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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 17:09
From TechCabal's, "Girl Who Code series", Ofure Ukpebor:
Please give a brief description of yourself

My name is Ofure Amenawon Ukpebor, and I’m 20 years old. I’m a computer programmer and a first class graduate of Computer Science from the prestigious Babcock University, Nigeria.

I strongly believe learning never ends and I try to put in my best in everything I do.

What are your code proficiencies/languages/super powers?

JavaScript (jQuery), PHP, Java

How and why did you start/learn to code?

I started learning how to code while in school at Babcock. We had a lot of programming courses and as part of the course work, we had to build applications.

At first, I just had to learn because I needed to pass my courses excellently. But over time, I eventually fell in love with coding. A lot of that has to do with the great joy that comes from seeing my code come alive in complete applications.

I never want to stop coding.

What have you done (projects/places you’ve worked)?

With PHP, I’ve built e-voting, e-recruitment, e-payment, university management applications and some others. Websites and a few games with HTML5, Javascript and Java, mostly for fun. Previously, I’ve interned as a computer programmer at SPDC and NDPR.
More here

Image courtesy of techcabal
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "education, hubs, maker, software, women"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 15:19
UpNairobi profiles three companies in the business of creating products from repurposed and recycled materials:

Gabriele Buracchi led:
KMS-Kilometres...which has turned the used rubber tires that are usually seen languishing on the side of the road into some pretty stylish furniture. By combining the tyres with pretty kangas, each piece he produces is unique… and he’s not only making furniture… whether it’s a guitar case, a yoga mat, a wallet or a funky handbag that you’re after.
interior decorator:
Aposh Home Décor Turns PVC Pipes and Bulbs can make the most stylish towel rack, shoe rack and flower bases
...Am.Used project decided that all those plastic bottles that were hanging around their garages could be brought to better use than just having them trickle down to the local plastic recycler. After brainstorming over a couple bottles of wine, they decided that what Nairobians were really missing were some cool and funky chandeliers that don’t break the bank. So with the help of some simple keychains they came up with this:
More here

Images courtesy of UpNairobi
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "accessories, arts, crafts, creative indu..."
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 12:52
From Doregos Private Academy the maker nurturing school that produced the urine powered generator.Award winning interdisciplinary research from Eveshorhema Sophia Samuel-Alli & Ibukunoluwa Ruth Oladeinde for "Walnut: A Sustainable Solution to Halitosis':
image courtesy of Bella Naija
They conducted the the experiment with 35 volunteers, which were divided into four groups to use the walnut, as well as the Walnut chewing gum and the Walnut mouthwash.

They said:
“Before they took the walnut and walnut products, they were made to blow bubbles into the solution and then we recorded how long it took to turn the solution black. What turns the solution black is hydrogen sulphide and that is what causes mouth odour. So if it takes a short time, that means the mouth odour is actually very bad. Then after the experiment, they were also made to blow bubbles into the solution and this time, it was noticed that there was significant time lapse before the solution turned black.

When the control group who had bacteria in their mouths, blew bubbles into the solution, it turned black while it remained clear when the other groups blew bubbles into it. So we knew that the walnut was actually working to cure halitosis.”- Bella Naija
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Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "education, innovation, maker faire afric..."
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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 23:11
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "maker faire africa, makers"
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MakerHut   New window
Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 19:12
In Zambia:
Makerhut is a creative community of makers in Zambia that explores projects and technology in the fields of Electronics, Arts and Industrial Design. Not familiar with what a maker is? A maker is anyone that loves to tinker and create things: mechanical, electrical or even with textiles.

Artists are makers. Inventors are makers. Our ancestors were makers. You’re probably a maker too!

Besides independent projects, build events and How-to sessions, MakerHut is home to Afrimakers Zambia – an international initative which kickstarted workshops focused on local challenges in various hubs around Africa that are interested in working with young people.

