Author Archives: megadolen

DIY Life: Lifehacking 101

James Norris seemed a rather interesting personality. He will be conducting a 30-minute “DIY Life: Lifehacking 101” workshop at this weekend’s inaugural Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012.

Read on to find out how different this workshop will be compared to the others.

The workshop

You will not be getting a physical make out of this workshop. Instead, James promises you a practical and interactive workshop on some of the best ways of “hacking your life” to maximise your personal growth. It will cover High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to help you spend less time in the gym, the 6 Second Pause to help you manage your emotions, the 5:1 Ratio to improve your relationships, a formula from a behavioural psychologist that may change your life (B=MAT), and many others.

The facilitator

When I checked out James’ website, he has a page on his bio with a nice word cloud introduction. “Personal”, “Time”, “Focus”, “Everything” and “Life” stood out, amidst many other words that describe him. It seemed that he is someone who valued life and personal time a lot, but he is also very focused so that he can fully utilise his time (my interpretation).

James Norris’ Personal Word Cloud

James told us that he has given this talk or variants of it a few times at Barcamps and they were always well received. He has been speaking on the topic for a few years now. If you are wondering what are Barcamps, google it on the internet, but in short, it is a user-generated conference session where participants gather prepared with topics they would like to talk on, but whether they get to speak or not would depend on whether they get a vote from the other participants. Interesting, isn’t it?

When asked what inspired him to conduct this talk, James shared that he enjoyed doing it because he can summarise in 30 minutes the highlights of what he took a decade to learn, something which appealed to him, a self-proclaimed efficiency-and-effectiveness-junkie. Though amused, I think such efficiency would definitely appeal to many others as well, in today’s society. Isn’t it? Looking deeper, you can also see a person who is very keen to share his knowledge with us.

James also shared that he is also a maker although he usually use the term builder. He hangs out with people from Hackerspace a lot and sees awesome stuff happening in Singapore, e.g. a window farm in a Raffles office. He just felt that the Singaporean makers should receive more publicity. When we asked how Singaporeans should be encouraged to make stuff, he jokingly said to hand out a homework assignment with two words on it: “Make something”. I cannot help but smile at that.

Like many other makers, James advised that if you would like to make something, do not wait. You can even find someone to build with, but the crucial point is to do it now.

To learn more about James Norris and his project, check out www.jamesnorris.org/personalgrowth and www.selfspark.com.

Introducing Roan Yong – Presenting on “The Rise of Enchanters”

Roan Yong

Roan Yong (@roanyong) is the author of Social Collaboration e-book. He describes himself as an expert on intranet, and a thought leader on exploiting self-interest to enable bottom-up collaboration, innovation, and community-building. He gives free talks on collaboration to non-profit organisations and public agencies.

Roan started talking about social collaboration and the importance of the intranet because he enjoyed tinkering with the concept of intranet and sharing ideas with other people. His objective is to pull like-minded people to have fun talking about these issues, and also to build their interest to be intranet citizen developer.

More a tinkerer than a maker, that was what he said to us. He would design, revamp, or build a sub-site in the intranet using widely-available intranet “webparts” to improve the user experience.

When asked on the maker scene in Singapore, Roan expressed outright that it is not as big as that in the United States. He felt that Singaporeans should be encouraged to dream bigger.

Quoting Steve Jobs, “Stay hungry, stay foolish”. That’s what he uses to stay motivated. Would this be applicable for you too? Give it a thought.

If you are interested to speak with Roan Yong on social collaboration, look out for this presentation on 4 August 2012.

Come experience being a Kampung Maker!

Sixteen makers and 6 discovery zones with an interesting myriad of hands-on activities! – This is my brief introduction of the booths of the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012.

Looking forward to see the cool stuffs that the SL2 makers are going to showcase? Come check it out with me for a sneak preview now!

About Sustainable Living Lab (SL2)

The Sustainable Living Lab (SL2) is Singapore’s first semi-outdoor kampung (village) lab and prototyping facility that enables local innovators, organisations and students to serve their communities and the bottom-of-the-pyramid better. SL2 is located at the Sustainable Living Kampung, a space created by Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), a non-profit community in Bottle Tree Park in Yishun.

Meet the Makers

Ibnur – SL2’s co-founder. A community-oriented innovator at GUI, Ibnur believes in the kampung spirit of ground-up innovation to solve sustainability challenges. He had been a maker/inventor since a tender age, having been influenced by his grandparents and parents whom he cited as “amazing individuals [who] have been the fountains from which [his] ideas flow from and also reminders for [him] to serve greater purposes in life”. His engineering education also provided the opportunities for several of his inventing and prototyping experiences such as antennas, sensors, filters, food dryers, bio-chips and ‘invisibility cloaks’ (Urgh, don’t we all think of Harry Potter when we hear “invisibility cloaks”?) 

Ibnur, together with Veera (below), had worked on projects that tackled issues in rural India, winning him UNESCO-Daimler Mondialogo Engineering Awards. Striving to nurture innovation across villages, he now co-leads the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2).

Veera – SL2’s co-founder. Veera has been making knickknacks and doodads for as along as he can remember. A kampung tinkerer at Ground-Up Initiative (GUI), his maker journey started with Meccano and Lego kits. Taking up Design & Technology as an O Level subject, he had ample opportunities to hone his skills in wood and metal working which served him well as a Mechanical Engineer in the National University of Singapore (NUS) where he designed and built solar pond dryers, flying wind turbines and miniature toothpick furniture.  Like Ibnur, Veera spent some time in the Silicon Valley gaining him valuable exposure to the overseas “garage culture”. On returning to Singapore, he co-founded the Sustainable Living Lab with like-minded maker buddies to develop the kampung culture of innovation in Singapore.

Huei Ming – SL2’s co-founder. Huei Ming is also presently a teaching assistant for the Engineering Science Programme at NUS where he is implementing a new design project for engineering students to construct their own low cost scanning tunnelling microscopes and guiding students on existing engineering design projects involving the fabrication of microfluidic devices and constructing wi-fi antennas.

There are 13 other makers (Zi Jing, Eugene, Yoga, Lianhan, Bart, Robin, Poh Hong, Melanie, Sullivan, Sid, Joyce, Natalie and Leonard) who all have a nice profile each created under the SL2 website (http://www.sl2square.org/category/news/singapore-mini-maker-faire/). Do check them out and see if you can spot them during the Faire this weekend!

What are they showcasing?

SL2 will be bringing some of the coolest stuff made by their kampung innovators out from their lab in Yishun. This includes bamboo amplifiers for the iPhone (which had an interesting name of iBam and iBam2), keychains & luggage tags made from decommissioned fire hoses, awesome cardboard sculptures put together by their cardboard designer extraordinaire, Bartholomew Ting, cool flatpacked cardboard furniture, cardboard building blocks, home brew kampung fitness equipment, water rockets and even PET bottle gardens and novel home gardening systems. You can even try out some tools and equipment at their mini wood working shop.

“MAKE” Cardboard Sculpture (Photo credit: SL2 Facebook page)

 SL2 is also promising interesting workshops to make your own play-dough, catapult, mini building blocks, water rockets, compost and cardboard sculptures which will engage your mind, body and soul!And that is not the end, as SL2 brings in games that would incorporate these DIY toys. I can already visualise lots of excited children!

Advice

SL2’s founding team was very humble when we asked them for advice for budding makers. They felt that their team is still young, and they do not have much wisdom yet to share as they are still walking the Maker path.

However, they shared 3 maxims which they live by and practised in one form or another at the Sustainable Living Lab (SL2):

Firstly, “If it ain’t fun, it ain’t right.” Secondly, “No prototype, no talk.” And, lastly, “Don’t just make your product, make your story.”

Maker Scene in Singapore

On the maker scene in Singapore, they would like to believe that there are many others in Singapore who share similar aspirations, as they felt that Singapore is in dire need of makers who are creative, hands-on and take risks, so as to build a Singapore that is vibrant, dynamic yet responsible and sustainable. The Maker scene is still young, so they do not know of many yet. They hope that through the involvement in the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, they could get to know more amazing ground-up innovators.

They added that our local maker scene can be likened to a baby Pheonix hatchling. It is not something new in Singapore, but more as something lost in our present young generation that is now in revival. They felt that it is important to rebuild the hands-on culture which was common in the days of our grandparents, where the kampong spirit prevails, where people spend more time together outdoor doing meaningful stuffs together.

To stay tuned to the SL2 stories, check out their Facebook pages on: www.facebook.com/sl2square and www.facebook.com/groundupinitiative. But first and foremost, come by the Singapore Mini Maker Faire at Science Centre Singapore this weekend (4 & 5 August).

Introducing the Portabee – You can now have your own 3D printer and bring it along everywhere!

First of all, if you have not heard of a 3D printer, it is a mechanism which allows you to print 3D stuffs (as the name suggests). What is different about the Portabee DIY 3D printer is that it is light at 2.8kg and can easily collapse in a matter of seconds and fits into a laptop bag, making it transportable anywhere! Get that visual image in your mind?

Portabee

In an interview, Kiam Peng from Orangeknob shares with us more.

 How they got started

 It all started as a project to make it easier for them make 3D prototypes. Kiam Peng and his partners have been tinkering with electronics and musical-related stuffs such as electronic drum machines and effect pedals but they were at a discovery stage. However, when 3D printing came along, the initial plans were all shelved. They had bought a Thing-o-Matic, an automatic 3D printer by MakerBot. They then realised that Thing-o-Matic is associated with open source products and it inspired them to make a reprap. A reprap is short for Replicating Rapid Prototypers. Their intention was to make something that is more self-replicating, i.e. allowing the making of components which can be assembled into another DIY 3D printer. Voila! The rest is up to your imagination.

We were told that Orangeknob took about 9 months to be able to release their first printer, the Durbie. In that process, they faced challenges of a 9-to-5 job, getting support from people around them etc. The process might be difficult but it must also be rewarding for the Makers to see the fruits of their hard work.

 What will they be sharing

During the upcoming Singapore Mini Maker Faire on 4 & 5 August, Orangeknob will be managing a booth, workshops and presentations.

 At their booth, they will showcase their printers (Durbie, Portabee, Portabee-x) and some of their printed parts.

If you would like to have your own DIY 3D printer, get one before the Mini Maker Faire and learn how to assemble it during the workshop that they will be conducting there.

 They are also excited to share their experiences in coming up with such a gadget during their presentation, despite being “not very comfortable with public speaking”, according to Kiam Peng. They will share on how they went in the open source direction into the world of DIY 3D printing, the challenges they face and their future projects.

Encouraging Makers in Singapore

Kiam Peng shared that they were not aware of a Maker culture in Singapore. They were focusing more on the international markets but slowly meet more people and realised there are people who owned CNC machines and printers at home. They felt that technological advances had already brought down the cost of prototyping, and that the cost of a 3D printer is approaching the cost of a laser/ink printer! I find myself nodding in agreement. The thought is exhilarating!

Kiam Peng felt that the maker culture will spread as more people do it, in view of our close proximity with one another. We certainly hope so too!

Orangeknob is now working towards producing big printers and other niche printers. To learn more about them, check them out at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012, coming to you in 2 days at the Science Centre Singapore.

Jolyonophone – Music from Science!

Ever heard of “Jolyonophone”? It is okay if you have not heard of it before, but come to the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 on 4 & 5 Aug to see the real thing! Meanwhile, check out this photo for a preview!

Jolyonophone

What is a “Jolyonophone”?

A “Jolyonophone” is a self-sustaining two-string slide guitar with a water-pipe theme (see above picture). It is named after its inventor Jolyon Caplin.

The gadget was also used during the opening ceremony of the Gardens by the Bay recently!

 About the Maker

 Jolyon Caplin has been teaching, inventing and entertaining in Singapore for 24 years. During the day, Jolyon is located in Singapore Polytechnic. At other times, he plays with music, electronics, unicycles (wow!) and keeps trying out ideas and technical twists at home or in his unusual laboratory.

He shared that his work is also his hobby, and he has always loved seeing how things work and are made. Although he is officially an electronics guy, Jolyon expressed that he is wildly interested in everything from MRT construction to buildings, road structure, cars, several aspects of the Arts, etc.

At 10 years old, he made his first projects of cardboard box theatres with coloured lighting, and moved on to make light flashers, simple radios and other things from “junk” that people passed down to him and bits and pieces from the neighbourhood hardware shops or $2 stores. Usually, these items will be used in ways different from what they were intended to be. For example, the Jolyonophone was initially meant to demonstrate to school children how an electric guitar works, but he ended up adding automatic motors to make it play by itself!

Besides “Jolyonophone”, Jolyon will also be showcasing the “Ped-accompaniment” foot-controlled, chord-based backing themes for a street performer, a “Whirly-horn” shower-hose, water-funnel horn for fun music-making and more. Jolyon has also kindly agreed to demonstrate some performances at intervals. You should watch out for them!

On the Singapore Maker Scene

When asked about the Singapore Maker Scene, Jolyon said that groups like Hackerspace.sg collect quite a few like-minded people –many of whom are also fabulous at programming weird and wonderful systems – though not all are as crazy about manipulating electronics / anything-onics as he is!  He felt that most Singaporeans enjoy the activities of watching TV, surfing the internet, or playing destructive shoot-‘em-up games – leaving them with no time left to get practical! He opined that getting them to make things would be challenging, though he is still keen to do so.

Advice for budding Makers

Like many other Makers, Jolyon has a simple piece of advice to budding Makers:- Make time to tinker!

It is very true indeed, as most people would need the push to get started, so if you are thinking of trying your hands at something that had inspired your creative juice, please heed Jolyon’s advice and wait no further. Gather the materials and start putting them together now!

Jolyon added that it is important to enjoy what you do, not to try too hard or be too exact, and be ready to adapt ideas, and you may be surprised how good you can be!

If you do not wish to miss out on such interesting musical demonstrations, join us at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 next weekend at the Science Centre Singapore.

Student makers – A source of inspiration for peers

I was totally impressed by these two Secondary 4 students.

Fabian and Anton might look just like any other typical Singaporean students on the streets, but their curiousity and aspirations have brought them beyond academic pursuits, to explore how to improve things. I think they have set exemplary examples to their peers that if you set your mind to do something, nothing will be too difficult!

Check out this video which they had taken to document the process of their project, the challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

 

Their project

So, as you could see from the video, Fabian and Anton will be showcasing a modified AR.Drone, a remote-controlled quadcopter made by Parrot. They felt that the AR.Drone is a fascinating product and an engineering achievement, though limited by some issues such as its battery life and weight. Fabian and Anton aimed to solve these problems to open the platform up to many more uses.

They will also showcase a device called the Makey-Makey, originally showcased at the Maker Faire in the United States. This device can turn literally anything into a functioning keyboard.

If you have seen any video on how the Makey-Makey works, you will probably be as excited as me right now. Google Makey-Makey online and you will have a better idea what it is, or if not, just come for the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012. Fabian informed us through our email interview that this is believed to be the only set in Singapore as of now! Their mentor from Intel Mobile Communications, Mr Kwok Lih, was the one who got it for them.

About Fabian and Anton

They are Secondary 4 students from Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) and according to them, they specialise in mobile microarchitecture design and modification (e.g. desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones). I am not sure how you feel right now, but when I first read those words from our email interview, I felt a sense of admiration. I suspect it is uncommon for students of this age to confidently use the words “specialise”, not to mention to use them on complicated subjects. I sincerely admire them for their confidence and am looking forward to meet them!

The two of them have recently started to explore the field of (reverse) engineering, starting with the Arduino and Parrot AR.Drone.

Maker Faire

When asked if they have heard of the Maker Faire before this, Fabian and Anton shared that they have heard of it from their Intel mentor, Mr Kwok who took part in the San Francisco Maker Faire this June and felt that the projects are eye-opening. Hence, they are excited that it is coming to Singapore!

Challenges they faced

As mentioned earlier, things will never be too difficult when you set your mind to do it. I suppose the driving force behind Fabian and Anton was their passion. Their teacher, Mrs Eileen Tan-Tay, testified to this statement. She shared that Anton and Fabian are a source of inspiration for both teachers and students, and that it is difficult nowadays to come across students who are intrinsically motivated so it has been her great pleasure to be given the opportunity to work with them.

From their video above, as well as another video here, we learnt that they faced various challenges along the way but they have faced them undeterred. Of course, they are also blessed with the support from school with funding, the availability of facilities and supportive teachers, whom according to Fabian and Anton had persevered with them through their “numerous jokes, pranks, our general uncooperativeness”. I guess joy and sweat almost always come together in a package.

Fabian and Anton also humbly acknowledged the support from various sponsors and institutes, which they felt made their project possible, and the support from another group of students who worked on the Ardrone using the Labview software by National Instruments.

