Last Launch. Discovery, Endeavour, Atlantis – we make money not art.

Regine reviews the above-mentioned book by photographer Dan Winters–one of the few photogs allowed to photograph the last shuttle lift-offs, and a fantastically gifted one at that.

His photo of the Vertical Assembly Building, one of my favorite buildings (it has its own weather inside), is too cool for words.

That reminds me, take a look at this Cloudscapes installation by Tetsuo Kondo and Transsolar. They put a cloud in a glass box, and you can walk through it. Sounds about as interesting than the Rain Room.

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Tridiv | CSS 3D Editor.

My eyebrows have yet to come down after playing with this thing. A web-based model-making app, all in CSS. You owe it to yourself to take a look at this for even just two minutes.

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Welcome to National Atlas Streamer!.

Thanks to the USGS, an interactive map that lets you trace streams and rivers to their outlets. Click on a blue line and trace it upstream or down. Impressive.

Try clicking on the Chicago River and take a look at the long, improbable red line going all the way down the Mississippi, instead of quickly dumping into Lake Michigan. For those of you who don’t know the story, check out 99% Invisible’s feature. And subscribe to their podcast if you haven’t already.

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Watch fifty disco balls create a room full of beautiful static mapped out with 3D modeling | The Verge.

Kyle McDonald and Jonas Jongejan’s Light Leaks. Projectors shine on disco balls, and a camera maps where the reflections are in 3d, allowing them to program full-room projections.

How and what else.

I love the idea of breaking pixels apart. It’s like DLP smashed. Now, what if instead of mirrors you used prisms? Instead of discrete dots, how about smeared light, i.e. vectors?

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Simulating a TI calculator with crazy 11-bit opcodes.

A 1970s calculator sim via javascript, with an explanation of how those little computing machines worked.

Now’s a good time for me to recommend The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick. An awesome, in-depth chronology of communication and the concept of information. There’s a great chapter on Babbage where he describes the original calcuators: people who wrote out tables of calculated numbers. It’s a great read.

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Mathematical Impressions: Making Music with a Möbius Strip: Scientific American.

Visualizing chord permutations in space. It involves drawing on a bagel with a Sharpie and then squishing it. Honestly.

Mathematical!

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You know what’s faster than using a photocopier to copy and/or send something? Take a picture of it with your phone. But, you say, it gets all distorted, and it’s hard to read… and the file size is too big. Go download this free app:

Genius Scan – PDF Scanner for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad on the iTunes App Store.

You take a picture with your phone then quickly drag the corners of the image to correct for perspective. When you’re done it automatically converts it to an either black-and-white or vivid color pdf. Then you can email it (as a very small attachment) or move it around your phone to other apps.

Two ways I often use Genius Scan:

1. Draw a sketch by hand at my desk. Send by email immediately. (I usually take the photo a little askew in order to keep the shadow of my phone off the drawing. Then perspective-correction makes it straight again.)

2. Copy someone’s document during a meeting or in the field without ever even taking the paper away from the person.

BONUS: if you put a scan of a document (image or pdf) in Google Drive, you can ask Google to turn it back into text (OCR). Any scan–not just the ones made with Genius Scan. Not 100% effective, but worth a try if you need to edit or copy the text.

BONUS+: The Drive app also lets you access this feature directly with your camera phone.

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Disney’s Aireal lets you feel the imaginary | The Verge.

Puffs of air (like smoke rings) create a tangible interface for you and your video games. (It’s more sophisticated than I make it sound.) From Disney, with video.

Also from Disney:
Disney Research » Computational Design of Mechanical Characters.

A (relatively) simple tool to replicate complex 2D motion with cranks and gears. It’s so smooth it made me sit upright so I could see the rotating ellipses better. The implications? You can 3D-print gears to create toys that move as naturally as you want them to. Yes, there’s a video demonstrating this.

And just for good measure, if you haven’t seen the game Disney Infinity, go take a look now. It’s probably unlike any video game you’ve seen before. (There’s Wikipedia, for those of you who want the quick read.)

Interesting.

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LEGO® Architecture Studio now in stores | News | Archinect.

This is cuckoo. Boxes of LEGO packaged to introduce you to architecture. That, in itself, is just fine–even though every single box of LEGO every made does that. It’s that:

  1. The blocks come in a very narrow range of sizes (really only good for massing studies).
  2. The blocks are all white.
  3. It’s $150 per box.

What an incredible waste of money. A stifling of creativity. A reduction of what architecture is and can be. A reduction of what LEGO already is. Also, hilariously pompous.

Ages 16+. Because anyone younger than a sophomore will have the sense to call this is stupid.

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Ikeas new AR app superimposes furniture into your empty room | Digital Trends.

Very clever, using the catalog cover as the reference point to determine view angle and scale. Watch the video.

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