· comments  · 06-2-2015 · categories:links · technology ·
The Jezebel Staff, Perfected. A demonstration of photo editing software that makes people look extra pretty. Its a send up of our overly perfected Instagram age but it kinda sold me on getting one of these apps.
Meet the Man Behind ‘Solarized,’ the Most Important Color Scheme in Computer History | Observer. Via The Wirecutter.
Explorable Explanations. Via Waxy.
A word on the iPhone 6/6 Plus and third-party headphones | The Wirecutter. What to look for to be sure your headphones will fit, and if not a few DIY solutions.
Something Has to Change in Videogames: Everything & Everyone | Unwinnable.
Replacing an inkjet printer with a laser printer | Ask MetaFilter. I recently noticed that my current inkjet printer is nearly a decade old, which means that despite zero signs of something going wrong it’s going to brick itself due to the extra attention. So, laser is what I’m looking at next as well.
Next iPhone game for a Monument Valley lover | Ask MetaFilter.
Weekend Getaway: Telltale Games’ Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent | The Mary Sue. I love this game and it’s sequel.
· comments  · 04-6-2015 · categories:links · technology ·
These are the games for iPad that I find particularly relaxing and keep around to replay after enough time has passed that I’ve forgotten how to solve most levels.
This is a stunningly beautiful and simple game that plays with Escher style geometry and has a slightly spooky story. For iOS, Google Play and Kindle Fire.
This is a short and exceedingly sweet game about what a dog dreams about. An especially stylish version of a point and click style adventure. For iOS, Google Play and Kindle Fire.
Find the Line
In this game you slide a few lines until they compose a picture and watching the lines dance through their patterns, which work as hints, is beautiful and mesmerizing. One downside: while the game is free the distributor has put video ads between each level and you cannot pay to make the ads go away. Bummer. Just in iOS.
Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake
A cartoonish and funny puzzle game with a surprising amount of levels. I thoroughly loved this game and the levels are satisfyingly tricky while the story is well developed. For iOS, Google Play, Amazon Apps and Steam.
See also the previously mentioned: Tiny Thief and Little Inferno.
· comments  · 11-6-2014 · categories:technology ·
The Very Worst Video Game Ever Made – Gamefilter. Desert Bus is released for iPhone and iPad and Android. Yessss!
The Eye-Fi mobi card is the real deal | A Whole Lotta Nothing.
New study says more adult women play video games than teenage boys · Newswire · The A.V. Club. “Before anyone pins this on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood or whatever, the study also says the average adult woman has played games for 13 years”.
· comments  · 10-22-2014 · categories:links · technology ·
The Best USB Battery Pack for Travel | The Wirecutter. Only $40, nice.
Meet the game that shows us the future of storytelling — The Message — Medium. Robin Sloan suggests how to play Gone Home for non-gamers and goes into why this is a form of video game that is worth paying attention to. Via Waxy.
10 Years, 10 Great Games: Jessica’s picks | Joystiq.
The secret of Minecraft — The Message — Medium. A very good perspective on what Minecraft is an exactly why it matters.
$7 Portal Mod Has Fans Riled Up | Game|Life | WIRED.
Cool Tools – Panda Ultra Wifi 1540Mbps Wireless N 2.4Ghz Adapter. A teeny tiny adapter that can work as an access point at those hotels that offer you wifi for one device. Nice.
The last of the great Twitter apps at Kottke. I’m looking at #2 on the list here, TweetBe.at, which makes it much easier to sort and edit Twitter lists. I’ve recently been asking friends about why they prefer to communicate with Facebook or Twitter and the Facebook people site overload on Twitter with Twitter list making is too time consuming to use properly. It is indeed a pain and it used to be much easier.
· comments  · 07-29-2014 · categories:links · technology ·
Monument Valley: new levels on the way | Polygon. Yes!
Tales From The Borderlands nets a nerdy voice cast | Joystiq. I’m pretty darn excited for this game to come out.
Oculus Game Lucky’s Tale Will Blow Your Mind | Game|Life | WIRED. I want to play this.
Ask a Game Dev — Why are so many people demanding AAA titles to be all feminist and stuff when women don’t even buy those games?. There are twice as many gamers who are female and over the age of 31 than there are male under the age of 18, so guess who is spending money on games. Via Andrea Phillips.
