Ugh, I can still taste it: I eat Chapstick for a video about a USB razor

Sometimes the less impactful the product you’re reviewing, the bigger you have to go to get people to watch it.

I remember this ShaveTech USB-rechargeable razer being decent if unspectacular. Back in 2012, when this video was shot, I suppose a razor that could be charged via a built-in USB connection was a bit of a novelty, and I’ve always had a soft spot for novelty items.

But the demographic for an item such as this is… small. You need to shave your face, so that cuts out huge swaths of the market. You need to be looking for an electric razor. You need to like gadgets that charge via USB. And you’re probably cheap: this thing still exists today and only costs $20.

So what we’re left with, as far as the video goes, is a sight gag wherein I get buried under a mess of cables for a weekend and resort to eating Chapstick to survive. Mmmm… waxy.

ShaveTech USB Razor [Amazon]

I invent a knife for cutting yourself out of a malfunctioning self-making bed – also, it has a reading light

We’ve reached the end of the road for the ill-fated Mind-Blowing series, friends. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

When we did a writeup of a self-making bed on, a concerned commenter worried that such a miracle of modern ingenuity could malfunction and seriously injure someone. To which I humbly suggested sleeping with a Bed Knife to cut yourself out in case of emergency.

There would be two SKUs available: the Classic Bed Knife, which was basically just a knife, and the Deluxe Bed Knife, which contained a reading light attachment.

I also ate terrible pizza from a vending machine located at the nearby community college.

And with that, The Most Insanely Important, Mind-Blowing Tech News of the Week series met its end. There was no real push behind killing it. It was just a lot of work and it was late June at the time, which meant I had to kill the AC in my office every time I shot it, which meant it was really hot in there and I was wearing fancy clothes.

Oh, and nobody was watching the videos. And news dries up in the summer so I was running out of material. So there’s that. Goodbye, fun series.

I get chased by a taxidermized cat mounted to a drone

In this episode of the ill-fated Mind-Blowing series, I invent what I still believe to be the ultimate exercise equipment: a drone-mounted taxidermized cat that chases you.

I can’t claim all the credit, of course. The Joggobot: Cat Copter Edition is a brilliant amalgamation of two also-brilliant ideas that I didn’t come up with. But sometimes invention is about making existing ideas better.

And bonus: today I learned that the past-tense of taxidermy is taxidermized – not taxidermied.

I inhale two Twinkies in two bites while interviewing myself

In one of the more calorically-dense episodes of the ill-fated Mind-Blowing series, I shotgun two delicious Twinkies in rapid succession. It was a good day.

For you aspiring film-makers out there: a) don’t take advice from me (I’m lazy) and b) this type of interview-yourself shot is largely about timing.

Film your first sequence and try to leave pauses for your other self, then play back the first sequence while recording the second. If the timing gets away from you while you’re editing, go to a full shot of one of yourselves for a bit to get things back on track.

I get in a fight with a talking teenage vacuum cleaner

One of my favorites in the ill-fated Mind-Blowing series, we get to see what life would be like with a sassy talking vacuum and break stuff in a high-tech ghost town.

This vacuum charges until noon, lays around on the couch, demands money, dates a floor buffer, and sneaks booze – just like real teenagers, but a little different.

I also remember thoroughly enjoying shooting the ghost-town sequence and putting together the nonsensical Mother’s Day gifts. You rarely get a good, fun week when you’re in the media and this was a good, fun week.

Downing an entire bottle of Nyquil on Dougie Aamoth’s Day Off

In this episode of the ill-fated Mind-Blowing series, I do my best impression of a sick Cameron Frye from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Let my Dougie goooooo.”

I remember coming home from a one-day visit to TIME HQ in New York and feeling immediately sick.

It could have been the round-trip ride on a dirty Amtrak train. It could have been the shoulder-to-shoulder lifestyle of the city that never sleeps. It could have been that years of working from home have left my immune system about as strong as wet paper.

At any rate, I powered through it. Fun fact: the Nyquil was actually orange Gatorade.

I invent the Retoasterator: a refrigerator-toaster hybrid

Apple has enjoyed great success over the years, but one thing it hasn’t capitalized on is a refrigerator that can make toast.

In this episode of the ill-fated Mind-Blowing series, I chide Apple CEO Tim Cook for himself chiding what would be a wonderful invention.

And despite this video being from 2012, nobody has capitalized on this idea yet – which means there’s still time to capitalize.

I’d do it, but unfortunately I lack the time, skills, resources, drive, gumption, wherewithal, connections, people skills, looks, je ne sais quoi, intangibles, street smarts, book smarts, and general temperament to get it done successfully.

