thing is really unnecessary or superfluous.

In order to fulfill the definition of unitasker both of the above criteria must be met for the owner/user of the item.

Let’s take the waffle maker as an example, Unclutterer Matt, insists that a waffle maker is a unitasker. It takes up a lot of cupboard space. It only makes waffles. It is used only a few times a year. Unclutterer’s editor-at-large, Erin disagrees because she uses a waffle maker to make other foods and she enjoys using it. Erin gets lots in return for the item that takes up space in her cupboard! Erin also loves her ice-cream maker even though Matt believes that it too, is a unitasker.

The Banana Saver was declared a unitasker, but I heartily disagree. I gladly sacrifice the space a in the cupboard for the Banana Saver because it allows me to avoid cleaning smashed banana in the children’s backpacks and lunchboxes.

Unclutterer Jeri mentioned that some multi-purpose items may not be as effective as unitaskers. We have mentioned that when unitaskers keep you safe, save you time, effort, and money they can be valuable.

Every week readers chime in and declare their love for the unitaskers we feature. Sometimes it is because their children will only eat tacos in the TriceraTaco taco holder, or the 60 second salad maker really does save them time, or the Flying Screaming Monkey brings them joy. Whatever the reason, if you use it and you love it then for you it is not a unitasker.

We plan to continue with our poking fun at items in Unitasker Wednesday posts and we appreciate each and every comment even if they respectfully disagree with us. Diversity enhances innovation and creativity. It is our strength.

Unitasker Wednesday: Plastic Egg Mold

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Today we’d like to introduce another eggsquisite unitasker, the plastic egg mold. Made of rubber, these molds squish hard-boiled eggs into rabbit or bear faces.

To use these molds, simply boil the eggs. Peel the shell off the eggs when they are very hot. Drop the hot eggs into the mold and close the lid. Submerse the closed mold in cold water for 10 minutes and your eggs will be shaped.

Personally, I am not interested in peeling hot, hard-boiled eggs. The eggs turn out better when they are cooled then peeled anyway. I am also not interested in yet another “hand-wash only” item. I prefer everything to be dishwasher-safe.

I suppose an item like this would amuse children and maybe get them to eat more eggs — maybe. Or we could just save money, space in our cupboards, and stop unitasker from ending up in the landfill if we taught kids to eat non-decorative foods.

Unitasker Wednesday: Luxe Makeup Brush Cleaner with USB Charging Station

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

There is a great article in Allure magazine that tells us we should clean our make-up brushes at least weekly. They also provide the following tips on how to clean your brushes:

Follow these seven steps for cleaner, good-as-new brushes and blenders.

  1. Wet the bristles with lukewarm water.
  2. Place a drop of makeup brush cleanser or [mild] soap into the palm of your hand.
  3. Gently massage the tips of the bristles in your palm.
  4. Rinse the bristles.
  5. Squeeze out the excess moisture with a clean towel.
  6. Reshape the brush head.
  7. Let the brush dry with its bristles hanging off the edge of a counter, thereby allowing it to dry in the correct shape. Never let your brushes dry on a towel — the bristles can become mildewed.

The experts at Allure also states that brushes should not be dried vertically. Because the bristles are glued to the handle, soap/detergent and water can cause the glue to breakdown and the bristles will start to fall off.

With brush cleaning so simple, I can’t imagine why anyone would need the Luxe Makeup Brush Cleaner with USB Charging Station. It is just a pile of clutter — the device, its charging base and cable, eight rubber collars to fit various brush sizes, and a special bowl to wash your brushes. It is a whole lot of non-recyclable material.

If you really want to spin your brushes to clean them, get a glass (that you already have), fill it with cleaning solution, and spin the brush handle between the palms of your hands while the bristles are submerged in the water. No extra plastic. No batteries to charge. No clutter at all.

Unitasker Wednesday: Battery powered latte art pen

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

Do you have FOMO (fear of missing out) because you can’t post photos of your coffee on #latteart on Instagram? Now you can join in with this easy-to-use battery powered latte art pen!

Don’t worry about this gadget being constructed of plastic and non-recyclable electronics because it dispenses natural, wholesome powder compatible with foods such as cocoa, cinnamon, and other spices.

Just open the pen and pour in your cinnamon or cocoa powder. You must pour very carefully because the battery compartment is exposed when you open the cover. Any powder spilled in the compartment may interfere with or corrode the connections.