Wanna be a part of MakerHut? Join us at one of our next events, join our group on instructables, or scroll down to the contact form and get in touch.
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "hackerspace, maker, makers, makerspace"
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 18:43
A CNN profile of a breakthrough product Noonee co-founded by Keith Gunura:
image courtesy of CNN
It's like a chair that isn't there, but magically appears whenever you need it. It's called the Chairless Chair and you wear it on your legs like an exoskeleton: when it's not activated, you can walk normally or even run. And then, at the touch of a button, it locks into place and you can sit down on it. Like a chair that is now there.

"The idea came from wanting to sit anywhere and everywhere, and from working in a UK packaging factory when I was 17", says Keith Gunura, the 29-year old CEO and co-founder of noonee, the Zurich-based startup behind the device, "standing for hours on end causes a lot of distress to lower limbs, but most workers get very few breaks and chairs are rarely provided, because they take up too much space. So I thought that the best idea was to strap an unobtrusive chair directly to myself". The idea came from wanting to sit anywhere and everywhere, and from working in a UK packaging factory when I was 17.

Keith Gunura, co-inventor of the Chairless Chair The device never touches the ground, which makes it easier to wear: a belt secures it to the hips and it has straps that wrap around the thighs. A variable damper engages and supports the bodyweight, which is directed towards the heels of the shoes. These are specially designed and part of the mechanism, but an alternate version works with any footwear and touches the ground only when in a stationary position. The user just moves into the desired pose and then powers the device, which currently runs for about 24 hours on a single 6V battery.

"In addition to resting your leg muscles, it also provides optimal posture", adds noonee CTO and co-founder Bryan Anastisiades "it keeps your back straight and can reduce the occurrence of bad postures for both healthy workers and those recovering from muscle related injuries".
More here
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "diaspora, engineering, hardware, health,..."
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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 17:34
From Eric King, Stephanie Santoso, and Kate Gage White House Blog:
 (Photo by Mike Star)
The maker movement paves a clear path toward local problem solving and entrepreneurship, both hallmarks of the Mandela Fellowship, as we learned firsthand. Fellow Abibatou Banda Fall helps women develop products to improve their livelihoods, like a low cost thermal basket to keep goods warm as they’re taken to markets, in Senegal. Lukonga Lindunda operates a co-working space to support innovative tech entrepreneurs in Zambia. Selma Neves helps struggling single mothers lift themselves out of poverty through self-employment training and support in Cabo Verde. Ruth Lukwaro pairs inventors with business students to build sustainable social enterprises in Tanzania. Mutoba Ngoma turns agricultural waste into consumer goods like biodiesel fuel for local markets in Zambia. Tatiana Pereira runs a business incubator for early-stage startups in Mozambique. “I can have greater impact on people’s lives by sharing knowledge and strengthening the ones around me,” she said. “Success is the entrepreneurs that start and succeed.”

The Fellows also had an opportunity to speak with Emeka Okafor, founder of Maker Faire Africa, who encouraged them to cultivate a culture of making. “Making is central to leading Africa where it needs to be: a developing, problem solving region,” he said. “It’s imperative that communities from Cairo to the Cape unfetter their populations with tools from within. Making is pivotal if this is to occur.” Maker Faire Africa showcases makers’ ingenuity and strengthen their pan-African network. Started in 2009, the organization has hosted events in four different African countries. The next Maker Faire Africa will be held later this year.

Looking forward, makers in Africa are faced with a spectrum of challenges, ranging from amplified versions of those familiar to American entrepreneurs like gaining access to venture capital and low-cost manufacturing, to more frustrating hurdles like inadequate electricity and supply chain infrastructure. Daunting though these challenges may be, the gritty determination of young African leaders like Abdojinou is unwavering. Africa’s makers and entrepreneurs will help shape the future of the continent. “Growth,” said Pereira, “comes from people who act and make things happen - entrepreneurs. Africa is full of opportunities and young people with great potential.”
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Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "diaspora, diy, innovation, invention, ma..."
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 07:13
In Venture Burn Jacques Coetzee writes:
Remittance is a massive cash cow in Africa and the rest of the developing world. The service fees for transacting money from across the continent or abroad amounts to an estimated US$60-billion. A ridiculous amount that’s even said to outweigh Western aid in the continent. But the cost isn’t limited to taxing financial fees. The value of time and security also affects a massive portion of the developing world.

