Maker Store Report

MAKE contributing editor and my Make: Books cohort Brian Jepson has a nice report today on the MAKE: blog about the Maker Store at the Austin Maker Faire. The store was by far my favorite part of the fair. It was a brilliant combination of a killer book store, a hands-on electronics lab, and a demonstration/presentation stage; a three-ring circus that any geek would love. I heard so many people raving about it and all the cool stuff to see, play with, and buy. We also had on-hand Lady Ada, Dave and Cheryl from Solarbotics, Raphael Abrams (Daisy MP3), and other indie kit makers whose wares the Make Store sells. Dan, Rob, Heather, Brian and everyone else involved did an amazing job.

Jailbreak that iPhone 1.1.1

*Finally* somebody has come up with an app which allows you to “jailbreak” the most recent iPhone (and iTouch) software which knocked out third-party apps. Now you can upgrade to 1.1.1, install AppSnapp, and then re-install your third-party apps. I haven’t tried it yet, but if I have any trouble, I’ll update this item.

[Via Make]


FCC Public Hearing on Media Localism

Lorne Covington of MediaDog writes:

Just in time for Halloween, the FCC has announced a surprise hearing in DC about something that should really scare you: media consolidation! They’re still trying to rush new rules allowing for huge media conglomerates to become truly gargantuan. The short notice is to reduce the attendance, since folks that show up at these are usually against those changes (big media gets to talk to the FCC all it wants, anytime it wants).

FCC Public Hearing on Media Localism
Date: Wednesday, Oct. 31
Time: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. (come early to sign up to testify)
Location: FCC Headquarters
445 12th Street SW
Washington, D.C.
More Information:

Ultimate BlackBook Cleaning Cloth

I have to admit that sometimes I’m a style over function guy. I’ve been known to suffer for fashion. What can I say? I’m an extremely visually-oriented person, so things that look unspeakably cool juice my brain with all sorts of pleasure chems. So it’s no wonder that I just HAD to have the black MacBook, even though you basically pay at least a hundred bucks extra for a black paint job. I’d also heard beforehand that it was a royal pain to keep clean. But that satiny, matte black finish — it was just too damn tasty to resist. So I got one, and I love it. I love it so much, I polish it every day (okay, often *several* times a day) like a classic car. Good thing too, ’cause the BlackBook attracts grease like you can’t imagine. By the end of a busy day, it looks like a cross between a bus station vending machine and a crime scene dusted for prints, slick with grease and dotted with finger- and handprints.

I was lucky enough to already have the ultra-soft cleaning cloth that came with my equally high-minded Logitech DiNovo keyboard. But I kept misplacing it, or having to traipse all over the house to find it. I started also using an old Minolta lens cloth I had, but it’s kind of small.

This past week, while staying at the Radisson Hotel for Maker Faire Austin, I found the perfect BlackBook cleaning solution: the hotel shoe mitt! There were two of them clipped to the laundry bag in my closet. They’re the perfect scratch-proof fabric and you can put your hand inside to apply more rubbing pressure, clean around the edges, etc. It’s quicker than a small flat cloth and you can do a much more thorough job. And the mitts are free! If you travel a lot, you can collect a bunch of them in no time. Now my foolishly impractical grease-loving BlackBook looks as untouched by human hands as its pretentious designers intended. And I’m a much happier fashion victim as a result.


Inspiring Art Golf at Maker Faire

One of the coolest things I’ve seen so far at Maker Faire Austin, which officially starts tomorrow (Saturday), is the Art Golf installation done by Philo Northrup and Jeffrey and Jillian of Because We Can. It’s a gorgeous CNC-milled pack ‘n go (note the hinges) mini-golf course done with fun, wit, and whimsy measured by the inch. If you’re not filled with child-like giddiness and nerdgasmic joy at the sheer brilliance of the design, fabrication, and execution of this project, you really need to have that looked at.

Seen in these pics (middle two) is the amazing Texas Miniaturization Ray hole (apparently not *everything* in Texas is beginner). Your regular-size ball goes in, a mini golf ball comes out and is played through the hole to the next hole, where a full-size ball re-emerges. Each hole is cooler than the next.

These pics were taken by photographer to the digerati/Makerati Scott Beale. He has more pics (and will add more), via Laughing Squid, on Flickr.

Follow for Now Interview Collection

Follow for Now: Interviews with Friends and Heroes is a collection of interviews put together by Roy Christopher. It features a glowing cavalcade of cyber stars, talking on technology, culture, media, and science. Interviewees include Bruce Sterling, Doug Rushkoff, Brenda Laurel, DJ Spooky, Steven Johnson, Mark Dery, Geert Lovink, and many others. Oh… and ME. At 400 pages long, with interviews conducted over seven years, this is a fascinating group snapshot of key thinkers of the webbed world. Oh… and ME.

