Tuesday, July 31, 2007

BrickJournal.com is LIVE!

After some frantic work this weekend, the webpage to the magazine is finally online!

Why did it take so long? After all, it's been two years...

Well, it took one year to get BrickJournal to a stride that I like, but I wanted to be able to do some other things too that only a website could do. Like be able to post information within hours of getting it for scoops - wouldn't it be cool to have a Toy Fair report the same day as it happening? Or an event report just as soon?

The magazine simply cannot be that responsive. And magazines as a media form aren't meant to be that way - they are usually one of the last words on a news item, as they have the longest time to get facts and information. They also tend to be the most features-oriented - so there are many stories that are not news but about people and  and newsmakers. BrickJournal follows that model, and I'm pretty proud of it.

With the website, BrickJournal is expanding to become an archive for the community, both in issues, and in information. The event calendar on the site is the most complete calendar around, with events worldwide being listed. Also, the magazine now has a true presence beyond the PDFs.

The site is also easy to manage (just a lot of pages) - so it will be easy for others on staff to add content as needed. Because I am using a webservice, if something goes down - I can call and get it fixed!

The webservice is Near-time, and I have been working with them for about two years - they were a startup that came into being about the time that I was starting to work on BrickFest 2006, and I used them to coordinate much of the event. They started on collaborative sites (essentially Yahoogroups, but much more organized) and have grown. I have grown to like them because much of their stuff is easy to work with. They like me because I was one of the first to work with their site, and I have become a beta tester of sorts. So both the Journal and Near-Time are growing and learning.

The plan for the site is to be able to post news as soon as possible and provide content that the magazine can't use - video is the first example to come to mind. BrickJournal.com is going to be a type of newsservice for the community, and I am excited with the possibilities!

Andyes, the magazine is still in the works - I need to get in touch with the publisher to establish timelines and deadlines. And there's another trip I gotta go on....

Friday, July 27, 2007

Skimming news items....

At San Diego Comic-Con, LEGO has a display with Chewbacca, R2-D2, and Threepio. There's an article with a short blurb here.

Meanwhile, at Detroit, the NMRA is showing some LEGO models...

The new thing that has caught my interest: Can event reports on my website be link to the event calendar? Hm, that would be neat to keep a running timeline..

Okay, Im really distracted (off-topic)

Marion Ravenwood is going to be in Indy 4!!!

The movie went from a really cool movie to...well, beyond that.

Why? Because Marion was the best female character to be with Indy, period. And Karen Allen, the original actress is playing her!

Okay, back to work:-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BrickJournal's site...

Yes, it's happening.

The broad vision is to archive all the stories in one site and also provide a point for both AFOLs and public to be able to see the best of the community.

The site will have the articles, news that happens between issues, and reviews and things that won't fit in the magazine. There's also going to be video and hopefully  multimedia.

There will be a public side and a subscriber side - this will be for the site, not the magazine. Those subscribing will have access to the archives and exclusive archived material.

And there's some other perks with subscriptions..

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


is going to cease operations July 31. It has been brought up to allow users to get their files.

So I am evacuating my files. There's a sadness to this, but I would be lying if I said that this wasn't going to happen. Brickshelf was a labor of love, and so it could have ceased at any time.

I am grateful to Kevin for creating this resource and maintaining it for so long. All good things must come to an end, though.

The community will have to consider what to do. I am aware of some efforts, but have no specifics to give. I support these initiatives and hope that something can be created that will be essentially Brickshelf 2.0.

With my work on BrickJournal.com, it is possible to have a mocpages type set up with photos imported - most likely this is something that could be offered to subscribers.

But I am interested to see what else is being planned. What I really want to see happen is a central point of reference for all materials, photos, clubs, etc. across the board for the AFOL community - and this would have to be supported by subscriptions. A long-range plan for BrickJournal the company is to become the repository for the community in terms of history and reference. The website would become the concordance for AFOLs.

To be clear, this is not an attempt to take over things. Far from it - it would be an effort to centralize. The website will not be another Brickwiki, but a growing resource based on the content generated for it. And the target isn't exclusively AFOLs - the magazine will be an invitation for others to see and join the community.

