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Wed
Sep 28 2011 7:00pm

The Latest Starfighter: A Paradox

Model of Gunstar spaceship

One very hot new hobby seems to be 3-D printing. There are machines which, starting with a mathematical model of an object, can create arbitrary shapes by gradually building up layers of material.

Recently during Musecon, near Chicago, I encountered James Brown demonstrating a Makerbot Thing-O-Matic machine. It was busy manufacturing little keychain gewgaws, and the smell of hot plastic was in the air. He handed me a little toy spaceship. “Do you know what this is?” he asked.

“Sure,” I said. “It’s a ship from The Last Starfighter.” It pleased him that I recognized it.

A kind soul known as “7777773” had uploaded a design for this spacecraft to an online library of objects. With the Thing-O-Matic, James had manufactured a copy.

The Gunstar fighter sent my mind voyaging back to the early 1980s.

[Back to the days when pixels were young...]

Tue
Sep 20 2011 3:10pm

Conductive Paint, Makerbots, Knitwear & More: EtsyBrook Goes To Maker Faire NYC

This weekend I went, for the very first time, to Maker Faire NYC, an assembly of scientists, craftspeople and makers of random (mostly nerdy) things. Held at the The New York Hall of Science, exhibitors and vendors filled the indoor learning center and spilled out onto the surrounding fields and parking lots, populating the space with rocketships, game-controller-operated slingshots, and giant Rube Goldberg models. In the spirit of the event, Mother Nature handmade perfect weather for the occasion, setting the stage for a perfect indoor/outdoor geek out.

[Makerbots, lockpicking, postcards that become buildings, and more]

Tue
Dec 28 2010 3:57pm

A Smithmas Smorgasbord of Doctor Who Crafting and Building

Doctor Who Dalek cross stitch

Happy Smithmas! The Doctor has always celebrated and encouraged the best in humanity. In my book, one of the best things about humanity is our desire to create and to share our creations and designs. So in honor of the new Christmas episode and the 12 Doctors of Christmas, I’ve gathered together a smorgasbord of Whovian crafts, spanning both runs of the show.

[Read more...]

Fri
Sep 24 2010 6:17pm

Going to the Maker Faire? Locate Liz!

If you're going to the Maker Faire in Queens, NY tomorrow, keep an eye out for Tor.com's own Liz Gorinsky. (By the binary tattoo around her right bicep ye shall know her.) The first three people to say “Hi, Liz! Do you still have any Makers cards?” will receive a a hearty “Why, yes I do!” and a free pack of the Makers tile card game by Idiots'Books. She'll also have Tor.com tattoos as a consolation prize for the fourth through nth person to find her.
 

Thu
Sep 23 2010 3:46pm

Makers Recommendations & Giveaway!

The Makers Faire is pulling into NYC this weekend and in that spirit, we’ve compiled a Makers Books & Manuals Recommendation List for aspiring scientists, engineers, and makers, courtesy of Cory Doctorow, Mark Frauenfelder, and lots of MAKE Magazine contributors.

Many of the listed books, manuals, catalogs, etc. are hard to find, but if you are willing to do a little extra work, there are a whole host of amazing DIY and makers texts out there not available in your corner bookstore. Some of these are catalogs; some are just obscure. All are intriguing and heartily recommended by our contributors. Try your luck with eBay, AbeBooks, and other used booksellers and traders.

For those who can’t make it to Makers Faire, Tor.com is giving away 10 sets tile games from Makers by Cory Doctorow, created by the awesome folks at IdiotsBooks. We’ll be randomly selecting five folks who retweet this post on Twitter and five who comment on Facebook account in the next 24 hours. (Until 3 PM Friday.)

You can read Makers by Cory Doctorow here on Tor.com.

[Knowledge! Sorted by Projects, Theory, Fiction, Hard-to-Find, and more]

Tue
Jun 22 2010 11:12am

A Cory Doctorow giveaway!

No, we are not giving away Cory Doctorow but, we are giving away some Cory coolness. For those not lucky enough to catch him on his For the Win tour, we are offering three chances to win a signed copy of For the Win and a signed pack of the Makers tile game cards. One lucky reader will win copies of Little Brother and Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town in addition to For the Win.

What are Makers tile-game cards? In incredible 81-in-1 illustration from our friends at Idiots Books that can be flip, twisted, turned, and stacked into seemingly endless ways:

To be eligble to win, you must post a comment on our Facebook feed or @reply us on Twitter by noon EST on Thursday, 6/24. You can enter once each on Twitter and Facebook, but duplicate replies on either site won't count. One prize will go to a Facebook entry and one to a Twitter entry, and we'll flip a coin to see which site gets the grand prize.

