Archive for the 'Television' Category

So You’re Going to Compete on Forged in Fire?

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019

[Note: This list was originally compiled by me then posted on /r/forgedinfireshow, where I made significant changes based on comments from other members of the subreddit.]

Regular Forged in Fire viewers are all too familiar with statements like these:

<when working with canisters> “I’ve never used a welder before.”

“This is the longest blade I’ve ever forged. I’m going to have to make a bigger quench tank.”

“I’ve never used a coal forge in my life.”

The Forged in Fire producers enjoy throwing unusual situations and obscure techniques at their smiths. And learning new techniques during the competition is a sure path to failure. The following list is based on actual mistakes made by contestants:

Practice the following techniques beforehand:

  • Canister Damascus welding
  • Using a coal forge with a manual air pump
  • Forge welding, especially with (1) different metals and (2) a thick piece of cable

Mistakes that have actually happened:

  • Give the Liquid Paper time to dry before adding anything else to the canister
  • You need -both- the red and the blue epoxy containers
  • They supply 5-minute epoxy and 24-hour epoxy—choose wisely
  • Some extremely well-made blades have been eliminated because they didn’t meet parameters
  • If the judges tell you something should be fixed, don’t convince yourself there’s not enough time to fix it

General weaponsmithing:

  • Never quench in water unless you have a very specific reason for doing so
  • For larger blades, the judges take balance and weight very seriously
  • When forge welding, first clean the surfaces that will be welded together
  • Be extremely careful bending hardened/quenched steel, and never hammer it
  • Pro tip: it’s much easier to drill/drift holes before you quench
  • Pro tip: quench a test piece of steel and then break it to see what the metal looks like after quenching.


  • A great blade with a bad handle will almost always lose
  • Functionality and quality of construction are far, far more important for a handle than how good it looks
  • The judges put significant emphasis on how comfortable a handle is and how well it fits their hands
  • Do not get fancy with your handle in an effort to impress the judges—this almost always does more harm than good
  • Knife handle shapes that don’t prevent the user’s hand from sliding onto the blade -must- include a guard—failing to do so is an automatic disqualification
  • Nothing in the handle should have -any- possibility of digging into or cutting the judge’s hand—a bleeding judge significantly increases your chances of being eliminated
  • Round or heavily rounded knife/sword handles look nice but fail to perform
  • The burn-through method of creating knife handle holes is risky and should be avoided unless you’re hard-pressed for time and have no other option
  • The tests apply significant stress to the handle—epoxy alone will not hold a handle together.
  • Pro tip: note the judges’ hand size when you shake hands with them at the beginning of the competition, and craft your handle accordingly

Know the following skills:

  • How to use a magnet to check for proper heat treat temperature (also, bring a magnet with you)
  • How to use a MIG welder
  • How to use a spark test to identify an unknown metal
  • How to use a belt grinder like the ones on the show, and especially how to change the belt
  • How to use a gas forge like the ones on the show, and especially how to adjust the temperature
  • How to correct a post-quench warp without breaking the blade (hint: hammering or bending in a vise rarely works)
  • How to construct a friction folder knife

Regarding your home forge:

  • Before you leave, triple-check your equipment to ensure it’s in perfect working order
  • Equipment failures happen—be prepared
  • Some of the weapons you have to make are unusually long or wide—you may need a bigger forge and/or quenching tank, so obtain the materials for that beforehand

General philosophy:

  • Stick to the basics; don’t try to be fancy and impress the judges
  • Stick to what you know; this is not the time to be experimenting
  • Stay calm—getting rushed affects your decision-making and is the best way to be eliminated
  • Many, many contestants have been eliminated because of poor time management
  • When things are going badly, it’s often better to just abandon what you’ve done and start over
  • No matter how bad you’re doing, there’s always the chance that someone else is doing worse

Appeals Court in Favor of Automated DVR Ad-skipping

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

TelevisionThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit confirmed a lower court’s ruling that Dish Network’s Hopper, a DVR that automatically skips commercials when playing back recorded content, does not violate copyright law. Whether or not the decision is appealed, this case will produce a landmark ruling.

