Saturday, February 28, 2009


Team Of Monkeys Changes Name To Ink Blot Mazes

For Immediate Release:
March 1st 2009

The maze production house Team Of Monkeys has changed its name to Ink Blot Mazes. "This name change will streamline our brand recognition while at the same time helping us by defining our product within the name" said Yonatan Frimer, one of the artist at Ink Blot Mazes.

After being published since 2006 in various newspapers and magazines, Ink Blot Mazes has now begun licensing their mazes to activity work-booklets as well as increasing the number of publications and syndicates involved in publishing the mazes.

"The choice to pursue newspapers more aggressively comes at a good time." said Keith Nanwood, Marketing assistant at Ink Blot Mazes, "Print publication are suffering from their subscribers going more and more to the internet for their news. With the recent popularity of Sudoku, word finds, and now mazes, readers have a good reason to get a paper delivered everyday."

According to Marla Singer, Marketing Director at Inkblot Mazes, "Mazes, Sudoku, word finds and other puzzles are really the only interactive aspects of print media. With articles and comics, the reader just passively accepts the information. But with Sudoku or mazes, they take out their pen and 'interact with the paper.'"

Ink Blot Maze differ from normal mazes in that images are conformed from the shapes of the lines creating the path of the mazes. Their popularity is mainly due to their depiction of various celebrities as well as teams of monkeys achieving unusual tasks by working in a team.

Media Contact
Yonatan Frimer
Maze Artist

Home Contact About the Artist Portfolio

Ink Blot Mazes

Welcome to!

You've probably seen our mazes in a newspaper, magazine, or games book and wanted more. Well, you've come to the right place, we have lots more Inkblot Mazes right here.

Click on any maze image to view it in a higher resolution.

Blivet Maze - Optical illusion maze of an impossible object.
Blivet Maze medium
Blivet Maze - 2009, By Yonatan Frimer

Maze of Monkey Illusion - 2009
Optical illusion maze caused by conflicting horizontal and vertical lines.

maze of monkey illusion medium
Maze of Monkey Illusion - 2008 - By Yonatan Frimer

Maze of the Statue of Liberty - 2009
maze of monkey illusion medium
Maze of Liberty - 2009 - Yonatan Frimer

Barak Obama Maze - 2009

barak obama maze

Maze of Barak Obama - By Yonatan Frimer

Maze of 3D Impossible Object - 2009 - By Yonatan Frimer
maze of 3d impossible box
Maze Zen Impossible - Yonatan Frimer 2009

Maze of Barak Obama, profile view - 2009
barak obama maze by maze of mazes artist yonatan frimer
Side Portrait Maze of Barak Obama, President

Home Contact About the Artist
Ink Blot Mazes

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Friday, February 27, 2009


see if you can skate these mazes

Blivet Maze - Optical illusion maze of an impossible object.
Blivet Maze medium
Blivet Maze - 2009, By Yonatan Frimer

Maze of Monkey Illusion - 2009
Optical illusion maze caused by conflicting horizontal and vertical lines.
maze of monkey illusion medium
Maze of Monkey Illusion - 2008 - By Yonatan Frimer

Maze of the Statue of Liberty - 2009
maze of monkey illusion medium
Maze of Liberty - 2009 - Yonatan Frimer

Barak Obama Maze - 2009

barak obama maze

Maze of Barak Obama - By Yonatan Frimer

Maze of 3D Impossible Object - 2009 - By Yonatan Frimer
maze of 3d impossible box
Maze Zen Impossible - Yonatan Frimer 2009

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all about Dye-sensitized solar cells and how they work

Dye-sensitized solar cell

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A selection of dye-sensitized solar cells

A dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSc, DSC or DYSC[1]) is a relatively new class of low-cost solar cell, that belong to the group of thin-film solar cells.[2] It is based on a semiconductor formed between a photo-sensitized anode and an electrolyte, a photoelectrochemical system. This cell was invented by Michael Grätzel and Brian O'Regan at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in 1991[3] and are also known as Grätzel cells.

This cell is extremely promising because it is made of low-cost materials and does not need elaborate apparatus to manufacture. In bulk it should be significantly less expensive than older solid-state cell designs. It can be engineered into flexible sheets and is mechanically robust, requiring no protection from minor events like hail or tree strikes. Although its conversion efficiency is less than the best thin-film cells, its price/performance ratio (kWh/M2/annum) should be high enough to allow them to compete with fossil fuel electrical generation (grid parity). Commercial applications, which were held up due to chemical stability problems, are now forecast in the European Union Photovoltaic Roadmap to be a potentially significant contributor to renewable electricity generation by 2020.

Previous technology: semiconductor solar cells

In a traditional solid-state semiconductor, a solar cell is made from two doped crystals, one with a slight negative bias (n-type semiconductor), which has extra free electrons, and the other with a slight positive bias (p-type semiconductor), which is lacking free electrons. When placed in contact, some of the electrons in the n-type portion will flow into the p-type to "fill in" the missing electrons, also known as an electron hole. Eventually enough will flow across the boundary to equalize the Fermi levels of the two materials. The result is a region at the interface, the p-n junction, where charge carriers are depleted and/or accumulated on each side of the interface. In silicon, this transfer of electrons produces a potential barrier of about 0.6V to 0.7V[4].

When placed in the sun, photons in the sunlight can strike the bound electrons in the p-type side of the semiconductor, giving them more energy, a process known technically as photoexcitation. In silicon, sunlight can provide enough energy to push an electron out of the lower-energy valence band into the higher-energy conduction band. As the name implies, electrons in the conduction band are free to move about the silicon. When a load is placed across the cell as a whole, these electrons will flow out of the p-type side into the n-type side, lose energy while moving through the external circuit, and then back into the p-type material where they can once again re-combine with the valence-band hole they left behind. In this way, sunlight creates an electrical current.[4]

In any semiconductor, the bandgap means that only photons with that amount of energy, or more, will contribute to producing a current. In the case of silicon, the majority of visible light from red to violet has enough energy to make this happen. Unfortunately this also means that the higher energy photons, at the blue and violet end of the spectrum, have more than enough energy to cross the bandgap; although some of this extra energy is transferred into the electrons, the vast majority of it is wasted as heat. Another issue is that in order to have a reasonable chance of capturing a photon in the p-type layer it has to be fairly thick. This also increases the chance that a freshly-ejected electron will meet up with a previously-created hole in the material before reaching the p-n junction. These effects produce an upper limit on the efficiency of silicon solar cells, currently around 12% to 15% for common examples and up to 25% for the best laboratory modules.

By far the biggest problem with the conventional approach is cost; solar cells require a relatively thick layer of silicon in order to have reasonable photon capture rates, and silicon is an expensive commodity. There have been a number of different approaches to reduce this cost over the last decade, notably the thin-film approaches, but to date they have seen limited application due to a variety of practical problems. Another line of research has been to dramatically improve efficiency through the multi-junction approach, although these cells are very high cost and suitable only for large commercial deployments. In general terms the types of cells suitable for rooftop deployment have not changed significantly in efficiency, although costs have dropped somewhat due to increased supply.

[edit] DSC

Dye-sensitized solar cells separate the two functions provided by silicon in a traditional cell design. Normally the silicon acts as both the source of photoelectrons, as well as providing the electric field to separate the charges and create a current. In the dye-sensitized solar cell, the bulk of the semiconductor is used solely for charge transport, the photoelectrons are provided from a separate photosensitive dye. Charge separation occurs at the surfaces between the dye, semiconductor and electrolyte.

The dye molecules are quite small (nanometer sized), so in order to capture a reasonable amount of the incoming light the layer of dye molecules needs to be made fairly thick, much thicker than the molecules themselves. To address this problem, a nanomaterial is used as a scaffold to hold large numbers of the dye molecules in a 3-D matrix, increasing the number of molecules for any given surface area of cell. In existing designs, this scaffolding is provided by the semiconductor material, which serves double-duty.


In the case of the original Grätzel design, the cell has three primary parts. On the top is a transparent anode made of fluorine-doped tin oxide (SnO2:F) deposited on the back of a (typically glass) plate. On the back of the conductive plate is a thin layer of titanium dioxide (TiO2), which forms into a highly porous structure with an extremely high surface area. TiO2 only absorbs a small fraction of the solar photons (those in the UV).[5]

The plate is then immersed in a mixture of a photosensitive ruthenium-polypyridine dye (also called molecular sensitizers[5]) and a solvent. After soaking the film in the dye solution, a thin layer of the dye is left covalently bonded to the surface of the TiO2. A separate backing is made with a thin layer of the iodide electrolyte spread over a conductive sheet, typically platinum metal. The front and back parts are then joined and sealed together to prevent the electrolyte from leaking. The construction is simple enough that there are hobby kits available for hand-constructing them.[6] Although they use a number of "advanced" materials, these are inexpensive compared to the silicon needed for normal cells because they require no expensive manufacturing steps. TiO2, for instance, is already widely used as a paint base.


Sunlight enters the cell through the transparent SnO2:F top contact, striking the dye on the surface of the TiO2. Photons striking the dye with enough energy to be absorbed will create an excited state of the dye, from which an electron can be "injected" directly into the conduction band of the TiO2, and from there it moves by diffusion (as a result of an electron concentration gradient) to the clear anode on top.

Meanwhile, the dye molecule has lost an electron and the molecule will decompose if another electron is not provided. The dye strips one from iodide in electrolyte below the TiO2, oxidizing it into triiodide. This reaction occurs quite quickly compared to the time that it takes for the injected electron to recombine with the oxidized dye molecule, preventing this recombination reaction that would effectively short-circuit the solar cell.

