What’s new in the maker community.

  • Safeguarding the Innovators November 10, 2017
    An Over Coffee® Veterans’ Day rebroadcast

    (Photo courtesy of Brent Chapman, and used with permission.)

    For Veterans’ Day weekend, Over Coffee® would like to thank our veterans and military service members, who give us the freedom to innovate.

    And one of the first people who comes to mind?  U.S. Army Captain Brent Chapman.

    Brent has made mindful innovation the focus of his career.  He is an avid maker, an information security professional and a Cyber Operations Veteran.  His military career has included serving as a research scientist at the Army Cyber Institute and, more recently, as Project Manager at the Army’s Defense Unit Experimental.   (And congratulations to him–he just started a new position in information security at Apple, according to his LinkedIn profile!)

    We met Brent at the 2016 Sensors Expo, in San Jose, where he gave a presentation on the security considerations to keep in mind, while creating disruptive technology.

    As we honor our veterans, here is our rebroadcast of our March 2017 Over Coffee® interview with Brent, about security considerations for makers and innovators.

    On this edition of Over Coffee®, you’ll hear:
    • How Brent first became a maker during his growing-up years;
    • The pitfalls he sees in the “maker mindset” that could compromise security;
    • The challenges of creating safeguards fof the Internet or other innovations in a connected world;
    • What considerations makers might want to keep in mind, when connecting to the Internet of Things;
    • The security safeguards Brent uses in his own home;
    • One of his most fun recent maker projects, for his young son;
    • Some of Brent’s favorite maker resources;
    •  Some cautionary considerations about wearables and security of data.


    MAKE Magazine

    Ars Technica



    (Would you like to know more about working with the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental, with which Brent was working at the time of our interview?  Here’s the link for more information.)

    And, of course, here is Brent’s maker website, Brentmore Labs.


  • Inspiration in the Making October 20, 2017
    Man watches mahinery at work at Houston Maker Faire

    (Photo courtesy of Houston Maker Faire, and used with permission.)


    “Houston Strong” is the theme of this year’s Houston Maker Faire.

    But that’s a lot more than just a theme.

    In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Houston makers have already been using their skills and imagination to help rebuild communities.

    And Maker Faire Houston, happening this Saturday and Sunday, October 21st and 22nd, is going to challenge them.

    As Maker Faire Houston celebrates its fifth anniversary, David Brunet and Andrew Lynch, two of its three co-founders , discussed the ways they’ve reached out to local makers.  For 2017 especially, Maker Faire Houston has asked to showcase their ideas, even beyond what they’ve done in the past.

    young man with 3D printed dinosaur skeleton head

    (Photo courtesy of Maker Faire Houston, and used with permission.)

    The result: some exciting keynotes, new educational sessions geared towards teachers, startups, a pitch competition, and lots of fun.  And they’re having Houston’s first-ever

    David and Andrew are the President and Vice-President, respectively, of nonprofit Innovation Spark.  In addition to producing Maker Faire Houston as its flagship event, Innovation Spark is dedicated to advancing STEM education in the Houston area.  Innovation Spark furthers that mission with additional events throughout the year, including Comic Palooza and mini maker faires at local schools.

    Andrew and David talked about their Maker Faire experiences, the creation of Maker Faire, five years ago, and what 2017 Maker Faire Houston visitors can experience, as makers go “Houston Strong”.

    On this edition of Over Coffee® you’ll hear:
    • The surprise David received at his first Maker Faire, in San Mateo;
    • How David, Andrew and fellow co-founder Mike Kinkel came to create Houston’s Maker Faire;
    • “Don’t miss” features at Houston’s Maker Faire 2017;
    • What’s going to be going on at Houston Maker Faire’s first “Raspberry Jam” session, with Raspberry Pi;
    • What attendees can look forward to, for keynote presentations;
    • How the Houston Maker Faire is working to inspire and rebuild Houston after Hurricane Harvey;
    • What will be available, in the areas of educational workshops for teachers;
    • How a high-school activity sparked Andrew’s passion for robotics;
    • What First Robotics will be offering for students;
    • A preview of the 3D printing and virtual reality activities onsite;
    • What arts and crafts opportunities will be available to younger attendees;
    • How the Houston Maker Faire has led to some startups’ success
  • Maker Walk L.A. Showcases Ingenuity October 8, 2017
    by Dot CannonMaker Walk L.A. sign on concrete

    “It’s about a twenty-minute walk,” said the coordinator as we checked in, on Friday afternoon at LACI, for Los Angeles’ first Maker Walk L.A.

    Maker Walk L.A. sign in process

    We had just received a map, highlighting twelve venues.   Camera in hand, we were ready to explore as many as possible.  Our first destination: Hyperloop One.

    This startup was offering a limited-space tour–with a look inside the technology that may well change the future of transportation.

    Make it in L.A., a region-wide initiative to connect and celebrate the nation’s largest community of makers and manufacturers, was hosting its inaugural Maker Walk on National Manufacturing Day.   Entrepreneurs, creatives, manufacturers and a few fellow journalists were on the scene.  And we were about to enjoy an afternoon of self-guided tours, workshops and demos.

