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STEAM day, robot building, and new episodes!

Submitted by TechNinja on February 28, 2013 - 12:27am

The new year has proven to be busier than usual, and some things are even getting done, though it's still slow going. New destinations, new shows, new projects, all for the win in 2013!

First up, Sylvia just got back from an awesome week with her favorite Evil Mad Scientists, Lenore and Windell from EMSL. After working out her very own design with the team, she got a little help putting together the hardware, and with a bit of elbow grease and some iteration (failure is always an option!) she's sure to get to Robogames with her very own WaterColorBot! Not to mention our favorite RobotGrrl will be coming in to help with software, so it's sure ot be a winner no matter what. :)

Next up, kicking off on March 9th in Los Angeles, Sylvia will be joining the awesome staff of Brentwood school in teaching basic soldering skills to students, building the Adafruit minty boost at the first annual S.T.E.A.M. Day!

And not long from now, we've got at least 5 new episodes written and ready to be shot! Unfortunately, after a tumultuous December, January and February, my day job is no more, and filming will have to be postponed, yet again, until I can find the money to continue to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table for the whole family. Once I get that out of the way, we'll make time to get a batch of episodes out: Surface mount soldering, Paper Craft Animals, Raspberry Pi, and lots more on the way...

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TEDx San Jose Women welcomes Sylvia on December 1st!

Submitted by TechNinja on November 28, 2012 - 1:08pm

You heard us right, our very own "Super-Awesome" Sylvia will be speaking from the heart this coming Saturday December 1st, 2012 at TEDx San Jose California!

The official image of Sylvia for TEDx San Jose CA Women

Sylvia will be talking without a script; all about the show, the importance of summer vacation, and what she thinks is most important in learning. It won't be perfect, but she'll be doing her best, it's only a webshow after all! She'll also have a few tangible surprises for the audience thanks to our awesome friends over at MAKE Magazine.

She'll also be joined by some amazing people on stage, including her friend Jack Andraka she met at TEDx Redmond back in September. At only 15 years old, he helped create an incredibly effective and cheap test for various types of cancers, which helped him win over $100,000 and the grand prize at the 2012 Intel Science Fair.

If you think you can make it, click here to sign up! For the rest of the world, the conference will be streaming live during the event, with details to come on the official Facebook page.

Also, don't forget to keep up with Sylvia live during the event for thoughts, exclusive pictures, and more on her official twitter account.

Hope to see you there!

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NYC Tour, fundraiser budget, and upcoming awesomeness

Submitted by TechNinja on October 13, 2012 - 11:11pm

Aaaand.. we’re back! Thanks again to every single person who tweeted or donated directly to make our New York adventure a reality. You guys rock!! Here now is the short recap, and full budget breakdown.

I’m sure a few of you are curious about spending, and I want to be as transparent as possible when it comes to donation going toward their goal, so here’s the real and actual cost of Sylvia’s Amazing New York Adventure!

Cost breakdown:

  • Airfaire: $1,735
  • Hotel for 6 days: $1,350
  • Transportation around the city: $100
  • Shuttle to/from airport: $120
  • ~2 meals a day for 10 days x 3 people: $622
  • Entertainment: $125

That puts our New York Adventure grand total at only $4,052!

Our complete take away (after fees) from IndieGoGo was $5,074, less that total, leaves us with $1,022. We’re estimating perk fulfillment to be about $200 in shipping and other costs, leaving us with $822 to help make the next few episodes absolutely super-awesome!

To celebrate, we’re going to start planning! I know, I know.. it’s a crazy idea.. but how about we release the gift guide on or before December 1st? (instead of the 15th like last year!), also, we’re putting up all the photos we can of our various adventures into Google+ albums here, check em out! Comment, +1 and let everyone know how great everything went.

While in New York, we took the Staten Island Ferry, toured the streets, subways and ad filled squares, strolled through central park, visited the most amazing museum and even built a bunch of cardboard robots with new friends at the Smithsonian Design Museum! Also checked out the Makerbot store, Adafruit HQ, NYC Resistor, not to mention Sylvia spoke at the Open Hardware Summit and did her part at Maker Faire NY. Such an incredible, unforgettable adventure, all thanks to you guys.

Thank you!!!

