Friday, November 27, 2009

Matchgame on Facebook

Life is tough, even when it's great. One of the things that makes waking up worth it is the random surprise that one of our friends provides us out of the blue. All hail social networking, right? That's why I love things like Twitter and Facebook and to a justifiably lesser extent MySpace.

I decided to catalyze my interaction and hosting a cloud-run version of one of the best TV games ever. Here's a taste:

Now, I'm not trolling for more friends. Trust me, I have all the friends that I can stomach. But if you want to play along. I invite you to friend me, and blow my mind.

Friend me here: Facebook

Here is a look at some of the mooks who make life worth living: Panel of Experts

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today was a good day.

I spent most of today scared shitless. I painted half my face blue. The other half was tear-drenched. I needed my chakras realigned. There are only three things that can do that: knitting (sorry Casey but your hat's not done - bonus: I'll knit a matching one for Kubes) and this video that I throw out as testimony to all the unfortunate beatles accolades out there, and you, my friends.

Thank you all for inspiring me as much as these guys do.

PS John Entwistle WTF!??!?!

Are we finally getting sick of Bipartisanship: caveat - politics

I voted in my first election in 1987. I studied the politics of each candidate up to the Minnesota state level. After that, I 'threw my vote away' on the third party candidate most likely (or least unlikely) to get into federal politics. Why? I figured that for a candidate to get that far in national politics, they had to be completely out of touch with their constituents, salivating for power over relevancy.

The next year, I was able to experience a full-on election in Denmark where they had something like a dozen parties in play in the election.

I openly admit that I am unqualified to say this is right, because I pay most of my attention to local and global issues (where the real action is . . . bypassing the political stock market that is national politics. Seriously, my own deal).

That's why I pose this as a question.

I was earnestly shocked to see Freshjive issue this shirt. I'm a fan of Shepard Fairey, and Freshjive and my friends who were completely sold on Obama in the past election.

I post this only because I'm curious. What the hell happened? I'm admittedly oblivious.

This seems like a really drastic statement.

Post. Educate me. Please. I just want to understand.

(caveat #2: I'll still vote the same as I always have, so don't try to sway me.)

Thanksgiving: Grindhouse Style (NSFW)

If there ever was a grindhouse holiday, it is Thanksgiving. It is a holiday seeped in death. I can't think of a better way to celebrate the eviscerating of a living beast, the horrible things we've done to America's indigenous people, and the carnal gluttony of this holiday than with the most atrocious grindhouse trailer ever.

PS: I'm not too upset about the turkey thing, but only because of my L-tryptophan addiction.

Thanks to fellow 'substitute-a-human-for-a-turkey' activist, Sean Whipps for the link

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Part 2: Argleton, Lancaster, UK. A walk through the phantom city

Update!Roy Bayfield blog with photos of his walk through imaginary Argleton! A fabulous read (and cheaper that a plane & bus ticket.)

From Roy's blog Walking Home to 50:

You have to take care at these times. It is all about detail… I had come equipped, with apparatus to protect me from any strangeness that might occur. I didn’t want to come out the other side reduced to a parody of myself, shambling out transformed into, say, Ray Byfield, Marketing Director of Argleton University. So I had with these items with me:

1. A Wonder Woman comic. I thought the Lasso of Truth, wielded by a character created by one of the inventors of the lie-detector, would provide some symbolic defense against irreality.

2. A bad copy of something else: Kyrik: Warlock Warrior (Gardner F. Fox, 1975) is a pastiche of Conan the Barbarian – a piece of entertaining but unoriginal hackwork; Kyrik is to Conan as Argleton is to Aughton. I thought a bit of this would be a kind of inoculation, passages like ‘The outlaws stared at that darkness, saw it shot through with streaks of vivid lightnings, red as the fires of Haderon’ acting as antigens against any reality-dissolving effects that might be encountered.

3. A toy tapir, bought recently at Transreal Fiction. I figured this little guy must be steeped in alternate worlds, having lived in a science fiction shop for a while – s/he could help navigate back to the real world if some compromised reality became confusing.

Read the whole thing here: Roy Bayfield's Walking Home to 50.

Thanks for the tip BlogCadre!

Argleton, Lancaster, UK. A phantom city that exists only on the web.

View Larger Map

An alleged computer glitch has resulted in the creation of a new, albeit non-existent city in the UK. I for one welcome this new city and share in Roy Bayfield's amazement. It seems that this tiny burgh already has a major export, fascination.

