Design Archives

August 5, 2005

The second ugliest motorcycle I've ever seen


It is in Russian so I can't tell much about this monster, but that is OK. In this sort of situation words fail you anyway.

For a closer look without having to wait for the slow site to load take a look here.

Update: Now in Purple...

I think it looked better in black, but apparently the owner has painted the thing purple and yellow with some aluminum corrugated ducting. One can only hope that an errant can of brake fluid lands on it to bring it back towards the original aesthetic conception. Here it is in all ugliness:


For all those commenters who think I don't like this motorcycle - it is only posted here because it is great.

August 8, 2005


But true. German igloos.

I'm not sure that the one which is built over a big blue plastic bag is authentic... unless it is the skin of a blue whale.

August 18, 2005

Bob Colwell on Computer Architecture

Bob Colwell - the lead architect of the Intel P6 (aka Pentium Pro) goes around giving talks about computer architecture to anyone who will listen and I find him always entertaining. I just ran across a recent presentation from the The 32nd (100,000two-th) Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture here. Worth reading for the visuals alone.

August 22, 2005


Just bumped into the Galinsky site which is:

"a free service for people enjoying buildings worldwide. Our searchable pages are designed to help you find and enjoy some of the world's most exciting modern architecture, both on-line and in real life.

Galinsky is for anyone with an interest in modern buildings and architecture, whatever your level of knowledge. We use no obscure architectural terms, and are obsessed with architecture that has turned into real buildings that people can see and appreciate - not designs for their own sake."
Worth a look if you are traveling or want to find something interesting in your own location.

September 14, 2005

Gadget Day - The new sPOD Mano

I see guys like Josh getting all the goodies like the Jasjar phone thingy or the iPOD Nano and I think to myself, why don't I have a gadget blog? I mean, I have more than a dozen hammers of all types and descriptions so I know something about shiny (and not so shiny) metal stuff so here goes. My first Gadget Post.

The item for discussion today is known as the sPOD Mano. The stainless steel case/processor - YES IT DOES BOTH! - is in the shape of a truncated tetrahedron which is both functional and stylish. Each side offers a different face and function to the user. But the clean design of the device is nothing compared to the results that you can achieve with it. The fine gauge of steel used in this device is far superior to the heavier grades used in similar products available from more fashionable and expensive purveyors. Take a look at the picture and note that the potato threads have a delicate crenulation and a transparency only available from the matrix of slots which are formed at the precise pitch. I've tried other devices but none come close.
The sPOD can be used in any orientation, even in zero g environments, but for best results with something like, say a large russet, I use it upside-down allowing it to do most of the work on the powerful push stroke. It may seem counter-intuitive at first, but the ultralight design is most effective when it is in motion and your vegetable is held stationary.
For those just entering the world of vegetable transformation here is a starter recipe:
sPOD Hash Browns

  • Start with one large or two smaller russet potatoes
  • Scrub under cold running water until the dirt is removed
  • Remove any discolored or bruised spots with a paring knife
  • Using a large bowl to collate the output, feverishly rub the potato in long unbroken strokes along the selected surface of the sPOD
  • Gather the collated output and squeeze firmly to remove as much excess liquid as possible (note: this liquid can be gathered and the starch will settle out. After pouring out the excess water you can microwave the result and it will become a form of rudimentry plastic)
  • In a non-stick frying pan over medium/low heat scatter the potato threads in a warm pool of extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Cover for several minutes until any opacity is gone
  • Continue cooking until the bottom is golden brown and crispy.
  • Salt and flip
  • Serve and eat

  • The key to this recipe is the texture provided by the finely shredded potatoes and the step where the starchy liquid is removed. Skimping on either of these results in hash browns like those you can find frozen in a box. It is just not possible to do better without the sPOD mano. I've tried hacking more expensive versions, using a file to sharpen the edges or flattening the profile, but the results were not what I wanted.
    Next up: The End of the Garden Trowel

    October 21, 2005

    Mano a mano

    I've thrown THIS in the ring at Josh's Gadget Fight. I doubt it can win as it has no flashing lights or ringtones, but it is still going to be around years after most of the gadgets are retired to the scrapheap.

    October 31, 2005

    Philippe Starck's Organic Forms

    I noted previously about the new Duravit building designed by Phillipe Starck, and thought that the design even if a bit Claes Oldenburgian was nice and rounded. Now I find that even as the building is in the shape of the toilet, the toilet is in the shape of the buiding.
    Philippe Starck Toilet X
    Just doesn't look all that comfortable to me.

