1. Space Shuttle Crew Operation Manual

    The Space Shuttle Crew Operations Manual is available to anyone who wants to read. With the shuttle program retiring it you made need it if you are lucky to beat Space Center Houston, Seattle Museum, or numerous states vying for the Space Shuttle you might need this. Some of the pages are beautiful and you can download the PDF (41.2mb) or look at some samples below. It’s not the most interesting read at hundreds of pages, but some of the diagrams are beautiful.

    Space Shuttle Crew Operation Manual PDF

  2. Nomad/Filmmaker Bill Brown

    Bill Brown is the sort of guy we all wanted to be in film school.  Traveling incessantly, chronicling the ride with a trusty Bolex and a rolling narration that chronicles the corners, the details, the little things and carefully arranges them into constellations to invoke The Big Cosmic Everything.  He makes zines, fills his website with vignettes from Detroit, Lubbuck, Texas and California City, California.  Rust, decay, space, dust, emotion, travel.

    May I recommend his compilation DVD The Next Best Place?  A better 25 dollars you are not likely to spend with an education on Spring-Heeled Jack, nuclear missiles, the Roswell crash and the little joys of being in motion in North America.

  3. 1-Bit Symphony: Jewel Case as Orchestra

    Tristan Perich is releasing a live performance that creates itself within the confines of a CD jewel case.

    Though housed in a CD jewel case like his first circuit album (1-Bit Music 2004-05), 1-Bit Symphony is not a recording in the traditional sense; it literally “performs” its music live when turned on. A complete electronic circuit—programmed by the artist and assembled by hand—plays the music through a headphone jack mounted into the case itself.

    Reminds me of of the Loud Objects Noise Toy, albeit in somewhat more elegant packaging¹.  It’s available on pre-order for $29.  Would love a kit or an Instructable to make my own.

    Saw this over at notcot.

    ¹Edit: That’d likely be because Tristan Perich is a member of Loud Objects.  How foolish am I?

  4. See Who’s Looking at Your Cat Pictures: Gmail Account Activity Minder

    Alright, I’ll admit it, I’m paranoid.  Too many loud noises, too many sneak attacks when I was a kid walking home from school, whatever the reason, there’s always a bit of that itchy little feeling that someone’s out to get me.  Having the default old-school nerdy interests in conspiracy theories and cyber security doesn’t help the matter either.  Thanks Slashdot.

    Ahh but where I itch, Google has the salve!  I had no idea until today that Gmail has a neat little feature that shows you recent activity on your account.  IP, location, type, time.   Just the sort of thing a guy needs to quiet the concerns that my parents have been feigning internet-ineptitude and have been monitoring the extreme levels of cussing fund in a typical email exchange.

    Just look down at the very bottom and click on the ‘Details’ link after the account activity line.  Like so:

    Found out about this from a guy who’s having some trouble with mysterious intruders in his Gmail…

  5. Rewire the Postal Service: Innovate or Die

    postal address tag sticker

    Today’s postal service has a reputation for being slow and hopelessly stuck in the old ways. The term “snail mail” doesn’t sound much like a product that Google would be rolling out anytime soon.

    But it hasn’t always been this way:

    The U.S. Postal Service has a long history of exploiting technology to offer alternate means of message transmission. At it’s inception, part of the Postal Department’s mandate was the construction of a network of post roads for mail to travel along, infrastructure with obvious secondary benefits for the young nation. From there, mail traveled by pony express, railroad and steamship, surmounting the technical problems to keep communication on pace with the country’s expansion. Soon after the development of powered flight, the USPS innovated again by delivering mail by plane.

    Time and time again, circumstances have driven innovation,

    Between 1942 and 1945, “V-Mail” (for “Victory Mail”) service was available for military mail. Letters were converted into microfilm and reprinted near the destination, to save room on transport vehicles for military cargo.[35]

    From 1982 to 1985, Electronic Computer Originated Mail was accepted for bulk mailings. Text was transmitted electronically to one of 25 post offices nationwide. The Postal Service would print the mail, and put it in special envelopes bearing a blue ECOM logo. Delivery was assured within 2 days.[36]

    So what happened? Why did the postal service suddenly run out of ideas? Did they sit back in a daze while the world changed or were they so harried and battered that there was no time or funds for innovation?

