Tag Archives: Alex Giannini

Egg-citing News For Hard-Boiled Cooks

It’s almost Easter. Time to buy the chocolate, bake the ham, boil the eggs.

Bonnie Tyler and Sheila Torgan can’t help with the first 2 tasks. But if making easy-to-peel eggs makes your blood boil, they hop to your rescue.

The women are the brains behind the Negg. It’s “the world’s greatest egg peeler.”

That’s not me or an infomercial talking. The Negg has been praised by the New York Times and the “Today Show” — along with egg-makers everywhere.

And it was hatched right here in Westport.

Sheila Torgan and Bonnie Tyler.

Bonnie and Sheila are longtime business partners. Past projects include web design.

That’s cool. But solving one of life’s most difficult puzzles — how to make an easy-to-peel egg — can be life-changing.

The women had a great idea: Put an egg in a peeler with water, then shake it so the peel comes off. Easy as pie.

But they had to create a model. Peeling an egg is hardly high-tech. Still, Bonnie and Sheila needed a technological tool.

They found it at the Westport Library.

The Maker Space — with its computers and 3D printer — is the perfect place to turn concepts into reality.

The Negg!

Library manager of experiential learning Alex Giannini guided the women through many prototypes. Finally, they found one that worked.

From there they produced a patent-pending mold.

Since then, they’ve sold over a quarter of a million Neggs. They’re available through Amazon, HSN, Wayfair, other outlets — and of course on their website.

Sheila and Bonnie may be the hard-boiled egg queens of the world. But they haven’t forgotten their roots.

They’ve given back to the Westport Library by speaking on a crowd-sourcing panel. They hoped to inspire other entrepreneurs to fulfill their dream.

All you need is an idea.

Though a Westport Library 3D printer certainly helps.

(For more information on the Negg, click here. Hat tips: Betsy Pollak and Deirdre Foote.)

WestportWrites — And Adds Espresso Machine

The Westport Library is a place to do many things beyond reading: Hear book talks and concerts. Work in the MakerSpace. Check out DVDs. Get coffee.

Add to the list: Learn to write.

WestportWrites is a year-long program. Monthly mini-conferences and workshops all lead to a writers’ conference next fall.

Rachel Basch (“The Listener,” “The Passion of Reverend Nash”), literary agent Dawn Frederick and a panel from Westport writers’ groups kicked things off earlier this month.

This Monday (October 16, 6 p.m.), Patrick McCord talks about the brain’s role in the creative process. Future topics include the feminist young adult voice, screenwriting, memoirs and more.

As part of WestportWrites, the library is partnering with Staples High School’s English department. Jessica Bruder (“Nomadland,” “Burning Book” spoke to 225 students there, prior to her library appearance).

Plans are underway to collaborate on next fall’s conference. Teachers are excited about opportunities for talented writers — and those who might be turned on to an activity they never considered before.

But any library can sponsor workshops. The Westport Library is taking writing a giant step further.

A generous anonymous donor helped them buy a new Espresso machine — and it has nothing to do with coffee.

This Espresso is an on-demand book publisher. Authors provide PDFs for the text and cover (the library has templates). Espresso prints in black-and-white or color. It adds a soft cover, and trims the pages to different sizes.

In other words, it allows authors to self-publish.

This Espresso machine has nothing to do with coffee.

You’re not going to get Jane Green-size press runs. But it’s perfect for printing small numbers of books. You can also prototype a larger run — avoiding costly mistakes with pagination, or putting the Foreward at the end (true story).

Westport Library manager of experiential learning Alex Giannini, and program and events specialist Cody Daigle-Orlans, are enthusiastic about their new tool. They offer short consultations on it with interested authors (email westportwrites@gmail.com for more information).

There’s also a Westport Library in-house graphic designer to help with the cover (for a fee).

If the Espresso machine sounds like something that belongs in the MakerSpace — now moved to the balcony area during the library’s Transformation Project — it does.

In fact, Giannini says, the goal is to make next October’s writer’s conference and book fair be at the same level as Westport’s April Maker Faire.

Write on!

 

Dragon Needs A Home

Thousands of Maker Faire-goers admired the dragon standing outside the library on Saturday.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

But now it’s Monday. The event is over. This is not the New York Public Library. Unlike its 2 famous lions, our dragon can’t stay here forever.

If you want the dragon — for whatever reason; no questions asked — contact Alex Giannini, the Westport Library’s manager of experiential learning (agiannini@westportlibrary.org; 203-291-4847).

You can’t beat the price: free. The library may even help you transport it.

PS: The New York lions are named “Patience” and “Fortitude.”

Our dragon should be called “Cool.”

What The V?

A strange thing appeared yesterday on the lower level of the Westport Library, near the stairs leading up to the cafe:

V at Westport Library

It’s 8 feet tall. There are buttons people can push, to change the blinking LED lights.

Remnant from the old “V” restaurant? Homage to Winston Churchill? Discard from the CES Show in Las Vegas?

If you have any idea what this “V” is, or why it’s in the library, click “Comments” below.

Virtually Oculus

Two months ago, the Westport Library bought an Oculus Rift. They lacked a computer with a graphics card big enough for the virtual reality headset that generates a crazy, immersive virtual world — but that’s the way the library rolls.

The Rift was about to hit the general consumer market. Library staffers knew it would be big. They snagged one of the last 2nd-generation developers’ kits. Then they went to work, figuring out what to do with it.

Nate Allen — a Maker Space volunteer who’s home-schooled in Fairfield — put the appropriate computer pieces together. (I asked him if it took all summer. Nope: 2 hours.)

Alex Giannini (left), Nate Allen, the Oculus Rift headset and computer.

Alex Giannini (left), Nate Allen, the Oculus Rift headset and computer.

The other day, I took it for a test drive. I’d never donned a virtual reality headset before — I’m not exactly a hardcore gamer — but despite a warning from Alex Giannini, the library’s manager of digital experience, that I might get nauseous, I opted for the Rift’s rollercoaster ride.

I have to say: It’s pretty freakin’ cool. I zoomed up, down and through some crazy Alice in Wonderland-type scenes. But with the Rift, I also looked all around — even over my shoulder — and became immersed in some great virtual reality scenes.

The Rift will be available for everyone 13 and up. But, Alex knows, the core demographic is teenagers.

“That’s great,” he says. “This will get them to the library. They’ll play video games, but they’ll stay to help out. Maybe it will inspire some of them to get into developing games too.”

The Oculus Rift headset.

The Oculus Rift headset.

The Rift will be unveiled Labor Day weekend, at the library’s Blues, Views & BBQ booth. Later this fall it will be used as part of the library’s Teen Gaming Night.

Alex loves the Rift. “It’s so far beyond previous generations of virtual reality, I can’t even describe it,” he says. “We’re on the verge of something huge.”

As usual, the Westport Library leads the way.