A Datablog Is Born

Attention all data heads!

For most of August, I’ve been busily combining the best of Weather Sealed’s investigations with some bonafide design juice to create Data Pointed, which four out of five dentists agree is the best damn data and visualization site on the Internets!

Please do take a gander, and don’t miss His And Hers Colors, the inaugural Data Pointed visualization:

His And Hers Colors

His And Hers Colors

If you’re a fan of Weather Sealed’s information processing hijinks, you’ll definitely want to click over to Data Pointed and subscribe, because going forward, any such new stuff will appear there. And if you fancy the non-data-related articles on Weather Sealed, stay tuned. This blog will continue, but with its original focus: as a more personal place where I occasionally blow out whatever I happen to be thinking about at the time, in story form.

Your support means all the world to me, and I hope that you’ll enjoy Data Pointed!

Barrel O’ Links: July 2010

One summer vacation’s worth of linky goodness:

  • A Field Guide To Typestaches (torweeks)
  • Yo, ocean, bro? You are like so totally over. (TarpSurfing)
  • Growth opportunities in the Inuit bathing suit market! (NOAA)
  • Many mightily massive multipliers (greg.org)
  • God hates Jedi and other revelations (ComicsAlliance)
  • My god, it’s full of conifers! (TreeHugger)
  • Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning (Vittone)
  • “Refute” and “repudiate” sittin’ in a tree… (dictionary.com)
  • Breakout taken to its logical extreme (Wonderfl)

Meet The Glove-A-Phone

A Fun, Dirt-Cheap Vuvuzela Alternative

Want to add that buzzy World Cup drone to your special event, but cash is tight, and you can’t afford to drop ten clams on a genuine vuvuzela?  No problem!  Try the Glove-a-Phone!

They say that a moving picture is worth about 30,000 words per second, so check this out:

A boy and his Glove-a-Phone.

Our young maestro does a respectable job, and backed by adult lungs and a few minutes of practice, a Glove-a-Phone will ring out with seven sustained seconds of slightly-mellowed vuvuzela-toot, ripe with strong fog horn undertones and a hint of barking elephant seal.  Honestly, few things in this world sound more hauntingly beautiful.

Before we continue, let me give credit where credit is due.  The Glove-a-Phone concept comes from my son’s school teacher, a Board-Certified-Goofball, who got it from the RAFT, aka the Resource Area For Teaching, a Silicon Valley non-profit that turns donated materials into hands-on educational craft kits.  Check out their excellent Idea Sheets, available online for free!

To make your Glove-a-Phone, you’ll need five ingredients: a powderless latex glove, cardboard tube, three-inch section of plastic straw, rubber band, and short length of scotch tape.  Yes, you can scavenge it all, but do yourself a favor and invest twenty cents on a brand-new glove and clean straw to ensure an utmostly wholesome experience.

The make-or-break component is the tube.  In a pinch, a leftover toilet tissue roll will do, but the thicker the cardboard, the better.  Institutional paper towel cores work perfectly – get clean ones from a school janitor or somewhere like the Depot For Creative Reuse.  You’ll want something robust enough to keep its cylindrical shape under the pressure of excited hands and spittle.

Assembly is a snap!  First, slip the glove an inch-or-so over the end of the tube and secure it, all the way around, with the rubber band.  Next, cut a quarter-inch hole in the end of a finger, insert the straw a bit into the hole, then wrap the straw-glove junction with tape.  Finally, accessorize to taste with some sequins, or to make it World Cup legit, add the letters v-u-v-u-z-e-l-a in Sharpie:

The Glove-a-Phone, Before and After.

The Glove-a-Phone, Before and After.

Confused?  Refer to the RAFT’s handy instructions for clarity.

God willing, you’ve now got a fully-formed Glove-a-Phone in your hands, yearning to be played!  Pull the straw finger back so that the glove stretches tightly over the end of the tube, blow steadily into the straw, and voila!  Bwooomp!  Squeeze the fingers for faster attack, or let them free to buffer your breath.  Pull harder or softer to change the pitch, and soon, you’ll be making music (recommended songs for beginners include Mary Had A Little Lamb and Smoke On The Water).  Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, vuvuzela!

The Pac-Man Drawings

Prototype And Final Mazes, Side-By-Side

Check out the maze from designer Toru Iwatani’s recently-divulged Pac-Man concept sketches, side-by-side with the final arcade version:

Arcade classic Pac-Man and inventor Iwatani's concept sketch thereof.

Arcade classic Pac-Man and inventor Iwatani's concept sketch thereof.

They’re different!  Why?  As the story goes, after one too many blind Tokyo alleys, Iwatani expunged dead ends from the prototype.  A fortuitous accident in modulo-28 space created the tunnels.  And the more expansive overall feel of the final maze?  The details are hazy, but my sources whisper something about a retreat to the American Southwest.  And peyote.

Of course, I made the last paragraph up, but whatever happened, thank you lucky star!  For without Pac-Man’s addictive gameplay – amplified by the improved maze, no doubt – I might have never met his girlfriend: Ms. Pac-Man.

Oh, Ms. Pac-Man, and the crazy bowling alley days that we spent together!  To preserve those precious memories, I shall model my labyrinthine countryside manor after her immaculate first level.  Every detail will be included, from the power pellets and food on the floor to the roaming fruit and ghosts!

Except for Blinky.  That dude’s a flippin’ bastard.

Wokka wokka wokka wokka wokka…

Freeway Bound

A Street Surrounded By LA's Superhighways

Over at the excellent Twelve Mile Circle, Tom Howder recently wondered: where’s the smallest chunk of occupied land completely surrounded by Interstate highway?  Well, if “occupied” means “residential,” the answer might be Wright Street, a stubby cul-de-sac tucked inside the looping ramps of LA’s Harbor-Santa Monica Freeway interchange:

Wright Street and the Harbor-Santa Monica Freeway Interchange, 1964.

Wright Street (at bottom) and the Harbor-Santa Monica Freeway Interchange, 1964.

Back in 1884, Wright Street was just another new road on the outskirts of Los Angeles.  Bungalows quickly filled its freshly-surveyed lots, and as the city grew, apartments and commercial buildings soon followed.  In 1954, California’s first superhighway, the Harbor Freeway, passed two hundred feet westward, and a scant seven years later, the Santa Monica Freeway encroached from the east.  Construction began on the connecting ramps, and Wright winced as road workers halved its length, blocked off one end, and encircled it with concrete pillars topped by pavement.

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