Saturday, February 27, 2010

Maker haiku art print


If you haven't heard of 20x200, they're site that sells art prints in editions of 200 for 20 bucks each. One of their latest ones (oddly priced at $50 each with 500 printed... they should launch a sister site!) looks awesome and has a fun maker twist, created by Clifton Burt.

In April of 2007, John Maeda quietly posted a haiku he had written to his blog. It was entitled think-make-think, and to me it fulfilled the potential of Maeda's simplicity. Over the next few months, that haiku often found its way to the forefront of my mind. When our studio acquired the remnants of a discarded arrow sign, it was clear to me that think-make-think was a perfect fit, both in form and function.

Buy the print on 20x200.

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Two feet of snow


Apparently, New York received two feet of snow during their latest storm. We were hit a little harder here in Pittsburgh, receiving just a nose more.

Puns aside, this is a pretty funny snow sculpture. My favorite for the season has been the fire-breathing snowman, but I have been too occupied with getting the stuff out of my way to take advantage of it as a building material. Have you built anything fun out of snow this year? [via neatorama]

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Book giveaway + project excerpt: 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer by Randy Sarafan


62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer by Randy Sarafan
Book site:
Buy on Amazon

We all have old, broken, or otherwise junk electronics stashed away in our closets. Randy Sarafan's 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer is just what it sounds like and much more, inspiring makers to repurpose mice, scanners, iPods, and yes, computers, to make high-tech housewares, newly-functioning gadgets, and accessories. The projects run the gamut of techniques, and with sections like fashion, pets, and music, there's something for everyone. Not only is the book full of DIY ideas, it also has excellent primers on electronics parts and the safety concerns regarding taking apart and repurposing tech-junk. Once you make your own upcycled projects, you can enter them in Instructables' Dead Computer Contest, where the deadline is March 7th.

Book Giveaway Time!

We're giving away 3 copies of 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer. Just leave a comment on this post, letting us know what kind of dead technology you have, just waiting to be transformed. We'll grab the winners' emails from your commenter account, so don't put your email address in the comment box! All comments will be closed by Noon PST on Monday, March 1st. The lucky winners will be announced next week on the MAKE Twitter feed. Good luck!


Sample Project: IR Camera

Over the years, I have collected a number of digital cameras that are not quite broken, but are definitely no longer quite working as they should. And as it turns out, a somewhat-broken camera is the perfect device for dabbling your feet in camera hacking. You already don't expect it to work exactly as it should, so if you make a mistake, there isn't the greatest loss. On the other hand, when you succeed in modifying it, the results are often phenomenal and result in experimental pictures that often far exceed all expectations.

Download the project PDF to make your own IR Camera!

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Professor destroys laptop with liquid nitrogen

Physics professor Kieran Mullen of OU apparently has a hard-and-fast rule against laptops in class. To drive the point home, he staged a public execution of one by freezing it in liquid nitrogen and smashing it against the floor, where its broken remains were left as a warning to others. Of course the whole thing is staged and the laptop in question was old and worthless, but hey, any excuse to freeze stuff with LN2...

[via Engadget]

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Mouse usage visualization


Architect Alan Tansey of Brooklyn, NY traced his mouse movement for one day. Click the image to see it full-sized.

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Poirot cat

Funny Pictures of Cats With Captions

Poirot cat is not interested in solving your mystery

Picture by: Ashley Fisher Caption by: Buddy123098 via Our LOL Builder

» Recaption This!

» View All Captions

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Sports: Olympic Athletes Hoping To Exchange Bent-Up Medals For Normal Ones

VANCOUVER—A number of medal winners at the 2010 Winter Olympics admitted Tuesday that they looked forward to exchanging their inexplicably beat-up medals for regular ones that weren't completely dented for some reason.

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T. S. Eliot

"Humor is also a way of saying something serious."

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Whoa! Why J.D. Salinger HATED Raiders of the Lost Ark

Whoa! Why J.D. Salinger HATED <em>Raiders of the Lost Ark</em>

J.D., J.D.—what's with all the hate for Raiders of the Lost Ark? I don't mean to diss the recently dead, but when the writer of a book I love goes after a movie I love, well, come on, what are you doing to me? It hurts. Don't make me choose sides, because I can't!

Sure, I knew Salinger had strong opinions about films. After all, in The Catcher in the Rye, he had Holden Caulfield say, "You take somebody that cries their goddam eyes out over phoney stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they're mean bastards at heart."

But to go after Raiders? That's a low blow.

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Zombies have First Amendment rights, too, says U.S. court

Zombies have First Amendment rights, too, says U.S. court

Who knew that zombies were being persecuted? But thanks to an appeals court in Minneapolis—no more!

A group of zombies (OK, not actual zombies, but rather several costumed protesters) have been given the OK to proceed with their lawsuit against the police who arrested them for disorderly conduct, Yahoo News reported.

