Saturday, December 30, 2006

how to be interesting

Russell Davies gave out an unofficial assignment today asking people to become more interesting and therefore better creative generalists.



While I was at the U of O I kept going on about how the core skill of any future creative business person will be 'being interesting'. People will employ and want to work with (and want to be with) interesting people.

And since I’d spent quite a lot of time telling them all the things they should stop doing I’d thought I’d try and teach something useful. Since I don't actually know anything useful I had to make something up. Which is below. It takes about 10 minutes to teach but it’ll take a lifetime for people to work out if it works or not, and by then I’ll be long gone. Ha!

I’ve based it on two assumptions:

The way to be interesting is to be interested. You’ve got to find what’s interesting in everything, you’ve got to be good at noticing things, you’ve got to be good at listening. If you find people (and things) interesting, they’ll find you interesting.

Interesting people are good at sharing. You can’t be interested in someone who won’t tell you anything. Being good at sharing is not the same as talking and talking and talking. It means you share your ideas, you let people play with them and you’re good at talking about them without having to talk about yourself.

The marvelous thing about tinterweb is that it’s got great tools for being interested and great tools for sharing. So I’ve used them a lot. It should, of course, be obvious that there are many other ways to be interesting. Some of them don't involve computers at all. These are just 10 things, and if you do them you’ll get more interesting. Or at the very least you’ll start practising the skills of being interesting.

It's sort of didactic, bossy even, but it's supposed to be instructional, rules you can follow. If you do them, and send me evidence that you’ve done them for three months, then I’ll send you a marvelous ‘I’m More Interesting Than I Was Three Months Ago’ certificate.


1. Take at least one picture everyday. Post it to flickr.

You should carry a camera with you. A phonecam will do. The act of carrying a camera, and always keeping an eye out for a picture to take changes the way you look at the world. It makes you notice more things. It keeps you tuned in.

Posting it to flickr (or other photosharing sites) means that you’re sharing it. It’s in public. This will make you think a little harder about what you shoot and it might draw you into conversation about your pictures.

2. Start a blog. Write at least one sentence every week.

This is pretty easy. If you just did this much I’d be disapppointed. You should write more sentences. Or you should write one true sentence. But I suspect that you won’t be able to limit yourself to just one sentence, I suspect you’ll get bitten and want to do more.

It’s easy to knock blogging as a kind of journalism of the banal but in some ways that’s its strength. Bloggers don’t go out and investigate things (mostly) they’re not in exciting or glamorous places, they’re not given a story, they have to build one out of the everyday lives they lead. And this makes them good at noticing things, things that others might not have seen. And being a blogger, feeling the need to write about stuff makes you pay attention to more things, makes you go out and see more stuff, makes you carry a notebook, keeps you tuned in to the world.


3. Keep a scrapbook

I’ve talked about this before. It’s good. Do it.

4. Every week, read a magazine you’ve never read before

Interesting people are interested in all sorts of things. That means they explore all kinds of worlds, they go places they wouldn’t expect to like and work out what’s good and interesting there. An easy way to do this is with magazines. Specialist magazines let you explore the solar system of human activities from your armchair. Try it, it’s fantastic.

5. Once a month interview someone for 20 minutes, work out how to make them interesting. Podcast it.

Again, being interesting is about being interested. Interviewing is about making the other person the star; finding out what they know or think that’s interesting. Could be anyone, a friend, a colleague, a stranger, anyone. Find out what’s compelling about them. Interviewing stops you butting in too much and forces you to listen. Good thing to practice. (And it's worth noticing the people who are good at it.) Podcasting is sharing. Sharing is something you must get used to.


6. Collect something

It could be anything. It could be pictures of things. But become an expert in something unexpected and unregarded. Develop a passion. Learn how to communicate that to other people without scaring them off. Find the other few people who share your interest. Learn how to be useful in that community.


7. Once a week sit in a coffee-shop or cafe for an hour and listen to other people’s conversations. Take notes. Blog about it. (Carefully)

Take little dips in other people’s lives. Listen to their speech patterns and their concerns. Try and get them down on paper. (Don’t let them see. Try not to get beaten up.) Don’t force it, don’t hop from table to table in search of better eavesdropping, just bask in the conversations that come your way.


