Sunday, August 31, 2008

Magpie and a Mirror

Some animals recognize themselves in a mirror. Even some birds do. But how do we test this ability? It's really quite simple.

Thanks NewScientist Magazine

Friday, August 29, 2008

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Absinthe was banned in the US for over 90 years because of its alleged psychoactive properties. But studies of century-old absinthe samples show that absinthe drinkers were just very very drunk.

"The long-cherished idea that absinthe, an anise-flavored alcoholic beverage with a history of use by artists like Van Gogh and Picasso, is or ever was hallucinogenic might have met its death by data today.

"German scientists put old bottles of the substance to the test and found that the liquid is 70 percent alcohol (140 proof) and 0 percent hallucination."
-Wired Blog

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.
Once I built a railroad; now it's done. Brother, can you spare a dime?

Full credit here to Chrysler for actually showing autoworkers in this advert. Most car makers would prefer you to think your car was made by robots and untouched by a human hand.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ballpoint Pen Flat-Pack

Ruler, pen, pen holder.

The "assembly kit" comes with a flat piece of iron that you fold into a 3-dimensional pen holder. The assembly kit includes a key to help you bend the metal, a ruler and instructions. Handmade in Italy. -UnCommonGoods $39

Thanks Dvice

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ASCII Image Meets Dice Video

Just like one of of those old ASCII images, but this time a video using dice.

I like the black and white dice. They create the right mood for the music. But the coloured dice are flashy, distracting and unnecessary.

This animation technique would be suitable for dark, disturbing, melancholic music such as "Bukowski" by Modest Mouse.

Thanks DesignBoom

Sunday, August 24, 2008

High Tide Flooding in Sausalito

Houseboats at Waldo Point and an Auto body shop on Gate Five Road. These areas are normally dry. The very high tides are not a problem for the houseboats, and most of the businesses are on tall foundations. The body shop is not so lucky. I've been inside, and the floors are very clean...

Next to the flooded body shop on Gate 5 Road is a property that never floods. Strangely, this property has two 6 inch pipes running from the rear to the street. Those pipes were carrying tidal water that was flooding the street and a property across the street. I wonder why?

Friday, August 22, 2008

CB2 Store Open in San Francisco

Crate and Barrel has a great store at O'Farrell and Stockton. I find my way there every December to buy gifts or to buy dinning room essentials for us. I like to look down from the upper floors at shoppers across the street crowding the window displays at Macy's. Very Norman Rockwell. Even on the 24th of December this store is a civilized place to shop, and the Customer Service is superb. So how could Crate and Barrel be better? It could be less expensive. And so it is...

CB2, which up until now has only had an online presence, has opened a 8,000 square foot showroom on Ellis near Stockton in San Francisco.

SF Curbed doesn't care for CB2. Their headline was "Poor Design Whores Await CB2". I won't argue with them that much of CB2's stock is rubbish, but I think SF Curbed is holding CB2 to a high standard. Instead of comparing CB2 to DWR or Room And Board, they should compare it to IKEA. It's a place where you have to wade through the dregs to find the well designed and well made bargains. You have to be discerning to separate the wheat from the chaff at CB2 or IKEA. If you are not discerning, then you will be a "poor design whore".


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Large Diameter Car Wheels

I fail to understand the advantage of the large diameter car wheels that are the current fashion.

The wheels require very low-profile tyres that give the car a poor ride quality and poor handling (unless the car has race car suspension geometry). Their excessive weight and rotational inertia have a negative effect on acceleration, braking, and steering. The large wheels also make the stock brakes look puny, suggesting the owner can't afford the matching large diameter brake rotors.

Even when it's done correctly it looks tacky.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

UC Hall to be Demolished?

The UCSF Parnassus campus is a hodgepodge of building styles squeezed on to the side of Mount Sutro. Its compactness is perhaps its only virtue. There is no open space. Most of the buildings are institutional multi-storey boxes.

The oldest remaining building on the UCSF Parnassus campus is the 1917 Beaux Arts Hall, now usually referred to as UC Hall. It was designed by Lewis P. Hobart who also designed Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill. The building is being considered for demolition in 2009.

To find out more, go to this site.

Categories:San Francisco Architecture

Who is Leading in the Olympic Medal Count?

There appear to be two ways to compile an Olympic medal count: Either total medals per country, or total gold medals per country.

According to the International Olympic Committee there is no official ranking of countries, and the Olympics are between athletes, not nations. But on the I.O.C. website they do list countries according to gold medal count. And rightly so. After all, a bronze is not equal to a gold.

So, according to the method used by US media, the US is ahead in the medal count. But according to the method used by the I.O.C., China is ahead.

From NBC and other American news media:

From the Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games:

Friday, August 15, 2008

Green Earth

These environentally themed globes are cropping-up all over the City. Most of them are trite. The main sponsor is a car company. I saw one globe featuring a quote from Bill Clinton. And another promoted Bio-fuel. All very tame and not very helpful. Disappointing.

