Thursday, December 17, 2009

Going Green

This is the last of my crazy cell phone commentaries. Check out the intro here.

This is the first "green" cell phone I have seen. By looking at it, one can see that it is very green colored, grasslike in fact, and I am unsure that it actually is made out of anything other than grass. While some people may be attracted to the "green" movement, but in this case, the problem may not be as much with the actual phone as with the person who designed the photo. Who really wants to see a phone broken? Is that a good idea? It looks more like horse-feed than anything useful. A real life, "green" cell phone would be a big hit though.
...Not with me...
But with lots of other, weirder people.


This is a continuation of the interesting cell phone series. To catch up on the phones already critiqued, start with the intro here.

This phone has amazing feng shui, or whatever it's called. This design is plain and simple, ready to be loved by all Americans who wish they were unique.
Butterflies, wood veneer, and a diluted red font make the cell phone seem calm and relaxing, ready to be used for a edifying conversation. Hopefully the ringtones are just as reassuring and a bamboo plant is nearby. Then we can meditate to the rushing-river ringtone of the cell phone.
Sarcasm aside, I really do like this.

Handy Dandy

Yet another cell phone post!! If you have not read the previous posts, start with the intro here.
HOW COOL IS THIS!!! I want it. This is the ultimate manly cell phone. Complete with a knife, a nail file/screwdriver, a pair of scissors, and corkscrew, it is the best combination of handy dandy tools to date. What more could a man need in one simple design?

Smoke Break

To catch up on the crazy cell phone design series, read the intro here.

For anybody who does not smoke, there is now the cell-phone-cigarette-pack!! How convenient. I often complain to myself that because I do not smoke, I do not receive more than two breaks a day from work.
Now take my coworkers for example: they all smoke; they do about half as much work as i do during the day. And why is this? They smoke! And therefore, their employers are required to allow them smoke breaks when necessary. Of course smoke breaks extend to coffee breaks which extend to a breath of fresh air breaks, to the point that I have never seen Jacci work more than ten consecutive minutes.
I think this cell phone is a brilliant idea. I may even invest in one myself (or camoflage my much, much cooler phone). It looks exactly like a pack of cigarettes, and would probably fool anybody on the street. It's time for a smoke-free break.

Pop a Cap in Yo' [Posterior], Foo!

For the first weird cell phone in this series (do read the intro here), I found :

Yes. It is a cell phone GUN (specifically a Cell Phone Glock 23). Remember back to my series on paintball guns? One of the things I mentioned repeatedly as a positive or negative of each gun was how much it looked like a real, terror invoking, honest to goodness gun.
This cell phone has the same problem as several of those paintball guns. It looks like a real gun! Sure, it says Nokia, and sure, there is a keypad, but who is going to notice those tiny details when you're holding that side by your face?! I think this cell phone gun is an awesomely manly idea, but it just would not fly in the real world. It is much too realistic.

Cell Phones

It is time for me to purchase a new cell phone. Mine is decrepit. It resets itself when I hit the "enter" button.  But not every time.  Just once a day or so, unless it's in a bad mood, in which case it can do it dozens of times in a row.  The screen is scratched and the slider part is sticky (through no fault of mine.  It just came that way).  Time for an upgrade.
I thought that perhaps I would try to get a phone with really new technology, and, as I always do, I searched the internet for newest, nicest phones.
Needless to say, I got distracted. There are so many weird phones!! I found all the following cell phone designs while wasting my time when I should have been looking at phones that I would actually buy.
And just so you all know: I'm pretty sure that all of these are photo manipulations or fabricated fakes that don't actually work, with the possible exception of the cigarette one.


Avant Garde still makes no sense to me. But check out the rest of the series, starting with the introduction.
Here's the picture of the day. This is by far the craziest hairstyle I have yet seen. And by crazy, I mean "Avant Garde" apparently.
Thanks to this photo, I now know that Avant Garde does not mean "amateurish-on-purpose", not by a long shot. No amateur could have created such a perfect disaster. These sturdy cables of hair were created by a master! A master of "unorthodox and experimental methods" (Thank you Whoever styled this girl's hair must be a leader in Avant Garde fashion: exploratory, unorthodox, and just plain ugly-on-purpose.

