Showing posts from May, 2011

Kewl Design Alert: Mystery Box

Sometimes, old tech is the best tech. Case in point: The Mystery Box. Developed by clockmaker Clayton Boyer, this would entertain me for hours.

The plans are available... so who wants to build me one for Christmas? ;)


The Pomegranate Phone: Canada's First Viral Campaign?

After my recent post about the Triple Flip phone, my tweep @heyglenns sent me a link to an even KEWLER phone.

The Pomegranate is a bit small for my liking, but OMG the features! All the standard stuff plus a real-time voice translator, coffee maker, razor, harmonica! Those are the funniest features I've ever seen and they are so well portrayed in the video.

So what exactly is this phone? It might have been Canada's first viral online marketing campaign, dating back to 2009.

If you take a visit to the Pomegranate Phone website, and if you can bear the intro, there is a fully interactive site detailing all the specs. In the top right corner is a "Release Date" button that takes you to the people behind the ruse: Travel Nova Scotia — apparently Nova Scotia — not this phone — has everything you'd ever want.

According to the Wikipedia article, it went viral driving 3Million visits to their site within the campaign period. Definitely one of the more inspired offerings…

Touch a Truck: A Kid's Dream (Coming May 29)

If you've got a little person who completely loves trucks and other vehicles, then you need to check out Touch a Truck. With everything from police cars, ambulances and firetrucks to tractors, classic trucks and sports cars, Touch a Truck is all about the kids: unlike car shows, the kids can climb in (and for the most part ON) the vehicles.

Now the Dude has always loved trucks. In fact, the Dude loves trucks enough to have gone out dressed as one for Hallowe'en when he was 3. And he was very clear about it: He was the truck. Not the driver. Hubby and I built him a Gravedigger costume and I drew a bunch of the artwork from the actual truck. Good thing I had a couple of boring flights and access to Adobe Illustrator. :)

Needless to say, we head to Touch a Truck every year. Except this year. For some reason, they moved the date to National Capital Race Weekend. So while the Trucks are on view from 10-3 at Lincoln Fields, we'll be downtown with our usual out of town guests, r…

Happy Geek Pride Day to you! (May 25)

Today is Geek Pride Day! And so I wish all of my geeks and geek grrls an especially Happy Geek Pride Day.

According to the Wikipedia entry (there HAD to be a Wikipedia entry), May 25th is the anniversary of the premiere of the first Star Wars film in 1977. Incidentally, May 25 was also declared Star Wars Day in Los Angeles for the same reason. Could there possibly be anything more geeky? Likely, no.

If you have a geek in your life, make sure to give them a hug and maybe a little something from ThinkGeek. ;)

And if you are a geek? Here are a few items for you to enjoy:
Read my Geek Manifesto: Embracing My GeekinessCheck out the list of Geek Rights I linked to in last year's Geek Pride Day postLike the official Facebook pageHead on over to GeekDad for their list of reasons to be proud of your geekinessGeek on, friends.

7 Tips to Surviving Twitter Chats

In my first two posts about Twitter chats, I pointed you to a list of Every single Twitter chat and then, once you were overwhelmed, explained How to find the right chat for you.

So, you've picked your chat. Now what? If your chat has hundreds (even thousands) of simultaneous participants, how on earth are you going to see the moderator questions, the invitee's answers and keep up with all of the participants' comments? It can be difficult when the comments are flying by quickly, and many n00bs can get overwhelmed.

Here are some simple tips to help you focus, participate and get what you need from the chat.
1. Use a Twitter app, not the site. Twitter apps have auto-refresh, which means that you don't have to reload the page to get the latest tweets, they will appear automagically. This is especially important for Twitter chats; you don't want to be spending an hour hitting the refresh button on your browser. As well, apps let you follow multiple streams of tweets …

Friday Fun: A War Fought With Cameras (video)

I came across this video on Mashable and couldn't help but share. Picture it: The scene is a battle field. Each side battles fiercely using up precious resources to make even just a little ground. They valiantly defend their ground with only their...cameras.