The Retoasterator you see in the above video is NOT real, in other words. Just great special effects.

Wherein I make myself into a hologram in case I die young like Tupac

As we continue our foray into the ill-fated Mind-Blowing series, gird your loins for some next-level special effects.

Now, making a hologram-like effect isn’t rocket science but I remember my overlords and peers at TIME being very impressed by it – so take the wins where you can get them.

If you’d like to try it yourself, set the camera up on a tripod and record your scene without you in it. Then, without moving the camera, get into the scene yourself and do your thing. Then when you’re editing, place both scenes on your timeline with the “you” scene above the blank scene. From there, set the “you” scene’s transparency at 50% or whatever looks good.

Boom: you’ve got yourself a video that, in 2012, would have impressed people at the world’s most influential news magazine.

The time I tried to buy Instagram – also, my wife’s favorite video of mine

My life would have been a lot different had I been able to buy Instagram in 2012 – also, I invented a thing.

And like all inventions, you need good marketing. The thing I invented also had that, and I found out that my wife liked when I showcased my boundless musical talents.

I called it The Foetie. It was a cell phone holder for your shoe. And much like this TMIIMBTNOTW video series you’re watching, it flopped.

Fun fact: me saying stuff like “Consider this my video cover letter” and “Better act quick before someone else hires me” were thinly-veiled cries for help, as I was not enjoying my time at TIME during this time.

Like all hardy Midwesterners, though, I crumpled my feelings into a little ball and stuffed it waaaaay down into my tummy, then spent another two and a half years there before ultimately being laid off.

I’m Douglas B. Douglas from the law firm of Douglas, Douglas, and Douglas

To this day, this is still my favorite video series I ever created. It was also a colossal flop.

I had been watching a LOT of The Daily Show at the time – this was back in 2012 – and came up with the idea of a weekly tech news show that focused almost exclusively on nonsense. I called it The Most Insanely Important, Mind-Blowing Tech News of the Week.

Like I said, it flopped. And it was a fair amount of work. I kept going for probably longer than I should have, but they were fun to make and fun to watch. I remember calling into the Friday morning editorial meetings at TIME and listening to all the editors watch it in the New York conference room while I was in Boston. Good times.

In this, the first episode, I break out my lawyer character: Douglas B. Douglas from the law firm of Douglas, Douglas, and Douglas.

I would make a terrible lawyer but I’d like to think I’d make great lawyer commercials.

The WikiReader was an apocalypse-friendly Wikipedia gadget

Some gadgets just die for no good reason. Such is the case with the WikiReader.

The premise, back in 2010, was to cram all of Wikipedia onto a pocketable square that used two AA batteries and a power-sipping, sunlight-readable screen.

This thing would have been great once we figure how to travel back in time. Imagine having all of Wikipedia in your pocket back in the Dark Ages or whatever. Actually, scratch that: you’d probably be killed by a pitchfork-toting hoard of angry locals for showing off your vast BeyoncĂ© knowledge.

But also imagine having all of Wikipedia in your pocket once the apocalypse hits and we head into our underground bunkers, flush with AA batteries but without access to the World Wide Web.

Alas, the WikiReader was undoubtedly killed off by non-believers and their smartphones. It won’t always be this easy, people!

For the rest of us, we can still download all of Wikipedia. We’ll just need somewhere to put it once the sun burns out.

As far as the backstory for the above video goes, I remember it being a lot of leg-work but I wanted to do a good job for my new overlords at TIME. I also remember it driving very little traffic, which was a tough but good lesson to learn early on.

Ten years later, I still use Wii Fit Plus

And so we reach the jump from CrunchGear to TIME, circa 2010.

If you’ve been following the Greatest Hits videos here, we’ve now reached the point where I left CrunchGear for TIME, which was less fun but more money.

My videos got better, too. They were supposed to be. They didn’t get great – still haven’t – but I’ve been told that’s part of the charm.

Anywell, here’s my Wii Fit Plus review. I still go on little Wii Fit Plus kicks every now and then. I’m looking at my Balance Board right now. However, watching this 10 years later, I’m reminded of the old saying, “I wish I was still as thin as I was when I first thought I was getting fat.”

And if you’re looking to mix Nintendo and fitness in 2020, this isn’t the setup for you. The smart money’s on Ring Fit Adventure if you can find it in stock.

The time I kind of made a gadget review TV show

Ah, Time for Gadgets! we hardly knew ye. It was a dead-ass giveaway within the first 30 seconds when I said I have a problem following through with things.

