Catching up

Sit down!  Stay a while!  It's time we talked

Sit down! Stay a while! It’s time we talked

Hey!  It’s been a while since we’ve talked! ((Photo courtesy of Scott Beale))

Hopefully you’ll excuse the rambling nature of this post.  :)  A fair bit has changed recently.  I started a new day job1 in June, but not after taking off all of May and arranging for this last week off.

May was fun, especially Maker Faire and taking the time to go on little field trips.  I got my drawing robot in working order, put together a website dedicated to drawing robots, and drew some really cool things.  I’ve even got some stories from Maker Faire to share with you.

1. A Little Story

I had a number of drawings on display in my Maker Faire booth.  I had some Doctor Who related things, a Yoda, a Death Star, a Tesla, a House Stark dire wolf, and a number of other things.  In particular, one was a big blue TARDIS I had taped to the chain link “wall” and I was working on drawing a dalek.

Then this guy walks up with some friends, asked me a few questions, and then asked me how much for the TARDIS and dalek.  I told him that I wasn’t really selling them and that the dalek was only about 75% done – and it would need another hour or two to finish.

He turns to his friend and says, “Hey, how much do you have on you?  $110?”  Then, he says to me, “I’ll give you $110 for both right now.”  I told him he had a deal – but that the dalek was still an hour or two from being done.  He said he liked it just the way it was.  What the hell, who am I to stand between a man and his Doctor Who-themed robot drawings?  I stopped the robot, pulled down the drawings, rolled them up, and took the man’s money.

2. Another Little Story

At Maker Faire I drew two pictures for other Makers.  One was for the guys from Wikipedia who asked me if I could draw a big poster of the Wikipedia logo.  They e-mailed me an SVG of their logo and I was happy to draw it up.  Although I was still figuring out how best to draw non-TSP SVG files, it turned out really well.

The next drawing was for a fellow maker and good friend, Chris Connors, who needed a banner/poster for his booth for How2Today.  He sketched out a few tiny logos in Sharpie on a piece of paper, I took a picture with my cell phone, and I drew a big giant version of his logo.  I’m working on putting together a tutorial to help you do this too.  :)

3. Crane Project

I’m about 26% done folding 1,000 cranes.  I kinda stalled out on this project over the last few weeks.  However, now that I’m back from a vacation I’m hoping to revisit this project and get it back on track.

Okay, that’s it for a catch up post.  More soon!

  1. I say “day job” to differentiate what I do as my vocation versus what I do with the rest of my time []

You know there’s something wrong when…

My office is about two blocks from a grocery store and many days I’ll just walk out there and grab a sandwich from the deli.  As I was walking back I thought of something I might want to blog…  but none of my current blogs1 was particularly appropriate for this notion.  For a full minute I actually toyed with the idea of starting a fourth.

Which, of course, is just pure madness.  There’s no damn reason for one man to blog in four places across the internet. 234

Thankfully that moment of madness has passed and I have no recollection of the thought which prompted me to taste insanity just before my turkey wrap.5

  1. I post two places regularly and on a third site very infrequently. []
  2. Unless, of course, schizophrenia counts as “reason.”  And, I’m pretty sure it’s the opposite. []
  3. Or close enough to the opposite of reason when one considers the appropriate number of blogs per capita. []
  4. One man, one vote, and one blog seems about right. []
  5. Except for the lingering knowledge that I had some thought/idea that was so compelling I might actually decide to spin up a fourth blog. []

WordPress makes all the difference

…I don’t care what FakeGrimlock says.1

I finally updated the WordPress installation on this other blog of mine2  I’ve more or less neglected that other blog for almost two years – about as long as this blog has been in existence.   ;)  In any case, one side effect of not having an updated WordPress installation is that that other blog couldn’t take advantage of all the cool new features that make writing a blog much easier.

