on knife sharpening

I assume that about 99% of all knives and pangas sold in Kenya are Made in China. The remaining 1% are probably imported kitchen knives and/or multitools from the US and Europe.

Everyone who owns a knife probably knows that a dull/blunt knife is almost useless, so there’s a knife sharpening service available in most places like this one we’ve featured over at AfriGadget some time ago.

I also bought one of these rotating grinding stones from Uchumi (ex-supermarket chain in Kenya) many years ago (for Kshs. 265/=, actually) and have also been tempted to get one of these huge sharpening stones / hones for kitchen knives which also sold for something like 70 bob back in the days (they are much more expensive in Europe, btw – even though they are all Made in China). Sharpening a panga (machete) with a rotating grinding stone is “ok” – for kitchen knives the flat grinding stone (~ hone) is the better (and often only) alternative as you want to keep the angle of the edge.

This edge angle actually is the most important part on a knife, I think, at least when it comes to its sharpness.

Cheap and lazy as I am, I have in the past only used sharpening stones and other – cheap – sharpening tools that MAY work for the ordinary kitchen knife, but should NEVER be used on a hunting knife, or – in my case – a multitool.

Arkansas oil-stone

Just in case you didn’t know: the sharpening process itself is a peculiar task on which you’ll find various – dedicated – websites and forums that solely talk about how to best sharpen a knife. As far as I know, using a sharpening stone (with water or oil, sometimes also some polishing paste) is the best way to sharpen a knife. This, however, requires some basic knowledge on steel, how knives are usually made, what kind of steel was used on your knife and how this steel will behave under higher temperatures. Those Japanese kitchen knives (we have one at home from back in the days) for example are very sensitive to higher temperatures above ~ 160°C (of course, again, depending on the steel mixture it is made of), so you absolutely have to make sure the hone is cooled down and soaked in water anyways. The majority of all other knives in our kitchen are Made in Germany, which means they are not as sensitive as the Japanese kitchen knives and also keep their sharpness to some extent. They aren’t as cheaply made as the ones from China as I am yet to see a decent knife from China. My sister actually gave me a set of 5 really good kitchen knives from Zwilling, Germany, as a present during last christmas, and I have to admit that cooking really is a joy with these new knives. Good tools are a blessing!


As mentioned, I am a Multitool guy. I have four Leatherman multitools (the Wave I, Wave II, Charge TTi and a small Squirt P4). You won’t buy these tools for their knives because, well, the steel used on their blades isn’t that great (except for the Charge TTi which comes with an S30V blade).

The blade on my Wave II lasted about four years until it became too dull. Stupid and unknowing as I am, I of course only tried the usual tools (Victorinox Sharpening Pen = horrible, knife sharpener from the kitchen, Arkansas sharpening stone) – thereby killing the edge angle on the knife.

Left with an unability to really sharpen my multitool to a decent level, I brought it to a “professional” shop – a very popular gun & knives shop in Frankfurt downtown. For some unknown reasons, these jerks completely fucked it up, killing the edge angle even more and returning a somehow sharp knife that looked like being sharpened on a high speed sharpening wheel. That’s exactly what I had tried to avoid on my Multitool, so I backed off and told myself: Argh….maybe next time. This was half a year ago.

Ok, so I may be too German on this, but there’s this moment when things just have to be perfect. You either do it right or never. So I ended up buying this GATCO Edgemate Professional Knife Sharpening System for a hefty EUR 47.95 today any idiot like me can use to regain the much needed edge angle on a blade. The guiding rods attached to the hones are inserted into the holes on the clamp and will then glide over the edge at a constant angle. Sounds too complicated? Here’s a video on it…


And you know what? These four different hones on a guidance rod just work and allow you to set an edge angle of 11°, 15°, 19°, 22°, 25° and 30°. There also is a fifth rod for serrated knives – my multitool also has a serrated blade. I’ve been able to restore the angle on my multitool and also sharpened a really dull kitchen knife with great success. I understand that this set isn’t meant to deliver razor blade sharpness (which would probably require another hone with even finer grit and/or paste and some leather) but for everything else – and especially for hunting knives – this set is the best idiot-proof choice. Something like EUR 50 are a lot of money just for sharpening a knife, but I believe that it is well invested money that will enable me to enjoy sharp knives and send all other useless sharpening devices into early retirement.