When you push the little button, the pen vibrates and the powder is supposed to flow out the tip. Once you figure out how to clear the consistent clogging, you too will be able design amazing art on your coffee and post photos of your food to all your favourite social media sites.

Thank you to reader Olivia for bringing this unitasker to our attention — and for letting us know you saw the ad for it on (where else) Instagram.

Unitasker Wednesday: Chef vs. Gadget

A big thank you to reader Celeste who sent us this video where a chef competes against unitasker gadgets.

The video shows that a chef knife wins spectacularly over the unitaskery avocado cutter and corn cob peeler. There was a tie between the chef knife and herb cutter (only for the green onions). If you already have a knife, sharpen up your cutting skills and skip buying the herb cutter?

The rapid egg cooker and the microwave pasta cooker, both unitaskers, won against the chef. How did they do that? They saved time — and likely saved energy. The rapid egg cooker does not require an entire pot of water to be boiled on the stove. The pasta cooker uses the microwave to boil water which is much faster and more energy efficient than the stove top. Both the pasta cooker and rapid egg cooker might be useful for students living in dorms who only have access to a microwave and an electrical outlet.

Thanks again Celeste! It’s a great video.

 

Note: Our post links to a microwave pasta cooker with higher Amazon reviews than the one shown in the video.

Unitasker Wednesday: Silly scented products

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

During the holidays, people will be out enjoying parties a little more often. The police, (rightly so) will also be conducting more frequent roadside sobriety tests. Imagine that you have not had a drop of alcohol to drink. You are stopped at a roadside check and the officer asks you to roll down your window. Out wafts the smell of bourbon — from your car’s air freshener.

Yes, you too can have the smell of drunk driving without driving drunk. Just hang a few of these little bourbon scented trees around the inside of your car.

I might consider this for a bar or lounge area, but a car? No. Not really a good idea.

 

The Jimmy Dean sausage company holds a recipe exchange during the holiday season. Readers submit a recipe that uses Jimmy Dean sausages and they get to select one of the limited-edition keepsakes the company offers. This year, one of the keepsakes was sausage scented gift wrap.

I have a dog. Not one thing wrapped in sausage scented gift wrap would last more than 30 seconds. If any of the gift wrap was swallowed, it would be an expensive visit to the veterinarian.

For anyone who has pets, unscented and recyclable gift wrap would be the best option. You’ll have plenty of sausage scent when you cook sausages for breakfast Christmas morning.

Unitasker Wednesday: The impact of unitaskers

Almost every week we publish a post about a unitasker. Unitaskers generally serve only one function (uni-task) and whose function could easily be replaced by another item that you already have.

Some unitaskers are useful if they improve safety, or save time, effort, or money. Occasionally we have featured items that would have no benefit to most people but be very useful to someone with special needs (e.g., Staybowlizer, electric corkscrew). From time to time, we feature items that are beyond extravagant such as a $1500 silver coffee can.

We have also featured some gag gifts like the Turn & Churn (which is just an empty box) and the flying, screaming, sling-shot monkey. We tell our readers that we do not want them to buy these items, but to laugh at their ridiculousness.

This article by George Monbiot nicely explains the economic and environmental impact of unitasker and gag gifts. It is entitled The Gift of Death, but Death to Unitaskers would also be an appropriate title.

This holiday season, we may be tempted to purchase a unitasker or “gag gift” for someone that seems to have everything already. It might trigger a belly laugh when it is opened and perhaps a few minutes of enjoyment during the next few days. But in the long run, the item will just gather dust in the recipient’s home until it ends up in a thrift shop (maybe) and finally the landfill. Please dear readers, reconsider your gift of clutter. The best present is your presence.

Unitasker Wednesday: Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Sandwich Maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

When I was in college, I had the opportunity to work with a professor who was doing ice cream research and as a student project, we got to use an industrial ice cream sandwich maker similar to the one in this video. What I learned from working on this machine is that the wafer parts of the sandwich are hard so they do not break as they feed through the machine. The ice cream is cold but soft so that it can be easily pumped through the machine and fill the sandwiches. Once the sandwiches are wrapped, they go into a freezer at -30ºC (about -22ºF). The freezer is this cold to keep the texture of the ice cream smooth by preventing the formation of large ice crystals.

After learning all of this information, I cannot understand why someone would go through the trouble of making ice cream sandwiches at home. However, the Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Sandwich Maker will allow you to do just that — go through an awful lot of trouble to make sub-par ice cream sandwiches.