8. Every month write 50 words about one piece of visual art, one piece of writing, one piece of music and one piece of film or TV. Do other art forms if you can. Blog about it

If you want to work in a creative business (and before long most businesses will be creative businesses) you’ll have to get used to having a point of view on artistic stuff. Even if it’s not very artistic. You’ll have to be comfortable with expressing an opinion on things you don’t know how to make or do, like music or writing. You get better at that through practice. And through sharing what you’ve written.

9. Make something

Do something with your hands. Create something from nothing. It could be knots, it could be whittling, Lego, cake or knitting. Take some time to get outside your head. Ideally, make something you have no idea how to do. Get something from Make and try it, assuming you’ll screw it up the first time. People love people who can make things. Making’s the new thinking. Share your things on the your blog, or, if you’re brilliant maybe you can share them on etsy.


10. Read:

Understanding Comics - Scott McCloud
The Mezzanine - Nicholson Baker
The Visual Display Of Quantitative Information - Edward Tufte

All these books are good for their own reasons but they’re also good examples of people who are really interested in stuff that others think of as banal and who explain it in a way that makes you share their passion. That's good.

And that's it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Missile Radar Still Adrift

SBX-Missile Defense Out to Sea?
The photograph at left is the most iconic image we have of a pretty photogenic piece of equipment. Late afternoon at Pearl Harbor, the American flag flutters over the Arizona Memorial. And in the background, as if we need any more of a stark reminder, looms the future of the defense apparatus of the United States.
The parts of the SBX-1 are as impressive as they look: nearly 28 stories tall it sits on two pontoons each the size of a Trident submarine and can chug along at 12 miles an hour on the open sea. It is that vessel that will be deployed in the Bering Sea so that it can pick up a missile launched from North Korea and activate the defense system that will shoot it out of the sky.
But as we kept finding in our reporting, the great parts of the SBX-- the incredible x-band radar, the sturdy North Sea oil platform on which it sits, and the good men and women of the Missile Defense Agency—might not add up to the perfect whole.  more

Eight Internet Losers In 2006

Though the Internet had a breakout year 2006, it wasn't all birthday cakes and butterflies for everyone. Companies, institutions and philosophies came head to head every other day trying to exert some sort of control over it. And most of them failed miserably.

Biggest Internet Losers 2006
1. AOL
2006 is a year that will live in infamy for one of the world's premiere ISPs. AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham couldn't have picked a tougher climate to press his company's causes. Their causes were paper-thin and they paid dearly for it.
Troubles hit AOL early after the company tried to sneak in a per-email fee for bulk mailers in the name of reducing spam. Tales of a mystery press release put AOL in the hot seat as the company denied any intention of eliminating its Enhanced Whitelist. It wasn't a press release, just a "thought piece" the entire American press thought was a press release. The Goodmail fiasco got AOL dragged into the California legislature to explain itself.
Shortly after that hubbub died down, Americans learned all about "The Call," where a dissatisfied AOL subscriber recorded his nearly fruitless effort to cancel his AOL account. It became quite clear that AOL's efforts to clot its hemorrhaging subscribers were borderline abusive, and Vincent Ferrari wasn't the only one (not by a long shot) that received this type of treatment.
And then, there was the AOL Data Valdez. Careers were tanked at the AOL campus when researchers published the entire search histories of AOL users, substituting names with numbers. That so-called "anonymized" list was quickly shown to be not so anonymous as patterns were so easily recognizable that actual users were tracked down by the press.

More layoffs, a complete restructuring, and a free AOL emerged. But Netscape went down in flames. Ay ay ay.
2. Facebook
After the runaway success of MySpace and YouTube, everybody looked at Facebook as the next great Web 2.0 acquisition. Yahoo, Microsoft and Google all reportedly made outrageously generous offers or were courting the startup founded by a young Harvard dropout.
But founder Mark Zuckerberg had trouble getting out of bed or postponing dates in order to negotiate. And then, after the most they could get out of Yahoo was a paltry $1.62 billion, Facebook comes down from space to say it should be more like $8 billion.
Why not take the billion, put it in the bank, and let Yahoo worry about it once it tanks? You know, just in case this really is a bubble.
Facebook, meet Friendster. You guys may have a lot in common one day.