The blade on my Wave II during the sharpening process. The – still rough – 25° edge angle is already visible (all pics taken with a Nokia N95, btw).

UPDATE: I just received a call by the main Leatherman dealer/importer in Germany who asked about the knife on my Wave II and offered a free sharpening. Amazing! Told them I’d be glad to accept this offer and will send in mine asap the become blunt again.

3x 3G modems

I recently bought a new notebook (HP 6930p) and made sure it also comes with extra antennas (next to the WLAN antennas on top of the display) so that I could install a Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN, pictured below) adapter which I had to buy separately.

HP un2400 wwan adapter on the HP 6930p

The good part about this wwan adapter – an HP un2400, also known as Qualcomm Gobi 1000 – is that it supports different frequency bands so it can work in many different parts of the world. This, however, and maybe that it is hidden under a cover inside this computer so you don’t have to carry extra gadgets, is the only good part about this modem.

My other computer is a netbook which also has a wwan modem – an Asus eeePC 1000HG. Just slip in your SIM card (underneath the battery), boot into WindowsXP or Ubuntu and you’re ready to go online, simple as that.

HUAWEI EM770 Mobile Broadband modem on the eeePC 1000HG

The HP un2400 modem on my HP notebook, though, will ONLY work when the (main) battery is inserted. HP names “carrier certifications” as the reasons for this requirement as:

  • This prevents SIM fraud
  • This prevents any possible corruption if the SIM is removed while the notebook PC powers on


Just to remind you: the 3g modem on my Asus eeePC will work either way – whether the battery is inserted or not, it just works.

And then there’s this thing called “Firmware” – which also is a very peculiar process on the HP modem. Whereas most gadgets will normally come with their own (preloaded) Firmware (which may or may not be updated by end users), this Qualcomm Gobi modem requires an initial load of the firmware prior to its use (HP’s Connection Manager will take care of this under Windows XP). Once you restart your computer, you will have to reload the firmware. The only possible reason for this – to my understanding – is that it enables the modem to adjust to different wwan environments. But that’s about it. Needless to mention that you won’t find any drivers for this device for Win7, and I’ve only come across a few users who managed to get this device working under Ubuntu after lots of fiddling.

And again, no problems with my netbook & its Huawei EM770 3g modem. Real plug & play, regardless of the operating system.

“So where’s the problem?”, you may ask, “aren’t laptops/notebooks and netbooks designed to be run from battery power anyways?” – Well, yes, BUT! I always remove the battery on my notebook when I’m about to connect it to a stable power supply for a longer period. Like when I plug it into the docking station at home, I always remove the battery. I do this to save it from being constantly charged. It’s a precaution that helps me keeping the battery at ~90% initial charging capacity after three years usage (as seen on my old HP nx8220 notebook). It’s a proven method that worked for me and saved me from spending another EUR 80,- on a spare battery.

And the worst part about this wwan adapter is that HP locked the BIOS to _ONLY_ use these modems. It wouldn’t be possible to use the 3G modem from the eeePC on the HP notebook.


Now, this is the part where I actually want to talk about alternatives to these internal solutions, which are often still considered to be the optimal solution. As described above, it’s a not-so-perfect solution for those who want to use other operating systems then Windows XP and/or Vista. It’s an epic fail that HP still needs to realize. An epic fail on all of their “EliteBooks” as HP calls this series (HP 2530p, 6930p, 8530p).

The eeePC I have is also available without such a 3g modem – the price difference used to be EUR 100,- less. People (not me, I got it cheaper :-) actually paid this difference in order to get a netbook with an internal 3g modem. As for the eeePC, the price difference is (was) justified as you had to cough up about the same amount for an external modem some time ago.

