Disney Research's ideas for 3D printed toys

Printed Optics: 3D Printing of Embedded Optical Elements for Interactive Devices, a paper from Disney researchers in Pittsburgh, details a set of toymaking techniques involving 3D printers. Some of them (like "a bug-like figure with glowing eyes that display different graphics") are intriguing in the extreme. I like the way they're thinking about 3D printed micro-channels as a means of moving light around within a solid toy. Here's the BBC's summary:

One application involved the creation of air pockets in the shape of thin hollow tubes of various lengths which were arranged to resemble the shape of a cartoon heart inside an animal-shaped figurine.

When illuminated from below using a light emitting-diode (LED) the tubes looked as if lots of tiny lights had been built into the toy and programmed to shine in sequence to resemble a beating heart.

Another example involved creating "light pipes" as a 3D-printed alternative to optical fibre.

The engineers said the pipes could be easily shaped to fit a toy's specific form, with joints placed at specific places allowing them to be linked to other light pipes. They said this would have been much harder to achieve with traditional fibre.

Disney develops 3D-printed lighting for toys Read the rest

Geeky license plate gallery

Wired's Robert McMillan has collected some of the geekiest license plates he can find for a fun little gallery. I've only ever owned a car once, the year I lived in LA, and I was happy to score COPYFYT for my crappy Hyundai (my wife, a gamer, got MAGELFG, only after being turned down for ZOMGWTF). Of course, attentive Boingers will know that our own Jason Weisberger sports the ultimate custom plate: DRUNK.

The Geekiest License Plates of All Time

(Image: rm -rf *, by Michael Foord) Read the rest

Striking new Murakami book covers

Vintage Books has redesigned its Haruki Murakami backlist with striking covers by Israeli designer/illustrator Noma Bar. The covers -- and there are a dozen more -- are reproductions of Bar's hand-pulled screen prints. "Vintage Murakami" Read the rest

Pirate Cinema audiobook: no DRM, no EULA, just the spoken word

Further to yesterday's post about the availablity of a DRM-free, EULA-free MP3 download for the audiobook of Little Brother, I'm pleased to announce that I'm also selling the audiobook for my new novel Pirate Cinema. As with the Little Brother audio, this is a professionally voiced, unabridged audiobook from Random House Audio. This one is read by the rather fabulous Bruce Mann.

The reason I'm selling this direct from my site is that the largest retail channels for audiobooks -- iTunes and Audible -- refuse to carry audiobooks without DRM and onerous license-agreements. I don't want to lock you into anyone's platform, and I don't want to take away any of the rights you get under copyright law. So I've taken matters into my own hands, offering the book directly, in a fair, straightforward, simple way. I'm immensely grateful to Random House for backing me in my fight against DRM, and for sacrificing the revenue they'd get from iTunes/Audible in order to leave me with my principles intact.

Pirate Cinema Audiobook Read the rest

Schoolkids pay to store cell phones in "valet" trucks

Some NYC students not permitted to bring their phones or other gadgets to school shell out $1/day at "valet" trucks like the "Pure Loyalty Electronic Device Storage" vehicle and other similarly converted vans. From the AP:

Cellphones and other devices, such as iPods and iPads, are banned in all New York City public schools, but the rule is widely ignored except in the 88 buildings that have metal detectors. Administrators at schools without detectors tell students, “If we don’t see it, we don’t know about it...”

The trucks that collect the cellphones have their own safety issues — one was held up in the Bronx in June, and some 200 students lost their phones.

"A phone away from home: Some NYC students pay private ‘valets’ a dollar a day" (via Dave Pell's NextDraft) Read the rest

Maine GOP attack-flier condemns Democratic candidate for playing an orc rogue in online game

A flier distributed by the Maine GOP attacks Democratic state senate candidate Colleen Lachowicz for playing an orc assassin rogue in World of Warcraft, using quotes she's made about the virtual violence her imaginary fairy-tale creature gets up to in order to imply that she is unfit for office. Timothy Lee has more on Ars Technica:

"I love poisoning and stabbing! It is fun," the flyer quotes Lachowicz as saying. The candidate is apparently a regular commenter at DailyKos, a liberal blog. And the Maine GOP has mined the site looking for what it regards as damning comments. Most of Lachowicz's remarks were posted in 2009 or 2010, most likely before she began her current campaign for office.

"I can kill stuff without going to jail," she wrote in December 2009. "There are some days when this is more necessary than others." The flyer points voters to a website, called "Colleen's World," that highlights more cases where she describes virtual violence she committed in the online world.

