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Invented in 1801, Jacquard looms are really an add-on to already existent mechanical loom systems, which allowed those looms to create patterns more complex and intricate than anything that had been done before. The difference: Punch cards.
When you weave, the pattern comes from changes in thread position — which threads were exposed on the surface of the cloth and which were not. But prior to the Jacquard loom, there were only so many threads that any weaver could control at one time, so patterns were simple and blocky. Essentially, the Jacquard system vastly increased the pixels available in any weaving pattern, by automatically controlling lots and lots of threads all at once. Punch cards told the machine which threads were in play at any given time.
It's a really cool process, and I wanted to share a couple of videos that give you a good idea of how these looms work and how they changed the textiles industry. You can watch them below. But probably the best example is the image above. It's a picture of Joseph-Marie Jacquard, woven in silk on the loom he invented — a fantastic demonstration of the design power that loom offered. In just a few years, people went from weaving simple stars and knots, to weaving patterns that almost look like they were spit out of a printer.
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Here's an image from a patent filing made in 1931. Now, what do you think it is?
I'll give you a hint: It's a medical device.
Just look at it.
Thanks to Aaron Bockelie for posting this in the comments from a post earlier this week. And to Tom Levenson for pointing it out to me!
Making a high-quality elevator isn't just about designing something that can safely go from one floor to another. Elevators are service items. That means that when you design an elevator, you also have to design for people — both individual desires and needs, and the desires and needs of a variety of cultures.
If engineering is really about designing socio-technical systems, then elevators are big, fat, obvious reminder of that dynamic in play. In a profile written for the Wall Street Journal, author Kate Linebaugh describes the work of Theresa Christy, a mathematician and Otis Elevator research fellow.
You press a button and wait for your elevator. How long before you get impatient and agitated? Theresa Christy says 20 seconds.
As a mathematician steeped in the theories of vertical transportation at Otis Elevator Co., Ms. Christy, 55, has spent a quarter-century developing systems that make elevators run as perfectly as possible—which means getting most riders into a car in less than 20 seconds. "Traditionally, the wait time is the most important factor," she says. "The thing people hate the most is waiting."
... The challenges she deals with depend on the place. At a hotel in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, she has to make sure that the elevators can clear a building quickly enough to get most people out five times a day for prayer.
Wouldn't it be nifty if the newest iteration of iTunes, which in my opinion is one of a great company's poorest products, looked like this? The Ping-less iTunes 11 is set to launch this month, likely today, according to hints dropped in this Wall Street Journal profile of Apple exec Eddy Cue. It's not that big a secret, anyways; the Apple.com iTunes splash page says it's "coming in November," and there aren't many days left in November.
Below, *actual* screenshots of the new interface. Come to think of it, the new UI resembles the vintage ad more than iTunes 10 does! But I don't like it. I wish iTunes were a skinnable, interpret-able service with an API, like Twitter is (for now, anyway)—imagine if you could use any third-party client you wanted to access the service, as cleanly and free of cruft as you please.
One of the investigative tools in question is something called a “cell tower dump,” which allows law enforcement to get information on all the phones in a given area at a given time.
In two cases, Magistrate Judge Brian Owsley rejected federal requests to allow the warrantless use of “stingrays” and “cell tower dumps,” two different tools that are used for cellphone tracking. The judge said the government should apply for warrants in the cases, but the attorneys had instead applied for lesser court orders.
Among the judge’s biggest concerns: that the agents and U.S. attorneys making the requests didn’t provide details on how the tools worked or would be used — and even seemed to have trouble explaining the technology.
The cheaper Chromebooks that Google introduced last month don't deserve credit for being a cheap way to read e-mail and surf the web: any smartphone meets that specification.
But the $249 Samsung model I've been testing for the past two weeks can do those things and also plausibly replace a low-end laptop.
Like an iPad or an Android tablet such as Google's Nexus 7, this Chromebook demands no special setup, provides an excellent window on the Web and updates itself almost automatically. But Samsung's WiFi laptop adds a physical keyboard and a bigger, 11.6-in. screen and then welcomes other digital devices without needing adapters: Like any other laptop, you can plug in a USB flash drive, SD Card, digital camera or HDTV.
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Here's an exclusive excerpt from Make it So: Interaction Design Lessons from Science Fiction, by Nathan Shedroff and Christopher Noessel.
Many designers enjoy the interfaces seen in science fiction films and television shows. Freed from the rigorous constraints of designing for real users, sci-fi production designers develop blue-sky interfaces that are inspiring, humorous, and even instructive. By carefully studying these "outsider" user interfaces, designers can derive lessons that make their real-world designs more cutting edge and successful.
Sex with Technology
Another category of sex-related interfaces consists of people having sex with technology in some form. When such sex technology is physical, it can range in appearance from mechanistic devices to being nearly indistinguishable from sex with a real person.
Sex devices are rare in the survey, with only two examples. Both are depicted as dystopian. In the first example, THX-1138, the oppressive state has provided technology to address and control citizens’ basic needs for sexual release.
At home after a hard day at work, THX-1138 sits down on a couch and turns on a volumetric projection of a woman dancing sensually to percussive music. A machine drops down from the ceiling, latches on to his penis, and mechanically moves up and down for exactly 30 seconds until he ejaculates.
Then its tiny red light switches from red to green, the machine retracts back into the ceiling, and he begins flipping through channels to find other entertainment.
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