How to Make a Light-Up Father’s Day Card | Brit + Co.
Montreal-style bagel – Wikipedia. NOTE: “Montreal-style bagels are currently the only style of bagel to have ventured into space.” Via a discussion with friends.
RINGLY | Smart Jewelry and Accessories. A ring that is connected to your phone and has several vibration patterns and colored lights for different notifications – email, text, Uber arriving. Interesting! Via SwissMiss.
Ravelry and knitting: Why Facebook can’t match the social network for knitters at Slate. I’ve been telling people for years that Ravelry should be studied as the example of an ideal social networking site.
· comments  · 06-16-2014 · categories:links · technology ·
Earlier this year I recommended two games for iOS that I hadn’t actually played on iOS and I’m here now to un-recommend. But both of the games are amazing and you should play them, just on different systems.
Aquaria was released for PC in 2007 and won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at IGF that year. I played it around 2009 and fell deeply in love with the game. It was adapted and became available for iOS a few years ago and after recommending it I finally bought it for my iPad mini. Everything about it was the same but just as soon as I got into the areas where combat is required I died. Over and over again. You respawn at points very close to where you die but it was still frustrating. Why did I like the game so much upon the first play through? A little bit of memory jogging and I remembered why – with the PC version you can gently hack the settings so that your character takes damage less quickly. You’re not invincible but needing to regain energy comes at a much more reasonable pace for me. The other reason that playing on a computer has a bit of an edge is simply that there are keyboard shortcuts for triggering common things in the game that come in very handy. (One tip: If you are playing on iOS make sure you pick up your first pet before you head out to Open Waters to explore beyond the initial area of the game. Not having that was part of the reason I was expiring so quickly and why I was frustrated to the point of not continuing.)
General review: In Aquaria you play as an creature who lives in underwater caves and has no memory. You set out to make discoveries and during the course of play you uncover the history of yourself as well as a set of long lost civilizations all wrapping up in the story of the creation and downfall of a god. The game is vast and takes a long time to play. You are in an open world, meaning you can venture into almost any area of the game at any time. There are a few features that block your way until you gain new abilities but those abilities also unlock some fast travel systems later on which is great because you will be revisiting areas. There is a map and a note system so you can mark areas to return to. The game can be at times delightful and spooky and just when you think you cannot possibly find anything new everything changes completely, and then it changes again. I adore the feeling of exploration in this game, there is an amazing amount of space to search and most every area has a secret to reveal to those who look closely. If you get stuck or want hints the forums at Bit Blot are very thorough. The character development, soundtrack and story all lead to most people, including myself, having an emotional attachment. It’s one of those games to dive into in the depth of winter or if you break a bone and are immobile for a while.
Bonus points for the main character and most of the secondary characters being well developed and powerful females. Game includes impressively vast open world exploration, puzzle solving, combat, resource gathering and crafting and an amazing story and soundtrack. For game nerds I’ll point out that one of the developers went on to create a game called Spelunky, you might know it?
Available for PC, Mac and Linux (DRM free). Also on Steam.
Aquaria was made by two developers, check out their other stuff: Alec Holowka’s projects can be found at Infinite Ammo and see Derek Yu‘s site.
The Cave is a game by my beloved Double Fine that I hadn’t played yet but was on my radar. I bought it for my iPad and got stuck almost right away because the tablet controls are terrible. I was so frustrated I pulled up a bunch of reviews and the majority of them echoed my later conclusion – the game is great but the tablet controls are unsatisfactory and it’s worth playing the game in a different form.
So next I bought the game for my OUYA and loved it. The game is funny and sarcastic. In the game you choose three characters (out of an available seven) to go in and explore the cave, or rather, The Cave. Each character has a different set of abilities and can reach different parts of the cave. As you progress you learn the stories of each character, and they aren’t always what they seem. The playthrough isn’t terribly long and you can replay choosing different characters to reach different parts of the cave, though there are a few areas you will play through during each pass, which can be a little repetitive the third time you play (if you want to play all the characters). My favorites were the Twins, the Scientist and the Explorer.
Bonus points to the developer for making half the playable characters female. Game includes plot driven exploration, puzzle solving and humor. Available on Steam and OUYA.
