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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Scratching the Surface: Portraits Carved in Walls


Using decaying plaster on old walls as a canvas, street artist Alexander Farto (aka Vihls) makes large detailed portraits by carving with hammers and chisels. His works give new life to decrepit buildings, while helping them retain a timely character at the same moment. Often his works leave chipped away plaster at their base, tipping off observers as to how the piece was created. Farto’s work has made an impact far and wide, with examples in many European cities and New York.
For more on Alexander Farto and his many works in many mediums (from graffiti to motion graphics) see his website


Why Hasn't the Person You Texted Responded Yet? (Flowchart)

The Art of FLIGHT - snowboarding film trailer w/Travis Rice

please double click the YOUTUBE LOGO (on the right) to play in FULL 1080P HD
Just when you thought the producers of "That's It, That's All" couldn't top themselves comes a new breed of snowboarding entertainment.

The Art of FLIGHT follows Travis Rice, John Jackson, Mark Landvik, Scotty Lago, Jake Blauvelt, Nicolas Muller, Gigi Ruf, DCP and Pat Moore as they dream up new global adventures and progress the sport to unimaginable levels.

Brain Farm has gathered an arsenal of the most advanced and progressive film making technology to bring the masses a snowboarding adventure of epic proportions. Filmed on location in Jackson Hole, Alaska, Chile, Aspen, Patagonia, British Columbia and more, FLIGHT brings the viewer along for the perfect blend of adventure/travel drama and high-energy snowboarding action. The Art of FLIGHT releases September 2011.



robo-rainbow from mudlevel on Vimeo.

robo-rainbow from mudlevel on Vimeo.

Take a look at Adam Nilsson's "Robo-Rainbow," a fantastic short video depicting a "complicated technical solution to aide in simple acts of vandalism." It should appeal to fans of robotics, street art, and/or rainbows.

Sally Lapointe: Fashion designer rides celebrity wave

Mass. native gets boost from singer

By Christopher Muther Globe Staff / February 17, 2011

NEW YORK — On the third floor of a sparse art gallery, a dozen stylists frantically straightened and slicked the hair of a small army of porcelain-skinned models. A dozen makeup artists painted faces with foundation and smoky eye shadow. Amid the bustle, the woman who should have been the most anxious calmly took it all in.
Marblehead native and designer Sally LaPointe, 26, showed her fall/winter 2011 collection at New York Fashion Week on Friday night. But unlike her first show here last fall, this time the eyes of the fashion elite watched closely. After pop superstar Lady Gaga plucked a LaPointe-designed black jersey dress to wear at last month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the designer has found herself on the brink of the big time.

The audience for LaPointe’s show included her downtown art-school pals, but also featured tastemaking editors from Italian Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, Elle magazine, and the influential website Retail buyers, who will decide whether to pick up LaPointe’s line for their stores, were also in the house.

“I should probably be a lot more nervous,’’ LaPointe said shortly before the runway show, her black hair tucked under a ski hat. “But I feel good about the line. I feel good about how things are going. It’s all kind of exciting.’’

LaPointe, a Rhode Island School of Design graduate now based in New York, launched her line just two years ago and was quickly named one of New York Magazine’s “Nine Designers to Watch.’’ Her first collection also caught the eye of stylist Nicola Formichetti, who chose the black dress for Gaga to wear at a much buzzed about Polaroid event in Las Vegas.

“It definitely put her on the map,’’ says Harper’s Bazaar contributing editor and celebrity stylist Mary Alice Stephenson. “That press is worth probably a million dollars.’’

The fact that Gaga wore a LaPointe creation made perfect sense. The designer’s spring collection was based on the idea of going mad, and the dresses and jumpsuits were over-the-top, fanciful, and not exactly something the average woman would wear for a night on the town.

For her new fall collection, LaPointe scaled back on the craziness. While she showed some flashy pieces, the designer made huge strides toward wearability, or, as LaPointe prefers to say, “desirability.’’ Modern and feminine, the silhouettes were body conscious and well-tailored, whether it was a curve-hugging red gown or a full-sleeved silver minidress with matching leggings.

The reaction to her new line has been swift and positive. Women’s Wear Daily raved: “Futuristic can sometimes look dated but Sally LaPointe’s printed silk shirts in white and fiery orange over pants and a cropped red leather jacket were right on for the here and now.’’ noted: “They’re just the sort of thing Gaga would slip on to pick up the paper.’’

When LaPointe and her best friend and business partner Sarah Adelson launched the line, they were working day jobs at other fashion companies and never anticipated LaPointe’s work would get noticed so quickly. They now focus on the designs full time.

“Once you get a press jump like that, it creates more buzz, which is huge for us,’’ LaPointe says. “This is a pretty exciting time. It’s funny, because when my friends heard that Gaga wore one of my dresses, they just said, ‘It’s about time,’ because it just makes perfect sense that she would.’’

Celebrities have become a key vehicle for fashion designers who want to get their clothes noticed. During red carpet season, top designers pay celebrities thousands of dollars to wear their gowns to award shows and high-profile events.

But it doesn’t have to be a star-studded gathering. Paparazzi photos of a celeb wearing an eye-catching look to a restaurant, boutique, or even a court date can have a huge impact on the fate of a fashion label. The body-hugging white dress that Lindsay Lohan wore to face felony grand theft charges last week immediately sold out thanks to the publicity.