I’ve been using WordPress for about 4.5 years now and it has come an amazingly long way in this time.  The ability to quickly search for and add links to prior posts is pretty huge.  Anyhow, my point with this is that creating a post with a newer installation of WordPress is so much easier that I might actually start blogging on that other site more. 3 4

  1. No matter how hurtful it is… []
  2. Yeah, I know.  Three blogs?!  It’s true!  But, it’s far less frequently updated – more on this in a second []
  3. But, believe me, it’s far less interesting. []
  4. As if that were possible amirite?! []

This is #650

This is the 650th post on this blog in the 18 or so months since its launch.  As of this moment, very early on Monday morning, there’s 283 posts over at the MakerBot blog authored by yours truly.  That’s 933 posts in the 497 days since I started blogging here on 11/23/2009.  That’s about 1.88 posts a day, every day, on average.  Some of it is even about 3D printing stuff.  ;)

I wonder what a pie chart of this website’s content would look like?  Probably something like:

I’d rather be making

Part way into all nighter for work, I can’t help but think that I’d rather be making right now.

<Please forgive the rambling post.  It’s late and I’m trying desperately to not do actual work.>

I was having a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago about hobbies.  A mutual friend of ours has a number of hobbies – going to basketball games, going to the movies, watching professional sports in general.  What occurred to me is that my hobbies are actually qualitatively different from his.  I’m not saying necessarily better in any way, but certainly more fitting to who I am.  These activities – watching professional sports, going to the movies – are consumptive hobbies.  They’re about passively consuming an experience.

My hobbies are rather varied.  I enjoy blogging1 , programming and WordPress plugin writing2 , origami3 , tinkering with my robots4 , making toys and gadgets, inventing little improvements or hacks for things around the house.  It’s been a while, but I even sew a little if the occasion calls for it.  This isn’t to say I avoid consumptive activities – I very much enjoy reading and watching certain TV shows.

It occurs to me that blogging is both consumptive and productive.  Blogging tends to include a lot of commentary on what others are doing.  The amazing thing about blogging about 3D printing is that there are SO many amazing people doing SO many amazing things.  As Erik is quick to point out, the amount of content generated about 3D printing has been rapidly increasing of late.  It really feels like every single day I can tune into the RepRap feed or check out Thingiverse for something truly awesome.  I suppose getting to actually print out some of the things other people are in the process of designing also makes it a participatory and even community sort of activity.

Almost a month after Botacon I’m still corresponding intermittently with the people I met there.  My day job, as I’ve alluded to, has nothing whatsoever to do with tech. 5  So, getting to meet so many people who are also intensely interested in the same things I am was just amazing.  I can’t wait for the next MakerFaire and the next Botacon after that.

Speaking of meeting people in real life…  So the day before Botacon I showed up early at the Botcave and hung out all day long.  It was a lot of fun meeting IRL the people I have watched in videos and read about on various blogs.  What surprised me, and what continues to surprise me is when I meet people who have read the things I’ve written.  Writing/blogging is a solitary and contemplative act for me.  Perhaps even therapeutic/cathartic.6  I would say that in person I probably come across as pretty much the same guy as who writes this nonsense.  In person I’m probably slightly more gregarious and alternatively self-deprecating and self-aggrandizing.  Though, through this blog and the MakerBot blog I tend to overshare a little. 7  Then again, I suppose it’s better left up to the people I met to say whether I came across as the same guy they read about.

Where was I headed with all of this?

Oh!  I remember.  So, I tend to overshare through writing where I probably wouldn’t in person – perhaps precisely because writing is a contemplative act.  The upshot is that when I meet people who have read what I’ve written it gets surreal as they reference the things I’ve written.  It’s an odd sensation.  It is probably like what an amnesiac feels like.  Part way into a conversation you’re talking to someone you kinda know as they reference things that only a friend would know. 8910

Wow.  Tony Buser just tweeted that he sped up his STL rendering engine by a factor of 100.  It’s working too.  I brought up a big STL file no problem.  I don’t know if you’ve checked it out, but it is THE way to view the best Voltron-themed Leonardo Robot derivative on Thingiverse.  Holy cow – one downside – it absolutely CRUSHES my netbook.

Speaking of Voltron…  I’m dying to print a new Leonardo Robot an augment it with those Voltron bits.  I spent my free time this weekend tinkering with my Thing-O-Matic and using my Cupcake to print off sonic screwdriver parts.  Some friends were over with their son a few months ago and he started to play with the Leo Robot.  What the heck, here kid, keep it.  I’ll make another.  ;)  The unfortunate upshot is that I’m Voltron-less.

