Light Wing Trainers, the Tyvek Shoe

I should just rename this from Acrylo Blog to Tyvek Blog – Your Source for Buying Tyvek Versions of Everything.

Look, shoes!

Which, I’m sad to say, I can’t endorse. They look lovely, yes, but let’s remember what happened to the lovely, brightly coloured wallet – unwashably dirty. Tyvek is a fibrous material and inevitably, things will get trapped in it’s texture. I love the stuff, it’s a fantastic way to construct things, but that’s how dirty something got from my sheltered pockets; imagine what it’ll look like after even a day on the street.

They also make a wallet for $11:

…which, I’d probably pay the extra $9 and buy another Slimfold. The snap seems awkward and annoying for no added benefit.

They’re made by Unbelievable Testing Laboratory and you can find the main Kickstarter here. I was searching for a good pun about these kicks being started by Kickstarter, but fortunately you’re safe for now; I’ve got nothing.

Prices for the shoes start at $50 which would be reasonable… for anything that we could assume would last longer than a few months. Again, the wallet barely made it a half year – shoes are far more abused. They might survive the folding and bending and stepping tests, but that’s not introducing all of the that real life incurs. The mud and the guts and the glory.

So. I don’t mean to be down on them. On the contrary I applaud the innovation and the execution. Time will tell the rest, and I wish them luck.

Via

The Opposite Of Speed Painting

Digital Painting – The Danger of Painting Silhouettes from matt kohr on Vimeo.

There’s more to read, if you’d really like, at the article featuring the above video. My rebuttal is largely to the video itself, so there’s no need to read it all first.

Now, I realize it’s in bad form to debate a poor metaphor, but it applies to both: so what?

The English bit: nearly every sentence we write is an encoding of something or other. The English language itself is just a way of putting every conceivable thought we could possible have and putting it in the form of 26 squiggly lines and a few configurations of dots. Right? We’re encoding thoughts. That’s where their logic doesn’t make sense to me. If we’re encoding thoughts, both of his forms are entirely adequate and as such, you could learn to speak exclusively in abbreviated language just fine. It’d be strange, maybe, but entirely workable. In fact, it might even be better to learn such an abbreviated form because the rules become so much easier. The clauses of sentences become very simple and efficient. You could argue that it’s not English per se, but it is a way of expressing thought in the form of letters. That’s the goal, after all, though. Right?

Okay, so metaphorically, speed painting is this text speak. But then the argument is the equivalent of saying “it’s not real English. You’re not using real English rules!”

Well, no. That’s sort of the entire point.

There is a good point in there, however. Perspective and the fundamentals are important. They are, metaphorically, the letters in both the English and the text speak. They are the fundamental building blocks from which both are built. The important thing to note is that their argument against speed painting is about people ignoring fundamentals, and those are two completely separate arguments.

But yeah, I guess. Everyone! Don’t try text speak unless you know the 26 English letters. It’s a nonsensical point. You can’t English without the letters and you can’t text without the letters. You can’t paint without the fundamentals and you can’t speed paint without the fundamentals. That doesn’t make any of those things wrong or better or worse. It doesn’t make speed painting wrong or worse. The speed of the performance isn’t linked to the skill behind the art.

The ultimate kicker here is even that doesn’t really matter. Did Picasso use perspective? No. He was his own style. It’s harder to apply that to concept art, which is largely environmental and semi-photorealistic but there is in art this potential to be good without being by the book. Things will look silly if you’re truly awful, but there are good examples of ignoring stead-fast rules in order to make something even better.

So no, speed painting isn’t ruining anything. Skills will improve with practice and observation regardless of the style you choose or the speed you do it at.

Rogue Industries Maine Wallet Review

Full disclosure: Rogue Industries did send me this wallet for the purpose of reviewing it. My opinions, however, remain unbiased and the following is exactly how I’d review it in any other circumstance.

Okay, so what do we have here? It’s a front wallet with a patented curve that better fits the cut of the pocket. The advantages to carrying your wallet in the front include but are not limited to theft deterrence, spine issues and simple convenience. On those fronts, it seems like a good wallet for the job. I chose mine in charcoal black premium cow leather ($40) but there are plenty of different animals and styles to choose from, including non-animal things like ballistic nylon and stainless steel. They all appear to be the same shape so this review will be more about how that works than the actual leather itself. We can assume it’ll compare to other leather products and is a material we’re all familiar with, unlike my previous Tyvek Slimfold wallet.

