Friday May 09, 2008

Maker Faire 2008 - Part 5

The final batch from this years Faire, including some which are slightly out of focus. Hopefully the links will give you a better idea.

Four Lego related ones. There are 16 motors in that crane. Also the LEGO Train Town and Village from the Bay Area Lego Users Group.

We got the Forbidden Lego book out of the library a few months ago, with the idea that we could try to build some of the models, only to find out that it uses a lot of non-standard parts. Grr!

That's Robyn Beer preparing a piece for enameling, another hobby I'd like to try when I can find the time. Also glass bending, the CandyFab Project and grow your own mushrooms.

Various robots,robot-like scuptures and blinky things. That's the work of Mike Scioli. Also Voxhead from Michael Brady, and a couple of AntBot's.

Pong Watch. There was also another playing asteroids. Plus some kinetic metal sculptures including the Giant Squid.

What to do with your prototyping failures, The Incredible Marble machine and motorized armchair. That woman was having a great time.





Thursday May 08, 2008

Maker Faire 2008 - Part 4

Two shots of a steampunk motorcycle scooter (thanks Corey) and two electric bikes.

There was a camera providing a stereoscopic 3D effect, so I took a couple pictures of myself. Grab your anaglyph glasses for best viewing.

Here's Artoo-Detoo (that the adventurous of you can make for yourself). It's even better than the real thing (according to Gizmodo).

Robbie was there too, but a little less animated.

Winner of the cutest robot at the show (by far) is the Pleo. What you can't tell from the photo is that it's gently moving around (like it's trying to get comfy) and making endearing little noises. Also a picture of one that had been flayed.

This is what I want for Christmas. Or I'll take it as a gift. I'm not proud. Some examples of what you can make with it. Similar CNC PC controlled router for foam.

And finally a miscellaneous set. A really nice home made, computer driven etch-a-sketch.

The Hydraulic Flight Simulator

Outside they had a huge "pond" setup for robotic model warships to shoot at each other and fight to the death (more info). There was a large battleship under several inches of water still shooting away (shells now becoming torpedoes). The top part had come off. I guess the boards inside must of been waterproof although they didn't look it.

In the Dark Room there were several POV machines.

Last batch of photos tomorrow.





Wednesday May 07, 2008

Maker Faire 2008 - Part 3

My favorite glass bead maker Ralph McCaskey from Nightside Studios was back and giving more demonstrations. It looks like he's got Laser Vision in the second photo.

I got a nice surprise to discover that Catia Chen, one of the graphics artists who had a story in Flight - Volume 1, had a stand at the Faire showing off some of her works.

Purl Drums is an experiment intersecting two activities: drumming and knitting. For me, the experiment was a failure. From the looks he was getting from his fellow crafters, I don't think he was making too many friends.

The Bent Objects guy was back, with a piece of his work exhibited right outside the rest rooms.

Big Foot was also spotted.

It was impossible to get a clear picture of this from 20 feet away. Try to guess what the picture is made of before you get a closeup of the second image.

The Linux Astronomy project had a nice stand. Also see their website.

There were numerous examples of Steampunk at the show. This was one of the better ones. More Steampunk here.

Duncan got to try manipulating the camera (via radio control) attached to a kite that's normally used for aerial photography. There were numerous examples of pictures they'd taken on display. Check out their Flickr collective.

More tomorrow.





Tuesday May 06, 2008

Maker Faire 2008 - Part 2

Continuing on with more photos taken outside of the various exhibition halls.

Radio controlled metal spheres. A home-made miniature golf course (with realistic par settings for most holes) and a passenger pedal-powered bus (with an annoying guy on the megaphone near the back).

In the Steampunk area, long lines built up for Neverwas Haul.

"This steam-powered car is made of a 100-year-old dog cart, a steam cleaner tubing coil, a machined "sliding-D" valve, and steam-rated plumbing left over from the previous century."

The cupcakes were back, but due to the huge crowds, were regulated to being outside this year. I also got to see inside the S&M cupcake.

A couple activities for young kids. Shoot your rockets straight up and see if you can bonk somebody on the way down. Last year it was glueing pens on an old Merc. This years it's Lego bricks on an old jeep.

