Category Archives: Geek Culture
Asked to name an industrial designer, most Apple lovers will come up with Sir Jonathan “Jony” Ive, designer of iconic products such as the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Go back a few decades, and it was Braun and Dieter Rams that were synonymous with industrial design. From coffee makers and toothbrushes to calculators and radios, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen or used one of his designs.
Rarely seen in the public eye, there’s a fantastic opportunity to learn more about this great designer, famous for his “Ten Principles for Good Design“. Film director, Gary Hustwit, is recording a feature-length documentary about Dieter Rams which is currently looking for funding on Kickstarter. The director has previously produced Helvectica, a documentary about typography and Objectified which looks at the relationship between objects and the designers behind them..
The project has already reached its target of US$200,000 with another two weeks to go. There’s some cool rewards (including your own private screening with the director at $5,000) but a $15 digital download is more reasonable.
To underline Dieter Ram‘s significance, there’s a trail that goes from mid-century modern straight through his work to today’s designs from Apple and Ikea. If you want to understand the consumer products you buy now, this is a must-see documentary….though you’ll have to wait until 2017.
With San Diego Comic Con quickly approaching, everyone is jumping on board the superhero bandwagon.
Today even McAfee has joined the hype. (The company, not the man, however, we’d love to see a comic book based on John McAfee!)
In a press release, the anti-virus company released its second annual list of superhero searches that lead to bad links, viruses, malware and sites containing malware.
Here’s the list of suspicious superheroes:
McAfee’s Top 10 Most Toxic Superheroes:
1. Superman, 16.50%
2. Thor, 16.35%
3. Wonder Woman + Aquaman (tie) 15.70%
4. Wolverine, 15.10%
5. Spiderman, 14.70%
6. Batman, 14.20%
7. Black Widow, 13.85%
8. Captain America, 13.50%
9. Green Lantern, 11.25%
10. Ghost Rider, 10.83%
*% indicates chance of landing on a website that has tested positive for online threats such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses or other malware.
Todd is still out for one more show, enjoying his Vacation somewhere in the lower 48, I’m Mike Dell, from Podcast Help Desk, former Geek of the North and I will be your host for tonights show. Most of you don’t know me unless you have been around podcasting a long time. I used to do a show called Geek of the North which was a Tech Show. I have since Podfaded that show and I now do a relatively new show called Podcast Help Desk at podcasthelpdesk.com where I talk about the geeky techie side of podcasting and help people get setup and going with their podcast.
It’s great to be back with the GNC listeners! I last hosted this show on November 10th 2008 Show #415. A LOT of water has gone under the bridge since then!
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There’s a pretty good chance that if you are a 40+ British geek, the mere mention of “Elite” will roll back the years to hours of gameplay in front of a BBC Model B, flying a wireframe starship around an almost limitless universe. Trading, fighting, arms-dealing, slavery, whatever it took to get respect and the coveted Elite status. Even now, I still feel a small hint of pride in my own Elite achievement, over 20 years later.
Created by David Braben and Ian Bell, Elite was the first 3D game and eeked every last ounce of performance from 8 bit processors and 32 KB of RAM, even less once the OS had taken its share. There were tricks such as making all the objects in the universe concave, which significantly reduced several calculations in techniques such as hidden line removal and despite being largely only in monochrome, it was totally amazing for its day.
The successor to Elite, “Frontier”, never gained the same traction as the original Elite. In some ways it was too big and just wasn’t as immediate as the original Elite.
Returning to the original ethos of Elite, David Braben has launched a Kickstarter campaign for “Elite: Dangerous” to raise £1.25 million ($2 million) for the development of a new game in the canon, aiming for delivery in March 2014. Elite: Dangerous will be a multi-player game in a massive universe and initially the game will be for the PC, but other platforms will be looked at.
