One of the problems associated with geekdom, or even general competence, is that people expect you to fix things for them, answer obscure questions, and show them how to do various simple tasks. Most of the time if I have a problem, I do what any other geek with the resourcefulness of a squirrel would do; I consult google. It isn’t hard. It isn’t any more time consuming than asking someone else, because then they are just going to have to google it for you. Coferifous has heard our call and come to our rescue with his new service let me google that for you. The next time someone asks you a question they should really go find the answer to themselves, don’t tell them to ‘RTFM‘, outsource your snark to letmegooglethatforyou. Such a simple service they offer, yet the need was so great for their services that they have gotten over a million hits in their first 48 hours of existence.
The enterprising individuals over at The Play Coalition (I’ll get you a link if one comes back into existence) have created a monster. This little palm now has legs, so that it can follow that sunbeam that moves across your living room floor each morning. In my house it would also need to learn to run away from my cat and go grab itself a glass of water when it gets thirsty. Unfortunately, by the time it gets that smart, I imagine I’d find it going through my fridge looking for beer and pizza. Click the image to see PlantBot in motion.
Graffiti is one of the most controversial art forms. Made most famous by vandals, it tends to be used mostly in a somewhat territorial defacing of property with motivations varying as much as any other art form, if not more. It is one of our most ancient arts, with cave paintings dating back at least 32,000 years, many of them less socially acceptable than the standard bison image that comes to mind.
Reverse graffiti is the art of removing grime or graffiti in such a way that it leaves a message behind. The artist can vary all the way from that kid who scrawls ‘wash me’ with their finger on all the dirty cars they see, to masters like Scott Wade (top) and Alexandre Orion (video below).
As you can see from the video, the legality of reverse graffiti is still leaving officials scratching their heads. Are they really going to arrest you for cleaning the subway? As with anything that irritates people or costs them money (£750,000 to (finish) cleaning the Wills Memorial Building in Bristol) expect them to manage to trump up some kind of charge if you get caught making a nuisance of yourself.
Graffiti writers are not real villains. Real villains consider the idea of breaking in someplace, not stealing anything and then leaving behind a painting of your name in four foot high letters the most retarded thing they ever heard of. -Banksy
Update: Here’s another good one:
Rapid prototypers are falling in price, but are still expensive to use, and the field of swarm robotics continues to work on making better bots with more useful emergent behavior, but today, the hardest working hives on the planet are still organic. Tomas Libertiny made a form for his hive in the shape of a vase and then let the bees do the rest. It took 40,000 of the little ladies a week to make the vase. The materials are free, as the bees gather them themselves, and even better, they work for queen and country. I was spoke with a beekeeper this morning who has been working on something similar, and others have made use of the concept in the past, inclding Garnett Puett, who twenty years ago apparently put a queen bee in a life sized cast of his wife and let them sculpt a work known as Apiscaryatid, but I have yet to see a picture. Hilary Berseth has some wonderful slow prototyping work that can be seen here.
I think it would also be fun to use a lost wax process to cast the final product in a more permanent material. Next thing you know, the Danish will be using slow prototyping termites to make their clogs.
Update: It looks like Libertini is still at it. He has taken on a project much like Apiscaryatid, creating a life size figure of Jesus in a glass case entitled Unbearable Lightness. He started with a mesh small enough to trap the queen within, but large enough to allow the workers through. The bees built the honeycomb, filled it with honey, and then removed the honey when they were later relocated, leaving just the honeycomb structure behind. Why he chose the religious iconography I don’t know, but it scares the beeJesus out of me.
And some video as well:
At first glance, this work of art by Tim Noble and Sue Webster looks like just another nondescript stack of stuff someone is trying to pass off as modern art. The magic happens when the spotlights are turned on.
When the light is set to hit at just the right angle, the sculpture casts a silhouette in shadow; a self portrait of the artists.
