A more courageous person than I will ever probably be...

"These are all dangerous words. Of the threats issued to his life by Islamists, he says, "That's not the worst thing that can happen to you. I'm OK with it, I'm not afraid. . . . Palestinians have reason to kill me. Some Israelis may want to kill me. My goal is not to defeat my enemy. It is to win over my enemy."

Weekend Interview with Mosab Hassan Yousef-

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Crayola Crayon Colors Multiply Like Rabbits

more at FlowingData crayon colors
Thanks Nate!

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The SuperSecretSupremeLeader Gadget


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Praying for Terrorists


This morning I found a breath of fresh air in the news cycle. A small website proposing that Christians react without fear to terrorism. In the proposal is the call to action that we should pray for a specific terrorist. I believe that when we ask God to intervene he hears us and responds. He can respond in the world, he can respond in our heart and he can respond in his heart. Trying to understand the specific causality in relation to a specific prayer is quite a project, but the Christian Scriptures acknowledge that prayer moves the hand and heart of God the way that a child asking a father moves the father's hand and heart. Not the way that a pagan's spell purports to move the natural world.

"Where is the Christian response to terrorism? If the struggle against violence done in the name of Islam is primarily spiritual, then defeating it requires a spiritual response.

This site features FBI and State Department identified terrorists and terrorism sponsors. Terrorism inspires fear. According to Jesus, the antidote to fear is love.

When we hate, we are reactive victims. When we love we seize the initiative. Love for country helps soldiers to risk their lives. Love for children enables parents to discipline them without being intimidated. Love for us took Jesus to the cross. Love for enemies will give courage to face, overcome, and transform them and the environment that breeds them. "

Source: Adopt a Terrorist for Prayer: Home

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I won an art contest


I won first place in the Optical Society of America Art in Science Contest with the work, 'O-O'.

Statement: "This style of visualization is usually used to display connections between different regions in DNA. This image however, was generated from the messages sent between users of a social networking site. By visualizing social data in the this way, we can see how people communicate, the roles that people play in the web of communication and we may reflect on how our social behavior is as much a part of us as our DNA.

The outer ring has a color band for every unique user. The angle swept by the band corresponds to the number of messages sent by that user (the large ticks are 100’s) The connections in the middle show how often one user sends a message to another user. "

Learn more about the contest here:

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wow - the world has passed me by. DJPJr.

Posted by: Donald J. Patterson Jr. at November 30, 2009 2:28 PM

Cool picture, Don. Congratulations! I like it.

Posted by: John Krumm at November 30, 2009 5:24 PM

I want a spiral wine cellar

spiral wine cellar

I want a spiral wine cellar. But I'd probably store as much cheese in it as wine.

Spiral Cellars - Professional wine storage in your home wine cellar

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I want this piggy bank


"This coin bank is an attractive and unique replacement to the coin jar. Coins are dropped into the top and bounce chaotically off clear spacers on the way down. Coins can be released from the bottom when the custom lock is removed. "

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I would like to have this bank. Where do I find it??

Posted by: Tammy at March 18, 2010 11:01 AM

I don't know other than by contacting someone at the link above.

Posted by: Don at March 24, 2010 3:53 PM

Supermodels without Makeup

supermodels without makeup

A cool magazine photo spread featuring supermodels without their makeup. Just to see what the real world looks like. Feed : Keep It Real

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"Let yourself feel"

Beautiful and amazing videos. I wish I could create stuff like this.

let yourself feel. from Esteban Diácono on Vimeo.

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To be cool in Amherst

Upon returning from Amherst I have uncovered the new alpha-cool:

1. Apparently being an ex-lesbian is very trendy right now as I met 3 during the weekend.

2. All the cool kids are drinking kombucha. It's nasty and I have no idea what they mean when they say it "detoxifies" your body. (I don't care what wikipedia says you are putting nasty into your body)

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Video of Lightning Hitting the Seattle Space Needle

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On the cost of espresso

I was fooling around with our espresso machine today. We named it "Roba" our robot espresso machine. The goal in fooling with the machine was to reduce the auto-off to something shorter than 2 hours in order to save the planet. I figured I could wait 3 minutes to have a latte if it meant that I would be able to avoid a climate-change-induced civil war when I'm 80. What I discovered however was a statistics panel. The statistics panel informed me that we have made 5173 lattes/espresso drinks since we received the machine from our good friends as a going away gift from Seattle.