Africans sending money home from abroad are charged an average of 12% according to the World Bank.
Apart from traditional system’s high costs, transferring money from point A to point B also takes time and is too often insecure. US services like PayPal, MoneyGram and Western Union meanwhile simply charge too much. As Ghanda’s bitcoin startup Kitiwa argues, companies based in the US have the ability to blacklist specific countries because of political reasons. This then disrupts businesses and consumers alike.

It’s little surprise then that there are many startups using tech trying to solve this hindrance (and possibly milk the cash cow). By leveraging technologies such as mobile phones, the internet and the popular digital currency bitcoin, startups are finding innovative solutions for unique problems...[continue reading]
Highlighted are the following trailblazers:Mergims,Kipochi,Bitx,Kitiwa,Remit,Bitpesa.
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "banking, bitcoin, finance, remittances, ..."
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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 18:38
From Bitcoin Film:
Each year around $500 million is send back to Uganda from around the world as remittances.

Our newest film takes place in Kampala Uganda where Ronald has adopted Bitcoin as a means to receive support for his studies from his sister who lives and works in the USA. By using Bitcoin instead of conventional channels such as Western Union and Moneygram, Ronald and his sister not only avoid high transaction fees, but they can also transfer the money faster.

In Uganda and in many other places people do not have bank accounts or IDs which makes it difficult to use the conventional channels to send and receive money. Bitcoin solves this problem as no registration, bank account or ID is required. Since the transaction fees with Bitcoin are tiny and because of the speed of transactions, Bitcoin has a huge potential as a vehicle for disrupting the global remittance markets and create better lives.
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "banking, bitcoin, finance, media, remitt..."
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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 18:21
From Israel, A Bitcoin documentary:
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "banking, bitcoin, finance"
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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 13:46
From Hackteria:
...bioelectronix must be distinguished from bioelectronics; bioelectronics is the emerging science of biomedical technology centred around such devices as ‘lab on a chip’ and implantable neural interfaces. Complex and expensive technologies from the closely guarded and secret world of cutting edge scientific research. Bioelectronix, on the other hand, is the appropriation and development by artists of certain aspects of these technologies in an (generally) open-source and (generally) do-it-yourself environment. Relatively cheap and simple technologies which can be shared, improved and distributed through an open network of users and enthusiasts.
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Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "arts, biotech, desktop machines, diybio,..."
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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 11:42
Andreas Antonopoulos writing in O'Reilly:
(Image from Spelunk.in)
Bitcoin is a distributed consensus network that maintains a secure and trusted distributed ledger through a process called “proof-of-work.”

Bitcoin fundamentally inverts the trust mechanism of a distributed system. Traditionally, as we see in payment and banking systems, trust is achieved through access control, by carefully vetting participants and excluding bad actors. This method of trust requires encryption, firewalls, strong authentication and careful vetting. The network requires investing trust in those gaining access.

The result is that such systems tend to be closed and small networks by necessity. By contrast, bitcoin implements a trust model of trust by computation. Trust in the network is ensured by requiring participants to demonstrate proof-of-work, by solving a computationally difficult problem. The cumulative computing power of thousands of participants, accumulated over time in a chain of increasing-difficulty proofs, ensures that no actor or even collection of actors can cheat, as they lack the computation to override the trust. As proof-of-work accumulates on the chain of highest difficulty (the blockchain), it becomes harder and harder to dispute. In bitcoin, a new proof-of-work is added every 10 minutes, with each subsequent proof making it exponentially more difficult to invalidate the previous results.
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Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "banking, bitcoin, finance, services, sta..."
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Date: Saturday, 16 Aug 2014 10:02
In Design Boom:
the 'klem project' enables malawians to make their own shoes