The three winners will be chosen randomly and contacted through their respective sites, so check your @replies and Facebook inboxes by Friday, 6/25 to claim your prize. If we don't hear back from you within 24 hours, another winner will be chosen.

Comments on this post will be enjoyed but not included in the giveaway entries!

Fri
Jan 22 2010 10:35am

A cheery conversation with Cory Doctorow about the upside of economic collapse

Cory Doctorow got the idea for his latest novel, Makers, during the economic meltdown that started the decade. He released it during the meltdown at the end of the decade. And he wrote it during the boom in the middle.

“I wrote it as a parable about the dotcom collapse, and specifically the aftermath in San Francisco. Because there was this amazing thing that happened when the money went away in the Bay Area,” Cory said in an interview. “It really seemed like one day there was an unbelievable amount of money sloshing around the city, and the next day it just vanished. I remember walking down Van Ness [Avenue, in San Francisco] one day, somewhere near 18th Street, and passing a guy who had 50 Aeron chairs and five boxes of dotcom T-shirts on the street. He had a sign up that said, ‘Make Me An Offer.’ He was literally folding up his company and going back to the midwest that day, as soon as he sold his Aeron chairs.”

But the money running out didn’t put a stop to the creativity.

[More after the break....]

Tue
Jan 19 2010 3:16pm

Makers Tile Game, final 9x9 iteration now live

It’s complete! I’m happy to announce that the Makers Tile Game, developed by Malloc Media, has been updated today to its ultimate, final, 9 x 9-tile iteration, featuring all 81 of Idiots’Books illustrations. Additionally, don’t forget about the embeddable Flashtoy version of the game, which you can put on your own site! Happy remixing!

 


Pablo Defendini has been sucked into a clicktrance on the Makers Tile Game more times than he’d care to remember.

Fri
Jan 8 2010 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 81 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Suzanne came home a week later and found them sitting up in the living room. They’d pushed all the furniture up against the walls and covered the floor with board-game boards, laid edge-to-edge or overlapping. They had tokens, cards and money from several of the games laid out around the rims of the games.

“What the blistering fuck?” she said good naturedly. Lester had told her that Perry was around, so she’d been prepared for something odd, but this was pretty amazing, even so. Lester held up a hand for silence and rolled two dice. They skittered across the floor, one of them slipping through the heating-grating.

“Three points,” Perry said. “One for not going into the grating, two for going into the grating.”

“I thought we said it was two points for not going into the grating, and one for dropping it?”

“Let’s call it 1.5 points for each.”

[“Gentlemen,” Suzanne said, “I believe I asked a question? To wit, ‘What the blistering fuck—’”]

Wed
Jan 6 2010 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 80 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

In the morning, he prowled Lester and Suzanne’s place like a burglar. The guesthouse had once served as Lester’s workshop and it had the telltale leavings of a busy inventor—drawers and tubs of parts, a moldy coffee-cup in a desk-drawer, pens and toys and unread postal spam in piles. What it didn’t have was a kitchen, so Perry helped himself to the key that Lester had left him with the night before and wandered around the big house, looking for the kitchen.

It turned out to be on the second floor, a bit of weird architectural design that was characteristic of the place, which had started as a shack in the hills on several acres of land and then grown and grown as successive generations of owners had added extensions, seismic retrofitting, and new floors.

Perry found the pantries filled with high-tech MREs, each nutritionally balanced and fortified in ways calculated to make Lester as healthy as possible. Finally, he found a small cupboard clearly devoted to Suzanne’s eating, with boxes of breakfast cereal and, way in the back, a little bag of Oreos. He munched thoughtfully on the cookies while drinking more of the flat, thrice-distilled water.

He heard Lester totter into a bathroom on the floor above, and called “Good morning,” up a narrow, winding staircase.

[More below the fold ...]

Mon
Jan 4 2010 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 79 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Perry and Lester rode in the back of the company car, the driver an old Armenian who’d fled Azerbaijan, whom Lester introduced as Kapriel. It seemed that Lester and Kapriel were old friends, which made sense, since Lester couldn’t drive himself, and in Los Angeles, you didn’t go anywhere except by car. The relationship between a man and his driver would be necessarily intimate.

Perry couldn’t bring himself to feel envious of Lester having a chauffeured car, though it was clear that Lester was embarrassed by the luxury. It was too much like an invalid’s subsidy to feel excessive.

[More below the fold ...]

Fri
Jan 1 2010 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 78 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Lester’s workshop had a sofa where he entertained visitors and took his afternoon nap. Normally, he’d use his cane to cross from his workbench to the sofa, but seeing Perry threw him for such a loop that he completely forgot until he was a pace or two away from it and then he found himself flailing for support as his hips started to give way. Perry caught him under the shoulders and propped him up. Lester felt a rush of shame color his cheeks.

[More below the fold ...]

