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13 Patents Designed to Build a Better Mustache

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Google Patents/Erin McCarthy

You may have some buddies participating in Movember, an annual event that raises awareness of (and money for) men's health issues. Let's take a look at a few weird 'stache-themed patents.

1. Patent US435748, "Mustache Guard"

Patented in September 1890 by Ruben P. Hollinshead, this guard is an improvement upon other devices designed to "[suspend] a gentleman's mustache in order to keep the same up out of the way at the table, thus preventing the annoyance which so frequently is experienced in eating soups and other like foods, and drinking tea, coffee, or other liquids by gentlemen having heavy moustaches." It looks rather painful.

2. Patent USD381462, "Mustache Shield"

Inventor Dennis H. Bailey didn't do too much explaining in his application for this shield. Still, the patent was granted in 1997.

3. Patent US278999, "Mustache Holder"

This device, patented by J.A. Moore in 1883, was a comb that held a man's mustache back so it wouldn't come into contact with food.

4. Patent US213455, "Mustache Cup and Glass"

Unlike other mustache cups—which keep the mustache out of whatever a man is trying to drink—this one, patented by Albert Schenck in 1879, will make sure the guard that keeps a man's 'stache at bay won't also burn the lips, all thanks to the innovative spout.

5. Patent US398925, "Mustache Trainer"

The idea behind this interesting looking device, patented by Louis Auguste Allard in 1889, was that, by wearing it, a man could train his 'stache to grow in the desired form. Theoretically, he would have done this while in private. Other attempts at mustache trainers were not much better, either.

6. Patent US123839, "Mustache Holder"

This patent, filed by Eli J.F. Randolph in 1872, proves this whole mustache guard thing was more than just a passing fad.

7. Patent US135141, "Mustache Spoon"

If your moustache cup isn't working, why not try this spoon, patented by Ellen B.A. Mitchellson in 1873? It would allow you to bring soup to your mouth without "soiling or disfiguring" your moustache.

8. Patent US3858589, "Sideburn and Moustache Shaper"

In name alone, Sideburn and Moustache Shapers don't sound weird at all. But these devices, patented in the 1970s by Catherine E. Geiger, are pretty odd—more like things you'd trace than use to tweak your facial hair. Hold them up in front of your face, trim the errant hairs, and voila! Nicely shaped sideburns and 'stache!

9. Patent US 3944112, "Mustache Cup Adaptor"

Who needs a whole cup when you can just snap an adaptor on whatever thing you're drinking out of? That's the idea behind this device, patented by George W. Miller in 1976.

10. Patent US2262992, "Masquerade"

This patent, granted to Franklyn M. Dessart in 1939, was for a mask that could have different features—like a moustache!—applied to it. Looks like fun, eh?

11. Patent US4206913, "Trick Windmill Novelty"

Blow into one tube of this device, and the windmill turns. Blow into the other, and you get a graphite powder blown onto your face, "so as to produce the appearance of a moustache, to the amusement of all others observing the person trying to make the windmill work." Earl A. Howell, Jr., who was granted the patent in 1980, sure was a jokester!

12. Patent US4710145, "Therapeutic Doll Figure"

Get ready to have nightmares. This creepy looking doll, which was equipped with a tape recorder to play messages, was meant to be therapeutic. It could even be equipped with a velcro moustache to make it resemble someone. The patent was granted to Nancy Hall Vandis in 1987.

13. Patent USD269461, "Pacifier"

Every baby needs a mustache pacifier! Or at least Robert L. Qually, who was granted the patent for this device in 1983, thinks so. Timothy E. Brennan, who patented a similar pacifier, probably agrees.

This article originally appeared in November 2012.

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The Library of Congress Wants Your Help Identifying World War I-Era Political Cartoons
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Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. government’s official library wants your help. And it involves cartoons.

The Library of Congress just debuted its new digital innovation lab, an initiative that aims to improve upon its massive archives and use them in creative ways. Its first project is Beyond Words, a digitization effort designed to make the research library’s historical newspaper collection more search-friendly. It aims to classify and tag historical images from World War I-era newspapers, identifying political cartoons, comics, illustrations, and photos within old news archives. The images come from newspapers included in Chronicling America, the library’s existing newspaper digitization project.

The tasks involved in Beyond Words are simple, even if you know nothing about the illustrations involved going into it. The Library of Congress just needs people to help mark all the illustrations and cartoons in the scanned newspaper pages, a task that only involves drawing boxes to differentiate the image from the articles around it.

Then there’s transcription, involving typing in the title of the image, the caption, the author, and whether it’s an editorial cartoon, an illustration, a photo, a map, or a comic. The library also needs people to verify the work of others, since it’s a crowd-sourced effort—you just need to make sure the images have been transcribed consistently and accurately.

A pop-up window below an early 20th century newspaper illustration prompts the user to pick the most accurate caption.

Screenshot via labs.loc.gov

The data will eventually be available for download by researchers, and you can explore the already-transcribed images on the Beyond Words site. Everything is in the public domain, so you can remix and use it however you want.

With the new labs.loc.gov, “we are inviting explorers to help crack open digital discoveries and share the collections in new and innovative ways,” Carla Hayden, the library’s head, said in a press release.

Other government archives regularly look to ordinary people to help with the monstrous task of digitizing and categorizing their collections. The National Archives and Records Administration, for instance, has recently crowd-sourced data entry and transcription for vintage photos of life on Native American reservations and declassified government documents to help make their collections more accessible online.

Want to contribute to the Library of Congress’s latest effort? Visit labs.loc.gov.

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Slow Wi-Fi? It Could Be Your Neighbor's Fault
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If your Wi-Fi connection remains interminably slow no matter how many times you restart it, you can probably blame your neighbor. It could be that there are too many people using Wi-Fi connections on the same channel, even if you're all on different networks. But, as Tech Insider teaches us in the video below, there is a way to circumvent this, returning you to the prime TV-streaming Wi-Fi speeds of your dreams. (These instructions apply to Mac users, but if you've got Windows, How-To Geek recommends a tool called the Xirrus Wi-Fi Inspector to do the same job.) It seems like a lot of steps at first, but it'll be worth it—we promise.

If you’ve got a Mac, hold the Option key while clicking the Wi-Fi symbol in your top menu bar. Go to “Open Wireless Diagnostics,” then when that opens, go up to the top left menu bar and click the drop-down menu “Window > Scan.” That will open up a window with all the nearby Wi-Fi networks. Click the “Scan Now” button on the bottom right, and your computer should recommend the best channels for you to use—say, you’re on Channel No. 1, but the best 2.4GHz channel is No. 3. Tech Insider recommends writing those down (there are options for both 2.4GHz channels and 5GHz channels).

Now, you’ll need to break out your iPhone. Download the AirPort Utility app, and go to your phone’s settings. Scroll down to the AirPort Utility app in your app list, and enable “WiFi Scanner.” Use the app to scan your house for Wi-Fi networks and note which channels are commonly used by your neighbors’ networks. (If you don’t have an iPhone, you can also use Acrylic Wi-Fi for Android or Windows phones.) This will help you avoid the most congested networks.

Then, log onto your router on your computer by typing your router’s IP address into your browser, just like you would any web address. From there, go into Wireless Settings, and change the channel your network operates on to one of the recommended options that you wrote down from your computer's diagnostics window earlier. And don’t forget to save!

This should help you get a faster internet connection by minimizing the amount of interference from other networks around you. Because the best neighbors are the ones who don't slow down Game of Thrones for you.

See the process step-by-step in the video below.

[h/t Tech Insider]

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