For many years, a gaggle of gargoyles presided over the Len Werry building that housed the Calgary Herald. Rebuilding and renovations saw them removed from the building, and some were sold off to history… More
No woman likes drying her hair. It takes time to do well, holding a heavy dryer over your head for 20-plus minutes is tiring, and having a loud whine in your ear really sets a certain tone for the day.
It’s not surprising then there’s been lots of interest now that someone has finally decided there’s a better way. Dyson, makers of cyclonic bagless vacuums and bladeless fans and heaters has announced its new hair dryer, and it features similar technology to its other products, but refined and on a much smaller scale.
The hair dryer looks completely different from traditional dryers. For starters it’s shaped like a cylinder and is open in the middle. It’s flat on both ends so it resembles a tube. That’s because the motor is not in the head of the dryer like traditional models, in Dyson’s case it’s in the handle.
What’s in the box
The dryer comes with a long, heavy duty cord (2.7m) with a large and boxy electrical unit near the plug. There’s probably more than enough cord for most home users, and even for a salon. Indeed, Dyson describes this cord as “salon length”.
There’s a diffuser cone for managing curly hair, two styling nozzles that attach with magnets (very clever!), a rubber mat, and a string loop for hanging.
Dyson Supersonic Features
The Dyson dryer has some smart features that make you wonder why no one thought of them before.
For starters, the nozzle attachments snap on with strong magnets, making attaching and detaching them ultra easy.
The dryer contains a computer microprocessor, which Dyson says is constantly measuring temperature, so it’s able to hold its heat settings more accurately, longer. Dyson says the ability to do that helps protect your hair’s natural shine.
Improved weight & balance
Dyson chose to place the motor for the dryer into the handle, which results in a better balance for the device. No longer will your blow dryer feel heavy after lengthy drying sessions. With the bulk of the weight in the handle, if feels less heavy in your hands.
Plenty of hair dryers today come with ‘ionic’ technology which is said to reduce frizz and static, and Dyson’s supersonic does too. Negative ions are emitted from this dryer which should make things easier on your hair.
The Supersonic has 4 heat settings; 100°C, said to be for fast drying and styling, 80°C which Dyson labels ‘regular drying,’ 60°C for gentle drying, and a 28°C ‘constant cold’ setting for cooling, smoothing and setting your style.
Similarly speed of the airflow is fully adjustable; there’s ultra high for fast drying, regular and low.
It’s the technology in this hair dryer that makes the difference. For those that want to understand what’s going on here, a tiny microprocessor keeps things working as they should; you basically have a mini computer packed right inside the dryer walls. The motor that powers the airflow is just a scant 2.7 cm wide, compared to other dryers like my Conair which is 10cm wide.
Because Dyson’s motor is so small, it’s housed in the handle, which allows for a more balanced tool; all the weight is in your hand, not the back of the dryer head, so it tends not to pull your arm and wrist downwards.
A rubber mount helps to prevent the motor from vibrating against the inside of the handle, reducing the transfer of noise between the motor and the case. While I wouldn’t call this dryer ultra-quiet, it seems somewhat less noisy, if that makes any sense.
The Supersonic dryer has 1600 watts of power. While that sounds like a lot, it’s actually quite common in professional or even drug store hair dryers.
But Dyson’s technology takes that power and in essence forces more air through the tool. Dyson’s Air Multiplier technology is what gives this dryer its strong air flow.
“A high-pressure, high-velocity jet of air exits the amplifier, tripling airflow.”
Testing & My Review – Dyson Supersonic
I only had the dryer for a short time, so I dried my hair as many times as I could in those few days. Immediately I felt like the Dyson supersonic dried my hair significantly faster, so I decided to time my dry time with both the Dyson and my old Conair.
