10. Architecture

Oct-26-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: A fine range of buildings, from the heights of Dubai, to the follies, to an open wall resort (just the place for those want to feel like Tyrion Lanaster in the sky cells of the Eyrie). While the “Lighting up the Night” is only partially architecture, all of it is beautiful.

* Dubai Eyewitness

* Ten Follies Twisted Sifter

In architecture, a folly is a building constructed primarily for decoration, but either suggesting by its appearance some other purpose, or merely so extravagant that it transcends the normal range of garden ornaments or other class of building to which it belongs.

* The ‘Open Wall’ Resort in St. Lucia  Twisted Sifter

Located just outside of Soufrière, St. Lucia, the Ladera Resort features 9 villas and 23 suites with an ‘open wall’ where the west side of every unit is left open and exposed to the breathtaking views of the Piton Mountains and Caribbean sea.

* Most Beautiful Mosques From Around the World

* Lighting Up the Night   In Focus – The Atlantic



7. New Technology: New solutions (and some new problems)

Sep-14-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Here are a handful of interesting developments in technology. Some (the solar cooker) have wonderful upside potential. I’m less optimistic about 3D printers printing out guns. Boing Boing has a brilliant look at why new tech may not be harmful to the next generation, and the Dear Esther link leads to a video that gives you a sense of what seems a quite magical game, for all that free time you have.

* A Solar Grill Prototype for a Greener Tomorrow  BarbequeLovers.com

Students at MIT are working on a case study for a new type of solar powered outdoor grill. Based on the technology from MIT professor David Wilson, this grill would collect thermal energy from the sun and store it to allow cooking times for up to twenty five hours at temperatures above 450 degrees Fahrenheit. … Wilson’s technology uses a Fresnel lens to harness the sun’s energy to melt down a container of Lithium Nitrate. The Lithium Nitrate serves as a solar battery. Due to its phase change reaction, the thermal energy is able to be stored at longer periods of time and at higher temperatures. Heat is then redistributed through convection, which allows for outdoor cooking.

This study is very timely because although the students are creating a new grill for American backyards, the business plan is designed to allow the grills to be deployed in developing countries as an alternative source for cooking. Wilson originally came up for the idea during his time spent in Nigeria. While there he noticed a large set of problems linked to practice of cooking with firewood. These problems include reports of women being raped during their daily search for firewood, constant increase in deforestation, and respiratory health issues due to the daily inhalation of smoke in closed proximities. According to the United Nations Statistics Division, 55 percent of households in sub-Saharan Africa depend on firewood. In developing countries this Solar Grill would become a solution to a growing need.

SolarGrillDesign2.jpg

* How 3D Printing Is Inflaming The Gun Control Debate

If you think the gun debate in the United States is heated now, technological advances are about to make it a whole lot more intense. Last week, Forbes highlighted a project called Wiki Weapon that wants to prototype the world’s first fully printable gun. 

In the same way that the Internet democratized publishing and the flow of information, Second Amendment advocates want to make acquiring arms as easy as downloading a file and hitting Print. Defense Distributed, the group behind Wiki Weapon, aims to raise $20,000 to buy aStratasys 3D printer and further develop the concept. The initiative, unsurprisingly, has raised  a few eyebrows. 

The project may or may not reach its goal, but the idea of a fully 3D-printable gun now seems inevitable. Last year, 3D CAD models of a lower receiver for a semiautomatic rifle sparked controversy when they popped up online. Then a gun enthusiast tried – and succeeded – to use one to fire 200 rounds of ammunition. 

* Why Technology Might Not Make Children Stupid, After AllBoing Boing

All this newfangled technology is going to make young people stupid.

This is a very old argument, dating back (at least) to 370-ish BC, when Plato wrote the The Phaedrus. At one point, Socrates tells a legend of an Egyptian god who invents writing and tries to give the gift of the written word to a wise king. The king is … less than enthused.

For this invention will produce forgetfulness in the minds of those who learn to use it, because they will not practice their memory. Their trust in writing, produced by external characters which are no part of themselves, will discourage the use of their own memory within them. You have invented an elixir not of memory, but of reminding; and you offer your pupils the appearance of wisdom, not true wisdom, for they will read many things without instruction and will therefore seem to know many things, when they are for the most part ignorant and hard to get along with, since they are not wise, but only appear wise.

Basically, all these damn books are going to make the kids dumb. This is usually my go-to story that I bring up whenever somebody is fretting too much about how the Internet will totally make kids stupid. But journalist Annie Murphy Paul has found an even better argument against techno-fear. …

It’s sobering to realize most humans that have lived and died have never read. And so, we’ve been able to change what our brain does based on having the written word and having this environment. And so now the question is will we be able to change to keep up with the new flood of information coming from all kinds of sources. And up until now the human brain has done a great job of changing—adapting to these environments, but there are limitations to this capacity. And so it will be very interesting to see that these so-called digital natives… the children that have grown up never not knowing the multimedia devices… whether their brains will be able to adapt differently than older people. 

* Review: Dear Esther is an interactive story in a gorgeous 3D environment

Dear Esther  is a Mac (or PC) game unlike any you’ve played before…. Though, the word game doesn’t seem quite right. There are no weapons in Dear Esther. No crowbar or shotgun. The first person environment you explore feels like open terrain with barren moorland and rocky clifftops. It’s a billion miles away from the test chambers of Portal.

While other games reward the completion of puzzles or the destruction of zombie hordes, Dear Esther unravels in its own sweet time. Exploration brings its own reward. All you know as you begin is that you’re on an island. There are clues to your identity and clues to something more. Something unsettling. As you progress, you hear fragments of letters that uncover more of the story.

You won’t want to rush through Dear Esther. There are no special achievements for speed-runs here, but that’s not the only reason. The environment is built to linger in. This goes beyond the 3D world too—though wonderfully rendered by level designer Robert Briscoe. The writing is poetic and spare, the soundtrack by Jessica Curry is compelling and creepy….Bottom line: Dear Esther is a collaborative work of art; a blueprint for future creators of interactive fiction.



8. Architecture

Aug-24-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: The top architects is a pretty subjective list (like all top ten lists) but there are many stunningly beautiful buildings herein on which you can glom your peepers.

* The 10 Greatest Modern Architects of Our Time  Freshome

* The World’s Most Beautiful Buildings Lonely Planet

* Gargoyles – Glorious Gruesome Grotesques  Kuriositas

* The Curvaceous ‘Marilyn Monroe’ Absolute Towers Twisted Sifter

* Entrance to the Saint Petersburg Mosque Twisted Sifter



8. Wonders of Tech

Jun-22-2012 | Comments Off

Bird’s Eye: Oh brave new world, that has such machines in it! as Miranda almost said. Enjoy time-lapse photography of a 30 story building going up in 15 days, and if you personally may not (well, not just yet) need a robot to turn your cheeses, perhaps a self-making bed may be what will make your life complete.

* World’s Tallest Building Will Be Built In China, Over 90 Days - Boing Boing

Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) is an innovative Chinese architectural firm whose mission is to erect “medium-cost, super-saving utility buildings and to promote a futuristic urban lifestyle.” They are planning to build the world’s tallest building, the Sky City Tower in Changsha, Hunan, whose 220 storeys will be erected in 90 days. The timelapse video above shows another BSB project, a 30-storey hotel that went up in 15 days.  

* Cheese-Flipping Robot Patiently Rotates GruyereBoing Boing

K0re on YouTube had a genuinely wonderful day in Switzerland … in the company of a machine that patiently rotates wheels of cheese.

* The Self-Making Bed The Presurfer 



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