Thoughts from the Wobbly Edge

Monday, May 18, 2015

Blogsy + iPad + Blogger = Good Mobile Blogging

I've been on the search for a really good personal and small business website strategy and accompanying toolset. I think I've settled on a pretty much hassle-free system.


  • Robust. It needs to not go down, and to be able to handle whatever traffic comes its way. I also need to be able to do manual backups as well as exports to formats I can use elsewhere.
  • Contemporary design easy to modify without knowing too much framework or CSS code. This includes responsive layouts and decent sliders.
  • Free hosting. I don't want to pay anything per month for hosting if I don't have to.
  • Custom branding + domains. Important to not promote others brands as well as have a custom domain.
  • Not HOSTED by me. This means I don't want to have to worry about hackers selling their Viagra on my site. Unfortunately, self-hosted WordPress sites need to be updated often to prevent this, so WordPress is OUT.
  • It would be great if the tools could use Markdown, which is a simple to learn system for formatting type.
  • Full toolset for posting on an iPad. I use my iPad much more than my desktop for this sort of thing as it's much more contemplative and I do most my writing and browsing on it.

The Solution


Awhile back I stumbled on Blogger as my choice for a web hosting provider. It's owned by Google, and they're plenty reliable for me. Plus, because they are hosted by Google, Blogger sites receive premium search indexing, which is a bonus. There's plenty of contemporary and responsive templates available plus designers who can customize them. In fact I've commissioned my own framework, which I hope to introduce soon. And, it's a full CMS, which means it's easy to manage all the content.


A real peach of a blog post editor for the iPad. It can upload images, edit posts from your favorite blogging platform, and even supports creating posts in Markdown (though I wish I could go back and forth between the blog post and the MD). Finally!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

OpenDesk: Will it Work?

Spent the weekend doing some research and came across the OpenDesk website. They want to do to Ikea what Uber and airbnb are trying to do in their respective industries-- namely cut the middle man out. Though I'm not sure if it will work, it is intriguing.

The basic concept is pretty simple. Designers create furniture designs which can be downloaded from the Internet and pay to be built (CNC machine-cut) by a local service fabricator while paying a 10% royalty to the designer-- thus cutting the middleman out. The thinking is with no shipping, no inventory, and no traditional store markup, the products can be delivered quicker and less expensive, while also allowing for minor changes in customization.

My guess is it's not quicker and I bet it's certainly more expensive. I'm trying to have the Roxanne chair (above) quoted locally to see the cost and will report back on what I find. At this point I can't imagine a local service fabricator can be as cheap as the supply chain for IKEA. Most of their products are manufactured in China by the thousands, shipped en masse to a local store and sold at margins less than the cumulative markup of a local service fabricator plus the designer royalty.

Still, it is interesting and some of the designs are really nice. In fact I downloaded the machine path files for both the Roxanne chair and the Olivia table, and built 3D models in SketchUp to see how they went together. I then rendered in KeyShot the above image. The models were complete and fit together, but the documentation was less than stellar. Plus, for some reason, there are no OpenDesk models available at the SketchUp Warehouse. I wonder why? I wonder if it has to do with IP?

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lane Splitter Bi-Car Concept

Mark Wilson from FastCo Called

He wanted to know if I could help him out with a quick turnaround design for this article. So, the folks at argodesign, (including Ian MacDowell, Charles Hurst, Brian Seiler and of course Mark Rolston) and I started brainstorming. We ended up with this.


The Lane Splitter has hubless steering. When in bi-mode, the front tires split and expand to provide more stability and better longitudinal center of gravity. When in quad-mode the front tires collapse outwardly to traditional standard width tires for better separation.

The rear wheels are powered by separate electric motors. Both front and rear wheels use roll axis longitudinal steering to decrease the turning radius and mitigate the limited steering of the front hubless axle. The docking connectors are situated fore and aft of the vehicle on the docking side lower body panel. The automated docking mechanism allows for automated and quick connection.

A small landing wheel assembly deploys at low speeds to help stabilize the vehicle in bi-mode and augment the auto-alignment during vehicle-to-vehicle docking. The vehicle is 128" long. Overall cost as designed would seem prohibitive at this time. There would need to be more iteration on concept design along with a substantial engineering effort to realize the technology and promise of a vehicle which separates into two as shown.

Cool Name

Our COO, Renae Alsobrook, came up with the name Better Half which I thought was a great name!


Humanoid NURBs Model for MoI and Rhino

Download PAT the NURBS Humanoid 3D Model.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Drone Animation

The Fast Company ambulance drone really took off! It was shared from FastCoDesign over 6000 times and picked up by news organizations around the world. We’ve received lots of comments and questions over the past few weeks, and it’s even led to a few project inquiries.
The Discovery Channel asked if we could render the ambulance drone landing and taking off, which I did over this past weekend. Mark Rolston added some particle and other effects resulting in the video below.
Monday, February 9, 2015

MoI GUI Builder (MGB)

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I probably already mentioned it, but I really like MoI3D. It’s been really fun to work with and has an ultra simple interface– in fact, maybe too simple. I prefer a darker and more technical workspace, and Michael Gibson uses an html framework for building the GUI for MoI.
That’s cool because anyone with some knowledge of HTML, Javascript and CSS can now modify the old interface to create a new one. Pretty cool!
The only problem is it’s quite a chore digging through the different selectors in CSS and trying to match them up with the interface– especially without any sort of firebug inspection utility. There have been a few who have tried, and it’s quite the challenge to modify any of their generous offerings.
Michael Gibson has said it’s on his to do list, but, selfishly, I’d rather him focus on more important stuff, like 64-bit compatibility.
So, I sat down Friday night and decided it was time to help Michael out a bit by creating a free tool which allows anyone who can point and click to modify MoI’s interface. I built it in LiveCode, an extreme rapid development tool and just released it Sunday evening. For those of you who use MoI, please enjoy!

Here are instructions on how to use it and the download locations.
And a video describing how it works.

Medical Drone

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I really like doing these quick turnaround projects with the argo team. The challenge was to create a future vision for the medical industry and one of the concepts (Ian MacDowell) involved using drone technology to bring an emergency attendant to the scene of an accident in a car-sized drone. You may want to read the finished article at FastCoDesign.

We had less than a week to complete this, so I started in SketchUp and created some quick sketches directions:

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