Double Fine has been up to some interesting stuff lately, I cannot wait for the second half of Broken Age and their older games are well worth playing, there is a special spot in my heart for Psychonauts which I didn’t play until a few years ago.
Let’s talk games. I have a PS3, a PC, an OUYA and an iPad. In wintertime I want games to play in my living room so the PS3 and the OUYA are my focus, otherwise I am often looking for something to pass the time on a flight so I look for games for my iPad. My PC gaming has fallen away with the exception of a few extended story lines or games bought through Steam or Kickstarter (Dreamfall Chapters and Broken Age part 2 are what I’m currently anticipating). With all these platforms I’m only slightly aware of all the games out there that I know I’d like. (Even doing some link gathering for this post has led me to some gems that have been around for a while but are new to me.) Lately I’ve been depending on the podcast The Indoor Kids for game recommendations, and they do an amazing job but their focus as been on Xbox lately. I’m looking for a website or news source that is curated enough to not be overwhelming, my usual sources – Jay Is Games, Ars Technica, Touch Arcade – are often more information than I can parse.
So, I’m curious! Where do you find yourself looking for new games? What platform do you prefer? What news source do you trust?
· comments  · 05-14-2014 · categories:iphone · technology ·
PSA: How To Take Good Care Of Your PC | Best Of MetaFilter. I still primarily use PCs.
Solidoodle 4: Testing the home 3-D printer. At Slate, via The Morning News. “Consider: Once upon a time, people purchased sewing patterns (like a program from Thingiverse) and yards of fabric (like filament) and they made their own clothes. I wasn’t alive back then, but I’m pretty sure the process sucked. It took lots of time and effort and the clothes were often amateurishly constructed. … Most people would much rather just get their clothes from a store—already assembled by people employing industrial-level efficiency and a wide variety of materials.”
THREES – The Rip-offs & Making Our Original Game. Some in depth exploration and conflicted feelings on the clones. Via Waxy.
· comments  · 04-11-2014 · categories:links · technology ·
Here are the games that I’ve been playing on my iPad which have been keeping me distracted from the cold, wet darkness of winter.
In this game you burn things. Toys and bricks and food and batteries and planets. For everything you burn you build up credit to buy more things to burn, which you order from catalogs. There is a plot that unfolds as you progress in the form of notes from your neighbor and updates from the weatherman as you cower indoors. This game is a criticism on video games and it skewers the way that modern games get you to obsessively play against odds and (spoiler alert) ultimately chides you for wasting your time playing this game. That said, I enjoyed every moment. The fire sound effects are soothing, each thing you burn has a different aspect or reaction (some scream, some explode) and it remains amusing throughout. The graphics are all lovingly created fun to toss around. You get a bonus when you burn things together from a pun-tastic list you can check off when you guess what “Duck Season” or “Nuclear Shave” means, which adds an extra completionist layer and will have you looking back through old objects to find a match.
This game manages to be simple fun while having you looking extra hard to find a deeper story, and you won’t be disappointed. The humor and a few subjects inside are not for young children. $4.99 in the App Store, see more at the Tomorrow Corporation website. Also for Windows, Mac and Linux.
This is a mysterious and emotionally dark exploration game based on Swedish folk tales. It starts without any guidance on how to play or where you are or what you are doing, all things you’ll uncover as you progress. It’s graphics and spooky atmosphere had me continue to poke around instead of giving up in frustration. The first time I played it I was on a plane and the guy next to me made a point to ask what I was playing, it really is that pretty.
One of the first objects you encounter doesn’t end up being used in the completion of the game but it does tie into the Companion game ,which is easy to simply not know about. The companion game is short but adds some explanation and depth to the original story and it, apparently, wasn’t released for a good long time after the main game which was a very interesting move.
This game deals with murder and ghost horses and dead babies and is really, really not for the young. $3.99 in the App Store, Year Walk Companion is free. Year Walk will also be available on Steam soon, see the Year Walk website.
