technology


It looks like I’m not the only one wanting to get a replica of the “Air McFlys.” Fans of the Back to the Future movie franchise have begged Nike for years to manufacture the pneumatic, auto-lacing, light-up sneakers that Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) wore in Back to the Future II.  

In 2007, the McFly 2015 Project {banner shown below} launched a website to petition for the production of the legendary McFlys. The grassroots campaign at www.mcfly2015.com has since then disappeared.


Interestingly enough, patents for the shoe {shown above} were filed soon after the movie debuted [read The McFly 2015 Patents via Neatorama]. So, why hasn’t Nike put these out yet? Nike could be waiting for the year 2015, of course, but Nike could also be figuring out “just how much NBC Universal, which owns the rights to the film and is the parent of CNBC, wants to associate with this product.” Recent Nike shoe releases with heavy influence by the “Air McFlys” have not been explicitly linked with the films.


The sold out 2008 release of the Nike Hyperdunk (a tribute to the “Air McFly”) was limited to 350 pairs and wound up resurfacing on Ebay for as much as $2000. This colorway of the Hyperdunk has subtle references to the movie on the insole & tongue and rocks the iconic gray upper, teal speckled midsole, and glow-in-the-dark outsole. Better yet, the Hyperdunk features Flywire technology, which debuted in incredibly lightweight track shoes in the ’08 Beijing Olympics.

Flywire uses “the barest exoskeleton of wispy, high-tech filaments — roughly 7 linear feet of thread, affixed to an ultrathin fabric scrim — to provide its structure and shape (think of a space-age Roman sandal). With the usual need for supporting material reduced almost to zero, the shoe is not only featherlight, but also radically simple, fast, and cheap to build.” [High-Tech Gear for Olympic Athletes via FastCompany]

The 2008 release of the Nike SB Tre A.D. with the “Air McFly” colorway recieved much less hype, but the shoe boasted an equally impressive tech sheet and had a glow-in-the-dark Nike swoosh.

Apparently only the most advanced sneakers from Nike are graced with the McFly treatment. Unfortunately, neither models are not the real deal. I guess I’ll just have to wait for 2015 like everyone else…

Well, everyone except for Mark Kurath, who commissioned an orthopedic shoemaker to make handmade, custom-fitted pair of McFly’s – read more from his exclusive interview DIY McFly Sneakers @ SneakerFreaker. Those shoes look amazing!

Woke up this afternoon and watched Holiday Inn (1942), a musical romanic comedy starring Bing Crosby & Fred Astaire, with the family. Vocals were heartwarming and Fred Astaire’s dancing was to die for. Gotta love oldies like “White Christmas” :)
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Click for my review of the Asus Eee PC 1000HA netbook.

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Which reminds me, I never blogged on the letterforms of Sebastian Lester! I was looking at his portfolio when I took that picture in November.

All day it was foggy. I was swimming aboveground on the streets with darkened skies and layers upon layers of clothing to block out the cold, seeping mist. Coming out of work, I thought it was all very picturesque.

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I am counting down the days until the next big Break. Currently shuffling tracks from 808s & Heartbreak and Clubland compilations. My Koss headphones are doubling as earmuffs. 

It is a great misfortune that my third story bedroom overhangs an open stairwell to the second level of my apartment building. I might as well not have walls, it’s as cold inside (ICE ICE, BABY!) as it is three feet outside these windows, since there are no rooms beneath mine to serve as insulation.

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“The TENORI-ON is a unique 16 x 16 LED button matrix performance instrument with a stunning visual display. For DJs & producers it is a unique performance tool enabling them to perform using MIDI and load the TENORI-ON with samples to ‘jam / improvise’ within their set BPMs.”

At $1200, the Yamaha Tenori-On is one helluva gadget: electronic music maker & a light show.

I could have fun with this for days! Seems easy enough, I totally would button mash it. Hard to explain how it works, so I’ll let the YouTube demo what you can get out of it:



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Jen Stark‘s paper sculptures:

Academy Open Répétition Minutes by ZENITH

“Considered as the most successful expression of watchmaking art, the Minute Repeater was created for clocks and pocket watches over 300 years ago when candles were in use in order to allow time to be read at night. Nowadays, only very few watchmakers are capable of manufacturing such a marvel in a wrist watch…ZENITH was capable of combining the Minute Repeater mechanism with the mythical El Primero Chronograph. This Hyper Complication, a world record in the watchmaking industry is equipped with the new 4043 caliber, comprising a total of 461 components and 45 rubies.” [via Professional Watches]

A minute repeater is a complication in a mechanical watch that audibly chimes the time at the press of a button. Separate tones are used to distinguish the hours, quarter hours, and minutes. [The repeater is not to be confused with the striking feature of grandfather clocks, which cannot chime on demand – only at regular intervals.] A chronograph is a mechanical watch with both timekeeping and stopwatch functions. The two complications together boggles the mind, since I cannot comprehend either existing without circuitry (metals & jewels alone can do this?)


