Through a Glass Brightly with Abhi Lokesh (Episode 57)

Take a picture and put it under glass, but not quite the way you think. The folks at Fracture have a built a business that connects several different technologies into one new way to make large-format photos printed on glass suitable for hanging. Today I talk to Abhi Lokesh, one of Fracture's founders, about the journey from a small village in Africa to a whizz-bang printing and distribution company.

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Show Notes

Conservation labs in libraries and art museums stabilize and preserve work. Such labs often include the ability to age material artificially to see how new techniques, media, or binders (like adhesives) will stand the test of time. Ultraviolet curing dries inks nearly instantly. We've talked on the program before about CNC routers and 2D laser cutters.

Cards Against Humanity (whose Max Temkin was interviewed here in June 2013) posted a blog entry about their efforts to predict holiday sales in 2013, and how they failed to anticipate the ridiculous demand for their product.

(Note: Fracture was a sponsor several months ago and Cards Against Humanity recently. We don't have any financial connection between our podcast guests and our podcast sponsors. But we do tend to attract sponsors that align with this podcast's focus.)


Doubling Down with Amelia Greenhall (Episode 56)

Amelia Greenhall.

Amelia Greenhall.

Double Union is a new community workshop in San Francisco designed for women, and intended to provide a comfortable, welcoming environment to make things. In this podcast, I visit the pre-renovation space with Amelia Greenhall, one of the people who helped create the non-profit organization. She explains why Double Union is necessary, and the path that led to it and others like it.

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And thanks to our patrons, supporting us by pledging an amount via Patreon for each episode we produce. Thanks this time to Bryan Clark and GravityFish! You help make it all happen.

Show notes

While Double Union accepts only women as members, the group notes that, "We are intersectional feminists, women-centered, and queer and trans-inclusive." Members may invite guests who may visit with a member, and may be any gender or age. The group will also have open houses open to any any gender or age.

Amelia Greenhall has a vast array of interests currently centered around Quantified Self and wearable technology, but her site shows the full range of what she's working on. (Quantified Self aims to use technology to measure our physiological state and inputs, and turn that information into useful data for self-modification or health monitoring.)

Amelia mentions three zine makers and their projects: Mermaid Tits produced by Hannah Schulman; Camel Toe, produced by Abigal Young; and Elly Blue's array of work. Elly is a Portland bike activist and publisher who has used Kickstarter many, many times to underwrite the expenses of her publishing and other endeavors. (She was a guest during our Portland pre-XOXO festival shindig, contributed an article on cargo bikes to The Magazine, and will be a future interviewee here.)

Before we get to Double Union, Amelia explains the concept of an unconference, and the intent of the Ada Initiative. Double Union arose in part from discussions with Leigh Honeywell and Frances Hocutt, who fostered the Seattle Attic makerspace, which is feminist, women-centered, and inclusive, but open to all genders as members. There's also Flux in Portland, Oregon, and three others of a similar intent outside the U.S.

Impostor syndrome is a pervasive problem among creators who go it on their own, because we constantly compare ourselves to those around us, and believe that we can't possibly be competent enough to be in their league. We worry about being discovered. Birds of a feather (BoF) sessions are ad hoc, participant-driven breakout sessions in conferences.

At The Magazine, we dealt with a paucity of women pitching articles partly by me talking to female contributors and writing "Gender Binder." This article seemed to mark a turning point, after which we received article submissions from a far more even ratio of men and women. Bylines average close to parity since.

The Ada Initiative created a standardized anti-harassment policy that has been adopted by over a hundred conferences. I mention an article in The Magazine by Rosie J. Spinks called "Hacked Off," in which she looks at harassment of women in the hacker-activism community. Some readers found this article problematic because they hadn't seen harassment themselves.

Amelia points to the timeline of sexist incidents at the Geek Feminism wiki as an indication of how pervasive harassment is, and how much more thoroughly it's being documented. Kelly Kend described harassment directed at her at XOXO 2013, and how well it was handled by the organizers. Amelia countered with what happened at Pycon 2013, in which a woman called out two men via Twitter for remarks, and then one of the men and she were both fired.

We are so over mansplaining, aren't we? Not yet.

Jean MacDonald was a guest on The New Disruptors last month ("Girls Just Want to Code Apps") to talk about App Camp for Girls, in which the instructors and attendees are all women. Jean and I talked at some length about fiscal sponsorship, in which an existing non-profit handles the administration and fund collection for a nascent one.

Liz Henry, a veteran software/Internet/reality cool-things maker, was part of the Double Union planning. Double Union created an Indiegogo campaign to raise capital for buildout and equipment purchases, intending memberships to pay rent and other ongoing costs. Asking for $5,000, the group raised over $15,000.

Once you find out about paper joggers, and you regularly deal with paper, you might not rest until you have one. Sergers create overlock stitches that seal the edges of cut fabric with stitches, and can trim at the same time! With a serger, you can dramatically reduce the time to make clothing that looks professionally produced. Sergers are cool.

