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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Cool Tools Freecycle

[Probably the best freecycle ever. -egg]

Cool Tools Freecycle:
You probably have tools and gadgets you no longer use. Perfectly good ones, or maybe ones that are a bit worn, or perhaps you have a basement bin of parts that would be perfect for the right person. You may have thought about listing them on Craigs List for some pocket money. But you never will because its a bother. Yet your stuff may be exactly what your friends, or other readers of Cool Tools might be looking for — especially if it is free for picking up.
Here is a better way to give away cool stuff: Cool Tools Freecycle.
Cool Tools Freecycle is a sub-app that is part of phone/tablet app which lets you instantly post anything you want to give away for free. Your item along with a quick photo is added to a list, which is sorted by distance. So when you look in the app, all the give-aways nearest to you show up first. You respond in the app and it will contact the lister by email. The two of you arrange pickup.
The platform has been designed by the folks who created Delicious and HousingMaps. The platform makes it easy to collaborate small actions. The Cool Tool part is in beta. If folks use it, we’ll develop it more.
Go to an app store to download the app. Once installed scroll to and tap “Cool Tools Freecycle”
Leave comments here on your experience.
– KK

Social media turns into boring old media

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Social media turns into boring old media

Warren Ellis, always a shrewd observer of online media, supposes that we've reached peak social media, the point at which exciting new communications forms ossify into dull media titans:

Twitter alters its terms of access to its information, thereby harming the services that built themselves on that information. Which was stupid, because Twitter gets fewer and fewer material benefits from allowing people to use its water. And why would you build a service that relies on a private company's assets anyway? Facebook changes its terms of access regularly. It's broken its own Pages system and steadily grows more invasive and desperate. Instagram, now owned by Facebook, just went through its first major change in terms of service. Which went as badly as anyone who's interacted with Facebook would expect. As Twitter disconnected itself from sharing services like IFTTT, so Instagram disconnected itself from Twitter. Flickr's experiencing what will probably be a brief renaissance due to having finally built a decent iOS app, but its owners, Yahoo!, are expert in stealing defeat from the jaws of victory. Tumblr seems to me to be spiking in popularity, which coincides neatly with their hiring an advertising sales director away from Groupon, a company described by Techcrunch last year as basically loansharking by any other name.

This may be the end of the cycle that began with Friendster and Livejournal. Not the end of social media, by any means, obviously. But it feels like this is the point at where the current systems seize up for a bit. Perhaps not even in ways that most people will notice. But social media seems now to be clearly calcifying into Big Media, with Big Media problems like cable-style carriage disputes. Frame the Twitter-Instagram spat in terms of Virginmedia not being able to carry Sky Atlantic in the UK, say (I know there are many more US examples).

His closing remark is "I wonder if anyone's been thinking twice about giving up their personal websites." Good question.

The Social Web: End Of The First Cycle

HOWTO convert an MP3 to a playable, 3D printed record

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HOWTO convert an MP3 to a playable, 3D printed record

Instructables user Aandaghassaei has posted a HOWTO for making a 3D printed record that plays on a regular turntable. Her method converts any digital audio file to grooves ready to print. It's a bit fuzzy, but still rather exciting! I'm waiting for the way when taking a snapshot of a vinyl disc can be the first step toward deriving its audio content, converting that back to a shapefile, and printing out a high-fidelity duplicate.

In this Instructable, I'll demonstrate how I developed a workflow that can convert any audio file, of virtually any format, into a 3D model of a record. This is far too complex a task to perform with traditional drafting-style CAD techniques, so I wrote an program to do this conversion automatically. It works by importing raw audio data, performing some calculations to generate the geometry of a record, and eventually exporting this geometry straight to the STL file format (used by all 3D printers). Most of the heavy lifting is done by Processing, an open source environment that's often used for coding interactive graphics applications. To get Processing to export to STL, I used the ModelBuilder Library written by Marius Watz (if you are into Arduino/Processing and 3D printing I highly recommend checking this out, it works great).

I've uploaded some of my complete record models to the 123D gallery as well as the Pirate Bay. Check Step 6 for a complete listing of what's there and what I plan on posting. Alternatively, you can go to Step 7 to download my code and learn how to make your own printable records from any audio file you like.

3D Printed Record

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning

The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning:
The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning portraits drawing
The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning portraits drawing
The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning portraits drawing
The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning portraits drawing
The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning portraits drawing
The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning portraits drawing
The Daily Sketches of Guy Denning portraits drawing
Every single day since November 2010, without fail, Bristol-based artist Guy Denning (previously) posts a daily sketch to his Drawing a Day blog (occasionally mirrored on his Facebook page). It’s well worth following. For more of his work head over to Signal Gallery where he had a solo show in October, and you can see much more on his website.

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012:
It was a phenomenal year on Colossal and it’s all because of the extraordinary work by the artists, designers, photographers and filmmakers featured here every week. To recap an amazing 12 months, here are some of the most shared/visited/tweeted posts this year. Enjoy!

