The hard disk in my four-year old computer recently failed so I purchased a replacement hard disk that was advertised as green. For years I had naively assumed that the hard disk in my computer wasn’t such a major power hog … but come to think of it when it spins hard during an airplane ride my batteries do get worn out quite quickly. The marketing campaign for the disk claims that the savings in energy gained are equivalent to “taking your car off the road for 14 days each year.” It’s hard to believe that a little hard disk has that much impact on the environment.
One service that I installed at my work place is GreenDisk. There is so much technowaste around us like unused CD-ROMs, cables, and etc. GreenDisk has a convenient cardboard packaging in the shape of a trash can that when filled, you just close up, tape, and ship the box directly back to them with shipping fees prepaid.
There’s an artist named Chris Jordan on the theme of trash and other questionable human practices using the once popular photomosaic techniques in the 90s. Jordan does a good job of contextualizing the trash and how it can communicate differently as a visual system of millions that appeals to many. The impact of the message of course being more significant than the actual work.
I guess the most green thing I could do today is simply turn off my computer. Hmmm. Okay. Will do.
I saw an eerily simple looking laserprinter in a recent issue of WIRED that I had to try out. As an objet d’art it works quite well in an office setting as the top surface is extremely clean and devoid of any product detailing aside from the blue leds that come on when operating. It reminded me of the early NeXT laserprinter with its blackness and clean lines. Perhaps the least elegant aspect of the multi-function printer is the setup process as the software installation processes that came with the device did not meet up to the same level of visual sophistication. That said, once the software was good to go, I felt it comforted to work with an object that was so incredibly law1-ed to such minimal aesthetics. When (and if) it jams on me during a critical task in the future I’m sure I will feel different, so I shall cherish this moment of feeling that my desk environment has become simplified for at least today.
I had the surreal experience of attending a private Cartier dinner party with a celebrity list that made me feel a wee bit out of place. The occasion was my guest creative direction of their new Love website. It was an experience I will certainly never forget.
I guess the above title sounds suspiciously like the spam that litters your, and my, inbox. With all the excitement about Apple’s new iPhone it’s hard not to be pumped as well. However as I clicked through the online demo on Apple’s site, my first feeling was that it was doing too much for my own tastes. For me the high point of the demo was their solution to managing the task of typing on a small device.
The advantage of law1 is to reap the benefits of smallness in portability and perception of simplicity. But as anyone that daily types on little devices knows, it can get a bit tiring. I was wondering how Apple had resolved the problem of mating a touchscreen with a QWERTY keyboard and was happy to see their hover-expand behavior for the keys. Each key can remain small and within an orderly grid at first glance, then by hovering your finger the on-screen key is made bigger so that you can see it better. It’s a fairly simple idea and probably not brand new, but definitely a step forward in the awkward task of typing on a tiny virtual keyboard. Now let me see if I can find the teeny Publish button on this here blog system …
One of the special places to visit at MIT is the MIT Press Bookstore. It’s located convenient to campus and is unique for its carefully curated collection of design, technology, policy, science, and engineering books. It’s not your usual college bookstore and is wonderfully abnormal in the MIT way. For the holiday season I’ve designed a set of T-shirts for the Press dubbed the “Simplicitee Shirt” (yes, pun intended).
At a concessions stand at Boston’s Logan Airport here in Massachusetts, I spotted this wonderful engineering fix to a broken bottled drink dispenser system. The mastery of rubberbands as a fix-it-all medium as shown here is truly sublime. I’m a huge fan of rubberbands, especially Animal Rubber Bands (click to see what I’m talking about) which make the perfect toy for any future young engineer-artist.
I don’t use an iPod, although I tend to talk about them a bit and the iPod vote grows ever slightly each day. This is all in spite of the fact that I stopped using my iPod a while back. My MIT alum buddy at Samsung, Paul Kim, asked me to look at the K5 to think about how it compares to the iPod.
Well, it’s hard to compare mp3 players to Apple’s iPod because in my mind the iPod = iTunes. Given that iTunes has become increasingly (and painfully) complex, I’m sort of feeling tepid on the iPod’s concept nowadays.
The K5 is unique for it’s “slide and tilt” mechanism; it also sports the new trend in invisible interfaces like its front face that has no obvious or visible buttons a la law1. There’s a great deal of attention to the fancy animations that accompany each of its screens — counterbalancing the mystery of law1 with a healthy dose of law7. After playing with it for months, I still haven’t law4-ed how to use the device though most of the time I can get it to play music.
Do I like it? I think the litmus test here is that it still sits on my desk for now. Let’s wait and see.
I ran out of business cards recently so I’m printing a new set today. There are so many high-tech ways to print things today, but I prefer the anachronistic practice of printing them by hand. The easiest way to do this yourself is to get a Print Gocco. I discovered this machine while living in Japan. It’s a self-encapsulated miniature silkscreen-printing press with reduced mess, and a high level of convenience.
This machine was invented for the market in Japan where there’s an old tradition of sending special personalized “New Year’s Day Cards” called nengajo (pronounced “Nehn-Gaw-Joe”). I figure that before the Internet and e-cards, the Japanese postal system must have made the bulk of its annual revenue from this national custom. It probably still does. To me, the most amazing aspect of this custom was the fact that all nengajo from your friends (sent asynchronously of course) would arrive pre-sorted in your mailbox exactly on New Year’s Day!
Although we don’t have this custom here in the States, the Print Gocco makes a great creative toy for anyone that is curious about the process of screenprinting. Due to the prevalence of color inkjet printers today for making flawlessly perfect nengajo, I would imagine that the Print Gocco will eventually meet its demise so pick one up (with supplies) while they’re still around.
Roger von Oech sent me his Ball of Whacks to experience first hand (sic). Each of the identical pieces of plastic have a magnetic signature to them that creates unique constraints when sticking the puzzle together. I have very little patience for puzzles, but nonetheless had fun playing with a few “whacks.”
Roger felt that his puzzle embodied the ideas of simplicity. I could see his point. Easy to take apart, feels good, creates a quick law7-al bond. But this toy is definitely not for small children in the house because each “whack” is perfectly shaped for a journey into the mouth (of course there is an explicit warning on the box).
I’ve been watching the slow and steady accrual of votes to the iPod interface poll. The leader right now by a wide margin is the current interface for the iPod. However from comments I’ve received during speaking engagements, I’m convinced that the data I’m seeing here might be misleading. Some people really don’t like the current interface, and instead prefer one of the previous design options. I suspect that this minority may not be as vocal as the majority.
The same can be said about digital cameras. I know that I much prefer the interface of the older, 2004 Canon SD200 to its newer brethren like the SD700. The simple horizontal lever on the SD200 makes it easy to choose between: play, movie, or camera; on the SD700 I get lost in all the menus and the tiny mode-dial with five options instead of three.
There must be some sort of business opportunity out there like “Pimp My Ride” where the opposite gets done. Call it “Un-pimp my Gadget.” I’ll be first in line.