LEGO’s 80th Birthday

Today marks the 80th anniversary of LEGO’s founding under Ole Kirk Christiansen, although the plastic bricks we know today wouldn’t come until much later.​ Commemorating the occasion, the LEGO Group has released a short animated video chronicling the company’s history. It’s worth a look – you just might learn something!

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Oh, and if you’re planning on buying a set to celebrate, LEGO is giving every online order of $50 or more a free exclusive birthday cake set. This sweet deal runs until Monday (August 13, 2012).

The iPad turns two

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Today marks the iPad’s second anniversary. It’s hard to believe it was only two years ago that I rushed home from class to watch the big keynote, while my friends snickered about the giant iPhone with a silly name. Even I wasn’t sure about it at first. Two years later, it’s the foundation of Apple’s future and a strong contender for the best-selling gadget of all time.


Year One – Looking Forward

Today marks one year since I posted the first little snippet here. At the time, I was looking for a hobby and curious to see what writing a blog was like. Turns out it was pretty rewarding, and I had a great time writing in my spare time. I didn’t gain much of an audience right away, though I attribute that more to my inconsistent schedule than anything else. I’m sure the site’s horrible SEO didn’t help any, but that’s not why I chose the name or the topic. At any rate, it looks like I’ve met my expectations for year one. Here’s what I’m planning for the next one:

Read less, write more. This might seem a bit counterintuitive since I cover so much news, but the truth is I spend far too much time buried in Reeder. It’s easy to get pushed over the edge by the internet’s constant news stream, and I’m too close for my liking. I plan to pare down my RSS subscriptions substantially, only keeping the very best sources. The upshot is that I’ll have much more time to actually write my own stuff. My current pace is about one post per day, which I’d love to see at least triple. There’s no better way to grow the site than to add content.

Grow the readership. This is pretty much the point of having a website. I don’t ever expect to earn money from legomac, and I’m quite content to post what interests me in my spare time. But it’s hardly worth it if no one ever reads. A regular writing schedule should help, as will creating a real website.

Mature the site. It’s time to grow up and get my own domain. I don’t know squat about web hosting, but I’m sure I can figure it out with a little effort. Not only do I need to move on from legomac.wordpress.org, but the site needs a redesign. Clean Home is a great theme, but it’s not perfect. I’d like to get rid of the ugly tags and author info under the title, and I need to lose the borders around pictures. There are also a few things I’d like to add, like category-specific RSS feeds. I’m sure some tech readers out there couldn’t care less about LEGO, and vice-versa. Since I can’t do that myself, it probably means hiring a professional web designer. This is probably the most important step, but it’ll have to wait until I have some extra money to throw at it.

Make connections. Both the AFOL and Mac communities are incredibly close-knit and friendly, and I’d like to forge some relationships there. That means reaching out more on Twitter and Flickr, attending conferences like Brickworld, and reaching out to people I read via email.

In the meantime, I’ll plan in keeping up with the site and writing about what interests me. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to another fun year ahead.


Year One – Looking Back

Legomac is approaching its first anniversary, so I thought I’d post some reflections about the year. After a couple years of avidly following tech news and interesting LEGO creations, I resolved last January to start a website and stick with it. I think I’ve accomplished that goal, although I haven’t been terribly consistent with my posting schedule. Legomac continues to be a hobby back burner of my “real life.” I guess it’s sort of the Apple TV of my daily routine. All in all, I’m satisfied with how the site has evolved in its first year and how my writing has changed in that time.

I’ve even managed to compose a few pieces that I’m fairly proud of. If you’re looking for an introduction to the site, here’s a list of my favorites this year:

LEGO:
Most of my LEGO posts were photos of exceptional MOCs from around the web. These usually didn’t require too much commentary, so I’ve highlighted the posts in which I was able to write to my heart’s content:

  • Friends or Failures – I just got this one posted before the one year mark. I take on the critics of LEGO Friends with a tour through the murky history of LEGO’s more feminine toys.
  • Red and Yellow – Two MOCs I made on LDD based on the original generation Pokémon games. 3-D representations of the main character sprites.
  • Exocycle – My favorite MOC of the year, made to test out some new wheels.
  • Steve Jobs looking at things – A new set on Flickr I’ve started in imitation of Kim Jong-Il’s famous site.

Apple:
It was a pretty big year for Apple, and I had trouble narrowing this list down to only my favorite posts. Hopefully next year will be just as momentous, but less tragic.

Reviews:
I did two rather long reviews of iOS games, as well as a Shawn Blanc-style review of my Magic Mouse.

Miscellaneous:
Some things I wrote about didn’t fit into any particular categories but still deserve to be mentioned.


The iPod turns 10

Today is the 10th anniversary of the most iconic music player on the planet, and the product that saved Apple in 2001. Widely derided at the time (aren’t all Apple products?), it went on to change how we listened, bought, and thought about music. Here’s how it changed me.

I still remember the elation I felt when I bought my first iPod in 2005. After two years of saving, I amassed enough to purchase an iPod, I’d never really spent time in an Apple store before, and I was dazzled by the sleek displays and magical atmosphere. I was trying to decide between getting a newly-released nano or the classic iPod with color display. The salesperson hinted that if I waited a bit, there might be a new design, but I didn’t want to wait. It was my birthday, and I purchased a classic anyways. As it turned out, the video iPod was released only 3 weeks later, but I opted to stick with my chubby yet iconic 4g. I preferred the look of the smaller screen and the way the thicker body fit in my hand. I’ve never regretted keeping my “outdated” model, and to this day it’s displayed proudly in my apartment. I even use it sometimes when nostalgia strikes or I want to focus on work without all the distractions of an iOS device.

Vivian

After high school graduation my dad bought me a video iPod (the famously fail-prone 4g was limping along by then) and I tried hard to get used to the new design. But try as a I might, I never fell for it in quite the same way. I still prefer my original 4g to the video model, which sits unused on a shelf. I plan to turn it into a permanent car jukebox someday, for which its large capacity and buttons make it ideal.

Thanks to my inconvenient attachment to the 4g iPod, I ended up paying to get it repaired twice over the next three years, with factory replacement parts and a new case. It still needs to be opened up monthly to reattach the hard drive connectors, but we’ve reached a favorable balance where I can count on it to perform when needed. This tinkering led me to install (and subsequently remove) Rockbox, as well as replacing the default typeface. I’ve always liked the look of Naughty Dog’s Precursor alphabet and the spot-on font by QueenSimia, so I added a few necessary glyphs myself and loaded it on. Now that I’ve removed Rockbox due to its horrendous battery life and labyrinthine design, I can’t edit my fonts anymore. But that’s ok, because I personally love the distinct and eye-catching Precursor typeface.

Imogene

Loading a custom firmware, replacing broken parts, and changing a default font are hardly advanced maneuvers, but they introduced me to the tinkering world and helped me discover what technology is capable of. Without those customizations and repairs, I probably wouldn’t have the passion for tech that I do today.

Tabitha

I’ve never considered the iOS lineup to be true iPods, but my iPod touch is undoubtedly my most-used possession. After 3 years of updates, several jailbreaks, and a particularly devastating drop onto concrete a few weeks ago, it’s seen better days. But for that time, it’s been an unfailing window to the internet, a fabulous gaming machine, and a personal organizer to keep my life in order. I feel insecure without it in my pocket, and I know more and more people that  feel the same way. Music is only a small part of its capabilities, but the iPod touch has expanded the role of the personal media player far beyond anything we could imagine in 2001.

Shirley

My most recent iPod is a silver shuffle I received for my birthday last year. To me, this is the ideal counterpart to a pricy and full-featured iDevice. The tiny size, simple control scheme, and durability make it the perfect sidekick. An iOS device playing music in a pocket is tough to control, and carrying it while exercising is asking for disaster. The shuffle corrects both problems with tactile buttons and the minuscule form factor. Many people don’t see the need for a shuffle, but it’s fast become my go-to music machine in just about every situation.

My first major purchase was an iPod, and my next will be an iPhone. That probably represents the shrinking state of the iPod’s market, but the iPod remains the most iconic product of the 21st century, and likely the sole reason Apple turned a profit in the early 2000s. On its 10th birthday, think how different the world might be without “1000 songs in your pocket.”