April 28, 2008
It's a digital installation created by Troika for British Airways, located in Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5.
I wonder if he's having second thoughts.
Made in England.
Flexible rubber tote with 11-gallon capacity.
Useful as a beach bag, ice bucket, rain hat, to hold toys or tools or serve as an oversized dust pan or in many other capacities limited only by your imagination.
Royal Blue, Sky Blue, Dark Green, Pistachio, Red or Pink.
[via Ellen Tien's Pulse feature in yesterday's New York Times]
World's last pinball machine factory — Where your quarter lasts forever
Monica Davey's story in the April 25, 2008 New York Times takes you inside the Melrose Park, Illinois premises of Stern Pinball, Inc. (above); the piece follows.
- For a Pinball Survivor, the Game Isn’t Over
Being inside a pinball machine factory sounds exactly as you think it would. Across a 40,000-square-foot warehouse here, a cheery cacophony of flippers flip, bells ding, bumpers bump and balls click in an endless, echoing loop. The quarter never runs out.
But this place, Stern Pinball Inc., is the last of its kind in the world. A range of companies once mass produced pinball machines, especially in the Chicago area, the one-time capital of the business. Now there is only Stern. And even the dinging and flipping here has slowed: Stern, which used to crank out 27,000 pinball machines each year, is down to around 10,000.
To most, the story seems familiar — of a craze that had its moment, of computers that grew sophisticated, of a culture that started staying home for fun, of being replaced by video games. But to pinball people, this is a painful fading, and one that, some insist, might yet be turned around.
“There are a lot of things I look at and scratch my head,” said Tim Arnold, who ran an arcade during a heyday of pinball in the 1970s and recently opened The Pinball Hall of Fame, a nonprofit museum in a Las Vegas strip mall. “Why are people playing games on their cellphones while they write e-mail? I don’t get it.”
“The thing that’s killing pinball,” Mr. Arnold added, “is not that people don’t like it. It’s that there’s nowhere to play it.”
Along the factory line in this suburb west of Chicago, scores of workers pull and twist at colored wires, drill holes in wooden frames, screw in flippers and tiny light bulbs and assorted game characters who will eventually move and spin and taunt you.
Though pinball has roots in the 1800s game of bagatelle, these are by no means simple machines. Each one contains a half-mile of wire and 3,500 tiny components, and takes 32 hours to build — as the company’s president, Gary Stern, likes to say, longer than a Ford Taurus.
Mr. Stern, the last pinball machine magnate, is a wise-cracking, fast-talking 62-year-old with a shock of white hair, matching white frame glasses and a deep tan who eats jelly beans at his desk and recently hurt a rib snowboarding in Colorado.
The manufacturing plant is a game geek’s fantasy job, a Willy Wonka factory of pinball.
Some designers sit in private glass offices seated across from their pinball machines.
Some workers are required to spend 15 minutes a day in the “game room” playing the latest models or risk the wrath of Mr. Stern. “You work at a pinball company,” he explained, grumpily, “you’re going to play a lot of pinball.” (On a clipboard here, the professionals must jot their critiques, which, on a recent day, included “flipper feels soft” and “stupid display.”)
And in a testing laboratory devoted to the physics of all of this, silver balls bounce around alone in cases for hours to record how well certain kickers and flippers and bumpers hold up.
Mr. Stern’s father, Samuel Stern, spent his life in the pinball business, starting out as a game operator in the 1930s — when a simple version of the modern mass-produced pinball machine first appeared. Dozens of companies were soon producing the machines, said Roger Sharpe, widely considered a foremost historian of the sport after the 1977 publication of his book, “Pinball!”
The creation of the flipper — popularized by the Humpty Dumpty game in 1947 — transformed the activity, which went on to surges in the 1950s, ’70s and early ’90s.
“Everybody thinks of it as retro, as nostalgia,” Mr. Sharpe said. “But it’s not. These are sophisticated games. Pinball is timeless.”
Perhaps, but even Mr. Stern acknowledges that demand is down. The hard-core players are faithful; the International Flipper Pinball Association keeps careful watch of the top-ranked players in the world. But the casual player has drifted.
“The whole coin-op industry is not what it once was,” Mr. Stern said.
Corner shops, pubs, arcades and bowling alleys stopped stocking pinball machines. A younger audience turned to video games. Men of a certain age, said Mr. Arnold, who is 52, became the reliable audience. (“Chicks,” he announced, “don’t get it.”)
And so for Mr. Stern, the pinball buyer is shifting.
In the United States, Mr. Stern said, half of his new machines, which cost about $5,000 and are bought through distributors, now go directly into people’s homes and not a corner arcade. He said nearly 40 percent of the machines — some designed to appeal to French, German, Italian and Spanish players — were exported, and he added that he had been working to make inroads in China, India, the Middle East and Russia.
Mr. Stern said the notion underlying this game was universal, lasting.
Ask him about the future and Mr. Stern offers a rare pause. In 10 years, he said, pinball will be fine. His company will be here, cranking out pinball machines. Fifty years hence? It is too far away to think about, he said. But pressed to ponder it, he said he was certain of one thing: Pinball will be around.
“Look, pinball is like tennis,” said Mr. Stern, noting that a tennis court could never, for instance, be made round and that certain elements of a pinball play field are equally unchangeable and lasting. “This is a ball game. It’s a bat and ball game, O.K.?”
Here's a link to a New York Times slide show factory tour which accompanied the article.
SmartTickr.com — 'Your idea + my coding'
That's how programmer extraordinaire Marcus Reimold described his latest creation in an email early this morning.
I don't begin to have the faintest idea how he does what he does but then, that's what magic is all about, isn't it?
Somehow he's able to make web pages that update in real time as opposed to the usual hours or days lag.
I say again: If he were here such that the two of us could work side by side, I'd be rich in no time flat.
'Prisoner of Words' — Alicia Keys
What is it?
Answer here this time tomorrow.
JDSupra.com — 'Give content. Get noticed'
"Dozens of Web sites publishing court and other legal information for public use are either in the works or rapidly expanding their offerings," Internet radio pioneer Carl Malamud told Anne Eisenberg for her "Novelties" column in yesterday's New York Times Business section.
She wrote, "JDSupra is stocking a free, virtual law library by persuading lawyers to do something highly unusual: to post examples of their legal work online for use by one and all, no strings attached."
Fit Fur Life Dog Treadmill
[via Elite Choice]