Link About It: This Week’s Picks

Remembering Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall, the USPS' long-overdue rebrand, smartphones charged by sound and more in our weekly look at the web


1. Robin Williams: 1951-2014

This week the world tragically lost one of popular culture’s most beloved icons, actor and comedian Robin Williams. An outpour of articles have emerged, offering insights on his inimitable legacy and recent mental health, as well as a few esoteric thought pieces on suicide awareness. However, it’s TIME Magazine’s commemorative issue that is perhaps the most comprehensive collection of accounts on the life of the outwardly happy Academy Award winner. Featuring pieces from Alan Alda, Louis Black and the real-life Patch Adams, the issue provides a broad perspective on Williams and his amazing impact on the world, both in life and now, death.

2. Boxing at Soho House

Members-only club Soho House has just opened in Chicago, but with a feature not found at their other locations. The high-end hotspot has installed a boxing ring, custom made from vegetable-tanned Horween leather and complete with programs run by local champ Rick Fornuto. Even more surprising though is that parts of Soho House Chicago are open to the public—from the lobby’s juice bar to the Pizza East restaurant to the signature Cowshed spa.

3. USPS Rebrand by GrandArmy

The United States’ post offices are generally known as a place of miseryand wasted time. “Efficient” is rarely a word used to describe their locations or services. Recently the USPS took a big step in cleaning up their reputation, thanks to a comprehensive rebrand by GrandArmyagency. The facelift will affect all materials used in the post offices—from tags, signs and boxes to kiosks, welcome signs andwindow stickers. With over 31,000 retail outposts across the US, this makes theproject the largest of this ilk in US history.

4. Owning All The Music in the World

São Paulo-based Zero Freitas has one weakness: vinyl. He owned around 3,000 records before graduating from high school, and went on to study music composition in college before taking over the family business, a bus company. Now, he has a 25,000-square-foot warehouse containing, at his best guess, over several million albums. This NYT Magazine piece uncovers Freitas’ fascination with buying all of the records in the world, and his recent determination to finally take inventory and (hopefully) share them.


5. Vale, The Great Lauren Bacall

Not only was she a scene-stealing actress, but many of Lauren Bacall’s performances stand as a benchmark for acting and continue to influence the craft and cinema studies today. Bacall may have recently passed but her talent, elegance and beauty live on. Whether it’s her debut opposite Humphrey Bogart in “To Have and Have Not” or the cynicism of her character in “How To Marry A Millionaire,” Bacall commanded the screen with intelligence. She had a look, she had an uncompromising attitude. And she will be remembered.

6. Logo Wisdom: Ivan Chermayeff

The 82-year-old graphic designer Ivan Chermayeff is credited with some of the most iconic and widely seen logos in the world—from NBC’s peacock to the National Geographic’s gold border graphic. One of the certified godfathers of the field (Yale’s graphic design department was only in its second year when he was a student), when Chermayeff talks, it’s best to gather around and listen. With an expansive exhibit of personal work on at East Sussex’s De La Warr Pavillion, Chermayoff answered seven questions about inspiration, work habits, challenges and the ever-changing landscape of graphic design. His answers are—not surprisingly—packed with applicable wisdom for both budding designers and anyone carving out their own space in a creative field.

7. Muppets vs Beastie Boys

The internet (and great video editing software) has provided us with some wonderful mashups—from Obama “singing” Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” to Auto-tuning the News, but this week’s musical winner was the manipulation of three Muppets—Animal, Beaker and Swedish Chef—to lip-sync the 1992 Beastie Boys track “So What’cha Want.” The white turtlenecks, perfectly edited hand motions and the close-up diagonal shots effectively transform this family-friendly trio into some hardcore rappers.

8. You, Under the Sun

In all the carefree glory of summer, it’s easy to forget just how powerful the sun is and just how vulnerable we are to it. Artist Thomas Leveritt used a special UV camera to capture our major sensitivity to the sun, with shocking results. The camera has the power to reveal what are essentially future changes in the skin—in other words how the sun sees you. The camera reveals a commonality among skin types: everyone, to some degree, has freckled skin in the sun’s eyes. The kicker comes when Leveritt supplies participants with sunscreen, which shows exactly why you should grab a tube of SPF 50.


9. A Moment of Wet Ridiculousness

Photographer Krista Long’s latest series of photographs for her project “I Love Sumer!” captures people that are simply out of control. In fact, she snaps at the exact moment that they are being shot out of a water slide. From every drop of water to bulging, warped and wild bodies, the images are as funny as they are endearing. The photos are a thoughtful execution of honest moments where there simply are no pretensions.

10. [x] to Escape

While today it seems like second nature to click the [x] symbol to close a computer program or browser window, this wasn’t alwaysthe case. In fact, early operating systems lacked thesimple symbol all together. Medium digs deeper into the mysterious origins of this now ubiquitous and all-essential part of Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) design, and the findings are pretty surprising (including an insightful article update from a Windows 95 team member).

11. Siri, Charge My Phone

A team of researchers at the Queen Mary University of London, with help from Nokia, has developed a prototype cellphone that charges using sound waves in the atmosphere. The secret is super-sensitive zinc oxide nanowires, which convert those sound vibrations into electrical currents. This means, hopefully in the nearer future, cellphones can be charged—sans cable—merely by the sound of your voice during a phone call, background traffic or a hectic coffee shop. No more fighting over the seldom outlet.

12. POV Hyperlapse

Though GoPro has made an amateur videographer out of everyone, the fact is, nobodywants to watch your hour-long POV video. To make these filmsdigestible—and enjoyable—a new Microsoft Research project hasintroduced hyperlapse, a software system that uses an algorithm toreconstruct the scenes and effectively blend frames at 10 timesthe speed of the original video, and without any shaking.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily on Twitter and published weekly every Saturday morning.