A respectful homage to Shirow Masamune’s manga and Mamoru Oshii’s seminal film “Ghost in the Shell”

For a film that was a comment on the uber-connected society of the future, Project 2501 ended up being itself an example of how this collaborative group of creatives are so connected ourselves. Many of us never met beyond the communications provided by the vast and infinite net, but still came together to make the ultimate tribute to “Ghost in the Shell”

gits2501.com (via DN)

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Project 2501: A homage to ‘Ghost in the Shell’

This is a modernised direction that still tries to stays true to the original creator’s vision. What started as a photo tribute directed by Ash Thorp and Tim Tadder (photography), soon became a worldwide collaboration of more than 20 artists from around the world, with each and every one coming together to help breathe life into the project.

Adam Savage
Craft and creativity

Adam Savage’s Ten Commandments for Makers

From an address Adam Savage gave at the Bay Area Maker Faire:

  1. Make something. Anything. Weld, carve, cook, sculpt, sew. Make something in the world that wasn’t there before. As humans, there are two things that make us truly unique: the ability to use tools and the need to tell stories. Making things is both. Everything made has a story embedded in it. When you make something, it becomes part of your story. Humans are natural storytellers, and when you make new things, you join in the most ancient and important story of all.
  2. Make stuff that improves your life, either mechanically or aesthetically. It doesn’t matter which. Nothing cements a feeling of utility than using something you’ve made in the course of moving through life. Make useless stuff too, because that’s fun and fine, but you’ll cement your satisfaction by improving your surroundings.
  3. Don’t wait. You can start now with what’s in front of you. As Goethe [may or may not have] said, “Begin it!”
  4. Use a project to learn a skill. I don’t know about you but I need a goal to learn a skill. I can’t deconstruct and just learn welding for welding’s sake. I need to have something that only welding will bring me. Look around and find something you need to build. Something you can’t help but build.
  5. ASK. Ask for help. People who make things love to share their ideas and knowledge. Makers love to talk about their work. Any husband or wife of a maker knows this is true. Learn how to work well with others and it will give back to you tenfold. Ask questions. Ask for advice. Ask for feedback.
  6. Share your methods and knowledge and don’t make them a secret. Take lots of pictures and make notes. Make noise. You will forget key details unless you do. Recognize that no matter how esoteric the build or the process you’re working on, somebody somewhere is interested in the same thing and will benefit from your experience, no matter how young you are. Nobody has the monopoly on being you. No one can steal that. Don’t keep secrets!
  7. Discouragement and failure are intrinsic to the process. Don’t hide from these. Talk about them. They’re not enemies to be avoided, they’re friends, designed to teach your humility. Go easy on yourself. Don’t compare yourself to others; go ahead and be envious of others’ skills, because frequently you can’t not. Use that.
  8. Measure carefully. Have some tolerance. You know what tolerance is? If something fits tightly into something–that’s a close tolerance. If something fits loosely, that’s a loose tolerance. Knowing the difference between tight and loose tolerance is perhaps the most important measure of a craftsperson.
  9. Make things for other people. Nothing feels better than expanding your making beyond yourself. Make no mistake: you make yourself vulnerable when you give something to someone that you made, but the rewards are incredible.
  10. And if I could go back in time and tell my young self anything–any specific thing at all–it would be this: Use more cooling fluid!



Wired – Design FX

Another shallow FX video summarising years of work by hundreds of incredibly talented artist-technicians into two minutes, still making room for cliches like ‘the director wanted to shoot as much for real as possible’ [insert clip of a shot being assembled from thousands of complex elements].

Still, nice to see so much exclusive footage from the trailers.

Europe from the southwest - Richard Edes Harrison

More Americans came into contact with maps during the Second World War than in any previous moment in American history. War has perennially driven interest in geography, but World War Two was different. The urgency of the war, coupled with the advent of aviation, fuelled the demand not just for more but different maps.

The most important innovator to step into this breach was actually not a cartographer at all, but an artist. Beginning in the late 1930s, Richard Edes Harrison drew a series of elegant and gripping images of a world at war, and in the process persuaded the public that aviation and war really had fundamentally disrupted the nature of geography.

The most powerful of these images anticipated the perspective of Google Earth.
Susan Schulten – New Republic

Craft and creativity

Richard Edes Harrison: Mapping the world at war

‘Harrison’s most notable legacy was a series of colorful and sometimes disorienting pictures (not quite maps) that emphasized relationships between cities, nations, and continents at the heart of the war. These maps were published in Fortune, then issued in an atlas that became an instant bestseller in 1944.’


