For Those About to Make, I Salute You

In the late 70’s there was a DIY revolution happening in computers at a time when early adopters were literally building their own PCs. A few of these builders got the notion to turn this hobby into a business and we got businesses like HP and Apple out of it. Now the same type of revolution is happening with Makers because of advances in tools that have allowed the everyday man with a passion to build something a few years ago that would have been financially implausible.

Chris Anderson of WIRED magazine has written extensively about the Maker movement and has written a new book about it called, Makers: The New Industrial Revolution. An excerpt from this book was included as an article in WIRED about how the New MakerBot Replicator will change the face of desktop manufacturing. In the article, Anderson describes the two main modes of manufacturing, “When 3-D printers make an object, they use an ‘additive’ technology, which is to say they build objects layer by layer from the bottom up. (By contrast, other computer-controlled machines, such as the CNC router and CNC mill, are ‘subtractive’; they use a spinning tool to cut or grind away material.)

A Maker, Michal Zalewski, has created documentation for one type of subtractive milling called the
Guerrilla guide to CNC machining, mold making, and resin casting; Benchtop CNC manufacturing tutorial for robot builders, model makers, and other hobbyists. He writes, “For the past decade, we were being promised a revolution in desktop manufacturing – but unbeknownst to many, a simple, affordable, and home-workshop-friendly solution is already well within the reach. The only problem with [CNC] is that the workflows and materials suitable for small scale, hobby engineering are almost completely undocumented, and difficult to discover on your own.” Zalewski has turned this frustration into a passion and has documented what he has learned so that all can benefit. He got started by buying, “a small CNC mill (Roland MDX-15), set up a resin casting workshop, and invested months of intermittent trial, error, and triumph to understand and befriend both technologies – and document them so that others don’t have to go through all the pain.” While the additive MakerBot Replicator2 is currently hovering at around $2500, Zalewski states that you can get a CNC workshop setup for around $2000. Contrast that with CEREC crown machines, which are subtractive mills that make crowns for teeth and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Co-Working Spaces for Micro Manufacturing

If you’re not interested in buying your own equipment and are close enough to one of these co-working facilities for Makers, you can experience the DIY revolution together:


  • MakerSpace – Victoria, BC, Canada – a 3D printer, laser engraver, welding, woodworking, electronics, and a blacksmith shop (with casting furnace)
  • Site3 – Toronto, CA – a variety of milling machines as well as a laser cutter, 3D printer and a new DIY 3-axis CNC that we are putting together right now. Membership works on a monthly fee like you might expect, and each member is given responsibilities for maintaining the shop.

  • Robots & Dinosaurs – Sydney, Australia – a couple of cnc mills, a choice of several 3D printers, a laser cutter, and a whole bunch of other useful gear, and people happy to show you how to use them.
  • Make, Hack, Void – Canberra, Australia

If you know of more, please add them to the comments below.

Review of Wired 19.01

Wired 19.01 (January 2011) has an article entitled “Y2K + 11: Will Asian Computers Freeze on January 1?” where Patrick Di Justo reveals how both China (including Taiwan) and North Korea may have Y2K11 problems due to both cultures resetting their calendars in 1912 to Year 1. 2011 is thereby the first three-digit year (100) and both countries use flavors of Linux that only allow two digits for the year. With the current tinderbox that exists between North and South Korea, you would think this would get more play in the media, but this is the first I had heard of it. Well done, WIRED.

In the middle of the magazine is a section on aliens. There is an article by Mike Ryan called “Space Race” that talks about the three alien movies coming out in 2011. The first one is Battle: Los Angeles, the second is Paul, and the third is Cowboys & Aliens (check out all the trailers on our Facebook page). I see this as more preparedness for the upcoming disclosures about the ongoing UFO wars that the world has been engaged in for the last 80 years. Paul features a gray, which is the top-right one in the Ken Grimes picture on the “Alien Entities Who Have Been Seen Visiting Our Planet” picture in the section below.

Rachel Somerstein wrote an article about Ken Grimes’ art being featured in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Outsider Art Fair, and New York’s Ricco/Maresca Gallery. Grimes uses art to display his ideas about extraterrestrial life and from what I can see, he’s done a pretty good job of identifying alien space ships and entities.  The picture on the left, just below “Cheshire Eng Jodrell Bank Lovell”, which refers to the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, England, which is ran by Lovell, features icons of alien space craft.  It covers the six standard crafts, some of which I mentioned on October 1, 2010.  The top hats (third from the left) have been seen in the northwest United States with the cigar-shaped craft (second from the right) being seen over Indiana.  The saucers (far right) were seen over Washington DC.  I wasn’t able to find much information out about Ken Grimes other than this article by Charles Russell.

Dan Pink on the Surprising Science of Motivation

TED has a talk entitled, “The Suprising Science of Motivation,” where career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don’t: Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

With a trio of influential bestsellers, Dan Pink has changed the way companies view the modern workplace. In the pivotal A Whole New Mind, Pink identifies a sea change in the global workforce — the shift of an information-based corporate culture to a conceptual base, where creativity and big-picture design dominates the landscape.

His latest book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, is an evolutionary transformation of the familiar career guide. Replacing linear text with a manga-inspired comic, Pink outlines six career laws vastly differing from the ones you’ve been taught. Members of the Johnny Bunko online forum participated in an online contest to create the seventh law — “stay hungry.”

A contributing editor for Wired, Pink is working on a new book on the science and economics of motivation for release in late 2009.

Traditional rewards aren’t always as effective as we think.

All of these ideas will be especially relevant to the newest entrants to the workplace, the Millenials/Gen Y. I have been doing staffing models for a while now. To make this all really work, the requirements/expectations and measurements for each role need to be transparent. “Get your work done” is viable only when people truly understand what others think “getting your work done” really means. So, each employee needs to know the results that are expected.

In my experience, organizations can miss the ball when they fail to motivate and innovate. They give people responsibility and lattitude, but they don’t clearly define the results expected and how progress will be measured. As we know from the Law of Focus, what we measure only expands and grows.

On the other hand, a larger organization having every individual participating in business planning does start to become a bit challenging. The key is that the vision and goal of the business is clearly stated to all employees, that vision doesn’t change drastically year on year, and taking the time to recruit the right people who are buying into the vision as opposed to how much money they can make. Like Jim Collins says, “You have to get the right people on the bus.”