This is a recent addition to the app store but I’d had a preview of it last year at the Seattle Indies Expo. The graphic in this game are all inspired by origami and in the game you actually unfold objects to go deeper, it’s a fresh and intuative and frankly gorgeous form of gameplay. That said the unhappy reviews of this game focus on the fact that it’s short, which is true (but it’s worth the price) and slow, also true but the only aspect I had a problem with. Your character moves from location to location at a fairly slow pace and the first time you run through a new land it’s great to have a chance to look around and admire the origami landscape. When you backtrack to solve a try something it takes a little patience, when you have to go back for the eighth time to move something into another position in the midst of solving a puzzle you get downright impatient. A form of double-click-to-run option would solve all this and in the end it’s a trivial complaint in the midst of a deeply beautiful game. Available in the App Store now, $4.99, pre-order for OS X and Windows is on now. See more at the Nyamyam site.
This is a new adventure game in the old school point and click style. Everything is hand drawn in a charming cartoon style and it’s set in a completely different world which is underground and dying out and guess what? That’s right! Your character is unwittingly set on the path to save it. I’ve loved this style of game since King’s Quest 1 and a thoroughly enjoyed this game, the gather-and-combine puzzles aren’t too obvious and aren’t too incomprehensible, the conversations with characters are funny (and skippable if you find yourself asking the same question), the world is quirky and unexpected. It’s a bit of a slower pace than (affect a “kids these days” tone of voice here) games these days but I loved it and played it in short bits as a sort of bedtime story for myself. There isn’t much objectionable in this game (it’s Despicable Me type grown up inside joke humor) but it probably won’t interest younger kids. $0.99 in the App store. Also available, DRM-free, for Windows and Mac on the Studio Fizbin website, it comes in German and English.
· comments  · 03-3-2014 · categories:technology ·
So, something in our house sprung a leak last weekend and I found water dripping down into my sewing room. We’ll be spending the week watching our ceiling get ripped out, dried up and rebuilt. We’ve been through this before and yes, it’s the same ceiling but a completely different cause this time. Let’s pretend none of this is happening and talk about video games instead!
I’m going to admit I have not finished this yet. I tend to play iPhone games in public situations (on the bus, waiting in line) and this one will require that you either have a keen memory or the ability to take down some visible notes (codes) to enter later on. That said, it’s worth playing with your headphones on as this mostly-text game uses audible as as well as visual cues tell a story, and the game requires you to rotate and tilt the screen to advance. This game is stylish and fun. It’s won a bunch of Best of 2013 awards and I agree. Awesomeness. $3.99 in the app store.
This is a fun combination of fill-in-the-word and future fiction. You are a viewer into a series of digital conversations between an all-seeing dictatorship, a rebel group and a friend caught in the middle. Your only clues are the context of the story you’re reading. It can be frustrating if you just cannot get one of the words and you are prevented from advancing. That said, if you just don’t know the answer it’s easy (too easy?) to Google and find a spoiler in return. This is one of those instances where if you love the story it’s worth engaging a friend to Google the answers and give you more gentle clues. $2.99 in the app store.
This is a simple game that uses Bluetooth to detect other players nearby and whoever reacts first can pick the others virtual pocket. It’s amazingly fun to get a notification of somebody nearby while you’re riding a bus or arriving at a party. But, there aren’t nearly enough players yet which is why I need you all to play. It’s got the potential to be epically fun. Free.
Home Sheep Home 2
I heart everything that Aardman Studios does so I’m a wee bit embarrassed that it took me so long to play their Home Sheep Home 2 puzzle platformer involving Shaun the Sheep and his usual suspects. In each screen you’ve got to solve some puzzles to get three sheep to the exit. Each sheep has a different ability, one jumps high, one pushes heavy things, one fits through small spaces, and you’ll need all three to solve each level. The soundtrack, humor, personalities of the sheep and the crisp sound effects make a very charming game that is balanced with just enough difficulty. As you progress there are new elements presented (gravity!) and as you play there are collectibles for us completionists. That said, if you tend to play casual games in a web browser some of the levels are available online: Underground, Lost In London, as well as the original Home Sheep Home. $.99 in the app store. (Home Sheep Home 1 is also available for $.99 but know that it’s a much shorter game.)
This is similar to Shaun the Sheep, you have to get the snail to the exit on each screen. You click to move things out of the way, manipulate gravity and the like and in each level there are three stars hiding. It’s not as stylized as Home Sheep Home but it makes my problem solving pleasure centers happy. You can play a bunch of Snail Bob games online for free and if you’d like to try it out Snail Bob 5, A Love Story is a good representation of what is in the iPhone game. $.99 in the app store.
