Full Trash Can

3 functional transportation devices (made of junk)

I’m no stranger to DIY projects. Why, just the other day I submitted a short tale of my ingenuity to Bytestories.com.

In the past I’ve freely ridiculed insane inventors of questionable self defence gadgets and children’s dolls. Today I do the opposite and bring you three inspiring stories about dreamers who took what most of us would consider complete junk and turned it into transportation devices. What have you done with your free time?

3. Istvan Puskas’ Firewood Motorcycle

What does one do with firewood?

“Throw it into the fire, to make more fire” said pretty much all of you. “Duh!” added those of you especially inclined to celebrate your intellectual superiority. Well, sheeple, how about thinking outside the box for once, like Istvan Puskas? This Hungarian man looked at firewood and figured it would make the perfect material…to make a motorbike out of!

As if firewood-based motorbike wasn’t surreal enough, Istvan used cattle horns to make the exhaust pipe and handlebars. Finally, the gas tank is a wine barrel, because at that point, why the fuck not? I wish I could say the motorcycle is powered by human screams, but alas, it uses a good old conventional Fiat engine. I guess nobody’s perfect.

Did I mention it’s totally functional? Because it totally is. You can even check it out in action:

2. Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi’s Junk Helicopter

While we pat ourselves on the back every time we remember to recycle a beer can, a Nigerian student Mubarak took the “nothing goes to waste” concept to the next level. He acquired some spare parts from old motorbikes and cars, some scrap aluminium, and built himself a little something I like to call a freaking functioning goddamn helicopter.

Junk Helicopter Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi

Image Source

It took Mubarak eight months to build the helicopter, which is capable of flying at a modest altitude of around 7 feet. This may not sound like much, but the only thing I’ve ever been able to make out of assorted pieces of junk was…a pile of junk…with approximately zero ability to fly. So there’s that.

Mubarak is already working on his second helicopter – a two-seater that should be capable of three-hour flight at an altitude of around 15 feet. Mubarak is a truly inspiring man of action. I get exhausted just thinking about it…think I’ll go have a nap.

1. Tao Xiangli’s Oil Barrel Submarine

Most of us, upon seeing a large collection of old oil barrels will just shrug and move on with our lives, making a mental note to never visit that dodgy part of town again. A few of us may borrow a barrel or two to roll down a hill in for the filming of a Jackass re-enactment.

And then there’s Tao Xiangli, who looked at discarded metal barrels and thought “Yes! I can totally see myself being trapped inside these while plunging into the dark depths of a yet-to-be-specified body of water! Where do I sign up?”

Over the course of two years this ambitious inventor built and tested his very own submarine, made primarily out of old metal barrels and refusal to accept the laws of engineering and basic safety measures.

This home-made marvel boasts all the necessary components of a submarine, including oxygen supply, depth control tanks, two electric-motor-driven propellers and a periscope. It even features a manometer, which I can only assume is a tool for accurately measuring Tao’s inhuman levels of manliness.

Behold the glorious fruit of Tao’s labour:

OK, so maybe it could use some work in the not-looking-like-Megatron’s-backup-dong department. I said “functional”, not “pleasing to the eye”, or even “easily distinguishable from the junk it’s made out of”.

All penis jokes aside, this phallic submarine can reach the depth of 10 metres. Tao has been doing test dives in a local reservoir, but his hope is to eventually take it out to the ocean, because when you make submarines out of freaking oil barrels the ocean is just a pitiful puddle to you!

Enjoy Tao’s submarine, while I go re-evaluate my life choices.

The 5 types of junk in my Twitter Direct Messages inbox

I’ve grown to really like Twitter.

Sure, it may be a place full of irrelevant verbal haemorrhage. Sometimes the steady stream of random tweets makes me feel like I’m stuck in the mind of a deranged telemarketer. People are out there promoting stuff, making inane statements about the colour of their breakfast or sharing regurgitated inspirational quotes. In short, it’s just like real life, but condensed into 140 characters.

Despite all that, it’s also the place where I’ve met a bunch of great fellow writers, bloggers and time wasters. I wouldn’t have known about some inspiring blogs or found as many guest posters for mine if it wasn’t for Twitter.

However, there’s one feature of Twitter that is essentially useless. I’m talking about Direct Messages. The basic idea is sound: you get to interact directly and privately with fellow Twitter users. That’s as far as the “sound” part of the equation goes. In reality, I now largely ignore my Twitter “inbox”, due to an overwhelming amount of spam and junk that lands there on a daily basis. Additionally, since there are no convenient sorting, filtering or categorising options it’s very hard to keep track of “real” direct messages.

“Folders?! What the fuck are ‘folders’?!” – Twitter programming team

Below I’ll show you the breakdown of my Twitter DM inbox. I’ll also go right ahead and make a sweeping assumption that these represent the contents of any typical Twitter user’s inbox. I’m entirely unfamiliar with the concepts of market research or statistical analysis.

