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This month's (December 2018) giveaway is a piece of junk. Or rather, a battered and beaten "historical artifact." It's a Philco oscilloscope from 1946. The manual, including schematic, is here. I picked it up on eBay a few years ago, and while it's kind of cool, have no real use for the thing. It powers up and displays a distorted waveform, usually, but is pretty much good for nothing other than as a desk ornament. I wrote about this here. (The thing is so old I'd be afraid to leave it plugged in while unattended). Enter the contest here.

By Jack Ganssle

New Year's - The Morning After

Published 1/02/2006

New Year's Eve. Maybe just the words evoke a groan as you remember that great party. Or maybe your friends remember it for you, your memories more a haze only vaguely sharpened by their hoots of derision about activities that, well, you'd <i>never</i> do. but apparently did.

And how did the house become such a wreck? Another hurricane? Must have been a heck of a party. But cleaning it all up with a mushy head just seems an impossible task.

Not to worry - there's technology to the rescue! We engineers, in our sober moments, invent all sorts of goodies just for cases like this.

Need to get all of those cigarette ashes off the rug? Don't lug out a heavy vacuum whose cyclonic noise is the one thing your head can't tolerate. Let loose a Roomba robotic vacuum (http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=122) which will stochastically clean while you sleep off the poison.

No doubt the kitchen floor is smudged with dropped ice cubes, broken glasses and canap‚s squashed underfoot. iRobot's Scooba (http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=128) will clean the linoleum as its Roomba cousin plows the carpets.

No one wants to hand-clean all those glasses smeared with lipstick, nor the plates crusted with dried brie. The solution? A microprocessor-controlled dishwasher (http://www.maytag.com/mths/products/apl_family.jsp?domain=Dishwashers&family=JetClean+II+Three-Rack+Dishwashers) with a "semi-integrated control panel" (huh?) and (count `em) four washing arms.

If only something would automatically gather the dirty dishes and load the dishwasher!

Happily that's not far away. The "Morning After Bot" (http://www.usatoday.com/tech/products/2005-12-15-future-tech-gifts_x.htm) uses before-the-party pictures to move everything back into place while you sleep off the effects of overindulgence.

Sadly, despite all of this technology, it seems there's still no cure for the common hangover (http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8511). The article doesn't address a folk-medicine cure that's worked for me - a bit of self-control the night before. or drinking a big glass of water before bed-time.

There are, though, a veritable cornucopia of anecdotal tales of remedies, many outlined here: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/01/fashion/sundaystyles/01HANGOVER.html?8hpib.

Perhaps some of us are mutant X-Men with a stunning ability to over indulge without ill effect. Researchers (http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.alcohol31dec31,1,1083358.story?coll=bal-home-headlines) think a gene is involved, leading me to wonder if my Irish half bequeathed me a better survival of the fittest (at parties, at least) adaptation.

I guess the moral is to know your limit. And then to, somehow, remember that before the bartender shouts "last call."

But the embedded community is doing a fine job helping revelers keep their glasses full. A smart beer coaster (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4298344.stm) alerts the wait staff when the glass is half-empty. or is that half-full?