Immediately after drying the first time, I didn’t really feel like my hair was smoother or particularly softer after using the Dyson; I still needed my straightening iron to smooth and bring out the shine. But by the end of the day, as I was running my hands through my hair, I did feel that it was noticeably still smooth and shiny and soft. The next day when I was running my fingers through my hair that had been dried with the old Conair, I really didn’t get that silky feeling.
Timed tests – Dyson vs Conair
I did several timed tests in the time I had available with the Dyson Supersonic; you can see some of the results in my video review posted here.
On one test, The Dyson was able to dry my hair almost fully in about 2 minutes using the highest heat and airflow settings. Then, I needed about a further 3 minutes to finish the drying, and to smooth and style individual sections using high heat but medium airflow and one of the styling nozzles. I noticed that when I was doing the final stage smoothing, I only needed to go over each section once with the Dyson before it was dry and in place.
With the Conair, it took me about 2 minutes and 40 seconds to get to the mostly-dry stage, then a further 5-plus minutes to get my hair smoothed and styled. I needed at least two passes on the smoothing stage to get the job done.
Something else I noticed after using the Dyson and then going back to my old Conair dryer; the Conair dryer made me really hot. The heat blast was so prolonged and intense that it made me sweat and made my makeup run. I didn’t experience that with the Dyson, perhaps because the dry time is shorter, and the temperature is regulated so it doesn’t keep heating up over the course of the blow dry.
No ‘hair smoke’
I also notice I’d get ‘hair smoke’ from the Conair that I didn’t see at all with the Dyson. You know, when the dryer gets a bit too close to the hair and heats it (or vaporizes your hair product)?
It’s worth noting that I still needed to flat-iron my hair for that shiny finished look even with the Dyson.
How long does it really take?
On another test, I used the Dyson on high heat and airflow to do an overall dry (just about 2 and a half minutes that time), then did the rest of my smoothing and finishing without one of the nozzles and with heat again on medium. That took a further 4 minutes for a total of 6 and a half minutes. It’s clear that the directional nozzles help speed things up.
Probably once of the biggest surprises for me from this test was that I actually spend a lot less time blow drying my hair than I thought I did. If you’d asked me before I did any of this testing, I’d have guessed that it takes me 20 minutes to dry my hair. Turns out that I’m only taking about 7 minutes with my Conair. The Dyson drops that to about 5 or 6. So yes, the Dyson does save time, the question is, is it enough to justify the $500 price? Perhaps if you have a lot more hair than I do, or a thicker mane, you’d be shaving off even more time using the Dyson.
Overall – Dyson Supersonic
I really liked the Dyson Supersonic experience. I liked the fact it was quicker than my old dryer, and generated less heat. I also felt like my hair was softer and smoother after being dried with the Dyson, plus I like that it wasn’t scorching my hair. In fact I marveled several times over how silky my hair felt on days when I used the Dyson dryer.
If I were to make any improvements to this device it would be to make it quieter, and to get rid of the annoyingly large electrical box on the cable. Obviously I’m not an engineer and don’t know if these are even realistic suggestions, but from a consumer standpoint, those are my thoughts.
So, would I buy this hair dryer for myself? Oh, man, I really want to… because it made my hair feel great… but not right now. The time savings and other ‘pros’ of the dryer just aren’t significant enough to justify the $500 price tag for me right now. I also think that if there’s a ‘gen 2’ version that might come out in the next couple of years, it might have some of the improvements I’m hoping for.
Bottom line; if you can afford this dryer, and you’ve got lots of hair, or your lifestyle is such that a few minutes are worth getting back, you’ll probably love it!
The Dyson Supersonic sells for $499 CAD on Dyson’s website or from The Bay. It’s $399 USD via Dyson’s American site.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter or Instagram @ErinLYYC. Like my Facebook page too for quick tech and gadget updates between Tech talk TV segments! You can also find short videos on my YouTube channel .