Attack of Nature

Avant Garde fashion is the topic of this series. Check out the intro here.
The Avant Garde hairstyle of the hour is:

Can you say bird's nest? No girl would be caught dead looking like this outside of a fashion show... or Halloween. As much as this hairstyle is impractical, I would have to say that it is the most "Avant Garde" -do so far, if we go by the definition given in the intro. There is no doubt that this hairstyle is very different and artsy, but the hair design really does have a plan here. It is not just a big mess like Bed Head, but it actually looks like something- an attack of nature! The hairstyle here says something, and perhaps it even matches the style of the clothes that are being shown off too. I have no idea why girls like this stuff.
Also, the girl looks like a creepy mannequin.

Bon Bons

Once again it is time to critique a poor design. This series is about "Avant Garde" hairstyles. Read the intro here.

The hairstyle of this post is not exciting.   I'll say this right off the bat.

I suppose if you're a girl you might find this exciting. Nadia seemed to think this one was interesting. In my opinion, this hairstyle is boring as all get-out.  Two asymmetrical bon-bons of hair that are probably just extensions... ooh!
Whatever. Looking at this hairdstyle makes me wonder about more than why she did her hair that way; it makes me wonder what people think is pretty. A hairdo like this is neither trying to evoke any feeling other than confusion, nor being practical or functional. I am sure that a 5 minute ponytail would have worked just as well in this "Avant Garde" fashion show of clothes that no one will ever wear.

Bed Head

This is the first commentary on Avant Garde hairstyles. Backtrack to the introduction to the series by clicking HERE.

This is a hairstyle? was my first thought. I could not believe it. Somebody, somewhere, aspiring to "fashion", thought that this was pretty.
It looks like bed head to me.
The hair does have tell a story, probably not the one it was going for, but a story nonetheless. (To me it says this: "This fairy, after a long night of wild flying and nectar-drinking with her fairybffs , awoke to find herself in a strange meadow, with flowers glued into her hair, wondering how on earth she ended up there.")
As for the "fashion design" of this poor fairy's hair... there is none. To mess up a girl's hair and call it "fashionable" is not going to be fashionable. It is always going to be called "attacked by the five 9 year-old girls I was babysitting."
Avant Garde... Is fashion, or is it laziness?

Avante Garde

My girlfriend recently introduced me to a style called Avant Garde. I wasn't sure exactly what that phrase meant, so I asked the dictionary. defines it as "the advance group in any field, esp. in the visual, literary, or musical arts, whose works are characterized chiefly by unorthodox and experimental methods."
I came away from this thinking that Avant Garde just means "amateurish-on-purpose."
Many Google-images later, and much the wiser, I have not become convinced that Avant Garde is an "art form" (complete with quotes).
My definition was wrong only in that it was too kind.
Now I know, with proof, that Avant Garde means "weird and ugly on purpose."
And so I give to you, the blog-follower, the following posts all about Avant Garde hairstyles as examples of the movement as a whole.

The Build-A-Couch Couch

It's time for the very last edition of couch critiquing.  If you're not caught up start with the couch intro here and work your way forward.
I don't know what to think of this couch.  Apparently the couch-user is supposed to reorganize the couch each day depending on mood, weather, or whim.  This is the ultimate sectional.  What a cool idea!
Apart from the obvious fun nature of this couch, is it practical in the slightest? My answer: No, the couch is not practical.
  • I probably would have other furniture in the room which would also have to be rearranged every time you rearrange the couch.  What a bother.  This will get old really fast.
  • The couch looks heavy. What a bother. This will get old really fast.
  • The couch only appeals to my silly mood. I will not want to sit on this couch while watching a movie. I will not want to sit on this couch while socializing. I will not want to sit on this couch anytime I happen to be acting like an adult.
This is a big problem. What is the moral here? Just because it seems like a novel idea does not mean it is any better than what we already have. Why not just pick a regular three piece sectional in cobalt blue (and even pick the fabric), have the freedom to switch up the room arrangements, and keep a full(er) wallet?
Despite the impracticality, I cannot deny that this couch is art. But maybe art should stay art, and stay out of my living room.