I thought perhaps this piece of clutter might be useful if you were allergic to dairy products or needed to make gluten-free ice cream sandwiches but one look in the freezer compartments at my local grocery store and I found dairy-free, gluten-free, nut and peanut free ice cream sandwich options in several different flavours. So you do not actually need the Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Sandwich Maker to help you cope with allergies.

The Chef’n Sweet Spot Ice Cream Sandwich Maker is supposed to be easy to use but it is still a lot of work. First of all, you have to bake your own wafers in the silicone top and bottom of the mould and wait until they cool. Next, soften ice cream until it is spreadable and fill the tray you have placed on one set of wafers. Then, very carefully put the lid containing the other set of wafers on the top. Finally, freeze the contraption for at least an hour. (I hope your home freezer is at -30ºC). When you take them out of the freezer, gently remove the sandwiches from the mould. Congratulations. You now have messy ice cream sandwiches.

Unless you enjoy making work for yourself, bypass this clutter maker.

Unitasker Wednesday: Gläce Ice

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

I bet if Unclutterer readers need an ice cube, they reach into their freezer or maybe they have ice cube makers built into their refrigerators. I imagine that if they are throwing a party, they run out to the nearest convenience store and buy a 10-pound bag of ice cubes for about two dollars. (For those that are interested, a 10-pound bag of ice contains about 160 cubes so that works out to about one penny per cube).

But what if you want to enjoy a shot of high-quality Scotch — on the rocks? Would you use ice cubes that only cost a penny?

Of course not! You would purchase Gläce Ice.

Made from purified water, these meticulously crafted, individually carved ice cubes and spheres do not contain minerals, additives, or pollutants that may taint the flavour of high-quality drinks. It is just pure, unadulterated water that will dilute your top shelf spirits.

These marvellously sculpted pieces of ice can be shipped right to your door by the case load. Packed in dry ice, you can get 50 Gläce Ice cubes or spheres (or a combination), for a mere $325 USD. That’s only $6.50 per piece! And, they come in a re-sealable vacuum pouch with a one-way air valve to protect the Gläce Ice from absorbing odours from your freezer.

I suppose you could make your own ice cubes and spheres. You would need a countertop distilling machine to make your own distilled water (less than $100) as well as silicone ice cube trays that will make round and cube shaped pieces of ice (and a host of other frozen treats) for about $15.

balls of steel in whiskyBut that is a lot of clutter that sits in your kitchen making ice cubes year after year. Instead, you can unclutter by joining the Tudor Luxury Ice Club and have Gläce Ice shipped to your door on a regular basis all for the low cost of $1100 USD per year.

For those of you who do NOT like your single malts diluted with water of any type, the website Cool Material evaluated whisky stones to see which ones cooled Scotch the best without changing the flavour. The winner was Balls of Steel. Minimalist styling, effective drink cooling, all for about $30 USD — and a portion of all sales is donated to testicular cancer cure research.

Thanks to Editor-at-Large Erin Doland for tweeting about Gläce Ice and suggesting that we just donate to our local food banks instead.

Unitasker Wednesday: Stuffed meatballs maker

All Unitasker Wednesday posts are jokes — we don’t want you to buy these items, we want you to laugh at their ridiculousness. Enjoy!

If kindergarten students can make spheres with playdough, adults should have no trouble forming a ball out of ground meat with their hands. This is why I do not understand why anyone would be interested in the stuffed meatballs maker.

At just over 10-inches by 10-inches and one inch high, this flippy-floppy item is supposed to improve the way you make stuffed meatballs. First you fill both sides of the meatball maker with meat. (I assume we use a spoon because one of the “great features” of the stuffed meatballs maker is that you do not use your hands.) Then, you make indentations in one side of the meatballs with the hinged cavity maker and fill it with cheese or sauce. Finally, you fold over the top side of the device to seal the meatballs. Again, I assume that the meatballs just roll right out of the meatball maker into a pan for baking.

This would be great if it actually worked. Reading the reviews tells me that I have made erroneous assumptions. The stuffed meatballs maker does not fully seal the meatballs closed, nor do the meatballs simply slide out of the device. They have to be pried out of the meatball maker and then sealed by hand. In addition, you have to wash the meatball maker as well as the spoon and your hands.

Save yourself some time and money and just use your clean hands to make stuffed meatballs and thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. I know there are some readers who do not like handling raw meat so wearing disposable gloves will keep your hands clean. Disposable gloves have many more uses than a meatball maker too.