A few weeks ago we took a look at some fabulous homes in Palm Springs that can be easily seen on a self-guided driving or cycling tour (click here to read). I enlisted the help of expert Robert Imber who runs Palm Springs Modern Tours, and was integral in the creation of the Palm Springs Modern app, which provides maps, photos, and descriptions of the best homes to see. There were way too many homes Robert loves and recommends for architecture and design buffs to fit into one blog, (and we haven’t even touched the amazing public buildings that are a must-see!), so here’s part two.
Must see Homes: Dr. Franz Alexander house, 1011 W Cielo Dr
This home (photo at top) by architect Walter White, looks like it hearkens back to the 60’s but in fact it was build well before that; it was build in 1955. Imber tells me this home is on the National Register of Historic Places, and for good reason; it looks like nothing you’ve ever seen. While it may seem boxy and utilitarian, it has a wealth of interesting and unique features, plus it’s situated on the property in such a way as you can get a great look at it from the road.
Must See Homes: Palevsky House, 1021 W Cielo Dr
Max Palevsky, perhaps best-known for his connections to computer giant Intel Corp., once owned this modern gem just up the road from the Alexander house.
According to Palm Springs Architecture blog, “the house was based on desert houses in Casablanca that were white-walled compounds with structures set within rectangular walls, and it is beautifully integrated into its boulder-strewn site. Its minimalist aesthetic makes it one of the town’s most enigmatic structures.”
Must See Homes: Leo DiCaprio/Dinah Shore House, 432 Hermosa
Not only can you get a good look at this property (photo at bottom) on a driving tour, you can actually rent it, so long as rates that start at $4500 per night don’t put you off.
This home, built on a secluded 1.3-acre desert lot is, according to the home’s website, “exceptionally private, and offers 6 bedrooms and 7½ baths between the main house, the guest house overlooking the pool, and the casita adjacent to the tennis court. The living room boasts fantastic scale, generous seating, a grand piano, fireplace, and cocktail bar.”
What you can’t see from the road, you can on the home’s website, which boasts gorgeous photos of most of the interior. It’s a stunning property, and the opportunity to see it from the modernist exterior as well as peering legally inside via the world wide web is a combination that shouldn’t be missed!
Do you know of a home that should be a must see for any Palm Springs visitor? Let us know in comments below, or post your recommendation to Twitter or Instagram and tag me; @ErinLYYC.
Photographs courtesy: palmspringsarchitecture.blogspot.ca, berfrois.com, and 432hermosa.com. This post was originally published for the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism.
Palm Springs is an architecture lover’s dream. There are many beautiful and important homes that are amazing structurally, plus there’s plenty of houses owned by Hollywood celebrities scattered throughout the city too.
They’re easy to see; you can take a self-guided driving (or cycling) tour of them on your own, or get an expert guide.
Robert Imber runs the popular Palm Springs Modern Tours, and he was integral in the creation of the Palm Springs Modern app, which provides maps, photos, and descriptions of the best homes to see (paper copies are also available at the Palm Springs Visitors Centre, itself a beacon of modernist architecture as a former Albert Frey designed gas station). I asked him what some of his favorite buildings in the city are.
#1: Kaufmann House (photo at top)
This famous home is an architectural stunner, located at 470 W. Vista Chino. Designed by Austrian-American architect Richard Neutra, it’s a designated historic site in Palm Springs. With its clean lines and gorgeous boulder-strewn front yard it’s a great first stop on your tour.
While you can’t go inside, or anywhere on the property, since it’s a private home, if you get the app (available for download on the App Store or Google Play; search “Palm Springs Modern: Mid-Century Architecture Tours”), you’ll be treated to a beautiful array of interior photos you CAN gawk at. According to Robert, no visit to Palm Springs is complete without seeing this house, and I can’t disagree; it’s absolutely beautiful.
#2: Edris House (photo at right)
Not far away is Edris house, also a historic home. Located at 1030 W. Cielo Dr, this house also blends seamlessly into its rocky, dry desert environment. Featuring gorgeous natural stone and sweeping roof lines that many Palm Springs modernist homes are known for, this house is a feast for the eyes.
