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Orbitstar Interactica Archive - April • May • June 2006

From fark.com:
RAND Corporation's "Home Computer of the Year 2004"
My longtime friend Thomas Kitts sent me this awesome photo of an early 1950s concept for what a home computer would look like in the year 2004.

"Scientists from the RAND Corporation have created this model to illustrate how a "home computer" could look like in the year 2004. However the needed technology will not be economically feasible for the average home. Also the scientists readily admit that the computer will require not yet invented technology to actually work, but 50 years from now the scientific progress is expected to solve these problems. With teletype interface and the Fortran language, the computer will be easy to use."

A giant steering wheel! Why didn't I think of that?!

Turns out, it's not really a concept for a home computer, but a full-scale mockup of the maneuvering room of a nuclear submarine. The control room itself is part of a Smithsonian Institution exhibit named "Fast Attacks And Boomers: Submarines of the Cold War." The photo was then altered as an entry into a fark.com photo-doctoring contest. Ahahahaha!

I don't care. I'm putting a gigantic steering wheel on my next user interface!

- James Leftwich, IDSA 4/14/2006 11:03:16AM

A Major Career Change For Me

I Wanna Be A Penguin Wrangler

(Get along lil' penguin...
Ever'body, sing along...)

I wanna be a penguin wrangler
Chaps 'n hat 'n vest all spangler
Ridin' herd on my Antarctic range...

Lil' tuxedos, they've all got 'em
Round 'em up and brand their bottom
'Fore I mosey down to the penguin grange...

Ohhhh it's tie-yie-yippie-eye-ohhhh...
Where the ice and blizzards blowwww...
Auroras blazing 'cross the southern sky...

Ohhhh it's tie-yie-yippie-eye-ayyyy...
Where it's dark and cold all dayyyy...
I'll be a penguin wrangler 'til I die...

©2005 Jim Leftwich

Well, my career as a product and interaction designer has spanned twenty-two years. I've been fortunate to work with some of the world's most brilliant designers and engineers, and on an amazingly wide array of devices, software, and systems.

But ever since I was a young whippersnapper, I've also harbored a secret desire. And now I've finally made the decision to end my design career and pursue that dream.

I'm becoming a Penguin Wrangler.

That's right. Using money I've saved over the years, and selling my home, I've purchased a 500,000 acre expanse of frozen land on an Antarctic island and intend to turn it into the Bar Badtz Maru, the world's first and only Penguin Ranch.

I first realized that this was possible when I read "Uninhabited Ocean Islands" by John Fisher. When most people think of purchasing an uninhabited island to call their own, they think of palm trees and peaceful lagoons. But most of those are spoken for.

What's left? Well, turns out there are plenty of islands further south off the coast of Antartica. One he mentioned, Macquarie Island, had the ruins of an old sealing and penguin-oil-extracting operation that operated there between 1888 and 1917, with giant iron vats that they used to boil down hundreds of penguins at a time.

This got me to thinkin'...

I decided against a penguin boiling operation, as that seemed a bit cruel and pointless in this day and age. But with ecotourism on the rise these days, the idea struck me that a Penguin Dude Ranch just might be the ticket.

So that's my plan. After I get my ranch established and secure a fine herd of penguins, I'll build a nice set of bunkhouses and a resort for guests.

I plan on providing the entertainment myself, as a singing Penguin Wrangler. Like a cooler version of Roy Rogers. Literally.

Look out Ice Hotel, it's time for the Bar Badtz Maru Ranch!

- James Leftwich, IDSA 4/1/2006 11:18:49PM

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