Legos for uncreative minds
Monday, December 22 2003
Sometimes people call it "Magic Lubricant". Sometimes - "Power Bottle." I'm in a third category myself; I call it "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." It's damn good on toast, but a little expensive when bought from one of the people who send me email bearing helpful shopping ideas. Unfortunately it seems to make the whole inside of your mouth numb.
I was out running errands late this afternoon (not that it matters, but the dogs were with me as usual). Somewhat intrigued by the LegosTM Gretchen got me the other day, I went to look at the diversity of LegoTM options first-hand. So for the first time ever, I walked into the local Toys 'R' Us. The place was a madhouse of Christmas shoppers. Large sections of the store were given over to repulsive pink boxes, but I did manage to find the LegoTM section. The first thing I noticed was how much the LegoTM brand had expanded since the good old days. While there has been a radical expansion into electro-mechanical capability, there is also evidence that LegoTM is branching out into kits for less-creative children. You see, it's hard for many children to stare into a bucket of LegosTM and imagine anything but piles of LegosTM. LegoTM has solved this problem with its Designer Series. These are basically three-dimensional puzzles that can be solved in only a few ways. Once they're "solved," they don't look very different from what you'd get if you assembled a conventional plastic model, except you're not woozy with a model glue buzz. To help uncreative minds visualize the entities to which these LegoTM kits refer, they feature special snap-on panels to conceal most of the nipples and sockets, the distinctive interface artifacts of the LegosTM medium. Still, these kits are comprised mostly of generic LegoTM blocks, and their pieces can be used with other LegoTM kits. That commitment to decades-old standards is the LegoTM secret. It's too bad more manmade objects aren't like this. Commodity computers come close, on a functional-unit level at least. Just make sure you don't get stuck with a proprietary piece like a Dell motherboard or power supply - those assholes cloak the proprietariness pretty well, but trust me, it's like trying to work a Lincoln LogTM into the design of your LegoTM space ship, except it's also a fire hazard.
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