1. This is What Happens When You Give Thousands of Stickers to Thousands of Kids

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
Yayoi Kusama’s legendary installation, Obliteration Room, where thousands of children were given colorful stickers and unbridled freedom in a stark white room. January 1, 2012

2. Riusuke Fukahori Paints Three-Dimensional Goldfish Embedded in Layers of Resin

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
Magnificent pools of three-dimensional goldfish painted layer-by-layer in resin by Riusuke Fukahori. January 9, 2012

3. A Cathedral Made from 55,000 LED Lights

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
Towering 28 meters high, the Luminarie De Cagna was the centerpiece at the 2012 Light Festival in Ghent, Belgium. January 31, 2012

4. Rashad Alakbarov Paints with Shadows and Light

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
Using strategically suspended translucent materials and other objects, artist Rashad Alakbarov paints using shadows and light. January 20, 2012

5. This is Not a Photograph: Amazing Portrait Drawn with Ballpoint Pens by Samuel Silva

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
Nope, not a photograph. This amazing portrait was drawn by 29-year-old Portugal-based attorney Samuel Silva based on a photograph by Russian photographer Kristina Tararina. According to the artist he used nothing but colored BIC pens. August 22, 2012

6. A Canopy of Colorful Umbrellas Spotted in Portugal

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
This beautiful installation of umbrellas was recently spotted in Águeda, Portugal by photographer Patrícia Almeida. Almost nothing is known about the artist behind the project or its significance, but it’s impossible to deny the joy caused by taking a stroll in the shadowy rainbow created by hundreds of parasols suspended over this public walkway. August 21, 2012

7. Hilariously Ferocious Underwater Dogs

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
These completely absurd photographs of dogs swimming underwater by photographer Seth Casteel took the internet by storm. The collection is now available as a book. February 10, 2012

8. Mysterious Underwater ‘Crop Circles’ Discovered Off the Coast of Japan

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
There’s nothing that captures the imagination like mysterious underwater lifeforms, and the discovery of these bizarre ‘crop circles’ off the coast of Japan this year was no exception. The artistic culprit turned out to be nothing more than a tiny puffer fish looking for a hot date. September 19, 2012

9. Gale-Force Winds Directly to the Face

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
Lithuanian photographer and artist Tadao Cern created this series of hilarious portraits entitled, Blow Job, that depicts individuals enduring extremely high speed wind directly to the face. He even followed up with a disturbing video. May 16, 2012

10. Gravity-Defying Land Art by Cornelia Konrads

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
German artist Cornelia Konrads creates mind-bending site-specific installations in public spaces, sculpture parks and private gardens around the world. Her work is frequently punctuated by the illusion of weightlessness, where stacked objects like logs, fences, and doorways appear to be suspended in mid-air, reinforcing their temporary nature as if the installation is beginning to dissolve before your very eyes. April 24, 2012

11. Remarkable Portraits Made with a Single Sewing Thread Wrapped through Nails by Kumi Yamashita

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
Constellation is an ongoing series of portraits by New York artist Kumi Yamashita. Each image is constructed from a single unbroken black thread wound through a dense array of galvanized nails mounted on a painted white board, meaning that the darker areas within the portrait are formed solely from the density of the string. June 12, 2012

12. New Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramée

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
Artist Guy Laramee completed a number of new sculptural works where he transformed thick tomes into incredible topographical features including mountains, caves, volcanoes, and even water. Many of the works are part of a project titled Guan Yin, a series of work dedicated to the forces that enable individuals to endure grief and pain, or in his words “the mysterious forces thanks to which we can traverse ordeals.” June 12, 2012

13. Bloom: 28,000 Potted Flowers Installed at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
In one of the years most popular articles, artist Anna Schuleit sat down with us for a brief interview regarding her 2003 installation titled Bloom at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center which she filled floor by floor with 28,000 potted plants prior to the buildings demolition. March 12, 2012

14. Giant Fish Sculptures Made from Discarded Plastic Bottles in Rio

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
As part of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) an enormous outdoor installation of fish was constructed using discarded plastic bottles on Botafogo beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. June 21, 2012

15. Anatomical Cross-Sections Made with Quilled Paper by Lisa Nilsson

A Colossal Year: The Top 15 Posts on Colossal in 2012 colossal
For her Tissue Series, artist Lisa Nilsson constructs anatomical cross sections of the human body using rolled pieces of Japanese mulberry paper, a technique known as quilling or paper filigree. Each piece takes several weeks to assemble and begins with an actual photograph of a lateral or mid-sagittal cross section to which she begins pinning small rolls of paper. February 1, 2012

Thank you so much for stopping by Colossal this year, some huge things are coming in 2013 and I can’t wait to share them with you. To make sure you don’t miss anything be sure to follow Colossal on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and our upcoming weekly email digest. And as always you can subscribe via RSS.