Korean designer lee jinyoung of ‘i clue design‘ has created an open solution for DIY shoes titled, the ‘klem project’. the idea was developed while working as a design expert engaged in a technology project for SBS hope television, ‘design for human, malawi, africa episode’, where he noticed that people living in deprived conditions suffered from a significant lack of daily necessities. the communities depended on foreign aid for more than 40% of their total living expenses, however research reveals that a much better life would be created if they were able to make food using materials bought from locals, not by the aid organizations. many children in Africa are forced to go barefoot, making them vulnerable and exposed to the environment, which in turn harms their feet. this often causes infections that can lead to a secondary infection without appropriate medical treatment. the ‘klem’ shoes hug the foot and use a minimal amount of fabric along with a piece of recycled tire. the ‘open design’ concept enables anyone to make their own, improving people’s living quality and giving a sense of independence.
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "crafts, creative industries, culture, de..."
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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 18:28
A BitPesa Beta Launch Party in UK:
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "bitcoin, finance, remittances"
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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 18:23
A Unreasonable Institute profile:
Eric Kaduru and his wife, Rebecca, became passion fruit farmers through trial and error. They became social activists completely by accident. Yet now they are thriving at both, running one of the largest horticulture projects in Uganda and, through their expanding workforce, lifting hundreds of girls out of poverty. And that’s just the beginning.
On the founding of KadAfrica:
With a business loan and financing from the Mango Fund impact investment fund, they founded their commercial farm, KadAfrica, in 2011. Their faith in passion fruit proved to be well founded. Within months they were forging relationships with commercial buyers and partnering with out-growers—small farmers in the area who have started growing passion fruit and selling it through KadAfrica. By 2012, their operation was the largest passion fruit producer in Uganda.

Their success caught the attention of Uganda’s Catholic Relief Services, who approached the Kadurus and offered access to 85 acres of land—more than a tripling the size of their operation—if they could figure out a way to employ local women. Their solution was a joint partnership called Girls Agro Investment (GAIN).

In order to help girls in the GAIN program avoid the mistakes that nearly drove them out of farming, the Kadurus and their team of 13 employees and volunteers provide education in finance, modern farming methods, and common business practices. The girls then get a 240-square-meter plot (about one-twentieth of an acre) along with 45 seedlings to get them started. Once they begin harvesting, they become a part of KadAfrica’s out-grower network.
More here
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "agriculture, creative industries, entrep..."
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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 13:55
John Markoff in the NYTimes:
...Google researchers were able to get a machine-learning algorithm, known as a neural network, to perform an identification task without supervision. The network scanned a database of 10 million images, and in doing so trained itself to recognize cats.

In June (2013), the company said it had used those neural network techniques to develop a new search service to help customers find specific photos more accurately.
image courtesy of btnrc
The new approach, used in both hardware and software, is being driven by the explosion of scientific knowledge about the brain. Kwabena Boahen, a computer scientist who leads Stanford’s Brains in Silicon research program, said that is also its limitation, as scientists are far from fully understanding how brains function.

“We have no clue,” he said. “I’m an engineer, and I build things. There are these highfalutin theories, but give me one that will let me build something.”
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Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "diaspora, education, electronics, resear..."
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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 11:46
In SciDev:
Catherine Kaluwa, a PhD student from the University of Nairobi, Kenya, talks about the journey she has taken from walking barefoot to school to researching the efficacy of plants that women in her homeland have traditionally taken for family planning. She also outlines some of the challenges she has faced as a female researcher working in a male-dominated profession.
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "natural products, research, science, wom..."
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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 09:35
A Ventures Africa profile:
...Iyeza Express, a business that uses bicycles to collect and deliver chronic medication from public health facilities to the doorsteps of clients, at a minimum fee of ZAR10.00 ($1) for every collection.

