CES 2015 – 3D printers

I spent the first day of the exhibit hall opening working to see all the 3D printers that I could, and that turned out to be basically an all-day affair. This year CES isolated all of the 3D printers together at the Sands convention center, which turned out to be great…they were all together, and it was easy to compare sizes and capabilities. Check the video for some visuals and commentary on the ones that I paid the most attention to, but here’s the basic rundown for libraries.

There is yet another questionable audio portion in this video where my evil microphone comes back into play. Please forgive me, and know that I will be burning said microphone on the alter of better audio quality as soon as I am able. 

My number one choice for libraries that are looking at buying a 3D printer is the Lulzbot Mini from Aleph Objects. Released officially here at CES2015, the Mini will be shipping this month for $1350, and comes preassembled and can be ready to print just minutes after taking it out of the box.

I have been continually impressed with the quality of work that Lulzbot is doing, and I personally have one of their larger Taz printers (the Taz 2) that I have been running for over a year now with almost zero problems. But most importantly for libraries, Lulzbot is a dedicated Open Hardware company, which means that you will never be locked into proprietary parts or software to run your printer. If you need to repair a part, everything is documented and can be sourced from non-Lulzbot sources if needed.

Perhaps obviously I am biased towards open hardware, but I think that it is keeping with the spirit of the Library to support open information in all its forms. My older recommendations for printers included Makerbot…until they started locking down their devices to the point where now they are having serious issues with their newest printers, and customers have no recourse.

I have two other recommendations for libraries that are looking at buying a 3D printer in the next year. The first I mentioned briefly on one of my earlier reports, Ultimaker and their new range of small, medium, and large printers. Also a champion of Open Hardware design, Ultimaker provides all of the files and schematics for their printers online for free. I don’t think any library would go wrong choosing one of these printers for their Maker Space.

Finally, the third in my recommendations for libraries looking for something more interesting, even at the entry level, for 3D printing is any of the products from SeeMeCNC and their line of Delta printers. A departure from the cartesian printers that nearly everyone else makes, Delta-style printers are really eye catching and would be a great addition to a library Maker Space. And with their newest mini-delta, the Eris, SeeMeCNC has hit a very attractive price point for libraries, only $599.

Lots more type of stereolithographic printers as well…these are the 3D printers that use resin-based printing rather than the typical melted plastic that you find in the printers mentioned above. Take a look at the video for shots of the Form1, the Old World Labs printers, and more.

By far the most interesting new type of printer that I got to see was the Voxel8, a printer that’s designed to print in both plastic and conductive ink simultaneously, enabling the 3D routing of conductive structures and circuitry inside the plastic being printed around it. Watch the video to see more about them.

CES 2015 coverage sponsored by Springshare. If your library needs a solution for desk scheduling, research guides, or room booking, check out their LibApp platform

CES 2015 Press Day

The day before the actual conference exhibits and such open at CES is Press Day. Effectively, it’s a day full of large press conferences that require standing in line to hear the big announcements from all the major players at CES: Samsung, HTC, Panasonic, and such. The evening of Press Day, however, has one of the better press events that happens at the same time as CES every year, Pepcom’s Digital Experience. This report is a wrap up of what I saw at press day, which includes new 3D printers from Ultimaker (one of my favorite 3D printer manufacturers, along with Lulzbot and SeeMeCNC, both of whom I’ll report on as part of tomorrow’s coverage), a handful of drones, and an interesting robotics platform that I think could be useful for library programming with kids and young adults.

I apologize for the audio quality, especially during the first part of the video. I’m not sure exactly what happened other than my microphone really didn’t like some of the ambient sounds in the room. I promise, it gets better.

CES 2015 coverage sponsored by Springshare. If your library needs a solution for desk scheduling, research guides, or room booking, check out their LibApp platform

CES Unveiled 2015

After a full day of travel, I attended the first press event for CES 2015, CES Unveiled. This is the event where the eager press gets its first shot at video and interviews with newest and shiniest tech of the year…and some of the silliest. The standout at this particular event seemed to be Belty, a (and I assure you, I am not making this up) automated smart belt. It was so popular that I couldn’t even get close.

It’s pretty easy to make fun of some of the products, whether that’s the bluetooth enabled propane tank sensor (even more frightening? There’s MORE THAN ONE OF THEM ON THE MARKET) or the $180 smart basketball.  On the other hand, there are some really interesting things as well, like the Ozobot robot platform that allows kids to learn programming thru interacting with it via the Blockly programming language. Even better, the company that makes them is working towards open sourcing the hardware to allow the enabling of even more interesting interactions.

All of those, and more cool stuff, in the video below. Thanks for watching!

