Friday, 13 July 2018

Toronto Maker Festival 2018

Last weekend I went to the Toronto Reference Library for the city's Maker Festival. There were a bunch of booths both displaying cool makes and selling interesting things (like steampunk jewelry). There were booths on 3 floors, plus more outside.

At the 'learn how to solder' booth I bought a mini rocket kit and soldered LEDs and a battery holder on it.

The library's booth had a 1D arduino game called Twang that was played on an LED strip. When the enemy red lights came near, you had to 'twang' the joystick, which basically fired light a few LED away so you could proceed. Later levels involved water and lava traps that pushed you quickly in one direction. It was surprisingly fun for such a simple concept.

The R2D2 builders from the local 501st division had a display of some of the things they'd built.

Ryerson University had an infinity mirror with LEDs you could turn on and change the colour of called 'Twinfinity'.

When I was a kid I read Follow My Leader by James B. Garfield, a book about a 12 year old boy who goes blind due to a firecracker accident. I thought the book was fantastic and taught myself braille as a secret code. It was really neat seeing this braille typewriter and learning about some of the modern tech used to help the blind.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Shout-Out: The Atrocities by Jeremy Shipp

When Isabella died, her parents were determined to ensure her education wouldn't suffer.
But Isabella's parents had not informed her new governess of Isabella's... condition, and when Ms Valdez arrives at the estate, having forced herself through a surreal nightmare maze of twisted human-like statues, she discovers that there is no girl to tutor.
Or is there...?

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Video: Floppotron

I've seen videos in the past of music played on CD Roms, dot matrix printers, etc., but Floppotron takes that to the next level. Here it is playing two of my favourite 80s theme songs, Knight Rider and Air Wolf.





Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Graphic Novel Review: The Furnace by Prentis Rollins

Pros: decent artwork, interesting story, thought provoking

Cons: left with questions

In the future US Department of Gard Administration and affairs needed a new way to deal with the prison population. It created GARD, a ball that hovers 1 meter behind and 1.5 meters above the prisoner, creating a field that renders the prisoner unseen and unheard.

This is the story of Walton Honderich, who must come to terms with how his brief contact with the unfinished GARD program in university affected the rest of his life.

The story starts a bit slow and gains momentum through flashbacks. There’s a fair bit of philosophical dialogue which makes it surprising that so little time is spent debating the ethics of what the GARD program will do. The graphic novel does make you think about it though, the ethics and about how many people along the way could have stopped the program and didn’t.

The artwork is done in a realistic style with subdued colours. It’s not my favourite style, but it’s well done.

The art style and philosophy reminded me of Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta and Watchmen, though maybe a ‘light’ version, as the story isn’t as deep or heavy handed here.

It’s an interesting story and worth a read or two.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Alchemy Laboratory Part 3: Putting It All Together

You can see parts 1 and 2 of this project here.

Once the box was finished I was able to start adding decorations to it.

The left wall had three framed items: butterflies, a bat, and fairy wings. I rolled up some alchemical images and laid them in the corner. The celestial sphere at the base of the bookcase sits on a custom 3D printed stand and has some glow in the dark crystals on it.


Around the corner is the bookcase. The top shelf had natural history items, followed by alchemical images, tarot cards, the metal flower, an accordion book, etc. The remaining shelves were stocked with books, including one with a clasp closure (not seen in these pictures is the magnifying glass that was added later). On top sits a glow in the dark skull. After this picture was taken I added some black ink to it to give it more definition.

Beside the bookcase is a hanging metal owl and two shelves. The top shelf has a 3D printed chest of drawers and several filled bottles (more bottles were added after these pictures were taken). The lower shelf has a test tube holder and more bottles. Below them is the alembic on the furnace. Anachronistic tubing leads to a glass container and a vial on the floor. A container on the other side helps fill the middle vial. On the wall is a dance of death image by Hans Holbein the younger and a 3D printed alchemical symbol of Nicholas Flamel.

 The furnace has several pairs of tongs and pliers leaning against it and hung on the wall next to it, along with a bellows. Above the tools is a cameo of the Virgin Mary.


 Here's an image with the completed walls and back. I then glued down the table, making sure the candle wire went up the leg and was glued to the table top. It's got an armillary sphere, scales, several experiment pieces including an hour glass, the inkwell, a mug, cloth, keys, handwritten notes and an open book. Under the table is the mortar and pestle and a drawer with 'gold'. Beside the desk is a pile of books with another open book on top and a kitten poking its head out.

 The finished diorama! There are 3 modes: flickering candlelight, brightly lit, and ultraviolet. When those go out several items in the display glow.

The finished dimensions of the box are 12" wide, 9 1/2" high, and 5 1/2" deep. Here's a video tour I did of the display, giving a closer look at the pieces and finished diorama.


Alchemy Laboratory Diorama from Jessica Strider on Vimeo.

I've set up an album here, with more detailed shots and explanations on how I made the box and all the items inside, including ones that I wasn't able to detail in these blog posts. Click on any photo in the album and then the circled 'i' icon at the top to read the descriptions.

I'm very happy with how this turned out. It was a lot of work and a real learning experience.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Shout-Out: Drop by Drop by Morgan Llywelyn

In this first book in the Step By Step trilogy, global catastrophe occurs as all plastic mysteriously liquefies. All the small components making many technologies possible-navigation systems, communications, medical equipment-fail.
In Sycamore River, citizens find their lives disrupted as everything they've depended on melts around them, with sometimes fatal results. All they can rely upon is themselves.
And this is only the beginning . . .

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Video: Granny Horror Game in Real Life

I enjoy Screen Team's videos and they're back after a hiatus. While I haven't played the Granny horror game they're doing a live remake of here, this video is well done - and quite creepy.