Editorial: A good situation.
Travel: Worst Case Survival Kit.
Technology: Essential phone.
Stationery: Rite in the Rain notebook.
Gadgets and Gear: Glif.
Books and Writing: On footnotes.
Project of the week: Grace's 60 Recipes.

Contact Prowling Dog at

EDITORIAL: A good situation

This is how everyone would love his or her crowdfunding campaign to finish:

Case 1: The Field Study Handbook by Jan Chipchase, creator of Studio D, a design company that specialises in research in out of the way places. The project was a handbook for those that need to understand people across cultures, to impact design, product, strategy, brand and marketing.

In his own words, "The store was literally picked bare". Every reward offered was sold out, even though many were pricey.

Case 2: Proof by Bob Lansdorp. This is what the creator calls the first alcohol tracking wearable, basically a wristband with cartridges. It detects blood alcohol levels by measuring it from skin perspiration in the wrist area. The project sold out in one week. Having hit the order capacity, the creator closed the books to concentrate on manufacturing.

What would you have done? Closed the books or left them open? Success can be inspiring and there is a temptation to just let the orders keep coming and working things out later. This may work if you are experienced and have the facilities to fulfill orders beyond expectation. On the other hand you could risk being unable to cope with demand and failing to deliver either the quality required or in the time promised.

Sometimes it pays to be pleased with the success, stop taking new orders and get things right for your current backers. This has two advantages. Firstly, getting things right will enhance your reputation and build trust, helping your long term aspirations. Secondly, if you keep people who missed out engaged until things are up and running you will assure future customers. Remember that scarcity can also be a good marketing strategy.

TRAVEL: Worst Case Survival Kit

Having looked after the posh set two weeks ago, this week PD looks after the rest of us. Although there are plenty of survival kits around, none have the great logo with the best advice ever: "Live Now Die Later". PD wishes that he had created that.

This kit is small but has useful things to help you survive.

The kit contains a "shelter, several ways to make fire, water purification, minor 1st aid, damn fine fishing kit, a compass, micro saw, Rite-In-The-Rain paper & pencil, can opener, needle, tweezers, 550 paracord, glue stick for repairs, 100MPH tape, safety pins, flashlight, a signal mirror... all in a Pelican 1010 - the size of a walkman - remember those?"

There is a choice of paracord colours. You can also specify firestarter or fishing line and firestarter paracord.

TECHNOLOGY: Essential phone

PD is aware that this makes it two cell phones featured in a row, however hot on the heels of the Prometheus in last week's edition comes this really significant phone. Why is it so significant? Because it comes from the man who gave the world Android. iOS fans may go for a coffee break while PD continues.

As Andy Rubin, the creator, explains in his blog, "...But the real reason [for creating it] is because of what happened during a night out with an old friend of mine. As the night went on we inevitably began talking about what we didn't like about the current state of technology. Less and less choice. More and more unnecessary features cluttering our lives. An increasing sea of products that didn't work with one another… And just when I was about to drop another criticism it hit me: I am partly responsible for all of this.

For all the good Android has done to help bring technology to nearly everyone it has also helped create this weird new world where people are forced to fight with the very technology that was supposed to simplify their lives. Was this what we had intended? Was this the best we could do?

I left that night reflecting deeply on what was great and what was frustrating with the current state of technology today. After another long talk with my friend we decided that I needed to start a new kind of company using 21st century methods to build products for the way people want to live in the 21st century.

The result is Essential, and this is what we believe:
Devices are your personal property. We won’t force you to have anything on them you don’t want to have.
We will always play well with others. Closed ecosystems are divisive and outdated.
Premium materials and true craftsmanship shouldn’t be just for the few.
Devices shouldn’t become outdated every year. They should evolve with you.
Technology should assist you so that you can get on with enjoying your life.
Simple is always better."

Apart from this the phone is stunning, with a virtually all-screen front and top specifications as one would expect.

It is also made for add-on modules such as the stunning 360° camera. The only gripe that PD has is that the modules attach via magnets. PD will not discuss his concern about this further as he has done so on several occasions in the past.

STATIONERY: Rite in the Rain notebook

This is an old design but still relevant. It is made from archival quality paper that has a special waterproof coating that you can write on. Perfect for adventures or those working in all conditions. Any type of pen or pencil will work on it.

The notebooks are available in a variety of sizes and colours.

PD particularly likes this mixed line and dot grid pattern.


Studio Neat is a design house that produces a small range of top quality items, including the Glif. This was the company's first product and has recently been updated.

The Glif is a tripod mount for smart phones. It has a quick release lever. It has three tripod attachment points, meaning that the camera can be mounted in either landscape or portrait orientation, as well as adding a light or microphone.

There is also a wooden hand grip and a wrist strap. Thankfully, there is no selfie stick mode.


Footnotes are those additional comments that you see at the bottoms of a page. In the main text there will be a symbol, commonly an asterisk or a number, to direct you to it.


Footnotes are not new. Adding notes to clarify passages or explain something in text has been around ever since scribes took quill to parchment, however these were usually in the margin. They moved to the bottom, or foot, of a page in the sixteenth century. According to Keith Houston in his book "Shady Characters", the earliest known footnote is from 1568, in the "Bishop's Bible".

Bishop's Bible, 1577 edition.

PD believes that footnotes are useful, particularly in academia, where they are used for listing references. However some authors of novels seem to have taken the footnote to excess, with long footnotes on every page going off at a tangent. This is very distracting and destroys the flow of a story. Instead of explaining something in a footnote how about writing it in a way that does not need clarification at the bottom of a page? Victor Hugo, in Les Misérables, showed how its done. When he was about to send Jean Valjean into the sewers of Paris he melded a section into the story describing the sewer system of Paris without resorting to a long footnote.

So if you are a writer, use footnotes sparingly, perhaps leaving them for referenced works such as scientific papers, and let the reader remain immersed in the story.

PROJECT OF THE WEEK: Grace's 60 Recipes

Although you may not have heard of her, Grace runs the extremely popular ChoyChoy restaurant in Hong Kong.

Her achievements include:

  1. Owner of the most liked Chinese Restaurant on Facebook in the world.

  2. The first Verified Chef in Greater China Area.

  3. Guest Chef of Marriott Hotel and Compass Group.

  4. Invited by Tourism Australia to take part World's 50 Best Restaurants in 2017 as celebrity chef.

Due to a physical problem in her left hand she will be stopping her private kitchen before the next Chinese New Year, however she is putting her sixty secret recipes in a book, available in either English or Chinese.

Contact Prowling Dog at

Important disclaimer: Remember that crowdfunding sites are not stores. You may decide to back this project and provide funds, however there is no guarantee that any project will be delivered - the rate of failure is about 10%. PD is in no way accountable for the success or otherwise of any project and writes in this column purely for entertainment purposes, and will in no way be held liable for any failure or money lost by anyone. It is a case of "buyer beware". It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.

Note: Photographs and illustrations are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.

© 2017 Prowling Dog