John Farrier's Blog Posts

No Technology Ever Dies

Kevin Kelly, an editor for Wired and Cool Tools, points out something that is both simple and profound. No piece of technology, once it becomes widely used, ever goes extinct. It doesn't matter if that technology has become obsolete. There are and always will be people who will continue to produce it. Robert Krulwich of NPR reports:

Nothing? I asked. Brass helmets? Detachable shirt collars? Chariot wheels?

Nothing, he said.

Can't be, I told him. Tools do hang around, but some must go extinct.

If only because of the hubris — the absolute nature of the claim — I told him it would take me a half hour to find a tool, an invention that is no longer being made anywhere by anybody.

Go ahead, he said. Try.

If you listen to our Morning Edition debate, I tried carbon paper (still being made), steam powered car engine parts (still being made), Paleolithic hammers (still being made), 6 pages of agricultural tools from an 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. Catalogue (every one of them still being made), and to my utter astonishment, I couldn't find a provable example of an technology that has disappeared completely.

Link and Link via GearFuse | Photo:

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Featured Designs from the NeatoShop:

RC Helicopter Hunts, Destroys Balloons with Missiles

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David Windestål's RC helicopter, equipped with little missiles, hunts balloons across the frozen Swedish landscape. That's cool enough as it is. What makes this video superneat is the way that the scene is presented like a classic arcade game with appropriate sound effects and text notifications.

A "Dude Licking a Pole Production"? That's the best name for an entertainment production company EVAR.

Link via DVICE

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Film School Thesis Generator

The Earnest movies were, like, deep. Really deep. There's a lot in there, and Wonder Tonic's automatic film school thesis generator will give you a lot of ideas that will further your pursuit of master of arts in film studies.

Link via Urlesque

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Asking People if They Have Seen Themselves

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Comedian Jack Vale drove around pretending to be looking for people. He provided the physical description of whatever person he asked. No one recognizes his own appearance, or at least doesn't want to admit to it.

via Nerdcore

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Trained Dog Can Detect Colon Cancer by Sniffing Poop

A dog owned by Japanese medical researchers has a remarkable gift for detecting colon cancer victims by sniffing their excrement. The black Labrador Retriever has a 95% accuracy rate:

In the study, the retriever performed as well as a colonoscopy, a technique in which a fibre-optic tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum to look for suspect areas of the intestine.

It correctly spotted which samples were cancerous and which were not in 33 out of 36 breath tests, equal to 95 per cent accuracy, and in 37 out of 38 stool tests (98 per cent accuracy).

Link via Popular Science | Photo (unrelated) via Flickr user DrStarbuck used under Creative Commons license

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Next on TLC: 12 Wives, 12 Problems

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Once upon a time, TLC was an educational channel. Now it shows increasingly eccentric reality and remodeling programs. If you haven't watched it in a while, yes, this is a parody. But only by a little bit.

Video by Mostly Water Theatre via Geekosystem

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NYC Subway Map Turned into a Musical Instrument

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Alexander Chen took Massimo Vignelli's iconic 1972 map of the New York City subway system and turned it into a musical instrument. The routes are treated like strings, and whenever a train intersects a string, that string is plucked:

Length determines pitch, with longer strings playing lower notes. When a string is in the middle of being drawn by a subway car, its pitch is continually shifting. The sounds are cello pizzicato from the wonderful, a set recorded by corsica_s. A complete chromatic scale was too dissonant. Ultimately I settled on a simple major C scale but with the lowest note as a raised third E, which keeps it from ever feeling fully resolved.

Link via Kottke

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Motohiko Odani's Twisty Sculptures

Japanese artist Motohiko Odani makes gloriously fluid sculptures. I can't quite figure out what material he uses.

This unicorn sculpture lies at the center of an exhibit of his work called "Phantom Limb" at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. This Is Colossal has other photos from the show.

Link via Dude Craft | Artist's Website | Photo: Mori Art Museum

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Hole-Punch Clouds

P. Wesley Tyler, Jr. captured this spooky image. What you're looking at a hole-punch cloud:

Hole-punch clouds are miniature snowstorms that can occur in thin, subfreezing cloud layers.

