Great Design Series on Netflix

Just last night I watched the first episode of the new Netflix series “Abstract: The Art of Design”, featuring illustrator Christoph Niemann. Perhaps it was just that Niemann’s work is so interesting and funny, but the show seems delightful. I’m planning on showing my kids, since I think they will get as much out of it as I!

Cool Video Celebrating Illustrator

I have used Illustrator since the early 90s, after Freehand went away. I had trouble at first with the different tools and key commands, but eventually became comfortable and now use it in almost every major design project I have. Additionally, Illustrator has acted like something of a can opener for me in its ability to pull apart PDF files, since often a challenge with a design project is to obtain already-created assets, such as logos, that the client may not have, and may not be able to get.
Today, someone sent me a video commemorating the anniversary of Illustrator. Kind of cool to see images and people I have encountered over the years. Ron Chan created one the cover of one of the first Macworld issues I contributed to — the rather iconic vector graphic of a man pulling a broadsheet off a printing press. I saw him rebuild that image at a Macworld conference a few months later.

Quick and Dirty Casting

How this appeared in my YouTube feed, I don’t recall. Nonetheless, a popular Youtuber by the name of Grant has tons of interesting how-to videos on molding and casting. He seems to do most of his projects on the cheap — for example, smelting soda cans in a forge made with a metal bucket, sand, and plaster. Some of the ideas I saw in his video list appear to be builds from other Youtuber’s designs (or perhaps Instructables), but who cares? He is trying lots of different things and does a good job.

The ideas I want to try soon:

  • Vacuum chamber in pressure cooker pot with an acrylic top (for de-gassing molds)
  • Vacuum chamber bell jar design for potential science experiments in vacuum
  • Making a silicon mold
  • Making the sand-plaster forge (with steel wool in the plaster to help reinforce it and make it last longer)
  • Casting aluminum ingots from soda cans (I have a lot of soda cans!)
  • Casting some kind of interesting artwork with said cans (perhaps using lost wax method)

President’s Week is coming up, and this could be fun for then. Of course, it would be more fun if the kids were involved, and that is always a super big challenge, given their short attention spans!

I’ve been thinking about doing something along this line for years. So I really hope I can make this happen!

Reboot (maybe) and Getting Smarter

The Internet being what it is and life being nowadays a series of distractions, it has been a while since I posted anything here. When you’re consuming and consuming content, it doesn’t always occur to share it, particularly when the platforms on which you’re seeing whatever-it-is make it easier simply to echo within their site. I also see most of the interesting things I come across on Flipboard, and I haven’t figured out how to connect that with a blog (or microblog). We have a term — Luddite — for people who reject technology, but I don’t know if there is a term for people, like me, who simply don’t have time to adopt new tech (and honestly, who get a little confused by the fickle and ever-changing nature of the web tech landscape.) I can understand the motivation behind media consolidation — I, too, want a single place to do my social stuff. But until privacy is address and until I feel confident that I own my own thoughts (not Facebook), I’ll likely continue my mostly-silent patterns on such services.

In any case, some of what I have been consuming in the past couple of years is YouTube videos. Of course I’d known its potential for years. But probably the greatest single impetus for my spending time on YouTube has been science videos. Two channels — Veritasium and Getting Smarter Every Day — are so interesting, I could probably just sit all day watching those channels (and the related videos their content inspires or relates to). I wouldn’t at all be surprised if either host becomes a public television host. In fact, the host of Veritasium has done content for CBC that has appeared on PBS. But the rather home grown quality of both is, for me, part of the appeal.

So here are two videos, one from each channel.




Largest and Smallest (and all things in between)

Use the slider to see things as small as quantum foam (and strings), or as large as the biggest known features of the universe. It’s a bit like an interactive version of the Eames’ “Powers of Ten” movie (, but showing collections of things in relative scale.

By the way, fans of gaming and parents of ten-year olds will find a sort of easter egg at the 10E5 m scale.