Design Norway’s Art Museum, with LEGOs!

Sometimes, news makes you happy, puts a smile on your face, makes you feel a teeny bit better about the human condition. Sometimes, such a soul-tickle comes from an unexpected place, like the land of the ice and snow (and a brief UPI item).

The National Art Museum of Norway, in Oslo, needs a design for their new addition. They’ve opened the design process to the public. To give everyone some handy brainstorming tools to work with, they dumped a gigantic pile of LEGO bricks, several tons of them, in the empty lot next door. Video of the public playing in the bricks and of their LEGO creations, in addition to serving as inspiration for the new building addition, will become part of an exhibit at the Contemporary Art Museum in October. Ah hell, why don’t they go ahead and just make the addition out of the LEGOs!

Thanks, Jay!

Amazing Drawing Bots Built From Junk

Here at Street Tech Labs, we’re big believers in the technojunk box, a collection of cast-off consumer electronics to have on hand for delving into when you need parts for robot building or other hardware hacks. We’re also big fans of junkbots, robots built out of as many recycled parts as possible. But this builder, David Williamson, definitely puts the “junk” in technojunk. He builds these amazing rattletrap creations from old motors, gears, switches, relays, and transistors, i.e. the usual suspects, but he also makes judicious use of drinking straws, soda cans, paper plates, cardboard, plastic beads, toy pieces, string, coat hangers, coffee cup lids, bits of pocket lint, fairy dust, and dreams.

After marveling at his wonderful drawing contraptions, check out the rest of his site. It’s a treasure-trove of freeform creativity and technojunk jazz. This cat definitely has the chops.

[Via Make]

DRM Hacks I Have Known

Ars Technica has a nifty piece that runs through the various DRM techs, how they’ve been cracked, and a look at the future of the tech, and future attempts to overcome it [Cue: “We Shall Overcome” and side-to-side protest swaying]. The piece begins:

“Like a creeping fog, DRM smothers more and more media in its clammy embrace, but the sun still shines down on isolated patches of the landscape. This isn’t always due to the decisions of corporate executives; often it’s the work of hackers who devote considerable skill to cracking the digital locks that guard everything from DVDs to e-books. Their reasons are complicated and range from the philosophical to the criminal, but their goals are the same: no more DRM.”

Amen, brothers and sisters. Read the rest of the piece aquĆ­.

Zyb: Free Phone Backup Service

Kevin Kelly’s Cool Tools e-zine had an item about a free Web-based phone backup service called Zyb. The Cool Tool reviewer (Roar Nilsen, not Kevin Kelly) writes:

“Here’s a cool tool that I stumbled upon. It’s called ZYB (quite uninformative name, but typical web 2.0 lingo I guess)… Quite impressive what you can do on that site — back up contacts, etc. and actually it’s a bit strange that they even can get the backup to work over the mobile’s GPRS connection. I’ve used it for a month now and I’m impressed that it’s even possible to make a backup of your mobile that way. I don’t know how they do it or why it hasn’t been done before!”

I checked it out an it looks pretty nifty. Haven’t tried actually backing up my data yet. Has anyone here used Zyb?

Apple to Announce Video Streaming to Your TV?

AppleInsider dropped some pretty exciting news yesterday that you may have missed while you were trying to squeeze in one last trip to Margaritaville for the summer. It is now rumored that, besides a possible 23″ iMac and a new battle-hardened nano (with an anodize aluminum shell replacing the oh-so-scratchable polycarbonate), Steve Jobs might have a real juicy announcement for the anticipated Sept 12 Apple media event: a la carte movie downloading via iTunes and streaming of said films to your home media center/TV via an A/V version of Apple’s Airport Express. I guess this direction might explain why Apple has been so slow/seeimgly ho-hum about juicing up the MacMini to turn it into a home media computer. With this desktop-to-Airport-to-TV streaming, you don’t really need a PC in the home media center. Maybe.

Review: Solarbotics Turbot Kit

I spent the weekend inhaling brain-dimming fumes and wielding dangerous power tools, all in the service of science and the advancement of robot-kind. Cause as a wise philosopher once said (or was it a HAL 9000?): “Isn’t a human just a way for a robot to make another robot?” See the bot this puny human bodged up in my debrief on the Solarbotics Turbot Kit, in our Reviews section.