Rodney Orpheus' pandemic oasis, Desert Island Nerds

My friend Rodney Orpheus (he of the legendary darkwave electronica band, The Cassandra Complex) has been doing a terrific weekly streaming show, called Desert Island Nerds. The premise is that we're all on our own little desert islands in isolation now, so we might as well play the Desert Island game.

Each week, Rodney has on a "nerd hero" and asks them random questions from a list of 20 (chosen, natch, by rolling a d20). Questions are the typical (what album would you take to a desert island? what book? movie?), but also unusual things like companion animal? luxury item? Outfit?

The show, done from Rodney's own little nerd island in the UK, is surprisingly well-produced and great fun to watch. He's done three episodes so far and each one has been tasty nerd candy. The first episode was with Brian Freisinger, visual FX guy who worked on The Matrix Reloaded, Constantine, and Serenity, Antony Johnston, the man behind the video game Dead Space and writer of the movie Atomic Blonde, and Christina Z, the most successful female comic book writer of all time, creator of Witchblade and Tigra and writer for the Powerpuff Girls comic. The Desert Island conceit is really just an excuse for two uber nerds to enthusiastically yammer on about the novels, comic books, RPGs, video games, music, movies, etc. that they adore.

Next week, Rodney's guest is [reads cue card] Holy shit... ME! We'll be talking about some of my desert island picks and some of the high weirdness and nerd-worthy things I've gotten myself up to over the decades, including writing for this Directory of Wonderful Things. Read the rest

Seven top tips from makers so far this year

Here are seven of my favorite DIY/maker tips published this year in my weekly newsletter, Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales.

Etching Metal with a 9v Battery Etching is easier than you think. Leah of See Jane Drill demonstrates how easy it is to etch a metal surface using little more than a 9v battery and wires, vinegar, salt, and Q-tips.

Finding the Thickness of a Wire Emory Kimbrough was one of the winners of my Tips book drawing in December. I asked contestants for one great tip. Emory sent me ten. And then, a few days later, he sent me another five – all publication-worthy. I’m excited to share them. Look for more Emory tips in the coming months. Here’s the first one:

If you need to find the thickness of a wire but don’t have a micrometer or calipers, wrap the wire around a dowel many times in a tight helix leaving no gaps between the coils. Now, just measure the width of, say, thirty coils with an ordinary ruler and divide by thirty. The more coils you wind, the more accurate your measurement. And even if you do use top-quality digital calipers, it’s even more accurate if you use this wind-and-divide method than if you measure a single thickness.

Organize Cables in Dollar Store Pencil Cases The column I’m currently working on for HackSpace magazine will cover workshop storage and organizing. As part of my research, I asked for relevant storage ideas on my Facebook page. My friend Jake Hildebrandt shared this idea. Read the rest

Invoke your muses with your very own artistic license

Our very own Gareth Branwyn has made Artistic Licenses.

He writes:

"They sport ‘self-issuing technology.’ By breaking the wax seal, you are committing to act genuinely, think uniquely, express creatively, and to invoke your muses often.”

Love it!

If you’d like one (or more), email Gareth directly: They are $5 each or five for $20 (postage paid).

(MAKE) Read the rest

BB had a podcast in 2006

I'm away from the office this week on a top secret mission, so instead of posting new stuff, I've scheduled a few vintage Boing Boing posts. I don't remember posting most of these, and I hope you don't remember reading them.

In 2006 the editors of Boing Boing (Xeni, Cory, David, and I) tried to produce a podcast called Boing Boing Boing. It was really hard to find a time for the four of us to get on the phone at the same time. I don't remember how many episodes we made. Four or five at the most. A few of the episodes are floating around on This is one of them. It ran in 2006. Original post here.

Episode #3 of the Boing Boing Boing podcast (our motto: "B cubed or be square") is ready for downloading. This time, our guest is Gareth Branwyn, our friend and senior editor of the bOING bOING print zine.

Gareth is a writer, the founder of Street Tech, and the author of many books about technology and cyberculture, including The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Robots (for which I had the pleasure of providing the illustrations).

In addition to interviewing Gareth about his critically-acclaimed 1993 Hypercard stack, Beyond Cyberpunk, we also discuss our favorite podcasts and look at some of our most interesting blog entries of the past week. Read the rest

Gareth's Tips on Sucks-Less Writing - new 20-page booklet

Our friend Gareth Branwyn has just announced the publication of his new 20-page booklet, "Gareth's Tips on Sucks-Less Writing." This is loaded with excellent advice for writers. Gareth became a senior editor of bOING bOING around 1990 or so, and I learned a great deal about writing and editing from him. Gareth is a terrific writer and a terrific teacher.

Hot off the presses! It’s a print version of "Gareth's Tips on Sucks-Less Writing." 20-page booklet, color cover on cover stock. $6 postpaid (US and CND), $9 elsewhere. Inscribed by me. Paypal or Amazon Payments to

First released on the eve of the blogging revolution in the late 90s, “Gareth’s Tips on Sucks-Less Writing," was widely disseminated as a wise, useful, and entertaining good-writing tips sheet for newbie bloggers and writing pros alike. It was adopted by several creative writing classes in colleges and is still being taught in at least one second year writing class today. Excerpted here as part of Gareth Branwyn’s forthcoming collection, Borg Like Me (& Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems), “Gar’s Tips…” has been refreshed and expanded, with all new tips, new resources, and a new introduction.

To learn more about Borg Like Me (& Other Tales of Art, Eros, and Embedded Systems), to download another PDF except, and to pre-order the book, visit Sparks of Fire Press.

Read the rest

Life on the Fringes of Cyberculture: An Interview with Gareth Branwyn

A rare copy of Darick Chamberlin's Cigarette Boy is one of the reward packs for contributing to Gareths's Kickstarter.

Our buddy Gareth was interviewed for Vice's Motherboard. Gareth's in the final hours of a Kickstarter for his book, Borg Like Me, which is going to be amazing!

Motherboard: You've described yourself as "Cyborg-in-Chief" in the past, and your new book is called Borg Like Me. Why the cyborg label?

Branwyn: I am literally a cyborg. I have a cobalt-chrome and titanium hip, a rebuilt heart, and every six weeks, I go to a Rheumatologist's office and I sit there for three hours while they slowly drip tweaked mice proteins into me—a biological that's used to treat a severe form of spinal arthritis.

But I think we're all actually cyborgs at this point. We wear glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, take all sorts of sophisticated drugs (and in my case, bioengineered proteins) to adjust our biochemistry, we carry a brain annex around, forgotten in our pockets, and we spend many hours of every day soft-wired into the global brain and media spew of the internet.

Life on the Fringes of Cyberculture: An Interview with Gareth Branwyn Read the rest

Danny Hellman's illustration for Gareth Branwyn's new book

Danny Hellman did some terrific illustrations for the print edition of bOING bOING. I just saw this illo he did for Gareth Branwyn's upcoming book, Borg Like Me, which was successfully funded on Kickstarter (he's got some awesome stretch goal premiums!). Read the rest

Borg Like Me, the Writings of Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn, my old friend and the senior editor of the bOING bOING zine, has a Kickstarter going for a book of his collected writings, called Borg Like Me. One of the things I love about Gareth is that he has many interests, and is able to write about them in a way that makes them exciting and accessible. I've learned a great deal about writing (and design, and life in general) from Gareth. I can't wait for this book!

Borg Like Me Kickstarter

Enjoy this 25-page sampler from Borg Like Me. Read the rest