Archive for Entirely Too Cool

Now with actual wings

Yes, I know:

Kind of looks like Pinkie Pie on the door there. Then again, if anypony can accelerate to blinding speeds without wings, it’s Pinkie.

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Put it on my bill

I’m beginning to think these newfangled 3D printers can do anything:

In a ground-breaking project, a Brazilian toucan which lost the upper part of its beak while being trafficked has been fitted with a prosthesis made with a 3D printer.

The female bird, named Tieta, was rescued from a wildlife animal fair in Rio de Janeiro. It is not clear whether she lost the upper part of her beak after being mistreated by animal smugglers or in a fight with a bigger toucan she was locked up with inside a small box.

The project was co-ordinated by wildlife management group Instituto Vida Livre and involved three Brazilian universities.

The beak section took about three months to design, but only two hours to print; it’s 4 cm in length and weighs a mere 4 grams. Tieta, malnourished and surviving on bits of fruit, was able to return to her normal diet in about three days.

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Well Handeled

This van is obviously not Haydn its intentions:

WRR Dallas van -- Dude.  Bach off.

The sticker on the left side of the bumper says “Strauss Relief.”

This almost makes up for finding out that WCPE in Raleigh, North Carolina was not actually named for C. P. E. Bach; the station just happened to get assigned that set of call letters.


Wholly rolly

After spending more than two decades (yes!) on this here IBM Model M, I figure I’d have trouble getting used to banging on a tablet’s touchscreen. Fortunately, there are alternatives, and this one sounds strangely interesting:

The [LG] “Rolly Keyboard” folds up across four rows into an easily transportable stick and, unlike flexible foldable keyboards, is made from solid durable polycarbonate and ABS plastics, making it feel more tactile when used. Unrolled, it reveals two arms at either end to support a smartphone or tablet, and it’s only a little smaller than a standard keyboard; each high contrast key is 17mm, only one mm smaller than regular desktop keys, which should make it very easy to type on. The keyboard is Bluetooth 3.0 enabled, powered by a single AAA battery, which should be enough to power it for around 3 months. Conveniently, auto-pairing is enabled so that you can get to work as soon as you unroll it, and it can toggle between two different Bluetooth-connected devices at a time.

At least, that’s what the reviewers have seen. Those of us out here in Retailville get to wait a little while longer:

LG plan to unveil the keyboard at IFA Electronics event in Berlin next week, alongside their new G Pad II tablet. At the moment no cost has been revealed, but it seems that the “Rolly” will go on sale in the U.S. in September, before a wider release at the end of the year.

Of course, I’m failing to add in the cost of an actual tablet, inasmuch as I don’t own one as yet.


You and I have memories

Finally, a proper use for all that video footage of you as a kid:

I hope they’ll get around to the “One After 909.”


Ain’t that a blitzkrieg

In 1988, when Dave Marsh decided to come up with a list of the 1001 greatest singles, he started, for whatever reason, with Marvin Gaye. Specifically, it was Gaye’s version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” a song recorded by many others, not one of whom ever came close to the majesty — and the sheer paranoia — of Marvin’s reading. (I’d put the Creedence Clearwater Revival version second if it weren’t eleven fricking minutes long.)

But from the vantage point of Much Later, it’s a little easier to see Marvin Gaye’s importance to the whole rock-and-soul universe: if he isn’t at the very center of it — think Entertainment Weekly’s “Bullseye” feature — he’s never, ever far away. Heck, he’s been verbed. So it doesn’t surprise me so much that the Ramones (yes!) fit into the same groove of that universe:

(Via Dangerous Minds.)

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Forced, one presumes

Sith happens, and sometimes Sith happens a lot:

[S]ome American parents are apparently making their allegiances known by naming their sons after the most notorious, most evil overlord in sci-fi history: Darth Vader.

According to the official Social Security Administration list of the most popular baby names in America in 2014, a couple hundred Star Wars nerds have opted for the name Anakin as their choice baby name, ranking it No. 957 of 1,000. Naturally, Darth would have been too on the nose.

The nerds knew what they were doing: “Darth” is not a name, but a title.

And “Anakin” is apparently on the upswing: it ranked 1,234th in 2013. Meanwhile, “Leia” is 509th among girls; let’s hope no poor child has been saddled with the name “Jar Jar,” or even just “Jar.”

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That’s not a sword

“Now this is a sword.” Peace through superior firepower, they always say:

It happened this past Friday night [14 August] at the Perry Market in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Two unknown juveniles ran into the store, one of whom was brandishing a sword or very large knife.

The unknown man holding the sword ran behind the counter to demand cash, and that’s when the store clerk reached for a blade of his own: a full-length scimitar.

And just like that, battle was joined in the aisles of a Pittsburgh corner store — for a few seconds, anyways.

Security-camera video, intermixed with TV coverage, at the link. The perp, once he saw that blade coming for him, fled.

(Via R. Francis Smith.)

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Nowhere plans for nobody

The folks at mental_floss suggested this as Watercooler Ammo, and, well, I have the day off so I’m pasting it here:

Next time you feel wracked by stage fright, don’t imagine the audience in underwear–pretend you’re invisible. Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm recently used virtual reality goggles to trick people into experiencing invisibility. (Participants were asked to look down at their torsos. Thanks to the goggles, it looked as if their bodies had disappeared.) When the researchers brushed the people’s bellies with a paintbrush, the participants saw it brushing thin air. The experience made them feel invisible. When they placed the “invisible” people in front of an audience of strangers, participants reported significantly less social anxiety. No word on whether the goggles will be available for your next job interview.

This seemed crazed enough to check out, and, well, it was apparently a side effect:

In an article in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers describe a perceptual illusion of having an invisible body. The experiment involves the participant standing up and wearing a set of head-mounted displays. The participant is then asked to look down at her body, but instead of her real body she sees empty space. To evoke the feeling of having an invisible body, the scientist touches the participant’s body in various locations with a large paintbrush while, with another paintbrush held in the other hand, exactly imitating the movements in mid-air in full view of the participant.

“Within less than a minute, the majority of the participants started to transfer the sensation of touch to the portion of empty space where they saw the paintbrush move and experienced an invisible body in that position,” says Arvid Guterstam, lead author of the present study. “We showed in a previous study that the same illusion can be created for a single hand. The present study demonstrates that the ‘invisible hand illusion’ can, surprisingly, be extended to an entire invisible body.”

We’re getting awfully close to that Star Trek holodeck.

In another part of the study, the researchers examined whether the feeling of invisibility affects social anxiety by placing the participants in front of an audience of strangers.

“We found that their heart rate and self-reported stress level during the ‘performance’ was lower when they immediately prior had experienced the invisible body illusion compared to when they experienced having a physical body,” says Arvid Guterstam. “These results are interesting because they show that the perceived physical quality of the body can change the way our brain processes social cues.”

If you’d like a look at the report, go here.


Whoever has the most balls

Los Angeles, in a good year, gets around 15 inches of rain. (The single rainiest month, generally, is February, which clearly demonstrates the divine sense of humor.) Good years have been few and far between of late, which is why the Department of Water and Power has been doing something, well, ballsy:

Here you see 55,000 little polyurethane balls, filled with water, floated on top of the water in the reservoir at Silver Lake last year. It took 96 million of the plastic spheres to cover the entire reservoir, at a cost of around $35 million; however, reducing evaporation is a must in these droughtful days.

Okay, they’re not festive-looking, exactly, but black resists UV rays from that warm California sun, so the balls should last at least ten years. Let’s hope the drought doesn’t persist that long.

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And there you are, retouching yourself

As the selfie becomes further and further detached from reality, we’re going to see more stuff like this:

Do you ever feel like you need a little more designer shoe action in your life? If the answer is yes then Christian Louboutin’s new app could be for you.

Louboutinize is a free photo editing app that lets users add a dash of luxury to their pictures via three different filters. “Rouge” will wash images in a layer of deep red, the label’s signature sole hue, while “Crystallize” allows users to see their images as though through a diamond, inspired by the label’s nail lacquer bottle design. Finally, “Legs” gives snappers the chance to upload a fun pair of legs to their pictures, choosing between a can-can girl, a football player and three other limb options.

I wonder if “fun pair of legs” is ultimately as unfun as “fun size candy bars.”

A more serious app might be able to apply that deep red layer just to the pertinent part of your shoes, crystallize your accessories, and give you legs like [insert appropriate name here], but something like that would cost some serious money, whereas this one is being given away for free.

Addendum: Those initial “fun” legs apparently include the stems of Dita Von Teese. Suddenly this looks, um, more serious.

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The Dread Pirate Pony

Next Talk Like a Pirate Day (the 19th of September, if you’re keeping score), we need to replay this last-decade race at Saratoga as often as possible:

Well, actually, there are only five Rs in “ARRRRR.”

(Previous discussion of racehorse names here. Via Karen Padilla.)


Oh, the felinity

Here we see French actress Aude Fauconnier not strangling a kitten:

You’ve perhaps seen Mme. Fauconnier here.