“Look at what happened with [fashion designer] Kimberly Ovitz,’’ says Joanna Coles, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire magazine. “Despite the fact that it was Lindsay Lohan, and despite the fact that it was a court date, it was still felt like an incredibly helpful moment for Kimberly. There are so many young designers out there, and the challenge for them is to get their name out there.’’

Designer Adam Lippes, who showed his collection in New York on Saturday, can speak to the power of celebrity. He’s seen his outfits worn on reality TV, but his star rose tremendously after Oprah Winfrey featured his clothes on her show.

“You can’t imagine how important something like this is,’’ Lippes said. “People are constantly looking at celebrities in magazines and blogs. It shouldn’t be that important, but it is. The bigger the celebrity, the bigger the exposure, and right now there isn’t much bigger than Lady Gaga.’’

Still, most shoppers aren’t looking for costumes; they want clothing they can wear and feel good in. LaPointe said that she had a slightly different approach in mind as she designed the new collection. She knew the fashion world would be watching, and she wants to keep it that way.

“I think that the meat and potatoes of the collection is that I wanted to make the clothes really wearable,’’ LaPointe says. “I do have a few show pieces, but I made a stronger push to make clothes that a women would really want.’’

It’s too early to tell whether the good reviews will lead retail buyers to stock shelves with LaPointe’s pieces. But no matter what happens, her two biggest fans were enthralled during last week’s show. LaPointe’s parents, who traveled from Marblehead, sat in the front row watching models strut the runway in shades of red, black, and turquoise. Their shy daughter is now the center of attention.

“It’s her outlet,’’ said her mother, Jodi LaPointe. “We all need an outlet to express ourselves, and she’s found a beautiful one. I just can’t believe I’m sitting here. Wow. I’m at my daughter’s fashion show. It doesn’t get better than that.’’

Christopher Muther can be reached at

Adrianne Palicki: Wonder Woman In David E. Kelley's TV Reboot


Adrianne Palicki

It's a tough job, casting someone to be the most beautiful (and ass-kicking) woman in the universe, but David E. Kelley has found his Wonder Woman: Adrianne Palicki.

Kelley, the "Ally McBeal" and "Boston Legal" creator who inked a deal with NBC in October to bring the iconic DC Comics character back to television for the first time since the 70's, cast Palicki, best known for her star turn in "Friday Night Lights," as his heroine. And she'll have to be something of a real superhuman to pull off all that he'll be asking of her.

With the new series set in modern day Los Angeles, Palicki will actually be taking on three roles: gritty crime fighter Wonder Woman; her first alter-ego, billionaire business woman Diana Themyscira; AND her assistant, Diana Prince.

She'll have to be fast, one assumes, to get her CEO self the latte that she demands her assistant self to get, ASAP.

Turns out, there wasn't much competition for the job -- reports that Palicki was the only actress that screen tested for the role.

She's had a brush with DC Comics already, playing a villainess in a pilot for "Aquaman" that was never picked up.

Lynda Carter, who flew to fame with the golden lasso in the 70's, apparently approves of the decision, tweeting "Congratulations Adrianne!" on Wednesday.

The Best And Worst of As Seen on TV Goods — Is that a 'vibrator' on her neck? 

Personal Massager

Click here for The Best And Worst of As Seen on TV Goods

Which Media Center Is Right for You: Boxee, XBMC, and Windows Media Center Compared

By: Jason Fitzpatrick & Kevin Purdy —

Want all your downloads, streaming video, and other techie media stuff on your TV? Wondering which media center works best for you? Here's a look at the biggies in chart and Venn diagram form, followed by some lengthy breakdowns of each.

New to the idea of TV-connected computers? Head down below the charts for some explainers and deeper comparisons of each system. If you're already familiar with the HTPC scene, we'll give you the good stuff first.

We focused on three widely available, and generally popular, media centers for our comparison and review. We're certainly aware there are many alternatives out there, as free software or stand-alone hardware boxes, but these are the three of the most popular media centers, they receive ongoing development, and they can easily be installed on a wide number of TV-connected computers.

The graphical explanations

Here's how we see the three major media centers, in chart list and Venn diagram forms. Note: The chart is based on out-of-the-box features that don't require the user to install any plug-ins.

What's a media center, exactly?

What does a media center do? It varies, but it generally takes all the stuff you'd normally enjoy on a computer or portable device—MP3s, video files, Netflix, Hulu, digital photos, and web/social apps—and plays it on a television, through your speakers, and back onto your wireless network, if you'd like. Media centers can be run off of pretty much any capable computer, but are generally intended for small and specialized computers, called Home Theater PCs, or HTPCs. HTPCs have the video and audio ports necessary to hook up to a modern high-definition television, and generally have enough processing power and memory to handle the heavy burden of converting, playing, and sometimes recording high-resolution files. If you've got a home network set up with shared files and network-attached storage (NAS), media centers can generally pull their content off other systems and devices, as well as receive files for storage and download them directly off the net.

Put simply, a media center allows you to sit on a couch and do the most fun things you'd do on a computer with a remote. You can fire up a movie from Netflix's streaming service or from a file you've already downloaded, catch the show you missed last night on Hulu, put on background music while you're doing something else, share your Flickr or Picasa photos with visiting relatives—whatever you'd like, really.
Not every media center can do everything, however, and some are much better at certain entertainment jobs than others. The editors at Lifehacker conferred on what each box does best, tried to pin down what each system can and can't do, and put it together in ways that we hope can help you decide.

Windows Media Center, XBMC, and Boxee

Here's a more in-depth look at the media centers—installing and setting them up, and their pros and cons.
Windows Media Center is "free" with Home Premium or Ultimate copies of Windows Vista, all versions of Windows 7 except Starter or Home Basic, and available as a stand-alone, XP-based operating system dubbed "Media Center Edition." XBMC is a free and open-source media center software that was born as a game-changing XBOX modification, but now runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, and XBOX systems, as well as booting and running off a USB stick. Boxee is based on the same core internal code as XBMC, but focuses on bringing web content—video sites, blog streams, and social apps—into your living room, while XBMC remains oriented toward a download-and-play setup.
Plex, a popular and very eye-pleasing media center for Mac OS X, is certainly a contender in this category. For all intents and purposes, though, it's a variant of XBMC. Most anything we write or display in this post about XBMC applies to Plex, too, except for matters of looks and interface.
Those would be our definitions in the Lifehacker Dictionary, anyways. Let's get a bit more encyclopedic on the strengths and weaknesses of each system:

Windows Media Center

Installation and Setup: Fairly easy. It comes pre-loaded in the higher-end editions of Windows Vista and 7, and assuming your computer or HTPC has the right outputs and plugs, Windows can fairly easily adjust its display to your television. If you're running other Windows systems on your wireless network, you won't have to do much configuration to start "sharing" files back and forth from the TV-connected system to your other platforms. If you're running Mac or Linux computers, you'll have a good deal more work to do. If your media computer came with a TV tuner card already installed, Windows will recognize it and work with it to record TV shows.

Here's how Adam turned a Windows PC into a Media Center powerhouse, with a good detail on the installation and setup process.
  • Nice and easy DVR: And you don't have to pay a monthly fee.
  • Calm, easy interface: Divided into obvious sections and fairly intuitive directional layouts.
  • Large range of compatible remotes: Look online or in an electronics store for a "Windows Media Center remote," and you'll find something with lots of buttons that instantly hooks up to your Media Center, usually through a USB-connected receiver.
  • Generally easy networking: Across Windows systems, that is, and if you're down with the shared folders setup.
  • File handling: Generally, Media Center can handle the same files that Windows Media Player can handle, and, with the right codec installations, that can be quite extensive. But out of the box, don't expect support for the diverse range of video and audio you'll find around the web.
  • Windows-only: But you knew that.
  • Complex remotes: Media Center works with a lot of remotes, but they often look like parodies of button-stuffed clickers. If a simple, Apple-like navigator exists for Media Center, do tell us in the comments.
  • Locked-down DVR files: Work-arounds and decoders exist, of course, but if you want to play your recorded TV shows on anything other than your personal set of authorized Windows machines, Zunes, and XBOX devices, good luck.
Note: Windows Media Center doesn't support Hulu by default, but with the right plug-in it can do the trick.


Installation and Setup: It depends, of course, on the platform and hardware you're installing on. Getting it running and connected on a modern Windows or Mac system is fairly painless, at least from a software standpoint. Running it as a "live" system from a USB stick isn't too hard, either, and you can install it from there onto an HTPC hard drive. Plugging it into a Madriva Linux box and hooking it up to your very specialized 1080p plasma setup with optical audio out will likely require hair plugs and years of therapy.
Read up on Adam's guide to building a silent, standalone XBMC media center on the cheap for a look at the live-USB-to-installation path on a $200 HTPC system.
  • Open source, open nature: Need XBMC to do something it doesn't do already? Chances are, there's a clever hacker working on it. XBMC doesn't have the same kind of "platform" that its offspring Boxee does, but coders can get into it and make it better, and make it do more.
  • Meta-data and file recognition: From personal trials and commenter anecdotes, XBMC is really good at knowing when you've put new files somewhere in your system, figuring out what types of files they are (movie, TV, music, or picture), and reaching out to the internet to pull down relevant pictures, data, reviews, and even trailer links for the videos and music you plug into it.
  • Light and agile: Relatively speaking, XBMC may have some really nice graphics and menus, but because it comes from a project to put a full media center on a game system, XBMC is focused on playing back media files as smoothly as possible.
  • Slick, customizable looks: Even putting Plex aside, XBMC wins, hands-down, for looking like you're living in the future when displayed on a really big, nice TV. Don't like the way it looks by default? Put a new skin on it, and it's a whole different beast.
  • Format support: Personally, I've never found a file on the web, or converted from a friend's computer, that XBMC couldn't play, unless something was wrong with it.
  • Lack of Netflix, Hulu: There have been work-arounds, hacks, and other tweaks to make XBMC work with the two big names in streaming video. If you were depending on either one, though, XBMC would not be a safe bet.
  • Over-stuffed, sometimes complicated menus: XBMC's menus and layout are the geekiest around—how you react to that depends on your temperament. You can do all kinds of things from any screen in XBMC, and its interface often has a smile-inducing futuristic feel to it. But for someone new to media centers and looking to just sit down and play something, it can be quite imposing.