Tour de France Couch

Welcome once again to the series all about couches. If you need to update yourself on what we've covered so far, help yourself to a dose of the intro here.

Maybe it's just me... but i think this couch is awesome. No, I would never own it. Although awesome, the poor couch screams, "tacky" in every setting other than here, at a bike shop.  Still, in the proper context (like a wonderful bike shop) this is the most creative couch idea I've seen yet.

Let's face it-- bike seats (especially the type used for this couch) are ridiculously uncomfortable. My least favorite thing about biking is the seat. But what an amazingly creative design! This "Scarabike" company really got a creative couch designer. The seats seem retro, but at the same time remind the viewer of innovation.  It's a perfect mix.
I like it.

Flying Cars and UFO's

This is yet another edition of the Couch Series. If you do not know what the Couch Series is, read the introduction here.

Ok, ok… I suppose this couch is really more of a chair. But chairs and couches are pretty similar; they are both supposed to be welcoming to the bottom of humans, dogs, cats and in-laws.
I have to admit, I like furniture from the future. It brings in an edgy, cool look to a space. This specific couch-chair didn't quite make it though. The potential was there. It just didn't turn out all that appealing in the end.
While it probably was meant to be different, new, and artsy, the result is more reminiscent of "scrap metal" and "plastic rings from a 12 pack". I cannot imagine that the cold metal is comfortable, nor that the backrest actually stays in that position long. And, come to think of it, the whole couch-chair will tip right over if the person sitting shifts even a little bit!
Maybe after a few chair legs are added, the curved seat is flattened out somewhat, and the backrest is made to look like anything other than a chain of swimming floaties the couch-chair would be presentable to men who come to us from the future.

Scrubbing Bubbles

More Couch Series goodness.  Check out the intro here.

This couch is more than I can bear.  Is it meant to sit in a spacious bathroom?  Is it really meant to sit in a family room or lounge?  Really??
I have issues with this “couch” for several reasons. 
1) This “couch” is really a bathtub. 
2) No one likes the feeling of a bathtub empty of water.  It’s cold.  It’s hard.  It’s damp.  It’s dirty (unless Scrubbing Bubbles has recently been applied).  And most of all... it feels cold, hard, damp, and dirty.  
 3) The stark whiteness bothers me.  Not only does it look cold, hard, damp, and dirty, it also gives an impression of sanitization.  Couches are for comfort, not cleaning supplies, and not Operating Rooms. 
4) Any sort of pillow associated with a bathtub is usually a plastic blow up.  These pillows look no different.

Do you want to sit here?  I don’t.


Welcome to the Couch series.  You can find the introduction here.  
As you may at this time be sitting on your very own couch, kept warm, safe, but still able by your tiger-striped Snuggie, you may want to take a look at the following couch. 

 If you really are all cozy in your tiger-striped Snuggie, I would suggest purchasing a matching couch, complete with a TIGER HEAD, from a REAL TIGER!!!
I’m honestly unsure of what to say about this tiger-couch warp.  I sure hope PETA is unaware of its existence.  But really, apart from the whole initial shock of, “It’s a tiger! Wait… it’s a couch!” we must ask ourselves, “Who is going to buy this tiger-couch?”  Perhaps someone who is unfortunately slanted left downwards, like the couch.  Or perhaps someone who wouldn’t mind tripping over a tail each time he or she walks by.  Or maybe an amateur interior designer who discovered a giraffe-lamp, which would look just oh-so-perfect at the tail end of Mr. Tiger-Couch. When all is said and done, I really believe that anyone who spends money (this does not include college students who have a knack for finding free couches) on this tacky furniture-turned-art either is ten years old or really believes that this couch is pretty.   ... Or they're a lonely tiger.

Couch Intro


Say the word.  Say it out loud.
It is a weird word.

My parents were recently in the process of looking for a couch.  They wanted a couch.  Not a special couch - just a pleasantly comfy, stench-free, and fairly nice-looking couch.  Being the helpful son that I am, and with quite an opinion on the décor of our house, I took it upon myself to find my favorite couches online.  Of course that did not last long (ADHD.  Good stuff).  Google Images revealed quite the spectrum of couches: weird couches, crazy couches, couches au-flambé. Upon finding that there happens to exist an infinity of hideous, poorly designed couches, I decided that such couches would be perfect candidates for critique on my wonderfully famous blog.

