John Farrier's Blog Posts

Need a Drinking Buddy? Hire One

A company called Kind Fairy in the Ukrainian town of Dniprodzerzhynsk will provide you with a drinking buddy for an evening. It costs about $18. Manager Yulia Peyeva explained:

"Virtually all of our people are talented. They can play guitar, sing or recite poetry. Today you may want to talk about art and tomorrow to read Faust," said Peyeva, adding that the firm does not encourage binge drinking.

She said the service is enjoying strong demand, and that the firm employs a number of psychologists among its staff of boozing partners.

Link via Marginal Revolution | Photo (unrelated) by Flickr user katesheets used under Creative Commons license

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Featured Designs from the NeatoShop:

Skittles Art

deviantART member Matt McManis created a mosaic of Link from The Legend of Zelda using Skittles. Click on the link to see similar depictions of Mario and characters from Final Fantasy.

Link via Comics Alliance

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Sledding Behind a Fighter Jet

(Video Link)

This video allegedly shows three men on sleds being towed by a Swedish Air Force fighter jet. As it prudently warns at the end, don't try this at home with your own jet.

via Everyday, No Days Off

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Dog Crosses Eyes on Command

(Video Link)

Teddy, a six-year old Cocker Spaniel, can cross his eyes on command. How do you train a dog to do that?

via Boing Boing

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Slag from Ancient Copper Mines Shows that the Earth's Magnetic Field Was Much Stronger 3,000 Years Ago

The Earth's magnetic field fluctuates in intensity. But until recently, most scientists thought that it wouldn't change more than 16% in a century. Slag recovered from a 3,000-year old Egyptian copper mine indicates that the magnetic field could double in just 20 years. Ron Shaar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem explained:

Their measurements, plus theoretical models, showed that the magnetic field’s strength peaked around 3,000 years ago in the middle Egypt’s Iron Age.

“We don’t have volcanic glass in Israel, but we do have slag,” Shaar said. When the ancient Egyptians (in what is now Israel) melted ore to produce copper, they created a lot of leftover molten rock that they threw immediately on a waste heap. The rock cooled quickly, preserving a signature of the magnetic field.[...]

Back in the lab, the team melted and re-froze some of the slag in the presence of a known magnetic field, to make sure they could trust the rock to faithfully trap the field strength. Then they measured the field strength in the raw slag.

They found that the magnetic field abruptly spiked twice during the 180 years they studied, once around 2,990 years ago and once around 2,900 years ago. Both times, the field jumped up in strength and then fell by at least 40 percent in the space of about 20 years.

“These geomagnetic spikes are very different from what we see now or have seen before,” Shaar said

Link via reddit | Photo: unrelated piece of copper slag by the University of California at Irvine

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How Many Girls Can Fit Inside a Smart Car? 19

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19 girls in Karachi, Pakistan, crammed into a Smart Car in order to break a Guinness World Record. The previous record, 18, was set last January in Australia.

Link via Geekologie

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Gadget Opens Door Whenever You Check into Foursquare

The programmers at a web development company in Brooklyn, New York, altered the front door to their office so that it opens whenever someone checks into that location using Foursquare. Nick Hall, one of the owners of, explained how it works:

The key to the Foursquare door is a little Web relay device, which actually hosts its own little webpage (aw!) that the brothers use to run some Javascript. "The relay is supposed to be for industrial use," says Hall. "I think it's meant to be used to control pumps."[...]

A Mac Mini chills out near the door and makes requests to Foursquare's API every three seconds, looking for new check-ins at When the computer finds one, it contacts the Web relay, which sents a simple binary bbzzzz! through a little copper cable that has been soldered to the intercom button in the hallway. The intercom is fooled into thinking the button has been pressed, and it unlocks the door via the building's existing buzzer system.

Link | Image: Foursquare

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Video Game with a Urinal Peripheral

(Video Link)

Sega is making a gaming interface called "Toirettsu" which the (presumably male) user controls by selectively peeing on different sensors:

This is a teched out version of those little targets found urinals. Not surprising that Toirettsu is intended for restaurants' and retailers' toilets in the hopes that pissing mini-games will result with more customer pee in the urinal and less on the floor. It is also possible for restaurants and retailers to include advertisements on the Toirettsu screen.


