Sunday, July 31, 2005

When Simple Toys Go High Tech

Being children of the 80's and earlier, when kids actually played outside, we all at some point in our lives have owned, or known someone who has a pogo stick. The exhilaration of finally being able to actually get up on the awkward contraption and pull off a few bounces nearly a foot off the ground. It was like flying, with the aid of a very noisy spring assembly. Then trying one later in life and the devastating disappointment of discovering that simply mounting on the pegs compressed the spring completely.

flybar 1200Pro Skateboarder Andy Macdonald was one of us at a young age and never lost the pogo bug. In 2001 partnered with SBI Enterprises (who own the original pogo patents since 1918) development was started for the "Flybar 1200" super pogo stick. Using 12 independent rubber-like elastometric springs, the Flybar 1200 can deliver 1,200 pounds of thrust to anyone who jumps on it. This will propel an adult up to 250 pounds over 5 feet in the air and feels similar to jumping on a trampoline. Available on Amazon, the Flybar 1200 will set you back $300, but what a small price to pay for a bit of childhood nostalgia of the extreme variety.

Apparently there is now extreme & stunt pogo sticking which borrows much from skateboarding and other similar street sports. The site Xpogo is an extreme pogo resource which includes a pogo team, forum, trick database and a good collection of videos & pictures of people pogoing on the Flybar and other classic pogo sticks. Check out some of the videos if you have a minute (mostly WMV). Now I just want to see how someone will use modern technology to improve the hoola hoop.

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Those Hippies Are At It Again

A large amount of societies world wide subscribe in the ritual casket & gravestone method to remember their loved ones after passing. In many places though large graveyards are becoming too expensive and too vast to be practical. A problem that will only get worse as time goes on. There has got to be a better way to make good use of space as well as leave a memorial to a deceased kin. Designer Gerad Moline may have found a solution that will do the dead justice as well as help mother nature.

bios urnThe Bios Urn is a completely organic and nature friendly solution to the inevitability of death while at the same time creating more life. The urn is made of compressed coconut shells with an outside coating containing organic fertilizer. A persons cremated ashes (a good fertilizer itself) as well as a tree seed would be added. When buried, creepy graveyards would be transformed into forests full of life. I would much rather have a tree as a monument for loved ones to visit than a cold moss-covered gravestone. In many cases a graveyard wouldn't even be necessary, since its perfectly acceptable to have a tree in your back yard, as opposed to a gravestone. Taken a step further, the tree could be later made into a number of things which could be used in remembrance as well.

Already gaining popularity in Europe, I would hope that something like this would catch on world wide. Personally believing that graveyards are a waste of space and money, and having already expressed my wishes of cremation I may in fact choose to do something like this. Maybe someday someone will make a coffee table out of me so that i may serve as a resting place for fine beverages, a stack of Popular Science mags, or the feet of rude house guests. Better that than sit in a rotting wooden box under a big rock not doing anyone any good.

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Friday, July 29, 2005

Cyberpunk At Its Finest

neuromancer coverThe novel "Neuromancer" by William Gibson has been said to have changed the face of Science Fiction. In a genre of space ships, aliens, magic, and monsters, Gibson created something that was so familiar & relatable that it was eerie. More of a prophecy than a work of fiction. With Neuromancer, Gibson is credited with having coined the term "Cyberspace" as well as predicting the internet & virtual reality before they existed. Considered to be one of the starting points of the world wide cyberpunk trend of the late 80s early 90s (to the dismay of the author). Published in 1983 and winning 3 major Sci-Fi awards it is considered by many to be one of the best works of Sci-Fi literature in modern times. I very highly recommend reading this book.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Keyboard, To End All Keyboards

I spend most of my daily blogging on sites that talk about new gadgets & technology from all over the world (most of which America wont see for many years). Some of the stuff is pretty damn crazy, but every once in a while i run across something that completely floors me. It's not always about some crazy new technology conceived of in sci-fi novels, but many times by taking existing technologies and making something extremely useful that makes you think "wow, that's brilliant." Well as soon as I hit this web page and saw the first picture I couldn't help but say "Holy Crap" out loud.

oled keyboardThis is a keyboard design from a Russian design company called Art.Lebedev Studio's for an OLED keyboard called "Optimus". OLED's (organic light-emitting diode) are like the anti-LED. OLEDs are going to be seen a lot more now-a-days and you may already have something that uses them, like the screen on your digital camera. They are cheaper to make, can display many colors and don't require backlighting to be seen in the dark. They are black at rest, but when activated give off a bright colored display.

