Make a notebook, and make it easy: Pocketmod

http://www.pocketmod.com/

The PocketMod is a small book with guides on each page. These guides or templates, combined with a unique folding style, enable a normal piece of paper to become the ultimate note card.

The interest of pocketmod lies in the way it merges several useful related ideas into a single, solid initiative. There’s a set of handy templates (or mods, as they call them) to choose from; an intuitive application to arrange them into a custom notebook; a way to make this application as accesible as possible (you can either design and print the notebook right from the browser, or download the software and use it offline); a clever folding pattern so that the notebook is quickly made from the printed piece of paper; and a tool to convert previously made documents (in pdf format) to a ready-to-fold booklet (or series of booklets, if needed).

I find that the folding technique leaves too much paper unused (one side, actually), but after trying several alternatives I believe that actually the authors went for the easiest way to get the book ready. Anyway, the forum is a good source for further mods and ideas. Now you can say goodbye to sketching on paper napkins!

ps. Still, if you must use a napkin, remember the folding pattern: you’ll get a notebook as small as it is cool 🙂

Related Article: All you need to make a notebook

Blogging with WordPress: my favourite plugins

(Last Updated 18.09.06) A few days ago I talked to a friend about the convenience of changing his site into a blog format. He liked the idea, and since I had told him about the benefits of using plugins to add functionality and customize the blog, he later wrote me an email asking me if I could save him some time by telling him which plugins I use. Here is the list (I’m using WordPress v1.5): Continue reading Blogging with WordPress: my favourite plugins

Shake that waterscape,

or the maraca PDA

http://hhil.hitachi.co.jp/products/waterscape-e.html

To allow browsing of information in a passive and relaxed way, we have developed a prototype personal digital assistant (PDA) terminal with no buttons at all. By operating the terminal with simple tilting and shaking gestures, contents such as movies and music can be enjoyed.

In a former article (see below), I wrote about the increasing importance of what I called “gestural control”, which I had already been following in relation to musical intruments and seems to be slowly finding its way into everyday life (it even went mainstream when it was used in the videogame “Black&White”, for instance). In this case, Hitachi shows us a little neat device, merely a screen, where several icons (bubbles) literally “float” around. Tilting the device will displace those bubbles in such a way that when one of them gets to a “hotspot”, located in the center of the screen, it will reveal its contents, which the user can select in the same way. A second different gesture, that of shaking the device, provides a means to “go back” or deselect the current feature.

As a prototype, the waterscape is a study for new, more intuitive ways of accessing data in electronic devices. However, there are Continue reading Shake that waterscape,

Adding an image to Black-Letterhead theme

Last Updated 23.02.06

Black-Letterhead is the name of the theme that I’m using as the layout for this site. It took me quite some time to figure out how to add the image for the header, and when searching for information I couldn’t find an “easy” answer; that’s why I decided to show here the code that I changed in case it may be of help to others. (disclaimer: I’m anything but an expert in this field, so I don’t know if it will work for you -but it has worked for me). Continue reading Adding an image to Black-Letterhead theme

Guess what, guess who?

or the Mystery Masterpiece contest

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=24

I will present a somewhat obscure work to be identified by title and artist.
Every few days I’ll check back to review your answers. The first to post the correct information will be the winner and get to post the next one. He/she will then determin the winner and it will pass on to them and so on and so on and so on…

While browsing through the Wetcanvas forums I came across this initiative, which I find equally amusing and educational. It just takes a small bit of interest, if not simple curiosity, to dip into the list of proposed artworks (1016 so far), and I warn you that in between guessing, discovering and reading the comments you will easily spend quite some time there; however, time spent this way I believe to be a true investment! 🙂

Harry Potter&the goblet of fire: Afterthoughts

http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/gobletoffire/main.html

Harry Potter, “the boy who lived, is in for a dangerous fourth year at Hogwarts when the goblet of fire selects him to compete as one of four champions in the triwizard tournament -despite the fact that he did not submit his name”

I find Harry Potter and… both interesting and enjoyable: even though it goes on for almost three hours, I didn’t feel tired or bored after it finished. However, although the different sequences were all very good, the whole movie suffered most from the editing. Some transitions between scenes were too abrupt; many times, it seemed like chunks of the plot were missing, and at times the story didn’t flow as naturally as it should. In my opinion, the best part of the movie was around the middle, when it showed the relationships between the main characters and bits of their life as teenagers, like in the events surrounding the Yule Ball. After that the movie got pretty intense, but I felt that the whole thing ended too suddenly: I was expecting more action at Hogwarts after the villain had been revived!

Now that I made that last remark, it may be the time to add a caveat: I haven´t read the book yet, so while watching the movie I wasn´t biased by it, nor was I recalling a previously assumed plot. That´s why, after the movie had ended, I talked to several others who had previously read the book and asked them for their opinion. I found out that they thought that the movie had been too short, and also that many things were omitted from the book, from small details to entire characters (Ludo Bagman or the house elves, for instance). They also coincided with me in that the movie felt rushed (I´m quoting my girlfriend: thanks Steph!). However, though being disappointed in some ways, I think that no one could say that the movie hadn´t been a good one. My footnote on the music: I found it accomplished and technically well done, though several times, like at the very beginning, if I closed my eyes I wouldn´t know if it was Harry Potter or Batman. In this sense, and especially for its orchestrations, I prefer the music John Williams made for the previous movies.