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Sigourney Weaver Returning for Avatar 2 ?

Sigourney Weaver is returning for the sequel to Avatar ? While it may surprise you at first, after you listen to Weaver explain how this can happen it does make sense. alerted us to the following: Sigourney Weaver is in Paris this weekend to honor Harrison Ford during the Cesar Awards (the French Oscars). She was today in the TV show "Le Grand Journal". She was asked if she would be part of "Avatar 2" and from what she said, it was clear she already talked about it with James Cameron and she surely would be part of it. The interesting part for "Avatar 2" is around 3'30''

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Is Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” About David Geffen?

Photo: Michael Ochs Archive/Getty

For nearly four decades, the identity of the subject of Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" has remained an official mystery while fans speculated that icons like Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger and the singer's ex-husband James Taylor were the egocentric man. But now Simon has reportedly offered up a major clue thanks to a newly recorded version of "You're So Vain" — she'd previously told Uncut that the vain man's name would be heard when listeners played her new version of the track backwards. The U.K.'s Sun got their hands on the clip, and the backwards track simply reveals the name "David." (Listen to the reversed clips here.)

The Sun speculates that the David in question is David Geffen — a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's Class of 2010 — the head of the label that released "You're So Vain," Elektra Records. Allegedly, Simon was displeased with the way Geffen supported her musical rival Joni Mitchell after the Blue singer signed with Geffen's Asylum Records. The timeline seems to make sense, as Mitchell's first Asylum album For the Roses came out in November 1972, just weeks before the release of Simon's "You're So Vain" in the December of that year.

Simon had long claimed that the person in "You're So Vain" represented a "composite" of different men she encountered in the early 1970s, and then later refined that statement to say that the subject of the song had the letters A, E and R in their name. WARrEn Beatty and Mick JAggER both fit into that category, but with the revelation of "David" being vain, they're automatically eliminated. David Bowie and David Crosby have also been mentioned as possible "Davids" from that era, but Crosby lacks the necessary "E" and Bowie had never before been linked to Simon in any capacity. So where's the "R" in "David Geffen"? The Dreamworks man's full name is "DAvid LawRence GEffen." While we're not stating as fact that "You're So Vain" is about Geffen, he seems like the most logical candidate.

So the mystery of "You're So Vain" might finally be solved. At least we still have the curious case of "You Oughta Know." (Cough)

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Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

If you like lists -- and the Guardian's book section -- you'll definitely want to see the dos and don'ts for fiction writers they collected from authors such as Margaret Atwood, Colm Tóibín, Jonathan Franzen, and Neil Gaiman. While it can be a bit overwhelming to read so many admonitions at once ("Don't have children." "It's doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction") some are instructive ("You see more sitting still than chasing after"), and others downright funny ("Stay in your mental pyjamas all day." "If you have to read, to cheer yourself up read biographies of writers who went insane"). It's worth taking some time to browse through them, especially if you're taking a snow day today, as many are in my area. Then share: what's on your list of dos and don'ts?

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction originally appeared on Fiction Writing on Friday, February 26th, 2010 at 10:34:33.

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The Great Battle of Sitting and Spitting: Whitney, Texas, 1949

"Why, they must spit two or three gallons a day!  They ain't died fast enough, these old men!"--Mrs. T.E. Bagley, Whitney, Texas, 1949

John Ptak comments on a story from a 1949 issue of LIFE. The photos are fantastic.

It isn't, I guess, so much a story about their sitting as it is a story about their not sitting, about how it came to be that their lumber was removed and the men forced to find another place to take in the sights and construct their great edifices of commentary and asides.

The story appears in LIFE Magazine of 15 August 1949, and lays the whole drama out in two splash pages, with bare editorializing and some great photos.

The story goes like this: "In 1922 D. (Doctor Dee) Scarborough, the druggist in Whitney, Texas, put up a bench outside his store, and immediately it became a loafing headquarters for the gaffers of the Brazos River Valley. 'Year after year they sat there looking like a jury of irritable terrapins, whittling, spitting and passing judgment on everything that passed. But finally reform caught up with them." It caught up to them, even if everyone was wearing a collared shirt.

The Great Battle of Sitting and Spitting: Whitney, Texas, 1949

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The Day My Kid Went Punk, ABC After-School Special

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Curmudgeonly essay on "Why the Internet Will Fail" from 1995

In 1995, astronomer, amateur hacker tracker and Klein-bottle maker Clifford Stoll wrote an essay (and a book, too, but I haven't read that) explaining why this Internet thing will never work. His main argument seems to be, "Hardware and software will all top out in the mid-90s and, thus, the Internet will never ever get any more user friendly or portable. Also, it is different and scary." Hilarity ensues.

The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works ...

