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October 31, 2008



Free Mac application Poladroid, as you can probably guess, processes digital images to give them that Polaroid look (and feel--you can shake the little image to make the image develop more quickly).

[via Lifehacker]

October 29, 2008



Nearly a foot of snow last night. It's going to be a long winter.

October 23, 2008

Floating Personal Networks

UnwiredReview links to an Apple Patent application for, essentially, putting RFID tags in everything (phones, clothing, shoes, bags, cars, etc.), then networking them on the fly. Here's the abstract from the patent app:

Systems and methods are provided for interfacing wireless communications between two devices such that a device devoid of a relatively long-range communications protocol can access that protocol. This may be accomplished by providing a host device having relatively short-range communications circuitry integrated therein, which circuitry may be operative to communicate with relatively short-range communications circuitry of a multi-protocol or long-range communications device that also includes relatively long-range communications circuitry.

Not a completely novel idea, but a step towards actually developing them.

[via Gizmodo]

October 20, 2008

Subliminal Messages

Lars Willem Veldkampf's Typocalpse set at Flickr decodes the subliminal messages that fonts carry.

October 17, 2008

London Underground Tube Map Documentary

Smashing Telly located a 25-minute documentary on the London Underground tube map, a design classic. (The map, not the documentary. Although the documentary itself is pretty good.)

[via kottke.org]

October 16, 2008

Dentistry, Part 2

Desiging the Crown

The dentist visit this afternoon was slightly less painful than the last one (at least at this point), or maybe just geekier--my dentist has his own 3D fabrication machine. (Maybe this is common now. The last time I had reconstructive dental work done, I was on my dad's insurance.) He images the tooth, then builds a 3D model of the crown he wants. One of his assistants sets up the fabrication machine with a porcelain slug and sends the model to it; the fab machine uses high-pressure water to carve the crown out of the slug.

I'm not sure this compensates completely for the smell of burning dental enamel and the pain that's just now waking from its novocaine slumber, but the technology was sort of cool. (A couple of additional images are at my Flickr account.)

When NSFW is Your Work

Putting People First links to several articles about the usability research that went into the development of Philips "intimate massager" products. Here, for example, is a clip from "The Birth of a New Category" written by the product team at Philips:

The delicate nature of the subject meant that exhaustive research was carried out. Early propositions were validated through qualitative testing panels, followed by quantitative testing on the Internet. More than 100 working prototypes were tried out in Austria by typical representatives of the target group. And testing wasn't limited to consumers; many different stakeholders from Consumer Lifestyle, Healthcare and Lighting became involved as well. Even financial analysts were consulted. "In my 25 years of business experience, I've never been associated with a line of products which has been so thoroughly vetted," said Jim Hey, Senior Vice President and Business Unit Leader for Health & Wellness.

[via Putting people first]

October 15, 2008

Diagramming Sarah


Kitty Burns Florey at Slate takes on the momentous task of diagramming some of the more notable sentences of Sarah Palin.

[via things magazine]

October 12, 2008

Slavoj Zizek: What is the Question?

Christopher Lydon's Open Source has an hour-long interview with Slavoj Zizek (which links to an overview as well as a downloadable mp3). Zizek, who Lydon rightly terms "the Elvis of the intelligensia," runs his usual adrenalin-fueled, contingency-filled theory-rant:

Dangerous moments are coming. Dangerous moments are always also a chance to do something. But in such dangerous moments, you have to think, you have to try to understand. And today obviously all the predominant narratives — the old liberal-left welfare state narrative; the post-modern third-way left narrative; the neo-conservative narrative; and of course the old standard Marxist narrative — they don't work. We don't have a narrative. Where are we? Where are we going? What to do? You know, we have these stupid elementary questions: Is capitalism here to stay? Are there serious limits to capitalism? Can we imagine a popular mobilization outside democracy? How should we properly react to ecology? What does it mean, all the biogenetic stuff? How to deal with intellectual property today? Things are happening. We don't have a proper approach. It's not only that we don't have the answers. We don't even have the right question.

What's not to like? See the wikipedia entry on Zizek for more background and links or the International Journal of Žižek Studies.

October 07, 2008

Designers Favorite Fonts

Design O'Blog surveyed a handful of designers to find out their favorite fonts. Nothing earth-shattering, but the rationales offered are interesting. Here's Jeff Fisher's brief testimonial to Palatino:

Years ago I worked on a publication that had a limited font collection, and an even more limited budget for purchasing additional fonts. In researching fonts that would give me a great deal of “bang” for the initial investment, I came across Palatino. It had nicely shaped letter forms, quite a variety in style between regular and italic forms, and great readability as a display, headline and text type. Over the past 25 years it has been a type option I have used for a wide variety of purposes. For a recent Identity project, I was looking for a well-balanced and unique uppercase “P” letterform to initiate the identity for the communications company PavelComm. I immediately thought of Palatino with its graceful, yet professional, uppercase “P.” However, I didn’t necessary like the Palatino treatment of the italic letters used to make up the name. Still, italics were desired to show some movement in the PavelComm corporate identity. I made use of the regular Palatino letterforms I liked so much and then digitally skewed them to give the appearance of the type being italic. In the process a unique identity was created for the company, making use of the font on which I often “fall back” in the design of corporate marketing and promotion materials.

[via etc.]

October 01, 2008

Daphne Oram: (Very) Early Electronic Music

The Guardian has a bio and slideshow on Daphne Oram:

She went on to join the BBC, and, while many of the corporation's male staff were away fighting in the second world war, she became a balancing engineer, mixing the sounds captured by microphones at classical music concerts. In those days, nearly all programmes went out live because recording was extremely cumbersome and expensive. Tape hadn't been invented, and cheap computers were half a century away.

Yet when tape did come along, in the early 1950s, Oram was quick to realise that it could be used not simply for recording existing sounds, but for composing a new kind of music. Not the music of instruments, notes and tunes, but the music of ordinary, everyday sound.

After Oram had finished her day's work, and everyone had gone home, she trundled tape recorders the size of industrial gas cookers from empty studios, and gathered them to experiment late into the night. She recorded sounds on to tape, and then cut, spliced and looped them; slowed them down, sped them up, played them backwards. It must have been like working in a laboratory, or inventing new colours – a new world almost impossible to imagine now.

See the Boing-Boing post I cribbed this link from for additional links, including some audio samples. And there's this earlier post about Delia Derbyshire, Oram's colleague at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

[via boing-boing]