With Flash on the Beach kicking off this weekend, the highlight of the UK Flash calendar is almost upon us. Once a year the great and the good of the community comes to Brighton to hang out, educate and inspire; and as usual, Jensa and I will be covering the event for FlashMagazine. If you are going along and you are a reader of the mag or the journal then do say hi.
Following hot on the heals of the Creative Suite 4 announcement from Adobe I'm expecting lots of useful info on Flash CS4, Pixel Bender and the like. Looking at the schedule for this years event I think I'm most excited about the end of day 'inspired' sessions.
Monday night is a rare chance to catch James Patterson on UK soil. He last spoke here at FlashForward in London in 2000. I have a hilarious interview I did with him and Joshua Davis at that con that never got published - I might try and dig it out for FlashMag's 10th anniversary in 2010.
Tuesday night is another chance to hear from Robert Hodgin, Proce55ing guru and creator of the new visualiser in iTunes 8. The con then goes out with a bang on Wednesday night with a talk from the incomparable Jonathan Harris. I'm a huge fan of his work. Not just for the technical ability required to create his visualisations but his uncanny ability to humanise the web.
The Corpus Clock is a very unusual timepiece. It has no hands or numbers on it's dial; merely a series of apertures through which light is being cycled. The horologiboffins at Long Now described these as "epicyclic mechanically phased vernier openings" - I'm going to take their word on that. The video tour below gives a good overview of the clock and the movement.
The clock is full of horological in-jokes, the most prominent of which is the Chronophage (literally "time eater"), a huge grasshopper automata that skulks atop the clock eating the pulses as they fly by. Although electrically powered the clock features the worlds largest grasshopper escapement, an invention of the celebrated maverick clockmaker John Harrison. The video below shows a grasshopper escapement in action.
The clock was unveiled last week by professor Stephen Hawking at it's home on the wall of the Taylor Library in Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, England. The Corpus Clock is the creation of British inventor John Taylor, a fellow of the college. Taylor, who retired in 2000, made his fortune in the 70's designing thermostats for kettles. He reportedly invested £1 million of his own money in the project.
The end goal of the Computus Engine is to build a web application for the interactive exploration of time. One symptom however, of Long Now thinking, is that I'm not in any hurry to reach the end of the project. I'm enjoying the journey (and the journal for that matter) and I want to do it right, so the project will take as long as it takes.
In fact the irony is this: if I had a time machine I could jump to the end of the project - but I won't have a time machine until I've finished building it.
As I've been thinking a lot about the user experience and the interface lately, and we're already on the subject of time machines, I thought it might be fun to look at their user interfaces. This is the first post in an occasional series that looks ar what design or interface inspiration can be drawn from the classic time machines of cinema and television.
The Time Machine (1960)
User interface: A chair
I can't really go to the H.G. Wells original for visuals so I'm going back to the George Pal movie version. I'm loving the whole brass and wood look here, but I think the most charitable description of the user interface would be "minimal".
The Time Machine (2002)
The machine constructed for the 2002 remake has a little more going on. Stylistically it's a clockpunk update of the original but the special effects and CGI allow for a lot more movement.
Despite a long held fascination with time and calendar systems I've never been very good at time management - I once turned up late for a symposium on timekeeping. My weakness is I love a new creative challenge and find it hard to say no to something that sounds like fun. Consequently I get myself over committed.
So a few months ago, i committed to something that for one reason or another hasn't quite happened yet. This post is a very public kick up the GANTT chart to make sure I get it done.
In one of my other lives I write for FlashMagazine, the venerable independent Flash news site. I've done it for years and it's great fun. We cover all the big conferences and through that you get to meet lots of interesting people.
I've known Aral Balkan for a number of years. Long enough that I'd say we were good friends. At the end of last year we met for some lunch and he told me about his plans for an online web conference. This became Singularity and is now the <HEAD> conference. It sounded like fun (my weakness) and I offered to help out.
My role so far has been advising on all the temporal gymnastics required to make the con' work across all the timezones. In addition to that I'm going to put a Flash app together to show the speaker schedule in the users local time. This is the bit I haven't started and the main reason for this post.
The schedule (or should that be scHEADule) presents some interesting temporal problems. In addition to spanning timezones, the weekend of the conference happens to fall during the daylight saving transition here in Europe. Making sure I catch all of these gotchas is going to be fun and I will of course cover all these here in the journal.
View of the ATLAS detector during July 2007 (Claudia Marcelloni, Â© CERN)
So this is the obligatory LHC post. Unless you've been hiding under a Higgs Boson for the last you few months you'll probably be aware that the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is being fired up tomorrow.
Brian Cox and the gang have been on a PR offensive to reassure us that the scientists know what they're doing. Strangely a raft of British comedians including the almost hermetical Chris Morris have revealed themselves to be interested in, or even ex quantum or astrophysicists. Quantum physics is mind bending stuff, so whether you believe the scientists is ironically a matter of faith. Some of the protests have gotten very nasty of late so I'm going to side with the scientists.
If I can make one observation though it would be this. Part of the problem I think is photographs like the one above. When people see that, they think of this...
I suspect the grand switching on will be significantly less whelming than the death star laser but I'll be tuning in anyway. You can to by watching the live feed here. Sleep tight, and if the skeptics were correct then at least I have a fixed date for the end of my timeline.keep looking »