In the coming weeks we’ll be writing up all our past adventures this year (Maker Faire KC, CMK 2012, TEDx Redmond and all our special New York destinations), along with new upcoming destinations like the TEDx San Jose Women on December 1st, and the Brentwood School in LA next March. Not to mention new episodes, new ideas, and lots lots more.

We'll keep you posted. =)

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TEDx Redmond wrapup and New York bound

Submitted by TechNinja on September 20, 2012 - 7:55pm

We had a blast at the third annual TEDx Redmond event (Sylvia's very first TEDx talk!), and now we're off to New York city, but first, some notes from our trip to Washington State.

After about 15 hours of driving we arrived in Seattle for a bit of fun to meet up with with Sylvia's aunt Suzy, then we took a quick detour to meet up with fabulous hardware hacker Jeri Ellsworth at a little place called Valve Software! (That visit will get its own blog post soon).

Sylvia and sister Talulah sitting behind a full size Portal Turret at Valve Software headquarters on September 14th, 2012

Then on Saturday, it was time for TEDx Redmond! We headed out to to the Microsoft Conference Center, did a little rehearsal, then it was on to the main event. Sylvia was in session two, at the 29 minute mark, check it out embedded below.

We had an awesome time, and we can't wait to do more. We're flying out tomorrow morning to NYC, and we'll be visiting as many awesome maker places as we can. Drop us a note and let us know if there's somewhere you think we should go. See you out there!

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Look out road: Here we come!!

Submitted by Super-Awesome Sylvia on September 13, 2012 - 10:10am

Thanks to all the awesome people out in the world who helped me get to my fundraiser goal of $5,000, me and the family are heading out on the road immediately!

We're driving up Interstate 5 through Oregon, making a stop in Springfield, then early tomorrow morning we'll be in Redmond Washington for my very first TEDx Talk! I'm super excited (and nervous) but I know it's going to be awesome no matter what!

Then next week on Friday we fly out to spend the whole rest of the month in New York City! Saturday I'll be teaching how to make Cardboard Robots with MakeDo at the Smithsonian National Design museum's Target Design workshop for kids!!, then I'll be visiting Makerbot, Adafruit, NYC Resistor, then off to the Open Hardware Summit at Eyebeam, then Maker Faire New York and Education day!!

Did I mention it's been busy? I think I did. But, at least I will have the best trip EVERRR!!!

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Maker Faire Bay Area 2012: Day 2

Submitted by TechNinja on July 7, 2012 - 7:59am

(Continued from Maker Faire: Day 1) The streets strangled by traffic, we arrive a bit late (show up early folks!). Hopping out of our car and hoofing across the south lot, we're totally ready for Adam Savage's talk at 11. First a quick stop off at the magical steampunk village, to see the amazing machines, sculptures, and perchance to write an olde fashioned letter with a fountain pen.

Sylvia and Talulah examining the Velocipede steampunk vehicle.Sylvia's handwritten fountain pen letter.An Obtainium Works sculpture inside of the steampunk village

Just as we finish our letters, we got a call from our pal Brooklyn to head over and see our friend Joey Hudy in the Maker Shed, he was sad that Becky wasn't there to walk around and do interviews with Matt for MAKE Live, so he suggested that he and Sylvia fill in! Who would pass up an awesome chance like this? Not us!

Joey Hudy talks to the Make Live camera crew.Sylvia interviewing two of the other kids featured throughout the Schools Out MAKE MagazineAdam Savage answering Sylvia and Joey during their interview with himAdam Savage getting interviewed by Joey and Sylvia

Off we ran to the Shed for some preliminary interviews, then Adam Savage himself, then onto the back of a golf cart to tour the sights and sounds of the Faire. Soon seeing such awesome things as Makerbot's robot petting zoo, the giant fire snorting dragon, and Los Angeles Maker Extraordinaire, Tara Tiger Brown (all seen in the video)!

Rounding out a long fun tour of the grounds and sights, they headed over to the Whiskey Drunk Cycles arena, it was time to dunk a MAKE editor! Sylvia was first to pitch, and without breaking a sweat somehow managed to pull out a fast ball and dunked her on the second shot! I guess that single season of softball finally paid off.

Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang signing Sylvia's ChumbyAfter her fun trip with the Make crew and Joey, we set out on our own to inhale the last invigorating breaths of Maker Faire. Into the expo hall we stopped by and said hi to all the booths we could. Handing out stickers, cards, smiles and hugs. Met up with incredible electronics master Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang, he even signed Sylvia's Chumby One!

We saw our nice friends from Parallax showing off their red line follower bots, and Sylvia's favorite Ping))) BOE bot, then over to the fabulous Tinkercad, showing off 3D printed versions of their favorite models, some even in ceramic and metal. Stopping by one of our favorite booths, Sugru showed off their awesome "kid-proof" camera made safe with only their colorful air-curing rubber. Then finally off at the Robotis booth to check out the awesome Ollo bug bot kit, and to even hold one of the incredible DARwIn-OP humanoid bots (too bad his battery was dead).

Sylvia playing with the bots at the Parallax booth with Jessica Uelmen & Emily Kurze Sylvia standing in the foreground while a Makerbot Replicator prints Tinkercad models at the Tinkercad boothA "child-proof" camera created with SugruSylvia holding the DARwIn-OP

By the time we finished strolling through the expo hall, it was time for the very last EepyBird Diet Coke and Mentos show! We ran outside and set ourselves up in front before the crowds got too thick, hoping for to get close enough to "experience" the soda fountains, and we were not disappointed! (totally got soaked when the wind picked up)

Sylvia giving a thumbs up before being doused with warm diet sodaEepyBird demonstrate the effectivenes of warm soda vs cold sodaSylvia smiling after being soaked with soda.A crewmember handing a soda bottle to one of a hundred grappling hands.

Not long after, it was time for the awards ceremony for the Fun Bike Unicorn Club Figure 8 races. Due to our constantly popping tires, derailing chain and eventually the front right wheel coming off, we were tied for last place. Though because we kept on trying, and even went to a store to buy replacement tubes to race again the following day, we won "Best Effort", and hold the trophy proudly (Actually, driver and welder TheD holds it)

The D holding the "Best Effort" trophy

Sylvia squinting at the sun through darkened plastic to view the solar eclipseThe fair has now officially ended. Patrons and booth runners alike; pack, clean up, and head out. People gather outside as they leave to marvel at the eclipse, turning simple tree shade into a crowded sea of crescents. We make our way through buildings, slowly meandering our way to the exit. We love to walk through the slowly emptying halls as the excitement, stress and heat of thousands of hurried bodies drains out, leaving only the people who came here some few days ago to put everything up, just to take it all down again. On our way through we spotted a hard at work Sophi hacking away at an cell phone signal detector hat for the big post-Maker Faire hack dinner at Harry's Hofbrau. Sylvia helped her solder a bit, and then we headed out to the dinner ourselves.

The mostly empty main hallSylvia helps solder Sophi Kravitz's cell phone power meter hat project before the hacker dinnerSylvia posing with bright red LED matrix glasses displaying a hypnotizing pattern.The hacker side of Harry's Hofbrau crowd

Sylvia posing with Jeri's C-64 Bass guitar.It was packed. Almost every patron was from Maker Faire, and an entire section of the restaurant was devoted to the elite hackers showing off their incredible inventions and physical sketches. Everything from Jeri's C-64 Bass, Benheck's briefcase 3D printer, Garret Mace's LED matrix glasses, to a high pressure CO2 fruit carbonator. After an hour or more of mingling, showing off of cool things, and planing with like minded makers, Sherry and Dale walked in causing every single table to erupt in spontaneous applause. The entire event after the event was incredible, and we ended up staying far beyond our limit, leaving over three hours later than we expected... of course, it was worth it.

Sylvia finished collecting her "photoception" picture-in-a-picture shots as best she could on this last day of Maker Faire. Sunday netted her: Mr. Mythbuster Adam Savage out signing after giving a great talk and getting interviewed by Sylvia herself! (3 years), head of the Maker Shed, Mr. Marc de Vinck (2 Years), MAKE editor in chief and Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder (2 years), Masters of soda fountains, the Eepybird guys, Fritz and Steven (3 Years), and uber-modder and pinball fanatic Ben Heckendorn (2 years).