3. Dial-up
With broadband access reaching nearly 80 percent of the US population, dial-up is on its deathbed. There'll be no more click and wait.
4. Free Speech
The most heralded of American traditions, free speech took some hits this year as a few Wild West bloggers abused the privilege, government's sought to regulate it, and lawsuits flew at it because The Man was getting a bit freaked out by it.
Blogs entered the American court system for the first time, putting bloggers on the spot for libel. Google was forced to censor search results to do business in China. Those with no understanding of copyright law but a lot of time on their hands, sent out DMCA notices to anyone who would speak out against them. Britain proposed a blogger code of conduct, which was unanimously rejected. And the US government outlawed even linking to questionable web pages.
With so much citizen media out there, the coming years will be the most challenging test of free speech in history.

5. Privacy
The DOJ subpoenaed all the major search engines for their search records to bolster more than one government witch hunt. AOL leaked massive amounts of data, proving a chilling point about search records. The US government also wants ISPs to keep records on subscribers for certain lengths of time, and has a deal with AT&T to help the government spy on everybody.
Welcome to the first installment of the fabled Big Brother. There are eyes everywhere. Merry Christmas.
6. Republicans
Whether you're a supporter of the GOP or not, it became abundantly clear in 2006, that the leaders of the Republican Congress weren't exactly the cream of the crop. In addition to gay pedophilia, outright corruption and bribery, and strange interpretations of national security, and mishandling foreign relations, their ineptitude was poignantly illustrated by veteran senator Ted Stevens.
Octogenarian Stevens was put in charge of writing 21st Century legislation regarding the Internet even though he had little understanding of how it worked. Stevens led the Republican charge against Net Neutrality at the behest of the telecommunications industry, at the horror of over a million grass-roots petitioners.

7. Net Neutrality
Though awareness and support for the concept of Network Neutrality increased exponentially, the construct intended to be the Internet's First Amendment still suffered defeat after defeat in Congress.
8. The Telecommunications Industry
It's interesting that all players involved in the Net Neutrality debate come up losers. But there was no compromise on either side of it. Just when it looked like AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast would put the debate to bed, enough grass roots support popped up to delay it just long enough to get to the mid-term elections. Net Neutrality got a reprieve, and it's driving the telcos crazy.

source webpronews

Sunday, December 17, 2006

101 Dumbest Moments in Business

Notorious former mental institutions being converted into high-end condos. Candy bars with curious names. And more stupidity. See our list of the year's most boneheaded blunders. (more)

by Business 2.0 on CNN Money

Executive wish list: Gifts from $20 to $100,000

From eco-friendly sports cars to  USB mittens, here's the stuff these top execs would like to see in their holiday stocking. (more)


by Business 2.0 on CNN Money

Best-Kept Secrets of the World's Best Companies

Here are 25 great management practices you've probably never heard of - and might want to start implementing tomorrow. (more)

by Business 2.0 on CNN Money

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The 10 most dangerous play things of all time

Last month, Target recalled 10 of its Kool Toyz-brand play sets, citing hazards like "lead paint," "sharp points," and "puncture wound potential." The toys, which included plastic aircraft carriers, dinosaurs, and tanks, all appeared harmless enough. But according to the killjoys at the Consumer Product Safety Commission, children—at least those prone to eating plastic objects as big as their head—were at serious risk. A week later, Mattel recalled 4.4 million Polly Pocket dolls and accessories because kids were swallowing the toy's magnets. The Associated Press reported, "If more than one magnet is swallowed, they can attach to each other and cause intestinal perforation, infection or blockage." Three children required surgery.

In the last year alone, some eight million units of toys were recalled in the U.S., according to W.A.T.C.H., a toy-safety advocacy group. But Kool Toys and Polly Pockets are kids' stuff compared to the hazardous baubles of yesteryear. In the spirit of the holidays, Radar presents the 10 most dangerous toys of all time, those treasured playthings that drew blood, chewed digits, took out eyes, and, in one case, actually irradiated. To keep things interesting, we excluded BB guns, slingshots, throwing stars, and anything else actually intended to inflict harm. Below, toy box from hell.

1. Lawn Darts

Removable parts? Suffocation risk? Lead paint? Pussy hazards compared to the granddaddy of them all. Lawn Darts, or "Jarts," as they were marketed, would never fly in our current ultra-paranoid, safety-helmeted, Dr. Phil toy culture. Lawn darts were massive weighted spears. You threw them. They stuck where they landed. If they happened to land in your skull, well, then you should have moved. During their brief (and generally awesome) reign in 1980s suburbia, Jarts racked up 6,700 injuries and four deaths. scary-jarts.jpg

The best part about Jarts was that they eliminated all speculation from true outdoor fun. (Is this dangerous? Hell yes, now chuck it!) And they were equal opportunity: All it took to play lawn darts was a sweaty grip. For good measure, it was also nice to have a small sibling around to stand on the other side of the house and tell you how your throw looked (and by how much you cleared the chimney).