Installation and Setup: On Windows and Mac systems, the latest Boxee beta is relatively simple to install, as it uses the built-in video and audio systems to push out content. On Linux, it's a good deal more complex, but, then again, what on Linux isn't? Apple TVs require a bit of hacking. In general, Boxee is compatible with the same kind of hardware as XBMC—OpenGL or DirectX-compatible video cards are highly recommended.
Here's how Kevin set up a cheap but powerful Boxee media center using a brawny $350 HTPC and free copies of Linux and Boxee.
  • Built-in Hulu and Netflix: Boxee and Hulu have had their differences, but they seem to have reached a draw in the stand-off—most Hulu shows and movies work, most of the time. Netflix works fine on Windows and Mac, assuming you don't mind installing Microsoft's Silverlight system.
  • Growing directory of web content apps: Love FailBlog? Dig Vimeo's really hi-res stuff? Fan of TwiT's videocasts? Watch them all from Boxee's app, and grab more in the app "store," which has a very healthy selection of customized streaming content.
  • Play anything (technically): Boxee uses a reworked Firefox browser to view Hulu, but it's available for nearly any kind of web video page you find on the web. The Boxee Browser is a kind of last resort for any web content that doesn't have its own app.
  • Love-it-or-leave-it interface: Even with its content-forward redesign, many media center aficionados have said they can't get used to Boxee's hidden left-hand sidebars and forward/back functionality. Some just don't like the default looks. It's not a make-or-break issue, considering it's basically the same core tools as XBMC, but if you're going to spend serious time with a media center, you want to like how it looks.
  • Local file handling: Boxee doesn't seem as smart about recognizing and updating local file stores. In the words of one Lifehacker editor, "Local files are almost an afterthought." That's to be expected, somewhat, on a system that's so web-facing and stream-savvy, but Boxee could do a lot more to make downloaded music, movies, and pictures easier to gather, organize, and access.

We know—we absolutely know—that we may have missed a feature, put in "No" where "Yes" should have been, or otherwise missed a detail or two in our breakdown of these media centers. We tried our best to research and check them, but if you see something wrong, or missing, in our explanations or charts, by all means: tell us, politely, in the comments, and we'll update this post, and the charts to match the reality. Feel free to also tell us which system has worked best for you, and why, in the comments.

Build your own Home Theater PC (HTPC) ... for under $600!

By Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Adrian also runs a popular blog under the name The PC Doctor, where he covers a range of computer-related topics -- from security to repairing and upgrading.

Over the past few weeks I’ve had dozens of requests from readers wanting me to put together a parts list for a kick-ass, low-cost Home Theater PC (HTPC). Well, here you go!
Before I go on, first let me explain briefly what a HTPC is and how it differs from a regular PC. Basically, an HTPC (sometimes called a Media PC or Media Center) is a PC that’s specifically designed to playback music and video. Also, since it’s an entertainment system, you want to be able to control the PC remotely, and you want to keep noise down to a minimum.

What I’m going to outline here is an entry-level system that’s going to be able to handle all the basic tasks that you’d expect of an HTPC system. It’s going to be able to handle HD resolution video (1080p and 720p), cope with streaming video, upscale DVD, ad will even be good for playing games, as long as you’re not too greedy when it comes to resolution. It’s also going to have plenty of storage space so you’ve got plenty of room to store your ever-growing library of media.
OK, let’s get going!

One of the key factors to building a successful HTPC is to pick a processor that’s powerful enough to handle the demands placed on it by the tasks it has to carry out, but not so powerful that you’re having to add powerful fans to have to cool the thing off.
For this built I’ve chosen an AMD Athlon II X2 255 Socket AM3 part. This is a 3.1GHz dual-core CPU, but far more importantly than that, it has a TDP of only 65W. This means less heat is produced when it’s running, which in turn means less cooling, and it also means you can cram more components into a smaller chassis.
Price: $80

Now that we’ve chosen the CPU, it’s now time to choose a motherboard to match it. There are several consideration to take into account.
First, size. Ideally, you want your HTPC to have a smallish footprint, along the lines of a VCR, so it’s best to choose one with a micro-ATX form factor. Also, it’s a good idea for the motherboard to have an on-board graphics processor (GPU) and support for HDMI. Oh, and to match the processor, this needs to be a Socket AM3 board.
With all these requirements in mind, I’ve chosen a Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H board. Highlights of this board include:
  • AMD 785G chipset
  • ATI Radeon HD 4200 GPU
  • HDMI
  • SATA support
Price: $90

Nothing special here, since the demands on the RAM aren’t that great. We need DDR3 for the motherboard, and a pair of 1GB sticks are ample for an HTPC.
Shop around for a good deal.
Price: around $40

Hard drive
What you want here is a drive that offers ample storage (take what you think you’ll need and double it!), is quiet and energy-efficient.
The drive I’m going to go for is a Western Digital GreenPower drive, because there are energy-efficient, quiet, designed for streaming audio and video, and are able too cope with being shut away in a small hot metal box with other components. I’m pushing the boat out here and going for a 1.5TB drive (AV-GP WD15EVDS). If you want to spend more, go for the 2TB drive, if you want to spend less, go with a smaller capacity … dial it in to suit your needs.
Price: $120

