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Thursday, April 29, 2010

90 Degrees Can Change Everything


PF4B6 90 Degrees Can Change Everything
This is surely the result of a really awesome digital camera. Maybe the photographer had a tilted posture when he took this photo? Well, maybe its just photo shopped. Either way the result is brilliant.

Volkswagen to Replace Spare Tire with Folding Electric Bike

VW bik.e – Click above to watch video after the jump

Volkswagen has rolled out its first ever two-wheeler at Auto China 2010. Following a flurry of flapping and arm waving highly sophisticated dance number, V-Dub research and development chief Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg rode confidently onto the stage aboard the VW bik.e (not a typo). A very cool looking piece of mobility art that looks a little like a small bicycle without the pedals, the battery-powered device has definitely been designed with both form and function in mind: the whole thing folds quickly down into a flat disc that fits quite nicely into the spare tire compartment found in the bottom of most trunks.

369diggsdiggWhile auto shows are known for their concepts that never see the light of day, we are told there are plans to actually commercialize this machine, though it probably won't come as an option with your next VW. With a range of 20 kilometers (12.5 miles), it's not meant for long distance treks but rather as a supplement to your car. Its official top speed is 20 km/h (12.5 miles per hour) to allow Germans to ride it helmetless, though word on the street says the version at the show could go much faster. No mention was made about how long it takes to charge, but apparently the bik.e's batteries can be replenished by a car's DC current as well as a typical AC plug. To get a glimpse of this "mobility enhancer" in action and hear the good doctor expound further, hit the jump for the accompanying video.

[Source: ZerCustoms]

Best 3 Year Old Baseball Player

This is Beau. He likes the White Sox, Paul Konerko and mashing the ball out of the park.

Hilarious Hacked Device Electrocutes You for Thinking (Video)

by Aaron Saenz

most painful toy hack ever
What do you do after hacking a brain computer interface to electrocute people when they concentrate? You invite over some comedians and film them flipping out. Awesome.

In further proof that idle engineers are the most evil demographic in the world, I present to you the “Most Painful Toy Hack Ever”. Created by Aaron Rasmussen, co-founder of Harcos Laboratories, this hacked device monitors your brain activity and gives you a scream-out-loud electric shock as soon as you start concentrating as a way of making your friends laugh. That’s the sort of mixture of comedy and malevolence you can expect from Harcos. To promote their energy drinks (which look like mana potions, and bags of human blood) they’ve pulled a lot of crazy stunts using technology. They’re sort of the geeky version of Jackass. Watch the video below to see Rasmussen shock the crap out of himself, his co-founder Elijah Szasz, and the cast of SMBC-Theater. I never knew such hilarious antics could arise from combining BCI with electroshock therapy.

For a hack of a brain computer interface (BCI), the MPTHE is pretty cheap to build. Rasmussen says the entire project cost him around $105. That includes the BCI from a toy called MindFlex (~$80+), an electric shock card from Qkit (~$5), and various electronic parts. Harcos Labs has placed all the information you need to build your own MPTHE on their website. I’m sure hackers everywhere have already started to improve upon the design. We just saw the release of the first patient-ready BCI on the market. Maybe with that EEG they’d be able to do something more productive than shock you. As brain computer interfaces get more common, and accessible, I’m sure we’ll see some really incredible hacks, hopefully not all for evil.

[image and video credit: Harcos Laboratories]
[source: Harcos Laboratories]

Seven Medieval Castles You Can Buy

By: Dahlia Rideout 


Castles for sale, cheap! Well, not too cheap, but compared to a penthouse apartment in New York or a Beverly Hills mansion, you could pick up a fine European castle for not much more.

Three-Bedroom castle for sale, Aquitaine, Gironde, Monségur, France

Price: $922,478
Charming fortified castle for sale in Aquitaine, the heart of French wine country. This fixer-upper has been updated with the bare minimum (like a toilet, kitchen) to retain its medieval charm. Screaming sounds from the dungeon further add to the ambiance.
More info
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The Walton Castle, Clevedon, Somerset, UK

Price: $6,865,433
Like ivy? This gem has you covered! Seven-thousand square feet of medieval glory awaits you on this hilltop masterpiece. Impress your friends, threaten your enemies, survive a land attack. New roof in 1620 and 1984.
More info
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Seven-Bedroom medieval chateau, Lot-et-Garonne, France

Price: $2,629,503
This beauty has been lovingly restored by its current residents, but there are no guarantees against past resident ghosts. Seven bedrooms plus a few secret rooms for the occasional Moorish invasion. Dungeon makes a great playroom for the kids, plenty of parking.
More info
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Seven-Bedroom medieval chateau, Lot-et-Garonne, France

More photos of the lovely French Chateau.
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Killahara Castle, Tipperary, Ireland

Price: $1,311,864
This little charmer has survived everything from the battle of 1582 to a cow living in the top quarters in 1981. Battles, murders, and infamy create a welcoming atmosphere everyone can enjoy. 3G wireless coverage is strong on the seven-acre property.
More info
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Castle For Sale in Sologne Area, France

Price: $6,526,732
This gem is truly a medieval masterpiece, This fifteenth-century wonder features 8100-square feet of land, including a fifty-acre forest, five acres of gardens (hope you have a green thumb!), horse stables, and a few guest houses thrown in for good measure. Worried about maintenance? Put an ad on Craigslist for a family of serfs!
More info


Castello di Mazzè, Turin, Italy

Price: $19,791,005 (negotiable)
It doesn’t get more luxurious than this. Previous guests include Vittorio Emanuele II di Savoia, the Count of Cavour, and even Mussolini. Built in the XII century (you can say that with pride), this enormous complex is even too large for the property description to list. Bring along a few hundred of your best friends for stunning views of the lake.
More info


Templar Knights Castle, Haute Provence, France

Price: $2,357,736
It doesn’t get much better than living in a genuine Templar castle built in 1125. It was constructed to defend the valley against the marauding Moorish invaders of Arabia. The swimming pool was probably added later. In true Templar fashion, the kitchen should always be stocked with goblets.
More info

Hero Dog Tries to Help Mortally Wounded Dog - Chile

A dog in Chile is unfortunately hit by a car and killed. Another dog drags the mortally-wounded dog to the side of the road. The hero do ran away.

MythBuster Adam Savage + SBU (Self-Balancing Unicycle)

focusdesigns December 20, 2009Adam Savage of the MythBusters receives his SBU, an electric self-balancing unicycle by Focus Designs Inc.

Available now in limited supply!
Get yours here:
Or send us an email:

Video by: Valeo Visual (

The 9 Most Annoying People at Starbucks

Starbucks is the best and worst place on the entire planet. On the one hand, they have more than enough delicious caffeine, whipped cream, and overpriced travel mugs to satisfy your early morning cravings. On the other hand, they're usually a steaming hotbed of douchebaggery. Here are the 9 most annoying people you'll run into at your local Starbucks:
The Regular
Y'know what's awesome? When you walk into a Starbucks to find a line about thirty patrons deep, and then the person who gets in line behind you just shouts to their "friend" behind the counter: "Hey, Colby! I'm getting my usual!" Then, the line jumper spends the rest of his time trying to "just sneak in and pay real quick" so that he can avoid standing in line with all the other losers who don't come to this particular Starbucks as often as he does, and therefore don't deserve special service. If, by some miracle, the Starbucks employee forces The Regular to wait in line to pay like a normal person, then they still get their coffee way before anyone else does, and they get to stand there and enjoy their delicious morning beverage while everyone else is pulling their hair out in desperate need of their morning fix. This type of special treatment is just blatantly wrong, unless I'm getting the treatment, in which case I'm okay with it.
The Overly Happy Line Greeter/Order Taker
At some point, the Starbucks Corporation realized that their growing legions of employees didn't have the best people skills. Their answer was to create their own version of the Wal-Mart Greeter who also takes your order. But, since anyone who's over-qualified to be a Wal-Mart greeter is a Wal-Mart cashier, you end up having some G.E.D.-havin' dumbass or an excruciatingly-lonely elderly woman force their brand of corporate chit-chat down your throat. Instead of waiting to pay for your $4 coffee in peace, you have to deal with: "Goooooood morning today! How are you? Some kinda weather we're having isn't it? I wish I was outside in the park! Wouldn't that be nice? It's sooooo sunny! And what's better for you than a nice big dose of Mr. Sun! Maybe some coffee? Ha! So, what can we get you today? Need a little pick-me-up? You do! I think we ALL could use one, yes we could! YES WE COULD! Hi! WELCOME TO STARBUCKS!!! And how are you doing today?!?!"
The Kid
It's been scientifically proven that if you give a thoroughbred horse a tall iced mocha right before a race, it will always win*. This is because of the massive and ungodly amounts of caffeine and sugar that are somehow contained within each Starbucks brand beverage. These drinks get you so wired that they should come with some kind of surgeon general's warning on the side of the cup. Yet, somehow, people allow 8-year old kids, who are all ready hyperactive thanks to the addition of these Starbucks brand energy injections into their normal diet, to pound back Caramel Machiatos by the dozens on a daily basis. Remember the crazy fast zombies in 28 Days Later? Well, this is the first step to making them. Keep it up, humanity!
The Manager Who Refuses to Recognize Standard Sizes
I understand: you’re a corporate guy and thus must abide by company policies by calling the different sizes by their Starbucks names of Venti, Grande, etc…. But if I ask you for a small, don’t act like I'm speaking to you in that Native American langauge we used in World War II to deliver coded messages. You, Starbucks, are the one who's chosen to be "different" by calling your sizes something other than what they are. If you insist on looking at me like I'm a retard speaking Chinese whenever I order a "small" coffee, then I'm going to insist that you give me change for a dollar with "3 twinklies, 3 chartruse bubblebunnies, and a dragonplumber". Deal with it.
The Complicated Order Guy
When you order coffee, it shouldn’t sound like you’re giving the pass code to a missile defense system. If you’re lactose intolerant, on a strict diet, and can’t handle a full dose of caffeine, how about instead of ordering a “non-fat, grande, soy chai latte with a half shot of espresso and no foam", you just drink a glass of water. They can make that pretty quickly, so you won't have to pace around in front of the pick up counter like a starving circus lion at lunch time. The best part about it: last I checked, a glass of water won’t give you exploding diarrhea or anxiety (unless you’re at the Starbucks in Tijuana).
The Intern Who is Buying for the Entire Office
Wearing an all-white or striped button down shirt, this guy shows up with a legal pad full of hastily scribbled orders. "Yeah, I'm gonna need 24 tall skinny soy lattes with sugar free hazelnut extra hot...and 32 grande no caff cappuccinos with light whip cream, sugar free hazelnut and vanilla with white chocolate mocha. And 14 grande supremos with a triple shot, sugar free vanilla, extra white mocha, no whip, no foam and an extra drizzle. Oh, and can I get a smiley face on the bottom of all those?" Then, instead of just grabbing his bags and leaving, he painstakingly inspects all 70-odd cups in his 17 flimsy cardboard holders. If you get behind this guy, you may as well give up any hopes of getting a cup of joe in your lifetime. You're better off flying to Colombia, slitting Juan Valdez's throat and stealing his invasive, coffee-harvesting burro.
The Writer Who Wants You to Know They’re a Writer 
Being a writer is a pretty cool (albeit thrifty) occupation, but unfortunately you can’t tell someone’s a writer just by looking at them. However, feeling the need to tell someone you’re a writer is way less impressive. Therefore, these people go to the busiest Starbucks and pop open their brand new powerbook, making sure their screen is clearly displaying a full page of Final Draft. After they get their overly-elaborate morning beverage, they'll sit at a table and stare at their computer screen, taking deep breaths, suggesting an intense and creative thought process that normal minds are not capable of. Who gives a shit if an asshole and his mac have spent six hours taking up a table normally reserved for four people? The most important thing is that you know that they’re juggling a complex story about a boy in Alaska who comes of age and befriends a bear. That’s right, they’re creating that using only their minds!
The Guy Who Hates Starbucks But Goes There Every Day
Armed with armchair political rants, this guy is the world's biggest bore and the world's biggest hypocrite combined into one big uber-shithead. He won't shut up about how Starbucks is bad for the environment and how they're taking over the world and how their coffee totally "doesn't taste like the gourmet stuff downtown." But when you bring up the fact that he's ranting about Starbucks while he's actually inside a Starbucks, his crappy hippie-wannabe excuses just start piling up. "Well, here's the thing, I just didn't have time to make it over to my usual coffee place. You know the one way over on 2nd Ave? I was on my way over there, but the traffic was a killer, so I was totally forced to get my fix at this place. I totally can't stand that I have to come here, but that's what they do. They tie your hands, man. These big corporations. They just own you! They're everywhere!  Can you grab me a handful of Splenda?"
The Study Group
Screw the library with all it’s “room” and “group space.” It makes way more sense to have your 20-person study session in an incredibly busy and crowded Starbucks with tables that have insufficient space to lay your books. Everyone knows you have a poli-sci midterm, mostly because they can hear every f*cking thing you’re saying because you’re yelling so that you can be heard over the frappucino machine. Would you hold a study group session in a Turkish prison? Because Starbucks is basically the same thing, except with less gay sex, and a little bit better coffee.

