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“Acrobat” Photog Defies Death To Capture View At The Top Of The World

[SitM: more creative use of everyday tech]

“Wouter van Buuren is not only a photographer, he is also an acrobat.” That’s how one art gallery describes, perhaps too mildly, the 39-year-old Dutch photographer who scales utility poles, tip-toes across bridges, and climbs out the windows of skyscrapers to capture breathtaking vistas of cities and rural landscapes from the top of the man-made world.

Van Buuren then takes the photographs and stitches them together to create dizzying “total landscapes”–sphere-shaped panoramas that imitate a satellite’s view of the earth. He doesn’t use Photoshop. Instead, for each landscape, he painstakingly lays out 100 photos or more, trusting to his own patience and steady hands (traits you’d hope for in a guy who defies death for a living).

“I started to make the total landscapes in the Netherlands when I was climbing electricity pylons,” he tells Co.Design. “I was stunned by the beauty of the landscape I thought I knew so well. From above the mundane seemed more divine. So I continued to do this and extended this to cranes, bridges and buildings and other countries all over the world.”

To date, van Buuren has snapped pictures on everything from a construction crane in Rotterdam to a skyscraper in Shanghai to a famous bridge in New York. The most dangerous place he’s ever shot? “A ladder outside a high-rise building on the 55th floor,” he says. “Because I didn’t bring a security belt, I had to tightly grip my hands on the small roof platform. …It’s funny how you can get used to heights. After a while I have no problem walking over the edge without any security, as long as there’s no wind.”

Our favorite photographs are the ones where he puts himself in the composition. We catch a glimpse of his foot dangling out over here or his hand gripping the crane for dear life over there–evidence of the acrobat hard at work.

[Images courtesy of Wouter van Buuren; hat tip to Notcot]

Long-Exposure Pics Make Trains Look Like Laser Beams

Long-Exposure Pics Make Trains Look Like Laser Beams

[SitM: very nice results using everyday tech]

We love pictures of trains. We also love plays on light. So we reaaaally love the long-exposure shots of San Francisco photographer Aaron Durand, who manages to make the city’s commuter trains look like a phaser shootout in Star Trek.

The impressive part: He does it without any fancy equipment or Photoshop trickery. He just hangs around Caltrain tracks (places he knows well from his salad days photographing graffiti art), aims his camera at an oncoming train, then pops open the shutter, letting light pour in for seconds on end as the train hurtles past. The slow shutter speed is what produces those ghostly streaks of light.

Durand shoots almost exclusively at night, which is the best time of day for snapping long exposures; the darker your background, the more dramatic your light trails. It also heightens the sense that you’re not looking at San Francisco at all, but rather some sort of dystopian industrial wasteland, stardate 5920.

Etiquette Lessons in the Digital Age

Etiquette Lessons in the Digital Age

So, you dropped food on the floor—to eat or not to eat, that is the question?

Audrey Fukuman and Andy Wright of SFoodie created a flowchart—“The 30-Second Rule, A Decision Tree”—to guide you on whether or not you should eat what you dropped in 30-seconds, because sometimes the 5-second rule doesn’t apply.

First things first, did anyone see you drop the food you want to eat on the floor?

Have sex in an airplane for only $425

Have sex in an airplane for only $425

Plenty of people have fantasies of joining the ‘Mile High Club’ by cramping themselves into a tiny bathroom to have uncomfortable sex with the danger of being kicked off an airline forever. It doesn’t sound too enjoyable. But what if you were given space and allowed to do it?

A private airline in Cincinnati called Flamingo Air is offering hour-long flights for $425. It includes chocolate, champagne, and enough room to maneuver.

The pilots are described as very “discreet,” and there seems to be some level of privacy. Sort of. Business owner Dave MacDonald tells the NYDN “I have had a high heel in my ear once, been shot in the back of the head with a champagne cork, and thank God we wear headsets.”

Some may be turned off by the removal of the element of danger, but if this thing takes off, business-wise, expect airlines in other cities to start offering up similar deals. The price is comparable to a night at a lux hotel.