Beyond littleness

Last time we attempted to determine just how Little My Little Pony is supposed to be, we found a 44-inch-tall Great and Powerful Trixie. At the time, I muttered something to this effect:

I’m waiting for suitably scaled stallions, who tend to be taller than mares, or (dare I hope?) Princess Celestia or Luna.

Celestia, of course, is the tallest of them all, and I do mean tall:

Life Size Princess Celestia by Double Backstitch Arts

She was a commission executed by Double Backstitch Arts, who describes her thusly:

Weighs 60lbs plus or minus ten, is 5ft 8in tall, has a wingspan of 108 inches, has a horn nearly 2ft long, required around 25ft of PVC pipe to prop up, took up over 50lbs of stuffing, needed 18 yards of fabric, took countless hours of time over many months, and tested my limits of what I thought plushingly possible. Her regalia is made of EVA foam and lined with a soft red fabric, with custom handcrafted plastic gems. Her body and mane are made from minky, her cutie marks and irises are embroidered. And yes it was a pain embroidering a cutie mark 10 inches wide!

I have no idea how much this actually cost to produce, but hey, I don’t actually need a new car right now.


Springtime for springtoy

“I can not think of a recreational device that better exemplifies the inventiveness of the American spirit,” said George W. Bush. Still, the country’s National Toy, as proclaimed by W., can be utterly exasperating at times:

(Background here. From Digg via Miss Cellania.)

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Possibly in league with some humans

Sometimes the first line sums up the entire song. That’s certainly the case here:

I tossed this up on Facebook last night (thank you, Annemarie Dooling), and, well, this sums it up nicely:

Philip Oakey, the Svengali of the relationship described in the song, reportedly didn’t like it when it was recorded, and didn’t want to see it released as a single. Wonder what he’d think of this little tweak.

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Three dozen to go

Spinning wheel got to go round:

Although I never aspired to be an axle. For that matter, I never aspired to be Axl.


All zoom, no doom

So you’ve just picked up your brand-new Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster from the dealership, and suddenly the Worst Possible Thing ensues:

Things started on Monday, when the Miata’s buyer and his wife went to pick up their new, unashamedly red (“Soul Red,” according to Mazda) Launch Edition Miata, which is one of a series of only 1000. Barely a mile or so away from the dealership, a Ford F-150, slammed into the rear of the Miata without even taking the courtesy to brake.

The force of the impact shoved the Miata into the car in front of it, basing in both ends and seemingly bending the unibody itself — which means the damage is likely much worse than it looks. Happily, neither the owner nor his wife were seriously injured. They weren’t entirely uninjured, as there was bruising and other sorts of injuries you’d expect from having an F-150 slam into your ass.

The car, of course, did not survive this intrusion by a hulking beast roughly two and a half times its weight. Post-wreck depression settled on the couple. The dealership went looking for another Launch Edition MX-5 for them, since they’re good customers.

But this was wholly unexpected. The buyer posted the following on an MX-5 forum:

Then, yesterday afternoon, I received 2 calls from [Mazda North American Operations] informing me that my name was on a replacement LE 6MT that is in transit and will dock in Jacksonville around August 15. On to Tom Bush [the dealership] soon after that.

Dejargoning: “6MT” indicates a six-speed manual transmission. Otherwise, does that sound like what I think it does? Yes, it does:

Yep, Mazda is stepping up and sending them a replacement, brand-new Miata. It’s worth noting that Mazda was really in no way obligated to do this — the whole mess was clearly the owner’s and insurance companies’ problem at this point — but that they did it anyway speaks volumes, and I suspect the good PR they get will easily be worth the value of the car.

MNAO will take possession of the remains, perhaps for research purposes: this is the first car of this design actually to be crashed, and much might be learned from it. And if they sell only a dozen additional cars to people who are impressed by this gesture, they’ve more than earned back the price of that single roadster.


Go fan yourselves

The Europeans — the taller ones, anyway — tend to look down their noses at us because we spend money on air conditioning. The proper response to this is “Who the hell asked you?”

For Europeans reading this, I may actually be able to clear up this baffling issue: Americans use air conditioning more because America is a lot hotter than Europe is. For example, in Washington, where the weather is apparently “pretty similar” to Berlin, it is expected to be 87 degrees Fahrenheit (31 Celsius) tomorrow. In Berlin, informs me that temperatures are expected to be a torrid, sultry … 75 Fahrenheit (23 Celsius).

Of course, on any two random days, the weather might be unseasonably cold or unseasonably hot. You really need to look at monthly averages. And lo and behold, when we look, we discover that Washington has an average [high] temperature of 88 degrees in July, while Berlin has an average temperature of … 73 (yes, that is indeed 31 and 23 Celsius).

And we’re not talking about a place that’s really hot, like Dallas (average July [high] temperature is 96, or 36 Celsius) or Phoenix (106, or 41 Celsius). We’re just talking about a rather ordinary American city in roughly the middle of the country’s north-to-south span.

The District of Columbia, the home of our correspondent, would probably object to being called “rather ordinary,” but its weather is notable only because it inconveniences the government.

We do have some cities with more European temperatures, including San Francisco and Seattle, but they are not our largest population centers. The rest of the country, even places that are frozen wastelands in the winter, experiences summertime average highs above 80 degrees. That’s not a rogue heat wave, the kind that Northern Europeans complain about endlessly while futilely fiddling with their fans. That’s just what we Americans call “summer.” A heat wave is when it’s 100 degrees (38 Celsius) and your dog won’t go outside because the pavement burns his feet.

This latter example, incidentally, explains the practical superiority of the Fahrenheit scale: you go outside — without the dog, because he knows what awaits should he go — and when you return, you wail, “Jeebus, it must be a hundred degrees out there!” And you’d be right.

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Followed by twenty years of groveling

News Item: The parent company of Ashley Madison, a matchmaking website for cheating spouses, says it was hacked and that the personal information of some of its users was posted online.


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It’s bleeding demised

It was, however, quite impossible to nail to the perch:

To celebrate the achievements of the Monty Python crew, UKTV channel Gold — which will air the final performance of the [Python] reunion on Sunday — contracted with sculptor Iain Prendergast to create a 50-foot fiberglass version of the famous “Norwegian Blue” parrot. The parrot, which is famous for being dead from the moment it was sold, was placed on Monday at Potters Fields Park in South London, near Tower Bridge. This is both a fine reminder to tune in on Sunday to the broadcast and an outstanding opportunity to inspire countless visitors to declare in increasingly frantic tones that “This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be! It’s expired and gone to meet its maker! This is a late parrot! It’s a stiff!”

Actual picture at the link. We’re assuming that the Choir Invisible would in fact be available for comment if they weren’t also inaudible.

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Did I call it, or what?

Back in January I ran a shot from a Tesla Model S P85D’s touchscreen, with two speed options selectable: “Sport” or “Insane.” Total tool of pop culture that I am, I titled that piece “Ludicrous speed.”

And now “Ludicrous” is being added as a legitimate option:

[O]wners and buyers can now upgrade to the new Ludicrous Mode on the Model S P85D. This upgrade is quite involved, requiring a new, advanced “smart fuse” and upgraded main pack contacter. Together, the upgrades result in a 2.8 second sprint to 60 mph — an improvement of 10 percent — and a quarter-mile time of 10.9 seconds, states [Elon] Musk. Car and Driver says the upgrade gives the Model S 762 horsepower.

If you are ordering a new P85D and want the Ludicrous Model update, prepare to shell out $10,000 plus another $3,000 for the required range update.

As usual, the upgrade will be offered to current P85D owners, though since it involves about $5000 worth of new hardware, it will require more than just the usual software download.

Dark Helmet, I assume, will be pleased.


A slightly quieter crash

A lot of different things happen during a car crash, none of them good and several of them loud. Mercedes-Benz is trying to offset that noise:

When your ear hears a sudden loud noise, the acoustic reflex contracts the stapedius muscle in the middle ear to block out the sound, protecting the sensitive eardrums and other bits of the inner ear.

Mercedes has taken advantage of this in the E-Class, with a new feature called Pre-Safe Sound. When the car senses an imminent impact (using onboard cameras and ultrasonic sensors), the stereo plays a loud static-type noise around 85 decibels. It’s not so loud that it hurts, but it’s loud enough to trigger the acoustic reflex and protect the ear from the much louder sound of the accident that arrives a moment later.

This strikes me as eminently more useful than, for instance, the recent tendency of automakers to pipe engine noise into the cabin.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)


Why we look forward to the weekend

When there’s a new episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there’s a manic Fark thread to discuss it, and inevitably thread drift is measured on the tidal scale. This week’s thread produced an utterly irrelevant but sort of amusing graphic, of Lyra Heartstrings sitting in the back seat:

Lyra Heartstrings as Rebecca Black

Which proves, I suppose, that it’s possible to get down on Saturday, if you get up early enough.

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Bless you, Ottawa

Hmmm. Maybe I need an “Entirely Too Warm” category. Or, you know, not:

A coffee cup from the Great White North

(Handed down through the years from Todd Wilbur’s Facebook page. Probability of Photoshop: greater than 50 percent.)