The event calendar is one effort to centralize information, and the result has become a webpage that is being seen by many people. Tie that in with a magazine website, and there is a draw. Anyone can see an article, check out an event, find one close to them and find out about the club hosting. And afterward, people can use the same calendar to see what happened...the calendar becomes a record of the year.

I hope that steps go in that direction.

I'm 42!! (definitely off-topic)

I was born in Fort Campbell, Kentucky on July 17, 1965.

A rather average day, except that at Anaheim, Disneyland celebrated its tenth birthday. I like to think that there's something special about my birthday being the same as Disneyland's.

That is cancelled out, though by the fact that my birthday is the same as Phyllis Diller's. Yuck. But Donald Sutherland shares my birthday, so that's not a bad thing.

So what am I doing today? Not much, really. Goingto see my parents aand relaxing for a little bit. I am pretty much old enough not to be carded and will never be mistaken for a younger age, thanks to the grey and thinning hair.

But I refuse to see my spirit grow older. I have seen many friends 'grow up' and become trapped by what they call responsibilities and obligations. Some of that is true (being married is very much a responsibility that has to be maintained), but it's saddening to see people turn away from their dreams because of the risk...it's how much we risk and sacrifice that makes our dreams so important.

I have stopped to ponder why I am doing what I am doing, and in many ways. my life has made it easy to risk..I have no commitments, no relationships to jeopardize. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain - more or less.

I am happy about my life - it's been one great adventure. Before joining the AFOL community, I did some great things, and there are more things that will be coming down the way. There have been trying times, but also wonderful times.

Right now, I am climbing a mountain that was large and even dangerous. As I have climbed the face with friends helping along the way, each step has become more and more difficult, but also more exhilarating. Looking back, it's amazing to see how far  the path has been, and what lies ahead.

I'm 42. Ten years ago, I was working at an ad agency and volunteering my time at a museum. Five years ago, I was working at a newspaper, after I had lost my agency job and worked at Disney World. I started to 'grow up' and get a bit cynical.

Two years ago, I started what became BrickJournal.

Amazing what a couple of years can do.

I'm 42.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Brickshelf gone?

I was at DC for a fun event (I will make a blog entry later on this) Saturday and came back to my hotel room Saturday night and got an e-mail: Brickshelf down?

And it is. Going to the page brings up:

Brickshelf has discontinued operation. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Whoa. About 1,900,000 pics were on board when it was shut down. Photos from all of the AFOL community are now gone...the only archive of the hobby that even had a hint of completion is gone.

Am I upset? A little.

However, I do believe that Kevin (the owner of Brickshelf) had the right to shut it down. The amount of resources that the site needs is not cheap, and donations may or may not be enough. The ads in the site only work when clicked on in quantity. If he can't afford it, then the site should be shut down.

I can see why people would be upset with the lack of notification, but most of us should have backups, right? I do...somewhere:-). I also have a Flickr account. The only thing I am upset with is that there is no central point to see MOCs anymore.

I don't understand why some are so upset and posted rather mean remarks concerning both Brickshelf and Kevin. Whether anyone likes it or not, the site was a donation/ad run site. I gave $20 in 2003. That's it. And my donation was not a contract to keep the site running for any amount of time. I gave the money to help Brickshelf succeed. I understand that the site is a labor of love for the community - and if there's not enough love, then it can disappear. And it's tough for us, but if we didn't provide enough support, then we kinda set this up ourselves.

There's still a lot that isn't known about this shutdown. For me, I will give Kevin the benefit of the doubt. Until more info comes out, we should not jump to conclusions. Kevin should be credited for creating the only centralized resource of images for the community, and he should be thanked for running it for so long. He didn't have to do this.

And we all should be looking for ways to make sure this doesn't happen again.

I'm thinking about this myself.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Something different:-)

I was busy on the computer uploading pix to be sent elsewhere, and had some time on my hands, so I decided to build something that I have been wanting to build for a couple of years...a rose. Now you might think that I have been wanting to build it for a someone, and you would almost be right:-).  But I have been enamored by the thought building graceful organic shapes....LEGO elements are not organic by any stretchof the imagination.