Optical drive
Lots of choices here, but the main question is whether you want a DVD drive or one that can play Blu-ray discs too. DVD drives start at around $20, while Blu-ray drives start at $100, so I’m going to opt for an entry-level Blu-ray drive - the LG black 8X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA internal combo that’ll handle pretty much any disc you throw at it.
Price: $100

Chassis/Power Supply Unit
OK, you’re building an HTPC here, not a desktop system, so you don’t really want it to look like a desktop PC. You need a chassis that’s designed specifically for HTPC. Fortunately, there are loads to choose from. The downside is that prices vary wildly.
Oh, you also need a Power Supply Unit (PSU) for the HTPC …
I’m going to make life easier for you here by picking a decent chassis that comes complete with a PSU … the Antec Black M FusionRemote 350 Micro ATX. Not only is this a good chassis, and comes with a nice PSU, it also comes with an IR receiver and remote control so you can operate your HTPC from your couch!
Price: $90

You will want a wireless keyboard and mouse combo to control your HTPC. I’d go with something cheap from the Logitech range unless you want a specific feature/
Price: $50

Price (without Operating System): $590

OK, what about the Operating System?
Yes, your HTPC will need an operating system. You have choices available to you (for example, if you’re comfortable with Linux, you can take that route), but most people are likely to want Windows 7 on their HTPCs, and you can pick up an OEM copy of Windows 7 Home Premium for around $105.
Price (with Operating System): $695!!!

Back to the Future With 17 Cool Gadgets and Designs

By Chip

Those who were grown up in the 80s must not forget the science fiction movie that was storming cinemas in 1985 – “Back to the Future”. The amazing journey of the everyday teenager Marty McFly made all the kids go crazy over time traveling machine. Let’s hop on a DeLorean and take a trip back to Back to the Future era with these 17 amazing Back to the Futre gadgets and designs below.

Dolerean Hovercraft

Anyone who has watched Back to the Future must have dreamed of the Dolerean Hovercraft, but Matthew Riese is one of few people who have found the way to make his childhood dream come true. He launched a project on Kickstarter to raise $5500 for the project, and the result is the craft that can hover over flat surfaces like sand sand or water at the speed of approximately  45 miles per hour.

Delorean DMC-12 Flash Drive

This 1:18 scale model of Delorean is an amazing toy car which will drive you right from the 1980’s flick into the present with an impressive capacity of 500GB. Invented by Flash Rods, the flash drive is available at $250 each.

Back to the Future Lights and Sound DeLorean

Image Source: Indian Car and Bike Blog
This Back to the Future II DeLorean doesn’t come with 500GB capacity but is complete with a cool electronic system of lights and sounds, gull-wing doors that swing open and wheels that pop out for flight mode. The model was built as limited edition on 1:15 scale.

Back to the Future DeLorean Model

This perfect toy car is a replica that will make McFly proud. The Back to the Future DeLorean die cast model is 1:18 scale and 9.5? in length, and is available at $49.99.

Lego RC Back to the Future Delorean

Image Source: Seriously Geek
As a combination of Lego, radio control and the epic sci-fi movie, this Lego RC Back to the Future DeLorean is geeky – beautifully geeky – from every perspective.

DeLorean Perler Bead Sprite

Image Source: GadgetHim
Playing with Perler beads is one of the newest geeky trends. Doctor Octoroc has created some amazing Perler bead sprites of famous vehicles including our beloved DeLorean.

Authentic Back to the Future Hovercraft

Image Source: Radar/Nois
As one of the hero Mattel Hoverboards used by Marty McFly in the classic 80s trilogy, this Hovercraft drove the fans crazy when it went on auction with starting bid of $30,000. Nostalgia doesn’t come cheap.

Hoverboard Project

If $30,000 is a bit out of your budget, you might want to learn from Nils Guadagnin as he created his own hovercraft. To defy gravity, the French artist uses an electromagnetic system to levitate the board,  and a laser system to stabilize the object in the air.

Nike 6.0 SE DeLorean Shoes

Nike made a breakthrough in shoes design when it introduced the shoes that look like a car in the classic sci-fi – dubbed as Nike 6.0 SE DeLorean. The soles mimic the tail lights of the classic DMC-12, the exterior is designed to look a lot like the stainless steel frame and the bottom of the shoe has the same gridded red-yellow-white pattern.

Marty McFly’s Back to the Future Shoes

To celebrate Back to the Future’s 25th anniversary, a fan decided to make a version of Marty McFly’s auto closing shoes. The mod uses an Arduino micro-controller and two servo motors. As you step inside the shoe, the force sensor feels the additional pressure, adds tension to the lases, tightens the shoe.

Marty’s Color Changing Hat

Available at $21.39, this famous color changing Marty Cap will help you show off your crazy love for the 80s sci-fi on your face.

Back to the Future Camcorder

Image Source: retromax
Retromax is the luckiest Back to the Future fanboy. He has a real 1984 JVC GR-C1 Camcorder, the same model Marty McFly used in Back To The Future. Listed on top 100 gadgets of all time, this was the first ever combined camera and recorder.

Back to the Future Flux Capacitor Replica

People tend to go nuts over DeLorean and forget what really started everything: the Flux Capacitor. This cool replica, sold at $230, finally gives Flux Capacitor justice.

iPhone 4 Flux Capacitor Decal

Image Source: CrunchGear
With just $6, you can change the sleek appearance of the latest version of iPhone into something retro and geeky with this iPhone 4 Flux Capacitor decal.

