Archive for March, 2009

Amazing Ecomagination “Hologram”

Dave's Cool ToysThis is amazing. I am completely stunned by this little bit of technological wizardry. I don’t wish to plug General Electric, but this is so much fun to do, I couldn’t help but post it.

At the GE Ecomagination website, you can view and participate in this very cool demonstration. I’m not sure what it says about GE exactly, but it is impressive. The call it a hologram, but anyone that knows anything about holograms would agree that it’s a completely innacurate term. It’s more like a 3-D interactive virtual reality thingy. They also call it Smart Grid Augmented Reality.

First, you need a printed Solar Panel Marker. What? You don’t have one? No problem. The website says "if you don’t already have one" you can print it from a pdf which you can download there.

Next, you need a webcam and you’ll need the latest version of Flash.

Once you have all that you’re ready to experience this cool technology. From the Ecomagination Smart Grid site, you click on either "Launch Wind Turbine" or "Launch Solar Energy".

This will open a window which should display the image from your webcam. Make sure you are in the frame, then pick up your Solar Panel Marker and hold it up for the camera.

Now the magic begins. In the image, from the center of your printed Solar Panel Marker sheet, a landscape will unfold complete with windmills (or solar panels, depending on which you chose) and the Smart Grid scarecrow, which you may have seen on their commercials. Tilt and move the paper and the entire landscape tilts and moves with it. Blow into your microphone, and the wind turbines will begin to spin. The scarecrow even waves. I had some trouble with the Solar Energy version. It kept crashing my browser. But the Wind Turbine version worked extremely well.

Goodbye Busy Beetles

busy beetles davescooltoys.comI’ve just found out that one of our favorite toys, Busy Beetles, and it’s companion, Batty Lizards have been discontinued.

Busy Beetles are a wonderful set of interlocking puzzle pieces of beetles that interlock, Escher style, into an endless combination of patterns. They are based on the principle of Tessellations. They are great.

We’ve been carrying them since 1999 and they’ve been a popular item over the years. Before that, starting in 1997, we carried a similar item called "Tessera". They were the same shape, size, etc. as Busy Beetles, but in cool, dark pearlized colors. I still have a few sets in my office somewhere.

I’ve ordered the last Batty Lizards that the distributor has in stock (they were out of the Busy Beetles), but when they are gone, we will have them no more. If we find another supplier for them, we will get them back in stock.

Goodbye Busy Beetles. We’ll miss you.

Dave’s Cool Toys

Ultraman! Remember Ultraman?

UltramanThis morning, I had an IM discussion with my sister-in-law about Ultraman. Please tell me you remember Ultraman? She had no idea what I was talking about. If you don’t remember him, or would like to refresh your memory, there’s a good bit of information at Wikipedia. But my best recollection of the series is that an alien was traveling near earth, and crashes into Hayata, an Asian gentlemen, killing him. To save his life, he somehow joined with Hayata. He gave Hayata this thing called the Beta Capsule, that he could press if he needed Ultraman. Of course, these giant monsters would attack Tokyo every week and Hayata would drop the Beta Capsule just out of reach and eventually, he would get it, press it, and Ultraman would appear. Ultraman would wrestle and fight with the giant monsters (did I mention Ultraman was also a giant?) and use some sort of ray that he shot by crossing his arms (as you can see in the picture). I think Ultraman was basically solar and if his power got too low, he would die. Of course he would be just about to run out of power when he’d finally kick butt, kill the giant monster, then turn back into Hayata until the next episode. I seem to remember something about him flying into space to recharge as well, but I’m not so sure about that .

One of the things I remember most vividly about the series was the cool claylike swirly opening segment, which, I think they used at the end as well. On the right is a rather poor copy of the opening sequence.

I’d forgotten about the kinda funny silhouettes in the opening sequence. This video doesn’t do the swirly clay stuff justice. I don’t think it was that blue.

Well, when I was growing up, we loved Ultraman. I have looked for DVDs of Ultraman before and, apparently, due to a legal dispute, there were none available. However it seems that the legal disputes have been resolved and Ultraman: The Complete Series is now available on DVD.

Amazon also has A bunch of Ultraman items available including action figures, masks, video games, and the Ultraman Theme Song Collection. I kid you not.

Just as I was finishing this post, I found a website with full episodes of Ultraman. I would like to think that they do not violate any copyrights, but I can’t guarantee that, so proceed at your own risk.

Dave’s Cool Toys Blog
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Dave Ference

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