Thursday, July 31, 2008

HP RPN Calculator for the iPhone

Creative Creek made an excellent native HP emulator for Treo 650. Now they've released an HP RPN calculator emulator for the iPhone as a WebApp. But as a WebApp, I can't recommend it. There's an annoying split second delay between pushing a virtual key and when it registers. But at least there's a 15 day trial period before you buy. $10.

I'll buy it when the Apple Apps store releases a native version of this application.

Update Febuary 25th '09:
I've been using the native version of this RPN calculator for a few weeks. The size and function of the iPhone touch screen is perfect for this application. It works well. Now Version 1.2 has just been released, and for the meantime it's only $1!

Categories:Science Gadgets

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

9 to 5 Lamp Shade

The 9 to 5 (2007)
Ties on a lamp shade frame by designer Paul Hendrikx.

Thanks Studio Mango

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Books We Wish We'd Read

James Joyce's "Ulysses" is no. 1 on the list of books I wish I'd read.

No. 2 is John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath". I loved "Cannery Row" and "Sweet Thursday", but Grapes is just too daunting.

Thanks That's How It Happened

Monday, July 28, 2008

Steal this Idea: Air Conditioned Armchair

I have a car with heated seats, and some luxury cars now have perforated leather seats that gently blow cold air on the sitting side of the occupant.

My first thought on reading about air conditioned seats was that this technology might transfer well to lounge chairs. Or why not just take an existing hot/cold car seat from the most modern pranged BMW/Mercedes and make it into an armchair a la Ron Arad's Rover chair, here and here.

Perhaps even apply this idea to mattresses. After all, we already have electric blankets, so how about a cooling mattress for those rare hot San Francisco nights? Not an air mattress. But a conventional mattress with a perforated top through which cool air passes.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

San Francisco Dutch Roofs

Yesterday Lani pointed out a house in our neighbourhood that has a Dutch roof. She said it reminded her of a barn. We both thought it was a rare roof style for SF.

But this evening as I walked home from Andronico's market I took these photos of several homes with Dutch roofs. They're more common in SF than we thought.

The name comes from German, or “Deutsch” settlers to Pennsylvania in the early 1600's. The style enjoyed a revival during the first three decades of the 20th century.

Categories:San Francisco Architecture

Saturday, July 26, 2008


This planter was designed by Frank Hanssen and made by Serex.
It might be a good match for the concrete Le Corbusier LC2 armchair.

Thanks Another Shade of Grey

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Agile Sukhoi SU-30 Best Fighter Plane?

The Russian Sukhoi SU-30 must surely be the best fighter plane to have in a dog fight. The long-range attack fighter uses thrust vectoring to out-maneuver anything else in the sky.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Capsule Hotels

Long journeys wear me out.

The last time I flew from Auckland to Los Angeles was 23 years ago. That was before none-stop flights, and aeroplanes would stop to refuel in Hawaii. I arranged to stay in Hawaii for 12 hours and complete my travel on a later flight so that I could rest up. I was glad I did because Auckland to Los Angeles is a very long flight and there's nothing to see out the window but ocean.

However, when I got there, I realised that 12 hours wouldn't be enough time to check into a hotel and get back to the airport. What to do? No problem. There were accommodations inside the airport. It was like an old fashioned sleeping carriage on a train, with curtains for privacy. That's all I needed. Eight hours sleep, a shower and a change of cloths before I boarded the aeroplane to LA.

When I'm traveling alone, my only requirement for a hotel is a guaranteed undisturbed nights sleep (and clean, cheap, convenient of course). That's why I'd like to see these Japanese style "hotels" at airports for the use of budget-minded travelers and the Youth Hostel set.

Photos by PFC

Monday, July 21, 2008

1970's San Francisco Western Addition

The Western Addition of San Francisco was a working class neighbourhood that had fallen into disrepair, and by the 1970's had become home to a vast underclass. Then during a period of urban redevelopment, blocks of Victorian buildings were labeled as rat infested and unfit for habitation. These old houses were demolished or towed away like illegally parked cars to make way for Freeways, wider streets, and sterile cement Public Housing tower blocks.

Fortunately, urban redevelopement had come late to SF and it was not long before the mistakes were learnt.

Those horrid public housing tower blocks were demolished a few years ago and replaced with ... retro-Victorian style low income housing. And the 1989 earthquake took care of the Freeway.

