Another new thing, a music clip for holding your book open.
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Tuesday, April 19, 2016
More designing things as a favor or for fun then putting them on the Etsy store. These are stencils for beehives, a handy tool if you are in a community apiary or spread your hives across other people’s properties.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
I’m focused on contracting right now (and lining up work for March and April if you have anything) and considering a couple of f/t jobs that might open up this Summer.
I’m also doing some design work for my portfolio. One is a software project for a x-y table interface to help people who need to crank out work and optimize time. It’s almost feature complete for testing on the Lasersaur project, but I’ll probably redesign/recode every screen at least once before it hits Alpha. That’s just how new software projects work, write what you think you should write, evaluate, then plan on writing most of it again now that you know what you want.
The other thing I’m doing is furniture and fixtures. For decades I’ve used toolboxes for storage and it’s not so bad in the shop where I can hang walls of pegboard then store rarely used tools in a toolbox. But in my studio where there is no room on the walls? I’ve had a toolbox on my studio bench for 10 years and am constantly trying to find the right wrench or widget. I made a rotating tool stand on a whim and it’s so damn useful I put it for sale on Etsy and made a demo video:
Thursday, February 25, 2016
now there’s a book I want to write in my copious spare time…
I’m doing that adult-thing where I finally clean out my closet from grade school, but unlike previous generations, I can just sell it all on eBay and maybe make some profit on collectible toys. I did most of the Star Wars and Micronauts toys, now I’m going thru my GI Joe stuff and while researching prices, learning about the history of what was actually going on in the world when I was 10 years old.
GI Joe was a popular action figure in the cold war era then Vietnam happened. At home, my dad spent most of my early years in MACV, Saigon, and hanging out with the Degar (Montagnard) people. In the rest of the world, the draft, violent protests against the war, daily TV news coverage of the war, and Hasbro is stuck trying to figure out how to keep making money on GI Joe. Before cancelling it entirely in 76 or 77 (and not bringing it back until the early 80s) Hasbro appears to have copied Fisher Price’s “Adventure People” and launched “Adventure Team.” Two of the eight GI Joes are black (I suspect another was supposed to be Latino) and there are pages of new catalog accessories and outfits that were very much not about being a solider. GI Joe isn’t just a soldier, he’s off hunting big game, rescuing people, and doing all sorts of not blowing up civilians and dropping napalm on the VC.
Check this catalog from 1975. I have many of these toys going on eBay this week but I had no idea why they existed and no connection to their pop culture context. The website has some layout/design problems, each of those “pages” is actually a topic and a link to a section of the catalog with a number of pages for that topic. GI Joe wasn’t just a soldier, he was a “Radiation Detector,” “Smoke Jumper,” and “Emergency Rescue”(r). Apparently grammar was hard in the 70s.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
I like to think that I’m a decently educated person when it comes to things like the design and engineering of motor vehicles, consumer electronics, and military history including firearms and weaponry.
Today I found this article that pretty much says what I learned about the Germany military’s supplies in WWII is flat-out wrong.
Here’s the official history: the equipment issued to German soldiers during WWII was well designed, better engineered, and easier for them to maintain than our clunky Allied gear thrown together after we were ambushed by the Japanese. The Germans had better machine guns, better tanks, better airplanes, better artillery (ok, so the 88 was a piece of genius), and we only beat them because, we’ll, we’re the good guys and fought for good things and maybe John Wayne. Every tank battle was Shermans getting slaughtered by Tiger tanks, every hedgerow battle was a handful of Germans with machine guns against thousands of Allied soldiers with pointed sticks.
Changing a tread on a tank, a hot barrel on a machine gun, or dealing with gas masks was something done in every army during WWII, but the Germans must have had amazing skills to maintain their more complicated equipment.
Or maybe they didn’t. They gave up and started using captured equipment that didn’t require all the maintenance. The above article discusses the MG42 machine gun and the Tiger tank, amazing bits of machinery that turned out to be too expensive to support and use in combat. Two iconic pieces of German design and engineering from the late 40s — the BMW motorcycle and the VW “Beetle” — were done after the war and for consumer markets. The VW Beetle is more like a Sherman tank than a Tiger tank and the BMW motorcycle is very much a complete do-over of the bikes used by the German army.
Putting it in today’s context: imagine going to work and waiting so long for the IT administrated Windows and OS X software to update before you can start work that you “borrow” something from the other side. Maybe you buy a laptop and run Linux, Windows, or OS X and do your work there. At some point your official machine is working, so you transfer your work over and continue your job.
There’s a lot of industrial design history out there that might need a similar revisit or even revision. How did we get to the IBM Selectric? Why were the EO and Magic Link PDAs total failures while Palm cornered the market?