Gypsophilia's "Constellation" -- decadent old-time jazz with a klezmer touch from Halifax, Nova Scotia

Back in 2009, I reviewed "Sa-ba-da-OW!", a wonderful, eclectic album from Gypsophilia, an indie band out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. I've just finished a day's listening to their new album, "Constellation," which is out today, and it's every bit as good as the last one. This is still recognizably Gypsophilia, still eclectic, slightly angular, high-energy jazz with bits of klezmer and stuff thrown in, but Constellation is more put-together and polished. But not too polished! It still makes me want to get out of my seat and dance around the room (especially the opening track, "Zachary's Czardas," which seems to channel Stéphane Grappelli's jazz fiddle and the piano stylings of Daffy Duck in full swing).

The album is available as name your price, DRM-free MP3s, a CD, or a vinyl LP.

Space Invaders playing cards

Art Lebedev's Space Invaders cards use different arcade game sprites to denote the suits, and have a great, heavily aliased 8-bit design for the card-backs. (via Oh Gizmo)

Virtual monkeys recreate Shakespeare

Jesse Anderson set out to recreate every single work of Shakespeare at the same time by means of virtual monkeys that are simulated on Amazon's cloud computing platform. One million virtual monkeys create virtual text around the clock, and if any of that text matches any of Shakespeare, it is saved to the repository.

On September 23d, the monkeys recreated A Lover's Complaint.

For this project, I used Hadoop, Amazon EC2, and Ubuntu Linux. Since I don’t have real monkeys, I have to create fake Amazonian Map Monkeys. The Map Monkeys create random data in ASCII between a and z. It uses Sean Luke’s Mersenne Twister to make sure I have fast, random, well behaved monkeys. Once the monkey’s output is mapped, it is passed to the reducer which runs the characters through a Bloom Field membership test. If the monkey output passes the membership test, the Shakespearean works are checked using a string comparison. If that passes, a genius monkey has written 9 characters of Shakespeare. The source material is all of Shakespeare’s works as taken from Project Gutenberg.

(via /.)

Lego greenhouse uses bricks as growing medium


Sebastian Bergne's Lego greenhouse isn't merely an enormous structure made from transparent legos*, it's also a functional greenhouse that apparently uses legos as a growing medium.

LEGO commissioned the award-winning designer, Sebastian Bergne, to create a public installation using the iconic bricks, as part of the London Design Festival 2011. Entitled the “LEGO Greenhouse”, this large-scale installation will be on display in the North Piazza, Covent Garden, a world-renowned cultural district, from 15th to 25th September 2011...

In daylight, the structure looks very much like an ordinary suburban greenhouse dropped into a new environment. Yet at night, it assumes another character entirely. It is transformed into a magical box, glowing and lit it seems, by the life of the plants it contains.

(via Cribcandy)

*ObPedantTroll: legos legos legos legos ahahahahahaha!

Rubber bookshelves

Luke Hart created these rubber bookshelves for The Sculpture House. They have the delightful impracticality of all the everyday objects crafted from rubber that appear in old Warner Brothers cartoons, and the bright red coloring is an especially nice touch.

(via Bookshelf)

TOSAmend: turn all online "I Agree" buttons into negotiations

Kevin Owocki's TOSAmend is a provocative browser applet that allows you amend the (up-to-now) non-negotiable terms of service you had to "agree" to in order to access many services online. The applet causes your new terms of service to be submitted along with your "I agree" click, so that the provider can agree, disagree, or modify your terms and send them back, preserving the ages-old tradition of negotiation.

Here it falls to me to remind you of ReasonableAgreement.org, where you can get the text of my ReasonableAgreement:

READ CAREFULLY. By reading this, you agree, on behalf of your employer, to release me from all obligations and waivers arising from any and all NON-NEGOTIATED agreements, licenses, terms-of-service, shrinkwrap, clickwrap, browsewrap, confidentiality, non-disclosure, non-compete and acceptable use policies ("BOGUS AGREEMENTS") that I have entered into with your employer, its partners, licensors, agents and assigns, in perpetuity, without prejudice to my ongoing rights and privileges. You further represent that you have the authority to release me from any BOGUS AGREEMENTS on behalf of your employer.

on stickers and t-shirts, sold at cost (I don't get anything from this, apart from a warm glow).

TOSAmend: The easy way to modify web service Terms of Service agreements (via /.)

Skeletal whole-hand bracelet

Delfina Delettrez, a designer in Rome, made this beautiful, polished skeletal bracelet (though I couldn't locate it at her site, which autoplays music) (be warned).

Delfina Delettrez

Hulking computing engines of Toronto's yesteryear


Blogto's Derek Flack went spelunking in the Toronto Archives for photos of old computers in situ, from the days when installing a monsterscale computing engine was cause for bringing in the photographer for a bit of posterity. I remember my dad taking me to some computer rooms in this era, though his facial hair was far more glorious than this gentleman's.
As I've mentioned before, one of the best parts of digging around the Toronto Archives is the stuff you find that you were never looking for. I'd guess that at least a third of the ideas I've had for historical posts about the city have come via some serendipitous discovery or another. Today's installment is certainly fits this bill.