Candidate for Maine State Senate attacked for Warcraft character Read the rest

The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song: exclusive excerpt from new graphic novel about country music pioneers

What is the year that country music started to suck? 1970? 1960? 1950? I don't know, but The Carter Family was around well before any of those years, and I love their music. I also love this new graphic novel, The Carter Family: Don’t Forget This Song, By Frank M. Young and David Lasky, published by Abrams ComicArts.

Rings carved from billiard balls

Eleanor Salazar, a jewelry maker in Maine, fashions beautiful rings from old billiard balls, carving them to size and polishing them to a smooth finish.

These rings are carved from bona fide used billiard balls to fit your finger. I can make yours in sizes 5-10, and can carve it from whichever pool ball in the set strikes your fancy, from 1-15. Just be sure to contact me with your ring size when you order.

Rounded Numbered Rings (via Neatorama) Read the rest

Chirp sends information from one smartphone to another, using electronic birdsong

[Video Link] Nicolas Pergola of Chirp says

We're a spinout from University College London Computer Science and we've developed a new data transfer application for smartphones (and more) called Chirp.

This is our thing - a technology inspired by birdsong and the principles of biomimicry.

We think it's pretty exciting since the app has great potential, although it's just the tip of the iceberg. Our plans include teaching the machines to sing.

Read the rest

Amazing discoveries in science fiction: Everyone in Star Wars might be illiterate

"It seems like all the characters in Star Wars learn how to do is punch certain buttons to make their machines do what they need to do, and everything else is left up to droids." Ryan Britt at Tor has an analysis on how all the citizens in George Lucas' space epic have culturally evolved to a state in which the written word has gone extinct and, as a result, no one can read or write. Consider this the next time you send a text with your voice, if you feel like giving yourself a small anxiety attack. (via io9) Read the rest

PBS Off Book video: What Are Indie Video Games

[Video Link] As I've mentioned before, I love PBS's Off Book video series about Internet culture. The videos are intelligent, well produced, and often reveal things that surprise me. The newest video, released today, is about indie video games.

The video game industry is now bigger than Hollywood, with hundreds of millions of dollars spent developing these interactive experiences. But there are also small-scale developers working in the indie game realm, creating unique and experimental video games without the budgets of the larger "AAA" games. These indie game developers devote time, money, and take great risks in a quest to realize their creative vision. They deftly balance game mechanics & systems, sound & visuals, and an immersive storytelling experience to push the gaming medium into revolutionary new territory. Much like indie music or indie film, the indie gaming movement provides a creative outlet for game designers who want to work outside of the mainstream.
Read the rest

Thief steals iPhone from a baby

How soon before this gent -- who stole an iPhone from a 20-month-old baby watching an episode of Barney & Friends -- gets doxed?

Thief steals iPhone from a baby (Via Cult of Mac) Read the rest

How to flip food in a pan (Video)

[Video Link] You aren't supposed to lift the pan. You're supposed to slide it back and forth. Thanks, Chef John! (Via Doobybrain) Read the rest

Future of racism, Canadian style

Denise sends us Jef Catapang's project where "A bunch of Canadian science fiction authors riff on what sci-fi teaches us about race, and share their thoughts on the future of racism." Read the rest

New 3D printer makes furniture, glass jars, food and more out of garbage

[Video Link] The Muffin Monster creates useful objects out of shredded garbage. This is a game changer. (Via Laughing Squid) Read the rest

Photographic proof that Arrested Development is really, truly back

We knew that several reports over the last few months have confirmed the wonderful news that Arrested Development was not only coming back, they were coming back to film 13 episodes that would be streamed on Netflix in 2013, and those episodes would lead into a full-length movie. We knew that Ron Howard had an actual, written script. And we also had set photos. But now, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, we have the entire cast reunited. Several photos of the whole ensemble, both in and out of silly costumes, will appear in the reunion-centric issue hitting stands this week.

Wait a second -- 13 episodes in 2013, quite possibly in April, the month of April Fool's... What if they're still messing with us??? Sorry, my tinfoil hat was a little snug for a second there.

Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly

'Arrested Development': The photo you've been waiting years to see [Entertainment Weekly] Read the rest

Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 years of Life on the Street

Last night, I spent an hour flipping through this lovely coffee table book on Sesame Street. Every time there is a debate about some obscure memory of the Street, out comes this tome.

Sesame Street played such an important role in my childhood and that of my friends that I am never surprised to find whoever is at my house leafing through this lovely collection of photos, stories and facts. When my daughter became a fan, I was thrilled to get reacquainted with the show and its new characters.

Having a coffee table book is great, but giving to Sesame Street feels even better. Most of its funding comes from the public, people like us.

Many people don’t realize that Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit organization. For all of our programs, which include productions in more than 140 countries, we must cover the substantial cost of research and curriculum development, writing, design, production, and more.

Louise A. Gikow's Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 years of Life on the Street Read the rest

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