Boing Boing 

Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories' Lenore Edman on women in maker culture

I asked Lenore Edman, the founder of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories, the open source hardware, hobby electronics, and robotics company, to write a Medium post about what it's like being a badass female maker. Her comments are inspired and inspiring. From Medium:

PT_2621

My hope for young women is that they’ll find meaningful work in an environment where they can flourish. It doesn’t matter to me if they choose a technical field, but it does matter deeply that they know they could choose one. For that to happen, it will take deliberate work on the part of all of us who work in technology to make our communities welcoming. There are many efforts going on toward this, and I think the maker communities have a wealth to share.

"Flourishing in the Maker Community"

And of course, check out Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Official case for your Raspberry Pi

untitled

For three years, makers have hacked together some terrific and janky DIY Raspberry Pi cases (like these). Finally, Ebon Upton and the Raspberry Pi Foundation have produced their own official Raspberry Pi case.

Read the rest

Quantified Self Expo in San Francisco on Saturday (6/20)

Our pals at Quantified Self are hosting a big expo in San Francisco on Saturday and they're offering BB readers a $10 discount off the $20 ticket price! Get hip to the self-tracking scene and see your life through the lens of data! Event details here.

Read the rest

Are you a member of The Oregon Trail Generation, the last before mainstream social media?

maxresdefault (1)

If you count yourself among The Oregon Trail Generation, count yourself lucky.

Read the rest

India's $11 cellphone could change the world

micromax_joy_x1800_x1850_pouch_package The mobile market in India is flooded with new phones: three a day last year. Local provider Micromax has a gamble to claim a slice of that.

Read the rest

Pixar's Renderman released for free

Pixar has released its Renderman imaging software to the public free to download. This version is identical to the software it uses on it's own films, which was invented in-house, and is used today by major film and video game studios for animation and visual effects. This free license is for non-commercial use only, which includes show reels and student films.

Free Non-Commercial RenderMan can be used for research, education, evaluation, plug-in development, and any personal projects that do not generate commercial profits. Free Non-Commercial RenderMan is also fully featured, without watermark, time limits, or other user limitations.

Pixar is also launching a Renderman Community Site to share knowledge and assets, showcase work, and support all the new users bound to take advantage of this unique opportunity.

(via)

Watch: how Digital Light Processing works

Ben Krasnow is the modern Way Things Work. In this video, he shows how Digital Light Processing projectors work.

Read the rest

Apple Watch will have to nail heart rate

apple

When Apple releases Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport in April, expectations will be high. Today, over a dozen watches attempt to monitor heart rate through the wrist, using optical sensors to judge changes in blood flow, but only a few actually work well. It's a tricky engineering problem. Comb the reports of the most thorough gadget reviewers, and you'll see that many of Apple's competitors simply don't have their sensors quite working. The watches stop monitoring if the user is cold or moving around (which can sometimes happen in sports.)

Imagine getting to work Monday morning and a project manager demands that you reverse-engineer a difficult technology in a newly minted field. Optical heart rate feels a little like light-bulb filaments in the 1870s: everyone's trying to find a long-lasting one, only a few have the answer. In wearable products, the pulse is an important data stream to power a lot of advanced features.

To date, several companies have completely figured out optical heart rate monitoring for wearables, including Mio and Valencell. Will Apple join them in April, or will its users discover a finicky and imperfect version?

Wearable laugh sensor knows when you're feeling good

laugh_sensor At the 2015 Wearable Device Technology Expo in Tokyo in January, a tech firm introduced a small lapel worn sensor that can tell when the wearer's laughing, talking, or in trouble. Based on 10-years of "laugh-detecting" research, it's meant to help monitor the health of senior citizens. According to researchers:
To know they are "laughing" will help you see that they are happy and mentally well. "Falling" may indicate an emergency situation. This device reassures you that your loved ones, who live far away, are doing well.
via Tim Hornyak, IDG News Service

Nova Scotia artist generates furious noise from hand-made sound machines

wefwefwefwefwfwefw32

Artist Rebecca Baxter of Halifax, Nova Scotia makes noisy, grating, often ethereal sounds from machines she designs and solders herself. Demand has been high for her one-offs, including those used in recordings and performances by Flaming Lips, Electric Wurms, New Fumes, Mike O'Neill, Panos, METEOROID, Holy Fuck, Buck 65, and Oscillator Sunshine Machine.

Now she's launched a campaign to raise money to build more sophisticated handmade instruments. So far her devices have been stand-alone, creating sound from oscillators inside, but her next model, the Omega, is slated to have inputs for a guitar or keyboard. More videos: 1, 2, 3.

Learn the sign language for "screengrab" and "SMH"

sign

Online mag Hopes & Fears asked an educator in American Sign Language and his young assistant to demonstrate various internet jargon such as "emoji" and "photobomb". Each demo is captured in a short video loop. SMH portrays all the disgust involved in shaking one's head at something really stupid; Screengrab involves a nice gesture that enacts the mechanism of a phone display flashing in one's hand.

sign2

Since there's no central authority for such neologisms, some signs were ones used among friends while others were reached by consensus among members of the Deaf community online.

sign3

Why are (some) transhumanists such dicks?

transhuman2

In December on the forum biohack.me, there was a fascinating discussion entitled "Why are transhumanists such dicks?" What came out of it was this.

Read the rest

Kathy Sierra's BADASS: how to make your users into successes


Kathy Sierra, the brilliant and storied user experience expert, has a new book, Badass: Making Users Awesome, which is aimed at teaching you to "craft a strategy for creating successful users."

Read the rest

The dystopian future of quantified babies

baby2

A group of design students from a Swedish university published an insightful academic paper last year spoofing all the baby health trackers now pitched to parents. The trackers measure things like a baby's breathing rate, heart rate, and sleep, and are made by startups including Mimo Baby, Owlet, Sproutling, and Monbaby.

Is this fear mongering for new moms? Or will these devices actually offer valuable data on infants? I think it's too early to tell. But the paper does a good job of critiquing the design pitfalls of the user experience. It argues such devices could needlessly raise anxiety and remove intuition from parenting.

There's a cool hand-drawn storyboard of a new mom deciding not to go the park with Johnny after she binges on biometric data:

babies3 copy

 

Also, a good rendering of an epidemiological map overlay that would show all the kids in your neighborhood suffering from excessive booger:

baby

The beauty of an energy-free treadmill

treadmill copy

I've been coveting the world’s best manual treadmill, the EcoMill ($7,000). But until I have a spare seven grand, I have to run with conventional electric mills. Most use a lot of juice -- between 800 and 1800 watts continuously -- because they have ot lock down a consistent pace with a low-cost mechanism.

At a sleepy little gym and pool complex here in Vermont, on a conventional electric machine this week, the current was so high it overloaded a nearby stereo receiver playing upbeat pop music for a water aerobics class. All of a sudden, seven wet, angry seniors swarmed from the pool. Encircled by bright floaties, they demanded I quit running so the music would come back on. I tried to explain the concept of a blown fuse and how treadmills use high wattage because they can’t rely on the friction like spin bikes and how the world really should invent a cheap electricity free mill. But at that only enraged them, and they gripped the handrails and rocked the machine side to side.

I really want my own EcoMill for the house. Or maybe a human-sized hamster wheel.