Entrepreneurship is seeing opportunities that others can’t see or are not willing to exploit, and grabbing the opportunity. Sizwe Nzima thought about his innovative idea of delivering medication by bike during an innovation lecture, when he and classmates were asked to generate ideas from newspaper stories to solve everyday problems. One particular story, about the large increase of chronic patients at hospitals in the country waiting in long queues, got him thinking. Sizwe knew all about waiting long hours in queues. For a number of years, he had been getting up early to collect medication for his grandparents from a nearby clinic. Instantly, that was his gold mine waiting to be exploited. Today, Iyeza Express’ five man team flits through the streets and alleys of Khayelitsha on bicycles, delivering medication to clients on prescribed dates.

Iyeza Express operates from two major hospitals in Khayelitsha, one in Site B and one in Harare; and for most of the patients collecting chronic medication from one of these clinics, taking advantage of the company’s service would be far from just a matter of convenience. As a matter of fact, some of the ill are too sick to get out of bed, and would need to spend long, arduous hours in the queues or otherwise go without life-saving medicine for illnesses like Tuberculosis.
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Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "ecommerce, entrepreneurship, health, ser..."
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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 09:24
Over at iHub Wachira Ndaiga writes:
image courtesy of iHub
The real question, though, is what does this bring to the table for Africa, and in general, the Global South? Ultimately, it comes down to more than just wishful thinking and whimsical gizmos to solve the very real and harsh problems and realities a lot of people face here at home. It might take two to tango, but multitudes more to effect equitable change; it would be overly superfluous and foolhardy to suggest that the maker movement will help us directly solve Kenya’s endemic problems ranging from inadequate infrastructure to poor service delivery. And that’s where I believe we need to rethink its role.

If you really dig deep for the core of The Maker Movement, then on a personal level it’s to inspire and educate, to provide an alternative and collaborative avenue to understanding the ever digital world that has permeated and affected countless lives. On the other hand and on a community level, it’s about creating social connections with like-minded and equally driven individuals to form a peer network, a contemporary ‘Riika’. Here’s an example to root this utopic vision in factual reality: a studying Engineer from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture And Technology (JKUAT) decides not to take up a promising unit, for instance, Telecommunications and Networks. It could be assumed that they have no interest in the subject matter, but only if you take that at face value. The truth could very well be that to a student, they’re looking to maximize success and if you fear you’ll probably fail a unit, why take it? As much as you may be interested in the subject matter, you fear you will not be able withstand the rigor required to successfully complete the course.

Enter the Maker Movement. Through physical Maker Spaces where people can meet, organize and collaborate, an avenue is then created for the inquisitive among us to successfully fail in an effort to learn. The student engineer can then learn about packet switching, baud rates, protocol sniffing and ‘that ‘nini’ that does that ‘ka-thing’ ‘ with a couple of friends while building a smart home hub at minimal risk to their overall grade. Is the smart home hub viable from a business point of view? Probably not, considering the local market; Is it practical? Not really, and possibly not at all. But with Maker Spaces, that’s not the point as mentioned earlier. You could learn to understand that if your Zuku WiFi signal at home is too weak, then you CAN print out one of these Windsurfer Parabolic Reflectors on stiff paper, smack on aluminium foil with some glue and use this YouTube tutorial to install it on your router, and boom, you’ve fixed your connectivity problem and tacitly learnt that you can reflect Radio Frequency Energy with Parabolas (obviously I’ve oversimplified the concentration of the learning outcome). The question then becomes “What about mobile signals? Can I go ‘Ocha’ and get a better signal there?” That then grows on to help you develop a more holistic understanding of the world we live in and instills a base foundation for you to share knowledge and do more…to solve more.

