3D Printed Success Kid

Shapeways is a growing repository of 3D models for purchase by 3D printing hobbyists, and like everywhere else on the web, they’ve attracted a fair few memes. But none are as inspired as this most recent entry: Success Kid!

Original Success Kid

Here’s how digital artist Ryan Kittleson sculpted a model (modelled a sculpture?) of this now seminal image using Sculptris.

The final output, once 3D printed in full colour sandstone, looks like this:

3D Printed Success Kid

Buy the 3D model from Shapeways for just €12.05, and you’ll find yourself immediately more successful as a person.

Matthias Müller’s Particle Art

There’s this guy called Matthias Müller, and he makes beautiful abstractions out of virtual dust on his supercomputer. He’s some kind of motion-art superhero, probably sent to us from the exploding Planet 3DS Max by his scientist parents.

In this post I’ve picked out a few examples of his work, because as well as being simply gorgeous viewing material, they’re great examples of what’s possible with a few gigs of RAM, a graphics card and some imagination.

Probably my favourite due to it’s relative simplicity, this tech demo plays with texture in surprising ways:

This next one is so epic! Like an underwater fireworks show of electric choreographed jellyfish, or something…

Watch as millions of particles merge and blend with infinite complexity in this piece of seemingly generative fludity:

This final clip is almost a love story. Watch as two swirling masses collide, explode and dance in time with the music:

An undoubtedly talented guy, Matthias has done commercial work for Honda and Vodafone (as featured last year).  His YouTube channel is certainly worth a look, as are his lovely image renders on CGPortfolio.

I can barely get the most out of MSPaint, however…

A New Kind of Business Card

Question: How do you share that great idea of yours while keeping your intellectual property secure? Answer: You use a non-disclosure agreement.

Beer: tool of the trade

But NDAs are way too formal for the modern entrepreneur, who is more likely to meet a potential partner or investor at a conference, in a coffee shop, or over a beer than arrange to meet at the lawyers.

In an informal situation, the most common business exchange is probably handing someone your business card. I’ve been thinking about this, so in the spirit of sharing ideas, here’s what I’ve come up with:

What if your business card could unlock new conversations?

On the understanding that a signed non-disclosure agreement allows for a far smoother flow of communication in the exchange of business ideas, my business card design offers the ability to turn a casual conversation into a pitch scenario, but without the formality.

Take a look at this mockup I created for MOO Cards, who sadly weren’t interested in the exclusive ownership rights!

Click the image to see in fullscreen

My design is a perforated piece of card designed to be ripped in half:

  • One half lists the usual business card details
  • One half has space for a signature against the statement:
    “I hereby agree to treat your idea as confidential in a bond of trust”
    (or whatever)

Each party keeps one half of the card in this interactive business exchange. Not legally airtight, of course, but still an innovative means of quickly forming trust with a potential partner.

So then, anyone out there want to help turn this design into a reality?

I Give You My CSS3 Heart

I made this little heart shape with CSS3, which I’ve been playing around with lately as a way of rendering rounded corners in the latest version of Subscription Options. Turns out there’s loads you can do with CSS3!

Here’s the (admittedly complex) code that’s used to render the above:

#heart {
    position: relative;
    width: 100px;
    height: 90px;
}
#heart:before,
#heart:after {
    position: absolute;
    content: "";
    left: 50px;
    top: 0;
    width: 50px;
    height: 80px;
    background: url("http://files.digitalcortex.net/images/header/rotate.php"); // this makes the colour the same as my header image - but could be any HTML colour instead
    -moz-border-radius: 50px 50px 0 0;
    border-radius: 50px 50px 0 0;
    -webkit-transform: rotate(-45deg);
       -moz-transform: rotate(-45deg);
        -ms-transform: rotate(-45deg);
         -o-transform: rotate(-45deg);
            transform: rotate(-45deg);
    -webkit-transform-origin: 0 100%;
       -moz-transform-origin: 0 100%;
        -ms-transform-origin: 0 100%;
         -o-transform-origin: 0 100%;
            transform-origin: 0 100%;
}
#heart:after {
    left: 0;
    -webkit-transform: rotate(45deg);
       -moz-transform: rotate(45deg);
        -ms-transform: rotate(45deg);
         -o-transform: rotate(45deg);
            transform: rotate(45deg);
    -webkit-transform-origin: 100% 100%;
       -moz-transform-origin: 100% 100%;
        -ms-transform-origin: 100% 100%;
         -o-transform-origin: 100% 100%;
            transform-origin :100% 100%;
}

If you’re interested in playing around with CSS3 shapes like the above, loads of them are are available at CSS Tricks.

My Personal Blogging Ecosystem

Hello! Before we get down to business, here’s just a quick announcement: This weekend I launched a new WordPress plugin called Foursquare Map – any readers with your own blogs, please check it out and let me know how it goes!

Another thing I did this week was to set up my own GTD system with a fresh Moleskine book. I’ll be using this set of icons to help me manage my growing to-do list. First on that list was to follow up on a note to “Map the Digital Cortex Ecosystem“, so *tick!*

What does that entail? Over the two years the site has been running, I’ve tried and tested loads of ways to syndicate content, drive traffic and grow my following. I think I’ve just about maxed-out on the optimisations I can make, and expect further growth to come solely from publishing interesting content. So what does my so-called ‘optimal’ set-up look like? Thanks to Paint.NET you can see for yourself (click for full-screen):

Some tips for building your own blogging ecosystem:

  • Try StumbleUpon – it shows me the coolest stuff every day because I’ve spent time telling it my interests, and then fine-tuning the system with thumbs up / down. I use it about 50 times a day.
  • Get Read It Later – when you don’t have time to give a site the attention it deserves, click the ‘RIL’ button and it’ll sync to the cloud, for reading at a later date. I’ve racked up so much cool stuff this way.
  • Use Delicious Effectively – it’s immensely powerful when used in the right way, and I use it to write one sentence descriptions, along with loads of tags, that publish to my Tumblr each day.
  • Start a Side Blog – some stuff is too cool not to blog about, but sometimes that stuff doesn’t warrant a full blog post (esp. when you’re busy). That’s where Tumblr comes in, and mine is now the fifth largest referrer here, after just two months!
  • Don’t Cross the Streams – sure it’s fun to publish everything everywhere, but it’s sensible to apply a bit of intelligence: what’s really the most appropriate content for that channel? That’s why only blog content goes to my Facebook fan page.
  • Twitter is WIN! – It’s an amazing tool for bloggers, both for content discovery and for content syndication. It’s especially powerful when paired with Tweetmeme buttons on your site (like below). The same is true of the Facebook ‘Like’ button.

There’s probably more to structuring a blogging ecosystem than this, like the ‘star system’ with Twitter/Spotify/Google or the X-Marks approach. There’s also the big question of how you go about measuring any of this stuff, and no word has been made of an actual content strategy but hey, that’s the eternal battle, eh bloggers?!

That’s it from me, hope you enjoyed this post. Let’s discuss tactics… Go!

Are You Ready For Your Close Up, Miss Colada?

BevShots have discovered what you’d call a niche: they take your favourite alcoholic drink, crystallise a single droplet of it in an airtight container, photograph it at 1000x under a microscope, and then sell the resulting image on a printed canvas.

And man, are these things selling! Since August last year BevShots estimate sales of over 20,000 prints ($24.99-$549). The product is aimed at the ‘hedonist with a mind for science’ segment: those who appreciate good photography, laboratory conditions and a damn-tasty cocktail now and then.

Here’s my favourite image, the classic Vodka and Tonic:

The shots are taken in Florida State University’s chemistry department, where founder Lester Hutt developed the approach, which can take up to three months to produce an image.

Lester says:

“What you can see in the magnified pictures are the crystalised carbohydrates that have become sugars and glucose. With my background in chemistry, I saw the potential in these kind of pictures and am so glad to be able to offer them up as art works. It is a pleasure to show people what makes up their favourite drinks and how beautiful it can look.”

Most alcohols are blends, with varying levels of carbohydrates, sugars, acids and glucose, so each shot taken is entirely different from the last. Some favourite drinks are so pure that when they crystallise  into their component parts, they fall apart or don’t dry out properly. So, not unlike the perfect Margarita, they’re pretty hard to get ‘just right’, sometimes taking up to 200 attempts.

Here’s some more of their work – click through for the full images or visit BevShots.

I’m thirsty! Who’s for a drink?