On a previous occasion, I calculated our cost per drink at something like $.50 (milk, beans water -didn't include electricity) so those drinks have cost us $2586.50 over the life of the machine. Starbucks however would have cost us $18,105 at $3.50 a drink!!

Roba, the robot barista, has saved us $15,519. Let's hear it for technology!

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*Now* doesn't a super robot coffee machine seem like a good idea? Recall:

Posted by: Sam at May 17, 2009 12:04 AM

Super High Resolution Inauguration

Totally cool high resolution zoomable panorama of the inauguration

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World of Goo


We've been having fun at home playing an amazing game called World of Goo. It's a physics simulation based game, but done with really great graphics and music. I convince myself that it is okay for my kids to play this with me because I'm *really* teaching them about engineering in the process. The game feels like an interactive Dr. Suess world.

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This game is the secret reason I never get anything done. :-)

Posted by: Sam at December 13, 2008 7:01 PM

Tech Room continues to rock

my office

Props upon props to the Tech Room in Costa Mesa. Every time I go in there to have my computer repaired I walk out impressed. These guys started as tech support for UCI Information and Computer Sciences, got it in their head that they could do it better and started a company that *is* doing it better.

Tonight I walked in with a sticky slash-key (death to us VI users) and walked out 10 minutes later with a fixed keyboard and no hassle. The only way the experience could have been better is if they had known I had a problem and showed up at my office door and fixed it there. But that would have had a high creep-factor....

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Listening to Garbled Speech

Here is a link to a fun site which asks you to listen to a bunch of whistles and then translate it to English. The first time you hear the whistles this sounds like an impossible task, but after listening to the English translation it seems almost impossible, not to hear the phrase being spoken through the whistles. Neat-o-rama.

Go here

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In Car Racing Footage

A friend of mine races cars. He sent me some in car footage of a run that he made a track near here called Buttonwillow. Here is what he says about it:

"here is some in car footage of the car I was driving last weekend. It is a Toyota supra with about 550 horsepower. Because of the class we are running we are restricted to relatively skinny tire. (285mm wide instead of a 335mm wide one) Its hard to tell the rate of speed the car is moving at in the video, but for perspective, the top speed is about 130 mi/hr that is reached on the straight away as well as on the big sweeping turn. The car slides around pretty good on the throttle. One video you can see a pretty big counter steer at about 120 mi/hr. :) lots of fun. If the usual cars I drive are delicate instruments, this car is a sledgehammer. Its neat to see how different you need to drive it to be fast."

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John Hodgman Captured by the Panopticon


My friend snapped this photo of John Hodgman surreptitiously at an undisclosed location that wasn't a Starbucks

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Hearts and Laserbeams

graphing calculator

I went to the Patchwork indie arts fair this weekend in Santa Ana. I was hoping to find a good painting for my dining room, but didn't find anything suitable. I was pretty psyched to find Patchwork, though. There were a lot of creative things going on, music, food, lots of cool handmade t-shirts and clothes and other arts and crafts. It was a pretty small fair all things considered but dense with goodness.

One of the artists that was there was Steph Calvert. She runs an enterprise called "Hearts and Laserbeams" and under that name creates a lot of whimsical trendy art pieces. Many of which involve robots and cupcakes. It reminded me that although Southern California is, at times, very mass produced, it also has pockets of fun stuff going on that are the origins of the "next big thing".


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Dinner in the Sky

dinner in the sky

How can you not get excited about eating a formal dinner hanging from a crane with ~20 of your closest friends?

Dinner in the Sky

Thanks Nate (and Andrea, and Betsy)!

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Hopefully the appetizer isn't Egg-drop soup, or the dessert Dump Cake. Sorry.

