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Playing Jenga with heavy earth-moving equipment

In Stack competitions, a bunch of earth-moving equipment plays a monster-scale game of Jenga with 600lb blocks of wood -- pretty amazing skill on the part of the operators!

This is pretty amazing, but don't get too excited about Cat's equipment. Remember, this is the company that bought an Ontario factory, got a huge, multi-year tax break out of the government, then, pretty much the day it ran out, demanded a 50% wage-cut from the union, refused to negotiate, then closed down the factory, fired its workforce just before Christmas, and split town, having waxed fat on corporate welfare. No amount of fun promotional Jenga games can change the fact that if Cat's corporate personhood was literal, the company would be such an obviously dangerous sociopath that it would be permanently institutionalized to protect the rest of society.

Built For It Trials - Stack: Largest Board Game Played with Cat Excavators (via JWZ)

Profile of Aeropress and Aerobie inventor Alan Adler


Alan Adler is a Stanford engineering professor and inventor who's had two remarkable -- and wildly different -- successes: the long-flying Aerobie disc, and the Aeropress, a revolutionary, brilliant, dead-simple $30 coffee maker that makes pretty much the best cup of coffee you've ever tasted. I've given Aeropresses to a dozen friends, I keep one in my travel-bag, and I've got Aeropresses at home and at the office. I use mine to make hot coffee and to filter cold-brew (including hotel-room minibar cold-brew that I brew in breast-milk bags).

Zachary Crockett has a great, long piece on Adler and the process that led to the creation of these two remarkable products. Adler's first success, the Aerobie, was the result of lucking out with the major TV networks and magazines, who provided him with the publicity he needed to get his business off the ground (literally). But with the Aeropress, the defining factor was the Internet, where a combination of coffee-nerd message-boards (where Adler could interact directly with his customers) and an easy means for coffee-shop owners all over the world to order Aeropresses for retail sale made the Aeropress into a global hit.

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Gay jeans: bluejeans that go rainbow as they fade

Chris from Betabrand writes, "Betabrand designer Steven B. Wheeler has discovered the Gay Jean -- more precisely, a denim that slowly but surely fades to reveal rainbow-colored thread within."

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Windows Phone 8.1 surprisingly great

Windows Phone 7 was Microsoft's belated entry in the smartphone wars, ushering in cool new design trends without making a huge impact on the business. Windows Phone 8 was a disappointment. But the first major point version is a big surprise, packing all the new features expected in its predecessor: "a magnificent smartphone platform," writes Peter Bright. Rob 16

Blackmagic adds more pro cameras at market-nuking prices

Blackmagic's trick is to make cameras with great cinematic image quality at a relatively inexpensive price. The tradeoff is gear that is Satan's gift to ergonomics, with low-end audio inputs, terrible battery life and a limited set of features. Enter the Blackmagic Studio Camera, which includes a big 10" monitor, 4 hours on a charge, XLR inputs, and broadcast-friendly features lacking in the earlier models. With the offered grip accessory, one may even hold it with a human hand! The game-changing prices remain: it's just under $2k, with a 4K version for $3k. You'll still need to bring your own lenses and SSDs.

Also announced is the Blackmagic URSA, a higher-end model with a super35-size 4k sensor aimed at professional feature use. At $6k, it isn't as affordable to students and consumers as the other models (especially the $990 pocket cinema camera), but it compares well on paper to the five-figure price tags hanging off similar gear from Canon, Sony and others.

Some important facts about the Tex-Mex nipple-shields for men


Chantilly's Tex-Mex nipple-shields for men are not chili flavored, nor do they taste of tacos. They are for fashion (marathon runners, take note). There are no other flavors.

And now you know.

Tex Mex Nipple Shield for men, Tokyu Hands, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Mobile phone orchestra TV advertisement

I've seen several artists create "mobile phone orchestras" but I appreciate the multigenerational representation in this example made for SK Telecom, the South Korean wireless operator.

Just look at this crinkle-cut banana-slicer


Just look at it.

Crinkle-cut banana slicer ,Tokyu Hands, Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan

Furniture made from recycled boat-wood


All From Boats is a furniture maker that uses lumber recycled from decommissioned wooden boats as raw materials. The individual wooden pieces are each distressed in their own way, and are purchased from sailors on a fair-trade basis. They don't do any direct retail (the minimum wholesale order is $2000), but have a number of retailers around the world, including Tokyu Hands in Shibuya, Tokyo. They also sell raw planking for floors. The boats themselves come from around the Pacific Rim, mainly Bali and Indonesia. I saw a bunch of this stuff in person today and it's absolutely beautiful -- very well made and well designed.

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Imogen Heap's musical gloves

Sean sends us, "a video interview with Imogen Heap describing her homemade electronic interface gloves that control her music interface software by the movement and positions of her hands." Heap is kickstarting an open source hardware version of the gloves.

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Crowdfunding Novena, the fully open/transparent laptop project

Remember Bunnie Huang's fully open laptop? Bunnie and Sean "xobs" Cross prototyped a machine he called the "Novena" in which every component, down to the BIOS, was fully documented, licensed under FLOSS licenses, and was totally modifiable by its owner.

Now, Bunnie and Xobs have teamed up with Sutajio Kosagi for a crowdfunding campaign to take the laptop into production. $500 gets you the board, $1200 gets you a desktop version, $2000 gets you a laptop and $5000 get you a "heirloom laptop" in a handmade wooden case crafted by Portland-area luthier Kurt Mottweiler.

The Novena is "not a device made for consumer home use" -- it has lots of components that are exposed during normal use, has no moisture- or static-resistance built into it, etc. It's intended as a piece of high-quality lab equipment for people interested in the long-term project of building fully open, everyday use computers where surveillance, abusive commercial practices, and other proprietary horribles are substantially harder to accomplish than in the current hardware/software ecosystem.

Noah Swartz notes, "I for one am super excited about it because it's meant specifically for hackers and tinkerers. The motherboard has a Spartan-6 CSG324-packaged FPGA built right into it, and if you opt for the conversion-tablet form factor you also get bunni's own battery controller which allows you to use cheap RC car or airplane batteries instead of expensive laptop specific ones by moving the load balancing circuits off of the battery itself. Also the internals of the case are covered in mounting holes (dubbed the peek array after Nadya Peek: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIUE8VVLjCE) which allow you to affix whatever sort of add-ons you want to the inside of the laptop."

I've put in for one of the laptops. I can't wait.

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Is Gresso Azimuth the Sony Ericsson K850 killer we've all been waiting for?

Packing exclusive materials, handicraft and attention to detail, the Azimuth is luxury phonemaker Gresso's bid to take on Sony Ericsson's K850 at the premium end of the cellphone market.

The slim candybar packs beefy Dual SIMs, but lacks the reigning champ's Memory Stick Micro slot and 5.04 megapixel CMOS camera with Xenon flash. No word on polyphonic ringtones.

Like its rival, which was discontinued seven years ago, the Azimuth opts for svelte metal buttons for a "pleasant tactile perception" and a brushed metal casing evocative of the DeLorean DMC-12, the most popular sports car among men who claim to have killed Jon-Benet Ramsay. Unlike long-defunct Sony Ericsson's flagship model, though, it's assembled by a single craftsman to allow the titanium casing time to mature.

Sporting Nokia's cutting-edge S40 operating system, the Azimuth should offer a snappier experience than even the beefiest and most packing Symbian handsets, but business users might not be so quick to give up their BlackBerry Pearls.

The Gresso Azimuth is just $2000 and may be ordered directly from gresso.com

Engagement ring with tiny slide and projection lens built in


This engagement ring with a built-in lens and slide is apparently a prototype produced by an unnamed Polish manufacturer. According to Technolog, who posted the images to Reddit, the publicity-shy manufacturer hasn't gone into production yet.

Update: Technolog has updated the post with the name of the maker: Marek Mazur of Gdansk

Engagement ring with little photo slide and lens in it (via Super Punch)

Hand-painted Haunted Mansion stretching portraits coasters on Italian marble


Etsy seller Breakeble Designs used to offer these hand-painted Italian marble coasters that depicted the stretching portraits from the Haunted Mansions from Disneyland/Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. Alas, Breakeble Designs is on holiday, with no word of when or if the coasters will return. They'd make handsome decorative wall-tiles as well as coasters.

Haunted Mansion Stretching Portrait Italian Marble Coasters (via The Haunted Mansion)

Arduino-powered Etch-a-Sketch clock

Dodgey99 built an Arduino-powered Etch-a-Sketch clock, in which a pair of stepper motors painstakingly draw out the current time. It's got a very low refresh rate, though: the limits of the motors and the Etch-a-Sketch means that it takes more than a minute to display the time, and it needs a couple of minutes' rest between each number. There's a plan to accelerate things with some beefier motors.

I use an Arduino driving two very cheap darlington stepper drivers with 64:1 internally reduced steppers for the drawing. For the rotation I'm using an Easy-Driver driving a Nema 17 stepper.

I also have a DS1307RTC real time clock installed so it always knows the time. Setting the time is a one-off via USB connected to a PC. Once done, you un-tether, and then the RTC keeps the time, for up to a year on the rechargeable battery, or so I'm told...

The code is actually very simple, it's just a pain drawing the numbers!

The G clamp on the back is for a counter balance until I find something more elegant!

The steppers are far too slow to write the time in under a minute so I delay it for a couple of mins between each draw. Mostly to give the very hot motors a while to cool off and to give the etch a sketch a break!

Etch a Sketch clock powered by Arduino (via JWZ)