    November 2, 2005

    The evil that men do

    Seems that Google's gmail now has a "Rich text" mode.


    This is cause for dismay for those of us who believe email should be plain text only but I suppose that eventually every company succumbs to the same siren song of more features.

    December 2, 2005

    Build your own "Ugliest Motorcycle"

    The ratbike forum will give you plenty of inspiration. Any color as long as it is black or primer grey.

    Pass the rattlecan.

    February 13, 2006

    How to build your own motorcycle?

    I get quite a few people coming here as a result of searching for the phrase "build your own motorcycle". I think this is because of my posts on the ugliest motorcycle (also on Ratbikes here). So I decided to take a look at what comes up in a search and found that most of the sites have nothing to do with actually building motorcycles. One was a site which showed a computer built in the shape of a motorcycle. Others described options available for custom cycles (in my opinion choosing wheels and colors from a catalog is hardly building your own motorcycle) and nothing really covered the design of the motorcycle, but at least this page from Miller Welding covers the welding techniques used to put together the frame.

    If you always wanted to know the practical difference between GMAW and GTAW that site is the place for you.

    February 23, 2006

    Where are you sitting today?

    Mondrian added a little color to his studio to break things up a bit. In light of this recent research by Elizabeth Gould summarized by Kathy Sierra here:

    Creating Passionate Users: Brain death by dull cubicle

    it looks like a good idea. It also make me wonder what size a computer screen needs to be before it is considered "the environment". For years I've been thinking that a "desktop" should be about the size of a desktop. And then the question is whether a flat screen can ever replace the variety and challenge that a real three dimensional environment presents to the eye, mind and the body?

    I suppose the lesson for us all is to change things around when things start getting stale. Or better yet, take a break from your enviroment once in a while by taking a walk.

    March 1, 2006

    Why I'm saying nothing about Project 2007 today

    My smoke alarm decided it should remind me that its battery is low. Unfortunately due to regulations I have more than one. Another unfortunate thing is that to alert you it emits an extremely brief periodic chirp. The time between chirps is several minutes - coupled with multiple smoke detectors this means you are either lucky or you wait (there is actually a third choice - the one I took). The first chirp or two are useless in locating which smoke detector is chirping because you are asleep. Another unfortunate thing is that batteries when they get cold lose some power, thus the time when the warning occurs is going to be the coldest time - in my house that is usually around 3AM since the thermostat is programmed to reduce heat at night. Finally, smoke detectors are mounted on the ceiling, out of reach. It would be fair and balanced to say that they are the spawn of the devil.

    The end result of this is that now NONE of my smoke detectors have batteries in them. It shouldn't have to be this way. Yes, it is great that they warn you. But the warning should have some persistance so that you can find the right one easily and quickly.

    Any of you LEAN folks out there have a suggestion?

    March 20, 2006

    Mercedes 2007 S Class Review

    Can you judge a book by its cover? Well, maybe. I'm going to try.

    This weekend I got a big package from Mercedes Benz NA. Hmmm... Why are they sending me this I thought. So I opened the cardboard box. And inside was another box, but first it was necessary to break through the plastic shrink wrap surrounding it. It would not render to my dexterous fingers without a serious fight.

    Under the shrink wrap was a slipcased box. Also a very tight fit. Pulling it out caused a tear in the virgin black-flocked imitation velvet lined plastic box and a bit of styrofoam packing popped out. No worry, I got the rest of the box out in one piece. Emblazoned across the top in metallic writing were some words to the effect of "Introducing the 2007 Mercedes S Class".

    From this point my troubles were few. The flimsy plastic opened without a hitch and I was confronted with a series of slightly larger than post card images of the latest Mercedes Flagship. On the back was some glowing prose, I think. I didn't really read it. I tossed it out. Sorry Mercedes. It doesn't look like a Mercedes any more. The cheesy packaging intended to tempt me to create a vision of my own self importance surrounded by plastic luxury just doesn't do it for me.

    Maybe it was one too many lectures on deconstructivism in college, but your marketing which appears to be centered around choosing a car which implies a certain lifestyle just makes me laugh when behind the message is a mass of plastic and styrofoam. Gone is the focus on engineering and in its place is a world of things to buy which will show you are special, or at least will make you think you are special. Unfortunately, I know I'm not, so your marketing is wasted on me. Why not a postcard which says "come drive it here..."?

