Capstan Table – Way Too Cool!

Capstan TableI have no idea how much these go for (I suspect a pretty penny), but what briliant geometric implementation. Watch the videos and check them out. Double the seating capacity just by spinning the tabletop…DB Fletcher Furniture Design.


Social Lending – Empowerment?

Is this an up and comming phenom?zopa screen shot Zopa and Prosper are two two startups offering to bring together borrowers and lenders and offer . The sense of ‘Simness’ (as in simcity/sim this sim that) is an interesting note. … As the author of this survey on these two services note, they even add fun to the act of borrowing and lending…quite an accomplishment.

Sense Candy

virtualcabin.jpgNow this is very cool. Was over at the Airbus site after the news came out that they lost the FEDEx order for A380s. Apparently the folks at Airbus have been bust with their virtual cabin tour. If they could channel that productivity…

This is a very well exceuted virtual world. The transitipons between your navigation choices are supremely well executed. The appropriate eye movement to simulate actually walking down the gangway. Well done. I really like this.

videoPodcasts – An Up and Down Relationship

Ok. I’ll admit I am rater late to the podcasting thing. I remember when they started showing up in as spoken word commentaries to download to your iPod and of course I had to try them out. They were still rather unformed and experiemental and more importantly for me, I didn’t find myself with the time to dedicate to listening to a rant. I wasn’t mving around that much, so didn’t have the longer stretch in the car where these may have worked out. I tried a couple, but didn’t find any that really tickled my fancy, so gradually stopped looking for them. Then Scotty forced me to watch a Video Podcast a year and a half ago and I have started to find podcasts that do warrant a few minutes time. Moreover, they also generate some anticipation between releases. There are the zany ones (TikiBar TV), the informative ones (MoBuzz, GeekBrief) and the Crossovers (zeFrank, RocketBoom), or even the specialty ones (Wine Library TV, Food Guru). I am now susbribing and watching or listening to about twenty shows on a regular basis. For me these have really replaced TV. They are immediately accessible, frequently fresher than cable and certainly much more raw – not profane, often just less refined and thus seemingly more personal. There’s something to these. We can make the obviosu parallels to the printing press and pampphleting, or to renegade radio stations, but these are seemingly more powerful. Today, of all days, ime Magazine has picked its most important inventions of the year and YouTube is at the top of the list. Its there because there has been a shift in the ability of the obscure to rise to prominence and reac an amazingly universal audience.

All I know is that I am enjoying the entertainment and information charge that I can tune into whenever I have a spare moment.

Respect for Pages

Here’s a thought provoking piece of technology in action…bookscan.gifbut what is particularly intriguing is that it is replicating the human action of turning pages “so as to avoid having to damage the binding.” It of course begs the question over how user-defined the nature of the printed media is, but certainly represents a wonderful adaptation of machine to the task at hand. Click the photo to go to the manufacturer’s site – there a really cool animated gif of the machine actually reading a book. A task it accomplishes at the rate of 2,400 pages per hour.

the Pod Phenomenon Dissected

wired ipon coverThe iPod remains a pervasive example of a viral epidemic adoption. When did it hit the tipping point? I’ve still got my 1G pod although the battery gave up the ghost a long time ago. It certainly wasn’t in 2001. The unit was a luxury item and rather expensive. I think I paid close to $800 for mine in that first month after introduction. A couple iPod’s later, the fascination still remains, but my attitude has moved more towards the utilitarian value. I picked up a Shuffle for use as a USB key with extras. It continues to perform exemplary. As nice as the stainless steel back is from the 1G, the Shuffle makes much more sense and doesn’t mar when treated roughly. It’s there when you need it and holds a charge for ages. My Nano, bought after Apple intro’d the 2G Nano for a song, is the dock that holds my little Nike jogging device. Now, that is a cool use. So I have paid Apple my share to support the trend.

This article from wired is a brief narrative outlining the process at Apple that led to its release in 2001. I recall being aware as many were that the software on the pod was licensed from PortalPlayer, however, this shares some of the other ways in which Apple was able to get a product to market quickly. It wasn’t the first MP3 player, but it certainly was the best. My little 64Mb Sony pencil player (I can’t remember the product name) had the utilitarian value of the Shuffle in 2000. As the author notes, Apple identified as need, a market full of products that demonstrated limited innovation – and offered Apple an opportunity to reach a whole new sector. They did this very well. Licensing where necessary, subjecting the product to an effective refinement strategy and combining it crucially with a desktop software. Has anyone tried the crap Sony stuff. DRM is the debate, but Sony tends to rub your face in it, where Apple has hidden most of it and framed the reminder of its presence in tongue-in-cheek cheekiness – ‘Remember, Don’t Steal Music’.

Mapping Imperial Pretensions

Maps of WarBuilding a little index of some of my maps over time today reminded me of one of my longest projects. Back in the mid 90s, I started designing a map (a moving map, oohhhh) of the changing boundaries of Habsburg territorial domains. I started with a series of HTML pages with maps generated by Adobe Illustrator. I then got the bright idea to actually turn it into something interactive by using Authorware. Turning it into a flash-based map was the eventual goal. To be honest, it never quite made it into a fully functioning flash map. The HTML was good, Authorware even better, but it has sat unrefined as I got distracted by other things.

Today when I was browing about I came across Maps of War. They are featuring a map called ‘Imperial – History’ which is a beautiful work. There are a number of other wonderful maps, all of which are the moving map of my machinations. A small timeline scrolls across the bottom of the screen as the large, colourful map is panned about to show ‘who has controlled the Middle East’ from 3000 BCE to today. It is wonderfully executed, even letting you jump from date to date on the timeline. The changes in imperial territories are gradual and smooth. Brilliant execution.