Arduino: The Documentary

Posted by on January 9th, 2011

This 30min documentary covers not just the origin of the Arduino, but how it’s helped create the MakerBot (which is getting a lot of attention at CES) and other interesting designs in hackerspaces across the globe.

It’s also worth pointing out the Practical Arduino book and blog, co-authored by Jon Oxer (who we’ve featured here before for his RFID implant.)

via Mark Pesce


Posted by on May 13th, 2010

Will the real Facebook killer please stand-up?  Diaspora is the latest hat being thrown in the ring to save us all from the evils of Facebook and it’s privacy-busting, corporate-favouring, people-hating walled garden.

Especially as many people, following this Gizmodo post, have jumped that wall and are looking for an alternative.

Here’s the two videos that have been circulating, if you haven’t seen them already:

It’s a little thin on exact details.  All they really say on their site is that “current implementations include GPG encryption, scraping Twitter and Flickr.. and the initial stages of connection infrastructure (“friending” other Diaspora instances).”

UPDATE: This video explains the basic idea of their service in more depth:

You have to admit this is pretty fucking future though.  A crowd-funded, open-source Facebook-killer perfectly timed to ride the backlash wave against it’s um, evolving, notion of privacy.  Making the Kickstarter campaign quickly go viral and reach over 1000% of their target.

Still, I can’t help remembering the buzz around the launch of Equally open-sourced and federated, this Twitter-killer was created back when Twitter was falling down on a regular basis?  (Wait.. what do you mean it still is?)  Anyone..?!  Exactly.

And given recent events, things could get messy quickly if they try to import data from Facebook in a manner they take exception to.

Nonetheless, I’m crossing my fingers for this project’s success.  I’ll even go so far as to say I’ll happily pay a subscription fee if they include data hosting;  my subscription fee for a pro-account with flickr is coming up and I’d much rather scrape that clean and store everything in my own cloudlet.

MikroKopter – HexaKopter

Posted by on February 12th, 2010

The MikroKopter, as presented by Holger Buss. The many-bladed copter can carry a small camera, and you can build one yourself following the wiki!

Thanks to heresy bob, who sent me the link via twitter!

The year 3D Printing mainstreams

Posted by on January 8th, 2010

Over the holidays my Grandmother asked me to explain Twitter to her. To me, that marks the point at which Twitter has utterly and completely permeated society. From arguably being on the nerd-fringe at the beginning of 2009, to the punchline on Letterman by years end.

My prediction is that 3D Printers (or fabricators) will be the next to make this journey. Forget the iTablet (future destroyer of the magazine/newspaper industry), a friend with a MakerBot or RepRap is what you’ll be wanting when that Ikea-bought lamp breaks and you need to cheaply repair or re-purpose it.

So here’s a short interview with Bre Pattis about MakerBot, and the hacker space that spawned it, NYC Resistor:

Now have a flick through the site they mention, Thingiverse.

Another site to keep an eye on, The Product Bay.

Open-source zealots? Sure.. but this won’t be going away. Like Joe Rogan said right after his UFC co-host read out the full FBI Warning against piracy: “you can’t fight the internet baby”. Today’s pirated content is tomorrow’s pirated products.

Meanwhile, Shapeways – the experiment in fabricating-on-demand by Philips – continues to improve their ability to instantiate your designs. Check out this copyright infringing awesome grey alien!

Eye Tagging

Posted by on October 1st, 2009

LA graffiti writer Tony, aka TemptOne, has a rare neuromuscular disease that has caused progressive muscle weakness and eventual paralysis. Despite not being able to move a muscle, his eyes still function normally. With the help of the Not Impossible Foundation, he was once again able to get back to work:

Video via F.A.T. (Free Art & Technology), where the project phases are shown. Since the Not Impossible Foundation is open source and non-profit, the source code for this device could be used by anyone.

Thanks to Joseph Holsten for the link!

Musical Engineerity – Want robots to be musical, creative, and expressive?

Posted by on December 4th, 2008

Musician/ roboticists Dan Paluska and Jeff Lieberman constructed a web-connected “robotic mechanical orchestra” that plays a marimba by firing rubber balls out of a cannon, strikes traditional percussion instruments, and also rubs mechanical fingers along wine glasses. The machine, Absolut Quartet, uses artificial intelligence to creatively riff on melodies composed remotely by users on the web.

“At the core, the machine is just motors, metal, and software,” say the MI T alums. “However, the design of these elements gives the whole machine a ‘personality’ and this is what allows a creative dialog to exist between the machine and the online user.”

Link via

RepRap – the DIY, Open-Source Fabricator achieves self-replication!

Posted by on June 4th, 2008

From the RepRap site:

RepRap replication

RepRap achieved self-replication at 14:00 hours UTC on 29 May 2008 at Bath University in the UK. The machine that did it – RepRap Version 1.0 “Darwin” – can be built now – see the Make RepRap Darwin link there or on the left, and for ways to get the bits and pieces you need, see the Obtaining Parts link.

This is neat-o! A key step forward for the Future. Generation One of the People’s Fabricator has arrived!

Now to improve upon it, and distribute the means of production world-wide.

Oh, sorry, should I knock-off the Neo-Marxism, and tell you more about this beauty?

RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right – a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer builds the component up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn’t even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €400). That way it’s accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can make another and give it to a friend…

From here, it will continue to get more and more interesting! Excellent work RepRap!!!

via mech_angel

Verizon picks Linux – a step towards our Open Source future

Posted by on May 15th, 2008

Verizon has announced they will carry Linux-based phones, developed using the LiMo platform:

The LiMo platform includes a wide range of infrastructure components and high-level application reference implementations and is designed so that individual parts can be easily modified or replaced. The application user interface framework is built on top of GTK , the widget toolkit used by the GNOME desktop environment. In addition to supporting native application development, LiMo will also offer a Java SDK and support for building widget-like applications in HTML and JavaScript on top of the WebKit HTML renderer. The first LiMo-based handsets will reach the market later this year.

Translation for the non-CodeMonkey’s: highly configurable software, building off a solid code base. This should make it a lot easier for the average user to customize their handset; it will let anyone that’s been mucking around on the web easily able to write little applications for their phone.

In fact, I think we will see a lot of activity here, as open-source clients written for the web (say Second Life for example) are ported over; solidifying the phone’s position as the main interface to the internet.

The other interesting part here is that they’ve chosen LiMo over Google’s Android project. Specifically because:

Google’s Android platform offers a higher level of consistency and interoperability because its application stack is built with a single cohesive API on top of a managed code system, but it doesn’t support native applications, which means that it is less flexible and existing Linux applications can’t be ported to run on it. The LiMo platform will provide a wider range of development options for software developers and will likely be a bit more fragmented because handset makers and mobile carriers will have more control over the capabilities of the system on their individual devices.

Wait, so they are saying LiMo will still give vendors the application lock-out powers they use to charge users ridiculous sums? Oh jeez, well that’s just terrible.

OK, so let’s say people do write killer applications for the LiMo platform? I see a repeat of the iPhone unlock game then.

Come on Mega Corps, won’t you think of the people for once, instead of looking for every little way to control and make money off of them?! Yeah, didn’t think so!