Sylvia posing with Adam Savage holding a photo of them holding a photo of themSylvia posing with Marc De Vinck, with a picture of them last yearSylvia posing with Mark Frouenfelder, with a picture of them in 2010
Sylvia posing with Eepybird (Fritz & Steven) holding a photo of them holding a photo of themSylvia posing with Ben Heckendorn, holding a picture of them the previous year

And thus concludes our tale of Maker Faire Bay area 2012. Made lots of friends, saw lots of amazing things, got so many ideas, only good can come from so much sharing.

Stay tuned for another multi-part tale of our adventures at Maker Faire Kansas City, 2012, then Make Summer Camp 2012, then Constructing Modern Knowledge 2012!!

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We're at Maker Faire Kansas City 2012!

Submitted by Super-Awesome Sylvia on June 23, 2012 - 7:51pm

Hey everyone! Even though we didn't finish our Maker Faire Bay area posts yet, here we are at another one, Maker Faire Kansas City!

Last year we didn't have nearly enough time to explore, so we this year we stayed for a whole week! We went to the absolutely incredible MCC FabLab and made wooden trinket boxes on their laser cutter, then off to the HMS Beagle Science Store for the MakeKC meetup, pizza and looking at all their amazing stuff.

Then I got to teach some Science City Day Camp kids all about squishy circuits, and how to solder for the very first time!! They all did really great, learened a lot, and left with their own blinky Maker Faire robot pins they made all by themselves!

Then we met up with our maker buddy Joey Hudy and did a bunch of other stuff, eventually getting to go to the absolutely amazing Hammerspace!!! Sooo cool!

A LOT happened so far, with even more still to come! Techninja will help write it all down in a blog post soon. See you out there!

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Maker Faire Bay Area 2012: Day 1

Submitted by TechNinja on June 6, 2012 - 6:36am
The D sitting in the "Flying Fishmonger" pedalcar, lifting up the frontend as if it were doing a wheelieThe D pulling off the innertube from the blown back tire of the "Flying Fishmonger"The "Flying Fishmonger" sitting sadly with its drive wheel missing

(Continued from Maker Faire: Day 0) In no time, the first real day of Maker Faire was upon us, and we were as ready as we could be for the onslaught of wonders.

First things first, we set off to the Fun Bike Unicorn Club racing area to prepare our pedalcar. The D, our driver for the "Flying Fishmonger", was out in spades right off the bat, ready for the qualifying run. Once brakes were checked and the chain stayed on long enough to run around the track a few times, we were ready for our first race! Even though we'd only spent about $80 and 2 weeks building it, we thought it held up pretty well. Even though by the second race our rear drive tire completely blew out, it was still a lot of fun and we wouldn't trade it for the world. The overlapping CD fish scales were also very popular with the crowds of people coming to ogle the incredible pedalcars.

Zoz Brooks, Sylvia and Joe Grand posing with thumbs up

Due to a fluke of failed communication and our family in the middle of moving to a new house, we didn't have a schedule this Maker Faire, so we decided to head out and see as much as we possibly could. Out on the grounds, Sylvia found two of her favorite hackers/makers, Joe Grand and Zoz Brooks of Prototype This! Joe even recognized her and everyone got some stickers.

Sylvia showing off her newly created headband.Sylvia paints onto her "Freak Flag" at the Fly Your Freak Flag High boothSylvia sitting in the Autodesk multi camera photo booth.

At the Craftsy "Make & Take" booth Sylvia made herself a stylin' star-and-ribbon-wrapped headband, then off to the FYFFH booth where we made our own "Freak Flags" to fly, then over to Autodesk to get a 3D head scan at their super camera photo booth. After a quick snap, we ran into Jeri skating around with her hard rocking Commodore-64 Bass Guitar, then we found our good friend Gever Tulley (we first met at DML). Sylvia and little sister Talulah sat down at his Brightworks booth to try the "Tinker your way out of this!" challenge. After totally winning (really!) we hopped around the corner where we learned all about simple binary computation with 8-balls and wooden flip-flops at EMSL's Digi-Comp II.

