Excel-Generated Art

If this keeps up, Street Tech is going to have to open up a new Topic Area for “Digital Age Folk Art.” Artist Danielle Aubert used the ubiquitous Microsoft Excel spreadsheet as a canvas and art tool to create “58 Days Worth of Drawing Exercises in Microsoft Excel.” He writes: “Each drawing is in a new ‘worksheet,’ which is automatically set up as a grid. These drawings were made by changing cell preferences for background color, fill patterns, and border styles and from time to time inserting ‘comment’ boxes and letters or words.”

Especially check out the animated version of all the pieces.

[Via Make]

Help Nate Design His Next Game

Now that Nate (and his game designer pals) has a brainiac game award under his belt, he’s on to his next bright idea. It’s a game of change called Condoleeza Dice, ’cause “Diplomacy is Random.”

Nate’s kicking around different ideas for the game and has created a blog to develop in the open. So stop by, share your thoughts, and watch a game take shape, from brainstorm to marketplace. Right now, he’s looking for an artist to do the second iteration of the dice art.

Da Vinci Code Ruling Has Its Own Code

The New York Times reports today that the judge who recently ruled on the Da Vinci Code lawsuit buried his own little code in the actual opinion — until now barely noticed and apparently still unsolved. So subtle was the code that the judge actually had to drop hints about how to start unraveling the thread by looking at certain portions of the opinion that were in a different typeface.

Check the full text of the opinion to figure out the code on your own!

Street Tech-Incubated Game Wins Mensa Prize

Street Tech Senior Editor Nate Heasley’s boardgame Wits and Wagers has been selected as a winner of the Mensa Select Mind Games prize for 2006! The game, which involves betting on answers to trivia questions, was co-developed by Nate, along with Dominic and Satish of North Star Games. Rumor has it they still won’t let Nate into the high-IQ society, but we’re putting him through a routine of Soduko and Tangrams to improve his scores.

[Editor’s Note: Congrats to Nate from all your pals at Street Tech. It couldn’t have happened to a bigger High Dome!]

New, Stylin’ iPod Skins

GelaSkins are a new line of vinyl protector skins for all styles of iPods. Designs range from fine art to street tags. The company claims the skins apply easily and firmly and do not leave residue when removed. They also say that, because the skins are very thin, they still allow the iPods to fit into existing cases and integrate with other accessories. Each skin comes with a GelaScreen display protector. The skins are US$14.95 each.

Maxell Announces Fuel Cell

Hitachi Maxell has announced development of a small 10W class hydrogen fuel cell that runs on a reaction of water and aluminum. They claim to have made improvements in fuel cell technology by developing an aluminum conversion process that requires less aluminum. The company hopes to use reclaimed aluminum in the future to make the technology even more enviro-friendly. Maxell also claims to have utilized a new membrane-electrode coating process (a key part of fuel cells) originally developed for coating their magnetic tape. The company says their test data shows that the new cell delivers five times more power density than previous cells made with methanol as the fuel source.

Right now, the cells measure 3.9″ x 6.2″ x 2.3.” They hope to make future versions that are 70% smaller. The cells were developed with laptops and other portable battery-powered devices in mind. The cells could be kept running by swapping out aluminum and water cartridges.

More Cool Collectible USB “Bots”

Mimoco, makers of limited edition USB flash drive “toys,” has announced two more offerings. HERO, the first in the “Flying Cat” series, is designed by UK artist TADO, and is available now. The second in the series, Jon Burgerman’s Corrupted_Data, is available for pre-order. Each will be limited to editions of 500. We imagine they’ll have hipster art and music preloaded on them like other Mimobots and come in chic packaging.

Reclocking MacBook Pros

According to AppleInsider, the ATI Radeon X1600 graphics card used in MacBook Pros is underclocked, in both its graphics processor unit and its memory. The GPU is set to about 310MHz and RAM to 278MHz, when both are capable of around 470MHz. That’s a performance decrease of around 34% in the GPU and 41% for memory. This was done to preserve battery life and reduce noise (cooling fan). For situations where performance is more important than these factors, it’d be nice if you could change these clock speeds. Apple doesn’t provide for this, but hackers have managed to change the speeds (with little ill effect) using ATITool beta 0.25 R14 in Windows (via BootCamp). Hopefully the next version of ATIccelerator, which allows on-the-fly overclocking of ATI GPUs in OS X, will include this new graphics card.

In Praise of a Third Hand

Phillip Torrone, Senior Editor of Makezine, sings the praises of the Third Hand tool in the recent edition of Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools e-list, because: “It’s pretty tough to find someone to help you at 3am when most of the important work seems to happen. Two adjustable metal clips hold in your circuit boards (or whatever else) and a magnifying glass gives you a little zoom in action for the really tricky constructions. Perhaps I anthropomorphize useful things, but on an otherwise cold work bench, the Third Hand looks like a little robot pal with claws raised, always eager to help.”

He has the same one I do, the US$6 jobby from Jameco. The only thing he didn’t say is that you really want at least two of these, because for many projects, even an extra set of robo-hands just ain’t enough.

Make Your Own Third Hands: While $6 is plenty cheap for a tool as indispensable as this one, you can make several pairs of these helpers for nothing, if you have some thick-gauge copper wire and alligator clips hanging around. All you have to do is attach the clips to both ends of a length of wire, and then, using carpet tacks, attach the wire to a piece of wood (such as a short length of 1 x 4). Instant Third Hand.