Yep, it's an ad for The Camera Shop and it's just too. much. fun.


(Source: Mashable)

Kewl Design Alert: Affordable Exoskeleton Enables Student to Walk at Grad

So by now, you might have already seen this story so I won't show you the news clips (plus, do I ever show you the news clip?) No, below is the story of the researcher who designs kewl, tech exoskeletons and decided to make one that is affordable.

Affordable as in the price dropped from $100,000 to $15,000.

Technology is one of my favourite things to learn about. But affordable technology that makes peoples' lives better, richer, fuller? That's the stuff I drool over.

So here are two videos from UC Berkeley, where the research is taking place. First up, a brief interview with Berkeley engineering professor Homayoon Kazerooni, who is leading the project. Just listen to the passion in his voice. And then watch Austin Whitney, paralyzed in a car accident, walk across the stage to get his diploma.

Even if you saw the news footage, watch it again without the annoying reporter voiceoiver. And try not to cry when you see Austin use the exoskeleton to walk. (I cry every time …

Kewl Design Alert: Bike Lock Handlebars

Sometimes it's the simplest answers that make the most sense. And design student Jaryn Miller has a beautifully simple solution to the problem of carrying a bike lock.

Store the lock in the handlebars. Make the handlebars the lock. No need to carry any extra heft.

Love this concept. So did Fast Company. Not bad for a design student.

For more about this kewl design, check out Jaryn Miller's Senza Bike Lock.


Kewl Design Alert: How Would You Explain a Kindle to Charles Dickens?

My tweep @III_III posted a link to an article on Illusion Now a few days ago and I was MIND-BOGGLED.

A brilliant artist by the name of Rachel Walsh designed this work of art to demonstrate the Kindle.
Her web project was to “Explain something modern/internet based to someone who lived and died before 1900. I made this to explain Amazon’s Kindle to Charles Dickens... All the books I made had the actual covers on them, and were the books Dickens wrote, his favourite childhood books, or books I’ve got." 40 books inside a convenient carrying case - in this case, another book.

Can we all just take a moment and admire Ms. Rachel's creative, innovative way of looking at the world? This is just brilliant.

Now check out her blog for more great stuff.

6 Steps to Finding The Twitter Chat That's Right For You

Last week I posted a list of every Twitter chat. But with hundreds available, how do you choose the ones that are right for you?

Now, there are so many topics and so many people on The Twitter, you can probably find a chat on every topic. But not all chats are well moderated and not all chats will provide you value. Consider what you want to learn, what you can contribute and when you want to be locked down for an hour online.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help narrow the field:

1. Why do you want to join a chat? What do you want to learn? Are you curious about a topic? Do you want to grow your skills and knowledge? Need help with something at work? Are you looking to demonstrate your expertise in a topic or industry on which you are knowledgeable? Looking for networking opportunities? Want more followers or blog readers? These are all very valid reasons for joining Twitter chats. Thinking about your motives can help narrow the field since there are a few hundred from wh…

Gorgeous: Underwater Slo-Mo Explosions (video)

As any good Mythbusters fan, I love watching explosions. And these (while not of the Mythbusters persuasion) do not disappoint.

According to the description on YouTube: These are shots/ outakes from the BBC4 series I have just finished about the true nature of everything and the the science behind empty space. The series is called 'Everything and Nothing' and is presented by Professor Jim Al-Khalili.The resulting images are eerily beautiful. Enjoy!

(Source: Gizmodo)

Kewl Design Alert: Concept Phone Has It All (video)

Designed by SchultzeWORKS designstudio the Triple Flip has everything I would want in a phone: solar cell battery, slide out keyboard, extra wide screen, folds flat, tiltable screen for video calling or movie viewing... unfortunately, it's not a Droid (runs Windows 7) but no one's perfect.

It's just kewl. And just a concept for now, but it will be interesting to see if it becomes reality.