However, now, in September 2009, things are a bit different. Be it Germany or Kenya, you’re actually able to get an external USB-based 3g modem for something like EUR 20,- to 30,- – which is a decent price, I’d say. Sure, you could even get it for less (in Germany) if you go for a 24month contract with a network provider but I am only talking about prepaid solutions here.

the popular Huawei E169

And these USB sticks are the very reason for blogging all this. I think that these external 3g modems are still the best solution for the following reasons:

  • they are supported by different operating systems & often well documented on the internet
  • they often come with their own software so you won’t have to worry about that part
  • power consumption on these devices is moderate, also because they are easier to remove (and wouldn’t require a software switch on the OS) – just unplug them
  • some of these sticks come with an extra socket for an external (UMTS) antenna
  • some of these sticks come with an extra flash memory capacity
  • they are relatively cheap these days
  • they can be used on more than one computer – just unplug them and hand them over to your friends (provided you have an unlimited data plan)

The disadvantage of course is that you’d have an extra device at the side of your notebook which blocks one of the often limited USB ports.

In the past I’ve also used thethering my Nokia phone to the computer and using its 3G capabilities to surf the net; and on my old & beloved (and now sold) HP nx8220 notebook I had used a PCMCIA (PC-Card) version of these 3G modems which I blogged about earlier. The PCMCIA version worked fine, albeit the PCMCIA port being known for quickly draining the battery (which also became obvious as it heated up pretty quickly). My new HP notebook has an ExpressCard slot, so this could also be an alternative if USB ports are really limited and already used for other devices.

To be honest, with this limitation of the internal 3G modem on my HP 6930p to Windows XP & Vista (and probably also Win7 one day), I’d probably go for another machine in future. I actually don’t know about the 3G modems on a Dell E6400 or Lenovo T400(s) – all of them seem to come with a Gobi device these days -, but I hope they aren’t as crippled as this Qualcomm Gobi? HP uses on their EliteBooks.? And signal strength (RX/TX ratio) actually isn’t so much better with the internal antennas which have to compete with the WLAN antennas for the limited space above the display. However, I understand that it isn’t the modem which sucks (some websites claim it even comes with an internal GPS chip?!) but rather HP’s policy which prevents us from using alternative operating systems and even locks the system down to this device only.

And with my policy of drawing a clear line between user data and the operating system + hardware, the external USB modem is just so much more convenient. It’s a plug & play device that adds modularity & flexibility to the system.

my HP 6930p review

It’s about time for another hardware review as it reflects what’s on my mind these days. I know that a lot of people just go for anything they are recommended, but if your income depends on the performance and reliability of your computer at home (= home office), you’ll maybe pay extra attention to this and I know a lot of geeks who are much more demanding when it comes to their computer.



Continue reading “my HP 6930p review”

Powaa Laini

I never thought this would actually work. But it does.

We currently share a room in this row/town house, right under the roof. The DSL modem that connects this house to the internet is in the basement, and I have in the past used this Edimax router as a repeater for the wireless signal (not WDS-mode!) so that we could also enjoy the connectivity to the internet with our computers upstairs (see fig.01):


There are two floors in between the basement and our “penthouse” flat and the wireless signal would often fail to work, even though the data rate was quite good on the repeater. I think there is a microwave somewhere near our repeater and the base station in the neighbouring house which just jams the signal quality. Both the DSL modem-router-wlan-ap and the repeater upstairs had been tuned with 4dB antennas.

Wireless networks unfortunately tend to have the nasty habbit of interfering each other, especially if there isn’t enough “space” on the frequency range. And then, also, most of these conventional (= IEEE 802.11) wireless networks are still to fragile to deliver consistent data rates. By the time I set this network up in late 2007, most of our neighbours still didn’t have their own WLANetwork, but today most of them have do so it was about time for a change.

prod 87d83a2bfc06148cebf7aea5ab39cc6aI had read about these “HomePlugs” – the “industry trade group for power line communication” which is a technology that connects LAN devices to each other through the power lines in a home. The manufacturers of these devices claim that it will only work on the same (electrical) phase, and since this house also has an electrical heating system and a second fuse box under the roof (next to the one in the basement), I initially thought it wouldn’t work. But it does!