Posted by: Nate at February 29, 2008 4:24 AM

Actually, thank me. I sent it to Nate. But I did get it from his sister Betsy.

Posted by: Andrea and Nate at March 3, 2008 4:19 AM

So what happens when you need to go to the bathroom?

Posted by: Sen at March 11, 2008 8:56 PM

A Really Big Rain Barrel

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of _SiD_

This is the coolest thing I've heard of in a while. Apparently Orange County uses the big networks of run-off canyons to route rain into the ground-water-table. It's like a massive version of the canonical Seattle rain barrel that catches and saves water from your gutter implemented at a municipal scale. Further coolness is that fact that the 2 billion gallons that Orange County has captured in the last few days has an estimated value of $1.5 million.

Sciencedude -
"OCWD uses small dams in the Santa Ana River, near Honda Center, to corral water, which is then guided to percolation fields. "

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"Peace Beaver"

Flickr Image
Photo courtesy of Qba from Poland

"The Queen of Narnia and Empress of the Lone Islands desires a safe conduct to come and speak with you," said the dwarf, " on a matter which is as much to your advantage as to hers."
"Queen of Narnia, indeed!" said Mr. Beaver. "Of all the cheek ---"
"Peace, Beaver," said Aslan. "All names will soon be restored to their proper owners. In the meantime we will not dispute about them."


"Oh," said Mr. Beaver. "So that's how you came to imagine yourself a queen -- because you were the Emperor's hangman. I see."
"Peace, Beaver," said Aslan, with a very low growl.
"And so," continued the Witch, "that human creature is mine. His life if forfeit to me. His blood is my property."

From C.S. Lewis's, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

I love that saying... "Peace Beaver." I love the Chronicles of Narnia as a book. As a movie I'm ambivalent.

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T-J-H-S-S-and-T that's who we are - that's who we be


My high school got rated #1 by U.S. News and World Report. Boy, I feel sorry for the rest of the nation. :)

Gold Medal Schools - US News and World Report

Thanks for the pointer Nate!

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Wow. Mine was a problem school. I remember having to work to get administrators to let me take A.P. tests.

I'm awfully jealous.

Posted by: Sam Kaufman at December 7, 2007 11:59 AM

Virtual LAX powered by your email

This was so outrageous that it deserved a blog entry:

"An email mailbox represented as a 3D, virtual LAX airport. in this "world's coolest email program", based on the origin or destination of the email, each message is depicted by any of over 80 world airlines (e.g. for UK, it comes by Virgin or British Airways). emails with attachments are carried by the couriers: FedEx, UPS, DHL, and CargoLux. in addition to the pilot chatter & roaring engine noises, the 3D world depicts has both day & night scenes"

Click on the trailer on the left.

I found out about it from information aesthetics

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USAA Deposit at Home


Yet another reason why USAA rocks: USAA is a financial services company. I do most of my banking with them. They have no branches as far as I am aware. From my perspective they are a completely online bank.

Typical criticisms of this are that you can't get cash and that you have to deposit checks by mail, which is slow. Well USAA addresses both problems. They will reimburse you up to $10.00 a month in ATM fees charged by other banks. And now the COOLEST of all things. If you want to deposit a check you simply scan it and upload it. It goes immediately into your bank account.

I'm totally excited about this because it is fast and even easier than putting it in a deposit envelope and mailing it. I don't know how they deal with countering fraud, but as far as I'm concerned it's awesome. It took me about 5 minutes to scan and deposit two checks and the money was in my account immediately.

(However, it took me 5 friggin' hours to get the software for the scanner set up!)

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"Go Anteaters" -President Bush


The President held a reception at the White House for the NCAA Championship teams. Since UCI won the men's volleyball championship, they got to go. While making his remarks the president actually says "Go Anteaters". Click on the image on the left to see the clip.

