Category Archives: Random Comments

Car Tech Live 190: Driving the brawny, techie 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 (podcast)

Mercedes beats Ford to Pandora streaming, OnStar wants to make its service free (sort of), a smart
car seat for kids, and we take a run in the 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8.

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Mercedes in the hunt for in-car Pandora streaming

Microsoft updates automotive version of Windows

Smart car seat: Can’t you just do this yourself?

Electronically darkening glass roof coming to the Mercedes SLK

CNET drives the 2010 Challenger SRT8


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Alphabetical Seating: Set of 26 Letter-Shaped Kids’ Chairs

While neat in theory, and fascinating in practice, some letters look to be a bit more comfortable than others – the A has nice back and angled form, the B is as basic a chair as it can bee, and the C makes for a simple curved stool. Even X, Y and Z are surprisingly functional, but some parts of the alphabet in between, well, they might be the last designs picked in class by discerning children.

Alphabet Seats

Dutch designer Roeland Otten made these concept pieces with kids in mind – a way to fundamentally integrate literacy into the physical furniture, a sort of subliminal and supplemental curriculum. The S and T, though, look like they would hurt any back pressed against them for long periods while other letters (like the P) seem too forced into their role. And is there not a risk of the ‘cool kids’ monopolizing the most prized chairs coveted by their classmates?

Perhaps another strategy would have been to let awkward letter shapes become the basis for other pieces of furniture. The set of all-black, glossy chairs is nice, but a few side tables, work desks and so forth would seem a good way to fit in the alphabetic odds and ends left over when the ideal chair candidates were exhausted.

Alphabet Seats 2

Also, why the mix of capital and small letters? Seems like smalls might have been better all around. Finally, while these look great in black on a blank white backdrop, some color might help them stand out in a more colorful kids room or classroom space. Regardless, here are 10 other related designs if you are at least sold on the idea of physical real-life fonts.


Another One Of My Houses: Moving In Soon

Modern House Skrhak

You should have no trouble seeing the forest through the trees while standing anywhere inside or outside this stunning home. The residence is less of a house and more of an all-in-one exterior experience, flowing with green roofs, outdoor patios, expansive decks and a seamless clear-sided swimming pool (though one could wish it were deep enough to dive into from the rooftop above).

A central green courtyard brings life to even the innermost spaces of the dwelling, with plants overhanging from its walls above and trees sprouting up from the divided grass-or-gravel ground below. It might not be surprising but: these same designers have a history planning resorts and multi-family vacation destinations, experience which has clearly informed this single-family house.

A series of rough-cut rectangular stone pillars serve to establish a border fence that is at once semi-transparent and secure, with slots that allow for limit views between each vertical post. For the garage doors and entry gates, sticks of bamboo fill gaps between rocks.

Modern House Skrhak 3

A second-floor terrace surrounds a cozy lofted set of lounge and bedroom spaces, likewise covered in colorful organic growth that doubles as a privacy divider and light filter.

Semi-exterior zones are covered by spaced-out wooden slats that provide shade but offer no rain protection, while more-interior transitional areas in the plan have sealed solid-wood ceilings.

Modern House Skrhak2

In the basement living room area, a built-in bench provides a cushioned viewed through wall-to-wall glass of the bubbling waters of the swimming pool outside, giving even this underground space a relevant connection to the outdoors. These images shot by Patrick Bingham Hall bring this design by Guz Architects alive, but no number perfect perspective photos could do such a series of spaces justice.


Floating City?! Futurist Ocean Frontiers & High-Seas Homes

In a world where almost every square inch of (non-freezing) land seems occupied, it is no wonder that our imaginations take us to the high seas when we think of adventure, freedom and new frontiers. The floating ‘Lilypad‘ concept above envisions a series of entire mobile, self-sufficient and off-the-grid ocean cities, but you do not have to look into the far future to see amazing artificial architecture for living on the water.

Sea Forts

From former military stations to over-sized oil platforms, there are already many fully-oceanic structures sitting far from land and anchored into the Earth far below the waves. One of the classic examples is these sea fort towers off the coast of Britain that were deserted after being used to fend off air raids in world war too – and which have since been stripped of bridges but still used in a variety of creative ways both residential and commercial in nature.

The Seasteading Institute has been involved in engaging architects and amateur designers alike in conceptualizing water-based homes – both fixed-in-place and free-floating-  that range from houseboat-sized ideas to whole mini-cities.

Sea Forts

So what is the future of floating urban life? It is hard to say. There is no shortage of interesting ideas for developing water-top real estate, but cost is of course prohibitive in many cases. However, as more and more oil platforms go abandoned – each of which could arguably hold up to hundreds of attached condos and residences of various kinds – there might be a new urbanism that arises out of the depths of our world’s oceans.


Creepy Robot: The Telenoid R1

Creepy Robot Skrhak

Sure, creating freakish humanoid clones is Hiroshi Ishiguro’s primary hobby, but his latest work takes a couple steps outside the Uncanny Valley. The Telenoid R1 telepresence robot trades extremities for an androgynous doll-like body, which researchers at Osaka University and ATR describe as “soft and pleasant” but strikes us as something we’d see crawling out of the depths of hell on stump-like arms. (Perhaps Ishiguro was going for Casper the Friendly Ghost.) The $35,000 prototype transmits both the voice and head motions of a remote operator, allowing dutiful Japanese individuals to visit their elders via internet-equipped PCs, and a final version will actually go on sale later this year for around $8,000 should said elders agree with the latest in puffy white design.


Dell Mini 3v

Dell Mini 3vDell’s got one for you — the folks over at Chinese mobile regulator TENAA have once again prematurely outed another handset from said computer giant. As usual, there’s no mention on the screen size, screen type or even the OS.  The photos also reveal a 5 megapixel camera with flash, along with a possible front-facing camera. This may sound like a promising package, but you won’t be able to make full use of this phone outside China: there’s WAPI instead of WiFi, along with a TV functionality that we assume to be the China-exclusive CMMB digital TV.