From The Telegraph:

Roy Bayfield, head of corporate marketing at what would be Argleton's closest university, Edge Hill, in Ormskirk, was so intrigued by the mystery that he walked to the where the internet indicated was the centre of Argleton to check that there was definitely nothing there.

"A colleague of mine spotted the anomaly on Google Maps, and I thought 'I've got to go there'," he said.

"I started to weave this amazing fantasy about the place, an alternative universe, a Narnia-like world. I was really fascinated by the appearance of a non-existent place that the internet had the power to make real and give a semi-existence."

Apparently, Google is working to correct this by deleting or redirecting the errant information. (It looks like they've already inactivated many of the photos that were associated with the town.) So visit while you can. Or, even better, someone should actually begin to bring the city into physical existence, by building a city in the open field where Argleton 'exists.' Could be a great project for the nearby university or artists.

From Wikipedia:

One possible explanation for the presence of Argleton is that it was added deliberately as a copyright trap to catch any violations of copyright, though such bogus entries are typically much less obvious. It has been noted that "Argle" seems to echo the word "Google", while the name is also an anagram of "Not Large" and "Not Real G", with the letter G perhaps representing Google. Alternatively, it has been suggested that "Argleton" is merely a misspelling of "Aughton", despite the fact that both names appear on the map. Professor Danny Dorling, president of the Society of Cartographers, considered it more likely that Argleton was nothing more than an "innocent mistake".

A spokesman for Google stated that, "While the vast majority of this information is correct there are occasional errors", and encouraged users to report any issues directly to their data provider. The data for the region in question was provided to Google by Netherlands-based Tele Atlas, who were unable to explain how the anomaly got into their database, but said that Argleton would be removed from the map.

Mystery of Argleton article from the Telegraph

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Senster: Robotic sculpture from the late 60's

Grabbing a little free time here and there to monkey around with my Getting started with Arduino kit. Looking to start building a bit of interactivity into some of my birdhouses and knitting. Stumbled accross this video from the early 1970's of a giant responsive robot. It 'looks like much of the input for the robot was sound, which makes this silent video kind of eerie.

From Today and Tomorrow:

The Senster was a robotic sculpture developed by Edward Ihnatowicz in the late 60’s. It was commissioned by Philips and part of their permanent showplace, the Evoluon, in Eindhoven between 1970 and 1974. It was the first robotic sculpture to be controlled by a computer and could react to the behaviour of the visitors with its sound and movement sensors. The computer used to control The Senster was a Philips P9201 and had only 8K of core memory. Now, almost 40 years later, every interaction student could make something like this and fit the logic in a small box. But this is still an amazing project.

More links and images over at Today and Tomorrow

UPDATE! After this got picked up by Boing Boing, a commenter posted that The Senster still exists! The Dutch company that did the welding saved it from the scrap heap and mounted it on cement blocks outside their building. It's almost more eerie sitting alons and dormant there in the field. I wonder if it could be reactivated?

Here's the translation from The Senster Today where you will find another couple of photos.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sonny Barger Beer Prototype

I recently started mentoring a U of M Design student. I decided to start a blog specifically for sharing thoughts, examples, and resources with a budding designer. Anyone who would like to, can check it out here. Feel free to comment or suggest items. One of the best things about being a designer is the community, right?

A Design Primer Blog

This is a recent post on an assignment that I was given in my school days. Sharing it here, because it's a pretty good story (and selfishly, I'm hoping that someone out there can help me get it made.)

Redesigning a beer label in school was one of the pivotal experience of my design education. A year before I received the project, I was at the Minnesota Beer Festival. There were these guys who didn't pay for a booth, instead they were hoisting cases of their beer over the fence and passing cans of their beer around. (These were prototypes: they actually came in cans that were stamped to have an actual leather feel to them. Once it went into full production, this proved too costly so they used standard cans.) Total renegades. And why not their beer was Sonny Barger Beer. (Sonny Barger is the long time leader of the Hell's Angels.)

When the instructor gave the assignment, I knew exactly what brand I wanted to redesign. I thought about the man, Sonny, and the brand, and most importantly, the end users: bikers who were non-conformists, liked to show off, and for whom the culture of renegade biking changed and defined their life. One doesn't fake it around these fellows. No way.

What carried the most clout with these dudes, was pushing the ticket.

I also thought about things like functionality. Odds are, whether it is a good idea or not, that this beer would end up in the saddlebags of their motorcycles on some several-hundred mile trek across the countryside. So, glass was out of the question, bottles would click and break along the trip. That led me to think about the types of things that would be in their saddlebags.