The clip comes from the White House's web page here:President Bush Meets with NCAA Championship Teams

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Jimmy Carter at UCI - 2


After hearing Jimmy Carter speak I respect and admire him more than ever. As Chancellor Drake said he is an outstanding example of a man who acts from his values. > News > Education -- Jimmy Carter urges balanced U.S. position toward Israel during California campus stop
12:44 a.m. May 4, 2007
IRVINE – Former President Jimmy Carter urged students at a Southern California university with a history of strained relations between Jewish and Islamic groups to set differences aside and work together to find solutions. More

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I'm curious what his views are on the Promised Land? Whose land does he believe it is and what are the boundaries of that land?

Posted by: Nate at May 8, 2007 4:11 AM

I don't know much of the history of the Middle east, but his big points were that the boundaries of the Palestinian territory have been established (post 1967) by treaty and that the Palestinians have a right to a contiguous state.

My key take-away point from his talk (he didn't make this point, I synthesized it) was a realization that Israel is using rhetoric from 20 years ago to describe what they are doing in terms of security and safety. In reality - and I have seen some evidence of this first hand - something new is happening in which the Palestinians are starting to be slowly destroyed as a people and that is not an undertaking which befits a "righteous" nation.

Posted by: DJP3 at May 8, 2007 6:20 AM

Jimmy Carter at UCI


Dude, me and Jimmy.

The Center for the study of Democracy and Model United Nations
Present Former U.S. President
Jimmy Carter

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It sort of puzzles me why he still has so much traction. Even the WA Post labeled him as having botched his presidency...

Posted by: Nate at May 1, 2007 3:48 AM

Hamster powered shredder


This is too cool. A hamster powered shredder. Hamster runs. Paper shreds. Hamster uses shredder paper. Link

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March Beer Madness


The Washington Post has produced a March Madness style beer competition between 32 notable brews. The winner is Brooklyn Lager. Who would've guessed? Saranac Pale Ale made a close second. Click on the image on the left to see the full match-up.

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Aww how could Rolling Rock not win. They're delicious!!!

Posted by: Growly-Pants at April 23, 2007 6:18 PM

Kite Sails for Super Tankers


This company has a totally cool vision, trying to power ocean going vessels with enormous kites: KiteShip - Innovation in Tethered Flight

It seems totally cool. It would be environmentally friendly to a huge degree. Enormous sails could be made, the size of which sails could never match, but there do seem to be some drawbacks:

  • Sailboats don't use wind the same way kites do. While they are some times pushed along by the wind, they also use wind the way an airplane wing does - especially when trying to make headway into the wind. So the kite could only take a ship in a direction that the current wind supported.
  • What happens during a storm? Old-school sailors have perfected lots of methods for dealing with that sort of scenario
  • Would a new hull design be required that maximizes efficiency when being pulled rather than pushed?

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Flight Patterns


This cool YouTube video shows a handful of visualizations of flight data in a time lapse mode. The creator did some creative things with color and trails which makes for some neat images - if you are kind of geek and into this sort of thing.

Thanks Charles!

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More cool ice cubes

diamond ice

Following up on a previous post here about ice cube trays that make ice cubes in the shape of legos, here is an ice cube tray that makes ice cubes in the shape of enormous diamonds.

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Big Mac Pumpkin

big mac pumpkin

Awesome alternative jack-o-lantern from Bits & Pieces: Big Mac pumpkin

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Lego Ice Cubes

lego ice cubes

These are totally cool. Ice cube trays that make ice legos. Finally an easy way to build an evil ice palace.

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Super Mario Wedding Cake

Mario cake
Awesome Super Mario Brothers Cake.

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Rubik's Cube Solved while Blindfolded


This is incredible. A guy solving a rubik's cube blindfolded.

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Cool physics based computer desktop model

Bumptop desktop BumpTop is a cool physics based computer desktop. It uses a compilation of lots of cutting edge U/I interaction techniques to make it easier to manage lots of icons. Right now it looks like it is only a prototype. I want one for real! BumpTop Prototype

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Cool Table

cool table

Cool table is a mashup of other tables. Neat metaphor for a conference table - lots of people, creating a new thing which is a merger of everyone's ideas.