Then again, I keep meaning to come back to that design and refine it.  I’d like to install Beco block style connectors into the wrists and shoulders for more range of movement.  Ideally, I’d separate out parts that could be printed in different colors.  Each of the lions has white parts for the jaws and, depending upon which version you’re looking at, either white or metallic legs and tails.  For some reason I seem to feel the white is more fitting.  In any case, in the perfect version of this Voltron I’d have the lion bodies printed up in white with the colored bits in a separate file for clipping onto the body parts.

Okay, more nonsense later.  :)

  1. Can you tell? []
  2. Though, I haven’t had much time for these of late. []
  3. Again, not something I’ve had time for lately []
  4. Plural!!! []
  5. What’s my day job?  Oh, nothing much.  Just being an international man of mystery. []
  6. At least, that’s what my therapist tells me. []
  7. Okay, okay.  A lot. []
  8. Yes, it is true.  You, dear reader, are my only friend. []
  9. Since we’re such good friends and all, can I borrow a five-spot? []
  10. Who the hell says five-spot any more?  I think that’s a bit of left-over lingo from reading Archie comics as a kid.  Natch. []

Happy Birthday to me!

On December 15, 2009 I purchased this domain name and started blogging about my MakerBot, “Bender.” 1

It has been a fun, wild year of blogging.  I started off pelting everyone on the MakerBot Operators’ group with questions, then started posting here a bit, then started posting here A LOT.

As I’ve mentioned, I don’t have any tech background at all.  I just try to make up for that with enthusiasm and a willingness to (let’s say, aptitude for) making a fool of myself.  I was gushing about 3D printing the other day and one of my co-workers asked why I don’t work in some some kind of tech field.  My response was that my real dream job would be to get paid to make and do cool, awesome, and clever things all the time.  2

I’ve had a really great time blogging here for the last year and over at MakerBot for the last three and a half months. 3  I get to write about all the stupid things I’ve done (and warn people how not to ) and the all awesome and cool things other people are doing.  The comments have been especially awesome – with people offering insight, advice, and <cringe> corrections. 4

So!  Thank you for your advice and suggestions and encouragement!  With a little luck, we’ll see another post like this next year!

  1. You may notice a few posts from just before that date.  That happened because I had originally purchased a different domain name and blogged there before settling on MakerBlock.com. []
  2. Mind, doing clever things is my dream job.  In reality, I’d try to do clever things and end up doing silly entertaining things. []
  3. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too! []
  4. It’s basically been my dream job.  :) []

I’d rather be blogging

I’m stuck at work.

I read a Penny Arcade post this morning that made me smile.

Humans are always asking us if we ever get tired of doing “Penny Arcade,” which is a reasonable question, but from here inside the mechanism it doesn’t all hook up conceptually. It would be like asking if we get tired of eating “food.” The one thing you may rely upon when it comes to our work is that it will be

1. self-indulgent,

though it may also be gruesome or oblivious, or gruesome and oblivious, depending on the day. “Penny Arcade” doesn’t have a firm definition, it’s a container object that represents our generalized creative output. We make whatever we want to make, which (luckily for us) generally means .jpegs about videogames, but it can also be morality plays about imps and businesscats, samurai with paper tubes, technoir, or any other Goddamned thing. I don’t entirely know how it works, and I don’t entirely know why you stay, but this arrangement appears to work for both of us. And, as I have suggested on many other occasions, you can’t beat the price.

You have to love that.  Every day these guys get up at the crack of noon (or whatever time they’ve chosen to brave the new day), do what they love all day long, and then begin anew.  I mean, can you imagine?  They do what they want, what they would do anyhow, and people love it!1

Now, I consider myself a lucky guy, don’t get me wrong.  I have a great family, good friends, everyone is healthy, good job working with people I like, I can pay my bills, and I have some free time to devote to doing whatever random things occur to me.  I’m probably the happiest and luckiest guy you’ve ever met.2   :)

However, I think my existence is more like Cicero from Gladiator than like Tycho and Gave from Penny Arcade.3

Sorry for the wistful/melancholy post.

Long day (and going to be a lOnNnNnNg night) at work.  :)

  1. It must be like being Tom Green. []
  2. And most modest. []
  3. Maximus: You don’t find it hard to do your duty?

    Cicero: Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to.

    []