Easy life through practical kirigami: 3D card maker

http://www.tamasoft.co.jp/craft/popupcard_en/

3D Card Maker is a Windows application which generates unfolded patterns for Pop Up Cards.

kirigami is a paper craft where shapes are literally brought out of paper by cutting and folding (some origami models require cuts, but those are exceptions, so to say: in kirigami, cutting is an intrinsic part of the making of the models). The models themselves can be designed either by hand or aided by the computer; in this latter case 3D Card Maker allows you to create fairly complex designs with just a little practice. All the work is done in a single window where the model is shown in 3D, and moving, rotating or scaling it is straightforward. The interface is easy to understand (first steps: move the cursor with the keyboard arrows, raise columns by pressing the space bar), and provides very useful functions, like the mirror mode, which saves half the work when creating symmetric patterns, or the animation feature, which shows how the model should be folded after cutting. Finally, you can directly print the unfolded pattern, export it as a bmp image, or even export the tridimensional model as a DXF. In all, 3D Card Maker is a very nice program which will keep you entertained for quite a long time.

Groboto 2.0 in the works

http://www.groboto.com

We’re not quite ready to announce release dates for the beta or final versions, but we though we’d update you on our progress.

* Mac OS X & Windows Versions
* True 3D
* Real Time Editing with Full Rendering
* Real Time Bot Editing
* New Interactive Animation Tools
* Shadow Casting & Local Lights
* Fully Editable Primitives.
* Fantastic Proprietary Texture Mapping
* And much more…

Groboto has been defined by its authors either as “an intuitive 3D art tool”, or, more modestly, as “an amazing 3D program where kids can create cool images through the exploration of math, science, and art”. However, this is a piece of sotware which defies categorizing since it touches many different fields. Its key point is that of growing both organic and inorganic- like shapes, (hence the Gro-), that emerge from the trail left by a Bot (hence the -boto). In this sense, Groboto reveals an inheritance from the Logo language as much as from the principles of Evolutionary Art. In version 1.6 (the one I bought), it was possible to tweak the organic shapes, crossbreed them, evaluate the offspring from several points of view and use the selected individuals as parents for the next generation, among many other things. Actually, it was even possible to create games based on the bots´ behaviours (I didn´t go that far, though). Although the main view Continue reading Groboto 2.0 in the works

We are kid robots

http://www.kidrobot.com/index.html

Kidrobot is planet Earth’s premier creator and retailer of limited-edition art toys, mini-figures, posters, clothing, action figures and more!

Back in September I bought one of these Ultramini mini figures (I got the black one) in a comic book shop as a present for my brother. He very much liked both the packaging and the figure, and so did I (I think I´ll get another one for myself). The design is clearly inspired by the japanese Ultraman (should be pronounced Ul-to-ra-man), and ultramini looks to me like a sort of freestyle-super deformed figure -with lots of style :). Moreover, I was surprised to find that the company behind the ultraminis is specialized in making various high quality limited series of vinyl figures, which are becoming very popular nowadays. I was particularly delighted by the tengu figures, but you will surely find something you like among the many galleries featured in the site.

Ps: The title of this post is made after a known song of a very influential techno group 😉

The incredible Robopet

,or When aliens mate with aibo

a robot by Mark Tilden

http://www.robopetonline.com/

Robopet is the perfect fusion of technology and personality. He “comes alive” with a combination of user-controlled movements and autonomous, free-roaming behaviors, some of them naughty and some of them nice. And, at seven inches, he’s the perfect interactive pet to take anywhere!

A few days ago I found Robopet while walking down the toy section in a nearby mall (don´t raise your eyebrows. Since we are approaching Christmas the toy section has taken over the entire place. Anyway, I was searching for toys for my little nephew. For when I have one, that is). That first contact was kinda tepid: flanked by a bunch of huge Roboraptors, the much smaller robopets didn´t really stand out very well on the shelves. However, I decided long ago that Roboraptor is too expensive for my budget nephew, so I took a box with one robopet and looked at it carefully. Now, after some time, several reviews read and a few videos watched, I still look at it with the same “what the …?” expression. I like robots very much, and robopet seems to feature some of the things that made aibo so interesting for a fraction of the price: it moves smoothly, has several well thought interactions, runs on batteries (I wonder how long they last), and can either be autonomous (to impress oneself) or remote controlled (to impress oneself´s friends). However, it seems that for some reason I can´t get accustomed to the way it looks. Quoting a PC Magazine Article describing the robot, “Robopet is, more accurately, a skeletal representation of a small Chihuahua’s physical anatomy, especially in the legs, which have been engineered to realistically interpret the bones and tendons of a dog”. Well, I don´t know if I´ll buy the robot, but of one thing I´m sure: chihuahuas will never look the same to me. 😛