Improvised Life » technology If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Sat, 28 Mar 2015 06:27:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Vibrating Bed Fix: Fight Vibration with Vibration and/or Custom Sound Wed, 28 Jan 2015 22:45:26 +0000

Sally Schneider

My latest experiment to temper the mysterious vibration that shakes me awake each night came from a random conversation with a stranger. When I told him of my dilemma, he suggested applying a vibration directly to the bed that would effectively neutralize the irritating one. “Place a speaker’s bass subwoofer right against the bed frame and see if you can find a frequency that will counteract the one that bothers you.” He was suggesting a primitive version of an expensive device I’d read about in rather esoteric acoustical sites: a mass-tuned damper. It had a certain logic. WHY NOT TRY IT? (more…)

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A Vexing Problem Yields Unexpected Gifts: Wondrous Images of Vibrations Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:47:43 +0000


Since we first wrote about the mysterious mechanical vibration that shakes us awake at night, we’ve tried endless fixes to no avail and at times, have despaired of finding a solution. But amidst this difficulty have come many unexpected gifts, in the form of strangers reaching out to help, and research leading to rich layers of information about sound, acoustics and materials, and seeing our own tenaciousness in the face of a problem.

The latest gift came as we were following more trails about how frequencies work, having learned the specific freqencies of our vexing vibrations. We stumbled on a trove of startlingly beautiful images of vibrations (more…)

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Ikea’s Knockout Video on the Power of a Book Mon, 08 Sep 2014 22:03:08 +0000

(Video link here.) Ikea’s creative team is rivaling Apple’s…AND using Apple’s classic myth-making approach to its latest technology to describe the…power…of…a…BOOK.  This brilliant ad for IKea’s 2015 catalogue lays out just why REAL books are so wonderful.

With thanks to Susan Dworski for making sure we watched a video we’d ignored!

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Cheap, Portable Lightweight Laptop Stand (Kickstarter) Wed, 28 May 2014 20:00:26 +0000

(Video link HERE.) When we first saw this cardboard laptop stand by Icelandic Designer Sruli Recht of Foald Studio, we thought: Who needs that? We can just rig a stack of books to raise our laptop. Then we saw it in action and thought of all the places it would be useful. (more…)

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Sharing Excerpts of Books via Text Message Mon, 05 May 2014 08:41:41 +0000

Sally Schneider

The other day, a friend texted smartphone snapshots from a book she was reading: whole pages, with passages she found illuminating marked in pencil. She regularly exchanges excerpts of readings like this with a group of friends.

We read the passages while waiting for a bus, the perfect little mind shift and reflection. It’s one of the best uses for SMS messaging we’ve seen, as though our friend was putting the book into our hands or reading the paragraph directly to us.  (more…)

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Lady Gaga’s Flying Dress Mon, 28 Apr 2014 23:00:45 +0000

We confess to not paying much attention to Lady Gaga (is it our age, or just interest?). But we are charmed, smitten and amazed at the crazy-wondrous flying dress she had commissioned. This video about it offers a compelling overview of clear possibilities in the realm of personal travel. Will we soon each be able to have “a personal aerial vehicle with style….”, to leap, fly or just glide?

via Dezeen

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Light Bulb Strategies: Halogen, LED, Newcandescents, More Wed, 08 Jan 2014 19:27:15 +0000

For our money, one of the easiest ways to transform a problematic space is with good lighting. Many of the spaces we have consulted on suffered terribly —as have their inhabitants— from dim, murky lighting. This is largely due to the pressure to move to energy-saving lighting such as CFL and LED’s, many of which cast a cold, “dirty”, low-wattage light akin to a slumlords 15-watt hallways. We’ve discovered that many people don’t realize that lighting is the reason for a room being unpleasant to be in, and if they do, they’re not sure what to do about it.