Back to the Future 25th Anniversary Cake

Made to celebrate Back to the Future’s 25th anniversary, this stunning DeLorean Cake is the sweetest thing any fan can dream of.

Back to the Future Birthday Cake

Even though it was not made for the official 25th anniversary, this DeLorean cake is no less cool and geeky.  The cake retains the original shape and color of the car with interesting details like the 2.12 gigawatt nuclear generator and the windshield wipers. I want one for my birthday too.

Back to the Future Mug


Image Source: Gadgetshop
A coffee in this Back to the Future mug – featuring the logo of the film and the famous DeLorean – is the perfect way to start a day full of adventures.

Just How Many Days Does Bill Murray REALLY Spend Stuck Reliving GROUNDHOG DAY?

In case you didn’t know, today – February 2nd – is Groundhog Day. And to celebrate the momentous American holiday that inspired the bloody brilliant Bill Murray film of the same name, we’re going to answer one of the most asked questions in cinematic history.

Just how many days does Phil Connors spend trapped in the perpetual loop of Groundhog Day?
Okay, so director Harold Ramis has sort of already answered it on the DVD commentary of the film (10 years he reckoned) and then later, in response to several sites online running an article that came to an answer of just 8 years, 8 months, and 16 days, he offered the following (seemingly contradicting his own bloody answer in the process!):
I think the 10-year estimate is too short. It takes at least 10 years to get good at anything, and alloting for the down time and misguided years he spent, it had to be more like 30 or 40 years…
Fair enough, Mr Ramis, but since when did I ever let something as trivial as the truth of the creator of something get in the way of a good opportunity to offer my own take? Anyway, I don’t agree with his estimate at all, as you’ll see below.
Now before I start, a small disclaimer – this article doesn’t take into account days in which Phil does nothing (like those days when all you want to do is lie in bed and play with yourself – which he inevitably will have done), so don’t go complaining that I haven’t factored them in. I actually have, though not explicitly, because my calculation inexplicitly accepts that Phil may have spent time learning some of his new skills on the same day. Don’t phone, it’s just for fun!
Right, so here goes:
The first stage is to work out how many separate days are shown on screen during the movie. So here’s a good old-fashioned list of them:
  • Day 1: Groundhog Day
  • Day 2: The first repetition
  • Day 3: The fixed pencil
  • Day 4: Punching Ned
  • Day 5: Deceiving Nancy
  • Day 6: Robbing the bank
  • Day 7: Seeing Heidi 2 with a French Maid
  • Days 8-12: Engineering the near-perfect date
  • Day 13: The bad perfect date
  • Days 14-21: One for every slap
  • Day 22: “Phil you look terrible!”
  • Day 23: Jeopardy
  • Day 24: “This is pitiful!”
  • Days 25-27: Breaking the alarm clock
  • Day 28: Kidnapping Punxsutawney Phil
  • Day 29-31: Phil’s suicides
  • Day 32: I’m a God!
  • Days 33- 35: First piano lessons
  • Day 36: Sexually harassing Ned
  • Day 37: Looking after the homeless man
  • Day 38: The final Groundhog Day
So by my reckoning that’s 38 separate days shown in the movie. This is of course assuming that every separate thing listed above happens on separate days, which I think isn’t too much of a dangerous assumption, given that Phil is something of a quitter (case in point: multiple attempts at suicide).
Second, and far more difficult stage is to take things Phil says as indicators for other days we do not see.
I have been stabbed, shot, poisoned, frozen, hung, electrocuted, and burned.
Electrocution we saw, see it’s up there in the list – but the other six account for an additional six days (again assuming they weren’t on the same day). Which brings the running total up to 44 days. But then that isn’t factoring the number of days of perpetuation that it would take to force a man who is already thoroughly depressed to attempt suicide – delicate matter, but since Phil is an entirely self-centred man, trapped in his own idea of hell, and surrounded by “hicks”, you’d have to wager that normal circumstances wouldn’t apply. If it were me, a month would be more than enough time to drive me to despair, and I’d say Phil Connors was at least as self-aware as I am, if not more given that he gives up “living by their rules” on day 3 – so let’s factor in 20 more days at this point.
That’s 64 days so far.

And then there’s the scene where Connors tells Rita exactly how long it would take to learn how to expertly throw playing cards into an upturned hat:
“Six months. Four to five hours a day, and you’d be an expert.”
So, that’s 6 months added to the 62 days, bringing the running total to 244 days (taking a month as 30 days).
The insightful quotes don’t stop there- next up is the scene in which Phil takes a companion in a French Maid outfit to see Heidi 2 at the local cinema, and teasingly says:
“It’s like I said: I love this film. I’ve seen it over 100 times.”
There’s another 100 days then – seriously, who would see the same film twice in the same day? Especially when its Heidi 2…
New total so far: 344 days
Add to that two full days of Jeopardy watching to be able to perfectly recite the answers (spread over some other days no doubt – but probably empty days, considering Phil’s mood at that point in the movie) and you have 346 days.

