"Remember, folks—I gave you the internet, and I can take it away." Those were the words David Letterman jokingly put in Al Gore's mouth during an appearance from the latter on Late Night. And while no one is really going to take your internet away, an ongoing battle in U.S. courts may influence the way it is delivered to you.
To date the internet has been operating under the principle of net neutrality, whereby all content providers are treated equally; this means that Core77's homepage is delivered to you as quickly as Netflix's, as we and them are viewed as equal. (We may not have House of Cards, but hey, we have "True I.D. Stories.") But yesterday the Federal Communications Commission put forth a proposal that would allow ISPs to charge providers more to deliver their content faster, essentially providing "fast lanes" to whomever's got the money.
On its face that might not sound so outrageous, as it seems akin to a motorist paying more to use the Midtown Tunnel instead of sitting in traffic on the Queensboro Bridge; but it's got folks up in arms, as a closer examination of the proposal raises some troubling questions. One sticking point in particular is the wording of the proposal, which states that service providers dole out these new charges "in a commercially reasonable manner." While this sounds like it is intended to promote some level of fairness—i.e. Core77 can't afford to pay what Google can, so howzabout cutting Core77 a break on the fast-lane price?—even a little scrutiny raises thorny issues. For example, internet service provider Comcast happens to own NBCUniversal; couldn't their lawyers argue that it's "commercially reasonable" for Comcast to charge Disney-ABC more, in order to protect their subsidiary's interests and gain a competitive advantage?
We've looked at desks designed to cut cable clutter, desks with storage and desks with gutters. But this deceptively-simple-looking desk by Artifox may be one of the most efficient designs we've seen yet for modern-day usage. Designed for pure functionality, if not flexibility, Artifox's Desk 01 is the type of object that an archaeologist could dig up 1,000 years in the future and study to deduce how we worked in the year 2014.
My biggest gripe with modern-day desks is that there's no allowance for the bags we all carry. Artifox has taken care of that with a simple knob on the front that provides easy bag access. Make that two knobs, with the second providing a handy spot to stow headphones for your Skype session.
An angled groove in the desk surface provides a handy (if static) spot to place a tablet and smartphone, or just a tablet if in landscape orientation.
It was just a few years ago that Lytro released their Light Field Camera, meant to usher in an era of "computational photography." Users capture the ambient light field rather than a bunch of static pixels, and this radical technological approach allows one to re-focus shots after the fact.
But the LFC never really took off, whether because of its alien, boxy form factor or the educational hurdle the company faces in explaining this new generation of product. So now Lytro is releasing a new model, the Illum, featuring both improved internals and an entirely new form factor. What most caught our eye is that it echoes an SLR in shape, but is clearly an entirely new class of object—not an easy design line to tread.
You don't think of big-name designers doing furniture for schools, but Danish furniture brand Hay scored Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec to do their line for the University of Copenhagen. The resultant Copenhague line is a handsome blend of wooden desks, tables, chairs, and stools, some stackable. And in a nod to modern needs, the tables and desks featuring bent plywood provide a slot where the dual surfaces meet, intended for power cables to be routed through.
Editor: After going Hollywood in Part 5, here in Part 6 Accidental Designer finds a casual suggestion from his wife is about to change their lives. As one door closes, another door (this one on a shipping container) opens....
I was down in my basement workshop, failing.
I had been trying to produce a lightweight and affordable bamboo folding chair for Hollywood sets. After hundreds of hours and countless prototypes, this problem just had me beat—and I knew it. I mopped my brow and called up the stairs to ask my wife if we had any sandwiches left.
My wife is a mean cook and she goes through cutting boards like nobody's business. It doesn't matter what they're made of, she just plain wears them out. "I need a new cutting board, this one's through," she called down the stairs. "Can you scrape up some of that bamboo and make me one?"
I looked around at all of the bamboo scrap I had and thought, well, here's a problem I can solve. I glued up a bunch of scrap pieces, more than I needed just for the sake of doing something, and by the next day I'd made her a cutting board and a few back-ups.
Following that, to clean up my shop area, use up a bunch of scrap and exercise my brain, I threw myself into gluing up cut-offs and began experimenting with different styles of cutting boards. After failing with chair prototype after prototype, it felt good to successfully make something—anything.
I had consistently-shaped scraps in several different sizes, and so I designed the cutting boards around the shape of the scraps. By the end of my clean-up project I had several dozen good-looking cutting boards. I felt like my table saw and router respected me again.
I didn't think much of this until a few weeks later, when I was loading up my truck to hit a craft show in Arizona. I was bringing the $2,000 bamboo chair even though I knew it wouldn't sell, and also bringing some consumer-grade chairs I knew I could sell, just because I needed the cash. The extra bamboo cutting boards I'd made were sitting in the corner. I figured they'd be Christmas presents for relatives, which would save my wife and I some cash since we were getting close to broke.
Still, I grabbed a bunch of the cutting boards and threw them in the truck. I didn't think I'd sell any, but figured I'd use them to gauge interest.
Maybe you can guess what happened next.