Friday, 27 May 2022


city in a bottle: a bit of micro-coding from Frank Force (previously) decoded—via Waxy    

kr: the Icelandic Graphic Design Association (FรT, Fรฉlag รญslenskra teiknara) issues a challenge to come up with a glyph for their krรณna  

nรฉcessaire: a French borrowing—see also—for kit and carry  

enough: TIME magazine’s cover lists the two-hundred thirteen US cities that have had mass-shootings this year, so far  

social sentinel: a look at the dubious pre-crime predictive software that ill-serves society and the reliance on tech to come to the rescue in general  

party line: last bank of public phones removed from New York City—see also here, here, here and here  

swiss miss: Tina Roth Eisenberg celebrates her seventeenth blogoversary tesserae: MIT Lab develops autonomous modular tiles to create structures and habitats in space

Friday, 13 May 2022


sagittarius a*: the Event Horizon Telescope captures images of the Milky Way’s Black Hole—previously  

sluggo: “Music from Nancy”—via Waxy  

click-wheel: with the announcement that the last iteration of the iPod is being discontinued after two decades (see also), enjoy this first commercial advertisement  

anamorphic camouflage illusion: the Phantom Queen optical effect  

รผbersetzer: Google Translate adds languages using Zero-Shot Machine Translation, now facilitating communication among one hundred and thirty-three different languages  

white dwarf: astronomers witness a nova in real time

Friday, 6 May 2022


⚠️: a pictogramatical survey of caution wet floor signs—via Pasa Bon!  

load-bearing bifurcation: engineers incorporate sturdy, often-discarded tree forks in construction  

thameside tv: clips from London’s first pirate station—see also  

no tofu: the Noto typeface (previously) a suite of emoji  

unit patch: the more inscrutable badges of the US Space Force—see previously  

pocket mac: the process of designing a fake vintage product 

: Unicode Consortium’s growing list of astronomical glyphs, magical charms

Thursday, 3 February 2022


1:12: a 1983 architectural magazine’s call for dollhouses  

way-finder: a friendly reminder about the most important app ever made 

i can’t hear you—i’m wearing a towel: dated New Yorker cartoons whose punchline has become a depiction of the everyday—via Waxy  

fisheye lens: a floating exhibit platform showcases Norwegian aquaculture practises 

philately: a brilliant abecedarium (see previously) of vintage postage stamps from around the world  

tensor strength: researchers engineer new material that can absorb and release enormous amounts of energy—like super-charged rubber band, via Slashdot  

the vault of contemporary art: a collection of architectural sketches and schematics from a Things Magazine omnibus post on the subject

Sunday, 9 January 2022

think different

Developed in great secrecy under code name Project Purple, the first generation of the iPhone—given the retronym 2G to establish its place in the lineage among some thirty-three different models made, Apple Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs introduces the public to the concept of the revolutionary, universal smart mobile phone on this day in 2007 during a keynote address during the Macworld Expo in San Francisco. Models would go on sale at the end of June, on the anniversary of the first trials of the Apple I by Steve Wozniak back in 1975.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

baby bells

Though not coming into force until the first of the year in 1984, the consent decree mandating the breakup and divestiture of the Bell System’s monopoly, vertical integration of telephone services in the US and Canada was finalised on this day in 1982. American Telephone & Telegraph could still provide long-distance services but was subject to competition and could no longer require subscribers—locally use telephonic equipment produced by its subsidiaries. The regional companies were independent and control of the Yellow Pages—the telephone directory—and the research and development branch, Bell Labs, were decentralised and given to the successor holding companies.

Saturday, 18 December 2021


This short about the tug-o’-war between duty to engage with social media demands and responsibilities in the real world that become increasingly suffused with online work and kindred spaces by Hanna Sun called “Blip” does an excellent job of limning that dreadful allure of the screen. Much more at Colossal at the link above.