I spoke to the folks behind Makerhaus about what was then an about-to-open facility for education, training, creation, and co-working back in February 2013 in "Iterative Imperative."

Ashe Dryden has a lot to say about diversity, inclusivity, and harassment.

Wait a Cotton-Picking Minute with Jay Fanelli and Nathan Peretic (Episode 54)

Jay Fanelli and Nathan Peretic know how to go it on their own. They've done it not just once, not just twice, but now three times. They formed the interactive-services company Full Stop Interactive, out of which United Pixelworkers was formed, a company that produces fine wearable merchandise. And United Pixelworkers gave birth to Cotton Bureau, a site that uses crowdfunding to pick which shirts should get printed. Now they're doubling down and focusing entirely on the T-shirt and merchandise businesses.

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This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons. Our patrons support us by pledging an amount via Patreon for each episode we produce. Thanks this time to GravityFish and Elliott Payne! You help make it all happen.

You can sponsor this show by contacting Podlexing (part of The Midroll).

Show notes

Aaron Draplin runs his own design firm, Draplin Design Co., and collaborates with Jim Coudal on Field Notes. I interviewed Jim in January 2013 and Aaron in September 2013.

Pittsburgh defied the United States Board of Geographic Names to keep an h at the end of its name. Dribbble lets designers show off their work.

We talked through several different methods of T-shirt printing, including traditional silk screening and digital printing or direct-to-garment printing, in which something akin to an ink-jet printer outputs ink onto clothing.

The Incomparable T-shirts, with art by The Icon Factory, sold in the hundreds. If you see a zeppelin, you're probably in a parallel universe.

A Year of Living Disruptively with Guests from Early Episodes (53)

The New Disruptors launched on December 5, 2012. I wanted to talk to people making stuff, creating art, or helping others get their work out there. The show is now at episode 53, and it's been a delightful year. I wanted to look back at early guests, and was able to get the folks who appeared on the first four episodes to chat briefly about what happened next. I talk in this show with Lisanne Pajot and James Swirksy, Indie Game: The Movie; Chris Anderson, then Wired and now 3DRobotics; Tony Konecny, Tonx (coffee); and Evan Ratliff, of The Atavist and Creativist.

Sponsors & Patrons

This podcast is made possible through the support of sponsors and patrons. Thanks to Smile Software's TextExpander for sponsoring this week's episode! TextExpander avoids the tedium of retyping common text, shortening URLs, and much more.

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And thanks to our patrons, supporting us by pledging an amount via Patreon for each episode we produce. Thanks this time to GravityFish and Elliott Payne! You help make it all happen.

Show notes

I know regular listeners will be disappointed, but the show notes this time around are exceedingly short, as it's a reflective episode. These are the original episodes (in order that they appear in this anniversary check-in) for each guest or guests:

Lights, Notes, and Brews from XOXO (Episode 43)

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XOXO is a truly remarkable festival and conference that you've heard me talk about quite a lot. I interviewed Andy Baio and Andy McMillan just before they announced the line-up for the 2013 show, which took place in mid-September. At XOXO, I interviewed the folks behind four companies or projects exhibiting there about what they were up to: Brewbot, Draplin Design, Projecteo, and NeoLucida. To read more about the 2013 event, read my account at Boing Boing, Leah Reich's essay "The Uncanny Valley of Earnestness" about the place for criticism in the midst of positivity, and Frank Chimero's "The Inferno of Independence."


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Chris McClelland. 

Chris McClelland, Brewbot

This band of app developers, known as Cargo, and home brewers from Northern Ireland attended XOXO in 2012 and were so inspired they built a prototype of Brewbot, an automatic beer-brewing system that relies on sensors, precise temperatures, and app to get you consistent results. Their Kickstarter is 60% of the way to its £100,000 goal as we finished editing this podcast. I spoke with Cargo's CEO, Chris McClelland. (Kickstarter allowed UK-based creators to launch projects in October 2012.)

Aaron Draplin. 

Some of Aaron Draplin's designs. 

Some of Aaron Draplin's designs. 

Aaron Draplin, Draplin Design

Aaron Draplin is an American original. A graphic designer who produces bold and interesting work that's rooted in love of place and love of materials, he had a huge booth for Draplin Design, selling T-shirts, posters, and Field Notes products. Field Notes is a co-venture between his firm and Jim Coudal of Coudal Partners. Aaron and I spoke while someone else staffed his booth, which was selling out of gear as fast as he could drive it over; he works in Portland.

(I interviewed Jim in January 2013 in "Any Color But Purple," Episode 7. The purple referred to the purple-covered Field Notes guides custom printed for XOXO 2012. Aaron told him to use any color — but purple. This year's were slightly redder than puce.)


