Bay Area Maker Faire 2007: Divining Pod, NifNaks, and SRL

Filed Under Education, Fire, News, SF Bay Area, Video | 2007-05-23, 21:30

Wow, what an event. I only made it down for about half of one day and was astounded by the number of people as well as things that were there to see and do. Everyone and their brother who was within driving distance seems to have already reported on the event, but there were a few things I wanted to personally touch on that I found most interesting.

monochrom’s Divining Pod

The Monochrom crew was back in the states on their International Year of Polytheism tour this past weekend. Large balloons, a supply of helium, and small children contributed to an attempt at sending one lucky person to the heavens. To quote Johannes, it was a “semi-total success”. There are tons of videos and photos floating around, and monochrom has a good wrap-up here


Our friend Nifer has been in hiding, working hard on starting her own business, NifNaks, for several months. While we had a chance awhile back to peek at what she’s been up to, it wasn’t until the Maker Faire that she fully unveiled everything. She had her very own booth for the business that’s sure to take off. Of interest to most geeks out there, one of her more popular items was the Flying Spaghetti Monster pin. Her site,, is up and live so those of you that didn’t make it to her booth can order your own felt creations.

The SRL Show

While there were a large number of things at the Maker Faire that were kind of dangerous (Tesla coils, fire sculptures, power tool drag races, and more) I don’t think many of them truly compared to the unannounced SRL show. They had several amazing machines to show off this weekend, including Hovercraft, Running Machine, Dual Mule and Mr. Satan Head. Destruction, noise, and fire were all the results of this show. Part of it included Mr Satan Head setting fire to a large ball that appeared to be made of cardboard, which burned ever so nicely. However, the wind started to kick up, fueling the fire and blowing smoke and ash directly into the audience. The bleachers evacuated, and people were forced to move away from the fence. This picture kind of gives you an idea of the level of smoke when they began to put it out.

Of course sirens were heard in the distance and the fire department showed up shortly after. It turns out that the event organizers impounded Mr. Satan Head and billed SRL for $6600 in cleanup to the damaged parking lot. Ouch. In addition, one woman suffered minor burns, however SRL covered both her medical expenses and “pain and suffering”. Laughing Squid has some great photos in their post about the show. We’ve got a few more shots on Flickr and Rick Washburn posted the follow video of the event:


Langar: Free Vegetarian Food for Everyone

Filed Under Education, News | 2007-05-21, 11:59

Rubin sent over this link about a congressman who is attempting to live on food stamps, but had his peanut butter and jelly confiscated by the TSA when trying to fly. Comments on the state of our transportation security aside, this reminded me of something I had once seen in a television show awhile back, kitchens that provide free, vegetarian food to anyone. I believe I first saw it on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”. I pulled up the wikipedia article and figured I’d put a link here to share with everyone and to “blogmark” it for myself. For those too lazy to click, “Langar (Punjabi: ????) is the term used in the Sikh religion for the free, vegetarian-only food served in a Gurdwara and eaten by everyone sitting as equals.”

I wish something like this was here in the states (and all over the world). I think life would be a lot better for everyone if there were full stomachs all around.

(image via mercedesfromtheeighties)


Staying Sane: 10 ways to be more productive

Filed Under Lifehacks | 2007-05-16, 11:55

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got too many things going on. So many projects, ideas, tasks, etc are on the list to get done and it seems like there’s never enough hours in the day. Sometimes it takes a little reminder of how to work more efficiently. has a good little Ten-List of some ways to increase your productivity. While none of them are entirely groundbreaking, it’s a good collection of tips to help you focus on what needs to get done.

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Helio Ocean – First Impressions

Filed Under Gadgets & Hardware | 2007-05-14, 23:46

Helio Ocean: Not a Cat Remote
The Helio Ocean arrived today. My first impressions:
– nice and small
– the slide is kind of cool
– nice 2mp camera
– downloadable video, meh. but the episode of Ask a Ninja was totally watchable.
– wow fast speeds
– GPS is pretty good
– Google Maps looks gorgeous and is fast
– buttons are very non-intuitive
– space bar is tiny
– keyboard not too bad, but not too great
– definitely some buggy software

So far my thoughts are “I wish they could combine the Sidekick OS with the Helio hardware”. I’ll have a more in depth review coming eventually, with a side by side comparison to the Sidekick 3. Some quick pictures are up over on Flickr.



Filed Under Photography, Websites | 2007-05-14, 10:26

Because we all know you aren’t wasting nearly enough time with Twittervision, along comes the even cooler, flickrvision. Thanks David Troy.

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Image Upload Plugin for WordPress

Filed Under Tools, Websites, Wordpress | 2007-05-14, 01:06

I hate WordPress 2.x’s handling of images. Yes, I said it. In fact this one feature has kept some of my blogs on WordPress 1.x just because I like the plugin I found for uploading images and creating thumbnails all from a web interface, no need to load Photoshop. I just discovered that this plugin has been updated for WordPress 2.x. They just made my day! (Yeah, I noticed, they’ve been compatible since 12/2005, but I never got the memo!) For all your bloggers out there using WordPress 2.x that are frustrated with the image uploading and posting, I highly recommend checking out IImage Browser.

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Filed Under Funny, Websites | 2007-05-12, 23:03

With the Twitter fad no longer the top news, it seems like everyone is turning to Lolcats and Lolgeeks. I won’t be the first to admit, I check ICanHasCheezburger every day. Lolgeeks every now and then and it’s not nearly as cute. But this one made me actually lol.

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Rube Goldberg + Fire = Awesomeness

Filed Under Fire, Video | 2007-05-12, 12:02

I like fire. I like Rube Goldberg contraptions. There’s a Rube Goldberg contraption that uses fire. I don’t think anything else needs to be said. Just watch the video…

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World-Record Rocket Launch

Filed Under News | 2007-05-12, 10:49

The Austin, TX Cub Scout Pack 990 and Boy Scout Troop 990 decided that the current world record for most model rockets launched at once was weak, only 399 at once. The idea was pitched by Cub Scout Ethan Phillips and his father, and the scouts were able to raise $8,000 to cover the materials. The launch happened on May 12th and was a success! While the plan was to initally launch an even 1,000 rockets within 5 seconds, they were able to hit a more than respectful 965 at once. What’s even more impressive is that all of these rockets were hand built from those these Quest Astra kits. Congrats to Pack 990 and Troop 990 for getting their entry in the Guinness Book of World Records!

More pics can be found on flickr here and here and the original press release.

UPDATE: Updated the link to point to the model of model rockets that the Scouts used, not those “other” kits. I’ve heard that Dr. Evil uses the “other” smelly kits for his rockets. Quest not only has some fun rockets, they also have other flying objects.

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Measure your Internet Connection

Filed Under Tools, Websites | 2007-05-12, 00:55

Speed Test

Looking to see how fast of a download speed you have? Or maybe you’re wanting to measure your upstream. InternetFrog has you covered with the coolest looking connection speed test applet I’ve seen so far.

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