· comments  · 02-24-2014 · categories:iphone · technology ·
Announcing The Walk Game — Andrea Phillips.
GameFace headset offers wireless, Android-powered Oculus Rift alternative | Joystiq.
The OUYA Doesn’t Actually Suck: How to Make the Indie Console Great. Emulators? PS3 controllers? Yes.
State of the Blog Union: How The Blogging World Has Changed | Design*Sponge. All these things are true, and I really like her optimistic conclusion. Still, RIP blogs as we knew them.
Cool Tools – Ulmon Offline Mobile Maps at Cool Tools. I use an app called Offmaps to save data usage and look forward to comparing these two against each other.
SteelSeries Stratus iOS 7 gamepad launches for $20 less than its pre-order price | Joystiq. Oh boy, I’d like one of these.
Size Matters | Slog. Two games to keep an eye out for.
Indie Shows Join Forces For Radiotopia | Public Radio Exchange. I seem to continuously be finding ways to seek out the best corners of public radio and so I’m thrilled that PRX has gathered them together here. Podcast lovers, this is a list you should take note of.
· comments  · 02-6-2014 · categories:links · technology ·
· comments  · 11-22-2013 · categories:links · technology ·
I’ve been saving up a few games on my iPad for our upcoming trip
This is a Sega game from Monkey Island creator Ron Gilbert an Double Fine Productions. I have not played it yet so I’m just hoping that the on screen controls all make sense. Yay for vintage games. (iTunes.)
The Walking Dead
What? I know, I have been holding onto this game for a long time. I played the first chapter and decided to keep it for the upcoming long plane ride. (iTunes.)
I actually played all the way through this and have been trying to forget all the good stuff so I can play it again. This game is so very charming and sweet, I actually played each level as a sort of bedtime story. This is a simple and entertaining point and click animated game. (iTunes, also on Android.)
Draw A Stickman Epic
I played through this before but they’ve added a levels and completeist elements since then. Also it’s all Halloween themed right now! (iTunes.)
This one is a suggestion on my part, I played the PC version of this a few years back and really really enjoyed it. I’m not sure how the on-screen controls will translate. In this game you are a little mermaid creature who wakes up with no memory and have to explore the underwater world, memories come back as you explore. There is a little combat but you can largely zoom past all the nasty creatures instead of fighting. (iTunes.)
Are there any iPad games you’ve been playing lately? Any that were surprisingly amazing?
· comments  · 11-4-2013 · categories:technology ·
Earlier this month I went to the Seattle Indies Exhibition. It’s a gathering of independent game designers who are showing off their upcoming projects and it happens during PAX. It’s free and separate from PAX so you don’t need a pass to get in. These are the games that caught my eye:
The Bridge by The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild. This started as a computer science student project and was further developed into a really interesting game. This is a logic puzzle game in which you can manipulate the position of the building as well as reverse the game in time as often as you’d like. It’s challenging and amazing and difficult to explain (go check out the trailer). The graphics are hand drawn in black and white and are stunning. Available now, Steam (Windows).
Tengami by Nyamyam. I’d love to tell you I played this game but I could only observe because it was the game that way always mobbed. It’s an adventure game set among Japanese fairy tails and involves pop-up book surprises. It was gorgeous and I must have it. In development, iOS, PC, Mac and Wii U.
Shaman by High Iron Studios. When I approached this table I was greeted by a man saying I was his target audience, Shaman is designed to appeal to girls because it has no violence. (I kept quiet about my character’s level in Borderlands 2. Not that I don’t appreciate a good non-violent game, mind you.) This game combines gorgeous comic books layout and graphics with exploration and gathering. You forge shields using a recipe like interface when you have the right components, then confront and attempt to cure a shaman that has been possessed. The recipes involve the elements of traditional Chinese medicine. This game wasn’t ready to play but there was a trailer showing while I talked with the game designer. The game will be released in six episodes starting later this year, PC.
