Saturday, 14 July 2012

Ten Classic Electronic Toys and Their Modern Equivalents
via How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick
Whether you’re looking to relive the toy exploits of your youth or pass your love of tinkering and electronics onto the younger generation, this list highlights ten great electronic toys of yesteryear and their modern equivalents.

Courtesy of Wired’s Geek Dad, the description for the all-in-one electronics kit seen here:
What is was: Arthur C. Clarke has said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. As a kid in the midst of an increasing technological revolution, electronics were at the heart of that. Learning electronics was made easy through the Science Fair Electronic Project Kits found at Radioshack. Through the project guides, kids could construct various experiments by attaching wires to terminal springs that make circuits. The terminal springs would wire in components such as LED segment lights, photo sensors, resistors, diodes, etc. While it was fun getting the projects to work, the manuals lacked in depth explanation as to what was happening in the circuit to produce the project’s result. 
Why it was awesome: First, it was a simple buy for parents. Everything you needed to get your child interested in electronics was right in the kit. You didn’t need to breadboard or solder. I remember a distinct feeling of accomplishment making a high-water alarm or a light-sensor game with the realization that the bundles of wires springing up from the kit were actually doing something!
Modern equivalent: You can still pick up variations of the 100-in-1 kits, but their popular replacement seem to be Snap Circuits by Elenco. All of the components are mounted on a plastic base with a contact on either end which interconnect with each other and the plastic base that projects can be mounted to. Each component also has the electrical diagram symbol for that component drawn on it so it can help you read schematics. For that reason alone, I like these better.
For the rest of the list, hit up the link below.
Ten Classic Electronic Toys and Their Modern Equivalents [Wired]

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
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The craft of making tea
Steve van Dulken (Information Expert, BL Research Service)
The art and craft of tea making is a very British obsession and tea is very big business.
According to Euromonitor’s GMID database (available in the BL Business and IP Centre) we drank our way through no less than 112 million tonnes of tea in 2011. The importance of the industry is also reflected in the intellectual property it generates.
Exploring the British Library’s intellectual property collection reveals the enormous range of IP assets which have been built up over the years by demand for our national drink.
And you can see just some of these IP assets here.

British Design 1948–201
via Peter Scott’s Library Blog
British Design 1948–2012 (UK)
In 1948 London hosted the first Olympic Games after the Second World War. The “Austerity Games” (as they became known) took place at a time of economic crisis in a city devastated by bombing, but they provided a platform for reconciliation and reconstruction. In 2012 Britain welcomes the Olympics once more, and while the spirit remains, the context in which they are taking place has entirely changed.
British Design 1948–2012 [at the V&A until 12 August] traces those changes by exploring buildings, objects, images and ideas produced by designers and artists born, trained or based in Britain.
The displays examine the shifting nature of British design over 60 years: three galleries respectively explore the tension between tradition and modernity; the subversive impulse in British culture; and Britain's leadership in design innovation and creativity. The exhibition reveals how British designers have responded to economic, political and cultural forces that have fundamentally shaped how we live today. They have created some of the most inventive and striking objects, technologies and buildings of the modern world.

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
An overmodest timidity has taken hold among high-style, personality-driven essayists like John Jeremiah Sullivan, who plays the doofus on the page. Why? It sells... more

E-Type Jaguar Launch Brochure, 1961
via Retronaut by Chris

Source: Jag Lovers
Be - ewe - ti - ful – and there are more here.

