Heather Braaten Missing

And now for something important.

Heather Braaten, active in SeaLUG and online as “HeatherLEGOgirl,” has been missing in Seattle since March 20th. If you know anything, contact the Seattle Police Dept or Heather’s family. You can see a flyer here with more information.

Until this story broke, I’d never met or heard of Heather, but my thoughts and prayers go out to her friends and family. However unlikely it is that my readership knows anything, they need all the help they can get.

Edit: Sadly, Heather’s body was found in Seattle on Sunday afternoon.



Arkov created this awesome Nerf Maverick, stalwart sidearm of humans everywhere. (He calls it a Heavy Freaking Auto Cannon though to avoid lawsuits.) I’m happy to see some Nerf love in the LEGO community – Legohaulic included a gun in his Ghostbusters MOC just a few days ago too.

– via The Brothers Brick

Mike Daisey finally apologizes

Too bad I can’t believe anything he says anymore.

Apple Stores on CUUSOO

Speaking of LEGO and architecture, some interesting Apple Store designs have popped up on LEGO’s crowd-sourcing site CUUSOO. These have absolutely no hope of getting produced (can you imagine Apple giving permission for their logo on anything?), but they are nice models that deserve a mention. In fact, they deserve your votes too, so go to CUUSOO and support whichever one you find most attractive (or, better yet, all of them.)

This model from “gotoandbuild” made the rounds of several Apple news sites, and has racked up 1,800 votes thanks to the exposure. That’s not all that close to the necessary 10,000, but it does make it the most popular so far. It started off as a small store and morphed into a larger construction as it gained momentum. The inclusion of Steve Jobs and Steve Woz figures (including Segway!) is genius, though I’m not a big fan of the interior since the computers are fairly bulky and drab. That Apple logo could use some work too, but overall it’s a nice set.

This alternative from “kjveg1” is my favorite, although the main photo doesn’t give it credit. Since it’s created with LDD software rather than physical bricks, it’s harder to get compelling images. This building is about the same size, but the products inside look much better and it includes the classic window displays featured in every Apple Store. The hanging logo on the second story is nearly perfect, and there’s an absolutely remarkable billboard on the back. Even the “floating” glass staircase is just right. I might have to build this one myself someday.

Last but not least, “Sess” has proposed a LEGO Architecture set featuring the famous 5th Ave. Apple Store in New York City. The iconic cube lends itself well to microscale LEGO, and the Architecture sets command a premium brand that fits Apple. It’s a much smaller construction, but it would look fantastic on my desk.

The LEGO Designers work in my dream office

I’m quite jealous of LEGO’s Product and Marketing Department offices in Billund. The fantastic space created by Danish architects Rosan Bosch and Rune Fjord is intended to promote creativity and a playful mindset using airy meeting spaces, live plants, and fun installations like a stainless steel slide in the center of the room. Check out the gallery in the link for many more stunning photos.

While this might seem a little overdone, I can’t think of a better place to work with LEGO – the tables even have semicircular cutouts to let designers surround themselves with parts. Afterwards, everything is cleaned to a striking minimalist aesthetic that perfectly offsets the colorful and sometimes chaotic nature of LEGO. It’s a far cry from the dingy basement hobby rooms that too many AFOLs use as their creative space; when it comes time for me to carve out a hobby room in my own house, I’ll keep this in mind.

– via The Brick Life

Patrick Rhone’s latest book

Patrick is one of the best writers and most thoughtful people on the internet. enough, his latest book, goes on sale today. I greatly enjoyed his last one and expect this one to be even better.

Review: Air Wings

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of paper airplanes, so it comes as no surprise that I’m enjoying the latest game from Pangea Software. The venerable creators of my favorite classic Mac games have a modern iOS hit on their hands with Air Wings. After re-releasing some older OS X games on the App Store like Nanosaur 2, Bugdom 2, and Cro-Mag Rally, Pangea has moved on to new material.

Air Wings puts you behind the controls of a maneuverable paper airplane, flying through a variety of household environments like a cardboard box fort or a sandbox. You pick up weapons (spitballs, rubber bands, pencil missiles, etc) to engage in multiplayer online battle through Game Center.

The controls are similar to any other accelerometer-based flight game. Tilt the iDevice to direct your plane and use buttons to fire, select weapons, boost, or calibrate the accelerometer. There’s a pretty low flight ceiling, so don’t expect to haul up on your iPhone to pull a loop and get the drop on a tailing opponent – you’ll just straighten out into a level flight at max altitude. Controls are responsive and can be adjusted for sensitivity. The 3D graphics are nice, but hardly revolutionary. It’s a lot like Bugdom in that respect, set in a miniature environment filled with everyday objects like flashlights and concrete blocks.

Unlike Pangea’s other games, Air Wings uses a freemium payment model. This means that the app is free to download and play, but you can pay via in-app purchases to unlock more planes and maps. By default you can use only the most basic plane and one combat arena. This isn’t too bad though, since multiplayer battles take place in any randomized map whether you’ve bought it or not. Buying a map just allows you to use it for practice flights. The plane upgrades are worth buying, since the basic “Dart” airplane is easily outdone by the upgraded models. There are two upgrade packs for purchase, each containing two airplanes. I recommend getting only the second plane pack if you’re strapped for cash, since it gives you the extremes (the fastest, least durable plane and the toughest, slowest one) to nicely round out your arsenal. The game includes unobtrusive iAds which are removed by purchasing any upgrade.

Air Wings is the first multiplayer game I’ve played that uses Game Center for matching opponents, and it works remarkably well. You can invite friends or compete against up to three random opponents. The game builds in audio support, so you can chat with your enemies as you shoot them from the sky. Don’t worry – this can be disabled if they get upset and start shouting profanities (or if they don’t speak your language!) Game Center doesn’t seem to match players by skill or award visible points for wining or losing, but it does keep a tally of your worldwide rank just like any other game.

Overall, this is a great simple flying game for iOS. It’s not a flight sim, and it’s not for tweakers or achievement hunters. You’re not scored, nor can you change or customize your planes. But if you want to take a few minutes to strafe another paper airplane with rubber bands, sticky darts, and firecracker mines, it’s a lot of fun. After only a few hours, Air Wings has earned a permanent place in my Games folder.

Air Wings is free on the App Store.

Mike Daisey embarrasses himself, This American Life, and everyone else.

In a painful blog post, This American Life host Ira Glass has retracted his most popular episode because Mike Daisey lied to him.

He lied about where he went, what he saw, and who he talked to. He lied in his stage monologue “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” and he lied on the radio.

NPR finally caught up with his Chinese interpreter (who Daisey claimed had a different name and couldn’t be reached.) She was surprised to hear about all the horrible things they supposedly saw, and she remembered a completely different course of events. While that could just as easily be coverup from Foxconn or the Chinese government, Mike Daisey now willingly admits that large portions of his story were made up for the sake of “theatre.” His heart-rending conversations with underage, oppressed, or crippled workers simply never happened.

Consider that Daisey was the one that originally sparked this most recent wave of Apple-China outrage. The New York Times articles published mere weeks after his NPR monologue. The protests and online petitions. The Nightline documentary. Throughout it all, a bewildered and offended Tim Cook asserted such claims were “patently false” while inviting press to tour the factories.

It was Daisey’s word vs Cook’s. Now one of them is now a proven liar, and it’s sure as hell not Tim Cook.

In one day, my opinion of Mike Daisey has gone from “ethical, talented performer and amateur investigator” to “assclown.”