I'm not sure what this was supposed to be. A framework for a new kind of tent? A very insecure storage area? A New-Age play pen? We also have a tribute to our Govenator.

And finally. What do you do if you have a large surplus of old computer parts? You build your own Death Star.

More tomorrow.





Monday May 05, 2008

Maker Faire 2008 - Part 1

The first of a few posts, of pictures that were taken at the Maker Faire over the weekend. Somebody told me that the Chronicle called it "Burning Man Meets Martha Stewart". It was a lot more than that.

The crowds were huge. Ever bigger than last year. We'd prepaid for our tickets but the women behind the counter wasn't very efficient at checking off our names from a printed list. You'd think with all this advanced tech on show, that there could have been some sophisticated bar code scanning arrangement like Fandango uses. People who had tried to to the right thing, would have been through the gates in no time.

The first thing you see after entering the hall immediately behind the ticket gates is the Maker SHED. Lots of great things for sale. I ended up buying a "kit" which consisted of the Making Things Talk, an Arduino, a couple of sensors and various other electronic components for me to experiment with. Hopefully more on this as I get familiar with it. It's an unfortunate name and cover for the book. I'd seen it around for months but assumed it was about hacking toys and adding speech synthesis.

Duncan got a couple boxes of Uberstik. This was the first time I'd ever heard of them, but they've been engineered to interconnect with recycled materials such as straws, cocktail straws, icecream sticks, paper clips, water bottles,egg cartons, O-rings as well as other construction kits like Lego, KNeX and Erector. It'll be interesting to see what he comes up with.

We also bought a Blinkybug Kit.

I took lots of pictures. Lots of the exhibits from last year were here again. This year, I just tried to photograph different things. This first post is just some of the big things that were outside. Okay, and the little birdie that was so cute. I've got to wonder how they were delivered to the fairgrounds and how long it took for then to be erected.

Here's the burning woman at the show. Plus one of the Martians they didn't use in War of the Worlds.

More tomorrow.





Wednesday Apr 30, 2008

Airplane Flights Patterns Over The USA

A cool movie today from the APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) folks.

The movie depicts flight patterns that occurred over a few days in 2005 March. The count on the lower left shows the number of USA-related flights at the time listed on the lower right.

The major cities are beacons of light and the eastern seaboard just blazes at certain times of the day.

An excellent way of presenting the data.


Sunday Apr 20, 2008

Best Burger

To badly paraphrase Hugh Grant in that movie with Sandra Bullock, "how do you know? Have you tried them all?"

Okay, let me qualify that. This recipe for Jerk Pork Cheeseburgers with Green Apple Slaw was the winner (over hundreds of other recipes) in a burger contest in the March 2008 edition of the Every Day With Rachel Ray magazine.

We haven't tried any of the others, but this one is good. If you are following the recipe closely and are cooking 1 inch thick patties, make sure to give it all the time it says to cook, otherwise it'll be a little pink in the middle. When we cook this again, we are going for less meat (thinner patties). As I don't have a detachable jaw like some other animal species, it'll be easier to eat that way.


Thursday Apr 10, 2008

Blogging Break

Tomorrow I'm heading into the Sun Menlo Park campus for only the second time this year, for the SEED (Sun Engineering Enrichment and Development) talks. Jonathan will be one of the speakers (which is always interesting).

This period I'm also a mentor, so it'll give me a chance to catch up with my mentee in person.

And then next week Duncan is on his Spring break so I'm taking vacation as well, and we are planning a few day trips to local places of interest.

More blogging from me after that.


Tuesday Apr 08, 2008

TED Talks Online

Once a year, 1000 remarkable people gather in Monterey California to exchange something of incalculable value. Their ideas.

These TED talks are online and are recommended viewing.

Here's five to get you started:

(Thanks Kartik).




Wednesday Mar 26, 2008

Mortgage Spam

When we bought our current house about five years ago, we went for a five year adjustable mortgage. This came up for renewal recently and we used the same agent to renegotiate a similar mortgage, for which we signed the papers last Friday. We were approved today and everything will be completed tomorrow.