Firewall: An Interactive Fabric Surface by Aaron Sherwood

Firewall: An Interactive Fabric Surface by Aaron Sherwood:
Firewall: An Interactive Fabric Surface by Aaron Sherwood performance art light interactive digital
Firewall is a new interactive artwork by New York media artist Aaron Sherwood created in collaboration with Michael Allison. The presentation is relatively straightforward but still visually stunning: different ‘modes’ of light are projected onto a taut membrane of spandex which then reacts kinetically in response to touch. Firewall was made using Processing, Max/MSP, Arduino and a Kinect that work in tandem to create the experience and will be used in an upcoming performance art piece involving dancer Kiori Kawai who will interact with the piece on stage. Learn more over on Sherwood’s blog. (via designboom)

Solstice With Egg 2012

OK, the 2012 Solstice Mix is up! Actually before the end of the solstice, for the first time in years ;). It can be streamed or downloaded as you like. Enjoy!

Acquire a transhuman Compass Sense with a kit-built anklet

[Seems a bit pricy at $150, but awfully cool. -egg]

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Acquire a transhuman Compass Sense with a kit-built anklet

The North Paw is a kit for an anklet that subtly vibrates your on the side of your ankle that faces north, so that you attain a kind of subliminal "Compass Sense" like those possessed by certain birds.

What makes it way more awesome than a regular compass? Persistence. With a regular compass the owner only knows the direction when he or she checks it. With this compass, the information enters the wearer's brain at a subconscious level, giving the wearer a true feeling of absolute direction, rather than an intellectual knowledge as with a regular compass.

Because of the plasticity of the brain, it has been shown that most wearers gain a new sense of absolute direction, giving them a superhuman ability to navigate their surroundings. The original idea for North Paw comes from research done at University of Osnabrück in Germany. In this study, rather than an anklet, the researchers used a belt. They wore the belt non-stop for six weeks, and reported successive stages of integration.

North Paw

(Thanks, Lucas)

December 21, 2012

[I have to say, I think his asymptotic analysis is way off given the massively parallel nature of the algorithm. I'd argue it's linear on the highest integer being sorted. -egg]

December 21, 2012:

My redorkening progresses.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

“Finding out tomorrow’s weather forecast usually...

“Finding out tomorrow’s weather forecast usually...:

“Finding out tomorrow’s weather forecast usually involves actively searching on the web, waiting on the news channel, or resorting to widgets. How great would it be if this was as easy as looking outside the window? This thought led me to build Tempescope, a physical display that can reproduce (and ambiently notify) weather conditions, inside your room.”
河本の実験室: Prototyping “Tempescope”, an ambient weather display)

In which Santa helps remind us all of the importance of metadata

In which Santa helps remind us all of the importance of metadata:

Metadata is one of those things that is so important, it becomes easy to forget about. We often collect metadata without thinking about it. When we don't collect it — or if we collect it in a sloppy manner — we notice very quickly that something has gone wrong. But when someone says the word "metadata", a large number of us go, "the what now?" And start trying to remember what that word means before we make ourselves sound dumb in conversation.

Metadata is really just information about information — it helps us organize, find, and standardize the things we know and want to know. At the Information Culture blog Bonnie Swoger offers some Christmas-themed examples that will help you remember what metadata is, help you understand why it's such a big deal, and improve your ability to do metadata right.

If you stumbled across this list on the web you might be able to guess what it was, but you couldn’t be sure. It would also be difficult to find this list again if you were looking for it. The list creator might find this pretty useful, but if he or she shared it with others, we would want some added information to help the new user understand what he or she was looking at: this is metadata.

Metadata for this data file:

Who created the data: Santa Claus, North Pole. An email address would be nice. This way we have some contact information in case we need clarification.

Title: “My List” isn’t a title that is conducive to finding the file again. While it might be tempting to just call this “Santa’s list” that won’t help other folks who see this file. The title should be descriptive of what the data file contains, and “Santa’s List” could be many things: Santa’s list of Reindeer? Santa’s list of toys that need to be made? A more descriptive title might be “Santa’s list of naughty and nice children.”

Date created: We don’t want to confuse this year’s list (2012) with last year’s list (2011). This could lead to all sorts of unfortunate events where nice kids get coal, naughty kids get presents, or infants (who weren’t around in 2011) get nothing at all.

Who created the data file: Perhaps Santa created the data, but then used an elf to input the data into a computer file. Many computer programs automatically record this information, although you may not realize this.
How the list was created: Behavioral scans? Parental surveys? Elf on the Shelf reports? All of the above? In order to reuse this data in future research projects, we need to know how it was collected, including collection instruments and methodologies.

Definitions of terms used: What is “naughty” what is “nice”? How did Santa place a child into one category or another?

File type: What kind of file is it? The data here are pretty simple, but Santa has lots of different file formats to choose from: excel, .csv, xml, etc. Knowing the file type helps end users determine if they can use the data.

Read the full story and get more great examples