The actual rules of lawn darts, as laid out by the manufacturer, were never important. No one is known to have used Jarts for their intended purpose. It shouldn't be surprising, then, that an accident involving a wayward spear and the semi-permeable head of a seven-year-old resulted in the toys' being banned from the market in 1988. Sadly, today's underage boys will never know the primal excitement of a summer's evening spent impaling friends before suppertime.

2. Gilbert U-238 Atomic Energy Labatomic-energy-lab-01.jpg

Honey, why is your face glowing? In 1951, A.C. Gilbert introduced his U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, a radioactive learning set we can only assume was fun for the whole math club. Gilbert, who Americanmemorabilia claims was "often compared to Walt Disney for his creative genius," had a dream that nuclear power could capture the imaginations of children everywhere. For a mere $49.50, the kit came complete with three "very low-level" radioactive sources, a Geiger-Mueller radiation counter, a Wilson Cloud Chamber (to see paths of alpha particles), a Spinthariscope (to see "live" radioactive disintegration), four samples of Uranium-bearing ores, and an Electroscope to measure radioactivity.

And what nuclear lab for kids would be complete without an Atomic Energy Manual and Learn How Dagwood Splits the Atom comic book? (The latter was written with the help of General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project.)

Kids do the darndest things, but not, apparently, nuclear physics. The toy was only sold for one year. It's unclear what effects the Uranium-bearing ores might have had on those few lucky children who received the set, but exposure to the same isotope—U-238—has been linked to Gulf War syndrome, cancer, leukemia, and lymphoma, among other serious ailments. Even more uncertain is the longterm impact of being raised by the kind of nerds who would give their kid an Atomic Energy Lab.

3. Mini-Hammocks from EZ Sales

Mini-hammocks seemed innocuous enough. No projectiles, no lead paint, no sharp edges, and no explicit danger (except sloth). But between the years of 1984–1995 the EZ Sales mini-hammock, oft marketed under the name "Hang Ten," managed to hang 12.

CPSC reported in August 1996 that the product had resulted in the fatal and near-fatal asphyxiation of dozens of kids ages five to 17 and recalled three million of them. Among the banned EZ products were Hangouts Baby Hammocks, or "Baby's First Death Cocoon," woven from thin cotton and nylon strings.

The culprit was a missing set of "spreader bars," supports meant to keep the hammock open when it was "at ease." Unfortunately, children seeking to spend an afternoon like Gilligan became entangled in the net and strangled to death. That's what happens when you spend $4 on a hammock.

4. Snacktime Cabbage Patch Dolls


"Feed Me!" begged the packaging for 1996's Cabbage Patch Snacktime Kid. And much like the carnivorous Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors, the adorable lineup of Cabbage Patch snack-dolls appeared at first to be harmless. They merely wanted a nibble—a carrot perhaps, or maybe some yummy pudding. They would stop chewing when snack time was done—they promised. Then they chomped your child's finger off.

In creating this innovative new toy, the great minds at Mattel devised a motorized mouth that sensed neither pleasure nor pain. It chewed for chewing's sake. With no mechanism to turn off the munching should trouble arise, it was only a matter of time before some cherub's long blonde hair got caught in the doll's rabid jaws. After 35 fingers and ponytails fell victim, the Snacktime Kids were removed from retail shelves forever, and 500,000 customers were offered a full $40 refund

5. Sky Dancers

THE NUTCRACKER Keep your distance from this femme fatale

Executives at Galoob Toys predicted big sales for Christmas 1994. With their new Sky Dancer, they would be the first toy company to combine the sparkly femininity of Barbie with the firepower of a bottle rocket.

In December of that same year, a New York Times article predicted that if Galoob met its goals, Sky Dancer would "be all the rage, the sort of product that engenders black markets, toy-related bribes, and giddy newspaper stories invoking the word 'phenomenon.'" The writer, giddy himself over the "sprite's powerful launch," added, "For every parent who doubts Sky Dancer's safety ... there are 10 who feel the foam wings and take their softness as an assurance of safety."

But six years later, the Sky Dancer was grounded. When spun aloft, the wings—which felt so soft and cushy in the aisles of Toys "R" Us—turned into steely-hard child manglers. In 2000, the CPSC announced that over 150 children fell prey to Sky Dancer's helicopter-blade arms and erratic "Oh-Jesus-it's-chasing-me!" flying patterns. Injuries included scratched corneas and temporary blindness, mild concussions, broken ribs and teeth, and facial lacerations that required stitches. Nearly nine million Sky Dancers were eventually recalled, leaving aspiring ballerinas to earn their battle scars the old fashioned way, with an eating disorder.

6. Bat Masterson Derringer Belt Gun

Some kids had belt buckles. Others had cap guns. Only the lucky ones had the Bat Masterson Derringer Belt Gun, a two-in-one combo that took care of all your pants-securing needs with the option every ten-year-old dreams of: the ability to shoot caps at groin level.

One Bat Masterson enthusiast, identified as "Tim from Shoreview, Maine" on nostalgia website remembers, "When you stuck out your stomach putting pressure on the buckle, a small gun would pop out and fire a cap." A gut-busting meal, in that case, could lead to a serious friendly-fire mishap.

According to SafeKids USA, "Caps can be ignited by friction and cause serious burns." Every young boy needs to learn the valuable lesson of always protecting his nether regions, with force if necessary, but given the positioning of the Derringer, the owner's greatest enemy might have actually been puberty.

7. Creepy Crawlers

Nothing says safety like an open hot plate. And nothing says fun like using that open hot plate to create molten, rubbery insects you can throw at your sister while narrowly avoiding setting the house ablaze. The 1964 Creepy Crawler Thingmaker from Mattel, a distant cousin of today's Creepy Crawler toys, came with a series of molds, tubes of "plastigoop," and an open-faced frier, which could heat up to a nerve-searing 310 degrees.

The plastigoop was poured over an extremely hot surface and then cast into the molds of various multi-colored critters. The results? Fingerprint removal. At least those who dodged serious injury or disfigurement could safely eat their creation. Oh wait, the critters were toxic, too. But this was the '60s, and though there was an outcry from the singed and sickened masses, Mattel went right on marketing their electric ovens to children.

8. Johnny Reb Cannon

JOHNNY-REB-CANNON.jpgThe South did rise again, at least during playtime for the owners of the Johnny Reb, a 30-inch "authentic civil war" cannon draped in the confederate flag. The Reb fired hard, plastic cannonballs with a spring mechanism—the aspiring secessionist need only pull a lanyard. No word on exactly how fast the cannonballs flew, but they traveled up to 35 feet and seemed perfectly sized to lodge into an eye socket, down an open mouth, or through a slave's window.

For only $11.98, young rebels got a cannon, six cannon balls, a ramrod, and a rebel flag. What better way to permanently maim your little brother while spreading valuable lessons about states' rights?

9. Battlestar Galactica Missile Launcher

battlestar.jpgBattlestar Galactica was everyone's favorite television Star Wars rip-off in 1978. Especially cool among the Battlestar offerings were a series of missile launchers known individually as the Viper, the Cylon Raider, the Scarab, and the Stellar Probe. Young boys routinely forgot they actually asked for the Millennium Falcon for Christmas once they saw the sweet, sweet projectile action.

It takes just a few jabbed eyes, some torn intestines and the death of a child to bring down a party, and that's just what happened in January 1979, when the battle cruiser missiles were finally recalled. Most of the accidents were caused by salvos that went tragically off target. Mattel, working with the CPSC, announced that the fatality occurred when a young boy in Atlanta fired one of the missiles into his mouth. The missiles, at one and a quarter inches, were just about the ideal size to land in one's esophagus and stay there. The boy's parents thought so too. They sued Mattel for $14 million.

A spokesperson from the CPSC explained that "the barrel shape of the toy seemed to invite children to put it in their mouths." Something you could apparently say in 1979 without too much snickering. After the injuries, Mattel called for consumers to participate in a "Missile Mail-In," which promised a free Hot Wheels car—a fair trade to anyone who disarmed.

10. Fisher-Price Power Wheels Motorcycle

power-wheels-motorcycle.jpgThe Fisher-Price Power Wheels Motorcycle is one of those toys kids salivate over for years. Even adults can barely contain their jealousy when the little brat from down the block whizzes by on that shiny plastic hog. But the ride wasn't always so smooth. In fact, on some models, there was a rather serious glitch.

Eager youngsters who gunned the throttle found that it often stayed gunned, stuck in a petrifying state of perma-acceleration. Presumably, the child on the motorcycle was then taken on a hellish, intestine-twisting scream ride. At one point, he or she would face choices unthinkable except in an Evel Knievel meets Knightrider crossover episode: Do I jump? Or do I ride it out and see if I can clear the gully? Is it sentient? Can it be reasoned with?

In August 2000, Fisher-Price recalled 218,000 of the Power Wheels motorcycles, warning: "Children can be injured when the motorcycle ride-ons fail to stop and strike other objects." Stunt children everywhere observed a moment of silence.

Radar Online

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Most Expensive Phones of 2006

The list of the five most expensive phones of 2006! Erm, that is, the phones we've written about. So get out those check cards and make someone really happy this holiday season!

5. The world's first luxury phone company launched in 2002, the London-based subsidiary of Nokia called Vertu, and we loved what they've been doing. Not only do its phones boast superior electronics, but the shells aren't too shabby either. They say the reception is "as clear as a Mozart symphony," and they phones' near-indestructibility comes from metals like titanium and aluminum and precious stones like sapphire and ruby. These celeb-magnets run from about $10-$20K.

4. Perhaps the most futuristic design this year came from Jaren Goh called the Black Diamond. Originally designed for Sony Erickson, only five of these will be made by the Swiss company VIPN and feature a diamond pressed into the back of the handset. It runs on Windows Mobile 5.0, boasts a 400Mhz Intel Xscale CPU, 4-MP digital camera, touch screen, SIP technology for VOIP, 2.0″ 256K TFT screen and IEEE 802.11g WiFi support. Price: $300,000 (but you can grab its "White Pearl" counterpart for $1500).

3. OK, so we're gonna revisit those sweet, sweet Vertu phones again (we sort of think they're cool). This time they've added a small bit of gaudiness to the otherwise dripping-with-condensed-class phones; diamond and precious-stone snakes adorn the case of the handset and every line -- down to the letters in the keypad -- is diamond cut. The designs are said to be inspired by the 19th century Parisian jeweler Frederic Boucheron, in cobra (left) and python (right), and go for $350,000.

2. On to the million-dollar babies! This first six figure-er comes from the Swiss company GoldVish and designer Emmanuel Gueit. Its price tag comes courtesy of 120 carats worth of VVS-1 grade diamonds and all the new fangled tech junk you can think of – except, it seems, WiFi. Apparently a million bucks doesn't buy what it used to. Visit the company's site here to see the rest of its beauties.

1. And the winner is ... (crowd cheering goes here, or, erm, you sort of coarsely breathing into your hands) ... The Great Peter Aloisson! We've loved his crazy blingification skills for a while now, and his $1.3 million Diamond Crypto Smartphone tops our list of 2006's most expensive phones. The case is entirely made of solid platinum (except the logo and the navigation key, which are 18 carat rose gold). The wood you see on the side there is Madagascar Ebony and each of the 25 carats worth of blue and white diamonds' quality is "G – vvs1" or better. Pretty sweet there Peter. The tech notes' highlights include Windows CE running on a 266 MHz Motorola processor, MS Office, MP3 player and quad-band, all behind a 2.2" TFT touchscreen, Pretty sweet there crazy Russian company.

by Luxist

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Outline design of visionary solutions for freight transport on the roads in 2020.


1st Prize 2.000 Euro and an internship at
MAN Nutzfahrzeuge

Ying Tao, SCIONIC® I.D.E.A.L. - Industrial Design Education Linz

Flexibility is the main issue of the design, more ease in loading and unloading goods. The aim was to use the payload space as efficiently as possible so that the loading area can suit to different kind of goods by expanding or contracting the structure. The cargo truck is composed by a tug car module and a center load pick-, handling-, control- and place-structure. Four stronger legs which are connected with the front and the rear wheels, four smaller legs in the middle section that can hold actively the loading area. The tendons are connecting all limbs of the legs as well as securing the payload like a spider web. Materials used for this design should be an elastic fiber reinforced membrane, composites and high tensile fibres, prestressed by fluid power.

Road Train

2nd Prize 1.000 Euro and an internship at IVECO

Tibor Biró, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest

Economically the truck has a low rolling resistance and a good fuel economy. The power train uses a fuel cell. A non-stop rolling is possible due to three or more drivers. The system's loading capacity is variable from 50 to 300 cubic metres and the loading is done automatically in less then one minute. The RoadTrain has no physical coupling, as it is connected by electronic devices. The driver is supported by intelligent computer and radar systems. In terms of safety the truck has a good visibility, a low floor, it senses the traffic environment with the radar system and the lower side panels are made of soft materials.