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Not from Federation stock

Flip phone chassis designed to look like a Star Trek communicatorThe argument for the flip phone, of late, has been pretty much limited to “Hey, they were good enough for Star Trek, weren’t they?” Well, things just got a little bit more complicated:

Structured-light 3D scanning allowed the Wand Company to ensure that every line and curve of the original communicator was perfectly captured. And while the Wand Company’s latest product won’t be able to call a starship orbiting the planet, it will pair with Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones to answer calls with a flick of the classic antenna grille.

The Communicator will include a sleek stand, using an invisible magnetic catch to hold the Communicator securely in place. It also has a built-in wireless charging capability, so that the Communicator will always be fully charged and ready for use.

Diecast metal, stamped and machined aluminum, specially made microphone and antenna grilles and a painstakingly reproduced housing texture further ensure that the Communicator is a serious prop that will delight collectors.

“Serious prop.” I like that. It’s not really a phone itself, of course, but it will let you talk to one.

The Star Trek Web site is taking preorders at $149.95. The Wand Company has already begun producing phasers, kinda sorta.

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What’s new, non-pussycat?

In terms of sheer shock value, this announcement ranks second only to the revelation that the star of same is not actually a cat:

[T]here’s going to be a Hello Kitty movie. Repeat: Hello Kitty is getting her own movie. Need to hear this information one more time? Hello Kitty + movie = our wildest dreams have FINALLY come true.

According to Deadline Hollywood, Sanrio is ready to take this kitty to the big screen (OK, but she’s not really a cat, we get it). It was only a matter of time before she made this big leap. Our Kitty White already has a well established empire, including, but not limited to: television shows, conventions, cafes, food trucks, a clothing line, a jewelry line, an organic farm, appearances at theme parks, and the list goes on and on. A big budget blockbuster just makes sense.

Wait a minute. Big budget?

Deadline reports that it’ll be anywhere from $160 million–$240 million. Just for comparison, both Inside Out and Jurassic World had budgets between $150 and $200 million. So I assume Hello Kitty: The Movie will be made out of gold and then painted pink.

So in terms of production values, this is the anti-Equestria Girls. Got it.

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Surely this ring will persuade her to make it so:

Star Trek-inspired ring by Paul Michael Design

I missed this when it came out last year, but apparently it’s resurfaced in time for Comic-Con, or something:

Pittsburgh-based jewelry designer Paul Michael Bierker of Paul Michael Design created a ring worthy of any captain of someone’s heart.

The “Boldly Going Somewhere” ring, for sale on Etsy for $595 plus shipping, is available in a choice of metals and gems, including white gold with color-enhanced blue diamonds and white diamond galaxy; white gold with topaz and white diamond galaxy; sterling silver with blue topaz and cubic zirconia; or platinum with blue color-enhanced diamonds and white diamond galaxy.

But will this actually convince her? Dammit, Jim, I’m a blogger, not a fortune-teller.


We trike harder

Yours truly, a few months back:

The Elio Motors three-wheeler, to borrow an old phrase, is the car of the future, and it always will be. I mentioned the little ultra-econobox last year, and quoted its ship date as “next spring.” It’s not going to happen in the next eighty days, guys.

That said, the unicorn has been sighted and even photographed:

Occasionally the Elio team travels around the country showing off the Elio. Last week I was finally able to see one in person and actually sit inside.

There’s a decent amount of room inside for humans. For baggage, not so much:

The trunk’s measurements are 27″x14″x10″. For comparison, American Airlines allows 22″x14″9″ for carry on bags. Essentially you’ll have enough room back there for one carry on bag and a couple of sandwiches or something.

None of that Dagwood stuff, though.

Still, hope springs eternal:

Currently I am holding a reservation spot with a $100 down payment, but based on what I saw I am thinking about upgrading to the maximum $1,000 spot. My only trepidation at the moment is that the car was originally slated for a 2014 release date and it has already been pushed back 2½ years to mid-2016 … and with where I would end up in line I most likely wouldn’t see mine until 2017, if the car ships at all. $100 isn’t much to hold a spot for a car that might eventually see the market, but $1,000 is a serious investment.

The incentive on non-refundable reservations: half again as much gets applied to the purchase price. So he’ll get $150 off when they ship. (For now, MSRP is a stunningly modest $6,800.)

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No computer left behind

The idea of the “user port” on the Commodore 64 was simply this: if you can program it, we’ll give you lines and a little bit of memory to support it. And now, 802.11 has arrived:

Schema is developing a Wi-Fi cartridge for the Commodore 64. At this moment he has a working prototype that is communicating on 2400 Baud. You can use a standard terminal program for the communication and all the RS-232 signals are supported.

Old C-64 hands will remember that the user port was forever limited to 2400 bps — until, of course, it wasn’t.