As usual, there are various funding levels, but £20 gets you a copy of the game plus the opportunity to reserve your commander’s name. But if you were looking to get lunch with David Braben at £5000, I’m afraid that all five slots have already been taken.
There’s additional reporting at the BBC.
Today I was relaxing in a cafe, taking it easy on Sunday. As I looked around the other tables, everyone else was either looking at a smartphone or else had one resting on the table. They weren’t students or young professionals either; these were mums and dads, grandmas and grandpas.
Getting away from “my phone is better than your phone”, what might this highly unscientific observation say about the mobile communications market, at least in the UK?
Third, no-one was actually using their phones to make phone calls. In all the time I watched, there wasn’t a single call made or received but there was plenty of reading, swiping, tapping and pecking. It always seems that the PDA was lost in the convergence with the mobile phone, but the reality is that the PDA won the battle and “voice calling” is one feature among many.
Fourth and finally, smartphones are now ubiquitous and cross-generational. There wasn’t single ordinary phone to be seen and the range of the users suggests that age is no longer a discriminating factor.
As I said, entirely unscientific but still an interesting snapshot in the evolution of the smartphone.
Geeks of a certain age will undoubtedly remember when the Rubik’s Cube craze (or Magic Cube as it was originally known) spread through school playgrounds in the early 1980s. Building on the current popularity of all things retro, this Rubik’s Cube Speaker will bring back memories of success or frustration depending on whether you were able to solve the puzzle or not.
The Cube speaker uses the USB connector for power and the 3.5 mm jack for the audio, so there’s no batteries or power adaptor required. Unsurprisingly the speaker is NOT a functioning Rubik’s Cube but you can try and impress your friends by saying that you solved it…until they spot the cables.
Available from the Science Museum Shop (and other online retailers) for £20.
Here’s the bridge as it originally appeared.
And here it is after the reconstruction.
Of course, the bridge hasn’t really been rebuilt with super-sized Lego Duplo bricks but instead the brick-effect has been painted on. It’s very convincing, though. Regrettably the Lego bridge can only stay in place for four weeks.
All pictures courtesy of Martin Heuwold. There are more on his website.
At TEDxBelfast last night I was inspired by the stories of individuals who passionately believed in an idea and then made that idea a reality. From working with autistic children to building a new arts centre, these people all made a difference. Presented in Titanic Belfast in front of the replica of the famous staircase, it was an unforgettable evening.
As with all TED conferences, the presentations will be posted on-line but that will take a week or two before they are ready. In the meantime, these are the speakers, their stories and how they made a difference.
David Maxwell of Tyrone Timberframes presented his work with Habitat for Humanity in building highly energy-efficient homes that have no central heating. The significant cost of fossil fuel-based energy can be a big factor in poverty and these homes can save the inhabitants over £1000 per year.
Maureen Murphy, Director of Aurion Learning, grabbed attention with the headline that 70% of training was wasted and proposed an innovative way of providing effective training using the acronym ASSAULT. One of the best bits was that of story-based approach that hooked the learner and got them more emotionally involved.
Fransuer Makula grew up in the slums of Kenya but is now a teacher in a prestigious school in Northern Ireland. Describing the harsh reality of existence as a street child, where death is commonplace, he related how the children dared to dream big. In the midst of utter poverty, these children wanted to grow up as doctors, nurses and lawyers. Fransuer established “Jengana” to help orphans, street children and schools in West Kenya.
Colleen Hardwick, billed as an urban geographer and serial entrepreneur from Vancouver, laid out the loss of personal engagement in democracy. The statistics she presented on the fall of voter turnout over the past few decades were shocking. To counteract the anonymous global nature of the web, she’s developed PlaceSpeak, a community-based website that lets local people be authenticated as stakeholders in local issues without necessarily giving up that anonymity.
Next was an absolute gem…acoustic guitar duo Declan McKerr and Andy Toman, aka Gypsy’s Wish, serenaded TEDxBelfast, equipped with a brand-new George Lowden guitar. His guitars are world-famous with owners such as Eric Clapton and Mike Oldfield. Sublime.
