Make: Online

Your Desktop Dining Tips (and Cooking for Geeks Giveaway)

Let’s face it, a large majority of us eat at our desks. I eat nearly all of my meals here (and my keyboard is crummy enough to prove it!). And I not only eat within my work flow, I frequently rush the food prep (especially Breakfast and Lunch) to get back to the ‘board as quickly as possible. Both of these behaviors run counter to my increasing desire to eat healthier. So, I’ve at least been trying to make sure it’s better food that I’m snatching and grabbing in a mad dash back to my desk. Lately, I’ve been making tomato/basil, almond butter and banana, and cucumber sandwiches, on a really good bread and with low-fat mayo (on the veggie sandwiches). These are amazingly tasty and really good for you.

So, we’d like to hear some of your desktop dining favorites and tips for cooking decent food quickly (and ideally making healthier choices under these less-than-optimal dining conditions). And yes, it goes without saying that we’d all be better off taking a break, eating at a table, eating outside, etc. I’m trying to get better about that, too.

We’ll be doing a drawing of two of your comments/tips below and giving out copies of Cooking for Geeks, Jeff Potter’s awesome book that we’ve been excerpting from for our food theme. The drawing period will extend until midnight PDT on Sunday night (6/5/11). Winners will be announced on Monday. We’ll assemble the best desktop dining tips into a follow up article.

In the Maker Shed:
Cooking for Geeks
Jeff Potter, O’Reilly, 2010
Are you the innovative type, the cook who marches to a different drummer, used to expressing your creativity instead of just following recipes? Are you interested in the science behind what happens to food while it’s cooking? Do you want to learn what makes a recipe work so you can improvise and create your own unique dish? Author Jeff Potter has done the cubicle thing, the startup thing, and the entrepreneur thing, and through it all maintained his sanity by cooking for his friends.


Walled Gardens vs. Makers

Cory Doctorow Make Free Volume 25
Cory Doctorow Make Free

When I was a grub, we traded in forbidden knowledge: “If you unscrew the receiver on a pay phone and short the screws on the back of the speaker by touching them to the chrome on the side of the phone, you get an open dial tone.”

Or: “Here is how you fold an origami crane.” Or: “Thus and so and thus and so, and now you’ve taken the motor out of your old tape recorder and attached it to your Meccano set.” Or: “If you POKE this address on your Commodore PET, you’ll shut the machine down.” The knowledge diffused slowly, and each newly discovered crumb was an excitement and cause for celebration.

Today, as a nearly senescent 39-year-old, I look back on that period with a kind of wonder and dismay. I knew ten interesting things I could do with the gadgets, devices, and materials around me, and I thought myself rich. I knew that the Whole Earth Catalog, the Amok catalog, Paladin Press, and other purveyors of big secrets could send me dozens of new interesting things in mere weeks.

Thinking on my collection of hacks in those dim, pre-internet days, I’m reminded of the book fanciers of the Middle Ages who might, in a lifetimes, amass five or ten books and think themselves well-read.

Because, of course, today I have millions of hacks and tips and tricks and ideas at my fingertips, thanks to the internet and the tools that run on top of it. When I invent or discover something, I immediately put it on the net. And when I find myself in a corner of the world that is not to my liking, I Google up some hack that someone else has put on the net and apply it or adapt it to my needs.

Making, in short, is not about making. Making is about sharing. The reason we can make so much today is because the basic knowledge, skills, and tools to make anything and do anything are already on the ground, forming a loam in which our inspiration can germinate.

Consider the iPad for a moment. It’s true that Apple’s iTunes Store has inspired hundreds of thousands of apps, but every one of those apps is contingent on Apple’s approval. If you want to make something for the iPad, you pay $99 to join the Developer Program, make it, then send it to Apple and pray. If Apple smiles on you, you can send your hack to the world. If Apple frowns on you, you cannot.