Tjep. - Accident for Strawberryfrog

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This is insane. It's a waterski-style inner tube with the added advantage that when you get air, you *really* get air. It converts to a kite-like parasail device. Talk about extreme-sports. I predict this thing will exist for about six months before the company gets sued out of existance.

Nonetheless, I sure want to try riding it. Buy it here. See it in action here.

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New Manhattan Apple Store

From Boing Boing

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Chris DiBona

chris This is a picture of Chris not me.

I just spent an hour chatting with Chris DiBona who is the Open Source Program Manager at Google. It is great to hear someone who actually is working in the guts of the field talk about net nuetrality, dark fiber, data centers, open source licenses, and Air Wolf. It has such a different flavor than people who are professional commentators.

Here is the summary of the opinions:
Net nuetrality: bad will get worse before it gets better.
Dark Fiber: innocuous it hosts Google's internal network and makes caching work better.
Data Centers: mmm...they exist and Google needs food badly...
Open Source license: If you want to make money off your software don't use them. If you do use them, don't try and make money off your software later. Apache is his flavor of the day.
Air Wolf: Scared of Jan-Michael Vincent, show sucked. (He is completely wrong on this point. A helicopter landing in a psuedo-volcano rocks.

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Whew! Now that I know all this, I can sleep better at night.

Posted by: Nate at May 1, 2006 4:25 AM

Lathe your Face

baby head

Turn Your Head is a company that will create a wacky gift from the profile of your face. Submit a picture and they will use a lathe to carve it out of a hunk of wood. The result is an art piece which sculpts space into your visage. From any perspective two negative views of you look at each other.

"At Turn Your Head, we fill the space between two opposing profiles of your face. By spinning that space into a three dimensional visage that follows the outlined silhouettes of your two profiles, we create the "Pirolette".

Place the Pirolette to your face and it will match your profile. Locate it near a wall and the shadow of the Pirolette will be your silhouette.

Your profile captured forever in an object of art. An optical illusion of shadow and light, each one unique because it's you!

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Sketch Swap


Sketch Swap is a clever web app that lets you make a drawing and then when you are done will show you someone else's drawing.

It reminds of the Twilight Zone episode in which a person was given a box with a button and told that if they pressed the button they would get a million dollars and someone that they don't know would die.

Eventually of course the person succumbed to the tempation and pressed the button, and got the million dollars. Then the box was taken away from them and given to someone that they didn't know.

So beware- you may get a sketch like whatever you just drew.

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Ferrari, Lamborghini and Trader Joe's

Ferrari Lamborghini Ferrari
Yellow Ferrari, Red Ferrari, and Yellow Lamborghini (I think)
Just another day in Southern California. On our way back from the beach we stopped at Trader Joe's to pick up some food. What should we find in the parking, but two Ferraris and a Lamborghini (I think) all parked next to our mini-van. Sort of a funny thing to see at the grocery store, but I hardly even batted an eye it's so normal to me.
Ferrari Lamborghini Ferrari

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retrievr: Sketch-based image retrieval

boatdrawing.jpg boat.jpg
Photo courtesy of heydrienne

retrievr is a sketch based image query tool. The user draws an image using coarse colors and brushes, like my picture on the left, and then retrievr searchs through flickr's photo database to find images that match. The image on the right was among the ones returned.

It's pretty cool. It kind of works.

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Information Consumes Attention


From Herbert Simon - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it." (Computers, Communications and the Public Interest, pages 40-41, Martin Greenberger, ed., The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.)

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REALLY strong magnets

strong magnet

Really strong magnets from a company with a sweet name: United Nuclear

1.5 times stronger than our previous Supermagnets.

If you really need unbelievably powerful magnets, here they are. Uses include magnetic steering of nuclear particles in homemade accelerators, levitation devices, magnetic beam amplifiers, scrap iron separators, etc.

Beware - you must think ahead when moving these magnets. If carrying one into another room, carefully plan the route you will be taking. Computers & monitors will be affected in an entire room. Loose metallic objects and other magnets may become airborne and fly considerable distances - and at great speed - to attach themselves to this magnet. If you get caught in between the two, you can get injured.

