Archive for the ‘fun’ Category

Nonsense Award Winner

Saturday, June 9th, 2007

Nonsense is somewhat like randomness, in that it’s very hard for a human to create perfect nonsense without inadvertently injecting little bits of sense. Once in a great while, however, a carefully crafted instance of utter nonsense reaches such levels of quality that special recognition is merited:


“Warning! The GoBack Auto-Revert buffer is now 50% full. Once this reaches 100%, the computer will automatically revert to the Auto-Revert time.”

Apple’s New iPod Pea

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Get ready, because the smallest iPod ever is slated to be released in Q1 of 2007.


Apple has finally managed to reduce their popular MP3 player to a size that barely accommodates its own headphone jack.

Steve Jobs is scheduled to appear on stage in which he will undoubtedly pull a handful of iPod peas from his pocket.


Technology and Specs

Solid-state engineers at Apple achieved a design breakthrough. The miracle is a new kind of spherical flash-RAM chip, storing 1 gigabyte or up to 240 songs.

Nearly 1/1000th the size of the original iPod, the new iPod pea is an eighth of a cubic centimeter and weighs in at just over 0.2 grams. There are no clips, displays, or buttons. The pea runs in a “permashuffle” mode.

Songs are loaded via bluetooth, and the pea charges its battery as long as it is within three feet of the PeaPod. Charging is made possible by a long-ridiculed (until-now) power broadcasting technique originally devised by Serb-American inventor Nikola Tesla.

Like other iPods, the iPod pea has no servicable parts.


Typical of Apple, technological innovation goes hand-in-hand with marketing innovation. The iPod Pea will be sold in pods of five. “We felt every family member should have their own pea, plus a few extra just in case.”

Marketers believe that the new iPod pea will overtake its predecessors as the number one contest-giveaway item. According to a leading PR firm, “giving away free nanos and shuffles is no longer effective because everyone already has one.”

California-based pastry chef Didier Fournier became the first consumer to get his hands on an iPod pea, happily snatching up a test-group unit that leaked onto eBay. As a promotion for his bakery, Fournier intends to hide iPod peas in “winning pastries,” giving his customers “one more thrilling reason to consume [his] delectables.”

Apple admits it originally named the product “iPea”, but changed the name after test-group participants were unable to “wipe that smirk off their faces.”



Custom engraving will be available for the iPod pea, though the message is limited to a single character in 6pt Helvetica.

While most iFans will have to remain content with white peas, collectors are excited by the news that a very-limited-edition “black-eyed” version will come pre-loaded with the hit single

“Let’s Get it Started (Spike Mix).” Apple, always with a carrot to dangle, also promises to deliver green and other pastel-colored iPod peas just in time for the Easter shopping season.


The iPod pea is intended only for consumers aged 11 years and older. The National Association for Safe Toy Evaluation (N.A.S.T.E.) warns against products with small parts that can be swallowed, aspirated, or inserted into nasal cavities.

This story is fictitious. Please don’t sue me. I heart Apple


Tuesday, December 12th, 2006


I couldn’t help but notice these dog mannequins in a San Francisco shop window. Are these anthropomorphic figures well established? Did I already miss their tipping point? I immediately consulted “the google” to find out.

My conclusion, despite the abundance of dog mannequins and fashion to adorn them, is that the life-size but lifeless animals are only at the beginning of their frenetic, memetic life-cycle. I take comfort knowing this becuase no-one beat me to google-coining the word “doggequins” Did I just google-coin the verb “google-coin”?

In any case, I’m certainly going to buy the domain names before the great doggequin epidemic happens.

97 Kids Draw Mickey Mouse

Tuesday, October 24th, 2006

A sixth grade science teacher asked each of her students to draw Mickey Mouse from memory. This poster is full of the results. Click to enlarge.


The Mickey Mouse assignment was part of a lesson about water. It was a brilliantly sneaky way to get kids to remember the shape of H2O molecules.

With so much variance, I couldn’t resist tallying a few morphological statistics on the set. Here’s what I counted:

  • Total drawings: 97
  • Round face: 97
  • Has two ears: 97
  • A nose: 82
  • Ear canals: 46
  • Open mouth: 40
  • Solid black ears: 16
  • Baring teeth: 13 (one with fangs)
  • Expresses doubt or apologizes for drawing ability: 12
  • Eyebrows: 9 (including the mickey with just one)
  • Depicts a body: 7
  • Unhappy mickey: 5
  • Eyelids: 4
  • Distinct iris and pupil: 4
  • Whiskers: 3 (not counting the mustachioed mickey)
  • Bowtie: 3
  • Eye lashes: 1
  • Suspenders: 1
  • Mickey shown with never-before-seen child: 1

This is one of my favorites:


Tour De Deuce: 33713 km

Tuesday, March 7th, 2006

He did it. My friend Greg Kaiser completed his trip from Deadhorse, Alaska to Ushuai, Argentina. A while ago I managed to accomplish a similar route from the comfort of a Jeep, but Greg negotiated the humbling distance on his mountain bike!

Greg’s pan-American trip (aka “Tour de Deuce“) totalling 33713 km also outdoes his first amazing trip, “Tour de Dude,” which led him all the way around the continental U.S.


From Tierra del Fuego, Greg writes:

It was pretty incredible to realize I’d biked here from Alaska, although I think even as I write this the whole magnitude of the trip hasn’t fully sunk in yet. I still remember biking out of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on my first day of the tour. The skies were overcast and there was snow and ice on the ground all around. I remember seeing the “Next Services 240 miles” sign and how far it seemed just to get to the next town. And here I was, who knows how many thousands upon thousands of towns later.

You have made us proud, Dude.

World’s First Silent Film for iPod

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

I spent a day with two friends in L.A. making the world’s first silent film created specifiaclly for the new iPod video format. We made a tribute to the world’s oldest motion picture technology — viewable on the world’s newest video tech. The short film, entitled “Playing Bridge Without A Deck!”, is shot around the canals of Venice, CA. Like any good silent film, this one has great music: don’t miss “Pig Ankle Rag” by Gerry Dempsey and Ian Jacks.

Here’s the iPod video (Don’t miss the MUSIC!)

Video by Charles Brewster and Michael Eakes
Music by Gerry Dempsey and Ian Jacks

The Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX)

Saturday, January 1st, 2005

Berkeley Lower Extremity Exoskeleton (BLEEX)

“We set out to create an exoskeleton that combines a human control system with robotic muscle,” said Homayoon Kazerooni, professor of mechanical engineering and director of UC Berkeley’s Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory. “We’ve designed this system to be ergonomic, highly maneuverable and technically robust so the wearer can walk, squat, bend and swing from side to side without noticeable reductions in agility. The human pilot can also step over and under obstructions while carrying equipment and supplies.”

The full press release.

Happy Birthday Benoît!

Saturday, November 20th, 2004

Today is Benoît Mandelbrot’s 80th birthday. From an interview with New Scientist:

Few people would recognise Benoit Mandelbrot in the street, but the intricate pattern of blobs, swirls and spikes that bears his name – the Mandelbrot set – is an icon of science. It has come to symbolise the geometry of fractals, patterns whose shape stays the same whatever scale you view them on. His life has followed a path as jagged as any fractal. Next week he turns 80. He tells Valerie Jamieson that he still has plenty of work to do

The occasion made me want to learn more about Benoît and computing the Mandelbrot Set.