Take a look:

(Source: Gadgetell)

Get Smarter: List of Every Public Twitter Chat

I regularly take part in several Twitter chats. Generally, they each run about an hour long once a week and can be rapid-fire exchanges of ideas. For example, Blogchat has over 1,000 participants, so the tweet stream moves constantly with tons of side conversations in addition to the main stream. I have a lot of tricks to staying on top of those types of chats, but will keep those for another post.

In addition to #blogchat, I also participate in #ungeeked, #govchat, #aDadsPOV, #ProfsChat, among others. What I love is the variety of the participants' experience with the topics. I get to learn and contribute my knowledge to n00bs. They're a great way to meet and interact with people on all sorts of topics. I look forward to the chats and have them as recurring events in my Google calendar so I don't forget to log on for them.

If you're interested in finding out more about Twitter chats, check this out: Robert Swanwick (@SpkrInteractive) is curating a comprehensive Twitt…

Buy a Rain Barrel, Help a Good Cause, and Get FREE Tickets to a Show

If you follow my Twitter stream, you know that I'm not only a fan of Canada Day in Barrhaven, but I'm also helping them out with their social media thanks to hubby being part of their organizing committee.

Don't let that detract from the shameless plug that follows ;) I'll keep it short.

If you are thinking of getting a rain barrel this summer (particularly important in Barrhaven, in light of the outdoor water ban) please consider getting it through the West Barrhaven Community Association via

Why?$10 from every barrel goes to Canada Day Barrhaven to make the day awesomethe money stays in our community AND if you bring your receipt to Greenfields Pub on Wednesday May 11, it will get you and a friend FREE entry to Barrhaven Battle of the BandsFollow & Like Us!And please take a moment to:
"Like" Mattamy Homes Canada Day Barrhaven on Facebook"Like" Battle of the Bands in Barrhaven on FacebookFollow @CdaDayBarrhaven

Cakes Worthy of a Little Geek (or a Big One ;)

In honour of the Dude's 8th birthday today, I present cake molds I found too late a few geeky cake and cupcake ideas, perfect for both little and big geeks.

First up, this adorable Space Invaders cake mold.

Next up, these funky square robot cupcake holders.

Adorable fossil molds (kids eat down to the fossil at the bottom)

And the piece-de-resistance: Nomskulls (get it? Nom nom nom)

All of these are available from the aptly named Perpetual Kid.

(Source: Geek Gems)

You Knew It Would Happen: First Tweet from Everest

As I reported last Fall, Everest got itself some wifi. Why? Apparently for no other reason than "it didn't have wifi".

And inevitably, someone used it to send a Tweet last week. I have to admit, it is pretty kewl.

It also proved that nothing is sacred. Twitter is officially (almost) everywhere. But he still didn't check into Foursquare. So mayorship is still up for grabs. Well, at least there's that.

(Source: Gizmodo)

What NOT to Buy a Geek Mom for Mother's Day (or: Why I Hate Tech Targeted "To Women")

Here, I'm going to give you a little spoiler: don't buy Mom any tech that's targeted to Moms. Period.

I came across an article on Ubergizmo for a rumored new HTC Bliss phone, which is being touted as an Android phone for women.

Now, being a Droid lover I like to check out new Droid phones. But being a woman, especially a geeky one, I did not like the sound of a phone marketed to women. By that, all I could think was that it's really for Moms and that could only mean...

Smaller form factor?
Girlie apps?
Or even worse... pink?

Well, thankfully it's not pink. But if the article is right, this is like a throwback to 50's stereotypes of women all rolled into a phone with, yes, a smaller form factor.

Some of the details rumoured to be included:
First of all, no keyboard. Is that meant to imply we are content consumers, not creators? (Right there, that's a dealbreaker for me.)Second, the apps. The girlie apps. Shopping comparison apps, calorie counting apps, et…

Free Comics for Everyone! May 7 is Free Comic Book Day

Got a kid who loves comics? Maybe you're a big kid who loves comics? Well, May 7th is your lucky day! Stores around the globe will be celebrating the 10th Annual Free Comic Book Day by handing out free comics to anyone who visits their stores. If you've got a little person, what better way than to introduce a love of comics - for free!