I do not think I will ever get past the ridiculous couches that somebody somewhere probably has in their lounge.  I doubt I'll ever understand neither the “art” behind the furniture, the functionality of the furniture, nor the people who would actually buy such couches.  If you feel offended by the following collection of blog posts because you personally own one or more of the couches, please forgive me. 
 We probably are not friends.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


I couldn't help myself. I had to do a critique of the music video of my current favorite song. Fireflies by Owl City.

Just so everyone knows: I've been an Owl City fan since late 2007, so everybody nowadays who is all like "OMG I HEART OWL CITY ROFL" are total posers. Owl City was mine first.
With that out of the way, let me just say that the new album blows the old ones out of the water.  Fireflies is my favorite song on the album, and its music video is pretty awesome, too. 
The "retro" kids toys are great: they give it a whimsical feel that compliments the song itself perfectly. 
I am not sure if the piano he is using is a genuine "electric piano" or not, but I am inclined to believe that it is one of the old-model electronic keyboards.  These don't actually make the sound that you hear in the song, but... whatever.  It detracts nothing and adds a lot to the whole mood.
My favorite part of the song is when he turns on the button labeled "magic."  I don't know if there really is an effect labeled "magic" on the keyboard (I wouldn't put it past them.  I once had a stove flash "help" at me when its internal clock needed to be reset) but the effect on the video is definitely "fun."
"Fun" describes this whole video, and I think that is why I like it.

Weird Al - Polkarama

In a previous post (I'm on a Boat) I mentioned Weird Al Yankovic's Polkas.  Specifically this one.

I decided it merited a post all of its own.
It is hysterical.  I love it.  It openly mocks the most popular songs of the year (2005).  My personal favorites are "Don't Cha," "Candy Shop," and "Gold Digger."  The macho swagger and sexual overdrive of these songs, while seemingly justified by the heavy beat and sexual panting of the rap/hip-hop genre, are laid bare as meaningless and adolescent when placed on top of Weird Al's quaint and peppy accordion polka music.
It is dry, satirical humor at its finest.

Keri Hilson - Knock You Down

This is in my "Best of YouTube" series. You can find the intro here.

Embedding was disabled by the creator of this video.  Click to watch it.

This video was a surprise for me.
After the sex-charged atmosphere of the first video, followed by the three-minute profanity exercise of the last video, I was not expecting much out of this one.  Three Hip-Hop artists collaborating on one video made me pretty pessimistic.
However, this video was a surprise.  It contained even less "physical advertisement" than the #3-ranked Miley Cyrus video, and contained only one piece of profanity (and a tame one, at that).  The story is easily followed through the whole video, and flashes of a continuing shot of Keri Hilson falling onto a bed are laced throughout the whole video.  They tie the whole thing together very nicely.  The lyrics are the story, so the video is essentially a moving narration of the story the song is weaving.  It most certainly works very well.
I like it.

I'm on a Boat (Ft. T Pain)

This is in my "Best of YouTube" series. You can find the intro here.

This video/song was disguesting.  It satirizes all that I find repulsive about the Rap/HipHop world (which I appreciate), but having "I'M ON A M****F***ING BOAT" screamed at me over and over for three minutes straight pushes the limits of my patience.  As the famous saying goes: "Profanity is the feeble attempt of a weak mind to express itself forcefully."  While the occasional use of expletives to add emphasis is debatably justified, in this context they do nothing but offend the listeners.
Obviously, this was the whole point of the video, but those who find humor in offending the conscientious generally do not end up "on top."

a MUCH better parody of modern hip-hop/rap is Weird Al Yankovic's polkas.  Like this one.  They are tasteful and point out the ridiculous attitude without falling prey to them.

Miley Cyrus - Party in the USA

This is in my "Best of YouTube" series. You can find the intro here.

