Monthly Archives: April 2013

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ASUS Zenbook UX51VZ: Great Laptop, High Price

I have quite a few laptops that have been languishing in a non-fully-reviewed state for a while. The New Year was been a bit crazy, and in the midst of trying to update the benchmark suite and some other items, the time for a full review is long since passed. We’re finally done with our 2013 Mobile Benchmark Suite, however, and as we’ll have a variety of laptops to review in the coming weeks, I thought the UX51VZ was a good start for our new test suite.

ASUS Zenbook UX51VZ: Great Laptop, High Price

I have quite a few laptops that have been languishing in a non-fully-reviewed state for a while. The New Year was been a bit crazy, and in the midst of trying to update the benchmark suite and some other items, the time for a full review is long since passed. We’re finally done with our 2013 Mobile Benchmark Suite, however, and as we’ll have a variety of laptops to review in the coming weeks, I thought the UX51VZ was a good start for our new test suite.

Putting Together an Espresso Machine Is Music for Your Morning

The last thing you want to hear in the morning is noise. But when that noise comes from a beloved espresso machine? Combined with that sweet smell of coffee beans? That’s sweet cup music for every morning.

Espresso machine manufacturer Sanremo UK turned assembling an espresson machine into music with the help of The Media Workshop. I’m a sucker for creating thumping music from ordinary objects. [Sanremo UK via Laughing Squid]

Portal co-creator unveils Ouya-exclusive game Soul Fjord (video)

Portal co-creator unveils Ouya-exclusive game Soul Fjord (video)

It’s no secret that Portal co-creator Kim Swift has been developing an Ouya-exclusive game, but details regarding it had been kept under wraps until today. Dubbed Soul Fjord, the Airtight Games-developed title fuses Norse mythology with ’70s Funk and Soul, and charges its main character Magnus Jones with climbing the World Tree to demand an invitation to Ragnarok, “the party that will end the world.” Gameplay hasn’t been shown quite yet, but the experience is described as a dungeon-crawler with rhythm-based combat that’ll see players battle their way through randomly generated areas. Do the hustle past the break to catch the game’s first trailer and a developer video diary.

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Source: Ouya (1), (2), (3)

How Developers Coded in 1985

Programmer John Graham-Cumming tells a fascinating story about what coding like was back in 1985. Unlike today’s programmers who wear hoodies, down energy drinks and use a paper thin computer, programmers in 1985 had to code by hand… with actual paper.

The story behind the handwritten code is fascinating. Graham-Cumming was tasked with making the software for a machine that put labels on bottles without any fancy futuristic tools. He had to write code for the software by hand because there wasn’t an assembler and the KIM-1 singleboard computer he was using to prototype computer control only had a hex keypad and a small display. It was a time consuming process, to say the least.

John Graham-Cumming writes:

Of course, writing code like this is a pain. You first had to write the code (the blue), then turn it into machine code (the red) and work out memory locations for each instruction and relative jumps. At the time I didn’t own a calculator capable of doing hex so I did most of the calculations needed (such as for relative jumps in my head).

In our world that’s become littered with gadgets, it’s always mind blowing to see how far we’ve come in the past 30 years. It’s like creating technology with nothing! [John Graham-Cumming]

Watch This Idiot Kid Light His Miata And Himself On Fire

This entire video is a study in bad decisions. But it ends with a Miata on fire, one very lucky kid, and a good lesson of what not to do when working on your car.

Where do I start? This kid has a Miata project car that he’s swapping over to a carbureted V8. That’s not a bad thing, in fact, I commend him for working on his own car.

That’s the only thing that’s goes right.

The engine is on a hoist when he tries to start it up. Why start it at that point? When he tries to start it, it spits out a flame, so he tries to start it again. Then it catches on fire.

But it still isn’t running. So he keeps trying to start the car, because that’s a legitimate, intelligent decision. Of course, it won’t start. His next move is to try and blow it out, because this is a lot like a birthday cake.

So he then goes and grabs a red gas can that is next to the Miata. It’s his fuel tank, so presumably he’s hoping to starve the fuel supply by taking it away. Yeah, that red can catches on fire. That then briefly sets his shirt on fire. Right now, this is what is technically known in the car world as a "clusterfuck."

Instead of putting out the now large fire with a proper extinguisher, he uses a hose. Thankfully it works and does put the fire out, which restores some order to the garage, even though a perfectly good Miata probably sacrificed itself for this cause.

It also teaches a very important lesson: Don’t work on your car unless you really know what you’re doing.

(Hat Tip to Erwin!)

Watch This Idiot Kid Light His Miata And Himself On Fire

This entire video is a study in bad decisions. But it ends with a Miata on fire, one very lucky kid, and a good lesson of what not to do when working on your car.

Where do I start? This kid has a Miata project car that he’s swapping over to a carbureted V8. That’s not a bad thing, in fact, I commend him for working on his own car.

That’s the only thing that’s goes right.

The engine is on a hoist when he tries to start it up. Why start it at the point? When he tries to start it, it spits out a flame, so he tries to start it again. Then it catches on fire.

But it still isn’t running. So he keeps trying to start the car, because that’s a legitimate, intelligent decision. Of course, it won’t start. His next move is to try and blow it out, because this is a lot like a birthday cake.

