Titaniumophilia~~ A Wake-Up Call For Gram-Weenies

(1) Titanium is… The Fairy Queen in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Nope. That was Titania. Dang.

(2) Titanium is… Proof that you’ve spent more money on your cook set (or stove, or boot lace tips) than anyone else in your hiking group (extended family, city, state, province, country, continent).

(3) Titanium is… Proof that you’re trendy, and possibly an idiot, though still a trendy one. Let’s hope you can dress the part.

(4) Titanium is… A metal incorrectly described by absolutely everyone stupid as “amazingly lightweight and strong, and perhaps the way to go if you’re obsessive about ounces.”

(5) No, it isn’t. But what would you expect to read in Backpacker magazine?


Titanium is a metal. And titanium is light, compared to uranium, but not compared to steel.

Stoveless and cook-pot-less and fuel-less is the way to go if you’re obsessive about ounces, and can gag down cold suppers night after night.

Aluminum, however, is the way to go if you’re obsessive about ounces and grams and price, and if you like to compare the weight of your tools to the weight of their shadows.

Titanium is only 12% lighter than steel, though it has almost all of steel’s strength, while aluminum is 54% lighter than steel and still has 75% of steel’s strength (Spot the trend here?), which is enough for a cook pot.

Titanium doesn’t ding or dent very easily (because it’s tough, which is nice), and titanium is highly resistant to corrosion (which means that it stays pretty). Since it is tough, it can be rolled thin. The thinner the material, the less there is of it, and so the less the finished product weighs, even if it’s made from heavy materials, which is the real advantage of titanium.

But if you want a cooking pot and you don’t care a lot about exactly how pretty it is, but you do care about how heavy it is, then aluminum is the way to go. You sort of care about how tough a pot is and you probably care a whole lot about how much it costs. You may also kind of care how beat up it’s going to end up being, eventually, or not. Your call, eh?

Titanium as a material is significantly heavier and vastly more expensive than aluminum, but tougher, and those who own titanium items feel smarter because titanium looks new longer. A lot of people who feel that way don’t go backpacking because if they go backpacking they will get their clothes dirty and they will get tired, and what they really above all want is to keep that just-off-the-shelf, crisply-pressed, newly-unwrapped look, while continuing to smell of aftershave. Titanium will help with that.

Titanium is for them. Titanium is for people who don’t ever want to sweat or walk uphill or know that bugs might actually be attracted to them.


Thanks [and apologies for the mild reformatz] to // so says eff

For me, the bottom line is that aluminum is simply better for cooking… better and more even heating/conductivity, less scorching and burning, perfectly acceptable weight tradeoff… and way less moolah. It’s a 90%/50% thing.



Fidget Cube : Fidgetively Speaking … The Disappointing Finale

I am still in the running for the #lastdecemberstanding. We have gone through several updates with no solution to the shipping problems… and even the updates have been delayed beyond what could be considered acceptable.  I have become bored with the process. I am bored with the comment section. Following the KS comment page has turned into a pointless exercise that’s at least as frustrating as following politics. Nothing I say, do, or think is going to change anything. I had planned on doing a review on here of the clones versus the “real deal”.  I’m not going to bother anymore. Other people have pretty well saturated that niche. Who cares anymore? Each one of us likes what we like.

I am perfectly content with a couple of the clones that I purchased, and given all of the delays and frustration surrounding AntsyLabs failures to communicate and problems with shipping, I have absolutely no regrets at having gotten something to satisfy my needs in a more timely manner.

Now, my personal opinion is that the remaining December orders are lost in some kind limbo. I suspect they will simply be consigned to the March tier, and you will “get them when you get them”. I don’t expect AL to solve their problems for the remaining cube shipments.

I do continue to be puzzled with the fact that they somehow managed to send out 75% of their December tier orders in the last three weeks of January, and then could fail to ship the rest of them within the next five weeks.  Given that they have tens of thousands of units still to ship to March backers, this seems ridiculous, and doesn’t bode well for those still waiting. Sad Trombone…

On the upside… I was really pleased to see that so many of the large orders were intended for kids with autism and behavioral disorders. If AntsyLabs had kept better control of the details of their project, so that they had not been undercut by the clones, that alone would be a wonderful secondary market for substantial cube purchases. I took one of my clones with me to the dentist for my tooth cleaning yesterday. The hygienist asked to see it, fiddled with it, and said she’d have to see about getting a couple just to be able to hand them to people who were nervous in the dental chair. I doubt this was a type of market that ever entered AL’s mind until it came up in the comment section… pity they don’t seem to read the comment section.