Energy Hook by Happion Laboratories. This game is a little bit Spiderman with swinging physics and the city scape reminded me of Mirror’s Edge. You have a jetpack that gives your character some height and you can attach an Energy Hook to buildings and swing and jump. It’s a lot of fun. And I’m not just saying that because Jamie Fristrom let me sample the gameplay while wearing his Occulus Rift. You can currently do a post-Kickstarter to get Alpha access. Windows, Mac and Linux.
Festival of Magic by Snowcastle Games. I didn’t get a chance to play this but I was taken by the bright and appealing 3D graphics. This game is described as “adventure role-playing game in which the players must fight and farm their way to glory”. There is exploration, puzzle solving, combining materials for ammo and spells. This all sounded good but it sounded better when I found out this game uses turn-based combat. I’ll definitely be checking this out. Beta launch later this year. Nintendo Wii U, PC and Mac.
Buddy & Me by Sunbreak Games. This is a sidescrolling platformer and runner that is meant for kids and it’s called “an endless adventure about friendship”. Your character escapes into a dream where he’s joined by a large flying creature I was completely taken by the beautiful hand drawn graphics. If your character falls he’s lifted back onto the screen by some helpful little birds and the game continues, so there is little frustration involved. I might get this game for myself. Should be available soon. Android and iOS, mobile and tablet.
Redshift by Belief Engine. This is a timed escape game. Each go has a randomly generated map and countdown clock, between 3 and 5 minutes if I remember correctly. You need to run through the halls (of a nuclear power plant? I cannot remember!) to find three control panels. Your way is blocked by locked doors and fires, which you can pass by collecting objects. I am normally stressed out by countdowns but found this game engaging and fun. It’s not out yet but I’m keeping an eye out for it’s release. Android and iOS.
Go Plague Monkey! Go! by Sparsevector. This was a funny game where you play a plague infected money who must attack as many people as possible to spread the disease while avoiding police, CDC doctors and dogs. You collect power ups and have a random, open world to run around in. The graphics were cartoonish in a charming way and the game was hilarious to watch. Release later this year. Xbox Live Indie Games and Windows PC.
· comments  · 09-20-2013 · categories:technology ·
The other week I had the thrill of getting a peek inside Microsoft’s 3D Printing Lab. The visit was set up in the hopes that I’d tell you that Windows 8.1 will allow you to send items to any 3D printer as easily as you do to an ink printer. Clearly it worked.
They set aside a few hours (which is like years in Microsoft Time) to give myself and Louise from Mom Start a primer in 3D printing. Here is what I learned:
Right now there are two kinds of plastic that 3D printers use. ABS is a hard plastic while PLA is made from corn. PLA creates a more pliable final object but, just like compostable silverware, it cannot hold up to the heat of a dishwasher.
They had a few 3D printers set up to show us and, please forgive me here, I need to say that I’m working from my handwritten notes on the points below. I don’t have any personal experience with the machines and I very well might have stronger notes and/or opinions once I’ve used them.
– Makerbot Replicator 2. This can use standard spools of PLA plastic and has a nice large printing volume. It’s also for sale in the Microsoft store and let me just note that both Christmas and my birthday are coming up so if those who are close to me want to pool their money and get me something awesome and this is clearly a big hint right here.
– Cube 3D Printer. This is cute, sleek and comes in a few different colors and was presented as the one that would look nice inside a home office or kitchen (a point which I frankly found uninspiring). This one comes in at a lower price point but uses a proprietary system for their cartridges so you pay more for each ounce of finished object. It was mentioned that this one was easy to use and it’s won some awards so I’m curious to look into it further.
– UP Plus by PP3DP. This was presented as a low cost and high quality printer.
– Printrbot Jr. This one comes from a Kickstarter past, it’s low cost (under 1k) and might require a bit more know-how or basic determination and is perhaps a lower quality than higher priced 3D printers.
They also had a Form Labs Form 1 printer set up. This one prints from resin and instead of depositing melted plastic on a surface to build an object from the ground up it uses UV light from below to cure layers of resin from below so the object appears to grow from the liquid resin. Creepy! We didn’t get to see it in action but we did see a few final objects from it and they were smoother and more detailed than the other 3D printed objects we observed that day.