Nevada Approves Rules for Self-Driving Cars (implication: Knight Rider Becomes Reality)

Nevada Approves Rules for Self-Driving Cars (implication: Knight Rider Becomes Reality)

[SitM: Resurrection of Hasselhof as pop icon to follow shortly thereafter]

Nevada has become the first state in the United States to approve self-driving cars, a necessary step for Google’s vision to become a reality.

In a statement, the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles said that its Legislative Commission today approved regulations allowing for the operation of self-driving vehicles on the state’s roadways. Nevada’s rules are the next step in a process began last June, when the state passed a bill that required its DMV to draft the rules.

Autonomous test vehicles will display a red license plate, Nevada officials said. If and when the technology is approved for public use, the cars will carry a green license plate. Nevada’s standard licese plates are bluish-gray, with most of the license plate representing mountains fading into a yellowish sky.

The regulations are a boon for Google, which stunned the industry in late 2010 when it disclosed that it not only had developed an autonomous car, but had successfully tested it on public roadways. Now, Nevada could be prepping for the first self-driving cars to populate the streets of Las Vegas, among other cities.

“Nevada is the first state to embrace what is surely the future of automobiles,” Department of Motor Vehicles director Bruce Breslow said in a statement. “These regulations establish requirements companies must meet to test their vehicles on Nevada’s public roadways as well as requirements for residents to legally operate them in the future.”

Nevada said it worked with Google, automobile manufacturers, testing professionals, insurance companies, universities and law enforcement to develop the regulations. Other states also have similar bills that will be voted upon to determine if they, too, can follow suit.

“Our work doesn’t stop here,” Breslow said. “The department is currently developing licensing procedures for companies that want to test their self-driving vehicles in Nevada. Nevada is proud to be the first state to embrace this emergent technology and the department looks forward to sustaining partnerships as the technology evolves.”

In August of 2010, Google actually said that its cars had traveled more than 160,000 miles without incident – not without driver intervention, but without an accident. Video confirmed that one of Google’s self-driving cars had been involved in a fender-bender, that Google blamed on the Google human driver in the car, rather than the vehicle’s autonomous systems. (Google has also released videos of its autonomous vehicles in action.)

Sergey Brin, a Google co-founder who has taken the self-driving car and other special projects under his wing, has he wants the self-driving car to drive a million miles without an accident. The company has also patented a “landing strip” for the cars, able to orient it or transfer information to it via short-range wireless technologies.

Two other car companies have publicly said they’re developing autonomous cars, as well: Audi and Volkswagen.

The Towers of Tomorrow

The Towers of Tomorrow

[SitM likes outside of the box design]

What will the skyscrapers of the future look like? Will they be covered in gardens, shaped like rocket ships, submerged in the ocean?

Since it was established in 2006, the annual eVolo Skyscraper Competition has drawn more than 4,000 proposals from architects, engineers, students and artists in 168 countries. The new book “eVolo Skyscrapers” compiles 300 of these plans, divided into categories like technological advances, ecological urbanism and social solutions. Some of the designs tackle familiar problems, like the need for parking space, but others are more forward-looking, like buildings that incorporate robotics or are capable of flying. Here is a look at some proposals for the next generation of big buildings.

A Light Installation Turns Chicago’s “Bean” Into A Gigantic Disco Ball

A Light Installation Turns Chicago’s “Bean” Into A Gigantic Disco Ball

[SitM: this is a good example of how simple it is to achieve a dramatic effect with mirrored light]

From now until the February 20, “Cloud Gate” (a.k.a. “The Bean”), Anish Kapoor’s iconic curving sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park, is the site of a trippy video and sound installation whose shifting geometric shapes and colors will transform its shiny surface into an interactive light show. The effect is not unlike a ’70s disco party set to percussive music.

For “Luminous Field,” the Chicago-based artists Sean Gallero and Petra Bachmaier, who collaborate under the moniker Luftwerk, mounted 10 projectors on truss towers to illuminate the space in and around Cloud Gate’s reflective vortex, forming what the designers describe as a “’playground’ for people to follow and engage with light.”