80 Fascinating Historical British WWII Propaganda Films via MakeUseOf by Tim Brookes

Recently the British Council, an organization that focuses on educational and cultural importance, released a bounty of historical films produced during the Second World War for viewing online. These reels were produced to counter Nazi propaganda and convince the world that Britain was doing "just fine" despite the devastating effects of war. In them we see a country at war, an army stretched to its limits and some prime examples of national pride and the "stiff upper lip" attitude that is uniformly recognised around the world as being quintessentially British. There's not enough room for 80 films here, so here are 6 of my [i.e. Tim Brookes’] favourites.
I've included just one link. I would be grateful if you would go to MakeUseOf to look, if only briefly, at the other five. This great site, from which I personally derive a lot of very useful information – only some of which I share with readers – survives on advertising which is discretely placed, always clear that it is advertising, and is relevant to the topic of the post (usually).
And, let me make it clear that no-one has asked me to write this!!
British News
This is the first of five films produced under the "British News" name. This one is particularly interesting as it covers the rescue at Dunkirk, one of the most important and defining events of the war. Also seen is a visit by King George VI to an arms factory where workers used lathes and volatile raw materials to produce munitions for the war effort, and naval servicemen being given a hero’s welcome after the Battle of River Plate in South Africa.
London 1942

Much of the country was devastated by bombing during the war, and London was no exception. This video takes a look at a capital city scarred by air raids, while at the same time retaining a business-as-usual attitude. The film also shows non-British allies "settling in", including the first American troops to arrive and be welcomed. In one scene, there are more than 20 different nationalities present around Nelson's Column.
Women in War
The damaging view of a woman’s place in society that was upheld before the war was soon forgotten once much of the country’s men were sent to the front line. In this film we see women being inducted into military duty, shedding the “diversity of fashion” for khaki uniforms instead. Women performed many important roles on the home front during the war. Much of the remaining fire service was run by women, and women were often called to care for returning soldiers and to evacuate children from dangerous areas.
The Great Game
Football is, has and always will be, bordering on religion in Britain. The FA Cup is the world’s most prestigious club trophy, but in 1945 it was substituted for the Football League War Cup as seen in this video. Sport was one of the few respites for a country torn apart by war. This film shows a group of then-famous footballers teaching schoolboys a thing or two, as well as footage from the 1945 War Cup.
Morning Paper
These days, the traditional printed press is on the decline but at the time of the war the opposite was true. Even though the war meant that the papers were never short of news, the blitz experienced by London complicated the process of creating and distributing the news. This film takes a look at the work involved in producing an issue of The Times – to quote the film’s original description: “Bombs may fall, but the newspaper comes out on time.”
City Bound
A look at London’s public transport system during the blitz, though this film does show the sunnier side of the situation. In particular the London Undergound was home to more than 150,000 people by 1940 as it provided safety and shelter from bombs and gas attacks. The Underground became such an important residence for many of the capital’s residents that 22,000 bunk beds were installed along with washroom facilities, food trains and even entertainment in the form of films, music and libraries in some stations.
You can check out the rest on the British Council’s website
This is, I believe, the second time that I’ve posted about these films – or maybe the second time is still to come since I have several of these miscellany posts in draft and pop items in wherever. I know I’ve covered these films but in a very different style. I think both stand in their own right!

Arts & Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
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Illuminations in Medieval Manuscripts Explained with Super Mario via How-To Geek by Jason Fitzpatrick

What do the illustrations in medieval manuscripts have in common with the side-scrolling antics of the Super Mario Bros? More than you'd think.
At Got Medieval, medievalist Carl Pyrdum uses Mario and the side-scrolling genre to explain the design of marginalia in medieval books:
In this post, I’m just going to focus on just one of those rules, but it’s a big one: gravity. Deluxe Gothic manuscript pages are drawn as though the figures on them are subject to a force of gravity that pulls them down towards the open space in the lower margin. Consequently, you almost never see figures stranded out in the middle of open white space. Marginal men, women, and beasties may hang from beneath the page’s decorative borders or run along the top of them – as Mario and his rabbit friend above are doing – but if they stray too far into the margin and away from the border, they require some additional support.
It’s a clever way to explain the design choices made by scribes hundreds of years ago. Hit up the link below for more examples of Mario frolicking in the margins of old books.
Gravity in the Margins [via Neatorama]

How Our Brains Cope with the Thought of Death via Big Think by Orion Jones
A team of psychologists hypothesized that people would cling harder to their belief systems when confronted with the disturbing fact of their own mortality. To test their theory, the team asked different law court judges to deliver a ruling in a hypothetical case.
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