Factorio is a game in which you build and maintain factories.

You will be mining resources, researching technologies, building infrastructure, automating production and fighting enemies. Use your imagination to design your factory, combine simple elements into ingenious structures, apply management skills to keep it working and finally protect it from the creatures who don’t really like you.

Factorio is currently in late alpha and is available for OS X, Linux and Windows. The price will soon be going up from 10€ to 15€.

(via @notch)

Dan Harmon
Use your words

Dan Harmon’s 8 point story structure

Story Structure 104: The Juicy Details, from Dan Harmon’s Channel 101 wiki.

1. You (a character is in a zone of comfort)

Establish a protagonist. If there are choices, the audience picks someone to whom they relate. When in doubt, they follow their pity. Fade in on a raccoon being chased by a bear, we are the raccoon. Fade in on a room full of ambassadors. The President walks in and trips on the carpet. We are the President. When you feel sorry for someone, you’re using the same part of your brain you use to identify with them.

I wouldn’t fuck around if I were you. The easiest thing to do is fade in on a character that always does what the audience would do.

Read the rest → (It’s worth it!)

Shape of things to come

The story of “Sweetie”

How a 10-year old girl from the Philippines caught over 1,000 pedophiles in only two months:

At any given moment, the United Nations (UN) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) estimate that 750,000 pedophiles are online. An international federation called Terre des Hommes, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is breaking new ground in the investigation of online sexual predation. It developed a computer model of a 10-year old girl, named her “Sweetie” and put her out in chat rooms on the web. Almost instantaneously, Sweetie was bombarded by requests from men around the world to “chat”… and do more via webcam.


Shape of things to come

The X-37B space plane has been in orbit for 500 days, and we don’t know why

The X-37B is a kind of robotic space plane, built by the US. It’s been in Earth’s orbit for more than 500 days. And its real purpose is a complete mystery.

The X-37 started life way back in 1999 when NASA asked Boeing’s Phantom Works division to develop an orbital test vehicle. This was a civilian project, and the X-37 was originally spec’d as an unmanned, robotic spacecraft that would rendezvous with satellites to refuel, repair them, or crash them back to Earth once their lifecycle was complete. But, in 2004, the project was transferred to DARPA and since then, it has been highly classified.

The amateur skywatching community that documents satellites say it’s orbiting between 43.5 degrees north latitude to 43.5 degrees south latitude. That’s a band around the middle of Earth that takes in much of the US, Middle East, and Asia, but is away from Russia, and Europe. Spotters suggest that at the altitude of 350km, it is ideal altitude for spying, but too low to refuel or fix other satellites.

A plane has been in space for 500 days, and no one knows why – Techly

X37BOrbital Spaceplane Diagram

So the question is, what is X-37B actually doing up in space? The USAF’s official fact sheet says that “The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.” This is probably only partially true (but Boeing is on the books to create the X-37C, which will at least 65% larger and have the ability to carry up to six astronauts). More realistically, X-37B is probably carrying prototype reconnaissance gear, for spying on the Middle East and other sensitive geopolitical regions.

US military’s mysterious X-37B space plane passes 500 days in orbit, but we still have no clue what it’s actually doing up there – ExtremeTech

Photos: Air Force’s 2nd Secretive X-37B Space Plane Flight – Space.com

9/11 Memorial coffee mug
Humans and other animals

Inside the 9/11 museum’s offensive gift shop

New York Post:

The 9/11 museum’s cavernous boutique offers a vast array of souvenir goods. For example: FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority Police T-shirts ($22) and caps ($19.95); earrings molded from leaves and blossoms of downtown trees ($20 to $68); cop and firefighter charms by Pandora and other jewelers ($65); “United We Stand” blankets.

Even FDNY vests for dogs come in all sizes.

After paying $24 admission for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $15 for kids 7 to 17, visitors can shop till they drop.

About 8,000 unidentified body parts are now stored out of sight in a “remains repository” at the museum’s underground home.

“Here is essentially our tomb of the unknown. To sell baubles I find quite shocking and repugnant,” said Horning, who also objects to the museum cafe.

“I think it’s a money-making venture to support inflated salaries, and they’re willing to do it over my son’s dead body.”

John Feal, a Ground Zero demolition supervisor who runs the FealGood Foundation for ailing 9/11 responders, said he understands the need to raise money for costs, including six-figure salaries for execs like CEO Joe Daniels, who takes in $378,000.

In a twist, a plaque says the store was “made possible through the generosity of Paul Napoli and Marc Bern,” partners in a law firm that reaped $200 million in taxpayer-funded fees and expenses after suing the city for nearly 10,000 Ground Zero workers.