Over the last 3-6 months, because this mortgage is a matter of public record and mortgage companies know that we were going to need to setup a new one, we've been getting mortgage spam; dozens of letters from mortgage companies all claiming they have the best deal and lots of phone calls offering something similar. On average, we'd get about 25-30 letters a week and 5-10 phone calls.

Hopefully these will now all die off until we have to renegotiate again in five years time. Our current agent should still be around, so that'll make it fairly painless.

It's a pity that there isn't a physical equivalent to the way that spam filters can catch emails with junk like this in it.


Monday Mar 17, 2008

A Dog And His Ball Throwing Machine

Some things just make my day. That's one smart happy dog. As my wife points out, it wouldn't work for our dog Dusti. We'd need to invent a sock pulling machine.

(via the MAKE blog).



Dexter (Major Spoilers).

I previously mentioned that I was going to start watching Dexter now that it was being edited and shown again on CBS.

After the third episode I was hooked. Luckily you can get the original Showtime series #1 available on DVD.

I've now seen all of season 1. It's excellent!


Don't read any further if you haven't seen Dexter yet. Seriously. I'm going to give it away.

A friend also just watched the first series (just ahead of me). She described episode #8 as "Holy cow!". About Thursday last week, I started watching all the episodes "in bulk". Going into episode #8 I had two theories:

  1. That Dexter is the son of a serial killer. I wasn't sure if he was going to be related to the Ice Truck killer or not.

  2. After seeing episode #7, I though "Captain Hook" was the Ice Truck killer. "I studied human anatomy at ..." gave it away for me.

In episode #8 I thought the "Holy Cow" moment was that Dexter was going to tell all to the shrink. "I'm a serial killer". I didn't see that coming. I though he was then going to keep him in his confidence. I didn't think he was going to kill him. Got that wrong.

At the end of the episode of course, my second theory came true. That episode has to be some of the best TV I've ever seen.

The series finished nicely, wrapping up most things. You've got to wonder why Dexter's sister didn't taste menthol on her boyfriend before that moment on the yacht. He also seemed a tad too "normal" to me for a serial killer. I expected some kinds of noticeable idiosyncrasies.

They've left a couple of potential things that I guess will continue into the second series (Rita discovering her husband's missing shoe and having second thoughts about Dexter, and Sgt. Doakes continuing to get on Dexter's case).

I'm really looking forward to watching it.


Saturday Mar 15, 2008

The Nerd Test Version 2.0 Results says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

I need to work on my dorkiness.

The current fun facts are interesting:

249526 unique people have taken this test.

Based on these unique user's answers...

44.8% of test takers are gals,
53.1% are guys,
...the rest (2.1%) are confused.

17.1% of test takers get aroused by "iPhone," while
40.6% get utterly ill.

34.6% of all test takers would choose the Internet over sex, and
28.3% of married test takers prefer the Internet over sex.

Only 3.6% of test takers own a Jar Jar Binks t-shirt, though
56.0% of them don't own a lightsaber (priorities == messed up).

(thanks for the pointer Geoff).



Tuesday Mar 11, 2008

SXSW 2008 Music

This was dugg a couple of weeks ago, but I finally got around to downloading it over the weekend.

There is a web page giving not only the torrent location for the 2008 music, but torrents for previous years.

Unlike last year, I've now got all my ducks in a row and I easily downloaded it with ktorrent and burned a DVD with the nautilus CD/DVD Creator.

Again, it's an eclectic collection of free music. Almost 3.5GB from 764 artists. I haven't listened to it all yet, but if the quality is anything like last year, it's going to be wonderful.



Tuesday Jan 29, 2008

My Manager The Rock Star

Just when you think you're starting to get to know a person, you discover that they have a whole other life.

I'm talking about Harry Burks who manages the Accessibility Program Office plus a bunch of xDesign User Experience folks here at Sun. He also provides lead vocals, rhythm guitar, percussion and harmonicas for the Megatones.

If that isn't enough to raise his cool factor by an order of magnitude, then you should also know that the band recently won the KFOX Last Band Standing competition in 2007, for best cover band in the Bay Area!

Check out their performance, playing live on the Greg Kihn show in the KFOX studios back in November.








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