Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mandala mosaic on our magnetic wall

It finally arrived!

So happy to get my fractiles! Got them on our magnetic wall quickly and easily.

The geometry is pretty ingenious. There are three different pieces, each with four sides. There are six different possible angles, 1/14, 2/14, 3/14, 4/14, 5/14, and 6/14, thus providing sevenfold rotational symmetry (per package description).

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Furoshiki: The art of using square cloth for carrying stuff

An old art being re-popularized by the movement to use fewer plastic grocery bags. Thanks to mom in law Judy for the link!

How To Carry Groceries With A Square Of Cloth

For more types of wraps/carries, check this out
(Courtesy of the Japanese goverment):

Monday, July 21, 2008

Magnets, and more magnets!

A substantial portion of our weekend was spent turning a wall, and 3 bedroom doors into magnet friendly canvases. Check out Brad's blogpost for pics and more details.

In other magnet news, I just learned about an amazingly versatile and fun magnet toy/puzzle, the NeoCube.

The video is mesmerizing.

Here's more magnet videos that Brad found, from Supermagnet Bead Tricks.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Did you feel the earthquake?

For those of us who live in earthquake country, this question comes up in conversation with regularity. Often, smaller earthquakes don't make it to the headlines so we're often left debating whether it really happened.

Fortunately, the USGS has gathered up local, recent earthquake data for California and Nevada at:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Inflatable electric car with great mileage, floats in floods!

I'd love to see this actually happen. Somehow reminds me of bumper boats...

According to physorg, XP Vehicles Inc. is designing an inflatable electric car that may go into production as early as 2010.

Main excerpts from the physorg article:

It's hard to say what the most intriguing thing about XP Vehicles' inflatable car is. Maybe it's that the car can travel for up to 2,500 miles on a single electric charge (the distance across the US is roughly 3,000 miles).

Or maybe it's the fact that you buy the car online, it gets shipped to you in two cardboard boxes, and the estimated assembly time is less than two hours. Perhaps it's that the car is made out of "airbags" - the same polymer materials used to cushion NASA's rovers when they landed on Mars. Then again, it could be the company's claim that you can drive the car off a cliff without serious injury, and that it will float in a flood or tsunami.

Together, these features characterize the Whisper, XP Vehicles' solution to the oil crisis. The company doesn't expect the car to be in production until 2010 at the earliest, but when it is, it will hopefully be an extremely affordable $10,000 or less. XP Vehicles envisions four body styles, along with a special low-priced model for the Southeast Asian market. As the San Francisco-based start-up explains on its Web site, the miracle behind the 2,500-mile range is a "hot-swap XPack Multi-Core Battery/Fuel Cell power plant" invented by the founders of XP Vehicles. Or, without the hot-swap technology, the car can travel up to 300 miles on a single charge, thanks to its light weight.

In the future, individuals may also order online, pick out their desired features as if customizing a PC, and receive the car by a common carrier. Options will include iPod mounts, 20 colors, trim, decals, roof/no roof, car covers, solar mounts, stereos, integrated pumps, home connections, GPS, battery clubs, alarms, and more. Two adults with a high school education should be able to unpack and inflate the car in less than two hours, according to the company. And, if you don´t have enough room in the garage, some models even fold up after assembly for storage. Other models "can change bodies" (details on that are sparse). Different models of the car will be made of various polymers, carbon fiber, and/or other strong, ultra-light-weight materials - the same stuff that protected the Mars rovers´ sensitive electronics as they fell and bounced along the planet´s surface. XP Vehicles claims that the car will be one of the safest on the road for drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. "Research shows that the metal in your car is the largest cause of death and injury," the company explains on its Web site. "The shrapnel, body compression immobility, lung compression, dismemberment and other serious results of a crash are most often caused by the inflexibility of metal and the permanent deformation of the body of the metal car around or into your body. Hence the need for, and name of, the Jaws of Life." For another thing, the car won´t "blow off the road," due to a special ballast and aerodynamic design features which make the car very stable. An inflatable car might even provide additional safety measures in certain circumstances, such as if someone were to accidentally drive it off a cliff - although the company says that it´s not intended for this use. If you´re concerned that an inflatable car may be too tempting for a tire-slashing juvenile delinquent, XP Vehicles says that their car bodies are actually pretty difficult to pierce. The cars have multiple chambers, so a single slice wouldn´t pop it like a balloon - "somebody would really have to go at it" to cause major damage, the company says. And, in the case of vandalism, you can repair it yourself.