This Russian group had the brilliant idea to put OLED displays under every key on a computer keyboard. This would give you an infinite number of custom keyboard layouts, which could be specifically designed for every program ever made. Examples on the homepage are layouts for Photoshop and Quake as well as an American and Russian alphabet set. Two rows of shortcut keys on the left (pictured above) could be assigned to pretty much anything, while not effecting the overall layouts.

Wouldn't it be great if something like this became a computer standard, and developing a custom keyboard layout was just one of the steps in designing a piece of software. These, it seems are not in production other than the concept model, but i have no doubt that they will be sometime in the future. This idea is just too good not to be made available to the public at some point, though it would still be very espensive by todays OLED prices. Just work on some ergonomics and this could possibly be the perfect computer keyboard. For now, we just have stuff like projection keyboards.

Now if you would please excuse me. I need to go change my underwear.

story via: /.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Future Of Television

old tvI really don't watch much TV, and actually don't have cable service at the moment. I do however have many loved ones that enjoy their daily fix of TV drama, reality shows and "news." Well the cable broadcasters of America just recently come to a decision that may effect everyone who likes to relax in front of their little electronic window to the world. A deadline has been set to end all analog television broadcasts in the year 2009. After the shut down, the broadcast spectrum, which people have been fighting over for many moons, will regain a rather large chunk of radio wavelength that people like cell phone companies will just eat up (current US frequency allocation chart [PDF]). I believe many of the old TV broadcasting towers are going to be sold to cell phone companies as well.

So for all you people who haven't and don't plan on switching to a digital cable subscription service, come 2009 your TV set is all the sudden going to go completely blank. I think its the local and public stations that are going to be hit hard though. Its probably expensive to switch from analog to digital, and with the announcement that public radio & TV are no longer going to receive government funding, I hope this doesn't mean an end to PBS and even more power to the big guys like Fox.

I have hope though. There has been a lot of talk and some people even starting up video blogs and online downloadable TV shows. I think as more people get into this there will be a large movement of DIY public internet video shows. Some current ventures into this territory are:

Channel 101
Systm: Tech DIY Video Blog
TheBroken: Hacker Video Blog
TheScene: Video Nerd Drama about a Movie Pirating group at NYU
And the recent announcement of PBS to start an internet-only downloadable series called "NerdTV"

Along with the start of Google Video I think we will be seeing a large boost in internet exclusive on-demand streaming and downloadable video content. I couldn't be more excited.

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Monday, July 11, 2005

What's Goin On With M$ Winblows Now-A-Days?

sexy billI usually could care less about the developments of Micro$oft. However there are usually a wealth of entertaining stories about Bill Gates' new shady monopolizing tactics of the week, or anti-trust settlements he's paying off. With all the legal issues its pretty easy for Micro$oft technology to get pushed to the wayside. One of these technologies is their next generation OS codenamed: Longhorn, which was suppost to be released in 2001, then again in 2003, now set for release in 2006. With gobs of "brand new features & a new file system" that were already developed and working in either Mac OS or Linux. This comes as a surprise after Mr. Gates' remark that Linux users are communists (then sometime later expressing interest in buying Red Hat). Along with the OS release will be the release of Internet Explorer 7 which will include more "brand new features" such as Tabbed Browsing and Integrated RSS *rolls eyes*.

Anyways, the word on the street is that public beta testing is suppost to be underway by the end of the year. Internal beta testing is already under way within company walls, which now is minus at least 1 employee than they had a couple days ago. This brave employee sacrificed his job at Micro$oft in order to leak a few screenshots of the beta. I'm really curious to see what happens with Longhorn, seeing as though more and more people are switching to other operating systems because they are fed up with the many problems that plague Windows. If they don't get their shit together their desktop market share is going to continue to decrease while Mac and Linux are reaching more and more people. Entire governments in developing countries are switching to Linux desktops & open source software on all of their official computers, even though Bill is offering them discounted license rates on Windows and Microsoft software. Hmmmm, which is better? Discounted or Free? With the news of a PC compatible Mac OS in development, I have a feeling that Bill Gates is more than a little scared.