What’s more, Apple uses code signing to restrict which apps can run on the iPad (and iPhone): if your app isn’t blessed by Apple, iPads will refuse to run it. Not that it’s technically challenging to defeat this code signing, but doing so is illegal, thanks to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it a crime to circumvent a copyright-protection technology. So the only app store — or free repository — that can legally exist for Apple’s devices is the one that Apple runs for itself.

Some people say the iPad is a new kind of device: an appliance instead of a computer. But because Apple chose to add a thin veneer of DRM to the iPad, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act applies here, something that’s not true of any “appliance” you’ve ever seen. It’s as if Apple built a toaster that you can only use Apple’s bread in (or face a lawsuit), or a dishwasher that will only load Apple’s plates.

Apple fans will tell you that this doesn’t matter. Hackers can simply hack their iPads or shell out $99 to get the developer license. But without a means of distributing (and receiving) hacks from all parties, we’re back in the forbidden-knowledge Dark Ages — the poverty-stricken era in which a mere handful of ideas was counted as a fortune.

Cory Doctorow’s latest novel is Makers (Tor Books U.S., HarperVoyager U.K.). He lives in London and co-edits the website Boing Boing.

This column first appeared in MAKE Volume 23 (July 2010), on page 16.

From the pages of MAKE Volume 23:
MAKE Volume 23, Gadgets
This special issue is devoted to machines that do delightful and surprising things. In it, we show you how to make a miniature electronic Whac-a-Mole arcade game, a tiny but mighty see-through audio amp, a magic mirror that contains an animated soothsayer, a self-balancing one-wheeled Gyrocar, and the Most Useless Machine (as seen on The Colbert Report!). Plus we go behind the scenes and show you how Intellectual Ventures made their incredible laser targeting mosquito zapper — yes, it’s real, and you wish you had one for your patio barbecue. All this and much, much more.


News From The Future: Theft Impossible

Pt 101064

As more devices are “always on” and have geolocative features (either built in or by network access) it’s going to be harder for anyone to actually steal and keep any type of laptop, Kindle, phone, tablet. My iPhone can be located if it’s lost/stolen – it’s built in now with an added service, and there’s a story a month it seems about someone getting their laptop back because they have some type of recovery program. Some tech savvy thieves will try to completely wipe systems, but if you have a firmware password (laptops) it will be more difficult.

Eventually all of this will be built in to everything and when something is lost or stolen you’ll remotely disable it or collect enough information to recover it. RFID/NFC is also being added to the mix in more devices and other “objects”. These “objects” will end up on social networks, and yes – we’ll see them say things like “help, I’ve been stolen”. Most devices aren’t made to be taken apart, it will not be like cars where there’s a chop-shop value. It will be so cheap and pervasive, everything will be lojack-able.

The real problem will be enforcement and resources.

When a burglar stole Joshua Kaufman’s laptop, the police wouldn’t help him find it - so he turned to the Internet.

“I came home late on a Monday night in March, and someone had broken into my apartment through my window,” Kaufman, an Oakland, Calif. resident, told the Daily News. The thief made off with his MacBook, his Kindle, and a few pieces of jewelry, stuffed into a computer bag.

Kaufman called the police who filed a report on the incident, but they quickly shelved the case as a low priority. Luckily, he also remembered he had installed a security program on his computer called “Hidden,” which works to track a stolen device by triangulating its location and taking photographs with the computer’s camera.

He didn’t see anything for a few days after activating the program, but then he hit the jackpot.”The following Thursday I started getting images and location information,” he said. “I was amazed. I was like, this thing actually works!”

Using this information, Kaufman was able to tie the man to a cab company affiliated with the email address he entered, and pinpoint his location to within just a few blocks. “I was excited, honestly,” Kaufman said, thinking he’d cracked the case and police would be able to “nail him.” But they brushed the evidence off, explaining they didn’t have the manpower to pursue it despite the leads.

….“We have about 2400 theft reports that come in per month, and 3 theft investigators,” Joshi said, explaining the case fell off their list due to “an oversight on the reviewer’s part.” After two months of ignoring Kaufman’s information, Oakland police kicked the search into high gear on Tuesday night and were able to nab the man caught on camera.