This globe is next to the Warming Hut on the Presidio. The globe is covered in artificial grass and depicts the earth in relief. Nice.

"Flower Power" by Carrie Nardello
Categories:San Francisco Art

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Things I've noticed about the iPhone:

Things I've noticed about the iPhone:

1) Since updating to firmware 2.0 the iPhone no long causes induction
interference in nearby speakers . Good.

2) When I fastforward through video podcasts, the picture and sound
go out of sync.

3) For-fee WiFi spots automatically take over my internet connection
from EDGE, tying up my internet connection until I disable WiFi.

4) I've been using an application that introduces a new screen
gesture. Scrolling side to side by dragging two fingers across the
Could this be how Apple will implement highlight/copy/paste?

5) If I enter the wrong password to a secure website, such as a bank, then the browser tries repeatedly to login until the site eventually locks me out.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Second City Panamap

View the map from one angle and you'll see the streets. Tilt it and you see the neighbourhoods. Tilt it more and you see the bus and subway lines. I bought the Manhattan map a few years ago. Now there's a Second City version.

I find this map to be more entertaining than useful. Because it's a folding map, it's almost impossible to hold the entire map on the same plane. So I usually end up with each unfolded section of the map displaying a different function, and I can only examine one section at a time. Nice idea that doesn't work in practice.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

B-2 Bomber Crash Video

This B-2 Stealth Bomber crashed shortly after takeoff from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam on February 23, 2008.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Malcolm X Honoured on Iranian Postage Stamp

The date on the stamp is 1984. Malcolm X didn't appear on a US stamp until 1999.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Where's My Flying Car?

Your flying car was in Sausalito today. I didn't get to see inside the trailer, but here are some images from the Terrafugia website:

The Transition (Compromise would be a more accurate name) might work. It might fly and it might drive. But really, what's the point? Building a flying car is like climbing Mt. Everest. If you succeed, you congratulate yourself and go home.


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Michael Thonet's Chair no.14 (1859)

Coffee shop chair no.14 by Michael Thonet has been in continuous production since 1865, making it one of the most successful mass produced products ever. It's made from six pieces of wood held together with screws and bolts, with a cane seat.

Thonet experimented with lamination to make curved wood, but finally settled on steaming the wood to curve it. A process called Bentwood.
(Does this remind anyone of Eames?)


Friday, August 08, 2008

Complete Waste

Here's a graphic I came up with at work while I was thinking about my employer's conservation programme.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Exposure for iPhone

I've tried several social photo Apps for the iPhone (Clowdy, Zintin,etc ), but Exposure for iPhone is the most interesting so far. Subscribers link their Flickr accounts to Exposure, so a lot of the photos are already Geotagged.

It will be fun finding photos taken near where we live, or wherever we go. Images that complete strangers find interesting!

Here are some photos taken by people within 100 metres of home:

Categories:San Francisco Gadgets

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


This is a free note organizer for the iPhone. Sounds pretty ordinary, but it works so well:

Use the iPhone camera or screen capture to take a photo of something with text in it. Save it to Evernote. The Evernote server uses OCR to pick out the words and use them as tags for the note! Every word of text, and every clear image of a word becomes a tag for that note. Finding that one particular note among hundreds of notes becomes easy. Amazing!

Example: Here's a page from Lani's Blog. It's a review of the Belkin Cush Top that I wanted to buy.

I used screen capture, then added the image to my Evernotes.
Later I couldn't remember the name of the product, but I did remember that the blog post included a mention of Lani's brother Sherman. I searched Evernotes for "Sherman" and located the correct note.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rare 2-Door Range Rover - $2500

The original Range Rover was a small and athletic vehicle compared to the one we have today. It was popular with wealthy farmers who made full use of the off road ability and on road comfort and performance.

The seller doesn't say, but I'd guess this is a mid 1970's 4-speed manual with vinyl seats and rubber mats. Perfect for a farmer then and now.

For sale on Craigslist.

Thanks RoverNet

Monday, August 04, 2008

Brazo LED Table Lamp

If a light saber and a boom microphone had a baby.

Made with 18 LED lights. Twist one end for on/off. Twist the other end to rotate a shade under the lights. Telescopes. Also sold as a floor lamp. $350. Warm (not hot) to the touch.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

GoPro Digicam Test

The GoPro toy digicam is finally working reliably and recording ~50 minutes of video to the 2GB SD card.

None of the problems I experienced were really the responsibility of the manufacturer. This little gadget is just very sensitive to the type of battaries being used, and a warning to that effect is stated more than once in the instructions.

I bought the GoPro handlebar clamp from REI (they sell GoPro products), and it mounts the camera inconspicuously on my bicycle.

Categories:Movies Gadgets SanFrancisco

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Within This Border is Disorder

This is an honest solution for organising rechargeable gadgets. The ChargerFrame restricts the mess of tangled wires to the inside of the frame and doesn't pretend to keep it neat and tidy in there. The green button is the on/off master switch.

Thanks dezeen