Category DIY

When autonomous robots leap

In the midst of what’s become almost an overload of drone photography and filming… the below video caught my eye.

First, it’s not a helicopter drone… it’s a plane drone that only goes forward and does so quite fast. Second, it’s autonomous… meaning it alters it’s flight path in real time as it heads into (literally) a forest of random obstacles.

And then I came across this MIT-creation.

We’ve all seen endless robot fails… expensive experiments that run into walls or trip and fall. The simple truth it that those fails are just visual representations of invention and iteration. Those trials lead to something like this. A cheetah that can jump over obstacles coming at them in seemingly random heights and cadence.

Note the DARPA end card, “funded by DARPA Maximum Mobility and Manipulation.” That begs the question, is the following a behind-the-scenes look at the next Star Wars film or a trailer for the next regional conflict?

California inspires me

I grew up in the midwest and have lived all over but nothing quite compares to California. I’m in love with it’s sense of optimism and insatiable desire to recreate itself. Oh… the sunshine and wave consistency are also pretty darn awesome.

For these reasons and many more I also love these beautifully illustrated stories that seek to capture why California inspires us.

California inspires Jack Black

California inspires Mark Mothersbaugh

California inspires Brian Wilson

California inspires Mike Mills

California inspires Thao Nguyen

California inspires Kim Gordon


Really interesting concept. Take an almost disposable, yet ubiquitous structure and turn it into a farm.

I love how this can play in places like Brooklyn (or any major city) and add urban farms into the mix. It’s also an interesting idea in drought regions like Southern California. And of course it offers a really interesting disaster-relief idea for… pretty much anywhere in the world.


Curiosity and creation

I love the process of discovery. I also love watching that process through someone else’s eyes. I suppose this all comes down to the simple ideas of curiosity and creation.

The following is a killer little video put out by the clever crew at Vans. More than anything I love the sighs of stoke coming from Aaron Draplin’s mouth as he connects with something new.

#LIVINGOFFTHEWALL – Aaron Draplin & The Art of the Side Hustle Pt 1 from Vans OffTheWall.TV on Vimeo.

Slayer University

The world shifted in 2005 when a few ex-PayPal employees launched YouTube. It accelerated a shift toward becoming a culture of video-based learning.

Of course, they weren’t the first with a video sharing service but the world seemed to understand YouTube instantly. It was simple: turn the video camera on ourselves, record and publish. DIY video was born.

And it’s not all inane cat videos, Kahn Academy launched a few years after YouTube and today has more than 100,000 practice problems and over 6,000 micro lectures online. 

A decade after YouTube’s launch our default for learning has become sites like YouTube. How do you install a deck with no fasters showing? Look for a video online. How do you repair a Patagonia jacket, ditto.

Which brings me to Slayer.

I’m not a Slayer fan and my point here isn’t about them. Videos like the following catch my attention. A ten-year old embraces a video-based learning tool (Rocksmith), masters a complex craft and then posts it for the world to see.

Oh… and her little sister comes along for the ride (sounds like she’ll be fronting a math-Metal band in the near future).

2014. Time stamp.

Exploring the near past with a futuristic vehicle

car_mxHistory moves swiftly.

We tend to have our eyes focused on the future but what’s right behind us can sometimes be even more interesting.

Changes are thrust upon cultures with decisions that are well out of their control; strokes of a pen at the Federal level can change transportation routes and even shift societies.

To try and better understand this Mexican artists Ivan Puig and Andres Padilla Domene created what looks like a NASA-meets-Brooklyn-meets-Kickstarter vehicle.

The goal was simple… to explore railway lines that were end-of-lifed when the Mexican government privatized the rail system in the mid 90s.

These two are “Los Ferronautas, intrepid explorers of dead railway lines.”

How they explored the country is novel, innovative and even punk. What they found is even more interesting. Check out the film below of the project and their travels.

Keep in mind they are exploring a political decision that is less than 20 years old.

The rise of drone-powered surf-cam videos

drone1We have seen the future of surfing video and it’s drone-enabled.

Let’s face it, drones have a bad reputation due to their association with wars but there has been a quietly rising interest in hobby drones. Chris Anderson, previous head of WIRED Mag, started the site DIY Drones a bit ago… and things are starting to move into the mainstream.

I love when a military app pivots into the mainstream. One of the largest such shifts happened when Netscape took the DARPA-created internet (pdf) and popped a consumer-oriented browser on the early, nascent web.

Something similar is happening right now with drones.

If you’re a surfer you’ve seen a plethora of surfing photography and surf films… we engage with those because we want to get closer to the wave… back to the experience of surfing a wave. The simple truth is that photos are static and films are usually anchored to a specific location… and riding a wave is much more fluid.

Enter the drones… below are two, worthy, videos of among the best waves in the world. The “drone-selfie” will not be far behind.

Pipeline, Oahu… as gorgeous as you’ve ever seen it.

Rincon, California. Mother of all right point breaks.

Family time – Cycle Zombies

I love this film.

This crew, this family… has it’s own soundtrack and vibe.

Motorcycles, skateboarding, surfing and family… all embracing the DIY ethic.

Minimalist design of popular TV shows


I’m fascinated with minimalism.

What drives this fascination is the plethora of junk in our daily lives. As we all know, the DIY movement has enabled everyone to become an author, a photographer, a designer… etc. While this is good it has also created quite a bit of mediocrity.

We’ve gone from a handfull of TV channels in the 70’s to dozens in the 90’s to thousands today… there is a whole lot of content out there and the truth is that most of it is bad.

It’s hard to pare away all the superfluous elements of design and tell a story with the simplest graphical representation possible.

This brings me to Albert Exergian.

He’s an Austrian designer who is also into TV… so he’s created a bunch of simple minimalist posters. The MacGyver poster leads the pack for me but check out Kojak, Charlie’s Angels and The Sopranos.

Albert’s blog is here.

When a tweet is more than a tweet


It was bound to happen.

We all know consumers have more power today than then did yesterday. Some have used this power on platforms like Twitter to share our delight or frustration with a brand.

What’s new is the idea of a person sharing their frustration and then paying to promote that tweet to increase its (in this case critical) impact.

I love the idea behind this, a person not just making a statement but treating competing with paying brands to increase the impact of that statement.

We’re still figuring out internet’s impact on society… and almost twenty years after Netscape gave us the browser the ground is still shifting.