3rd Prize 500 Euro and an internship at DaimlerChrysler

Szász Zoltán, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest

This design addresses the delicate issue of animal transport by road. This goods vehicle offers variable load space which can be adapted to different animals and at the same time provides for efficient loading. The main concern is secure and adequate accommodation for the animals during the journey. Provision is made for separate sources of water and ventilation. The vehicle has a hybrid drive system with wheel-hub drive to reduce operating costs. The cab has been so designed that stress factors on such journeys have been minimised for the driver.

Special Mention awarded with an internship at F.X. Meiller

Hai Shan Deng, SCIONIC® I.D.E.A.L. - Industrial Design Education Linz

A bionics transportation concept is the basis of the design. The commercial vehicle is oriented at the best nature's design of animals' behaviour and structures to bring more benefit for future load transport. The vehicle is driven from a cabin over the loading area resulting in a fast and easy loading process. Safety for the goods and on the road is given by soft fabrics, the membrane together with carbon-fibre made semicircular hard shell side protection. The front part will create a safe vehicle body. The high-tech tarpaulin is serving as container curtain which makes the loading more flexible.


Friday, December 8, 2006

How to Make a 3D Paper Snowflake

This is a little more complicated than a two-dimensional paper snowflake but it looks excellent and is a suitable craft for children adept with scissors and who have patience in making crafts. It will produce a 6-armed three-dimensional snowflake decoration that makes a perfect tree decoration or window-hanger.


Wednesday, December 6, 2006

MS GRETE MÆRSK. One of the largest container vessels in the world.

Emma Mærsk is a container ship owned by the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group. When she was launched, Emma Mærsk became the largest container ship ever built, and as of 2006 the longest ship in use. The largest ship ever built was the supertanker Knock Nevis, now retired. Officially, Emma Mærsk is able to carry around 11,000 TEU in the calculation of the Mærsk company which is about 1,400 more containers than any other ship is capable of carrying.

The ship was built at the Lindø Yard in Denmark and named in a ceremony on August 12, 2006. The ship is named after Emma Mærsk, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller's late wife. She set sail on her maiden voyage on 8 September 2006 at 02:00 hours from Aarhus, calling at Gothenburg, Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Algeciras, the Suez Canal, and arrived in Singapore on 1 October 2006 at 20:05 hours.

Emma Mærsk departed Singapore the next day, headed for Yantian in Shenzhen. She sailed on to Kobe, Nagoya, arrived at Yokohama on 10 October 2006, and will return via Yantian, Hong Kong, Tanjung Pelepas, the Suez Canal, Felixstowe, Rotterdam, Bremerhaven, Gothenburg and finally to Aarhus, with arrival at that port 11 November 2006 at 16:00 hours.


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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Volvo: Your Concept Car (YCC) – by women for modern people

  • Initiative in June 2002 by women at Volvo Cars

  • All decisions made by women

  • Targeting the most demanding premium customer: the independent, professional woman

The idea of an all-woman team making all the decisions in the development of a new concept car arose at Volvo in the autumn of 2001. Visiting Volvo at the time for a series of workshops was Marti Barletta, an American expert on female consumer patterns. She claimed: “If you meet the expectations of women, you exceed the expectations of men”.
In June 2002, Camilla Palmertz and a small group of colleagues were invited to present their idea to Hans-Olov Olsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Corporation. He greeted it with enthusiasm.

A key ambition in developing the YCC was to ensure that the driver, regardless of height, would be able to sit correctly when driving and have the right line of vision too. The result was Ergovision (patent pending) – ergonomics and optimum line of vision in one system.

More here

Exeter engineers set to create bomb-proof ‘curtains’

Engineers from the University of Exeter are working on an innovative new project to create curtains made from a ‘smart’ material that could minimize injuries inflicted by a terrorist attack.
The team, which is led by Professor Ken Evans in conjunction with spin-out company Auxetix Ltd, hopes to use special auxetic materials to create ‘blast curtains’ that could catch glass fragments and debris blown through windows by an explosion.