Then of course there’s the diner scene in which Phil explains to Rita that he is stuck reliving Groundhog Day, and uses his extensive knowledge of the other diners to prove his point – let’s give each person a day (ignoring Nancy, as she’s in the original 38 on-screen days), since he clearly knows a lot about them. So that’s a day each for Doris the waitress, Debbie & Fred, Phil the waiter, Gus the drunk ex-sailor, Tom the former coal miner and Alice the waitress, totalling 6 additional days, bringing us to 352 days.
And finally, in this section are the few odd bits and pieces mentioned on screen that would have taken some time, including sourcing a Rolls Royce and Cowboy outfit in small-town Punxsutawney and meeting his French maid companion, discovering the candy store, finding out that Rita likes Rocky Road, and generally learning everything there is to know about Rita. Conservatively, that’s going to be 100 extra days, most of which would be spent in Phil’s attempts to find out as much about Rita as possible to give her the perfect date.
Keeping up? We’re on 452 days already.
Next up, there’s the third stage of the operation – taking the things Phil achieves on screen that imply he has spent time learning new skills, and attempting to use educated guess work, and other reference points to work out how long each achievement might have taken. Armed only with Google, and a healthy curiosity, I set out on this part of the quest with incredible gusto. Then I had a lie-down and watched Hot Shots: Part Deux instead. But then I got back on it:
First there are the big two – learning how to make ice sculptures and how to play piano from scratch.
The ice sculpture business is pretty difficult to quantify, though you would assume that being in show business he has some interest or background in art, so even if he went in as an ice virgin, he might learn faster than another person. I’ll also assume he is self-taught, which is bound to take some time (top Ice Sculptors in London Eskimo Ice can only call themselves top of their game due to 25 years of experience), and portraiture’s got to be the most difficult style to master. In conjunction with that, Malcolm Gladwell has stated that it takes anyone 10,000 hours to become an expert at any one subject, and Phil is clealy an expert ice sculptor, since the ice sculpture is the one thing in Groundhog Day that is entirely quantifiable by what we can see on screen (playing one song well does not make anyone an expert pianist, and speaking one French poem perfectly likewise is not an indicator of expertise).
Broken down that is an hour a day for 27 years, but we know Phil by now, and we know that when he figures out that something gets him closer to fourth base with Rita, he’s likely to pursue it a little more rabidly than that. So I’m suggesting an average of 4 hours per day – based also on his willingness to stick to 4 or 5 hours of card flicking for six solid months, and the impending threat of frost bite over longer periods – which brings that to just under 7 years, based on him working for consecutive days for that whole time, or more likely 10 years sticking to a traditional 5 day a week working directive.
A giant leap to the next running total: 4102 days

And then there’s learning the piano. Again, you have to consider that 10,000 hours to become an expert – not that we know Phil is an actual expert, in the Mozart mould (took him 13 years to produce world class music after being “discovered” at the age of 4), because he isn’t composing or anything. So let’s call him an exceptional pianist – three quarters of the way to expert – so 7,000 practice hours. At the level he is clearly playing at at the end, he must have been putting in two or three hours of practice a day at least (any more and he would be in severe danger of carpal tunnel syndrome or tendinitis) though not every day (for the same medical reasons). That breaks down to about 7.5 years playing for between two and three hours a day every day. But I’ve already said I’m working on the basis that he sticks to the habit of five days on, two days off- so that makes it ten and a half years or there abouts (seems Harold Ramis was right about the ten year mark).
10.5 years= 3833 days
And a new running total of 7935

But then there are other things too – it is implied that Phil has learned French when he recites French poetry to Rita – but then, at this stage in the film, Phil has shown that he is more than willing to use deception to get into her knickers, so what’s to say that he didn’t simply spend a couple of days learning how to perfectly recite the one passage he picks to impress Rita. But that’s probably nit-picking, so let’s accept that he took lessons (given that Ramis himself also confirmed that Phil learned the language, and that the script confirms it below).
Rita: Believe it or not, I studied nineteenth-century French poetry.
Phil: [talks in French]
Rita: You speak French?
Phil: Oui.
So, taking into account the fact that America only has about 1.6million French speakers, and isn’t strictly speaking a Francophone nation, and the fact that Pennsylvania had no historical French settlement it would presumably have been more difficult for Phil to learn the language than it would somewhere with a large French speaking community. With that in mind and also the fact that Phil is an adult learner, and thus less susceptible to learning a second language quickly, a conservative estimate, based on the idea of him taking lessons everyday (he clearly really wants to impress Rita), it would have taken somewhere around 12 years to become completely fluent (though ex-pats living in Francophone countries sometimes state it takes longer even than that) bringing the running total to:
12,315 days