Ben Redford, Projecteo

Projecteo is adorable: a tiny film projector that's connected with your Instagram account. Select photos and they're printed to a 35mm frame as an itsy-bitsy film wheel, which the company cuts out and delivers with the micro-projector. Funds were raised via Kickstarter ($87,000 towards an $18,000 goal.) One of the fellows behind Projecteo, Ben Redford, and I talked about how it works and about a tiny 3D-printed "theater" that pairs with it.

An attendee uses NeoLucida for a drawing. 

The parts of the NeoLucida. 

The parts of the NeoLucida. 

Pablo Garcia, NeoLucida

The advent of good-quality lenses in the 1600s brought new ways of seeing things. The camera lucida overlays what someone sees through a lens with a piece of paper onto which one can trace or draw. Pablo Garcia and Golan Levin collaborated to make a modern version, the NeoLucida. Pablo had antique models on site, and a table set up for visitors to try out his new version. Funded on Kickstarter for vastly more than their target — $425,000 towards a $15,000 goal! — Pablo explains to me in this interview how they worked to scale up and meet production demands.

His Bright Materials with James Flynn (Episode 40)

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James Flynn is a New Zealander who relocated to San Francisco where he runs Extrasensory Devices. He's an engineer who started by developing modems, and then released on his own a set of drum-tempo monitors and a light-meter add-on for the iPhone. He's launched three Kickstarters, all of which funded, and has plenty more in his pipeline.


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Show Notes

James three Kickstarter campaigns were for Wiretap Headphone Microphone Splitter, the Luxi light meter for photography, and the Toaster, splitter that splits in output and keeps the mic active. James works very closely with Sparkfactor design, which has created the designs for lots of products you may have owned or used.

I mention Pen Type-A, Taylor Levy and Che-Wei Wang, who I interviewed in "Episode 12: Où est la plume de ma Kickstarter?


I Take Mine (Studio) Neat

The fine fellows at Studio Neat, Tom & Dan (interviewed in Episode #26) , launched a new crowdfunding campaign today that they had hinted out when we spoke. The Neat Ice Kit, a great name, will let you create clear ice for cocktails. There's an advantage to ice without bubbles: it not only looks beautifully, but it melts more slowly and consistently, which makes ice more of a precisely controlled ingredient than a watery explosion. (Alison Hallett wrote about clear ice in "Icecapades" in The Magazine.)

As we've seen across many interviews, people who complete one crowdfunding project successfully often learn so much from the experience that they come back again — and sometimes again and again! 

Pretty neat. 

Pretty neat. 

Episode 33: Andrew “bunnie” Huang: Buy a Soldering Iron at Midnight

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Andrew Huang, known as "bunnie" (lowercase) to his friends, first came to the public eye when, while a graduate computer-science student at MIT, he cracked the proprietary wrapper around Microsoft's Xbox operating system in 2002, which allowed it then to run any software of his choosing. Microsoft didn't like this and MIT told him it wouldn't provide any support if a legal defense were needed. Fortunately, Microsoft quickly realized how embarrassing the situation could be, never pursued legal action, and bunnie published a book on the topic. He went on to design the Chumby, a squeezable interactive personal app device, and now works on a variety of projects for the public good, including an open laptop design and an open design for a radiation detector in the wake of the nuclear plant disasters in Japan.

Show notes

Because of his own poor treatment in 2002 by the MIT administration, bunnie sympathized with Aaron Swartz's plight, and he and No Starch Press made his Xbox book available as a free download in tribute.

The Chumby was a small computer with a touchscreen that could run apps provided by the makers as well as those developed by users and third parties. It was cute as heck. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) bars the reverse-engineering of technology designed to protect copyrighted content. In effect, it means that devices you own are locked up behind criminal penalties for making modifications regardless of whether any piracy or other illegal acts may occur. It eliminates non-infringing and infringing uses equally.

Sony's original compact disc specification included no encryption, which is why CDs can be freely read and ripped. The Jorge Luis Borges story I reference is a favorite: Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.

Kyle Durrie talked about her Type Truck in our previous episode, #32, "Put the Pedal to the Metal." The Foo Camp is an invitation-only gathering run by O'Reilly Media to bring together people to germinate ideas while camping in their offices or an adjacent field. It's considered influential, an honor to be invited, and something like a geek sleepover camp all at once. The Chris Hawker podcast, about making and licensing products was Episode 30, "License to Krill."

Lots of pictures of regular and modified Chumbys have been posted at Flickr. Fabless design firms include some of the largest electronics companies, and refers to outsourcing the making of the chips to a contract integrated-circuit fabrication ("fab") plant. Bunnie is very interested in self-blinking LEDs: LEDs that have a tiny power source embedded.

Bunnie found a mass-manufactured $12 cell phone for sale in Shenzhen. You can buy anything electronic and any component at nearly any hour of the day or night in Shenzhen's markets. This reminded me of Akihabara in Japan, which has an absurd range of consumer electronics. But Akihabara is a tiny district; Shenzhen's markets are vast.