These photos are by Dave Glass.

Categories:San Francisco

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sewage Plant Renaming will go on November Ballot

The SF Department of Elections today certified a ballot measure to name a sewage treatment plant in San Francisco after the 43rd President.

The plant is located near the Zoo.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Networked Media Tank

Our Popcorn Hour (from now on to be called the "Tank") arrived just a few days after I ordered it. I connected our router to the Tank with an Ethernet cable, and then connected the Tank to our TV with the included HDMI cable. And it worked! We were watching streaming video and viewing our Flickr photos on TV! Marvelous. But no support for Hulu yet...

Connecting the Tank was the easy part. Next I'll install a hard drive inside the Tank. But the hard part for me will be enabling file sharing on our home network so that the Tank can play media files stored on my iMac. This is something I should have done years ago.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Ron Arad's New Rover Chair

Ron Arad (1981) -Wright And Brian Franczyk Photograpy

I like car design. I like chair design.

One of my favourite cars is the 1963-1977 Rover 2000. When I first saw a Rover 2000 it was the seats that first attracted my attention. The Rover had beautifully shaped pleated leather buckets for all four occupants.

Ron Arad must have noticed this too, because he took the seats and made them into chairs.

(Note: I believe most Rovers P6's had cloth or vinyl upholstery, and even the rare leather seats only had leather on the sitting surfaces. Still beautiful.)

Now, just like the the new MINI/Fiat 500/ Jaguar XJ interprets the original Mini/Fiat 500/XJ6, Ron Arad has reinterpreted his original design.

Categories:Furniture Cars

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cat has Pet Rabbit

When our beloved 13 year old Tuxedo cat Che was younger, he asked me for a kitten, so I got him a dizzy little Snowshoe we named Jawa. My cat loathing friend Dan said "Are you sure he didn't ask for a dog ...?"

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Plastic Knife Lampshade

This lampshade is made from 121 plastic knifes. Looks Posh.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free iPhone Apps that I Like

I'm delighted with the iPhone applications available through the iTunes Store. There is a good selection of free apps, and here are a few I'm raving about:

Epocrates Rx - (Lani works for Epocrates and loves her job) Lists drugs with images, interactions, and recommended doses etc. My doctor has been waiting for Epocrates Rx before buying an iPhone.

Jolt Jott - Transcribe your audio recordings! Audio to Text!

Pocket Express - News, sports, weather, etc. This was a pay service for the Treo. Free for the iPhone.

Remote - Controls iTunes over your WiFi connection. Very quick and works well.

Scribble - Draw on the screen in 4 colours, then save to Photos, from where you can email the drawing. Simple but useful. And perhaps an indicator of a future handwriting (or Graffiti) application.

NY Times - It works better as a native application.

Shazam - Amazing! This App records a few seconds of music, then tells you the name of the song, artist and album!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Name That Car

I was struck by how similar the "greenhouse" resembles another much more popular car from this era. This brand is still quite popular in the US. Though probably more common on the East and West coasts. What is this car?

Update 7/15/08:
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a Volvo PV 544, manufactured from 1958 to 1965.

Mon Jul 14, 01:12:00 PM PDT

Blogger Peter Reynolds said...
You are correct! The car is beautifully restored to original, except for the wheels...

I was surprised how much it looks like an early VW Beetle when seen at this angle from the waist up.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Toyota PreFab Houses

Perhaps Toyota can make prefabricated steel framed houses that are desirable to US buyers. Homes that we'd prefer because they are compact, efficient and well designed. Perhaps Toyota could do for the US housing crisis what they did for the US fuel crisis in the 1970's.

From the July 2nd WSJ:
"... Toyota's car technologies have been applied to houses, including a rustproofing process that preserves the house's steel structure for decades; a device to quiet engines that can help damp vibrations from foot traffic on the upper floors; and a single key that can be coded to open both the owner's Toyota car and Toyota home."

These houses start at the equivalent of $US200,000 and are currently available only in Japan.

Thanks Apartment Therapy

Friday, July 11, 2008

Apple Apps Day

I woke up early today. I'd downloaded the latest version of iTunes in
preparation for iPhone 2.0 and the 3rd party applications.