Saturday, 4 December 2021


fauxliage: a superlative roundup of architectural photography projects

the ntf of dorian gray: a new, short take on Oscar Wilde’s cautionary tale 

emoji for scale: objects represented by their glyphs from smallest to largest—via Waxy

life plus 50: a Public Domain Advent Calendar in anticipation of the expiring copyrights that the New Year ushers in with a new class of works free to enjoy however one sees fit  

verrillon: revisiting the fragile glass armonica of Benjamin Franklin  

thank you for your patronage: hackers are instructing receipt printers to spout off anti-work manifestos to draw attention to poverty wages  

history is calling: a mobile phone museum—via Pasa Bon!

unbuilt architecture: mock-ups of ten modern monumental structures that were never completed—via Things Magazine

Friday, 3 December 2021

short message service

First in used in pagers that used standarised telephonic protocols as defined, reserved and allocated under the Global System for Mobile Communications in the mid-1980s, the first test missive was sent on this day in 1992 when an engineer named Neil Papworth of the Franco-German SEMA telecommunications group (now defunct) texted from his computer a Christmas greeting to a colleague at Vodafone. Though billions of such SMS circulate daily, it was initially slow to be adopted with rival carriers not allowing cross-communication until 1999―with the uptake exponential and a far more generous character-limit, albeit that these curbs IMHO compelled some real lexicographical creativity.

Monday, 8 March 2021


ribbit: frogs use their lungs effectively as noise-cancelling devices—via the new Shelton wet/dry  

oculus: architect envisions Rome’s Pantheon as world’s largest camera obscura (previously) with a conceptual installation 

fetish-free commodities: Existential Comics attempts to demystify Marxist marketplaces—via Nag on the Lake and Memo of the Air 

radiant baby: a brief biography of artist Keith Haring told with drawings and song  

ipa: an iconographic dictionary that corresponds to each phoneme of human language 

marshmallow test: cuttlefish demonstrate self-control and delay gratification, passing a cognitive benchmark designed for human children

Saturday, 23 January 2021


dog and ferret sundries, etc: a fantastic hardware catalogue from the 1930s 

the roaring twenties: the Sea Shanty craze of a century before—via Strange Company 

midori: the relatively modern distinction between blue and green in Japan—see previously 

tag yourself: medieval owl alignment chart 

arkaphones: a resounding retrospective to artist Terry Adkins, who created sonic monuments  

for all the latest medical poop, call surgeon general c. everett koop: the fortune and failure of the post executive branch career of the doctor’s branded medical advice website  

ghost signs: self-appointed guardian of fading signage, collecting it before it vanishes altogether—we can all do this

Tuesday, 27 October 2020


Collaborators in Berlin and Munich have teamed up to produce a smart safety helmet for cyclists that links to one’s phone and delivers audio content via bone conducting speakers that are less intrusive and help ensure that the rider is also attuned to their surroundings.

Proximity sensors monitor the area immediately behind and give haptic cues if there’s something approaching from behind or the sides. It has directional lights and can understand simple voice commands to interact with one’s smart phone and an electric drive is actuated to adjust to an optimal fit once donned. Called ESUB tracks, the outer surface is a photovoltaic cell powering the helmet. More—including a video demonstration, at designboom at the link above.

Sunday, 5 July 2020


tรฉlรฉvision ล“il de demain: a prescient 1947 short about the future ubiquity of screens

zeus mode: alternative phone casings featuring accessories including a built-in stun gun

harvey wall-banger adjacent: click on grid mode to see how these cocktail ingredients compare—via Nag on the Lake’s always excellent Sunday Links

corona cosplay: understanding Americans’ aversion to wearing masks—via Duck Soup

we’ll celebrate once we have a reason to celebrate: revisiting (see also) Fredrick Douglass’ 5 July 1852 speech

ipertesto: Agostino Ramelli’s sixteenth century bookwheels recreated by modern designers

Monday, 29 June 2020

think different

On this day in 2007, coinciding all those years ago when Steve Wozniak tested the first prototype of the Apple I computer in 1975, the iPhone made its public debut (previously) in the United States. Retronymically dubbed the iPhone 2G to differentiate from the twelve generations and accompanying operating systems that have followed, Steve Jobs (*1955 – †2011) had been experimenting on the technical and user-experience viability of introducing a fully touch interface two years prior to release under the code name Project Purple 2, as the company worked covertly in collaboration with cellular service providers to ensure that networks could handle the demand.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020


Anecdotally in order to bypass the intermediary services of a human operator whom the inventor suspected of siphoning off his primary business by diverting calls to her husband, a competing undertaker, tinkerer and mortician Almon Brown Strowger of Kansas City, Missouri patented an electromechanical stepping switch telephone exchange system—a uniselector that allowed subscribers to dial numbers directly, the electric pulses cycling through to the desired number—on this day in 1891.
Due to this set up, the Strowger switch is also known as a step-by-step (SXS) switch and was coincidentally granted exclusive licensing rights on the anniversary of the first convincing public demonstration of telephony fifteen years earlier by Alexander Graham Bell, whose principle was inspired and informed by the water microphone and harmonic telegraph prototype of Elisha Gray who in turn owed his discovery to a long line of innovations. Selling the rights to replicate his engineering, Strowger’s invention saw the proliferation of the many automated exchanges run by independent municipal telephone companies in the US and UK with the decade.