This video is more what I was expecting from number two.  The outfit is tighter, the makeup is flawless, and the technical aspects of the filming are definitely up to par.
This video does a very good job of using the visuals to compliment and accent the words.  For example, when she talks about everyone else wearing stiletto heels, the camera flashes to a quick shot showing her dusty cowboy boots.  This keeps the more developed visuals from detracting from the song itself, and makes it a very effective compliment to the song.

Miley Cyrus - The Climb

This is in my "Best of YouTube" series. You can find the intro here.

It is surprising to me that this video ranked second on the list, especially after viewing number one.

This video is different than most music video's I've seen.  Miley Cyrus appears to be wearing minimal makeup (if any), the audio doesn't appear to be "touched up" (there are several points where a missed note comes through.  These would be easily "fixed" in post-production.  The fact that they didn't is telling.), and the video itself is extremely simple.
The visuals are calm and collected, and the focus of the video is on her - hair down (and messy), no makeup, and in comfy (aka: "frumpy") clothes.  This is a significant departure from the "norm" of popular music videos, and even from the rest of Miley Cyrus' videos.
I like it because it simplifies the "music scene" and makes the message come through.  It is effective at minimizing distractions, and for that I give it a thumbs-up.
However, I don't like how relatively low-quality it is compared to the rest of her videos.  The camera's depth of field is too large to convey the emotion that the video needs, and the contrast is pretty flat.  With a better camera and some better filming techniques, this would have been much more presentable.

Pitbull - I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)

This is in my "Best of YouTube" series. You can find the intro here.

This is the #1 most popular YouTube video in the world in 2009.
I find this... Concerning.  The video is basically a solid soft-porn fest from start to end, with the overwhelming majority of the camera shots close-ups of barely-clad boobs or butts.  The words are repetitive (They ARE catchy, but so is "It's a Small World After All," which is arguably the worst song ever written.) and not particularly meaningful.
The art direction in this music video, however, is different.  It starts off with blatantly Brazilian images (Girl with "BRAZIL" pasted across her chest dancing seductively with a Brazilian flag) but moves eventually to Cuban flags and images.  Pitbull himself is an American son of Cuban immigrants in Miami, but the song was originally Brazilian.  This explains the Portuguese lyrics and the inclusion of the Brazilian flag.
Overall, I found the whole thing offensive.  Most of my peers would consider me a real prude and Jesus freak when it comes to this kind of thing, but I find it morally objectionable to create this kind of blatant sexual advertising and then have the gall to call it "art."  Art should be uplifting and leave the viewer BETTER than when they started.  This video only makes the viewer want physical gratification, and that doesn't last after the chemicals die down.
Don't get me wrong: I think the human body is a wonderful and beautiful creation.  I just believe that its enjoyment should take place within a very specific place: marriage.  Not on a computer screen.

Popular YouTube Videos

YouTube is a relatively new invention.  Its fifth birthday will be in February, and already we of the modern age cannot imagine how we got along without it.

The YouTube blog lists the popular searches, videos, and content in an annual year-end post.  Here is what the 2009 post said about music videos.

Most Watched music videos on YouTube (Global)*:
1. Pitbull "I Know You Want Me" (82+ million views)
2. Miley Cyrus "The Climb" (64+ million views)
3. Miley Cyrus "Party in the U.S.A." (54+ million views)
4. The Lonely Island "I'm On a Boat" (48+ million views)
5. Keri Hilson "Knock You Down" (35+ million views)

I would have liked to review all five of these most popular videos in the following posts, but Keri Hilson - Knock You Down wasn't "available in my area."  So, I found a copy of the same thing.  Close 'nuff.  Onward to Critiques! Sit tight!


This is in my series on Paintball guns.  You can find the introduction here.

The Phantom is the standard for higher-end modern "stock" players.  Unlike most people who play paintball, stock players use old-fashioned "pump" guns that must be re-cocked after each shot.  They also typically limit themselves to 12-gram CO2 cartridges (like the original markers used) and a 10- to 15-shot magazine tube located on the top of the marker (also like the originals).
These markers are extremely customizable.  They offer different barrel lengths, different shoulder stock options, different CO2 canister locations, different color schemes, and different handle styles.  The average marker looks like one of the two pictured above, though.  It is simple and useful.  I would personally like a shoulder stock on it to help hold the marker steady for shots, because you will only be able to shoot one ball to the opponent's 15 and you have to make that ball count.

