Goldieblox, Beastie Boys, and the copyright quagmire
Chances are that somewhere in your recent internet travels you came across a music video promoting Goldieblox that used the Beastie Boys song Girls. It’s a clever video, for what I think is a really good product. Goldieblox is in the business of making educational toys targeted at young girls. “Building games for girls to inspire future engineers.” is how they put it. If the story ended there, it would probably already be gone. Good product, fun video, what’s next? The internet rarely dawdles. But it really didn’t end there.
The whole thing has erupted into a genuine kerfuffle, all of which is exacerbated by the fact that the Beastie Boys have a long standing policy of not allowing any of their music to be used in advertising. Did the Beastie Boys sue Goldieblox? Or did Goldieblox sue the Beastie Boys? The whole thing really boils to the murky waters of copyright and fair use. There are no actual hard and fast rules. There’s no math. You can’t point to one thing – like the fact that the lyrics in the Goldieblox version could be taken as a commentary on the original song – and say ‘Ha! That makes it fair use.’ Fair use will have to be determined by a court. And if you are curious about how that might play out, Andy Baio has a fantastic post on the whole thing at waxy.org.
All The Doctors!
Over the weekend the BBC celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who with the latest special, The Day Of The Doctor. There was a lot to like about it, and I thought this bit from the closing credits, listing all of the actors that have played The Doctor, was an especially nice touch. It prompted me to do the quick math and decide on my own personal ranking of the various Doctors. It looks like this.
9 – 2 – 10 – 4 – 0 – 5 – 11 – 3 – 7 – 1 – 6 – 8
I would also add that the fact that The Moment chose Rose for its interface is irrefutable proof that Rose is, in fact, the best companion ever. But if you get me headed down that particular rabbit hole, the ranting may never end. As a final note, along with the new special there was a new TV movie called An Adventure In Space And Time. It tells the story of the creation of the show and it is fantastic. Be sure to check the BBC Doctor Who site for lots of fun background bits to the whole thing.
Volkswagen and the 500 HP Golf
Concept cars are awesome. Sure, more often than not, they rarely come to fruition in any form remotely resembling what they originally pointed to. But it is still fun to look at the future that will never be and try and glean the bits that will survive. This VW experiment is another of those. You are looking at the Volkswagen Design Vision GTI concept. It was on display at this year’s Worthersee VW event, and it is completely crazy.
After taking design cues from various GTIs of the past, the body has been stretched, squashed, and widened into this fully modern form that still appears to obviously be a GTI. That’s no small feat. But the outside is just the beginning. The concept GTI is powered by a twin-turbo VR6 TSI engine that makes 503 HP and 413 lb/ft of torque. That all runs through a DSG dual-clutch transmission and the power eventually ends up at all four wheels. Top Gear has a good write-up on the car with more details.
DIY Macro Snowflake Photography
These macro shots of snowflakes are amazing. They are the work of Russian photographer Alexey Kljatov. Part of the fascination for me is that we’ve all heard the old adage that no two snowflakes are alike, but we rarely see the crazy forms that the saying comes from. And crazy is a good way to put it. I had an idea in my head about what snowflakes look like up close, and some of them actually fit. But some of them are completely out of the realm of what I had even considered. I’ve added two here, but you should definitely head over to Kljatov’s flickr site to see them all.
As if that wasn’t enough, this story gets better. Kljatov also has a post on his blog showing off the system that he uses to capture the images. There are no fancy high end cameras and big dollar lenses at work here. These amazing shots are made using a point-and-shoot camera, an old lens, a piece of wood, and duct tape. It’s a brilliant bit of DIY ingenuity. Have a look at it here, and read a detailed description on the blog.
Winamp. It really whipped the llama’s ass.
Yes, whipped. As in past tense. It has been announced that Winamp will be shutting down next month. You have until Dec 20th to download the software and then it will be gone forever. Maybe. There is a groundswell of support for releasing the program as open source on the Winamp forum. But barring that, for a lot of us this would seem to be the end of the line for one of the building blocks of our internet/computing history. If you are in the mood for a bit of a trip down memory lane, The Verge has a post collecting classic Winamp skins. And on a happier note, it seems that mIRC is still alive and well. Go figure!
Which New Doctor Who Companion Are You?
We are now just days away from the BBC’s big international simulcast of “The Day Of The Doctor“. In case you don’t count yourself a Whovian, and haven’t had that on your calendar for months, that is a special event episode of Doctor Who to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the show. It’s such a big deal that it will be shown all over the world at the same time. So, with that in mind, here’s a little bit of internet shenanigans to start your Wednesday. BuzzFeed has an online quiz that will reveal which of the new Doctor Who companions you are most like. As you can see above, I got Rose.
Football As Football
What would NFL team logos look like if they were European soccer teams? That is the simple, and brilliant, idea behind footballasfootball.com. A team of designers in Minneapolis has tackled the problem, and the results are pretty fantastic. As of now, the NFL teams have been divided up and re-imagined as German, Italian, English, and Spanish crests. Eventually, each team will have a crest in each style. Above, you see the representation of what is sure to be a Monday Night Football classic, the December 2nd showdown between the Seahawks and Saints.
Back To Mars with MAVEN
NASA is headed baack to Mars with MAVEN, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission. In a nutshell, MAVEN will place a satellite in elliptical orbit around the planet. That data will be used to determine the role that the loss of volatile compounds (carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, water) has played through time. Essentially, a look at the history of the Mars atmosphere and climate, which should give insight into the possibilities of habitability. To put it even simpler, we know there was water on Mars, where did it go? If you are curious to know more about the mission, The Verge has a great write-up on it.
Espresso Book Machines
Here’s a clever bit of tech. The Espresso Book Machine is able to print you a copy of one of several million different titles in just a few minutes, bound, with a color cover. Made by On Demand Books, the device has been around for some time, but I just happened across it in a news release from Bartell Drugs. Bartell is combining the Espresso with Kodak’s Picture Kiosks for a one stop shop that will give customers access to the Kodak photo books and the complete On Demand Books library.
It really is a brilliant piece of tech, as it simplifies the entire book process. There is no shipping… no inventory… no pulping of unsold books… and it opens up the market for self-published authors in a way similar to what we have seen with things like Amazon’s Kindle store.
3D printing a gun
A ‘printed’ gun is what has grabbed the headlines as this story has started rolling around the internet, but for me that’s just a detail, and certainly not the big story. I suppose it speaks to the current political climate where guns are concerned that this has become the big part of the story. It really shouldn’t be the focus. The gun is interesting for what it says about the technology, not because it is a gun.
3D printing is the future. And this 3D printed gun from Solid Concepts gives the latest shining example of why that is. The 3D printers that are available to consumers currently are interesting. They’re fun, and hint at great things to come. But this… this is amazing. The fact that Solid Concepts made this gun, and fired multiple rounds through it safely, is huge. It would be one thing to make a custom clutch lever for a motorcycle, or some such. But that is just going to have to withstand a few pounds of force in use. The 3D gun withstands 20,000 psi with every shot. That is remarkable.
The important thing to take away from this story is learning about the technology of Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS). This is the technology that takes us another step closer to the science fiction future of clicking a button on a console and having a finished product come out of the wall. Here’s a look at the Solid Concepts gun in action.