Made in Japan – 9/29/08

Made in Japan – 9/29/08

This week:
A 31-port USB Hub “Mansion”, Workshop Collection – Children’s Video Playground, Very Miniature Parfaits, Interactive Textbook Graffiti, Nintendo DS Made to Look Like a VAIO, iPhone Icon Cookies, Silent Zoo Calendar, Haruo Suekichi: Steampunk Watch Maker Interview, A Jig for Making Things Look Huge.

31-port USB Hub “Mansion”
USB is technically spec’d to handle 127 ports at a time, so why not push it a little, right? Sasaki Shunsuke of Tokyo University’s Fujita Research Center made this 31-port USB hub stack back in 2005, and there’s even an English page showing how he did it. And no, he won’t make one for you, and the one he has is not for sale.

Workshop Collection – Children’s Video Playground
Workshop Collection is a yearly two-day meeting of 70 groups in which kids and adults get together to have fun with design, music, and other workshops that defy description.
In the video above you can see youngsters playfully making some great stop animations by hitting huge, kid-friendly touch light-style buttons to start and stop the motion. This year the event takes place at the Keio University Mita Campus on October 12th and 13th, and there’s sure to be plenty more kid-crafted works of genius and imagination.

Very Miniature Parfaits
Japan has a deep tradition in the skilled art of plastic food-making, but miniaturization adds a whole new dimension to food sculpture. A 1-yen coin is about 2cm in diameter, so these are some truly Lilliputian parfaits. Nana-san has a blog full of miniature food creations that make a 1-yen coin look pretty big. Check out the Sweet Palette blog for the full story.

Interactive Textbook Graffiti
Who didn’t love destroying the faces of the historical figures in school textbooks? Well, now there’s a website where Japanese can relive their artistic glory days with a souped-up Web 2.0 feel, with plenty of images of the of the most familiar faces of Japan’s gimu-kyooiku curriculum, all ripe and ready to be given lobotomies, gender-bending features, and unibrows.

New website offers up hundreds of textbook images (“kyokasho” means “textbook”) of great figures of history for your digital defacement pleasure. Using tools such as a grey lead pencil, a red pencil, and a rubber eraser, users can create online textbook graffiti that recalls tedious school days gone by.

Play begins by first choosing from one of five subjects (Japanese language, Japanese history, world history, music, and the arts), then a target figure. For each historical person, a mock textbook page has been created using text from the Japanese version of Wikipedia. Defamers (or the curious) can also browse galleries of user-created characatures. The use of photos is made possible through the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).

Nintendo DS Made to Look Like a VAIO
Here’s a great little case hack where Goteking pulled the VAIO logo off of an old floppy drive and then fitted it into a DS replacement shell. He humorously describes the experience of finding an old floppy drive as being “like Murphy’s law: when you don’t need something, it seems to appear everywhere, but when you want to find that thing, it’s seemingly impossible.” He ended up purchasing a used one in Akihabara. My attempts to avoid this predicament are precisely why my room is such a disaster. I might need that 1997 CRT monitor for something, somewhere down the line, right?

iPhone Icon Cookies
Since those famous iPhone icon cupcakes made the rounds the other day, why not throw in some iPhone cookies by flickr user yuni* as well? Cookies! Yay!
She also made some pixelated Mario cookies too! Pre-baked:
mario cookie.jpg
Now, this is by no means the first case of technology-inspired baking, but let’s hope it’s not the last, because this constant stream of nerd-a-licious jpegs might very well be what actually keeps the internet from exploding. Now would someone please make me a Cydia cookie?

Silent Zoo Calendar
Cute, minimal cardboard cutout calendars that you put together yourself. Shaped like animals.

Haruo Suekichi: Steampunk Watch Maker Interview
Haruo Suekichi has been featured on the Make blog before, but the wonderfully bilingual PingMag recently did an interview that delves into the life and background of this steampunk artisan who was at it long before “steampunk” became the blog buzzword it is today, having made somewhere between 6,000 and 7,000 watches throughout his brassy career.

For close to thirteen years, Haruo Suekichi has been investing hours upon hours every day to develop watches with a Steampunk flair. Reminiscent of Jules Verne and influenced by manga, his finely crafted watches are of a vintage futuristic kind. And what started with an unsuccessful attempt to hawk them at a flea market has turned into an enterprise whose analogue objects of desire are hard to get.

A Jig for Making Things Look Huge
DPZ shows us a simple trick to make little things seem huge. By stringing together two clipboards with two fading perspective pictures at a 90% angle, ordinary objects seem to take on grotesque proportions. Frame the bottle with your fingers on both sides. Now that is a large bottle of Coke!

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