When I was putting together a post about what banks used to look like in Toronto, I happened to stumble upon some spectacular, Kubrick-esque shots of an unidentified computer room that got me wondering if there were any more like them in the City's digitized collection. As it turns out, there are — though not as many as I'd like.

Vintage computers and technology in Toronto (via Super Punch)

The MIT Chorallaries perform "The Engineers' Drinking Song"

Possibly NSFW in parts. Thanks, Jon Hiller!

Video Link

Book-shaped travelling libraries


Joplin, MO librarian April Roy, bookseller Pete Cowdin and members of the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild are building 22 mobile libraries -- book-shaped travelling bookcases that can be brought to poor, tornado-struck schools in the area. They're working with donated labor and cash donations for materials.
Roy and book store owner Pete Cowdin hit upon a “modest” proposal to bring new books to young readers in Joplin — individual 50-book “libraries” for a number of needy classrooms.

No question about the need. A tornado in May wiped out 54 percent of the school district’s square footage. Irving Elementary, home to 280 students, was destroyed. Emerson Elementary, an older building with 230 students, wasn’t demolished but also wasn’t practical to repair.

Volunteers write the first chapter for Joplin books (via Bookshelf)

(Image: JILL TOYOSHIBA/Kansas City Star)

Soldering gun made from modded Han Solo blaster: the Han Solderer


Milwaukee's Craig Smith presents his Han Solderer, a high-powered soldering gun made from a collectible Han Solo blaster he treasured as a lad. The gag is funnier if you pronounce it "sol-der" (UK) not "soh-der" (US), but woah, that's a nice piece of Happy Mutant-ware.
About 1983, when I was fifteen, I dropped my dad’s red Bakelite soldering gun and broke the casing. Of course he was upset, so I did my best to “fix it.” So I took my original Star Wars Han Solo pistol and gutted it to hold the soldering gun components. I even ran the lightbulb up into the scope on top. The button on the handle worked well for the trigger switch. Ten years later, when the old house was sold, the gun wound up in my belongings. To this day, when an underpowered iron just won’t do, I pull out the “Han Solderer” and get the job done. Half of me likes the mod, the other half is ill over the fact that I gutted my vintage Star Wars toy. What’s done is done.

“Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good soldering gun at your side, kid.”

Introducing: The Hans Solderer (via IZ Reloaded)

Found object assemblage bird-houses


GadgetSponge features some wonderful birdhouses made from found objects and turned into aviary sculptures.

Bird Houses (Thanks, Brian!)

Glass and steel eyeball-spiders


Etsy seller hand-forges these steel spiders and makes the eyeballs they support, and describes both with a lot of verve:
I hand hammer glowing hot steel on an antique anvil and make glass eyeballs that are attached after everything cools down. This is a sturdy piece of art that looks like it walked out of a computer animation. The bends and proportions in the legs are based on research I did into the kinematics of spiders, computer animation of spiders, and lots of arachnid photos.

I hand make these one of a kind items in my shop. The glass is annealed in a digital kiln for maximum toughness. The metal work is finished with a traditional blacksmith mix of linseed oil and beeswax. These take a good sized box and are somewhat heavy so shipping is a bit steep, but I typically ship priority mail within 24 hours.

Eyeball Spider no 1 hand forged spider with glass by hotworks (Thanks, James B!)

Brass-effect 3D printed steampunk D6s


Etsy seller MechanicalOddities 3D prints these D6s with gears instead of pips, then finishes them by hand with brass-effect paint.

Dice - 3D printed, Steampunk Style, Bronze Finish (Thanks, Alice)

Pixelated clothing designs: when reality has a render-glitch

Alba Prat's clothing designs are made to look pixelated, as though they've emerged from a video-game. I love how subtle the effect is -- not the chunky, 8-bit fashion we've seen before, but rather, a series of hints at some digital origin, as though caught from an angle that the game-engine doesn't know how to render properly. Jonas Lindstroem's mystery-shrouded photography really brings the collection to life.
Yatzer discovered an exceptional two-piece collection by a fashion design student from the Berlin University of Arts; Alba Prat. Despite the fact that the particular work was limited in terms of quantity, one could see the potential of this particular designer. Her work involved two designs made in laser-cut, neoprene fabric, following clean lines and creating 3-D-like, cubic effects. The small collection took the name ''The Synthetic Oceans''. Today, Alba makes her much-expected step forward. She presents us with a larger collection of garments made for women, always stamped with her signature elements. Describing it in a few words, the collection features clean lines, sole colours and optical effects. Yet this time the collection takes the name ''Digitalized''.

The Digitalized Collection constitutes Alba Prat’s fashion design studies final year project. According to the designer, the inspiration for her work was the 1982 film Tron, largely apparent in her futuristic design techniques.

The Digitalized Collection of Alba Prat (via JWZ)

(Image: downsized crop of photo by Jonas Lindstroem)