Speaking of the Slimfold, this might be the only time ever that someone has gone to such a slim wallet as the Rogue Maine and called the experience “clunky” by relative standards. The photo above shows the thickness difference, and it’s not too bad but I have been spoiled by the carefree weightlessness of the paper fiber material. You’ll also notice how beat up it is – no huge surprise there. So, for normal people who want reliability for more than 6 months, something a little beefier is required. For men who have even bulkier wallets than that: seriously, get something – anything – lighter. Especially if you’re a back pocket type, your body will thank me.

It’s made by Rogue Industries, a company out of Portland, Maine, USA where the aptly-named Maine Rogue is manufactured. As a Canadian I don’t understand the OORAH Made in America patriotism thing, but I do appreciate small companies filled with passionate people and well-made things, so wherever you hail from read this page and understand that they’re cool folks who believe in their product.

The minimalists amongst us will appreciate that there are no logos adorning the outside. It’s the same on both sides: clean, black leather. There’s a nice embossed text logo on the card slot area with a small tag sewn inside the cash hold but that’s it for branding. The curve is nice not only for it’s unique style but because you always know which side is the top, and instinctively know how to open it. One thing about the Slimfold was even after months of use, it was very easy to open upside down because of the featureless symmetry. It’s those sorts of affordances that make for intuitive, good design. The main reason for the curve, of course, is for the front pocket and it fits well. I’m a slim person and my hipster pants are on the tighter side so it felt a little wide for me, but I’m definitely in the minority. Given the material it will probably soften over time and become less of a rigid flat surface on your thigh (unlike the glass smartphone bulge). Other, bigger guys that tried front-pocketing it had no problem and no bulge. It does fit quite nicely in cargo shorts, I noticed. The curve allows for it to sit deeper in the pocket which feels more secure with the wider, more vertical pocket openings that things do slide out of all too easily when sitting.

There is a slightly shorter Weekender wallet that I’d be curious to try as well, since I don’t need a ton of card / cash space. If you are looking for massive card space, there are options for you too, but again, I’d try just scaling back first. The Original is slim enough to use as a back pocket wallet if you prefer (I would in dress pants) and while it is noticeable to sit on, it’s not a burden or anything. For those sizing down from a Costanza wallet, it’ll be a welcome reprieve regardless of how it’s worn.

RFID blocking is going to become an increasingly important feature of wallets, and the Maine has it built in already. Basically, smartphones with NFC (Near Field Communication) can read credit cards with tap-to-pay ability (like PayPass etc.), which means if a criminal can get their phone close enough to your cards, they can skim the information and effectively digitally steal your credit card. Obviously, this is bad. The good news is you can block these sorts of communications and prevent these sorts of thefts if you have an RFID blocking wallet. I found a simple app and with my phone did a number of very unscientific tests, but it seems to work. The naked card was easily read, both the Slimfold and my other leather wallets failed to keep my information secret and with the card tucked in the Rogue, it couldn’t get a reading. I’m no Mythbusters, but I’d call this confirmed.

The card slots are firm in the beginning as to be expected but work in over the first couple days. I haven’t felt like anything is going to fall out yet, anyway. There are three card slots on the left side and then an open pocket on either side, with the right having a clear plastic for your license which has a thumb slot for easy ID removal. I’m carrying five cards and a few bills and it all fits easily enough. The pocket behind the slots on the left is empty with that configuration, and could probably fit another two cards if you didn’t mind that they don’t have individual organization. A couple of personal business cards would be perfect here. One tiny gripe is that the middle card in the slots, for whatever reason, sits slightly too low and can get stuck hidden behind the front-most card. It might just be that the front slot has to relax a bit and expand to allow the card to sit lower, or that the middle slot needs it’s bottom sewn a little higher. Not a big deal, just a curiosity.

It might just be the bigger dimensions of Canadian bills, but I did notice the corners stick out of the curve ever so slightly which could be a little bothersome to the more OCD of us. It is a more spatially minimal wallet so the people who like to keep file cabinets worth of receipts and rolodex worth of business cards are not going to have the space for them here but again, it’s probably in your best interest to downsize anyway. Not having space is a great way to not fill up space.