Fig.02 shows the current setup using two HomePlugs I’ve bought earlier this week. There are different manufacturers selling kits with two such plugs – mine was relatively cheap – an “MSI ePower 85 Kit Version II“. MSI claims this device to deliver up to 85 Mbps in optimal conditions but the actual rate is around 30 Mbps which is perfectly fine with me as our DSLine currently is around 8Mbps only. It’s also said to have 56bit DES encryption and you can also give it its own network name. The best part is the installation: Just open the box, take a plug and connect a LAN cable to it and the other end of the cable into your LAN device (here: the DSL modem router) and plug it into the next socket (I’ve even used an extension cable which shouldn’t be done but it still works). I then plugged in the other plug to a wall socket upstairs and connected it to an 8-port 10/100 switch which distributes the signal to all four computers as well as a VoIP phone and an HP OfficeJet 7210 network printer. This MSI ePower Kit comes with utility software to set extra parameters such as a network name or the password (which unfortunately only runs on Windows systems), but you won’t have to adjust anything. Just plug it in and you’re done!

I was a bit sceptical if this would work out due to the additional power network in this house + possible intereferences that would spoil the reception of shortware radio (many radio hams actually hate this technology), but it just works like a charm and even my radioscanner hasn’t complained yet.

For anyone who’s been having problems with a wireless network – if the voltage is more or less stable (= probably not in Kenya?), I’d recommend these HomePlug/powerline devices as the perfect alternative to having (longer) LAN cables from one room to the other or even an unstable wireless connection.

imgfeedburnerAOB: I’ve once again changed the Feedburner link to my RSS-feed which should now be: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/kikuyumoja . To subscribe to my feed, pls use this new link by either saving it on your RSS reader, or alternatively click on the “subscribe me, baby!” on the top row of this page. Thank you. (thx, @Czed !)

Twitter is better with Gravity

If you own a recent Nokia phone with the Symbian S60 operating system (S60v3, S60v5) and are using the microblogging services Twitter or Laconia, you may be interested in using a new Twitter client for the phone:



Gravity v1.00 is the first fully-featured and native Twitter client for the S60 platform. It supports multiple accounts, Twitter Search, Laconica, TwitPic and wraps everything into a gorgeous looking interface.

  • Compatible with Twitter and Laconica
  • All functions available on your S60 phone: tweet, reply, DM, follow & unfollow, create favourites, search, auto-update and many more …
  • Tabbed view of your Timeline, Replies, Messages, Friends, …
  • Setup and use as many accounts as you want at the same time
  • Twitter-Search section with multiple search tabs and Twitter Trends
  • Post pictures via TwitPic
  • Open URLs from any Tweet
  • Kinetic scrolling on S60v5 ( Nokia 5800 and Nokia N97 )
  • Theme support on S60v3 ( fixed dark and bright theme )

The only downside to this software is that it may create too much traffic whereas the alternative – Twibble (which I’d also used since its first day as a public release) – seems to generate less traffic.

I’m on a 1GB flat for my phone, which means I can generate 1GB in traffic via the phone and only pay 9,90 EUR / month. I actually don’t need 1GB at the moment because we also have DSL here, but it makes sense if you happen to download more than 41 MB / month (9,90€ / 0,24€/MB = 41,25 MB) + it isn’t limited to a proxy server, special online pages or other crazy limitations. And DSL sometimes fails, so it’s a good fall back option.

Creating a sceenshot of Gravity is a bit complicated as the Shift (Pencil) key on the phone (which is used in combination with the middle joystick button) also triggers the input form for new tweets on Gravity:


The beautiful part is that you can really SCROLL between tweets like you would do on an iPhone – bila the touchscreen on my N95 though..


And another good part is that it’s now much easier to insert images on your tweets (Twibble also has this but isn’t as comfy to use).

Gravity comes with a 10day demo version and I instantly (!) registered it after using it for only 2 minutes. Now, you’d have to know for yourself if you’re willing to cough up ~ 10,- € (in Germany – sijui why they are adding VAT on shareit.com for other countries) for an otherwise free and time consuming service such as Twitter, but then, again, there are other – much more useless – applications for the iPhone ppl are willing to spend money on and also: there are only a few really good applications for Symbian devices. Gravity is one of them.

