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May 31, 2007

Microsoft Surface

photograph of Microsoft Surface

A couple of years ago at the TED and ETech Conferences, NYU computer scientist Jeff Han wowed the crowds with his demo of his elegant and powerful touchscreen computer interface. (Watch a video of Han's TED Conference presentation).

Now Microsoft is going to bring a touch-interface computer system to market. They're calling it Surface, and their initial plan is to build the system into a futuristic minimalist coffee table, suitable for bars, restaurants, etc.

God knows Microsoft has had a mixed record when it comes to hardware, but I really hope this does well. Just because the whole desktop and folder metaphor thing has become the dominant was in which we all interact with computers, there's no reason to think it's the only possible way.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2007

Enright and Samples wedding chart

portion of Andrew Coulter Enright and Heather Samples wedding chart

When Andrew Coulter Enright and Heather Samples got married back in 2006, they wanted an easy way for all of the wedding guests to learn about each other. Their solution was this intricate chart showing every attendees relationship to the rest of the group. Everyone at the wedding got a copy and with it, an automatic conversation starter.

You can check out the chart at http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewcoulterenright/168272241/.

(Thanks Visual Complexity).

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2007

Maker Faire 2007

photo of giant mouse trap game. Photo by image415/flickr.com

Oh. My. God. The Maker Faire is the greatest event in the history of the world. My head is still reeling from all of the amazing home-made inventions, gizmos, and hacks. My personal favorites include the life-sized recreation of the kids game Mouse Trap pictured above (I particularly like how it ends by dropping a 2-ton safe onto a pile of cheese); the giant robotic giraffe that wandered the fairground; the amazing number of contraptions made out of mutated and re-combined bicycles; the audio art installation that detected the Bluetooth signatures of passing cellphones and played unique birdsongs in response; and Theramin Karaoke (an entertainment concept whose time has come).

This edition of the fair was just south of San Francisco, but there's one planned for Austin Texas in October and Make Magazine (who puts on the whole thing) is also planning an east coast edition.

There's lots of coverage, photos, videos, etc., at makezine.com.

(Photo of life-sized mousetrap game by image415/flickr.com)

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 05:45 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2007

Mommy chairs

photo of Mommy Chairs furniture

This is such a great idea. Take kids' crayon drawings of chairs and tables and then turn those drawings into actual furniture. They ain't cheap (nearly 300 pounds UK for a "Mommy's Chair"), but they sure are cool.

The chairs are available via wheredidyoubuythat.com.


Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 06:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2007

The Origami Butterfly by Jonathan McCabe

image from Origami Butterfly by Jonathan McCabe

A little bit of beauty for your weekend... assuming you have a decent bandwith connection or a lot of patience. Australian artist Jonathan McCabe makes still image and motion art that uses a variety of generative processes. In his new work, The Origami Butterfly, McCabe uses a computer to simulate a piece of paper with a dot placed on it at a random point. Then the computer imagines the paper being folded many and the location of the dot within the folds determining the color of that point.

Bored and confused by that description? Don't worry about it. There's really only two thing you need to know. One: this process is very similar to the biological method that drives the coloration of some butterfly wings; and Two: McCabe has tossed up a simple web page where you can download still images...and better yet, videos... of some of the works he's made with this process. The videos are particularly great. They have a great multi-color moving flowing feel to them...kinda like slo-mo kaleidoscope images. I recommend downloading one of the larger videos, put your Quicktime player into fullscreen mode, toss some old Pink Floyd on the stereo, and dive in.

(Thanks the teeming void)

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 02:34 PM | Comments (0)

Off to a new gig

APM and DIG logos

Hey all, a brief bit o' personal news and open disclosure... I've stopped working at American Public Media. Starting May 7th my day gig will be as a web developer at the Walt Disney Internet Group.

Now, back to the blog, which is already in progress.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2007

Global walking speed increases

pedestrian sign. Photograph by christophe dune, flickr.com

You may not have noticed, but people are walking faster than they used to. According to recent research by British psychologist Richard Wiseman, global urban walking speed has increased by about 10% since a similar survey was conducted in the '90s.

According to the new survey, which charted walking speed in 32 cities worldwide, people in Singapore move the fastest.

You can see the full city list in this ITN article.

(Thanks Boing Boing).

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at 09:59 PM | Comments (0)