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Haggis-Flavored Potato Chips

Great Scot International, a US importer of Scottish goods, plans to introduce Americans to haggis-flavored potato chips. Haggis, as you may recall, consists of sheep organs ground up and boiled inside a sheep's stomach. This delicacy is available in the UK in potato chip form:

Great Scot International announced this week it would have Mackie's Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper chips on display at its booth at the annual Fancy Food Show in New York next month.

"We know that flavors with a Scottish twist are popular because Haggis and Cracked Black Pepper is our best-selling flavor," Kirstin Mackie, managing director of Mackie's, said in a written statement.

Link via Glenn Reynolds | Photo by Flickr user tjmwatson used under Creative Commons license

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Bench Made from a Thousand Belts

Hongtao Zhou, a sculpture professor at the University of Wisconsin, made a bench out of a thousand leather belts. One end is shaped like a belt buckle and serves as a table and the other is shaped like a bull's head.

| Artist's Website | Photo: Design Boom

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Stop-Motion Film Made with Coins

(Video Link)

Tomas Redigh and Daniel Larsson made this amazing short film entitled "Insert Coin." The end of the video includes a behind-the-scenes look at how it was made. Last year, we featured one of their similar works made with LEGO pieces.

via Geekologie | Filmmakers' Website

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Map of Facebook Friendships

Paul Butler, and intern at Facebook, created this map of the world using ten millions online friendships:

I combined that data with each user's current city and summed the number of friends between each pair of cities. Then I merged the data with the longitude and latitude of each city.

At that point, I began exploring it in R, an open-source statistics environment. As a sanity check, I plotted points at some of the latitude and longitude coordinates. To my relief, what I saw was roughly an outline of the world. Next I erased the dots and plotted lines between the points. After a few minutes of rendering, a big white blob appeared in the center of the map. Some of the outer edges of the blob vaguely resembled the continents, but it was clear that I had too much data to get interesting results just by drawing lines. I thought that making the lines semi-transparent would do the trick, but I quickly realized that my graphing environment couldn't handle enough shades of color for it to work the way I wanted.

Instead I found a way to simulate the effect I wanted. I defined weights for each pair of cities as a function of the Euclidean distance between them and the number of friends between them. Then I plotted lines between the pairs by weight, so that pairs of cities with the most friendships between them were drawn on top of the others. I used a color ramp from black to blue to white, with each line's color depending on its weight. I also transformed some of the lines to wrap around the image, rather than spanning more than halfway around the world.

Link via Gizmodo

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Pet Bison Rides in Customized Car

(Video Link)

A couple in Canada loves Bailey, their pet bison, so much that they altered their car to allow him to ride in it. The 1,600-pound animal joins them at bars drinking beer.

via Urlesque

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Typewriter Art

British artist Keira Rathbone uses the letters and punctuation marks on typewriters to create landscapes and portraits:

The 27-year-old begins by selecting the image she wants to capture and then decides which of her 30 typewriters is best for the job.

By turning the knob attached to the platen - the roller onto which the paper is loaded - she can deftly move the page around and line up the type guide - where the typebars hit the paper and make the character mark in ink.

Because she uses old manual typewriters, she can control the shades by hitting the keys softer for lighter colours and harder for darker shades.

Gallery Link and Article Link via Dude Craft

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Woven Computer Icons

Artist Micah Schippa created a series of woven images of common computer icons. He calls his project "Tools-at-hand."

Link via Make | Artist's Website | Photo by the artist

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HIV Cured?

Keep in mind that early news reports on scientific stories are sometimes wildly inaccurate. But, that said, it appears that doctors claim to have cured an HIV-infected man:

The 'Berlin Patient,' a U.S. citizen named Timothy Ray Brown, underwent a procedure in which HIV-resistant stem cells from an individual with an unusual genetic profile were introduced into his body. The donor patient's CD4 cells lacked the CCR5 co-receptor -- the most common variety of HIV uses CCR5 co-receptors as a "docking station," attaching to it in order to enter and infect CD4 cells. People with this particular genetic mutation are almost completely protected against infection.[...]