The museum Web site lists the firm as having donated $5 million.

Inside the 9/11 museum’s offensive gift shop

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The Cabal: Valve’s design process for creating Half-Life

By Ken Birdwell for Gamasutra, back in 1999:

By late September 1997, nearing the end of our original schedule, a whole lot of work had been done, but there was one major problem — the game wasn’t any fun. At this point we had to make a very painful decision — we decided to start over and rework every stage of the game.

Ivan the Space Biker

The first incarnation of the game’s main character, now known affectionately as “Ivan the Space Biker”

Fortunately, the game had some things in it we liked. We set up a small group of people to take every silly idea, every cool trick, everything interesting that existed in any kind of working state somewhere in the game and put them into a single prototype level. When the level started to get fun, they added more variations of the fun things. If an idea wasn’t fun, they cut it.

When they were done, we all played it. It was great. It was Die Hard meets Evil Dead. It was the vision. It was going to be our game.

The second step in the pre-cabal process was to analyze what was fun about our prototype level. The first theory we came up with was the theory of “experiential density” — the amount of “things” that happen to and are done by the player per unit of time and area of a map. Our goal was that, once active, the player never had to wait too long before the next stimulus, be it monster, special effect, plot point, action sequence, and so on.

The second theory we came up with is the theory of player acknowledgment. This means that the game world must acknowledge players every time they perform an action. Our basic theory was that if the world ignores the player, the player won’t care about the world.

A final theory was that the players should always blame themselves for failure. If the game kills them off with no warning, then players blame the game and start to dislike it.

Valve then created a “Cabal” to tackle the game design. The goal of this group was to create a complete document that detailed all the levels and described major monster interactions, special effects, plot devices, and design standards. Cabal meetings were semi-structured brainstorming sessions usually dedicated to a specific area of the game.

During Cabal sessions, everyone contributed but we found that not everyone contributed everyday. The meetings were grueling, and we came to almost expect that about half of the group would find themselves sitting through two or three meetings with no ideas at all, then suddenly see a direction that no one else saw and be the main contributor for the remainder of the week. Why this happened was unclear, but it became important to have at least five or six people in each meeting so that the meetings wouldn’t stall out from lack of input.

Mistakes were made

Letting players see other characters make mistakes that they’ll need to avoid is an effective way to explain your puzzles and add tension and entertainment value.

We also ended up assigning one person to follow the entire story line and to maintain the entire document. With a design as large as a 30-hour movie, we ended up creating more detail than could be dealt with on a casual or part-time basis. We found that having a professional writer on staff was key to this process. Besides being able to add personality to all our characters, his ability to keep track of thematic structures, plot twists, pacing, and consistency was invaluable.

Practically speaking, not everyone is suited for the kind of group design activity we performed in the Cabal, at least not initially. People with strong personalities, people with poor verbal skills, or people who just don’t like creating in a group setting shouldn’t be forced into it.

Tips for a successful cabal →

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Otto: A customizable camera powered by Raspberry Pi

Meet Otto, a hackable GIF camera powered by a Raspberry Pi. It’s on Kickstarter now and costs either $149 or $199, depending on how quickly you get your pre-order in.

I really like this Otto prototype photograph that appears on the Next Thing website:

Otto prototype camera

I think this could be the inspiration I needed for my own Raspberry Pi project!

(via raspberrypi.org)

Previously on Rapid Notes

Update →


Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake

By Rebecca Coffey:

  1. Allow the angel to reach room temperature. Then kill it.
  2. Kill God. Set Him aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  4. Ecstatically whip, as if possessed by a storm-wind of freedom, 1-1/2 cups of excellent egg whites with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1-1/2 tsp. cream of tartar. Continue until peaks are as if raised to their own heights and given wings in a fine air, a robust air.
  5. Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar, about 3 tbsp. at a time.
  6. You are brilliant.
  7. Now, add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/4 tsp. almond extract, and then sift together 1-1/4 cups flour and 3/4 cup sugar.
  8. Blend in God and the angel. Emboldened, add the egg mixture.
  9. Gaze into the überbatter. The überbatter will gaze into you.
  10. While prancing about in a frenzy of self-satisfaction and anticipation, use a rubber scraper to push the überbatter into an ungreased 10” tube pan, for it is destined to be there.
  11. Bake on a lower rack until done, usually 35-40 minutes, while reciting to the upper rack a long, convoluted anecdote about your childhood.
  12. Invert the tube pan over a bottle for a few hours. Then impetuously rap the pan. Shout, “Aha!” and slide a knife along the pan’s insides.
  13. Call what tumbles out a cake if you dare. Call it miraculous even.
  14. Eat it. It is delicate, morbid, loveable, and you will die depressed, delirious, and overweight.