Thursday, 13 February 2020


royal gift: George Washington’s convoluted scheme to set the new Republic (see also) on course through mule breeding, via Miss Cellania

fiddle-free: a functional mobile phone with a rotary dial to cut down on distractions

we’ll fire his identical twin, too: Tom the Dancing Bug takes on Trump’s impeachment acquittal

no man is an island: an exploration into the most isolated individuals through history

bird’s eye view: travel around the globe through some of the superlative telemetry captured by Google Earth, via Maps Mania 

 ๐Ÿˆ: the lost and found bureau (see previously) of Japan, via The Morning News

pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun: minimalistic advertising

double helix: a look at the remarkable Bramante Staircase (previously) of the Vatican museum

 ๐Ÿ’Œ: a look into how the heart symbol (see also) came to represent love

Sunday, 15 September 2019

eleven herbs and spices

A master of self-promotion with its past campaigns to include sun-screen that smelt of fried chicken and Bluetooth enabled dining tray inserts to help patrons keep their phones grease-free, we learn via Miss Cellania’s Quick Links, that the latest marketing ploy from a fast food chain is a dating simulator (I am not quite sure what that even means) called ❤️I Love You❤️ Colonel Sanders!, pursuing a hotter, younger version of the franchise’s founder, Harland Sanders—an honourary title granted by the state’s governor for excellence in restaurateurship. Inexplicably, one of the playable characters is a dog, who is also a professor at the culinary institute that you all attend.  The property will be released later in the month, for those of you who might be interested, on a platform where enthusiasts watch one another play video games.

Saturday, 26 January 2019

crypt and call-box

From Public Domain Review comes a retrospective look at the life and times of influential early nineteenth century collector and architect Sir John Soane, who build structures sacred and profane and defined the layout of one particular sort of place of worship and wonder—museums and art galleries. Appointed Clerk of Works with responsibility for renovations of Whitehall, Westminster and Saint James’ Place, Soane also went on to design the Bank of England, the Bank of Ireland and the dining rooms of 10 and 11 Downing Street, respectively the official residences of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Soane also designed the mausoleum where the earthly remains of his wife, himself and one son were entombed, which served as further inspiration decades after his departure.
Located in the churchyard of Old Saint Pancras, Giles Gilbert Scott, apprentice architect who would go on to build the iconic Battersea Power Station, whilst studying his father’s construction of St. Pancras Station, was much impressed with Soane’s grave and the younger Scott would return to that rounded, neoclassic capstone when it came to tendering his entry for what would become another ubiquitous and iconic design, the telephone kiosk.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

free-ride, freifahrt

In the city of Dรผsseldorf (:D), there is an application that allows mass-transit goers to generate bus and tram fare in exchange for a few moments of inattentiveness and letting a few advertisements play on one’s mobile device. Because of few paying sponsors so far, the new service is finite and can only issue a certain number of free ticket per day and has proven wildly popular but that ought to change as more become involved. What do you think? If fare could be redeemed as cash, passengers could technically earn over one hundred euro an hour, but surely the demographics gleaned is even more valuable to marketers and more effective—despite the potential for ignoring them—than traditional billboards and posters.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

ringxiety or push-notification

I don’t often keep my mobile device in such close proximity to my person so as to make it an extension of my senses (say, something akin to an artist’s paint brush or a seeing impaired person’s walking stick), but sometimes when I am marching along with my phone in my bag, I’ll get false alarms that cause me to pause and check, only to find it was in my imagination.
This happens especially I think when I’m anxiously expecting a call, and I always feel a bit silly. I knew I was not quite alone in suffering from this phenomenon but had no idea that it was common enough to earn a forum, clinical studies and even a name: Phantom Vibration Syndrome. Researchers are not quite sure what causes these ghostly cues but most believe they are harmless, tiny muscle spasms that would otherwise go unnoticed (perhaps like a nascent version of Restless Leg Syndrome, which apparently becomes insufferable for some people and dreaming, twitchy dogs) that are at an amplitude sympathetic to the subsonic silent mode of our phones. Such prompts also indulge our sense of separation anxiety as these same calls and responses are our social towropes that connect us to the wider world. What do you think? Have you been haunted by phantom vibrations?