Above I talk about the cost of the printable plastic as a factor, but I’ll also mention that the people who work in the 3D Printing Labs mentioned that most things are printed hollow and use a minimum amount of plastic. While a kilogram of plastic can average $50 most printed objects they showed us were close to $6 in materials. I was a bit apprehensive of the materials cost until I took a sideways look at how much I’m willing to spend on yarn for cardigan that I have more fun planning and knitting than actually wearing. Looking at unit of cost divided by time spent planning and amount of fun had creating means that the cardigan costs way more. That said clearly the initial cost of a pair of knitting needles vs. a 3D printer is weighing in on the side of the knitters. Let’s just say both are expensive hobbies and it all depends on which one turns on your brain.
Earlier this year one of the keynote speakers at the Altitude Summit was Chris Anderson (former editor of Wired and one of Time’s Top 100 Thinkers) and he quickly brought the 3D printing thing to the gathered attendees by telling a story about being able to use his printers to make to-scale dollhouse furniture for his young daughters which they were then able to paint any way they wanted. As simplistic as that might come across it got me thinking. A family member of mine is an engineer and so I knew about 3D printing as a concept from an early age but that concept was always surrounded by the expectation of the object being an exacting part of a jet engine or a component in a high speed train brake system and at that point in time said printers were so expensive one couldn’t conceive of having inside one’s house. So this whole 3D printing for hobby and utility is still something I astounded by. (For the record I’ve been around long enough to have experienced the then-magical quality of a laserdisc player, though my family wasn’t the type to own a laserdisc. Wisely as it turns out.)
Let’s get back to the present. Right now there are a few online services like Shapeways, 3D Systems and even Staples that will take your file and mail you a final 3D printed object. This is great! But if you need to tweak and perfect things the delay of having something shipped to you vs. waiting 30 minutes for it to print out is clear. Most places also have makerspaces that offer use of 3D printers, here in Seattle we have Metrix Create Space and MakerHaus where you can rent time with the machine. (Further reading: Is it a Hackerspace, Makerspace, TechShop, or FabLab? at Make. You can find a makerspace directory over at Makerspace.com.)
In the future (as patents come to an end and the technology is more widely available) we’ll have an Open 3DP system that will allow us to print in substances like sugar, salt, clay, glass and bone. (Need personalized votive holders for an anniversary party? Bam.) The University of Washington apparently already has one of these in place and I really want to see what they’ve been making from it.
I mentioned above that I was aware of 3D printing as a kid but I think I first was really interested in what 3D printing could do when I saw the DIY sugar printer built by Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories way back in 2007. Because sugar! Marginally edible! Also, the possibility of printed sugar skulls! So of course while I was jumping to ask about printing with chocolate. Turns out there is already an open source mod on Thingiverse that creates a chocolate extruder, and the lab at Microsoft showed me the extra bit and mentioned that they use it when somebody in the office has a birthday. Awesome. Then Emmett, who could have been introduced to us as the guy who thinks up the possible, mentioned the hint of a printable cheese. Ooooh, think what you could make! From cheese!
Next we were shown a few ways in which Microsoft is looking at making easily creating a 3D printable object available to anybody with a Windows machine. I’m not allowed to tell you about them, but I am allowed to tell you that all of them will be easy to grasp, simple to create and awfully cool.
We talked about all the practical things that 3D printers will bring about like needed parts to remote medical outposts and researchers in Antarctica as well as recreations of ancient objects for kids in classrooms to be able to hold and touch. I personally want to see the day when humanity can print a personalized cheese sculpture for somebody who is having a birthday while on the Space Station.
For the record: I was not paid to tell you about this, I just think it’s pretty cool. I did accept the can of sparking water that they offered me while we were on the tour.
Two videos that are primers on 3D printing: Will 3D Printing Change the World? at PBS and Lisa Harouni: A primer on 3D printing at TED.
So of course I’ve been wandering around my house wondering what I would create with a 3D printer if I had simple access to one. Most of my ideas so far are practical – a little container to hold my favorite coffee scooper, a replacement part for the little leg that holds up my keyboard which broke off, and something perfect for holding an eggshell when you need it propped up to be painted. And definitely a 3D selfie.
What do you think of 3D printing becoming more and more available? Do you have any plans on what you’d print? Any annoying little problems that could be fixed if you just had the right thing?
· comments  · 09-16-2013 · categories:technology ·