The lack of fine particles, such as dust, in the clouds means water droplets have little to condense around, so they don't turn to ice until the cloud hits about minus 38 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 36 degrees Celsius).

"Basically, the water molecules become sluggish enough at this temperature to form their own cluster of ice that produces an ice crystal spontaneously," according to ice microphysicist Andrew Heymsfield.

Link via Super Punch

Previously: Butterfly Hole-Punch Clouds

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Octopus in a Beer Bottle

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An octopus seen off the coast of Blairgowrie, Australia, was able to enter and exit the narrow opening of a beer bottle. I can respect an octopus that can handle his beer.

via Geekologie

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Hearing Aid is Attached to Your Teeth

A company called Sonitus Medical recently acquired FDA approval for its new hearing aid system. It's called SoundBite, and involves two machines: one that slips behind the user's ear, and another that fits on the molars. Sound picked up by the earpiece is transmitted wirelessly to the mouthpiece, which vibrates the teeth. The vibrations can be understood by the inner ear as sound.

Link | Product Page | Photo: Sonitus Medical

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Real Life Buster Sword

The Buster Sword is a special weapon that appears in Final Fantasy VII. Flickr user Michaelcthulhu either made or commissioned a realistic version of one. In the linked video, he does his best to swing it like a functional weapon. The sword is for sale, so you'd better grab it before someone else does.

Video via Geekosystem

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Stanley Fish Lists the Best Sentences in the English Language

Literary theorist and columnist Stanley Fish has listed and described what he regards as the five greatest sentences ever composed in the English language. Among them is this selection from John Bunyan's 1678 work The Pilgrim's Progress. In my limited experience, I cannot think of any craftsman of the English language greater than Vladimir Nabokov, who wrote as though he was sculpting words from marble. And a selection from Nabokov is properly included in Fish's follow-up post in which the professor judged from reader-submitted suggestions.

What do you think is the greatest sentence in the history of the English language?

Link (and a Follow-Up) | Screenshot: edited image from the first edition

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Gene Roddenberry's Original Pitch for Star Trek

Lee Thomson has a copy of Gene Roddenberry's March 1964 pitch for Star Trek. There were many changes made before the first and second pilot episodes were filmed. The ship's doctor, for example, went by a different name, but was still known as "Bones". Sex kitten Yeoman Rand was called "Colt", and Roddenberry clearly had a larger role in mind for that character.

Link via Geekosystem

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Dating Website for Sea Captains

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Are you a sea captain in need of close companionship? Are you a landlubber who craves the crustiness of a grizzled old sailor? Well, there's a website now devoted to your needs.

The search form is interesting. It distinguishes between three genders: male, female, and sea captain.

Link via Marginal Revolution

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Neon Genesis Evangelion-Themed Hotel Room

At the Highland Resort Hotel and Spa near Mount Fuji in Japan, you can rent a room decorated to reflect the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Before you balk at the $450 per night price, keep in mind that it apparently comes with a girl dressed as Rei encased in plastic.

Link via CrunchGear | Photo: Highland Resort

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Brush Your Teeth with This Stick

A miswak is a tooth cleaning stick made from the Salvadora persica tree. It's traditionally used in Pakistan, India, and the Middle East in place of a modern plastic toothbrush. The bristles inside the plant, once exposed by cutting across the stem, are effective as a cleaning instrument. Leen Sadder, a design student, decided to make a modern version:

THIS aims to repackage and promote the miswak as an organic, biodegradable, portable, more beneficial substitute for toothpaste and a toothbrush. The biggest challenge was figuring out how to package and market the twig to a contemporary American audience, who would not be entertained with the idea of biting off the top of the stick in order to use it. The solution for this is a cigar-cutter-like cap that peels off the outer layer to reveal the natural bristles, and slices them off after use. It also protects the stick from germs and microbes.

Link via Gizmodo

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Climber Survives 1,000-Foot Fall

A mountain climber in Scotland fell a thousand feet down a nearly vertical slope on a mountain called Sgurr Choinnich Mor. When a Royal Navy rescue helicopter arrived on the scene, its crew found him alive and well:

Lieutenant Tim Barker, the crew's observer, said: ''We began to hover-taxi down the slope and spotted a man at the bottom, standing up.