Two of these magnets close together can create an almost unbelievable magnetic field that can be very dangerous. Of all the unique items we offer for sale, we consider these two items the most dangerous of all. Our normal packing & shipping personnel refuse to package these magnets - our engineers have to do it. This is no joke and we cannot stress it strongly enough - that you must be extremely careful - and know what you're doing with these magnets. Take Note: Two of the 3" x 1" disc magnets can very easily break your arm if they get out of control.

Axially Magnetized (the top & bottom flat faces are the north & south poles). We can only ship these magnets by ground UPS - they cannot be shipped via air as it will interfere with the aircraft's navigational equipment.

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Did the write-up make anyone else laugh? It made me think of an early 90's SNL "commercial". Happy Fun Ball anyone?

Posted by: Nate at December 19, 2005 8:15 AM

Trend-spotting Considered As a Trend

Photo courtesy of Booble

The LA Times has this excellent lengthy article about the world of "cool-hunting." (Fads are so yesterday - Los Angeles Times archive) Cool-hunters are the people who tap into emerging youth culture and sell their predictions to companies who then productize the trend and then wait for the cash to come rolling in.

The article makes lots of insightful comments about our consumer culture and how there is no lifestyle we can discover which doesn't have a line of products helping you to live it. At the same time many people just try and demonstrate that they know the breadth of lifestyles available by purchasing key knock-offs of cornerstone elements of a particular lifestyle (a copied hand-bag, a particular style of retro T-shirt, etc.)

Culture mining, cool-hunting, trend-spotting are all fascinating to me because they are intertwined with the world of technology, which is where I make my living.

Choice quote:

At the same time, Popcorn's mind is constantly tuned into the tantalizing "what ifs" of tomorrow. Her 2001 book, "Dictionary of the Future," predicts the proliferation of a "cosmetic underclass" who can't afford to erase their age, a parent education movement that issues permits and product discounts to well-trained parents, and "personal archivists" who organize the e-mails, digital images and other data that help document our existence.
When asked about today's obsession with cool, even Popcorn sounds peeved. She moans: "It's like everybody's hip now. It's exhausting. There's no discovery. It's not original."

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ULTra driverless car system (airport pods)


Zip around the airport in these oh-so-british driverless pods. The future is now.

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Cross iPod Shuffle Lanyard


What an awesome commentary on faith, consumerism and pop culture. This lanyard replacement for the iPod shuffle turns your player into a cross. In the process it forces you to ask yourself where your worship is directed. Buy one here.

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Wacky Plant Video


Here is a wacky video that looks like a demo for some special effects artist. Someone took a bunch of close-up plant video and added wacky eyes and beaks and probers and stuff. Disturbingly realistic, but obviously fantasy.

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Popping water balloons in zero-G

water blob

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to see a water balloon pop in space?

Some videos of people on the vomit comet popping water balloons in zero-G.

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Airport Cell-Phone Parking Lot

celllot01.jpg celllot02.jpg

Seatac airport here in Seattle, just instituted this totally cool parking lot. It is called the "Cell-Phone Waiting Lot" The idea is that you go and park in this parking lot while you wait for the person who you are picking up to call you on their cell-phone. Then you zip over to "Arrivals" and pick them up.

This is great because it gets rid of people endlessly circling around the airport loop while they wait for the late plane to show up. It also reduces the burden on the cops who are always yelling at you to move your car. It also increases security by lowering traffic volumes. It gives me a place to park that isn't too far away while I wait for the phone call (In the past I hung out suspiciously in the Denny's parking lot). Anyway, it's not often that things like this get better. Here is an example of a transit thing that did get better.

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Seattle Public Library

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Well, I finally made it to the new Seattle Public Library. It is really cool. If you have a thing for architecture, then I definitely recommend that you visit. And visit soon before it looks dated. :) Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for the world, I grew up with my sister who is a good photographer. This demonstrated to me that I am not a very talented photographer. (You are also fortunate that I have a partner who can sing) Nonetheless, here are some camera phone photos I took of the place.

I'm blogging this, because, of course, I should be writing a thesis right now.

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