“We like the combination of image and surface, and the surface can be a structure, an architectural space, or a material,” Bachmaier says. “What happens between those two is what really interests us.” This isn’t the first time Luftwerk has played off the built environment. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, they installed a dynamic light display highlighting the dialogue between the building’s organic form and its setting.

Traditional Camera Shapes Are Wrong

Traditional Camera Shapes Are Wrong

[SitM: makes a lot of sense]

Listen to designer Jean-michel Bonnemoy and he’ll have you believe traditional camera form factors were dictated by the need to hold a roll of film in the back. Now that we’re all digital, why are still maintaining that archaism? He maintains the new form factor should be a cylinder – ergonomically better for the hand. The D-CAN concept significantly reduces volume while still providing all the finite controls professional photographers are used to. Hit the jump for the “specs”.

Large range zoom stabilized USM lens.
A ring authorizes the focus correction. The focal is lockable.
Extension cursor for macrophotography
The lens cap, impossible to lose, includes an electronic flash and the AF-assist illuminator
The accessory shoe can receive, besides an electronic flash, a directional microphone or a remote control receiver.
The cursor “function” allows to choose between fixed views or video, pictures reading, intervallometer and power off.
Cursor “mode” (program, speed or aperture priority, manual)
Double key ISO (100 to 6400 ISO).
Sockets for peripheral: microphone, audio headset, power supply.
The high-definition back screen is used for the aim, the control and the parameter setting by means of a trackball.
The system of aim offers two configurations:
– At the level of eye for a precise centring including right in the sun, with precise control of the focus. The magnifier with diopter adjustment gives an image enlarged of the screen.
– Directly on the directional back screen having raised the magnifier.
The back block of aim revolves to give access to the memory card, USB and HDMI connectors and energy compartment.
The lithium battery can be replaced in case of necessity by a set of AA size battery.
The release button pushed at the halfway mark locks the focus and the exposure.
Maintained pushed it allows continuous photo mode.
The function of thumb wheels differs according to the mode:
– Thumb wheel 1: exposure correction(P, Tv, Av) or choice of the aperture (M).
– Thumb wheel 2: program shift (P), choice of the shutter speed (Tv, M), of the aperture (Av).
Designer: Jean-michel Bonnemoy

Soul in the Machine Live in Vegas, February 25, 2012

Soul in the Machine Live in Vegas, February 25, 2012

Soul in the Machine LIVE – One Magic Night
At The World Renowned
Rain Nightclub – The Palms – Las Vegas

We’ve been wanting to play here since attending a Club Rubber event here back when EDM was still considered way underground (see the “RAVE Act”). This club is perfect for us – high ceilings, large stage area, ampitheater style table levels. Plus, it’s in Vegas and that’s where it’s all blowing up right now. Hope to see you there!

British Facebook Users Are Intoxicated in 76% of Their Photos [STUDY]

British Facebook Users Are Intoxicated in 76% of Their Photos [STUDY]

[SitM: is this really that surprising?]

The average British person is under the influence of alcohol in three-quarters of of his or her tagged Facebook photos, according to a new study.

Researchers asked British people to reveal how many Facebook pictures showed themselves drinking alcohol or were taken after consuming alcohol. They estimate 76% of their photographs had some connection with alcohol.

“We’re all guilty of going out and having a good time, but nowadays the photos inevitably catch up with us online, so we wanted to look at how much these photos dominate our presence on social media sites,” says Rebecca Huggler, co-founder of MyMemory, which conducted the study.

Researchers also looked at privacy settings. Only 12% of the 1,781 Facebook users who were polled don’t allow anyone to see their photos, while 58% let friends view their pics. A substantial 26% gave access to anyone.

More than half (56%) admit they had “drunk photos” they wouldn’t want co-workers to see and 8% say their photos might cause “serious trouble at work.”

Ninety-three percent of respondents have untagged photos deemed “too embarrassing.”

Huggler notes many of the photographs with alcohol were taken during special occasions or get-togethers with friends or family. She predicts the holiday season will fuel more photo activity that involves alcohol.

What percentage of your Facebook photos would you estimate feature alcohol or drinking? Are you concerned about who may see them?