Jeri Ellsworth showing off her Commodore-64 bass guitar projectSylvia and sister Talulah attempting the "Tinker your way out of this!" challenge at the Brightworks boothLenore Edman and Sylvia demonstrating the action of the giant Digi-Comp II

Outside, we ran into so many amazing sights, too numerous to count. A spiral sculpture of fire, a robotic band playing every instrument imaginable, a life-size Dalek from Doctor Who, a towering 50 foot tall flaming umbrella tree, electric vehicles galore, a giant rubber and steel fire breathing dragon, and then an EVEN BIGGER than life-size Dalek!

A fire sculpture erupting flamesA red DalekSylvia poses near the giant fire snorting dragonA very large Dalek

Throughout the day, Sylvia worked on collecting her "photoception" picture-in-a-picture shots with previous Maker Faire phenoms... Saturday got her John Park with his Arduino Grande (3 years), Dale Daugherty (2 Years), Jeri Ellsworth with her C-64 bass (2 years), and Lenore Edman of EMSL (2 Years)

John Park posing with Sylvia in front of his Arduino Grande holding a picture of them in 2011, holding a picture of them in 2010Sylvia posing with Dale Dougherty holding a picture of them at Maker Faire 2011Jeri Ellsworth posing with Sylvia and a picture of them from Maker Faire 2011Sylvia posing with Lenore Edman and a picture of them from Maker Faire 2011

Our first day of Maker Faire was outstanding, and we just couldn't wait to see what day two had in store! Learn all about our adventure in the next action packed blog post soon...

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Maker Faire Education day

Submitted by TechNinja on May 18, 2012 - 3:04pm

(Continued from Maker Faire Kickoff) After a short snafu with a missing labcoat, we managed to find a brand new one at LabPro in Sunnyvale, and with it we arrived in scientific style at Maker Faire Education Day.

Sylvia holding a signed Make Magazine Schools out Special Edition

When we arrived, we were amazed at how much everyone had worked to get there, and wanted to enlighten both kids and educators. With Intel making a huge presence volunteering to lead the huge troves of student groups, eagerly awaiting a glimpse at the wonders awaiting inside the gates.

Sylvia signing magazines

We found our way to the exit accidentally, and Sylvia hopped on board to sign about 100 of the special "School's Out" MAKE Magazines being handed out to students as they leave! Sylvia had a blast playing celebrity for the moment, then it has back to the cool stuff.

What few makers were setup, still had lots to show off. From a kickstarter we'd only seen last week was Makey Makey, an instant touch interface for makers to turn anything conductive into a keyboard key. With beach balls and bananas kids were amazed at how easy it was to turn every day objects into interfaces with just alligator clips and a simple little board.

Sylvia plays the banana piano via Makey Makey

After the students had all left, it was time for the teacher education portion of the day, and with us squarely in both categories, we stayed for the fun. MAKE: Education was announced, with conversations by AnnMarie Thomas, Gary Stager, Steve Davee and many more big personalities in real world hands on education.

Sylvia talks eagerly to a Motion-math representative

After a fun romp talking to educators, signing magazines and eating pizza, we headed out to Evil mad Science headquarters, for an impromptu tour and opportunity to try out their brand new industrial embroidery machine.

Everyone crowds around the embroidery machine Sylvia shows off her design embroidered onto her new labcoat in bright orange thread.

And all this before the actual event! Friday is shaping up to be a lot of fun on its own, and maybe with a bit of luck and elbowgrease, we can find a time and place to remake our DML demo for a new audience at Maker Faire 2012.

(Continue the adventure with Maker Faire: Day 0)

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Maker Faire Bay Area 2012

Submitted by TechNinja on May 15, 2012 - 11:51am

The first and best Maker Faire is coming around again this year, and for our 5th year, we'll be there!

Unfortunately, because of a badly timed whole house move of our family of 6, the projects and demos we had planned on bringing have been completely disrupted and left in a state of half-packed and half-done.

Sylvia posing with her preliminary Maker Faire Badge

Not to worry though! We'll be there for the entire event and hopefully be out and about for Maker Faire fishbowl interviews and possibly a makeshift demo, and we'll be rooting for our very own Pedalcar! Family friend "TheD" brought his welding skills and we created our very first real steel construction. It's far from perfect, but with a little work and not very much money, we were able to make something rideable.

We'll be posting more updates soon, so stay tuned! But real quick, here's a few things we can't wait to see at Maker Faire:

(Continue the adventure with Maker Faire: Education Day)


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