You’ll also need to access the download page for the registered version via a normal computer as the phone’s internal S60 browser is having problems identifying the .sisx format. Jan, the developer behind Gravity, also mentioned that he’ll be working on some bugfixes now, so maybe there’s a way to include this as well (refers to the purchase of the software directly from a phone. Update routines are just flawless!).

Verdict: If you’ve been on Twibble before, you’ll LOVE Gravity. Highly recommended application.


UPDATE: After some recent updates (currently 1.1x), Gravity also has the following additional features:

  • Configurable Audio Alerts for Timeline/Replies/DM’s
  • Group support for creating custom tabs with user-defined filters (S60v3)
  • Post pictures to MobyPicture and TwitPic
  • Preview pictures from MobyPicture or TwitPic
  • Full-Screen mode on S60v3
  • Built-in auto-update function and beta access for testing the latest features

And while I think that Gravity is the best application I’ve ever bought for a phone, I’d like to add two remarks:

  • There should be a cheaper version of Gravity as not everyone out there is able to cough up 9,95 € on a mobile app – and sometimes it’s technical reasons as to why a prog like Gravity is only successful in developed countries: how would you pay for this app from e.g. Kenya (where there is money but no payment system such as Paypal?). And how about a sponsored (& localized) version with fixed banners? Would it make sense? And what would ppl be willing to spend on an app (in other countries than Germany)?
  • There should be a mobile WordPress editor that’s just as easy to use as Gravity. After all these years of using WordPress for blogs and mobile phones, I’ve often called for better mobile blog editors and tested quite a few on this blog. Twitter indeed already is some sort of microblogging, BUT! it would be great if there also was an easy-to-use editor tool on the phone which could provide true mobile blogging.


FireShot Pro capture #43 - 'MobilePress - Enable The Mobile Web' - mobilepress co za

Following my other mobile blogging related posts, both my colleagues @AfriGadget – Frerieke & Erik – adviced me to take a closer look at a wonderful (new) WordPress plugin called MobilePress.

“MobilePress is a WordPress plugin that will render your WordPress blog on mobile handsets, with the ability to use customized themes.” – We’ve seen this feature with others before, but – as the author correctly points out: “Plugins exist, but, at best, contain sneaky ads and backlinks and are not all together well written.” I do share those feelings regarding the WordPress Mobile Plugin as mentioned earlier.

Despite of MobilePress being just the right choice for the mobile accessibility of your WordPress-based blog, I am still using the out-dated WPhone Admin Plugin because MobilePress (currently) lacks one important part: it automatically chooses the right rendering option based on the browser.

Now – I would like to choose that myself! WPhone does that by providing a “use mobile admin interface” checkbox on the WP login screen.

Mzeecedric and I recently had to look for a solution to a low-bandwidth blog-access issue and ended up using WPhone. I would, however, prefer to use MobilePress (also because it’s from SA, yay! :-) once such a “use mobile admin interface” functionality is integrated so that blog editors can actively choose a low-bandwidth login to the WP backend while using a normal browser.

(It’s btw interesting to see how a plugin is used for another purpose – something else than what it had been designed for. See M-Pesa in Kenya and how it is used these days.)

NUTEC – cradle 2 cradle fair

I’ve just come home from attending “Nutec” today – an international congress and exhibition on “Nutec: Nutrients – Upcycling – Triple-Top-Line-Eco-effectiveness-Community” that took place right here in Frankfurt am Main, Germany during the last three days.

Nutec is all about nutrients that will remain in a biological or technical loop, or as the tagline on their website reads: “Everlasting Cycles: How Waste becomes Food”.

Nutec was partly organized by EPEA which is run by Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart – who is the B in MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) – an international consulting company that tries to a) sell the philosophy of the so-called Cradle to Cradle (C2C) concept and b) tries to achieve this by convincing companies to obtain a C2C certification.

closing the loop on technical and biologial nutrients

Since Michael was my professor at university and since I a firm believer in this philosophy of closing the loops (which is one of the reasons I started becoming active in the field of ecological sanitation), it was particularly interesting to see how this event was set up, where the aims are, what kind of visitors it would attract and what any possible outcomes are.