1. The “Click Me” Bait

This is a message where people try to get you to click on a link by implying that the link has something to do with you. It’s either a picture of you that’s so hilarious it makes everyone go both “LOL” and “OMG” or some truly nasty stuff people have been saying about you. In both cases, you’re expected to click the link to check out this “picture” or “rumour” for yourself. Real life example:

Your friend has good taste!

Dude, I barely know you. There’s a pretty good chance I don’t know your friend. Why the hell is he posting pictures of me?!

Needless to say, I’ve never followed any of the links in these messages. At best, doing so will lead me to some promotional page and infect my computer to spread the same link to my contacts. At worst, I’ll awaken the sleeping spirit of Twitter Cthulhu who will proceed to feast on the souls of the innocents. Admittedly, the latter scenario is somewhat less likely.

2. The Impersonal Thanks

It appears that there are many services that let people send a direct message to you after you follow them. Again, sounds like a good idea, but the end result is usually a generic “Thanks for your follow” from someone who hasn’t even realised I’ve followed them yet. More often than not these are combined with immediate self-promotion (see point 4.). Real life example:

Thanks, automated message! I’m so happy you’re looking forward to my Tweets.

I don’t mind a courteous message from someone welcoming me to their account. When it’s combined with links to 17 of their blogs and 10 books they’re trying to sell, it gets a bit annoying. Some of these messages go as far as to blatantly lie, in the form of “Thanks for the follow. Have just checked out your site, subscribed to your page, paid your electricity bills and told all your friends you’re awesome. Please buy my book”.

Wow, you have done all that five seconds after I’ve clicked “Follow” on your profile? Why’re you wasting such superpowers on Twitter? You should be out there fighting crime, or, at the very least, rescuing cats from trees.

3. The CAPTCHA Trap

There’s a pretty useful service out there, called True Twit. It aims to ensure that people following you are, in fact, people and not automated bots that want to drink your blood (that’s the danger of automated bots on Twitter, right?). Unfortunately, the way this is achieved is by sending you the following message with a clickable link:

I’m valid, I promise!

The link takes you to a page where you prove you’re human. The service used to achieve this via those pesky CAPTCHAs. Recently, it “simplified” the process by making you slide bits of a picture around until they form a whole, with occasionally horrifying results:

“We must find the bastard who chopped up our victim”

Oh dear God! What is that thing?! Kill it! For the love of God, kill it!

On their website True Twit mention that they’re working on a way to validate people without the use of direct messages. Until then – alas, I have to see my inbox fill up with validation links and deformed monsters.

4. The Shameless Spam 

Some people throw all of that subtlety and “Nice to meet you” foreplay out the window and just go straight to promoting whatever it is they’re currently selling. Real life example:

And here’s a fantastic “Block” button that allows me to never hear from you again!

I’ve even gotten messages along the lines of “Hey RT this for me: (some kind of thing or stuff)”. Now, I will gladly (and voluntarily) tweet about things I personally find interesting, such as fellow blogger’s posts or their books, etc.

What I will not do is re-tweet a post that I have zero interest in, from a person whom I don’t really know, just because they’ve taken the effort to spam my inbox. Sorry buddy, but you’ll have to find another way to promote the “10 amazing ways to make money from home”. Also, if you’re making so much money from home, why can’t you afford proper advertising?

5. The Neutered Personal Message

On extremely rare occasions a genuine personal message lands in my inbox. It’s clear that the person took the time to get to know a bit about me and truly wants to connect. I respond in kind and we chat for a while…and that “while” is usually very short. That’s because some bright mind at Twitter thought: “You know what makes Twitter so successful? The 140 character limit! That’s literally the only thing we’ve got going for us!”

“Hey, guys, check this out! I think I’ve just discovered the world’s largest number!”

So now direct messages are also limited to 140 characters, which makes any sensible communication impossible to maintain for too long. Messages get split into many parts and get intertwined and confusing, especially if both people are writing at the same time.  Yes, I have a short attention span and get easily thrown off, but…ooooh what’s that? Shiny!

Before you’re gonna point out the obvious, Sheriff McObvious of Obvious Town – yes, it’s very easy to exchange email or any other contact information and continue the conversation outside of Twitter. In fact, that’s pretty much what happens. Which only strengthens my argument about the uselessness of the Twitter DM inbox itself. If I need other social sites to continue a conversation, all my Twitter inbox can do is sit there collecting word clutter.

And that’s exactly what it does.

If you’re insightful, you may have gathered from above that I’m not quite fond of Twitter’s current DM inbox functionality. I hope that it eventually evolves to become a useful tool, but for now I’m just laughing sooooo hard at this picture somebody posted of you.