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Friday, March 02, 2012

Homes made from wacky materials

Humble materials get recycled to create outlandish homes,
such as this dumpster house.

Bedtime stories say the evil witch from Hansel and Gretel lived in a gingerbread cottage with window panes of sugar and a candy studded roof. And an old lady with so many children she didn’t know what to do lived in a shoe.

In real life, the possibilities are just as wacky, from paper houses to converted grain bins to homes made from a muddy mixture called “cob.” These architectural oddities — homes built out of recycled junk, gussied up dumpsters, or grounded airplanes — provide fodder for future fairy tales, or at least late-night shows on HGTV.

In the Hamptons, a resort area usually associated with oceanfront mega mansions, abandoned steel shipping containers are being used to construct a 2,000-square-foot beach house with a deck and a small pool. Andrew Anderson, the builder and owner of, says turning the containers into a home will ultimately help the planet.

“It’s the opportunity to take these products and give them a second life,” Anderson says. “You weld them together and tack them onto the foundation.” With loads of glass and an exposed corrugated ceiling in the upper container and an exposed corrugated wall in a lower crate, the shipping container beach house will be listed this spring for close to $1.4 million.

Here are five houses made from the most unconventional materials:

Fancy Fuselage
Where: All Over
Made From: Old Airplanes
The vintage Boeing 727's interior is adorned with teak paneling from cockpit to tail.
Photo: Costa Verde
Once they’ve made their last landings, Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-8s, don’t always get put out to pasture on the retirement tarmac. If not broken up for parts and scrap, the occasional airplane, wings clipped, gets transformed into a sealed, sturdily built fuselage-style private home. Corporate jets already outfitted with designer bedrooms, comfy leather sofas, media rooms and bars, may just need the seat belts removed.

Dumpster Home
Where: Berkeley, California
Made From: Dumpster
Extreme compromises include a toilet lid that doubles as a bed cushion.
Photo: Forbes
"A nice little home out of a garbage can." That's how artist Gregory Kloehn of Berkeley, CA describes, in a interview by Kim Aronson, the dumpster he made into a “luxury” compact home for urban living. The “elite waste” quarters boast stainless steel appliances, gas stove, hardwood floors, a toilet, storage and sleeping areas and a barbecue outside. At night its two front windows roll down into the elite dumpster for privacy.

Junk Castle
Where: Pullman, Washington
Made From: Car Parts, Sheet Metal, Car Windows
Building on a budget: this scrap-metal home cost less than $500 to build.
Photo: Forbes
Many folks have junk drawers. Victor Moore, an art teacher, had a junk house. Set on a hilltop with lookouts made from car windows and the glass from washing machine doors, the 1960s Junk Castle is filled with all sorts of, well, junk, from his workshop. The exterior walls are a mélange of old auto body parts, recycled sheet metal and household appliance parts.

Cob House
Where: Rutledge, Missouri
Made From: Sand, Clay, Straw
The 370-square-foot cottage took nine months to build.
Photo: Forbes
To build his snail-shaped "cob house," Brian "Ziggy" Liliola used 219 batches of cob, a wet mixture of straw, clay and sand. He chose the rustic building material used on 500-year-old thatched cottages in England, because of “how creative you could be” and “the flexibility and low cost and sustainable benefit” of building with local materials.

Converted Silos And Grain Bins
Where: The Midwest
Made From: Converted Silos, Grain Bins
Two grain silos were combined to create a unique 1,800 square-foot home.
Photo: Forbes
Silos and grain bins aren’t just for missiles or soybeans anymore. Structurally sound, ready made with a roof, round walls and a concrete floor loaded with interior space, the often abandoned, recyclable steel structures are easily converted into homes that are fire and termite resistant, weather proof and energy efficient. For larger lodgings, they can be placed side-by-side or stacked on top of each other. Even Rapunzel might let down her hair in these multi-story circular dwellings. After all, it’s like living in a metal turret.