In Ottawa, there are 5 stores who would be thrilled to share their love of comics with you. Use the handy Free Comic Book Day store finder to locate a store near you. We'll definitely try to get down to our local comic book shop on May 7th! Will you?

Find out more:

(Source: Frugal Fun Ottawa)

Starting May 6: LEGO Community Garden at Canadian Tulip Festival

Ottawa has been home to some great LEGO-related events in the past, and this one sounds like it won't disappoint!

There will be a LEGO Community Garden at this year's Tulip Festival. Located at Major's Hill park, this interactive display will feature a flower theme:
LEGO® Certified Professional Robin Sather will personally be on hand from May 6 – 8 building giant tulip bouquets and helping kids build a beautiful LEGO flower garden.The garden will continue to live on throughout the entire festival, from May 6 – 23 (though it will be closed Monday, MAY 9th & 16th, according to the website). Admission is one Funtasia ticket or a cash donation to the Canadian Tulip Festival.

The Garden will be built by Robin Sather, Canada's only certified professional LEGO builder. How kewl is that?! Check out some of the really kewl structures he's built on his website: The Sphinx in the gallery is huge and very kewl!

(Source: Frugal Fun Ottawa)

May the 4th Be With You: Star Wars Bobble Heads

If you haven't noticed yet, today is May the 4th. Officially known as Star Wars Day in geek circles, during which geeks (including my family) greet each other with "May the 4th be With You". Dorky? Of course. Fun for the kiddies? You bet!

In keeping with the Star Wars Day theme, I came across a BitRebels article earlier this week about the launch of Star Wars bobble heads. And boy, are they adorable.

The dolls are cute, young-looking versions of various Star Wars characters. The perfect addition to an office or a kid's bedroom. Only one problem: The cute young-looking line of dolls featured in the BitRebels article aren't actually available at the Star Wars Shop. Boo Star Wars shop! :(

The shop only lists grown-up-looking Captain Rex, Han Solo, Gamorrean Guard and Greedo, but the BitRebels article showed those as young bobbles, along with young Darth Vader, Princess Leah, Chewie, a storm trooper and even Yoda. Not sure what happened to this series of the dolls o…

Wayback Machine: Early 90s AT&T Spot About Cooking in the Future (video)

Twenty years ago, AT&T put together this little video showing what it would be like to cook in the future. And while the "conversation" with the computer wouldn't happen today (beyond voice recognition commands), it's pretty close.

I wonder if back then, people thought it was really far-fetched. And whether Corning's world of glass video is more likely than we would be willing to think...

(Source: Swissmiss)

Mandatory Electronics Recycling: Yes, please.

The state of South Carolina is making electronics recycling mandatory as of July 1st, 2011. They made it an actual law:
Effective July 1, computers, monitors, printers and televisions are banned at the state's solid waste landfills. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control will enforce the law at landfills, where each violation could lead to a $1,000 fine against the facility.That means electronics won't be in the landfills leaching out toxic chemicals into the groundwater and soil. And to that I say, YES!

Now I noticed that the law explicitly covers screens and printers, so I'm not sure how it qualifies tablets and smartphones, but here's hoping they're going to cover those as well. Regardless, it's a big step in the right direction.

And so, I ask: Please, City of Ottawa? That mountain in Carp isn't getting any smaller...

I mean, it seems like such a no brainer.

Full article: Post and Courier

UI Stencils: A Drawing Kit for Developers and GUI Designers

So @scubagirl15 tweeted something incredibly interesting:

And I just had to find out more. Well, wasn't I amazed to learn that UI designers are even more brilliant than I'd originally thought there are paper prototyping drawing kits for information architects, developers and UI designers! Soooo kewl.

UI Stencils sells smart phone and browser sketch pads, stencils with standard icons and even drawing pencils. They're not only adorable, but also so convenient and did I mention brilliant? Love these. LOTS.

Are you a designer? Would you use these?