My top ten maker tips for 2019

In the spring of this year, I started a weekly tips newsletter, Gareth's Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales. I had released a book of tips in 2018, called Tips and Tales from the Workshop, and couldn't shake the habit of tips-collecting. So, I decided to launch a newsletter to share what I was rounding up each week.

The newsletter has been a big success and I am thrilled with the response I've gotten. I decided it would be fun to go through the last seven months content and share ten of my favorite tips with Boing Boing readers. Here they are, in no particular order.

 

Details Layer Scott of Essential Craftsman shared this pearl of wisdom on an episode about using construction string: “Details layer. The more accurate you can get in your details, even with something as mundane as how you tie your knot – it all accumulates to acceptable accuracy.” This is a maker’s truth. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because I am the king of cutting corners, lazy work habits, and fudging the details. So, I know exactly what he means. I think understanding and applying this concept is the difference between a master craftsperson and an amateur. As I work, I don’t put tools back, I don’t stop and sharpen or change blades when I should, I don’t read instructions, I try and rush things, and I try and skip doing things the way I know they should be done. Read the rest

Cool Tools podcast guest: Jennifer Pahlka, founder of Code for America

My guest on the Cool Tools Show podcast this week is Jennifer Pahlka. Jennifer is the Founder of Code for America, a nonprofit dedicated to proving that government can work for all people in the digital age. She served as the U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer under President Obama, and founded the United States Digital Service dedicated to the same idea.

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Show notes:

Phaxio, a modern fax platform

“I will have to admit upfront, I'm not actually a coder, but I do work with our coding teams here at Code for America, and what I like about Phaxio is that it's sort of a hack, not just on sort of services, but on government. What we do here is we try to make services that work much better than the government services as it's offered. For instance, if you want to apply for food stamps in California and you want to do it online, you’ll go through an application form that’s over 50 screens long. … One of the things we started doing was just making a better online form and then having that form create a fax and then faxing it into the office. It turns out the place where faxes are still really, really useful is in government services, in government offices. I never would’ve said, 10 years ago, that fax was key, but it really is for the work that we do and it really helps us hack bureaucracies." Read the rest