Sci-Fi for the Tech Addict – Part 1 3D Printing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing

The ORDbot Quantum 3D printer (Bart Dring, Wikipedia)

I visited the Restart Project‘s Restart Party at Camden Town Shed for BBC Tech feature, and met some brilliant people who voluntarily fix whatever comes through the doors – be it broken printers, TVs, cameras or even stereo radio cassette players.

Talk that evening was of technology, the joy of fixing things & sci-fi. One of the electrical geniuses (genii?) was rather interested in 3D printing. And as I have read a lot of science fiction books, it seemed natural enough to recommend to Francis a reading list which I thought he’d find interesting.

It’s not the first time – a few years back I chaired the Science Museum’s FutureWorld event – people mentioned specific tech and I recommended books that complemented their area of interest. So I’m going to do the same thing – but online – I hope you like it.

Welcome to Science Fiction for the Tech Addict Part 1! I’m also going to add real life links too for those who want to know more about the technology itself.

PART 1 3D printing concepts: Science Fiction

Idoru – by William Gibson* : Cyberpunk espionage novel written in 1996 exploring what happens when the virtual world can mix with the real world. There’s elements of 3D printing here, but not in the way you’d think.

Makers – by Cory Doctorow* : 3D printing takes a more central role in this 2010 novel about a bunch of entrepreneurs who create a ride. The ride appears to take on a life of its own as more people become aware of it and interact with it. The book hits on very interesting points about how widespread 3D printing might affect society.

Altered Carbon – By Richard Morgan* : Written in 2002, this far-future ultra-violent detective/thriller’s concept has echoes of what society might be like if matter was entirely and completely replicable. Some might say it’s a bit of a stretch from 3D printing, but I reckon it’s a logical extension of the ability to create 3D objects.

*click ’em if you like ’em, these are Amazon Associate Links – if a link has a * by it, clicking might result in a very small payment – which therefore helps me have more time to write posts like this!

 

PART 2 3D printing in real life: Science Fact

Makerbot : all you need to start your own (pricy!) 3D printing workshop.

Shapeways : 3D printing service which also sells 3D patterns for other people to print out.

UK Hackspaces / Global Hackerspaces : Sociable member-run spaces where people tinker. Some have 3D printers to play with. I’ve visited both the London Hackspace and the Nottingham one so far – both are populated by wonderfully friendly people who have a lot of time for anyone who is interested in this sort of thing.

Maker Faire : fabulous carnivals filled with people making stuff. There’s a mini one in London’s Elephant and Castle next month where you can learn to design in 3D printing.

Of course there are so many more resources online as 3D printing becomes more and more commonplace.

If you have any requests for science fiction based on some of today’s tech ideas, let me know in the comments area and it would be a pleasure to dredge the old brain for something just right for you. Alternatively if you’ve read something that you think should go on the list, please tell me as I’m always looking for new books to read!

 

LJ

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Look at me on my lego piano!!

Presenting Ideas Persuasively

I gave a presentation for the London Girl Geek Dinners 6th Anniversary event. For  a brilliant blog post all about the event – along with an unfortunate picture of me and an angry bird, click here.

Meanwhile, my aim for the presentation was to use some of what I’ve learned from my experiences as a TV presenter and producer to help other people get their voices heard, whatever their walks of life.

During my talk, I repurposed some of the techniques in telling a story for television for use in real-world situations.

I used an example of one of my most recent features for BBC News as a way to illustrate the core elements of presenting ideas in an easily accessible manner.

Presenting Ideas Persuasively – LJ Rich

I was incredibly flattered that the original Girl Geek asked for my last slide to remain up so she could communicate her ideas to our audience using this technique!

After the speaking was done, something amazing happened – quite a few people came up to me after the speech to tell me that they were inspired!  Inspired to pitch something at work that they knew they could do, or to try again to present an idea they had faith in but didn’t quite manage to convey it the first time.

Before I gave the speech, I remember thinking that if I could encourage just one person to have more confidence in their abilities, and act positively, I would feel like the presentation was a success – so this result was even more gratifying.

I had a few requests to stick the slides up online, so here they are – and GirlGeekDinners, thanks very much for having me!

Look at me on my lego piano!!

The video I used for talking about presenting

 

 

Da Jie making dumplings at Mushu 01

Chinese New Year Resolutions- Less Telly More Dumplings

New year’s resolutions are something I like the idea of, although I’ve never been inclined to depend on a 1/1/20xx date to start new positive habits, or stop old negative ones.

Nevertheless, by a carefully considered combination of masochism and sheer terror, I have been dragging myself to the gym regularly for the past few weeks, starting on that most memorable of dates, the 24th of January.

Anyhow, it was in this spirit of “watch less telly, do more cool stuff” that I hastily typed “Yesssssss Dumplings!!!” and hit ‘send’ as fast as I could in response to an email from esteemed blogger and compulsive shutterbug TikiChris. A last minute cancellation meant that there was an opportunity to take part in a Qype event involving the making and eating of these delectable Chinese delicacies.

