Blog posts

  • If you pack in enough power, you could get Tower Bridge off the ground

    Say what you will about the former Soviet bloc, they certainly knew how to make aircraft that would last. Pat Malone quite clearly had the time of his life sitting in the co-pilot's seat:

    HA-MKF is owned by James Black, who has wanted an An-2 since he first experienced the inside of one while flying in the World Aerobatics Championships in Russia before the Wall came down. A Polish-built late model, KF differs little from the 1946 original - the aircraft was never really developed during its long production run. The instruments and systems were adequate in the Paleolithic era, when Russian pilots apparently had the three arms you need to start her up and the gorilla muscles required to motor her around, and they still do the job today.

    The Annie is where aeronautical engineering meets blacksmithing; she was designed to be maintained by farm boys in the Siberian wastes, and all they needed were big spanners. She can suck up her own fuel from a connector under the belly, where there's also a compressed air take-off for inflating the tyres. What tyre pressure is required? Consult the manual, and do you know what it says? "Inflate until round."

    [Via MetaFilter]

  • Alarming

    Judging by this report Microsoft's latest brilliant plan to claw back some market share in the mobile phone space seems to be based around provoking people into smashing their Android phones with this new alarm app:

    Mimicker Alarm does the normal alarm thing of waking you up, but it then expects you to play a game. Instead of dashing to the restroom and getting ready for work, Microsoft's Android alarm app wants you to take a selfie with a particular emotion, find an object that matches a color, or repeat a phrase like "how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" […]

    Once you dismiss an alarm you have 30 seconds to complete the game. "If you don't complete that game in time, we assume you've fallen back asleep and then the alarm will start ringing again," says Allison Light, a program manager for Microsoft's Project Oxford team.

    I wonder if the inevitable iOS version will make it past the App Store's review process.

  • A Flag for No Nations

    James Bridle joins the dots, describing a connection 1 between the plight of the newly-launched Skylab space station in 1973, help given to runners upon completion of the New York marathon in 1978, and the help given to refugees in the current mass migration.

    Superficially, a story about a bit of hi-tech materials science making the transition to mass-production in a somewhat different context, but there's much more to it than that:

    Technologies are stories we tell ourselves – often unconsciously – about who we are and what we are capable of. By analysing their traces we may divine the progress they are capable of assisting, but they are not in and of themselves future-producing, magical, or separate from human agency. They are a guide and a hope.

    Great, thought-provoking stuff.

    1. One that would never have occurred to me.

  • Amazon's 6-Pager

    Reading about The Beauty of Amazon's 6-Pager made me really, really wish that I worked for an organisation that worked like this:

    Quoting from Jeff Bezos: "The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a powerpoint presentation, some type of slide show.  In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points.  This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience.  And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a 6 page narrative memo…. If you have a traditional ppt presentation, executives interrupt.  If you read the whole 6 page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on on page 4 that question is answered."

    [Via ongoing]

  • Nano-Impressions

    Nano-Impressions with Ross Marquand:

    [Via Grillo-Marxuach Design Bureau]

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