In this latest example it appears the laptop was recovered after all the media attention.


DIY Open Source Inkjet Printer

The prototype design used a carriage assembly constructed from steel rods that were assembled using connectors that can be printed on an FDM machine. The entire carriage system is driven along the x-axis by a belt attached to a stepper motor. The print cartridge, taken from an HP point of sale printer, is driven along the y-axis by another stepper motor belt drive. The electronic controls use an Arduino Mega to run all of the printing systems.

The design resulted in a working prototype that fulfills all of the design constraints. The rod frame carriage design is lightweight, easy to assemble and easy to integrate with the other systems. The Arduino used in the electronics has a large library of resources available to perform things like LCD, SD card, and stepper control.
Areas where future work should be focused include making molds and casting printable parts to bring down the overall cost, developing host side software, and optimizing the speed.

Read the blog post and see the project’s Flickr set the Thingiverse thing.

[Via Dangerous Prototypes]


How-To: Strike Anywhere Matches

Norwegian maker benny8025 shows us how to make strike anywhere matches by scraping the phosphorus off of a match box strike zone and affixing the powder to the match heads. The second half of the video tours us through many varied objects on which to strike your new matches. There’s also an Instructable to go with the video. After you make your matches strike-anywhere, go ahead and dip them in wax to make a water-resistant pack of survival matches.



Free Irising Business Card Template

New in the Maker Shed: Microcontroller Quick Launch Pack

Microcontroller QuickLaunch Pack
Do you want to get started with Arduino but don’t want to drop a bunch of cash? Do you want to get a good assortment of components without putting an addition on your workbench to house them? The Microcontroller Quick Launch Pack from the Maker Shed is just what you need! The pack comes with an Arduino Uno, a Maker Shield, the Mintronics Survival Pack, 65 jumper wires, a transparent solderless breadboard, and the Getting Started with Arduino PDF. It has everything you need to get started today!


Circuit Skills: PWM (Pulse Width Modulation), sponsored by Jameco Electronics

Another clever trick from the world of electronics – Pulse Width Modulation is a simple method for controlling analog devices via a digital signal. It’s also a very efficient way to drive motors, lamps, LEDs, & more.

If you’ve ever faded an LED with an Arduino – you’ve used PWM. But you don’t need a microcontroller to generate a PWM signal. The ever-versatile 555 timer chip can be configured to modulate its output duty cycle in response to a potentiometer – with the help of some relatively simple circuitry. Or for a more robust solution, consider the DC to Pulse Width Modulator kit suitable for sending up to 6.5A of current and built around the Motorola SG3525 – a chip dedicated to the art of PWM.

Oh and – I’d be denying my own nature if I didn’t mention at least one audio-related application. Indeed, PWM comes in very handy for generating simple sound from a microcontroller – melodies too!

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube and Vimeo.


Solar Ping Pong Dot Matrix Display

Michael Zoellner of Erlangen, Germany, created this display out of solar-powered lights with ping-pong-ball diffusers.

The pixels of the 5×3 dot matrix type are arranged in two layers on a grid. Thus they are only readable from a position in front of them. Viewed from other position looks like random arranged light dots of a led chain.


Laser Cutting Glow-in-the-dark Plastic

A few years back, before I worked for MAKE, I had some business cards laser cut and blogged about it. Every so often, somebody runs across them and e-mails asking for helping making their own. I always refer them to Angus Hines, who’s a good friend, a Maker Faire regular, and the best (and least expensive) CNC contractor I know. Recently, Angus was hired by Frank Anselmo Eco to laser-cut some business cards from glow-in-the-dark sheet plastic, which is a pretty cool idea, IMHO. But the reason it’s on MAKE is the sweet lights-out video Angus shot of the laser-cutting action; check out how the phosphorescent plastic continues to glow for several seconds behind each cut. [Thanks, Angus!]


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