It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

omnibus update 20050327

Been awhile since I wrote much about anything, so I’m going to lump a bunch of stuff into one big post.

Blobjects and Beyond
The “Blobjects and Beyond” show at San Jose Art Museum of Art is worth checking out if you’re in town. It has a bit too much Karim Rashid for my tastes, but the consumer electronics and furniture displays are nice. Too bad you CAN’T TOUCH ANYTHING except a couple of demo items.

However, I disagree with the premise that “blobjects” are some new and innovated design element. 20’s and 30’s streamlining certainly predate/predict the Corbin Sparrow and Marc Newson’s beautful aluminum couch. It wasn’t simply about form — then-moderm metal casting and shaping techniques favored swoopy, curved shaves with only critical work edges machined flat. I argue companies like South Bend were making “blobjects” back in the 30’s. Check out the protective cases and structual components of the South Bend 10 Heavy or the
South Bend Light 10.

This Semester
The one studio class I’m taking is still going really well. I’ve got a good instructor who really wants to help us develop a broad range of techniques and who provides really good feedback about our work. There are a lot of people in the class who draw better than I do, but they can only draw in one or two styles and are having to unlearn/relearn a fair number of skills. Because I can’t draw to begin with, I think that I’m having an easier go of it in some ways.

We turned in our mid-term portfolios last week and while putting mine together I could see a marked improvement in my ability to draw. I actually am a bit ashamed I haven’t been trying harder given the improvement I’ve shown with only moderate efforts.

Applying to a Big Name School
The BNS called the other day to say that they’d inform me of my status between 15 Mar 05 and 15 Apr 05. I’m not really that anxious or panicky, I either get in or I don’t. I did the best I could on my portfolio (which I’ll put online soon) and my application and now I get to wait.

If I get in and want to go to school full time I’ll need around $200K to cover tuition and living expenses for four years. Let’s say I do it entirely on student loans, that means I’ll be 41 or 42, $200K in debt, and looking at jobs that pay $60K-$80K a year. If I’m lucky, I’ll have my loans paid off around the time whatever’s left of SSI kicks in. My other option is to delay enrollment for a year and try and get a job at the university. After six months I’ll be eligible for two free classes a semester, but that means I could be 44 or even 46 before I graduate, but I’d also be debt free.

Career Stuff
I’ve been paying more attention to job listings lately for various parts of the ID world. Even if I don’t get into school, there are plenty of design-related opportunities out there that I might be able to use as a entry point into becoming a full-time industrial designer. I have some basic model-making and metal fabrication skills, enjoy solving hard software and hardware integration problems, and have a strong work ethic and track record and the references to back it all up.

I’ve also discovered that my natural ability to flip between macro/big-picture thinking and micro/detail oriented thinking is something that needs refinement and that I can show in my design and art work. In the past 20 years I’ve worked with plenty of software engineers who could only see the big picture or the little one and ended up being difficult to work with as a result. How many times have you been in a meeting with someone who refused to agree on a design unless it could be proven to resolve any case anyone could dream up or who refused to discuss anything else until all the low-level data structures had been codified in a schema that was then written in stone? I’m neither of those people, and I often find myself negotiating between the two and translating’s one language to another. It’s a skill I’ve developed for the software world, now I need to learn how to apply it to art and design.

design | college | blobjects

posted by jet at 22:51  

Monday, March 14, 2005

More on Katamari Damacy

Keita Takahashi spoke at GDC this year. I didn’t get to go, but I found some online coverage at
Gamespot (, GameSpy ( and 1Up (

Some of the best games out of Japan have been designed by artists and industrial designers, and not by engineers or marketing types. This is encourages me — when I think of things I’d like to do with a Design degree, video games and controllers are on the short list. (Also on the list: controllers for teleoperated robots, new displays for motorcycles, giant fighting mecha for robotwars like duels, and kendo practice automata for folks who don’t live near a dojo.)

Technorati: Katamary Damacy | GDC | kendo | design

posted by jet at 14:30  

Sunday, March 6, 2005

“Hughtrain” and “Smarter Conversations”

I love it when someone else has already answered questions I’m only just starting to learn how to ask.

For years now I’ve worked at a series of businesses that had great products or great ideas for products that “burned down, fell over and sank into the swamp”. I’ve seen a lot of mistakes made that I hope to avoid when i start my business, but I haven’t had much in the way of positive role models, if you know what I mean.