So, a mere 2 hours later I’ve arrived to fill the space at one of London’s newer wooden trestle tables for Mushu’s Dumpling workshop – ready to be filled to bursting, much like the dumplings we ended up constructing.

relaxed restaurant

Set deceptively close to both Great Portland Street and Warren Street Tube stations, this is a relaxed open-kitchen gem of a place that not only serves dumplings (made on site!) but also has a spot of sushi and the sort of atmosphere a solo diner wouldn’t feel out of place in.

Thus began our workshop, where (after we washed our hands) we were introduced to “Da jiě” (Big Sister) the Dumpling Deity, who simultaneously encouraged and corrected us while effortlessly making thirty or so dumplings at lightning speed. We watched, hypnotised, before commencing our own slightly slower efforts. Of course it was impossible for us to duplicate the dumpling dexterity on display, but still fun – and we were prepared to eat the results, no matter what they looked like.

We found out that dumplings needed to be squished from the ends a bit after we crimped them to make them look like fat purses filled with money – all eight of us thoroughly enjoyed this activity and knew they didn’t look quite right – not that we minded.

During the workshop, we were given enough information to feel quite confident about attempting to make our own dumplings. I’ve reproduced an attempt at the recipe below – but can make no guarantees about accuracy, or what you want to fill them with, sadly. Any thoughts, please reply in the comments 🙂

I’ll also upload some pictures to Flickr (edit: link here) which should also help anyone who actually wants to have a go at cooking them.

Dumplings at Mushu 04

So, once we were sufficiently covered in flour, Big Sister boiled our questionable bundles while the friendly owner told us they’d settled on boiling rather than steaming those particular ones to keep the dumplings moist and juicy. We were so eager for our first taste, our experimental parcels had already disappeared into our bellies by the time they’d brought us the dipping sauce. Oh well. We’d managed to take pictures first, though (as most of the attendees were that way inclined).

Miso Glazed Aubergine

After the workshop, we were treated to a selection of dishes from the menu including other meaty dumplings that I didn’t try, but the biggest surprise of the evening went to a miso-slicked roasted aubergine which I proclaimed “Auber-genius” among the obligatory groans.

I would definitely return here on a paying visit and take the opportunity to try more of the veggie-friendly dishes on offer.  And if there’s any moral to this strange story, perhaps it’s that saying “yes” to a cryptic email ends up with being dumped in the right place at the right time a few hours after a spontaneous reply. I found myself in great company, and smiled and laughed a lot more that evening than if I went home and watched the telly. I’m even going to try making dumplings the next weekend I find myself in the kitchen (although I may have to prepare for the session Dexter-style).

So, even if I don’t manage to watch less TV, I’ll definitely aim to go out with good people more –  if this is how the Year of the Rabbit’s set to continue, I’m resolving to make the most of it.

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ROUGH GUIDE TO DUMPLINGS AT HOME

– LESS A RECIPE, MORE A FREE-FOR-ALL

Make the filling first. For the dough, mix together normal flour in a 2:1 ratio with water, leave to rest for 1 hour, roll out in small circles with a dimple in the middle, stuff in filling, crimp the edges, then boil gently in a big pan of water until dumpling floats to top. That sounds a lot easier than it’s going to be, however, and I’m pretty sure that when I try it, my kitchen will look like I’ve attempted to cover every possible surface in dumpling elements.

If you are a dumpling filling expert, please leave some mini-recipes in the comments- thanks!

Expanded upon from my restaurant review on QypeMushu – Fitzrovia

Why do we Blog?

A two-fold post for you this time:

Part 1: More about the Blogging feature on BBC Click

Part 2: Why do we Blog?

Part 1.

This week was busy – the latest episode of Click Bits -the little 3 minute tech newscast – is now online… Click on the pic if you want to watch it.

(RSS Readers/can’t click on the pic to view? link here: Http://bit.ly/clickbits006 )

    …and my blogging piece on BBC Click is on this week’s show.

    Ah, the "Hello World" post - do you remember yours?

    Thank you very much Judith Lewis Mike Robinson , Marko Saric, Clare English and Andy Bargery for their cameos.   They each gave me about 20 seconds’ worth of blog tips on video, which I integrated into the piece.

    I took a few 3 second shots of some blogs at the beginning of the package

    They are listed here:

    Below are a few more blogs I’ve enjoyed reading in recent times:

    You’ll be able to read the whole transcript of the blogging feature here.

    • _

    part 2.

    Making the segment got me to thinking about when I first started blogging, so I went back and read my “Hello World” post i.e. the first post I ever wrote, which was about 90 posts ago.

    (If you absolutely have to, you can read it here. <cringe>)

    Then I wondered: What makes us blog? What drives us to leave a mark of our mundane existence on the internet? Who do we imagine writing to when we’re typing?

    So, of course, I came up with a thoroughly empirical theory.

    As a human, I normally spend a lot of time thinking, but my mouth blurts any given thought out after little (if any) moderation from my addled, overworked, overclocked brain.  I’m assuming that other humans experience this too.*

    If that is the case (and if we have the desire to do so) then writing could give us the freedom and time to craft a sentence, play with the words, and get a sense of perspective we can rarely access “in the moment”. We can proof-read our thoughts in type, then adjust that thought until it “makes sense” – to us, the authors, as much as any reader. This crafting of ideas into concrete might even result in learning something about ourselves we didn’t know until we saw it on the page.  Or of course, it could be nothing of the sort. We could just want to post pictures of cats because we love cat pictures.

    Incidentally, the above paragraph took 35 minutes to write, and included moving the sentences around, working out what I wanted to say – then making it sound nice to read in my head. I’m now doubting whether or not it’s a self-indulgent paragraph of pointlessness, and now I’m thinking it’s dinner time soon, and I should probably turn the computer off and deal with this later.

    Indeed, none of the above musings touch on the obvious love of story that permeates our very existence – mythology, fairy tales and even documentaries – but that is most definitely another post all on its own.

    So,  please leave your comments: Bloggers, Why do you blog? Readers, what do you read?  I’d be honoured if you left your thoughts below.

    *to paraphrase the great Douglas Adams, and probably a few others, the worst assumptions are the ones you don’t know you’re making.

    Surviving Twitter

    With the recent mass adaptation of Twitter in my immediate surroundings, it has been suggested by people who aren’t yet on it that it would be rather nice to have some kind of guide to Twitter etiquette for those who are new to it.

    I’ve been tweeting for around a year and although I’ve learned a lot about how to make the most of this continually evolving social network tool, I still remember how bewildering it all was when I first took the plunge.

    So here’s a guide for those who want to join in.

    I’m assuming you’ve already logged in or you’ve joined twitter (go to www.twitter.com and join from there), then you’ll see similar screens to the ones below, albeit with different background colours.

    OK, so what is it?

    Twitter is, essentially, a micro-blog, or a mini online diary. You can type the answer to “What Are You Doing?” in 140 characters or less as frequently as you like, a bit like your facebook status. 

    whatareyoudoing

     

    If you keep updating (but not too often!) you’ll end up with a profile that looks a bit like the page below –  a list of your updates.

    This is what other people will see when they go to your twitter page.

    Profile

    You can see what other people are writing by “following” them.  Their updates (or “tweets”) will come up on your Home area in chronological order.

    mainpage

     

    Other people can follow your updates – they are called (predictably) your “followers”. You can see how many followers you have underneath your profile picture.

    followers

    To follow someone, find them on twitter while you’re logged in, then click “follow”. Their updates will now appear in your stream.

    follow

     

    Once you’ve joined up, it’s good to find people to follow – good places to start are http://www.twitter.com/bbcnews , http://www.twitter.com/towerbridge and of course http://www.twitter.com/ljrich (if you want to see what I get up to!)

     

    Tweet Notes

    1. There aren’t really many rules about frequency or content when you tweet, but be aware if you are doing 20 updates a day, people might be less inclined to follow you as it will bung up their timeline and stop them seeing their other updates.  I try and tweet between 0 and 5 times a day – with a ratio of (I hope) 80% interesting to 20% pointless, ranging from random thoughts through to music tech and hyperlinks.

    2. Engage with your followers! if someone asks you a question, reply to them with an @ symbol in front of their name, (like this: @ljrich ) – this tweet will come up in their “replies” section and not get lost in the stream. 

    Using the @ in front is the way to make someone’s twitter name clickable. 

    You can also “Retweet”, which is effectively to forward someone else’s tweet, normally with a view to helping them get answers, or to disseminate information.  The usage is to add “RT” at the beginning of your retweet – for example:

    What are you doing?

    RT @ljrich how do you use twitter? I’d love to hear from you.

    3. Twitter Hashtags: You can tag your own tweets so they can appear in “filters” – for example, #ces09 will show all tweets that have been tagged with this consumer electronics show marker.  Rather like football chants, these tags appear to proliferate organically until everyone is using the same one.  Let’s take a newer hashtag to show you the usage:  #lunchtweet .

    What are you doing?

    #lunchtweet salmon sushi set, sesame spinach and soba noodles. Mmm Tokyo Diner.

    It doesn’t matter where you put your hashtag in your tweet.

    4. Be aware that everything you write is EVIDENCE, and will be on the internet FOREVER! 

    5.  It’s the interactivity aspect that trips so many people up – to make the most out of Twitter, remember that it’s not just about broadcasting your thoughts, it’s also about having conversations, answering queries and adding your voice to a debate.  Tweeting should be human and reasonably informal. 

    *

    Meet ‘n’ Tweet

    In summary, there’s a lot of fun to be had on Twitter, as long as you’re not expecting to monetize.  In my experience, it’s first and foremost a site for socialising and sharing the minutae of life as we live it, although it’s becoming a valuable networking tool for linking people together in a relaxed manner. 

    I tweeted a while back (and got retweeted – the ultimate accolade!) that ” if LinkedIn is the office, Twitter is the pub” – the corollary of which appears to be: it doesn’t matter what you drink, as long as you’re reasonably sociable.

    See you at the bar.

     

    Oooh comments please…

    Tell me, what do you use Twitter for? When did you join? What do you like about it? How has Twitter changed in the last few months? Feel free to leave comments here or on my twitter account.

     

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