From Nietzsche’s Angel Food Cake: And Other “Recipes” for the Intellectually Famished, by Rebecca Coffey


Montreal-based artist Benoit Paillé has created the art project “Crossroad of Realities” where he took photos of gorgeous landscapes within the video game Grand Theft Auto V and then overlaid these images with photographs of real people holding real cameras and other devices so that it appears as if they are taking the landscape photos themselves. The purpose of this was to blend the virtual reality with material reality in such a way as to question the boundaries of each.

(via Laughing Squid)

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Crossroad of Realities

“During the project I ask myself a lots of question about the possible disappearance of the photographic medium as we know it. Our environment tends to be more and more dematerialized, workspaces are now to be found in the Cloud, relationships and social exchanges take place increasingly in virtual networks , while gamers compete on online networks.” — Benoit Paillé


Jeff Bridges uses a Widelux camera to capture moments behind the scenes on his movies.

“My photography is mainly focused on my work making movies, which I’ve done my whole life. I think I have a perspective that not many people have. And I get to take advantage of all of the strange sources of light on a set.”
New York Times

“The Widelux is a fickle mistress; its viewfinder isn’t accurate, and there’s no manual focus, so it has an arbitrariness to it, a capricious quality. I like that. It’s something I aspire to in all my work — a lack of preciousness that makes things more human and honest, a willingness to receive what’s there in the moment and to let go of the result. Getting out of the way seems to be one of the main tasks for me as an artist.”

(via an entertaining Nerdist Podcast interview with Jon Favreau)

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The photography of Jeff Bridges

‘Since 1984, Jeff Bridges has documented the sets of most of his movies, compiling a large collection of wide images that give an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at movie making.’ — NYT


Rolling Stone: Meet the Russian Kids Who Take the World’s Riskiest Photos

Mustang Wanted

Famous “Viselnik” Mustang Wanted, roofing in Moscow’s financial center.

Ivan, Kirill and Vasilisa are “roofers,” a loose-knit group of insanely non-acrophobic daredevils who scam and sneak their way to the tops of Russia’s highest buildings. Once they get up there, they perform death-defying tricks — hanging by their fingertips, standing on one leg — that they capture in photos and videos that frequently go viral, garnering multiple millions of YouTube views and widespread awe and disbelief at their vertiginous Instagram photos, a heap of which could lay claim to being among the most dangerous selfies ever taken.

In Russia anyway, doing illegal things on rooftops is nothing new, but the roofers have taken it to a new extreme — not that the authorities care. Ivan explains:

“Nobody stops us. Even if they catch us they usually let us go. They don’t want to deal with the paperwork.”

(Complete aside: ‘Mustang Wanted’ would be a really cool name for one of the Jäger’s in Pacific Rim.)

Humans and other animals

The most dangerous selfies ever taken

Rolling Stone hang out at the top of the world with Moscow’s death-defying ‘roofers’


Hack ‘n’ Slash looks like it just might be one of the geekiest games ever.

Hack ‘n’ Slash is a puzzle action game about hacking — reprogram object properties, hijack global variables, hack creature behavior, and even rewrite the game’s code! Remember, the only way to win is not to play…by the rules!

Two more videos: The magic loupe and third eye hat →

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Astronomy Picture of the Day, 6 May 2014

By amateur astro-photographer Alan Friedman.

(via @BadAstronomer)

(Watch two videos about Alan’s astro-photography →)

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Our Sun

‘Currently at Solar Maximum — the most active phase in its 11-year magnetic cycle, the Sun’s twisted magnetic field is creating numerous solar “sparks” which include eruptive solar prominences, coronal mass ejections, and flares which emit clouds of particles that may impact the Earth and cause auroras. One flare two years ago released such a torrent of charged particles into the Solar System that it might have disrupted satellites and compromised power grids had it struck planet Earth.’


Retronaut: A vivid colour photograph of New York from 1944.

New York, 1944

The various billboards splashed with film titles – Tomorrow the World, 3 is a Family, Winged Victory – are all films released in late 1944. Notice the sign for the Orpheum Dance Palace; it was once New York’s most famous “dime-a-dance” hall. The famous New York City taxi cabs can be seen here in their two-tone Chevrolet/Deseto phase.

It looks almost like a contemporary photograph from a movie set or something.