Now that manufacture of the classic warmly glowing incandescent bulb has been banned, the question “what to do?” is even more pressing. (more…)

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Make or See Art on the Moon via Ai WeiWei + Olafur Eliasson Thu, 05 Dec 2013 09:42:05 +0000

It took us abandoning Safari and loading Firefox. iPads won’t run it altogether. But it is worth getting yourself to Ai Weiwei and Olafur Eliasson’s wondrous website Moon. At first you see a shimmering globe, then the sign, above, which distills in one fell swoop everything we believe and love:  Ideas, wind, and air no one can stop. (more…)

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skype is a tool for learning, helping, teaching, connecting Mon, 02 Dec 2013 09:40:18 +0000 As we compile many innovative uses for Skype and FaceTime, we realize how "virtual" really CAN allow us to "be there".]]> 2 realm of possibility: custom digitallly-printed wall coverings Mon, 09 Sep 2013 21:31:20 +0000 HP digitally printed wallcovering

Having had a mother who was obsessed with busy, French-provinical wallpaper, I’ve always steered clear from any semblance of a wall covering. Until, that is, companies like HP devised a latex printer that will digitally print your own designs to make cool wall-coverings.

A number of companies will help you do this…like New Era4wallsFlavorPaper. Apparently, the HP Latex Printing Technologies allow you to print on a huge array of materials like non-woven wallpaper, paper, self-adhesive vinyl, PVC-free media, coated substrates, uncoated substrates, embossed media, and textiles.

Lot’s of possibilities there…(The key is a digital file with high enough resolution to blow up BIG.) I’m thinking of that fab ball-point pen wallpaper designed by alissia melka-teichroew that we blogged ages ago, which has haunted me ever since.  (more…)

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the first apple computer: great ideas start rough! Mon, 24 Jun 2013 08:22:43 +0000 apple-1 first apple computer

Dig this picture of the original apple computer, now known as the apple-1, designed and hand-built in 1976 by Steve Wozniak in Steve Job‘s garage. It’s one of a number of “primitive” early computers that Christie’s will auction in ‘First Bytes: Iconic Technology From the Twentieth Century’. It represents the very first step in Apple’s quite amazing history of personal computinga reminder that first iterations are often ROUGH as they forshadow possibilities to come.

The great Gary Snyder observed that ‘personal computers feel like sentient beings’ (more…)

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refresh with zef: dazzling, relaxing color doodling site Wed, 13 Mar 2013 16:38:47 +0000 color play

Zef, a wonderful endlessly-improvisable color doodling program by Patakk, gif-maker extraordinaire, sent us on an unexprected psychedelic journey and we found ourselves curiously refreshed.

Just go to the blank page, move your cursor, and see where it takes you…. (more…)

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good idea: an ipad on a fridge door Mon, 14 Jan 2013 18:25:49 +0000

fridge + duct tape + tablet-or-phone….

A strangely swell idea, low on style (though it sure beats those ugly water dispensers.)

It reminded us of the great video Jesse Rosten made showing how-to secure an ipad to just about anything using velcro, possibly a slightly more elegant and practical solution to the one above.

We could see devising a hybrid using Tom Sachs’ plywood clad fridge idea, or the spray-painted fridge in this Marseille Penthouse, playing loops of suprising visuals…


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unexpectedly cool, relaxing visual digital ‘toys’ Fri, 07 Dec 2012 09:12:46 +0000

This swell little visual toy by Koalas to the Max came via Michael Warren of  Mike and Molly’s House. If you scroll your pointer over the image above, you’ll set it in motion. Being an ardently curious soul, Michael checked out its source code and made an interesting discovery:

It turns out it’s built with a javascript library called D3. As far as I can tell it’s a library that uses data to render graphics in a compu-magical sort of way. I guess the original intent was to help make charts, visualizations and other forms of information graphing.

There are a bunch of examples of things people have done with it here. Some interesting stuff and pretty experimental.  I didn’t look at them all but check out “OMG Particles” and “Square Circle Spiral Illusion“. They are pretty neat. 

Really neat! We love that what started as a code to make charts turned into code to make (more…)

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