Here is a picture illustrating the number of upgrades available, and it only scratches the surface.

Nasty Typhoon

This is in my series on Paintball guns.  You can find the introduction here.

 This is one of the most ridiculous paintball guns out there.  Called a "Nasty Typhoon", it is a Typhoon modified to fire out of two barrels simultaneously.   It, like all Semi-automatic paintball guns, fires once with every pull of the trigger.  It runs off of CO2 or HPA, and is very rare.

This marker is potentially too much for me.  The lack of a stock would make it hard to handle, and the double barrel, though it looks very cool, would most likely have an adverse effect on performance without offering that much "hit potential" in return.

The other thing to consider is the "life-like" look of this marker.  The double barrels scream "real gun" louder than most other things can.  Some other paintball markers (like the Tippman SMG60) technically look more realistic than this, but in terms of scaring people on the street, this takes the cake.  The designers should keep these considerations in mind when designing these markers, or else the sport will lose popularity and eventually become outlawed.

Some other "versions" of the Nasty Typhoon are considerably better at keeping "the public" from panicking.  For example, this next picture shows a version with blue and silver annodizing that makes it look much more like entertainment than death waiting to happen.


This is in my series on Paintball guns.  You can find the introduction here.

The Angel is considered by most to be the pièce-de-résistance of paintball technology.  It is fully electro-pneumatic, meaning that everything is electronically controlled.  In a standard paintball gun, a mechanical sear holds the bold back until the trigger is pulled.  Then the bold moves forward and strikes the valve which releases a burst of gas.  Some of this gas is used to propel the ball out of the barrel, and the rest is used to push the bolt back against the sear, resetting it for the next shot.
However, in an Angel, everything is electronically controlled, from the amount of air released to the cycling of the action.  This allows for almost no moving parts, and makes the entire gun extremely precise, accurate, and programmable for different modes of fire.
This comes at a high cost, though, as the average Angel costs around $1000 without upgrades.  It also cannot take the relatively coarse nature of CO2, so must be run on HPA.
Since Angels are so expensive, the average player customizes his marker to reflect his personal style.  Here is a good example.

Tippman 98 Custom

This is in my series on Paintball guns.  You can find the introduction here.

The Tippmann 98 Custom is the "standard" for recreational paintball guns.  It is rock-solid (there are several well-recorded tests where a player will immerse his gun in sand, cycle the action, then pull it out and fire it without any problems) and relatively simple and easy to maintain.  Its aesthetics are alright: a mix between real-world firearms and standard paintgun looks.

This marker really shines in its ability to be upgraded.  The number of add-ons and upgrades is nearly limitless, and this is where it derives its name from.

The "standard" upgrade is a "flatline" barrel.  It is a weird curved shape, and puts backspin on the paintball.  This makes the ball follow a straighter, longer trajectory (via the Bernoulli principle).  It looks like this:

Some people go all-out on their 98's.  They make the marker look almost exactly like a real firearm, which might have some dangerous side-effects...... but this looks seriously badass.  This next picture is a good example.  And yes, it really is a 98 Custom underneath it all.  You can see the cocking bolt on the back end of the body, just in front of the stock, and you can just see the feed port behind the front part of the carry handle.

Tippmann SMG 60

This is in my series on Paintball guns.  You can find the introduction here.

The Tippmann SMG60 was a revolutionary marker.  It was created by Tippmann Pneumatics in the early '80s, and was "the first" in several areas.  It was the first semi-automatic paintball marker (meaning it fired one shot every time you pulled the trigger, instead of having to re-cock it every time you shot).  It was the first fully-automatic paintball marker (meaning that it would continue cycling and firing as long as you held the trigger down). It was the first paintball marker banned from tournament play (for the aforementioned reasons).
The SMG60 is either extremely awesome or extremely horrible, depending on how you look at it.  It looks like a REAL German sub-machine gun (smg) and this is potentially a problem with "public image," but like the NelSpot, there is something "just not right" about how it looks; there is just something about it that doesn't look like a real firearm, so its negative effect is debatable.
The SMG60 uses four-round "clips" to hold the 60-caliber paintballs.  These are convenient, in that all you have to do is shove them into the receiver of the gun and they continue into the "stick magazine" until they are ready to be shot.  They are also extremely inconvenient, because you have to remember where you fired and where they dropped out of the gun so you can go back and collect them.  The marker will not fire a paintball that is not in one of these clips, so keeping track of them is essential.

Overall, this marker was a dud.  It was too far ahead of its time, and "unbalanced" the game too much to survive.  It was just too technologically advanced to make it, because people were afraid of what it could do to their precious game.  Nowadays, it would be a huge success, because the "trend" is towards more realistic markers, and the modern "closed" field would allow for easy location and pick-up of the spent clips.


This is in my series on Paintball guns.  You can find the introduction here.

This is a NelSpot marker.  It was the marker used in the first "survival game," and is a collector's piece nowadays.  A mint-condition, unmodified NelSpot (as in this photo) is almost impossible to find.

The design is very gun-like to make it easy to use for lumberjacks who are familiar with real firearms.  The method of shooting, however, is very clunky and slow.  The left handle plate is removed, the CO2 cartridge is inserted into the handle, the small ring at the bottom is turned until the cartridge is pierced and ready to use, and then the handle plate is replaced.  This process is fine for its intended purpose of marking trees, but when its primary use turned to marking other players in the survival game, reloading became an extreme hindrance. 
Also, to re-cock the marker after every shot, the knob at the back of the body (the bolt) must be turned and pulled back against the mainspring, the gun is shaken to allow the ball to fall from the top storage tube into the barrel, and then the bolt is shoved closed and turned back to rest.  This process easily takes three or four seconds.  Again, this is no big deal against trees that cannot shoot back, but against other players, it means that every shot must count, because the next won't come for a while.

To bypass some of these problems, many players modified their markers.  The most common modifications were the addition of a "speed wheel" which allowed a much faster change of CO2 cartridges, and a pump handle that greatly sped up the re-cocking process.  Equipped with these two modifications, a player could fire about one shot per second.  This increase in firepower was amazing at the time.  However, compared to modern markers, this technology is horribly out-of-date and clunky.
Here is an example of a modified NelSpot.  Note the speed wheel at the bottom of the handle and the prominent pump up front.

Paintball Guns

Paintball guns are a relatively recent invention: only since late 1979 has the technology been around to shoot gelatin balls of paint at each other.
The first game was a test to settle an argument between two men.  They had fought for years about whether or not "survival skills" transferred from one environment to another.  One thought that the survival "instinct" would transfer - for example: a ruthless stockbroker would be just as equipped to survive in the jungle as a professional hunter.  The other insisted that such skill sets were unique and did not transfer.
The first paintball game was played with NelSpot markers, designed for marking trees for lumberjacks to cut down.  The two friends invited ten other people from completely different professions: doctors, stockbrokers, hunters, athletes, etc.  The twelve "combatants" played on an 80-acre field.  The goal was to get a flag from twelve different stations scattered around the field without being marked by another player.
The winner was a hunter.  He never fired a shot, and no one saw him for the entire game.  He was a ghost.  The one who would have taken second place was a doctor who deliberately hunted the other players for the thrill of eliminating them.  He took out 8 people on his own.
The argument never was settled, but the game took off overnight.  Now in the US alone each year more than 9 million people play paintball.  There are over 5000 competing teams in the US, and over 100 universities have paintball teams (Including Purdue University).
The markers have changed much since the inception of the sport, as have the rules.  The modern paintball gun is chronographed to shoot a paintball at only 300 feet per second (fps), as opposed to the original guns, where "the sky's the limit".  The modern guns run off both Carbon DiOxide (CO2) or compressed air (also called High Pressure Air [HPA]).  The designs have changed, and the technology has changed the tactics that players use.  But this blog will be mainly concerned with the designs and functionality of the markers themselves, not how they are used.
So, without further ado: Paintball guns!

All research from The Complete Guide to Paintball (2004) and Paintball Strategy and Tactics (1989), along with supporting material and pictures from various online sources.