I don’t know if it’s a factor of me getting older, or something else, but I’m only recently looking at old photographs (and paintings) of people and places and starting to see them as real. It’s not that I didn’t believe in history, just that I never really related to it. They may say that the past is a foreign country, but to me it has always felt much more distant than that.

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1944: New York in colour

‘Winged Victory’ was a film that was co-produced by 20th Century Fox and the U.S. Army Air Forces to act as a rousing military propaganda piece encouraging people to join the war effort. On the sidewalk a group of soldiers in long khaki coats enjoy Times Sq. on their leave.

Cory Doctorow portrait by Jonathan Worth
Shape of things to come

How to talk to your children about mass surveillance

Cory Doctorow:

So I explained to my daughter that there was a man who was a spy, who discovered that the spies he worked for were breaking the law and spying on everyone, capturing all their e-mails and texts and video-chats and web-clicks. My daughter has figured out how to use a laptop, phone, or tablet to peck out a message to her grandparents (autocomplete and spell-check actually make typing into an educational experience for kids, who can choose their words from drop-down lists that get better as they key in letters); she’s also used to videoconferencing with relatives around the world. So when I told her that the spies were spying on everything, she had some context for it.

“How can they listen to everyone at once?” “How can they read all those messages?” “How many spies are there?”

Then I talked about not reading everything in realtime, and using text-search to pick potentially significant messages out of the stream. When I explained the spies were looking for “bad words” in the flow, she wanted to know if I meant swear words (she’s very interested in this subject). No, I said, I mean words like “bank robbery’’ (we haven’t really talked about terrorism yet – maybe next time).

And immediately she shot back, “That silly! What if I just wrote ‘I played bank robbery this afternoon’ in a message. Why should a spy get to read it?”

Locus Online: How to Talk to Your Children About Mass Surveillance


May the fourth

Carrie Fisher

1983 Star Wars photoshoot for Rolling Stone

These photos were taken by photographer Aaron Rapoport at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California, USA.

(via This Is Not Porn)


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Princess Leia takes a dip

Not the usual fare for this blog, but I shall make an exception for 80’s Carrie Fisher.

J. Michael Straczynski
Shape of things to come

Rules of the New Aristocracy

By Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski:

It doesn’t matter how much food costs increase, doesn’t matter if you can only afford fast food, we will always be able to buy steak. And we will invest heavily in fast food stocks to ensure we make money off this. Doesn’t matter how much gas costs, we will always be able to afford it.


In addition to poor food choices and health coverage, your kids will grow up without proper nutrition which will cause them problems on every level, from physical to educational difficulties. Our kids will grow up straight and true and healthy.

It doesn’t matter how much an education costs, doesn’t matter if your kids can’t afford to go to college or come out with massive debt, we will always be able to send our kids to university. And because a lot of our income is derived from tax incentives and taxpayer-financed bailouts your taxes are sending our kids to school. But you do not have the right to any of our money to send your kid to school.

If you or your kids want to start a business, you will find that because we’ve sucked all the money out of the economy, there is simply no available cash around to help you finance your startup. (Unless you want to go to your friends online at sites like Indiegogo, and isn’t that just cute?) We just cut our kids a check and tell them to go have fun.

Your kids are born with a glass ceiling above which they will almost certainly never have the opportunity to rise. Our kids are born with a marble floor beneath which they will never be allowed to fall.

Continued →

Castledown font
Use your words

Castledown: A font that helps kids learn to read and write

Wired: Castledown Primary School headmaster Neil Small commissioned London design studio Colophon Foundry to come up with a typeface that not only looked good, but improved students’ reading and writing skills.

Castledown font - Instructional dotted

“I’ve been frustrated with the lack of clarity of letters in fonts since my beginnings as a teacher.”

He wanted a unifying typeface that could satisfy all of Castledown’s guidelines: sans-serif, dyslexic-friendly, and shaped similarly to the way kids naturally write. On top of all that, the font should be a learning tool, helping students to improve their reading and writing.

Castledown font - instructional

A pre-made font that met these requirements didn’t exist, to his knowledge. Dyslexic-centered fonts were too clunky. Arial and Times New Roman weren’t unique enough. Then there was the issue of proper form.

The font that came closest to satisfying Small’s conditions was, ironically enough, one of the most widely despised: Comic Sans. “We settled with Comic Sans, but we didn’t like the overall look of it, and so we were never entirely happy,” Small says.

Wired: A Custom Font That Helps Kids Learn to Read and Write

I feel like this idea could be improved upon in several ways and is ripe for an open source version.

See also: