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"MakerFaire 2013"

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So … the greatest show (and tell) on earth was last weekend. I'm still digesting the event, but my initial impression was, frankly, a resounding meh. It's definitely an event I would bring a local hackerspace booth to, or showcase my product, but outside of that, as a maker, it just reeked of commercialism and one-up-manship. Both things that are, frankly, antithetical to a lot of things which have made the hacker and maker movements so strong thus far.

Don't get me wrong, I really want to love an event like this, I just can't find it in me. MAKE is trying so hard, too, to cater towards the makers and doers of the world. As such, there were a lot of interesting projects there. And more importantly, friends I haven't seen in a long time.

However, MakerFaire is an introvert's nightmare, frankly. There were thousands of people, most of them in the expo hall. Of course, I spent almost every hour of the weekend in the expo hall. I'm going to keep it about that short and not wax philosophical about why MAKE and their co-opting the maker movement frustrates me and cut to cool projects and products to watch in the coming year:

Gabotronics

These guys make really great looking programmable oscilloscopes using tiny little 1" OLED screens. Sexy little beasts, and I want a wall full of them in the office.

Pidora

Somehow Fedora managed to obtain a trademark license for the name Pidora and will be releasing a raspi-optimised hardfp version of Fedora 18 real soon. That is super duper exciting, since right now at MadeSolid we're standardizing on CentOS for our servers and Debian for our printer controllers. I'm very interested in migrating both of those to Fedora; the upcoming 19 release has a bunch of 3D printing tools which make my job so very very easy compared to how things have been in the past (ie, me having a buildserver with 20 CentOS recompiles/custom packages up to date)

Pico

This is a really cute looking all-metal 3D printer extruder that lets you hit incredibly hot temperatures and extrude damn near anything. It's going to be on Kickstarter soon. I want about 200 of them. Not much else to say.

Sandbox3DP

Probably the first commercially available open source powder printer? The prints they were showing off were pretty rough, however I think this is a great thing for the industry as a whole. We can only go so far with FFF printing, and I think that powder and sintering are an interesting future if they can be done cheaply. I still have my doubts that these could ever serve well in a living room, though.

Tinkerine Studio's Ditto

The ditto is a very interesting printer which takes a lot of design cues from everyone's favorite, the Ultimaker. My friend, Prescott has one and I need to poke him about how it's treating him. It seems like a really nice design, and the price is hard to argue with.

And a few other things, I guess

All in all, the projects which were at MakerFaire were a lot different than I was expecting.

For as much huff and puff the public is making about generally available drone aircrafts, there were only one or two projects at the event selling worthwhile products. And no, the AR.Drone is not worthwhile.

The 3D printing area was a pretty resounding 'meh', considering how much innovation there is still to be had in that field.

There weren't any cool new robots to play with, no hexapods that could kill me, I didn't get to ride on a strandbeest.

The art projects were cool, though.

For Ace, I think it was a good event in that there was a lot of foot traffic in our area, and a lot of people were interested in what we had to show off. I got to bring one of my rockets out of hibernation and set it out to show off, which was a cool thing. :)

I was kind of sad to not see LUNAR or the local TRA prefecture out at the event, but I guess that is something to lobby for next year.

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Ryan Rix is a computer infrastructure fanboy who dabbles in decentralized systems. Reach him on twitter as @rrrrrrrix, via email to ryan@whatthefuck.computer or on Facebook or on Matrix as @rrix:kickass.systems.