Wed
Dec 30 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 77 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Epilogue

Lester was in his workshop when Perry came to see him. He had the yoga mat out and he was going through the slow exercises that his physiotherapist had assigned to him, stretching his crumbling bones and shrinking muscles, trying to keep it all together. He’d fired three physios, but Suzanne kept finding him new ones, and (because she loved him) prettier ones.

[More below the fold ...]

Mon
Dec 28 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 76 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Perry ground his teeth and squeezed his beer. The idea of doing this in a big group had seemed like a good idea. Dirty Max’s was certainly full of camaraderie, the smell of roasting meat and the chatter of nearly a hundred voices. He heard Hilda laughing at something Lester said to her, and there were Kettlewell and his kids, fingers and faces sticky with sauce.

Lester had set up the projector and they’d hung sheets over one of the murals for a screen, and brought out a bunch of wireless speakers that they’d scattered around the courtyard. It looked, smelled, sounded, and tasted like a carnival.

But Perry couldn’t meet anyone’s eye. He just wanted to go home and get under the covers. They were about to destroy Freddy, which had also seemed like a hell of a lark at the time, but now—

[More below the fold ...]

Fri
Dec 25 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 75 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

By the time the call came, Sammy was ready to explode. He got in a golf cart and headed to the Animal Kingdom Lodge, which backed onto the safari park portion of the Animal Kingdom. He snuck himself onto the roof of the ground hotel, which had a commanding view of the artificial savanna. He watched a family of giraffes graze, using the zoom on his phone to resolve the hypnotic patterns of the little calf. It calmed him. But the sound of his phone ringing startled him so much he nearly did a half-gainer off the roof. Heart hammering, he answered it.

[More below the fold ...]

Wed
Dec 23 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 74 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Suzanne didn’t knock on Lester’s door. Lester would fall into place, once Perry was in.

She found him working the ride, Hilda back in the maintenance bay, tweaking some of the robots. His arm was out of the cast, but it was noticeably thinner than his good left arm, weak and pale and flabby.

“Hello, Suzanne.” He was formal, like he always was these days, and it saddened her, but she pressed on.

[“Perry, we need to shut down for a while, it’s urgent.”]

Mon
Dec 21 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 73 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

It took IT three days to get Sammy his computer back. His secretary managed as best as she could, but he wasn’t able to do much without it.

When he got it back at last, he eagerly downloaded his backlog of mail. It beggared the imagination. Even after auto-filtering it, there were hundreds of new messages, things he had to pay real attention to. When he was dealing with this stuff in little spurts every few minutes all day long, it didn’t seem like much, but it sure piled up.

He enlisted his secretary to help him with sorting and responding. After an hour she forwarded one back to him with a bold red flag.

[More below the fold ...]

Fri
Dec 18 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 72 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Sammy was glad he was driving. The mood Guignol was in, he’d have wrecked the car. “That was not the plan, Sammy,” he said. “The plan was to get the data, talk it over—”

“The first casualty of any battle is the battle-plan,” Sammy said, threading them through the press of tourist buses and commuter cars.

[“I thought the first casualty was the truth.”]

Wed
Dec 16 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 71 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

She met Sammy in their favorite tea-room, the one perched up on a crow’s nest four storeys up a corkscrew building whose supplies came up on a series of dumbwaiters and winches that shrouded its balconies like vines.

She staked out the best table, the one with the panoramic view of the whole shantytown, and ordered a plate of the tiny shortbread cakes that were the house specialty, along with a gigantic mug of nonfat decaf cappuccino.

Sammy came up the steps red-faced and sweaty, wearing a Hawai’ian shirt and Bermuda shorts, like some kind of tourist. Or like he was on holidays? Behind him came a younger man, with severe little designer glasses, dressed in the conventional polo-shirt and slacks uniform of the corporate exec on a non-suit day.

[More below the fold ...]

Mon
Dec 14 2009 9:00am

Cory Doctorow’s Makers, Part 70 (of 81)

 

Illustration by Idiots’Books

Suzanne was getting sick of breakfast in bed. It was hard to imagine that such a thing was possible, but there it was. Lester stole out from between the covers before 7AM every day, and then, half an hour later, he was back with a laden tray, something new every day. She’d had steaks, burritos, waffles, home-made granola, fruit-salad with Greek yogurt, and today there were eggs Benedict with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. The tray always came with a French press of fresh-ground Kona coffee, a cloth napkin, and her computer, so she could read the news.

In theory, this was a warm ritual that ensured that they had quality time together every day, no matter what. In practice, Lester was so anxious about the food and whether she was enjoying it that she couldn’t really enjoy it. Plus, she wasn’t a fatkins, so three thousand calorie breakfasts weren’t good for her.

[More below the fold ...]