    Here’s how I’d reinvent snail mail:

    Today’s users have a dangerously low threshhold for hassle. Physically writing addresses and finding a stamp and writing a return address… too many steps. The USPS needs to design a cheap, dead-simple postage printer and give it away for free.

    (Stamps.com, you say?  No, that’s too expensive and only does one thing.  A step forward but only for businesses.)

    Make the top surface a digital scale. Add smoothly operating software that syncs up with any list of contacts and spits out a standardized sticker with address and postage. When it runs low on stickers or ink, it asks to dial home and order more, debited from your account. The same account gets dinged for a few cents if a letter hits the processing system and comes up “Postage Due” for a malfunctioning scale or an awkward shape.

    Aside: Then there’s the secondary effect of having a sticker printer attached to every computer: Stickering goes mainstream. And no, nothing boring like putting your name on everything, real-life is now something everyone comments on. Public space is now public conversation, advertising posters are not a monologue but just the first voice in a conversation. The barrier to entry lowers, tech enables quality improvements, thus providing a more diverse group of voices, ie: people with something more interesting to say than drawings of penises or the letters BNE. /aside

    Pair the printer up with free desktop publishing software that prints and addresses envelopes for any size letter. Market the whole package based on the lure of the physical in a digital world. WE HUMANS STILL LIKE TO TOUCH AND OWN THINGS. We just need to be reminded of that and given neat, easy ways to do so. Give us templates and let us make and share templates. Get HP, Lexmark and Epson to bankroll it but don’t let them touch the software, we want something that actually works.

    Image derived from work by Blake Unger Dvorchik.

  6. Uncovered: The Plot Against Lucky the Leprechaun

    Do you remember, friend, that magical time back when the internet was entirely porn, plagiarized term papers, and totally useless bullshit?  Oh how I miss it.  (I would seriously subscribe to a 1996 version of the internet if someone would roll that out.  It’d be what, 500 megs total?)

    Topher’s Breakfast Cereal Character Guide is keeping that flame alive, serving as a vital repository for such ephemera as the tale of how General Mills once tried to put the hit out on Lucky the Leprechaun, esteemed pitchman for that barely-a-cereal Lucky Charms:

    General Mills attempted to replace L. C. Leprechaun in the mid-1970’s. Waldo the Wizard, a man in a green wizard’s cap and gown (and black sneakers on his feet), appeared on boxes in 1975. “Ibbledebibble delicicious”. Waldo was created by Alan Snedeker, and designed by Phil Mendez. It was a test to find a replacement for the leprechaun. Officially, Waldo proved to be less popular than “Lucky” and magically disappeared from boxes one year later.

    For a whole year Lucky the Leprechaun was out of the public eye, probably chained to some radiator in the General Mills HQ being interrogated as to the whereabouts of various marshmallow precious stones.  Can you imagine what this universe would be like if those nefarious plans went through?  I’m no quantum physicist and I’ve never seen The Butterfly Effect but here goes: no more puffins, laser guided herpes and President Christian Slater.

    Other mind-blowing secrets from the land of cereal advocacy:

    If whatever you are doing has any utility whatsoever, stop it and blow two hours reading about cereal mascots.  It’s the only humane thing to do.

    Image from the equally indispensable Cereal Bits Cereal Box Archive.

  7. Public Service Announcement: Bedbug Registry dot Com

    Let me break character here for a second and bitch about my life like it was Facebook and you cared.  If we’ve seemed a little sporadic and uneven in the last few weeks, that’d be due to the moving of TITLE HQ and all the hassles that presents.  Landlords are funny people, eh?  Just as a public service announcement, I now offer the following pieces of advice:

    1. Get it on paper, get everything on paper.  Don’t agree to anything that can’t be put into writing.
    2. Document pre-existing damages.
    3. Check up on your landlord.  Google is your weapon.  A good site to look for anything creepy-crawly in the past (and landlord reaction) is Bedbug Registry.  Spread the word on that one far and wide.