#3: The Ship of the Desert (photo below)
Robert Imber calls this “one of the most notable homes” in Palm Springs. Designed by architects Wilson and Webster, the 1936 house is “imposing and streamlined…nautical modern, with many ship-like components such as a gangplank entrance stairwell; prow front; porthole window.” The home can easily be viewed from the street in the Mesa neighborhood, at 1995 S. Camino Monte.
There are so many more amazing homes to see in Palm Springs, plus numerous public buildings that are both stunning and historic. We’ll cover some more in the coming weeks, so check back on the blog. Or, if you’re visiting Palm Springs, consider taking Robert’s tour. They run twice daily at 9:30am and 1:30pm and take about 3 hours.
The tours start at the Visitors Center, taking you on a narrated viewing of neighborhoods, homes, and buildings some locals don’t even know exist.
Photo credits: Kaufmann House courtesy Robert Imber, Edris House courtesy edrishouse.com, Ship of the Desert courtesy MrNewIt.co This blog was originally published for the Palm Springs Tourism bureau.
Calgary Modern Home Tour, Sep 24, 2016 – Calgary architecture has come a long way. From being known for its sandstone buildings years ago, to newer, more revolutionary buildings and structures like The Bow, or the Peace Bridge, Calgary is increasingly able to boast architectural structures that are worthy of bragging about.
Probably not surprising then there was an excellent turnout today for the first ever Calgary Modern Home Tour. Featuring five home in three quadrants across the city, this home tour featured a mix of brand new builds, more recent construction, and both show homes and lived-in family houses.
Each of the five homes was stunningly beautiful in its own way; whether it was unique and distinct architectural features, or elements of interior design that set it apart.
Organized by the Modern Architecture + Design Society which is based in the US, the events are, “carefully curated by and for lovers of all things modern, we capture the finest and most original innovations in architecture, design and lifestyle.”
The homes were largely located in central Calgary, and easy to see in the time allotted (11am-5pm). At several of the homes we were able to chat with the architects, designers, builders and even homeowners about why design decisions were made, how the homes were decorated to maximize features, and even what it’s like living inside an architectural gem.
At one home overlooking the Bow river (built by Newgrowth Fine Homes), a central feature of the home was a poured concrete wall, complete with the imprint of rough-hewn wood left behind from the cribbing. The homeowner told us is was a feat of engineering (her husband was the engineer, so she should know!) and took careful planning to avoid a blowout. The pour was done in three stages, basement, main floor, then upper, and took about a year to complete. The wood imprint provides a wall that’s strong and structural, but also appears both natural and warm.
The Modern Architecture + Design Society writes on its website, about the wall that it’s, “an implied barrier between the public and private spaces. It remains exposed as a central core – the stair floats upward in a ribbon against it, the archways lead to new spaces and it is the dramatic kitchen wall.”
Another fascinating home near Marda Loop was modular; the outer shell is crafted (by housebrand), floors are put in (oiled oak) and then instead of traditional drywall walls, giant deep modular floor-to-ceiling closets act as room dividers, meaning the interior of the home can be customized or adjusted as the family’s needs grow and change.
Perhaps the most distinctive home simply from an aesthetic perspective was an industrial-modern property that used corrugated metal and grates on the outside, with a sleek but bright inside. The stunning and huge all white kitchen features touch-latch cabinets that make it seem as though everything is stashed behind hidden panels, and gives way to both a wide-open dining area and a living room. Gorgeous maple accents and floor-to-ceiling windows on both the main and lower level ensure the home will never feel too stark.The home tour was a real treat and a chance to peek inside some amazing houses. Visit the MA+DS website to read more about the 2016 homes and to see some stunning professional photos.
Moleskine Smart Writing Set
This gadget has really surprised me in terms of how versatile it is, and how well it works. It would be great for students, artists or just compulsive note-takers who never want to lose their notes, or who need an easy way to share them with others.