Also the LLCA roses that I have seen are nice, but the roses are slopes, and look like closed buds to me. I want to see petals. So I have been thinking about this for some time...how do you do overlapping petals? It's a tough challenge. And fun.

In my Dark Ages, I was deeply into origami, and one of the most incredible models was a rose - from one square piece of paper! Ithink it was a Kawasaki rose, and at one time I was able to fold one from memory - it takes about an hour to fold, but the result is paper magic:

I really enjoyed the moment the flat paper became this bulb that you bloomed with the folds. And I wondered how to do that with LEGO parts.

Now, I am not the first one to build roses. There's the LLCA version, and there is a rose bouquet built by John Neal that is pretty darned nice. His idea understands the nature of the flower - the overlap and spiral of the petals.

Another inspiration is the enchanted rose from "Beauty and the Beast." I have wanted to do something with a sculpture of that rose with a few petals onthe table...you get the idea.

So a couple of nights ago, I was stuck with a lot of time on my hands and no way to use my computer to work, so I went to build. And well, thinking about a someone led me to start thinking about building the rose.

It took me three different versions of SNOT building and an entire night, but I built this:

You can see more of it at my Flickr gallery.

The model is a lot of SNOT, as the center core is a 1x1 brick with studs on all sides. I also have flex tube in the stem so it can bend..anythingto make LEGO elements go non-traditional is good in my book:-)! The leaves are held in place with minifig neck braces with studs - this also lets me rotate the leaves to wherever I want.

The funny thing is that the rose is just like the  origami rose in that if you look at it the wrong way, it doesn't looke like a rose, but a bunch of plates. If you look the wrong way at the origami rose, it looks like a very wrinkled sheet of paper.

And that's just fine:-).

Sunday, July 8, 2007

More video from Brickworld

I ended up getting over two hours of footage to play with,  thanks to Zach Donohue, so I have been cutting videos - there's still a bit left...

The Blacktron Intelligence Agency

and another look at the Great Ball Contraption

Saturday, July 7, 2007

One person (or one video) CAN make a difference...

I got a note from Greg Banks last week. He's the coach to the FIRST LEGO League team, the PigMice. This team won the Champion's Award at the World Festival in June, and deservedly so!

The challenge for 2008 has not been revealed yet, so right now,  not much is going on, except for funding. One of neat things that has happened to me is that the video I did about the FLL World Festival has been requested by teams to help promote FLL. The PigMice did a presentation and tour at IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. What's cool is that the team is based in Portland, Oregon - IBM invited them!

Take a look at this link. This is the presentation the team did. This is not a short program, but it's a good look at FLL for everyone - the kids are delightful to watch, and they are VERY professional in their presentation.

And my video was shown!

Greg's note told me about that, but it was still a surprise to see...and this was seen by the IBM Board of Directors as well as the peple who saw this online and at the presentation. I'm proud to see this happen, as one of BrickJournal's missions is to publicize the best of the LEGO community and hobby. And it's happening - in the most surprising ways.

I made the video because I wanted to show everyone all the cool things about the Festival - and while there were some things in the video, there is so much more to see and discover. Seeing the PigMice presentation also reminds me about the most important thing about FLL: It inspires.

Watching the team answer questions at the presentation is impressive too, because IBM scientists are asking them about their robot - and they are answering!

For me, its wonderful to be able to help in some small way.

Thanks Greg!

Brickworld Indy 5.0 Racing

Indy 5.0 is a MINDSTORMS racing event, where the cars are programmed to do the run. Video is by Zach Donohue.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Brickworld Great Ball Contraption Vide

This was filmed by Zac Donahue, one of Rafe's sons!

I got some more footage and will be working toward making more videos.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Another Brickworld video

This is a video of some of the displays at Brickworld - the video was mostly taken by Zac Donahue, with some video by me.

I hope to have more set up soon.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Brickworld in just over a minute!

A time lapse of the entire weekend!

900 frames were taken for this, one every 5 minutes!