    How can it be true that I'm happier driving a car that you built 19 years ago than with any of your current offerings?

    August 21, 2006

    Wikipedia knows everything...

    Check it out..

    Pencil From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search

    This article is about pencils, a type of pre-historic ooze that squelched out of cracks in the protozoa of the time. It was comprised mostly of richard Gere's DNA, spliced with that of Pamela anderson. It's Chemical name, bollocksius crapola, is derived from the combined talents of the two individuals from whom the DNA was taken.

    Pencils are boring. They destroy morale and must be kept out of the reach of children. Never leave a pencil unattended. Pencils are high maintenance and explode when exposed to sunlight. Declare war on pencils. Pencils are the root of all evil.

    I disagree with the exploding in sunlight part. Actually I have a soft spot for the dastardly implements - especially the 0.9mm variety.

    January 10, 2007


    Came across this table of visualization methods and have seen quite a few I've never seen before. It is definitely worth looking at. My only concern about it is that the periodic table of the elements provides hints about how elements behave and even interact. The author of this table is apparently just using the shape of the periodic table rather than the function.

    March 13, 2007

    Space Needle


    Weather was better than expected and I got a bit of time before dinner to visit the Space Needle, or at least walk around the bottom of it. I'm hoping the good weather will continue!

    The foreground is the titanium skin of the Experience Music Project

    April 19, 2007

    The Stranger's Path

    J. B. Jackson wrote about the "Stranger's Path", the path that a newcomer to a town would take. In his age it was defined by the bus stations and train stations and the path that strangers would take from there to the town or city. In a more modern age it is the airport and the starbucks and the rental car aisle etc...

    But it is my contention, that path has become so generic that it has no meaning to people any more. It conveys little about the place you have arrived. There is little to distinguish one city from another.

    So what can you do in a new town? Walk... drive... stop along the way... take some time to see what is there down the block, and the block beyond and the block beyond that. These are are the things you can see if you take a minute to get out of the car or take a short walk.

    Click on the photos for access to a larger version.

    snoqualmie- alls-2Snoqualmie Falls-2

    snoqualmie-fallsSnoqualmie Falls

    520 Floating Bridge520 Floating Bridge

    Seattle DocksSeattle Docks

    June 4, 2007

    Build Your Own Diesel Motorcycle

    Diesel Motorcycle

    A couple of weeks back at the Maker Faire in San Mateo I ran across this home-build diesel motorcycle. It integrates a BMW automotive diesel engine (BMW 320D - 1995cc 4 cylinder turbo diesel rated at163 hp 251 ftlbs torque) and suspension from a BMW (paralever front end, etc.) It was built for an attempt at the diesel motorcycle land speed record later this year. The current record is somewhere around 105MPH. It would surprise me if it didn't smash that record, but who knows? I think I would have gone for a VW TDI motor instead - being lighter and likely smaller, but I guess it does make some sense to go all BMW especially if you are looking for sponsors.

    You probably can't make it out unless you look at the bigger photo (click for big diesel motorcycle) but it is powered by biodiesel.

    More about the motorcycle and its creators here:

    June 25, 2007

    Error Error in Windows Vista


    I got this error message today using Windows Vista. It is a new one to me. I'm wondering if there is an error report for errors in error reports. After tomorrow I'm back on WinXP and am looking forward to it. It is probably a case of "the devil you know" more than anything, but my Vista experience has been less than "WOW!"

    In a way, the ultimate OS is one which is invisible. Vista is far from that. WinXP was much more understated and hasn't really let me down so I see no need for gratuitous change. Sometimes, as Mies said, "Less is More".

    August 3, 2007

    Coming Home

    Moving Walkway San Francisco Airport

    One thing I like about airports is moving walks. This one is in the connection between the International Terminal and the International Parking Garage at SFO. It is the last of the airport that I see when coming home.

    June 16, 2008

    Long Now Orrery

    Everybody leaves off Pluto. This eight foot tall model of the solar system is part of the Long Now project which started around the idea that people think and act in timeframes which are very short. This orrery and a clock are designed around a 10,000 year life span in order to start people thinking about the long term.

    However the object itself I find to be a bit of a tech fetish item, a modern worship of metallurgy and craftsmanship that bears a definite 2nd Millenium stamp.

    Details about it can be found here and if you are ever in Fort Mason along San Francisco's waterfront you can drop in and see it put into action by one of the curators.

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