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Obligatory iPhone Post

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Well, I've got an iPhone. I was going to write this blog post on it, but then I decided it was crazy enough spending three hours in line -- I don't need to spend another three hunting and pecking. Overall the experience of getting the phone was all right -- it was the first time I've waited in line like that for a new product, and it was "only" from 4pm - 7pm (when the fifty people ahead of me had finally gone through and bought theirs). I waited at an AT&T store, and managed to get the last 8GB model they had (actually, fellow line-waiter and Portland blogger Mary Wheeler snagged it for me, as her sales person had it in-hand at the moment we both walked in). The thirty people behind us had to settle for 4GB units, I suppose.

I'm sure there'll be fourteen million iPhone reviews on the web tomorrow (or heck, right now), so I won't bore you with that. Instead, I'll treat you to a blurry picture of what the Mental Floss web site looks like on the iPhone -- quite nice, actually! It's impossible to see from the photo, but the text is very legible, and of course turning the phone sideways gives you more horizontal real estate.

And here's some launch-day trivia for you: San Francisco and New York Apple Stores have not sold out yet, two sites have already taken it apart (here's the second), a gallery of iPhone lines around the country, iPhone is now available for sale online (with a two-four week wait), and the strangest bit of iPhone news: Philadelphia mayor John F. Street camped out for an iPhone and garnered a lot of media attention for it.

Google Street View Now Lets You Explore the International Space Station

Google Street View covers some amazing locations (Antarctica, the Grand Canyon, and Stonehenge, to name a few), but it’s taken until now for the tool to venture into the final frontier. As TechCrunch reports, you can now use Street View to explore the inside of the International Space Station.

The scenes, photographed by astronauts living on the ISS, include all 15 modules of the massive satellite. Viewers will be treated to true 360-degree views of the rooms and equipment onboard. Through the windows, you can see Earth from an astronaut's perspective and a SpaceX Dragon craft delivering supplies to the crew.

Because the imagery was captured in zero gravity, it’s easy to lose sense of your bearings. Get a taste of what ISS residents experience on a daily basis here.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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Bite Helper
New Gadget Claims to De-Itch Your Mosquito Bites
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Bite Helper

Summer can be an itchy time for anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors. Mosquitos are everywhere, and some people are particularly susceptible to their bites and the itching that comes with them. A new product aims to stop the suffering. Bite Helper, reviewed by Mashable, is designed to stop your bites from itching.

Place the pen-like device over your swollen bite and it will begin to emit heat and vibrations designed to quell the itch. It’s meant to increase blood flow around the area to alleviate your pain, heating your skin up to 120°F for up to 45 seconds. It’s the size of a thin tube of sunscreen and is battery powered.

Most dermatologists advise applying cold to alleviate itching from insect bites, so the question is: Will heating up your skin really work? Bite Helper hasn’t been clinically tested, so it’s hard to say for certain how effective it would be. There has been some research to suggest that heat can help increase blood flow in general, but decrease histamine-induced blood flow in the skin (part of the body’s normal response to allergens) and reduce itching overall. In a German study of wasp, mosquito, and bee stings, concentrated heat led to a significant improvement in symptoms, though the researchers focused mostly on pain reduction rather than itching.

Bite Helper’s technique "seems like a legitimate claim" when it comes to localized itching, Tasuku Akiyama, who studies the mechanisms of itching at the University of Miami, tells Mental Floss. "The increase in the blood flow may increase the rate of elimination of itch mediator from the area." However, before that happens, the heat might also make the itch a little worse in the short-term, he cautions. This seems to be borne out by user experience: While Mashable's reviewer found that using the device didn’t hurt at all, his daughter found it too hot to bear for more than a few seconds.

If the device does in fact relieve itching, though, a few seconds of pain may be worth it.

Bite Helper is $25 on Amazon.

[h/t Mashable]


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