CES 2015 coverage sponsored by Springshare. If your library needs a solution for desk scheduling, research guides, or room booking, check out their LibApp platform

Marriott & other hotels petition to kill non-approved wifi devices

Wifi signal around here
Marriott hotels, along with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and Ryman Hospitality Properties have petitioned the FCC to allow them to kill non-approved wifi signals within their hotels and conference centers. This is of particular interest to me, not only because I’m a Tennessee resident and Ryman is a huge presence here in TN (they own the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, along with the Grand Ole Opry and the Ryman Auditorium). The main reason that this is of special interest to me is that their attempt to kill “rogue” wifi hotspots will also kill the ability to use a LibraryBox in the same manner.

If you would like to read their petition, the full text is available on the FCC’s website, along with the very long list of opposition comments. Major technology players are lining up to agree this is a terrible idea, from Google to Microsoft and even universities. For a really good summary of the filing and the issues behind it, take a look at Glenn Fleishman’s BoingBoing post.

This isn’t the first time that Marriott has tried something like this, but at least the last time they got smacked by the FCC.

Because of their continued attempts to limit persons abilities to use an unlicensed segment of public bandwidth (something that is clearly and unmistakably against the law of the US and, I would argue, firmly against the public good) I have filed an opposition filing on behalf of the LibraryBox Project. The text of my filing can be read here, and I will link to the appropriate FCC page as soon as it is approved. If you or your library, school, or other organization would like to file a comment in opposition to the attempted hijacking of a public good, you can go here and click “Submit a Filing in RM-11737“.

Photo by nicolasnova – http://flic.kr/p/4Exfo2

Revisiting my medium

I’ve decided to try and change the way I interact online, and have already made a few changes that almost certainly no one has noticed but me. The first is that while I visit and “use” Facebook, I have never actually liked it very much and do so really only because that’s where the people are. On the other hand, I really do enjoy Twitter, and am far more engaged there than I ever was or will be on Facebook. I was piping my Twitter posts into Facebook, just as a simulacrum of interaction…but I don’t think I want to do that anymore. So I’m not.

I have also gone weeks this year without blogging, and after consideration, I don’t like that very much. Why not just use Facebook to write things like this? Because I really do feel very strongly about controlling how my words are displayed, and I want to own my own voice. So I’m going to try to blog more frequently, about things that I find interesting, and share those things out to Facebook and Twitter and elsewhere…but I want to try and make my blog somewhere people can come and learn about what I’m doing and what I think is cool in the world. It used to be that, and I think I need it to be that again.

The TL;DR version is: I’m going to try and blog more, and share more accurately the things that I think are interesting or important. I will use Facebook and Twitter as other channels to talk, but if the medium really is the message, I don’t want my message to be Facebook and Twitter. I want the medium to be my own.

Caganer for Christmas

Giant Caganer

Here’s my semi-regular post around the holidays about my very, very favorite holiday tradition: the Caganer and Caga Tio. I’ve posted about this several times in the past, and it just never gets old.  Thank you, Catalonia,  for such a wonderfully strange tradition.

I love the fact that pop culture figures get reimagined by this tradition every year…just take a look at the Google Image search to see what I mean. More info also over at Time magazine.

And thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can even print your own.

Salting your WordPress keys

Did you know that WordPress provides a salt-generation engine with copy/paste ready text that you can use for your wp-config.php file to help make your WordPress installations that much safer from password cracking? If you aren’t familiar with the concept of salting cryptographic data, Wikipedia has a great entry.

The output of that URL looks like this (WARNING: Do not use these values)

define('AUTH_KEY',         'lsN32UCfT=-}ToXgR={6+OYzrV_!^qaZvQ$gQ&q?Rj#4lYpl-5r,(-k(b9^0M<C~');
define('SECURE_AUTH_KEY',  'O@$?-d^82Z1t+[V)+{ot6f./uR6nMppeI,IEB9Vbm]l^Vk6FS$04xt)lX:P!@9(G');
define('LOGGED_IN_KEY',    '&!0}EW$U5qCDo{3jFZV[!$;`t|0QN&DvO|>FC.{~V7~Yzq2HR2/wb:ZE&=TAjwK~');
define('NONCE_KEY',        '.Tx 2G+|)-@iI,74;M-2Aj+LdG@*SN|^D`|;^|0HJS`1V6FJ2`:oy2EQE|/;/vjz');
define('AUTH_SALT',        'qVK*v<Ehe_YW>#gKh>+aI9h@9&ZJB|D{is][raYOXS5,z0R3NWIT4fjWNiX3DG:5');
define('SECURE_AUTH_SALT', 't-Y;V9Wx7CK{T,_Y/{iUr[US?x_|@eZu6)O4 m{P`+n8xBkd.^9C{*$P`X|1xB!H');
define('LOGGED_IN_SALT',   ']V@Xh;|[EX81$n&Iaj>tXC5+WRW@Qk/D_BW TGzfj#I5+N3$2r96cKMXx$|[+pb*');
define('NONCE_SALT',       ':]+qOBD+h5pW4m |3,P5!mCXQ5]w~@7P>+#]gr,3NP/^8#;llu1v_l7 _fM1cnqa');

Take 5 minutes and go generate your own salts and update your wp-config.php file. It will greatly increase the security of your sites.