Their words of advice

Fabian and Anton are of view that making should be expanded and seen as a hobby that is as useful as a formal education. They feel that making is highly underrated as an experience or hobby here -many people have not discovered the benefits and intellectual stimulation from inventing. They advocate less studying and more making. They believe that if the rigid education mindset of Singaporeans could be changed, the Maker scene here could truly flourish.

One final word from the two inspiring boys – Never give up on what you truly like to do.

Make your own portable handphone microscope

Next in line, the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 would like to introduce another workshop “Make your own portable handphone microscope”.

In this workshop, participants will be presented with a number of simple and cheap lens-bearing tools such as door-viewers and loupe, as well as small mirrors, LED torch lights, etc. Some of these could be taken apart and put together to create a new optical toy. According to the workshop facilitators, the main goal of this workshop is to create a microscope that could be easily fixed to your handphone. There will be handphones and webcams for use at the workshop but participants are strongly encouraged to bring your own camera phones that you would like to transform as you will be able to take your device home.

Food for thought: – How much can we enlarge our image? How good is the image? How do we use light? If the magnification is big, how do we hold the microscope?

Camera microscope

So, who are the brains behind this workshop?

There are a total of three persons behind this workshop:- Isabelle Desjeux, Marlou Jasmin Madrio and Leonardus Adi Prasetya Suherlan. Interestingly, the three of them got to know each other only during the briefing session for the Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 and the idea to conduct this combined workshop came out of this session! Leonardus even shared a pretty animated (though short) account of how it happened. :P

About Isabelle Desjeux

Isabelle Desjeux: artist (Masters in Fine Arts), scientist (PhD in Molecular Biology) and arts educator (Isadora’s Workshop).

Isabelle is a full-time artist whose art deals with the reality of working in a lab, blurring the boundary between the two fields. In her spare time, Isabelle also runs an art workshop that teaches kids to draw realistically, and observe the world around them. Her ultimate goal is to make children naturally enquire and ask questions.  

What inspired her?

Isabelle was exploring making portable microscopes for her new “Art and Science” space (L ‘Observatoire) and found that there are many things that one could learn from playing with lenses and cheap cameras. Hence, she thought it would be fun for children to have a go at making their own microscopes too! Besides making microscopes, she is also exploring projecting the images for participants to be able to share what they see down the microscope, in a simple and affordable manner. With the recent craze about the transit of Venus, she also started playing around with lucida-type of camera devices to explore better way of seeing and recording the world around us.

Her word of advice

For makers, Isabelle advised that it is good to be ready to adapt any “recipe” you find according to what you have. She found it useful to seek resources from the internet, to find other people who might have the solution to your question, and improvise from there.

For “teachers”, Isabelle felt that one need not give specific instructions. On the other hand, she felt that it would be better to present your “students” with an open problem, some materials and tools. She highlighted the importance to be open about the outcome, and not to be fixated at getting a specific end-product. That way, people have the necessary “play space” and “play time” to come up with interesting stuffs!

On the maker scene in Singapore, Isabelle encourages everyone to keep an open eye on what people throw away as there is always a way to transform what other people do not want!

What’s next?

Isabelle shared that this workshop will probably be incorporated into the activities for her new “Art and Science” space, where tinkering will happen once a month.

About Marlou Jasmin Madrio

Marlou (better known as Marl) is a Systems Engineer working for NCS Pte Ltd, and had a myriad of career experience before moving to Singapore.

What inspired him?

Marl’s account of his life is a testimonial to his in-born maker spirit. Like Ken, the previous maker we introduced, Marl attributed his building passion to the encouragement of his father, whom he proudly shared was a talented automotive mechanic.

Marl reminisced fondly about his High School days when he built things when he couldn’t afford one. In Secondary School, Marl was already an electronics hobbyist. It was then when he already built his first Stereo Audio Power Amplifier which gave him and his family years of enjoyment. He also recalled his College days when he had the time of his life building a Jalopy of a Race Car which was a thrill to drive in. It also brought him fond memories of his late father building this car with him and attending races with him.

Making things in Singapore

In Singapore, he is avidly pursuing IT and open source.

Last year, he built a Lab Bench Power Supply for the Arduino, Phidgets and Beaglebone microcontroller platform. He also has an Arduino Mega microcontroller which he intended to use to build a trans esterification system for converting waste vegetable oil to bio-diesel because he love working on cars.

