The Imagination Station in Toledo (where I was helping folks find the Good Noise™ all last December) is hosting their very own Mini Maker Faire this September. Great folks down there, and a great location along the river. I’ll be there all day with the Loud Lab (amplified Slinkies, simple DIY synths, electric diddley bows. and more)—so mark your calendar. And, if you’re a maker sorta a person, consider applying and showing off what you do (the application deadline is fast approaching).
The Humble “Makerspace” Book Bundle from No Starch Press is live an insanely good deal!Pay a buck, and get six rad DIY-ish books (including my first book—Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred—as well as a few of my No Starch favorites). Pay $8, and get another six books (including my second DIY book, Junkyard Jam Band).Pay a bit more…well, you get the picture.All in, you can drop $20 and get more than $400 worth of DIY while supporting excellent charities.
There are so many books I love in this one! Yoshihito Isogawa’s LEGO Technic books are both amazing and agelessly inspiring, Carlos Bueno’s Lauren Ipsum has been huge for my son (he read it twice in a row when it first came out, and still hits it again a few times a year now—it’s like the Information Age’s Phantom Tollbooth), No Starch’s Scratch and Arduino books are rock solid, and Jason R. Briggs’s Python for Kids is an excellent intro to Python for everyone (i.e., it’s how I learned enough Python to work on a documentation project with a U-M roboticist last year).
Also, I’ll level with you: These bundles (and book/game bundles in general) are a huge boost to authors/creators, both in getting our names and ideas out there, and in getting money into our pockets. When you buy a bundle like this, you’re doing a Good Thing™ for the dissemination of new art and human knowledge, in addition to getting a good deal.
You’ve no doubt already seen a news item about those Japanese teen-nympho sex monkeys rubbing up on adult male deer:
(Aside: Is anyone else weirded out that they always look at the camera? That doesn’t seem like happenstance. Like… is it… is it part of the kink for them? ’cause that makes me sorta feel… like, I don’t want to be made a part of this without my consent. That’s all I’m saying. I do not consent to this.)
Japanese macaques are known to ride deer like humans ride horses, for fun or transportation — behavior the deer seem to tolerate in exchange for grooming and discarded food.
So, just an FYI: Japanese monkeys are in the midst of domesticating deer—you know, for fun, or transportation, or (as we did before them) to increase their travel range and capacity to haul loads. Loads, like, I dunno, the lifeless bodies of the defenseless denizens of Tokyo, after marauding teen-nympho sex monkeys start raiding that once grand metropolis, charging in under cover of night astride their deer consorts, cutting us down, smashing our skulls, and feasting on the goo within!!! IT’S IN REVELATIONS, PEOPLE!!!
Anyway, point being they’re are only two ways this story ends, and neither of them is good. Our future is either this:
At first brush, this looks stupid—a 3d-printing solution for a cardboard-and-scotch-tape problem—but watch the video; this is fucking brilliant (given my general skepticism and snarkery about 3D printing, that constitutes high praise indeed):
This is a really fascinating video for anyone interested in the emergent complexities (and edge/corner-case failures) that inevitably arise when folks start fixing social problem with technology.It’s absolutely mandatory viewing for anyone who thinks they have a “simple” gun-control/gun-safety solution, especially one that involves “smart gun technology” (SPOILER ALERT: such solutions are not solutions at all).
Just as an aside, it seems a little over-cautious for WIRED to call these “potentially dangerous flaws” in the gun’s design:The gun can be fired by an unauthorized person in possession of the firearm (using magnets available at any hardware store), and it can also be disabled at a distance by an attacker with some minor soldering skills.Both of these hacks require very little skill (and not even all that much money) to execute now that the flaw is known.As such, the gun fails at both things it’s supposed to do (i.e., work in an an emergency and prevent unauthorized folks from making it work).The existence of these flaws guarantees that large agencies (military, law enforcement, etc.) will never use these unreliable solutions, and thus the price won’t come down due to economies of scale.
This smart gun is, at best, a novelty—and there is no reason to believe that any of the other early generation technologies will be any better until there is a fundamental change in how these are designed and engineered (e.g., the design needs to be open and companies need to start offering very high bounties for finding hacks, so that guys like the fella in the video have an incentive to buy these things as soon as they hit the market and start tearing them down).
This is a commercial/charitable fundraising situation. The Humble Bundle folks and No Starch Press have bundled together a bunch of awesome books. Pay as little as $1 to get a few, $8 to get a bunch, and $15 to get them all. If you go in at the $15 level, you get ~$300 in books (all digital, all in multiple formats, all totally DRM-free, so you can read them however and wherever you like). It’s a really awesome deal (I bought plenty of Humble Bundles way before I ever was part of one—and, I’ll be straight with you: Being part of one as an author is a really big boon for me, too; my last Humble Bundle put an additional 30,000 copies of my book in front of eager makers, and helped me make enough money to stay afloat that year).
Even if you only drop a buck for the first five books, you’re getting some great stuff—Medieval LEGO is fun, the Scratch book is solid, and my son loved Lauren Ipsum (which is sort of a modern computer-science take on Phantom Tollbooth; he’s easily read it a half dozen times). Moving up to the $8 tier doesn’t just get you my book (which regularly sets you back ~$20), but also two of my favorite intro programming books (I learned Python from Teach Your Kids to Code, and Scratch Programming Playground is what taught my kid to code) and a really great manga book that’ll explain electricity to anyone. And, of course, going whole hog just piles on the awesomeness (again, I’m especially pleased to see a couple DIY hands-on electronics books here, especially since Arduino has gotten so dirt-cheap to get into). Every purchase doesn’t just benefit my publisher and me, but also Teach for America.