Friday, August 24, 2007

Livin la vida low key....

Liveability [sic]: Comfortable or suitable for living in, endurable and worthwhile, enjoyable to live with.

The Economist has selected the top 10, as well as the bottom 10, "Liveable" cities. Looks like I need to come up with a new plan...not sure if I want to retire in Phnom Penh anymore.

132 cities is kind of slim when putting your study in a global context, eh? Still interesting nonetheless.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Imagine a world with a constant hum. You can't necessarily "hear it hear it", but you know it's there. A low-level eeeeeeeeerie hum, similar to that of an ear ringing or the light white-noise of your HVAC.

What is it?

Wireless electricity (WiTricity).

While I know the technology (almost certainly) carries no such hum, I can't help but imagine feeling/hearing/sensing a similar sound/presence/aura whilst living in a house of floating voltage.

All of this stems from a new article in Wired Magazine about the researchers of MIT and they're edumacational smarts. Apparently, they've lit up a 60-watt bulb from across a room (unfortunately, it wasn't a CFL bulb so now the entire university is tarnished in negligent shame).

The MIT design consists of two copper coils. One, attached to the power source, is the sending unit. Rather than send out electromagnetic waves, it fills the space around it with a magnetic field oscillating at a particular frequency. The second copper coil is designed to resonate with that oscillating magnetic field. A copper coil within an oscillating magnetic field generates a current, enough, in MIT's case, to power a light bulb.

Power transformers make use of something similar, called magnetic induction, to transmit power between coils over short distances. But those coils aren't designed to resonate with each other. Resonant coupling makes the transfer of energy almost a million times more efficient.

Since the magnetic field doesn't radiate, most of the power that isn't picked up by the receiving unit is bound to the originating coil, rather than being lost into the environment. That also means that this system has a limited range, and the smaller the receiver, the smaller that range is.

Do you hear the teacher on Charlie Brown yet?

While interesting nonetheless, I can't help but share Sonia Zjawinski 's opinion: "I wonder how safe living in a magnetic field is?"

Didn't we learn anything from our legal counsel (Julia Roberts) when she fought the man?

Granted, those were with high-voltage power lines, but this little piece of information from the UK Cancer Research Help Page isn't really reassuring.

Nor is this.

Or this.

Or this.

This is.

But not this.

God bless the interweb and its ability to both comfort and fear !

I guess I better thank my paranoid stars that the Wardenclyffe Tower was never completed (by completed I mean the brilliant JP Morgan pulled out his dough, forstalling Nikola Tesla's attempt to annihilate Long Island).

As much his idea, at the scale in which it is presented, scares the living Beegees out of me, others continue to dream about what could have been. My favorite:

If Tesla had been successful in the early part of the 20th Century with Wardenclyffe, and humanity had proceeded on the road to Utopia, by now in the 21st Century...we would be warping ourselves in saucers at the speed of light. Our heightened technology would have drastically raised our consciousness. There could have been another path traveled where there were NO WORLD WARS! Humanity did not have to be plunged into wars somewhere on the planet decade after decade. Technology could have solved the problems of conflict, greed and chaos. People should have had and presently have a much higher standard of Life. We have all been robbed of a technical, material paradise and very few people are aware of it.
WiTricity? I'm more scared than impressed.

Wireless Plumbing? Now you've got my attention.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

10,000 degree panorama pictures...

This is a quickie link sent to me from a coworker that shows some amazing VR panoramic shots from the side of a helicopter. Check out the Minneapolis Bridge collapse.

Big Eye In The Sky

From the Website:

I'm Ed Fink, and these are my 360 degree panoramas. I believe I'm the first VR photographer in the world to do full spherical (180 x 360) panoramas from a helicopter. I love flying and my primary focus now is on 360 degree aerial panoramas, but I still do 360 degree panoramas on the ground, in buildings, even inside cars.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rock out with your Samsonite out...

Developed by guitar-loving pilot Fredrik Johansson, this folding guitar now lets your rock the Casbah origami style. It's small enough to fit in your backpack or messenger bag, giving you the chance to swoon women worldwide as you backpack the globe "finding yourself."

Surprisingly, the guitar stays (almost) in tune when it is folded and unfolded. Only slight tuning is needed, much like any guitar. Its airplane-grade machined aluminum neck is also considerably strong, probably stronger than a glue-on or bolt-on neck, giving the guitar some serious stability.

Fancy yourself the next Jimi Hendrix? Well you'll end up having to string it like he did, since no lefty versions are currently available. Good news for lonely bass player though, since plans are already in the works for a collapsible bass.

Prefer the modular surf?

We've definitely come along way since the Idiots, Incorporated episode of Saved by the Bell:

Zack walks into a classroom and informs us that for economics class, they were supposed to come up with an idea for a business...apparently the gang failed to come up with an idea for their business, and now they're merely awaiting their eminent failure...Jessie seems surprisingly calm. Maybe she knows Zack is going to pull an idea out of his ass in the 11th hour. Which is exactly what he does, but first we get to see the ideas the other teams have come up with. After the surfer dudes present their foldable cardboard surfboard, Slater points out the flaws inherent in their prototype. But Mr. Tuttle tells them that if they believe in it, that's all that counts.