Marl also shared that he would like to start a “HomeBrew Club” in Singapore one day.

However, Marl said he had recently sidetracked to IT innovations both for his personal pursuits and for his work. For example, he is keen on Internet of Things (IoT) where everyday devices meet internet connectivity. He cited the example of modifying a washing machine to recover grey water which could then be used for flushing the toilet and to make the machine tweet you “your wash is done, Sir”. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

However, because he is pursuing these as a hobby, finances would be a hindrance. Marl wish to eventually own his own lab or workshop, which I guess would be the dream of most Makers.

His word of advice

Marl’s sense is that there is not much Maker culture here in Singapore. He is saddened by the fact that youths he met have no interest in making (including those who were taking Design & Technology programme) despite having access to tools and machineries.

Marl would like to advise all budding Makers to pursue their hobby with passion and a purpose. He felt that if a hobby can help to make this world a better place, it would be good for everyone.

Read more about Marl here.

About Leonardus Adi Prasetya Suherlan

Leo is an NUS Electrical Engineering student from Indonesia. His favourite tools are penknives and cellotapes (which he said can fix half of the problems around the block :P).

What inspired him?

Leo mentioned that he was inspired to do DIY work from his frequent trips to his Uncle’s place where he would be invited to build stuffs, from a telescope to a wooden gun to a clock that ran backwards. He grew up with the belief that one can make anything that one can imagine.

Leo joined the Mini Maker Faire with the intention to meet other Makers. He felt that since he shifted to Singapore, he had not been making. Hence, he seemed pleased to share that NUS has now started a Tinkering Club for student makers to meet, discuss and help each other with their projects.

Leo felt that there are many creative people in Singapore but there are not much platforms for these people to showcase their work. He felt there could be more competitions or Maker Faires to facilitate the Maker movement.

His word of advice

Leo’s word of advice to other budding Makers is to just start making. He suggested the website http://www.instructables.com for those with less confidence.

Isabelle, Marl and Leo are all looking forward to see the first Singapore Mini Maker Faire and meet other Makers.You may also check out Isabelle’s blog which also talked about the workshop. The workshop is chargeable at a fee of $5 per participant, payable on the spot as you register for the workshop. There are limited places for up to 10 participants for each day, so do register early when you are there!

Are you up to her Challenge?

Evon Tay, a graphic designer who has just graduated from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) School of Art, Design and Media started a DIY Lifestyle Challenge as her final year project. But even after graduation, Evon has not put the project to rest. Find out why.

Evon Tay

About DIY Lifestyle Challenge

DIY Lifestyle Challenge is a project looking at a series of alternative and sustainable lifestyle choices that urban dwellers can do on a daily basis.

Evon hopes to encourage people to be mindful and take responsibility about the way we live, and to cultivate a culture of self-reliance and creativity, so that our city can become greener, more vibrant and awesome.

She shared that she observed how Singaporeans live in a capitalistic and consumption-driven city, where people slog long hours to earn money, but eventually splurge them away by buying stuffs (that they might not necessarily need) in the name of “retail therapy”. To Evon, this is a vicious cycle which is both wasteful and depressing. Hence, she wanted to introduce an alternative way of living.

She started this project about a year ago and she hopes to be able to continue doing it for as long as she can, and that more Singaporeans can join in the fun and be part of a growing DIY community in Singapore.

The project has a website and a Facebook page.

More about Evon

Evon shared that she started making things purely because she did not have much money to buy things. She shared that whenever her best friends had their birthdays, she would jokingly make a paper mache version of whatever expensive items on their wishlist. The habit had since grown on her and she realised she enjoyed doing it as there is a satisfaction of seeing simple everyday materials being transformed into something cool/weird/funny.

Her view on the Maker scene in Singapore

Evon felt that there is a recent revival of appreciation for artisanal handcrafted work in general but she was not sure if that translates to an increase in the trend to make things. She felt that Singaporeans are practical people who would not like to waste time on things which they deemed to be not “productive” or useful. Making things from scratch is unfortunately one of them. She felt that in Singapore, the focus in life had always been on academic success, so making things or other creative activity would only be counted as a hobby. She felt this should be relooked at.

