Category Archives: DIY

The Cat Returns

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The school year has resumed, so I’ve decided to resume the blog, as well. I thought about restarting this with some kind of look back into what I’ve been up to in the months that I’ve been away from this, but I decided that’s stupid. I do, after all, try to keep myself out of this process as much as possible. However, I can sum it up in a couple of words:

I was in the woods.

Good? Good. To start things off, I have a couple of stop-motion videos (found through Boingboing, of course) to restore the aesthetic that I like to explore:

I’m not going to write too much right now, since I have a job interview tomorrow morning, but a post wouldn’t be the same without mashups. I shared Super Mash Bros.’ first album last year, but they’ve come out with a new one in the meantime, All About the Scrillions. This album became the soundtrack to the second half of my summer, and I dare say I could have done worse. Check it out.

Here’s one of the tracks.

Here’s another one.

And here’s the link to the album download.

PS– Curious about the header photo? Check back tomorrow to find out what it’s all about!

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CMUN 297 Final

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My my my, how the time does fly when you know your project’s due by the end of the night.

Anyway, here’s the final thing. The whole culmination of this class.

It’s not a very comprehensive look at the Chicago DIY/Craft scene, I admit. But it is an intimate look into three seperate pieces of the puzzle that make it up. I may, in the future, add to it. Who knows? But for now, enjoy what we’ve created.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

And since I have to be on the bus downtown to present this thing in less than half an hour, I’m afraid the music will have to wait, for tonight (sorry Rob).

Alt. Transportation 4

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Now this is a transportation post that my mother could support.

Apparently, back in Europe during WWII, gasoline was scarce. Duh. What I didn’t know, however, was how they made up for that fact. Internal combustion engines are wonderful in that they don’t much care what you put through them, just as long as they explode at the right time and don’t gum up the valves. The Europeans exploited this by using gasification generators (pictured) to run their cars on hydrogen-based syngas. The technology is carbon-neutral, time-tested, and still available today!

The chemistry is fairly simple. Woodchips (or sawdust, or peanut shells, or really any other organic compounds) are burned in an oxygen-deprived environment, which doesn’t allow the hydrogen gas to be bonded with oxygen, creating the usual H2O byproduct of combustion. The hydrogen gas is then routed to the cylinders through the car’s fuel delivery system, and voila! It runs. I should mention, however, that this wouldn’t work on a Diesel engine, since those use pressure-ignition, rather than spark.

Instructables has a wonderful rundown of how to install this in a car and make it run, with this accompanying video of the generator in action:

I believe the correct term to use here is “do want.”

Now, while this isn’t technically steam-powered, I can’t help but see this being used to create some wonderful steampunk vehicles.

What I really envision, however, is fitting one of these bad-boys onto the back of a Delorean. Flux-Capacitor or no, it would be badass. And carbon neutral, to boot.

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The future is cold. Air cold.

To the music!

Whether or not Britney has a future is another story, but she sounds good in this first track.

The “Futuresounds of London” apparently decided to immediately date themselves with their name, but they’re brought into the 21st century for this second track. Not my style, though.

“The Futureheads” probably didn’t sound as good before they were mashed with 50 Cent in tonight’s final track.

Zines– In Color!

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One trait that most zines share is their low-budget nature. Since these are mostly printed in low-volume amounts by individuals, paying a printer to run a few copies is generally out of the question. Not only is it prohibitively expensive, but printers generally don’t like to print low-volume editions, since switching over the presses is a rather expensive and time-consuming affair. Thus, with some exceptions, Xeroxed zines are the norm.

A New York Times article, however indicates that those limitations may soon be lifted:

With a new Web service called MagCloud, Hewlett-Packard hopes to make it easier and cheaper to crank out a magazine than running photocopies at the local copy shop.

Charging 20 cents a page, paid only when a customer orders a copy, H.P. dreams of turning MagCloud into vanity publishing’s equivalent of YouTube. The company, a leading maker of computers and printers, envisions people using their PCs to develop quick magazines commemorating their daughter’s volleyball season or chronicling the intricacies of the Arizona cactus business… “We’re not talking about replacing the Vanity Fairs of the world. But it’s a nifty idea for a vanity press that reminds me of the underground zines we had in the ’60s and ’70s.”

If this takes off, it will be really cool. The article goes on to say that there’s no guaranteed market for this service, since so much information and media is available for free on the internet, but acknowledges that it could still succeed. I, personally, love the feel of a magazine in my hands, as opposed to an image on my computer monitor. The minimized eye-strain certainly helps, too.

I’ve wanted to produce a zine for years now, but have never had anything to write about. I suppose this is as close as I’ve come, but without the ability to hyperlink, I think this would be a much less interesting forum. Still, even just producing a glossy magazine to show off artwork would be cool. I know when I was putting things together for my art show last summer in Detroit, it was frustrating that people would only be able to see a small amount of my work. A magazine index to hand out at an exhibition/gallery would be a wonderful marketing tool, especially if they only cost a few dollars each to produce.

I’m crossing my fingers for you, Hewlett-Packard. While I may not buy your computers, I’ll certainly support any innovative services you can offer, like this one.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any work from Good Blimey, so we’ll go back there today.

I’m not a big Tom Petty fan, but this first track uses his instrumental in a way I can support.

While that last one was pretty pop-y, this second track is much weirder. And perhaps even more effective, because of it.

This final track left me agape, that’s how much I liked it. The Muppets+Kanye West= a good time. If you listen to one track this week, make it this one.

I think these are the best tracks I’ve posted in a while.

DIY2

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The telephones are still sitting on my living room floor. Don’t worry, mom, they’re staying in Chicago, just like you hope. As I’ve been looking through various instructions of things to do with them, I’ve been analyzing my ability to actually do the electronic work that is required. I took “electronics” class in high school, but my soldering skill is still… At the amateur level.

I really don’t want them to come to nought. Many projects like that do– including this diesel-punk headphone mod. The parts are all sitting in my bedroom, but instead of finishing it, I just bought a pair of Koss Porta-Pros. They sound great, if you’re wondering. In fact, some say they’re just about the best headphones you can get for under $100. 

So really, I’m a little disheartened by my lack of progress on this sort of thing. As much as I’d like to create, my ordinary banal life often gets in the way. But I was heartened to read this article on Wired (yes, I’ve been reading a lot of Wired. I’m probably going to take out a subscription):

“Why am I so inept? I used to do projects like this all the time when I was a kid. But in high school, I was carefully diverted from shop class when the administration decided I was college-bound. I stopped working with my hands and have barely touched a tool since.

As it turns out, this isn’t a problem just for me — it’s a problem for America. We’ve lost our Everyman ability to build, maintain, and repair the devices we rely on every day. And that’s making it harder to solve the country’s nastiest problems, like oil dependence, climate change, and global competitiveness.”

The author, Clive Thompson, goes on to explain that he gets better, and hopes that the rest of America does as well. The full article is here.

I’m keeping the post rather short tonight, as I have to get downtown to learn about web-design by 10:30 tomorrow morning. That’s precious few hours away. So here’s the music.

I don’t usually like the electronica-tuned mash-ups that I find. This first track is an exception, however.

Taking things a bit slower is this second track. Once you get past the opening, it really gets good.

Why not have Aaliyah again, right? Here she is, wrapping it up with this final track, for a third time.