If you try to follow any of these links and find it down (permanently), please e-mail me and let me know. Include your snail mail address and, as a reward, I will mail you a surprise. It won't be a diamond, but it won't be a turd, either. This is a good-faith offer; it holds for mistakes on any of my other pages, as well.
- Boris Bally of Chicago, IL, makes cool stuff out of recycled street signs. The "Transit" and "Speed" chairs are perhaps his most notable pieces.
- Arthur Ganson is known worldwide for his "art machines." For many years he was MIT's artist-in-residence. My favorite of his many interesting kinetic sculptures is Cory's Yellow Chair.
- California's Larry and Debby Kline have done some cool outdoor installations made from fluorescent tubes and positioned under power lines, so that the ambient field from the power lines makes the tubes light up without any external connections.
- Whitney Lee of Made With Sweet Love makes pornographic latch-hook rugs, among other things.
- Platypus is the greatest unisex hair salon in the world, period. Owned and operated solely by hair savant Kelly Behrends, Platypus, located in Austin, TX, has a single chair. $40 gets you an aromatherapy scalp massage, a shampoo, a cut, and a styling, plus free "touch-ups" if you've got an event or a hot date coming up. Kelly's scheduling is all done on-line through the website. He employs no assistant and works 40 hours a week at $40 an hour, "No Tipping Please." Doing this, he makes more than many attorneys, and his customers pay less for better service than they would get at a "traditional" salon.
- Resource Revival is an Oregon-based outfit that's been making knick-knacks out of bicycle parts, old computer mice, discarded shotgun shells, and other refuse for a few years now. There's a bit of eco-marketing going on here: The objects they manufacture have a hip industrial look and are clever examples of creative reuse, but this sort of effort really doesn't do much to reduce waste problems. Old bicycle parts, for example, could just as easily be made into new steel instead of rusty knick-knacks. Still, these folks have their hearts in the right place and, as I said before, a lot of the stuff they sell is pretty cool.
- Eric Sophie makes some incredible Japanese Gundam-style robots out of Lego bricks.
- Maggie Toole draws tiny circles with colored pencils. The effect she achieves is delicate and subtle and beautiful. I first saw her work displayed at Austin's Art on 5th gallery.
- Ray Wiger is a gifted sculptor who works in wire mesh. I admire the minimalism of his medium and the way light interacts with his wall-mounted pieces. Any anonymous admirers who want to buy me a multi-thousand dollar gift should consider one of his works.
- Eric Zimmerman is probably the greatest video game designer alive today. His "back to basics" style emphasizes novel and interesting gameplay over flashly graphics--the substantive over the superficial, in other words. "Blix" is probably his greatest work, but I'm also an admire of the innovative thinking behind "Loop." BTW, if anybody knows where I can find the back issue of ArtByte magazine from 2000 containing Zimmerman's "Organism" game, do let me know.
- Yeah, so, I really like brand hand soap. I think it's the packaging.
- Bionicle is one of many recent incarnations of the LEGO Brand Building Blocks (LEGO requests they be described thusly, and not as "LEGOs") that I loved as a kid. LEGO toys have changed a lot since I was a kid; sometimes I think for the worse. The individual pieces today seem to be less versatile than 20 years ago, tending more towards action figures that you have to put together yourself than kits for building toys you dream up yourself. Still, I think Bionicles look cool; they're packaged and marketed to the gills (there's even a movie) and, frankly, it's worked on me.
- The Coffee Critic is the only place I know of where one can order kopi luwak online. For those of you not in the know, this absolutely fantastic coffee is made from beans extracted from the feces of the luwak, a kind of tropical weasel native to the coffee-growing regions of Indonesia. The luwak subsists largely on coffee berries, and has evolved an incredible nose for the ripest and best fruit. The mammal digests the fruit, excretes the seed (bean), and its excrement is carefully gathered and washed to recover it. It's pricey, but you have to try it to believe how good it is.
- Securitas, Inc. out of Richmond, Virginia, manufactures prison-safe toiletries, writing utensils, and other personal property, which they market to the public as "Ultralight Sports" products for backpackers and outdoor-types. Their product line includes "No-Shank" flexible pens, mirrors, and toothbrushes, as well as a full line of "Clear-Vue" soaps, shave gels, and shampoos which are completely transparent and sold in transparent containers to thwart the old inmate trick of stashing a shiv in the shampoo bottle. Their catalog is fascinating and disgusting at the same time. Not to be missed.
- baddesigns.com is a website dedicated to lambasting bad human factors design in products, retail displays, architecture, and so forth, much in the spirit of some of my own gripes (cf. design gaffes) and following, as always, from the work of Donald A. Norman in his book The Design of Everyday Things. Thanks to Mark Balzer for this link.
- Ever want to go through your neighbor's garbage, just to see what they're doing in there? You're not alone. FOUND Magazine is full of love letters, photographs, grocery lists, and other verisimilar detritus picked up off the street or scavenged from dumpsters or stolen from the Vatican library. It's fascinating voyeurism, and it looks really cool on your coffee table.