Conclusion: If you’re a guy who has difficulty finding 29” waist pants, you can still enjoy the elegant, durable design and RFID blocking technology but know that it might look funny in the front pocket of your slimmer jeans. There are shorter versions available, so maybe look into those. If you’re normal sized, the Rogue is a great way to switch to front wearing and avoid theft and back pains. It’s reasonably priced, comes in a ton of materials and seems really well made. You’ll be supporting local business and cool people. Win-win.

And hey, father’s day is next weekend…

Geometry Deer!

Some new goodies added to the shop. It looks pretty good on the tri-blend black shirts, if I do say so myself.

Done by hand, which is definitely less than recommended. There are automatic converters and the like these days, but those feel like cheating. Still: So. Many. Triangles.

The Future of Blogging

The Kickstarter for Ghost ended the other day and it was very, very well funded which is cool for something that’s going to be free in the future anyway. Just goes to show people will pay for something so simple as a good idea.

I’ve been spending a lot more time on the Tumblr blogs as of late and I’ve noticed they’ve started to take over the role that this blog once had – my finding and sharing cool things mixed in with my opinions and stories from real life. So I pondered: why? What’s changed?

And the solution – as best as I can come up with – is interaction. The emphasis here on the ‘inter’ bit, because it’s more than just a two way dialogue; it’s a web of people intertwining the opinions and cool things and stories from real life.

Now, like any site taken at face value, there is a lot of less than prime content. Not bad things, just noise in the signal of what I’m looking for and want. I see it as noise, but that’s the signal going to other people: the internet really is everyone trying to talk on the same radio band simultaneously. We try our best to pick out the conversation we want to hear, but it’s intrinsically intermixed with all of the others. There are times when this is very good, serendipity is at it’s maximum high here because you’re being exposed to all the things you didn’t know existed, but it’s also hard to concentrate and that means it’s harder to generate good work, then get it to the people who might like it (new readership) and the people who actually want it (loyal readership).

There’s one thing that I really, really like about Tumblr. The ever-ubiquitous “follow” button in the top right. Like something and want more of it? One button. Don’t like it anymore? One button. This is the opt-in / opt-out mechanic of the future. No RSS syndication, no emails for subscribing and unsubscribing, no bouncing all over to different sources of content. One. Button. It shows up in your feed and everyone’s happy.

The interesting thing here is signal to noise becomes a ratio not of who you follow, but of what those people are posting and re-posting. The quality of content is defined by that person’s outgoing stream, not that you’re getting unwanted incoming things. Each person, then, becomes a signal-noise ratio unto themselves, independent of each other.

Sadly, I’m not sure Tumblr is the future of blogging. It’s entrenched in it’s picture format and while there are those who use it for short and long form writing, it seems to be a minority. But we can learn from it. That follow button is such a small thing that holds so much power. There are a lot of blogs that I’d love to follow but simply don’t because there aren’t any good ways to read them outside of showing up to the site every day and checking to see if there’s something new. I realize, of course, that that’s exactly where Acrylo is sitting right now. RSS didn’t work out back then and it seems unlikely to return in any overwhelming numbers. People want an easy, inline way of following and unfollowing things.

So I appreciate what Ghost is trying to do, and it’ll likely be successful enough at it, but what we really need is a Tumblr-esque quasi social network for pure writing.

Fitbit One Review

I’ve been using the Fitbit One for just over two months now, so I think it’s finally time for a review.

My initial reaction when unboxing it was just how tiny the device is. I carry it in that little change pocket that pants have, and very occasionally use the clip if that pocket isn’t available (for example, some kinds of shorts). The marketing material says you can put it anywhere, and it’s probably true, but it just works out to have it near my hip. The carrying clip is a stiff rubber with a metal clip that feels very secure when attached to a belt or pocket edge. Both the material’s grip and it’s tight clamp combined with a ribbed texture on the end make for a fit that’s secure when in place but easy enough to take on and off when you want to. The fit of the One inside the clip is the same way: easy enough to put in and out but I trust it entirely when walking / running / biking. Considering it’s likely going to be bouncing and bobbing around, this is very good.

There’s just one button on the entire thing which is used to cycle through the various stats which include time, steps, flights of stairs climbed, distance, calories burned and a flower that indicates how much activity you’ve recently done, with the idea being you want to keep the flower in bloom across the day (it’ll slowly recede if you’re sedentary). It has a stopwatch, I think, if you hold it but honestly, I’ve never used that since I don’t run with any particular time goal or schedule.

Using your phone, tablet or computer (with the help of a tiny USB dongle) you can Bluetooth from the device to the app / browser and it’ll show you a more comprehensive dashboard of your data. This is where the device really shines and where I as a graph nerd really find it useful. Not only can I quantify my laziness, I can chart it!

You’ll see where I’m not even using the full functionality. I don’t log my food (which is a thing that works fairly well in my limited testing) so my calories in are nil and, to be fair, my calories out aren’t very accurate because I don’t log my bike commute every day either. It captures the motion of my legs still, but it counts the effort as if I were walking / running. I happen to know roughly how many calories extra the biking is worth (since I did log it a few times) and just mentally add it in rough. This brings me to my first gripe: there doesn’t appear to be a way to make an activity repeat. I know I’m going to bike to work using the same route and do it in roughly the same time every day (it seems to calculate calories using the distance you enter and your time doing it, mixed with the altitude data) – I wish I could just say “Monday -> friday, these activities (bike there, bike back) get added. Repeat weekly.” Since I’d have to manually enter every ride I quickly gave up and stopped caring that those numbers were in the official data. It should be noted that adding an activity overwrites the walking data for that time block, so it doesn’t get counted twice. Technically then, I am getting some points for biking.

You’ll also notice that I’ve given up on the sleep tracker. Except for those random, bizarre spikes (which don’t make sense since the device is likely on the bathroom countertop sitting undisturbed) it’s empty. The Fitbit One comes with a very soft wristband with a pocket for the tracker and I did track for the first month or so. It told me what I already knew: I sleep like a rock and with solid patterns for going to bed / waking up. That’s also why I stopped using the alarm clock function, which basically vibrates (very similar to a cellphone) on your wrist until you shut it off. This would be nice, I’m told, for people who sleep with other people. Since I am not one of those people, my waking routine involves significantly more sobbing and existential depression. Speaking of which, the device is water resistant and although never really stress-tested, I can imagine it would be. It’s a small, sealed unit with one small rubber button.

Also ignored: there’s a wireless scale that can sync up to the dashboard via WIFI and provide weight info. I don’t have a regular scale, so I couldn’t even input my weight manually, but it would keep track of that too if you wanted. You can also input water consumption and keep a journal of your mood, heart rate and blood pressure, glucose levels and, as mentioned above, food and non-walking activities. Food is always tricky and I’m not sure how they could have made it any better. There’s a big library of foods and you can add by searching and then telling it how much you had, in basically any measurement you can imagine. It’s pretty intelligent with knowing that one granola bar is different than one cup of granola bar etc. Unfortunately, there’s simply too many things out there. How do you log that sandwich you had at the neighborhood deli? It has sandwiches from, say, Subway or common foods from Safeway, but once you start making your own stuff and buying from non-chain stores the accuracy gets sketchy. Understandable, though. It does it’s best.

Battery life is amazing. It’s a small screen that’s rarely on, so it makes sense, but still. I haven’t really paid attention to when it gets charged, but it’d have to be every fortnight or so. Week and a half at least. The charging cable is USB and the device just clicks into it’s rubber embrace. It makes sense that the charging cable and the Bluetooth dongle are different USB devices, but it also means more clutter to have and plug in and out. The Bluetooth syncing is really cool because you never have to think about it. If you sit down at your computer, it’ll do a little sync and anytime you access your data, it’ll be there and roughly up-to-date. It’s that sort of thing that I appreciate in technology. I never have to think or worry about it, it’s never a chore or annoying. Other than having to charge it every so often, I really could just keep it in my pocket all the time and never think about the device itself again.

So after 71 days of more-or-less accurate testing (you can see in the graph I forgot to wear the tracker a few times) I’ve traveled 509 980 steps, which works out to just over 7 000 per day. You’re recommended to walk 10 000, which is alarming. I’m a fairly active person, I walk a fair bit and bike commute 30km a day. I’m usually at my desk, true, but I would have guessed I was higher. Summer’s just getting started, so I imagine hiking will bring up my average some. It’s good to know these things, and it’s a motivation to do more, but it’s equally disappointing to learn just how bad you are.