And so, what was a surprisingly watchable 10 minutes of episodic content only saw one episode. I vaguely remember this taking a very minimal amount of preparation and a tiny bit longer to put together than a standalone video, which were two factors that ensured I never did it again.

It’s a shame, though, because for 2009, this feels like a web show that could have had legs. I’ll give it a 9 out of 10.

A mini USB monitor in the hot, hot heat

Nothing – and I mean nothing – beats reviewing gadgets in the dead of a Boston summer from the inside of a brick building with no air conditioning.

I’m actually pleasantly surprised that despite how hot it was (I remember how hot it was when making this video even though it was 11+ years ago), I don’t seem to be totally melting on-screen.

I also remember how much I loved having a second screen that could travel. Back in the day, tech blogging from a laptop was basically having a web browser open on one side of your screen and your blogging software open on the other. But – BUT! – screens were still so low-res that it was exceedingly difficult to fit everything well. High-res screens were insanely expensive, so little monitors like this one were a godsend.

Of course, these USB monitors have come a long way. Today, you can get this 15.6-inch version for $100 or a full-HD version for $150. Of course, lugging around a 15.6-inch screen kind of defeats the purpose, but I believe I reviewed something similar to the $100 version at some point in time and came away impressed.

Review of the above review: 6 out of 10. Points for general nonsense. Negative points for length and sloppy audio-visual quality.

Saying goodbye to my favorite computer in the history of computing

I still, to this day, miss this computer. It haunts my dreams, my nightmares, and my waking hours.

If you’re viewing this on a laptop right now, it’s possible that it’s still not as small and light as the Sony Vaio X was – and the above video was shot in January of 2010. It belongs in the computing hall of fame.

Reviewing my review, let’s go with a strong 7.5 out of 10. It’s not an actual review – the real review still lives here – but I ad-libbed the entire thing on the spot. And in video-making land, my friends, that’s pure gold. It drove 10,000+ views and took about 10 minutes to shoot, edit, and upload.

The most boring product I ever reviewed

I’m not sure what’s going on with this video except that it’s clear I got a new camera? Maybe? Was I reviewing a camera and used it for this video?

It looks like a bad VHS tape.

I distinctly remember reviewing this iron because Panasonic either offered it to me for review or I asked them to send it to me so that I’d have an iron for the holidays. This was shot in early December of 2009, mind you. Panasonic did at least pitch me on this, although I’m certain they just wanted me to write about it without actually using it. I remember their PR person being a little puzzled when I asked her to send it to me.

As far as reviewing review videos goes, this video is like a 5 out of 10 – mostly because it sounds and looks weird. It could be argued that I saved it with some goofery up front. I remember one of the CrunchGear writers at the time, Dan Freeman, telling me I could make anything interesting.

I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it was nice of him to say. I also remember commenters complaining that I was reviewing an iron, so I guess things leveled out on the compliment front.

And just to shed some light on how far iron technology has (or hasn’t) come, Panasonic still sells this iron. And as irons go, it’s great. I still have mine and use it whenever I need something ironed – which is perhaps once per calendar quarter.

An energetic showcase of an overpriced Ford GT40 wireless mouse

When you’re alone in an empty apartment all day blogging about $50 mice shaped like cars, you simply must do whatever it takes to entertain and amuse yourself.

Granted, this video was shot 11+ years ago and I now have three kids and we’re in the middle of a pandemic, so I haven’t been alone anywhere since… well, probably since this video. My energy levels are also *trails off incoherently*.

These Road Mice are still available today, but they’ve dipped in price slightly – although probably not as low as they should.

I’ll now review my review: I give this one a solid 8 out of 10 for punchiness, fun, and appropriate length. I didn’t know it at the time, but all these videos I did back in the day should have been two minutes long and not a second longer. I could have become known as the gadget reviewer who reviews everything in two minutes. Instead, I believe this may have been the one and only CrunchGear Two-Minute Review. My follow through was (and still is) not very good.

I did NOT care for this iPod dock very much at all

It’s hard to review a gadget and find almost nothing redeemable about it, but here we have the Vestalife Butterfly Speaker Dock for iPod.

When I first reviewed it in March of 2009, it carried an outrageous $80 price tag. It’s somehow still available – I see a used one for $10 and some new ones starting at $50.

Just in case you’re in the market for an 11-year-old iPod dock, this isn’t the one for you. Not even at $10.

As videos go, this one was pretty poor on a technical level. I think I remember shooting it later in the afternoon and the light was all weird: too much backlight, not enough key or fill light. Round it out with some echo-y audio, me aimlessly ranting for four whole minutes, and let’s give this video a 3 out of 10.