(via Kim Komando)

2013 Superbowl Commercials

Monday, February 4th, 2013

FootballThis year’s crop of Superbowl commercials was definitely lacking. But Hulu has all of them available online. Here are my favorites:

  1. [Tide] Miracle Stain
  2. [Coca-Cola] Mirage
  3. [Century 21] Wedding Day
  4. [Toyota Rav4] Wish Granted

Note: if your Internet browser has an ad-blocking extension, you will need to disable it to view the videos.


Tech Gear to Avoid

Sunday, November 18th, 2012

GadgetThe linked article gives a breakdown on tech gear that may seem like a good deal but which should probably be avoided. In many cases it’s possible to get a much better item for just a little more money.

Here’s the short version of what not to buy:

  • Budget Android gadgets
  • 17-inch laptops
  • Bridge cameras
  • Entry-level e-readers
  • Budget LCD TVs


2012 Superbowl Commercials

Monday, February 6th, 2012

FootballIn case you missed them, Hulu has online videos of this year’s Superbowl commercials (it also has previous years back to 2008). Here are my three favorites:

And then there’s the one where Priceline (finally!) kills off William Shatner.

Note that it may be necessary to disable your browser’s ad-blocking software in order to view the site.


No, We Do NOT Want 3D!

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

3D GlassesTelevision manufacturers and the motion picture industry are pushing 3D technology, even though many consumers don’t want it. For me, it’s the glasses and the eye strain that are the kiss of death. I already wear glasses, so putting another pair on over top of them is awkward and uncomfortable. The linked article also lists reduced picture quality as a reason to abandon 3D.


Computer Kicks Butt on Jeopardy

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

WatsonIBM’s “Watson” computer wiped out the human competition in the first match of Jeopardy (aired on Tuesday, Feb. 14th). Watson scored $35,734 compared to Ken Jennings at $4,800 and Brad Rutter at $10,400. Keep in mind that Jennings won the most consecutive games, staying in for 74 matches, and Rutter is the all-time money winner at more than $3 million. Long the stuff of science fiction, Watson is a significant step on the road to computers that can respond to natural speech.


Netflix: More Streaming, Less Mailing

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

DiscNetflix is known for sending movies through the mail, but now more and more of its business is done via online streaming. From the linked article: “Three years ago we [Netflix] were a DVD-by-mail company that offered some streaming. We are very proud to announce that by every measure we are now a streaming company, which also offers DVD-by-mail.” To get a grasp on just how big this is, a recent study by Sandvine found that Netflix is responsible for 20% of downstream internet traffic during certain peak periods. And the folks at Netflix, being no dummies and seeing the future for what it is, have made it easier to access content from game consoles.

Link (PDF):…
(via The Consumerist)

Don’t Rush Out to Purchase a 3D Television Quite Yet

Sunday, November 14th, 2010

3D Glasses3D televisions were all the rage at last January’s Consumer Electronics Show, but the reality is that (1) they require inconvenient 3D glasses, and (2) the glasses are expensive. So demand is not very high. Fortunately there are alternatives on the horizon. Toshiba, for example, will be releasing some glasses-free screens next month. They’re small and very expensive, and you have to to sit in specific locations relative to the screen, but I expect it won’t be too long before the size goes up and the price goes down.

(via Kim Komando)

Television Actor Salaries

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

TelevisionEver wondered just how much television actors make? The linked article shows the top earners. Oprah Winfrey wins by a landslide ($315 million per year), and Charlie Sheen comes in second with $1.25 million per episode. As astronomical as these may seem, average salaries are lower than they used to be. For example, the final season of Friends had all six cast members making $1 million per episode.

Thanks to Mike P. for this link.


3D Without the Glasses?

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

3D GlassesTelevision manufacturers know that people don’t like 3D glasses, so they’re trying very hard to find an alternative. Glasses-free 3D systems are currently available, but you have to view the TV from a specific location. I’m not sure how effective that would be in a family living room. The linked article has a short blurb on Sony’s efforts in this area.


Say Hello to Gorilla Glass

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Broken iPhoneBack in 1962, researchers at Corning developed a very strong glass that’s hard to break, scratch, or dent. The product didn’t gain acceptance, and Corning gave up trying to sell it—until recently, that is. “Gorilla Glass” is now being used for consumer electronics such as smartphones and netbooks, and is poised to enter the television market. Corning is making some serious money from this invention that couldn’t find a buyer 50 years ago.

Link #1:…
(via engadget)

Link #2:…