Year: 2014

Solving everyday niggly bits with 3D Printing

I don’t know about you, but I am one to get irritated with stuff that hangs out in the wrong places. A good example is the chest strap of the computer backpack: I never use it, but I don’t want to cut it off either and harm company property. Instead, I made a quick mesh in Blender and printed it out on the Minifactory, with the net result of straps no longer hanging around causing me to lose hair even further.

Here’s the starting situation:

Messy straps
Messy straps

And this is the finished, improved situation:

Better situation
Better situation

Let’s have a look at the fixing clip.  Continue reading Solving everyday niggly bits with 3D Printing

Fooling people with radiation protection

I happened to see an advertisement for a “chip” that is intended to minimize the radiation from your cell phone, thus lessening the bad effect of radiation on your brain. The price for this device is 25 euros. I contacted the importer of the product to get more information on how it works, what its effects are, and how it is to be used.

The importer was very helpful in getting me three sample chips, but their information on how this device is supposed to work was limited in the extreme. They claim also on the package that the chip “provides protection for over 99.95% of cell phone radiation”. When I pointed out to them that the sole function of the mobile phone is to maintain a radio link between itself and the base station, and that if you decrease that radio link’s radiation by that much, you have no contact at all, they said that “they use the device and it works.” At this point I became quite irritated.

Let’s have a look at the claims.  Continue reading Fooling people with radiation protection

Back after the Summer with a Stamp

It’s been a nice summer indeed, with scarcely a thought given to 3D or 3D printing at all. But now it is Autumn, school has started, and the heat on the trusty Minifactory has been set on again. The first thing I printed this fall was an unusual little device, a pie stamp, for my friend Keefie Williamson. Continue reading Back after the Summer with a Stamp

Quick ‘n’ dirty 3D printing

Recently, I was asked to design and print a set of miniature tables and chairs, as well as the layout of the room these items of furniture reside in. This is to enable meeting planners to move these little printed chairs and tables and whatnot around, and then re-set the meeting room layout to suit the next meeting.

The tables and chairs need not be detailed, as long as the relative measurements of the items are correct. That’s fine, because that way I can work in Blender and scale everything relative to a table for example, and then just print sets of these at one go. The room furniture comes from Kinnarps, a leading manufacturer of such items. The dominant piece is the Trixagon table, and the cabinets in the room are hexagonal too.

So, off to Blender then. When you need a hexagon, it is actually a circle of only 6 vertices, and when you insert a circle, you can then reset the number of vertices to 6 before hitting Enter. Continue reading Quick ‘n’ dirty 3D printing

Printing Fractals on MiniFactory

Last week, we had our 8th International IT Week for Students here at HAAGA-HELIA where I work. We had teams from Spain, Denmark, and Finland, and we looked into issues like mobile games development, robot building on the Arduino set, and on the Danish day, fractals. My good friend and colleague from Coopenhagen North, Anders Kalhauge, presented a lecture, and the students then led a workshop into fractals.

Fractals are odd creatures. Wikipedia says that

“A fractal is a mathematical set that typically displays self-similar patterns, which means it is “the same from near as from far”. Fractals may be exactly the same at every scale, or, […] they may be nearly the same at different scales. The concept of fractal extends beyond self-similarity and includes the idea of a detailed pattern repeating itself.” Continue reading Printing Fractals on MiniFactory

Things I have learned of MiniFactory

I have now had the wonderful MiniFactory 3D printer for about three months. As I have little teaching with contact lessons, and hence no need to go to the University every day, I haven’t been able to print something all the time. Nevertheless, I have become somewhat proficient in managing the printer, so I thought I would write a little blog post to illustrate some of the stuff I have picked up along the way.

MiniFactory is located in Seinäjoki, Finland, and its manager Janne Pihlajamäki has been instrumental in getting our machine to work properly. I have contacted him on email and phone, and he has never failed to provide an answer to my questions. He probably thinks me a very nontechnical person, what with the million questions I have sent him, but on the other hand, he’s been getting the word back from the trenches. I hope this is a mutually beneficial set-up. MiniFactory is a startup company, and hence, they have been too busy in building the production line and the machines themselves to get all of the documentation in place yet, but they are doing an admirable job at this difficult business.

Continue reading Things I have learned of MiniFactory

Happy Hacking Day 2014 a success

Yesterday, Feb 11th, was the day of the 2nd Annual Happy Hacking Day at HAAGA-HELIA University of Applied Sciences.

The word ‘hacking’ has a notorious sound to it. That is due to the early days, when so-called black hat hackers broke into computer systems with malice and forethought, and caused widespread havoc (today we also have white hat hackers, who are good guys, and grey hat hackers of whom we are not so sure).

But you need to remember, that Wikipedia states this:

A hacker is someone who loves to program or who enjoys playful cleverness, or a combination of the two. The act of engaging in activities (such as programming or other media) in a spirit of playfulness and exploration is termed hacking. However the defining characteristic of a hacker is not the activities performed themselves (e.g. programming), but the manner in which it is done: Hacking entails some form of excellence, for example exploring the limits of what is possible, thereby doing something exciting and meaningful. Activities of playful cleverness can be said to have “hack value” and are termed hacks (examples include pranks at MIT intended to demonstrate technical aptitude and cleverness). Continue reading Happy Hacking Day 2014 a success

IT Haiku Poetry

According to Wikipedia, a haiku  is a short poem which uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition.

I have read haikus and as per the definition, they most often relate to nature. However, I think that our constant interaction with information technology sometimes brings out moments of searing clarity and other times a pensive mood, which can best be captured in the haiku format. Therefore I have tried my hand at creating some: Continue reading IT Haiku Poetry

Word count Excel for authors

I never started writing after a conscious decision. Tulagi Hotel, my 134,000 word novel, came about after I chanced to write the first chapter at the office, over an extended coffee break, and with no intention of making it into a full-fledged book.

But when it was published, I found myself writing short stories. In a span of six months, I wrote 16 stories. At this time, I became interested in tracking the word counts of the stories. This is interesting for two reasons: most short story competitions have word limits, and it is nice to know the progress of your Work in Progress (WIP) files. Of course you can just note the word count and manually copy it to an Excel sheet, but I thought to make that process automatic. I will explain how, and also, share my file under the CC-BY-NC license. Continue reading Word count Excel for authors

Powerpoint and image processing

Sometimes we all have a need to write instructions, or add information to an image, or combine many pictures to one. Of course you can do this using an image processing software such as Paint, GIMP, or Photoshop, but many times these are not available. And of course, what you can do in Paint is crude in the extreme, because it is a bitmap editor and not a real image editor.

Paint especially is not very good for this sort of work, because its resizing capabilities are not up to par, and whatever you insert into the picture gets inserted in it for good – revising text or moving an image in a composite are not possible. Using GIMP or Photoshop is somewhat easier due to the use of layers, which enables you to maintain texts and other adornments in editable form before you export the image, but the set of available arrows, stars, and other thingies is not very large without installing plug-ins.

Continue reading Powerpoint and image processing