Oh Captain, my Captain indeed.

If you haven't ever traveled with a board before, you might not know to expect a $50 -$150 extra over-size charge (per flight segment!) on most airlines, with a bump up in cost specifically given to the toes-on-the-nose longboarders over 7'6"...unless you're flying out of Columbus like I do. In that case, they've never seen a board before and no charge is usually given. However, they've also never handled a surfboard, so bring your ding repair kit.

Why not try the inflatable Uli Board or even the Pope-Bisect Travelboard?

I can't imagine how well the inflatable works, but the Travelboard appears to be built pretty damn solid...compared to a cardboard surfboard...unless you believe in it, of course.

And it doesn't hurt that price has dropped significantly since it was one of Time Magazine's Best Inventions of 2002.

$1800? Ouch. Now, about $900-$950.

More in depth? Try this article from Composites Technology. Pretty cool.

Foldable hangers? Seems like a lot of extra nonsense for a hanger.
Foldable bike helmet? I like.
Foldable crutches? Make sure they're locked before you walk.
Foldable bookshelf that turns into a bench? I see all my Hemingway First Edition's (see: Playboy's) crashing to the ground. Still neato.
Foldabowl...err...Foldable Bowl? For $22, I'd probably just wash the first bowl.
Foldable Picnic Table? Big with picnic people, but not big picnic people.
Foldable Dinner Set? Blah.
Foldable Plywood? Now we're talking. "...combination of 3-10mm thick plywood and a linen-like material sandwiched in between. The result is much like scored cardboard."
Foldable High Heels? Sexy, then not so much.

These boots are made for your neighborhood...

The head of the Sustainable Design Group in Columbus recently sent us this link to Walk Score, a web site intended to help people find walkable places to live (sponsored by the Sightline Institute). It's also been featured on the illustrious Book of Joe.

While their target audience might be home buyers, this website is actually incredibly interesting to reference for work, university, and/or favorite businesses (OK...not incredibly interesting...more like a cool interwidget that allows you to brag to your suburbanite cohorts).

One-Mile Walk in a Compact Neighborhood

A one-mile walk in Seattle's Phinney Ridge, takes you through a grid like street network with a mix of residences and businesses (shown in purple). Map courtesy of the Sightline Institute.

While I was quite proud our home in Columbus as it scored a 79 out of a possible 100, our LA, San Francisco and New York offices scored 91, 97 and 100's, respectively. Joe, however, scored a 9...but who needs to tell that guy about walking? He only walks about 5600 miles a day while blogging from his treadmill. Seriously.

One-Mile Walk in a Sprawling Suburb

A one-mile walk in Bellevue, WA with cul-de-sacs and winding streets has few shops and services within walking distance. Map courtesy of the Sightline Institute. live in the metros of metro. Actually, put me within walking distance of Taco Mesa in Southern Orange County and I'm set on food and drink for life. A couple of fish tacos and a Negro Modelo, what more do you need?

How do you score?

90 - 100 = Walkers' Paradise: Most errands can be accomplished on foot and many people get by without owning a car.
70 - 90 = Very Walkable: It's possible to get by without owning a car.
50 - 70 = Some Walkable Locations: Some stores and amenities are within walking distance, but many everyday trips still require a bike, public transportation, or car.
25 - 50 = Not Walkable: Only a few destinations are within easy walking range. For most errands, driving or public transportation is a must.
0 - 25 = Driving Only: Virtually no neighborhood destinations within walking range. You can walk from your house to your car!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Killer Walls: part two....

This an older article from the July 13th NYT, but I figured after the Hyposurface post I'd keep with the "wall" theme.

Promotion Is Not Just Another Brick in the Wall
New York Times [registration is free]
Published: July 13, 2007

ADOBE software is a well-established tool for anyone working, or even dabbling, in computer-based design. But in order to market its new Creative Suite 3 software package — which includes well-known design software like Photoshop and Illustrator — Adobe has temporarily abandoned the computer screen in favor of a busy Manhattan street.

Adobe will unveil an interactive wall of projected animation this morning in Union Square, along the 14th Street side of the Virgin Megastore. As pedestrians walk past the wall, infrared sensors will lock on to the person closest to the wall, who will then be able to control a projected slider button at the bottom of the wall.

As the selected pedestrian continues walking and moves the slider along, the wall will start displaying colorful animation and playing music, effects that will grow or recede at the pace that the person advances or retreats. When each selected pedestrian reaches the end of the wall, his or her design will be in full blossom, above the campaign’s message: “Creative license: take as much as you want.”

The wall, which is 7 feet high and 15 feet wide, will be recreated in London in early August, at the Piccadilly Circus Virgin Megastore. Each will be there for a month.

The walls were conceived as part of an online marketing campaign that began last month after six months of development by Adobe and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. The agency, which is part of the
Omnicom Group, has worked with Adobe since 2001.

Read more.

Want to see it in action?

Tracking and reacting to users as they walk by? Kinda cool.

Letting me paint and create while flailing my arms and legs? Would be much cooler.

Architecture: The barometer of Moscow...

Sophie Shevarsnadze walks you through the basics of booming Moscow with a YouTubed episode of Russia Today.