Maker Faire Austin

I’m at Maker Faire Austin. Woo-Hoo. I made it, and with my nether regions unexplored by over-eager TSA officials. Of course, I shipped my IEDs (Improvised ELECTRONICS Devices) ahead of time.

It’s great to be here and I’m excited about the Faire. I’m currently at a Personal Fabrication Summit, a working session/meet n’ greet of folks involved in personal fabbing/3D printing, CNC machining, etc.

Speaking of IEDs, I’ll be doing Mousey the Junkbot workshops on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be in the Maker Store building. If you’re coming to the Faire, stop by and say hi.

If you want to participate in the workshops, you may want to check out the materials I put together before the Bay Area Faire. They’re available at here. Hope t o see you there… er here.

Making Things Talk from MAKE: Books

As I’ve mentioned here before, I have a new gig as an editor at MAKE: Books, the book imprint for MAKE magazine. The latest book to come out of MAKE (done before I came on-board) is Tom Igoe’s Making Things Talk. Man am I excited about it. It looks great, it’s written in a very clear and approachable voice, and it’s loaded with cool, quirky projects for using Arduino/Wiring microcontrollers to create networked objects, embedded devices that can talk to each other and connect to the world via the Web.

Like Dorkbot, one of the things I love about MAKE is how it isn’t just for the geekiest among us — both orgs appeal to creative types/artists, too. Making Things Talk is also geared that way. Throughout its pages, and for each chapter opener, there’s an example shown of projects created by artists, art or engineering students, or others who are using Arduino/Wiring hardware and the Processing software language to create cutting edge techno-art. And also like MAKE proper, there’s a real “I can do this” energy behind the book. I’m not much of an MCU/programming kind o’ geek, but looking through this, I’m inspired to try some of the projects. And with the cost of Arduino hardware so low, there’s not a big investment in giving it a try. Like with LEGO Mindstorms, the Arduino LilyPads, and other seriously-cool embedded tech that’s coming to market these days, I can’t help but wonder what today’s generation of hardware hackers will do when this is what they have to cut their teeth on.

Making Things Talk is available in the Maker Store. I have to admit, I find it a tad intimidating that the bar has been set this high at MAKE: Books. According to the intro, the amazing Brian Jepson of Hackszine (who was the editor for this title) actually did all of the projects himself during the editing process. Jeez Brian, way to make the rest of us look like slackers. Don’t we have tech editors for this sort of thing? But then, Tom Igoe has created such a juicy book I bet few real geeks could read it and NOT want to do the projects.


Making Your Own Books

I’m doing a weekly column, called “Provisions DIY” (every Wednesday), for Provisions Learning Center’s blog. This week, I talk about printing your own books via Apple’s iPhoto Books and Lulu. I use the example of BCP! Bitmaps, a two-off book that Peter Sugarman made, one for me, one for him. Here’s an excerpt from the piece:

A few weeks ago, a package arrived in the mail. It was from my friend and long-time collaborator Peter Sugarman. Inside the mailer was a handsome gray and white portfolio box with an Apple logo on it. Inside of that was a gorgeous hardbound black book called BCP! Bitmaps. BCP!, or Beyond Cyberpunk! A Do-It-Yourself Guide to the Future was an electronic book (done in Apple’s HyperCard program) that Peter and I (along with Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing, Jim Leftwich, and others) did in the early ’90s. Peter had gone through the entire e-book (called a “Stack” in HyperCard parlance) and extracted all of the B&W 72dpi bitmapped images, along with some evocative cyber-dada statements we’d peppered throughout the stack (e.g. “Art is not a mirror. Art is a hammer,” “You can go anywhere you want if you look serious and carry a clipboard,” “Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?”).

With these images and text, he made this amazing coffee table art book using Apple’s iPhoto Prints service. I’d heard friends (including Peter) raving about this service in the past, about how easy it was to use and how amazing the finished products were. It may take holding one to appreciate just how tasty it really is. The materials are first rate. On this book, the matte black cloth cover, the thick woven silver end papers, the glossy black internal pages, the print quality — it’s all top notch. Everything about it feels like it’s a high-end commercial product, not a two-off (as is the case here).

But like everything else with Apple, this level of quality and style doesn’t come cheap. The books are US$30 for the cover and the first ten pages, and $1 for every page after that. This book cost about $50 to produce. There are cheaper paperback and wire-bound versions available. And when you think about, the price of commercial hardbound books these days, this really isn’t that expensive. If you’re an artist who wants to do a small-run special edition book of your work for a show or similar situ, you could easily sell a volume like this for $60 or $70 (or more) and it wouldn’t be overpriced (by current market standards).

Read the rest here…