Those of you who frequently visit other green blogs like Treehugger.com, know that C2C is a “sexy” and already very popular approach at dealing with the protection of our environment. And those who have read McDonoughs & Braungart’s famous Cradle to Cradle book often agree that their idea of another industrial revolution actually is the way to go. Maybe not at once, but in small steps and by starting today. I have even convinced some older folks in the business who have a very green background of this new approach. Especially since this whole green movement has been active here in Europe way back in the 1980s when our US-American friends only had green flower people – so opinions on “what needs to be done” had already been settled, with the usual discussions. Unfortunately, green activists had in the past often only experienced a negative image, partly due to their bad rhetorics. You simply can not tell anyone he’s doing someting bad if your only solution is to advice him on doing less (bad things).

McDonough & Braungart both achieved to market their idea of another industrial revolution, where they are asking companies to redesign their products into greener products. Products whose materials remain as nutrients and may then be reused for another purpose. I won’t go into more details here because I’ve blogged about this subject more than once during the last three years and there are various other resources online that give a much better insight into the subject.

Trigema – Germany’s famous manufacturer of clothes who produces compostable shirts right here in Germany. The CEO of Trigema was present at their booth and really impressed me. Talking about Corporate Social Resposibility – big up for Trigema!

Back to the Nutec exhibition: this year’s event was a trial set up by EPEA to see / test how the public and international scene reacts. Messe Frankfurt, the world’s largest trade fair organiser, actually accepted a loss of 1,2 Million Euros to host this event – provided that EPEA/ElcaMedia continues to invite to another Nutec conference & fair, maybe next year in Hong Kong.

And this is what it was all about: an international event, hosted to pool interested visitors and their contributions, with about 60 exhibitors (this time only) that showcasted some of their ideas and approaches. And mind you, the idea behind all this is not to display eco products, but instead show the world that a better world is possible with economic incentives. After all, no company in this world will change its products only because of some environmental concerns. Instead, there’s money to be made out of this – analyzing your material flow streams and processes will help you (as a company) to save on lots of hidden costs you may not have been aware of. So instead of telling companies to stop polluting the environment, these guys invented the C2C certification which provides a detailed analysis of production processes and shows them a way forward.

Backhausen – an Austrian company producing returnable fabrics. These guys were certified with a GOLD C2C certificate for their products.

The C2C certification has in the last few month also received some criticism online, especially as portrayed in this story on FastCompany last month. Despite of some personal resentments some CEOs may have with MBDC, the C2C certification is a smart way to cash-in on environmental protection, as it helps everyone involved.

For some reasons, which may also include this 49-minutes long documentary on MBDC, the C2C philosophy has become very popular in The Netherlands lately. It probably also is one of the reasons why Nutec this time attracted many Dutch exhibitors – green start-ups that are often looking for investors and who have some very smart ideas.
Braungart is a German though, and when I look back at university, I think I am save to assume that only a handful of students really understood his concepts and the importance of his message. It’s like the prophet who’s an outsider at home. I blame this on the German culture, and often wish my fellow countrymen here would be much more open to new ideas and willing to take more risks. So it’s very nice to see the Dutch side being so open to his ideas. We urgently need much more of this enthusiasm in Europe.

Other interesting exhibitors included:

Nike – with a small booth displaying their shoe recycling concepts.

These guys from Austria run a networking agency and set up a pilot project in the city of Graz where they managed to obtain funds from the European Union that helps them turn the city centre into a greener place. Simple, but smart and making sure to use what’s available (the EU has these grants + there’s a whole industry busy trying to apply for these).

XeroFlor – these are the guys that provided the green (grass) roof to the Ford Rouge Center in Dearborn, Michigan, USA – the world’s largest green roof, covering 46,500 m² and thereby protecting the roof from heat and cold, improving the interior climate, saving on heating energy and offering habitat for smaller animals and plants.

I recently visited a friend who lives in a green roof building. If I ever manage to build a house one day, I’ll try to get my hands on such a roof. It’s just awesome! Didn’t ask for a price though.