Berlin doctors published his detailed case history in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2009. Now they've published a follow-up report in the journal Blood, saying: "It is reasonable to conclude that cure of HIV infection has been achieved in this patient."

Link via Glenn Reynolds | Image: NIH

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Voyager I Space Probe About to Exit the Solar System

The 33-year old space probe Voyager I, now 17.4 billion miles from the Sun, has detected a major drop in the strength of solar wind in its location. This indicates that the probe is about to leave our solar system:

The event is a major milestone in Voyager 1's passage through the heliosheath, the turbulent outer shell of the sun's sphere of influence, and the spacecraft's upcoming departure from our solar system.

"The solar wind has turned the corner," said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. "Voyager 1 is getting close to interstellar space."

Our sun gives off a stream of charged particles that form a bubble known as the heliosphere around our solar system. The solar wind travels at supersonic speed until it crosses a shockwave called the termination shock. At this point, the solar wind dramatically slows down and heats up in the heliosheath.

Link via Popular Science | Image: NASA/JPL

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Ducked and Covered: A Practical Guide for Nuclear War Survivors

(Video Link)

This short film by Nathaniel Lindsay is a deadpan parody of Cold War-era nuclear survival guides. Ostensibly, it's a 1981 educational film by the Australian Board of Civil Defense. The narrator advises survivors on proper fashion choices, uses for charred human skulls, and the dangers of mutants.


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OK Go Writes Its Name Across Los Angeles

(Video Link)

OK Go, known for its innovative music videos, participated in a project called Dance Through Your City. The band led a group of 100 people on a 8.5-mile journey through Los Angeles. GPS navigation devices tracked their process and inscribed their name in a process resembling "a giant Etch a Sketch."

Link via Nerdcore

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Life Experiences All at Once

In his short story collection Sum, neuroscientist David Eagleman imagined forty possible afterlives. An excerpt from it speculates about a world in which a person's life experiences are all grouped together by activity:

In the afterlife you relive all your experiences, but this time with the events reshuffled into a new order: all the moments that share a quality are grouped together.

You spend two months driving the street in front of your house, seven months having sex. You sleep for thirty years without opening your eyes. For five months straight you flip through magazines while sitting on a toilet.

You take all your pain at once, all twenty-seven intense hours of it. Bones break, cars crash, skin is cut, babies are born. Once you make it through, it’s agony-free for the rest of your afterlife.

But that doesn’t mean it’s always pleasant. You spend six days clipping your nails. Fifteen months looking for lost items. Eighteen months waiting in line. Two years of boredom: staring out a bus window, sitting in an airport terminal. One year reading books. Your eyes hurt, and you itch, because you can’t take a shower until it’s your time to take your marathon two-hundred-day shower.

Link via Kottke | Author's Website | Photo by Flickr user Pop Tech used under Creative Commons license

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The Dating Game's 10 Best Celebrity Contestants

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The classic game show The Dating Game featured a string of celebrity contestants during the 1970s. Margaret Eby of Flavorwire compiled ten of the best or oddest, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Vincent Price, and Suzanne Somers. Embedded above is Michael Jackson's appearance to interview three young girls. He asks them how they would respond if he brings his pet snake on their date.


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Victorian Star Trek

If you're trying to build a mnemonic memory circuit out of stone knives and bearskins, it helps to have someone like Photoshop artist Rabbit Tooth nearby. You can view five more images from classic (and I mean, really classic) Trek at the link.

Link via blastr | Rabbit Tooth's Website

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Men Set Couch Potato Record by Watching TV for 86 Hours

Victor Lopez, Farris Hodo, and Kevin Coon set a Guinness World Record by watching television for a full 86 hours, 6 minutes, and 41 seconds. They were allowed a ten minute break every two hours, but otherwise had to stay awake watching TV the whole time. These three men were the only successful contestants among an original 100 who were challenged to watch the entire run of the TV show 24:

But the bizarre couch potato feat was no walk in the park.

Just ask Raul Valle, 23, a contestant who attempted the challenge but was only able to hang on for 36 hours.

Valle told AOL News that the task wasn't all that difficult at first, but as the hours dragged on, his focus began to fade.