Following a musical theme, Chris Blake, Principal Horn with the Ulster Orchestra, talked about the work he’d done with autistic children and the therapeutic value of music. The results were truly ground-breaking, increasing the evidence between autism and musicality.
Dr Nigel Hart took us all on a trip to the peaks and Mt Everest in particular in his talk on Mountains, Medicine and Mantras. Clearly a keen mountaineer, he combined his medical training with his passion to investigate the effects of hypoxia on humans at altitude. During his climb to the top of the world, he had to rescue another climber who had collapsed. Apt for many shared endeavours, his response to the famous climbing question was not, “Because it’s there” but rather, “It’s not the height or the distance, it’s the people you travel with.”
Anne McReynolds, CEO of the Belfast Metropolitan Arts Centre, had TEDxBelfast captivated by her struggle to get a world-class arts centre built in Belfast. Starting in 1996 and finally opening in 2012, it’s an amazing story of architects and artists (“good clients get good buildings”), buildings and space. If you want to build an arts centre, Anne should be the first person you talk to.
Colin Williams of Sixteen South tackled the “Can’t Do” attitude that has often afflicted Northern Ireland with a great story of “Can Do” success. It’s likely that you’ll never have heard of Sixteen South, a children’s TV production company but if you have kids under five you’ll have heard of Sesame Tree, Big City Park, Pajanimals, and Big & Small. Working with the BBC and The Jim Henson Company, Sixteen South produces these great TV programmes here in Northern Ireland. Fantastic.
Colin’s business plan was pretty clever too. “Do some good, make some money, have some fun.” Good advice for anyone.
Chris Horn completed the speaker line-up with his inspiration for Dublin’s Science Gallery, an exhibition space that takes a creative and artistic approach to the presentation of science and related issues. By taking the traditional remit of a science museum and combining it with the changing presentation of an art gallery, the Science Gallery is an innovation in itself that has proved tremendously successful. So much so that Google recently awarded the Science Gallery $1m to setup other Galleries around the world.
Overall, it was a great evening, with inspirational speakers in a fantastic setting. Thanks also to Davy Sims and Gary Burnett and Mark Finlay for organising #TEDxBelfast.
Few things could be more geek-centric than finding amusement in playing with the Periodic Table of the Elements. There are tons of ways to take what some might see as a boring part of chemistry class and make it into something fun, interesting, and perhaps even artistic.
A chemistry teacher named Scott Byrum decided to put the entire Periodic Table of the Elements on the ceiling of his classroom. He did this as a way to get the attention of students, fearing that if he didn’t do something to make things more interesting that he would lose their attention to “Xboxes and Nintendos”.
Each element sits on its own acoustic ceiling tile. Each is color coded to represent the element’s state at standard temperature and pressure. He had a company that was local to him cut the vinyl letters for him. It is probably the largest Periodic Table of the Elements that his students have ever seen.
ThinkGeek has put the Periodic Table on everything from t-shirts, to beer glasses, and from shower curtains to refrigerator magnets. Personally, I think that the Periodic Table Building Blocks would be the most fun to play around with. The blocks are solid wood, and designed for use by geeks who are at least 2 years of age.
Have you heard Tom Leher’s song called “The Elements”? A YouTube user by the name of TimwiTerby made a video that animated the lyrics of this song in 2008. He used Visual C# Express, AviSynth, and Virtual Dub in order to make the video.
It is also fun to take the standard Periodic Table of the Elements and alter it to make new ones based on other geek related topics. Check out the Periodic Table of Rock Music, or the Periodic Table of Heavy Metals (that resembles the familiar hand sign so many Metal bands, and Metal fans, use). There is a Periodic Table of Anime Characters. Someone even created a Periodic Table of SEO Ranking!
Image: Periodic table by BigStock