But iTunes was telling me that my 1.x software was still the latest
version. Okay. Maybe Apple wants new iPhone owners to try 2.0 first.
I'll just have to wait.

Now I'm listening to CNet's BuzzOutLoad in the car on the way to
work. Good things:
1) Lots of free apps to play with this weekend (if I can install 2.0
by then) !
2) (Please!) Somewhere in the Apps Store there has to be a video
recorder and a word processor that can cut-and-paste.
3) Ability to copy images from the web and emails.

Bad news: Applications won't run in the background.

I wish my iPhone experience could be as good as my Treo 650
experience, but obviously without the software conflicts and daily

Thursday, July 10, 2008


The Dasparkhotel Bed and Breakfast in Austria uses concrete pipes for the sleeping accommodations. Reminds me of Steinbeck's Cannery Row. This idea begs to be copied using shipping containers.

Thanks GreenUpGrader

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Businessman Soldier

"You're sharpening stones, walking on coals
To improve your business acumen." -REM

By Momomyo Torimitsu
Thanks Gizmodo
Categories:Movies Art

Monday, July 07, 2008

Coronation Street China

Boris Austin's photographs of the old areas of Dalian in Liaoning Province of Northeast China. Residents live with the possibility that the area will be developed, destroying their working class community.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

1960 -1968 Lotus 7 Series II

The car (KAR120C) used in The Prisoner TV series  starring Patrick McGoohan was a Lotus Super 7 Series II.

This Lotus 7 is registered to drive on the street, but it spends more time on the track in vintage car racing. To that end the car must comply with vintage racing rules so it uses narrow 13" wheels and Avon treaded racing tyres.  The rules are good.  Modern wheels and stickier tyres would probably stress the original suspension components. The owner of this car told me the wheels are original. I only remember these wheels on the Lotus 11.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Old Popular Mechanics Covers

I'd choose the the Austin A40 Farina. Arguably the first hatchback car made. And the Austin also appears to get the best milage in this test. My other choices would be the Hillman Minx and Morris Minor.

September 1959 issue of Popular Mechanics. More old covers here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Angry Boy

GIF animation scraped from Grow-A-Brain.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Popcorn Hour

I've got TV shows, movies, and video podcasts stored on my computer. And I like to watch streaming video from Hulu. At the same time, all our comfortable furniture is pointing at our 47" TV, and not pointing at my 20" iMac.

The solution might be Popcorn Hour. It's for both the Mac and Winbox, and it'll play almost everything that isn't DRM'ed.

I'll admit I find the set up procedures for this type of device a bit intimidating. But the rewards in getting the device up and running will make it worth the struggle.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I Predict Tesla Will Fail Miserably

Tesla has gone through a few ups and downs: Promising an exciting electric sportscar and then not delivering. Announcing an engineering HQ in Michigan and then selling the land it would stand on. Releasing plans for an electric passenger car (WhiteStar) then canceling it, and giving CEO Martin Eberhard the heave-ho.

And through all this, Tesla has yet to deliver one electric car to a customer. And even if they managed to start production of the 2-seater, it will be made by Lotus in England with an electric motor made in Taiwan. Tesla has no experience building cars.

So given this rather shaky history, and total lack of any manufacturing experience, why has California (Arnold) decided to finance the purchase of $100 million of manufacturing equipment for the production of a 4-door electric passenger car, and lease this equipment to Tesla? At the end of the lease Tesla will have the option to buy the equipment with no sales taxes. And California will grant Tesla over $1 million to train workers to make the car.

Now that California has bankrolled Tesla's electric 4-door car, it puts Tesla in the hugely embarrassing position of having to make the car. They will build the factory but not the car. Tesla will fail miserably. There will be a scandal. People will ask "how did this happen?". I wish I was wrong.

Update 05/01/2013:

These past few weeks I have seen at least one Tesla Model S each day I have driven in SF. And I'm sure there are many more that I haven't noticed. I was wrong when I predicted the failure of Tesla.

The four door Model S is a success because:

1) It is priced to compete with top of the line BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche sedans. And it has the prestige to compete with them.

2) It has a useful driving range.

3) The styling is pleasant, and doesn't "rock the boat".

4) Excellent performance

and finally,

5) (Perhaps) Elon Musk's deep pockets assured that the car would at least reach production.

Anyway, the car is popular and I was wrong.