The Big Think

December 10, 2009

Make: Learning Electronics

Filed under: Disclosure,Maker — jasony @ 11:41 pm

The book I must own:

Many of us at Maker Media have had an interaction that goes something like this: You’re at a talk, Maker Faire, or elsewhere, and someone spirits you aside, like they’re going to confess to a petty crime or some marital indiscretion. What they want to whisper sheepishly into your ear is that they love MAKE, all of the excitement they see over open source electronics, and the cool kits we sell in the Maker Shed, but they have NO IDEA how electronics work, and the “beginner” books and resources they look at online zoom quickly over their heads and frustrate their efforts to learn. Ultimately, they find themselves too embarrassed to admit their lack of high-tech smarts or to ask questions (which is why they’ve taken you behind a dumpster to confess their ignorance).

I’m one of these folks. I really want to learn electronics, and have spent the better part of a decade getting a handle on the basics, but the self-taught thing never worked for me when it came to wires and resistors, which is odd, because I’ve taught myself a lot of other skills. For whatever reason, thought, electronics has never stuck. I’m hoping that when this book (eventually) comes out, it’ll finally get me over that hump.


Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 11:31 pm

100,000 toothpics. 34 Years. One amazing kinetic sculpture.


Filed under: Technology — jasony @ 11:15 pm

I just saw this incredible flyover of Detriot done in SketchUp. Google holds events and contest for people to model their home towns in SketchUp and then, crazily, we all do a bunch of work for Google for free! Brilliant. Anyway, my prediction is that within three years we start to see makers of flight simulator software licensing Google Maps and SketchUp maps to use as their backgrounds. Given another few years we’ll have near photo-realistic terrain for flight sims, then this huge Matrix version of our planet will get closer and closer to indistinguishable from the real thing. Eventually there will be real-time data all over the place in there.

What Google is building is astounding in its complexity and scope, and nobody else is even going to try and compete. What they are beginning now is the foundation of the next several hundred years of online mapping tech. Who knows where it will go?


Filed under: Space — jasony @ 4:16 pm


Uber cool. I’m looking forward to a future chart just like this that shows then-current craft. SS1 and SS2 will by tiny little spots at the beginning of the timeline. 🙂

Power to the People

Filed under: Telescope — jasony @ 11:01 am

Lowes in California has been stocking solar panels, but now they plan on rolling them out across the country. Hooray! With a big buyer like this, panel prices will come down even further and Home Depot will have to get into the act (which will only accelerate the drop). This is the type of great mass-market news that both greenie-weenie and free marketers can both agree on.

Our next house WILL get a big chunk (or all) power via panels and other renewable, off-the-grid type power. I’d love to see everyone move to this sort of thing. Am I a rabid Goreite? No, but five years as a wilderness guide does have an effect. Rather, I see the mass adoption of consumer-level renewable resources as a thumb in the eye of the Man, and a way for the average person to become more independent and autonomous. Isn’t it nice when both sides can work together? See that, Congress?

Anyway, I’m looking forward to watching the prices fall and the capacities rise. Now we just have to convince HOA’s across the country that solar panels are not visual blight.

Marfa, Eat Your Heart Out

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 1:03 am

Weird lights in the sky over in Norway (video at link). Freaky spiral pattern. I can’t find it right now, but earlier I saw a good computer model that convincingly showed how a leaky missile launch (where the leak caused the missile to spiral like a bullet) would have this exact effect. It’s cooler to think of it as a new Stargate opening up, though. Boring old rockets. Harumph.


Christmas Wish

Filed under: Maker — jasony @ 12:49 am

So if anyone happens to have an extra thirteen grand sitting around, and a burning desire to make a little boy (okay, big boy) ecstatic at Christmas, I would really, really love a Shopbot PRSstandard 96-48. Just saying.

Screw world peace. I want to build stuff.


Filed under: Quoth — jasony @ 12:23 am

Someone graduating from college thinks, and is told, that he needs to get a job, as if the important thing were becoming a member of an institution. A more direct way to put it would be: you need to start doing something people want. You don’t need to join a company to do that. All a company is is a group of people working together to do something people want. It’s doing something people want that matters, not joining the group.


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