If you have faith in them, you can even invest from their website.

Almost time for a Summer of Free Concerts at Stern Grove!

Stern Grove has been hosting free concerts every summer since 1938. This is a lot of fun.

Check out the amazing lineup this summer!
Sundays, 2:00 p.m.
June 15 – August 17, 2008
Stern Grove 19th Ave. and Sloat Blvd.
San Francisco


June 22 SEUN KUTI AND EGYPT 80 Sila and the Afrofunk Experience

June 29 SAN FRANCISCO SYMPHONY James Gaffigan, Conductor

July 6 ALLEN TOUSSAINT Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue


July 20 ALONZO KING’S LINES BALLETFeaturing Pharoah Sanders



August 10 ONE HAWAI’I Featuring Na Leo, Ernie Cruz, Kaukahi, One Right Turn, and more



Saturday, May 31, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A great time to own a Nintendo DS

...especially if you are musically inclined.

Via Make:blog today, a Nintendo DS synth/sequencer, from Korg:

You may have read about it in our recent Made in Japan post - but now Korg's DS-10 Synthesizer/sequencer/drum machine is headed for an international release! From the DS10blog [via] -

For those of you out there wondering the release of DS-10 other than Japan, well, here's a good news. YES, we will release DS-10 worlwide and currently we're making an adjustment with each territory. So please be patient. Your support means a lot to us and we'll keep you all with the latest update of the international release as soon as possible.

Also, coming out this summer, Guitar Grip, for Guitar Hero on Tour! Linked from engadget:

As you can see [on the left], it is limited to just four buttons, but nevertheless, it allows users to hold the DS upright and tap the buttons of the peripheral -- which is suitably fitted into the GBA slot -- and strum the touchscreen to take care of the pickin'.
Check out the youtube video.

Oooh, pretty Bloxes!!!

My kind of building blocks! At $59.95 for a case of 20, it seems quite reasonable for a sturdy, modular structure with so many possibilties.

Here's the description from

What are Bloxes?
Bloxes are building blocks made of interlocking pieces of corrugated cardboard, folded together. Their unique shape and structure make them exceptionally strong and lightweight — you could build yourself a platform to stand on, and then pick it up and move it wherever you need to.

What can you do with them?
Bloxes can connect with each other on all six sides, so you can use them to build walls, benches, tables, tunnels — whatever you can think of. And because the varied surface and complex internal structure helps dampen sound, they're great for managing acoustics in offices, studios and other places.

How do you build with them?
To build a structure with bloxes, simply line up the pegs of two bloxes and push them together. Repeat as necessary. Plus, they're multi-faceted, so you can build in any direction.

How big are they?
Bloxes measure 9½ inches square when assembled; a pack of 20 will create a 4-by-5 blox wall of approximately 36 inches by 45 inches. Sold in quantities of 20, the unassembled bloxes fit in a 15-inch square box for easy shipping.

How can I get them?
You can buy them exclusively from our website. We make limited runs, so order early! If you want to see more uses of Bloxes, check out the pics page.

Found from Make:blog

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C. Clarke has died at 90, in Sri Lanka

From wikipedia:
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE (16 December 1917 - 19 March 2008) was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, most famous for his novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, and for collaborating with director Stanley Kubrick on the film of the same name.
His bibliography is quite renowned, including novels such as Childhood's End (depressing, but entertaining), the Space Odyssey series (2001, 2010, 2061, 3001), numerous short stories, and nonfiction too.

In remembrance, I'll leave you with his 3 laws of prediction to ponder:
  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Gas station comparison shopping

Prices at the gas pump are skyrocketing. In the United States, California is only second to Hawaii in the price paid per gallon of gas today.

