Junior

I’m impressed by Mike Nieves’ towering Kohrak – I was a Bionicle kid and collected all of these little guys when they were released back in 2002. Mike’s remake (styled as the original Kohrak’s son) is a massive improvement, easily capable of squashing any Toa. I’m pleased to see that he chose to remake the white one, since they were always my favorite. Don’t miss his sharp new name tag at the bottom either.

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14 Must-Know Tips & Tricks for Mac OS X

A great list from OS X Daily. I expected to know most of them but instead came away surprised at how many helpful keyboard shortcuts I wasn’t using. Copy and Move files in the Finder is a real show-stopper, as is instant force quit.


Star Wars Dark Bucket Declined

Haru’s popular Dark Bucket project on CUUSOO hit 10,000 supporters a few days ago, but LEGO has archived the project due to the lack of building pieces. LEGO’s Star Wars license is for construction toys, not action figures (that’s held by LEGO rival Hasbro.) So without any bricks, there’s no way LEGO could legally produce this set. Still though, LEGO’s got the message that fans want lots of minifigures and hopefully will produce some great battle packs in the future. Congrats to Haru on bringing this unmet desire to LEGO’s attention, even if they can’t produce it exactly this way!


Why VGA Ports Still Exist

Daring Fireball called out three laptop manufacturers (Toshiba, Sony, and Dell) this morning for releasing brand-new laptops with VGA ports on the side, saying they were “skating to where the puck was in 1987.”

As far as technology goes, I agree. VGA is hopelessly outdated by HDMI, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, and even DVI. There’s doesn’t seem to be much point in hanging on to the huge VGA socket, especially now that it’s thicker than many high-quality laptops.

Unfortunately though, laptops don’t exist in a vacuum. They have to connect to things, and VGA is still overwhelmingly the way to go. External monitors use mainly HDMI now, but projectors are a problem. Visit any school or office and I guarantee they will provide you with a VGA projector. Schools especially don’t have the cash to upgrade their projectors, nor do they see a need when VGA still works fine.

So let’s be honest – I appreciate Apple’s quest for ever-thinner laptops and new display technologies, but it’s a pain to lug around a VGA adaptor cable whenever I need to run a presentation. You can’t bring your own projector to class or the office, and they sure aren’t using Mini DisplayPort. In fact, nothing ever uses Mini DisplayPort aside from Apple’s own monitor. The tiny ports are nice, but the compulsory dongles are not. I’ve heard it said recently that Apple likes to produce 90% of the product for 90% of the population so they don’t have to cater to niche markets. Maybe that’s true if every student or business worker falls into the remaining 10%.

There’s no easy solution – VGA ports are old and ugly, but laptop makers can’t just disregard the massive built-in projector base. Dongles are pretty much the only way to go (assuming you don’t want hideous laptops like the Dell mentioned above), but they’re far from an elegant solution. Just try explaining that “it looks better this way” when someone asks you why a MacBook can’t connect to a simple classroom projector.


Susan Kare’s Sketchbook

If you’ve never heard of Susan Kare, then you really should take a look at this piece by Steve Silberman at NeuroTribes. Susan designed the graphic user interface icons for the original Macintosh, then went on to work on IBM’s OS/2, Windows, and even Facebook. She’s the reason we all recognize the trash can on a computer desktop and the speaker volume icon on a keyboard, as well as the “pan hand” for navigating PDFs and the scissors for cut and paste. If that wasn’t enough, she even designed the first proportionally spaced font for computers, finally moving us beyond the monospaced style used on typewriters. Combined with Steve Jobs’ obsession with calligraphy, it’s no stretch to say that her work made the desktop publishing industry possible.


Drag away Safari’s address and search bar

Notice anything funny about that Safari window? The usual address bar and search box are gone, replaced with empty space.

To pull this off, simply hold the Command key. Then click the address bar, drag it off the window, and release to see it poof away. Get it back by right-clicking on the space where it used to be and choosing “Customize Toolbar.” There might even be some other useful stuff hiding in this menu that you’d like to add. As far as I know, you can’t do this in Chrome or Firefox.

It’s definitely not something you’d want to do every day, but removing this could make a fun prank to pull on a fellow Mac user. A more useful scenario would be a kiosk where you don’t want users surfing away from whatever website is preloaded. Removing the address bar also kills the command-L and command-option-F keyboard shortcuts, making it nearly impossible to navigate the web. Beware though, since any bookmarks can still be opened with the mouse or keyboard. Of course, it’s easy to swipe those away too…


Review: Canabalt

Working late at the office one night, you jolt with alarm as the floor begins to shake. An earthquake? The building’s structure is obviously compromised, and it’s time to get out. With no time for the stairs, you sprint towards the nearest window in a blind panic. Dashing through an empty hallway, you wonder briefly why no one else is around. At the end of the hall, a reckless dive offers your only escape from the collapsing tower.

The city rushes up to meet you as you burst through the shattered pane. You land on an adjacent rooftop with a clumsy roll, shards of glass tinkling around you as they strike the concrete. You rise to your feet, glancing around shakily. Something is clearly very wrong; smoke rises in the distance, and giant, shadowy figures stalk slowly through burning neighborhoods. Overhead an occasional jet shrieks by, too preoccupied to notice your tiny figure on the roof. Through it all, you see no one. No humans picking their way through the rubble, no forces to oppose the towering machines wreaking havoc on your home. Stunned by the utter hopelessness of the scene, you feel an overwhelming urge to run.

It doesn’t matter where so long as you keep moving. There’s no time to find safe passage to the street below, and the buildings seem clear ahead. At the first alleyway, you barely look down before attempting a flying leap. Miraculously, you land unhurt on the next roof. As you regain your feet, a flock of birds takes wing in alarm. After a few more rooftops, you begin to hit your stride. Turns out you’re good at this. Really good. Each jump is longer than the last, and momentum builds with each fluid movement. If you can keep this up, you might just make it.

The next building cracks under your weight and crumbles to the ground as you race along its ridge. You reach the end just before it gives way and leap to the safety of a solid ledge. Some crates block the way ahead, but there’s no time to dodge around. Opting for the direct approach, you barrel through them and lose some speed. Luckily the next jump is short. As you clear the gap, a distant shot rings out; it seems the falling building behind you has attracted some attention. Suddenly a proximity mine crashes down just ahead of you. It’s too late to check your dash, so you’re forced to hop over, just barely clearing the bomb in time. Your running prowess is becoming a liability, but your legs move even faster.

A tall tower looms – too high to clear. As you race towards it, you realize your only hope is to find a window. A precise leap sends you hurtling into another empty hallway, hitting some furniture before you find your feet again. You vault the next chair and break the opposite window without pausing to look around. Was that bomb meant for you, or was it simply a random shot? Either way, it would be foolish to wait around and find out. The thought spurs you even faster, and you begin to panic. Over crumbling towers, through windows, and across cranes you race through the twilight with reckless velocity. Soon the background becomes a blur; only the next rooftop remains clear. Each jump takes you farther and faster, even as you struggle to maintain control. The city is lost, and you with it. Soon your legs are crying out for rest, but the destruction drives you ever onwards.

You take to the air yet again, but the next roof is gone before you reach it. A giant pylon plummets from the sky, instantly obliterating the building you were aiming for. You have just enough time to think how unfair this is before you strike the side and fall helplessly towards the street below. Darkness.

An ominous rumble jerks your eyes open. You stand alone in your office, and the floor is trembling. Your gaze finds the window at the end of the hall, and you start to run. Maybe this time you’ll get a little farther.

~~~

Canabalt has been a perennial favorite of mine since its iOS release in 2009. It began as a free Flash game, then expanded in a big way to the iPhone, Android, and PC. Play it with headphones.