The triiodide then recovers its missing electron by mechanically diffusing to the bottom of the cell, where the counter electrode re-introduces the electrons after flowing through the external circuit.


Main article: Solar conversion efficiency

There are several important measures that are used to characterize solar cells. The most obvious is the total amount of electrical power produced for a given amount of solar power shining on the cell. Expressed as a percentage, this is known as the solar conversion efficiency. Electrical power is the product of current and voltage, so the maximum values for these measurements are important as well, Jsc and Voc respectively. Finally, in order to understand the underlying physics, the "quantum efficiency" is used to compare the chance that one photon (of a particular energy) will create one electron.

In quantum efficiency terms, DSSc's are extremely efficient. Due to their "depth" in the nanostructure there is a very high chance that a photon will be absorbed, and the dyes are very effective at converting them to electrons. Most of the small losses that do exist in DSSc's are due to conduction losses in the TiO2 and the clear electrode, or optical losses in the front electrode. The overall quantum efficiency for green light is about 90%, with the "lost" 10% being largely accounted for by the optical losses in top electrode.[7] The quantum efficiency of traditional designs vary, depending on their thickness, but are about the same as the DSSc.

The maximum voltage generated by such a cell, in theory, is simply the difference between the (quasi-)Fermi level of the TiO2 and the redox potential of the electrolyte, about 0.7 V under solar illumination conditions (Voc). That is, if an illuminated DSSc is connected to a voltmeter in an "open circuit", it would read about 0.7 V. In terms of voltage, DSSc's offer slightly higher Voc than silicon, about 0.7 V compared to 0.6 V. This is a fairly small difference, so real-world differences are dominated by current production, Jsc.

Although the dye is highly efficient at turning absorbed photons into free electrons in the TiO2, it is only those photons which are absorbed by the dye that ultimately result in current being produced. The rate of photon absorption depends upon the absorption spectrum of the sensitized TiO2 layer and upon the solar flux spectrum. The overlap between these two spectra determines the maximum possible photocurrent. Typically used dye molecules generally have poorer absorption in the red part of the spectrum compared to silicon, which means that fewer of the photons in sunlight are usable for current generation. These factors limit the current generated by a DSSc, for comparison, a traditional silicon-based solar cell offers about 35 mA/cm², whereas current DSSc's offer about 20 mA/cm².

Combined with a fill factor of about 70%, overall peak power production for current DSSc's is about 11%.[8][9]


DSSC degrades from UV light. The barrier may include UV stabilizers and/or UV absorbing luminescent chromophores (which emit at longer wavelengths) and antioxidants to protect and improve the efficiency of the cell [10].

Advantages and drawbacks

DSSc's are currently the most efficient third-generation solar technology available. Other thin-film technologies are typically around 8%, and traditional low-cost commercial silicon panels operate between 12% and 15%. This makes DSSc's attractive as a replacement for existing technologies in "low density" applications like rooftop solar collectors, where the mechanical robustness and light weight of the glass-less collector is a major advantage. They may not be as attractive for large-scale deployments where higher-cost higher-efficiency cells are more viable, but even small increases in the DSSc conversion efficiency might make them suitable for some of these roles as well.

There is another area where DSScs are particularly attractive. The process of injecting an electron directly into the TiO2 is qualitatively different to that occurring in a traditional cell, where the electron is "promoted" within the original crystal. In theory, given low rates of production, the high-energy electron in the silicon could re-combine with its own hole, giving off a photon (or other form of energy) and resulting in no current being generated. Although this particular case may not be common, it is fairly easy for an electron generated in another molecule to hit a hole left behind in a previous photoexcitation.

In comparison, the injection process used in the DSSc does not introduce a hole in the TiO2, only an extra electron. Although it is energetically possible for the electron to recombine back into the dye, the rate at which this occurs is quite slow compared to the rate that the dye regains an electron from the surrounding electrolyte. Recombination directly from the TiO2 to species in the electrolyte is also possible although, again, for optimized devices this reaction is rather slow.[11] On the contrary, electron transfer from the platinum coated electrode to species in the electrolyte is necessarily very fast.

As a result of these favorable "differential kinetics", DSSc's work even in low-light conditions. DSSc's are therefore able to work under cloudy skies and non-direct sunlight, whereas traditional designs would suffer a "cutout" at some lower limit of illumination, when charge carrier mobility is low and recombination becomes a major issue. The cutoff is so low they are even being proposed for indoor use, collecting energy for small devices from the lights in the house.[12]

A practical advantage, one DSSc's share with most thin-film technologies, is that the cell's mechanical robustness indirectly leads to higher efficiencies in higher temperatures. In any semiconductor, increasing temperature will promote some electrons into the conduction band "mechanically". The fragility of traditional silicon cells requires them to be protected from the elements, typically by encasing them in a glass box similar to a greenhouse, with a metal backing for strength. Such systems suffer noticeable decreases in efficiency as the cells heat up internally. DSSc's are normally built with only a thin layer of conductive plastic on the front layer, allowing them to radiate away heat much easier, and therefore operate at lower internal temperatures.

The major disadvantage to the DSSc design is the use of the liquid electrolyte, which has temperature stability problems. At low temperatures the electrolyte can freeze, ending power production and potentially leading to physical damage. Higher temperatures cause the liquid to expand, making sealing the panels a serious problem. Another major drawback is the electrolyte solution, which contains volatile organic solvents and must be carefully sealed. This, along with the fact that the solvents permeate plastics, has precluded large-scale outdoor application and integration into flexible structure.[13]

Replacing the liquid electrolyte with a solid has been a major ongoing field of research. Recent experiments using solidified melted salts have shown some promise, but currently suffer from higher degradation during continued operation, and are not flexible.[14]


The dyes used in early experimental cells (circa 1995) were sensitive only in the high-frequency end of the solar spectrum, in the UV and blue. Newer versions were quickly introduced (circa 1999) that had much wider frequency response, notably "triscarboxy-terpyridine Ru-complex" [Ru(2,2',2"-(COOH)3-terpy)(NCS)3], which is efficient right into the low-frequency range of red and IR light. The wide spectral response results in the dye having a deep brown-black color, and is referred to simply as "black dye".[15] The dyes have an excellent chance of converting a photon into an electron, originally around 80% but improving to almost perfect conversion in more recent dyes, the overall efficiency is about 90%, with the "lost" 10% being largely accounted for by the optical losses in top electrode.[7]

A solar cell must be capable of producing electricity for at least twenty years, without a significant decrease in efficiency (lifespan). The "black dye" system was subjected to 50 million cycles, the equivalent of ten years' exposure to the sun in Switzerland. No discernible decrease of the performance was observed. However the dye is subject to breakdown in high-light situations. Over the last decade an extensive research program has been carried out to address these concerns, which were completed in 2007.[7]

The team has also worked on a series of newer dye formulations while the work on the Ru-complex continued. These have included 1-ethyl-3 methylimidazolium tetrocyanoborate [EMIB(CN)4] which is extremely light- and temperature-stable, copper-diselenium [Cu(In,GA)Se2] which offers higher conversion efficiencies, and others with varying special-purpose properties.

DSSc's are still at the start of their development cycle. Efficiency gains are possible and have recently started more widespread study. These include the use of quantum dots for conversion of higher-energy (higher frequency) light into multiple electrons, using solid-state electrolytes for better temperature response, and changing the doping of the TiO2 to better match it with the electrolyte being used.

New developments


The first successful solid-hybrid dye-sensitized solar cells were reported.[14]

To improve electron transport in these solar cells, while maintaining the high surface area needed for dye adsorption, two researchers have designed alternate semiconductor morphologies, such as arrays of nanowires and a combination of nanowires and nanoparticles,to provide a direct path to the electrode via the semiconductor conduction band. Such structures may provide a means to improve the quantum efficiency of DSSCs in the red region of the spectrum, where their performance is currently limited.[16]

On August 2006, to prove the chemical and thermal robustness of the 1-ethyl-3 methylimidazolium tetracyanoborate solar cell, the researchers subjected the devices to heating at 80°C in the dark for 1000 hours, followed by light soaking at 60°C for 1000 hours. After dark heating and light soaking, 90% of the initial photovoltaic efficiency was maintained – the first time such excellent thermal stability has been observed for a liquid electrolyte that exhibits such a high conversion efficiency. Contrary to silicon solar cells, whose performance declines with increasing temperature, the dye-sensitized solar-cell devices were only negligibly influenced when increasing the operating temperature from ambient to 60°C.

April 2007

Wayne Campbell at Massey University, New Zealand, has experimented with a wide variety of organic dyes based on porphyrin.[17] In nature, porphyrin is the basic building block of the hemoproteins, which include chlorophyll in plants and hemoglobin in animals. He reports efficiency on the order of 7.1% using these low-cost dyes.[18]

June 2008

In a joint article published in Nature Materials, Michael Grätzel and colleagues at the Chinese Academy of Sciences demonstrated cell efficiencies of 8.2% using a new solvent-free liquid redox electrolyte consisting of a melt of three salts, as an alternative to using organic solvents as an electrolyte solution. Although the efficiency with this electrolyte is less than the 11% being delivered using the existing iodine-based solutions, the team is confident the efficiency can be improved.[19]

[edit] Market introduction

DSC is the only third generation technology ready for mass production[20]. DSC's are currently available from several commercial providers:

How Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells Work

Diagram showing how dye-sensitized solar cells work

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


31 million miles away from the stimulus package

31 million miles away, i am not sure how many trillion feet that comes too, but I think obama's stimulus plan is more.

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Monday, February 23, 2009


Hit 'send,' then hit the door

So long
Spencer Weiner, Los Angeles Times
‘SO LONG, SUCKERS!’ Jason Shugars, who left Google for the website Imeem, said, “I didn’t want to send out a stale ‘good working with you, please reach me here’ e-mail.”
Farewell e-mails become an art form in this age of pink slips. Some are funny, some are sad -- and some are just plain furious.
By Robin Abcarian
February 23, 2009
It was not the most eloquent subject line for a farewell e-mail to 5,000 co-workers: "So long, suckers! I'm out!"

But Jason Shugars worked at Google, whose off-center corporate culture is more forgiving than that of your average buttoned-down investment bank. In the rest of his goodbye, Shugars, a senior sales compliance specialist, reminisced about workplace moments that included putting cake down his pants at a sales conference, stealing a boss' $8,000 leather couch and singing "Hit Me Baby One More Time" in a miniskirt and braids.

"It took me a long time to write it," said Shugars, 34, who left Google to become director of ad operations for the music streaming website Imeem. "I didn't want to send out a stale 'good working with you, please reach me here' e-mail. Who wants that?"

That's a good question these days, now that thousands of people are finding themselves with pink slips and the need to let colleagues and contacts know they are moving on and -- perhaps more important for job seekers -- how they can be reached.

The farewell e-mail has suddenly become commonplace, a new art form in the electronic age. Yet like so many aspects of the Internet era -- how to unfriend on Facebook, how much to reveal on a personal blog -- the technology has gotten ahead of the etiquette. There are, quite simply, no rules.

Some farewell e-mails, like Shugars', strike a lighthearted, even funny tone. Some are workmanlike and short. Others are poetic or poignant, expressing surprise or regret at the turn of events. A very few -- and these are the ones that get most of the attention -- use the electronic goodbye to blast the boss.

In May, lawyer Shinyung Oh was let go from the San Francisco branch of the Paul Hastings law firm six days after losing a baby. The seven-year associate, who said she was told her previous, glowing evaluations may have been "overinflated," composed a blistering e-mail to the partners and fired it off to about 1,000 colleagues around the world.

She accused the firm's partners of "heartlessness" and of blaming her for failing to generate business "that should have been brought in by each of you."

"If this response seems particularly emotional," she wrote to the partners, "perhaps an associate's emotional vulnerability after a recent miscarriage is a factor you should consider the next time you fire or lay someone off. It shows startlingly poor judgment and management skills -- and cowardice -- on your parts."

Within an hour, Oh said, her e-mail was posted on a widely read legal affairs blog, then made its way into the mainstream media.

Oh has no regrets. She is also changing professions.

"I am glad I spoke out," said Oh, 38, who has launched a blog, is taking writing classes and is pregnant again. "It's been really good for me on a personal level. It made me reassess my life, and that's a good thing."

Will Schwalbe, coauthor of "Send: Why People E-mail So Badly and How to Do it Better," said the farewell e-mail was a reflection of two intersecting trends: the universality of e-mail and the confessional spirit of the times, which have resulted, as he put it, in "the democratization of the process."

In the pre-computer world, Schwalbe said, "Personnel wrote something -- a memo, Xeroxed -- generally, you didn't get to do it. They did it. But what had been an HR function is now a personal function." That, he said, leads to a different sort of message.

When Pasadena-based Wescom Credit Union, a firm with about 1,000 employees, had layoffs recently, there were no mass e-mail farewells because workers don't have access to all-encompassing e-mail lists.

"We have very strict standards, safeguards that IT has put in place don't allow that to happen," said Diane Norton Smith, Wescom's vice president for human resources. "I have seen situations where somebody said goodbye and you get the reply all, reply all, reply all, 'We're gonna miss you,' and that clogs up the whole system."

That occasionally happened last summer and fall when the farewells of laid-off Los Angeles Times staffers hit inboxes in successive waves.

Some of the goodbyes were bittersweet, some philosophical. Many were entertaining.

Jaime Cardenas, a young sports reporter, spliced his note with stanzas from Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" ("I used to rule the world . . . Now in the morning I . . . Sweep the streets I used to own."). Perry Crowe, an editor for the Guide, compared losing his job to a scene from a movie: "It's sort of like in Superman II when Non rips the light off the top of a police car and hurls it at a boy in the distance and it explodes like a motherlovin' mortar round and a woman cries out, 'He was just a boy!' "

Outplacement professionals, naturally, are against the parting shot because they fear for a person's ability to land a new job.

"It's so easy to e-mail, and that's the risk, isn't it?" said John Challenger of the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. "Once you've put it out there, you can't get it back."

Vent to your mom or boyfriend, said Alison Doyle, a job search expert on "You can have all these feelings but you shouldn't necessarily share them. And don't go on about how terrible this is, and 'I don't know how I am gonna buy the groceries.' Err on the side of too little information rather than too much."

Sometimes, though, an angry goodbye e-mail can alter the terms of a layoff in a good way.

For 20 years, Steve Bass wrote for PC World, a magazine with a circulation of 600,000. He had a popular monthly column, a blog and an electronic newsletter called Tips & Tweaks.

In August, in a cost-cutting measure, the magazine said it would pay only for the blog, which could then be "repurposed" for the column.

"At the time, I was devastated," said Bass, 61, who lives in the Pasadena area and has launched a free e-mail newsletter called TechBite. He e-mailed his readers a farewell, revealing his dismay at what he felt had been poor treatment by the magazine. "I lost a hefty chunk of change," Bass wrote. "It's still a stunner. . . . It gets worse. . . . Unfortunately, the guy I had to deal with didn't know how to negotiate. His tactic was to just say no to everything."

Steve Fox, who became PC World's new editorial director shortly after Bass was sacked, said he received about 100 angry e-mails.

"I have to say I was initially perturbed by it," Fox said. "But ultimately it's about business, and having been a freelance writer myself, I understood why he was upset. He is a talented guy. He did not burn a bridge with me, but I would imagine there were other people here who were ticked at what he had done."

Bass was invited to stay on the masthead as a contributing editor and write occasional features.

Richard Bravo, a 34-year-old New Yorker, did not take the blaze-of-glory approach. He was managing editor of DNR (Daily News Record). In November, the 116-year-old menswear trade publication, the oldest title in the Conde Nast stable, was combined with its sister publication, Women's Wear Daily.

He had reason to be miffed. He was three days short of his third anniversary, so his severance credited him for only two years.

Bravo sent his goodbye to people from both spheres of his life -- "pretty much everyone I knew on a personal level or a work level who I thought might have some sort of need to get in touch with me."

He was straightforward and brief: "I apologize for the mass e-mail, but today's issue of DNR will be the last. . . . We folded last week and are now on 'forced vacation' to put it nicely. . . . If you need to get in touch with me please use this info."

"I think my biggest concern was not to make it sound melodramatic," Bravo said. "There is nothing worse than those e-mails, nothing worse than mass e-mails, period. So you can never make a mass e-mail classy, but I wanted to make it as close to being classy as one could."

His e-mail led to a number of freelance assignments, Bravo said, "so it definitely succeeded on that front."

Last year, when Yahoo executive Stewart Butterfield composed an absurdist, mock-epic goodbye to the struggling Internet giant, he seemed to be dinging a corporate culture gone complacent.

"As you know, tin is in my blood," wrote Butterfield, 35, whose photo-sharing website Flickr was acquired by Yahoo in 2005. "When I joined Yahoo! back in '21, it was a sheet-tin concern of great momentum, growth and innovation. I knew it was the place for me."

But, Butterfield continued, "my ability to contribute has dwindled to near-nothing and not entirely because of my advancing age. . . . I will be spending more time with my family, tending to my small but growing alpaca herd and, of course, getting back to working with tin, my first love."

A few years before Butterfield bent the genre, an aspiring comedy writer named Chris Kula penned a long mock farewell e-mail on his blog. At the time, Kula was a receptionist at a New York engineering firm, honing his craft on the side.

"For nearly as long as I've worked here," he wrote, "I've hoped that I might one day leave this company. And now that this dream has become a reality, please know that I could not have reached this goal without your unending lack of support."

The missive was linked on blogs around the English-speaking world and was even plagiarized by an Irish employee of the accounting firm Ernst & Young, who was forced to apologize (not to Kula, but to his former bosses) when he disseminated the letter as his own, complete with a reference to a co-worker's flatulence.

For Kula, however, the fake farewell, which he penned after deciding to leave the engineering firm, was a career boon.

"I used it as a sample piece," said Kula, 29, who was hired by a website that specialized in office-based humor, which led to a gig with an improv troupe, which led to an agent and his current job, writing for "MADtv."

"I always wondered if the guys at the engineering firm saw it," Kula said. "I would love to know if they still talk about it."

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Mind the crevasse: The amazing 3D pavement art that has pedestrians on edge

Mind the crevasse: The amazing 3D pavement art that has pedestrians on edge

By Tom Kelly
Last updated at 10:10 PM on 23rd February 2009

After a sudden shift in the Earth's crust, the ground has cracked open.

What was terra firma is now a gaping crevasse.

And into it - his arms raised in terror - plunges a hapless pedestrian on a shard of rock.

street art

The Crevasse: The giant fissure, in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, spans over 250 square metres and appears to show a fault in the earth's crust

In another apocalyptic scenario, a family desperately struggle to cross what remains of a street. They hold hands while balancing on islands of tarmac.

Below them a rushing urban river laps against rocks that glow with volcanic intensity.

But, of course, neither of these scenes is what they appear. They are giant optical illusions conceived by German artist Edgar Mueller.

Edgar Mueller street art

Hands across the great divide: But the torrent below is not what it seems

He spent five days, working 12 hours a day, to create the 250 square metre image of the crevasse, which, viewed from the correct angle, appears to be 3D. He then persuaded passers-by to complete the illusion by pretending the gaping hole was real.

'I wanted to play with positives and negatives to encourage people to think twice about everything they see,' he said.

'It was a very scary scene, but when people saw it they had great fun playing on it and pretending to fall into the earth.

'I like to think that later, when they returned home, they might reflect more on what a frightening scenario it was and say, "Wow, that was actually pretty scary".'

Hard work: Together with up to five assistants, Mueller painted all day long from sunrise to sunset

Hard work: Together with up to five assistants, Mueller painted all day long from sunrise to sunset

Mueller, 40, used acrylic wall paint to create the scene. He trained a camera lens on his work surface to help him fully visualise the idea before painting in the incredible detail to give an impression of depth on the flat surface.

He added: 'The conditions were difficult because if it started raining before a section had dried it could all wash it all away.

'I was very lucky that I managed to get each part done before the heavens opened.'

Scroll down to watch a video of the making of the The Crevasse...

The picture appeared on the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, as part of the town's Festival of World Cultures.

The artist used the same technique to create the street-turned-river scene in the western German city of Geldern.


Use your eyes: The apocalyptic street art by German artist Edgar Mueller

It commemorated the 30th anniversary of an international competition of street painters, which takes place in the city every summer.

Mueller, who has previously painted a giant waterfall in Canada, said he was inspired by the British 'Pavement Picasso' Julian Beever, whose dramatic but more gentle 3D street images have featured in the Daily Mail.

They include a swimming pool chalked on the street so realistically that shoppers swerved to avoid it.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


New maze portfolio now available in PDF

New maze portfolio now available in PDF

Click here to see the portfolio NOW

The artist of Team Of Monkeys and Maze of Mazes has a new portfolio out according the the latest reports. The portfolio includes mazes that have been seen before, but not at this quality, as well as new mazes, never seen before.

The entire portfolio is compressed to less than 4MB and will be emailed to various qualifying news outlets to be updated.

The portfolio can be accessed at:

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Getting to college a maze Students get help with aid forms as economy worsens J. Peder Zane - Staff Writer

Getting to college a maze

Students get help with aid forms as economy worsens

- Staff Writer

Esha Hickson knows that dreams must be grounded in reality. She hasn't just imagined herself becoming a doctor some day; she's worked hard to earn straight A's at Knightdale High School.

Now she fears that the nightmare of the recession may smother her hopes. "College is so expensive and money is so tight, I'm really afraid," the soft-spoken senior said Saturday at Meredith College. "I will never give up, but it's going to be a huge struggle."

Hickson was one of an estimated 4,000 students who visited Meredith and 64 other locations across the state Saturday for help filling out their Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The eight-page form is the first step college-bound students must take as they try to cobble together a package of grants, loans and scholarships to help pay for college.

Reflecting the tough economic times, applications for federal financial aid in North Carolina have risen 29 percent so far this year, according to the College Foundation of North Carolina, a FAFSA sponsor that helps students with filling out the applications and finding loans.

Mazes and Cartoons

Prospective collegians face a particularly daunting environment. In response to budgetary pressures, many colleges and universities have raised prices. Earlier this month, the UNC system's Board of Governors increased tuition and fees for in-state students by an average of 3.9 percent across its 16 campuses.

The baby boom of the '80s and '90s and the influx of immigrants mean that the number of high school students is steadily rising.

Rising unemployment and the falling stock market have also made it harder for families to foot those bills. The College Foundation reports that contributions to its college savings program -- the NC 529 program -- have decreased while the number of families withdrawing those monies for purpose other than college has doubled.

Absolut Mazes

From Maze of Mazes by Yonatan Frimer

As a result, many more families are asking for help. Requests for aid at UNC-Chapel Hill were up 13 percent this year, according to Shirley Ort, director of scholarships and aid. She expects that to grow 15 percent more this year.

Ort said 35 percent of UNC-CH students now receive need-based aid to cover tuition and fees, which will reach $5,456 next year.

The percentage is even higher at Meredith College, a private women's college where annual tuition and fees are $30,290. Sixty-five percent of Meredith students receive need-based aid, and 95 percent of all students receive some sort of assistance, said Sandra Rhyne, the school's director for scholarships.

Rhyne and Ort both stressed that people should not assume that they wouldn't qualify for aid. At UNC-CH, the median income of a family of four receiving need-based aid this year is $50,300, Ort said.

Although the eight-page FAFSA can seem forbidding, many of the 200 families who showed up at Meredith College on Saturday said it took less than 30 minutes to fill it out.

"As long as you have the right documents, like your tax forms, brokerage and savings account information, it's not so bad,' said Danny Wim of Morrisville, whose daughter Eunice will attend Duke University next year. Rhyne of Meredith College said the financial aid officers at most schools are happy to walk people through the process.

North Carolinians can find the FAFSA and receive help filling it out from the College Foundation's Web site,, or by calling 866-866-2343.

Completing the form is only the start of the journey. As they sat together in a Meredith College classroom Saturday, Brandon Salig's family insisted that he type in all the information in the FAFSA form. His parents said they will do everything they can to help the senior at Wake Forest-Rolesville High School realize his dream of studying music at Western Carolina University. But they want him to be fully aware of the economic realities that involves.

"This is a big deal, and he knows that," said his stepfather Marlon Mitchell. "But seeing exactly how big a deal it is will drive it home." or 919-829-4773

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10 Most Incredible Mazes and Labyrinths

Thu, Nov 20, 2008


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Villa Pisani

Mazes and labyrinths are more part and parcel of our culture than people realise. Their roots can be traced back to Greek mythology and Paganism, where they were regarded as mystical. It wasn’t until a few hundred years ago that mazes were designed for fun (sadists), and often became a perfect meeting place for secret lovers and cunning planners. Over time they have become associated with entrapment and enclosure as our imaginations run wild.

We’ve found some of the world’s largest, craziest and highest mazes so you can loose yourself in the great tangled weave of the web for a while. They’re simply quite a-maze-ing.

via Blue Moon Cottages
1. Ashcombe Maze is found on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula, near Melbourne. It’s Australia’s largest and oldest maze and measures three meters high by two meters wide. The gardens also boast the world’s oldest rose maze, which blooms 217 varieties of roses on 1,200 bushes.

2. Richardson Farm in Illinois has become something of a fixture in the maze-making stakes. Every year they create a new maze just before the harvest and allow the general public to come and enjoy getting lost in nature. This Aztec style face was one of the smaller mazes mowed out a few years ago.

3. Fancy a game of snakes and ladders? It might take a while, though. This maze was lovingly created by Michael Blee of Gore Farm, Upchurch in Kent. The hedges are a whopping 9ft tall and meander over 6 acres of land. Mr Blee hopes the giant game makes it into the Guinness Book of Records.
snakes and ladders
via Daily Mail

4. Ever wanted to get locked in an enchanted castle and wait for your Prince Charming to come? Well, now’s your chance. The castle is one of the 2008 mazes on Richardson Farm, but it closes at the end of October so you only have a few days for your knight in shining armour to whisk you away to pastures new. A labyrinth, like this castle, has one way in and one way out so you have to follow a certain route to escape. Mazes can have multiple entrances and exits with lots of dead ends, so can be much more confusing.
Richardson Farm

5. Officially the world’s largest maze, according to the Guinness Book of Records 2001, the Pineapple Garden Maze offers over three miles of paths on three acres. You really wouldn’t want to get lost. It is located in Waimea Bay, Hawaii at Dole Plantation and certainly looks scary from the air.
pineapple 2
Cosmic kid

6. Once one of the world’s largest plant mazes, this circular creation covers 10 acres of land at Reignac-sur-Indre in Touraine, France. It too is reaped every year and grows back in a different form as a result of careful design, planning and farming.
Plant Maze
via Les Bazeilles

7. This corn maze challenge is part of Cherry Crest Adventure Farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Get lost in 2.5 miles of trails over five acres, but don’t worry, it’s difficult to get lost in this one – there are maze masters on hand to help out should you find yourself being consumed by it all. As long as you keep images of Children of the Corn out of your head, you’ll be fine. Maybe.
Cherry Crest Farm
Cherry Crest Farm

8. The English have always loved elaborate mazes and one of their most famous can be found within the grounds of the majestic Hampton Court Palace, not far from London. The maze was planted in the late 1600s for King William of Orange and covers an area of 60 acres. Only a small section is shown here. The palace itself dates back to the time of King Henry VIII in the early 1500s and remains in excellent condition.
hampton court
Image: Binusha

9. The Georgeson Botanical Garden in Fairbanks, Alaska is officially a maze, and is still a work in progress, even after seven years. This photograph shows only three petals completed but since the image was taken the other petals have been planted.
Georgeson Maze
Fresh Dirt

10. The maze at Villa Pisani, in the Veneto region of Italy, was created in the early 1700s, and is said to be once of the world’s most complicated. Located in the town of Stra, the maze is made up of layers of pathways in 12 concentric rings with high hedges leading to a central tower. Famously, because Napoleon had once been lost in the maze, when Hitler and Mussolini met for a chin wag there, neither of them were willing to venture into the maze in case they too got lost. Imagine the path of history then.
Villa Pisani
Follies of Europe

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