It is an interesting question as to where exactly the art resides in these pieces. There is a sort of gestalt psychology at work here, wherein the wall, the sculpture, and the light are all uninteresting and rather unpleasant in themselves, but together make one of the most thought compelling art techniques I’ve seen. This pile of rubbish, entitled Dirty White Trash [With Gulls], illustrates the extreme versatility of the medium. If you have stuff, and a light source, chances are you have the materials. My expectation is that the artists likely traced each others shadows on the wall and then just started piling up stuff until their outline was obscured by shadow. Other artists and even commercials have used variations of the medium, and I’m surprised it hasn’t become more popular. It might be a fun way to send someone a covert message. I think I might have to find a way to make use of this next Halloween
Robots are getting so light that they can be made to stand on the surface of water without breaking the surface tension. There is a big difference between something that floats in the water and something that just stands on top of it without getting wet. Most of the creators reference water skaters as their inspiration, but I have yet to see a skater bot kick for propulsion. There are some claims, but I say video or it didn’t happen. All of these seem to use vibration to chatter along on the surface. Here are some pretty good photos, and passable videos.
There are a few bots with accompanying info and some video here.
A very different and easy to make at home design here, with video.
I’m tempted to build one of these. It shouldn’t take much more than some thin wire, a cellphone vibrator, and a button cell to make a basic version.
Update: Here is another one that uses an electrical charge to destabilize the surface tension and cause propulsion. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and I’m glad someone got around to building it. I’m a little surprised the top speed is as low as it is. If you want to easily test the concept, put a little soap on one edge of something that will sit on the surface of water, like a little scrap of paper. It will move rapidly in the direction opposite the soap as the surface tension is destroyed. This robot has the benefit of not permanently reducing tension or befouling the water. (via bb gadgets)
Just think of how much more efficiently you could store your eggs if they were square! All neatly stacked. No more eggs rolling off of your plate, and they fit perfectly on a triscuit. Amaze your friends with tales of your new genetically engineered chicken. all this for a mere three dollars.
To use it, just hard boil your eggs and remove the shells. While they are still warm, drop one in the (preferably chilled) cuber and screw down the lid until the egg becomes square. Unscrew the lid and push up on the base plate to remove your now cubetacular egg. Repeat until you have a nice stack of eggs.
This faint blue forcefield renders your banana impervious to attack. Just bend the crenellations of the bunker to conform to the unique shape of your banana, then insert the banana and twist on the cap. There is a hole at the top and bottom of the bunker to accommodate the stem and allow for bananas of unusual size, although I doubt you could keep your plantains in here. At a mere six bucks it makes for an excellent white elephant gift or stocking stuffer for the banana eater in your life. Sure to be a conversation starter.
You know those arguments that keep coming up and you just can’t seem to come to a resolution? You both think you are right? Sidetaker allows you to write up your argument and send an invite to the dissenting party. Should they choose to accept the invite, they will be able to write up their own side of the conflict, at which point the argument will be posted (anonymously) for all the world to deliberate. Readers can take a side and add their reactions, comments, and suggestions for a resolution. Even if it isn’t for everyone, it is a brilliant idea. A few examples:
Every year when Halloween comes around, I carve a watermelon. I don’t have anything against the carving of pumpkins, I just find the watermelon to be a superior choice.
They are easier to carve.
They are more directly edible.
The green on the skin contrasts nicely with the red interior.
The interior looks awesome when lit.
The biggest flaw I’ve found with the watermelon is that it doesn’t take the heat of a candle very well. This year I tried this little ultrasonic fog maker with LED. Even with a windy Halloween, the results were impressive. The interior had a shifting glow in the swirling fog.
When submerged, the device uses ultrasound to resonate the surface of the water and break it into extremely tiny droplets. The fog feels cool to the touch, but not very damp. In my tests, the effect worked through thin solid materials, so you could hide it in a device. It also worked with some success on other liquids (including Vodka). You may have seen these in use in small fountains, or for reptiles, terrariums, or humidifiers.
Update: Here is my watermelon carving for 2009:
For 2009 I had a small melon. I did’t have much room inside for a water reservoir, so I just put the fog maker in a jar of water. I could hear all of the trick or treaters coming because of all of the exclamations ver the smoke coming from the teeth of my watermelon. The empty eye socket was carved to a thin shell so it lit up nicely without being open to the interior.