    Maker Walk L.A. Hyperloop One

    We can tell you that we went to Hyperloop One first, spent about twenty minutes touring the facility–and they absolutely wowed us.

    Unfortunately, due to the proprietary nature of what we saw and heard, that’s all we can say, for now.

    But, you can bet we’ll ask them for an interview and share whatever they’d like to tell us, on the record!

    Oblong Industries Maker Walk LA sign on concrete

    Our next stop was Oblong Industries.    Their specialty: collaborative computing in spatial operating environments.

    Director of Solutions Brandon Harvey showed us this brain-data display, based on an MRI scan.  Here, three computer drives control multiple screens.

    Oblong Industries images of brain data on display for Maker Walk LA

    Oblong Industries images of brain data on display for Maker Walk LA

    Multiple screens allowed giant enlargements of different regions in the image.  A user can also  show “slices” of the data.   Brandon said the company created this project, from data from Berkeley Labs, in 2014.  It’s called, simply, “Brain”.

    Brandon told us Oblong Industries does two major kinds of projects, with spatial computing.  “(We create tools) to help someone do their job better.  Or, (we create) an experience or environment to help someone tell a story,” he explained.

    Oblong industries display of constellations on screen at Maker Walk L.A.

    At the next display, we met Oblong Industries Director of Interaction Design Pete Hawkes.   Pete explained that Oblong Industries had created its core platform, called G-speak, from scratch in 2006.  And, he said,  G-speak does three things:

    Oblong Industries' mulitple-screen slide at Maker Walk L.A.

    1. Enables users to see inherently spatial screens on multiple surfaces: tables, walls or even the floor!
    2. Provides a user interface for  multiple machines, with multiple systems, to work together;
    3. And, permits multiple users to work on similar systems at the same time.

    Pete Hawkes of Oblong Industries demonstrates the use of multiple computer screens during Maker Walk L.A.

    Pete said five computers, using G-speak, were controlling this display, of forty-five screens!

    Make it in L.A. had warned, prior to the Maker Walk, that seeing everything would be impossible.  They were right!

    Mural of an eye in a rainbow on the side of a builidng during Maker Walk L.A.

    We were sorry not to see the ongoing demos at Comunity, which hand-crafts shoes on-site, or Lalaland Production and Design’s workshop as they crafted with leather.

    Artista' Coop at Maker Walk L.A.

    But with only so many hours in the day, we opted for the Arts District Co-Op‘s display of eclectic lifestyle products. The local artists and artisans served up an inviting mix of apparel, jewelry and art, with murals tucked into unexpected places.

    piano and aspire mural during Maker Walk L.A.

    Advanced Prototyping Center lobby with sign during Maker Walk L.A.

    Our final stop of the day, before we ran out of time, was the Advanced Prototyping Center, at La Kretz Innovation Campus, for a quick tour.

    Visitors tour Advanced Prototyping Center during Maker Walk L.A.

    Inside, we met Autodesk Technical Evangelist Curtis Chan, who shared information about Fusion 360 as he talked the group through the steps of designing and prototyping.  (Autodesk has a partnership with Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.)

    Curtis Chan displays a braided keychain inside Advanced Prototyping Center, during Maker Walk L.A.

    “What you’re going to see today, is how we make this little trinket, right here,” he told the group, holding up a braided keychain.  He then talked everyone through the CAD (computer-assisted design) process, using Fusion 360.

    closeup of Curtis Chan with braided keychain in Advanced Prototyping Center, during Maker Walk L.A.

    “We started with just a sketch, then we (gave) it an extrusion…and we actually did a 3D print of it, too,” Curtis said.  “We actually designed it in Fusion, (then) threw it into a product called Netfabb, which says, ‘hey, based on the stress I’m putting on this product, give me a better design’.  So it came out with this sassy-looking thing.”

    Curtis explained that his background was in mechanical engineering.  He had taught 3D design at the college level, in San Diego, using SOLIDWORKS.

    “But today I want to talk to you about Fusion 360,” he said.  “It is our kind of flagship product.”

    Fusion 360, he continued, was a reinvention–combining ten of Autodesk’s previous products.  The goals: effectiveness and affordability.

    “So if you’re a student, every single one of our products are free,” Curtis explained.  “We own over 250 products.  And then if you are an entrepreneur or a member here (at LACI) it’s free for you, too.”


    Massive lasercutter cutting a plastic ring during Maker Walk L.A.

    Time was running, and we were sorry!  There was just enough time to stop by and see this Epilog Fusion laser cutter in action.

    laser cut hook during Maker Walk L.A.

    The laser-cutter created this ring in a matter of minutes!

    “It’s 4 o’clock,” someone said, as we headed down the hall.  The first-ever Maker Walk L.A. had ended, and a VIP reception was about to begin.

    "Aspire" mural on wall during Maker Walk L.A.

    We had  to be on our way.  But congratulations, Make It in L.A., on a great first event that seemed to zoom by at the speed of light!  We hope to see quite a few more Maker Walks in the future.


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