Everyone Should Have Their Own Crucible

This great "do-it-yourself" link to building a propane-fired home foundry which the author intends to use in constructing a working metal lathe.  Reminded me of a set of 1950's do-it-yourself books I bought. I had stopped at an old weathered home somewhere outside Seattle that was having a yardsale. Hoping to score some retro tidbit or rare find. As there was nothing but junk and old clothes, was on my way out, when one of the two elderly sisters explained they were trying to come up with a morgage payment. I felt so bad for these two elderly women who had been so sweet in offerring me cookies and lemonade. So I bought the books for more than I think they cost new. None the less, as no good deed is left unrewarded, I have found in them a time machine that takes me back to a classic handyman Americana, to a time where men did things themselves, and women fed them. The books are filled with detailed step by step directions on how to build and repair things from flower boxes and bookshelves to submarines and entire summer cabins. (litigation was obviously not a big concern.) I have friends who have this ethic instilled in them from their WW2 tough enterprising fathers, who's slogan is "if you can't make it yourself, you don't need it." My point in all this is this: today, we do not have the time or patience, we let someone from China or Mexico do it for us. If a tool breaks we throw it away. Is it possible the convergance of technologies, could create and empower a new league of extraordinary gentleman, who gain knowledge and access to materials through the internet, a kind of high tech uber-handyman, who inhabit a garage or shop hopped up on wi-fi and intel processing power? Tethered by doped social networks to knowledge bases and human assets that are themselves amalgums of accelerated knowledge? If you don't buy into that, it is still really cool to think about melting things in your own garage.
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UPDATE: Read this bit of garage-tech lore via BoingBoing

Boron-doped N-type Diamond Semiconductors?

Wired is running this story on the new synthetic diamond industry. While the jewelry industry is concerned, what this means to the semiconductor industry is the next step in computing. The idea is Moore's law tells us processors get hotter and hotter as they go faster. At some point silicon chips will liquify. Hi quanity low cost synthetic diamonds resolve this issue. While the charm of the Wired read touches on the seemingly fictional cloak and dagger elements of the diamond industry, what is important is the fact that the US is failing to invest.

Dean Kamens I-bot

While this is billed as an advanced stair climbing wheel chair, I cannot help but to think exoskeleton. (But that is because I am always thinking exoskeleton. Exactly.)

There Goes the Gene Pool

Leave it to China to charge right in and start messing around with mixing people bits and animal bits. Maybe Jimmy Stewart really will talk to a giant rabbit named Harvey. (After we flash bake his memories into his clone.) | Full story from the WP

The best part of the story is hearing the ethics discussions among a people who have serious human rights issues. And you think fear and ignorance fueled by racial hatred is bad now, try genetic racism.

Speaking of you heard it here first: I predict Arnold Schwarzenegger to be the first celeb cloned. But only so he can run for governor of Texas and NYC simultaneously.

Listen while you swim

Recent graduate Sam James invents a cool MP3 player for swimmers. Appears to clip to a pair of normal goggles.

I am not sure about this. While I can see how athletes would welcome a little audio stimulation after hours doing laps, I think I would get too disoriented. It is just like skiing (I know how 80's of me "Spread Eagle ,Dude." That hurts.) Skiing is best done in the quiet. With only a serene swishing of the trees and racing wind batting your brow. Although I will admit to some sweet runs on Seattle Ridge while listening to on my MP3 player.


Imagineering Social Robots

Popular Science gives us this great read on the work of developer David Hanson and his humanlike robotic faces. He claims there has been a lack of innovation in the area of lifelike facial robotics due to social and psycological stigmas. He claims his success has to do with creativily persuing really life like features, and while others have avoided the complexities of human behavior, he embraces it as the benchmark for truly sucessful robotics. The idea being that once we are emotionally attached to a robot is when they will become truly useful to us. He also happens to be a Phillip K. Dick Sci-Fi buff who used to work for Disney. The article quotes leading MIT roboticist Rodney Brooks who suggests "The coming robotics revolution will change the fundamental nature of our society."


Retinal Scanning of Mr.Cowburger

According to the Wyoming Star Tribune, in an attempt to control quarantines and transfer information to huge databases Mr.Cowburger now gets his eyes scanned.

And in the next SAR-like outbreak will demand people get scanned too, right?

Supervision Or Snoopervision?

Big Brother tests the waters in America.

This USAToday story talks of 15,000 micro cameras in your local public school. While it is argued this could have prevented school voilence tragedies like Columbine, one would have to ask, could this not add to the pressures that caused it?

Some choice quotes:

''It helps honest people be more honest..''

[protect =spy on]

"Almost anywhere they go these days, Americans are on camera: at work, on the road, at public events. Why should schools be different?"


''prevented a lot of things from happening''


Frighteningly vague.

".. cameras, which were installed over the past three years, can be an unblinking eye supporting teachers in disputes"

What about students?

"..critics should relax."

[control the thought]

I remember when they put intercoms in the schools. It was considered high tech. It was there for the protection of the teachers and the students. Really it just expanded the authoritarian role of the faculty. There was no stigma worse than having your name called over the intercom.

This is wrong. If my school put these things in the classrooms, I would pull my kids out.

Dear faculty, you can have your cameras in the classrooms if we can have ours in your lounges and your homes. No? I guess "all animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others".

Pattern Recognition review: "Spot On" from the Sceptered Isle

British MT Blogger Matthew Whitaker promises to start adding some of those reviews as he is soon to be a free agent on his way back to school.
But in the meanwhile gives us this link to a past review of Futurist William Gibson's "Pattern Recognition". Well written. I still want to see his review of Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom.

Also see Social Text's femfatal Adina Levin's review of Cory Doctorow's Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom on her blog. While she gives it high marks ,(as everyone), for it's portrayal of futuristic social implications of wired life, she claims Cory's high speed writing detracts from the richness of the book. I have to say I agree. The book, though quite eloquent in places almost seems like a draft. As if there is more locked in behind the chapters and characters. But maybe that is sequel stuff.


A Local Segway Dealership In Your Area?

According to Segway makers the first official Segway showroom will be opening in southern California.

"We are delighted that people in San Diego will be able to try out the Segway HT and learn about its environmental and economic benefits in an atmosphere devoted to the acceptance of alternative fuels and transportation options," said Doug Field, Senior Vice President of Operations and Product Development, for Segway.

Also check out the trailer for the new Jack Black/Ben Stiller flick "Envy". (Which has a brief Segway cameo)