''We honestly thought it couldn't have been him, as he was on his feet, reading a map. Above him was a series of three high craggy outcrops.

''It seemed impossible. So we retraced our path back up the mountain and, sure enough, there were bits of his kit in a vertical line all the way up where he had obviously lost them during the fall.

''It was quite incredible. He must have literally glanced off the outcrops as he fell, almost flying.''

Link | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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Blind Man to Drive at Daytona Speedway

Mark Riccobono, who has been blind since the age of five, was scheduled to drive a specially-equipped car before today's NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway:

Riccobono's Ford Escape Hybrid is outfitted with laser range-finding sensors which passed information to his hands and seat. He made the trip around the mile-and-a-half road course with the support of hundreds of vision-impaired fans sitting in the bleachers.

"You can't imagine how, what a step forward this is for the blind and innovation and really gaining independence and new vision from the rest of the sighted community," said Sabrina Deaton with the National Federation of the Blind in Daytona Beach.

Link via DVICE | Photo: Gear Log

Previously: Students Build Car the Blind Can Drive

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Beowulf Socks Are Written in Anglo-Saxon

These socks by The Sanguin Gryphon contain untranslated passages of the 8th Century poem Beowulf:

Thus begins the immortal tale of the hero Beowulf, the bard summoning the attention of his audience. And so begin these socks, which give the text of the first page of the surviving manuscript, a copy dating to around 1000 CE. The writing flows from one sock to the other, so that you may read it uninterrupted.

Link via Geekosystem

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40 Train Robbers vs. 1 Gurkha

Gurkhas, the Nepalese elite soldiers in the service of Britain and some of its former colonies, sometimes fight with their traditional kukri knives (pictured). One retired Gurkha was carrying his knife when a train in India that he was riding was robbed by forty men. The robbers unwisely chose to not immediately surrender. The ex-soldier then killed three, wounded eight, and drove off the rest:

The band of about 40 robbers, some of whom were travelling as passengers, stopped the train in the Chittaranjan jungles in West Bengal around midnight. Shrestha-- who had boarded the train at Ranchi in Jharkhand, the place of his posting--was in seat no. 47 in coach AC3.

“They started snatching jewelry, cell phones, cash, laptops and other belongings from the passengers,” Shrestha recalled. The soldier had somehow remained a silent spectator amidst the melee, but not for long. He had had enough when the robbers stripped an 18-year-old girl sitting next to him and tried to rape her right in front of her parents. He then took out his khukuri and took on the robbers.

“The girl cried for help, saying ´You are a soldier, please save a sister´,” Shrestha recalled. “I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister,” he added. He took one of the robbers under control and then started to attack the others. He said the rest of the robbers fled after he killed three of them with his khukuri and injured eight others.

Link via MArooned | Photo: Canadian Content

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Revolver Fires 28 Gauge Shotgun Shells

Brazilian armsmaker Taurus caused a stir when it released "The Judge" -- a revolver that fires shotguns shells in addition to handgun cartridges. The Judge shoots .410 gauge shells as well as .45 Long Colt cartridges. "The Raging Judge", pictured above, goes even further in this approach, firing the much larger 28 gauge shell.

Link | Photo: Firearms Blog

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Live Action Axe Cop

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Axe Cop is a webcomic written by a 5-year old and drawn by a 29-year old professional cartoonist. This deliciously loopy premise has been turned into a short, high-quality live action movie by Peter Muehlenberg.

via io9 | Axe Cop

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Russian Ripoff of Mystery Science Theater 3000

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Allegedly, this is called "Project Popcorn" -- a Russian version of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Crow and Tom Servo were replaced with a penguin and a dog.

via Topless Robot

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A Full Day Photographed

It kind of looks like the planets in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince, doesn't it? Photographer Chris Kotsiopoulos created this picture out of many photographs taken over the course of a day in Athens, Greece:

I began the shooting the morning of December 30, 2010, taking photos with my camera on a tripod facing east. The day portion of this shoot is composed of a dozen shots covering the landscape from east to west as well as the Sun's course across the sky, from sunrise to sunset. I recorded the Sun's position exactly every 15 minutes using an intervalometer, with an astrosolar filter adjusted to the camera lens. In one of the shots, when the Sun was near its maximum altitude, I removed the filter in order to capture a more dramatic shot that showed the Sun's “glare.” After sunset, I took various shots with the camera facing west-northwest in order to achieve a more smooth transition from the day portion to the night portion of the image. The night portion is also composed of a dozen landscape shots but this time from west to east. After the transition” shots, I took a short star trail sequence of approximately half an hour duration, with the camera facing northwest. At 7:30, I turned the camera to the north and started taking the “all-night” star trail shots -- lasting almost 11 hours. After accomplishing this, I then turned the camera to northeast and shot another short half an hour star trail sequence, and then finally, with the camera now facing east-northeast, I took a series of night-to-day transition shots.

You can view a larger image at the link.

Link via Geekologie | Artist's Website

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17x17x17 Rubik's Cube-Type Puzzle

Dutch puzzle maker Oskar van Deventer designed this mindblender. It's like a Rubik's Cube, but has 17 cubes on an edge instead of 3:

When Oskar heard of the world records being set for twisty puzzles, like the 7x7x7, 9x9x9 and 11x11x11 by Panagiotis Verdes from Greece, he wanted to try his hand at setting a new record himself. With sponsorship from his close friend Claus Wenicker, Oskar set about designing and testing a number of prototypes, and his third attempt was printed successfully with Shapeways. Sorting and dyeing all 1539 pieces took Oskar 10 hours of work, followed by 5 hours of assembling. The result is an oversized (140 millimeter, 5.5 inches) and fully functioning "Over The Top" 17x17x17 puzzle.

It currently sells for just over $2,000.

Link via Technabob | Photos: Shapeways

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Celebrity Portraits Made from Their Own Trash

Through uncertain methods, San Francisco-based artist Jason Mecier convinces celebrities to donate personal trash to them. He turns the individual contributions into portraits of each celebrity:

He uses junk and discarded items donated by top stars, so yes…that Trojan condom box in the top left corner of Tina Fey‘s portrait actually came from Tina herself. Mecier has spent over 10 years creating outrageous portraits and is now so popular that stars contact him directly and pay $1,500 for a portrait, which he gladly makes from a bag of their junk that they provide.

Celebs who have asked for the portraits include Chris Rock, Pink, Tori Spelling, and Chelsea Handler, whose portrait includes empty vodka bottles, a Snuggie box, Martini glasses, bottle opener, buttons, batteries, chapstick, dice, pens, badges and movie tickets.

Link via Crackajack | Artist's Website

Previously: Jason Mecier's Food Art

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Motoi Yamamoto's Salt Labyrinths

After his sister died of brain cancer, Japanese artist Motoi Yamamoto began constructing enormous, detailed labyrinths. They're temporary installations made out of ground salt and reflect a special significance that his culture places on that mineral:

In Japanese culture salt is not only a necessary element to sustain human life, but it is also a symbol of purification. He uses salt in loose form to create intricate labyrinth patterns on the gallery floor or in baked brick form to construct large interior structures. As with the labyrinths and innavigable passageways, Motoi views his installations as exercises which are at once futile yet necessary to his healing.

Link via Dude Craft | Artist's Website

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Star Wars Cantina Band Performance on 2 Pianos

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Elizabeth Joy Roe and Greg Anderson are two master pianists who composed and performed a concert series called "Star Wars Fantasy". It remixes and overlays the scores from classic Star Wars in a particularly lovely fashion. The above video is one sample that emphasizes the Cantina Band theme, but weaves in others.

via Great White Snark | Official Website

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Tom Falconer's Frozen Bubbles

Photographer Tom Falconer creates and captures images of frozen bubbles. Goli Mohammed of Make interviewed Falconer and asked him how he does it:

For frozen bubbles I usually wait until it is (at the warmest) 10 below freezing (22 F) and even at that temp they will take a few minutes to freeze. Again it needs to be extremely calm, because you'll need to blow the bubble then catch it on the wand or some kind of wet surface and wait for it to freeze. As it freezes the thick swirls in the bubble will stop moving, and little fingers of ice crystals will creep across the surface. They don't freeze into something that will shatter, they tend to be somewhat rubbery and will eventually collapse on itself.

Link via Make

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Profile for John Farrier

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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