Awe Inspiring Seed Cathedral Wows at Shanghai World Expo 2010

by Leonora Oppenheim, London, UK

Thomas Heatherwick Shanghai Expo UK Pavilion photo
Images via: and
The fierce competition between showstopping pavilions is heating up in Shanghai as the opening of the World Expo 2010 draws nearer (May 1). But one pavilion has already been drawing in the crowds throughout its construction, thanks to an extraordinary bristling form of 60,000 fibre-optic rods, each with a seed implanted in its tip. The UK Pavilion, otherwise known as the Seed Cathedral, created by British design star Thomas Heatherwick and his studio, is quite simply the most extraordinary structure we have ever seen. And that's just the outside, wait till you see the seeds inside...
David Miliband at Thomas Heatherwick UK Pavilion China 
Uniquely British Design Innovation
The UK Pavilion's job at the Shanghai World Expo is to promote the strength of Britain's reputation for design innovation. Thomas Heatherwick is definitely the go to guy in the UK for unique showstopping structures and, from all the images, it looks like he has outdone even himself this time. Of the all pavilions at the Expo it looks like the UK's Seed Cathedral is attracting the most attention, no mean feat since there are 230 different pavilions on show.
Thomas Heatherwick Shanghai Expo UK Pavilion photo
Seed Cathedral sways in the breeze
As reports the Seed Cathedral is "20 metres in height, formed from 60,000 slender transparent rods, each 7.5 metres long and each encasing one or more seeds at its tip. During the day, they act as optic fibres and draw daylight inwards to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources inside each rod allow the whole structure to glow. As the wind moves past, the building and its optic "hairs" gently move to create a dynamic effect."
Heatherwick Shanghai Expo Seed Cathedral photo
Shanghai World Expo 2010 Theme - Better City, Better Life
The UK Pavilion rather sensibly doesn't aim to compete with Asian high-tech solutions, but goes for a spectacular low-tech approach instead. Heatherwick Studio describe their approach as engaging "meaningfully with Shanghai Expo's theme, Better City, Better Life, and standing out from the anticipated trend for technology driven pavilions, filled with audio-visual content on screens, projections and speakers."
Interior Seed Cathedral Shanghai Expo photo
Working with Kew Gardens' Millenium Seedbank Project
We love Heatherwick's idea of combining a complex structure with a simple, quiet, reverent message. The designer says he was inspired by the "relationship between nature and cities" and decided to celebrate the UK's beautiful green spaces by teaming up with the world famous Kew Gardens in London and the Millennium Seedbank project, whose mission is to collect the seeds of 25% of the world's plant species by 2020.
The seeds for the UK Pavilion have been sourced from China's Kunming Institute of Botany, a partner in Kew Royal Botanic Gardens' Millennium Seed Bank Project. The interior experience of the Seed Cathedral sounds just as magical as viewing the exterior structure, "Visitors will pass through this tranquil, contemplative space, surrounded by the tens of thousands of points of light illuminating the seeds."
Heatherwick Shanghai Expo Seed Cathedral photo
Seed Cathedral Structure
The supporting structure of the UK Pavilion is made from wood and steel which is pierced with 60 000 holes for each one of the aluminum sleeves which hold the fiber optic rods. This 'low-tech' solution actually had a very 'high-tech' method of execution:
"The holes in the 1 metre thick wood diaphram structure forming the visitor space inside the Seed Cathedral were drilled with great geometric accuracy to ensure precise placement of the aluminium sleeves through which the optic fibre filaments are inserted. This was achieved using 3D computer modelling data, fed into a computer controlled milling machine."
Heatherwick Studio says that, "75% of the materials for the UK Pavilion have been sourced from within a radius of 300km around Shanghai."
Heatherwick Shanghai Expo Seed Cathedral photo
UK Pavilion's Afterlife
Heatherwick Studio reports that the Seed Cathedral has already found favour with the Chinese public, who have nick-named the pavilion 'Pu Gong Ying', which translates as 'The Dandelion'. We are also glad to hear that the studio have planned for the afterlife of the pavilion when the World Expo ends.
"After the Expo, just as dandelion seeds are blown away and disperse on the breeze, the Seed Cathedral's 60,000 optic hairs, each one containing the huge potential of life, will be distributed across China and the UK to hundreds of schools as a special legacy of the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo."
Thomas Heatherwick Shanghai Expo UK Pavilion photo
Of the extraordinary design and engineering production that is the UK Pavilion Thomas Heatherwick says, "It has been a tremendous achievement of the team to deliver such a complex structure. I am excited that the Seed Cathedral is now complete and I look forward to the millions of visitors to the Expo enjoying the space."