I have to wonder why women’s mechanical watches so rarely take on this kind of look :\

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Intriguing horological machines from the creative label MB&F:


“Horological Machines are as much, if not more, art and sculpture as they are micro-engineering: they are machines which tell the time rather than machines to tell the time. By designing and constructing three-dimensional machines rather than wristwatches, MB&F are able to break free of the constraints imposed by traditional horology and create kinetic art.”
[via Maximilian Busser & Friends]

From “The Typographer’s Guide to the Galaxy” – An Interview With Oded Ezer

Q: Why do you attach yourself to a letter? Why letters?

A: It’s a good question that I have been asked a lot. The true answer is that I don’t know and I don’t want to know. There’s a little bit of death in answering that. Look, I could have worked with just a simple circle, or a glass, or whatever just the same. But a letter is both the content and the object that carries it. Is it a “thing” or a “symbol of a thing”? Or both? I relate to these places because for me, when I make a hairy circle, it is a hairy circle. But if I write the word “circle” in a hairy way, it opens up a whole new field for interpretation. And this is what I like about typography. This is why I’m a typographer. I love hating the letters, love them, betray them or be loyal to them. It’s a toy store.

To the right, a homage to Milton Glaser’s I <3 NY logo. Oded Ezer is a compelling typographic artist, logo & type designer, lecturer, and typographic experimentalist.

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The motion graphic & design of Julien Vallée. I love how the images are photographs or videos of 3D works – no photoshop here! Crafty and colorful.

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Can’t read anything else on the website I got this from, but that doesn’t matter because this translates perfectly.

If iconic imagery could be embedded in all Chinese/Japanese characters…oh, if only logographic written languages could be so easy to interpret. There are some pictograms & ideograms, but the rest you cannot derive meaning nor pronunciation from immediately by eye.

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This car sold out before the buyers even saw the whole vehicle.

[ Aston Martin One-77 via NotCot]

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[BMW GINA Light Visionary Model via AutoBlog]

The BMW GINA (Geometry and Functions in ‘N’ Adaptations) concept car is a fabric-skinned metal & carbon fiber wire frame. The skeleton of the car is controlled by electro-hydraulic devices [that] move and change shape beneath the fabric skin. The best part? The car blinks when you turn on the headlights! Anthromorphic cars are infinitely cuter.


It’s cold enough to the point where I wear hats indoors.

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[Purple Reigh via Time]

On the off chance that it has escaped your notice, purple is having a moment. And while many may assume a sudden color explosion to be just another whim of fickle fashion, the analysts and anthropologists who study shifts in chromatic preferences see this particular manifestation – the purple proliferation – as a sign of our uncertain times. Sartorially speaking, fall is almost always dominated by warm colors (think camel, winter white), so this season’s abundance of purple – and a chilly blue one at that – is “very unusual,” says Leatrice Eiseman, psychologist and executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. The New Jersey–based company, which provides universal color standards for design industries and manufacturers worldwide, predicted two years ago that purple would be everywhere this fall. Eiseman sees the hybrid color as a reflection of “discontent and desire for change,” a quarrel between cool blue (peace, hope) and warm red (passion, anger, turmoil).

Aha! So I wasn’t seeing things. Purple is splashed all over this season’s lines (and storefronts I’ve visited this year. I started liking purple in 2007…perhaps I have Pantone spidey-senses?

Twice a year, Pantone holds a closed-door, highly secretive meeting in Europe, where the world’s top cultural anthropologists, color psychologists–yes, such an occupation exists–and designers from the fashion, automotive and other industries share their highly attuned thoughts on color. Their semiannual consensus, one palette for spring and one for fall, is sold in bound copies by the hundreds for $750 a pop to companies ranging from Pottery Barn and KitchenAid to Ford. Meeting participants “come in with gadgets and toys, strange things like mirrors, records, their own color palettes and mood boards,” says David Shah, a Holland-based publisher of color and textile magazines who runs the Pantone gatherings. “I’ve seen people get hysterical with each other over the minutest difference in hue, something where nobody’s going to know the difference.” He adds, “Color’s a complicated business.”

And purple may be one of the most complicated colors. It traces its roots back to kings and cardinals, in the days when thousands of mollusks had to be crushed to make a single drop of purple dye, a process only those with servants could afford.

Color forecasting for a living, that sounds fun. So that’s where all the color palettes come from!

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[50 Best Inventions 2008 via TIME]

2. The Tesla Roadster
Electric cars were always environmentally friendly, quiet, clean — but definitely not sexy. The Tesla Roadster has changed all that. A battery-powered sports car that sells for $100,000 and has a top speed of 125 m.p.h. (200 km/h), the Roadster has excited the clean-tech crowd since it was announced in 2003.