Thanks to Laura Lemay I stumbled upon this idea of Smarter Conversations which got me interested enough to go read about the Hughtrain.

Unfortunately, I really need to be either doing homework or sleeping off the flu, not reading business theory.

posted by jet at 16:04  

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Random and Pleasing

Been sick or catching up since getting back from my interview, so no time to write anything useful. Here are some random and pleasing things until I get back on schedule:

If you’re going to use nixie tubes in this day and age, at least tie them into GPS.

The Namiki Vanishing Point in fine is my favorite fountain pen; the hefty, grippy Rotring 600 Lava in fine (no link because their corporate masters don’t believe in putting information about their products on their web site) is a close second. I recently discovered Noodler’s Ink, which is mostly waterproof and self-lubricating. (It’s not very water resistant in my Moleskine, but I suspect that’s the coating on the paper preventing the Noodler’s from doing the chemistry nasty with the weak-willed cellulose.)

Can’t make sense of today’s electronic music? Check out Ishkur’s Guide for some serious musical ontology.

I like Chris Ware and Poison Elves; Achewood and Lenore.

Blatant plug for Who Would Buy That?, a guide to online auctions that, well, I mean, who buys this stuff?

Do you know Seth Green? If so, could you please explain to him that “Robot Chicken” is a great idea, but that most of us can’t afford the quality and quantity of weed needed to find it funny. (I’m allergic to grass, but thanks for offering.) Same goes if you know anyone responsible for “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”, which was funny once, but is now just that dumb-ass Spacecataz frat-boy stoner joke thing. “Venture Bros.” continues to amaze me and proves that the Adult Swim crowd have good days as well as bad. (“Venture Bros.” also gives a venue for the musical genius of J. G. Thirwell, the man personally responsible for my giving up on composing music. I had this great idea in my head for how an industrial swing band would sound, I told a friend, and he said, “Oh, like this?” and played me a Foetus track. GAH! Yeah, only that’s better than what I had in my head.)

Officially licensed Harley Davidson wedding and engagement rings. Nothing says, “I love you, you’re the most special person in the world, will you marry me?” more than a ring with a corporate logo plastered all over it. Of course I discovered this in the free magazine someone sends me simply because I bought a Harley…

Speaking of craptastic motorcycles, you want how much for a used reverse flow flayrod accumulation oiler for my ’31 Spagthorpe Rottweiler rebuild? No way! My buddy can make one for half that. Ok, maybe she can’t, but eMachineShop can if I can draw it for them. They could also make the reversable right-left-hand thread adaptor you need for the ’32, but you’ll need them to make the alternating right-left ratchet driver while they’re at it.

My bike isn’t craptastic, actually. Sure, it threw the shifter peg into the gutter with 70 miles on the odometer, a screw out of the gas cap mount at 120 miles, and the rubber foot pegs seem to have a hatred of their mounts that lead them to spin round in circles on a daily basis, but it’s hard for me to express just how much fun it is to ride a modern, stripped down Harley big twin. I’ve been a BMW boxer fan for over a decade, and will probably restore a few ancient R bikes in my retirement, but in the meanwhile I’m enjoying the hell out of my Harley. I’m sure the other Harley riders despise me, what with my stock exhaust, Aerostitch riding suit and full-faced helmet, but screw ’em. I’m riding in the rain on days they’re protecting the couch from being rolled up by the Prince of Space.

Finally, the title of this entry, “Random and Pleasing”, comes from one of the LED control settings on the Thinking Machines CM-5. The CM-5 was the coolest looking MIMD computer ever made, even if it’s the reason that Thinking Machines tanked. Other LED settings on the CM-5 included “Random” and a couple of patterns based on what was actually happening on the CPUs along with the ubiquitous “Off” and “Unused”. Thing is, the “show me what’s happening” settings were not only really boring to look at but also revealed how often a multi-million dollar supercomputer was idle or busted. “Random” was only marginally better than “Off”, so they came up with “Random and Pleasing” which made the CM-5 look like Important Things Were Happening on the Computer no matter what it was actually doing. Hell, “Random and Pleasing” looked good when the CM-5 was crashed or shut down and waiting on spare parts so we could reboot it. Guess which setting we were instructed to use by the higher-level folks at the lab…

nixie | supercomputer | eletronica | comics | auctions | Harley Davidson | fountain pens | Katamari Damacy | video games | making up Technorati Tags | flu-induced incoherent postings

posted by jet at 02:23  

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