So he then goes and grabs a red gas can that is next to the Miata. It’s his fuel tank, so presumably he’s hoping to starve the fuel supply by taking it away. Yeah, that red cancatches on fire. That then briefly sets his shirt on fire. Right now, this is what is technically known in the car world as a "clusterfuck."

Instead of putting out the now large fire with a proper extinguisher, he uses a hose. Thankfully it works and does put the fire out, which restores some order to the garage, even though a perfectly good Miata probably sacrificed itself for this cause.

It also teaches a very important lesson: Don’t work on your car unless you really know what you’re doing.

(Hat Tip to Erwin!)

How Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Map Tessellated The World

Buckminster Fuller applied his patented Dymaxion brand to all sorts of objects over the course of his career, from cars to buildings to entire cities. But one of the most useful and enduring applications? The Dymaxion World map, which unfolds the earth into a long string of shapes, like a carefully peeled orange.

2013 marks the map’s 70th birthday, and to celebrate, the Brooklyn-based Buckminster Fuller Institute launched Dymax Redux, competition to redesign updated versions of the map. The winners will be unveiled sometime this fall, but in the meantime, it’s worth taking a look back at some of the awesomely tessellated Dymaxion spinoffs that already exist.

First, a bit of background. What makes the Dymaxion World map so enduring? It’s a brilliant mathematical object. Fuller’s projection bears far less distortion than other flat maps, like the Mercator projection or the Peters projection, and it divides up the globe into a contiguous surface without dividing any of its land masses. Because it isn’t a traditional “shadow” projection it’s not distorted on one axis or another, so you can read it from any orientation and rearrange its contents in any number of ways.

But it’s the Dymaxion’s distinctly optimistic point of view that makes it so unique. Patented at the end of World War II, it shows us all five continents as a single archipelago, or "one island in one ocean.” It took him decades of tinkering to figure out the right projection, but it was important to him that we see the earth as a single, interconnected network. “For the layman, engrossed in belated, war-taught lessons in geography, the Dymaxion World map is a means by which he can see the whole world fairly and all at once,” explained LIFE magazine when it published the map in 1943. The writers at LIFE also found a way to rearrange the map to articulate a bit of wartime racism against Japan: "The ruthless logic of Jap imperialism is exposed by this layout,” the editors continued. “Their thinking strikes an obvious contrast to the landlubber geopolitics of their German allies.” Well then!

Fuller probably disapproved of the way LIFE twisted his map into something aggressive, but that’s a perfect example of how maps can become socio-political weapons—and why he thought we needed to retool them. Fuller intended the Dymaxion World map to serve as a tool for communication and collaboration between nations. “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them,” he famously said. “Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”

Did the map lead to a new world order? Not exactly—but did lead to a revolution in mapping. More about Dymax Redux is here, but in the meantime, check out eight other interesting applications of Fuller’s projection below.

A printable version of Fuller’s "Airocean" World map that includes assembly instructions.

The Cryosphere, or a map of the world map arranged based on ice, snow, glaciers, permafrost and ice sheets, by Nordphil.

A map showing the distribution of 259 "critical infrastructures" in energy, agriculture, banking and finance, drinking water and other systems, via Domus.

Flight routes of the Dubai-based airline, Emarites, mapped using Fuller’s projection. Via Axismaps.

Rehabstudio’s Googlespiel, an interactive Dymaxion map built at Google Developer Day 2011.

A page from Nicholas Felton’s Feltron Annual Report, showing the designer’s travels over the course of 2008.

Lead image: Buckminster Fuller and Chuck Byrne, Dymaxion Air-Ocean World Map, 1981, courtesy of the Buckminster Fuller Institute.

‘Is The 2009 Chevy Aveo Still Leading The Way’

MotorWeek describes the Chevy Aveo as "very successful" and "leading the way." Are we talking about the same car?

I don’t normally ridicule the cars themselves in these MotorWeek videos, because cars these days are pretty good all around. But I do not think this generation Aveo was highly regarded by anyone. Just read what they say about it:

  • "Its new looks promise flare and fun, too."
  • "Audi-like drop jaw grille."
  • "An almost go kart-like amount of moderate push (in the slalom)."
  • "It should not be overlooked."

Yes. Yes it should be overlooked.

I should say that they are actually pretty hard on the car in certain areas, I’m just amazed that they found anything to compliment. Glass half full, I guess.

MotorWeek Theater is our showcase of some of our favorite classic reviews from public television’s finest motoring program. How does this video only have 34,586 views? Is there a way to negatively watch this? Like, detract views?

Wikimedia Android and iOS app exits beta, aims for easy Wikipedia photo gathering

Wikimedia Android and iOS app exits beta, aims for easy Wikipedia photo gathering

Wikimedia Commons, which acts as Wikipedia’s media repository, has pushed its Android and iOS app out of the beta phase, giving photo collecting for the digital encyclopedia a workflow that isn’t chained to a browser. By registering an account online and wielding the software, users can upload photographs taken with the application — or within their device’s library — straight to the organization’s database, and endow them with titles and descriptions. With the Android flavor, multiple photos can be uploaded at once, images can be assigned categories and those torn between snapping pictures for the open source book of knowledge and their social circles can share their contributions through the likes of Facebook, Twitter and other services. Ready to start pitching in? Hit the source links below to grab the apps.

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Via: The Verge, The Next Web

Source: Wikimedia Commons (iTunes), Wikimedia Commons (Google Play), Wikimedia Blog