Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Magic Wand

Mmm… cool toy! Cool science behind – check; Easy to use – check; Effects that make others go WOAH – check!

“Todays magic is tomorrow’s science”… as we always say here at ThinkGeek. Now you can get a bit of magic for yourself with this amazing Fly Stick Van de Graaff Levitation Wand.

This battery powered wand features a mini Van de Graaff generator inside. Push a button on the handle and the static charge built up in the wand causes the included 3D mylar shapes to levitate at your command. You can also do some cool tricks causing the shapes to jump back and forth from your hand to the wand. Not quite Harry Potter… but hey, we do our best for you.

Get it at ThinkGeek.


Floating Ladle

Saw this design of a ladle and thought it was quite interesting – there is a hollow ‘ball’ at the stem. Due to the hollow ball the ladle always floats on the water surface, very much like buoys on the sea. This way, you can just leave the ladle in the liquid (think fruit punch tumbler) without worrying about dripping or even having to hang on to the side of the container. An added bonus will be the ease-of-washing when doing the dishes.

Here’s how it works:

[Designer: Lee Seongyong]

Body Motion Signature

As if there aren’t already enough biometric identification information – from the basic fingerprint, to iris scan, voice and speech patterns, etc. – experts are developing a new way of identifying people – by their unique body motions:

Titled the Green Dot Project:

To identify who is in the video, the computer first looks for movement in the scene. Green dots indicate motion. As the video plays, and the computer collects motion data, it can eventually isolate and identify the human. The moving bar chart shows a comparison of the motion signatures of Senator Obama, Senator McCain, and President Bush as the computer is collecting data.   The blue bar represents “Obama-ness”. Red represents “McCain-ness”. White represents “Bush-ness”. By the end of these short clips, the computer can tell us which person is in each video. You can choose to listen to the audio, but the computer uses only movement data to detect the body signature.

Check it out!

Amputee Ballet

Just saw this ballet performance by Chinese dancers Ma Li and Zhai Xiaowei – an absolutely inspiring, beautiful and mesmerizing performance.

David Report – 5 key design trends

David Report has been turning in high-quality updates and articles on design issues – and the latest one is no different. Issue 10 chronicles 5 major theme that owner David Carlson has seen in 2008 – it is very well produced and inspiring – so head on to browse or download it.

The Influence of Television

This is a mash-up of an old but impassioned plea against being blindly led by the mass-media (particularly the television) and some current footages of US television (that purportedly shows how ‘brainwashing’ TV is). Quite a poignant video – the material and thinking is still relevant despite being said many years ago.

The meat starts at ~1 minute.

USA Lapel Pin by Michael Bierut

There were some hoo-ha a year ago about the wearing of lapel pins as a sign of patriotism in the USA elections. The small metal accessory was suddenly cast into the spotlight. It became a marker of loyalty and patriotism – the absence of which signifies the absence of these values as well. For all its absurdity, it became a big talking point particularly between the Republicans and Democrats.

One year on, Men’s Vogue commissioned renowned graphic designer Michael Bierut to redesign the lapel pin, “which members of both political parties can wear into the voting booth and beyond”:

According to the blurb:

“I tried to defamiliarize a very familiar configuration of letters,” [Michael Bierut] explains, referring to his unconventional, interwoven font — inspired by the country’s history as a melting pot. “A flag is a corporate logo. A monogram is much more private.”

After nearly a decade of limited lapel options (you’re either with the flag pin or against it), sporting this one shows support for the true meaning of bipartisanship — pride in America.

The first thing I saw on the pin didn’t remind me of ‘melting pot’ and ‘multiculturalism’ though – the $ sign is definitely and unmistakeably the most prominent element on the whole pin. Perhaps this is what you can say unites America – the pursuit of wealth and capitalism?

The next, secondary element that I see is the A that has the horizontal bar removed, with a particularly wide stance. This to me looks much more like a chevron in the military ranking insignia – perhaps a subtle allusion to the US’s military might.

The article makes no direct mention of either of these symbologies – even though to me they are quite readily apparent. While these are certainly facets of America that are quite distinctive, I’m not sure if they are integrative or ‘private’, particularly at this trying economic climate with war that has dragged on, where the positions on these issues are frequently much more divisive than unifying.

Or maybe I’m just seeing things with my tinted eyes?

[Buy this for $10]

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is an important milestone in setting out the basic rights and dignity of all people on Earth. Now set in video, it animates more vividly the aspects of the declaration. By the Human Rights Action Center.

McCain vs Obama – Funny for Once

Politics isn’t the focus on this site – but to be honest I’d say the following are more comedy than politics. US presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama takes turn roasting each other during the Al Smith dinner, traditionally where seriousness is cast aside in favor of self-deprecating and light humor while trading comedic insults of the campaign’s talking points.

If you don’t follow the campaign, chances are this will be boring or meaningless to you, so you can just skip it. If you do, you may find some resonant humor.

John McCain opens the night:

Barack Obama’s turn:

It’s cool that amidst the (frequently hostile and negative) campaigning something like this provides a welcome break indeed. Kudos to the speech writers for the witty speeches, credit to the candidates for stage presence and deliverance!

A Collection of Redesigns

function has a list of 50 redesigns – from the minor nips-and-tucks to full-fledged revamping of various designs – from logos, characters to products. It’s quite interesting to put the ‘before-and-after’ side by side and see the improvements: sometimes a little tweak can go a long way.