Verdict: It’s $100. I’d buy it again, easy. It’s robust and well designed in both hard and software. Does what it promises and without complaint, which makes for a boring review but is exactly why you should buy something. It’s invisible design. I might look into the new bracelet version that just came out but from what I’ve seen it’s basically the same thing with a coloured rubber band. The ability to wear the One without drawing attention to it could be useful, perhaps.

Dymaxion Map of the World on sale for Bitcoins

If you want to click a button and have a fully printed map shipped to your front door, there’s still the Society6 option. However! If you want to do a little legwork and go down to your favorite print shop to have one made for you, you could save some money.

Introducing my new sale:

Simply go here and exchange Bitcoins for the ability to download the file. The coins go to me (0.14 BTC), the high resolution lossless .jpg (2′ x 3′ @ 300 DPI) goes to you. Throw that on a flashdrive and have it printed however you want. Easy!

Now, I’m trusting you with this one. I’m giving you the printing resolution file itself and technically you have the ability to pirate it to the rest of the world, it’s true. I’m assuming you aren’t going to spit in the face of some kid who spent a lot of time making a map because, let’s face it, those are the sorts of kids who don’t have many friends. So. Don’t be a dick, and I’ll give you the ability to make derivative works for your personal printing (maybe you want it in a different colour or something? Go for it!) but tell you that it’s not cool to further sell or share it. Cool? Cool. Thank you.

Enjoy!

Oblivion

OBLIVION GFX Montage from GMUNK on Vimeo.

I’ll keep this short, it’s less a review and more about what the movie is.

I had a chance to see the movie last week and was really impressed. The visuals are led by a director with a background in architecture and design and it shows. Like Tron, the movie is as much about it’s style and it’s world as anything else. I went into it with no real expectations and left pleasantly surprised but it’s depth and the little details that usually derail these sorts of movies. I really appreciated that they built the sets and the vehicles – the fact that they shot the cloudscapes and projected them just seems so caring to me. There was a video about Akira that talked about the sheer level of detail they put into it, that there’s a scene that’s only a few seconds long, but they matte painted an entire cityscape to parallax through the buildings behind them. That’s the sort of obsessive vision that I really appreciate. Even if the movie is terrible – and Oblivion isn’t – I appreciate the people who made it so much more.

The soundtrack is M83 and unlike Tron’s Daft Punk score, was actually pretty generic. Save for the credit song and a few of the ambient bits it was the traditional cinematic style found everywhere. It wasn’t bad, it’s just that I wish M83 had more reign to do something awesome.

So. Go see it. Notice that there’s dirt on the pedals of the flying machine from adventures previous. Notice that it feels lived in instead of being a greenscreen soundstage.

Wander. Wonder.

A new poster! Finally

Super busy over here, and I’ve taken to writing things that aren’t posted immediately, namely: both a three act comic and an entirely unrelated novel. But, of course, LTKMN gets short fiction posts every so often.

But, if you’d like to buy the above poster from our good friends at Society6, you should do so here. The usual formats are there (posters, art prints, stretched canvases, etc) but it’s also available – and I think quite fashionably – as an iPhone back. Take this simple philosophy wherever you go!

Note, the printed poster version doesn’t have the Acrylo logo in the corner. Other than the obviously branded stuff, I try to keep things clean for you.

Until next time!

Favorite Photo

Q: Which of your photos is your absolute favorite?

A: A tricky one, for sure. I think this photo is the one that taught me the most about life, and for that reason I’ll always appreciate it and hold it special.

The story: I was driving home from hanging out with some friends and this gorgeous sunset happened just after a storm. The whole thing is at an angle because I literally took this photo while driving and while in the middle of the intersection because that’s the only place that there weren’t buildings. I used to have my camera everywhere and it sat beside me, so other than scrambling for the zipper, it was always close at hand.

By the time I had gotten home to take a better version, it was already gone. This temporary image burned in my mind, even more spectacular than this mere frame would suggest.

The lesson I took away, and ultimately what started my getting out of photography is that everything is temporary and you can decide to try and take the picture or simply enjoy the moment for real.

So I certainly wouldn’t call it my best shot, but it might just be my favorite.


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