Quoted from Yahoo

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Published by Gusti Putra at: 2:32 AM

Twitter’s logo is named after NBA Legend

Twitter’s logo is named after Larry Bird

Larry Bird sets up his Twitter account,
@HickFromFrenchLick (Jennifer Pottheiser/ Getty).
The NBA and Twitter have proved to be a natural fit for each other. Basketball players took to the service before their counterparts in any other sport, shows like TNT's "Inside the NBA" have willfully incorporated tweets into their broadcasts, and the league maintains a steady tweet presence.

It turns out that Twitter itself also takes some inspiration from the league. If you've spent any time on the site, you've almost certainly seen some variation on their bird logo. Any domesticated animal needs a name, and so the company's braintrust named their bird "Larry" — in honor, of course, of Celtics legend and current Indiana Pacers general manager Larry Bird. From Rosa Golijan for Digital Life (via PBT):

"A tweet by Ryan Sarver, a Twitter employee who works on the company's platform and API, reminded us of this silly bit of trivia. Sarver tweeted that Doug Bowman — Twitter's creative director — discussed "the evolution of the Larry the Bird logo" on Monday. [...]
So how'd Larry get his name? Is he named after Google co-founder Larry Page? Or perhaps after Larry the Cable Guy? Maybe Larry King?
No. Larry the Bird is named after former NBA basketball player Larry Bird of Boston Celtics fame. This detail was confirmed when Peter Stringer — the Boston Celtic's director of interactive media — asked Twitter co-founder Biz Stone about it in Aug. 2011."

It's a natural connection given Bird's level of fame. The only other sensible options would have been to name it after jazz legend Charlie "Bird" Parker, or come up with a clever pun like "Birdgess Meredith."

Golijan doesn't explain if the human Larry Bird has caught wind of the connection, or if he even knows what Twitter is. If he does, he probably refers to it as "that thing Roy uses all the time." And then he'd go back to his ancestral home in French Lick, ride a tractor around the farm for a while, and wonder when the world got so darn complicated.

Also, I haven't yet confirmed this report, but I've been told that the Google Plus logo is named "Carlos" after Chicago Bulls forward Carlos Boozer's habit of shouting "and-one!" every time he gets fouled.

Quoted from Yahoo
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:59 AM

Microsoft Unveils Windows 8

You already knew from the early "developer preview" of Windows 8 that Microsoft released in September just how radically different this version of the company's ubiquitous operating system is from its predecessors. But now that Microsoft on Wednesday unleashed a more complete preview version of Windows 8 — which consumers can get their hands on — we really are on the threshold of a whole new era of personal computing.
Steven Sinofsky, president of Windows and Windows Live, at the Windows 8 Consumer Preview presentation
at the Mobile World Congress.

The stakes for Microsoft and the entire computing ecosystem are enormous. This new era is built around tablets as much as traditional laptops and desktops, and multi-touch as much as the keyboard and mouse. At the same time Microsoft marches toward Windows 8, archrival Apple is revving up a new version of Mac OS X called Mountain Lion.

And Apple has a huge lead in tablets with the iPad, a new version of which is expected to be unveiled in San Francisco next week.

For its part, Windows 8 provides consumers the flexibility to go back and forth between touch and the keyboard and mouse. And this cloud based operating system — Windows 8 is tied into various Microsoft services online, including SkyDrive, where you can store and access documents and pictures — is designed to work on all types of hardware.
"With Windows 8, we reimagined the different ways people interact with their PC and how to make everything feel like a natural extension of the device, whether using a Windows 8 tablet, laptop or all-in-one," said Steven Sinofsky, president of the Windows and Windows Live Division at Microsoft. Sinofsky calls Windows 8 "a generational change for Windows."

Microsoft announced the availability of the "consumer preview" at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
This version of Windows 8 isn't quite final but pretty darn close, and you can download it for free at I got an early look at it on a Samsung test tablet. (Microsoft says that to date the developer preview received more than 3 million downloads.)

Keep in mind that however far along, this is still a test version that carries some risks. Not all your peripherals or software drivers will be compatible at this stage, and bugs are to be expected. Microsoft says a report will be generated during setup to alert you to known issues. Moreover, the "beta" will eventually expire (and you can't retreat to Windows 7 or earlier versions when that happens), though that's likely to be well after Windows 8 actually goes on sale.

Microsoft wouldn't give firm dates and didn't reveal pricing or other details in Barcelona. But a very reasonable assumption is the fall.

So what can you expect? Highlights:
As with the developer preview, you notice the dramatic turn in Windows from the very start — even before you get to the newly designed Start screen. At your option, you can log in with a picture password, instead of the standard typed password, by "drawing" a chosen image with your finger on the touch-screen in a predetermined pattern. You can see notifications from Twitter and Facebook.

From the Start screen you can view the weather, appointments, contacts, and more — you get to choose how the information is organized.

Suffice to say it looks very different from your daddy's Windows. At the core of the new operating system is an attractive, customizable user layout called Metro, similar to what folks using the latest Windows Phones see, and based on colorful and dynamic touchable tiles of different sizes rather than standard icons to display information.

You can click on a Desktop tile to return to a more familiar Windows layout. You can pin apps you use frequently.

If you have a touch-capable computer or tablet, you can switch among apps, pan and zoom and get around through finger gestures. You can tap to launch an app, follow a link and so on. Swiping from the right or left edge of the screen summons system commands called "charms." You can slide to pan or scroll through lists and pages. A feature called semantic zoom gives you a birds-eye view of your system and makes it easier to navigate a computer with lots on it.

You can type with one of two onscreen touch keyboards, a full-size version with large buttons or a thumb keyboard for when you're on the go. The latter splits the keyboard on the screen and is designed for portable devices.

Of course, you can also plug in a physical keyboard and/or a mouse.
Each of the various actions has a mouse equivalent, and there are keyboard shortcuts too.
Microsoft will supply a set of apps, including a mail program containing all your accounts in one place (Hotmail, Gmail, Exchange, etc.).

Similarly a photo app brings in albums from the likes of Facebook, Flickr and SkyDrive. A people app consolidates an address book with contacts from Hotmail, Messenger, Twitter, LinkedIn, Gmail and so on.
You can also chat in Messaging with pals on Messenger and Facebook.

And a music app will connect to the Zune Marketplace. App controls are hidden until you need them. A video store will let you buy or rent first run movies and TV shows.
With the consumer preview comes the beta launch of the Windows Store.

It will feature free and fee-based downloadable apps, from Microsoft and various third parties including USA TODAY, demonstrated during Microsoft's Barcelona launch. At the event, Microsoft showed off a version of the popular Cut the Rope game for Windows 8. For now apps are free to try.

Eventually if you buy an app on one Windows 8 PC, you can sign into the store and install it on up to 5 other computers. Microsoft says the store will organize offerings into categories. There'll be purchase recommendations. But the store was not available in the days leading up to the consumer preview launch. The various Metro-style apps can take advantage of the live tiles to display info even when they're not running.

Though the new operating system looks different, if you open a familiar app such as Word or Powerpoint, it looks and works the same as before.
There's more. A new preview version of the venerable Internet Explorer browser IE 10 also arrives with Windows 8. It promises an edge-to-edge Web experience on the screen — with navigational controls that are concealed.

Microsoft claims Windows 8 won't put excess demands on power, leading in theory to energy efficiencies and better battery life on ultrabook computers, tablets and other hardware. Time will tell. And the company says that if your computer has the specifications to run Windows Vista it should handle Windows 8.

I'm impressed by what I see. But I'll still reserve judgement until doing a final review on an actual product. No matter how stable (and fast and fluid), given the nature of any early operating release I'd recommend most consumers wait for a final version of Windows before plunging forward. But if you're the least bit curious, and a little bit tech savvy, go ahead and take a spin.

Republished from USAToday
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Published by Gusti Putra at: 1:34 AM