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Dad makes son excellent "Mission Control Desk"

Jeff Highsmith made a fantastic "Mission Control Desk" for his young son who has just started school. It's hidden under a regular desktop.

World's largest K'Nex ball machine

K'Nex master Austron is constrcting the world's largest K'Nex ball machine. It's located at Bloomington, Minnesota's The Works museum. Austron says:

The machine stands 23.5 feet tall and 40 feet long, and contains over 100,000 pieces. It has 2 lifts, 3 motors, and 8 paths, including a 20 foot free-fall, an 8 foot tall big-ball-factory spiral, and a 60 foot long path which hangs from the ceiling. It takes 3 and a half minutes for a ball to climb to the top of the tallest tower.
"World's Largest K'nex Ball Machine - Teaser" (via Smithsonian)

Help restore the Doggie Diner Heads!

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The Doggie Diner heads, icons of San Francisco's underground culture, are in desperate need of restoration. For twenty years, John Law -- pictured above with the Boing Boing crew and Adam Savage -- has cared for these lovely puppies that are now pushing 50. He and his co-conspirators have tirelessly driven them around the region to the overwhelming delight of young and old. For free. John is now seeking donations to restore them to their former glory. Please support the Doggie Diner Makeover at Kickstarter if you can! Here's what John has to say:

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Mike Vraney, founder of Something Weird Video, RIP

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Mike Vraney, founder of Something Weird Video, has died of lung cancer. He was 56. For decades, Something Weird has been the preeminent source of cult psychotronic and exploitation films that would have vanished into the dustbin of underground culture were it not for Vraney's tireless efforts. Our thoughts go out to Mike's wife, artist Lisa Petrucci, their family, co-workers, and friends. Below, watch a 2007 television profile of Vraney and Something Weird. Here's the obituary at Daily Grindhouse, copied from the Something Weird page on Facebook:

"In Memory of 'Something Weird' Founder Mike Vraney (1957-2014)" (Thanks, Kirsten Anderson)

The Exploratorium's Tinkering Studio and new book!





When I was eleven, my three primary interests were science, art, and magic. That hasn't changed. In 1981, I visited San Francisco for the first time and my big brother took me to the Exploratorium, a pioneering museum that exists at the intersection of science, art, and magic. It blew my mind wide open. And more than three decades later, it's become a very special place for my children, aged 7 and 4. Part of the Exploratorium's stated mission is to ignite curiosity about human perception. But the Exploratorium doesn't just teach people about human perception. Like the best science, art, and magic, the museum experience actually changes your perception of reality.

Earlier this year, the Exploratorium moved from its vast warehouse space near the Golden Gate Bridge into new digs on a pier overlooking the Bay. The massive new space retains the raw, inviting "rustic" warmth of the original location but with better amenities and, most importantly, far more room to showcase classic and new exhibits and also inject even more of the DIY spirit that fuels the museum's creators. This motivation is made tangible in the exposed workshops (just like the old facility) where staff prototypes new exhibits, and in the new Tinkering Studio, a bustling workshop where every guest is encouraged to "learn by doing." And if you need inspiration, just look around at the permanent and temporary exhibits like Scott Weaver's "Rolling Through The Bay," made from 100,000 toothpicks and seen in action above.

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Neurodreamer: open source sleeping mask/mind machine

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After eight years of development and a successful Kickstarter, BB pal Mitch Altman's Neurodreamer sleep mask is ready for shipping! You might recall that Mitch is the inspiring maker behind the TV-B-Gone, Trip Glasses, and a bunch of other delightful gadgets. The Neurodreamer is an open source light/sound machine integrated into a memory foam mask. Mitch says:

The NeuroDreamer sleep mask is an advancement over prior entrainment* devices which attempt to entrain the brain with only a single brainwave frequency at a time. The NeuroDreamer sleep mask uses up to four brainwave frequencies simultaneously (mixed at different amplitudes), to more closely replicate the full spectrum of frequencies present in a person who is falling asleep.

* "Entrainment" is the the process of externally presenting brainwave frequencies to the brain, allowing it to synchronize to those frequencies.

It's available for $69.95 in three different versions designed for Sleep, Lucid Dreaming, or Meditation. Mitch is having a sale right now: Entering the coupon code THANKS gets you 10% off everything in Mitch's Cornfield Electronics shop, including the Neurodreamer. I want one!

Rube Goldberg's marvelous machines

Cartoonist Rube Goldberg’s absurdly complex mechanisms for achieving easy results are so ingrained in popular culture that the artist/engineer’s name appears in the dictionary as an adjective. A new book highlights his happy mutant approach to engineering.

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LED stick person costume for toddler

Royce Hutain made a wonderful "stick person" costume for his toddler from LED lights and a body suit.

DIY Myazaki ornithopter and Totoro

Kazuhiko Kakuta made a terrific flying ornithopter model of a Flaptter from Hayao Miyazaki's "Laputa: The Castle in the Sky" (1986). Details here. And below, video of Kakuta's radio-controlled Totoro. (via The Kid Should See This)

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Harry Harwood Garrison, player piano restorer, magician, smoke ring-blower, RIP

Harry Harwood Garrison of Cincinnati, Ohio died last week at age 77. Sounds like an amazing guy; wish I'd know him! From his obituary:

CEN048178 1 20130921Sole proprietor of the Player Piano Shop, enthusiast & restorer of all variety of automated musical instruments, life-time entertainer performing magic acts & smoke-ring blowing, including an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson…

Raconteur, gourmand, fine-arts supporter & lover of music, particularly traditional & Dixieland jazz, boogie-woogie piano, blues, bluegrass, & opera. Historian of Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Westwood, & Colerain Township; craftsman, traveler, latter-day renaissance man, noted by many friends & colleagues for having a remarkable memory & his ability to recall detail.

Harry Harwood Garrison obituary (Cincinnati.com, thanks Gil Kaufman!)

Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson's DIY musical instruments

Untitled Above, one of the exquisite hand-made acoustic/electronic instruments played by the late, great Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson of Coil and Throbbing Gristle. Many more at Pacmasaurus's Flickr set of "UnkleSleazy's Instruments." (via @chris_carter_)

Custom dead Barbie in casket

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Sarina Frauenfelder, an heiress apparent to the Boing Boing fortune, created this custom Barbie complete with pink coffin. I like that Barbie's flesh has totally decomposed except for her plastinated face.

Doug Engelbart (RIP): "The Mother of All Demos"

In memory of computing pioneer Douglas Engelbart, who died last night, please watch this 1968 video of his "Mother of All Demos." Thank you Doug for helping augment human intellect.

Untitled"The key thing about all the world's big problems is that they have to be dealt with collectively. If we don't get collectively smarter, we're doomed." - Douglas Engelbart (1925- 2013)

Anton LaVey plays his keyboard

In this terrific video, Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey talks about how his interests in the arcane, magic, and showmanship were inspired by the mentalists at old time carnival midways. He also recalls his experiences as a professional calliope player in the 1940s-1960s and plays a few delightful tunes. (Thanks, Jenny Hart!)

UPDATE: BB pal COOP says, "This footage is from a documentary by Nick Bougas. These keyboards were set up in the kitchen of the Black House. I spent many nights in that kitchen listening to Dr. LaVey play. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, and could play almost any song that came up in discussion."