Punk tech versus consumer tech

The interview I recently did for the Working Together Podcast is live.

Here's a link to the episode with lots of detailed shownotes on Stefan's Working Together blog.

We talked about my upbringing, the Maker Movement, "punk tech" versus "consumer tech", the blockchain, and some of the books and mentors who have inspired me over the years.

If you like what you hear, you can subscribe to his show through the usual directories: iTunesGoogle PlayStitcherTuneIn and so on.

The host of the show, Stefan, also encouraged anyone using iTunes to rate and review the podcast as he welcomes your feedback and support, and it helps the show get discovered by more listeners! Read the rest

Dial-a-Grue: play Zork with nothing but an old phone

The first iteration of Dial-a-Grue, in 2011, was to kit out an old rotary dial phone with an embedded computer and text-to-speech engine so that you could play Zork with nothing but the handset. The new, 2.0 version of the project, is "to port Zork I (via a z-code interpreter) to an embedded platform, and enclose that and an old modem inside a telephone, so that the game can be played from a teletype, TDD, or old computer with an acoustically coupled modem." (via JWZ) Read the rest

Crazy "Slip N Slide"-esque contraption made from clothesline and electric motor

Daniel Jacob and friends "built a spinning water slide ride for Australia Day down at the river in Canberra."

Below, a 1980s TV commercial for the original Slip N Slide. Which one looks more fun?

Read the rest

Make: an Arduino-based soda vending machine that fits in your school locker

Mistablik is an American high-school student who put his mind to finding alternate uses for the lockers that lined his school's hallways -- lockers that sit empty as students switch over to electronic textbooks -- and decided to build a tiny, secure, Arduino-based vending machine that would sell soda to his fellow students. Read the rest

Three states considering "right to repair" laws that would decriminalize fixing your stuff

Section 1201 of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act makes it both a crime and a civil offense to tamper with software locks that control access to copyrighted works -- more commonly known as "Digital Rights Management" or DRM. As the number of products with software in them has exploded, the manufacturers of these products have figured out that they can force their customers to use their own property in ways that benefit the company's shareholders, not the products' owners -- all they have to do is design those products so that using them in other ways requires breaking some DRM. Read the rest

Bake: a pixel-art Mario pie for National Pie Day

Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin (aka @ThePieous) writes, "It is National Pie Day in America tomorrow (not to be confused with "International Pi Day" - the cooler big cousin of pie holidays on March 14th...) In honour of this occasion I've posted a new tutorial video that is very attainable for any novice pie-geeks out there thinking about whipping something up nifty. It features our favourite 8 bit plumber hero, with a special guest appearance at the end." Read the rest

Portal for the Apple ][+, //e and related systems

Vince Weaver is reimplementing Portal -- "the cake acquisition simulator released in 2007" -- to the Apple II series of computers, bit by bit -- inspired by the fact that the Apple II hires mode has "the perfect Aperture Science orange and blue colors." He's released a disc image of the game in Apple Basic, as well as sourcecode. Read the rest

A book about London's gorgeous, brutalist architecture includes dainty DIY papercraft models to make yourself

Brutal London: Construct Your Own Concrete Capital tells the stories of nine of London's greatest brutalist structures (with an intro by Norman Foster!), including the Barbican Estate, Robin Hood Gardens, Balfron Tower and the National Theatre -- and includes pull-out papercraft models of these buildings for you to assemble and display. Read the rest

Here be dragons: Thrifted Ikea dresser remade with graphite paper and woodburning kit

Lorraine Andrusiak couldn't get a new Ikea Moppe dresser in Canada, but she found this one in a thrift store, marred by a thick, ugly coat of paint; so she stripped the paint, transferred vintage sea-monster art with graphite paper, and burned the decorations into the wood -- the result is gorgeous. Read the rest

Artisans revive the polissoir, a nearly-forgotten woodworking tool

André Roubo's series on carpentry called L'Art du Menuisier mentions a polissior, a small device made of broom straw for polishing wood. In the two centuries since Roubo's book, the device had faded from memory until a couple of years ago, when Don Williams recreated one from an illustration in Roubo's book. It turned out to work amazingly well. Read the rest

Cool hand carved "hobo nickels" up for auction

Exciting news from Heritage Auctions: it's selling the largest number of hobo nickels ever offered in one lot.