We barely had time to scratch the surface of everything this device can do on Tech Talk, so be sure to click the link below and read the full review.
The Moleskine Smart Writing Set consists of a thick notebook in traditional Moleskine style; a bound and wrapped cover with an elastic to keep it closed, plus a special pen (called Pen+) that has the ability to connect to your smartphone, and automatically and seamlessly transfer whatever you draw or write in the notebook, direct to digital format, using the free Moleskine app.
The pen is larger than a standard pen and has built-in technology. You push a button on the end of the pen, and connect it to Moleskine’s M+ Notes app. Then, it tracks where you write on the page, and transfers it in real time to the app, in your own handwriting, or converted to text. The uses for this really cool technology are almost endless.
Read more about exactly how the Smart Writing Set works, and my full review of it here.
4K TV is the newest innovation in TV technology, and it’s all about the pixels. A 4K TV has millions more than the next best TV which is 1080p.
If you think of a TV screen as a giant grid made up of minuscule squares, a 4K image has about 4,000 horizontal pixels (that’s where the name “4K” comes from). In total, it has about 8 million pixels on the screen, or about 4 times as many as the next best TV. To explain it in a visual way, manufacturers are jamming as many total pixels as there are in all of a 1080p set, into about a quarter of a 4K screen. That’s a lot of pixels.
While the screen resolution is amazing, the Roku Insignia TV is also smart. You can stream shows with it, using Netflix, and you don’t need a seperate streaming device. You can also surf the web, watch YouTube or play digital content. A 4K Roku TV brings you the best available resolution plus all the smartest TV features.
Click here to read the full review I did of this TV, as well as more about 4K technology.
Epson Ecotank ET-2550 Printer
It’s been more than a decade since I’ve had a printer in my home. I haven’t missed having one for many years, that is until I started testing some new ones.
It’s not that I haven’t needed to print anything, but you know, you find other ways around that; snapshot photos, email copies, and yes, printing stuff at the office.
I have to say, that since I’ve re-adopted having a printer in the house, I’ve found them quite handy; and so has my family. Particularly because they’re now easier to use, more versatile, and there’s less fussing with ink and cartridges.
No ink cartridges in this printer!
On Tech Talk I showed off the Epson Expression ET 2550 EcoTank Printer. It’s a wireless printer/copier/scanner/fax/ethernet, which has a unique feature: it doesn’t use printer cartridges. Instead it contains “eco-tank” ink bottles that are equivalent to about 20 cartridge sets. The printer I have includes enough ink to print up to 4000 pages in black or 6500 pages in color. That’s a long, long time before I’ll need to worry about running out of juice; possibly a couple years.
I reviewed a different model of EcoTank printer, one that has a slightly higher print capacity; read that review of the Epson Workforce ET-4550 here.
Whether it’s watching documentaries in glorious 4K resolution, printing book reports without the fuss of cartridges, or taking and sharing notes instantly and digitally, these three gadgets can help make back to school season easier, more productive, and more fun.
Contest – Enter to Win!
Want to enter the contest we talked about on CTV? Click here to be re-directed to the contest page. (*not active until Tuesday Sept 13)
I get some of my most interesting ideas for tech gear and blogs from coworkers; Neena stumbled across this unusual gadget, and had to know if it was all it’s cracked up to be. The MiTagg desk lamp is much more than a light; it’s a multi-talented tech and charging center.
What the MiTagg lamp does
The minimalist c-shaped lamp is purpose-built; the top is an LED light, with dimming abilities, while along the base are different options for charging; there’s an Apple Watch charger, a phone charger, plus a space to keep a power bank ready for when you need to grab it and go. You can use these docks individually, or all at once, with the lamp on or off.
The lamp is made from an aluminum skin and has been given a brushed finish.