Anyway, my bottom line is that I am no longer interested in following this project. I am outta here. This will be my last “Fidget Cube” post, and I’m going to close with two brief features.

The CUBE of the Future~ dreaming what it could be:

  • If the Breathe side would slide to extrude a USB memory plug from a cube edge, I’m sure it would make me the envy of the whole department.

    A “combination lock” spinning dial fidget on the Spin side. With a weight like the school locker spin dial locks. Would stick out more though... [these two from @RickyHaiku]

  • The luggage lock spinners should definitely unlock some added feature.
  • Bluetooth connectivity: all your fidgeting is recorded and statistically rendered on an odometer-style app for your phone. Every click, spin, wiggle down for posterity. Daily, weekly, monthly, lifetime statistics at your fingertips. You could try for 1 million button clicks in a month… The possibilities are endless.
  • Gyroscopic resistance/spin: there are already “exercise” balls available that do this.
  • “Fidget With A Friend”: your actions are BT mirrored on a friend’s cube.
  • A slot that would extrude single strips of bubblewrap to pop.
  • “Magnetic Levitation” over a base station for when you are not using it would be cool.

My Own “Dream” Cube~ [real (?) possibilities]:

  • The ability to engage/dis-engage the tactile feedback on the spinner wheel… Something in the form of click down/click up. I know a lot of people are enjoying the tactile feedback, however, one of the features I like on one of my clones is the complete “freewheeling” nature of the spinner. I can actually place it spinner side down, and twirl the entire cube.
  • Perhaps having three nubs on the face of the spinner wheel instead of a single one would let you twirl it more easily.
  • I would love it if the five buttons clicked up and down like a ballpoint pen.
  • Or if when initially pressed they would lock down, and you would press a different button to have the first pop back up.
  • The buttons definitely need to be rubberized; not made of hard plastic.
  • Having the joystick click up-and-down in addition to swiveling is an absolute “must-have”. Only one of the clones that I acquired does this… and when it is clicked down, the stick goes all floppy and loose. [Bad!]
  • I think the four corners of the meditation side could have individual textures like ridges or bumps and indentations. This would be a great addition for silent features.
  • One corner of the cube should have an indentation and a piercing to allow you to hook a key chain or cord.
  • The ball bearing should definitely be loose enough to spin in any direction, and absolutely must have the click feature. Again, there seems to be variation, even among the clones. Since this is my own dream cube, I would want to I have one position release the ball bearing enough that it would be able to free-wheel at a high speed.
  • The ball bearing could also be clicked to engage/disengage tactile feedback on the luggage-lock spinners. [this also would add to the silent features]
  • Barring that, perhaps only having the outer two luggage lock spinners have the feedback with the center one having some [but minimal] resistance. [and I want them to fit tightly enough that they don’t rattle]
  • On that point… The entire cube should not rattle if shaken!
  • The cube body should be made of one of the ABS materials like Delrin [not hard plastic], and the seams should all be tightly fitted.
  • More colors… Some of the clones already come in camo… The possibilities are endless.
  • And the popularity of the Limited edition G4mer cube shows that the use of more than one color for the features on any individual color cube would be really nice. The button side and the luggage locks spinners certainly just scream out for variation between the individual components.
  • A brass ball bearing and joystick would certainly look pissah on an ebony cube.
  • ABSOLUTE 100% QUALITY CONTROL SO THAT FEATURES ARE 100% STANDARDIZED ACROSS ALL UNITS !!! You shouldn’t make a purchase and discovered that the features on your unit are not the same as those others.


Just to close… Even with the prevalence of all the low-priced clones, I do not begrudge my $19 support pledge to AntsyLabs. THEY HAD A GREAT IDEA! My pledge was in within five minutes of seeing the post. They should, and have been, well rewarded.

Now, as the dolphins said just before the planet earth was destroyed by the Vogan constructor fleet, “So long… and thanks for all the fish”.

And as I say, “Onward Thru The Fog…”


Fidget Cube : Fidgetively Speaking [3]… Clone Wars

For today’s amusement, and to fill my time while I wait for the legendary “shipping notice” so longed for by each of us pitiful 20%-ers, I want to jump into that deep, controversial pit concerning the Fidget Cube [no™] clones.