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Saturday, July 09, 2005

"Can I Have Your Autograph?"

sr logoFormer ISU students and good friends of mine John Mork & Frankie J have managed to get a small taste of dance music infamy. I bet it tastes a lot like roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Mmmmmmm... roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Anyways. Ever since I've known these guys they have been making tracks & mixing records that blow me away. I probably wouldn't be a 2-step DJ if not for weekly sessions of watching Frankie mix & blend at his Rockey's residency years back. In fact one of his original unreleased 2-step tracks made it onto my "Just A Demo" mix CD (3rd track "Activate"). Frankie's deep house track entitled "Moonlight" is without a doubt my favorite track in the genre. John's funky house mixes are still in my listening rotation more than any other house mixes that I own. I guess you could say these guys have been an inspiration to me ever since I've known them.

For the last few years, living in Chicago, Frankie and John have been producing house tracks under the name "The Sound Republic." I've been lucky enough to be given a few unreleased tracks by these guys and all I can say is this stuff is FIRE. Some of the best funky & chunky house I've heard. Which brings me to the point of this post. Recently their tracks have been making rounds in the Chicago & beyond house scene and their track "When I Get Paid" was picked up by funky house & mushroom jazz legend Mark Farina for his newest mix. BIG TIME. I'm really proud of these guys, but I'm really not surprised their tracks are getting noticed. I have no doubt that these isn't the last coverage that they will get.

Download the full mix "Mark Farina - Generation" here ("When I Get Paid" starts around 24:30) and check out The Sound Repbulic blog for info on record releases and gigs, Chicago & nation wide, as well as other Sound Republic news.

john & frankie
John Mork & Frankie J are The Sound Republic

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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Let My People Go!

toysThis is a photo gallery of toys in their natural habitat. Did you ever think of your toys feelings? I know I have. Do you think they want to sit up on your shelf staring at you all day collecting dust, or stuffed in a toy box tangled up in a yo-yo string & stuck to an old apple core that didnt make it to the trash? Even worse, spending their entire life still in the original packaging (you nerds). What a horrible fate. They say if you love something you should set it free. If it comes back then it was really meant to be. Well I don't think any of these guys are comming back. They all look like they are enjoying their freedom from their fleshy oppressors. I for one will continue to spread the message of enslaved toy awareness and hope that you all will do the same.

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Web Page Bookmarking To The Next Level

If you use the internet as much as I do, poking around on blogs & finding all kinds of cool sites, you probably have a pretty large collection of bookmarks saved in your web browser. The web is so large that you may never find those sites again if you don't save them somehow. Browser based bookmarking systems work for a while, but once you get a few hundred links in there, unless you are very organized you may as well just try to find it online again. Well I may just have a better solution. is what's called a Social Bookmarking System and it's probably the best one out there at the moment. It basically lets you store all your web page bookmarks online so you can get to them wherever you are. The Social part comes in because you can also check other peoples bookmarks and use it as somewhat of a search engine. Only in this one the results will be sites submitted by other users which probably won't be spam, worthless crap, or a bunch of porn. You can also find out who else is bookmarking the same sites as you, and search through their bookmarks for anything similar.

The big feature that will save you from all of your organization woes is the bookmark tagging system. Rather than a placing bookmarks in a folder hierarchy system used in web browsers, a tag is like a keyword that you assign to the web page which you use & combine to find your bookmarks. So if I was bookmarking this blog for instance I would give it tags according to its content which may be; blog, friend, news, technology, gadget, art, music, dj, book, since its a blog, you're probably my friend, and those are roughly the topics that I will be blogging about. Now if you want to find my blog later, you would go to your page and maybe click on blog which would bring up all your pages that you have tagged with blog. If you have a whole bunch you could add to that music which would narrow it down to web sites that you have tagged with both blog & music. Or you could instead add the friend tag which will then show you all of your friends' blogs. Now that is a whole lot easier than creating complex folder hierarchies to put your links in, and to get the same effect you would have to create multiple copies of the same link in many different folders in order to find it as easily. You can also do tag searches globally, so you can see all the web pages that other users have tagged with Blog & Music. There are a series of web pages that have started using linking systems for other applications such as Flickr free photo hosting/search and Technorati which is a blog post search engine.