This lamp would be at home in an office or a house, depending on your aesthetic. I kept my sample on my desk at the office and had many a coworker come over to take a look at the unique contraption. Most people thought it was handy, and I have to agree. All the plugs in our office are located under our desks, so charging anything while at work requires crawling around on the floor, and hoping for a spare outlet. Of course, there’s never one down there.
With the lamp handily on the desk (I unplugged another dumber desk lamp to make room for the MiTagg) and now fully powered, it was easy to dock my phone nearby while working, and have it stay powered up. Of course having this device take up just one plug, while allowing me to charge multiple devices, and still providing desk light was a smart solution, as far as I was concerned.
There’s no set up or complications with this power center; unpack, plug and it’s ready.
The lamp I tested came with a small battery pack or power bank called NuKi. The NuKi comes with a separate charging cradle, which seems redundant when most power banks today can recharge with any USB plug or outlet. MiTagg’s website calls this ‘frictionless’ charging, and indeed the NuKi can simply be dropped into its cradle for a recharge, but of course that cradle has to be plugged in via USB somewhere (probably your lamp).
Valued separately at a whopping $69 USD the extra power supply is “a compact, portable keychain backup battery solution with an integrated Apple® MFI Lightning Cable and convenient detachable keyring means you’re always ready for instant power on-the-go,” according to MiTagg’s website. Considering powerful and long lasting power banks can be had for a fraction of that cost, I’m a little surprised this one can only deliver 75% charge (1800 mAh) to an iPhone for that price and size.
Mysteriously, the NuKi also comes with a detachable key ring, so if you did want to weigh your keys down with a large and awkward key chain, you could.
NuKi also comes with built in location tracking, as some power banks are nowadays, probably because they’re so easy to set down, or plug in and walk away then forget. You’ll need a separate app for that feature.
A thought for next time – MiTagg Power Station Lamp
If I had one complaint about this product, it’s that the light itself could be more powerful and cast a wider glow. As it is, the light is very down-focused, meaning it lights up the devices it’s charging on its base, more so than my work area. It can’t be adjusted either; if the LED could be swiveled to provide more directional task light, I think it would be far more useful. I found myself not using the dimming feature, and instead wishing the lamp could be brighter, perhaps to spill off the base and get where I needed some light the most.
If you have a gadget I should check out, please reach out on Twitter or Instagram @ErinLYYC
The plan is unfolding at the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage northeast of Nanton, Alberta. Camera obscura is Latin for ‘dark room,’ and as the group undertaking the project explains it, “the basic idea is to have light enter through a pinhole into a dark space; thereby creating a projected image,” says Dr. Josephine Mills, Director/Curator at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. “This is the forerunner of the camera and the source of the name of this technology.”
Pinhole camera technology is one of the earliest forms of photography, and using the grain bin just takes something that can be make out of a cereal box or cardboard tube, and expands it to a huge scale, with what could be very interesting results.
“I’ve always wanted to exhibit the fabulous contraptions built by Kamloops artist Donald Lawrence to take pinhole photographs and make projected images,” explains Mills, “When I heard about Donald’s major SSHRC Research Creation Grant and the team of artists he had put together for the project, I knew that bringing these artists to work at the Coutts Centre for Western Canadian Heritage was a perfect match,”
So what will the finished photographs look like?
Calgary artist Dianne Bos is setting up her “See the Stars” prospector’s tent where she’ll make cyanotype prints. “Cyanotype is a photographic printing process that produces a cyan-blue print, says Mills. “It was used by engineers well into the 20th century as a simple and low-cost way to produce copies of drawings called blueprints.”
Holly Ward, from Vancouver, is using cyanotype photography to explore the Coutts’ herbarium collection and will provide demonstrations throughout the day. Sarah Fuller, based in Ottawa, will install video projects related to the Coutts home and gardens and conduct an Anthotype workshop using local spinach.
The Prairie Sun Project, as it’s being called happens on August 21, 2016 is the first project involving major Canadian artists creating work at the Coutts Centre.