More on Shanghai World Expo 2010
World's First "Carbon Negative" Car Concept at Expo 2010 in Shanghai
Floating City Proposed For Shanghai World Expo
Shanghai Pavilion is Built From Recycled CD Cases
Architecture Without Architects: Critic Blasts the Canadian Pavilion at Shanghai 2010
Acrobats Design Canada Pavilion with Rainwater Harvesting, Green Walls
Swiss Pavilion at Shanghai has Green Roof, Soybean Walls

Inside Abandoned Soviet Prison (PICS) From a Sea Fortress, to a Brutal Prison, to a Museum!
Posted by rappin

The Patarei Prison Museum in Tallinn, Russia was built in the 19th century. The prison was originally a sea fortress in 1840 and was turned into a prison in around 1919. This prison housed inmates until 2002 and was then turned into a museum. This museum is now an ideal location to experience the Soviet-era prison life in all its gloom. The prison has been left untouched since 2002 to give visitors a real-life feel of the dreariness of prison life.

Patarei Prison Museum 1 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
The museum shows off cotton swabs in the prison operating rooms. The cells still have books and magazines that belonged to the inmates. The museum offers a range of long tours and guides. There is reportedly also a guided tour that is in fact a “prison adventure” and tourists who successfully escape get to have a picnic as a reward.
Patarei Prison Museum 2 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 3 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 4 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 5 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 6 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 7 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 8 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 9 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 10 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 11 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 12 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 13 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 14 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 15 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 16 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 17 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Patarei Prison Museum 18 Prison Fortress turned into Museum
Photos VIA

The message in a bottle that turned up 30 years later - on Facebook

By Luke Salkeld

As methods of communication, they are an age apart.

So it is perhaps not surprising that it took over 30 years for Olivier Vandevalle to get a reply to his message in a bottle - via Facebook.

At the age of 14, aboard his family's yacht on a sailing holiday cruising along the south coast of England, he tore a page from an exercise book and wrote a message which he secured in a wine bottle in the summer of 1977.

Olivier Vandewalle and his father
Olivier Vandewalle and his son

Blast from the past: Olivier Vandevalle (pictured on the left with his son) and the bottle he threw into the sea when he was a boy of 14 (right, with his father)

And 33 years later, the Belgian has had a reply. After finding the bottle on the shore at Swanage in Dorset, Lorraine Yates ignored the postal address and instead tracked the messenger down on the social networking website Facebook, where they are now listed as each other's 'friend'.

Yesterday Mr Vandevalle, a 47-year-old father-of-two from Ostend, said: 'It was so, so long ago that my first reaction when she contacted me was to say "it wasn't me."

Then I remembered.'

He continued: 'There were 12 of us on the boat that day and we were heading for the Azores.
'Suddenly I had the idea of writing a message in a bottle. It's one of those things that every child does at least once.
'Not with the idea of getting an answer but because there's an air of mystery about the whole thing. You have no idea where your bottle will be going.

'Then when you have not thought about the bottle for years and years suddenly this Englishwoman turns up from nowhere and has read your letter. When she e-mailed it to me it all came flooding back.'

The waiter added: 'It was an incredible experience. Where has the bottle been all these years. Was it lying buried under a heap of sand until it was uncovered by a storm? I shall never know.

'But the wine bottle was a safe receptacle for my message. My father insisted that we seal the cork with candle grease to make sure no sea water could get in.'

In the letter he wrote 33 years ago, Mr Vandevalle introduced himself as 'a boy of 14 years and my house is in Belgium'.

He continued to the future recipient: 'I do not know if you are a pupil, a woman or a man.

'I am on a sailing boat of 18 metres. Her name is Tamaris. While I am writing this letter we have just passed Portland Bill on the south coast of England. We left this morning.'  

Mr Vandevalle's two sons aged 16 and 20 have tried to copy their dad by writing a message and entrusting it to the seas in a bottle.

'But they were stupid enough not to write their address and consequently the chances of getting a reply are almost nil,' their father added yesterday.

'But the world is full of wonders, so you never know.'