Ron from Redwood Renewables in California who’s offering solar panels integrated into roof tiles. “Redwood has developed the first disruptive environmentally friendly, chemical free, patent protected technology that can inexpensively recycle waste elastomers (tires) into devulcanized rubber high quality integrated solar roofing tiles and molded consumer end products“.

Told him about solar systems being in use in rural Kenya and how popular the system already is over there. For a typical household of 4-5 pax, you’ll need about 417 solar panel tiles on your roof.

Ron is currently looking for investors.

(Funny thing is that I had read about his project before when someone had sent me a link to his one-paged website some time ago and upon seeing his logo (!), I instantly remembered the link from the other day. It’s a small world :-)

The famous Herman Miller collection must not be missed on this event. Comfortable and well-designed furnitures (and lamps, visible in the background) that make the difference. The materials used on each chair have been reduced to a limited selection and inspected for their toxicity. That’s the kind of chair you’d want to have for your office. Or?

Some other crazy Austrians who invented this new show concept consisting of three different parts. The company name Wexla apparently is a joke on the word “Wechsler”, which would prolly translate to something like “exchangeable”. And exchangeable is what their shoe soles are.
These are prototypes, so don’t be fooled by the somehow strange design.

The idea behind this obviously is to provide exchangeable shoes to customers. I’ve even seen another Dutch company offering a very very nice laptop bag which can be rented for a period of three months and then returned. Could you imagine renting consumer goods instead of buying them? Well – that’s exactly the scenario we’re talking about here. Imagine your desk at work being occupied by someone else so you’ll have to work on another desk. How would you feel about that? Are human beings ready to accept such new habbits?

I tend to compare that with the YouTube Generation that stopped buying complete (music) albums and instead downloads single tracks online. Because it suits their needs.

EcoWorx – another US-American product line the “Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded the Presidential Green Chemistry Award for its environmental and performance benefits”.

We walk on carpets almost every day and inhale the abrasion. Think about it!

A talented industrial designer at VelopA-Citystyle developed this new bench system created of two different materials, which is currently waiting for an official Cradle to Cradle certification. Appart from the green cover in this 1:2 scaled model above, “the bench is made from one piece of steel, without nuts and bolts, and is less vulnerable to vandalism and damage”.

That’s one those moments where I think: damn, I should have studied industrial design! :-)

And this idea, ladies and gentleman, is one of the craziest concepts I’ve heard of lately. But a very good one, indeed.
What you see here as a scaled egg model, is supposed to become a comfy building for expecting mothers who want to give birth to their children in a much better, eco-effective environment. It’s a new type of childbirth centre, so urgently needed in Europe because birth rates are alarmingly low these days and in some European countries, giving birth is only possible in hospitals (and not at home, where you’d probably feel more comfortable). Once investments for this project are secured, they will try to build the first project in Spain.
Obviously, I couldn’t resist telling them about urine diversion toilets that would add a greener side to their sanitational facilities. :-)


These are just some of the exhibitors, and there were only 60 around this time. Maybe there will be 200 next time – featuring innovative products from toxic-free cleaning detergents, healthy toys to edible fabrics and cleaner toner cartridges. Who knows? Everything is possible if you start analysing the products that surround us and realize how much we’re currently poisoning ourselves.

Interestingly, we saw a lot of (industrial) designers on this event – as opposed to traditional engineers which is what you’d prolly expect from an engineering perspective. But then – these designers are the ones to create the demand side, the ones who will have to ask for better materials.

It will be particularly interesting to see where we are in let’s say five years from now – what kind of products will have changed and found their ways into our daily lifes. What seems obvious to me is that C2C is a great marketing tool to promote innovative products for a better world. Oh, and there’s lot’s of money involved.

When will we see the first African C2C certified product?

[n.b.: Talking about environmental matters – what do you do with all these brochures you normally pick up at fairs? Read them at home and then throw them away? Many of the above mentioned projects have interesting brochures but still lousy internet websites. How come? I actually prefer a good website to obtain the relevant information instead of a papered brochure….]