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Watching robots get more and more sophisticated over half a century of commercials is fascinating. Trends evolve from the erector set inspired Mr Machine and terrifying Garloo to cute 70s robot buddies, through the Japanese dominated 80s and hip hop and rave culture inspired 90s.

toy robot commercials through history (videos)

Considering what guns are actually designed to do, its pretty amazing how many other products and gadgets are designed to look like them. Here are a few of our faves. Vote for yours.

13 gun shaped non guns

Named after the famous cartoonist, Rube Goldberg machines are unlike ordinary gadgets in that they are deliberately inefficient, taking the maximum number of steps to achieve a goal. Last years winner of the Rube Goldberg competition took over three hundred steps to squeeze a glass of orange juice.To truly appreciate RG machines you need to see them in action. Here is a list of videos of our favorites. Vote for yours.

12 best Rube Goldberg Machine videos

A gallery of some of the most impressive control rooms, including the original NASA mission control, the Beatles recording studio, the NORAD nuclear war room, what is left of Chernobyl reactor 4 control and control rooms for TV, traffic, subways and particle accelerators.

control rooms of all types

BASE jumping is much more interesting than ordinary skydiving, for us, because it involves architecture. Here are some videos of people jumping off notable structures, such as Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Nervi's influential Pirelli tower in Milan and the enormous Burg Dubai. We have also included a jump off the end of a blade on a wind turbine (because they are beautiful structures) and an indoor jump inside a cathedral like, converted airship hangar. The Macau tower bungee jump is notable because its a similar height to the Eiffel tower and is a legal amusement ride that anyone can pay for. Our favorite, however, is the jump off Calatrava's Turning Torso building in Malmo, Sweden. Although Calatrava can sometimes appear willful in his focus on structure rather than space, revealing himself to be more of a creative engineer than an architect, the Turning Torso is his best work to date. Similarly the jump itself is spectacular, involving two parts: jumping from a plane onto its roof and then from the roof to the ground. In the rather obscure and narrow overlap between extreme sports and architecture this is a definitive piece.

jumping off notable architecture (and surviving) videos

Magic Lanterns are essentially pre-electric slide projectors. They hold a unique position in the history of gadgets, being popular at the end of the nineteenth century when cheap mass produced decoration became available. They represent one of the last machines to be designed like furniture rather than gadgets.The dirty little secret of design is that good taste equals expensive - when everybody could afford decoration, minimalist design with expensive materials became a way to display wealth (the early modernist, Barcelona pavilion had stainless steel columns, onyx walls and travertine floors) contrary to legend, modernism was originally product for the elite, not the masses.Magic Lanterns are pre-modernist, richly decorated items that are very different from the design of todays gadgets, which look like their design is dictated by function, but in reality (like an expensive Porsche designed to travel at speeds which it is illegal to do so) is dictated by a fetishized culture of the machine.

12 Magic Lanterns

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Why We Don’t Rate the Optimus Keyboard

February 25th, 2009 link to (permalink)

The Optimus keyboard shares something in common with the Segway. It is an idea which requires an overly complicated design solution to a problem that may be marginal but requires sophisticated engineering to solve. The proper term for this is a gimmick and gadgets which are innovative gimmicks have a curious property, they generate lots of discussion on blogs etc. but few people actually buy them.

Despite the hype the Optimus keyboard looks like an expensive failure, and nothing quite shows it in the worst light than this tacky and predictable World of Warcraft theme.

3 Responses to “Why We Don’t Rate the Optimus Keyboard”

  1. JDoors Says:

    Ooo! I know! What if they treated all the displays as one? Like having kaleidoscopic images dancing across the keyboard? Totally useless, but people use screensavers for no other reason than, “It’s pretty.” A video showing this capability should be worth a few sales.

  2. maximilien Says:

    Not a bad mod, its a bit cute. But quite honestly if you really play the game and you play a warlock well you would know that this kb will just pointless. First of all the concept of pretty icons for keys are not very practical since if you are raiding you do not have time to look at the keyboard since you are focused on targets/dps meters/omen/health and mana bars in addition to any instructions provided by the raid leader. Also with all the game patches icons and spells are always being changed or removed and some are added as well. Finally you are always having to change tool bars depending on what you are doing and your play style which is not possible with this keyboard.

  3. Htos1 Says:

    I couldn’t use it either.The only “advanced” feature I ever want on a kb is the backlit keys,similar to the buttons on my Bang & Olusen BeoSound 2000.

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