"The biggest issue was drinking water or coffee and then having to go to the bathroom right away. We had to wait for a break and couldn't just go whenever we wanted. I was just getting over the flu, too, so that didn't help. If I hadn't been sick, I think I could've lasted longer. I wish I had," Valle lamented.

Link via Ace of Spades HQ | Photo: Dan Steinberg / 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

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Imitate an Accent to Understand It Better

Psychologist Patti Adank of the University of Manchester wondered if using an accent, even if it was affected, would make that accent more comprehensible. It did:

To find out how we can make sense of unfamiliar inflections, psychologists spoke to volunteers in an accent they’d invented. Some subjects were told to imitate the odd sounds. Others were told to simply listen, or to repeat the sentence in their normal voice. Turns out the mimics did better at deciphering the unusual exchange. The scientists say that simply moving your mouth like other folks do allows you to intuit their potentially eccentric speech patterns, and get what they say.

Link | Photo by Flickr user Hans Van Rijnberk used under Creative Commons license

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LEGO Stop-Motion Gunfight

(Video Link)

YouTube user Keshen8, whose work we've previously featured, is back with a second helping minifig-on-minifig mayhem. In an interview, Keshen8 described how he creates these scenes rather quickly:

Q1) How long on average does it take you make a film?
A) It really depends. My second “Dark Knight Trailer in Lego” only took one day, I actually released it the same day as the actual trailer came out, so if I really push myself then I can get things done really quickly. My sets also don’t take that long to make, I usually use cardboard because of a lack of building blocks, I seem to have a surplus of mini-figures though, I don’t know how that happened. The Lego Ultimatum on the other hand took a long time, I’ve had a few people saying how easy it is doing a shot for shot remake of a scene, but when it comes to something like Bourne it’s quite time consuming: getting the shot set up, moving/rebuilding the set to fit the frame, moving the Lego men just right to fit the one or two second shot, converting human martial arts into rigid Lego movement, and all the while physically moving your camera and set frame by frame to get the handheld effect. I can’t really say how long it all takes, because there are so many factors that come into play.

via Great White Snark | Interview

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Ladle-Like Lounge Chair

The design studio The Chair Ltd led by architect Michael CK Chan created this chair. Several in his collection have a lovely curved shape, like the above LC-018 lounge chair.

Link via Born Rich | Studio Website | Photo: Super Yacht Design

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DIY Knitting Machine

(Video Link)

If you've ever spent long hours knitting socks and sweaters, you've probably wondered if it would be possible for a machine to all of this work that you are forced to do by hand. Well, then, good news! YouTube user correx37 built such a device.

via Technabob

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China Builds (Nearly) Full-Size Gundam

Chengdu Guosetianxiang is an amusement park in Sichuan, China. The park has erected an enormous and nearly life-size Gundam model. Well, presumably it's just a model and not a functional Gundam. It's 49 feet tall, which is 10 feet shorter than Japan's.

Link via Nerd Bastards | Photo: Photobucket user phoenixhth

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The Assassination of Yogi Bear by the Coward Boo-Boo

(Video Link)

Eric Brevig made this fake alternate ending for the animated movie Yogi Bear. It parodies a scene in the movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It may also be a reference to the Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law episode "Death by Chocolate."

via Geekosystem

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Scientists Create World's Smallest Battery

A research team by Jianyu Huang (pictured) at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque claims to have developed the world's smallest battery:

It consists of a bulk lithium cobalt cathode three millimeters long, an ionic liquid electrolyte, and has as its anode a single tin oxide (Sn02) nanowire 10 nanometers long and 100 nanometers in diameter – that’s one seven-thousandth the thickness of a human hair.

The battery was made inside a transmission electron microscope, allowing the scientists to study it while it was charging:

By following the progression of the lithium ions as they travel along the nanowire, the researchers found that during charging the tin oxide nanowire rod nearly doubles in length. This is far more than its diameter increases and could help avoid short circuits that may shorten battery life. This unexpected finding goes against the common belief of workers in the field that batteries swell across their diameter, not longitudinally.

Link via Geekosystem | Photo: US Department of Energy

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Profile for John Farrier

  • Member Since 2012/08/04


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