My Opinion: No Problemo!     Matthew and Mark [AntsyLabs] made their 6 1/2 million dollar nut. They can afford all the hot cars and hookers they want. No matter their developmental and production costs, they made a really nice profit! They can invest well and relax for the rest of their lives [in an economical way], they can pour it into future products, they can squander it, whatever. Their choice. Anyone who believes that a successful product will not be imitated in today’s global marketplace is ridiculously naïve. Yeah, it’s too bad the clones came to the market before the genuine product came out. However, the reviews I’ve seen of the genuine article give me every reason to believe that the product we backers get will be every bit as good, if not better, than the clones already available. When we sponsored this product every one of us went into it knowing that our “cost” was going to be around $20 per “reward”. Complaining that these counterfeit products became available at a lower price point is as ridiculous as complaining about something that you bought from an infomercial for “only three low payments of $19.99…” then shows up on the shelves of the dollar store for $.99. That’s going to happen. We supported the project; we didn’t buy a product. I’m really happy that these guys made an incredible profit.

Now, personally, I bought three clones to find out what they were like. I enjoy doing comparisons and reviews here on this site, and it seemed a small price to pay for my own entertainment… mebbe yours as well. I don’t think that in doing so I took any money out of Antsy’s pocket. Just because I don’t buy Ford a second time doesn’t mean I took any money away from Ford Motor Company. I bought a different product.

I am going to assume that most of you who have navigated over here are reasonably familiar with the clone offerings. What I ended up getting was one of the “camo” cubes, a black or “midnight” cube, and a white one with lime buttons. Three different sources, three very different prices. Two with free shipping, and each of them delivered within four days of order. Once I get my AntsyLabs Fidget Cube, I plan on doing a post of the actual comparisons, so I will not go into details here.

I had hoped to have three different versions to compare with the genuine article when it arrives, however the white cube turned out to be the exact same model as the “camo”. The cube I thought I was getting was intended to be one of the shittier versions, but what came was a dupe except for the color. I had looked pretty closely at the photographs on the sites [that one was from an eBay offering]. I had identified five or six “telltales” and was using them for criteria. What was shown, was not what was delivered. I think that this is the biggest problem with the clones in general… there is no reliability in what you will actually get for your money. But, that white cube was less than half the cost of the camo.

My biggest curiosity is in whether those of us who backed the KS offering will actually be getting identical cubes, or will there actually be variation in features or quality of manufacturing due to the sheer number of units required.

Finally, and I will probably touch on this in more detail when I do an actual product comparison, but it’s obvious from the comments on the Kickstarter page that not everyone has the same subjective response to any of the fidget-actions on the faces of the cube… Whether we are talking about the clones or the genuine article makes no difference.  I have seen just as many people complaining that the light switch is too stiff as I have seen complaining that it is too floppy. For some folks the clones may very well be a better solution to their exact fidgeting need.

Thanks for reading. I’m going to go obsessively refresh my email, hope for my shipping notice today, and pray that we don’t get another “update” filled with cheesy gifz and no real facts about why they can’t up their delivery game.

Fidget Cube : a Kickstarter… Fidgetively Speaking [1]

Before even starting one thing leads to be made completely clear:  Kickstarter projects are not an investment. You are supporting the development of an item by making a contribution. It is not an investment, and there is no guarantee of return or profit. The item you may receive is a reward for that support and not a purchase. You only get a “reward” when and if :

  1. The project is funded beyond the level set out in the offering
  2. Development is successful
  3. Sufficient production is practical
  4. Distribution can be arranged

Any time line suggested is tentative at best. Few Kickstarters are ever concluded and shipped within the devs original hopes.

There is a lot of curiosity, and controversy all over the web now concerning a new Kickstarter funded toy called a “Fidget Cube”. Back in late summer 2016, Antsy Labs, [brothers Mark and Matthew McLachlan] opened a Kickstarter for the Fidget Cube; something they called a “vinyl desk toy’. It was offered as a reward for supporting the development with a contribution $19 and a hoped-for shipping date of December ’17. It took off like a rocket. They were hoping for $15,000 as an initial pledge. Within a few days it had raised several million dollars, and when the campaign closed they had topped $6,000,000!

[for an over view, here is a good link that was posted soon after the campaign opened >> https://www.appleworld.today/blog/2016/9/9/fidget-cube-a-low-tech-creativity-tool-makes-it-big-on-kickstarter ]

So now we arrive at the threshold of controversies. The project had grown overnight to a size, and complexity of execution that they had never anticipated. In one of their early updates the brothers admitted that they had intended to handle shipping by asking some friends over for pizza and beer. 300,000 units was going to make that very impractical. They were in possession of a huge amount of money since Kickstarter releases the funds as soon as the offering period is over.

I do not believe that anyone who backed the project doubted the brothers good intentions. However, something got fouled up and this is the first time I have been aware of a Kickstarter where pirated clones reached the market before any of the genuine units had become available… And these clones reached the market in almost unlimited quantities. Just search “fidget cube” and you will find them for sale on everything from Amazon to eBay and WalMart, and from storefront Hong Kong discounters to mom-and-pop sites.