Her advice

To budding Makers, her word of advice is to keep learning and experimenting with new techniques and materials, and if the by-products turn out wrong, they could always be given away in the next Secret Santa gift exchange. Hohoho…

[Evon invites contributions and collaborations from anyone who wants their stuffs to be seen in the next issue of her zine, Adventures in DIY #2. If you are interested, email to hello@DIY-lifestyle.org. Do not forget to catch Evon at her Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 booth on 4 & 5 August and her presentation on 5 August. She would be showcasing her zines, hand-printed linocut stickers, hand-sewn and silkscreened bags and more!]

Do you know what is IKEA hacking?

Jules Ikeahacker – Yes, you are right. This is someone who hacks IKEA stuffs.

Singapore Mini Maker Faire 2012 is proud to introduce this exciting presentation that will take place on 4 Aug 2012. This is also her first live presentation on the topic of IKEA hacking.

Who is Jules Ikeahacker?

We were quite amused that she goes by Jules. Jules is the name of one of IKEA’s chair series. She said she chose it on a whim, when browsing through an IKEA catalogue and visualising herself sitting on an IKEA Jules Chair blogging (though she apparently didn’t have one!).

Jules Ikeahacker

 On a more serious note, we learnt that Jules is a copywriter from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As per our request, she sent us a photo for this blog. [What a contrast. I actually had a visual of Mr Phua Chu Kang (well-known local sitcom character – a building contractor with bright yellow boots) before this. Oh well, I blame the influence of local television programmes.]

How did she get started and what inspired her?

Jules started IKEAHackers.net (http://www.ikeahackers.net) in 2006, an act inspired from her internet finds of a few IKEA hacks while surfing for ideas for her apartment. She was intrigued and elated to be able to find these resources and decided to create a portal to gather all these ideas together. To date, she has posted over 3,000 hacks! Do check out the photos at her website.

 About the Maker Culture

Jules is of the opinion that there are still room to grow for the Maker culture in her country, but observed that there had been growth in the interest and trend among some Makers towards modifying their IKEA buys. She was excited to be part of the Singapore Mini Maker Faire to meet other Makers and IKEA Hackers, to get the word out and to inspire people to see the potential in their Billy bookshelves and Pax wardrobes and not settle for the same-as-everyone-else-IKEA.

Jules joked that one way to encourage people to make things would be to give people less money, but she felt there is a shade of truth in it because necessity is the mother of invention. She felt that the Faire would be a good start to encourage the Maker culture, or there could be regular small Maker groups to brainstorm and share stuffs they have made to keep the fire going. She pondered over possibilities of having common spaces at residential areas so that they could bring their stuffs over to tinker and DIY.

How about you? What do you think could improve the Maker culture in your country?

What is a tangible programming toolkit?

Kan Tai-Wei – New media art researcher cum artist. Research Intern at the NUS Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Lab. PhD student at the Mobile Phone and HCI Research Lab at the National Taiwan University.

Kan Tai-wei with his prototypes

We met Tai-wei briefly at the NUS-HCI Lab where he explained to us the project that his team was working on. He also showed us the few prototypes the team had came up with. So, what is the purpose of their project and who is it made for?

 Read on to find out more about the “Tangible Programming Toolkit” that his project team at NUS-HCI Lab is working on.

Close-up shots of the prototypes

Tai-wei’s team comrprises Professor Zhao Shengdong and four research members (Tai-wei, Chuan Leng Li, Yong Leong Kin, Zhou Biyan).

According to Tai-wei, the toolkit was designed with the intention to help street artists include interactive components into their artwork.

There will be an INPUT component which can detect physical quantity from environment with sensors such as IR sensor, light sensor, range finder, and an OUTPUT component which will provide feedback based on the users’ interactions with the device.

For example, a Light Emitting Diode (LED) will give visual feedback while a speaker will facilitate audio feedback. The purpose of the device is to create a user-friendly graphic user interface for street artists.

 A glimpse into Tai-Wei’s background might give a better appreciation of why he is working on this research project. Tai-wei is a designer of electronic arts which have been exhibited at several international events. More information on Tai-Wei could be found at his website.

 Although Tai-wei had initiated for this project to be showcased at the Singapore Mini Maker Faire, he might have to return to Taiwan during that period.

Nonetheless, we are still looking forward to see this toolkit. Hope you can join us then as well.