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The silent mystery of LADWP's buildings

SPONSORED: This post is presented by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Because innovation can be measured in miles, kilowatts and cubic feet. Learn more at toyota.com/rav4ev

In 1940 writer Henry Miller returned to the United States after living in Europe for many years. Soon after, he embarked on a fresh-eyed tour of his native land, writing about what he'd encountered and experienced. His account was published in his 1945 book, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare. One of the most memorable sentences from the book was his opinion of Los Angeles. He wrote, "Los Angeles gives one the feeling of the future more strongly than any city I know of. A bad future, too, like something out of Fritz Lang’s feeble imagination."

I agree with Miller, except I'd replace "bad" with "fascinating," and "feeble" with "fabulous."

When our sponsor Toyota loaned me a 2014 RAV4 Electric vehicle, I thought it would be interesting to visit the power receiving and distributing stations of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which are hiding in plain sight all over the city. Most were built in the 1920s and the architecture reminds me of the art deco style of Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece, Metropolis, a science fiction movie that explores the concept of power in a literal and metaphorical sense. And since the RAV4 Electric was getting its juice from the LADWP, an idea for a photo gallery tickled my feeble imagination. I made a map route, grabbed my camera, unplugged the vehicle (with 93 miles of range in the batteries), and drove into a previous century. (It didn't take long, either, because the acceleration is impressive.) My photos and notes are below.

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For the bathroom: Bluetooth showerhead, color-changing tiles, and more!

SPONSORED: The following post is brought to you by Kohler.


Bathroom enhancements for the discerning restroom aficionado with a penchant for high technology, deep geekery, and wet whimsy:

Kohler Moxie Showerhead and Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Crayola Bath Dropz

• Adventure Time Fleece Bathrobes

Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale

Temperature Sensitive Color Changing Tiles

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My 10-year-old's first concert: Katy Perry at the Hollywood Bowl

Last week I took my wife, daughter (10), and niece (10) to the Katy Perry concert at The Hollywood Bowl. The proceeds for the concert were given to the Young Survival Coalition, which "offers resources, connections and outreach to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer.” Boing Boing's sponsors, Citibank, gave us the same experience that Citi ThankYou card holders got: seats to the soundcheck and Q&A with Katy Perry and a pre-show party with food and drinks. We had a blast! Below, some of my tweets, G+ posts, and Instagrams of the evening.

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It’s Survival of the Fittest on Samsung’s “SOS Island”

Sponsored post: Brought to you by Samsung SOS Island. Click here to learn more

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Can you really survive on a deserted island with only your smartphone? The 16 contestants on Samsung’s interactive, online, live-stream reality series “SOS Island: Survival of the Smartest” have been giving it their best shot – and they’ve got the awesome footage to prove it! Trained by survival expert Les Stroud to compete on a deserted island for two weeks, the adventurers have been performing Herculean tasks and recording their efforts on Samsung GALAXY S4 zoom and GALAXY NX Cameras.

The candidates have come so far already, even if they really had no idea what they’d be in for. Take a look…

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Revolutionary classics in domestic tech

Sponsored post: This post is brought to you by Best Buy. To learn more and find great deals on small appliances that do big things, visit BestBuy.com/DoBigThings.


Bestbuyyyy

As a rule, home appliances aren't thrilling. The public isn't interested in hearing about incremental innovations, and the only time folks dig into the tech specs and reviews is when they need a new coffee maker, washing machine, dishwasher, or vacuum cleaner. And when you need one of those things, you need it NOW. And then you won't think about that product category until your current model becomes irreparable. Occasionally though, design and ingenuity intersect in a way that fuels domestic dreams of a Jetsons future. Here are two recent darlings of geek home gadgetry that are available at – where else – the store with the most tech expertise and know-how, Best Buy:

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Ford Transit modded into mobile library

This post is sponsored by the Ford Transit Connect.

As regular Boing Boing readers know, we are all big library geeks. Nothing beats browsing rows and rows of books where you can take anything that tickles your fancy home with you to read... free! That's why we loved the story of the Batram Trail Regional Library bookmobile, a transformed Ford Transit Connect that replaces the library's 30-year-old vehicle. When the bookmobile and its dedicated librarians visit children's schools, the little ones climb inside while the bigger kids browse their own shelf exposed by opening the Transit Connect's sliding door. If the Batram Trail Regional Library bookmobile isn't parked at pre-K facilities, daycares, and special needs schools, it's likely on its way to a nursing home or making housecalls to homebound readers. Georgia's history of bookmobiles goes back to the Great Depression when custom pick-up trucks piled with books were driven from county to county. Times have changed, but the mission to bring books to everyone remains the same.

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Woodworker mods Ford Transit into camper van

This post is sponsored by the Ford Transit Connect.

When talented woodworker Eric Cournoyer isn't immersed in sawdust, you'll likely find him amongst the trees in their more natural state. An avid outdoorsman, Eric frequently mountain bikes the back trails around his home of Worcester, MA.. After seeing a friend's traditional camper van, Eric was inspired to create his own handcrafted custom camper that would double as his daily driver. The Ford Transit Connect proved to be the perfect platform for Eric to remake into a mobile base camp. His approach? Fine carpentry expressed through a modular box system that's easily reconfigurable for quick trips from his city's streets into the surrounding wilderness.

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OpenXC provides car data for cool hacks

[Video Link] OpenXC is our partner Ford's open-source platform that connects smart phones and tablets to real-time vehicle data. Boing Boing and Ford provided access to the platform (along with simulated and real vehicle data) to teams of invited hackers at the Boing Boing Ingenuity: Data Driven hack day on Saturday, August 17, 2013.

