Archive for March, 2011


Wait!  Turn HD on.  Yes, that’s right.  Wait for it to stream, turn the volume up a little and bask in the first full trailer for the next Doctor Who season.  Scary clowns, masked children, astronaut helmets, explosions and pirate ships, ghosts, monsters and one solitary, dangerous, deadly, gun.

“Look how cool this stuff is!”

Roll on Easter, and the start of the new season.  Roll it on indeed.

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I’m sorry the video above with rather overblown guitar soundtrack can’t convey the spine-tingling sexiness of the UI in Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars.  The 3d screen on the new 3DS had been very well designed for – the semitransparent portrait windows hover above each other, tastefully distinct, letting your own eyes do the focusing and letting things in the foreground or background fade tastefully into insignificance.  Even the lines of dialogue float serenely above the portraits, unconcerned with the painfully constrained 2d ancestors it’s had to deal with.

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Manish Arora‘s sci-fi makeup

I’m listening to the StarTalk podcast, “Science is Fierce” – where Neil deGrass Tyson does an episode on fashion in sci-fi.  It’s fascinating stuff – talking about how sci-fi costuming gets incredibly dated almost immediately, because the best sci-fi costuming is simply today’s fashion, with only a little bit of ‘future’ mixed in.  As it’s still mostly ‘of the time’, it dates just as quickly – Lieutenant Uhura’s gogo boots and miniskirt, for example!

3d printed ornithopter

Partially 3d Printed Ornithopter Test

Flight has fascinated people for so long – I’m certain that no family of life has engendered so much envy than birds.  I was inspired by a video from Festo of their new flapping, flying, bird-like machine – their beautiful ornithopter – so I had a go at making my own.

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Festo (creators of air-penguins and robotic rays) have created what appears to be the most realistic looking ornithopter (or flapping flying device) that I’ve yet seen!  It’s beautiful – and while not yet as graceful as a gull, or elegant as an eagle, they’re certainly not far off!  This video inspired me, and you’ll see why in the next post.

A nameless warrior flees through a verdant forest; his blood drops tick, tick, tick, as they hit the succulent leaves, counting the seconds before his end.  Nothing falls without the forest’s knowledge, however, and the strange, white-clad spirits, with their silent ankle-bells, have one last journey for the lost soldier.

The music may not be to your liking, but the video is dreamy, fantastical, simply done, and reminds me a little of Princess Mononoke.  Recommended by a gent at work.

Kids parties and videogame levels

Kids parties and videogame levels - not so different

“Level design is necessary for two primary purposes – providing player with a goal and providing player with enjoyable play experience. Good level design strives to produce quality gameplay, provide an immersive experience, and sometimes, especially in story-based games, to advance the storyline. Skilled use of textures and audio is necessary to produce immersive player experience.”
(Wikipedia: Level Design)

I am a level designer for video games, and I have been since 2001.  I love level design, and I’m constantly looking for new ways to see level design as a discipline, and for new skills to bring to my personal toolset.  So imagine my surprise when I made the connection today that the skills of a level designer are not as niche and rare as I may have previously suspected!

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I love things that glow; that flicker and twinkle, fade and pulse.  Obviously then, I love LEDs!  Soft circuitry and electronic clothing facinates me, but like great swathes of fashion, I’m convinced that they’re usually doing it wrong.  The LEDs you see on clothing, frequently flashes, blinks or blinds – these LEDs I do not care for.  How, and why, I made the gentle glowing LEDs above, is below.

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Blurry photograph of my emergency cufflinks on my shirt cuffs.

Emergency cufflinks doing sterling duty holding my cuffs closed.

This morning, I had a bit of a wardrobe catastrophe.  Nothing dramatic like a snapped thong or an impossible hairstyle – no, I couldn’t find my cufflinks.  Anyone who knows me knows I am both messy and forgetful – so it was only a matter of time.

So what did I do?  I designed and printed a new pair before I left for work this morning.

Truly, I live in the future.

Image of a glowing blue brain, exploding with shimmering beams

Unfortunately, not a photograph of my brain. Any free MRI’s gratefully accepted!

My mind is nearly overwhelmed by the sheer number of ideas bopping around in it – I’ll write them down here as a sort of pressure release valve:

Piezoelectric Energy Generation

Facinating stuff, inspired by fields of waving grasses in the wind.  The sort of thing going around in my head is like this video of the beautiful, silky, wind-waveforms in crop fields.  I only discovered today that wood is piezoelectric!  As well as silk, bone, and other natural materials.  Imagine breeding grasses for piezoelectric generation!  From what I can see, they’ve not figured out why such natural materials would evolve to be piezoelectric generators, but the suspect it’s being used somewhere.  My ideas are also inspired by hair/fur – each follicle connected to a nerve sending signals.  I’ve got a piezoelectric element in the post, on the way here, to do experiments with.

Raising Silkworms

(See previous post on colored silk).  I’m not sure how the piezoelectric nature of silk works, but artificial silk doesn’t exhibit the same characteristics – we’ve not figured out that bit yet 🙂

3d Printing Stuff

Improving the design of my attempts at 3d printable vertical turbine blade elements.  I’ve dabbled with this, but improvements can be made!  Also, some new 3d printed containers for all the multitudes of game pieces that come with Mansions of Madness.  So many little cardboard bits!  Oh!  And I also want to try a new version of the 3d printed spherical chocolate mold I was trying.  I ate the (one and only) complete sphere I made today – I’l assembled it into a Cadbury’s style creme egg planet, with blue icing seas and green gel continents.  I didn’t realize that the gel wouldn’t harden, so I only managed Asia, Africa and Europe.  Australasia and the Americas were on the other side of the ball – sorry guys.

Assorted Shenanigans

  • Designing a new coat – there’s an Etsy shop that will custom make a coat, and I’m having a go of that.
  • Getting a new Lilypad Arduino and some LEDs to potentially create some glowing appliqués.
  • I’ve got Pokemon Black to play, and just received Okamiden through the post.
  • Alpha Centauri is still whispering its planet-dream at me from the corner of the room too.

And that’s just today – a Wednesday.  By the weekend, I’ll probably have more on the go!