What the Internet hucksters won't tell you is that the Internet is one big ocean of unedited data, without any pretense of completeness. Lacking editors, reviewers or critics, the Internet has become a wasteland of unfiltered data. You don't know what to ignore and what's worth reading. Logged onto the World Wide Web, I hunt for the date of the Battle of Trafalgar. Hundreds of files show up, and it takes 15 minutes to unravel them—one's a biography written by an eighth grader, the second is a computer game that doesn't work and the third is an image of a London monument. None answers my question, and my search is periodically interrupted by messages like, "Too many connections, try again later." ....

Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet-which there isn't-the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

Why the Internet Will Fail, essay reprinted from Newsweek

Via Unlikely Words

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Criminal clown

This gentleman is Tony Alexander Pete, 43, aka "Happy." Police in Ogden, Utah are seeking Happy who is a suspect in a burglary that took place Wednesday evening. Happy, a career criminal, is easily identified due to his unique facial tattoos. From the Salt Lake Tribune:
 Live Media Site297 2010 0225 20100225  Clownburglar 022610~P1 200The victim told police that he was asleep about 7:30 p.m. when he was awakened to find the pair standing over him. At first, the men yelled that they were cops, then threw the blanket over him.

"The guy said he could still see from under the blanket though, and he described one of them as having 'clown eyes.' "[The victim] said he knew him as 'Happy,' because he had been staying there with him until recently," Sangberg said.

"Ogden cops have out clown posse - literally"

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School administrator boasts to PBS about his laptop spying

Scott sez,

A few weeks ago, Frontline premiered a documentary called "Digital Nation". In one segment, the vice-principle of Intermediate School 339, Bronx, NY, Dan Ackerman, demonstrates how he "remotely monitors" the students' laptops for "inappropriate use". (his demonstration begins at 4:36)

He says "They don't even realize we are watching," "I always like to mess with them and take a picture," and "9 times out of 10, THEY DUCK OUT OF THE WAY."

He says the students "use it like it's a mirror" and he watches. He says 6th and 7th graders have their cameras activated. It looks like the same software used by the Pennsylvania school that is being investigated for covertly spying on students through their webcams.

The shocking thing about this is that the privacy concerns were not even mentioned in the Frontline documentary!

This is pretty amazing footage -- especially (as Scott notes) the absence of any questions about student privacy from the interviewer. I keep trying to imagine what my education would have been like if all my conversations, reading, doodling, writing, etc, had been monitored, in real time, by my teachers. I had great teachers, and I trusted them and confided in them and they taught me well. But if they had had this degree of oversight into my every personal detail, I think it would have killed any intellectual curiosity, any trust, any real learning. What kind of educator thinks that this is a good practice? Certainly no teacher's union I know would put up with principals and administrators putting this kind of surveillance into their lives.

I don't know for sure, but I have a suspicion that being a kid today would absolutely suck.

How Google Saved A School (Thanks, Scott!)

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Welcome to ProBlogger – A Quick Tour for New Readers

In the last 24 hours we've had a lot of new readers to ProBlogger after a couple of links from sites like Yahoo.

If this is your first time (or you're newish to ProBlogger) to then I thought I'd put together a quick tour of my online home.

darren-rowse.jpgFirstly, my name's Darren Rowse (that's me posing with my computer monitor trying to look like that's a normal thing to do) and – I'm a full time blogger. I blog both here at ProBlogger but also at Digital Photography School.

ProBlogger is a blog that is devoted to helping bloggers improve their blogging and explore ways to earn an income at the same time by writing about topics that they love.

More and more bloggers are now making at least a part time income blogging – with some even having gone 'Pro' with full time incomes.

I write more about the reasons for this blog and my experience as a blogger in my About Page. You might also like to see some of the ways that I make money from my blogs for an introduction into how bloggers make money blogging.

If you're new to blogging you might find this 'what is a blog?' article and my series on Blogging for Beginners helpful.

If you like what you read here you can follow my future entries (I write 1-2 posts per day) in two ways – either using our RSS News feed or you can get daily updates by adding your email address to the field at the top of my sidebar.

I also send weekly(ish) newsletters out with updates from this site plus extra stuff just for subscribers. You can sign up for that here.

Resources for Bloggers

Most of what you'll find here on ProBlogger is 100% free – however I've also produced 3 resources that you might find useful:

  1. ProBlogger the Book – a hard cover book I co-authored two years back that is ideal for beginners wanting to explore how to make money online.
  2. 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – an e-book for people with blogs that have stalled and in need of a little inspiration and motivation.
  3. ProBlogger Community – a community of bloggers who come together to learn and collaborate to improve their blogs.

If you're looking for a blogging job – also check out the free ProBlogger Blog Job Boards.

Thanks for stopping by – I hope you enjoy your stay at ProBlogger. If you do have any questions feel free to drop me a note in a comment below or via my contact form.

Post from: Blog Tips at ProBlogger.

Welcome to ProBlogger – A Quick Tour for New Readers

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