Now if you use Mozilla Firefox (which you very much should be) as your web browser there are a few other really great features you can take advantage of. All of your pages are Firefox Live Bookmark (RSS) enabled. This will let you still use your browsers bookmark feature along with using your bookmarks. For instance, if you want to have a folder with all of your blogs in your browser bookmarks you would go to your page and click on your Blog tag which will take you to a page listing all of your blogs. Then you would click the little orange Live Bookmark icon on the bottom right of your browser window and subscribe to that page. Then when you open your bookmarks menu on your browser there will be a Blogs section which will contain all of your pages you have tagged with blog and will automatically update with any new or deleted entries that you make through your page. Pretty cool huh? It doesn't end there.

Since is web based & open source anyone who wants to can make programs or scripts that will add to the systems functionality is free to do so. In fact Here Is A Page full of tools and new ones are being added pretty often. One that I recommend using to get started is loader which will take your existing Firefox bookmarks and load them into and allow you to add tags to them (but not descriptions, but you can do that later if you want). Another good one is direc.tor which is a better looking interface for tag searching on your remember for that one that you have to go to your main page before you open the direc.tor link or else it wont find your bookmarks. Foxylicious is a Firefox extension that loads all of your bookmarks into your Firefox bookmarks (all in one folder) so you can use the bookmark search in the Firefox bookmarks sidepane to search your bookmarks by name (not tag).

The Us.ef.ul guide for newbies is also a good resource for someone who is just starting to use this.

So to get started all you need to do is go to the home page I posted above and sign up. The to get started you will need to make a couple real Bookmarks in your web browser. The first will be to your page which will be which you or anyone else can access from anywhere. You will also need to make a bookmark that will post your bookmarks to your account. There are a few different ways to post (which are explained on that tools page & the sign up page) but I always use Experimental Post. What you need to do is Right Click & Bookmark This Link, then edit the link to substitute your account name where it says YOURACCOUNTNAME (right click the bookmark in your browser & click "properties"). I like the experimental one because it gives you a list of all of your tags, as well as recommended tags from your list and often used tags from other people who bookmarked that page. It will also predict the tag that you are typing, so if the right one is highlighted you just press the Tab key and it will fill in the rest.

I know it seems like a lot of stuff at first, but once you get everything set up and start using it a lot you will definitely be glad you did. It makes it possible to bookmark every single page that you have the slightest bit of interest in and be able to easily find it at a later time. If you happen to never want to go there again, you don't have to scroll through it every time you are looking for other bookmarks. Managing very large amounts of bookmarks made easy. Its almost like having a personal search engine.

I hope that this has been helpful because it took a while to type all this out, but I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think this system wasn't worth it. I hope you start using it and spread it to others, because the more people that are in the system and the more bookmarks to new pages added, the easier it will be for everyone to find exactly what they are looking for, and nothing that they aren't.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Artist or Nut Job?

Artist or Nut Job? The difference is really only the matter of a couple decades.

Art now-a-days often brings comments such as "I could have done that, if I thought of it" or "Whats the point?" Well the difference between an artist and you is that the artist DID think of it and they DID do it. Thats kinda the point of a lot of modern art. The work of New York City artist Eric Doeringer is no exception. His Mole Replica Tattoo Project for example.

mole tattooThe Mole Tattoos are replicas of my moles. A collector may choose any mole on my body, and I tattoo a copy in the identical location on his or her body. In addition to the tattoo, each collector receives a signed Polaroid of the original mole. Click Here to see images of the Polaroids.
I presented this project in July, 2003 at Spaceworks Gallery and tattooed four people during the opening. You can email me to make an appointment for a mole tattoo of your own.

Now who in their right mind would want a tattooed replica of a mole on some crazy kid in New York. I bet I know a few people. For $20 or so it would make an interesting story to tell your friends or grandchildren. Unlike a regular tattoo, if you regret getting it done down the line, rather than multiple expensive laser removal treatments you could just ignore that its there and no one would have a clue.

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Sunday, July 03, 2005

The Cautious Early Adaptor

I usually think of myself as pretty geeky (or at least wanna-be geeky) and am amazed by new technology and uses for existing technology. However, sometimes I hear about something new from a bunch of places, but fail to realize the possibilities. This is why I'm just now starting a Blog. In the beginning I passed it off as a media constructed buzz word for a message board. Now I realize, its slightly different than that, and I could probably get something going with it.

I spend a whole bunch of time online checking tech news, blogs, gadget sites and other geeky stuff, so I may as well start compiling my found tech nerd masturbatory material for the benefit of my less tech savvy but equally interested friends. I may even include a bit of insight into my own personal happenings along the way.

Will it work? Will I keep up with it? Does anybody care? Your guess is as good as mine. In any case.