We were blown away by the hackers' imaginative uses of OpenXC in their 8-hour projects. We saw a watercolor robot, a music composition system, an animated back window display, a cost-of-driving meter, and other projects that responded to OpenXC's car data. (You can see videos of Data Driven award winners here.)

In the video above, Ford Research Lab Leader TJ Giuli describes how the OpenXC real-time data platform is enabling people to develop their own user experiences. As he said in this interview, "By making OpenXC open source, developers, researchers and DIYers can have an unprecedented level of access to their vehicle and by contributing source or designs back to the OpenXC project, they become co-creators with us at Ford."

Boing Boing: Ingenuity in partnership with Ford C-Max.

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Tour de Fat hits Fort Collins

This post is brought to you by Fat Tire. Pairs Well With People.

There's not a lot that can prepare you for what a beer festival with 25,000 costumed bicycle riders looks like: think of the craziest marathon you ever saw, then add everything from 1980s-vintage BMXs to reproduction Penny Farthings. Then add beer.

Fort Collins' leg of the Tour De Fat began with all this on parade, exorted by mayor Karen Weitkunat to take care as they chocked the streets of the Colorado town.

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Join Rob at the Tour de Fat on August 31 in Fort Collins, CO

Sponsor message: This post is brought to you by Fat Tire. Pairs Well With People.

Beeeer

In two weeks, our own Rob Beschizza will be headed to the Fort Collins leg of the 14th annual Tour de Fat, the all-ages festival series put on by our sponsor New Belgium Brewing, maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale.

It begins on Saturday, August 31, with a bicycle parade through the streets of Fort Collins, Colorado—a ride that traditionally features all sorts of colorful costumes. Then everyone heads to Civic Center Park, where Reggie Watts, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Fierce Bad Rabbit, Dragondeer and others will put on a show for 20,000 attendees.

The brewery's flagship Fat Tire will be at the show, along with summer seasonal Rolle Bolle and other selections. This doesn't just make the locals happy: the Tour raised $79,000 last year for local non-profits.

Admission to the park is free of charge, parade attendees can donate $5, if they please, and the beer is $5 a pint.

For more on the full 12-city tour, the Tour de Fat credo, and the chance to swap your car for a "fancy new bicycle," visit facebook.com/TourDeFat

TL;DR: Rob is paid to drink beer.

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Boing Boing Ingenuity: A look at Ford's OpenXC real-time data platform

https://youtu.be/6DpXAXuZzGo

On August 17-18, 2013 in San Francisco, Boing Boing is hosting its first ever large-scale live event, called Boing Boing: Ingenuity, in partnership with Ford C-Max. The invitation-only extravaganza starts with a hack day on Saturday (8/17) and will continue on Sunday (8/18) with a mind-bending theatrical experience of presentations, performances, oddities, and wonder! (Read David's post about the hack day here.)

On Saturday, the hacker teams will be given the opportunity to use OpenXC, Ford's open-source platform that connects smart phones and tablets to real-time vehicle data, in their projects. Indeed, the theme of the hack day is "Data Driven." To learn more about OpenXC, we spoke to Ford Research Lab Leader TJ Giuli.

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My week with the 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV

SPONSORED: This post is presented by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Because innovation can be measured in miles, kilowatts and cubic feet. Learn more at toyota.com/rav4ev.

Last week our sponsor Toyota delivered a 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV to my house so I could drive it for a week. As soon as the friendly fellow who dropped it off went away, I jumped in and drove it around town. The first thing I noticed was how, in many ways, the 5-passenger RAV4 EV felt like a traditional gasoline-powered car. And that's a good thing.

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15 weirdest things on wheels at Maker Faire 2013

SPONSORED: This post is presented by the Toyota RAV4 EV. Because innovation can be measured in miles, kilowatts and cubic feet. Learn more at toyota.com/rav4ev

Maker Faire launched in 2006 as a place for makers to meet up and show off their stuff. 20,000 people attended that first year. It was a mind-blowing experience to witness such an exuberant celebration of ingenuity.

I just returned home from Maker Faire Bay Area 2013, and it was the best one yet. At least 120,000 people attended. The variety of projects was impressive, and the trend of "makers making tools for other makers" has accelerated. Who needs an organization to make and sell products when you can use low-cost, effective DIY versions of R&D, prototype development, vendor sourcing, funding, manufacturing, and sales & marketing? The level of sophistication I saw in many projects at Maker Faire is a sign that makers are going to make a difference in the world.

It was nice to see traditional companies come to Maker Faire to support it as sponsors, and to engage with makers in discussions about the future of manufacturing. For example, I checked out Boing Boing sponsor Toyota's RAV4 EV 2013 that was on display at Maker Faire.

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Sponsored Content Pretty Fucking Awesome

NEW YORK—Media consumers across the United States are reporting this week that sponsored content—articles and videos paid for by advertisers and distributed by print and digital publications—is easily the coolest fucking published material anyone could ever read or watch.

“I love, love, fucking love sponsored content,” said news and entertainment reader Erica Olson, adding that when she can tell a corporation is financially behind a piece of writing, she is even more inclined to click on it. “First off, it’s cool. That’s not debatable. Second, I don’t find it in any way insulting to my intelligence. In fact, it makes me feel smarter. And third, did I mention that sponsored content is just really fucking cool?”

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