A lot of 23 Buffalo Nickels from assorted years  – the largest such lot ever offered in Heritage Auctions’ history – is featured in the firm’s Jan. 4-9 FUN U.S. Coins Auction in Fort Lauderdale.

The coins, known as “hobo nickels,” are modified coinage – commonly nickels – as the Native American chief on the obverse is transformed into tramps, a variety of tribal figures and a myriad of other designs. These carvings often resulted in bas reliefs in the coin, although the contours of the coin still can be felt.

Some buffalo nickel carvers developed a following. The entire collection of 23 coins being offered by Heritage Auctions is attributed to artist John Dorusa, who was a Pennsylvania coal miner.

Dorusa garnered fame for his mimicry of classical hobo nickels created well before he picked up a file for the first time. Dorusa claimed he was trained by Bert Wiegand and George Washington “Bo” Hughes, who are widely considered the forefathers of hobo nickel carving.

Dorusa produced hobo nickels from the 1980s until his death in 1994 and is considered an early modern hobo nickel artist.

For great examples of contemporary hobo nickels, visit the Hobo Nickel Society's Twitter account. Read the rest

Bake: Nutella-filled Boba Fett pie pops

Nerdy piesmith Jessica Leigh Clark-Bojin celebrates Xmas in style with these Nutella-filled Boba Fett pie-pops, and explains how to make your own. Read the rest

Father/son gingerbread Apple ][+

Nathan writes, "My son and I decided gingerbread houses were boring, so we built a gingerbread Apple II computer instead, including the interior with power supply, motherboard, and an expansion card." Read the rest

Steampunk 1/4" steel geared lightswitches

Etsy seller Steampunk Interiors (AKA Meleny Chamberlain) of Bend, OR created this $65 plasma-cut 1/4" steel steampunk lightswitch and many variants, including the $95 triple-throw switch with a garden-hose sillcock dimmer. Read the rest

Nick Offerman shares his misadventures in sawdust and workshop projects for all levels

I got into woodworking recently after buying my first house. I started building furniture not so much as a hobby, but because after buying a house I couldn’t afford furniture to fill it. My thinking was, why spend a couple hundred bucks at Ikea buying a wobbly table, when I could buy a couple tools off Craigslist, get some lumber, and build exactly what I want. My utilitarian need to create something I could eat dinner off of, turned into a deep respect for woodworkers. So I was excited to read Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop. It combines my newfound joy of gluing wood together, and my fandom for all things Nick Offerman.

If you’re not aware, Offerman is an actor, comedian, author, but throughout it all he’s been working with wood as both a hobby and way of life. While Good Clean Fun is filled with Offerman’s sense of humor, it’s very much a shop book. You will learn how to build a birdhouse whether you like it or not.

Offerman sets up the book, explaining some Shop 101 tips, then he and other members of his woodshop walk you through how to build different projects. They explain how to cut, sand, join, and finish things ranging from dining chairs to a wooden kazoo. This isn’t a joke-per-page book, well it is, but it also gets very technical. So if you have no interest in sawing, drilling, or the smell of cedar, this probably isn’t going to be your book. Read the rest

Ulna-Stina Wikander: a Swedish artist who cross-stitches household objects and makes bracelets out of toy cars

Ulna-Stina Wikander's many pieces include a wide variety of household objects (chairs, mirrors, etc) covered in meticulous cross-stitched fabric; bracelets and belts made from toy cars, lamps made from framed slot-car racetracks, and a lively miscellany of other pieces. Alas, her Flash-based site makes it impossible to link directly to my favorites (and I had to install the Flash plugin just to see it!), but it's well worth your time to go looking. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Kickstarting six books on self-empowerment: fermentation, feminism, punk, bicycling, sewing, and comics journalism

Elly from Microcosm Publishing (previously) writes, "We decided to try something different this time, and put up a project to help fund and spread the word about all six of the books we're putting out this coming spring. They're all very different on the surface, but the thread that runs through them is exactly what makes Microcosm work as a publishing company: Book-shaped tools that help people create the lives they want to live and the world they want to see." Read the rest

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