Bomb blasts cause damage by generating a pressure shockwave, which shatters materials in its path. The majority of those injured in an attack are injured by the flying debris that results.
The fibres in conventional fabrics react to this pressure by stretching and tearing as the pressure pulls them taut, which stops them catching debris. However when auxetic materials stretch they show a unique property – they get fatter rather than thinner. This means that under tension a large number of pores open up across the surface of the material allowing the shock wave through leaving it intact to catch glass and other debris.

Professor Ken Evans, Head of the School of Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Exeter said: ‘If we can harness the unique properties of auxetic materials, it’s possible that we may be able to create a ‘smart’ fabric that could instantly react to the pressure generated by a bomb blast. This would allow us to create protective curtains that could be used in office buildings, on army bases and even in the home to protect those inside. We believe this would create a far superior method to the Kevlar curtains that are currently used, as they are so dense that most natural light is blocked.’

John Heathcoat & Co, based in Tiverton, Devon, will help develop the prototype material, which will then be further tested by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB). There the material will be put into test chambers behind glass panels and subjected to an explosive blast to test its ability to minimise the penetration of glass into the chamber.

found here

Explore planet Earth in near-real time

Forest fires in Siberia
Have you ever wanted to track natural events in progress, such as fires, floods and volcanic eruptions, or simply explore the planet through the eyes of a satellite? ESA has created a website, MIRAVI, which gives access to the most recently acquired images from the world’s largest Earth Observation satellite, Envisat. MIRAVI, short for MERIS Images RApid VIsualisation, tracks Envisat around the globe, generates images from the raw data collected by Envisat’s optical instrument, MERIS, and provides them online within two hours. MIRAVI is free and requires no registration. "ESA designed MIRAVI so that the public could have access to daily views of Earth. Naturally, scientists are already familiar with these data, but we thought these images would be interesting to everyone. Seeing the most recently acquired images of the planet will allow people to witness the magnificent beauty of Earth and become more knowledgeable about the environment," ESA’s Director of Earth Observation Programmes Volker Liebig said. To enjoy the service, simply visit the MIRAVI website - - and either browse the very latest images by clicking on the snapshots to the left, or view a specific location by either selecting an area on the world map or entering its geographic coordinates. MIRAVI also provides archived images since May 2006, searchable by date. Although the images are fascinating and provide the marvellous feeling that users are ‘onboard the satellite’, they are not suitable for scientific use. Scientists use MERIS products that exploit the instrument’s 15 spectral bands and are generated with sophisticated algorithms. MIRAVI images use only a few spectral bands processed to appear the way the naked eye would see them. ESA’s Envisat Mission Manager Henri Laur said: "The Envisat mission is a great success for Europe as a major source of information on the Earth system, including insights into factors contributing to climate change. Since its launch in 2002, Envisat continuously monitors the Earth's land, atmosphere, oceans and ice caps, thanks to its ten sophisticated instruments."
Envisat circles the Earth in a polar orbit at an 800-km altitude, allowing MERIS to acquire global coverage every three days. MERIS measures the solar radiation reflected by the Earth, which means the sun must be present for MERIS to produce an image. Because the sun is low over Nordic areas during winter, images of Scandinavia, for example, are not currently available, except through the archive. The situation will reverse, however, from March onwards, and images of the area will be acquired daily. In contrast, Antarctica is visible for the next two months.

American Roadster™. One of the truly “Green” cars that are available today.

As gas prices have been soaring, the news updates cannot even keep up with the price spiral. Gasoline was selling for $1.99 per gallon in December, 2004 and had risen to $3.09 by the end of August, 2005. Although prices are currently lower, many experts are saying we can expect fuel prices to continue to rise.
If you aren’t looking for a way to reduce the amount of money you spend on gasoline yet, you soon will be.

American Roadster™ CNG is the answer to many needs, and is an Alternate Fuel Vehicle (AFV) because it uses Compressed Natural Gas (CNG).
American Roadster™ CNG is one of the truly “Green” cars that are available today because:
  • It gets 70 miles per gallon of fuel.*
  • It uses compressed natural gas that is made in the USA and has the lowest pollution emission of ANY other fuel available today.
  • It is suitable for use as a commuter vehicle.
  • It is low cost and convenient for grocery shopping and putting the groceries in the back seat alongside the child seat for your young one.
  • It is suitable for towing behind an RV, providing real convenience at your destination while reducing fuel consumption of the RV because of its light weight.
  • It is a really great snappy roadster for you or your teenager to drive and enjoy with its low cost and appealing, eye-catching design.
    From American Roadster™ site