6. The Global Seed Vault
Almost every nation keeps collections of native seeds so local crops can be replanted in case of an agricultural disaster. The Global Seed Vault, opened this year on the far-northern Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, is a backup for the backups. It’s badly needed — as many as half the seed banks in developing countries are at risk from natural disasters or general instability.

7. The Chevy Volt
No-emission electric motors — which began the automobile revolution — are the technology of tomorrow for cars. But today’s batteries can’t support the typical driving experience. Chevy’s Volt is a nice compromise. The sedan has an electric motor with a battery that can provide up to 40 miles (about 65 km) of range on a single charge. A gas engine kicks in to recharge the battery while you’re driving. Since nearly 80% of us drive less than 40 miles a day, that means that unlike the Prius, the Volt could get drivers off gas altogether. The best of both worlds lands by the end of 2010.

16. The Dynamic Tower
Each of the 80 floors in the world’s first moving skyscraper — with offices and a hotel, topped by apartments — will rotate 360 degrees, all at different speeds* [click for video]. Designed by Italian architect David Fisher and located in Dubai (another is planned for Moscow), the prefab, wind-powered tower will cost an estimated $700 million.

*Personally, I think it would be terrifying to have that dynamic of a building in my city. It’s quite sinister looking, the way it slithers in the sky. But that is forgivable since it is a green builiding – turbines located between floors capture wind energy and generate electricity.

22. The Shadowless Skyscraper
Le Project Triangle, a combination office/hotel, is the first skyscraper to be approved since Paris lifted a 31-year-old ban on high-rise construction in the city center. Using computer modeling, the designers of Beijing’s “bird’s nest” Olympic stadium came up with a building almost as startling: a slender glass-and-steel triangle, like a shark fin, that they say won’t cast shadows on surrounding streets.

32. Facebook for Spies
Secret agents are people too. They’re just very scary people who know lots of classified information. So don’t they deserve a social network of their own? That’s why in September, the Federal Government launched A-Space, a highly restricted Facebook-style website that’s designed to encourage the sharing of ideas and information among members of the FBI, the CIA, the NSA and the U.S.’s 13 other intelligence services.

37. Smog-Eating Cement
Take ordinary cement. Mix in an agent called a photo-catalyzer (titanium dioxide, if you really want to know), which speeds up the natural process that breaks down smog into its component parts.

40. The Seven New Deadly Sins
In March the Vatican updated the traditional seven deadly sins with seven new social sins, to bring the list into line with the temptations of the modern world. The additions: bioethical sins, morally dubious experiments that harm human embryos, drug abuse, polluting, social injustice, accumulating excessive wealth and creating poverty.

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P.S. I thought this was hilarious.

[via Blake Stacey @ ScienceBlogs]

I hold a disdain for the watches of the Digital Age, mass-manufactured electronics housed in technicolor shells – their battery-powered pacemakers depend on the same lifeless quartz. The casings impress me not. Their interiors are ugly nothings compared to this:

Have you ever witnessed the movement of an automatic? They have entrancing heartbeat-like oscillations. The precision and craftsmanship involved in designing and building a mechanical watch is fascinating. The end product is so incredibly organic, for something made completely of metal and precious stones. I love skeleton watches, built to showcase the insides.

Unfortunately, a high-end automatic is beyond my budget, but it’s on my wish list for the future. I won’t settle for less. There’s something awful about owning something that costs less to replace it than to repair it (unsustainable, much?). I’d much rather have something irreplaceable, to treasure and maintain.

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[Quotes via The History and Evolution of the Wristwatch By John E. Brozek]

Less than 100 years ago, no self-respecting gentleman would be caught dead wearing a wristwatch. In those days of yore, real men carried pocket watches, with a gold half-hunter…

Wristwatches, when they first came out, were looked down upon by watchmakers as nothing more than flimsy women’s jewelry.

Wristlets, as they were called, were reserved for women, and considered more of a passing fad than a serious timepiece. In fact, they were held in such disdain that many a gentlemen were actually quoted to say they “would sooner wear a skirt as wear a wristwatch”.

But things quickly changed.

…soldiers discovered their usefulness during wartime situations. Pocket watches were clumsy to carry and thus difficult to operate while in combat. Therefore, soldiers fitted them into primitive “cupped” leather straps so they could be worn on the wrist, thereby freeing up their hands during battle.

Makeshift wristwatches allowed the easy synchronization of troop movements, artillery fire, and naval attacks.

After the Great War, many soldiers returned home with souvenir trench watches—so named for the trench warfare in which they were used. When these war heroes were seen wearing them, the public’s perception quickly changed, and wristwatches were no longer deemed as feminine. After all, no one would dare consider these brave men as being anything but.

The modern wristwatch, born of military necessity, inspired the watchmaking community and gave rise to companies such as Rolex, Cartier, Patek Phiillipe, and Jaeger-LeCoultre.

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