October 28th, 2015

I can't quite make up my mind whether Ulo is a good idea or not.

Ulo is a cute surveillance camera, a pet owl interacting with you through eye expressions.

Cute, for sure. I just worry that the more we let designers encourage us to interact in a playful way with our technology, the more stressful it'll get as we frantically try to remember whether the fake owl in the corner winking at us is telling us that the WiFi is down or warning us that a mad axeman is walking up to our front door.

One more thing: the Kickstarter page notes that because Ulu can be operated via a web page it's compatible with various operating systems, including Linux. I really hope that if they make their Kickstarter goal and go into production the makers offer a special edition of Ulo as Tux.

[Via swissmiss]

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Alternative reward: 35,000 words about seasickness.

August 1st, 2015

A Kickstarter for your consideration: Maciej Ceglowski is soliciting donations to take a 36-day voyage to the Ross Ice Shelf, Bay of Whales and subantarctic islands, and write it up real good.

I propose to take a 36-day voyage to the Ross Sea in Antarctica in February, 2016 and write a series of articles about the journey. For the past 13 years, I have written a popular-ish weblog at idlewords.com, and I know some of you have read and enjoyed my posts. Don't try to deny it.

In the past I have traveled to, and written about: Yemen, Argentina, China, Poland, Iceland, Australia, Romania, Transnistria(!) and the mysterious land we know only as "Canada". I've done so on my own dime, and writing about it has been part of the fun of traveling for me.

This trip is a little different, in that visiting Antarctica costs a small fortune. So I am here, hat in hand, asking for help to make the journey in return for a promise to write some really interesting and engaging prose about it in return.

The trip I have in mind is a 36-day organized sea cruise on a Russian icebreaker to the Ross Ice Shelf and Bay of Whales, with stops along the way at Australian and American bases (including McMurdo sound) and numerous subantarctic islands. A detailed itinerary appears below.

Most Antarctic tourism is limited to voyages along the Antarctic Penninsula lasting just a few days. Only about 350 tourists a year visit the Ross Sea, an area of immense historical and natural interest reachable only from New Zealand.

I've written extensively about Antarctica before (a serious example at http://idlewords.com/2010/03/scott_and_scurvy.htm, a funny example at http://idlewords.com/2006/03/ruling_antarctica.htm). If those posts appeal to you, I think you'll be in for a treat if I manage to actually see the place firsthand.

In particular, I'd like to write about the Ross Ice Shelf (in connection with climate change), the curious German and Italian bases on our route, penguins and migratory birds (who doesn't love penguins?), whatever secrets I glean from the 25-member Russian crew, Polynesian history in the godforsaken cold sub-antarctic islands, the fight to eradicate rats and rabbits from these places before they can eat all the birds, and probably (if past Antarctic writing is any indicator) 49,000 words about ice.

In concrete terms, I pledge to write at least seven substantive articles, totalling at least 35,000 words, by May of 2016. People who pony up at least $11 will get this in a nicely formatted downloadable form, along with a podcast version (mp3 files) for listening to on the go. […]

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App: The Human Story

July 1st, 2014

App: The Human Story is seeking funding via Kickstarter:

App creation has become the new art form for our generation. This is the story of the cultural phenomenon that touches all our lives. […]

I've backed it, even though I'm slightly wary of the possibility that the whole thing could turn into a happy-clappy paean to the wonderful world Steve Jobs gifted to us all with the release of iOS 2.0 back in 2008. I'm hoping that impression is just the effect of their cramming so many brief interview snippets into their teaser; in the full film, with more space to expand on their subject, here's hoping we'll get a more nuanced prespective on the story so far. We'll see.

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Sunset, Sunrise…

May 7th, 2014

Well, that's a surprise: Andy Baio has launched a Kickstarter project for The Return of Upcoming.org

[Via Waxy.org]

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99% Invisible: Season 4

October 26th, 2013

The 99% Invisible podcast have launched a Kickstarter project aimed at turning the show's fourth season into a weekly show.

Whether or not you're inclined to support the Kickstarter, the show is well worth a listen.

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October 6th, 2013

Nevermore by Stuart Gordon looks worth throwing a few dollars towards:

Master Horror director Stuart Gordon, brilliant actor Jeffrey Combs and inspired screenwriter Dennis Paoli – the team that brought you From Beyond and Re-Animator – team up again to bring you a brand new feature film – NEVERMORE

The incredible Jeffrey Combs stars as Edgar Allan Poe, haunted by spirits of the dead and the imp of the perverse as he attempts one last recitation of The Raven to save himself from a life of crushing poverty and soul destroying alcoholism. […]

In a just world, Jeffrey Combs would be as well known to the non-geek public as Bruce Campbell.

[Via The Dissolve]

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WildHelp App

August 26th, 2013

The WildHelp App is a really nice idea:

Every day, people encounter wild animals in need of help. Animals are found sick, injured, displaced, trapped, entangled, and in serious trouble, but, the task of finding help can be arduous.

Too often, finders must make multiple phone calls, using critical minutes, even hours, in search of the right person or organization that can help.

Delays in finding qualified help is one of the greatest, most pervasive issues faced by wildlife casualties and the people who find them.

There is a missing link. WildHelp is the missing link.

The WildHelp mobile application will streamline the reporting process, expediting aid to wild animals in need and the people who find them, helping save thousands of lives every year!

[Via Chuq Von Rospach]

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The Problem of the Amanda Palmer Problem

April 29th, 2013

Nitsu Abebe has written a thoughtful piece on The Amanda Palmer Problem. By which he means not so much the various issues some people have with Palmer's own actions1 but the wider problem of how artists seeking support from fans can bring down such vitriol upon themselves online:

I think there's a lesson to be learned from Palmer, and it's not the falling-into-the-crowd lesson she offers. Yes, she's correct: The web offers an opportunity to fall into the open arms of fans, in ways that weren't available before. Here's the catch: The web also makes it near-impossible to fall into the arms of just one's fans. Each time you dive into the crowd, some portion of the audience before you consists of observers with no interest in catching you. And you are still asking them to, because another thing the web has done is erode the ability to put something into the world that is directed only at interested parties.

This sort of furore is only going to get bigger and noisier as the example of the The Veronica Mars Movie Project is followed by the likes of Zach Braff and more and more recognisable names show up on the front page of Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

[Via Waxy.org links]

  1. i.e. using Kickstarter to raise more than US$1 million to fund an album, then inviting fans to donate their services as musicians on her tour. Then defending herself against criticism of both moves in part by emphasising that fans being given the chance to play with her were gaining non-monetary benefits from the exchange, i.e. the chance to accompany their idol.

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The Lightning Foundry

November 9th, 2011

Greg Leyh's The Lightning Foundry Kickstarter project proposal:

The Lightning Foundry is a project to re-create super-long discharge effects normally found only in lightning. Two 10-story Tesla Coil towers will fill an area the size of a football field with lightning-like discharges hundreds of feet in length. If we trigger super-long discharge effects the arcs could strike considerably further.

That's Two Ten Storey Tesla Coil Towers! How can I not throw US$10 his way?

[Via jwz]

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