In conclusion, the Maker Movement is a call to life-long learning, regardless of age or background, during which you should connect with the real world, because it’s very easy to encapsulate yourself in a “If you build it, they will come” bubble.
More here
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "maker, maker faire africa, makers, maker..."
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Date: Friday, 15 Aug 2014 09:10
A quick swing through the global world of Making:

From Custom Made Makerspaces: A Revolution in Sustainable Production:
Image courtesy of Custom Made
Since the first wheels of mass production started turning during the Industrial Revolution, fine craftsmen and DIYers have found it more difficult to sustain their crafts. Until recently, those handmade-focused entrepreneurs who wanted or needed access to the latest technology would have to assemble a large amount of capital for items such as 3D printers or CNC machines. Those who couldn’t afford the high overhead were left to envy those wares and hope for a price decrease.

Today, instead of taking out a second mortgage to fund a workshop, artists, tinkerers, engineers, and gadget nerds across the country are pooling their financial and creative resources to establish the next wave of manufacturing.

Makerspaces - Production Equipment Costs for startups “Makerspaces” are the 21st-century solution to the wastes and excesses of the old industrial model of production. They lower the entry fee into the competitive market, and serve as community hubs and hands-on education centers...[continue reading]
In Makezine The Industrial Machinery of Makerspaces:
Image courtesy of Makezine
Makerspaces, however, give makers access to those less-than-convenient tools to build projects that might otherwise be impossible. Expect some or all of the following tools at a makerspace, but be prepared for the learning curve for handling more complex ones.
Four- and 5-axis CNC machines allow you to fabricate parts that you can’t create any other way. The expanded capabilities translate to greater machine complexity, size, and costs, however, which can be restrictive for all but the largest makerspaces.

Full-size CNC routers, like those with a bed size of 96″×48″ or larger, allow you to carve full-size sheets of plywood, MDF, OSB, foam, and other sheet materials.

Pro Tip: If your machine doesn’t have a vacuum table, buy or build one — this will save you a lot of time and effort.
Brands: ShopBot (multi-axis router, large routers), HAAS (multi-axis CNC)
Difficulty: 3 (router), 5 (multi-axis CNC)
Nick Bilton writing in the NYTimes The Rise of 3-D Printed Guns
image courtesy of the NYTimes
In late 2012, when I first wrote that 3-D printers could be used to make functional pistols, gun enthusiasts and government officials said the concept was science fiction and would take years to become a reality, if ever. Yet it took only a few months before videos popped up online of working guns made from 3-D printers, some capable of firing dozens of bullets...[continue reading]
In the world of DIYBio Glen Martin reports on Messing Around with DNA Increasingly a Garage-Band Venture:
Low cost micro-fluidics from Gaudi Labs
Central to the DIYbio ethic is hardware bootstrapping—making functional equipment out of what seems like odds and ends. DiPrimio cites one such an example: a homemade gel imager. Such devices are used to “photograph” nucleic acids, and are essential for DNA research. A professional model can cost $8,000 or more.

“We built one out of a cardboard box, a blue LED to provide illumination, an orange Lucite sheet to serve as a filter, and an iPhone to capture the images,” says DiPirmio.

Some applications are both quixotic and strangely charming – like a BioCurious project that hacked an inkjet printer, turning it into a “bioprinter.” “The ink cartridge was charged with a cell culture, so it printed out living cells,” says DiPrimio.

It doesn’t stop there, of course. The multitude of fascinating initiatives undertaken by DIYbio buffs include creating a barcoded genetic database for mushrooms, and crowdfunding a bioluminescent plant project. If it all seems vaguely familiar , it should. The current state of biology has been compared to computing in 1975, just before PCs burst on the scene and changed everything forever.
More here

HAXLR8R on building lean-hardware-startups from :

Nadya Peake of Machines that Make on Rapid Prototyping of Rapid Prototyping Machines:
A Design Innovation Workshop from the MIT Media Lab:
"Maker" a feature-length documentary
And finally from MakerBot Stories | Every Brooklyn Tech Student Is a Maker:
Author: "Emeka Okafor (noreply@blogger.com)" Tags: "desktop machines, diy, diybio, education..."
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