Today is the twentieth anniversary of the publication of Warren Berger’s Wired article Lost In Space. It’s about Chiat/Day’s bold experiment in 1994 to build a virtual office space. The story is a great read about the pitfalls of the open plan office which thankfully no one builds anymore… The office this originally took place in, “the binocular building”, was leased by Google eight years ago as they expanded operations into Venice.
Category Archives: Innovation
Fire Hydrants Are Designed To Shear
We came across this scene while walking to lunch the other day. It was clearly a standpipe missing its fire hydrant with a bit of water slowly weeping out. The missing fire hydrant wasn’t too surprising; people hit those all the time creating a giant geyser. What was weird was the little worms of silicone sticking out of the bolt flange. We realized then that the 3/4″ fire hydrant bolts are designed to shear off when hit. I suspect this is so that the impact doesn’t damage the vertical pipe which would require excavation to replace. It might also reduce the force of the accident better than hitting a truly fixed object. It looks like this flange is too low and will have to be dug out before they can put a a new hydrant in.
I Hate This Sign So Much: W4-2
99% Invisible did a story about Lane Ends, Merge Left and its confusing nature. The pictogram to me says, “We’re taking away the dashed line but there’s still room for two lanes.” Which is definitely not the case; it’s always a full merge into one lane.
This sign shows up in really dumb places too. There’s a spot on the I-10 where an onramp is merging but I guess its 250ft of dashed line makes the ramp a Lane Ends instead of a standard Merge.
I hate it.
Analog static is coming back!
YouTube now shows you analog static when embedding has been disabled. They used to just show you a black screen. This seems a bizarre addition. I guess it fits with their logos reminiscent of curved screens and “tube” in their name, but really, how much longer will people actually know what television snow is? YouTube’s core audience certainly skews towards people who have seen very little static in their lives thanks to DVDs, digital satellite tv, digital cable boxes, and finally digital television broadcasts that ended almost all analog tv in 2009. Hollywood hasn’t learned this lesson yet either. I remember watching 2012 in 2009 with scenes of television broadcasts being cut short and tvs going to static. I thought at that time, “Great, now we have to reinvent analog static before the end of the world.”
Google Science Fair video
Embedded above is the our latest Syyn Labs project. We built a Rube Goldberg machine to advertise Google’s global Science Fair. We’re also being featured in Fast Company this month.
Our previous RGM: OK Go’s This Too Shall Pass
Tecca is looking for writers!
Tecca is a consumer electronics content and commerce startup based in Santa Monica, CA. Weâ€™re building a new online destination in the personal technology space and are looking for smart and creative folks to be a part of our freelance writing team. Do you love gadgets and call writing your craft? Read on for details on how to apply.
You should have lots of interest and expertise as well as, ideally, some experience producing content in the realms of personal technology and consumer electronics. You should enjoy working in a fast-paced publishing environment and have the self-discipline to operate in a distributed virtual environment. You must have a fun, friendly, and positive attitude, and should love helping others solve technology problems and learn more about the industry.
We are building out our team of freelance contributors. We need people who can speak to all levels of technology consumers, from the experienced to the technophobic. You will be part of a large team crafting fun, easy to understand guides to and original feature columns about topics in consumer electronics. Youâ€™ll be covering both the buying process and usage after purchase. Youâ€™ll need to excel at working in a virtual environment and covering a broad range of topics. We expect you to both tackle assigned tasks and bring your own original ideas to the table.
How to apply
Send an email to apply AT tecca DOT com with the following information:
- Your background â€” let us know what youâ€™ve been working on, what you feel your skills are, what your experience in the realm of personal technology/consumer electronics is, and what interests you about this position.
- Your contact information â€” full name, email address, phone number, instant messenger handle, where youâ€™re located, the best methods and times to reach you, and your general amount of availability for freelance work.
- Example work: 3 or more bylined writing samples linked somewhere online. No attachments, please!
- Column pitch(es): You are also encouraged to pitch us on an original feature column idea (or several). For each column youâ€™d like to pitch, please give us the overall theme and title for your column and between 5 and 10 example topics you would feel confident covering that fit within the overall theme.
We look forward to reading your application!
One of the birthday gifts I received was an unopened package of ALF trading cards a friend had picked up at a thrift store. It was a funny gift, but after opening them—ingesting the gum, YEARGH—I wondered what to do with them. I searched around for some magnetic sheets and found this package of 12 8.5×11″ sheets to be the best deal. They’re $10 (unfortunately $17 after shipping). I stuck the cards to the adhesive backing and trimmed them out with a hobby knife. It was really easy to work with and I think they’ll hold up great. I’m now looking around the apartment for other things to make fridge magnets out of; I found my Nevada license, old business cards, and maybe I’ll pick out some Magic cards.
Google rolled out Buzz recently and it’s started messing with my inbox (my Google profile). The first issue is that by default it puts an item in your Inbox every time someone comments on something you’ve posted or on something you’ve commented on. This item looks like a new email and I get an alert on my phone for new email. My group of friends is already used to commenting on Shared Items in Google Reader so I’ve been getting these emails all the time. I created the filter above in Gmail to take all of these items, which start with Buzz:, and tuck them away in the label ‘bz’ (‘Buzz’, like ‘Inbox’, is a reserved system label).
If you absolutely hate unread counts, you can go a little further. You have the option of hiding the Buzz label in Gmail’s Label settings. This will tuck it away next to Spam in the more labels drop down. That way you can check it at your leisure instead of being compelled by the unread count.
If you just want to turn Buzz off, you can find it at the bottom of Gmail.
Google Reader like
I never really used Google Reader’s ‘like’ feature. I mean it just seemed like a black hole to me: click the button and who sees it? It’s not like Digg where the votes are the focus and easily visible to the content creator. If I like something enough, I’ll add it to my shared items.
There are some cases where it does turn up useful. Pictured above is a screencap from Netflix’s New choices to watch instantly RSS feedâ€”you can find all Netflix feeds here. Netflix added about 160 films to Instant last night so by the time I saw the feed this morning it had been augmented by everyone’s ‘likes’ (yes, I already knew Goonies was good). This is handy since the feed doesn’t show you your predicted rating. I usually end up thinking, “Is that a movie I heard about… was it good?” which leads to me clicking through and finding out, no, no it’s not. Now at least I can see what other people dig.
Tumblr the enabler
My love of Tumblr was pretty obvious in my previous post where I built a theme to do exactly one thing. One of my favorite aspects of the service is how quickly you can launch a new blog, attach a domain, and add contributors.
The Tumblr community has noticed this and has launched many many very niche themed sites… which I absolutely love. One of the first I remembered was FUCK YEAH SHARKS. There are quite a few “Fuck Yeah” sites like this on Tumblr, so I launched Fucking Curated a while ago to post a new niche Tumblr site every day. Recent favorite examples of this type of site are: three frames and Hot Chicks Picking Up Dog Poop.
I’ve started a few more sites that are usually an IM or lunch table joke that I turn into a blog in ~5 minutes. Tattoos that make your belly button a butthole was thrown together as filler for Fucking Curated. I setup Twisdom for Lon after he sent me one too many examples of Twitter asshattery. Headline WIN! was launched on a day with some particularly hilarious blog headlines. Look at this fucking hacker was started right before Defcon and is a spoof of the classic Look at this fucking hipster.
While most of these are throw away sites, I’m certainly glad that Tumblr provides free tools for taking a joke too far.