Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
From the "I Didn't Know They Could Put a Computer in That" department, apparently the Livescribe Echo™ Smartpen is a pen computer that runs software. No, it's not a tablet -- it's a computer inside a pen. Out of the box, the pen has handwriting/drawing recording, audio recording, a built-in display with clock, a speaker, and various apps. The thing even has an App Store. Um. So yeah, now your pen can be smart too. In my day, it was pretty sweet if your pen had a decent grip and a way to change... READ ON
In December, I asked whether y'all could handle more Carl Sagan remixes. The overwhelming answer was YES, so today I bring you "NASA - The Frontier is Everywhere," a promotional social media video created for NASA, but not by NASA, featuring Carl Sagan's famous "Pale Blue Dot" narration. The video was made by Reid Gower, who was frustrated by NASA's bad PR and thought he'd go ahead and promote the agency by himself. Here's what Gower wrote:
I got frustrated with NASA and made this video. NASA is... READ ON
Okay, the snake is now eating its tail. Back in November, we were treated to No, THIS is How Michael Caine Speaks -- a series of Michael Caine impersonations, along with more in the comments. Now, Caine offers an impersonation of himself. As one YouTube commenter said, "Michael Caine has the worst Michael Caine voice ever."
At some point we will have to establish an international governing body responsible for defining what Michael Caine sounds like. And I think Michael Caine should have nothing... READ ON
Ready to feel really old? In this video, some French-Canadian kids are presented with technology from the 80's and 90's. They then try to figure out what the items are, and the results are delightful. Although the video is in French (and I don't speak any French), I could easily follow what was going on.
My favorite parts: upon being presented with a Gameboy, a girl declares it a "telephone" (makes sense from her perspective -- a little screen, some buttons, made to be held in the hand); and the... READ ON
Ask MetaFilter is a community site in which people ask and answer questions. There are tons of new questions every day, and they're all over the map -- you'll find life-and-death situations, complex technical topics, and even recipe suggestions. At the moment (as of 9am Pacific on January 6, 2011), I see a bunch of computer questions, along with these gems:
Whats the vibe like in Manzanillo, Costa Rica (Nicoya)? - 0 answers
What would be a good low maintenance freshwater fish that would thrive in... READ ON
Tonight, a documentary in twelve parts about how money has ruined art. Well, it's a bit more nuanced than that, but let's just say this is a scathing critique of the current state of the art world, and it comes from Robert Hughes, a former TIME magazine art critic, who has seen a lot. He's a cranky old bastard, and what he has to say about art is fascinating, partly because he is so thoroughly convinced that he's right. My favorite quote from the documentary:
Apart from drugs, art is the biggest... READ ON
This TED Talk from designer Tim Brown is awesome -- it's about how playfulness is crucial to creative thinking. And it really is fun: at one point in the talk, he asks audience members to bombard him with foam missiles, leaving the stage littered with drifts of toys. At various points he asks the audience to draw pictures and other playful things. He also goes through various examples of how play has led to important designs in the real world.
Discussed: how adults fear the judgment of our peers,... READ ON
I liked Inception, the Christopher Nolan movie about dreams-within-dreams. Not only was it a wild ride as an action movie, but it presented a little puzzle for viewers at the very end, in the final shot. Without spoiling anything, let's just say that the end puzzle is solvable by viewing the movie in detail and following the logic of what's happening. Or you may choose your answer based on emotion -- as I'm sure most viewers do. Or you can do what I did: go with your gut, then check your work using... READ ON
Hans Rosling is best known for his visualization of statistics data: he makes engaging animated displays that show how statistics (like AIDS rates, economic data, and even census data) change over time. By animating the data, Rosling helps laypeople understand what the statistics mean over time, and how to draw meaningful comparisons between data points. Last month, fellow blogger Ransom posted a short clip from Rosling's documentary The Joy of Stats, an engaging hour-long look at Rosling's work, and an... READ ON
During World War I (then simply "The Great War"), trench warfare led to brutal attacks, slow battles of attrition, and horrors such as poison gas and barbed wire. Wikipedia sums up a bit of the reality of the trenches like this:
The Germans introduced poison gas; it soon became used by both sides, though it never proved decisive in winning a battle. Its effects were brutal, causing slow and painful death, and poison gas became one of the most-feared and best-remembered horrors of the war. Commanders... READ ON
Orson Welles' last role was the voice of "Unicron" in the 1986 Transformers movie.