There are now [Feb. 14th] nearly 20,000 comments on the Kickstarter page for the genuine item concerning everyone’s frustration. Mostly these revolve around the fact that the cubes that they “purchased” have not yet been delivered by the date “promised”, and that they could have “spent” less money, and already have a toy in hand. Unfortunately, far too many of these folks simply have no realization, or understanding [set out above] of how Kickstarter projects operate. That said, the gang at AntsyLabs haven’t done themselves any favors with the sporadic nature of their updates, and those update’s sparsity of any real facts. I suspect that those comments would’ve been reduced by two thirds if Antsy had simply put somebody in charge of responding in real time right there on the comments page. [that they could’ve gotten somebody for $15 dollars an hour]. 

My observation is that people who get involved with a Kickstarter would like to be kept in the process loop. Give them the fact that “the original material did not have the texture that we wanted”… “the frim-fram did not fit inside the widget-tater correctly”… “the overall quality of the prototype was not high enough”… That’s all they want. Keep them up-to-date, and give them some actual information. DON’T try to parcel them off with vague, unfulfilled promises, and cutesy gifs. AntsyLabs failed on this and the 20K comments show it. Worse, the unanswered suppositions and unfounded rumors simply fuel those few real trolls to keep everyone upset.

I doubt that anyone will ever find out exactly why so many pirated/cloned units came to market so quickly. It is entirely possible that the developers naïvely trusted their design to a number of manufacturers on a bid basis to determine a “Goldilocks factor”. One or more of those partners may have proved to be less trustworthy than the brothers hoped, and all too eager to sell those prototypes in the secondary market. It does seem that the brothers have still failed to acquire a patent, or even patent pending status for their cubes. I am not sure they have even copyrighted the FidgetCube name.  This may be due to the fact that the “FidgetCube” is actually only an assembly of pre-existing parts that are widely available, and widely used in other items.

Whatever their source, the clones are pretty obviously nearly identical to the prototypes represented in Antsy Labs original offering on Kickstarter. There are several versions of them that I have seen offered for sale and each differs slightly.

  • There are differences in the size and shape of the joystick. Some of those include a click feature, and others don’t. [one of them seems to have a casting bump in the center]
  • The ball bearing seems to vary in size on different units
  • The little click-wheel luggage locks may or may not actually have tactile feedback
  • The “Domino” buttons may or may not click… all or singularly
  • The circular spinning wheel seems to have a lot of “freedom of motion” issues [this is being recorded even by those who have received the genuine FidgetCubes that are finally shipping]
  • People have reported a difference in the cube materials.
  • Some of those domino buttons are rubberized, and some are hard plastic

In additions to the differences many of those who have tried the clones have also reported that there is a far more subjective difference in the cubes. Some people might want the click wheels to “click” and others might prefer they didn’t. It is pretty obvious that no matter the success of the Kickstarter campaign, not every backer is going to be satisfied in the final production item. Unfortunately, this is the nature of participation in a Kickstarter. You get what you get, when you get it.

[I will plan on updating this post once I get my own cube, and, perhaps, have a chance to compare it to some of the “clones”]

Emberlit FireAnt Wood Stove

A few weeks ago I stumbled across, and signed on to my first ever “Kickstarter” project. It was from Mikhail Merkurieff over at http://www.emberlit.com for a titanium woodstove that you can carry in your pocket.
Mikhail already has a whole line of larger flatpack woodstoves to take camping.
But titanium… This one is freaking titanium. It weighs 2.9 ounces! It will boil water as fast, or faster than most canister stoves… and no canister to tote. You simply burn the smallwood that you can pick up around your campsite. It fits in your shirt pocket!
Additionally, it’s going to be provided with slots to mount an alcohol stove and a separate tray that can be used for Esbit fuel tablets. Three ways to cook in one unit.
I just had to sign-on.
The “FireAnt” Kickstarter reached its goal in six hours! So, obviously I was not the only one who was excited with the idea. When it got to the end of it’s 30 days pledge period and was actually “funded”, it had almost quintupled the needed funds. It IS a go.
Now, there are currently well over 900 of us who are waiting for the projected July rollout of the production units.

Watch the video. I think you’ll be amazed.

I had already been playing around with things like “hobo” stoves made from old tin cans, and “rocket” stoves that are the same idea, but a little bit more technically developed.
Now I’m just waiting for my FireAnt.

I mean, face it folks, you can’t toast marshmallows over a gas canister stove… ’nuff said.