Not only does Phil learn things to woo Rita – he also became all selfless, as indicated by this quote from Felix’s Wife:
Dr. Connors. I want to thank you for fixing Felix’s back. He can even help around the house again.
Hang on, he fixed his back?! When exactly did he find the time to learn enough in the medical field to “fix” the back of a man so incapacitated that he couldn’t even help around the house?! Oh yeah, right, stuck in an infinite circle of time! Well, I wouldn’t think he had actually gone to Medical School (there isn’t one in Punxsutawney – and he’d just end up doing first-day induction over and over anyway) or the required four years post-graduate studying to become a chiropractor, but you have to wonder how long it would take an unqualified TV presenter to master chiropractory to that level – or at least enough to wing it (it’s a giant law-suit waiting to happen). This one has to be pure speculation – though I did find a useful, teach yourself chiropractory video, of 100 minutes, which you’d think Phil would have to watch at least five or six times to learn off by heart (a low number since he would have some familiarity with learning lines quickly). It’s probably also reasonable to suggest that Phil would have read up on the subject before attempting to administer off-the-cuff medical attention on a frail-looking elderly gentleman – say 20 days to be safe.
Adding the time it took to source the video (no more a suspension of belief required than his acquiring WWF tickets!), and the probable few times he practiced on Felix and it didn’t quite work out as planned (and assuming each failed attempt then spoiled his entire day), I’d say a very rough bare minimum estimate of 26 days to learn to fix Felix’s back.
So, so far that’s: 12,341 days

I’ve already stated (in the disclaimer above) that these periods of learning could overlap – but really, I’m not entirely sure they would: clearly, you couldn’t learn to play the piano after spending a few hours learning to sculpt ice (which would necessarily be a morning activity, given the lower temperatures and appropriate lighting). And further, given Phil’s professed dedication to each subject (his spending six months learning to throw cards into a hat proves an invaluable bench-mark), I don’t think it likely that he would learn each thing in one long, crammed period of time. You have to remember, at the stage he is learning piano and ice sculpting, he has seemingly abandoned his desire to leave Punxsutawney, and is revelling in the infinite possibilities for self-advancement. So there.
Anyway, ignoring for a minute the good that he does, Phil does himself some badness too. Chief among them naughty activities, he robs a security van outside the bank, thanks to a Rain Man style plan:
[sitting outside the local bank]
Phil: A gust of wind.
[a gust of wind blows]
Phil: A dog barks.
[a dog barks in the distance]
Phil: Cue the truck.
[an armored truck drives up]
Phil: Exit Herman; walk out into the bank.
[Herman gets out of the armored truck and walks into the bank]
Phil: Exit Felix, and stand there with a not-so-bright look on your face.
[Felix gets out of truck and stands there]
Phil: All right, Doris, come on. Hey, fix your bra, honey… That’s better.
[Doris walks up fixing her outfit]
Phil: [impersonating Doris] Felix.
[Doris says, "Felix"]
Phil: [impersonating Felix] How ya doin’ Doris?
[Felix asks Doris a question]
Phil: [impersonating Doris] Can I have a roll of quarters?
[Doris asks Felix for a roll of quarters]
Phil: [Phil stands up and begins to walk towards the armored car, counting to himself]
Phil: 10, 9, 8, car…
[a car drives in front of Phil]
Phil: …6, 5, quarters…
[roll of quarters breaks open, hitting the ground]
Phil: …3, 2…
[Phil reaches over Felix and takes a bag of money out of the back of the armored truck]
Herman: Felix, did I bring out two bags or one?
Felix: I dunno.
[scratches his head]
That impressive knowledge, perfect to the exact minute detail, seemingly implies an extended period of research, including failed attempts (presumably also including him being run over by the car), which could not have been feasibly shorter than six weeks in my opinion. And I’m the one with the keyboard here- so six more weeks it is:
Running total: 12,383 days
The final stage of this whole operation is breaking down what Phil achieves in his final Groundhog Day, and working out how long each soul-saving gesture would have taken, as follows:
  1. Saving a falling child - a day to hear about the accident, and find out where it happens, a couple more days to investigate, and maybe two more to get the timing perfectly off to a tee = 5 days
  2. Changing the old ladies’ tire - being in the right place, finding a tire and a jack = 1 day
  3. Saving Buster - discovering when and where Buster chokes, learning the Heimlich Manoeuvre = 2 days
  4. Getting a couple WWF tickets (entirely improbable but – one day to find out they enjoy WWF, one day to find out you can’t get WWF tickets within the same day – with a blizzard no less – and two full days to somehow source some tickets within the town itself = 4 days)
Total for those selfless acts: 12 days of hard work
Which brings us to a penultimate count of 12,395 days.
But then there is a final calculation to consider- the small matter of leap years, which add a 366th day to the calendar every four years. So that, Math Fans, is 8 extra days, leading to a massive final total of… drum roll please….
…12,403 days.
And written in more sensible terms that is…

33 years and 358 days

So if my math is right (probably ain’t) and obviously leap years make it difficult but it will mean something like;
407 months
1766 weeks
12,403  days
297, 672 hours
17, 860, 320 minutes
So next time you are asked… “Hey, just how many days does Bill Murray spend locked in Groundhog Day?” – The answer my friends, is, 12,403 days!!

That’s a far shout from that 8 years figure bandied about in that article mentioned above – and even further away from the 10,000 years that were supposedly mentioned in the initial drafts of the film. I can only thank my lucky stars I didn’t have to go to those lengths!
All that effort to find out that Harold Ramis was pretty much right in the first sodding place. It’s alright though, man’s a goddamn genius.
For anyone who wants to check all of this, I really don’t suggest watching Groundhog Day in this manner. It’s not the best way to enjoy what is essentially a light-hearted comedy whose metaphysical concerns are supposed to be enjoyed in fun, and not worked out mathematically. Normal people should be happy to just watch, and accept that Phil Connors is stuck repeating his one day endlessly over and over until he finds himself- but then, I don’t think I’m normal.