- One time I had this idea. I was going to write a short story in the form of dictionary entries, arranged alphabetically, kind of in the personal-dictionary tradition of Ambrose Bierce, et. al. (I know there are al.; I just can't think of them right now.) The words would be carefully chosen and defined personally, rather than objectively, so that in reading through them you'd get a sense of what they meant to the author and gradually a picture of who he was and what happened to him would emerge. Gimmicky, I know. But an interesting stylistic challenge. So like three days after this idea comes to me I'm sitting in a local coffee shop, and I overhear some dude at the next table telling his buddy, "I've been thinking about writing a story in the form of dictionary entries." Now, you could argue that the idea is not that original and it's only coincidence that this happened. Or you could be romantic (like me), and understand that good ideas just float around up in the aether/zeitgeist, and those of us with perky antenna can tune in on them and that explains why sometimes a lot of people have the same idea at the same time. Point being, that's how I think of ReadyMade magazine. The first issue of ReadyMade came out within a few months of the time I started this website, and when I first saw it, I thought, "Wow, it's like they made a magazine inspired by my website." So if you like what you see here, you'll like what you see there, and hopefully vice-versa. Get a subscription.
- Auton Motorized Systems sells the necessary hardware to turn your home into the lair of a James Bond villain, complete with a pop-up safe that comes out of a credenza, a pop-up bar that comes out of a dollhouse, and everything you might need to install a TV behind a motorized secret compartment over your mantle.
- Brookline Veneers sells a fantastic decorative composite plywood called "Colorply."
- Box Props is the only place I know of where one can buy a 42" plasma TV with stand, new, for $80 plus shipping. Of course, it will ship unfolded and flat-packed, but assembly requires no tools and just a minute or two of your time. They have similar deals on stereo components, speakers, and computers. It's all made of cardboard, of course, but it looks good enough to fool your jealous neighbors when they peer through the window, and that's what it's all about, anyway, isn't it? PROPS by IDM is another great resource for this sort of thing, for those of us who are too sophisiticated for cardboard.
- bulbs.com is a great place to buy light bulbs of all shapes and sizes.
- Guess what they sell at www.bigassfans.com.
- e-fortunecookie.com will manufacture and ship to you fortune cookies packed with your own custom fortunes. A great business idea that I had and then, as often happens, discovered somebody else had beat me to it. Kudos to them.
- In many ways, instructables.com embodies the very best spirit and use of the WWW, and does a lot to remind me why I started my own page in the first place. The site, which is produced in collaboration with the well-intentioned Howtoons! comic strip, provides a user interface designed to facilitate the documentation and sharing of personal how-to projects and ideas in the spirit of the DIY movement. I already have several favorites, but I won't impinge on your browsing pleasure by telling what they are.
- Project Gutenberg takes literary classics that are out-of-copyright, converts them to digital text, and makes them freely available for download over the web. They have almost 7,000 titles available right now.
- The Freenet Project is a non-profit organization, which grew out of Ian Clarke's work at the University of Edinborough in the mid-90s, dedicated to the development and implementation of a totally uncensorable file-sharing network, which is both decentralized (peer-to-peer) and anonymous. It's been a pipe dream for many years now, but FreeNet is finally starting to really happen. Download, install, and run the client to access content unavailable anywhere else on the web.
- Kirtas Tech manufactures automatic book scanners: You load a book in the machine, and it turns the pages automatically, scans them in, performs optical character and figure recognition, and outputs a digital file. The essential tool for moving the vast and moldering universe of print into the digital world.
- Lindsay's Technical Books sells both original publications and reprints of older books about what might be called "fundamental technology skills." Sure, you can use your engine lathe to turn a piston-head, but what would you do if civilization crumbled and you didn't have access to all those fancy store-bought AC-operated machine tools? You'd have to build your own. Books from Lindsay's will tell you how.
- Loompanics Unlimited in Washington state distributes what it rightly calls "the best book catalog in the world." All kinds of information you simply can't get elsewhere. Need to know how to set up a meth lab? How serious counterfeiters ply their trade? How the government is lying to you about...well...just about everything? This is the place to find out.
- t-shirts.com does custom T-shirt printing on any scale, including ones-off. Upload your images and design your shirt online, then have it shipped to you.
other cool stuff
- The Anchorpoint Essays is the oldest, most reliable, and most accessible collation of the xenobiology of Internecivus raptus, aka the "Alien" of the eponymous films. An enduring and highly entertaining bit of fan
- Metal Storm, Ltd. is a defense contractor currently developing some interesting small-arms concepts involving inductively-fired electronic weaponry with a novel "magazineless" stacked-ammunition configuration. There are some interesting parallels with a concept weapon I proposed to develop in 1996.
- NATEC, Inc. of Plattsburgh, NY, manufactures and sells ammunition with plastic rather than brass cases. Apparently it works like gang-busters. A testament, along with silicone bakeware, to the capabilities of modern high-performance polymers.
- Those who are nostalgic for their old "Speak & Spell" toy will enjoy this British site which features a full-featured and totally faithful Flash emulator thereof.
A gentleman named Jeff Russell has put together a series of high-resolution charts comparing the dimensions of various fictional spacecraft at several distance-per-pixel scales. They are fascinating and beautiful to look at.
If you can read this, you already understand what's cool about univers revolved, a project by typographer Ji Lee. He takes the letterforms of the widely-used 'univers' typeface, rotates them through 360 degrees, and builds sentences, paragraphs, and objects out of the resulting shapes. There's a book available, and a freeware TrueType font can be downloaded through the website.
- Scale topographic maps are considered an invaluable aid for military planning on the tactical level. For a long time, such maps were created by hand using portable "sand tables," which are pretty much just what they sound like. The engineering firm Xenotran has developed a rapidly reconfigurable computer controlled topographic display to replace sand tables in field planning installations. The XenoVision Mark III, as it's called, was supposedly inspired by the computer controlled "pin" topographic map display device in the first X-Men movie.
- The good people at Zombierama.com are doing their part to promote and foster the emerging field of zombie science. Those experiencing an actual zombie outbreak should contact Dr. Huge Pecos at The Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency.