Monday, May 23, 2011


Maker Faire = Awesome

I spent a super exciting two long days at the Bay Area Maker Faire, seeing all the crazy creativity on display, hanging out with old friends, and generally having an awesome time. I'm not even going to make an attempt at saying all the awesome things I saw, but here's a few samples: tons of eTextile stuff, an awesome booth doing epoxy casting art (kind of like what I do with Heart Spark), the popsicle-stick San Francisco guy, an awesome sand artist, super cool lego aircraft carrier, a nixie tube pendant necklace, fully functional R2D2 droids, a Chevy Volt (that I got to take a test-drive in!), so many maker bots and RepRaps (including the most gigantic RepRap I've ever seen), the Lasersaur open source laser cutter project, feltronics felt circuit stuff, a wheel chair mount for scratching (like with vinyl records), clocks made from old 3.5" hard drives, a super high resolution white POV system capable of near-television quality pictures, and the huge Colossus rig holding massive bolders for kids to pull :-). Check out my 315 pictures: Bay Area Maker Faire 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


California and Various Updates

As some of you know, I'll be travelling to California for the next two-ish weeks, to visit the Maker Faire and the Quantified Self Conference, as well as all my old friends in the Bay Area. It's gonna be a huge blast. I'll be in Lynne Bruning's eTextile Showcase, and I'll be giving a talk on the Future of Sensors at the Quantified Self Conference. If you're in SF and interested in cyborg/sensebridge stuff, I'm hosting a "cybeers with cyborgs" event at Noisebridge on the 25th at 7pm. Show & Tell, as always :-). Hope to see you there.

In other interesting news, the Toronto Awesome Foundation continues to be super fun, for April we awarded the $1000 to Cardboard Fort Night!, which is now scheduled to actually happen on June 25th at 7pm, venue TBA. Geoffrey (the Dean of Awesome) also posted this really interesting description of The Toronto Method, the way we reach consensus about which of dozens of submissions will become each months winner.

And I also want to announce that I have found a site for my downtown Guerilla Gardeners plot, just a few blocks from where I live. It's an abandoned lot just one lot in from Spadina, so it doesn't have great visibility, but it's huge and it has nice soil. The planting will be on June 21st, in the evening. I've already put in 30 feet of Giant Sunflower seeds along the fence, which is going to turn into an "incredible temporary hedge" (as the seed packets call it!). More details to follow as the date gets closer.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Guerilla Gardeners: East Planting

We were "Guerilla's In the Mist" yesterday, planting despite the near-continuous drizzle of rain. I had a total blast. The East End spot was behind a fence, at the corner of Queen Street East and McGee Street, just a few blocks east of Broadway. The land is probably owned by the rail company, the plot is actually part of the dirt embankment leading up to the tracks. We started with a kind of cleaning, there was a lot of sticks, stones and weeds, plus some really awesome buried old tin cans, glass bottles, etc. The soil turned out to be pretty good. The plant was in partnership with a local bar called The Avro, which raised funds to buy some plants for us, and then gave us free beers too! We had a group of about 10 people out, which was awesome turnout for a rainy day! A bunch of people walked by while we were doing it and one guy even got so excited that he told us he'd be back in just a few minutes with some plant donations of his own! The spot looks so much better now! One of my favorite lines was that 'guerilla gardening is kinda like graffiti, in the sense that you get to leave your mark on a space, except that when you're done, everyone is happy!' My Guerilla Gardening: East Planting flickr set is pretty awesome, but also check out Terry's facebook set, which has a better before shot and one of the group shots at the end :-)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Toronto Mini Maker Faire 2011

Toronto Mini Maker Faire was awesome! There were about 80 booths, and something like 3000 people came and saw the faire, so it was a vast success, nearly an order of magnitude bigger than the Ottawa Mini Maker Faire last fall. I personally had a wonderful time chatting with people at the hacklab booth, showing them the Train Overlord, my sensebridge stuff, our 3D printers, etc. etc. For the Train Overlord we had an awesome demo where you could pan and tilt the laser and move the train forward and backward using my old iPhone - totally wirelessly with a nice touch GUI. It was a smash hit with the kids, and it astonished a lot of adults as well. I gave a lightning talk Saturday evening about DIY Transhumanism, which was very well received - a lot of people came up to me afterwards and the next day to say that they really enjoyed it.

Other super cool things I saw at the Maker Faire included Darin's Loud Monkey project, where old sound making toys are hacked to have sound jack outputs, which you wire into huge boombox speakers, creating awesomeness from up to a mile away. And Natalie's bluetooth LED purse, which flashes bright lights when her cell phone gets a call. And Alan's awesome claw robot, which he let me use to crush some apples :-). And so many new things by people I've never met - including an awesome tilting game rig for the XBOX, 3D animals made by laser cutting cardboard and glueing layers together, a space invaders latex shirt, an awesome mechanium-wheeled robot built by a student team, really cool light-reactive sound stuff by a group making exhibits for a science center, some cool wearables stuff by DDMIT (which also had really nice 3D printed objects done by a commercial 3D printer), the awesome Obama Board by Ashley Lewis (keys play words from his speeches, so you can assemble you own Obama speech!) And so many more things, it was such a great display of the DIY community here in Ontario, I'm looking forward to next years event already!

Check out my complete Toronto Mini Maker Faire 2011 Flickr Set. See also kwartzlab's post, which links to a lot of other blogs and flickr sets. See also Darin's excellent Toronto Maker Faire... wow!

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