For those who want to find the cheapest local gas, there is

They also have lots of other gasoline related information, as well as historical data.
Happy Hunting!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Wiimote hacked to create a multitouch display on almost any surface!

Thanks to Marc Avery for the link.
Awesome idea, great youtube video.
Via gearlog:
Using a Nintendo Wii remote and some software that he ginned up himself, Johnny Chung Lee of Carnegie Mellon University took a few ballpoint pens, replaced them with IR lights, and presto! Since the Wii tracks IR lights, Lee found that practically any surface -- a projector screen, a tabletop, an LCD screen -- could be turned into a multi-touch screen.
You can download Johnny's software at his website.
The video is here.

O'Reilly book cover generator

Create your own O'Reilly style book cover at:

Too cute.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Modular Domino USB Drives, with changing dots

Only conceptware for now, this strikes a special cord for domino aficionados everywhere.

Apparently, the more full the drive is, the more white dots will appear on the face of the drive.

Two drives connect together to form a whole domino.

Via MakeBlog, Yanko Design, and conceptualized by Marcos Breder.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Calcium in the news

It's common knowledge that:

Calcium is an important component of a healthy diet. Calcium is essential for the normal growth and maintenance of bones and teeth, and calcium requirements must be met throughout life. Long-term calcium deficiency can lead to osteoporosis, in which the bone deteriorates and there is an increased risk of fractures. While a lifelong deficit can affect bone and tooth formation, over-retention can cause hypercalcemia (elevated levels of calcium in the blood), impaired kidney function and decreased absorption of other minerals.[5] -Wikipedia
Scientists at Texas A&M AgriLife's Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center have genetically modified a carrot which helps people absorb more calcium. From Science Daily:
"If you eat a serving of the modified carrot, you'd absorb 41 percent more calcium than from a regular carrot," said Dr. Jay Morris, lead author on the paper, a post doctorate researcher at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
However, on the flip side, too much calcium can cause these problems:
Hypercalcemia per se can result in fatigue, depression, confusion, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, constipation, pancreatitis or increased urination "Bones, stones, groans, and psychic moans" is a saying which will help you remember the signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia; if it is chronic it can result in urinary calculi (renal stones or bladder stones). Abnormal heart rhythms can result, and EKG findings of a short QT interval and a widened T wave suggest hypercalcemia. - Wikipedia
Researchers in New Zealand have now determined that calcium supplements are also associated with other health risks. From Reuters:

Calcium supplements may increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in healthy postmenopausal women, a study in New Zealand has found.

The women recruited had a mean age of 74 and had been postmenopausal for more than five years. Those who were receiving treatment for osteoporosis, already taking calcium supplements, or suffering any major ongoing disease were excluded.

Of the 1,471 participants, 732 were given calcium supplements and 739 given placebos. They were followed up every six months for five years. Researchers also checked hospital admissions and reviewed all death certificates for study participants to identify any unreported events.

Heart attacks were more common in the calcium group, with 31 women in that group suffering a total of 36 such events, while 21 women on placebo suffered 22 such events. More strokes were also seen in the calcium group, with 34 women suffering 37 such events, while 25 women on placebo suffered 26 such events.

Back to moderation...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Guitar Wizard: a video game with a real guitar

Move over Guitar Hero, here comes Guitar Wizard!

From Allegro Rainbow:
Guitar Wizard is an education-focused video game that teaches kids of all ages to read and play music. Guitar Wizard will be available for both PC and Mac and will come with a real Washburn guitar and a MIDI pickup. The game’s unique, patented, 4-step learning method allows anyone to learn to play a real guitar and read music in minutes! The software is also compatible with any MIDI guitar.

This is one of the many booths being publicized for the upcoming CES convention in Las Vegas, NV from January 7-10, 2008.

Simple, elegant solutions for overcrowded plugs

The first comes from Blast Magazine, and is one of those 'why didn't I think of that!' solutions to all those big fat plugs we try to squeeze onto the typical power strip. The Powramid's specs can be found here.

The second, by Belkin, is a headphone splitter on steroids. The Rockstar comes complete with 1 output jack and 5 variable input/output jacks, so you and your 4 closest friends can listen to your ipod, or other devices. More info at ilounge.