I dug in a bit and discovered that the original Harleys were chain driven and that meant carrying a supply of motor oil and that motor oil containers were designed to be rugged and portable.

I actually laughed a bit thinking of this big biker pounding a liter of beer out of a motor oil container, totally showboating in front of his bros. I imagined actually seeing the beer glug down through the visible measurement window that is on the side of the container. I knew I was on to something. It fit the lifestyle perfectly.

Then I got realistic. It would probably be way too costly to produce en masse. So, I thought about it being a special limited edition beer. How about a beer exclusively to be sold at the annual Sturgis Rally. Perfect on two accounts. First, it's the ultimate party for bikers. And secondly, if you've ever been to a Harley shop or a biker's garage or even closet, you can't help but notice the amount of souvenirs these guys amass.

I set out to design. Font choices were based on outlaw spirit, and a pilfered copy of Mobil Oil's proprietary sans-serif font.

I mocked up a few of 'bottles'. One for me, one for the guys brewing the beer and one I actually sent along to Sonny. A month or so after, I got a call from Sonny's longtime friend and lawyer. While logistics (liquor laws) got in the way, he said he hadn't seen Sonny laugh so hard in a long time as when he got the package. Success!

I'm still really proud of the spirit of this design not just for the end product, but because the process really opened up the limitless potential for design to make even a good thing, like beer, bikes, and buddies even better.

PS: Still looking for the small-time brewery who can make this happen. Any ideas, would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The New Frontier - Department of Defense Family Shelter Designs from 1962

I'd really like to find some mid-century purists out there who bought a house complete with its own bomb shelter. Or even better, a homeowner who built their own to complete the clean, cool, cold war experience. If you are an aspiring mod freak of the latter, perhaps you could use some plans. Here they are:

Family Shelter Designs from the Mt. Holly Civil Defense Flickr set

Stumbling across a stockpile of late 50's / early 60's (much of it annotated by the previous owner) CD documents at a recent estate sale, made me remember this great Donald Fagen video from 1983. Oh, the innocence. The intimacy. The Miro, The Gene Deitch. Seriously, you provide the fallout protection, I'll provide the Manhattans. Invite me over... before it's too late.

Mt. Holly Founder's Day Film Festival - This Saturday, Nov. 7th. Check out some trailers.

Please note the updated schedule and line up.

This year we are proud to present a cavalcade of some of the finest international short films in the history of Hollywood and beyond. These films are guaranteed to change your perspective on the world around you. Open to all. Kid friendly. Festival begins at 6:30. Bring your own blankets.

6:30PM The Terror of Tiny Town. 1938 (USA) A great western storyline brought to life with a little singing and dancing.

8:00PM Time Bandits. 1981 (UK) George Harrison funded. Directed and written by Terry Gilliam. This may be one of my favorite trailers of all time. The movie is quite good as well.

9:30PM Intermission Short: The Dogway Melody. 1930 (USA) I'm currently working on a all human spoof of this all dog send-up of the all human 1929 musical, The Broadway Melody. I will be scouting the audience for potential stars.

10:00PM For Your Height Only. 1981 (Philippines) Action, swinging gangsters, beautiful ladies, and degraded film stock. This film has it all.

11:30PM Auch Zwerge Haben Klein Angefangen. 1972 (D) Die Werke des Autorenfilmer-Starregisseurs Werner Herzog wissen von Haus aus sowieso nur eingefleischte Arthouse-Freunde zu würdigen. Einen Schritt weiter geht sein zweiter Langfilm aus dem Jahr 1970. Die kulturpessimistische Groteske „Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen“ ist nur hartgesottenen Herzog-Anhängern nachhaltig zu empfehlen. Doch die werden den Film lieben, weil es so viele interessante Details zu erkunden gibt, dass es eine echte Freude ist. Das Faszinierende: Wer die wahre Qualität von „Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen“ entdecken will, muss den unterschwelligen Subtext des Films sezieren. Ein universeller Sinn des Ganzen ergibt sich erst zwischen den Zeilen bzw. Bildern...

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Galcos Soda Pop Stop in LA

John Nese is the owner of Soda Pop Stop pop only store in LA. Listening to him rattle off what makes or breaks a good soft drink, makes me thirsty. Listening to his passion about supporting the little man in the face of large corporate pressure in the marketplace is just plain refreshing.

Thanks for the link Chris Campbell.